How Real Toyota Tundra Drivers Are Improving Their Fuel Economy

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If Tundra owners or prospective buyers have a complaint, it’s been the Tundra’s lackluster fuel economy ratings. While it’s important to point out that the Tundra’s EPA fuel economy ratings are real – meaning Tundra owners actually get the mileage printed on the sticker – the fuel economy isn’t much to write home about compared to ratings on newer Ford, Ram, and GM trucks (only again, some of the EPA ratings on these trucks are impossible to duplicate).

While the Tundra is never going to be a Prius, there are ways you can save on fuel economy. Here are some practical ideas, taken from recommendations given by real Tundra owners on TundraTalk.net.

How Real Toyota Tundra Drivers Are Improving Their Fuel Economy

Want to save at the pump? Here are some tips.

Drive Like Grandma

By far the simplest way to save gas is to take your foot off the gas pedal! We know – driving like a little old lady isn’t going to make you popular. However, if you:

  • Accelerate slowly
  • Try not to exceed 65mph on the highway (55mph is better)
  • Coast rather than brake whenever possible
  • Use cruise control as much as possible

You’ll save fuel AND minimize maintenance costs. Driving like a little old lady reduces tire wear, extends the lifetime of your brake system components, etc.

Install K&N Air Filter

When we conducted our K&N Air Filter review, we were quite surprised to find it improved the fuel economy by 0.5 miles per gallon. This may sound like a small amount, yet it works out to $1,100 in gas savings over 100k miles. That is not a small amount.

K&N air filters improve fuel economy by significantly increasing the air flow to the engine. With more air, the engine doesn’t work as hard to pull it in and this helps you save fuel. This fact combined with their ridiculous 1,000,000 mile warranty means you will save money on maintenance costs as well. Certainly, a win-win!

In addition to K&N air filters, you might check out aFe and Volant air filters as well.

Constantly Check Tire Pressure

You’ve heard this for years, but it bears repeating: Keep an eye on your tire pressure. It’s a funny little thing, but under-inflated tires take more fuel to get rolling, which hurts gas mileage. Several studies have shown that under-inflated tires hurt fuel economy,  “by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires,” according to Fueleconomy.gov.

What’s more, tires wear out more quickly when they’re under or over-inflated. By ensuring the proper tire pressure, you’re maximizing tire life AND saving gas.

Keep Up on Maintenance

Going hand in hand with checking your tire pressure is staying up on your maintenance schedule. Skipping an oil change, fuel or air filter replacement, etc. could reduce the efficiency of your truck. What’s more, if your truck is old enough, it might be a good idea to replace spark plugs and plug wires, alternators, etc. to boost fuel mileage.

Lose the Weight

The Tundra is a large, full-size truck with ample storage room. This is great except when you are trying to improve the fuel economy. These storage areas can fill up quickly with excess weight.

In order to get better fuel economy, you should be vigilant about keeping stuff out of your truck unless you need it. Finish working on a job? Empty the truck. Done camping? Empty the truck. Return from a long road trip? Empty the truck.

Simply put, by keeping your truck empty, you will help your wallet from being empty.

While there are plenty of other tips to improve fuel economy, these are the key ones real-world owners follow to get the best fuel economy they can. If you follow these, you can too.

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  1. Randy says:

    Tim,

    The one major item I take exception to is:

    “Use the cruise control”

    I guess I have had about 50 new trucks and cars in my life time. I have always been able to get better MPGs without cruise control. On some vehicles the cruise could almost match me, but it was never better than what I could achieve without it.

    In the case of the 2014 Tundra on hi-way trips I usually get about 2 MPGs better without the cruise control; and that is for trips. The longer the trips the better the MPGs I will get. Even if I am driving “terrible” (mind in the clouds and not paying attention to my driving), I will still get better MPGs.

    There are two major reasons I get that much better MPGs without cruise control in the 2014 Tundra.

    1. My driving style has always been an abbreviated form of hypermiling; essentially driving off the torque curve of the engine for that particular vehicle. Something I learned over 50 years ago and habits are hard to break. I do this all by instinct. To me it is like breathing air.

    2. The 2014 has an exceptionally “wide” (moderately wider) gear range from fist to sixth. Tundra’s way of mimicking the alleged benefits of an 8 speed without the shifting. But if you have cruise control set at 65-75 on the rolling hills of the Texas hi-ways, it will maintain the “perfect” speed at the expense of MPGs. It will downshift to maintain that “perfect” speed when going up hills.

    Because I am specifically driving off the torque curve benefits of the engine, I do not allow it to downshift. If my target speed is 70, I am able to maintain 68-72 throughout most of the state without downshifting. From Dallas to Houston and back that is worth 2 MPGs. The cruise control would maintain the perfect 70mph and it burns an extra 2MPGs in doing so.

    Again different car/trucks and drivers/conditions are all significant variables in this.

    It is true 9 out of 10 drivers will not be able to do this, so they might as well use cruise control.

    For City Driving: I don’t necessarily drive like Grandma. Maybe a little more like Grandpa with Rabies. The Tundra does not like to sit around at stop lights or spend 15 minutes programming Entune in a parking lot with the engine running. That burns tons of gas and kills the MPGs. The Tundra does not like ice cold short trip driving that kills MPGs. The Tundra does not like rolling at 5mph in first gear on security patrol for two hours that kills MPGs.

    It does like to “get going” and riding the torque curve to get to the target speed without spending time in those lower gears. In other words if my target speed is 35-45 on secondary city streets I have it in fourth or fifth gear quickly. There is no sense wasting a mile or two of driving in second or third, when fourth or fifth is what you need to get the most of MPGs. Again all this should be done by natural instinct.

  2. mendonsy says:

    K&N filters may improve mileage (although not everyone will agree) but the also cause problems with the MAF sensor because they use an oiled element which eventually causes the MAF to require cleaning.

  3. toyrulz says:

    I agree with Randy, and will add to it…

    In hilly country, riding the torque of top gear to gain speed down a hill without dropping gear or revving much so to build momentum up the next hill, then letting th e truck lose its speed as you go up so to stay in top gear with not much gas pedal will beat cruise.

    Next trick, get TRD dual exhaust and CAI and drive with my wife in truck. It forces you to drive like grandma to not be too loud and this combined with easier breathing can get you some MPGs.

    The louder volume makes you more aware of what gear you’re in while towing so you can be more mindful of how your right foot drains the tank.

  4. toyrulz says:

    @mendonsy

    I looked into it the best I could and it seems the problem is misrepresented online by the minority that had some problems.

    I heard of many stories of people oiling new filters that are preoiled, and over oiling at clean time.

    Many more people have good results than bad luck with oiled up sensors.

    I agree it is rough to know how much oil to put on them and this is probably the source of the issue. If K&N (and other oilers like TRD) figured a way to ensure enough oil without over oiling, everybody would win. As a lame example: Like yellow filter, blue oil and sample card that is green – spray till filter is this colour.

    • mendonsy says:

      I know two Tundra owners locally who have used K&N filters, an ’02 4.7 and an ’08 5.7. Both had problems with the MAF after about 10k miles. Neither one of them added oil to their filter. Both of them went back to using the stock filters.

  5. mk says:

    k&n air filters in my experience on 2 newer vehicles get .30 more mpg and no issues with sensors just light spray oiling at 40K miles or so is . OVER oiling is NOT good best to have too little vs. too much just enough to change the color from white to pinkish red is all that is needed meaning very light mist from spray bottle of oil.

    Also agree on cruise control to NOT be used since does save on gas to NOT use it in most of my driving conditions. Now, if I drove level roads all the time, yes use cruise, but, I don’t do a lot of hwy. interstate driving more rural country hilly 55-65 mph roads.

    2 best things are letting off the gas well aways from the stop sign letting engine coast and NO flooring the engine from a stop all the time as well as common sense of 2-3 psi above recommended tire pressure say 36-38 psi on OEM tires. I feel 33-35 psi in OEM tires are too low and create too much drag and tire squeal at low parking lot speeds. 39-40 psi though and definitely over 40psi for tires is too much for OEM tires.

  6. Ericthepaintballguy says:

    Drive with tailgate down or even better off (if not hauling anything) saves a ton by reducing drag!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Myth Busters TV show disproved the myth about leaving the tailgate down to improve gas mileage. As well, driving with windows down instead of A/C on was a busted myth as well.

    • Karl Waller says:

      Check out Mythbusters on Discovery Channel. They test this scenario and its just a faulse rumor. Because of the way the wind circulates in the bed it actually hurts your mph to remove the tailgate. Its not an opinion anymore being the myth was busted.

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