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Getting the Best Gas Mileage Out Of Your Conversion Van
Conversion vans don’t offer best in class fuel mileage figures as they boast of number of fun adventures, but they can offer fuel economy if maintained regularly. The typical conversion pickup truck will get around 12 to 16 miles per gallon (mpg), depending on the model. Let’s explore the factors that affect fuel economy and how to get the most out of your minivan’s gas mileage.
Conversion vans and energy efficiency
Weight is a main enemy of energy efficiency. Most safety technologies have added weight. Carrying more weight means engines have to produce more power.
Mark owns a 2002 Chevy Express high-roof conversion van. He drives the van about 70% on the highway with cruise control on, and the rest in town. His van is equipped with a wheelchair lift, which adds weight. “My gas mileage is 10 mpg.”
Susan owns a 2001 Chevy Express 15-passenger van on a one-ton chassis. “I bought it used with nearly 40,000 miles. About four years later I had a tune-up at 91,000 miles. My van still averages 10-11 mpg.” Her pickup truck’s 30-gallon fuel tank allows a total drive of 390 to 320 miles before she needs to stop to refuel.
According to the US Department of Energy, Mark and Susan’s Chevy Express minivans are expected to get 14 mpg, city and highway combined.
If you ask different owners of the same models of conversion vans, they get 15-18 mpg. What is their secret ?
Weather (wind), van maintenance, road conditions (hills, traffic jams, etc.), and city or highway driving are some of the factors that affect your van’s gas mileage. Driving in town lowers the average very quickly. The only mileage you can reliably compare between vans is highway (non-city) mileage at the same speed.
8 Useful Tips for Converting Vans Gas Efficiency
The gas mileage of any vehicle depends on driving style (if you are an aggressive driver, for example), speed, driving conditions and vehicle maintenance.
Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas and can reduce your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and 5% in the city. Sensible driving is safer for you, pedestrians and other drivers, so you can save more than gas money.
While each van achieves its optimum fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds); gas mileage generally decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph.
Every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph equals paying an extra $0.25 per gallon for gas.
Here are some tips to ensure you get the best fuel economy:
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Check that the engine air filter is clean.
- Candles. Do you have the vouchers? Is the gap correct? Check the three in front; they are the easiest to access.
- Does the torque converter lock up? When riding at a steady speed of around 40-45 mph, the converter should lock up, so the rpm drops around 500.
- Check engine oil and transmission fluid levels. Have oil changes been carried out regularly or is the engine getting dirty?
- Avoid excessive idling. Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use. Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked. It only takes a few seconds of fuel to restart your vehicle.
- Use cruise control. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a steady speed and, in most cases, will save you gas.
- Remove excess weight. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mpg by up to 2%.
How to Calculate Your Van Gas Mileage Conversion
The best way to calculate your conversion van’s gas mileage is to divide the miles traveled (as recorded on your odometer) by the gallons of fuel used. You can also use the trip computer’s miles per gallon calculation, if your van model has one.
Your conversion van’s on-board computer can display the distance to empty (DTE). The DTE is an estimate of how many more miles you can go based on the amount of gas in the tank and your recent fuel economy. It will reset automatically when you fill the tank and will depend on your driving style, speed and fuel consumption. The DTE can tell if you are using a heavy foot throttle.
The DTE will become more accurate as you consume gas since it will tell you what is left. It does not subtract from the original number; for example, the DTE reads 300 miles, but you drive 150 miles and now the DTE reads 200 miles.
The US Department of Energy has a handy Annual Fuel Cost Calculator to help you estimate your annual and lifetime fuel costs.
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