Hello. I have a '95 Dodge Dakota with a 3.9l Magnum. I love my truck but if
there's one thing I have to say that I can't stand about it, it would be the
horrible gas mileage I get on the highway. I was just offered a job as an
independent contractor repairing computers and on some days I will have to
drive as much as 320 miles per day. For all intents and purposes that
equivilates to a full tank for me on the highway. Actually if I'm just
steady driving with my tailgate down I can get roughly 370 miles per tank
generally only having around 1 1/2 gallons left( I am assuming I have a 20
gallon tank). So I'm guessing that at max I would be able to get somewhere
around 385 miles to the tank before I'm pushing it(ugh!)
One of the things I've noticed about my Dakota is how quickly if shifts
through the gears to get to overdrive. In my Pontiac Bonneville, shifting
from gear to gear would take much longer, and subsequently be much smoother
than in the Dakota. I compare the two because the Bonneville had a 3.8l
engine in it. Also in my Bonneville I could easily get 420 plus miles on an
18 gallon tank. This is what I would like to get out of the 20 gallons in
My question is, how do I do it? One solution is to change the gearing in the
transmission. But this is not a good idea because of the time it would take
to do so and the expense to have it done. My next alternative would be to
put a different transmission in the Dakota from a similar vehicle that's
been geared differently. Something like a Durango. I don't know for sure,
but I'm thinking the Durango is geared more for highway driving than for
higher towing capacity(like my Dakota, if not all of them).
Basically what I want is a transmission that is geared more for highway than
for pulling. I don't figure I'll ever be pulling more than 2 tons(Both in
bed, and towed) much anymore and I believe most transmissions can handle
that easily as long as you take it easy and increase your speed gradually. I
would appreciate any valid input you may have to offer on this.
Thanks in advance.
You ask a good question. The thing that you would possible benifit
from the most is maybe a taller rear axle ratio as you have OD now and
a different tranny is not going to help much. Also your Dakota is a
lot less areodynamic than your car and front wheel drives have less
power loss in drive train too so it will never do as well. A few tips,
remove or lower tail gate on highway, run stock tyrp tire of 75 or 83
profile with smooth tread at or near max pressure as this will reduce
rolling resistance. Also change lubes in tranny and rear axle ans
fresh changes can improve MPG a fractio or more if they were overdue
servicing. Waht axle ratio do you have in truck now?
On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 21:08:02 -0400, "Christopher Thompson"
Not true in real life with most pickup trucks. Gate down, or off
(possibly better than down) reduces wind drag and increases highway
mileage on just about any pickup I've driven (and that's a fair
number) A mesh gate (almost equivalent to none) can be used if you
occaisionally need to carry something that could otherwise fall out.
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
believe what you want. it helps. it doesnt. its your truck.
bear this in mind though ive seen a lot of bent tailgates riding around most
of them laying flat. makes me wonder how they got bent in the first place.
personally i keep mine up and have no complaints.
for what its worth.
On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 21:08:02 -0400, "Christopher Thompson"
I question that a lot because I have seen first hand otherwise. Even
my 2000 K3500 pickup up about 1 MPG with gae dow verse up when I made
to 240 mile round trips two days in a row, same weather and speed to
same place. Having worked inflight test R&D for many years in the
past I know how easy it is to do the same test with different varibles
and have completely different outcomes and a wind tunnel is not the
same as moving down the road with truck generating its own heat
signature which expands the air under truck and changes the
They iignore it because they do not want public to know that is hurts
MPG when they spend a fortune convincing them to pay P/U to replaces
cars and that would hurt sales and profits and how do you sell a P/U
without a tail gate? I agree that if you have a cover on bed that
helps but with gate up and no covers there will be disrupted airflow
and drag and the nature of that drag will change with speed and the
faster you drive the worse it will be. AIr flows over cab and down
in bed only to reach a barrier to be force back up again rather than
straight out back of bed and this causes more drag with takes more
fuel to overcome.
But there isn't any "they" acting in unison. Instead there are many
pickup truck manufacturers in competition with each other. Each wants an
advantage over the other. Don't you think that at least one truck maker
has thought about this issue by now?
My understanding is that the air flows over the cab and by the time it
comes back down it is long past the gate, hence the gate doesn't catch
wind like a sail. This is also consistent with my childhood experiences
of riding in the back of trucks. When you sit in the bed facing forward
the air does not hit you square in the face as if you were riding a
Furthermore, if there were significant gains to be made by removing the
gate or by installing a net gate, then practically every truck owner
would have one by now. Pickups have been around for a long time. If
removing the gate worked it would be widespread knowledge by now amoung
Sit by the tail gate going down the road and feel the wind. Also
"they" do not tell you that they use 93 octane in EPA tests or that
they are hand built vehicle not random pulls and that the average
speed for highway test is 48 and that Detriot tests the cars
themselves not a independant lab. Do not be so nieve to think that
there is not cooperation amoung competitors on some makers that is to
all of their benifit
Maybe they would if they really new but then if they did they might
not buy a P/U either so it is a catch 22.
Try to follow this. When the air flows over the cab and into the bed with
the gate up, a air cushon is formed, sorta like a cover, additional air
flows across this cushon, makes the truck more aero.
I would think that having the tailgate down would create more turbulence
directly behind the cab and more drag. Leaving it up would appear to
give more of a teardrop airflow from the cab trailing down to the tailgate.
There's very little you could do to the trans that would improve fuel
be cost effective. It shifts up early to OD in an attempt to obtain better fuel
mileage, so you want to leave that alone.
Take a look at the rear gear ratio. Changing up or down MAY get you better
mileage, and it may not. You want the engine to be just starting in to the
band at your normal cruising speed - that's where it's most efficient. But
it's probably not cost effective unless you plan on putting another 80-100K
There are a lot of other small things you can do to improve fuel mileage.
the tailgate. Lots of tests and studies have been done proving that with the
tailgate down you get worse aerodynamics and more drag. A tanneau cover is even
Eliminate weight. What are you carrying around that you don't need?
Evaluate your tires. Off road/all terrain tires create a lot of drag.
they are heavy, which requires more torque to get them moving. Pick a good
tire, and watch the inflation pressure like a hawk.
Synthetic fluids are said to help. But I've got to say I have never
differance in my truck one way or the other. But with that many miles it will
your maintenance intervals, so it might be worth it to you.
Finally, evaluate you driving habits. That will get you the most bang for
Tkae a 300 mile trip with gat up and one with gate down and I
gaurentte that you will see a fuel consumption increase with gate up
because fore reasons I posted earlier, the wind tunnel test does not
bear fruit properly.
I can't speak for you and the trucks you drive.
But I've seen a lot of tests done against wind tunnels and water flow. Gate
was always better. Also, I tested my own truck. Worse was gate down and bed
Slightly better with bed open and gate up. Even better still was gate up and
on. My own tests seemed to follow the mentioned test results.
That's a real truck, on a real road, with a real driver. What else can I
I guess the only way to know for sure is for you to test your own truck, with
driving, on your roadways.
These have got to be biased test because the shock wave created by
gate up would vary a lot with speed and there might be a lower speed
in which your senerio is played out but not accross the board and
water test mean nothing as it acts differentlly than air to
disruptions and not of these test factory in the hot expanded air
traveling under truck and exhaust from truck too into slip stream.
Plus these result can vary with small change in air density via
tempature and altitude and even humidity can play a roll to. It
simplyit do more efficent to drag a barrier wall through the wind than
a mooth flow out of bed. If you beleive otherwise it is your right too
if you want but it does not make it correct and being a pilot I really
understand areodynamics and flow. Many years ago we had a test C141
that had a flat house for antennes attached to aircraft behind the
rear cargo doors that was about 8 ft in diamet (rahter than the
tapered tailcone A/C came with. It was found to effect speed and fuel
consumption so much (even on a on a 150ton A/C) that when testing was
over a specail tail cone faring was made to put on A/C when the rear
mounting area was not being used for testing. You want airflow to
colapse smoothly behide vehicle and not have to re-expand again to
drag a flat tail gate wall through slipstream pushing air back up only
to have it fall off again suddenly. This can cause a lot of drag.
Honestly, I have been able to tell a difference with the tailgate down, when
driving on the interstate. It seems to not have as much resistance. And with
the rear glass opened there's not nearly as much wind blowing in. So I am
assuming(hopefully correctly so), that I am getting better fuel effeciency
that way(It may just be a mental thing though.).
The truck has the Mark III conversion kit on it so I am assuming it already
has street tires on it. And since it is a conversion truck, I don't plan on
driving it offroad much more than into the yard to move stuff whenever
Due to the nature of the job I am gong to be taking I have decided that I
will be going with a the 15,000 mile synthetic oil from I believe Castrol.
That way I will only have to change the oil once every two months minimum as
opposed to every 10 days minimum, like I said before I am going to be
driving up to 320 miles a day in the truck.
This one I picked up on VERY early into owning the truck. In fact I've gone
as far as to traveling down the 55MPH highway instead of the 70MPH
Interstate. Oddly enough my truck got the best improvement there. I went
from getting 16MPG to almost 19MPG just by doing that. Not sure if having
the tailgate down had anything to do with that though. I changed to a K&N
Air filter but it does't seem to have helped much. Not as much as I had
hoped, and not nearly as much as putting one in my Bonneville. I also
switched to a Flowmaster Muffler, though that didn't seem to have any effect
on the truck either.
Seems like the Dakota likes the 50 to 55MPH range the best, Although I like
to drive 60 to 65MPH. Unfortunately on the Interstates around Middle
Tennessee, if youre driving at least 75MPH, you're like to either get ran
down, if not ran over, by a Semi, or come close to causing an accident, if
you don't cause one.
One more thing I've noticed about that truck too, is that it seems to want
to run a heavy mixture of gas -vs- air, which is why I bought the K&N
filter. In fact until I bought the K&N, the truck would sputter out and quit
once it got anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 a tank. Now sometimes when I drive the
truck it feels like the truck is running with some kind of limiter on it. I
guess the only way I can describe is its as if the truck is driving uphill
and having to drive at a lower gear to achieve the same speed, even though I
may be on level ground or even a downhill. Is something possibly wrong with
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