Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Fuel Economy - Dodge Truck

I have a 1996 Dodge 4x4 Pickup w/Magnum 5.2 engine. I certainly don’t own it for fuel economy but would like to get better then (11-12 mpg). Besides a FULL tune up or inconjunction with a full tune up…what can I do to the truck to gain (MPG)?

The EPA shows about 14 MPG on the road so there’s not much you will be able to do. Clean air filter, new spark plugs, and overinflate (not more than 5 PSI) the tires along with a light foot is about it.

You could get into things like changing differential gearsets or camshaft changes but that will be $$$$ and could possibly open up a can of worms emissions-wise with the latter.

Not much, if anything; even the tune up isn’t likely to yield much improvement lists your mileage as average for your truck(11/15/12 city/highway/combined)

I had a 1998 RAM with a 5.9L 4x4 (360 cid) V8. I pretty consistently got 11-13 in the city and about 18 or so on the highway with the A/C on or off, regardless of weather. These are big, rugged, heavy, not very aerodynamic trucks. They are geared to provide the best compromise between pulling something and cruising. You’re getting about all you’re going to get. They make up for the poor mileage with utility and durability. They are not really meant as a commuter vehicle unless you have to tow something or visit a job site. If you want to save fuel, get a subcompact and enjoy not being able to haul anything and wince every time you bump into a curb. My truck had issues, but when it came to getting through any kind of weather, it was a champ. I felt like I could drive through the apocalypse with it, and nearly did one night when we had severe flooding and I made a wrong turn and drove through a half mile stretch of road where the water was halfway up my doors. The truck never missed a beat, and only suffered a burned out fog lamp from it.

To answer the question on what can you do to get better mileage:
-Make sure the truck is tuned well and your tires are inflated properly.
-Drive with the tailgate closed (Mythbusters actually tested this)
-Accelerate gently and plan for the next stop by coasting. Don’t drive the people behind you crazy to save 50¢ the next fill up though.
-Switching to a full-synthetic oil of the lightest weight recommended in the manual for your climate and conditions may help a little.

Hey - thanks all! Pretty much what I thought and this is a truck for hunting and work but not a daily driver. Appreciate all the feed back!

The best way to have a truck like this and get better gas mileage is to get a similar truck with the 360, or swap in a 360. The 318 is simply not big or strong enough to move a truck this big without feeling overworked, and since it’s working so hard, it’s burning more gas than the larger engine would. This is a rare case where bigger is better in the fuel economy department.

@mark9207: I had a similar truck with the 360. It got pretty much the same mileage as the OP’s truck. (mine was a 4x4 though) Mine accelerated better though than a 318-equipped truck.

Most people I have talked to who owned these trucks reported slightly better gas mileage for the 360 equipped trucks, especially in the 4X4s (also, the OP stated at the beginning their truck is a 4X4) and especially in mixed or city driving. I have also heard this about WJ Grand Cherokees, that in mixed or city driving, the 4.7L V8 does slightly better on gas than the 4.0L I6. I presumed in both cases that it was primarily because the smaller engine seems barely adequate to power the vehicle while the larger engine does not seem to be working nearly as hard. In both cases, gas mileage was not significantly better, maybe 1-2 mpg, and in most other cases the larger engine will consume more fuel, of course.

I don’t know about the driving habits my uncle has, but he owned a 6cyl Chevy Silverado single cab for a little while then bought a GMC Sierra extended cab with the 5.3L V8 and he said he got better MPG with the Sierra than the Silverado

DaMayor…you are absolutely right. The only way to definitly decrease your gas use for this guzzler…is to use it as little as possible.

Yep there is a certain efficiency to certain combos.I expect that the new diesel Dodges with like a 3 Liter 6 cyl engine will get good mileage as long as its not overloaded with weight,the big Diesel pickups get fair mileage,but not spectacular mileage-Kevin

Well, I have had some experience with 318s and 360s and I never knew a 360 that got better mileage than a 318.

Be thankful you are getting 12mpg…You want decent mileage? Trade it for a 4-cylinder stick-shift truck…A Toyota if you can find one…If that’s not an option, limit your speed to 60mph, accelerate gently, make sure your brakes are not dragging, check the ignition timing…But 14-15 is tops…

""Trade it for a 4-cylinder stick-shift truck...A Toyota if you can find one.""    I wouldn't go that far to get good mileage.!!

Agreed…My '91 W-250 360 4-speed gets 12 but it can do things few other trucks can do without breaking something…