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Moving to high altitude

Howdy Car Talk folks:

I am moving from sea level, coastal California, to Boulder CO. I will be living in Boulder most of the year and spending the summers at 7700’ in the Rocky Mountains. I have a 1995 standard Toyota Four Runner. Is there something I should have done to the four runner to adjust for the increase of altitude to help the vehicle run better?

There’s nothing to do. The engine management system should compensate for the change in elevation. There may even be a barometric pressure sensor as part of the engine management system.


I agree. When I moved to the high desert of Arizona a few years back I was wary of the 85 octane gasoline. My vehicles, both Jeep Cherokees, actually seemed to run better at the higher altitude. It took me a few days to get used to the thinner air though.

Much has been made about the fuel sayings you will enjoy at the 7700’ altitude due to the thinner air, but before you spend all the savings do some calculations about what it cost to get the vehicle up to that thinner air.

It’s a modern EFI car so leave it alone. The fuel injection automatically compensates for the thinner air. Your engine will make less power, there’s nothing that you can do to offset this.

In the days of carburettors, high altitude called for different metering jets in the carb. This did not restore sea level horsepower, it just kept an overly rich fuel mixture from compounding the performance loss.
But, EFI systems do this automatically.

The altitude will have a greater effect on you than the car…drink more fluids at first and you should adjust in about a week or so.

Rentals in Boulder are ALWAYS tight, but with the fires west of town (175 homes destroyed) there is ZERO rental housing in Boulder now…So start thinking Longmont…

The only thing you will notice is the drop in power. Natually aspirated engines lose power as you increase altitude (about 3% per 1000ft). At 7700 ft expect about 20% drop. You will get used to it, but every time you return to sea level, you will feel that extra power return.

Other than that, you won’t notice anything.

Well, you may also notice better fuel economy at high altitudes.