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Getting the Best Gas Mileage Out Of Your Conversion Van
Conversion vans don’t boast best-in-class mileage as much as they boast plenty of fun adventures, but they can offer fuel economy if regularly maintained. A typical conversion van will get around 12-16 miles per gallon (mpg), depending on the model. Let’s explore the factors that affect fuel economy and how to get the best mileage out of your van.
Van conversion and fuel efficiency
Weight is the primary enemy of fuel efficiency. Most safety technology has added weight. More weight means the engines have to produce more power.
Mark owns a 2002 Chevy Express high rise van. He drives the van about 70% on the highway with cruise control on and the rest around town. His van is equipped with a wheelchair lift that adds weight. “My gas mileage is 10 mpg.
Susan owns a 2001 Chevy Express 15 seater van on a 1 ton chassis. “I bought it used with almost 40,000 miles on it. About four years later I got it to 91,000 miles. My van still averages 10-11 mpg.” Her van’s 30-gallon fuel tank allows her to travel a total of 390-320 miles before needing to stop for fuel.
According to the US Department of Energy, Mark and Susan’s Chevy Express van should get 14 mpg combined city and highway.
If you ask different owners of the same van models, they get 15 to 18 mpg. What is their secret?
Weather conditions (wind), van maintenance, road conditions (hills, traffic jams, etc.) and city or highway driving are among the factors that affect your van’s fuel consumption. Driving in the city lowers the average really fast. The only mileage you can reliably compare between vans is highway mileage (no city) at the same speed.
8 useful tips for converting gas mileage
The gas consumption of each vehicle is affected by driving style (for example, if you are an aggressive driver), speed, driving conditions and vehicle maintenance.
Aggressive driving (speeding, hard acceleration and braking) wastes gas and can reduce gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent in the city. Driving sensibly is safer for you, pedestrians and other drivers, so you may be saving more than just gas money.
While each van achieves its optimum fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds); gas mileage usually drops rapidly at speeds above 50 mph.
Every 5 mph you go over 50 mph is like paying an extra $0.25 per gallon for gas.
Here are tips to ensure the best fuel economy:
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Check that the engine air filter is clean.
- Spark plugs. Do you have the right ones? Is the spacing correct? Check the three in front; are the most easily accessible.
- Does the torque converter lock up? When driving at a constant speed of about 40-45 mph, the converter should lock up, so the RPMs will drop about 500.
- Check engine oil and transmission fluid levels. Are there regular oil changes, or does the engine get clogged?
- Avoid excessive idling. Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioning (AC) use. Turn off the engine when your vehicle is parked. It only takes a few seconds worth of fuel to restart the vehicle.
- Use cruise control. Using cruise control on the highway helps maintain a constant speed and saves gas in most cases.
- Remove excess weight. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce your mpg by up to 2 percent.
How to calculate mileage conversion for gas delivery
The best way to calculate your conversion van’s gas mileage is to divide the miles driven (as registered on your odometer) by the gallons of fuel used. You can also use the trip computer’s mpg calculation if your van model is equipped with one.
Your van conversion on-board computer may display distance to empty (DTE). DTE is an estimate of how many miles you can still drive based on the amount of gas in the tank and your recent fuel consumption. It automatically resets when the tank is full and will depend on your driving style, speed and fuel consumption. DTE can reflect if you are using a heavy throttle foot.
DTE will be more accurate as you use gas because it will tell you how much is left. It does not subtract from the starting number; for example DTE shows 300 miles but you drive 150 miles and now DTE shows 200 miles.
The US Department of Energy has a handy annual fuel cost calculator to help you estimate what your annual and lifetime fuel costs might be.
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