hypnobunny asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 10 years ago

Products to improve gas mileage in older cars?

Should the government give incentives for programs to improve efficiency of existing cars? Instead of destroying working vehicles. Lighter doors, hoods, trunks, insulation, rims, and electric engine fans.


With out mass production, things are not affordable. Automobile manufacturers would like existing cars to become obsolete, so they can sell new ones, with maybe only minor improvements. Why were so many cars made with fans running off the engine instead of electric fans, decreasing mpg as much as 2 miles per gallon?

9 Answers

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think that the administration of such programs would cost more than they are worth...

    It's an interesting idea, though...

    Considering the cost of installing those items on cars, I think that the return on investment at current fuel prices is pretty attractive to begin with.

    The best of those improvements in most autos would be the electric fan to replace the belt driven unit... In most cases you can gain as much as 1-2 MPG meaning if you drive 10,000 miles/year at 20 MPG, you would be saving ~24-45.5 gallons/year. That's definitely going to pay for itself in short order...

    Next would be the rims. I've read that you get 2x (4% MPG gain/100 lbs) the benefit from lighter wheel/tire combinations since the mass has to be rotated as well as moved. This also has the added benefit of making your car safer due to better handling (most factory wheel/tire packages on older US vehicles were chosen for ride quality and cost effectiveness, *NOT* performance and/or safety).

    Then reducing weight by replacing body panels will supposedly gain you 2% MPG/100 lbs.

    You should also note that if your car has a 20 gallon fuel tank that when full, the fuel that you are carrying is ~170 lbs... You could replace it with a smaller, lighter fuel cell and perhaps save a bit of mileage and it may be more cost effective than replacing body panels.

    You can also simply keep your fuel level around 1/4 - 3/4 of a tank rather than 1/2 to Full. In the above 20 gal. example, that saves you over 40 lbs (averaging 1/2 tank full rather than 3/4 tank full).

    Another (FREE) idea is that if you use this car as a daily driver and don't leave town and have AAA or people that you can call, you could remove your spare and jack and keep a air pump and tire plugs instead. Most flats are from things like nails which can easily be removed/plugged much faster and easier than changing the tire anyway...

    Edit: [re: Peter J's answer]

    NASCAR has had a minimal affect on aerodynamics, safety and fuel economy. If you want to support racing, support Formula 1 since they are at any given time much more likely to be developing the cutting edge of engine, aerodynamic and safety technology.

    Edit: [re: oaktree's answer]

    Not true. The electric fan requires much less energy to turn it, and *MUCH* less to turn it at any significant engine RPM (since the electric fan is designed to turn at the RPM that the electric motor is designed to turn it). Belt driven fans can rob an engine of up to and exceeding 15 HP as RPMs increase (depending on the car/engine), where electric fans may have 1/2 HP motors (that varies, of course, but most that I've seen don't exceed 1 HP). I can't see a situation where a belt driven fan would *ever* be more efficient.

    I'd also like to point out that belt driven fans are not usually driven directly. They generally have a viscous clutch and a thermostatic spring that allow them to spin more slowly until the engine reaches a certain temperature..


    Source(s): I'm assuming good general maintenance such as maintaining tire pressures, etc...
  • 10 years ago

    The engine vs electric fan question points out the answer - money. Until nearly the end of the 20th century, it was a lot cheaper to drive the fan off the front of the water pump, which needs to turn anyway, than to build an electric motor and control system for the job. The thermostatic fan hub was an interim solution that saved at least some power as well as allowing the engine to warm up faster.

    Retrofitting existing cars means that you have fewer parts of any given style than were made for the original model run and far more different parts to be designed and warehoused to serve the various models. This really messes with your mass production economics. It is far more economic to concentrate on efficient recycling of older cars.

  • 10 years ago

    A better muffler, a better air filter and a better ignition. Why they cant just put better ones in cars right off the production line is well ya know one of those issues.

    A good performance muffler plus the filter and ignition system and some good spark plugs is around 400-500 dollars total.

    you will get modest increased efficiency and also more power , which means you need to use less gas to do what you normally do so you will get even more efficiency.

    The cash for clunkers program was all about getting people to buy new cars and didnt do much otherwise.

    If you can buy a car that claims to get 32mp but because most poeple dont take care of them and they have crappy components they probably are only getting 28 - 29. while a car that was off the line that was only rated at 28 but through noted improvements is getting 31-33 .. well the government didnt have an incentive for that. too bad.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    The internal gas engine is only around forty per cent efficient Diesel engine a litter better

    they should and could be scrapped for the electric driven car

    run with nuclear generated power

    to improve gas milage is a 1903 henry ford dream

    just is not in the cards

    we could all have electric cars in two years or more

    Source(s): history channel
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  • Rich
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    The internal combustion engine is relatively efficient. However, the demand for quick acceleration requires high torque. To produce high torque, an engine needs to be oversized and will likely be used less efficiently. There are a couple of possibilities to make cars more efficient: the system of roads would need to change or the cars would need a different power system. There are developments that will link cars like railroad cars, making the freeways into mass-moving cells. Quick acceleration and stopping would be vastly eliminated. The developments in power systems include smaller engines combined with electric motors and hydraulic pressure-storage/dynamo to provide quick acceleration and stopping.

  • 10 years ago

    I remember the government official in charge of that type of program saying "We want to get those econoboxes off the road" The implication being that once the "econoboxes" (presumably more efficient cars) were crushed and sent to China, they would be replaced by gas guzzlers that would yield high sales taxes, high annual car tax, and high gas tax because of the higher amount consumed. Disregard the much higher emissions, even though their agency was formed to reduce emissions. Keep in mind that the government above all else looks after its' own income. I remember a special tax in Oregon on efficient cars since they were seen as "cheating" on gas tax.

    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    As a minor point, driving the fan off the engine directly is more efficient in terms of energy transfer, but when the fan is electric, it only runs when it is needed, so overall, less energy is wasted.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    If you're really interested in improving automobiles... support NASCAR.

    That organization has done far more to improve automobile efficiency than the government can, and it doesn't cost us a nickle.

  • 10 years ago

    Please , no more government incentives. Let things live or die on their own merit.

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