Here at Backwoods Adventure Mods, we’re all about upgrading vehicles for off-roading and overlanding – it’s what we do. We’re passionate about outfitting cars with the best essential – and sometimes super cool but not strictly essential – gear that will improve your experience, protect your vehicle, look great, and get you and your car back home again in one piece.
But there’s one truth that needs to be acknowledged and addressed, and that is this:
Adding mods to your vehicle will very likely have a negative impact on your fuel economy.
It’s a fact.
How much your mpgs go down depends on a lot of variables, including the nature of the mods you install and how fast you drive. Getting the right mods is all about balancing the boost in performance and safety you get with the decline in fuel economy so you can get a vehicle that looks and performs the way you want across the board. Let’s take a closer look at some off-roading mods to better understand their impact on mpgs and how products from Backwoods Adventure Mods help you get the balance you’re after.
But first, a quick look at mods and MPGs
Before we dive into the mods themselves, it’s worth taking a moment to consider why mods affect fuel economy. Vehicles built for off-roading are big and bulky and aren’t known for their fuel economy. Upgrading your car with overlanding mods makes the situation worse by adding drag, friction, and weight, all of which cause your vehicle to work harder, which in turn makes the vehicle less efficient and results in lower gas mileage. Obviously, lower gas mileage means your vehicle is more expensive to drive. But lower mileage also means your car will go fewer miles between fill-ups and a shortened range can really cramp your style when planning an off-road adventure. Reducing fuel economy from 21 mpg to 18 mpg can reduce your range by over 50 miles.
In short, fuel economy matters. So, let’s look at the mods.
There are tons of mods you can add to your vehicle. We’re going to focus on two: bumpers and roof racks.
Front and Rear Bumpers
Off-road enthusiasts know that bumper mods are critical upgrades. Factory-installed front and rear bumpers, even on cars built for off-roading, aren’t strong enough to stand up to the hazards of the open trail. They’re no match for boulders, stumps, ledges, and branches; you’ll bring your OEM bumper home from a weekend off-road scratched, dented, and possibly even punctured. While that messed-up bumper doesn’t look particularly good, it’s also not able to protect the more critical components under the hood. In addition, OEM bumpers aren’t able to support the recovery gear you need to tackle significant challenges. A bumper mod is a must if you want to mount a winch or shackles to your vehicle.
Front bumpers are made from either steel or aluminum. Steel bumpers are strong; the only issue you need to worry about with them is rust, but they are heavy. A solid steel front bumper with a bull bar can weigh in at well over 200lbs. Adding that kind of weight to the front of your car will affect a lot of things, including suspension, handling, and gas mileage. But bumper mods add weight, and weight lowers gas mileage.
Aluminum bumpers are lightweight (less than 50lbs) and won’t rust, making them a great alternative to steel. They’re also strong and offer effective protection. But if you’re installing a winch or doing significant off-roading, you’ll miss the strength and stability of steel.
That’s why Backwoods Adventure Mods offers a hybrid solution. Our Hi-Lite bumpers are made from lightweight aluminum and feature steel winch cradles and mounting brackets. The bumper plus bull bar weighs less than 130 lbs, making it the strongest, lightest bumper mod you can find anywhere. Will it reduce your gas mileage? Yes, a bit, but the extra strength and security are well worth it.
Roof racks add drag and weight to your vehicle. There’s no getting around it. The more stuff you put on top of your car, the less aerodynamic it will be. And yet rooftop storage is often essential. Off-roading and overlanding require a lot of gear, and there’s no getting around the need for extra storage.
The DRIFTR roof rack system from Backwoods Adventure Mods adds critical storage space without adding unnecessary weight. Full aluminum construction makes the rack and ladder lightweight and strong. This modular rack system also has a low-profile design which minimizes its impact on aerodynamics. Of course, your actual results will depend on what you store up there, but the DRIFTR rack itself won’t have an impact on your MPGs one way or the other. It’s just a great-looking rack that’s easy to customize to your exact needs. To manage fuel economy, keep your roof storage lightweight and low-profile.
Is there anything you can do?
Keeping your MPGs up is important, but you’ll still want to upgrade your bumpers and add a roof rack since the benefits of these mods are so significant. Here are a few things you can do to compensate for the loss of fuel economy:
- Keep your speed down. Faster speeds equal lower fuel economy.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated when driving on paved roads. Low tires increase friction and decrease mileage. If you’ve lowered your pressures to improve traction on the trail, pump them back up when back on the road.
- Watch your weight. Anything you can do to minimize your overall load will be good for your gas mileage.
- Go easy on the A/C.
- Make other modifications geared towards improving fuel economy, such as upgrading your exhaust or fuel system or tweaking the compression ratio.
- Keep your air filters clean.
Installing hybrid bumpers and low-profile roof racks from Backwoods Adventure Mods plus making these other changes will minimize the impact on your fuel economy so you can manage your fuel costs and your driving range.
Upgrade with Confidence
Adding mods to your off-roading vehicle is part of the fun of the sport, and Backwoods Adventures mods is here to help you get the upgrade you need and to want and keep your vehicle operating as efficiently as possible. Give us a call to talk about mods for your car today.