Here we are in 2019 and paying the bills can be tough for those still driving the gas-guzzling Dodge Ram for close to ten years now. Looking for ways to improve gas mileage in the Dodge Ram has seemed to be a daunting quest- gas mileage figures haven’t changed much in twenty years, even if the Dodge Ram has gotten bigger, heavier, and stronger. The bottom line is still the gas mileage numbers. In a few years, there’s going to be a crackdown on fuel economy, particularly in the light truck and SUV class of vehicles as CAFE standards get even tougher, and the Dodge Ram is ripe for the EPA smackdown for sure.
What do you do right now?
Those consumers who for whatever reason purchased their new Dodge Ram in the past 10 years may be hurting at the pump, particularly when most economists are predicting that gas will go up with all this Iran drama, and that it won’t come back down fast.
True, you’re not going to ever get the kind of gas mileage from your Dodge Ram that a Prius gets, or even a Dakota- but you might just be able to utilize some tricks from the hot rod scene and from a quirky little subset of the automotive world, known as hypermilers, to bring your gas mileage up just a few ticks to get you by until you might be able to slide behind the wheel of one of Dodge’s Cummins-powered diesel trucks.
Hypermiling the Dodge Ram???
True hypermilers are laughing right now. The Dodge Ram is anything but a hypermiling vehicle. The concept, however, is similar, and translates to larger vehicles. One of the first rules of hypermiling is know your tires. While you might be tempted to lift your Dodge Ram to the heavens and throw on a set of mud-bogging tires, that particular combination is single-handedly guaranteed to dip your gas mileage numbers into the single digits. In fact, unless you do have a diesel-powered Dodge Ram, (which can be tuned to offset the fuel economy loss) this particular modification should simply never be applied to the Dodge Ram pickup truck, regardless of how cool it looks. Your tires need to be thin- and can be within the weight limits of the truck itself. The thing you don’t want to do is overload the tires with a load of stuff in the bed.
The second hypermiling trick is to make the vehicle as aerodynamically “slippery” as possible, which means replacing large towing mirrors and adding a tonneau cover. Unfortunately, the gas you’ll save over the life of the truck by these purchases likely won’t offset the cost. A typical tonneau cover can cost between $300-$3000, and a cap can cost even more. If you’ve got a ten-year old Dodge Ram, chances are this cost is going to be more than you’ll want to invest.
Hot Rodding the 2010 or newer Dodge Ram
The other option for increasing gas mileage in your Dodge Ram (and admittedly the more fun) is to throw some hot-rod modifications at it. When the Dodge Ram left the assembly line, it had a particular purpose in mind: Be able to haul this amount, carry this amount, and tow this amount. As far as trucks go, those are the three most important criteria to the factory. (excepting safety, of course) By changing up the factors that go into these three criteria, you can play with the fuel economy numbers of the truck. Changing the rear axle ratio is potentially the largest single contributor to gas mileage, and by switching out the gears from a torque-biased gear set to a horsepower-biased gear set (which will alter the load carrying characteristics of the truck,) you should realize at minimum three points and a maximum of twelve points higher fuel economy at the pump. Small, I know, but that’s a conservative estimate. If you were looking for fifty more miles per gallon out of your Dodge Ram, you need to wake up!
Fuel and air are the next consideration. Lots of companies make cold-air systems for the Dodge Ram, and some more potent than others. I haven’t tested them all, so do your homework before you buy. Here’s the catch: If you get a high-flowing air induction system, you have to get the high-flowing exhaust system, too. They work as a pair. Adding these two systems will cost you anywhere between $500-$4,000, so spend wisely. Many times, just because they say it’ll work, doesn’t mean that it will. You could do just as well to simply fabricate your own air induction if you have the tools and knowledge.
Finally, the computer. This part of the Dodge Ram is easily the most expensive, but generally the least worthwhile. While diesel trucks benefit greatly from the modification of the ECM, gas-powered trucks generally only see a few points better fuel economy, or sometimes none at all. It’s one of the dangers of bolt-on speed parts. They usually never work as well as the manufacturer claims they do.
Improving the gas mileage in your Dodge Ram isn’t impossible, but it isn’t cheap, either. Keep that in mind as you begin to seek twenty miles per gallon. It might just be cheaper to trade that truck in for a diesel if you need the additional gas mileage that badly.