I got into offroading at the ripe old age of 19, when I was stationed at Fort Bragg NC. l was fortunate enough to receive 3 square meals, health insurance, and a place to sleep at night. Even as a PFC, I had more income than responsibility and was able to pour my dollars into a Jeep Wrangler I purchased specifically for the trail. I equipped it with steel bumpers and was off-roading every spare minute I had!
My, how things have changed! Fast forward ten years and I’ve got two money suckers (as I affectionately refer to my beautiful children) and a loving wife who micromanages our bank account. Sound familiar?
Feeding The Passion
You can’t turn your back on a passion. I love making decisions and taking the necessary risks to see just how far I can take my TJ off the beaten path. But as with most hobbies, 4x4’s require a lot of spending. We wouldn’t love it so much if we were taking our stock vehicles straight from the dealership to the trail. Half the fun is knowing that you yourself chose the truck's own unique identity. Not just aesthetically either, performance too. When you find a part that makes a world of difference, it does nothing but catapult your love for the sport. Or at least it does mine.
Save Money At The Pump
Talking the wife into upgrades is easier when you’re as fuel conscious as I am. Save money at the pump, pump money into the passion is my new motto. I keep my RPMs low when I’m around town, coasting as frequently as possible and easing on the brakes. I take some basic weight reduction precautions and swap out wheels for the journey at hand.
When I bought my offroading tires, I had them mounted to their own wheels. I keep them aside so they last longer and my gas mileage only suffers when they’re turning. It only takes 20 minutes of effort before and after the trek - and the lack of road noise is a nice bonus. Make sure to check your PSI regularly. Flat tires are slow tires, which can really hurt your MPG. Remove unnecessary stock roof racks and flapping team flags to reduce drag. Every little bit helps.
Look At Your Intake
If you haven’t upgraded your intake yet, I highly recommend it. You can find a variety of less restrictive aftermarket air filters on the internet for under $30. They make your engine sound meaner and they free up a little bit of gas mileage. If you’re willing to spend more for an increase in HP and even better gas mileage, Cold Air intake systems start around $200.
Be sure to purchase one designed specifically for your make and model though, and don’t let anyone tell you that’s not important. A full exhaust system is another way to maximize gas mileage while still increasing back pressure and overall power. Unfortunately, it isn’t cheap.
I always suggest that these kinds of upgrades should come first - simply because they help to save money in the long run and you’ll be thrilled with the roar of your shiny new bolt-ons as they work to save dimes on the gallon.
My friends make fun of me when I price hunt for fuel to feed my Jeep off-roading passion. It’s all the same, so why pay more? Now days I drive like my old man always suggested, but it isn’t to make him happy. It’s all for me. I drive the speed limit and am obsessed with calculating my momentum for minimal engine output. When I’m on asphalt that is.