Getting Better Fuel Mileage with your Minivan

I get better fuel mileage in my 2004 Honda Odyssey, than most owners, averaging about 22 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway.

I do a couple of things differently than other drivers, which seems to improve the fuel mileage I get on ALL my vehicles.  So here are a couple of tips to get the most out of every gallon you put in:

  1.  Accelerate moderately and as soon as the van shifts once, let off the accelerator.  This will coax the van into an even higher gear, for better MPG.  Then use a light foot to accelerate to speed.  Do this if there is no one behind you (in other words, don’t be THAT guy or girl!).
  2. Tires at 35psi.  Even Obama said it, keep your tires inflated.  The Odyssey specs 36 psi on the door, but I find that to be a little harsh, ride-wise.  Try to keep them over 33 psi for good fuel mileage.
  3. Coast up to lights if they are red.  In other words, take your foot off the gas; you aren’t going anywhere anyhow.  Your goal should be to use the brake as little as possible, while still being safe.  Everytime you brake, you convert the momentum you paid for in fuel, into useless heat.
  4. Keep the highway speed under 72 mph (65 is better).  Don’t be a hazard or block the left lane, but you remember that you are essentially driving a big brick.  Wind resistance rises as the square of speed and that will use a LOT of gas.  Also, at the time the vehicle was designed, there were few speed limits over 65 mph and the Odyssey is geared accordingly.  Driving at 80 mph vs 65 means dropping from 25 MPG, to 19 MPG.  That means you will go about 100 miles less on a tank of gas and waste $10 each time you fill up.
  5. Use those rear vent windows (if you have a 99′ to 04′ Odyssey) to cut down on air conditioner use.  They work great and are much more aerodynamic than rolling down a side window.  Plus, you can leave them open when parked.
  6. Keep a minimum of five car lengths between you and the car in front of you.  Not only is that safer, but you won’t be tapping the brakes every 10 sec.  Don’t leave your fuel mileage in the hands of the guy in front of you.
  7. If you’ve got a leisurely schedule today (and you should, if you are full-timing in your RV) reduce your speed by 5 mph when climbing long hills.  If you feel this would impede traffic, get in the truck lane and pace them.  Keep a truck length of space between you and the truck in front (exploding truck tires can take out your windshield).  The reduced speed will further enhance your fuel mileage.

–Odyssey Camper

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