The Ultimate How-To Guide

Published in the August 2008 Issue August 2008 Column

I love how-to stuff . like how to install lift pumps, how to change fuel filters and how to black out an intersection. But there are a few how-to ideas I haven't come across yet:

How to get 24 miles per gallon out of your truck. I'd like someone to show me how to make my truck not want to pull into every gas station I pass. I've heard of people who get that (or claim to) . I've even talked to these warlocks. But I just don't know the secret to getting better than 14.5 mpg. Maybe it has to do with how you select the truck you purchase off the lot in the first place; maybe it has to do with poor math skills dating back to middle school and a desire to round up to the nearest 10 (or 24). Based on the fact that these same high-mpg truck owners also seem to get the good sets of tires that last 60,000 miles, I'm guessing the latter.

How to justify spending $1,100 on a part that's supposed to improve your fuel economy by 10 percent. Ten percent of 12 mpg is 1.2 miles more per gallon. You're going to have to drive an awful lot to make that one pay for itself. I have a hard time justifying it unless it adds 110 hp.

How to enter a dyno day without sitting in line for five hours. I spent a Saturday not long ago reading the ingredients of a pack of Dentyne and picking dust out of the seams in my steering wheel wrap with a toothpick while waiting for my number to come up. It's all worth it when you get your eight minutes of fun, but the whole experience reminds me of spending a holiday weekend at Disneyland.

How to get a diagnostic trouble code to go one step further. If a $45,000 truck can tell you exactly what's wrong with it when the check engine light comes on, I think it should tell you exactly how to fix it, too.

How to get a banjo bolt on an oil line to quit leaking. Almost every heavily modified truck I've come across has that trademark slow oil drip. If you point it out to the truck's owner, he'll almost always give you a "What, are you stupid or something?" look as though you obviously did not know that that's absolutely normal.

How to get crap to stop rattling. I have a rattle under my truck that moves from whatever part I've just tightened to whatever part I would have the most difficult time reaching. Some days it's barely noticeable; other days I've stopped on the side of the road to see if anything fell off. Some days it's completely gone. Yet, whenever I take someone for a ride he immediately asks if something just fell off.

How to be content with the way your truck currently is. I know someone who recently bought a new truck, swearing he would keep it "pretty much stock" because he didn't need it to be big and fast. I laughed, right there on the spot. Two weeks later, that truck had every possible bolt-on and performance mod available on it.

How to become mechanically non-inept. While working on a truck at our local shop, I once spent 20 minutes getting a very stubborn and tricky component removed from the engine compartment. When the mechanic returned, he said, "Why'd you take that off?"

How to get every single ounce of horsepower out of the stuff you buy. Show me how to get the horsepower claims on my aftermarket bolt-ons to add up. I have a running total, and my truck should have about 1,386 hp. Last time I had it on the dyno we barely cracked 500. I think the guys who are in charge of marketing have trucks that get 24 miles per gallon.

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