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This is more of a pick your collective brain kind of question:

I want to create wheel covers for my vehicle, a Civic VX, for increased MPG.

I have done some research and what I have found are mostly solutions that are not easily removeable, i.e. in the case of a flat tire... I am hoping for something that is not expensive (less than $100 for 4 wheels) that is also easy to remove and install in case of a flat tire.

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    What leads you to believe that your wheels are hurting your fuel economy or significant gains can be made by improved hub caps? What research have you done? What else have you tried? – Sir Swears-a-lot Jan 27 '17 at 5:53
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    The scariest taxi ride i have ever had was in Egypyt. Where the local drivers believed they could save fuel by driving with thier lights off. They all drove with thier foot to the floor... in the dark... without lights. Marvelous experience. :/ – Sir Swears-a-lot Jan 27 '17 at 5:56
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    I've just had a look at your other posts and you seem to have an unusually high interest in fuel econony. May I ask why? Are you trying to break the world record for worlds best gas mileage in a Civic? Or are you trying to save the world - one gram of emmissions at a time? If you could tell us what your motivations are there might be an easier way of achieving your end goal. – Sir Swears-a-lot Jan 27 '17 at 7:44
  • Will the brakes run hotter when the wheels are covered? – Autistic Jan 28 '17 at 11:16
  • @Peter Just trying to increase MPG because its the right thing to do. I haven't tried anything yet except a partial grille air dam. Seems to be helping, but I haven;t gone through a full tank yet. My current MPG is 48, I'd like to get into the mid-50s range with minimal non-permanent modifications/add-ons. – user25009 Jan 28 '17 at 15:10
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The most effective wheel trims for enhanced MPG are something along the lines of full racing moon discs. These are effectively a flat disc that covers the whole wheel.

This eBay listing is just one example of this design of wheel trim in a form that can be quickly and simply pushed to fit, pull to remove over your wheels.

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    Good post. I was going to mention moon disc would be the extreme in terms of aerodynamics. (But i got lazy) but compared to other possible improvements would they deliver i measurable benefit in fuel economy? – Sir Swears-a-lot Jan 26 '17 at 5:10
  • @Steve Matthews I've seen that type for sale elsewhere, not exactly sure how they attach to the wheel. – user25009 Jan 29 '17 at 3:42
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I dont believe adding wheel covers will make a noticeable difference to fuel economy.

You would get more benefit from removing weight or drag.

At the extreme end of aerodynamics, dragsters and streamliners use smooth flat discs on the wheel rims. But this may have been about stability as musch as drag. On hot rods they're commonly called moon caps. As you have mentioned the exposed wheel and wheel arch has a significant effect. Some attempts were made to address this with wheel spats and covers.

Free things you can do to improve fuel economy are to ensure you have firm tyre pressures and that the car isnt carrying unnecesary weight. (Got golf clubs or bowling balls in the trunk?) And of course your driving technique.

If you want to improve the fuel efficiency of the engine anything that reduces resistance will help. A high flow air filter, headers, an electric fan instead of pully driven, even a simple tune up and ensuring your engine is running properly may help.

Bodywise anything that reduces drag will assist. A body kit may help. Do you need both wing mirrors by law? Are they retractable? You would have to seriously consider the safety risk of removing them or driving without them vs the miniscule saving it would make. But maybe you could get smaller ones.

If you do a lot of flat motorway driving taller tyres will lower rpm for the same given speed, but will increase loads on hills. Conversly if you drive predominantly in stop-go traffic and hills the smaller wheels will lower gearing and may provide more suitable gearing.

However: if this is about being trying to save money i highly reccomend that before you spend anything on trying to improve the fuel economy of the vehicle you should seriously consider the ROI or estimated payback period. If you spend $100 on hubcaps and it saves you 1 cent per mile. You wont be winning until you've driven more than 10,000 miles.

If you look at how much in total you could save in fuel in 1 year with this change. You may be able save more simply by: Not driving as much. Car pool. Ride a bike. Take a train. Buy a scooter. Or maybe consider buying a more economical car.

  • If wheel covers could make a measurable difference in fuel economy then Toyota would have the best design on the Prius. If you cover over the wheels completely, like moon discs, you really compromise your brake cooling. – enderw88 Jan 25 '17 at 13:07
  • @enderw88 Do you have any reference to backup that claim? – CharlieRB Jan 25 '17 at 14:31
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    @SolarMike Thanks, but I was hoping enderw88 would backup his own claim. This is comparing apples to oranges, in that, it is a bit of a stretch to think the OP's car is going to overheat its brakes like a race car might if the airflow is changed. The OP's car is not going to be generating the kinetic energy as a high performance car would. Nor needing to arrest that energy in an aggressive fashion going into corners. Also, the OP is looking to increase fuel efficiency, so adding speed and aggressive braking is probably not at the top of the list. Just my thoughts. – CharlieRB Jan 25 '17 at 16:00
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    @enderw88 I don't believe the Prius argument is valid. For example, consider this: some models of Prius have 17" wheels even though the fuel economy would be better with 15" wheels and higher aspect ratio tires. Prius is also about style, not just about saving fuel. – juhist Jan 28 '17 at 14:22
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    I don't have any hard data to back up my claim. I do have reasonable experience in aerodynamics and my intuition tells me that the drag difference between different wheel covers is dwarfed by the drag created by the wheel well opening itself. If you cover over the wheel wells ala Honda Insight rear that can make a difference. I also need to remember that not every live in mountains where brake fade can be a real issue even if not driving like you stole it. – enderw88 Jan 28 '17 at 15:29

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