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Given the millions that car manufacturers spend on the electronic mapping within the engine ECU, the chances of actually improving the mpg are slight (but not impossible) and many owners think they see an improvement from the trip computer but that's being affected by the modifications and no real improvement is actually occuring.
K&N filters increase maximum airflow but the engine will still only suck in as much air as it wants so without engine modifications this has no value, especially as the MAF/MAP and Lambda sensors will adjust the fuelling to suit the airflow anyway - it will increase the engine wear rate and reduce long-term reliability by filtering fewer particles.
Modern engine management systems can utilise higher octane fuel and provide more power or better economy, but not both, but the increased price almost always outweighs the economy increase.
If you want to improve your mpg, buy a turbo-diesel !
Thanks for the response.
I was always under the impression the the K&N filters were of better quality than the OEM filters, or is that not true? So I don't know how it could increase engine wear if it is more efficient.
As for the Turbo-Diesel... not available in North America...
Nothing in your post about year, model, engine and drivetrain but anyway.
To the octane comment, don't bother. You'll never recoupe the cost differental especially here in Quebec (or Ontario for that matter). These things were not optimized for 91 octane.
As far as the filter goes, all of the aftermarket filters promise something but rarely deliver. The advantage of the drop in K&N filter, for day to day driving, is reusability and that's about it. The down side to a K&N is if you over oil it you risk coating the IAT sensor.
Now, the question about open source tuning is interesting because this is the one place where a difference can be made. On my 300C I have a tune for performance using 91 octane, CAI and modified open exhaust. I have another tune I occasionaly use for long hauls of 8 hours or more. It's set up for using 87 octane and is far, far away from a performance tune. The difference in fuel consumption is quite something.
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