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MAB3L, the most reasonable truck on the road!


bhgl

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Howdy folks!

I’ve always been frustrated by just how many people drive gigantic vehicles, mainly trucks, that are beyond their means, and beyond their needs. Massive road couches that ruin our pavement, injure pedestrians, and generally cost more than their worth in financing, and at the pump. But these days, I DO in fact need a truck, or at least, a vehicle with some amount of utility. So I’ve purchased the most REASONABLE truck you can ask for, a Ford Ranger, well, Mazda’s version anyways. Let me introduce you to MAB3L! (get it, Mazda, B-Series, 3 Litre!)

415726876_7458821660844964_3600175765148289884_n.jpg

The goal of this thread is to help me document, receive advice, and provide guidance and documentation to folks undertaking some of the pretty classic 98-11 Ford Ranger mods, as well as some more strange ones.

The specs:
-2003 Mazda B3000, Dual Sport
-3.0 Vulcan V6, Automatic Transmission
-Standard Cab, Standard Bed
-RWD
-Limited Slip, 3.73 7.5 inch rear axle (F6)
-Despite the door sticker, it's actually Limited Slip, 4.10 7.5 inch rear axle

MAB3L was a pretty good deal, she’s been living the last 8 years on a farm, doing a weekly run to dump garbage. Prior to that, we’re not sure. I bought her at 76 600KMs for 2600$ CAD in early 2024. It's spent pretty much its entire life running garbage to the dump on a farm.

A screaming deal if you ask me, but here’s the caveat. It was in an accident, and deployed its airbags. Still, for Northern Ontario no rust is best, and this truck has very VERY little, and for the most part was put back together quite well. Evidence by the not original steering wheel airbag, the beeping on startup (and quietly every 30 minutes after), and the fact that one fender says B4000.

So what’s the goal with this build? Reasonableness, to the point of being absolutely unreasonable. Given the low miles, and substantial life left in much of the truck, I’m looking to make this little truck the most cost effective utility vehicle for regular truck tasks, commuting, but more importantly long distance cross country road trips. So what we’re looking for in roughly this order is: fuel economy, low cost of operation, comfort, and utility.

There will be no lifts, big tires, drivetrain swaps, 4WD conversions, v8s, or, god forbid! Forced induction.

What we will be looking at however goes from the mundane radio swap and tune ups, all the way to electric power steering conversions, lowering, and maybe even an alternator delete if we’re feeling freaky.

I’ll be providing some updates on fuel economy, overall performance characteristics, and costs as we go to help other folks decide what’s right for their trucks.

Here’s what’s been done so far:

  • Reasonable Winter Tire selection, 215/70R15 Blizzak WS80s on Stock Wheels (Feb 2024)
  • Android Head Unit Installation (Feb 2024)
  • 12V Power port on/off switch (I didn’t like how the port stayed powered the whole time, Feb 2024)
  • 12V cigarette lighter port reinstall? (There was a blank in the space it was supposed to go, and when the radio unit was removed, I found the wired plug and cigarette lighter itself simply sitting behind the unit.)
  • Used Truck Cap (March 2024)
  • Custom license plate! (March 2024)
  • New Key, cut and then programmed via Forscan (March 2024)
  • Remote Power Lock Installation (40$ CAD kit from Amazon) (March 24th, 2024)
  • Mazda OEM Tri-Spoke Alloy Wheels with 205/70R16 Firestone Destination LE3 Tires (April 3rd, 2024)
  • Deleted side steps, trailer hitch. (April, 2024)
  • First oil change, installed oil drain valve. (April 11th, 2024)
  • NGK Iridium IX Spark Plugs gapped to 0.065 (April 13th, 2024)
  • 10.5MM JDMSpeed Spark Wires (April 13th, 2024)
  • MSD Street Fire 5229 Ignition Coil (April 15th, 2024)
  • 2.3L Ranger E-Fan and shroud + Thermostat kit install, clutch fan removal (April 27th, 2024)

Here’s what’s on the docket for upcoming repairs/mods in 2024, in no particular , definitely not going to get to ALL of these:
  • New Key, cut and then programmed via Forscan.
  • New Air Bags, RCM, and dash cluster installation, including Odometer swap
  • Remote Power Lock Installation (40$ CAD kit from Amazon)
  • Summer Wheel and tire installation
  • Summer weight reduction, uninstall side steps, trailer hitch.
  • Drivetrain tune up, Engine oil and Trans fluid change, spark plugs e.t.c
  • Electric Fan conversion
  • Anti-theft Kill Switch
  • Cruise Control retrofit
  • Redneck Aero Package Stage 1: Front Air Dam, partial grill blocks, Cab to Cap smoothing. (thanks garden edging!)
  • Rear Traction Bars.
Bigger/more costly Modifications:
  • Low Rolling Resistance thinner tires: 205/70r16 or 215/70r16
  • Potential swap to 3.45 or 3.55 LSD axle for lower revs at higher speeds.
  • Rear Disk Brake Conversion, SN95 Mustang calipers/disks
  • Overall Lowering, 3-4 inch drop all around.
  • Interior overhaul, sound insulation, new seats.
  • Custom intake and exhaust, (maybe new headers if the current ones aren’t so crusty and awful that I can’t take em off)
  • Redneck Aero Package Stage 2: full front end undertray, partial rear undertray.
  • Lithium Ion Car battery
  • Electric Power Steering conversion, power steering pump delete.
  • Electric Air conditioning Compressor installation, compressor delete.
  • Electric engine water pump conversion, total belt driven accessory delete.
  • Alternator Delete, with supporting wiring and fuse overhaul, charging port installation, potential dual lithium battery setup.
  • Solar Panel installation for charging accessories, camp utilities, and vehicle’s batteries.
  • okay if you read this far maybe I will actually go insane and do a 3.0 SHO swap and document it for posterity
I'll be happy to take advice on any or all of these mods, and I'll do my best to keep you folks updated along the way.
 
Last edited:


bhgl

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Here's a little bit about the first long distance haul:


1136 KM March 16th-17th, 2024:

This weekend we went down to the city to pick up some furniture, some sweet OEM 16 inch Mazda B4000 wheels (and some old, surprisingly massive 255 width tires), and a family event. The trip totalled 11 hours of travel, and approximately 1100 KMs of highway driving.

Overall the truck performed very well, comfortable, controlled, and surprisingly efficient!

With some slowdowns, the average speed was just over 110 KpH.

Observations:
-The trip down was done with effectively an empty bed, and a bit slower, with a passenger weight of approximately 400lbs. We achieved a truly surprising 10.2l/100Km (Nearly 23 MPG),

-The Return Trip was done with an additional 400ish lbs of weight in the bed, and at higher speed overall. The truck still impressed by achieving 11.19l/100Km (21 MPG). This was impressive considering a majority of the journey was done above 115KpH, with one and a half hour stretch at a little over 140 KpH (approx 87 MPH). This also included WOT passes and accelerations, and on the flip side, some neutral coasting.

-The truck settles in well with the bed cap over 100 KpH compared to without, sitting just under 2500 RPM, handling uneven pavement quite well. Under that speed however, we see some lateral movement that can be frankly scary.

-Above 120 KpH, there's significant wind noise coming from the driver’s door seal, and some from the passenger side. At that speed the door is clearly being pulled open slightly, resulting in some truly grating high pitched wind noise. It was helped partially by slamming the door after stopping, but that only raised the threshold before the sound reappeared.

-Wind conditions affect the trucks ability to track straight, the thing is basically a brick on wheels so this is expected, hopefully some basic aero and lowering will help the truck track better in high wind conditions.

-We encountered some inclement weather, the temperature was just above freezing but we still saw hail, snow, and some rain. The 215/70R15 Blizzak WS80s performed really well, traction was solid even at high speed.

-The truck is clearly limited to a top speed of approximately 145 KPH, I’m assuming the limit is actually 90 MPH, it seems that the limit is a fuel cut off based on how the engine clearly bogs at that speed. Annoying, but frankly reasonable considering after all, it’s a truck.

Overall Mab3l is doing great! Excited to see improvements!
 

alwaysFlOoReD

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I've never heard of an alternator delete. Elaborate?
 

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Good deal so far and it will be interesting to see what you do with it.

One word of caution. The 3.0 is designed to have it's power band at a higher RPM than usual. Putting a 3.45 or 3.55 in it may turn a decent driver into a dog and kill your fuel mileage. The 3.73 or 4.10 is the ratio a stock Ranger should have in it. The 3.45 and 3.55 was to make the fleet fuel economy numbers look better on paper.
 

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My credo
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Here's a little bit about the first long distance haul:


1136 KM March 16th-17th, 2024:

This weekend we went down to the city to pick up some furniture, some sweet OEM 16 inch Mazda B4000 wheels (and some old, surprisingly massive 255 width tires), and a family event. The trip totalled 11 hours of travel, and approximately 1100 KMs of highway driving.

Overall the truck performed very well, comfortable, controlled, and surprisingly efficient!

With some slowdowns, the average speed was just over 110 KpH.

Observations:
-The trip down was done with effectively an empty bed, and a bit slower, with a passenger weight of approximately 400lbs. We achieved a truly surprising 10.2l/100Km (Nearly 23 MPG),

-The Return Trip was done with an additional 400ish lbs of weight in the bed, and at higher speed overall. The truck still impressed by achieving 11.19l/100Km (21 MPG). This was impressive considering a majority of the journey was done above 115KpH, with one and a half hour stretch at a little over 140 KpH (approx 87 MPH). This also included WOT passes and accelerations, and on the flip side, some neutral coasting.

-The truck settles in well with the bed cap over 100 KpH compared to without, sitting just under 2500 RPM, handling uneven pavement quite well. Under that speed however, we see some lateral movement that can be frankly scary.

-Above 120 KpH, there's significant wind noise coming from the driver’s door seal, and some from the passenger side. At that speed the door is clearly being pulled open slightly, resulting in some truly grating high pitched wind noise. It was helped partially by slamming the door after stopping, but that only raised the threshold before the sound reappeared.

-Wind conditions affect the trucks ability to track straight, the thing is basically a brick on wheels so this is expected, hopefully some basic aero and lowering will help the truck track better in high wind conditions.

-We encountered some inclement weather, the temperature was just above freezing but we still saw hail, snow, and some rain. The 215/70R15 Blizzak WS80s performed really well, traction was solid even at high speed.

-The truck is clearly limited to a top speed of approximately 145 KPH, I’m assuming the limit is actually 90 MPH, it seems that the limit is a fuel cut off based on how the engine clearly bogs at that speed. Annoying, but frankly reasonable considering after all, it’s a truck.

Overall Mab3l is doing great! Excited to see improvements!
That sounds reasonable.

I, too, am interested in the "alternator delete". Mostly your reasons why. When driving, the engine is already running and turning the alternator. It isn't much power being sucked from the engine - 100amp alternator would only be 1200watts at full output, which would be rare most of the time. 1.2kw is only about 1.6hp. That's basically free electricity. Plus, a gas engine needs electricity for ignition, fuel pump, etc. Just to operate.
 

Lefty

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Howdy folks!

I’ve always been frustrated by just how many people drive gigantic vehicles, mainly trucks, that are beyond their means, and beyond their needs. Massive road couches that ruin our pavement, injure pedestrians, and generally cost more than their worth in financing, and at the pump. But these days, I DO in fact need a truck, or at least, a vehicle with some amount of utility. So I’ve purchased the most REASONABLE truck you can ask for, a Ford Ranger, well, Mazda’s version anyways. Let me introduce you to MAB3L! (get it, Mazda, B-Series, 3 Litre!)

View attachment 107711
The goal of this thread is to help me document, receive advice, and provide guidance and documentation to folks undertaking some of the pretty classic 98-11 Ford Ranger mods, as well as some more strange ones.

The specs:
-2003 Mazda B3000, Dual Sport
-3.0 Vulcan V6, Automatic Transmission
-Standard Cab, Standard Bed
-RWD
-Limited Slip, 3.73 7.5 inch rear axle (F6)

MAB3L was a pretty good deal, she’s been living the last 8 years on a farm, doing a weekly run to dump garbage. Prior to that, we’re not sure. I bought her at 76 600KMs for 2600$ CAD in early 2024. It's spent pretty much its entire life running garbage to the dump on a farm.

A screaming deal if you ask me, but here’s the caveat. It was in an accident, and deployed its airbags. Still, for Northern Ontario no rust is best, and this truck has very VERY little, and for the most part was put back together quite well. Evidence by the not original steering wheel airbag, the beeping on startup (and quietly every 30 minutes after), and the fact that one fender says B4000.

So what’s the goal with this build? Reasonableness, to the point of being absolutely unreasonable. Given the low miles, and substantial life left in much of the truck, I’m looking to make this little truck the most cost effective utility vehicle for regular truck tasks, commuting, but more importantly long distance cross country road trips. So what we’re looking for in roughly this order is: fuel economy, low cost of operation, comfort, and utility.

There will be no lifts, big tires, drivetrain swaps, 4WD conversions, v8s, or, god forbid! Forced induction.

What we will be looking at however goes from the mundane radio swap and tune ups, all the way to electric power steering conversions, lowering, and maybe even an alternator delete if we’re feeling freaky.

I’ll be providing some updates on fuel economy, overall performance characteristics, and costs as we go to help other folks decide what’s right for their trucks.

Here’s what’s been done so far:

-Reasonable Winter Tire selection, 215/70R15 Blizzak WS80s on Stock Wheels (Feb 2024)
-Android Head Unit Installation (Feb 2024)
-12V Power port on/off switch (I didn’t like how the port stayed powered the whole time, Feb 2024)
-12V cigarette lighter port reinstall? (There was a blank in the space it was supposed to go, and when the radio unit was removed, I found the wired plug and cigarette lighter itself simply sitting behind the unit.)
-Used Truck Cap (March 2024)
-Oh! And a custom license plate!


Here’s what’s on the docket for upcoming repairs/mods in 2024, in no particular , definitely not going to get to ALL of these:
  • New Key, cut and then programmed via Forscan.
  • New Air Bags, RCM, and dash cluster installation, including Odometer swap
  • Remote Power Lock Installation (40$ CAD kit from Amazon)
  • Summer Wheel and tire installation
  • Summer weight reduction, uninstall side steps, trailer hitch.
  • Drivetrain tune up, Engine oil and Trans fluid change, spark plugs e.t.c
  • Electric Fan conversion
  • Anti-theft Kill Switch
  • Cruise Control retrofit
  • Redneck Aero Package Stage 1: Front Air Dam, partial grill blocks, Cab to Cap smoothing. (thanks garden edging!)
  • Rear Traction Bars.
Bigger/more costly Modifications:
  • Low Rolling Resistance thinner tires: 205/70r16 or 215/70r16
  • Potential swap to 3.45 or 3.55 LSD axle for lower revs at higher speeds.
  • Rear Disk Brake Conversion, SN95 Mustang calipers/disks
  • Overall Lowering, 2f3r drop, DJM ND2 Kit, install alignment cams
  • Interior overhaul, sound insulation, new seats.
  • Custom intake and exhaust, (maybe new headers if the current ones aren’t so crusty and awful that I can’t take em off)
  • Redneck Aero Package Stage 2: full front end undertray, partial rear undertray.
  • Lithium Ion Car battery
  • Electric Power Steering conversion, power steering pump delete.
  • Electric Air conditioning Compressor installation, compressor delete.
  • Electric engine water pump conversion, total belt driven accessory delete.
  • Alternator Delete, with supporting wiring and fuse overhaul, charging port installation, potential dual lithium battery setup.
  • Solar Panel installation for charging accessories, camp utilities, and vehicle’s batteries.
  • okay if you read this far maybe I will actually go insane and do a 3.0 SHO swap and document it for posterity
I'll be happy to take advice on any or all of these mods, and I'll do my best to keep you folks updated along the way.
 

JoshT

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I'd suggest cost benefit analysis and to be cautious about diminishing returns.

Summer weight reduction... Not likely to save enough to be worth the effort.

Truck cap, power locks, cruise control, traction bars, sound insulation, etc... Adding weight kind of negates the point of weight reduction.

Tune-up... Possibly worth the effort, especially if current condition is unknown.

Rear disc... No real gain from the mustang discs.

Lowering... Potential gains, but it's more for styling.

Intake & Headers... Probably not going to gain enough to be worth the investment. Far as I know they are not a bottle neck on any stock Ranger engine. Alterations that will benefit from these will further reduce mileage.

Undertrays... More trouble on a truck than it's worth. Works better on a car where potential attachment points are on almost the same plane.

EPS, EAC, EWP... These things don't jive with Alternator delete. These will require more power to run, so will actually need a bigger alternator. More draw and bigger alternator means more load in the engine, which effectively negates any gain removing them.

Alternator delete... Bad idea on a EFI vehicle. Stable supply of power is a necessity for the electronics to play well. Alternator is an important part of providing that stable supply. The battery alone can not do it, and solar recharging will not provide enough to keep it going. You would need a battery bank with enough power to keep the round trip from point A to furthest point B. You would also be replacing batteries often because they don't like being discharged like that, initial cost and maintenance of this setup would take a very large MPG increase to pay off. That is assuming that you didn't see a loss in MPG from the added battery weight.

Don't discount turbos or V8 swaps for improving MPG. If tuned and driven right turbos are efficiency boosters. It's isn't uncommon for the 5.0 Explorer to get better gas mileage than a 4.0 Ranger which is several hundred pounds lighter.

I welcome you to prove me wrong in any of it, but I think you need to do a bit more studying and figuring out what your goals are. Honestly it looks like you've regurgitated a bunch of stuff you've read and have no idea how any of it works together, very likely that the source didn't know either.
 

bhgl

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I've never heard of an alternator delete. Elaborate?
In short, it's something ecomodders have been doing for a long time.

It usually comes after having deleted all other belt driven accessories in order to reduce drag on the motor and boost power/fuel economy.

In the past folks would use AGM deep cycle batteries to make sure they had enough capacity for their daily driving, but today, lithium car batteries are better than ever with significantly less weight. Meaning you could get a lot more electricity in the car for the amount of weight.
 

Lefty

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I would suggest that you have little to gain from the rear disk brake conversion. Not long ago I posed this as a question to the members. The consensus was no. I also asked the members if it was worth it install new slotted cross drilled rotors in the front. I received a mixed reaction. I went ahead anyway and like the results.
 

bhgl

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That sounds reasonable.

I, too, am interested in the "alternator delete". Mostly your reasons why. When driving, the engine is already running and turning the alternator. It isn't much power being sucked from the engine - 100amp alternator would only be 1200watts at full output, which would be rare most of the time. 1.2kw is only about 1.6hp. That's basically free electricity. Plus, a gas engine needs electricity for ignition, fuel pump, etc. Just to operate.

The alternator delete is certainly a pie in the sky future idea.

Basically, ecomodders have been doing full belt driven accessory deletes to boost their power and fuel economy. By using higher density batteries they can often power their car and all of its components reliably without an alternator, they do have to consider alternate methods of charging however like plugging the car in, or using solar.
 

Lefty

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I would suggest that you have little to gain from the rear disk brake conversion. Not long ago I posed this as a question to the members. The consensus was no. I also asked the members if it was worth it install new slotted cross drilled rotors in the front. I received a mixed reaction. I went ahead anyway and like the results.
Reasonableness makes very good sense, especially with MAB3L. You've got a real gem here.
 

bhgl

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I'd suggest cost benefit analysis and to be cautious about diminishing returns.

Summer weight reduction... Not likely to save enough to be worth the effort.

Truck cap, power locks, cruise control, traction bars, sound insulation, etc... Adding weight kind of negates the point of weight reduction.

Tune-up... Possibly worth the effort, especially if current condition is unknown.

Rear disc... No real gain from the mustang discs.

Lowering... Potential gains, but it's more for styling.

Intake & Headers... Probably not going to gain enough to be worth the investment. Far as I know they are not a bottle neck on any stock Ranger engine. Alterations that will benefit from these will further reduce mileage.

Undertrays... More trouble on a truck than it's worth. Works better on a car where potential attachment points are on almost the same plane.

EPS, EAC, EWP... These things don't jive with Alternator delete. These will require more power to run, so will actually need a bigger alternator. More draw and bigger alternator means more load in the engine, which effectively negates any gain removing them.

Alternator delete... Bad idea on a EFI vehicle. Stable supply of power is a necessity for the electronics to play well. Alternator is an important part of providing that stable supply. The battery alone can not do it, and solar recharging will not provide enough to keep it going. You would need a battery bank with enough power to keep the round trip from point A to furthest point B. You would also be replacing batteries often because they don't like being discharged like that, initial cost and maintenance of this setup would take a very large MPG increase to pay off. That is assuming that you didn't see a loss in MPG from the added battery weight.

Don't discount turbos or V8 swaps for improving MPG. If tuned and driven right turbos are efficiency boosters. It's isn't uncommon for the 5.0 Explorer to get better gas mileage than a 4.0 Ranger which is several hundred pounds lighter.

I welcome you to prove me wrong in any of it, but I think you need to do a bit more studying and figuring out what your goals are. Honestly it looks like you've regurgitated a bunch of stuff you've read and have no idea how any of it works together, very likely that the source didn't know either.
I know some, if not many of these mods are in fact actually unreasonable in a strict financial sense. That's kinda part of the fun for me, this is definitely a project for me to learn and mess around with ideas I've had in the past, and also to get me out in the garage DYI-ing solutions.

As for the cap, it's actually already started paying itself off in terms of fuel economy savings, I've noticed a marked increase in both on road performance at high speed, and fuel economy.

Most of the comfort items (specifically locks and cruise) won't be adding too much weight, if any real weight. The power lock system I bought from Amazon weighs less than a healthy dinner in my stomach, the cruise control components necessary again not too bad.

Removing the step side however is necessary before lowering, will reduce weight, and improve aero which is huge, and similar for the trailer hitch that I will use very rarely.

And you're absolutely right about a lot of the other mods being unnecessary or otherwise very difficult to get working, but I'm excited to try!
 

bhgl

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Good deal so far and it will be interesting to see what you do with it.

One word of caution. The 3.0 is designed to have it's power band at a higher RPM than usual. Putting a 3.45 or 3.55 in it may turn a decent driver into a dog and kill your fuel mileage. The 3.73 or 4.10 is the ratio a stock Ranger should have in it. The 3.45 and 3.55 was to make the fleet fuel economy numbers look better on paper.
Thanks for the heads up!

I know that there was an available 3.08 rear end at some point but decided against it because they never came with an LSD which is necessary for me.

I'll be sure to do some math to see exactly what rpms I would be sitting around given my tire selection and a few other things.

As it stand right now, RPMS at typical high speed cruising are in the meat of the torque curve (2500-3500) which is good for power, but I would appreciate some better fuel economy.
 

bhgl

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Reasonableness makes very good sense, especially with MAB3L. You've got a real gem here.
Thank you very much my friend! As for the rear disks, it's mostly a make-work project for me, there would be some midling weight savings associated, but overall better braking which is important to me consider my high speed driving, it'd also improve stopping power under towing/weight.

A disk brake installation would only come when I get around to visiting the axle situation.
 

Lefty

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Feb 8, 2022
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Location
Saint Paul, MN
Vehicle Year
2003
Make / Model
Ranger Edge
Transmission
Automatic
I found that the 3.0 is not responsive to most "reasonable" attempts to modify. Perhaps, however, an Efan, a K&N filter, and some sort of dual exhaust might help to increase mileage.. Perhaps.

There's a few other tricks. Run on all synthetic oil. Replace all the spark plug wires. Degunk the engine.
 

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