Thomas, J., Huff, S., and West, B., "Fuel Economy and Emissions Effects of Low Tire Pressure, Open Windows, Roof Top and Hitch-Mounted Cargo, and Trailer," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars - Mech. Syst. 7(2):862-872, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-1614.
To quantify the fuel economy (FE) effect of some common vehicle accessories or alterations, a compact passenger sedan and a sport utility vehicle (SUV) were subjected to SAE J2263 coastdown procedures. Coastdowns were conducted with low tire pressure, all windows open, with a roof top or hitch-mounted cargo carrier, and with the SUV pulling an enclosed cargo trailer. From these coastdowns, vehicle dynamometer coefficients were developed which enabled the execution of vehicle dynamometer experiments to determine the effect of these changes on vehicle FE and emissions over standard drive cycles and at steady highway speeds. In addition, two minivans were subjected to coastdowns to examine the similarity in derived coefficients for two duplicate vehicles of the same model.The FE penalty associated with the rooftop cargo box mounted on the compact sedan was as high as 25-27% at higher speeds, where the aerodynamic drag is most pronounced. For both vehicles, use of a hitch mounted cargo tray carrying a similar load resulted in very small FE penalties, unlike the rooftop cargo box. The results for the SUV pulling a 3500 pound enclosed cargo trailer were rather dramatic, resulting in FE penalties ranging from 30%, for the city cycle, to 50% at 80 mph, at which point significant CO generation indicated protective enrichment due to high load. Low tire pressure cases resulted in negligible to 10% FE penalty depending on the specific case and test point. Driving with all four windows open decreased FE by 4-8.5% for the compact sedan, and 1-4% for the SUV.