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Can an Economy Carburetor Really Save Fuel and Money?With what seems to be a never ending skyrocketing increase in fuel prices, many people are looking for ways to save both fuel and money. For many years, there has been talk of a 100 mpg or even 200 mpg economy carburetor. Does such a carburetor really exist? The simple answer to this question is "No" - at least not to the levels of fuel economy talked about. True, there are economy carburetors that can help save fuel and money, but you will not find one (or build one) that gives you 100 - 200 mpg. Sorry, but those fuel mileage rumors are based largely on some designs created by a man named Charles Pogue during the first part of the 1900's. People have built some of those same carburetor designs in modern times and have gotten little-no increase in fuel economy. In fact, the main thing those economy carburetors resulted in was a big decrease in engine performance!
Edelbrock Performer Series Carburetor
We all wish that we could bolt on a miracle 200 mpg economy carburetor and watch our bank accounts overflow with all the money we saved. Sorry, but it won't quite happen that way. With that being stated up front, it is in fact possible to use an economy carburetor to increase fuel economy - as long as you are realistic about the increase in MPG. If you have an older car with a larger engine, then you can sometimes find an carburetor that will yield better fuel mileage. Obviously, this information will not be helpful to newer fuel injected cars because they don't even have carburetors!
Let's say that you have an older Chevy with the venerable 350 V8 engine. Let's also say that it has a large 4 barrel carburetor on it. Perhaps it's a stock performance carburetor or an aftermarket 4 barrel. Sure, it's fun to step on the gas pedal and feel the rush (and hear the roar) of a big 4 barrel, but you'll be paying for that fun at the gas pump! It is sometimes possible to find an aftermarket 4 barrel carburetor that is calibrated for economy. The Edelbrock Performer series includes some carbs that are geared more towards fuel economy. Generally speaking, you will want to choose one that is rated at a lower flow rate (CFM) than the one that is currently on your engine. The fuel mileage increase when going from a big 4 barrel to a smaller 4 barrel carburetor may not be so dramatic. In some cases, it is possible to remove the 4 barrel and put on a 2 barrel carb. Holley makes a 500 CFM and 350 CFM 2 barrel carburetor. If you currently have a 4 barrel and want to switch over to a 2 barrel, then you'll need an adapter plate to mate your new carb to your existing intake manifold. Another possibility is to look for another intake manifold that was designed for your particular engine but came from the factory with a 2 barrel. For example, you might be able to find a Chevy 2 barrel intake manifold on a junkyard vehicle that will fit on your 350 engine. In that case, you might be able to grab both the manifold and 2 barrel carb to swap over to your engine.
Holley 2 Barrel 500CFM Carburetor
To summarize, it is sometimes possible to switch over to a carburetor that has a lower CFM flow rating that will be more efficient at metering fuel at lower engine speeds. This will often result in better fuel economy. Keep in mind however that a lower CFM carburetor will also usually result in less top end (high RPM) power. Once again, if you want the fun of a big carburetor guzzling lots of fuel, then you probably should not concern yourself with getting an economy carb. Another important thing to keep in mind is that no carburetor will function properly if it's gummed up with varnish and other deposits. Keep your carburetor clean and make sure to keep your engine tuned up with new spark plugs and filters so that you maximize your fuel economy. It will not do much good to have an economy carburetor (especially if it's dirty) if your engine is otherwise neglected!