How to maintain A Honda Accord for maxium Fuel Economy--Advice Much Needed!

Discussion in 'Honda' started by Pierce, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. Pierce

    Pierce Well-Known Member

    Hello Everyone,

    Recently, I've come into owning a 1993 Honda Accord DX.

    With the great hypermiling techniques everyone's been sharing here at this wonderful site, I've been able to get around 35.1 mpg despite the 2008 EPA estimate being 22 mpg.

    However, I feel strongly I can do much better, like you all easily have. Here's where I really need help;

    My parents and I have decided to take the car to our mechanic in town for a tune up. Now what exactly should I ask the mechanic to check, repair, or replace that would result in assisting me in preserving or hopefully attaining a higher or healthy fuel economy.

    Here's what I know to ask to get done;

    Replace Filthy Air Filter

    Rotate/Align Tires

    Install Engine Block heater

    Replace transmission fluid

    Replace/Check Engine Oil with lowest viscosity synthetic oil allowed.

    So, what else should I ask to get checked, repaired, replaced or looked at in order to improve my economy while getting my engine tuned up while at the mechanic?

    Please post soon! My Accord's appointment is creeping up soon!
  2. CitrusInsighter

    CitrusInsighter Well-Known Member

    Welcome to CleanMPG Pierce!

    I hope you have enjoyed what you've seen so far. 35.1 mpg is pretty good for a car of that age. What engine size and transmission do you have in that? If its a 4 cyl auto, then you're doing great.

    Its great that you're being proactive in maintaining your car, all of the things you mentioned have the potential to help your mileage, however your mechanic might not have access to a block heater for your vehicle depending on where you're located. If you're not in Canada or the northern US, your mechanic might not know where to find one, and even if he can, he may try to talk you out of it. It will certainly save you fuel and reduce your emissions, but the economic payback is harder to justify.

    Also, depending on the mechanic, he may tell you that in an older car, synthetic oil is a bad idea if the car's had conventional all its life. I can't argue with that since I'm not an engine oil expert, but again, its your car and you should work with your mechanic. Also be sure to replace the oil filter with a good quality synthetic media filter, not a cheap Fram POS.

    It sounds like you've covered the basics already, but perhaps someone more mechanically knowledgeable can chime in with something else more in depth.
  3. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    The car should have a manual stating the intervals to check/change fluids and such. If it's not been done, you should really have the valves adjusted every... 30k? 60k? I forget. I had a 93 EX at one time with a stick. Sadly, it was sold to pick up a 4x4 Escape. I'd also look at replacing the O2 sensor as well, but it would depend on the mileage.
  4. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Check the timing belt. If it hasn't been replaced, it's due. My civic's manual calls for replacing it every 90,000 miles. If it fails, bad things can happen.
  5. shifty35

    shifty35 Well-Known Member

    Once again, here is the short list...

    Spark plugs
    Plug wires
    Distributor cap
    Distributor rotor

    Verify brakes not dragging at all
    Proper alignment
    Parking brake properly adjusted
    Wheel bearings in good condition
    Tires in good condition / properly (over)inflated ;)

    That should just about take care of the basics.
  6. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    There was no distributor in the 93? It was a coil pack setup, if memory serves.
  7. Damionk

    Damionk DWL Lover

    I have recently gotten a '96 Accord Anniv edition (one generation after yours). The car does do good for hypermiling. I have only been able to get 34 MPG because my fiancé drives the car too. Is your Accord an auto or manual transmission. If its an auto you're doing better than me.
  8. Pierce

    Pierce Well-Known Member

    First off, I'd like to thank everyone for the warm welcome and quick replies. I'm definitely going stick around here. I thought I'd never get so much good information so rapidly.

    For the record, here's my car;


    A 1993 Honda Accord DX. And yes, it's an automatic 4 cyl. Oddly, however it was around 70k miles, and was gently used according to a private mechanic we showed it to secretly during our test drive. It is my first car ever, and I'm a new driver. I'm 18. I do live in New Jersey. I REALLY wanted a manual transmission (especially for max. MPG!), however my father, who is a strict manual transmission driver for over 40 years didn't think I was quite ready yet for an MT. Sigh.


    Today, new tires were purchased for the Accord and installed. Now for hypermiling purposes, what should I inflate these tires to? They read 35 psi, however, I'm worried this might harm my tires. Should I worry? Also the new tires, which are Michelin Rainforce All Season MX4's, that we've replaced the older tires with good in the rolling resistance department?


    How do you feel about the electric oil heaters that contain heating elements and replace the dip stick? Will those in improve my inital mpg with temperature lower than 40F? (Or around?)

    And Shifty, should I ask to replace the spark plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, and distributor cap outright? (Can I actually do this my self?) What type of these products should, I, person who wants to hypermile extremely well, ask for? (Ex: A hypermiler prefers the lowest vescosity version of synthetic motor oil as opposed to non-synthetic standard thickness motor oil.)Why is it important to keep the Parking brake properly adjusted, wheel bearings in good condition for mpg?


    What exactly do you mean by "good for hypermiling"? Does this mean that the car can attain a high MPG rating? Or this car can easily can exceede the EPA estimate compared to other cars?

    What does mean when the breaks "drag"?
    Why is it important to keep the Parking brake properly adjusted, wheel bearings in good condition for mpg?

    My parents said they will replace the timiong belt. However, will it's replacement help improve mpg?

    Finally, do we need to cover anything else in terms of keeping the Accord in shape for maximum FE?

    I really want to keep this car in the best condition possible, inside and out. Thanks for everyone for helping me coast down this "new road" in my life.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  9. Pierce

    Pierce Well-Known Member

    Also, here's my hypermiling goal.

    Here's where I'm currently at:


    35 MPG. However my car isn't tuned up and is going to the local Mechanic Soon. I also do not use the A/C or electrical devices such as the radio or speakers what so ever.

    I do find the automatic transmission to be both a blessing and curse. Since I accelerate extremely slowly after I allow the car "move itself" in a non-nuetral fashion, I can "coax" the AT into shifting gears up until I reach 4th gear at my optimum speed 40 mph at 1500 rmp. (Lower RPM at highest gear=Best MPG correct?:confused:)

    Since my commute to my community college is a total of 32.4 miles (round trip) and is 97% highway based, with little traffic lights I find it easier to maintain higher than average mpg. While driving 40 mph in 4th gear at 1500 RPM. Virtually, the entire trip is based on just on 31 miles of straight highway roads with a posted speedlimit of 55~50 mph.

    My goal is to reach this two days:


    46~47 MPG in the 93' Accord.

    My logic?

    On Friday, I bought 2.9 gallons of gas for $10, when my take was bare.


    This filled my gas guage up to the half full line. After my commute (32.4 mi), I only had 75% of the gas left. This monday evening I have only 50% of the gas left (Current gas guage picture right above.). Hopefully if this trend cotinues, I'll get to "E" on Wednesday after communting a total of around 129.6 miles on 2.9 gallons. Again I say, hopefully.

    Any advice for my plan?
  10. some_other_dave

    some_other_dave Well-Known Member

    Brakes "dragging" mean that the pads are rubbing a little bit against the rotors. It's like applying the brakes just a little tiny bit all of the time--or most of the time. You can imagine that even the smallest amount of that isn't good for your FE.

    Wheel bearings that are in poor shape will also put some drag on the wheels, almost as if you were applying the brakes the tiniest amount. Still not great for FE.

    A new or old timing belt "should" not change the amount of drag on the engine. However, having one break will result in either an engine that doesn't run at all, or an engine with mashed and mangled valves. (Not sure which of those two states the Accord engine is more likely to wind up in; my CRX would have mangled valves or worse.)

    It sounds like the basics have all been covered above. If you're getting new tires, look to see if you can get ones with low rolling resistance. There is a list available somewhere here on the site that shows some relatively LRR tires, though it is a little bit old now.

  11. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    If 35 psi is the max on the sidewall of the tire, that's a good start. Think of bicycle tires (mere balloons by comparison) with up to 145 psi in them. Some here go well above sidewall, but stick to sidewall for now. FE benefit is largely obtained at that point. Fill cold, check monthly.

    Better performance, longer life versus the door placard #'s from Honda.

    Ride will be a little stiffer, but that's offset by our driving styles and attention to the road.

    Good luck.
  12. Dream'R

    Dream'R Well-Known Member

    Welcome Pierce!

    I drove a '91 Accord AT for 17 years. It looks like your car is in great condition. You should get several years of good service from yours.

    You have already received some useful advice about maintenance and there isn't much more I'd add. While your car is in for service have the antifreeze and cooling system checked. As you were told, the oxygen sensor can really affect FE but unless the engine runs rough it's probably OK.

    The other thought I'll pass along has to do with driving style. The AT has a lock-up torque converter which "kicks-in" around 45 mph under light throttle. This feels like another shift and the rpm will drop. Get used to what it feels like and try to cruise with it engaged as much as possible.

    It really sounds like your drive to college is made for great FE. Steady speeds between 40 -50 mph are often the most efficient and your car is no exception.

    I'm not sure your method to calculate your FE is reliable if you're only filling the tank part way and depending on the gas gauge reading. The only valid way is to fill the tank completely and then refill it after you used at least half a tank. By the way, 35 mpg highway is very good for your car and I hope this is what you're actually getting!

    Good luck and enjoy your car.
  13. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    You need to replace the timing belt before it snaps as most Honda engines are interference engines. Meaning, more often than not, if that belt breaks you're looking at replacing the engine. ;)
  14. Pierce

    Pierce Well-Known Member

    Will do. Thanks for the warning. I've added that to the service cost sheet with the mechanic.
  15. Pierce

    Pierce Well-Known Member

    Ahh, I see thank you.
  16. Pierce

    Pierce Well-Known Member

    Thanks! However, the info about the touque converter kicking in is new to me. Are you saying I should expect to feel 5 shifts? Or are you saying that the torque converter locks up at shift "4"?

    Around 45 mph, how many RPMs did you get with the torque converter engaged?

    I also have a confession to make about the FE. While 35 mpg results are true, (I hope so, I'm using a trip meter.) I had to REALLY go out of my way to pack in the extra miles.

    Ex. Super Coasting: Whenever I'd see a red light I'd (while going 40) completely move my foot the gas and take a good 1/4~1/2 of a mile to coast up to the light, where it would immeadeatly change to green.

    Ex. Pathetic/Passive Acceleration: When I merge on to the highway, I'd take around 20~30 sec. to reach 40 mph. (However, 4th/highest gear was attained in 15 sec. with AT coaxing.)I NEVER exceede 45 mph. (Even on 50~55 highways.)

    When climbing hills my speed would decrease from 45 to 35 easily. (I did 35 in 4th gear.)
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
  17. Dream'R

    Dream'R Well-Known Member

    Hi again,

    A little more about what the torque converter 'lock-up' is about. Normally the AT operates with the motor driving the torque converter (a kind of fluid clutch) which in turn is connected to the 4 actual gears. There is a slippage loss inherent with this feature of any AT. What the 'lock-up' does is eliminate this slippage by creating a direct connection between the motor and the transmission gears. When I said it felt like another shift I was referring to the drop in rpm which occurs. If I recall correctly, the rpm would be around 1800 at 45 mph. This feature is controlled by the load on the motor and it is cancelled immediately if you need to accelerate. Its purpose is to improve FE. (This is why many people prefer manual transmissions because there is no slippage once you release the clutch.)
    By the way, this is how an AT car can idle without stalling at a stop. At this point all of the motor's power is being lost to slippage in the torque converter.

    It sounds like you are off to a great start trying the techniques shared here. Good driving and hypermiling go together in my book.


  18. CitrusInsighter

    CitrusInsighter Well-Known Member

    Wow, that car looks amazing for a 1993 Honda! Even the wheel wells look flawless from your tire pics. As for oil dipstick heaters, they are not as effective as freeze plug-style heaters, however that may be all that's available to you. If so, its better than nothing, but you will see better gains from technique (free) than this piece of equipment. As for tire pressures, if 35 is the max sidewall, than go directly to 35 psi, do not pass go, do not collect $200. ;-)

    I certainly envy your commute to school. I go to school in La Crosse, WI which is a decent size town, but my new regular commute from apartment to office and back to class is all city streets with stops every 2 blocks. Lots of FASing, but fortunately I have a manual transmission.
  19. psyshack

    psyshack He who posts articles

    Timing belt
    Plugs & Wires
    Name brand oil filter
    Syn oil or MotorCraft 5w-20
    Name brand air filter
    Check O2 sensor
    Service tranny
    Brake service
    Fuel filter
    A rear sway bar from a EX
    Adjust throttle cable

    I could tinker with it for days. :)

    Nice 4th Gen.
  20. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    Oh, you know what, if they're in there working on the timing belt you probably want to replace the water pump at the same time. Before I had my 93, it belonged to my parents. The got the timing belt done at 90k, then the pump started leaking at around 100k :(. It's the same amount of labor to get to either part. Since they have everything apart when doing the belt, it's just easier to do the pump at the same time.

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