Triple challenge

Discussion in 'Start Your Journey Here' started by SentraSE-R, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Hi folks,

    Here's my introduction to y'all, from the California Bay Area. The title of this thread relates to my three autos. I retired 3 years ago, and most of my driving is long highway trips to visit my mom in southern California, to drive to Reno or Las Vegas for entertainment, or to drive to various western national parks for astronomy volunteer work. I spent three months this year living in Chaco Culture National Historic Park (New Mexico), Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Colorado), and Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah). When I'm not making long trips, my cars often sit for weeks without being driven. City mileage sucks, because my town is small, and it has lots of stop signs. I'm lucky to get mileage in the high 20s in local driving.

    My retirement car is my 2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R, EPA rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, because of its 2.5 liter, 170 hp engine. On the good side, it's the car Wayne wanted when he wished for a 6 speed manual on the 2009 Toyota Corolla XRS. It goes 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, and gets me 26 mpg at a cruise-controlled 72 mph, 30-31 mpg at 62 mph, and 38-40 mpg at 55 mph. Climbing the Sierras out of Reno and riding the long downhill into the Bay Area, I've gotten an honest 45 mpg over 180 miles with cruise control and AC on. I drafted two seconds behind semis most of the way to New Mexico, and got 38 mpg over 1000 miles. I cruised at 55 mph all the way home from Utah, and got 40 mpg over 750 miles.

    Car 2 is a 1987 AT Chevy Astro van, my telescope hauler, with 165,000 miles. It gets me 15-17 mpg at a cruise-controlled 70 mph, and 22.5 mpg at 60 mph.

    Car 3 is my wife's 2006 AT Hyundai Elantra, EPA rated at 21/29. I've only made one long trip in it, and it got a cruise-controlled 38.6 mpg over 800 miles.

    I bought an SGII this summer, and promptly destroyed it as soon as I plugged it into the Elantra. It was quickly repaired under warranty. Now I'm ready to try a quantum leap into hypermiling, which is how I ended up here. I welcome suggestions on how to get there. I know the basics, but I haven't tried them yet, other than inflating my tires to 44 psi, accelerating slowly, and rarely using my brakes. My first attempt at FAS with the SGII gave me no reading. I just learned I have to tell it I'm driving a hybrid.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  2. kgsuarez

    kgsuarez Well-Known Member

    Welcome! :)

    You can start by taking a look at Beating the EPA - The Why’s and How to Hypermile. Don't get to bogged down by all the details though. It can be a lot to take in at once, be patient and it will all fall into place soon.

    If I could offer you any advice for starting out I would say, slow down a little bit. Any faster than 55 MPH and your mileage is going to suffer due to the wind resistance at such speeds.

    Take a look around the forums. There's a lot of great information on here.
  3. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Welcome SentraSE-R!

    Thanks for the detailed intro. Look's like you are doing great. Just keep raising the bar.

    Telescope hauler?? Are you an Etna Astros member?

    As kgsuarez mentioned, Beating the EPA is a "must read."
  4. Kacey Green

    Kacey Green Well-Known Member

    Welcome aboard!
  5. WoodyWoodchuck

    WoodyWoodchuck Sophomore Hypermiler

    Welcome! I’m new to the hypermiling community also. Best I can offer is to try different techniques and see what works for you. Little by little I am finding what works for my vehicle and my terrain. With persistence, I’m sure you can get better and better numbers!

    Good luck and have fun with this!
  6. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Thanks for the welcome, folks. I've read the Beating the EPA article, but obviously I need to study and apply it.

    More questions, which I'm sure you're all used to receiving from newbies like me:

    How and where do you get those colorful blue mileage signatures? Is there a form somewhere that you fill out?

    I get the impression that you expert hypermilers probably average only 45-50 mph on freeway drives, pulsing and gliding on flats, and coasting ICE-off on downhills. True?

    My mileage killer, as I see it, is those darn stop signs around town, with my sub-10 mpg resumptions of speed. Apparently, the best routes for good mileage involve avoiding freeways and stop signs. But I'm also unfortunately located at sea level, with hills surrounding me.

    My route to the shopping center is 3 miles with a steep uphill, and my choices are:

    1) a main surface road with three stop signs and six traffic lights, a half mile slight uphill, a mile slight downhill, and a steep 1 mile uphill climb to get to the supermarket, or
    2) a stop sign, a traffic light, and a 2.5 mile steep uphill freeway drive with an uphill on-ramp, terminating with two stoplights at the shopping center. Return involves four traffic lights, an uphill on-ramp and steep uphill drive, with only 1/2 mile of coasting before a stop sign at the bottom of the hill.

    Either way, I seem to lose. I'll get sub 20 mpg mileage on the uphills, and starting up from every stop. I guess I'll try trip mileages with the SGII, but is your majority opinion that the surface street route will get the best mileage?

    How do I get several comparison trip MPGs on my SGII on the same day? It offers current, day, and tank averages. Won't an ICE-off at a stoplight reset the current MPG average? Is the solution to reset the tank fill-up artificially?

  7. WoodyWoodchuck

    WoodyWoodchuck Sophomore Hypermiler

    There is a setting for Hybrid on the SG. I believe it is in vehicle type? That allows me to turn the ICE off then back on to the accessory position and keeps the SG recording data.

    As far as which route, why not try each one for a week and go from there. I experimented with my available options before settling on one. You might find that the worst looking one actually gives the best MPG numbers. I found the best looking, as far as lights/hills, returned less MPG than the hillier one. It had a lot to do with traffic patterns and flow. On the easiest looking route there are lots of housing developments that cause traffic to stop while a vehicle waits to make a left turn. This causes many unplanned starts/stops and idle time. The alternative route, while being more of a hill climb, allows me to keep momentum moving with very few unplanned stops.

    I keep to within 10 MPG of the psl (65 MPG) to feel safe and not a road hazard. There are a few hills that I need to start up at over 60 MPG to make it to the top without going under 55. My findings are that I am getting better MPG numbers doing this than trying to maintain a 55 mph ride.

    I can’t help you with saving several trips on the same day but would love to know if it can be done!
  8. froggman

    froggman Honda Prelude owner

    Welcome, from a Nor. Cal. hypermiler.
  9. hobbit

    hobbit He who posts articles

    Cool on the locations. I missed Bryce and Black Canyon on last
    summer's roadtrip but have seen some pictures since, and am hankering
    to go back and spend some time around there.
  10. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    welcome. i have been to the sites you mentioned, and would love a return trip.......

    as for the above statement, i think it depends on what kind of vehicle and how it's driven. those numbers seem kind of low, since i have taken trips from home to minneapolis, about 75 miles, and been in the mid 60s. that was driving about 60MPH on the 70MPH freeway, very little pulse and glide.
  11. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco


    I was referring to mph, not mpg :)


    I'd love to learn from you, if you're ever in the Bay Area.

    Woody and Laurie,

    Wayne talks about resetting his SGII to do comparison testing with the Corolla XR5. I don't think we can reset day and previous day parameters on the SGII, and trip mileage resets on FASes. That leads me to think he reset the tank fillup, and the mileage he shows on his xgauge is average tank economy since his reset. I suppose he could reset the SGII to default values, but that would mess up calibration, and provides no advantage over just resetting the tank via the fillup.
  12. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    If you set the fuel type to Hybrid, it will not reset on a FAS.

    I do wish there was a way to reset the Today mileage, to get a running average of several trips.
  13. AlphabetBackward


    Are you in San Francisco?
  14. lnmcmahan

    lnmcmahan Econoclast

    Welcome SF Bay Area Neighbor. I live in the East Bay.
    You never apply it all at once. I read it several times a year!
    First, you have to start keeping a mileage log. You make an online record for each vehicle you want to track, and each time you fill up with gas, you enter the data into the mileage log for that vehicle. Then you have to edit your profile and put the url for your vehicle's computed mpg data in your sig. There is a post somewhere that tells how to find the url for your vehicle's data. I just don't remember how to find it right now. :)
    40-50 actually. And this is on I-880 and I-280. :). I try to avoid the Sunol Grade as it is an mpg killer, but you get a great FAS coast down the other side! I try to come over the peak at 30 so I don't have to brake on the other side when I hit 75!
    I agree that stop signs are a severe challenge, but even these can be tamed by pulsing just enough to come to a rolling stop at the next stop sign. I can average better than 60 mpg on Valley Ave in Pleasanton with this technique.
    I agree with the posters who say to try each route multiple times, then choose the one that gives you the best results.
    Now that you know about the hybrid setting to keep your SG from turning off, try this:
    MORE>TRIP (this will cause it to show CURRENT) > RESET.
    This will reset your "current" readings. You will have to write down the previous readings, but you can collect multiple readings in a day.

  15. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

  16. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Thanks Larry and Andrew,

    That's the information I need to get started on the right track. I'll take the car out sometime within the next week and try some of these new techniques. I'd already calculated over the summer that I was getting 147% of the 2008 EPA highway mileage of 26 mpg for my car on long trips. Now that I know you folks are using the original EPA estimates, it still calculates to 136% for my highway driving. All of my fill-ups have always beaten my car's original 24 mpg combined mileage estimate, so I guess I've been doing something right all these years.

    I'm sure I could come up with some freaky mileage by tanking up in Truckee at 5940' elevation and refueling again at home 150 miles later. That would be one monstrous ego boost ;), even if it's not realistic over the long term.

    I live in the north bay, Benicia-Vallejo-Fairfield area. Any Bay Area hypermiler who'll let me be the fly on their wall (passenger in their car) to demonstrate their driving techniques to me, can earn themselves a free ice cream or milkshake/malt.:Banane27:
  17. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Well, I worked out a 6.2 mile round-trip route on a local back road, and ran several comparisons. The route starts with a mile of downhill, allowing my car to reach 55 mph before an s-curve, a leveling of the road, and a slight uphill. There's another mile and a half of twisties with slight ups and downs, where the speed limit slows to 40 mph, before the last long curve to my turnaround point.

    First, I drove the route with cruise control on, and got 30.8 mpg, with an average speed of 41 mph, and a max of 58 mph, consuming .21 gal. I reset the current trip parameters, and prepared to drive the route again.

    The second time, I applied hypermiling, with a FAS until my speed dropped to 40 mph, and a couple more FASes on downhills, and down to the turnaround point. Mileage was great on the downhill leg - about 140 mpg. On the return trip, my mileage dropped rapidly on the long uphill, netting me 39.2 mpg, a 40 mph average speed, and 57 mph maximum speed, consuming .16 gal. I had to push it going up the hill because a car was behind me. I was pretty impressed, getting 27% better mileage, and only losing 1 mph average speed.

    Third time around the route, I got 41.2 mpg with a 35 mph average speed and 58 mph top speed, consuming .15 gal. Keeping the speed down got me 2 more mpg. That's 34% better than my initial run.

    Fourth run was a test with the engine on and the car in gear all the way, to see how much the engine shutoff helps. Results? 37.9 mpg, and an average speed of 39 mph, with a 52 mph maximum speed, and .16 gal. consumed. The wheels in gear condition slowed me down on the initial downhill, and slowed mileage down, but not by much.

    My last run was just the downhill half, yielding 55 mpg, and an average speed of 38.5 mph.

    I finished up playing around on local frontage roads and a highway on the way back, trying pulse and glide without realizing the glide is supposed to be a FAS. So basically I was doing a lot of speed variation and starts and stops in an uncontrolled fashion. This leg of nuttiness proves nothing, other than the limitations in my mileage aspirations for my gas-guzzling 2.5 liter engine. 23.3 miles on .62 gallons, 37.4 mpg, and a 34.8 mph average speed, with a top speed of 73 mph. Not bad, with an EPA combined mileage estimate of 26 mpg. I got 144%

    I can see that P&G is probably more trouble than it's worth. I can't imagine restarting my engine 1800 times, or whatever it requires, on a 1000 mile trip. I'll draft trucks and keep my speed up instead.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  18. kgsuarez

    kgsuarez Well-Known Member

    SentraSE-R, I would suggest you do not attempt to draft a truck.

    I will not lie to you and say that I have never done it. I am sure that a number of our members have attempted it as well. It is not the sort of thing you want to make a habit out of doing. It is an interesting and exciting technique, but all it is really good for, IMHO, is to outline the effect of aerodynamics on FE and the importance of keeping our speed down.

    What you do is up to you, but I ask that you take a moment to consider the consequences you may suffer if something were to go wrong during a draft. The way I see it, the moment I decide to place my car that close to the back of a semi is the moment I put my life into that driver's hands. I don't like the idea of placing my life into the hands of a stranger I haven't even seen.

    I don't mean to scare you but take a look at this. (Warning: The image is graphic, but it is reality.)

    Don't feel pressured into attempting such a technique because you have heard it talked about around here, or anywhere else for that matter. When I first read about hypermiling, one of the things that caught my attention was drafting, along with death turns and other potentially dangerous techniques. Why? Because danger = cool and exciting (Typical thought process of a younger man). But that is not what hypermiling is about. You don't have to draft to be a hypermiler. It is not cool. And you don't "join the club" once you have tried it.

    Do the FE benefits of such a maneuver out way the possible consequences? For me they don't.
  19. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Don't draft!!! It is extremely dangerous!!!

    As for P&G being more trouble than it is worth, check out the Elantra in my signature.
  20. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    And the Civic in my signature.

    I've done over 70 mpg on highway trips multiple times, using P&G and no drafting.

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