2004 Chevy Malibu - 60 mi/day

Discussion in 'Start Your Journey Here' started by squidfeatures, Dec 11, 2006.

  1. squidfeatures

    squidfeatures New Member

    I got my Malibu October of last year, and found this website about February of this year and have been trying to improve my driving and FE. I get regular oil changes and tune ups. I had a job for 3 months driving 140 miles every day, heavy traffic. For the last 6 months I've been driving 60 miles round trip to another job, with light/moderate traffic in the morning and moderate/heavy traffic in the afternoon. I can avoid some of the heavy freeway traffic on the way home by taking a detour through a city, 35mph speed limit, many stop lights. Until 2 months ago I was averaging about 36-38 mpg. Since then however my FE has dropped significantly, down to around 32 mpg, and my driving has not changed much in that time.

    Any ideas as to what kinds of things can cause drastic FE drops like this? Any other suggetsions as to how to improve FE for my trip?
  2. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Welcome! Sounds like you are off to a great start given the regular maintenance and your accomplishments to date. As for what has caused your drop, I **might** be able to sum it up in one word: winter. (Depends on where you live...northern climate?) Low temps kill FE due to the fact that more energy is wasted as heat. Most of it is getting the engine warm in the morning, and a small percentage is keeping it at steady-state temp in cold air. A block heater on a timer is one way to mitigate the effects if you are fortunate to have a garage w/ electical access.

    Do you have any feedback like a ScanGauge or built-in trip computer? Knowing how you did from segment to segment is key when you really want to push it.

    One last comment is on your route choice. One of the pillars of FE driving is maintaining momentum and keeping your foot off the brake pedal within safety limits. So I have to wonder if trading the highway traffic for lots of stoplights is really the best way to go? If you can use "DWB" or "Driving Without Brakes" to maintain a slow but steady pace through highway traffic, you could well do better than running from light to light. That's my experience, anyway. They key to making it work is to allow a gap to expand and contract in front of you while traffic ahead starts and stops but you maintain the same average speed, albeit at a constant rate rather than speeding up and slowing down. As a bonus, cars following you reap the same benefit. Cars may fill the gap periodically but it's OK because you can just let it open up again. Again, feedback on your fuel economy is what it takes to know which route is best.

    Could we have a few more details? E.g. engine and trans type, tire pressure, and the climate you have to deal with?
  3. tbaleno

    tbaleno Well-Known Member

    Also, what is the minimum speed you can go on the highway? How hard are the lights to time so you aren't having to stop at them?
  4. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Squidfeatures:

    ___When I was in San Francisco earlier this year, we were placed in a rented Malibu. Throughout the few days we were there prospecting homes and visiting sites, shops, and eateries along the wharf, we maintained a 35 mpg average in the beast. The only way I achieved this was to FAS the hell out of her in the extremely stop light heavy (pedestrian friendly?) and hilly terrain of downtown San Francisco. The starts and stops into and over the mountains and suburban mess was a hassle as well but with a little DWL and keeping speeds down during the many climbs, she did OK I thought? I am not sure you are ready for all of this just yet but once up to highway speeds, that Malibu allowed 35 - 37 mpg at 60 mph IIRC. Not bad for an off the lot rental imho.

    ___And you are my third welcome of the day! Welcome to CleanMPG and I hope we can help you push that Malibu to limits you would not have imagined in very short order!

    ___Good Luck

  5. squidfeatures

    squidfeatures New Member

    I live in the Seattle area, so I have cool-cold temperatures in the winter. We've already had a ton of snow and things are much chillier here than usual. I haven't driven this car in the colder weather so I might just be experiencing the normal ebb and flow of FE.

    I live in an apartment complex, so I don't have the luxury of an engine warming device. I have no feedback device other than a built in MPG calculation, and my own calculation at tank fillup. I have no idea how the built in MPG is calculated, nor over what time period/distance it's calculated.

    Oddly enough, I already drive very much like the DWB technique. My dad always told me about a taxi ride he took where the taxi driver was an ex-racecar driver and how it was almost impossible to tell whether the taxi was stopping or starting because the ride was so smooth. Ever since I've tried to emulate that style of driving (when I have the patience)

    As far as trading high way traffic for stop lights, it's mostly an issue of time. By going through town I save myself 30 minutes on average, sometimes more if traffic is bad (and on my stretch of highway, it can get really bad) The lights them selves can be difficult to time, as there are only a few of them that are on timers, the rest are on sensors, and traffic on those roads fluctuate as much as it does on the freeway.

    Speed limit on the freeway is 70 for a mile, and 60 for the rest. I usual travel about 60 (al little under) on the way to work, and 55 when I can on the way home. 55 is about the slowest I'd feel comfortable traveling, slower of course if traffic allowed.

    I don't know what kind of engine the car is (I can find it out), my tire pressure is "normal" I don't remember the exact ammount, and the car has automatic transmission.

    Thanks again for the help, I'll try to find out the information I'm not sure about and post again.
  6. tbaleno

    tbaleno Well-Known Member

    One trick to lights on sensors is let people pass you and get to the lights first to trigger them. When I was in downtown chicago I had no problem having taxies rush around me to trigger the lights. Yeah. Those cabbies can get annoyed at you, but realy they just don't know how to drive. They sit at the light for a good 5 or 10 seconds and by the time the light changes I am just arriving at the light and don't have to stop. After a while you realize that what you are doing is smart and right and it doesn't bother you too much if someone thinks you are holding them up.

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