Tips for a non-hybrid, auto-trans vehicle?

Discussion in 'Fuel Economy' started by Appletank, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. Appletank

    Appletank Lightly toasted

    Most of the big threads seem focused on hybrid vehicles, was wondering if there was anything specific to gas only vehicles I can try out to boost fuel efficiency. I already know about keeping acceleration low, keeping RPMs low, avoid braking

    Is there any point to coasting, because of the whole engine braking problem (P&G)? Or should I just try to keep the car in highest gear, lowest RPM, steady state?
     
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  2. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Start with the "Beating the EPA" article - http://www.cleanmpg.com/community/index.php?threads/1510/ - which you can bookmark in your browser for future reference.
    Most of us here have old fashioned gas burners and beat the EPA with varying degrees of success.
    The article I linked here is a starting point that introduces most of the techniques we use. Not all are effective in all driving conditions (ridge-riding in stop-n-crawl traffic, for example), but each one will have their time and place.

    Where are you located, and what does your daily commute look like? What are you driving?

    Our daily battle is with the three "T"s - Traffic, Terrain and Temperature. Any combination of the three can be present to foil your attempts to stretch a gallon of fuel. Heavy traffic, commutes that involve driving uphill (both ways!) and very high or low temperatures will all hurt, but we accept them as challenges since we can't eliminate them.
     
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  3. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    What Maxx said. Plus , length of trip/commute can be pretty important. A 20 mile trip will usually
    yield much better fuel economy than a 2 mile trip , because you are spending more time with a
    fully warmed-up engine.
     
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  4. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Here's my short version:

    Look far ahead, anticipate what might happen
    Let off the gas as early as you can and still get to the next stop.
    Coast in neutral
    Use medium throttle to accelerate - not completely babying it but keep the rpm below ~2000.
    Lower speed on the highway
    More air pressure in the tires
     
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  5. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    If your car doesn't have a block heater, consider getting one. It's the poor man's plug-in hybrid. It significantly improves your gas mileage, esp. in winter, by decreasing the time your engine spends warming up. The electricity costs vastly less than the fuel saved. Also, engine life is greatly extended, pollution reduced, and your winter commute will be more comfortable. Lots of wins with a block heater. The downside is you have to deal with a plug--just like a plug-in hybrid. I use a timer to give me 2.5 hours of electric heat before I head off into the frozen morning and my car heater is blowing warm air within 0.1 mile.
     
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  6. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    Idling wastes gas. Unless your windshield is fogged up, start your engine and go, especially if you have some slower driving possible before higher accelerations and speeds are necessary. Clear off snow and ice first as everyone should anyway, regardless of efficiency.

    Good point by Edwin about shorter drives. Combine your trips if you can and go to the farthest point first and work your way back for multiple stops. Park facing out or in the farther spot in tandem drive-through parking. This avoids backing up with a colder engine.

    Jay mentioned engine block heaters. I've always wanted one. It seems odd to me that it is difficult to buy a car with engine block option unless you're buying for a fleet or are in Canada. Of course, if you're mechanically gifted, you can put one in yourself.

    Winter's coming. An adjustable grill block would help keep the cold air from flushing out the precious heat in the engine compartment.

    AC or heating demands can hamper an otherwise efficient drive. Keep it to a minimum or off.

    Stay focused on your driving and stay safe.

    p.s. One more I just thought of. Use the sun to preheat the car. I do with EVs and hybrids where there's less penalty for not planning ahead. I just moved my wife's car into the sun so it'll be warm by the time she leaves. If I had to plan ahead, I'd check the weather the day before and leave the car where I know the sun will be.
     
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  7. Appletank

    Appletank Lightly toasted

    Doesn't coasting in neutral still leave the engine idling, compared to in gear where DFCO stops the engine from eating fuel entirely?
     
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  8. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    You are correct. It's about context. DFCO also gives you drag from the engine slowing you down. If you're coming to a stop, DFCO is best. If you're continuing on your way without stopping, neutral is better. Yes, the engine is running, but at speed it's giving you 100+ mpg while not eating up your momentum. You burned fuel earlier to earn that momentum. That's precious, save it as much as you can.
     
  9. Appletank

    Appletank Lightly toasted

    @MaxxMPG
    2008 Toyota Matrix, daily is about a 13 mile highway run with at most 1 mile of street driving. The highway is basically a small mountain, with a high point biased to one side. /////////\\\
    Morning i go <-- way, home I go -->

    @PaleMelanesian
    Is there a difference between neutral and partial throttle? Is dropping into a lower gear when accelerating back up expected?
    And I assume this gets better results than steady state?
     
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  10. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    The Matrix is a nice little wagon. AWD/4WD?

    That's a tough commute, but at least the distance is long enough to warm up the engine. :D Looks like you need to figure out what's most efficient for you in the hill climbs. You'll probably use DFCO to advantage on the downhills. I doubt you can get away with neutral on the downs, besides you'd use up your brakes. I don't like long hill climbs because they don't lend themselves to pulse and glide, and a favorable ratio of pulse to glide is where I get my best averages, especially long distance highway. (see your question about steady state; I think you use the tallest gear that doesn't lug and use DWL) (my only highway driving is done for hours at a time, getting to a place that's a very long two-day drive if one doesn't keep the average speed up, and my vacation time is very limited)

    Do you have an instantaneous MPG gauge? I can't do it myself, but I hear a vacuum gauge can be used in a similar way.
     
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  11. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Ok so climbing up the mountain you want to keep the rpm as low as the car's programming will allow.

    On the way down is where the neutral comes in. Giving it partial throttle is probably a losing option - you're adding a small amount of propulsion to the car, but using more fuel than that just to keep the engine running at 2000 or whatever rpm. Consider this: how much fuel does it take to idle the car at 800 rpm or rev it up to 2000? Clearly the 2000 rpm uses more fuel. You're doing the same while cruising at highway speed, plus using a little more to add power.

    Obviously be careful of overspeeding down a mountain in neutral. :eek:
     
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  12. Appletank

    Appletank Lightly toasted

    @BillLin
    Nah, just FWD.

    For the hill sections, I figured that trying to keep it in top (4th) gear is better than dropping to third. Since the hill is steep enough that I outright don't have enough torque in 4th (on the home trip, it slopes up sharply as i near the hill range), I boost to 65-70 so I have enough momentum to reach flatter road before the car drops below 2K RPM/50mph.

    I bought a OBD Bluetooth plug a year back, and hook it up to my phone. Right now I have gauges for Instantaneous mpg, Trip mpg, Fuel rate in Gal/hr, and Ignition Timing (???)
     
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  13. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    That's great. Sounds like you could already be above EPA ratings. Awareness and monitoring is half the battle. You're also keeping track of progress and fillups, right? I've heard others who use the speed/momentum in the uphill portion. I guess we all use a variation of that technique. That's great if the hill is short enough. Just try not to accelerate on the uphill. :D I'm sure you're not.
     
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  14. Appletank

    Appletank Lightly toasted

    @BillLin
    yeah, i get somewhere between 31 to 33, which is a bit annoyingly average. And i try not to accelerate, but sometimes i get slowed down by surprise truck having even more trouble climbing the hill, and have to throttle up just so I don't start blocking traffic.

    The annoying thing about the OBD reader is that I'm pretty sure the readings are off, I routinely get 36-40 but I'm clearly not getting that. I figured out how to adjust it, but it's a bit of a crapshoot trying to figure out how much to turn down.

    Also: does anyone know if downshifting to keep the car in DFCO is useful when reaching a red light, or is it a waste of time outside of saving brakes?
     
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  15. Appletank

    Appletank Lightly toasted

    Also also: what gauges do y'all typically look at, and why?
     
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  16. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Trip mpg is my #1. I have a good idea what's good and not at certain points along my way. Keep it moving upward the whole trip, conditions permitting. Or in spite of conditions. :D
     
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  17. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I look at my instant MPG more than anything , but trip MPG is next. Once in a while I look at the speedometer.
     
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  18. Appletank

    Appletank Lightly toasted

    Is there a best best engine load for acceleration off a stop?
     
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  19. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    I find that I have to look at the speedometer more often than in the Prius than in previous cars, because of its lack of aural cues as to speed. Otherwise speed drifts up or down too much.
     
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  20. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    The ideal load is higher than your automatic will allow. What you want is almost max throttle at low-medium rpm. With the automatic, that will trigger a downshift and destroy any savings. What you need is as high throttle you can give while staying in the 2000-2500 rpm range.
     
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