The Sonata On Trial

Discussion in 'Articles' started by MaxxMPG, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Andrew, take the image and all the relevant text from the article. This is something my dad explained to me when I first learned to drive. Look at the crushed front end of the car and think about how much energy it took to cause that damage, and then remember that you are wasting that much energy every time you stop from that same speed.

    People think nothing of gunning the gas to the next red light. They wouldn't be gunning the gas if they were driving down an alley with a brick wall at the end. I explain it this way. "Think about it - unless you're timing the light, you are headed for a certain stop whether it's a red light or a brick wall. So why rush on to suffer such a loss? Less speed means less energy lost, and who knows - you may catch the light as it turns green."
  2. balshelmtov

    balshelmtov 2011 Sonata GLS

    I am humbled by the professionalism and thoroughness of Chris' testing. The highway mileage over the course of 40 miles at @62mph according to the car's gauge read 39.5 mpg. I am a disciple of the Ultra Gauge and will run the same test at a later date, using it.
  3. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    Great! Now you are rockin!
  4. FSUspectra

    FSUspectra Practicing true conservatism!

    So glad you were willing to take Chris up on his offer and got the solid answer you (and we ;) ) needed to hear. Hopefully you're sleeping soundly at night knowing you didn't throw away a sizable chunk of change. And again, welcome to the site, and hopefully you'll have many more milestones to share! :)
  5. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Thanks for the compliment! It is greatly appreciated and it's something everyone at CleanMPG can share. We're all happy to see new people join us in our focus to reduce fuel consumption.

    When you joined to register your dissatisfaction with the measured fuel economy on your Sonata, I immediately knew you were "one of us". After all, not too many people measure fuel consumption nor do they care about reaching or beating EPA fuel economy figures. So I think you have found your new home. :) You will fit right in here, and we're glad to have you aboard.

    One warning - The quest for improved fuel economy usually causes even more frustration with the dopey maneuvers of other drivers on the road. You will become even more aware of how the actions of others are destroying their hopes of better mileage. The only defense is to try to anticipate what others will do and take action to mitigate the effects of their actions on your driving. Arriving safely is the primary goal. Gentle, steady driving will play a huge part in achieving that goal, and will also save $$$ at the pump.

    Now that we have gained credibility, I can safely say that the best is yet to come for your new Sonata. As the temperatures warm and you get a few thousand miles on the odometer, it will seem to deliver better mileage with no apparent changes in route or driver. Further ahead, as the leaves fall once again and the supermarket freezers fill with dead birds, don't be surprised to see the mileage fall along with the temperature. It's something we all deal with and it just makes the victory of Beating the EPA (or doing the best you can on a given route/commute) that much sweeter.

    Oh, and if your wife didn't switch the Eco mode back on, remind her to do it. We switched if off for the test. For the average driver, the Eco mode does offer a slight boost in fuel economy by commanding the transmission to upshift sooner (meaning at lower speeds). Every little bit will help in that challenging commute she travels every day.

  6. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Yeah,Maxx is right-The above is what most drivers constantly do- for no apparent reason.
    They accelerate to redlights!!
    Drives me crazy! Red means STOP- lift off the gas!
  7. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Back around 2002 or so, a forum was discussing Honda Insights getting 70 mpg. At the time, I was getting mid-50s. I did not speak up, but I was in disbelief. Other people at times will say "it's the car." I reluctantly figured it was what I was doing, as several was getting stratospheric 70mpg. After exercising a lot more common sense and driving techniques, 70 mpg actually seems bad!
  8. balshelmtov

    balshelmtov 2011 Sonata GLS

    I guess I'm the OP (not sure what this stands for). It seems there was a confluence of circumstances causing the car's poor "city" mileage. The most notable were and are that: the drive is infinitely more demanding than the EPA test, the drive is always begun cold, the trip is 4.5 miles each way and separated by over sis hours of the car just parked. Then of course the cold temperature and winter formulated gas through in some more negative factors just for good measure. Lastly, for whatever it's worth the car had only a few hundred miles on it when I became aware of this "issue". It has triple the number now and really a few thousand more before we can say it was broken in and working at peak efficiency.
  9. FSUspectra

    FSUspectra Practicing true conservatism!

    OP refers to the original post in a thread or original poster of a thread, which in this case, was you, as it was referring back to your original thread of your Sonata getting "horrible" gas mileage. ;) Guess you won't have to go park it somewhere for a day with a nasty sign after all? :) So glad to see that is was just the fact that your commute sucks, and not to mention this car is A LOT bigger than your Civic was. But now you have the tools and gumption to tame it a little.

    Good luck, and glad to see you sticking around!
  10. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    A dead cold engine KILLS tank mpg especially if your trips are short.
    My 1998 Suburban would barely get 10 mpg on 33 degree days(6 am dark) for my 4.8 mile commute.
    Trip home- 3 pm 50 degrees I would get 13.5.
    On 70 degree days I get 13.5 there, and 15+ trip home(80 degrees).
    Just the sunlight heating the engine/engine bay makes a big difference. for the "cold motor" trip home. A 70 degree motor/coolant(50 degree afternoon) is a much better starting point.I'll have to measure my afternoon coolant temp to see what it is after sitting in the sun for 8 hours.I suspect it is higher than the air temp.

    Your -OP- starting temps are probably 30 degrees lower than mine- absolute poison for short trip FE.You are farther north- with low on the horizon winter sun- so you won't get much "solar heating" during the day. 20 degree air temps don't help much either.
  11. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    When I lived in Anchorage, Alaska (61 degrees N latitude, 5-1/2 hrs daylight on the winter solstice), I drove a V-8 powered 4500 lb. International Harvester Scout 4x4. It averaged 11 mpg in the summer, with a high of 16 mpg. In the winter, it only averaged 5 mpg.
  12. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that-5 mpg- sounds about right-Alaska(on TV) is filled with light trucks- Sister and brother in law live in Wasilla- own a Jeep GC and a F-250 4X4 of course.
    Most folks in cold climates don't measure their mpg, lie about it, and estimate it as MUCH MUCH better than it is.
    The OP was HONEST about his mpg- it was such an unusual number that he and everyone else was STUNNED.Many(even folks here) probably thought he was lying.We- forum folks- are so accustomed to seeing crazy good numbers, that we don't credit horrible numbers.
    It is a credit to this forum that no one actually called him a liar.Pretty sure other forums chased him off- calling him a liar.
    Normal "folks" regularly LIE about winter mpg.Well they usually don't measure they say "I fill up every 3 days" or" I get 230 mile per tank" or some such .They assume they are getting EPA numbers.

    BIG ASIDE- Who made the V-8's in those International Harvesters(which V-8 was it)? When did IH go out of the "car light truck business"?? I see one once a month at most now a days?
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  13. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    High five for the OP for swallowing his pride, showing an open mind, and taking up Chris' offer. Not many people would allow a total stranger to run his car through the wringer.

    Charlie, IHC built its own truck motors, except for the Nissan-built diesel option that came in the Scout IIs. I had the small 304 cu. in.? V-8. The larger V-8 option was about 345 cu. in.
  14. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    A couple of points to make...
    • I don't believe that the OP had to swallow pride to meet with me. In fact, he was waiting to meet with me. He wanted to solve the mystery. He was properly calculating miles on the odometer and gallons pumped into the tank, and the math showed fuel economy in the 13mpg range on a car rated 22. That'd tick me off as well. The following steps he took were to contact the dealer and the manufacturer, and in fairness to the dealer, they did test the car and didn't write it off as "they all do that", as dealers so often do with owner complaints. The missing piece of the puzzle, from the OP's point of view, was the knowledge of EPA test FTP75 - speeds, distances, stops, and idle time - and how that test compares to the commute the car travels every day. Learning this, and then working to improve fuel economy on that route is something he can be proud of, because he is on the path to reduced fuel consumption.
    • It is rare for people to lie, at least deliberately with intent to deceive, about their fuel economy. They may grossly overestimate their mpg, but it is not a conscious attempt to deceive anyone. They don't count gallons and miles and if pressed, they will just tell you a rough guess of how much it costs for a week's worth of gas. In fact, very few people care about FE until the price of gas forces them to deal with it. And even then, their method of calculation is flawed, as in "I can go 100 miles from full to 3/4 on the gage" - when that is much more than 1/4 of the tank's capacity.
    • The OP wouldn't have lied about the fuel economy, whether deceptively overstating or understating it, because there would be no point. The time and effort undertaken are not worth the payoff. My take on the issue is that the OP was looking for people online who were getting good FE from their Sonata so he could conclude that his car was therefore out of spec. He wasn't looking for others who agreed that the car wasn't capable. Think about it - this is something we all do with our cars - we look for what others can wring out of the same make/model and use that for our own goals. And we can all understand the frustration felt when the weather or traffic don't cooperate and we end up with a bad tank average. To track down bad FE, use the multiple choice option: C, D, or E. Car, Driver, or Environment (traffic/weather/terrain). In the case of the Sonata On Trial, the problem was (E), but I demonstrated that tweaking (D) minimized the impact of the fixed variable (E). And that was all that was needed to prove the car's "innocence" in our case.
    • I didn't run the car through the wringer, but drove in a manner that reflected the EPA test, but within the limitations of weekend traffic. No hypermiling techniques were used, other than DWB (which is just safe driving), light timing, and smart braking. The car was always in drive, and the engine was always on. No NICE-on, no Pulse and Glide, no FAS, nothing that could push the car past EPA without measurable change in average speed or trip time. The purpose of the test was to demonstrate that the car was within spec and capable of getting close to EPA city with nothing more than changes in driving technique. If not for a very long two-cycle traffic light stop (coming home) and two long lights and prolonged wait for a left turn (heading out), the trip MPG from the last two tests would have been roughly 1.5-2.0 mpg higher. Getting that close to EPA in that traffic environment - with slower speed and much more idle time than FTP75 - is a challenge, and beating the EPA is possible with beginner/intermediate techniques. But it takes a lot of work to make it all come together within the chaos on the road ahead.

    I am thinking of taking on another case, and this will be a SantaFe On Trial. The car ('08 SantaFe AWD Limited) is showing 13.7 on the aFCD. This car is driven by the wife of my friend, who you read about in A CleanMPG and Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max success story. Seems she has noticed that he's only using about half as much gas as she does, and she wanted to know why. So he started teaching her what I taught him, and she is actually working on integrating everything into her daily commute. I plan on meeting with them this week to see what I can do for vehicle setup and then a mini-clinic to see what can be done. So stay tuned, and be sure to send me any comical Perry Mason photos so we will have them on retainer as our defense attorney during the next trial. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2011
  15. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Wow,I always assumed that IH used a GM or Ford off the shelf motor( like the old Checker cabs- I think they used a GM or Ford straight 6 for many years??)- I had no idea they actually built their own motors and trans.

    MAXX- I overstated the LIE about FE a bit.
    I do know PLENTY of folks who exaggerate their FE. As you say it isn't a lie, they just don't measure their FE or measure it by the old"I get just 280 miles a tank or fill up once a week."
    Now I do know some OUTRIGHT LIARS "20 mpg while towing 7500 lb house trailer with 2000 F250 7.3 TD" - current F250 might come pretty close to that - the 2000 7.3 no waaaaay.
  16. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I disagree. DWB, light timing and smart braking are a critical and foundational part of both hypermiling and smart driving. You can FAS and P&G all you want, but if you don't have the basics down you might end up using more gas. Hypermiling IS safe driving first, with an added benefit of mpg.
  17. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    My "No hypermiling techniques were used, other than..." probably should have said, "Only the basics were used, and intermediate techniques were left on the buffet table." Trying to drive according to FTP75 in modern traffic conditions requires hypermiling basics because there is no other way to come close to the average idle time and number of stops. For the light-to-light daily grind, we need an acronym for "take your feet off the pedals" - maybe DICE-on?

    I remember telling the driver (during the last test, when I was in coaching mode) that the buffer ahead was critical to good FE and safety. Concentrating on your car's placement on the road and the traffic ahead, along with this buffer, virtually eliminate the chance of running into the car ahead and wondering how it happened.

    Speaking with another one of my "students" last night, he told me that these basic techniques (DWB, light timing, smart braking) become part of your driving routine and before long, you realize they have become automatic and your default method of driving. He said it has put the fun back in driving, and the higher level of awareness and attention to the road have made him see and anticipate much more of the events going on up ahead.
  18. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    DICE-on. 1. n. Coasting in a motor vehicle with foot off pedals, engine running, the car in gear and the brake not being pressed. Short for car in Drive, Internal Combustion Engine on. C.f. NICE-on.

    [2011. Back-formation from NICE-on. Coined by Chris Bernius on an Internet forum at on March 7th 2011]


    My commute home includes a 45mph road with no reliable passing opportunity where I can almost guarantee one or more cars ahead will brake to turn off. The hypermiler's advantage is that by not being in a rush to overtake, there's no reason to get close.

    Ramen to that.
  19. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Many folks here never use more than the basics
    1)Motor on pulse and glide in D or N
    2)Slight increase in tire pressure- side wall max-42-45 psi or so in most vehicles
    The above is worth about one EPA size class in heavy pure city driving(large SUV gets midsized mpg)
    Shutting off motor at redlights worth about another 1/2 step down.
    On the HY-slight tire pressure increase and CC set to 62 mg get 125% of EPA- assuming you stay off brakes, and dial speed down for road work or slower cars in L lane.
    The easy stuff costs maybe 1.5% time penalty-but you get one size down FE
  20. sonata2011se

    sonata2011se New Member

    Hey all,

    I am new to this site but I think I am going to like it.

    Thank you for the post. I have read this post, the "beat the EPA", and the post that caused this post to be put up. I am a Sonata owner and I am experiencing low gas mileage as well. I do believe it is due to my driving but I want to make sure.

    Current I have a 2011 Sonata SE 2.4 with 3146 miles on it. I get about 18 to 19 MPG. But I tend to keep the car under 3000 RPM unless I am changing lanes or picking up speed. most of the time I am under 3000.

    I do have active eco but I do not us it because it kills the response times in my car.

    So my question is: when is the break in period for gas mileage?

    Thank you for any help you can offer.

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