Ultragauge-- How to really use it

Discussion in 'Fuel Economy' started by Toyotahyper88, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. Toyotahyper88

    Toyotahyper88 Novice Hypermiller

    Hi everyone,

    I recently got in to hyper miling with my 2003 Toyota Camry when it began to cost me
    $60 to fill up my tank. This was a couple weeks ago.

    I was able to average 31.4 mpg at my last fillup and I decided to take it to the next level
    and I ordered the ultraguage. I did some quick research and it seemed that the scanguage and ultragauge are pretty much the same thing, except one is considerably cheaper. So I decided to try my luck with it.

    How can I use it to improve my driving? I try and drive so that my mpg is highest and my gph is lowest, but what else can I do? Or, what else should I be looking at?

  2. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Welcome to CleanMPG!

    The ScanGage and Ultragauge simply report engine parameters. They do not increase fuel economy on their own.

    The six gages I use on the first page of the Ultragauge:
    - %Load and Instant MPG
    - Relative TPS and battery voltage
    - Timing advance and coolant temp

    The idea is to keep the %load relatively high during acceleration and then fake shift (let off the pedal temporarily to force upshifts) at or below 2000rpm until you're at the desired speed. Then keep backing very slightly from the throttle until you're using just enough pedal to maintain speed (at lowest possible TPS).

    Battery voltage is handy for long stops where you key off to avoid idling. If it gets down below 11.5 volts, it's time to restart.
    Reminder - do not shut the engine off while the car is in motion. Toyota automatics can be damaged due to lack of lubrication when the engine is off.

    It's a good idea to share more information - your general area (for an idea of traffic and topography), along with typical commute distance and conditions, and people can offer suggestions on what works for the car/commute/conditions.

    31.4 is not bad for a Camry (assuming 4cyl 5AT) but there's more untapped capabliity available to you if you learn the basic and intermediate techniques.
  3. Toyotahyper88

    Toyotahyper88 Novice Hypermiller

    Thank you for the speedy reply!

    I live in the Inland Empire of Southern California. There are a few hills, but not that many.

    My typical commute is about 22 miles each way, so around 40-50 miles per day for school. The freeway I drive on usually gives me enough freedom to go as fast or as slow as I want, so the conditions are not too bad.

    My Toyota Camry is 2.4L, 4 cyl, 5AT.

    What does %load, relative TPS, and Timing advance mean?

    Also, when you shut off the engine doesn't the ultraguage shut off too? Making it hard to know the battery voltage?

    With that, I have read somewhere else that you should only turn off the car and restart it if you are idling for a minute. Supposedly anything less would hurt the car from excessive starting and stopping, what do you think?

    What can you use timing advance and coolant temperatue for in regard to your driving?

    Thank you!
  4. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Welcome. If you can go slow, that's the way to getting immediate mpg gains. I go 55 mph in my wife's 2006 4AT Hyundai Elantra, and get 33-36 mpg on 16 mile highway commutes. 40 mph on the nearby frontage road is good for 2-3 more mpg. I get 40-42 mpg in that car on 400 mile trips.

    I have a Scangauge in her car. It monitors instantaneous mpg, trip avg mpg, trip cost, and % engine load. I use engine load for accelerating and climbing hills. The Elantra's torque converter wants to slip above 70% load, so I try to keep load below 70 (usually below 66%) during acceleration and when climbing hills. Any higher, and the TC slips, with resultant dismal fuel economy.

    I shut my engine off for stops >7 seconds. That's the break-even point. I've saved $1700 by hypermiling my two main drivers. That's more than enough to buy a few replacement starters for them, but I haven't needed to do that. To keep the UG on when the engine is turned off, turn the key off for two seconds, then turn it back to the 2 position (0 is off, 1 is ACC, 2 is run, 3 is start).

    The UG IGN gauge displays ignition timing. You can use it to try to find SAHM mode, if it exists for your engine.
  5. GrnHrnt

    GrnHrnt Well-Known Member

    Hi welcome to the forums. Have you already read "Beating the EPA" post over in the article section? It pretty much covers everything. I would suggest after reading the article that you start off with basic techniques and as you become more proficient work in the more advanced ones.
  6. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    My most useful gauge is the trip average. With stops and hills and such, it'll go up and down, but try to keep it trending upward. For example, at the last light, you had 32 mpg. Make a goal to reach the next light at 33 mpg or higher.
  7. some_other_dave

    some_other_dave Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you may have figured those out already, but just in case:

    %load == How much work you are asking your car to do; how much air it is drawing in.
    TPS == Throttle Position Sensor. I am not sure what "relative TPS" would be relative to, though. Perhaps it shows when your throttle position is changing?
    Timing advance == How much "earlier" in the engine revolution the spark is being triggered.

    I am curious (mainly from a technical perspective) to know what relative TPS and what Timing advance tell you in terms of hypermiling. The %load is obvious, of course. Is relative TPS mainly useful for DWL, so you can know when your foot is absolutely rock steady on the throttle? Timing varies with a lot of conditions, especially RPM and load. What does monitoring the timing tell you for hypermiling?

    Sorry if this is a distraction.

  8. FSUspectra

    FSUspectra Practicing true conservatism!

    From my (albeit, basic) understanding, the further advanced the timing is, the leaner and more efficiently the engine is running. It can be tied to %load and tps; they all correlate in some way.
  9. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    If the commute is mostly freeway, and you have the opportunity to drive in the 45-50mph range, that would be the best bet for the car. For the hills, you keep your foot steady on the pedal and allow some loss of speed going up and then you gain speed heading back down. The goal is to keep the car rolling and don't press the brake pedal except when you absolutely must stop. Any other brake tapping means something is wrong - you shouldn't need your foot anywhere near the brake. On the open road, work on coasting and maintaining the buffer ahead.

    The Ultragage shuts down about two or three seconds after the engine is cut. In traffic, you key off and then back to "on" without restarting so that lighting and safety doo-dads are operational while the car is in traffic. In my experience, the gage never actually goes "off" because the key is off and then back on within a second. Starting the car when the engine is warm doesn't hurt the car any more than using the windshield wipers when it's raining. The starter motor does use more current than the wiper motor, so the voltage display and the length of time idling dictate whether it is wise to cut the engine.

    Relative TPS is throttle opening expressed as 0-100% rather than absolute, which never actually reaches 0 at idle, and can change based on accessory load. I use relative because it provides a more detailed analysis of what the driver's foot is doing.

    Ignition timing isn't very useful for most AT cars but I use it to tell whether the car has finished its warmup loop and whether it's on the verge of pinging while under high load.

    The car has over 50 gages available and selectable, and those are the six I selected. As you read the manual for the gage, you will likely find some other gages that you can use to help you refine your driving.
  10. Toyotahyper88

    Toyotahyper88 Novice Hypermiller

    Can you please tell me more about fake shifting and upshifting and what that does? I am not too familiar with gears and how they work or what they exactly mean. My AT takes care of all that, but I would like to know a little more about it so that I can better hypermile. Thanks.
  11. FSUspectra

    FSUspectra Practicing true conservatism!

    Basically, it's like MaxxMPG said, when you are accelerating, and reach an RPM where you can shift to the next gear, you lift up slightly on the accelerator to make the transmission shift earlier than it normally would. Then you get back into the throttle just enough to accelerate in that gear, not fast enough to make it downshift again. It'll take some getting used to, and it would be beneficial to learn your car's normal shift points, so you know when a forced upshift will work, as you probably have to be at a certain speed for each gear to engage.

    Did that make a little more sense? Hope it helps! :)
  12. some_other_dave

    some_other_dave Well-Known Member

  13. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    The common term here at CleanMPG is "fake shifting", and it is a technique where you tell the automatic transmission a little white lie about how fast you want to go.

    In the good old days (more than 15 years ago), automatic transmissions would rely on a simple cable connecting the throttle linkage (that's what moves when you press the accelerator), a "governor" (tells the transmission road speed), and in some cases, engine vacuum (tells the transmission "engine load").

    Modern transmissions are electronically controlled, and they use the "throttle position sensor" instead of a throttle cable, the "mass airflow sensor" to judge engine load, and the "vehicle speed sensor" instead of a governor. The computer uses readings from these sensors and calculates the correct time to shift the transmission up or down one ratio so the engine isn't spinning too fast or too slow relative to what the driver wants the car to do.

    You can force the transmission into a lower gear by shifting below "D" into one of the lower gears and note that the tachometer on the dash goes up - and keeps going up as you shift to a lower gear. This is the same principle as a 10 speed bicycle, where you move levers to force the chain to different sprockets to adjust how fast you are pedaling relative to how fast you are moving.

    Your transmission has five forward speeds, so it works on the same idea as that 10 speed bicycle if you don't move the lever to change the sprocket "up front". Start pedaling from a stop, and before too long, you're pedaling very fast and reaching walking speed. You move the lever to select the next sprocket and now you're going faster for the same pedaling cadence. As you get to top "gear", you are going fast relative to pedal cadence. Head up a hill and you find you don't have the strength to maintain speed and so you move the lever backward to switch down a "gear" so pedaling is easier, but you're not going as fast as you were before.

    So what we do when we fake shift is we watch the engine load number on our ScanGage/Ultragage and the tachometer on the dash (or on the SG if the car doesn't have a tach). When the tach gets to "2" (2000rpm), we lift our foot a bit off the accelerator. That fools the transmission into upshifting one gear - earlier than it would have if we held our foot steady. After the shift, you press back down a bit on the accelerator, keeping the engine load number above 50 and below 80. Below 50 and you're not really accelerating, and above 80 will trigger a downshift to the lower gear. The trick is to accelerate at low rpm (lowest number on the tach) and high load (LOD above 50 and preferably above 60 on the SG) because that is where the engine is most efficient.

    Automatic transmissions have a "torque converter" in place of a clutch. This means that the engine spins a turbine (a fancy word for "fan blade") in an enclosed chamber that looks like a metal donut. It is filled with transmission fluid, so the engine-driven "blades" churn the fluid up and causes the turbine connected to the transmission to start spinning as well. This is not an efficient transfer of power, and some of the engine's energy is converted to heat by the churning of the fluid. That is why your owners manual states that you will damage the transmission if you use the accelerator to keep the car still on a steep upgrade - it's because you are using that fluid churning to apply enough power to keep the car from rolling backward, but you are also getting the fluid very hot.

    Over the last 30 years, cars have been equipped with "lock up torque converters". This is an extra friction clutch that locks the engine-side of the converter to the transmission (and drive wheel) side of the converter. This eliminates that energy wasting fluid coupling and results in better fuel economy, lower engine speed, and lower transmission temperature. This "lock up" occurs in your car in fourth and fifth gears. You see it as a slight drop in the tachometer at steady speed over 25mph. This is important because you want to modulate (a fancy word for "tweak" or "mess with") accelerator position to fool the transmission computer into locking the converter. Once it's locked, you can accelerate but you must do so gently, or the converter will unlock (tach goes up a bit just before the car starts to accelerate again).

    You get 80% of the positive results just by driving gently. But not too gently, or the engine load will be too low and you won't be taking advantage of the engine's most efficient mode (high load). That last 20% is what you're chasing, and it comes from getting to know your car and how to force it to upshift earlier than it otherwise do on its own.
  14. lindyhistory

    lindyhistory New Member

    I have a 1995 Nissan Sentra. The Ultraguage and Scangauge say they work on cars 1996 and later. Does anyone know if they would work on my car?
  15. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

  16. lindyhistory

    lindyhistory New Member

    I just went to the mechanic. My Sentra will connect. Just made the order for an ultragauge. Can't wait to get it!
  17. linx3566

    linx3566 Member

    it does not support metric units. does anyone know when they will. i live in Canada
  18. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Get the ScanGauge e and you will be much happier. It does have metric. ScanGauge has been proven over several years and many thousand units. They were here yesterday and will be here tomorrow. Ask Ultragauge how long their replacement warranty is for. It is a much better value in the long run.
  19. gdsmit1

    gdsmit1 Well-Known Member

    I just received my Ultragauge on Saturday. I used it for the first time this morning. So far so good. I will need to change around the gauges, I don't really have a need for a time til empty.
  20. ateebtk

    ateebtk Active Member

    nice make sure u file the rebate form w/i 30 days of delivery... its a pain in a bum but its 9 bucks...

    1) i went on the website

    2) they post up random pages from manual and ask questions... good ol "control F" should help u find whatever wording of answer they are looking for?

    3) in order to get numbers from UG from "factory test" ... i used my camera phone and snapped pictures of UG screen + cars manufacturing info

    4) i printed out all required forms... initiailed/signed them , then SCANNED them and emailed them (save on postage)

    Good luck

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