Poor MPG in Dodge Caliber CVT

Discussion in 'General' started by SewbDude, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. SewbDude

    SewbDude Member

    Hello fellow Hypermilers,

    It's been a few years since I've been on here. I seemed to have plateaued with my hypermiling. A little about my vehicle and my driving:

    I have a 2007 Dodge Caliber SE 2.0 CVT, 114,000 miles, well maintained, ScanGuage II, I use mostly E15 88 Oct unleaded and sometimes reg unleaded 87 oct.

    I drive about 60 miles a day, round trip. Here's how it breaks down with techniques.

    Interstate section:
    -Light traffic both ways
    -26 miles total (one way is 13 miles)
    -AM commute I drive 73 to 77 mph, DWB, DWL
    -PM commute I drive 69 to 72 mph, DWB, DWL

    County road section:
    -Little to no traffic
    -24 miles total (one way is 12 miles)
    -AM commute, 60 to 63 mph, DWB
    -PM commute, 55 to 61 mph, P&G (shift to nuetral, sometimes turn off engine), DWL, DWB

    Highway section:
    -Light traffic
    -6 miles total (one way is 3 miles)
    -AM commute, 67 to 70 mph, DWB, DWL, Rabbit timing
    -PM commute, 65 to 67 mph, DWB, DWL

    Town sections:
    -Light to heavy traffic
    -30 to 40 mph, DWB, DWL, rabbiting timing, Smart Breaking

    Since October 1, 2017 I average just 26.7 mpg, . Then again, I live in Minnesota, and our average temp since then has been about 17°F the past few months. Nonetheless, does anyone have any suggestions for me? My original car on here, a 1996 Subaru Legacy, I recall getting 125% 130% of the EPA.

    How can I get better FE? What else can I do to be more like Wayne Gerdes?
    BillLin likes this.
  2. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Hi SewbDude,

    Aside from the glaringly obvious one (high speeds), you could be more detailed in your logging of average MPG in the various segments of your drives. Since you drive with an SG II, it shouldn't be too difficult to reset at various points in the commute. In that way, you can see which segment needs the most work. If your town segment is killing you, then that's where you can get the most return on your efforts. Then again, the town section is also a smaller percentage of your drive so maybe that won't help as much. Hard to tell till you get some additional numbers.


    edit: ...and since you're in MN, I hope you have a grill block and block heater.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
    EdwinTheMagnificent likes this.
  3. Carcus

    Carcus Well-Known Member

    My big 3 suggestions/thoughts would be:
    1. Speed
    2. E0
    3. Tire pressure

    Speed: You're driving a somewhat "high profile" vehicle. It'll take a huge hit above 65 mph, especially in cold air. LOTS of semis are governed to 67 mph. So on interstate/highway sections of your commute, just pace yourself a safe distance (about 2 seconds) behind one of these trucks. (this will add not more than about 2 minutes to your commute)

    E0: Looks like there's a fair amount of E0 available in your area. Run your current tank down close to empty, then run the next two on E0 and see if you don't notice a 5% to 10% mpg improvement over E15. (it could take a couple tanks for the LTFT (long term fuel trim) to adjust)

    Tire pressure: You gave a fairly detailed synopsis but failed to mention tire pressure, ... which makes me think you may be ignoring tire pressures. Some tires (especially older tires) need to be checked at least every other week. Most'hypermilers' here are probably running closer to max sidewall than "doorpost recommended".

    Do these 3 and I bet you're looking at 30+ mpg in the next few tanks.

    /p.s. you should not be shifting to neutral while traveling in your CVT vehicle, it is not "flat-towable" which means it could/will damage the tranny
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
    BillLin likes this.
  4. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Yeah , but if he doesn't go at least 77 MPH on the Interstate , won't those big rigs just run him over ? Smirk.
    BillLin likes this.
  5. Carcus

    Carcus Well-Known Member

    ... which is why I suggested pacing behind one of the 67mph governed trucks,.... the faster traffic (i.e. jackwads) are way less likely to "get aggressive" with you because they won't see you as "source bane".

    /I suppose your comment is sarcasm, but for those who don't realize, ... most, or at least a lot, of the truck traffic has slowed down over the past several years for fuel savings. If I'm in with two lanes of fast moving traffic, I'll roll with the high speed flow until a "right lane pace truck" comes along. Less stress in my day.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
    BillLin likes this.
  6. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I don't get out on Interstates too much these days , but I noticed it back in 2010.

    Truckers going LESS than the PSL on I-40.
    BillLin likes this.
  7. jcp123

    jcp123 Caliente!

    My company is governed to 63mph, some others seem around that speed too. If you aren't governed, I hate to say it, but the extra miles you pack into a driving day far outweigh the fuel costs for a truck.
    puddleglum and BillLin like this.
  8. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I had the Dodge Caliber. Loved the CVT...the Dodge, not as much. Dodge set up the engine, fuel system & CVT to give the best MPG at 2000 rpm. I drove to keep the CVT near 2000rpms. Averaged 31 MPG with E10, with high of 35MPG, averaged 33MPG with E0, with high of 37MPG here in western Washington state. At 60MPH, the CVT was at 2000rpms, then the rpms climbed after that(under light load). Not only do you get worse MPG due to increasing velocity, but the CVT also is increasingly leaving its most efficient operating realm. If you put much larger diameter tires on the Dodge you can probably extend the CVT efficiency realm to 65MPG, but above that will again be in CVT inefficient MPG territory.

    Oh, oh! I see SewbDude posted only once & almost a year ago. Sorry for being late. Any other Caliber drivers to take my advice?
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
    BillLin likes this.
  9. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    That seems like odd CVT behavior. Did the CVT not allow lower rpms with lighter loads at 60 mph? I'm thinking of terrain and varying winds.
  10. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    It's a 2007 model year Dodge. I would expect things to be odd.
    BillLin likes this.
  11. litesong

    litesong litesong

    The CVT reached its maximum range at 60MPH(& 2000rpms) & rpms had to rise to match any higher speed(like an automatic or manual transmission in highest gear). That is why I mentioned larger than standard diameter tires, may have extended the speed a bit to which 2000rpms would have corresponded.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
    BillLin likes this.
  12. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I would agree, but my Dodge Caliber avoided many problems other people had with the Caliber. One thing that needed repair, was the gasket between the engine(developed by Hyundai, Mitsubishi, & Dodge) & CVT(developed by Nissan). No problem with the engine or CVT, tho. Never heard of anyone else having the gasket problem. Even Dodge gaskets are hard to make by Dodge, much less engines & transmissions.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
    BillLin likes this.
  13. SewbDude

    SewbDude Member

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Following the post and subsequent ideas, I increased my MPG to 28.5 (March 2018 to Nov 2019). As previously noted, I was getting 26.7 mpg. Not a huge, but I will take almost 2 mpg increase anyday.

    I ended up getting rid of the vehicle. The subframe was rusted out and the repairs were about 4.5x the value of the vehicle.
    BillLin likes this.
  14. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Nice improvement!

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