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Fuel Economy Issues

alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
edited March 2014 in Ford
Thought I'd share these fuel economy tips from Transport Canada:

Driving Habits:
- Develop good driving habits. Tests have shown conclusively that different drivers using the same vehicle on the same road and under the same weather conditions experience up to 20% variation in fuel consumption.
- Slow down. Most vehicles burn about 20% more fuel at 70 MPH than at 55 MPH.
- Plan your driving by looking ahead at the traffic. Anticipate. Avoid sudden braking or accelerating.
- Make 1 longer trip instead of several shorter ones. Starting a cold engine and taking short trips (less than 3 miles) burns more fuel - regardless of the season.
- Shut the engine off if stopping for more than 1 minute. Restarting uses less fuel than idling.
- If carrying a load, try to pack your roof rack with rounded items front and rear, following the general aerodynamic shape of your vehicle.
- remove portable roof racks when not in use.

Taking care of your vehicle:
- Have your vehicle serviced regularly. A poorly maintained vehicle typically consumes up to 15% more fuel.
- Check tire pressures once a month when they are cold.
- Incorrect wheel alignment or brake drag will increase fuel consumption.

Other factors:
- Low temperature lab tests show that at 32F consumption increases about 8%, and at -20F by about 30%, using identical fuel.
- Driving in snow increases fuel consumption due to tire slippage and resistance to vehicle motion.
- Driving into a 20 mph headwind has almost the same effect as increasing speed by the same amount.


  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,148
    Great tips, especially with gas prices on the rise again. I just paid $1.48/gallon for mid-grade this morning.

    That's another question -- how does premium fuel factor in?

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  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    "The condition of road surfaces is also a factor. Rough asphalt, potholes, and gravel surfaced roads can increase fuel consumption up to 35%"
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    If you have an auto: You can make an effort to get the torque converter "locked up" and keep it there by avoiding acceleration if not needed. The torque converter is a positive lockup after you are in overdrive. You will notice an rpm drop of several hundred rpm.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I have a lot of 40 and 45 mph roads on the run to work. my exploder v8 AWD towing package goes to overdrive about 42 mph... it is thus always on the edge in stop and go driving, and history seems to show that Ford trannies don't like this, going in and out all the time, and that beats up the 3rd/OD gear synchro (flashing OD light) which is $1000-$1600.

    so I'm punching out the OD on the money run daily, and living with 11.8 mpg on the winter blend of DWI gasohol.

    previous posts indicate your normal gear ratios lead to OD and lockup at about 50 mph on exploders.

    whatever, OD hunt is not a nice thing on everyday driving. if you're finding you're always driving at or near the select speed, you have to decide whether to pay the gas man now or the service man later.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    It won't be a 3rd/OD synchro that requires service because automatic transmissions don't have any. The forward clutch releases and the overdrive band applies on the 3-4 shift.

    Maximizing fuel economy is simple. Buy an inexpensive vacuum gauge and about 8 feet of rubber hose. Install the gauge so it's visible from the driver's seat and practice modulating the throttle to achieve the highest vacuum readings. The higher the reading, the less the ecm increases injector pulse width, the less fuel is injected, and the better the mileage is.
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    Thanks for the info. I used to run a vacuum gage in vehicles which had a carburator figured with fuel injection this was not valid anymore. Guess I'll be getting one again!!!!
  • shmangshmang Member Posts: 297
    In your post, you mentioned "shut off the engine, if it will idle more than 1 minute". So, if there is a stop light that you know will stop you for about 2 minutes, do you shut off the eigine when the light turns red when you are almost there?

    The reason for that is: I heard it is bad for the starter and the engine if you start and shut it off frequently. On my way to work, there are 2-3 long light, if I follow the 1 minute engine shut off, will it hurt the starter (or at least shorten the life of it)? Does it really worth the saving on gas to abuse the starter like that?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Short bursts on a starter are okay I think. It's the cranking and cranking that kills them.

    RE: overdrive--you don't want to be pulling hard in o/d anyway. As Alcan suggests, a vacuum gauge can tell you a lot.

    It is quite possible to use MORE fuel in o/d or cruise control if you are pulling too much load in a very high gear, to say nothing of the stress on engine and drivetrain.

    Lugging an engine is the surest way to kill it off prematurely.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    I just posted the info verbatim from the brochure. Re shutting off the engine, it looks like they're only considering fuel consumption and not any other deterioration or wear factors. I'd think that it's more applicable to situations where the engine might be idling for 5 minutes or so. We have several level RR crossings where I live. If I can see the end of the train I'll leave the engine running. If not, I'll shut it off.
  • vwracervwracer Member Posts: 90
    Let me add keep all extra weight out of the car.

    keep your tires inflated to the max pressure printed on the side of the tire.

    Check your air filter regularly and replace as needed.

    Don't use the drive thru window. Park your car and go inside That big M.

    pull into the first parking place you see. Don't drive around the mall three times to find that premium spot right by the door.

    when going to lunch with friends always ride in their car.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    The last tip is the best. My car gets the best mileage when the keys are in my pocket. LOL
  • shmangshmang Member Posts: 297
    .... and the second one is the best way to get blown tires if they are not in excellent condition, since you are pushing it to its limit.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Remember, idling is 0 miles to the gallon (really ruins the average).
  • frulefrule Member Posts: 82
    It was many years ago in Car and Driver I think.Basically,BMW did an exhaustive test to find out what method of driving yielded the best mpg.Surprisingly it was not the old"egg under the foot" adage we have heard for years.

    Rather,they found that FULL Throttle acceleration to you intended speed gave the best economy-it's counterintuitive-but that's what the BMW guys came up with.

    Anyone remember this test?

  • windowphobe6windowphobe6 Member Posts: 765
    Wastes time and fuel, in my experience.

    I have always gotten the best mileage driving in such a manner as to induce Green-influenced passengers to attempt to exit the car at high speeds, lest they witness any further, um, carnage. That "slow and steady" stuff is propaganda paid for by the Union of Concerned Tortoises.
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    Trying to get the best possible milage on my 01 Sentra I can get 28 mpg in suburban driving (rated 24/31). My wife was getting 25. I asked her to try starting slow and getting the auto to lock up torque converter. Got 29 mpg- better than me. Thats been my experience over the years (55 years old) The only car that I owned that it didn't seem to matter was my'69 Camaro. 16 mpg no matter how you drove it!!! I have always been careful-trying to get good milage.
  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    I've always gotten better-than average mileage with my cars. I like the following tips pulled from the above posts as well as my own driving experience:

    1) Anticipating traffic is probably the biggest thing you can do to save gas, save wear and tear on your vehicle and be kindler to the passengers in your vehicle. If you find yourself tapping the brakes a lot in heavy traffic, you are following too close or driving too fast. Slow down, relax and pay attention! That impenetrable pack of idiots ahead of you isn't going anywhere fast either. When things start to move again, take your time accelerating. Instead of going from zero to 45mph and then back to zero again a couple of seconds later, try leaving more space in front of you and pacing yourself better. Try to average a 25-30mph in that situation instead by leaving braking and accelerating space ahead of you. When driving a standard, try to maintain a pace that allows you to idle in first or second gear rather than constant starts and stops that waste gas, raise your blood pressure and heat up your brakes. People WILL jump into that space ahead of you once in a while. That's OK. DON'T let it upset you! Maintaining that cushion of space, you've lost maybe 20 feet which is an insignificant amount of distance in 10-20+ mile trips. It's no big deal.

    2) Tire pressures. I run my right at or near maximum and in 20+ years of driving, I've never had a problem doing this. Check and fill them when perfectly cold (first thing in the morning before the sun hit them) and adjust them as the seasons change. You just need to know that you will have a little less grip in most situations with the inflation this high. Running on a severely underinflated tire can feel like your parking brake is stuck on. It's also very dangerous as the vehicle is more prone to blowing a tire. Also, skinnier rims and tires get better mileage than fatter ones because of less rolling resistance. Taller (greater circumference) rim and tire combos will effectively increase your final drive ratio and may boost fuel economy but this will throw off your speedometer by the same amount and might rub on the inside of your wheel wells. Experiment gradually and with caution.

    3) Use thin (and/or synthetic) oils in your engine and tranny. These reduce drag which will save fuel. If you are concerned about wear, replace them a little more often than you normally would. This can save around 3% all by itself.

    4) Replace your ignition components (spark plugs, wires, cap. etc ...) using the shortest intervals recommended. Use good quality, high-performance (but not racing) brands. Use Platinum plugs only if your car calls for them. I've found a good, copper plug (NGKs) to provide the best mileage, better than platinums. Don't waste your money on Splitfire plugs or other, similar gimmicks.
  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    5) I get MUCH better mileage during heat waves (80-90F+) than I do during temperate weather (70F and cooler). The car runs leaner and develops less power but uses less gas as well. My Honda Civic DX goes from 38-40 mpg in the winter to 45+mpg during the August heat in MIXED driving, even with the air conditioning on. Speaking of which ...

    6) Using the A/C puts a load on the engine and increases fuel use. Roll the window down at low speeds or use the vents and electric fan at highway speeds but do not drive with the window rolled down at high speed. This causes so much drag that you are usually better off using the A/C. This brings me to aerodynamics ...

    7) A clean car (freshly washed and waxed) is more aerodynamic than a dirty car and this might make a difference on extended highway-speed trips. Minimize any roof-racking, etc ... and forget about the do-nothing spoilers on the back of most cars. They do nothing but add weight and a little drag.

    8) Be sure to change your air filter regularly. Dirty, restrictive air filters cause your engine to run richer. I use a K&N cone which flow more and require less maintenance. Running a dirty air filter kills your mileage and running around in a rich condition can foul up your entire motor, its crankcase oil, the emissions equipment, etc ...

    9) I don't carry around a lot of junk in my car. This saves weight. You can go wacky and anal with this idea trying to strip your car down but between insanity and animal house is a clean vehicle without hundreds of pounds of superfluous junk in the backseat and trunk. Another way to reduce weight in your vehicle: stay single, don't have kids and don't date fat chicks. >;^)

    10) Drive a vehicle with a standard transmission (not an automatic). They and their fluids weigh less, don't lose any power through a fluid coupling, sometimes feature a higher final drive ratio and make you a better driver overall. Better drivers, all things being equal, get better fuel economy. >:^)

    11) Use a good fuel injector cleaner regularly. Clean injectors fire a spray that is well atomized, burns more completely giving you greater power and economy as well as cleaner emissions. If you don't believe in the bottled stuff (some are better than others), get it done professionally every 3 years or so.

    12) Plan routes well minimizing back-tracking while running errands. Unnecessary miles uses unnecessary fuel.

    13) Never use the drive-thru window unless there is only 1 or 2 cars ahead of you. It's better (and faster) to park and quickly run in.
  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    Like some others, I have NOT found that driving 55mph is significantly better than 70mph. Besides, savings depends greatly on the aerodynamics of the vehicle. I remember that Shell did a study using early 80s Chevrolet Caprices and they came up with a similar amount of 'savings' by driving at a slower speed. But, how many cars on the road today share that car's square shape or carburetor fuel system, eh? My mileage only deteriorates significantly at 80+mph and the speeding ticket you risk getting at that sustained speed makes the extra gasoline consumed insignificant. >;^)

    Likewise, I usually shift at 3,000-4,000 rpms on the open road. Surely, running along at 45mph in 3rd gear at 5,000 rpms is less fuel efficient than 5th gear and 2,500 rpms but as was previously stated, lugging the engine wears out the bottom and wastes fuel because of the high load. There is a happy medium. Find it and reside there.

    Premium fuel should have no effect on fuel economy unless your vehicle calls for it. In that case it doesn't really give you 'extra' mileage, but you will rob yourself of fuel economy by using a lower grade ... and possibly damage your engine as well.

    I liked the advice about not traveling around the parking lot looking for that 'perfect' parking spot. Besides, to be honest, most of us could use that little bit of extra exercise. >;^)

    I know some kids who like to put their standard-shift cars in neutral and coast to a stop thinking they're saving fuel. This is silly. While your car is in neutral, your engine has to use extra fuel to idle and stay running. It does not have to use any when decelerating and still in gear. Leave your car in gear as you slow and only pop it into neutral just before the motor begins to stumble.

    Lastly, if I know I'm going to be at a really long light I will shut off my car. This is especially true if I know it will be 2+ cycles of the light before I can get through it and I can roll up to it (say, at the bottom of the hill). Just be sure not to lock your steering by removing the key or turning it all the way off/back and compensate for the lack of power brakes. Obviously, I do this rather infrequently ... maybe not even once each week. But, when traffic is STOPPED on the highway because of an accident I definitely shut my car off. That can be minutes to an hour or more. Well worth it. People who leave their cars idling for 5-10+ minutes (often sitting in parking lots) are a serious pet peeve of mine. Unless the vehicle is a diesel, there is NO reason to do this, not even in the winter! It just wastes gas, increases pollution and wear & tear on your vehicle.

    --- Bror Jace
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    If everyone would practice these things and in addition get a fuel efficient vehicle, we could be close to energy independent. However for now we will continue to practice our gas guzzling ways as we wait in gas lines.

    Support Terrorism- buy an SUV!!!
  • britton2britton2 Member Posts: 305
    I appreciate the time you took to list all of the gas-saving tips, you mentioned some things that I had not heard of or thought of - I do have to disagree however with premium fuel not effecting gas mileage - I have found that in my '01 Corolla I always get about 2 more MPG using 89 octane gas as opposed to 87 octane - I always check my mileage at each fill-up and this has always been the case -
  • shmangshmang Member Posts: 297
    On the coasting in neutral, yeah, it will use a bit more gas to keep idle, but if you leave it in gear, it will slow down the car faster, thus you might either not be able to get to the light or slow down to 10 MPH in a road with speed limit of 45MPH much faster - which is not a wise thing to do.

    Other than that, I agree with the rest.
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