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Honda Civic Hybrid Driving Tips & Tricks

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Comments

  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Getting max MPG from a Hybrid takes a "re-learning" process in your driving style, for most people. You can't "just get in and drive" and expect EPA numbers or higher. But with a little re-training of yourself, you CAN do just that.

     

    Generally, owners in warm mild weather locations will get better mileage than you people in cold and snowy states.

     

    Everyone's MPGs starts out low till they get the hang of it. There are a million gas savings tips here just search around.

     

    If you have nice, generally flat roads, use cruise control every chance you get.

     

    In the city I accelerate very slowly, and if I'm alone in the car and nobody is behind me I accelerate slowly.

     

    I'll pop it into neutral and coast to the red light 3 blocks ahead - usually it turns green before I get to it.

     

    Leave plenty of space in front of your car when traffic allows it. If someone pulls in front, remain safely back. You can reasonable expect your brakes to last 100K if you take it easy like this.

     

    Pretend you have no brakes as you drive and that will help too.

     

    The MPG you get will be limited by the changes you make to your driving style.

     

    Coast, Coast, Coast. I have a manual tranny, so it is Oh So very easy for me to just pop the tranny into neutral when I have some speed built up and see that I have an open space in front of me an no one behind me to slow down. I usually coast in neutral when I need to keep my speed up because the car rolls much better out of gear. If I need to boost the battery or if I know I am going to be coasting only for a block or so, I leave it in gear to get the charge boost, because the charge increases when you coast in gear.

     

    If you can drive as slow as 30 mph, do so and put on the cruise. In my manual tranny, I put it in fourth gear at 30 mph instead of 5th and it gets better mileage on the real-time meter. If I get up to 36 mph, I put it in 5th gear. Both 30 mph in 4th and 36-42 mph in 5th are the best for high MPG readings on the real-time meter. Yesterday in only a span of less than two miles at 30 mph I saw the real-time meter stay mostly 65-85 mpg on a flat road. I am always careful to avoid slowing anyone down who is zooming up behind me. I usually have three lanes to choose from so thus far I have avoided any Road Rage incidents !!

     

    At your first oil change (I would do it around 5000) change to synthetic oil if you can. It allows for less friction in the engine and you can get a 1-3 mpg boost from the added efficiency of the reduced friction. In a 1997 Suburban, I went from 17 mpg to 19 mpg just from the oil change alone.

     

    Drive like there is an egg between your foot and the gas pedal and never accellerate harshly unless it is required for safety purposes.

     

    Learn how to use Auto-Stop and milk it for every stop it's got !! It's easier in the manual tranny, because I can stop behind someone and take it out of gear and if I have to creep up a car length or so, the Auto Stop will kick in again after I creep up when I put it back in neutral. I don't know how the CVT handles that sort of thing. If all else fails and Auto Stop fails to engage if you have to creep up, TURN OFF THE IGNITION while you wait for the light to finish. These cars do not have traditional starters, they are started by a "starter generator" powered by the electric battery system, so it's OK to start it a few extra times a month in the effort to save fuel and reduce idling emissions, right? Right.

     

    Avoid A/C usage when you can, as it KILLS the MPG. I had a tank at the end of the summer and I was at 650 miles and 55.6 MPG because I managed to avoid the A/C the whole time on that tank.

     

    Keep your windows rolled UP when you can to avoid extra wind drag.

     

    Try at all costs to avoid getting into a situation where you must drive faster than 60-65 MPH. These speeds will MURDER your MPG.

     

    To improve mileage, you may want to run your tires at 40 PSI or higher when cold. This is a philosophy which is hotly debated around the web, so do your research before this tweak - there are pluses and minuses for this modification.

     

    Hope this might help you. My MPG has gone steadily up, but I think I have just about peaked on my driving techniques. I would be shocked if I can ever get more than about 55 for a tankful with my short commute. I'm just past 5 months ownership now and my average is almost up to 47.5 MPG now. Good luck!!
  • yerth10yerth10 Posts: 428
    Hi larsb

     

    Thanks for you fuel-saving tips. I have taken

    a printout of your message.

     

    My suggestion, try avoiding crowded roads whenever

    possible. While going from Virginia to New Jersey

    I avoid I-95 and instead take Rt-15, I83, I81, I78

    which is 40 miles more, but no tolls and traffic-free.

     

    My Olds-Cutlass which gives 16 MPG in City gives

    26 MPG (while driving at 70 MPH). Also no tolls

    and I gain around 9-10 bucks for 1 way.

     

    Had HCH come in 2000-Q1 I must have bought it.
  • Thanks - just printed this out!

     

    This is why I'm here. To read this, not to read that a Mazda3 is far superior because it comes standard with fatter tires and an electromagnetic digital cigarette lighter.
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    I'll pop it into neutral and coast to the red light 3 blocks ahead - usually it turns green before I get to it...

    .....Coast, Coast, Coast. I have a manual tranny, so it is Oh So very easy for me to just pop the tranny into neutral when I have some speed built up and see that I have an open space in front of me an no one behind me to slow down. I usually coast in neutral when I need to keep my speed up because the car rolls much better out of gear.


     

    Doesn't that defeat the whole regenrative braking and battery charging idea?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    quote blueiedgod-"Doesn't that defeat the whole regenrative braking and battery charging idea?"-end quote

     

    The coasting is better for longer flat distances at speeds of 40 mph+ when I can see that I'm going to be stopping in the next 1/2 to 3/4 mile.

     

    If I need to charge the battery with regen, I cannot do a lost of coasting in neutral. But to coast in gear creates a lot of engine drag (although it increases regen a lot) and slows the car down much faster.

     

    In cases where my battery charge is below 25 percent, I keep the coasting to a minimum while I spend time to recharge the battery.
  • I don't think coasting in neutral is such a good idea. Something to do with lubrication, not exactly sure what.

    Maybe the experts can chime in here.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Coasting in neutral in a manual tranny is fine, not a problem. I got 323,000 miles out of a 1980 Nissan 200SX and I coasted in neutral for MANY of those miles....:)

     

    You do want to avoid coasting with the clutch all the way down (called "riding the clutch"), as this will cause needless wear and tear on the clutch. When stopped at a traffic light, put the gearshift into the neutral position and release the clutch rather than sitting with the clutch engaged.
  • mistermemisterme Posts: 407
    "Doesn't that defeat the whole regenrative braking and battery charging idea?"

     

    It would, but only if the battery needs charging :-}

    If you have coasted a long way and-or-have been in lean burn, you haven't been using the battery so it is usually charged.

     

    My co-worker says that he had a 91 Civic and had upper 40's to lower 50's MPG.

    Not sure what happened but today's Civic at

     

    http://automobiles.honda.com/models/specifications_full_specs.asp- - - - ?ModelName=Civic+Sedan&Category=3

     

    shows only 32 / 38 MPG as EPA estimates.

    Wonder what happened to the missing ~20MPG?

     

    I've heard several ideas, such as emission requirements, fuel quality and even conspiracy!
  • Just an FYI if anyone is interested:

     

    I put in 88 octane instead of 86 (regular here) and my milege jumped from 47 mpg to 54 mpg.

     

    I asked around and the speculation is that the HCH high compression engine has an antiknock sensor and is retarding the timing on lesser grade gas - which cuts into efficiency, power, and mileage.

     

    By switching to a higher grade gas, the timing can go back where it wants to be and the engine gets more powerful and efficient. Hence better mileage.

     

    As to cost, it costs $0.10 extra for 88 over 86 octane but the mileage difference is the equivalent of saving $0.30. Net savings - $0.20/gallon and just that much less CO2 pumped into the atmosphere.

     

    If you think you should be getting better mileage in the Hybrid than you are, try using a better grade of gas and see if that doesn't kick it up a notch.
  • cdoldcdold Posts: 34
    "Do you mean the CA Civic has a smaller tank than the rest of the world? If so what was the logic behind that?"

     

    The ULEV models have a plastic tank that is expanded in place above the axle, filling all the available space. The "CA" model SULEV has a steel tank, as one of the requirements is "zero evaporative emissions", which the plastic tank can't sustain. The steel tank doesn't fit as well into the available space, and is 11 gallons.
  • cdoldcdold Posts: 34
    "To allow "Econ" to be used, the procedure above is exactly the same, but you hold all 3 buttons in for step 4 until the Econ blinks."

     

    I don't understand what you mean by the last part. What is the three-button setup that you mention, verses the two-button setup?

     

    There are two things that bug me about the default. No idle stop when I have defrost on, which this solves, and when I turn defrost off, the A/C stays on, which costs mileage.

     

    What I would really like is to be able to force an idle-stop. I'm in heavy traffic, and move forward a little bit, which starts the motor, and then it doesn't shut off again. I'd like to push the econ button to shut the engine off.
  • mistermemisterme Posts: 407
    I also wish the AutoStop would come on in those instances.

     

    If I am in that situation I'll put it in N, set the hand brake if neccessary and click the key back once.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    quote cdold-"What I would really like is to be able to force an idle-stop. I'm in heavy traffic, and move forward a little bit, which starts the motor, and then it doesn't shut off again. I'd like to push the econ button to shut the engine off."-end quote

     

    With the Manual tranny HCH, you CAN do just that - inch up then have the Autostop kick in again after you apply the brake and the clutch again.

     

    That's a big advantage for the manual tranny drivers.

     

    That is most likely one of the reasons the manual tranny HCH actually performs as well as or BETTER in City driving than the CVT in real world driving, although rated lower by EPA for City.
  • I purchased a HCH a few months back and at first was a little disappointed in the gas mileage. I live in San Francisco, so it being a city with lots of stopping and starting (and hills!) made me question if I made the right decision because around town I get 33 to 34 MPG.

    I just took it out on a real road trip and became overwhelmed with taking on a new driving technique that the car appears to have been designed for to use to economize fuel. Due to the VTEK engine this car can seriously coast along roads once speed has been built up. Other cars have a great deal of resistance due to engine compression even when not accelerating. It seemed to me that if you accelerate it a bit while coming out of the coast keeping it at a steady speed you can really get the most out of your fuel. I liken this to riding a bicycle, if you are coasting on a bike and see a hill coming up, you will peddle a bit more to build up momentum. OK so not rocket science I know but it is none the less a different approach to driving, it's more like gliding. Now my question is that it seems the "sweet spot" on getting the best MPG is to keep from going into "assist" mode too often on the IMA gauge. Is this what others have experienced? Especially Larsb, who somehow is getting upper 60 MPG.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    I WISH I were getting upper 60 MPG !!! :)

    I have put almost exactly 9000 miles on my HCH since July 12th, and I have an overall average of 47.7 MPG. The best I have done is 93.1 MPG for a 3.1 mile stretch, right after a fillup.

    Yes, there are "sweet spots" that achieve highest MPG which you can find with experimentation.

    With a fully warmed up car, for example, just last night I refueled and on the 12 mile trip back to my house, on city streets with speed limits ranging from 35-45 MPH, I was able to maintain 70.1 MPG for the 12 miles by the time I pulled into the garage.

    So these cars are very capable, once you learn how to play the game !!
  • mistermemisterme Posts: 407
    Oakstock:
    I’ve only been to San Francisco Airport a couple of times as a hub to Asia, but have seen the “Streets of San Francisco” & loved those jumping car chases! ;)
    Given what I’ve seen on TV your 34MPG is likely beating most everything on the road.
    I’ve had my CVT HCH for 13 months and 33K miles and have a lifetime average of 58MPG. Average last summer was 61-62, this winter like last is 56-57MPG.
    My best segment is 69.8MPG over my 46 mile daily commute done last month, I usually roll in @ 60-66MPG.
    I’m not driving normally to get this, I’m practicing the advice of the Insight hypermilers (The ones getting 80-110MPG) and am still learning my automobile. I’m not driving slowly, unless one thinks speeds around the limits are slow.
    My wife has almost no interest in driving for efficiency and still gets 45-50.
    I’m not sure of the length of your commute but the longer the better. If you are taking 2-3 mile trips, each time starting her up from stone cold you’re not going to get stellar results no matter what you drive. Here in GA the day temps have been 40-60 typically and I can pick up the kids @ 2 schools with all the traffic, “medium” hills and get around 55MPG over the 4 miles round trip.

    I don’t want to make a huge, long post but please let me list a few things that waste fuel, most of these also apply to all vehicles in general:

    a. Old habits. Things like automatically adding gas on inclines, curves, etc. Eliminate these and only do what needs to be done, and in measure.
    b. Running late. Leave 10 minutes earlier than usual. You’ll have a more pleasant ride and not tend to mash the gas to catch up.
    c..Exessive acceleration. The more gradual the increase in speed, the more savings.
    d. Accelerating on inclines. Accelerate on flat sections or declines instead. Don’t accelerate on hills unless absolutely necessary.
    e. Don’t nudge ahead at stops Keep your Auto Stop activated.
    f. Tailgating. Keep a large traffic buffer to the car ahead. This way you can plan your action well in advance. A great place to set up your buffer is when beginning from a stop. You’ll save gas while accelerating too.
    g.Keep momentum Drive like your brakes don’t work.
    h. Keep your speed under 65MPH. Wind resistance really takes its toll when going over 65. I use the right lanes on the freeway. “Sweet spot” for efficiency is 40-60MPH. Reduce your speed in a headwind: you can increase your speed with a tailwind.
    I. Activate your AC compressor only when needed, including defroster. Don’t just keep it on all the time. When you do need the compressor, let the weight of the car help run it by using it while going downhill.
    j. Keep your headlights switched on during your day drive. This keeps the “hidden charging” activated.
    k. Keep off the Assist as much as possible. You won’t loose MPG to charge the battery.
    l. Unless you live in a very flat terrain, keep the cruise control off. Gradually raise the momentum of the car (speed) on the base of a hill and only use enough fuel for a gradual slow-down at the peak. Better yet, if possible hold the foot feed fixed over a segment of road. Let the car slow going up the hill, and pick back up on the other side, still holding your gas in the same fixed position.
    This is sometimes called “Driving with the load”.
    m. Get up off of those soggy, spongy tires! I keep them inflated to max sidewall cold pressure, but this is a debate all in itself.
    n. Find the best route to maximize your MPG on routine trips. Find a way that doesn’t add significant time or mileage over the trip.
    o. Keep your instant MPG over your average MPG and your average will increase. The larger the margin over the average the better.
    p. Find the right amount of gas needed to maintain speed on a flat road. Back off the gas to gain 1-2 bars of the instant MPG gauge. If you’re still keeping speed you’ve just gained 8MPG over that segment.

    Well I guess that’s it for now, any comments or suggestions?
    All of this (And more not mentioned) may seem a lot to do or remember but begins to be routine. You can develop this in skill so what you are doing is transparent to other drivers…you don’t stand out at all. I’ve applied these to a small degree in our ’01 Grand Caravan as well and so far gained 5-6MPG. That may not sound like much but is a milestone in that pig.

    Others are doing better than me and my 58 lifetime pales to their ~70MPG figures.

    Another great suggestion would be to visit sites like Insight Central or green hybrid and converse with the Insight hyper-milers on their techniques and then apply them. I personally thank Wayne (xcel) for the help he has given me.

    So much for huge, long posts! :-)}
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    Thanks for the long post, it was helpful. Can you elaborate on j. Keep your headlights switched on during your day drive. This keeps the “hidden charging” activated ?
  • mistermemisterme Posts: 407
    Thanks fruth.
    The HCH & Insight battery recharges 3 ways:

    1. Brake regen.
    2. Coasting charging with the foot off of the gas pedal.
    3. When the battery's charge gets below a certain point, 4 green charge bars appear while you drive for a recharge.
    4. Hidden charging.... #3 above will bring it a few bars above 1/2, then the bars go out and it appears the charge has stopped.
    "Hidden charging" then comes in to bring the battery up to it's max (Short of 2-3 bars).
    Engine drag is much lighter, and the only evidence of it working is every mile or so another green SOC bar will appear.

    This is the problem I was having:

    I start off with a 90% battery charge.
    A few hills to pull and it drops a couple of bars.
    I drive for 5 miles but no hidden charge.
    A couple of more hills, a couple of bars drop off.
    Miles pass and sitll no hidden charge.
    Couple more hills and now I'm down below half charge.
    Now I enter the freeway after 25 miles and the charge drops to about 1/3, still no green charge bars or hidden charging.
    I begin to pull the first freeway hill which drops it down to 1/4 and now green bars light and I'm charging hard, seriously reducing freeway MPG for miles on end.

    However, strangely, at night hidden charging always worked great.

    Wayne (xcel) helped me with a tip from the folks over at Insight Central, in which the Insight charging system is connected to the headlights.

    I've found the HCH is the same. Drive with the headlights on and hidden charging will always work to bring your battery back up. Unless pulling a 10 mile long mountain pass (Or similar) the SOC usually will not go below 1/2-2/3, and will always work to bring itself back up.
  • Thanks for the interesting post!

    I'm like your wife; I just drive without caring about mileage in our CVT HCH. I'm a fairly boring or conservative driver. I got 47 mpg in warm weather, and am getting 41 now with Blizzak snow tires (NOT low rolling resistance!) plowing through snow and slush, with the auto-stop seldom kicking in, since it has been below 32 degrees F. since December.

    I'm DELIGHTED! May all the world drive these things!!
  • bbb99bbb99 Posts: 58
    Could someone recommend a good HCH tire and what PSI is best for gas mileage? I live in Texas so it will be 90F most of the time. I hate this heat.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Boy, the tire PSI thing is a toughie. There are oodles and oodles of locations on the web where you can read expert after expert telling you two to five different things about that. All I will say is that the higher the PSI, the better your MPG will be.

    As far as which tires, I personally will stay with the OEM tires, the Bridgestone B381. I do mostly city driving in mostly dry Phoenix AZ, so I don't really need anything with snow traction or better hydroplane resistance, etc.

    I like the fact that I can "coast" 1/4 to 1/2 a mile into my work parking spot after turning off the main road. And these tires are $65 each at TireRack.com also.
  • What's so confusing about PSI?

    Minimum = 32 psi typically; less risks tire blowout

    Maximum = 40 or 45 psi on the tire

    If you want maximum MPG, you inflate your tires to the maximum possible. It will give you a harder ride, but also reduce rolling resistance.

    troy
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Nothing "confusing" about the facts and the concepts.

    But, when trying to decide exactly what PSI you want to run your car at, there are MANY MANY things to think about. It's not a black and white issue.

    I did not want to get into all those here, so I advised the previous poster to look around himself.... :)
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    What's so confusing about PSI?

    Minimum = 32 psi typically; less risks tire blowout

    Maximum = 40 or 45 psi on the tire

    If you want maximum MPG, you inflate your tires to the maximum possible. It will give you a harder ride, but also reduce rolling resistance.

    troy


    Don't forget that maximum PSI rated for the tire is the absolute maximum. If you inflate your cold tire to the max, and then drive, you will very well exceed the 45 PSI once the tire has warmed up. This can be very close to 60 PSI in Texas heat. Is the $2 saved in gas worth $1000 insurance deductible and jacked rates for three years?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Just as blueiedgod shows, there are MANY MANY considerations when trying to figure what PSI to run on your own car.

    If you dont care about maximizing MPG, it's easy: just use the PSI recommended by your car's maker.

    But if you do want to maximize MPG, and you want to find the best compromise for ride comfort, safety, tire wear, heat buildup, road conditions, etc etc, if can be a difficult choice.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "Don't forget that maximum PSI rated for the tire is the absolute maximum. If you inflate your cold tire to the max, and then drive, you will very well exceed the 45 PSI once the tire has warmed up. "

    Do you have a source for this statement? I believe that the PSI marked on the side is the maximum cold pressure. It would be very difficult for a tire manufacturor to list a maximum "hot" temperature, because they wouldn't know how much heat was going to be generated.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    quote blueiedgod-"Don't forget that maximum PSI rated for the tire is the absolute maximum. If you inflate your cold tire to the max, and then drive, you will very well exceed the 45 PSI once the tire has warmed up."-end quote

    I think the poster was trying to say that the "max inflation" pressure is the Max PSI number on the tire. In other words, "do not inflate this tire higher than 45 PSI" or whatever the number is.

    Everyone knows that in a max inflated tire (when cold) the pressure will expand and become much higher after a little while on the road....I think everyone knows that...
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "I think the poster was trying to say that the "max inflation" pressure is the Max PSI number on the tire. In other words, "do not inflate this tire higher than 45 PSI" or whatever the number is."

    I'm hoping he comes back and provides explanation, because he stated that the PSI on the tire represented an "absolute maximum"...
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    "I think the poster was trying to say that the "max inflation" pressure is the Max PSI number on the tire. In other words, "do not inflate this tire higher than 45 PSI" or whatever the number is."

    I'm hoping he comes back and provides explanation, because he stated that the PSI on the tire represented an "absolute maximum"...


    The pressure on the side wall is the aboslute max, as it was explained to me. Just like some argue that it would be difficult for a tire manufacturer to figure out how hot your tires gets, it is also difficult to figure out how cold your tire gets. Someone in Alaska would have his/her cold tire at -40°F, while someone in Florida has his/her tire at 60°F and think it is cold.
    STP (Standard Temperautre and Pressure) is 25°C at 760 mm Hg (or whatever is at the sea level, 1 atm?) No one ever gets that.

    If the door jamb on my Civic states to inflate to 32 pSi, and the sidewall reads "42 max psi," it makes sence, as the car and tire manufacturers want to build in some room for expansion before your tires go "Kaboom"

    Maxing out your tire inflation is not the best way to gain mpg's IMHO. Optimizing the tire inflation is probably safer that just plainly going to the max.
  • "Don't forget that maximum PSI rated for the tire is the absolute maximum. If you inflate your cold tire to the max, and then drive, you will very well exceed the 45 PSI once the tire has warmed up."

    .
    In-correct. The maximum PSI listed on the tire is the *cold* rating, and can handle 60-70 psi when hot.

    Many Insight drivers (like me) 50 psi with no adverse effects.

    troy
This discussion has been closed.