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Old 06-02-2007, 01:59 PM   #1
BailOut
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My progression into hypermiling

(Note: If you get lost in the subject matter or acronyms used here please see the "Fuel Efficiency" thread.)


It seems that some folks think I just dove head-first into hypermiling one day, and they balk at doing the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. It freaked me out at first, too, but was a gradual and natural progression.

Here's how I got hooked.

It started in the Spring of 2006 when I measured a tank's MPG on my old 2.4L, 4-cylinder Stratus for the first time and was surprised to see how low it was (18.1 MPG). I always suspected but I kept pumping money into the fuel dispenser like a good little lab rat without ever looking too closely. Granted, the Stratus was over 100k miles at this point and would randomly drop mystery fluids, but it was never what you'd call a "tight" vehicle to begin with.

I went on-line to try and find some FE tips and for the most part they were the garden variety stuff. I took them to heart and applied them all and they helped as my next tank was 20.4 MPG.

I still wasn't satisfied, though, so I started reading about the Prius. I lurked on PriusChat.com for months while I read all about those folk's FE efforts and gathered more ideas. I tried out a few more things that were applicable to the Stratus and my FE went up to 22.2 MPG. While this was a commendable 25% boost over my old numbers it still wasn't hitting the EPA's numbers (24 MPG combined).

Over the next few tanks I tried like heck to get 24 MPG, but I only hit 23.1. That would be the highest MPG I would ever see on the Stratus.

I started planning to buy a Prius this Winter or Spring but last Fall the CEO of Toyota made an announcement at a press conference which, while the media didn't seem to notice it much, changed my plans for the future. He said that Toyota would have a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) version of the Prius available in the 2009 or 2010 model years.

Right then I decided that I was going to hold off on a Prius as I could be as little as just 2 years into the loan on it when the PHEV version streeted, and I would find myself "upside down" on the original loan while holding a somewhat obsolete car.

In January of this year I got a new job on the shore of Lake Tahoe. This changed my commute from a 3 mile urban run to a mountain commute, 27 miles up and over Mount Rose (Nevada SH 431). Mount Rose is a twisting, winding, 2-lane (meaning just one lane in each direction), 50 MPH highway with its share of 20 MPH hairpin turns and lots and lots of steep grades. This mountain also sees enough snow in the Winter to be able to host the locals' favorite ski area (which is where I learned to snowboard last Winter - hehe). It is worth mentioning that many tourists find their way onto this road and they generally do not fare well at all (maybe those 20 MPH turns that look 4,000 feet down to the valley floor make them dizzy).

For a few weeks in this time I played with the idea of building my own EV, but to make a long story short no one is sure if I could get one up over the mountain using COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) components, and I couldn't afford to dump the money into a project that might leave me without a commuter vehicle. Additionally, I have never been trained on working with high voltages and amperages, so the thought of it made me nervous.

I still had to replace the Stratus as I had already pushed it past its planned service life and it was beginning to cost me more in repairs than it was worth or that a new car loan would cost me. It was also eating my lunch in fuel costs as the mountain extracts a heavy toll. My MPG had dropped back into the teens.

I knew that I needed to get a smaller, much more fuel efficient vehicle, and it needed to be cheap enough that I could pay it off before the PHEV Prius came out. I toyed with the idea of a used Prius but they retain their resale value so well that the loan would still be larger than I could comfortably close out in 2 years.

Then, in the 3rd week of January of this year, two things happened at nearly the same time: 1) I found the Yaris on Toyota's web site, and 2) Mother Jones published their article on Wayne Gerdes of CleanMPG and his hypermiling efforts.

It was like an epiphany for me. Here was a fellow representing a group of people that were just as much into FE and low emissions as I was, and they had some ideas that had never occurred to me naturally.

The more I read about hypermiling on CleanMPG.com the more fascinated I got, but I was also taken aback at things like FASing.

I remember having one browser tab open to CleanMPG and another open to Toyota.com and flipping back and forth to try and figure out if the Yaris could perform hypermiling techniques effectively. Everything checked out right down the list, especially with a manual transmission. It's as if the Yaris was built to be a non-hybrid hypermiling vehicle.

That sealed the deal for me and I bought my Yaris on 02/21/2007.

The first tank was my worst tank but it was still 36 MPG on my mountain commute. I was so happy I did a little dance, but I again started on a quest to hit the EPA numbers (37 MPG combined). I signed up on CleanMPG and said hello, and I remember in my first post mentioning that FASing and things like the "turn of death" were too much for me, but that I'd do my best with the other stuff.

I remember looking up some information on the Yaris' engine during my second tank of fuel and stumbling onto a Toyota document describing DFCO. I had never heard of such a thing and it took me a few evenings of sleuthing it out until I understood everything about it. I'll never forget how nervous I was when I drove to a "road to nowhere" in my neighborhood to test it out. I had never in my life turned off the ignition on a moving vehicle and part of me was just sure that something was going to explode. I didn't even tell my wife what I was heading out to do as I was sure she'd talk me out of it.

I got up to 40 MPH in 4th gear, closed my eyes and then rolled the key back to Ignition Off... and nothing happened. No explosions, no grinding metal, no air raid sirens, no zombies. My little Yaris just kept rolling right along in an engine braking scenario as if the ignition were still on. Tada - I had just confirmed DFCO in the Yaris.

I was so excited that I rushed here to make the post about it and right away I got punched in the nose for my effort, as the start of that thread stands in testament to. Between my initial choice of wording and some folk's wariness of snake oil salesman I was decried as an eBay nut case.

Eventually the original post was modified and the information started to get the attention it deserved. There is still one fellow that won't perform the DFCO test on his Yaris, though. I guess he's afraid of explosions and zombies, too.

Over the rest of that tank and the next one I used DFCO a lot on the mountain and my MPG not only met the EPA's numbers but exceeded them by a long shot. I went right into the low 40's, and my excitement grew.

At the urging of some folks on CleanMPG I started pumping my tire pressure higher and higher, and my MPG kept creeping up. This is another thing I've been punched in the nose for here, but I am satisfied with the results.

The confidence I gained from my DFCO testing allowed me to be comfortable with turning off the ignition and coasting (FAS) when I was approaching a red light that I knew would stay red for a while, but it would be a few weeks before I had the balls to pull a FAS while coming down Mount Rose. I started off by testing it in just one section that's too level to maintain the proper speed in a 5th gear DFCO, where I would normally have to use fuel at. I had a pucker factor of 10 those first few times, but again there were no explosions or zombies.

The only scare I ever got was when I learned that the Yaris' power brake vacuum gets depleted after 4 or 5 uses when the engine isn't on, and I got a little closer to another car than I care for. I learned from it, though, and have trained myself to mentally count how many times I've used the friction brakes during a FAS. After the 4th use I start the engine up for a few seconds to replenish the vacuum.

With this new-found skill I started using FAS in lots of places where DFCO didn't cut it and, truth be told, it made just as big a difference as all my other FE efforts combined. I have to use so much fuel to get up the mountain that it's not even funny, but using the right combination of DFCO and FAS lets me get all the way from the summit down to the highway merge point on the valley floor without using more fuel than it takes to bump-start the engine a few times and put it right back into a DFCO.

During this time I got a ScanGauge II and while it was too late to make any tremendous changes in my driving style it definitely helped me dial in my drive *up* the mountain. Like many other ScanGauge users I truly enjoy the data flow it presents, geek that I am, and now when I have to drive a car that doesn't have an SG II or MFD (Multi-Function Display, such as the Prius has) I feel bored and distracted.

I also had a few chances to test out drafting around this time and I found it to be an interesting tool that takes me to a higher level of driving skill. Close-In Drafting takes nerves of steel and good reaction times but yields the highest FE boost, while Distant/Side Drafting is easier to do but yields less benefits. Which one I choose to do depends entirely on my mood at the time and the pucker factor of any passengers I have but it doesn't matter much as I hardly ever get a chance to do it (my commute does not lend itself to this at all as the FE boost of a draft makes no noticeable dent in a hill climb, and the downhill grades are so steep that I'm already traveling with zero fuel cost).

At this point I was seeing MPG numbers in the high 40's, so I set my new goal at 50 MPG.

50 MPG was elusive for me, though. I kept getting close to it - sometimes as close as 0.262 MPG away from it - but I just couldn't hit it. Even on my road trip to Vegas the wife wasn't feeling well and insisted on using the AC, which the SG II showed me the FE hit on in real-time. Owie. 49 MPG again.

What's funny is that I kind of add to my own frustration with this because of the high mileage. That may not make sense at first glance but the reality is that you can't know your MPG number for sure until you fuel up again. I feel that anything less than half a tank doesn't count and I also like to see how far I can push a tank before I get down to 2 pips, so with my level of mileage and my commuting distance it is usually around 2 weeks in between my visits to the pump. Imaging being this much into high MPG but only being able to get a solid reading once every 12-14 calendar days.

I just kept working at it and the temperatures in my area started getting warmer as Spring progressed, which helps. I played with a few FE mods more out of curiosity and my love for gadgets and widgets than any expectation of gain, but most of the things I've done have helped a small bit (they are nothing compared to the gains from changing my driving style, though).

Finally, a year after my FE quest started and 3 months into hypermiling, earlier this week, on 05/29/2007, I fueled up and measured 52.095 MPG. I was so happy I danced a little jig right there at the pump, attracting some odd looks and questions from the other patrons.

Wayne, FE Jedi Master that he is, immediately set a new goal for me of 54 MPG before Summer's end, and I immediately upped the ante to 55 MPG, just for neatness' sake.

Here I go again.
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I often carry 2 carpool passengers and mountain bikes
or snowboards/skis over a 4,500 foot elevation difference.
Click the graphic above to see my detailed mileage logs.

Last edited by BailOut; 06-02-2007 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 10-13-2009, 11:24 AM   #2
127.0.0.1
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My question is, what are you using to definitively measure the liquid volume and
mass of the the hydrocarbons you put in the tank ? Are you just trusting the gas station pump ? time of day, and moon phases ? Or do you pump into a container, measure volume and weight, then pour into the Yaris and weigh what is left over ?


or is this 'overall averages over time' which is going to be close, but not 'hundreths close'

you are talking "sometimes as close as 0.262 MPG" so I figured you have a much better system than 'the gas pump nozzle method"
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:28 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
My question is, what are you using to definitively measure the liquid volume and
mass of the the hydrocarbons you put in the tank ? Are you just trusting the gas station pump ? time of day, and moon phases ? Or do you pump into a container, measure volume and weight, then pour into the Yaris and weigh what is left over ?


or is this 'overall averages over time' which is going to be close, but not 'hundreths close'

you are talking "sometimes as close as 0.262 MPG" so I figured you have a much better system than 'the gas pump nozzle method"
I use the same pump at the same station for nearly every fill up, and always stop at the first click, so it's an 'overall averages over time' for the most part. However, for individual fill ups I go by the pump, meaning that I got the 0.262 MPG measurement at the pump.

I know it's not a scientific measurement but it's the best I can do for my daily driver.
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I often carry 2 carpool passengers and mountain bikes
or snowboards/skis over a 4,500 foot elevation difference.
Click the graphic above to see my detailed mileage logs.
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Old 10-13-2009, 03:36 PM   #4
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Problem with all those hybrids is they are extremely complex systems and fixing them will cost big bucks,also at some point down the road all those batteries will need to be replaced and i'm sure that time will be out of the warranty period,I'd think the cars life will be over once the price of the battery replacement is higher than the asking price of the car.
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Old 10-13-2009, 03:40 PM   #5
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Have you thought about all he wear & tear that you are putting on the starter motor and other mechanicals by turning the car off & on so many times? The maint. repairs could cost you all the money that you saved.
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Old 10-13-2009, 04:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by db662 View Post
Have you thought about all he wear & tear that you are putting on the starter motor and other mechanicals by turning the car off & on so many times? The maint. repairs could cost you all the money that you saved.

the only thing that wears out faster, are the starter motor contacts, which cost 10 bucks, and on a Yaris the starter motor is right in yer face like the oil filter. and only used if you kill the engine at a stoplight...

the starter motor is not used whatsoever in DFCO



there will be no added maint repairs.
---
about hybrids

A hybrid car rapes the environment a bit more than a standard automobile, to get it's NiMH batteries built, and replaced. and it does save a TON
of gasoline if used in the city. If you drive long distance all the time at highway speeds in yer Prius you
will get less mileage than the Yaris or a 1995 BMW. the Prius gasoline motor is highly detuned for max economy,
which means it is out-of-tune to drive it at highway speeds, but it is highly tuned for efficiency for charging the battery
when popping around the city.

pop a Prius gas motor in your Yaris (it will fit) and run it and your Yaris without changing the cams and it will be a complete dog.
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Old 10-13-2009, 04:47 PM   #7
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How about the steering? Does the power steering go off when you turn the car off? Or the brakes? Would that cause extra wear & tear on the master brake cylinder or the steering pump?
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Old 10-13-2009, 04:53 PM   #8
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power steering & brakes goes off when the car is turned off... but if you turn the key back to acc they appear to come back without the car being on. I'd advise against driving/moving with the car off, but i've done it before, stopped doing it a long time ago tho.... DFCO will get nearly the same benefits... but with a lot more safety.

Not sure if it would be extra wear.
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Old 10-13-2009, 06:31 PM   #9
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I think if you do buy one of these hybrids at least drive it to maximize fuel efficiency,Seems to me rich people buy these things as a statement in political correctness but still drive down the highway at 80mph Drive a Yaris with a light foot and you will be comparable in mpg with the Prius driven hard.
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