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Old 02-26-2001, 01:22 PM   #1
avni_01SL2
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Default Fuel Gauge Non-linearity

I've noticed this on many cars, not just my new Saturn, but those cars were all built some 15 years ago, and I kind of had the hope that things had changed in the last decade.

What I'm talking about is nonlinearity of the fuel gauge. Here's an example with the most recent tank which was my usual mix of %70 cit, 30% highway (by time, not miles).

Full Tank - 0 miles.
3/4 mark - 70-80 miles
1/2 tank - 190 miles
1/4 tank 210 miles (!)

I expect to get about another 60 miles out of this last "quarter-tank" until I fill it up, with about 0.5 gallons remaining.

Maybe it's not so strange but it really seems like I get about 200 miles in the first half tank, and 70 miles in the second half tank. Or another way, it takes 5 days to get to 1/2 tank, then 2 more days and its time to fill up.

Anyone else notice this kind of behavior?

Avni
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Old 02-26-2001, 02:24 PM   #2
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I read this in Motor Trend a while back, but your fuel gauge is a pathological liar and the car companies built it that way. I'm sure you've heard people talk about/complain that their fuel gauge will stay on full forever then after it moves past the full marker it will drop off like nobody's business. This is to give the illusion that your car will get great fuel economy. The car companies are just pulling the wool over our eyes.

On my old '92 Cavalier, it would stay on full for the first 75-90 miles then after that it would drop like a rock.

Our '99 Malibu is a different story, though - its fuel gauge is surprisingly accurate. It drops slowly in direct proportion to the amount of gas used/left in the tank. My Saturn is pretty accurate, but not nearly as much as the Malibu. I know it seems like this is how it should have been in the first place, but alas that's not how these companies operate.
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Old 02-26-2001, 02:38 PM   #3
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avni... My "2001 SL2" is the same way, aggravating is't it? avni, is the underside of Your Car(floorboard's etc.) just painted with a black paint? Also, do You get a lot of wind noise from Your Driverside window? ...........Thank's
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Old 02-26-2001, 02:43 PM   #4
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daniel : What's your MPG? I'm only averaging 26 MPG so far.

The wind noise isn't horrible. Not noticeable until 60 mph or so, and its more or less from the whole front of the car, not localized. I do get a whistling from the vent when it is turned to recirc.

I saw your other message about the 'black paint' on the underside, and someone replied that it was a rubber compound, so... But I haven't looked.

Avni
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Old 02-26-2001, 02:59 PM   #5
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avni... My milage is about the same, maybe a little less. I have had so much wrong with this car! One problem (small) I had noticed was ths left front Hubcap outer kept going inside My rim and wearing away the Hubcap, well the Dealer asked if i had taken the car to a carwash & I said yes and they said that is probably the probelem. I forgot to tell them that the only time I took it to the carwash was when the car was serviced & the dealer gave Me the coupon to have the car washed at the carwash! The Dealer here is horrible. I ordered the window visor's hoping that will cut the wind noise down.Plus My Alarm goes off whenever it want's even when the dealer Manager took My car for a test drive it went off... finally got it shut off & He just walked away & said make an appt. to have it checked, they checked it (second time)& could not find anything. This car is a nightmare! I am going next month to the meet at Joey's.... I hope the Engine sieze's on this car! I think i just got a Lemon & the dealer & saturn will do nothing...Saturn say's..."We will document this problem" big deal...does not help Me,only future purchaser's.I hope You have better luck than Me!!! <img src="http://64.77.2.166/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/Images/Happy.gif" border="0" align="middle">
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Old 02-26-2001, 03:12 PM   #6
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The float in the fuel tank "tops out" some three or so gallons before the tank is actually full. There are other design features that cause not-so-true readings, but remember... The fuel gauge should only be relied upon and a REASONABLE ESTIMATE of available fuel. A good rule of thumb that I use is to habitually fill up at no less than 1/8 tank. No suprises that way. But then again, I also fly light airplanes and I ALWAYS check my own fuel and EVERYTHING ELSE during every pre-flight walk around, so... Habits, habits, habits.....
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Old 03-04-2001, 03:35 PM   #7
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Interesting thought, wew_dog.

If everyone else did a walkaround before driving, like pilots do (although, I doubt you'd be able to test the gas for water very easily), I bet there'd be fewer crashes due to unexpected mechanical failures. Ever since I got interesting in general aviation I've done a walkaround before I pull the car out of the garage each morning: lights, turn signals, stop lamps, hazard flashers, tire pressures, fluid levels (oil, brake fluid, windshield washer anti-freeze, coolant, gasoline), wiper blades, HVAC, spare tire pressure, all get tested. It only takes about 3-5 minutes and it sure gives a comfy feeling when you're heading out.

Along the same lines, I've started thinking about installing a chronometer in the car to measure the number of hours between oil changes. Hey, if we service planes based on hours of operation, why shouldn't we do the same with cars? We all know that an engine in a car stuck in daily stop-and-go traffic is stressed far more heavily than one used at highway speeds. Maybe the manufacturers can build in a time-based sensor that lights up on the dash "time for your next engine service".
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Old 03-04-2001, 04:36 PM   #8
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Avni,

What Saturn do you own? I was wondering what Gas Mileage you are getting. I have a week-old 2001 L300 and seem to be getting very poor gas mileage so far (approx 13 MPG over 250 total miles), though I have been driving about 80% city (commuting through Brooklyn streets to work) and 20% highway miles (took girlfriend to Roosevelt Mall last weekend).

I was told by the dealer not to go over 65 MPH in the vehicle's first 500 miles, but people have been telling me that I have to "open up" the car to see that she is really okay and can perform. I haven't been able to take any extended highway trips yet, not too many places to get a good speed going in New York City area, and everytime I want to go somewhere, it snows!

A few Questions for the boarders:

1) Will the gas mileage improve as the car gets more seasoned?

2) Do I have to "open up' the car as many people suggest?

3) What is best to clean the dirt and grease from the wheels?

4) Any other suggestions?

Thanks a lot for the help. Everyone, please be careful out in the snow and hope that the storm doesn't cause too much havoc in the Northeast. New York City is terrible at clearing its streets --- I expect my car to be buried for the next week, hopefully the temperature increases next week!
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Old 03-04-2001, 04:53 PM   #9
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Newbie, Gas mileage should improve as the engine breaks in. The only thing I could find from Saturn is not to drive at a steady speed for a extended time when the engine is so new. I use wheel magic spray on cleaner to get the brake dust off of the wheels but it is something you really have to keep on. A coat of wax on the wheels seemed to reduce the amount that sticks on though. They do shine up very nice. As for the latest noreaster' I am not looking forward to it all. The director of the chemical plant where I work in Edison, NJ which is just a shot down I287/440 to Staten Island doesn't like to close for snow. I guess i am going to have to risk it and try to get to work tommorow. I am hoping the governer just declares a state of emergency and makes unreasonable buisness operators close anyway. my little 1.9 square mile city does a great job of clearing the roads so I am thinking that the higher ground clearence and traction control of our L300 (over my SL2) will be enough to get me to my volunteer firehouse if we get any calls during the storm which seems likley. BTW which color did you get? We have a bright silver L300 with the side airbags, abs/traction and the advanced audio system.
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Old 03-04-2001, 06:00 PM   #10
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This is because a gas tank is roughly shapped like a funnel. If it's 12 inches deep, then the top 6 inches is wider than the bottom 6 inches, therefore the top half will hold more fuel than the bottom half.

I don't see it as a deliberate design "trick." The same people that see their cars run forever on "full" will also notice the gauge plummet once it reaches the halfway mark. It is easier to design a linear gauge than design it to follow the actual fuel remaining equation.
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Old 03-04-2001, 09:14 PM   #11
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Yankeez01L30094SL2,

Thank you for the tips. I will take the car for an extended trip as soon as all of the snow leaves (at this point, Summer?). I plan on cleaning the car as soon as I can after the snow.

I have a Black L300, with Black Leather interior, (I know it is tough to keep clean, but it looks fantastic!), fully loaded (ABS/traction, Front and Side Airbags, advanced audio, spioler, sunroof). I intended to get Black/black leather L200, but this fully-loaded L 300 model was available (It was originally for a manager to use, but the dealer/owner nixed the employees driving such loaded cars). With the financing deal on the L 300, I am making the same payment for a fully loaded, more powerful car.

It seems as your Acting Governor has more sense than my Mayor. I heard that New Jersey already declared a state of emergency. I work for the City Health Department and Mayor Guliani would rather croak than declare a "snow day" and have to pay city employees to not come into work. I will make the effort to come into work (I do not plan on driving), but NYC is terrible at snow removal. Why is it that places like Buffalo can have dozens of feet of snow, and essentially keep their roads clear, but it snows 2 inches in NYC and it cripples traffic and Mass Transit for weeks?

BTW, are you a Yankee fan?
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Old 03-05-2001, 12:42 AM   #12
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Wow, what's with the low gas mileage figures with these new S-series cars? 26 is really low. My 2000 SL2 was getting 32-33 from the moment we drove the car off the lot (21 miles on the odo). It went down to about 29 for a while but it's back up and at last check about 10 days ago it was getting over 33. Granted, our driving mix is about 40/60 city/highway, but even if you drive 80% city, that shouldn't explain why you aren't getting at least 29-30 mpg. That's very strange to me. Has anyone else experienced gas mileage like that on an S-series?
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Old 03-05-2001, 09:46 AM   #13
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Could you be using that EPA oxygenated fuel blend that was previously required in our state every winter?

Shot gas mileage to hell.
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Old 03-05-2001, 01:06 PM   #14
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SaturnNewbie,
Yep and the season opener is at Yankees stadium this year and they will hang their championship banner!

Bobl, That is a good point about the fuel blends. I know it is different around the country and that is why gas prices are higher in some parts because they can't bring in other formulas to get supply back up. By law certain formulas have to be sold in areas and if your areas formula is running low you gotta pay the price. The oxy gas has a very nasty byproduct (methylsomething) that is showing signs of contaminating water supplies but the gas companies were forced by the goverment to develop those formulas and now they are going to keep making them.
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Old 03-05-2001, 01:11 PM   #15
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You can get the dirt about oxy blend gas at www.oxybusters.com Once again another goverment program that is wrong but can't be stopped.
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Old 03-05-2001, 03:49 PM   #16
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So the real question, is why are new SL2s getting about 26 MPG? Or aren't they?

Geographic differences? Anyone else in NYC or further North getting better mileage with a 2001 SL2?
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Old 03-05-2001, 04:41 PM   #17
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&lt;TEXTAREA name="Message" cols="45" rows="10" wrap="VIRTUAL" Ttyle="width:100%" class="TextArea"&gt;<blockquote><hr><font size="1">Original Post:</font><!--1-->
I've noticed this on many cars, not just my new Saturn, but those cars were all built some 15 years ago, and I kind of had the hope that things had changed in the last decade.

What I'm talking about is nonlinearity of the fuel gauge. Here's an example with the most recent tank which was my usual mix of %70 cit, 30% highway (by time, not miles).

Full Tank - 0 miles.
3/4 mark - 70-80 miles
1/2 tank - 190 miles
1/4 tank 210 miles (!)

I expect to get about another 60 miles out of this last "quarter-tank" until I fill it up, with about 0.5 gallons remaining.

Maybe it's not so strange but it really seems like I get about 200 miles in the first half tank, and 70 miles in the second half tank. Or another way, it takes 5 days to get to 1/2 tank, then 2 more days and its time to fill up.

Anyone else notice this kind of behavior?

Avni<hr></blockquote>

Yes, this is normal. Fuel gauges aren't linear and they don't show exact amounts. Generally the err on the safe side because you know people will push their luck in an effort to find out how empty "E" really is. Better safe than sorry.
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Old 03-06-2001, 05:40 PM   #18
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I asked someone this years ago, and it was explained to me that car companies (Saturn included) deliberatley make their gas gauges pessimistic so that the <b>"E"</b> will come sooner so that customers don't run out of gas.

The <b>"empty"</b> light comes on earlier than that for the same reason
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Old 03-07-2001, 09:10 PM   #19
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Actually, the gas guage in my 2000 LW2 seems to be more like drops like a rock in the first 50 miles, then slows down a bit, then slows a little more when it gets down close to 1/4 tank. I find that Saturn fuel guages tend to look a great deal closer to being "empty" than they really are, probably by design (better to think you've got less than you've really got than to think you've got more, and end up running out!).

On the mileage comments, I had a '92 SC and a '98 SC2, and my around town mileage (in Staten Island, NY) was usually in the low to mid 20's (low end with the '98, high end with the '92). That's with the 5 speed, and is indicative of the fact that we've got too many #!*%&^$ traffic lights, none of which are synchronized in a way that aids traffic flow, on this rock! Highway was mid 30's with the '92, about 30 with the '98 most of the time. My best mileage was around 40 mpg during cross country driving out west. With my LW2, it's more like 15-16 mpg around town right now, but I've been right on the 26mpg highway, once in summer using the (too soft, I think) recommended 30 psi in the tires, once in winter (on the crappy oxygenated gas) on 35 psi in the tires.

'Course, I do tend to be something of a leadfoot ::grins::
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Old 03-07-2001, 10:29 PM   #20
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Agreed Saturnmeister, my LW2's guage drops like crazy from full to 3/4, especially in winter. After that it's more consistent.

With all this crappy cold weather and a lot of remote starts, I'm averaging about 400 to 450 kms per tank, gulp. (280 mpg max) She sucks gas, no?

On a recent trip it faired much better, about 550 kms per tank. Tankfull in Canada = $35.00 Gulp once again.

Craig


ps. the car goes like snot though.
 
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