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Old 05-29-2018, 09:47 AM   #1
ExNorth
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Default Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Over the last 4-5 tanks of gas I have seen my MPG go from an average of 32ish MPG to 38.7MPG for no apparent reason!

Driving a 1997 SL1 with an Automatic Transmission.

Earlier this year I changed the radiator, new tires, partial flush of the transmission fluid and had the serpentine belt, pulleys and tensioner replaced. I did not see any great improvement until recently though.. What's going on?
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:03 AM   #2
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

The last tank I averaged 38.7MPG (376.8 miles on 9.714 gallons of gas), the tank before that I averaged 35.9MPG (360.7 miles on 10.037 gallons of gas) and the tank before that I averaged 34.0MPG.. So strange to suddenly see these great numbers show up. I've had this car since Jan 2015 and had never seen anything over 34MPG.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Driving more hwy miles?
I would sure like it to happen to ours.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

That kind of improvement in fuel economy is great! However, it doesn't happen without some physical difference having occurred in the driving situation, i.e, more highway driving (as noted above) and less city driving, more flat surface and less incline, softer behavior with the accelerator pedal, use or non-use of air conditioning, etc...(btw, nothing here should be construed as an accusation or disbelief in what you've posted - no such thing is implied). So the question is what difference, if any, has there been in your driving situations between the various mileage checks?
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:39 AM   #5
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Ours has mysteriously improved from 27ish to 31ish. We figured it was either the break in of the motor (7000 miles on it now) or a change in gas formulation. My Dodge truck has also improved, so we are thinking it is the gas.
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

https://www.greencarreports.com/news...ther-heres-why

In addition to the stated article, summer blended fuels contain no methanol, which means more pure gasoline and less additives to prevent fuel line freeze-up.

Winter-blended fuels contain a small amount of methanol, as well as other additives to prevent the trace amounts of moisture from contaminating and freezing the fuel.

Ethanol is blended in current fuels, at about 10%, and it absorbs moisture. Our Saturn S-Series were actually calibrated and designed for ethanol-free fuels, and if you really want to see you mileage improve, look for a gas station that sells ethanol-free premium fuel. Ethanol is less energy-dense per molecule, hence why cars started losing fuel economy when the EPA mandated such changes about 9-10 years ago.

Watched my Camaro go from a 25-27 combined city/highway MPG figure to about 23 mpg when the change occurred.

Currently, I run EFP-90(ethanol-free premium 90 octane), amd average close to 36 mpg with a Twin Cam & Automatic 4-speed that burns a quart of oil every 200-300 miles.

Removal of the catalytic converter will also help improve mileage, but it is illegal and causes a SES on 1996-up S-Series.

When I get to the library, I will screenshot my app that tracks every expense of my SC2 and upload the mileage I get.
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
Ours has mysteriously improved from 27ish to 31ish. We figured it was either the break in of the motor (7000 miles on it now) or a change in gas formulation. My Dodge truck has also improved, so we are thinking it is the gas.
I think you're right. The switch from winter to summer grade fuel occurs around May; https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=11031. The blending and specific ingredients between winter and summer blends; https://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-...ummer-fuel.htm. While both links do not explain the differences in mpg between winter and summer fuel, it's well known for summer fuel to contribute better mileage than winter fuel.
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

I'm not exactly sure where you are located but the other factor to consider is if you let your car warm up in the winter before driving it. That fuel usage takes away from your overall gas mileage.
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Old 05-29-2018, 03:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

The Dodge got warmed up in the winter. The Saturn didn't.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Warming up is, if my calculations are correct, an average of roughly 0 mpg. Id rather be rolling and using gas poorly than using gas for nothing and making myself later for my arrival at my destination.

Maybe you stopped warming up?

Sometimes I jack the car up and turn the front tires with my arms while its in gear to warm up the transmission. Thats a real MPG improvement trick.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

^^^ ^^^
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Old 05-30-2018, 07:46 AM   #12
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

If the MPG bumps up quickly, there is always a reason. In addition to summer/winter fuel blend changes in some areas, you have less dense air, usually higher tire pressures for those too lazy to adjust constantly, and reduced warm up times.

I've also found that certain fuels in my area always provide a better MPG return as a trend. I have one brand that I just won't buy, every time it's been in our cars the MPG drops.







Quote:
Originally Posted by dummo View Post

Sometimes I jack the car up and turn the front tires with my arms while its in gear to warm up the transmission. Thats a real MPG improvement trick.
I really have tried to warm up to you Dummo, but with such newbie advise I find it very hard. I thought EVERYONE knew that rather than jack the car up, it's much more MPG efficient to simply push the car down the road to warm up the tranny.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:35 AM   #13
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

^^^^ I never thought of that. Then I'd be closer to work on cold mornings - so WIN, WIN!
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Old 05-30-2018, 11:18 AM   #14
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by dummo View Post
Warming up is, if my calculations are correct, an average of roughly 0 mpg. Id rather be rolling and using gas poorly than using gas for nothing and making myself later for my arrival at my destination.
The issues with doing this aren't immediately noticed. However, after you teardown an engine that is driven in this fashion, you will find increased wear on your camshaft lobes and bearings, as well as increased wear on your cylinder walls and piston rings.

When I did my engine swap, it took about 8 minutes for sufficient oil flow to properly pump up the lifters in my replacement engine(which had been bone dry as salvage yards will drain all the fluids when they ship them or sell them).

I get a little bit of lifter tap on oil changes, for about 2-3 seconds, until oil pressure and flow reach the cylinder head.

Don't forget that gravity will pull most of the oil back to the pan. So starting up, without any warm up, will put metal-to-metal contact in these areas. The rings slightly expand, as the cylinder heats up, as well.

Even in warm temperatures, you should allow sufficient time to get the engine temp above 113F(or about 1 needle width above the "C" line).

Consumer Report has erroneously recommended driving you car as soon as it is started up, as a way to improve gas mileage, over the years. And I have seen prices for newer model cars, for used engines, in salvage yards.

Correlation is causation, in this case, as most newer cars are powered by SOHC/DOHC engine designs to meet both performance demands of the consumers and fuel economy demands of the government mandates.
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Old 05-30-2018, 07:59 PM   #15
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

^^^^
I certainly dont gun the engine when starting it.

I proceed slowly as I commence any initial horizontal progression, therefore engine speed is a slight difference from idling speed. One could even argue that a somewhat higher engine speed could be facilitating greater oil circulation faster.

I use full synthetic oil which I read/was lead to believe stays coated on metal parts better and flows much easier in cold temperatures.

I think I am doing things as safely and rationally as could be expected.

Disclaimer: But then again, I could be wrong about everything.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:30 PM   #16
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by dummo View Post
^^^^
I certainly dont gun the engine when starting it.

I proceed slowly as I commence any initial horizontal progression, therefore engine speed is a slight difference from idling speed. One could even argue that a somewhat higher engine speed could be facilitating greater oil circulation faster.

I use full synthetic oil which I read/was lead to believe stays coated on metal parts better and flows much easier in cold temperatures.

I think I am doing things as safely and rationally as could be expected.

Disclaimer: But then again, I could be wrong about everything.
Full-synthetic for the most part has better pressure tolerances, depending on brand.
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Old 05-31-2018, 02:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by dummo View Post
^^^^
I certainly dont gun the engine when starting it.

I proceed slowly as I commence any initial horizontal progression, therefore engine speed is a slight difference from idling speed. One could even argue that a somewhat higher engine speed could be facilitating greater oil circulation faster.

I use full synthetic oil which I read/was lead to believe stays coated on metal parts better and flows much easier in cold temperatures.

I think I am doing things as safely and rationally as could be expected.

Disclaimer: But then again, I could be wrong about everything.
You may be right about synthetics and there protection. I am running Shell Rotella T6 Full Synthetic 5w-40, and my oil wasn't completely black at the last OCI.

With an SW, I doubt you would drive it aggressively. Although, it would be quite a jaw-dropper at the drag strip with a little tuning. LOL

Minivans and station wagons pulling between 13s-16s in the -mile is always amazing to watch.
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Old 06-03-2018, 09:36 AM   #18
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
The issues with doing this aren't immediately noticed. However, after you teardown an engine that is driven in this fashion, you will find increased wear on your camshaft lobes and bearings, as well as increased wear on your cylinder walls and piston rings.

When I did my engine swap, it took about 8 minutes for sufficient oil flow to properly pump up the lifters in my replacement engine(which had been bone dry as salvage yards will drain all the fluids when they ship them or sell them).

I get a little bit of lifter tap on oil changes, for about 2-3 seconds, until oil pressure and flow reach the cylinder head.

Don't forget that gravity will pull most of the oil back to the pan. So starting up, without any warm up, will put metal-to-metal contact in these areas. The rings slightly expand, as the cylinder heats up, as well.

Even in warm temperatures, you should allow sufficient time to get the engine temp above 113F(or about 1 needle width above the "C" line).

Consumer Report has erroneously recommended driving you car as soon as it is started up, as a way to improve gas mileage, over the years. And I have seen prices for newer model cars, for used engines, in salvage yards.

Correlation is causation, in this case, as most newer cars are powered by SOHC/DOHC engine designs to meet both performance demands of the consumers and fuel economy demands of the government mandates.
I have no idea where you are getting this magic 113 degree number from, but can say without doubt that a slight rise in coolant temp amounts to essentially next to nothing in rise in oil temp. Oil temps will lag coolant temps in warm up time, and oil temps are raised much quicker with revs. Just as cylinder temps can improve combustion efficiency, oil temps reduce friction losses within the bearings.

Quite a bit of the work involving emissions and/or economy is focused on how to speed both coolant and oil circuit warm up times from cold starts. And in modern day engines, oil temps will often take twice as long (or more) to reach a stable state when compared to coolant temps.


As for MPG, Dummo's comment was completely correct. Any MPG return on fuel will always beat a zero MPG return on fuel. Combined with the fact that both coolant and oil temps will rise faster with revs (oil) and/or load (more coolant and cylinder) the method of driving the car will be more efficient. As for exacts, they will vary engine to engine. But most data seems to suggest that some load will help, and oil temps rise quicker with revs up in the 1800-2000 range as a minimum.
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Old 06-03-2018, 11:13 AM   #19
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

The 113F is referring specifically to our Saturn S-Series with automatic transmissions. At 113F, the TCC will begin engaging. No TCC will cut fuel economy by about 20%. Ever want to test this theory, get an old GM J-Body or A-Body, that has the THM-125C 3-speed in it. They had a failure-prone TCC solenoid, which could be "cured" by simply unplugging it. The result was decreased fuel economy, from converter slippage.

Used engine sales at my family's salvage yard would also state that warm-up is important, as any other part of vehicle maintenance. You don't sell used engines to a customer, when their vehicle is properly cared for and maintained.(Unless they own a Chrysler, but that is another debate for another time).

The fact that I average between 34-36mpg with an automatic & OIL BURNING Twin Cam, combined city/highway(U.S. EPA rates them at 24 city/34 highway), and I always warm my engine up to at least 113F should be enough to conclude this. I can achieve SOHC fuel economy out of a DOHC suffering with performance and economy losses from internal valve seal leakages. With a properly built engine, I could get very close to 40mpg and still be 3 seconds quicker in -mile than a SOHC S-Series.

Not warming up your engine is like saying it is a waste of energy to stretch your muscles before exercising on an elliptical machine....
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Old 06-03-2018, 01:25 PM   #20
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Default Re: Gas Mileage has Suddenly Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
The 113F is referring specifically to our Saturn S-Series with automatic transmissions. At 113F, the TCC will begin engaging. No TCC will cut fuel economy by about 20%. Ever want to test this theory, get an old GM J-Body or A-Body, that has the THM-125C 3-speed in it. They had a failure-prone TCC solenoid, which could be "cured" by simply unplugging it. The result was decreased fuel economy, from converter slippage.

Used engine sales at my family's salvage yard would also state that warm-up is important, as any other part of vehicle maintenance. You don't sell used engines to a customer, when their vehicle is properly cared for and maintained.(Unless they own a Chrysler, but that is another debate for another time).

The fact that I average between 34-36mpg with an automatic & OIL BURNING Twin Cam, combined city/highway(U.S. EPA rates them at 24 city/34 highway), and I always warm my engine up to at least 113F should be enough to conclude this. I can achieve SOHC fuel economy out of a DOHC suffering with performance and economy losses from internal valve seal leakages. With a properly built engine, I could get very close to 40mpg and still be 3 seconds quicker in -mile than a SOHC S-Series.

Not warming up your engine is like saying it is a waste of energy to stretch your muscles before exercising on an elliptical machine....

You don't science much do you?

Using actual data 0 MPG is always < any MPG greater than 0.
Every. Single. Time.


Your actual MPG is a result of any and all mods you've done (which all claim MPG increases), your drive cycle and type, the fuel you use, the overall health and condition of the car, and many small factors too various to list. You're far from the first S Series owner to get good MPG with the DOHC and an automatic.

There are loads of peer reviewed papers that show how temps of both coolant and oil impact MPG. I could easily link some with a single search. But I'm guessing (and willing to make a signature line bet) that you can't find a single one that uses properly acquired data, subjected to peer review, that will ever prove a car not moving is giving a better MPG return than one in motion.


Your exercise comparison is just as flawed. Wasted energy is wasted energy. If you warmed up at a low intensity, you would produce more overall power with the same energy consumption if you were actually moving the machine and producing power vs warming up with no machine motion.
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