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Thursday
Jun182009

Tips for good gas mileage

I've got some experience under my belt now with driving the FFH for good gas mileage.  I haven't been able to achieve the phenomenal 84+ mpg that Wayne Gerdes and Ford did in driving 1440+ miles on one tank, but I've been able to average a respectable 41 mpg or so over the last 6 days / 175 miles, which means I still have 3/4 of a tank left.  Here are some tips/techniques I've developed for achieving good mileage without going to extremes.

  1. Go downhill.  I get better mileage on the way to work (51 mpg) than on the way home (36 mpg). Today, I stopped for coffee on the way to work and from the coffee shop (near my house) to work I got 71 mpg.
  2. Avoid hills.  You can get much more consistent results and achieve longer pulse and glides (see below) when its flat and open.
  3. Avoid highways.  The engine turns on at 47 mph and gas mileage goes down.
  4. Go on the highway.  Too much stop-and-go traffic, or hilly back roads, reduces mileage so the highway can be a better choice.
  5. Drive like an old lady.  You must try and stay in electric (EV) mode whenever possible, which means pulling away from stops slowly, coasting whenever possible, and braking slowly to allow for regen.
  6. Drive like a race car driver.  Take corners fast so you don't lose as much speed coming out of the turn.  The FFH handles nicely around corners.
  7. Creep along slowly.  When you're in a parking lot or driving up your driveway, take it slow and don't get out of EV mode.  Let the car slow down topping a hill if it means you can stay in EV mode.
  8. Drive as fast as possible.  When you've got a good hill to build up speed and a good run-out at the end or another hill, build up some speed on the way down so you can coast as far as possible.
  9. Keep it in "Drive".  When you've built up too much speed, you can scrub off some speed productively by braking lightly enough to activate regen without actually using the brakes.
  10. Put it in "Neutral".  If you've got a decent stretch of road to coast on, you'll get more distance if you slip the transmission into neutral, but you won't get any brake regen.  You can put the FFH back into "Drive" at any time without hurting the transmission.
  11. Pulse and glide.  Select a speed range (eg 30 - 45) and accelerate slowly up to 45 then coast down to 30 (with or without going into neutral - see above) and repeat.
  12. Feather the gas pedal.  Let it off a little just to get back to EV mode. Keep your speed up as high as you can without getting out of EV mode.
  13. Use the Empower gauge - you can see at a glance how close you are to turning on the gas engine.
  14. Turn off the A/C.  I have noticed a difference with A/C on or off in how easy it is to stay in EV mode.  You can also turn it on but leave the fan on low.
  15. Be patient.  It takes discipline not to revert to old habits.  But be sensitive to the cars behind you too and don't force them to get good mpgs ;-)

With these techniques you can improve gas mileage.  But it takes concentration and can be frustrating.  At times I just want to step on it and get moving!

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Reader Comments (10)

OK Bill I could not help but make comment, this looks like a politician's posting, hehehe. Each of these are good tips, good thing you added some explanations after each one. I have found on my Prius and my wife's Escape hybrid that the MPG does not take a big hit if you keep it on low -- however if you are stuck in traffic it will run down the hybrid battery quicker and then the engine will run to keep it charged and that's where the MPG takes the beating... but not so much of a beating that you'd rather sit there and sweat to save a few MPG.

1. Go downhill.
2. Avoid hills.

3. Avoid highways.
4. Go on the highway.

5. Drive like an old lady
6. Drive like a race car driver.

7. Creep along slowly.
8. Drive as fast as possible.

9. Keep it in "Drive".
10. Put it in "Neutral".

11. Pulse and glide.
12. Feather the gas pedal.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjeff_h

LOL yes you are right I covered both sides ;-)

June 18, 2009 | Registered CommenterBill Wood

"Select a speed range (eg 30 - 45) and accelerate slowly up to 45 then coast down to 30 (with or without going into neutral - see above) and repeat."

I understand it may get you better gas millage... but being a good considerate driver to those around you (...behind you) should trump this one. :)
*note* in my jeep the only way to get decent gas is to use cruise alllll the time, so people would drive me nuts if they drove like this.. FFH is still being built (not getting rid of my Grand Cherokee though)

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

p.s. can you do a blog more in depth about your experience now with your nav system? I am getting mine in about a month and am hoping to not be completely bummed by some crummy user interface or accuracy

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

@Matt yes, you're right to be considerate. Often you can slow down without bothering those behind you if there are cars stopped ahead of you at a light or stop sign.

I will try and do a post on the nav, compared to my Garmin.

June 18, 2009 | Registered CommenterBill Wood

Probably the sweetest thing about the nav is that it recomputes your route on the fly without bugging you. When I rented a car with a Garmin nav, I wanted to throw it out the window after the third or fourth time it cried about recomputing. Also, the re-routing's pretty quick. Just start deviating from the outlined route and it will start giving turn directions based on the new route. And unlike my experience with other cheapish GPS boxes, the re-route doesn't consist of making a U-turn and heading back to where you left off--well most of the time it doesn't.

One of the handy things about the nav is that you can switch perspectives really quickly between bird's eye, overhead with map rotating, and overhead with with map fixed. You just press the compass icon on the map to cycle through them. You can adjust the angle of the bird's eye perspective somewhat (I think 6 different angles) through the nav options screen. I like the fixed map, with north always at the top. My girlfriend likes the fixed car, where the car is always pointing toward the top and the map rotates around you. Being able to switch between perspectives from the map is way more convenient than having to go through the options menu like on the TomTom.

Another thing is you can easily change the scale of the map from the map screen. At the smaller scales (0.1 miles I think) you'll see icons for landmarks, both your own and the ones that come with the nav. Kinda cool, you get a little house here, a theater there. You can turn on certain POI icons like gas stations. Also, with the Sirius Travelink, you can get a list of nearby gas stations and sort them by distance or price for a gallon of regular.

The light sensor that controls the auto-on lights also causes the nav to switch to night colors. Like the lights, there's a small delay so passing under a small bridge isn't a problem. There's an option to prevent this, but I like the auto option.

You can scroll around on the map by just placing and holding your finger on the map. It's not quite as responsive and intuitive as say the Google map app on the iPhone but quite useful. This also allows you to select a destination or waypoint directly from the map.

A number of nav ops are locked out during driving, but you can select a preset destination, a previous destination, or use the Sync interface to choose a destination. However, if you're trying to punch in a destination at a red light, and the light goes green on you, when you start moving again the nav will cancel whatever you were doing. Kinda annoying if you were punching in an address but not a huge deal and probably a good idea.

With Sirius Travelink (3 months of free service I think), you get traffic updates. The indicator for freeway traffic are colored arrows adjacent to the freeway. A little too small and a little too adjacent to make out for my taste. But a nice thing is that if you have a route set, the nav will notify you of accidents on your route and give you the option of trying to route around the accident. Sometimes it won't be able to do it (there's no way to get off the freeway for example). Still, it's nice. I was surprised when I first heard the nav making a car honking sound (notification of accident on the route). Accidents, construction, etc are shown on the nav by appropriate icons.

The Travelink accident and traffic flow data is not quite real-time, so you have to take its advice with a grain of salt. On the upside, the data loads pretty quickly once you've started up the car.

June 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercue

Also kinda cool, I live by the Atlanta Waterworks, where they treat and pump drinking water out to the city. The small ponds at the station show up on the nav as little blue bodies of water. Nice touch.

June 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercue

Great writeup. How about the user interface when dealing with audio (everything from usb, cd's radio...)

June 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

I believe your tips are great and they work. I have a co-worker and he taught me almost the same thing as you do here on how to drive to increase gas mileage, and I tried some and they do work well. But in reality, it is hard to always follow these tips and be always disciplined especially when you are stuck in the traffic or you are running behind on schedule. So it is better to go for some better products and save some gas charge by boosting my gas mileage now. I read some interesting blog. I've tried one product and it really works to me, and I'm going to try another:
http://merryshoppingblog.blogspot.com/
http://www.realtechnews.com/posts/2598

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