Introduction: How I Hypermiled My Car.
When it comes to my vehicle, I dont care about performance power output. I want a safe and comfortable ride however I want my car to use the least amount of fuel to get me to my destinations.
I'm a one car kind of guy and I don't care about its looks, I aim to own her as long as I can. For folks who have that itch to get a replacement vehicle every 3 years or so then this instructable may not make much sense. For those privileged few of us who keep our cars long term (I mean LONG years!) then this instructable may have some ideas you can use.
Hypermiling (or I guess hyperkilometering depending what unit you prefer) is a bunch of techniques involving driving habits and vehicle modifications to get the maximum fuel economy out of a vehicle. Note that basic periodic maintenance is a given such as regular oil changes, having steering aligned, using fully synthetic oils, proper weight oil for the vehicle, recommended tire pressures, good tires, clean filters and fuel etc.
Some folks do some pretty extreme mods to their vehicles or use unsafe driving habits. This instructable is NOT about that (for example that thing in the second pic). My family and neighbours already call me a mad scientist and macguyver but I certainly don't want another nickname by driving around a car looking like that!
All the tips I have outlined in this publication works for me in terms of fuel economy and safety. I have tried various techniques over the years and I have settled on those I have explained below. These may not work for you! I have simply presented what works for my vehicle and I'm extremely happy with the results.
Here is how I made my car's range on a full tank extend from below 300km to approximately 530km. My car currently gives me 16.21 km per litre of gasoline. Note that all my mods and changes are fully within the legislative requirements of my region and does not violate the safety devices onboard my car. These first hand practices of mine do NOT compromise my or other drivers' safety on our nation's roads.
Step 1: Driving Style.
Gentle acceleration and deceleration goes a long way in terms or wear/tear and fuel economy. My car has automatic transmission but I have read that manual transmissions can offer improved fuel economy.
Each car has its own optimum driving speed for lowest fuel consumption. For my 1999 civic its approximately 80km/hr (which coincidentally is our speed limit here on the highways).
Driving as part of a chain (without riding a person's rear bumper!) is great for reducing air resistance (except for the leader). Remember those documentaries with lobsters migrating? Those delicious crustaceans already knew this energy saving technique.
Coasting downhill (while in drive for automatic transmission vehicles) and also to a stop before applying brakes will contribute to better fuel economy. It has alot to do with predicting the route and driving defensively.
A good example is when I drive my car I get on average 460km but if my wife drives it we are lucky to get 390km. It's all about driving style.
Step 2: Putting in New Fuel Injectors.
I recently replaced the aged 16 year old injectors in my car and the result was immediate. Smoother, quieter engine. The fuel economy increased significantly. Manufacturers don't ever specify a replacement period for fuel injectors however these critical devices directly affect your drivability and fuel consumption.
In my case, the OEM injectors were heavily congested with deposits and at a price of 46USD per injector, to me that is a great price to get the engine happy again. Due to the age of my 1999 car, I intend to replace the injectors in the next 5 years. For you, depending on the age of your vehicle and behavior of the engine, you can vary your replacement interval.
I'm extremely happy with the replacement DIY job which took my only 1 hour at home. Here is the instructable:
Step 3: Replacing Aged Sensors That Affect Your Fuel Economy.
There are sensors in a fuel injected car that directly affect its fuel consumption. Some can last the lifespan of the car and others have a shorter lifespan. Here is a list of sensors I replaced on my engine.
1. Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) Sensor: this basically tells the engine controller how much load the engine is under. Although its pure electronic, with heat and airbourne contaminants, it will fail. I recently changed my MAP sensor and the effect was immediate. Here's the instructable I made for that:
2. Throttle position sensors are mechanical in nature and wear with time. Its possible that the reading at idle is higher that OEM requirements. I replaced mine and although there was no noticeable change to my fuel economy, the car accelerated smoother. Here's the instructable:
3. Replacing your Heated Oxygen Sensors (H2OS) is a great idea. If you didn't know this fact then now you know: Most Fuel additives do poison your H2OS! Everytime you put a fuel cleaner or certain other additives, the H2OS becomes sluggish or simply doesnt respond anymore. I have long since stopped using any sort of additive. My water induction setup actually keeps the internals of my engine clean. Even though these sensors can provide good service for 100,000 miles, in reality it will be far less. I prefer to change my H2OS every 4 years to keep a healthy signal into the engine controller. They cost approximately 30USD but I change mines on my own and to me the cost is worth it in fuel savings. Here is the instructable I did for my car:
Step 4: Reducing Electrical Loads.
The less amps the alternator has to supply means it will last a bit longer and less energy is needed to turn it. I basically replaced ALL my car's lights with LEDs. Main headlights, park, rear, cabin, instrument cluster lights etc are all using less power than (urghh vomit) incandescent bulbs.
Using a solar battery maintainer keeps the battery ready for the next start provided you park in sunlight. A 5 Watt panel is a good rating to get energy into the battery.
Step 5: Do NOT Oversize Tire Width.
Narrower tires offers less weight, rolling resistance and wind resistance. I'm not talking about putting bicycle thin tires on your car. Too narrow tires will result in vehicle handling plus braking capability being compromised!
For example I used 205s on my car but switched to 185s. The car has a much longer coasting roll when I release the gas pedal with the 185s. Strange enough the OEM tires when I first bought the car were 185s. Go figure.
Step 6: Using a Warm Air Intake.
I had removed my stock air intake assembly and put a re-useable filter on the throttle body. Warmer air causing the engine controller to use a slightly lean mixture means less fuel for normal cruising.
I dont think this is a good idea for aggressive driving since there is a power loss at the higher rpms but for me with my smooth, "drive and let drive" philosophy, it works great!
Step 7: Warm Up the Car BEFORE Driving It.
When a car is started with an engine block at ambient temperature, it operates in an open loop mode with respect to the Heated Oxygen Sensors (HO2S). Once the temperature guage reaches that middle region then the engine controller will accept readings from the H2OS. When this happens then the engine goes into closed loop mode and less fuel is used for the power required from it.
Warming up for up to 5 minutes prior to stepping on the gas pedal also means the engine is well lubricated internally and of course will experience less wear versus driving off on a now started engine. This is what I chose to do with my car. If you don't wish you warm up then the power of choice is yours!
I had a remote starter installed in 2004 in my 1999 civic and I use it every time. That investment pays off!
Whether you live in a subsidized fuel market like me or have no subsidized fuel, idling even for a little bit prior to demanding load is a good thing for an engine. From large megawatt to smaller output engines, some degree of warming up is necessary.
Step 8: Reducing the Car's Weight.
I dont mean tossing the spare tire and car jack. Please dont do something like that. I did some simple things suchs as:
1. Replace the stock lead acid with a lithium iron phosphate battery. From 40lbs the car now has to carry 3lbs of battery. Been working great since September 2013 and cranks the engine faster than any lead acid! The mounting hardware for the lead acid battery I removed as well. Here's is my instructable on that project! https://www.instructables.com/id/Lifepo4-battery-for-standard-gasoline-car-starting/
2. Clean up the engine bay. I removed my stock air intake and certain coolant tubes for the cabin heater I never use in a tropical country.
3. Use aftermarket components for upgrades. I replaced my rear lower control arms with aluminum aftermarket ones for minor weight improvement. https://www.instructables.com/id/Installing-aftermarket-rear-suspension-lower-contr/
4. Keep only necessary tools in the trunk. Dont overload with tools you dont need during a road side fix.
5. Use alloy rims.
These may not seem much in the way of a 1 tonne vehicle but every bit helps. I myself weight in at 166lbs so I'm no heavy roller.
Step 9: Turning Off That Air Conditioning When Needed.
When overtaking or moving from standstill, a good tip is to manually turn off the air conditioning. Just press that AC button! When you are back up to cruise speed then switch it back on. Of course on really hot days, fuel economy be damned but this is a really helpful tip.
If you wish you can drive with the windows crack a bit. Having them fully down while on the highway introduces ALOT of air drag. I have been using my air conditioning everytime and I still get great range from my gas tank. Just a thought eh?
Step 10: Use Iridium Spark Plugs.
At first I didnt want to acknowledge it but the appeal of long life spark plugs got to me. Iridium spark plugs even though more expensive, do last longer and according to the manufacture they produce a better spark and help fuel economy. Going on 6 years and my spark plugs still work great. I cant say for sure IF they improved fuel economy but I love the fact I dont have to change them as often.
Step 11: Keeping Idle Speed Low As Per OEM Requirements.
Most engines over time will drift from the OEM recommended idle rpm. Try to keep that idle rpm with the OEM recommendation which is actually the lowest you should go without risking stalling the engine. Most folks tend to carry that idle way up higher to do what? Who knows? When an engine is idling really fast, it is gonna burn up more fuel! Keep it low and keep it real.
Step 12: Install a Performance Exhaust Header.
This is only viable in countries that do not have emissions testing. Performance exhaust headers allow easier exit of gases and the benefit of reduced weight. I'm not talking about a loud muffler here to wake up the entire neighbourhood. Leave the stock quiet muffler. Its just the exhaust header replacement to a less restrictive type that allows for a small improvement in fuel economy.
Here is the instructable for my manifold replacement.