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Transplant Athlete
Monday, July 14, 2008
  Hypermiling In A Red Cavalier

I've been hearing a lot lately about hypermiling, so much so that about 400 miles ago, I decided to give it a try with my Cavalier. Now, when the Cav was broken in, but not broken, I could get mileage as high as 40 mpg on the highway. My memory says the EPA estimate was 32/34. MotorTrend says the EPA estimate was 25/37. Lately though, the mileage has been closer to 30mpg. The wheel bearings are shot (it's easier to push the ESCAPE than it is to push the CAV) along with the other issues a 13 year old car would have.

So far, the hypermiling has been working out ok. This is my first tank driving that way; so I don't have results yet, but as I get used to how the car handles, I can do more and more. Basically, I've learned that it's nearly downhill from the school to my house, so I can shut the engine off and coast into my driveway. The engine's off for about 30 seconds and I've coasted nearly a half mile. I've been able to figure out areas close to the house where I can coast like that to stop signs/lights with the engine off. For more techniques or for information on hypermiling in general, check out Cleanmpg.com.

This morning as I was leaving for an abdominal Ultrasound (as part of my testing to get back on the Transplant List), I coasted down a hill and when I went to turn the car back on, it wouldn't start. Danielle came to my rescue, but the car wouldn't start with jumper cables. So, I called AAA and they sent someone to jump the car. After cleaning the terminals, the car started right up and it's charging now. I missed the ultrasound, but I really didn't want to go anyway (I just want to sleep - but not in a lazy teenager way, in a my kidney is failing way)

I know, you're thinking, I'm a suave sophisticated blogger raking in 6 figures for typing everyday I should just go out and buy a new car, but that's not the case. In the four years I've been blogging, I've never received a check and my total take from the ads that you see along the side of this blog since the beginning would buy me about a third of a tank of gas. Pitiful isn't it, but then again I don't do it for the money. I'm not sure why I do this, but I know it ain't for the money.

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Comments:
Yes, I did pay myself to say suave and sophisticated.

-Lou
 
The results are in and just by coasting to stop signs (with the engine off) and turning the CAV off while waiting for lights, I managed an extra 23 miles on this tank.
So, for severe stop and go traffic (very little highway driving), the CAV got 31 mpg on this tank. I know, you're thinking that's not great, but this was my first attempt and I started pretty tentatively. I should be able to do better on the next tank. This was the equivalent of saving a half gallon of gas (or $2.05 at today's fill-up price).


-Lou
 
Question:
So you saved $2.05 and some amount of CO2 release. Has any research been done to consider if all this turning on and off of the engine shortens the lifespan of the starter, etc so as to make it actually a net loss both financially and ecologically? Gotta manufacture new starters and plugs etc more frequently one would suppose.
I'm not arguing that what you are doing is more costly and less eco-friendly, just curious about all the ramifications.
 
Good Question Anonymous
I do worry about the wear and tear on the starter a bit; especially when the car didn't start and I had to call AAA, I was praying it wasn't the starter. The car has 201,000 miles on it, so things'll break and need to be repaired. But in general, I treat the car really well, so I've had to do less maintenance than others would have had to do by now (my sister, for instance went through more brake pads in 60,000 miles than I'll go through in 200,000)

The starter is the second one in the vehicle, the first died sometime in the late 1990's (well before it should have, but after the warranty expired), starters are essentially electric motors, at least theoretically, they should be able to take the abuse. I'm not really asking them to do anything other than what they were designed for, I'm just asking them to do it more often.

I realize saving $2 worth of gas isn't that impressive, I'm hoping as I practice and improve my technique, to get to the point where I'm saving $20 or more per tank (or an extra 150 miles).

-Lou
 
The battery is pretty weak (and has been since the Alternator failed), so it does occasionally have trouble starting after I've turned the car off. SO, I usually try to make sure the car is warmed up before I start hypermiling. Also, I just started plugging the car into the trickle charger when I get home to make sure the battery is always topped off.
 
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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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