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Old 05-15-2008, 03:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Reds' Bucket Mobile - '01 Chevrolet Cavalier 4 Door Sedan
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Cavalier owner from Maryland

Howdy folks, I just stumbled across your website and very interested in learning more. I own a 2001 Chevy Cavalier with 175K miles on it. I get about 30 MPG on it and would love to know how I can increase that.

So my question is where do I start? I read through some of the threads already. Is there a beginners guide? Anything specific to my vehicle?

Thanks in advance,
Jim

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Old 05-15-2008, 04:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome! I've got two Cavaliers, a 98 auto and an 02 manual, both 2200's. Someone here has a heavily modified ecotec that gets mid 50's on the highway, but it's stripped. What engine and trans do you have? If you've made it to 175Kmi without spinning a rod bearing, you probably have the 2200 .

My 98 could do 42mpg highway on pure gasoline. Since I got my 02, I can only get E10, and could get about 38mpg highway with that in stock form. With a lean mixture, I'm back in the low 40's. The only aero mods I've done to that is remove the mud shields on the front fenders. I haven't measured the results, but they can't be doing me any favors.

As with any car, I'd recommend switching to synthetic fluids, then catching up with maintenance if you're not already there. Then do all the easy things that help increase mpg on any car (inflate tires, etc). Then we get to the more interesting parts.
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Old 05-15-2008, 05:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Reds' Bucket Mobile - '01 Chevrolet Cavalier 4 Door Sedan
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Thanks for the quick response Johnny.

Yes it is a 2200, auto transmission. Knock on wood, this is the best car I've ever owned. We payed $8000 for it in 2002 with 15000 miles on it. I've never done anything to this car (including maintenance) until last year. I brought it into my mechanic with 145K miles for breaks and asked him to look it over and fix anything minor. He called me saying I had OEM everything on it! So he replaced everything that needed replacing and I've still never had a problem with this car. Only money I've spent on it is gas, tires, batteries, and brakes.

What synthetic oil do you recommend?

Also, I've never done anything with the auto transmission fluid. Should I? If so what should I have done? I was thinking about just taking it to Jiffy Lube and pay the $100+ to get that done. I have been noticing it shifting hard, especially cold from reverse to first.

I've done a lot of reading today and going to buy an air compressor for home for the tire pressure.

I've already drastically changed my driving habits. 2 back-to-back speeding tickets and now I drive like an old lady. It's funny watching peoples reactions to me in my rear view mirror.

Is there anything cheaper to monitor MPG other then the ScanGauge 2? The $160 is a little steep for me right now. I'm just doing the math now when I fill up and consistently getting 29-31 MPG.

How do you get the lean mixture on your '98?

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 05-15-2008, 05:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There is a beginner's guide in one of the stickies, and there's also these hypermiling tips that we recently wrote up. I hope you find some help there!

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Old 05-15-2008, 06:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Thanks for the quick response Johnny.

Yes it is a 2200, auto transmission. Knock on wood, this is the best car I've ever owned. We payed $8000 for it in 2002 with 15000 miles on it. I've never done anything to this car (including maintenance) until last year. I brought it into my mechanic with 145K miles for breaks and asked him to look it over and fix anything minor. He called me saying I had OEM everything on it! So he replaced everything that needed replacing and I've still never had a problem with this car. Only money I've spent on it is gas, tires, batteries, and brakes.
Do you know exactly what was replaced? How about the fuel filter? Air filter? Coolant?

Quote:
What synthetic oil do you recommend?
Any fully synthetic (not blended) 5w30 made by a company you've heard of, will serve you well. Some people report a small MPG increase on 5w20, but if you go that route, it's important to stay with 5w20. Your engine doesn't like switching oil weight often. Before you switch over to full synthetic, run an engine flush of some kind. I'd recommend changing your own oil if at all possible. If not, buy your own oil and filters before taking your car in.

Quote:
Also, I've never done anything with the auto transmission fluid. Should I? If so what should I have done? I was thinking about just taking it to Jiffy Lube and pay the $100+ to get that done. I have been noticing it shifting hard, especially cold from reverse to first.
PLEASE get this done soon! I wouldn't wait longer than 60K miles to change the transmission fluid. I did mine and noticed a good pile of metallic sludge on the pan magnet. It involves unbolting the transmission pan, which then drops most of the fluid at once, so you need a large pan. Then you have to replace the fluid filter, which is a large, flat assembly that costs around $30. After that, you put a new gasket on the pan (included in the filter kit), bolt it back on to the transmission, put about 4 quarts in the transmission, take out the overflow plug, put the handbrake on, idle the car in drive, and keep adding fluid untl it starts to come out of the overflow hole. Then reinstall the plug and you're done. A few quarts of the old fluid will be stuck in the torque converter. If this, or any part of this procedure bothers you, I'd suggest taking the vehicle to a shop. Note that you can use synthetic fluid here too, but it will cost you about $6/qt, and your transmission takes about 8 quarts. Please avoid B&M trick shift fluid at all costs. It contains abrasive particles.

Part of the reason shifting is hard when your car is cold, is because the idle speed is higher until the car warms up.

Quote:
I've done a lot of reading today and going to buy an air compressor for home for the tire pressure.
If tire inflation is all you're going to use it for, one of those compact 12v units work great. Plus you can keep it in your trunk if you'd like.

Quote:
Is there anything cheaper to monitor MPG other then the ScanGauge 2? The $160 is a little steep for me right now. I'm just doing the math now when I fill up and consistently getting 29-31 MPG.
Depending on your highway percentage, those numbers could be pretty decent. The SG gives you a rough estimate of fuel usage. Injector based units are far more accurate and it looks like they'll be cheaper. There's an open source one that's under development right now in the Instrumentation forum. Also, I'm working on developing one.

Quote:
How do you get the lean mixture on your '98?
My 98 is running a stock 14.7:1 mixture, my 02 is leaned out. I've been asked this question a lot, so if the mods are willing, I'll post a sticky thread. In short, it involves a wideband 02 sensor, a fairly simple circuit and some routing of wires. Total project cost is under $300, but my car responded quite readily with a 10% economy gain across the board.

Also for what it's worth some specifics about your powertrain...

-Your transmission will lock into overdrive at 40+mph at low load.
-Your car achieves its best steady-state mileage at 53mph.
-Your engine burns no fuel during decelleration in most circumstances, so maximize coasting and stay in drive.

Last edited by JohnnyGrey; 05-15-2008 at 06:28 PM..
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Old 05-16-2008, 09:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Reds' Bucket Mobile - '01 Chevrolet Cavalier 4 Door Sedan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyGrey View Post
Do you know exactly what was replaced? How about the fuel filter? Air filter? Coolant?
At the time he did air filter, spark plugs, wires, oil/fitler, and I think that was it. Around October of last year I took it to Goodyear to get new front tires and alignment and they called to up-sale me on the fuel filter (which I did). They said it was original and should have been replace 3 times already. I just did the coolant flush 2 weeks ago when I got my oil changed at Jiffy Lube.

Quote:
I'd recommend changing your own oil if at all possible.
I can do that. I used to change my own oil but such as hassle since I didn't have a good jack. I'm sure I could convince the wife spending a jack to save money to do my own oil change would be acceptable.


Quote:
PLEASE get this done soon! I wouldn't wait longer than 60K miles to change the transmission fluid. I did mine and noticed a good pile of metallic sludge on the pan magnet. It involves unbolting the transmission pan, which then drops most of the fluid at once, so you need a large pan. Then you have to replace the fluid filter, which is a large, flat assembly that costs around $30. After that, you put a new gasket on the pan (included in the filter kit), bolt it back on to the transmission, put about 4 quarts in the transmission, take out the overflow plug, put the handbrake on, idle the car in drive, and keep adding fluid untl it starts to come out of the overflow hole. Then reinstall the plug and you're done. A few quarts of the old fluid will be stuck in the torque converter. If this, or any part of this procedure bothers you, I'd suggest taking the vehicle to a shop. Note that you can use synthetic fluid here too, but it will cost you about $6/qt, and your transmission takes about 8 quarts. Please avoid B&M trick shift fluid at all costs. It contains abrasive particles.
This scares me but I need to do it and would love to be able to do it on my own. I'm not terribly mechanical and this doesn't sound too hard. Where do I get the filter kit? At Pep Boys or similar store? So if I go in there asking for a filter kit for my car they will know what I'm talking about? Where is the overflow hole?

Quote:
If tire inflation is all you're going to use it for, one of those compact 12v units work great. Plus you can keep it in your trunk if you'd like.
I saw this one at Wal-mart: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...roduct_id=3992

If it's portable I would be more likely to use it.

What pressure in the tire do you recommend?


Quote:
Depending on your highway percentage, those numbers could be pretty decent. The SG gives you a rough estimate of fuel usage. Injector based units are far more accurate and it looks like they'll be cheaper. There's an open source one that's under development right now in the Instrumentation forum. Also, I'm working on developing one.
Right, I forgot out the Open Source tools out there. I'll start looking into those as well.

Quote:
My 98 is running a stock 14.7:1 mixture, my 02 is leaned out. I've been asked this question a lot, so if the mods are willing, I'll post a sticky thread. In short, it involves a wideband 02 sensor, a fairly simple circuit and some routing of wires. Total project cost is under $300, but my car responded quite readily with a 10% economy gain across the board.
$300 at these gas prices is good. I think I'll start with the less expensive mods first.

Quote:
Also for what it's worth some specifics about your powertrain...

-Your transmission will lock into overdrive at 40+mph at low load.
-Your car achieves its best steady-state mileage at 53mph.
-Your engine burns no fuel during decelleration in most circumstances, so maximize coasting and stay in drive.
This is great thanks. You've been a huge help. So are you saying I need to coast in drive to take advantage of your last point? I was experimenting with this yesterday on the way home and noticed that while coasting in drive i tended to slow down, but in neutral there seemed to be less resistance and I was able to accelerate coasting even on a modest down slope. Should I just leave it in drive or shift to neutral?
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:19 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Welcome to EM Jim. Definitly take a look at the driving tips page. You may also want to look into getting a scangauge as they are incredibly useful for monitoring and tweaking driving techniques and testing modifications.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
This scares me but I need to do it and would love to be able to do it on my own. I'm not terribly mechanical and this doesn't sound too hard. Where do I get the filter kit? At Pep Boys or similar store? So if I go in there asking for a filter kit for my car they will know what I'm talking about? Where is the overflow hole?
The overflow hole should be on the driver's side of the transmission. I got my filter/gasket kit from Advance Auto, but I'm sure Pep Boys has it as well. It's a behind-the-counter part, but very common.

Quote:
This is great thanks. You've been a huge help. So are you saying I need to coast in drive to take advantage of your last point? I was experimenting with this yesterday on the way home and noticed that while coasting in drive i tended to slow down, but in neutral there seemed to be less resistance and I was able to accelerate coasting even on a modest down slope. Should I just leave it in drive or shift to neutral?
Yes, if you coast in neutral, your engine will burn fuel. While coasting in drive, it will not. At highway speeds with no stops in sight, you may benefit from coasting in neutral because your high speed outweighs the 0.3GPH or so the engine burns at idle. As a rule of thumb, if you're coasting above 2000 RPM (or 2500RPM with the A/C), and don't want to lose speed, you will probably see gains in neutral. In most cases, you're better off staying in drive. It wears your transmission less too.

A scangauge will not register this fuel cutoff, but it is definitely there. Also, the fuel cutoff is more aggressive on the automatic cars than the manuals because the ECU doesn't have to anticipate a sudden gear change or clutch disengagement. It has complete control over the transmission, so it can cut deeper than the 1500RPM minimum threshold of the manual. The auto idles at 600RPM (300RPM lower than the manual) which is also good for economy as well.
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Old 05-16-2008, 11:47 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamer_jim View Post
Howdy folks, I just stumbled across your website and very interested in learning more. I own a 2001 Chevy Cavalier with 175K miles on it. I get about 30 MPG on it and would love to know how I can increase that.

So my question is where do I start? I read through some of the threads already. Is there a beginners guide? Anything specific to my vehicle?

Thanks in advance,
Jim
Check out this member's 2003 Cavalier info for ideas:

http://ecomodder.com/forum/em-fuel-l...?vehicleid=155

http://ecomodder.com/forum/emgarage....&vehicleid=155
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The scangauge does have a fuel cutoff adjustment setting. If this is too high it won't register fuel cutoff. Check idle fuel consumption (GPH gauge) and set your fuel cutoff to just below that.

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