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NachtRitter 12-31-2008 04:44 PM

Found a Civic VX; Great Mileage Starts Now!
Hi folks,

Boy, I tell you... trying to find a decent Honda Civic VX for a reasonable price that hasn't already been molested (such as those with turbo'd 2 liter engines with tranny swap, etc) with the features I want (AC, necessary for my family in the Sac Valley area) within a reasonable distance (150 miles of my home) is ... ahem ... challenging!

Finally found myself my "Mouse", a 1994 Honda Civic VX sold by the original owner... Not too bad a shape, considering it has nearly 304,000 miles on it :eek: The orig owner was fastidious about maintaining the engine, with oil changes every 5K and timing belt / water pump changes every 100K (among other things; detailed paperwork was included). The maintenance was definitely noticeable as the car runs and drives very well; no smoking, no drips, no issues with acceleration, tracking down the road, or pulling to either side under braking. A little bit of body damage on the passenger side, where it kissed a guard rail after being side-swiped by a hit&run driver back in 2000.

Since it's a CA model, the EPA MPG estimates are a bit lower than the Federal model, but my goal is to average an FE of high 60's to low 70's during my daily 50 mile RT commute. It is going to take a while to get there, as I don't have much spare $$ or time. Also, since it'll be a family car, any mods I make will have to pass the "wife test." ;)

So my plans are something like this:
  1. Baseline the mileage I typically get on the commute (I can't really rely on EPA estimates for my baseline) - about 2 months. I generally use light hypermiling techniques already (I don't do engine OFF coast, for instance, but I do a lot of engine ON coast). This also gives me time to clean up / fix up some things with the car... Windshield, headlight replacement (rock (!) damage); hood replacement (owner included new hood to replace current dented hood); and other small fixes.
  2. Begin adding instrumentation & calibrate - about 3 months. I'd like to instrument a broad variety of engine parameters in addition to the fuel consumption parameters. Haven't completely read up on the MPGuino, but I'm assuming it can be modified to include inputs (with appropriate sensors) for:
    • Engine Coolant temp
    • Engine Oil temp
    • Vacuum
    • Battery Current
    • Battery Charge
    The purpose here being to measure the effects on various modifications including grill blocks, incandescent to LED swap, etc. The instrumentation also (obviously) will help me with driving style changes.
    In addition to the instrumentation, I will also look into basic changes that could improve FE. For example, when I change the engine oil, I'll go to a lighter weight. Transmission oil will be changed to the lightest allowable weight. Tire pressures will be set to sidewall max. I'll check into how to change to the federal VX fuel map. Etc.
  3. Begin with simple aero changes, including grill block, mirror delete, wheel skirts, wheel discs, etc. - 4 months. This should keep me within my budget and within the "wife acceptance range" while still having positive effects on the FE. Might also consider lowering the suspension (via coilovers) to reduce the overall frontal area. Additionally, I may look into removing weight from the car... such as removing back seats, removing spare, etc.
  4. If I'm still not hitting my target FE, then I may consider the more extreme aero mods, including boat tail and nose. But I'll see when I get there. :p

The first fillup after I bought the car gave me 40.7mpg; 3/4 of that tank was driven by the original owner. So not really a fair baseline, but I'll have a couple of weeks worth of driving done by mid- to end- January; I should have a better idea of what a realistic baseline is by that time.

I definitely welcome thoughts & comments from this community. :thumbup:

SVOboy 12-31-2008 05:08 PM

I think you'll like it, :). Don't forget the MPGuino, :)

MetroMPG 12-31-2008 09:57 PM

Glad to see another member join the VX crowd.

60-70 mpg is ambitious, but achievable depending on how far you're willing to tweak the nut behind the wheel. Bonus for you is that 25 mile each way commute - you're driving a long enough difference that the warm-up hit (assuming you don't use a block heater) is proportionally pretty small.

The fact that you live in Cali is great too, climate wise.



Dan, on the other hand has shown he can keep the VX in lean burn (without drafting) and get 75 mpg at 55 mph. Nuff said.
That was with a non-Cali VX. From thread:

NachtRitter 12-31-2008 11:24 PM

MetroMPG - Thanks for the link to the thread... very interesting!

I agree with your comment RE: "tweak the nut behind the wheel." That's why I've got that goal at a higher priority than aero mods... I expect much of the "nut tweaking" to happen when I get the instrumentation in place (so I can actually see what kind of effect I'm having when I'm driving).

My "to work" commute is pretty much all down hill so should be able to do a lot of EOC ... and I'll just have to be a lot slower than I'm used to coming back up the hill.

I'm definitely getting a LOT of ideas and inspiration from this site!

brucepick 01-01-2009 06:50 AM

I plan to test the use of pulse & glide on moderate upgrades. I've done it, and I do think it saves fuel vs. a steady climb using normal appropriate rpms + gears. I hope to get some time to test it using the ScanGauge to show some hard numbers.

Just a thought, re. your commute route. Might be useful.

NachtRitter 01-01-2009 04:42 PM


Originally Posted by brucepick (Post 81077)
I plan to test the use of pulse & glide on moderate upgrades. I've done it, and I do think it saves fuel vs. a steady climb using normal appropriate rpms + gears. I hope to get some time to test it using the ScanGauge to show some hard numbers.

Just a thought, re. your commute route. Might be useful.

Yes, that is one thing I've been trying to figure out from the forum here; what is the best technique to get up the hill (actually a series of hills with a some downhills and flats in between)... I'm inclined to agree that the P&G technique might be the way to go but will have to wait 'til I get instrumentation to confirm. :thumbup:

NachtRitter 01-04-2009 03:57 PM

Of course the the main reason I chose the 5th gen Civic VX is because of what I've been researched info on this and other forums. But now that I have one, I'm looking at the "next level of detail." Found very useful information that TomO gathered at the GasSavers site regarding the VX specifically as well as useful information on the 5th gen Civic over at the Civic-EG site and the Honda-Tech site. Placing the links here for future reference.

Finally had a chance to drive the Mouse in a more or less "normal" manner yesterday (only other time I drove it was when I bought it several days ago, and that was primarily freeway). Definitely a unique experience compared to all the other manual transmission cars I've driven! I typically skip 2nd & 4th gears on my other 5spd cars; much harder to do on the VX as it has such tall gear ratios. Also, read that the Fed versions of the cars have a shift indicator light that goes on at somewhere around 1200 to 1800 rpm; tho' the CA version does not have that, I still try to shift in that range. On paper, it shows that the D15Z1 engine has a decent amount of torque vs HP, and it sure is noticeable when shifting at the low RPMs.

Tuesday I'll be getting the windshield replaced (there's a baseball-sized "bullseye" in it). I'll get a pic of the current windshield posted asap.

Having read about the diff in FE between CA and Fed versions, I'm also hunting down a Fed ECU and a 5-wire O2 sensor... based on my readings, it sounds like a collection of connectors from a wrecking yard is all I need to make a reversible CA / Fed setup. Will post the progress of the conversion.

NachtRitter 01-05-2009 12:59 AM

My wife drove the Mouse today for the first time... and she likes it!! :thumbup: Well, what she actually said is that it was pretty gutless, but at least she didn't say something to the effect of "I'm not driving that piece of $!@# again!" :D That's good, because there are days when she has a 70 mile RT (once a week for one meeting, and once a month for another) where she can take the Mouse while I take the Redhead to work. If I've got the numbers right, that means we'd only use 2/3 the fuel compared to her taking the Roo:
  • Roo gets about 24mpg freeway, Redhead gets about 40mpg, and (I'm guessing) Mouse will get about 45mpg freeway
  • Her RT is 70 miles and mine is 50
  • I would consume 50miles/40mpg = 1.25 gallons
  • If she takes the Roo, then 70miles/24mpg = ~2.9 gallons consumed, else with the Mouse, then 70/45mpg = ~1.55 gallons consumed
  • Diff is 4.15 gallons vs 2.8 gallons, or 2.8/4.15 = ~0.67 or about 2/3 fuel used if my wife takes the Mouse vs taking the Roo.
That extra 1/3 (1.4 gallons) saved will be like a fuel-free RT drive to work for me each week, plus one more fuel-free day each month... And the diff between that extra and my typical usage (the 1.4 gallons just noted compared to my typical 1.25 gallon RT consumption) will yet another fuel-free RT every other month (or possibly sooner)!!.

Yes, I do believe I'm going to enjoy this Civic VX quite a bit... :p

NachtRitter 01-07-2009 12:42 AM

Tried a little bit of "engine off coasting" during my commute this week... kinda weird, having never done it before... Feel like I'm doing something that I'm not supposed to be doing. Learned that the speedo no longer works when the ignition is off on the VX, so, I've got to turn the ignition back on right away (rather than waiting 'til I'm ready to bump start).

Also found 3 annoying things that I've GOT to fix on the Mouse:
  1. If I leave the headlights on, there is no buzzer to let me know.
  2. The climate controls don't light up (I don't have the functions memorized yet; could be a bulb out or a loose connection)
  3. No clock (The radio doesn't have one)

All relatively easy fixes, and high on the list of things to get done.

NachtRitter 01-08-2009 03:22 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Used my GPS to map out an altitude profile for my commute today... below is what it looks like... this is the "to work" direction...

I know that the fuel gauge is relatively inaccurate (I "lost" 1/4 tank taking a fwy on-ramp :eek: then it slowly "came back" over the next few mins :thumbup:), but nevertheless, I'm kinda bummed that I've only gone ~160 miles by half tank... :(

Windshield is fixed, clock is on it\'s way, and will prolly look at fixing climate control lights and adding a "lights on" buzzer this weekend.

EDIT: Realized that I left out a few data points on my graph... was half asleep when I put the graph together... :rolleyes:

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