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Old 10-15-2019, 10:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Friendly Wager: 60 mpg 95 Mercury Tracer

For some reason I made a bet with some friends I could get 60 mpg highway (55 mph, or speed limit) with my newly acquired 95 Mercury Tracer. Some requirements have been made, but not everything has been agreed upon.

Biggest restriction is that it must be done by January 13th. The first day of spring semester.

This may not be very feasible, but I am definitely going to try my best.

The car:
  • 95 Mercury Tracer
  • 1.9l I4 SOHC
  • Automatic Transmission
  • 4 Door sedan
  • Moderate rust, self tapping screws welcome
  • Does have alloy wheels (pictured below)
  • Speedometer/Odometer doesn't work
  • Tank has a leak above a certain level

Not the actual car:


I have only driven the car for 2 days, so I don't know a whole lot about it. So far I have left it on empty with only 1-3 gallons in the tank. I have a GPS speedometer app on an old phone. It has an ODO function, but I haven't used it yet.

Stipulations that have been set already:
  • Car will be warm for the test
  • Let the car run out of gas
  • Add 1 gal of gas
  • Drive until it dies
  • Coasting only allowed when car dies at end of run
  • Must follow speed limit or faster
  • No alternate fuels
  • Fuel grade up to me
  • Will repeat test in other direction
  • Testing will be agreed upon the week before the test
  • No drafting

I know I will need a lot to get there. Mods I will be looking at mainly:
Boat tail
Belly pan
Wheel skirts and smooth covers
Mirror delete for test runs
Wiper delete (maybe)
Hood height (think Aerohead's truck)
5th wheel or powering a single rear wheel

So, what do you guys think? Is this possible?

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At 55 mph, a 10% drag reduction translates to a 5% increase in fuel economy. At 70mph,a 10% drag reduction translates into a 4% increase -Phil Knox (Aerohead), Aerodynamics Seminar #2

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Old 10-15-2019, 10:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've used the template before, but is this applied correctly?
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At 55 mph, a 10% drag reduction translates to a 5% increase in fuel economy. At 70mph,a 10% drag reduction translates into a 4% increase -Phil Knox (Aerohead), Aerodynamics Seminar #2

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Old 10-16-2019, 01:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Fuelly indicates 25-30 mpg average.

My Civic was rated at 30 (29-34 real world according to Fuelly) and the max I got was 60 mpg on the highway at 55 mph with a slight tailwind. P&G was 50s around town.

IMO you'll need a boattail and a manual swap (since the older automatics will be dreadfully inefficient) in order to do engine off coasting, unless you swapped in something like the Insight's 1.0L drivetrain and manual transmission.

I personally don't see the possibility of doing it but look forward to see what you do with it. Maybe I'm wrong, I'd love to be wrong in this case! Your largest enemy besides drag is probably the automatic transmission.
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Old 10-16-2019, 10:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If you let it run to empty, you'll start having fuel pump failures as fuel is lube and coolant.
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Old 10-16-2019, 11:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The Van - '95 Chevy Astro Cl
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90 day: 16.39 mpg (US)

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Quote:
If you let it run to empty, you'll start having fuel pump failures as fuel is lube and coolant.
I don't do very much driving and so I have been keeping track of mileage and adding a gallon or two as needed. I only plan on letting it run out when testing. I am thinking about an alternate option though.
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At 55 mph, a 10% drag reduction translates to a 5% increase in fuel economy. At 70mph,a 10% drag reduction translates into a 4% increase -Phil Knox (Aerohead), Aerodynamics Seminar #2

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Old 10-16-2019, 11:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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At 55 MPH, you're definitely going to have to attack more than just aero. And I doubt the small bits of aero stuff will be worth it. Since it's a one time deal, how about 4 mini spares to lower the rolling resistance. Should be nearly free and maybe net some decent gains?

I'd plug some numbers in to the Aerodynamic & rolling resistance, power & MPG calculator here at Ecomodder. It'll show you just where the power is going rolling down the road at 55 MPH.

Last edited by ennored; 10-16-2019 at 11:59 AM..
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I wouldn't bother with the hood height. Wipers probably won't matter either, but they're easy enough to remove. If the tires are in good shape with no cracks, I'd pump them way up for the test. Maybe 70-80 PSI? Mini spares usually have higher rolling resistance and smaller diameter. Taller LRR tires would help gearing. Getting the engine to run lean will help. Full belly pan and get the rear to match the template. Front end is probably OK, but I'd do spats in front of the tires. Can you remove accessory belts? You only need the water pump to drive 60 miles if you have a good, fully-charged battery. Weight reduction if there will be any stop-and-go or hills. Mobil 1 Advance Fuel Economy oil (0w-30, 0w-20, 0w-16). Fill it to the lower mark on the dipstick. Ethanol free regular octane if you can find it. Make sure there's no brake drag. MPGuino to test mods (if you have a good VSS). Trade it for a Geo Metro!

Pick a warm day! And try to run out of gas as you crest a big hill for a long coast!
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Old 10-17-2019, 03:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ennored View Post
how about 4 mini spares to lower the rolling resistance. Should be nearly free and maybe net some decent gains
Just for fun, I tested 4 space-savers at 70 PSI (above the rating), and they still performed HORRIBLY in terms of rolling resistance. Worse than any other tire I tested that day:

Thread: Testing rolling resistance of the Various Tires of the Suzukiclone Fleet (RE92 wins)

Obviously I'm not saying the same thing will happen with every brand of space-saver tire, but it does show it's not safe to assume a happy & efficient improvement.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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IIRC these are quite lightweight, which would render it easier to achieve some high MPG without too much effort, but the old-school AT might become an issue.
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Old 10-18-2019, 02:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I used to own a 90s 1.9L sohc auto trans as well. Mostly stock it would do around 50mpg @ 45mph, and 43mpg @ 55 mph according to a scangauge
https://ecomodder.com/forum/showthre...tml#post327783
That car was rated 33 hwy, the tracer appears to be rated 31hwy, so Iím guessing in stock form you could pull roughly 40mpg @ 55mph. Looking like youíll need a 50% improvement over stock to hit your original goal. 50mpg @ 50mph might be a good first goal

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