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Doverboy 04-30-2014 06:45 AM

Hello From the Maine Highlands
Greetings everyone!

I've been a guest user of Ecomodder for years now, and I finally decided to become an official lurker!

I've been hypermiling for about 6 years now. My motivation is both better mileage and preserving my daily driver, Emma. Emma is a 2001 VW MKIV Jetta 2.0 AVH Automatic 01M 4-speed with 165,xxx miles. I have been using a scangauge ii since 2008 and admit I have an addiction to its gauges.

The region where I live is tough on vehicles. During the summer, we have 90+ degree days with brutal humidity and the winters (especially this past winter) can be unbelievably harsh with weeks never going above freezing, wind chills in the -40 degree to -50 degree range, snow, ice, freezing rain and I'm pretty sure I saw locusts fall from the sky in January.

While it is gorgeous up here, nestled in the pristine woods, the roads greatly suffer from such a large temperature range. Most of the roads are riddled with frost heaves, cracks, ruts (logging trucks), and potholes (more like craters this year). I feel like an Indy driver avoiding danger on my trips. Many vehicles were sidelined multiple times this winter and I have never seen so many broken headlights as this past season. But Emma keeps on going!

I purchased my VW with 60,xxx miles and have been hypermiling her from the get-go. Maintenance has been a high priority and is probably the second most important aspect IMO to improved MPG after driver technique. Emma is rated at 20/26 MPG (using the new standard) and I have never had a tank average less than 26 MPG. My lowest average this past winter was 26.74 during a nasty stretch in January. Oh, and Emma runs studded tires during the winter, too!

I have averaged over 40 mpg for a tank twice, during ideal stretches of weather. My last tank averaged 33 MPG, running summer tires. I routinely have 40+ mile trips (no highways, but 10 - 20 miles between towns, carefully watching for deer and moose) combined with dropping off and picking up my kiddos from school and local errands/meetings. We have significant hills as well.

Emma has no mods and all OEM parts and repairs through the VW dealership in Bangor. I'm a firm believer in higher tire pressure. I completely disregard the VW placard and go with the tire manufacturer recommendations. My winter studded tires are OEM spec size rated 42 psi and I run them at 40 psi. My summer tires are 225/45/R17 rated at 51 psi and I run them at 45 psi. The VW oil spec is 502.00 and I use 5W30 (many MKIV owners opt for 5W40) synthetic, although after reading BITOG I will probably switch to 0W30.

Considering Emma is an automatic and all other factors, I am darn proud of her FE and reliability. Mechanically, she is tip-top. I have only had one major repair on her - I went through an unmarked road repair at night in the rain doing 50+ mph and pulled a Dukes of Hazard jump, damaging the valve body. $2,200 later and she's fine (yes, I know the dealership is expensive and the repair cost more than her blue book value). But I'm the kind of person who thinks a 300k mile car running and looking better than most cars half her age (even a quarter of her age) is cool.

The scangauge is fantastic. While I calculate my tank to tank averages using the odometer and gas receipt for gallons (almost always using the same pump in the morning), I have found my SG to be pretty darn close now that it's been "seasoned" over many years. My standard view is MPH (VW speedo is a few MPH high), MPG, TPS and TFT. While many folks recommend driving by Lode, I drive by Throttle Position. TPS is easier for me to maintain and my driving mantra is "maintain the momentum" in the highest gear. I watch my transmission fluid temperature TFT (X-Gauge) religiously because many 01M transmissions fail well below Emma's current mileage.

I've tried EOC maybe 5 times and it's not for me. I just worry too much about coolant and tranny fluid not pumping efficiently while coasting (and I have routine 2+ mile coasts). I mostly use NICE - coast in Neutral with the engine idling. Emma moves very smoothly between coast and 4th gear, no problem, and her tranny filter indicates no worries.

I've been thinking about making a few improvements, like a skid plate, which will probable be a FE wash between added weight for protection vs improved aerodynamics and maybe try grill blocking next winter. I have really enjoyed reading many, many posts here and hope you are all well!


Fat Charlie 04-30-2014 09:15 AM

Hypermiling in the Northeast is a fun challenge, isn't it? Almost as hard as not destroying your suspension!

Daox 04-30-2014 10:16 AM

Welcome to the site Tim. It sounds like you're well on your way. :thumbup:

Seatofpants 05-02-2014 06:04 AM

Back in high school, a friend and I almost drove underneath a moose as we came around the corner in his Subaru. The moose just looked at us for a moment and carried on its business. I miss Maine. :(

UltArc 05-02-2014 07:23 AM

Welcome to the social aspect of the site! I am sure you are well aware of the site and its features with your experience here. EXCEPT- Get your fuel log setup! Even if you don't go back and put it all in, having it in for the future will be an asset.

I can't help but think how much further you can get by jumping into some of these: 65+ Vehicle modifications for better fuel economy - :)

Doverboy 05-02-2014 08:09 AM

Charlie, you’re absolutely right about the challenges and the suspension. With the higher tire pressure, it feels like I’m driving a brick on the winter roads. Many much newer vehicles were in and out of repair shops this past season with multiple breakdowns. At 13 years old, Emma needs some suspension work. I’m planning on having her coils, shocks, struts, bushings and bars replaced before next winter. Big investment, but I love the vehicle.

Seatofpants, yes, I can imagine the moose just looking at you and your buddy as a minor inconvenience! As you know, they’re huge as adults. It seems there is a fatal moose/vehicle collision most years. Many folks don’t realize just how tall the beasts are. Hitting a fully-grown moose head-on, even with a typical truck or SUV, many times results in the legs of the moose snapping and its body crashing through the windshield. Tragic.

UltArc, I’m interested in some of the mods, but I’m very hesitant on a lot of them. I seek both high mileage and vehicle reliability/longevity. Most vehicles don’t last 10 years up here. I need to weigh the mod benefits against potential degradation of Emma’s reliability, cost and effectiveness throughout all the Maine seasons. As an absurd example, running all-season tires instead of studs during the winter would definitely increase mileage, but I’d have much less vehicle control during winter storms, which are unavoidable at times.

I’d be interested in reading any specific suggestions for mods from folks. I’ll review the list and ask folks for advice, given my environmental challenges.

Thanks, everyone, for the warm welcome!

UltArc 05-02-2014 08:38 AM

Some are clear winners, like a grille block in winter. Keeps the engine warmer, it gets to temp faster, and it protects the radiator.

Others, absolutely. Like turning it into an electric vehicle might not work for you, and an underbody could be difficult for certain conditions.

I would definitely do a upper and lower grille block, and an underbody. Everything else would really be subjective on what you can do, and actual vehicle and road conditions.

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