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Old 06-29-2008, 02:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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LilRed - '03 Mazda Protege LX
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New guy with `03 Mazda Protege

Hello folks. I've been lurking for a bit less than a week, but I'd thought I'd post an intro. I have a 2003 Mazda Protege. I've always been a bit disappointed with the FE of it, although I've enjoyed it's pep around town. It's mostly used as a commuter car for me (26 mi. roundtrip, almost all suburban start-n-stop driving) and a kid shuttle. Our family also has a `01 Honda Odyssey that we need when more of us need to go somewhere.

The Protege is not known for good FE in the automatic models, despite the EPA estimates for the manual not really being much better on paper (25/31 vs 25/30 for the auto). Quite a few people seem to be disappointed in the real world FE (21 to 24 is not at all uncommon, and my first few years probably averaged 23 or 24 around town). I guess that's the price we pay for the "Zoom-Zoom" feel, which comes from a lower transmisssion gearing and performance-oriented engine cals, I'm sure. But with gas prices like they are, I'd like to start doing better.

The only eco-mod to my Protege is oversize tires, and that was not really intentional. I had a blowout a few months back and needed a new set of tires anyway. The shop did not have much in the 195/55 R15 tire size, so I got 195/60s. At first I didn't like the rubbery steering feel of the 60s, but now with gas prices, I think I'll start to like them better as they help keep the RPMs a bit lower.

Also, I know in the past I've not done the best at keeping our tires fully inflated (car and van both). Mostly, this was just due to the inconvenience of going to the station to do this, but recently, all the gas stations around here went to the coin operated air pumps. This finally motivated me to get a my own pump, which I just did yesterday. And now that I have it, it will be a lot easier to keep my tires topped up. I think this will very quickly pay back in FE and not paying for the gas station air. I also picked up a new air filter and fuel injector cleaning fluid, so I'll taking care of those soon.

I'm a contracted embedded systems guy in a Big Three R&D department, and have a degree in physics, so I enjoy seeing some of the efforts going on here. Maybe I'll try a few more things over time. This should be interesting, anyway!

** EDIT ABOVE ON MY TIRE SIZES **
My sidewall aspect ratio is now 60 instead of the stock size's 55. I mixed that up with my tire width number, which is still the normal 195.

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Last edited by sohl; 06-30-2008 at 08:37 PM.. Reason: Incorrect tire size fixed
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Old 06-29-2008, 02:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to ecomodder! How is the car on the highway? Also, do you have any FE instrumentation?
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Old 06-29-2008, 11:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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LilRed - '03 Mazda Protege LX
90 day: 29.09 mpg (US)
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SVOboy: No, I don't have any instrumentation on it, but I'm going to start calculating mileage from my gas purchases a lot more carefully now (I kinda did spot checking every few months before). Maybe I'll get a device someday. I'm decent at electronics, so I could build something or at least figure out how to set up a OBD-based tool.

The Protege is not good at typical highway speeds either. The OD gear leaves the motor spinning at ~3000 or 3100 rpm at 70 mph, so you get back to city mileage if you try to keep up with most people on the freeways. I think the best mileage I ever got on a tankful was some two-lane highway driving at mostly 55-60 mph a few years back, and I think the mpg was 28, but I wasn't focusing on being efficient at that time.

I'll let the forum know how things come along. Thanks for the welcome.
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Old 06-30-2008, 12:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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sohl -

Welcome to EM! While I have *no* proof, my impression of Mazda is that it markets itself as the "performance" Japanese car company (zoom zoom like you are saying). It doesn't mean it's *the* best Japanese performance car company, it just means that it has catered to the USA HP over MPG market (until recently).

If you have bigger tires, I would suggest a GPS/odometer comparison. It may be that your tires are making your odometer read fewer miles than you are actually driving.

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Old 06-30-2008, 01:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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cfg83: Good point on the odo. I'll do that GPS/odo comarison sometime soon!
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Old 06-30-2008, 02:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Silver Bullet - '03 Mazda Protege LX
90 day: 29.51 mpg (US)

Silver Bullet - '03 Mazda Protege LX
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Nice to see another protege on the forums-and an '03 at that (by far the best designed front end haha)!

My personal experience pre-hypermiling was about 27 city, and 31 highway on good days (I have a manual tranny and try not to tap the zoom too much).

I would definitely keep up the tenacity in your research. The low EPA numbers mean a lot of room for improvement. Imagine my shock when after my first tank of hypermiling, I returned almost 38mpg when I had been doing about 27 mpg commuting.

It's going to be a lot of work, but I guarantee you'll find it addicting.

Also consider the drag issue. Look into an air dam or two.

Good luck!
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Old 06-30-2008, 05:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Mi-chan - '05 Toyota Corolla S
Last 3: 31.74 mpg (US)

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90 day: 36.17 mpg (US)

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90 day: 27.82 mpg (US)

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welcome! i'm new too, I just started today actually. i'm trying to find some techniques like you too. i also recently inflated my tires a bit beyond the factory recommended.
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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LilRed - '03 Mazda Protege LX
90 day: 29.09 mpg (US)
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2000protege: Wow, 38? I don't suppose I can do 38+ mpg with an automatic, but I hope to do a lot better than before. That gives me a general target. Maybe 30 to 33 mpg in town is possible with an auto tranny? I probably wont be doing the more extreme things like EOC, and traffic is a bit too heavy around here to time lights really well. Let's see how I do with some of the moderate techniques and go from there.
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Old 07-01-2008, 11:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Silver Bullet - '03 Mazda Protege LX
90 day: 29.51 mpg (US)

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hey, wayne gerdes does 50mpg w/ his automatic 200_ accord.

i do understand the problem with traffic. Not saying you haven't already, but maybe look into alternate routes. That has been the biggest help for me. Roads less traveled offer plenty of space and time to perfect techniques.

keep up the good work though, just remember every little bit counts!
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Old 07-01-2008, 12:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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get a scan gauge.. far easier than some DIY solution and well worth the price.. if it helps you get 10 mpg gain you'll pay for the scan gauge in 3000-4000 miles.

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