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stefanv 07-09-2017 09:50 PM

New member from Ontario, Canada
Hi EcoModders:

I live near Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and drive there most weekdays (44km each way) for work. I'd estimate my driving at about 80% highway and 20% city.

I recently became interested in improving the fuel economy of my 2001 Saturn SL1 after researching a more ambitious project, converting a Triumph TR-7 to a viable electric car, and discovering it would be far more costly than I first thought.

I've had the car since 2009, and have been tracking fuel economy since the day I got it, but I no longer have records prior to 2014. Since 2014, my FE has steadily gotten worse:

2014 - 5.85L/100km, 40.0mpg (US)
2015 - 6.24L/100km, 37.5mpg
2016 - 6.46L/100km, 36.2mpg
2017 - about 6.2L/100km, 38mpg until recently

The improvement in 2017 was probably due a tune-up late last year.

However, the last two tanks, I've been driving more carefully. The first tank I just did it by the seat of my pants, and achieved 5.55L/100km, 42.1mpg, which was the best single-tank fuel economy I'd ever recorded.

After that, I bought a Bluetooth OBDII adapter and the Torque app. I only managed 5.73L/100km, 40.8mpg on the next tank, but I was stuck in a few traffic jams on that tank. But that's still way better than my average this year.

When I get interested in something, I go all out, so I plan to start doing some mods:
  • smooth wheel covers (probably fibreglass)
  • rear wheel fairings
  • grill block
  • gap filling
  • full width air dam
  • delete power steering
  • build a comprehensive carputer to replace the Torque app, and provide:
    • DWL cruise control (limited to highway use since it can't shift gears)
    • load-sensitive A/C
    • DFCO at lower RPMs

I've mostly been reading the non-mod hypermiling threads for now in order to improve my driving habits. I look forward to reading more of your exploits, and will share mine here too.

I went through all my photos, and discovered that the only good photos I have of my car are at the dealer's the day I picked it up:

The red SW1 in the background was my old Saturn, which had 340,000km on it the day I left it there.

Daox 07-10-2017 11:00 AM

Welcome to the site. The SL1 is a great care for FE. It sounds like you're off to a great start.

ECO-AKJ 07-10-2017 11:27 AM

Welcome to Ecomodder, we are happy that you have joined the fuel sipping team!

I use the Dash Command app myself and skins for it can be found at, I personally prefer it myself.

Here are two of the many skins available:

Here are some links that help:

65+ Vehicle modifications for better fuel economy -

100+ Hypermiling / ecodriving tips & tactics for better mpg -

JockoT 07-10-2017 11:54 AM


MetroMPG 07-10-2017 12:33 PM

Welcome, stefanv!

The SL1 is a great platform for modifications. There are lots of threads here about them.

Consider also a 5th gear swap, depending on which ratios you have. It's not a difficult job, from what I recall. (Doesn't even require removing the transaxle - the gear set is under the stamped steel cover on the end.)

stefanv 07-10-2017 12:40 PM

The 5th gear swap sounds intriguing. I'll look into it. I guess I can tell what ratio I have by my speed vs. rpm in 5th gear.

EDIT: Did some quick research, and it might not be a good idea. Right now, there are a lot of place on my drive to work where I can stay in 5th gear right down to 60km/h. With the gear swap, I think I'd have to downshift. Since most of my driving is on paved country roads (speed limit 80km/h, 50mph), the gear swap probably wouldn't be such a good idea.

MetroMPG 07-10-2017 12:43 PM


stefanv 07-10-2017 12:57 PM


Originally Posted by MetroMPG (Post 544862)

From reading that thread, it seems I already have that 5th gear in my tranny:


Originally Posted by cfg83 (Post 31582)
I think the most economical way to get these is to go to a junkyard, find an S?1 with a manual tranny, and remove the 5th gear yourself.

stefanv 07-20-2017 10:15 AM

Just had my first 700km tank, the furthest I've ever gone, and way too close for comfort just a few months ago. There was still 10L (2.6 USgal) left in the tank, and my fuel economy was 5.19L/100km (45.3 USmpg).

So far, I haven't done any mods to my car except I temporarily put some pipe insulation into the front grill (mostly to see if the car would overheat or not; I don't expect it helps the aerodynamics as much as a full smooth grill cover would).

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 07-20-2017 02:15 PM

How many years are you expecting to keep this car? Have you ever considered any engine mod?

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