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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?

Daox 07-20-2017 02:28 PM

Congrats, thats a great tank!

stefanv 07-20-2017 04:02 PM


Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr (Post 545561)
How many years are you expecting to keep this car? Have you ever considered any engine mod?

Not planning any engine mods for now, although I hope to eventually add computer-controlled DFCO, load-sensitive cruise control, load-sensitive A/C, and possibly PS delete. For now though, I'll concentrate on aero mods.

I plan to keep it as long as it is sound and keeps running. At 280,000 km, it's still doing quite well.

MetroMPG 07-20-2017 05:32 PM

Decent numbers - congrats!

Are you running an OBD-II gauge? I'd be reluctant to block the grille in summer heat without a way to monitor coolant temps.

In my car, you can't hear when the cooling fan comes on when the car's in motion, and you want to avoid that!

stefanv 07-20-2017 05:49 PM

I'm using the Torque app and a Bluetooth OBD-II adapter. So far, even on a 29C day, the engine has never gotten any warmer than it did before. Even the intake temperature (the intake is just above and in front of the rad) has stayed steady at ambient temperature (except after parking the car, when the whole under-hood area warms up as the engine sheds its heat).

The Saturn has a rather large opening underneath, in front of the air dam, and I suspect that most of its cooling air comes from there. I'll see if I can find/add some sort of indicator as to whether the fan is coming on.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 07-25-2017 01:30 AM


Originally Posted by stefanv (Post 545572)
I hope to eventually add computer-controlled DFCO, load-sensitive cruise control, load-sensitive A/C, and possibly PS delete. For now though, I'll concentrate on aero mods.

Load-sensitive A/C may not be so hard to install, I remember it had been fitted to some smaller econoboxes with 1.0L engines (not sure if the Chevy Metro had them though).

stefanv 07-28-2017 05:49 PM

Well, my latest tank only achieved 5.48L/100km (42.9mpg US) vs. the 5.19 of the previous tank. However, that's almost exactly equal to my average for the three tanks before that, so I guess I'm still doing alright.

I'm about to take a week off work and do a bunch of eco mods, so we'll see how it goes after that. Ideally, I'd do A-B-A testing for each mod, but I'd have to go on long drives for nothing to do that, so I'm just going to see how the collections of mods do going forward, compared to the four pre-mod tanks.

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