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Old 05-01-2012, 09:00 PM   #1
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1997 Civic HX

Hello all! New to the forums and also new to my 97 Civic HX. Got it from the second owner (Car was passed from mother to daughter) about a month ago for $2700. Has 190k on the odometer which scared me a little bit but the fact that there was complete records on everything done to the car (Even oil changes ever 3k miles) I had to buy it. Plus the fact that the motor and transmission feel brand spanking new made me feel it was a definite must have.

Now that I've had it for about a month and have filled the tank a few times I've noticed that I'm not really getting the MPG's out of it that I would like. My daily commute is in the off traffic hours which is nice and I can cruise at 65-75MPH constant the entire way without having to do too much stop and go (Only about 4 miles in the city) but the 3 tank fills I've done have come out to 36MPG average. I know my driving style could change a little bit but for those of you know the area and my commute: ( http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Pleasa...vUfDg&t=m&z=11 ) know that the Sunol grade is a pain to get up.

My question is this: Is there anything I can add to this car to more closely monitor my fuel consumption or maybe something like adding a "Lean Burn" LED or some sort of package deal that'll show me stats while I'm driving? I've done a little reading around and have found a lot of confusing articles and none of them seem really easy. Not to mention that some of the threads here are older and all of the image links are broken making the "See picture" really difficult to do.

Look forward to posting here more often!
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:52 AM   #2
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Re: 1997 Civic HX

First, check your tire pressure. The recommended pressure on the placard is set for ride comfort. For efficiency, you want to set it higher. Preferably, set it at the max sidewall. The ride will get rougher, and there is a slight chance traction might reduce on wet pavement, but cornering and tire life will also improve with the rolling resistance.

Next, if you are comfortable doing so, slow down. Air resistance quadruples every time speed doubles. For most cars, 60 mph is the peak speed before fuel economy starts to really drop. Slower will be better. The EPA tests at 55, but I understand the need of keeping momentum up for inclines.

A '97 should have an OBDII port. This is the plug for a diagnostic scanner. There are gauges that plug into the port that give a lot more info than the dash gauges. With the instantaneous feedback, they can help with keeping the car in an efficiency zone. They can also pull codes too. Don't know of any that detect lean burn, but they have instant mpg gauges that should do.

The scangauge2 is probably the oldest and most well known, and the company has a more economical model now. The Ultragauge is also popular here. It's cheaper and prettier. It sells for $70, and the Scangauge retails at $140, but can be found cheaper. There are one or two threads discussing the differences.

There are others which tend to cost more, and chinese knockoffs of the scangauge. There also bluetooth and wired plugs to allow smart phones and laptops to perform the same function. Some of the software can change the tune of the car. But this outside my area of knowledge.

Most of the improvement will be from technique. Is the car a manual or auto? Some things work with one but not the other. But first, just start paying more attention down the road and anticipating stops and speed ups. The quickest sum up on hypermiling I've heard, is to think of the car as a bicycle. You don't pedal up to a stop. You coast to it.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:57 AM   #3
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Re: 1997 Civic HX

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Old 05-02-2012, 09:41 AM   #4
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Re: 1997 Civic HX

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Originally Posted by trollbait View Post
First, check your tire pressure. The recommended pressure on the placard is set for ride comfort. For efficiency, you want to set it higher. Preferably, set it at the max sidewall. The ride will get rougher, and there is a slight chance traction might reduce on wet pavement, but cornering and tire life will also improve with the rolling resistance.

Next, if you are comfortable doing so, slow down. Air resistance quadruples every time speed doubles. For most cars, 60 mph is the peak speed before fuel economy starts to really drop. Slower will be better. The EPA tests at 55, but I understand the need of keeping momentum up for inclines.

A '97 should have an OBDII port. This is the plug for a diagnostic scanner. There are gauges that plug into the port that give a lot more info than the dash gauges. With the instantaneous feedback, they can help with keeping the car in an efficiency zone. They can also pull codes too. Don't know of any that detect lean burn, but they have instant mpg gauges that should do.

The scangauge2 is probably the oldest and most well known, and the company has a more economical model now. The Ultragauge is also popular here. It's cheaper and prettier. It sells for $70, and the Scangauge retails at $140, but can be found cheaper. There are one or two threads discussing the differences.

There are others which tend to cost more, and chinese knockoffs of the scangauge. There also bluetooth and wired plugs to allow smart phones and laptops to perform the same function. Some of the software can change the tune of the car. But this outside my area of knowledge.

Most of the improvement will be from technique. Is the car a manual or auto? Some things work with one but not the other. But first, just start paying more attention down the road and anticipating stops and speed ups. The quickest sum up on hypermiling I've heard, is to think of the car as a bicycle. You don't pedal up to a stop. You coast to it.
Since when I got the car the front tires were totally trashed I went and got a new pair of shoes and then got an alignment done because the toe was pretty bad. I asked them to set the psi in the tires to the max as listed on the sidewall. Of course, I can check myself later in the day and fill them up more (I think the max is 44PSI) but California freeways are scary as all hell when there are wet conditions so I kind of don't want to over-fill them.

About slowing down - I wonder if someone can help me better understand how the fuel saving in the Civic HX works. Now I know that it has VTEC-E which effectively drops off 4 of the valves (And I can definitely feel when it kicks on on the freeway) but it also supposedly has lean burn? Now I've been doing some reading and most people are saying that lean burn only works in top gear past 2500 RPM which would put me around 65-70MPH

I'll have to take a look at Ultra-Gauge and Scangauge, those sound like they'd be pretty neat to have in my car. Definitely would be useful for instant feedback - and would probably pay for themselves in the long run.

The car is a manual, and I'll be sure to start monitoring my driving habits a little better. I guess I was just used to getting more than the EPA rated out of my CRX, and am disappointed that this newer Civic isn't getting the 44 it's supposed to.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:22 AM   #5
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Re: 1997 Civic HX

yes, the near 200k miles shouldn't be an issue provided the proper maintenance was kept up to date. i had an LX with over 200, and it ran like new.

now as for the FE(fuel economy)...your "44" quote is based on the old epa estimates for ALL highway driving. i'll be the first to tell you that the old estimates can be achieved(and surpassed) by using very tame hypermiling techniques. however, you mention some city driving. realize that new epa estimates are 31 in the city, and old would be 37. there's a link in my signature to old and new comparisons.

i think you'll be fine watching and learning here. we have guys achieving way over even old epa estimates. best wishes!
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:02 PM   #6
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Thumbs up Re: 1997 Civic HX

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Originally Posted by tastypotato View Post
Since when I got the car the front tires were totally trashed I went and got a new pair of shoes and then got an alignment done because the toe was pretty bad. I asked them to set the psi in the tires to the max as listed on the sidewall. Of course, I can check myself later in the day and fill them up more (I think the max is 44PSI) but California freeways are scary as all hell when there are wet conditions so I kind of don't want to over-fill them.

About slowing down - I wonder if someone can help me better understand how the fuel saving in the Civic HX works. Now I know that it has VTEC-E which effectively drops off 4 of the valves (And I can definitely feel when it kicks on on the freeway) but it also supposedly has lean burn? Now I've been doing some reading and most people are saying that lean burn only works in top gear past 2500 RPM which would put me around 65-70MPH

I'll have to take a look at Ultra-Gauge and Scangauge, those sound like they'd be pretty neat to have in my car. Definitely would be useful for instant feedback - and would probably pay for themselves in the long run.

The car is a manual, and I'll be sure to start monitoring my driving habits a little better. I guess I was just used to getting more than the EPA rated out of my CRX, and am disappointed that this newer Civic isn't getting the 44 it's supposed to.
Hi ,i also have a 97 hx but it's not a cal version ,some of your milage lost might be to the CA emiss. V-tec kicks in at 3k switches valve duration,more HP ,I just turned 391,000 on mine havent touched motor,cluch,balljoints,radiator still runs great,try to find some reg. gas no ethenol,that will kill your mpg,check your egr ports under the fuel rail,there is a cover there 5-6 bolts,(yes u have pull the injectors and fuel rail) The ports plug up with carbon and affect mpg,.Good luck ,great car Mike W.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:40 PM   #7
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Re: 1997 Civic HX

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Originally Posted by bowtieguy View Post
yes, the near 200k miles shouldn't be an issue provided the proper maintenance was kept up to date. i had an LX with over 200, and it ran like new.

now as for the FE(fuel economy)...your "44" quote is based on the old epa estimates for ALL highway driving. i'll be the first to tell you that the old estimates can be achieved(and surpassed) by using very tame hypermiling techniques. however, you mention some city driving. realize that new epa estimates are 31 in the city, and old would be 37. there's a link in my signature to old and new comparisons.

i think you'll be fine watching and learning here. we have guys achieving way over even old epa estimates. best wishes!
Hmm, alright. Well I just re-filled the car today and got an average of 37 for this tank. Kind of disappointing knowing that I could probably get more out of it but it gets really hot in the south bay while I'm driving through (That and Milpitas on 880 smells like garbage, so closing the windows is a must - therefore I have to use my AC for about 5 minutes).

I've noticed that when I step on the brakes it also seems like the brake rotors are warped - could it be possible that the brakes are gently rubbing against the rotors as I'm driving and creating extra friction?

Another thing that doesn't really pertain to gas saving, but I just got a new radio in it and I'm trying to enjoy HD radio - unfortunately it seems that the antenna is either really bad or is not working properly. Has anyone done any kind of antenna mod or has a suggestion on a certain brand that would get better signal?
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Old 05-08-2012, 01:59 PM   #8
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Re: 1997 Civic HX

just re-read you initial post...44 mpg hwy estimate is likely based on 55-60 mph. so your 65-75 mph is no question adversely affecting your FE(fuel economy). slow down if you can.
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:40 PM   #9
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Re: 1997 Civic HX

36-37 is perfectly normal. You've got a steep hill in your commute so there's not a whole lot you can do. You could squeeze more out of it, particularly with the crazy driving techniques some people on this site are terribly fond of, but I don't think there is anything wrong with your car. You'll only see 44+ on road trips.

Warped rotors wont hurt mpg really but you should get that fixed. It's cheaper to replace the front rotors yourself rather than take it somewhere and have them resurface your old ones. While you're in there, take the caliper pins out of the boots, clean them, then re-grease them with silicon grease.

Make sure the base ignition timing is dead on. Clean or replace your spark plugs and make sure they're NGK or Denso. Clean off the IAT. You'll need to use vice grips to break the little screws loose first. Clean out the screens on the IACV. Maybe run Seafoam through the motor, fuel tank, and oil. Remove mudflaps if you got them. If you're in a cool climate, try blocking off a portion of the radiator or AC condenser.

Increasing your engine's power will help with hilly commutes, but the cost will never be made up with the fuel savings. Keep it in lower gears on those hills.
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