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Old 05-14-2011, 03:40 PM   #1
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Exceed EPA estimates?

I'm going to let this post be my introduction, a log of my results plus share some experience.

I drive a 2000 Audi A8 L Quattro. It's a big, comfortable car with all wheel drive. It's not quite as heavy as it looks because the body and many structural parts are completely aluminum. When needed, the 4.2 V8 can deliver plenty of acceleration. It calls for premium gas, but I put in midgrade. Several stations around town have reg and mid at the same price so I'm glad I don't have to pay the big leap to premium. I find next to no difference in MPG between mid and premium but that probably is due to my driving style.

When I tell people the MPG that I achieve, most don't believe me. I live in West MI in sort of a tourist town with a city population of about 35,000 and 200,000 if you take into account all the burbs. The nearest big city is 35 miles away.

I've been experimenting with my driving style for about 15 yrs using the trip computer for feedback. Checking the accuracy of trip computers on 5 or 6 cars I've had in this 15 yrs, yields a pretty close correlation to my actual, calculated results.

My driving consists of 65% which I call "around town". This includes 2 lane semi country roads, commercial areas like around malls, etc and in the small "city" itself. The other 35% is on an interstate with a 70MPH limit. Michigan is fairly flat but has some gentle grades on the highway.

If I were to go on a trip as I've done several times in the last year and was careful, I can squeeze over 30MPG out of this Audi. MI has a 70 MPH limit but neighboring are 65. My normal driving is at (or slightly above), the limit but dependent on conditions. I like to stay with the flow of traffic and do not weave around other cars or "push". I usually follow other cars at 8-10 car lengths which gives me plenty of time to react to conditions.

Driving around town, my habits reflect those on the highway. I prefer a route with traffic lights instead of 4 way stops. After many years on local roads, I know which lights are long, which are short and rarely to come to a full stop. If I do start from a full stop, there is generally someone behind me anxious to pass. I'm what the kids call a "slow starter". Ironically, when passed by a kid (or other "fast starter", I generally catch up to them. Yes, even at a little faster than the local limits on 40 or 45 MPH roads.

In the city area with lights every 100 yards and 30-35 MPH limit, it is totally useless to build up any speed and more than one anxious drive has "gestured" while passing.

Because the majority of my driving time is around town, I believe that is where the greatest potential for saving can be achieved. My average MPG is somewhere in the 24 MPG range. Again, this is per the computer, but when I calculate, I find if is within a decimal point or two.

The window sticker for this car showed EPA estimates of 18 / 26 MPG. As an an 11 yr old car, the fueleconomy.gov site, revised estimates are 15/22.

It might be nice to implement some of the "expert" driving tips found on various sites or offered by politicians (check tire pressure, etc) but somehow, I don't think there is much room for improvement. It goes without saying that my car is in good mechanical condition even with 150,000 miles and I do check my tires already.

This vehicle gives me everything I want in a car, with room for my large frame with every toy and gizmo. The NAV system is antiquated but I know my way around. It doesn't have blue tooth or talking radio, phone etc, but who needs that? It does a great Bose radio and things like electrically operated wheel tilt and telescope. Even the headlights position adjust depending if the car is on a grade. It has an electric shade in the back window and even electrically operated head rest position but I can't ever remember adjusting a head rest in any car ever. This is in addition to other toys like power seats and heated seat (I don't use them because I get sweaty down there).

Most of all I bought this car for less than $10,000 used last year. I buy all my cars (with the exception of a couple new VW's years ago. There is no way, I could afford a new Audi A8 and I'm happy to leave the $70 to 80K price tag and depreciation to someone else. I've had a dozen or so Audis and this is by far the nicest.
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Old 05-15-2011, 05:48 AM   #2
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Re: Exceed EPA estimates?

welcome to the site!

it is pretty well recognized that EPA estimates can be surpassed by an experienced driver in most vehicles...but nice job. with "radical" techniques some of our guys are achieving WAY over those estimates. check out our "top ten" list...some will amaze you no doubt.

if you are truly interested in attaining better fuel mileage, i would encourage you to look for a vehicle made for fuel economy. i'm certainly far right of the tree huggers, but must say that a V8 audi is not the best choice.

but, if that's your "dream" car and you can afford to drive it...
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Old 05-15-2011, 07:11 AM   #3
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Re: Exceed EPA estimates?

Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by michiganjim View Post
The window sticker for this car showed EPA estimates of 18 / 26 MPG. As an an 11 yr old car, the fueleconomy.gov site, revised estimates are 15/22.

It might be nice to implement some of the "expert" driving tips found on various sites or offered by politicians (check tire pressure, etc) but somehow, I don't think there is much room for improvement.
You can probably do better than 30mpg, depending on what you're willing to do. Your route sounds very similar to mine, which is 60% what you call "around town" and 40% 65mph freeway.

However, 30 is definitely nothing to sneeze at. Google tells me your car weighs about 4000 pounds and has 335 hp.

Is your transmission manual or automatic?

One easy and free thing you can do for fuel economy is increase your tire pressure, instead of just checking to make sure it's proper. Google tells me you likely have 225-60-16 tires. With 4000 pounds on them, you should have no detectable change in ride quality and an improvement in handling by inflating to the tires' maximum pressure instead of the pressure recommended by Audi. You may get slight center wear but not much, especially if you're enjoying that German handling. Actual length of tread life will be improved; if you were going to be completely down to the wear bars after 40,000 miles on OEM inflation, with max inflation you might have the center down to the wear bars at 40,000 with a little more left elsewhere. Protection against snakebite flats (sidewall pinched between pothole and rim) will be increased.

Do enjoy that German handling by braking less for turns (when visibility, legality, and safety allow). It saves fuel because you don't have to re-accelerate as much after the turn.
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Old 05-15-2011, 04:10 PM   #4
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Re: Exceed EPA estimates?

Thank you both for your comments. Since this car is an "L" it came with 245-45-18 tires. I recently switched from the noisy, hard riding Yokohamas it came with to Continental Extreme Contact DWS. They are fantastic in snow, quiet and smooth. I will add a couple lbs of air and see if it affects the ride but not sure I'll go to the max pressure rating.

One thing about achieving good MPG, it takes concentration. Occasionally, I get lazy and don't focus on traffic, lights, etc. I do however, monitor the trip computer. If MPG drops off, it is a reminder. Or, if it drops, there could be an indication something mechanically wrong.

Also, it is a 5 speed Audi Triptronic but I never shift it manually. These are known for problems after high miles but the previous owner had it rebuilt and there is no slipping. Audi trannies "learn" driving patterns and for me, it's shifts early because I'm light on the pedal.

I didn't mention in the earlier post, but I never use cruise. On the highway incline, I hold the pedal constant which causes it to back off a few MPH. On a downgrade, it picks up a bit. Here in Michigan the limit is 70 so I am generally over or under by 5 MPH. This obviously, doesn't work driving in the mountains but Michigan is relatively flat.

As for "enjoying" German handling and performance of the V8, I might as well be driving a Greyhound bus. I know great handling and acceleration are there for me if needed in an emergency, but you wouldn't confuse me with a 16 yr old pizza delivery kid. Most part people think I drive like an old fart. (hey I am old, but no fart)

I know there are other "tricks" such as drafting trucks and cars which I won't do. Nor will I go around corners at 50 MPH. The Audi can probably do it, but I won't. Removing weight might help, but my wife wouldn't be too happy if I left her sitting by the side of the road.

As for it being my "dream" car, let's just say, I love being pampered in a car big enough to be comfortable with luxury features and not dig deep for the $100K plus a new A8 would cost. Are there more efficient cars on the road? Yes, I'm sure but I don't think there are too many that would give me what the Audi does.

I looked at the top ten. First, I prefer four wheels and for the rest of them, it might take a shoe horn and Vaseline to get me in them. I'd like to see a "top ten" big car list. Summer is coming and with a big V8, running the AC doesn't drag it down like many 4 cylinders. I'd like to throw out a challenge to see how many other big cars with performance, comfort and luxury can match my Audi for under $10K. (and look good going it)

As for tree hugging, not me. Electric? Not a chance in hell. They just built a battery plant here in my town. Obama came to celebrate all the "jobs". At close to $350,000 of tax payer money to create each factory rat job year, it isn't something I'd brag about. Then, there is the uncertainty of people actually buying Volts, etc or some new technology coming along. Of course, if he continues to ignore calls for drilling and caters to the enviro-wackos, gas could go to $10 / gal and make $40,000 clown car attractive. If I were really looking for high MPG, I'd go for a BMW diesel. Even cheaper, I'd convert my Audi to compressed natural gas and cheat Obama and MI out of gas tax dollars.

A big alternative could be commercial transportation like rail roads. A glimpse of what it might be like can be seen in a recently released movie called, "Atlas Shrugged". It from a book written 57 yrs ago. Part of the movie dialogue indicates gasoline is $37.50 /gal. RRs are the only viable transportation.

I and a number of people from my group did go to welcome Obama when he came to see the battery plant but it wasn't exactly the kind of welcome he wanted. I lead a local Tea Party.
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Old 05-15-2011, 05:12 PM   #5
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Re: Exceed EPA estimates?

An occasional lapse in concentration is ok. If you're generally consistent, that's what matters. Sure, perfection can give you better results, but as long as your lapses aren't often the penalty will be so small it may not even be measurable.

Your highway strategy of a constant throttle position is called DWL (Driving With Load). It is a useful strategy although I don't prefer it for my routes and my vehicles.

Drafting gets a bad name because people think it's like NASCAR, but for fuel economy the best draft is about 3 seconds behind a 53 foot box trailer. Coincidentally, that's also a properly safe and courteous distance...although it does put you at risk for kicked-up gravel to chip your paint, and I bet your car is very pretty. It's probably best left to people driving beaters.

I used to feel the same way about requiring a shoe horn for small cars. I was very uncomfortable in a reasonably sized 1997 Pontiac Grand Am for 5 years and figured smaller cars could only be worse. My mind was changed by a 2008 VW Rabbit. I sat in it and was immediately comfortable, feeling like I was in a very similar position to my full size extended cab pickup with very similiar elbow and knee room. I drove it for 3 years, getting 170%+ of its EPA estimate. I now accept that there could potentially be compacts or even subcompacts in which I could fit.

That said, I still prefer big cars, and currently drive a 1980 Buick LeSabre ("Christine" along the left side of my posts). It's not really luxurious and it's slower than molasses but I sure love it. I'm not getting 30mpg from it, but it doesn't yet run right...I'm learning to work on it. I hope to get 30 when it does run properly, or if not, after some upgrades.

You can check the "hypermile sleepers" thread for big cars that can get good fuel economy. There's a link to it in my sig.

As for the politics, political discussion is mostly not allowed on this site (it has not worked well for us in the past) but political issues specifically about fuel economy and directly related are generally allowed, usually in the General Discussion forum.
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Old 05-16-2011, 01:19 PM   #6
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Re: Exceed EPA estimates?

totally with ya jim. we all have priorities, and obviously you feel like you need a luxury car, but you'd like to squeeze out as much mpgs as possible.

i've got a history of being a nonconformist: i don't consider my political view...well "political." it's more like common sense, practicality, and a TRUE future direction. let's just say that we both enjoy tea it seems.

that said, luxury really cant be used in the same discussion as fuel economy(unless we're talkin a luxury V6 or 4 banger...possibly). but, again, to each his own. what upsets me is those that drive huge cars/trucks/suvs that dont really need them, and then they complain about gas prices and trying to make ends meet...then they want a bailout on their mortgage. and those that STILL idle endlessly ...rant over.

i have vowed never to own anything but a 4 cyl car for the rest of my life. global warming? nope, not convinced. i simply want to reach retirement sooner and more comfortably. i posted a thread a while back comparing larger vehicles to efficient ones, illustrating how Americans view there lives...not in total cost, but in cost per month...http://www.gassavers.org/showthread....ght=cost+month
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:53 AM   #7
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Re: Exceed EPA estimates?

If my choice of an Audi was strictly for the luxury part of it, I can see your point. However, it is more than that. First, there is my body. It's not that I'm some 400 lb Sumo wrestler or candidate for America's biggest loser. Yes, I am a big guy but arthritis and other ailments make it hard to bend. Getting in / out of the A8 is easier. In fact, it is easier than with a new A8 because they (and all newer cars) are built with lower roof lines.

Going beyond the niceties of my current Audi, I live in MI where it's been known to snow. On more than one occasion, the all wheel drive "Quattro' system has kept me from needing a tow truck, or worse.

Then, there is the dollars and sense. If I were to buy a 2-3 year old Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, etc (economical or not), which would be in the same price range as a 10 yr old Audi, I wouldn't be getting as much value. Audis are expensive to maintain but I believe an older, well maintained Audi will need less repairs and go for many more miles than American cars. (300-400K is not unusual). Hondas and Toyotas also have this longevity but do not have the size.

Just about every other brand (American and Foreign) turns into a rust bucket after 10 yrs. Since the early 80s, it is rare to find a rusty Audi because they dipped the entire body in galvanize stuff. My last Audi made of steel carried a 12 yr body rust out guarantee. Both my current A8s have a complete aluminum body and chassis so rust is not an issue.

The total cost of ownership goes beyond the price of gas and certainly would include a car payment/interest. There are a couple things about Audis that do cost more. License fees in MI are based on original cost of the car. At $80,000 when new, my registration is steep. Because of the aluminum body and potential repair in an accident, insurance cost more too.

I believe these are offset by everything else. I posted a thread "big car mileage" hoping to get replies but all I got were a couple citing some American makes that may be the same size but hardly in the class or price range of an Audi. I mention the price not to be snobby, (I only paid $10,000 for this car).

In that thread, a post mentioned some cars with a highway EPA approaching what I get. Since I am not a traveling salesman, it misses the point. I'd like to see comments from others who drive any full size car (V8 or V6) and attain an "AVERAGE" MPG which are near the EPA estimates for highway MPG. This same issue (Average MPG) also might be missing the point with those who talk about great MPG on the highway. I'm inclined to believe most people do a lot more "local" running around and at lot more gas is used for this than highway miles.
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