IMW’s current project, dubbed ‘7,’ is a four-passenger, super-efficient, family-sport sedan that is being built to compete in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE, a competition to inspire the next generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles to break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change.
In October 2008, IMW teamed up with Hyundai to test techniques to “eco-mod” or perform modifications for the purpose of gaining more mileage per gallon, two 2009 Sonatas. Aiming to perform modifications done quickly and inexpensively, IMW worked on the two cars, testing various modifications. The final eco-modded cars took a road trip to Austin, Texas, this October for Maker Faire, where the modifications and results were displayed.
“It was exciting to put our knowledge and enthusiasm for fuel efficiency to the test,” says Kevin Smith, engineer with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency by day and committed member of IMW by night. “A lot of people are excited about future technologies but want to know what they can do with the car they own right now. We came into this project with those average working people, like us, in mind and really wanted to show simple ways to make any car run more efficiently.”
IMW members suggest the following easy ways to make any car run more efficiently:
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated.
While automobile manufactures suggest air pressure for comfort of ride, they do not necessarily yield the most fuel efficient ride or best tire wear. Instead, keep tires inflated to the specifications of tire manufactures, usually displayed on the sidewall of the tire.
Keep Your Car Cool.
Most mid-size cars have an air conditioning system that uses 6 horsepower to keep the interior of a car cool. To put this in perspective, that same mid-size car uses 22 to 24 horsepower to run at highway speeds. Tinted windows can reduce energy consumption of the air conditioning system in half, reducing solar energy input into the car and increasing fuel efficiency by 12.5 percent. Be sure to check on regulations on tinted darkness in your state.
Not All Oil Additives Are “Snake Oils.”
Oil additives promising to increase your fuel efficiency can be misleading. Even IMW referred to these products as “snake oils,” highly suspicious that the additives would make good on there promises to help reduce mileage by increasing oil viscosity and enhancing engine productivity. However, the team tested several oil additives with some surprising results. Some of the additives were re-dubbed “fish oils,” -- that stuff that’s good for your heart -- after testing showed a significant increase in fuel efficiency.
Invest in Fully-Synthetic Oil and Transmission Fluid.
Synthetic oils enhance the overall performance of an automotive engine, helping reduce an engine’s energy use, increase the intervals between oil changes and decrease petroleum oil consumption and waste. Synthetic transmission fluid helps reduce energy losses in automatic transmission, increasing the total powered transmitted to the wheels that would have otherwise been dissipated as heat. Similarly, other synthetic lubricants for cooling, braking, as well as power-assisted steering systems can help increase the efficiency of those systems and increase your vehicles overall mileage and performance.
Faster speeds guzzle more fuel. Not only will driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph increase fuel efficiency by 7 percent according to IMW tests, it will help ensure you get to where you’re going this holiday season.
For information on recommended modifications, including how-to videos and interviews, visit www.HyundaiEcoMods.com.
Remember, always check your manufacturer’s warranty before making any of these or other changes to your vehicle.