Last post on Jul 18, 2011 at 10:47 AM
You are in the Scion xA and xD
What is this discussion about?
Scion xA, Scion xB, Hatchback, Wagon
#342 of 734 Low MPG - Should I be worried?
Sep 30, 2004 (7:52 am)
I bought a 2005 Scion xA two Mondays ago, and when I bought it, it had a full tank of gas. I didn't have to refill until this past Monday, but I noticed that the odo read 289miles. I'm under the impression that that averages out to about 24.3 MPG. If I am accurate (am I?), then should I be worried and have my Scion service dept look at it? I mean, if I'm wrong then it's ok but I really shouldn't be averaging less than 30 MPG considering I use it primarily for commuting on the freeway for a cumulative (to and from) time of 30 minutes a day!
Any advise would be helpful,
Sep 30, 2004 (8:32 am)
In general, I don't think I would worry on the first few tanks of Gas. Even Toyota Engines, which are extremely well built, will tend to loosen up after a 1000 miles or so and at that point gas mileage should increase a bit. Also be careful how you drive it; people tend to often try to wring alot of performance out of small engines, which can be fun but it eats gas.
#344 of 734 gas mileage
Sep 30, 2004 (8:45 am)
Whoa, your methodology is really imprecise. There is a serious disconnect between what the gas gauge calls empty and how much gas you really have. Wait until you fill up and see how much gas you have to put in. Be careful, because xA's are notorious for shutting off the automatic fill before they are full; you have to manhandle the nozzle and hold the grip at an angle to get a complete fill.
There are other factors as well, on your first tank. The dealer may have short filled the tank, not being as careful as you will be in the future; or you may be pushing the car in your driving techniques - the thrill of newness.
First, refill it carefully. It is hard to get a full tank of gas in the xA due to the narrow filler neck, but it can be done if you manually fill it (hold the delivery handle, don't walk away). It takes 2-3 additional clicks to fill it completely; you need to keep the nozzle jammed into the neck and it won't spill this way.
Then reset the odometer and at your next refill, see how much gas you used. The gas gauge is a very inexact tool, in comparison.
I typically get 320 miles between fills. I typically put in a little over 9 gallons, to my so-called "empty" tank still has 2.5 gallons according to my manual.
My mileage was 32 mpg to start and improved to 35 after a couple of thousand miles, but I have a stick and a fairly free flowing freeway to commute, so my mileage is optimal. Figure 4 mpg less for an automatic, which would give you 28 to start improving to 31, which is about what I got with my former Echo automatic on the same commute.
Subtract 4 mpg for heavy city driving - not stop and go, just regular stop light to stoplight driving. That would be 24 to start improving possibly to 27, but it's hard to imagine that kind of mileage with city driving. Let's face it, although its a light car, accelerating is much "thirstier" work for the engine than cruising on the highway, even though there is a lot more wind resistance.
The xA gets outstanding mileage. There are other cars that I have driven that are a lot bigger or heavier that match it - the Cavalier with Ecotec and stick came in at 34, my stick Neon (one each first and second generation) came in at 35 - but none of these is a slick and well made as the xA. The xA is penalized by the fact that it's heavier than the Echo, and runs at an incredibly high rpm (at least with the stick) on the freeway. Those high rpm let you run up from 60-80 with relative ease, and the engine is so precisely made you are still getting 35 mpg (but you might get 40 with a more boring, but fuel efficient, lower gear).
Still, I'm satisfied.
A word on service: Toyotas (and now other cars) have been in the new with sludge problems. This is not one of the engines "officially" affected, but word on the street is that the coolant and oil passages in all these small, hardworking engines are very tiny and its easy to start to "cook" your oil and build up sludge. This is generally taken out by the oil filter, and isn't a problem on 3,000 mile oil changes (because you don't exceed the filter capacity and still have enough lubricating properties left in your oil), but popular wisdom is you need to totally ignore the 7,500 mile "regular" oil change interval in the owner's manual; and if you want to follow the "conservative" factory manual 5,000 mile recommendedc oil change interval, you should use full synthetic and not conventional or even synthetic blend. Synthetic blend is no good, because the conventional oil in the blend will still cook. Only full synthetic oil is exceptionall heat resistant and won't clog your filter, your engine's oil passages, or lose its lubricating capacity.
Right now the oil companies are transitioning from SL oil to SM oil; the car makers finally beat them up enough to upgrade oils across the board. The SM spec is much harder to meet, so much so that Conoco, which makes Union 76 oil, Motorcraft oil, and their own branded oil, has announced that in 5-20 and 5-30 weights it is discontinuing conventional oil in favor of blends and full synthetics.
Personally, I'd use my three free oil change coupons to get 3,000 mile oil changes at the dealer. Thereafter I'd either choose a Toyota dealer with an Express Lane for 29.95 oil changes (with no $144 "minor service bs), or I'd research the issue and bring my own oil of choice(my favorite is Mobil 1 5-30) purchased at Walmart to the Express Lane. That way I'd have the best of all worlds: dealer service with a record of every oil change; the benefit of the best oil money can buy, without a 100% dealer markup; and (thanks to the Express Lane) a low cost, comparable to an independent oil change shop. Keep in mind that you can safely bring down the cost of Mobil 1 by extending to 5,000 mile oil changes, and save yourself the time in the service waiting room. I wouldn't go 5,000 miles or more with a conventional or blended oil, though.
Toyota's own branded oil is actually Mobil Drive Clean, btw, a decent but not outstanding conventional oil.
#345 of 734 Re: gas mileage [micweb]
Sep 30, 2004 (9:31 am)
Wow thanks for all that info. I am wondering if my driving methods are decreasing the fuel economy of my xA...I don't really race on it at all (the most I've gone on it was 70mph) but what I notice is that (for my automatic xA):
1) Even when I turn the car on with the parking break, it is at the 1000 RPM mark. I don't know if that is normal or not?
2) Accelerating from park mode - when I speed up to like 20mph (I don't really think I punch it), it goes from 1 to almost 3000rpm mark just at that acceleration. Again, I'm a novice with this car and so I don't know if this is normal.
3) Sometimes it struggles on hills even if the hill is not too steep, in fact it seems like I am pushing the engine if I am going 40mph uphill on a city street. The manual suggests I keep it on D gear and keep the overdrive on so that is what I do. Basically, I never use the "2" gear. Which makes me wonder if I am handling the car wrongly by never using the "2" gear? The only time I've used it is going downhill a couple times to go slower.
4) On the freeway, I tried a couple of times to punch it from 3k rpms to 4k rpms and once it got to 4k rpms it forced itself back to (closer to) 3k rpms so I stopped trying to push the issue with it. From what I've experienced, I have to accelerate at a gradual pace in order for the engine to be comfortable going to higher speeds.
Lastly, I don't really like my oil dipstick. It's plastic and yellow, that's a first for me, and I had trouble reading the oil on it.
Any feedback would be helpful...
Sep 30, 2004 (3:03 pm)
Sep 30, 2004 (4:15 pm)
Hm, you should read up on how transmissions work. www.howstuffworks.com has good mechanical descriptions, but I don't think it's the information you need.
1000rpm is a totally normal idle speed. An engine has to be revving at least that fast to keep itself on. If you're not moving and the engine's on, you should be at 1000rpm, whether you have either brake system on, you're in park, or you're in neutral.
Then you hit the gas pedal, which actually gives more air to the engine, and then the engine feeds itself fuel to match the airflow. They combust, and the explosions speed up the engine - its revs go up. You can go up to about 6000rpm in a typical car (that's redline, the engine's physical limits).
This is a simplification, but assume each rev creates the same amount of torque (twisting force). The faster you're revving, the faster you're sending torque to the transmission. If it's not in neutral or park, the transmission multiplies the torque by a gear ratio (a different ratio for each gear) and sends it to the wheels. The wheels get the car moving.
If you only had one gear, the car's speed and the engine's speed would go up and down together, linearly. So when you're going to 20mph, if you only use 1st gear, the tachometer and speedometer would go up together. The tachometer would reach its redline at 6000rpm, which might be, say, 30mph. At that point, the engine's doing all it can, so you can't go faster without shifting. Then the car shifts to 2nd gear. (btw, I'm not using numbers that'll match your car exactly)
In first gear, 0rpm = 0mph, and 6000rpm = 30mph. (In any gear, being at 0rpm would make you stall - so when you're idling at 1000rpm, you're not in gear.) It's a linear relation in between.
In second gear, 0rpm = 0mph (like always), but 6000rpm = 60mph. Since the relation is linear, we know that 30mph = 3000rpm.
So... you were going 25mph, in 1st gear, at 6000rpm. The car shifts to 2nd gear. In 2nd gear, that same speed is achieved at 3000rpm. Therefore you see your tachometer drop from 6000rpm to 3000rpm. When that happens, your car's speed remains 30mph.
Whenever your car shifts, the rpm's look like they've been forced back.
Going up a hill is harder, and to accelerate better you have to be in lower gear (so you'll be going at the same speed as otherwise, but at higher rpms, because that gives you more torque). Higher rpm's means more noise, and it'll sound like you're straining your engine. If your engine has been broken in (you've gone more than a few thousand miles) then it's ok to do that now and then. It won't live as long if it's often at 5000rpm, but you won't spend that much time at high engine speeds. Change the oil more often if you do.
I guess you can look for a different dipstick from another Toyota that has the same dimensions, but I dunno. Amber-on-yellow does seem hard to read.
#348 of 734 Re: gas mileage [kkoan]
Oct 01, 2004 (7:58 am)
Re: Idle speed. Wait until the car warms up and then see what your idle speed is when stopped at a light in gear; take it out of gear and see what your idle speed is. 700-1000 is normal in both situations. The car is adaptive and "learns" the minimum rpm that will keep the engine from stalling and won't be creating excessive emissions. The goal is to keep idle as low as possilbe given those two constraints.
Re: RPM up a hill. Your automatic is electronically controlled and adaptive (with so called fuzzy logic, or hill logic). It is designed to "learn" your preferred mode of driving - sporty and aggressive, or laid back. Sporty and aggressive cause the engine to stay in a lower gear until a higher RPM is reached, and to downshift more readily. Laid back is the opposite. In either case, skillful use of the throttle (heavy throttle short of a downshift, or heavy throttle to cause a downshift, additional throttle just before it would shift to keep it in lower gear, etc) can be used to get more flexibility out of the auto.
Re: Mileage. Did you check your fill up requirement? What do you estimate your current mileage to be? 28 mpg is perfectly normal during break in on the automatic. Expect to hit 30 there after, but only mid 20's with a lot of city driving thrown in the mix. In otherwords, you are "normal." The EPA estimates on the Scion and Echo are way optimistic. The are on a lot of cars. A few cars make them, and a few cars exceed them, but these situations are both in the minority.
I totally wouldn't worry about mileage. You did the right thing by buying a high mileage car in the first place. I was nervous about driving techniques to maximize mileage on both my Echo and Scion, but after a while I learned that unless you are doing a lot of city driving, were jackrabbit starts penalize you, your mileage won't be adversely affected by accelerating fast to get on the freeway or to pass someone (it will be affected if you tailgate a lot and are constantly using your brakes then your accelerator - and that wears out the brakes early too.).
If you ever want to pick up a free additional 4 mpg, learn to drive a stick shift and joing a dying breed.
#349 of 734 Oh yeah, my car runs stronger with mid-grade gasoline....
Oct 01, 2004 (7:58 am)
Oct 01, 2004 (9:19 pm)
It really shouldn't. It probably doesn't. And yet, I swear my Tercel runs more smoothly on higher grade gasoline. But it can't, it wouldn't make sense.
#351 of 734 the ignition can adapt to better gas
Oct 03, 2004 (7:00 am)
modern cars have very sensitive anti-knock sensors - piezo electric chips on the engine block. They are designed to allow the engine some flexibility in "tuning" itself on the fly. The goal is to have the ignition advanced as much as possible before knocking sets in. By putting in better gas, the ignition isn't retarded so often or so early.
The New York Times had an article on this. Some cars can actually tune themselves up to benefit from one grade better. My VW Golf is EPA tested with regular, and runs fine on it, but the manual says "Premium recommended" - that's Premium, not midgrade. I have been running my latest Golf (I had a 2001 and now have a 2004) on Premium and it seems to run better, definitely gets between 1-1.5 mpg better - and that is with the factory 5-40 oil.
The other way I notice it is in holding gear longer before downshifting. Before, the Scion would rattle a little (knock). Now it doesn't. The Scion seems to benefit from midgrade, with no additional improvement for premium.
Finally, keep in mind that every economy car engine post 1999 is designed and tuned like the performance engine of the '80s - look at the much improved horsepower!