Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Brownsville, TN U.S.A.
Getting Started in Max MPG
OK, so if you are intent on reading this you have decided to drive your Cobalt in a manner that will get you the best mpg possible. The following guide is meant to help you get started down that road.
Unlike the other guides I have posted this one is not a combination of things I have gathered from the internet. I am writing this one myself, so feedback and constructive criticism is appreciated.
Before we go any further I would like to say that if you just bought your Cobalt I would recommend that you do not attempt to drive it for max mpg until you have had a while to get used to the car under normal conditions. Take a couple of thousand miles to get used to her, and how she handles.
Now that you have gotten used to your Cobalt and how it behaves there are a few things that you are going to need to keep in your car. You will need a pen, little notebook, and calculator.
You also need to get to know the functions and displays on your DIC (Driver Information Center). You will use most of these functions on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at the ones that you will be using to max your mpg. You can scroll thru the various displays by pressing the INFO button on your steering wheel.
Tire pressure- There are two screens for this, and they tell you the current air pressure in each tire using psi the same way a regular tire pressure gauge does. I recommend looking at these numbers daily. Generally GM recommends 30-35 psi depending on the tires on the car. The info sticker on the frame of the car inside the driver’s door will tell you what they recommend for your car. This number is meant to give the best combination of mpg and handling. I personally ignore this number as I am not interested in a good combination. I am interested only in a tire pressure that will give the best mpg without causing extra wear on the tires. Your tires also have a number on the called max pressure. This number is the max you should ever have in your tires during normal use. I go a little less than what is listed, running my tires at 38-40 psi. Whichever numbers you choose to use make sure to check your tire pressure all the time and adjust as needed.
Average MPG display- This screen will vary a little by what year you have some say ECON and some say AVG MPG. Some have a little more info that others like 30 mpg vs. 30.1 mpg. Your average mpg can be reset using the arrow button. Just push down and hold it until it goes back to 0. This display is a little more accurate than the instant display below, but is still effected by a number of factors. The harder you drive your car the worse the accuracy of this display will be. A lot of owners that drive their cars hard feel that they still get good mpg. Conservatively driving your Cobalt this display will be within 1-2 mpg of the pump.
Instant MPG display- This screen tells you the mpg you are getting at that moment. It is usually two or three mpgs off, and if you slow down or speed up it takes a little bit to catch up. It is still a good tool in keeping your mpg constant, just keep in mind that it's a little off. You can help its accuracy by using slow changes to the gas pedal position.
Trip A and B- You will use one of these all the time to check your actual mpg at the gas pump. Pick one and stick with it. Either always use trip A or always use trip B. This will avoid confusion. This function can be reset using the arrow button on the steering wheel. Just press it and hold it down until the number goes back to 0.
1. Reset your average mpg display. I know you are thinking what? Why would I do this when tank to tank mpg is what matters? Remember that you are learning this process. You need feedback on a trip to trip basis while learning the basics. Just getting tank to tank data is not enough.
2. Drive normally. Doing this a couple of times, while resetting your average mpg display each time will establish a baseline mpg for your car and will give you a starting point to monitor your progress. Write down the average mpg after each trip.
3. Use this forum. Read the information in the “All about mpg” section and begin slowly applying the techniques that you find into your daily driving. Continue to record your trip to trip results and resetting your average mpg display after each trip. Also continue to write down the results of each trip and make notations of each trip like what techniques you used and what the driving conditions were.
4. Give this a couple of months. During this time you can work out what techniques are working for you and your geography, and which techniques are not. The constant resetting of your trip to trip results and the constant writing down of the results will help you to develop your own techniques.
5. Switch to the gold standard. After you have developed what you feel are good results for your, your Cobalt, your location, and your trip distances, stop resetting your average mpg display after every trip. Start resetting it after every tank. Continue to write down your results and further hone your skills.
Post up. The standard on this site is to post up pics of your fuel range display right after you fuel up, accompanied with your average mpg for that tank. The reason for this is that the fuel range display cannot be reset, therefore establishing credibility for your results. Posting this info can help others develop their skills, especially if they live in the same area as you, and it gives more chances for us all to celebrate each other’s achievements. You can also start your own mpg thread containing your progress and techniques. You will find that others will benefit from this also. You can even link your mpg thread from your vehicle showoff thread. Why a showoff thread? Cause the Cobalt is hot whether used for HP and performance, or for mpg.