Honda Civic Hybrid – a month in review

I received possession of my new car on July 2nd. Meghann and Peter dropped it off after filling it up and running it through a wash. It’s been fun to drive, for the little driving I actually do.

A few days after driving it around the car and I had a brief discussion and the car was christened: Eiffel. Contrary to what you might think, this has nothing to do with Paris but rather the group Eiffel 65 which had the one-hit-wonder song “Blue [da ba de]”. Given that Eiffel is a very pale blue (or a very blue gray — you pick) it seemed appropriate. That and the song was really popular when I first met Benjamin. Apparently I have a distinctive head bop that I do when listening to it which he finds comical.

I had the windows tinted on July 24th and the tint really helps control the heat from our bright Colorado sunlight.

After driving my new car for a month I finally stopped to fill it up today. I went 500.7 miles on 10.104 gallons of gas, or 49.55 MPG. This number is slightly lower than that reported by the car (50.7) but close enough. At $26.42 to fill it up, that’s $0.053 per mile. If a 2004 model can get almost 50 miles to the gallon, why aren’t all 2010 models in that ballpark? What the hell is wrong with the automotive industry?

Moreover I predict at my next fill-up that my overall MPG will be slightly higher because it wasn’t until half way through this tank that I discovered the secret to Auto Stop. With the air conditioner off, when the car comes to a stop it shuts down the engine and starts it back up again when it’s needed. But not always. For the longest time I wasn’t able to discern what the magic sequence was to get the car to go into Auto Stop. I theorized that it was temperature related for a while but eventually ruled that out. After a few days of closely paying attention I figured out the key: the clutch.

When coming to a full stop I was correctly keeping the car in gear to enable the regenerative breaking but I was taking it out of gear without the clutch. Like any manual transmission there’s that sweet spot when the engine RPMs and the transmission ratio coincide to allow slipping the car out of gear without the clutch. In Eiffel that point is just after the car stops the regenerative breaking process when coming to a stop. If you don’t use the clutch, however, the car will not go into Auto Stop. This means for the first half tank of gas I was burning gas at almost every stop for no good reason.

Now that I know the secret I get a much more predictable entry into Auto Stop although there are still some times the car takes itself out of Auto Stop or just won’t go into it when I expect it to. My speculation is that the engine turns on to maintain the temperature of the catalytic converter which operates optimally at specific temperatures.

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cpeel

I'm a gay geek techie space nerd living in Seattle, WA.

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