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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

I used to have my lovely automatic 2004 EX 2WD, which was getting at least 20MPG pretty much constantly, regardless of my driving habits or environment (city/highway). On long flat highway trips I managed to push it as far as 30MPG. Unfortunately the E fell victim of an idiot, who lost the ability to comprehend stop signs.

Now I have an automatic 2003 EX 4WD & get on average measly 15-16MPG, which is absolutely horrific. Absolute best I was able to get out of it so far is 18.5 on highway going 55-60mph, like a slow ass**le. The previous E was getting just over 30MPG under the same highway conditions.

To answer any potential concerns about the accuracy of my MPG measurements:
  1. I reset the odometer at each refuel
  2. Drive until almost empty
  3. Fill up the tank till it's full
  4. Record KMs & litres filled up in Fuelly
  5. Go back to Step 1
...so the measurements are legit.

To answer any potential concerns about my driving habbits:
  • I am a very soft-footed driver
  • I try to coast as much as possible
  • I avoid using breaks as much as possible
  • I rarely use aircon or heater
  • In the new E I even tried to turn the car off on long red lights, without seeing much improvement (maybe 1MPG)
  • Basically I am extremely fuel-efficiency conscious and do everything in my power to safely increase fuel efficiency
To answer some potential questions about the new 2003 E & what I've done to it so far (some related to fuel economy and some probably not so much):
  • New breaks, rotors & calipers
  • No break pads rubbing issues, parking shoes adjusted properly
  • All 4 new OEM struts, new front lower control arm bushings, ball joints & tie rod ends, new adjustable rear upper control arms to fix E rear camber issues
  • Alignment done after install of all of the above
  • All 3 NEW engine & 1 diff mounts
  • New spark plugs
  • Fresh engine/tranny/diff/break fluids
  • Engine/tranny/diff oils smell & look good, no residue under the oil cap either
  • Tires have plenty of thread left (however are pretty aggressive, so not very fuel-efficient)
  • Tires are at slightly higher than recommended PSI
  • Battery & inverter both seem fine
  • No roof rack
  • No rear seats or heavy cargo in the back
  • No scan codes of any kind found in the system either
  • No rough idling, engine starts & runs smooth (from what I can tell)
  • The engine only has 90k on it (body has more)
  • Installed a non-OEM lockable fuel cap
  • Looked for vacuum leaks, but couldn't see/hear anything obvious
  • Listened for irregularities in fuel injector pattern and all seem ok too
My questions are:
  1. Has anyone EVER replaced/fixed anything on their Element, which has dramatically improved your fuel economy? If so, what was that magical fix?
  2. I haven't adjusted the valves, can that be causing the issue? Is there a way to check if your valves are poorly adjusted, without taking anything apart?
  3. Can vacuum leak cause such a bad fuel economy? If so, shouldn't such a vacuum leak be detectable purely based on engine idle inconsistency or can everything seem completely normal, but with a big leak in the system?
  4. Could the non-OEM lockable fuel cap cause such a difference in MPG? Maybe it's letting air in? I noticed that I don't hear air sucked into the tank, after I open it at each refuel (meaning there is no vacuum in the tank). It used to do it on my old E, where I've kept the stock fuel cap.
  5. Has SeaFoam (or commercial cleaning) made anyone's MPG drastically better?
  6. What are any other things I should check to try and locate the issue?
I am lost for ideas. Can anyone suggest anything else???

I am trying to get it fixed, before I leave for my long term trip across the states. Such horrible fuel economy will suck up my budget (since it's effectively about 30% worse than what I used to get on my old E), which could be spent on more enjoyable things than burning dinosaur juice in combustion chambers.

Please help.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi ramblerdan,

Thanks for pitching in. I was about to reply that I did post the KMs on the engine, but you beat me to it and modified your original answer. :)

The engine is around 90,000 km and body is 195,000 km.

At 90,000 kilometers it's not too soon to adjust the valves.
How much can valve adjustment realistically improve my MPG? I simply cannot imagine how that can impact the MPG by as much as 30%.. I am considering bringing the car in to local dealership to do it though, since the engine would be due for an adjustment in 10k anyways. But it costs around $250 to do it by pros, which is quite pricey. I might look into doing it myself.

Also consider cleaning the throttle body if that hasn't been done already.
Again, I am not sure if that would be productive, given how big the fuel efficiency difference is between my old 2004 E and the current 2003 E. I could probably add another 1 MPG, but I doubt it would make up for the 30% loss I am seeing.. It just feels like it would be something more "serious".

Like, for example, based on my research, I keep coming back to vacuum leaks. Even considering building a DIY smoker or taking it in to PROs to smoke the vacuum lines out and see if there is a serious leak anywhere. Because something like that could have effected the MPG by quite a bit. Just strange that I don't get idling issues, which would've been a dead giveaway of a vacuum leak.

And please add your location (Kelowna, B.C., yes?) to your profile; it could help others help you.
Done.
 

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How accurate is the odometer? Have you compared it to GPS? Tire size will effect accuracy. Mine has 225 70 16 tires, when driven 100 miles on the odo the GPS shows 95 miles. Have done this comparison several times. Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
How accurate is the odometer? Have you compared it to GPS? Tire size will effect accuracy. Mine has 225 70 16 tires, when driven 100 miles on the odo the GPS shows 95 miles. Have done this comparison several times. Just a thought.
I am pretty sure they are stock size, just much more aggressive thread (Grabber A/T2). But I will double check that next time, thanks for the suggestion. Again though, even if it was 5 miles difference to a 100, that would account to max 20-30 miles to a tank. Not a 30% difference that I am seeing.
 

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I am pretty sure they are stock size, just much more aggressive thread (Grabber A/T2). But I will double check that next time, thanks for the suggestion. Again though, even if it was 5 miles difference to a 100, that would account to max 20-30 miles to a tank. Not a 30% difference that I am seeing.
It's a 5% difference, and something to consider, every little bit helps.
 

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I would check the engine intake air filter first, for any obstructions. Secondly, I would adjust those valves. In my opinion, the mileage between valve adjustments as put out in the owners manual is some marketing gurus bs dream, not something chiseled in stone.
 

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When I read your post, my first thought was to be suspicious of that swapped out engine. Was it simply swapped in as is or did you get a "rebuilt" engine somewhere?

The others are right about the tires. The all wheel drive won't make as much difference as you'd think. Bad valve adjustment definitely could.
 

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Wait cleaning the throttle body??!?!

The throttle body should have nothing to clean since thats pre any sort of ignition, that should just be air passing through, so no cleaning is necessary.

Also you averaged 20 but could get 30mpg with your old E? Thats a huge difference when your saying your driving habits are very chill, would be very surprised to see 30mpg on a highway and drop 33% from mixed driving.

The AWD is most definitely your culprit, along with whatever your driving style is to cause that big of a jump.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wait cleaning the throttle body??!?!

The throttle body should have nothing to clean since thats pre any sort of ignition, that should just be air passing through, so no cleaning is necessary.

Also you averaged 20 but could get 30mpg with your old E? Thats a huge difference when your saying your driving habits are very chill, would be very surprised to see 30mpg on a highway and drop 33% from mixed driving.

The AWD is most definitely your culprit, along with whatever your driving style is to cause that big of a jump.
I never said it was averaging 20. I said "at least 20MPG". But to be honest, I am pretty sure it never went below 21 or 22 and that was in stop-and-go garbage Toronto traffic. Otherwise, it was mostly hovering around 24MPG. 30MPG was highway only, when I travelled cross-Canada on long stretches of straight thousand KM highway roads.

I've been tracking my new E consistently for more than half a year now and it's now sitting on a average of 16.3MPG. Lowest being 14MPG and absolute best of 18.5MPG and that's when I went on a 200km trip, which involved lots of highways. That's absolute ****.

And my habits haven't changed. I am still one of the slowest to accelerate at traffic lights and even shut down the engine entirely, when I know I will be stopping for more than 1 minute..

It can't just be AWD. The difference between AWD and non-AWD should be 2, 3 or maybe even 4 MPG. But not 8-9MPG. Something is not right.
 

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Hi friends,

Tell me one thing. I have 2013 model Toyota corolla and my car is not giving me a good mileage on petrol. Why..... How can I increase my car fuel average?
 

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Hi Alex. Just FYI I am averaging 20.32MPG (8.64KM/L) on my 07 EX AWD down here in the South Okanagan. Doesn't seem to matter how i drive. Tried 87/89/91 octane and doesn't make a difference. I didn't think it would however I did feel it responded better with 89. I have yet to take a long trip but even driving up your way on 97 doesn't seem to increase the KM/L. I push another 80KM out of the tank after the low gas light comes on to achieve this. I also have agressive AT tires on.

Seems i am just over at 11.57L/100KM. Not sure where their 25MPG comes from. This data is from Natural Resources Canada Fuel consumption ratings.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Hi Alex. Just FYI I am averaging 20.32MPG (8.64KM/L) on my 07 EX AWD down here in the South Okanagan. Doesn't seem to matter how i drive. Tried 87/89/91 octane and doesn't make a difference. I didn't think it would however I did feel it responded better with 89. I have yet to take a long trip but even driving up your way on 97 doesn't seem to increase the KM/L. I push another 80KM out of the tank after the low gas light comes on to achieve this. I also have agressive AT tires on.

Seems i am just over at 11.57L/100KM. Not sure where their 25MPG comes from. This data is from Natural Resources Canada Fuel consumption ratings.
Hi Campion565,

Thanks for posting. I didn't know about the existence of Natural Resources Canada or their awesome Fuel Consumption Ratings Search Tool! Handy resources. I've done a search for ALL documented Honda Element models and here are the results sorted by year:


For comparison, my old E 2004 2WD Automatic was right on the money, according to this table: I was getting about 9-10L/100KM (~ 28-31MPG) on a highway. No crazy hypermiling stuff, just never drove over 55mph/90kmh when road-tripping, except when downhill powered by gravity. And used to get about 12-12.5L/100KM (~ 23-24MPG) in city/mixed. Was perfectly happy with that.

Now, if I were to believe the data from that table, my current E is supposed to get 12.5L/100KM (~ 23MPG) in worst case city-only scenario, and 10.5-11.5L/100KM (~ 25-27MPG ) for highway/mixed. That's reasonable, given the 4WD/AWD. Plus I have AT tires & a big roof rack, so, let's say, take off another 0.5-1L/100KM (~ 1-2MPG) from that. That should still leave me with 13-13.5L/100KM (~ 21-22MPG), which is cool for a 4WD brick wall on wheels. Yet I am getting 16-19L/100KM (~ 15-17MPG) at best in city/mixed and 16L/100KM (~ 18.5MPG) on highways (doing everything I can to save fuel like cruising downhill, no speeding, no revving the engine above 2.5-3k, by speeding up down the hill to roll up the next one etc). That's like 30% off the estimate, after accounting for tires & roof rack. That way off. Something's gotta be wrong.

I have recently done a valve adjustment, in the Honda Dealership (so I know it's done right), but have seen almost no difference (maybe + 1MPG, but it's too soon to tell).

And the car drives perfectly fine otherwise, I take good care of it & service it myself all the time..

It's doing my head in.

I would love to find what's happening. Wouldn't even mind throwing a few hundred $ at the problem, as long as I get it fixed. Because I am planning on going on a giant road trip across America and would be awesome if I could save 30% on gas (which over thousands of KMs would add up to well over a few hundred $ to pay for itself).

Do you know if there is a place in the Okanagan that can look into this? Maybe a performance testing place? Those guys can determine if I am putting out fewer horse power, than expected, or if I am running lean/rich. That would certainly help to point me in the right direction.

It's gotta be something obvious/major to have such a negative effect on MPGs. Like a vacuum leak (but I can't hear any noise/hissing anywhere) or a bar air fuel ratio sensor (but I have no check engine light, no rough idling). I'm lost.
 

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Mine has been 18/20 city 21/23 highway since new. One highway trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway it hit 26 going 45mph.

I have checked every fill up since November 2006.
Just the way it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Mine has been 18/20 city 21/23 highway since new. One highway trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway it hit 26 going 45mph.

I have checked every fill up since November 2006.
Just the way it is.
Even that is a semi-acceptable result. It's at least close to the estimates from the screenshot table above. Mine is sitting at a measly 16.6MPG average in my Fuelly records, with an absolute high of 18.5MPG (on a highway only trip going at most 55mph). There just can't be a "factory" 30-40% variation in efficiency between models with the exact same engine & body (for all 8 years of production), without any explanation. Government wouldn't have let those things on the road with such inconsistencies.
 

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Even that is a semi-acceptable result. It's at least close to the estimates from the screenshot table above. Mine is sitting at a measly 16.6MPG average in my Fuelly records, with an absolute high of 18.5MPG (on a highway only trip going at most 55mph). There just can't be a "factory" 30-40% variation in efficiency between models with the exact same engine & body (for all 8 years of production), without any explanation. Government wouldn't have let those things on the road with such inconsistencies.
What size tires do you have on it? Have you verified the odometer compared to GPS? Drive 100 miles on open highway and see if the GPS matches the odo.
 
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