2009 base vibe, automatic transmission - MPG abnormally low?

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2009 base vibe, automatic transmission - MPG abnormally low?

Post by tinmanwinsagain » Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:43 pm

I bought a Vibe used with a little under 69000 miles for $5000, which I was excited about. About a week later (before I had a chance to really see for myself what the fuel economy was like with my normal usage) some hit and run driver dinged the front driver's side fender. Took it to a shop to get the wheel alignment reset, but didn't get the fender restored to save some money as I was having to pay out of pocket and was told the damage was cosmetic and wouldn't affect performance.

Since that time, my MPG has plummeted from 265 miles per 11 gallons (24mpg) to 240 miles per 11 gallons (22 mpg) to 198 miles per 11 gallons on my most recent tank (18mpg). I'm not sure how much of this is due to my driving habits (I commute to and from work short trips - 3miles each way in city traffic - and some highway miles on the weekends) or the cold weather (live in Pittsburgh), or the snow tires I have on the car, or if the accident is affecting things.

One of the things I appreciated about the Vibe was its solid fuel economy (EPA listed 26 mpg city/31 highway) but I'm getting significantly below even the low end of the EPA estimate for city driving. Is this reasonable?

Other 2009 Vibe drivers, what MPG do you normally get (city/highway/overall)? Just trying to get a sense for what is normal before deciding if I need to take it into a different shop for a second opinion on the accident.

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Re: 2009 base vibe, automatic transmission - MPG abnormally low?

Post by Caretaker » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:42 pm

26/31 are the posted mpgs for the corolla engine. Keep in mind however that the car's factory sticker does have 21-31 mpg listed underneath the large 26 city mpg number, stating that the "expected range for most drivers is 21-31." In DC suburban traffic, I got 30 or 31 each time I filled up for over 6 years. Now driving in Cali rolling hillsides and horrendous traffic, I am getting 28 or 29 and even sometimes 30 mpgs when I can get some freeway miles in. I have NEVER gotten 26 mpgs. I would think I would have to be driving block to block in NYC to get down to 26 mpg. My car drinks oil like it is Zinfandel, and I have no idea how much time I left on my catalytic converter given all the extra oil being vaporized. This too should be taking a toll on my mpgs. As such, your numbers are way too low. I first thought you had a Camry engine which would account for those low mpgs but when I re-read that you have the base model, I wanted to respond. Unless you are driving up mountainous roads with an ambient outdoor temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit, I can only conclude that there is something wrong with your engine. Short of putting in new iridium spark plugs and Denso ignition coils, along with a clean air filter and tires filled to 34 psi, I can't imagine what would be keeping your mpgs that low other than high hills/mountains, winter gas blend and sub 20 degree temperatures. I can't see how an accident would have any impact on your mpgs.

In summary:

average mpgs outside of dreadful California: 30
average mpgs in highway driving at 75-80 mph: 33 (these Corolla engines have a sweet spot at 80, but they do suck down the gas)
highest average mpg on the highway doing 55 mph the entire trip: 43
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **

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Re: 2009 base vibe, automatic transmission - MPG abnormally low?

Post by jolt » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:30 am

You said "snow tires" and cold temperatures will kill gas mileage of any vehicle on the road. I will generally get about 2/3 of the mpg over the winter as compared to the mpg I would get over the summer because of the temperature difference between winter with cold start ups, and summer. Cold temps produce denser air which is harder to push the car through, also lower tire pressures which make the tires rolling resistance go up. Don't forget about pushing through the snow and slop on the roads that would reduce your MPG too. EPA mileage numbers do not hold much water with me as they are done by the manufacture and are not real world driving.

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Re: 2009 base vibe, automatic transmission - MPG abnormally low?

Post by vibrologist » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:33 am

I totally agree with jolt on this.
And then: cold starts kill the mileage. You said you do short distances. If your car cools down between the starts you have the worst case scenario for fuel mileage. Keep your rpm as low as you safely can manage. I often commute without going over 2300 rpm.
'05 Vibe

"It is important to know the difference between 'accurate' and 'precise' even if you are neither!"


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