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Old 11-17-2012, 12:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Earlier lean burn tip

I know this may be something that most of you already know, but I thought I would share it just in case there is a member who never thought of it.

Now that the weather is getting colder, it takes more work to get my car warmed up to lean burn. In fact, I should really checkmy my thermostat, as I can't even keep 6 bars on the temp gauge if I run any heat. BUT, I have found that if I keep my HVAC dial set to cold, even if the fan is off, I can get to lean burn two to three miles sooner on my commute. It makes sense, as heat "leaks" in even when the fan is off, but I almost wonder if the ECU allows lean burn a little earlier if sees the HVAC is dialed to cold. I can't wait until my OBDII C&C gets here so I can check.

Point is, it may not be the most comfy on a cold morning, but don't leave your dial on warm unless you are heating the cabin.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaypee171 View Post
I know this may be something that most of you already know, but I thought I would share it just in case there is a member who never thought of it.

Now that the weather is getting colder, it takes more work to get my car warmed up to lean burn. In fact, I should really checkmy my thermostat, as I can't even keep 6 bars on the temp gauge if I run any heat. BUT, I have found that if I keep my HVAC dial set to cold, even if the fan is off, I can get to lean burn two to three miles sooner on my commute. It makes sense, as heat "leaks" in even when the fan is off, but I almost wonder if the ECU allows lean burn a little earlier if sees the HVAC is dialed to cold. I can't wait until my OBDII C&C gets here so I can check.

Point is, it may not be the most comfy on a cold morning, but don't leave your dial on warm unless you are heating the cabin.
Very interesting theory, I hadn't thought of that possibility. And, you are right on the money about heat "leaking" even with the fan off. A little trick that Right Lane Cruiser shared with me is that in the winter, setting the temperature at 70F with the fan off and the airflow directed at the feet and windshield/defrost while moving will keep the windshield from fogging up as bad from the airflow as long as you don't set the climate control to recirc. On a related note, I have a block heater and use it all year long (takes less time in summer than winter) and I can literally start out on summer mornings with the ability to be in lean burn immediately as the coolant is already above the 155F threshold. Definitely not as comfy driving on cold mornings so I drive, as I say, "DWG" aka, driving with gloves.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a block heater...sitting in a box on my shelf. I need to get it in. On a side note, I wonder if the ECU even checks the setting, as it goes lean burn sometimes before the gauge hits six bars if the dial is on cold, but it is well after six bars if it is set to warm.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:13 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Its the valve that stops coolant flow to the heater matrix. Basically you have just reduced the coolant volume and hence heat capacity of the system, so the same energy use and hence waste from the engine will result in a higher coolant temperature.

On a cold morning I like to get to 91C if i can before using any heat, within seconds of demanding cabin heat it will drop to ~ 82C purely due to the cold water n the matrix mixing in with the coolant, and thats the large system with stat open and radiator circulation.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yep.. I've not tried any specific lean burn tests, but leaving the dial at 60F will allow the engine to warm up much more quickly.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Makes you realize how much energy it takes to heat the car.

It gets painful when you start looking at electric heater options for electric cars - the heater eats up miles of range pretty quickly.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:02 AM   #7 (permalink)
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..yeah, no kidding. I'm looking at what wattage liquid heater to install in my Insight and having ridden in other EVs that used 3kw liquid heaters, I'm inclined to aim for 5kw. Of course once it is up to temperature, I'd cycle it so the runtime wouldn't be constant but a higher output gets the windsheild deiced much faster than the 1liter engine would.

Unfortunately when it will take around 9600 watts to cruise at 60mph, a 5kw heater adds another 50% power usage on top of what I'd already be using for the duration that the heater runs. Ouch! I'm comfortable with the cold but really need that heat to deice/defrost, it gets cold in Minnesota and the ICE heat sometimes doesn't cut it, especially when we get interior frost.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If I am correctly understanding what you mean by "leaking." Then I would like to say that in my car, when I push the button that seems to symbolize air circulating in the cabin the warm air stops, "leaking." Or at least it feels like it stops leaking. This has seemed to hold true for all cars that I've driven, which is not really that many.

That is too say, when I drive and the only thing pushed is, "off" and there is nothing on the display, warm air comes through by my feet. When I push that button, I can no longer feel it. I don't really know how, or if this would affect the topic of lean burn, or what is actually happening when I push that button, just that I can no longer feel air coming through.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:36 AM   #9 (permalink)
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It's not leaking, unless you have the recirculation option turned on, the cabin is open to the outside. The blower isn't running but the car is designed so that the pressure going through the cabin air inlet is going to flow air into the car. If the recirculation is turned on, it closes that inlet preventing the cold outdoor air from entering the car. Even if the recirculation mode is enabled, the heater core is still in the colder passenger compartment and circulating the coolant if the heater knob is in any position that represents a demand for heat even if the system is off which is why you need to have it set to full cold to prevent that circulation. This also allowing the car to only heat the volume of water that is in the engine block, when you turn the knob to heat and its cold outside, even with it off and on reciculation, the temperature of the coolant will drop from ~195 down to 175-180 or so if its very cold and usually take about a mile to get back to 195 if you are driving at highway speeds. If its VERY cold or you aren't on the highway you might not see the thermostat open in any condition. I've driven home on 30mph side roads once for 15 miles when it was -10f outside once and never even saw 180 degree engine temperature. At that cold of outside ambient temperature you don't even see lean-burn unless you've modified the car to see warmer intake temperatures such as with a sensor modification or directing the intake near the warmer exhaust air. I'm not sure if the ambient sensor behind the bumper has anything to do with triggering lean-burn or not but I haven't made the intake modification myself as it's not worth the cost for me to make the modification, so I'm not completely certain that would give me lean-burn when it gets that cold or not. With the increased aero drag and rolling resistance at those temperatures, I'm not certain I could maintain highway speeds under lean-burn anyway as it becomes a struggle even at 10f or colder to even get a 60mpg tank with predominantly highway driving when with the same driving style in the summer would get me 80+mpg.

Of course you really need air flow in the cabin when its below freezing or you'll fog up the windsheild or even flash frost the inside of the window if you don't have at least some air going through to the windsheild so I usually drive with the blower on minimum speed with the defrost/floor mix to avoid having the A/C compressor turn on and wait until the car is at least 6 temperature bars before even considering turning the knob to heat if I'm thinking about MPG. Problem is the battery below about 20f goes into regen extravaganza if its cold to warm itself up so you need a clutch switch to disable that or crank the heat as soon as you can actually get some heat out of the engine. Since you don't get more than about 4 bars of assist or regen in the extreme cold until it warms up and that it takes so much gas to heat the battery either of the two ways, I suggest the clutch switch route.

The cold makes this car a PITA to drive starting at about 20f or colder but once it's below 0f its a real bear to drive unless you start ignoring the MPG when the car takes more power to drive down the road as it requires more power to move down the road, not to mention the weird things like losing lean-burn and having the battery try to go into battery survival mode. Sucks that it requires vehicle modifications to overcome all of this.
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