Improving mileage – not that hard after all

I’ve been driving around for more than a year now, and while petrol prices weren’t bad enough to cause a problem six months ago, at Rs. 55+ per litre now it’s like I cut a hole at the bottom of my wallet every time I visit a petrol bunk. Naturally, all those articles about hypermiling caught my attention, but it seemed like a lot of work. I gave it a half-hearted shot anyway, and saw my mileage go to 16.5 km/litre, up from the 13 km/litre I was getting before. The car is an 11-year old Maruthi 800 that’s second hand, and that’s gone through 45,000 kilometres. A little more effort and I’m now up to 19 km/litre now, a number neither my parents nor my friends believe. But that’s because no one else has given it a shot, it’s near second nature to me now to drive like this.

For 16.5 on this car:

  • Drive at a regular 45 km/h when the traffic allows. No faster than that, and some times at 40 km/h.
  • Keep the car in the low revs without letting the engine lug. This means shift up earlier, so that you’re in the highest gear possible without letting the engine lug.
  • Don’t get stuck in stop-and-go situations, idle or kill the engine (if it’s really bad and you don’t see any two-wheelers around) and wait till enough space opens up before you move.
  • Don’t slow down for two-wheelers who try to edge into your lane in the left. Blast the horn at them, overtaking from the left is illegal and you’re in the right for giving them a scare. Don’t rev the engine though, wastes petrol. Actually, be careful here, two-wheeler drivers usually swerve in and out and while it is illegal for them to do this from the left, it’s not worth the fuel savings to hit them because if they get hurt you’ll have to take them to the hospital. If you’re on your way to a hospital anyway, then it doesn’t matter, go ahead.
  • Switch off the engine if the signal timer shows more than 20 seconds. This also depends on where you are in the line. I add one second per car from the stop line to calculate, and generally only start the vehicle once the car ahead of the one immediately in front of me starts.
  • On ‘green corridor’ roads, going faster than 45 km/h is actually better because although they claim to be optimised for 40 km/h, that doesn’t take into account the time to accelerate (which is longer than you may think because of the two-wheelers and autos that fill the roads).
  • On roads like the OMR and Mount Road, you can switch off the engine (careful to keep the key in the standby position, so your signal lights will show and you still have control over the wheel) but be careful because if you turn the key fully the steering wheel locks.

For 19+:

  • Know your route. Seriously, analysing your route can help incredibly. I’ve memorised signal timings for the few signals which don’t have timers along the routes I commonly take. Sometimes the signal will change midway through the timer (if it’s a right signal like at the Velachery Bypass) so knowing when that happens helps. For me, it’s fun finding the best possible mileage, like a high score on a video game.
  • Again, know your route. Average traffic at the next turn, how the road is right after that, these are important things. Coming up the road to velachery that leads on to Sardar Patel Road, I usually shift to neutral 20m before the road narrows from 3 lanes to two. At 40+ km/h I’ll be running slightly lower than 30 km/h when I take the turn, allowing me to shift directly into 3rd gear nearly perfectly.
  • Take the widest turn possible, this is usually the one furthest away from the pavement meaning there’s no chance that you’ll have to stop for a stationary vehicle parked at the corner, a pedestrian, or a roadside vendor. There’s also the added bonus that the road is usually smoother near the median and water doesn’t usually pool there so there’s no patchwork business.
  • Following up to that, avoid flyovers when possible. Avoid stop-and-go traffic on a flyover at all costs, lots of fuel spent there.
  • Pay attention to the traffic, often you can spot a red brake light six cars down the line that’s going to propagate, gearing to neutral means you won’t have to brake when it happens.
  • Allow cars to pass you, move aside if possible and if you’re travelling slower than the average on the road ensure there isn’t someone doing the same thing next to you. That way people can overtake you easily. Besides being good manners, this has the much more important effect of preventing the other vehicle from making a bad effort at overtaking you resulting in both cars forming an arrowhead that requires braking and one giving way. You may be in the right, but hydrocarbons burn anyway.
  • When you can’t avoid a flyover or subway, accelerate on the downslope only if there is space at the end to take advantage of the speed. Allow the car to slow down at the entry of a subway to see what the story is at the other end. If it’s empty, accelerate enough to keep you going up the slope. It’s better that way than holding to an even speed up and down. Let yourself slow down on the upslope, it happens. Also in places like Spencer’s Plaza’s underground parking, stop at the bottom of the ramp a few metres from it, then go all the way up to the next flat surface and stop there.
  • Keep fuel as low as possible in the tank. I generally have between half a tank and nearly nothing in there unless I’m driving long distance.
  • For god’s sake drop your high beam, just do it. It’s not for use when there’s at least one person driving in the direction towards you.

When I did all of this, I never expected much of a result, but when I finally decided to measure how far I can go I got these results. They’re approximate because I calculate when the bar reaches the E mark on my car (the actual empty is a few notches underneath) but I fill up a little after that. Another possible error relates to the fact that the car only shows how much fuel I have when it’s on so vapour may make it look a little higher.

So I went to C.A.R.S India to fix my broken headlamp and while I was sitting there waiting for the mechanic, this guy next to me is writing down on a piece of paper the following:

Back door glass
CARS India

After the tech looks at my car and tells me how much it’ll cost and when they’ll have stock of the lamp I go back to my car, and after reversing out I look at the glass on the back door of a yellow Maruti Omni. It says, “BACK DOOR GLASS” brightly on it. I would’ve taken a photo, but I was too busy laughing.

Update: Ha ha, 110 km on 5.45 litres, 219 on 10.9, that’s 20.1 km/l nearly. I’ve got air pressure to 28 psi in all the tyres instead of the rated 26 psi and I’m driving even more carefully now. Maybe I should try drafting, like Sido says.

Syd Barrett – 2 Years Since

Really sad. Here’s a story from the Wikipedia which shows just what kind of a guy he was:

Barrett’s unpredictable behaviour at the time and idiosyncratic sense of humour combined to create a song that, initially, seemed like an ordinary Barrett tune. However, as soon as the others attempted to join in and learn the song, Barrett changed the melodies and structure, making it impossible for the others to follow, while singing the chorus “Have you got it yet?” This would be his last attempt to write material for Pink Floyd before leaving the band.

Hello lazyweb

Hello World, I’ve been waiting for the chance to see your face.

There’s a jingle that starts that way, where have I heard it? It’s stuck in my head.

Update 15/04/2010: I’ve got it! The awesome power of the Internet at work. Thanks to ‘naam’ on the Discovery Channel forums, I was able to get a copy of an episode of Travelers and get the intro theme out of it. The only reason I even found out what it was is because of the first comment here, courtesy S.a.

The danger of football, and other things

Do you know that you can’t play football on the beach over the weekend any more, not even on Fridays? There’s no problem with frisbees, cricket or volleyball, but football is simply not allowed – and I suppose neither is rugby. You know, the beach used to be like the golden age of Man: written law was needless where none oppressed, the law of Man written in our breasts. The one last bastion of freedom, where you could do almost anything you want. Now, it’s like any other place, encumbered by meaningless laws, unwritten and enforced by megaphone and wooden stick.

Update: Apparently, Adithya is responsible for this; his confession is in the comments.

I would be incensed if it weren’t for the fact that now I have to drive just a further 3km. While on driving, my attempts to emulate hypermilers has led to partial results – I think I get something like a kilometre or more per litre out of the car. Must work on the gear shifting, but this old vehicle jumps even when you’re in the same gear. It’s embarrassing.

There are funny films. I like them. I saw one today: Death at a Funeral. Worth the rent.

Amie Street – Again

Amie Street Logo I lost my old account details from more than a year and a half ago, so I have a new account there. Since it’s got that new fangled social networking thing going, here’s where you can choose to add me as a ‘friend’.
The way it works is that the most popular songs on the site cost something like 98¢ while songs that have just been added to the site are free. If I’d been in the US, Whitesnake’s latest album Good to be Bad would’ve been free. Ah, well. Here are the albums I got:

  • Crazy World – Joe Savini
  • Gangrene – Gangrene
  • self titled – censored
  • There’s something about Huckleberry’s music in Derail and Tragicomic that makes me miss Trichy loads. Sadly both those albums were only released to the US.
  • I already have Us Against The Crown from State Radio, which is one awesome rock/reggae band.

While I’m talking in disjoint sentences like this I might as well mention the other music that’s caught my attention lately:

  • Din Din Wo – Habib Koité and Bamada
    If anyone sees a place I can buy Muso Ko, let me know. I suddenly have a thing for Malian music. It came with Vista along with a bunch of other songs.
  • Blue Öyster Cult – I’m crazy about this band’s music. Especially Astronomy, Burning for you, Joan Crawford and the old favourite (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.

XPS Dellivered

A while ago, I was considering buying an HP laptop while grumbling about how hard it would be to carry around. Soon after that, I ordered a Dell XPS M1330 because for the size there just didn’t seem to be anything in the range that would get you discrete graphics at that price. In any case, they delivered it today, some 4 days outside the 8 business day promise they gave and some two weeks after the date originally on their website (8th April).

Roshan George’s XPS M1330 Thumbnail

I’m real happy with what I got. Vista isn’t very good, there are times when even 3GB of RAM and the GeForce 8400M GS make the closing animation sluggish when running only one or two programs. That and I hate the way the screen flickers dark when UAC comes up. That flicker is really annoying. But over all, everything looks great, the screen is bright and clear and Vista’s font smoothing is really nice. The laptop itself is nice and light and has enough ports for me to be happy :)

My changes to the base model:

  • An upgrade to the T8300 2.4Ghz processor. It was cheap.
  • An upgrade (in my view) to a 7200 rpm hard drive that stores 80GB less.
  • Discrete Graphics: 128 MB GeForce 8400M GS. It also does that shared memory thing.
  • The Intel 4965 AGN wireless card.

Maybe I should’ve chosen an extra gigabyte of RAM instead of the processor. Nevermind, it should be easy to do, and I remember I used to get along just fine with just 1GB on my previous laptop. Still, the one thing I really miss getting is the WLED screen that everybody’s just raving about. Maybe in a few years :)

Window Shopping for Laptops

I’ve been looking for a laptop and so I’ve been poking around on HP’s site. I chose HP because the HP Compaq NX 7300 I have has near mythical Linux compatibility, everything here works better than it does on the pre-installed XP and with no effort whatsoever.
This is what the dv9700t’s look like:

I’m not the fashion conscious kind, but this looks pretty reasonable anyway. Unfortunately, while I can get a 14.4″ laptop it comes to much more with either the same specifications or much less and powered much lower. Hopefully, I’ll be able to buy one of those cheap UMPCs that are becoming so popular, so I won’t need to lug this giant around if I do buy it. What struck me the most was that it costs so much more for inferior hardware here in India. That dv9700t laptop comes with Windows Vista, an Intel Core 2 Duo T8100, 17″ wide-screen, 3GB RAM, a 512 MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GS, Intel 4965AGN, 250GB drive, LightScribe DVD±RW DL. All that comes to slightly less than 50,100 rupees. I can’t even get the same configuration here, and if I tried I’d be priced out of my head.