When I was at Warren Tire last week to get my daughter’s car inspected I was browsing through a magazine and came across an ad for E3 spark plugs. When I got home I researched the E3 plugs on the Internet and decided I would like to try some. The next time I was in the neighborhood I went to the auto parts store advertised in the ad. Advance Auto did indeed have the E3 plugs in stock but only for my lawn mower. Since I was also in need of a lawn mower spark plug, because mine fouled after only one and a half hours of mowing. I decided to get the E3 plug for the mower and it did indeed solve my plug fouling problem and it gave my mower a much faster RPM and more power in the deep grass.
The next day I called the other Advanced Auto Parts store in town and they only had the mower plugs in stock as well, but they ordered the plugs for my Saturn and had them overnight. In preparation for the testing of the new plugs I performed a mileage test and an acceleration test on both of my Saturns. My SL1 seemed to have less power and torque than the SC1 we just picked up in Florida so I wanted to verify that perception.
The mileage test was done on a 6/10 mile flat stretch of road. Using the Scangauge I reset the trip mpg screen while crossing the start line at 45 mph. Cruising the 6/10 mile stretch at 45 mph constant I noted the trip mpg reading as I crossed the finish line. I did this five times with each car and recorded the readings. They I averaged the readings.
For the acceleration tests I chose to accelerate in fourth gear from 30 mph to 60 mph and use a stop watch to record the times. This was done for five accelerations and these times were averaged.
Both tests proved that my perception of the greater torque and power of the SC1 was incorrect. I concluded that the thing that made me thing there was more power and torque was the fact that the spring on the accelerator peddle was weaker on the SC1, causing less pressure needed to depress the pedal.
After changing the plugs in the Saturn SL1 to the new E3 plugs I repeated both tests and achieved similar mileage and acceleration times as I did with the original plugs. On the baseline tests I had installed two Bosch Platinum plugs and two Bosch Platinum 2 plugs. Back when I bough these plugs I found the Bosch Platinum 4 plugs too expensive. Now I see the E3 plugs almost twice the price of the Platinum 4s’
Following are the results of the three tests:
Saturn SL1 with Platinum and Platinum 2 plugs
Mileage: 53.8, 54.6, 56.3, 56.9, 55.4, 55.4 mpg; average 55.4 mpg
Acceleration: 14.5, 15.2, 14.5, 15.2 sec; average 14.85 sec
Saturn SC1 with regular plugs
Mileage: 49.4, 53.9, 53.8, 53.8, 52.8, 55.0 mpg; average 53.11 mpg
Acceleration: 14.32, 15.1, 14.3, 15.23 sec; average 14.74 sec
Saturn SL1 with E3 plugs
Mileage: 53.3, 53.4, 55.4, 57.3 mpg; average 54.85 mpg
Acceleration: 14.82, 15.23, 14.8, 15.2 sec; average 15.01 sec
Conclusions: The Saturn SC1 and Saturn SL1 have the same engine and drive train and similar weights (2351 vs 2309 pounds). Performance of the vehicles should be similar.
The range of mileage and acceleration data for each vehicle test has a variation greater than the difference between the averages between vehicles. For example 49.4 to 55.0 mpg is a difference of 5.6 mpg while the averages differ by only 2.3 mpg. 14.3 to 15.23 seconds difference of .9 second while the difference between the averages is only .25 seconds. This indicates to me that one more run in each set could change the average so much that the comparisons could be reversed. So this experimental data is not consistent enough to draw any conclusions about the averages.
If I did draw a conclusion about the averages I would conclude that the differences in the averages is not worth the extra cost of the expensive plugs, since the regular plugs in the SC1 achieved the worse mileage but the best acceleration. Regular plugs cost just over $1, Platinum plugs around $2, Platinum 2 plugs around $4, and Es plugs around $7.
A good conclusion that can be drawn here is that perception of power and torque based on the “feel” of the car is unreliable and often opposite to reality. In this case the SC1, which seemed to have more torque, actually had an almost identical average acceleration time. This demonstrates the worthlessness of customer testimonials posted on many web sites advertising mileage enhancement devices.
A few days later I refilled the tank of the Saturn SL1 after adding 2 ounces of Acetone and ran the above mileage tests with the E3 spark plugs. The results follow:
Saturn SL1 with E3 plugs and 2 oz. acetone per 10 gallons gasoline
Mileage 51.2, 55.1, 52.4, 55.4, 52.8, 55.4 mpg, average 53.7 mpg
Once again a similar conclusion can be made about the test results. The difference between each run was a maximum of 3.2 mpg and the difference between the averages with and without acetone was only 0.15 mpg, suggesting that acetone on these tests did nothing to improve mileage.
On and off for a few months I have been testing a couple fuel additives that have some real promise. I have been wary of any positive results because any improvement of less than 10% is hard to believe unless the tests were done under controlled conditions. Simply adding a squirt of additive without accurate measurements into the tank and using tank long mileage averages can be very deceiving. This is why I don’t believe testimonials about products. Most testimonials are based on feelings and short term uncontrolled test procedures. “I took a 50 mile trip and got X mpg and I usually got only Y mpg before,” is not convincing for me. First of all the 50 mile trip was likely to be highway conditions or better, but the average from before was likely a mix of city, highway, and stopped idling warm ups. This is far from controlled testing so it is unreliable.
I did have a few tanks full of mileage averages that were around 10% increases over our normal fill up averages with my wife’s typical driving routine, with the addition of a certain fuel additive, which I will not disclose at this time. I have since done some controlled tests to confirm or deny the hopeful gains. So far the results are positive. If further exhaustive testing will prove this substance advantageous it may become part of a proprietary blend of fuel additives, which we will add to the recommended components of the Hydrogen Boost system. Until the day that blend is formulated I will not disclose the components that do work but you might see reports of the ones that don’t seem to work.
Just to see if I could verify something that actually changed the mileage I repeated the test with the air conditioner running and the fan on medium setting. The results follow:
Saturn SL1 with E3 plugs, acetone additive, and air conditioning at 45 mph
Mileage 40.6, 43.7, 41.3, 42.3 mpg, average 42.0 mpg
Now here is a reliable result from which we can make some valid conclusions. The difference between runs was a maximum of only 1.7 mpg and the difference between the averages with and without air conditioning was a whopping 11.7mpg. I think you can safely conclude that air conditioning can cause your mileage to go down.
Now let me illustrate an improper conclusion to draw from this data. If we used our air conditioned test as a baseline and compared the mileage with our test without air conditioning we could conclude that there was an 11.7 mpg increase in mileage or 11.7/42.0 = 28% increase. An improper conclusion would be to conclude that not using the air conditioner increases your mileage by 28%. The conclusion is wrong for a number of reasons. The power draw of the air conditioning during a 45 mph cruise mileage test is a substantial portion of the total power used, where if the test was done at 70 mph the portion used by the air conditioning would be much smaller, in comparison to the power used to push the car down the road against all that wind resistance. Also not all weather requires air conditioning, so concluding that simply not using it increases you mileage 28% would be wrong for those days when you would not have used it anyway.
Does all this mean that if I want great mileage I need to forget about air conditioning? Not at all. To determine the best way to use air conditioning let me tell you how most systems work, and this should clue you in on how idiotic automotive engineering can be.
If you adjust you temperature control to full cold and turn on the air conditioning switch, the air conditioning compressor turns on and cold air comes blowing out, at the price of poor mileage. Most of us can’t quite stand the extremely cold air so we move the temperature adjustment somewhat toward the warm end of the scale, usually right near the middle.
Of course most of us think that if we adjust it so its not so cold we are not using our air conditioning so much and we are saving fuel. Not so. When we have the temperature setting between hot and cold, on most cars, we are actually using the air conditioner to the maximum and mixing the cold air with hot air from the heater to get medium cool air. Now, how much sense does that make? We need a little air conditioning and we ruin our mileage by setting the temperature at a comfortable setting.
So what can we do to save fuel without roasting? This can be accomplished by the following procedure:
Turn the temperature setting on full cold and the fan on medium to high. Then turn on the air conditioning switch (usually a push button) to get cold air. As soon as the air become comfortably cool, or just slightly uncomfortably too cool, turn off the air conditioning switch and leave the fan blowing. This will continue to give you relatively cool air until the air conditioning evaporator warms up from the flow of cockpit air flowing over it. Then a few minutes later when the air blower is finally blowing slightly uncomfortably warm air, turn the air conditioning switch back on for the short time it takes to get cool air again. Repeat the procedure.
This procedure may be labor intensive, turning a switch on and off every five minutes or so, but if you can get the cool air for 1/10 the cost, I’d say its worth the trouble. 1/10th the cost, what am I talking about? Well if using this procedure on a relatively warm day gets me to turn on the air conditioning compressor for 30 seconds every five minutes, then that is 1/10th the time as the poorly engineered method of having your heater and air conditioning fight against each other to get the right temperature.
So if I saw a 18% drop in mileage by using the air conditioner the way it was engineered, I could sacrifice 2% in mileage to keep myself comfortable with proper procedure. Of course some luxury cars are designed to control the temperature a little more sensibly, but I’m not willing to pay an extra $20,000 to save $2 in fuel mileage.
Since I wrote the above newsletter, I got an email from John Wickerham, a friend and Hydrogen Boost customer, who suggested that it would not be difficult to put together a circuit that would do this air conditioning procedure automatically. Thinking that this circuit would be worth at least $100 as a Hydrogen Boost component, I asked John to consider working on the project. John ordered a few parts and began think out the circuit.
Of course I am way too impatient to wait for a full time worker to find time enough to build me something I wanted yesterday, so I decided to put on my thinking cap. After a couple days of mulling it over I got some great ideas. I went to the local home improvement store and looked at the heating and air conditioning thermostat section of the plumbing department.
There were thermostats for everything form baseboard electric heaters to gas furnaces and central air conditioning systems, priced from$10 to $100. Of course the cheap ones are only for heating and not suitable for my application. After choosing a moderate priced thermostat I took it hone and began modifying it for the application of automobile climate control circuit.
I spent two days of frustration trying to make a 24 volt thermostat work on a 12 volt car. I also had to modify it to respond to temperature change quicker than a household thermostat, which normally turns off every 10 minutes to an hour. I wanted mine to turn on and off every 30 second to 5 minutes.
After the modification needed I tried to wire it to the wire feeding to AC switch on my car, which was difficult in itself. The AC switch doesn’t have wires going to it. It is a module with a plug containing 7 wires, running to the recirculation switch and light as well as the AC switch and light. I consulted the maze of wiring diagrams in my repair manual and decided on which wire I would cut and splice on to.
Two days and numerous trips to the hardware and home improvement stores later I searched the Internet for wiring instructions. That was fruitless because all the instructions referred back to the thermostat I was replacing, and of course there was none. I did get the idea that it could be done so I spent until after dark trying every possible switch settings and wire-to-terminal combinations until I came up with one that combination that produce 6 volts out. I had already tried a combination thaqt would give me 6 volts to 12 volts when the thermostat flipped and I knew that kept the AC compressor on all the time so I knew that 6 volts would turn it on and zero volts would turn it off. The combination I found that worked was nowhere in any of the wiring instructions on the Internet. But it works so that’s what I’m going with. So to end this long boring story, I have found an affordable way to add a climate control circuit to a vehicle that normally uses the heater against the air conditioner to waste fuel. The modified thermostat cycles enough to keep the car comfortable and saves a great amount of the otherwise wasted fuel caused by idiotic engineering. Mission accomplished.
This climate control circuit kit is available for $50, and the modified circuit completely assembled is $100, and the hardest thing about installation is finding your AC switch power wire. If you can read a wiring diagram this should not be difficult. Don’t waste any more fuel using your heater to fight against your air conditioner, and if you don’t want to cycle the AC switch manually, purchase the Hydrogen Boost climate control circuit.
By Larry Trowbridge (Hydrogen Boost Customer)
When Fran reported on his experiment with spark plugs, I decided to round up my plug collection and do some tests of my own. I have acquired quite a collection of plugs in an attempt for mileage increases. I have a set of Splitfire Triple Platinum, Bosch Platinum +4, E3, Torque Master, and for control purposes a set of NGK standard plugs. It wasn’t until Fran’s report that I knew how to find out how effective each plug was at improving mileage and power.
The route I chose was a one mile stretch of a county road near my house. I also chose 50 mph as my testing speed. I crossed the starting point already at my test speed. At the end of the mile, I turned around at a small township firestation to go back to my starting point. To keep the conditions as constant as possible, when I turned around, I accelerated to 15-20 mph in 1st gear then shifted into 3rd gear and accelerated to 40 mph then shifted into 5th gear to accelerate to my testing speed of 50 mph. At each acceleration, I pressed the gas pedal to 2/3-3/4 throttle. I did 5 runs for each of the 5 plugs. After the 5th run for each plug, I did 5 acceleration runs to test for possible power increases. I did the acceleration run by cruising at 30 mph in 4th gear and flooring the gas pedal. When the speed reached 35 mph, I started my stop watch and continued accelerating to 55 mph at which time I stopped the stopwatch. Below are my test results.
Splitfire Triple Platinum
46.7 mpg 11.9 seconds 47.2 mpg 11.51 seconds
47.0 mpg 11.4 seconds
50.1 mpg 10.7 seconds
46.9 mpg 11.44 seconds
47.7 mpg 11.7 seconds
46.7 13.19 46.54 12.46
46.5 13.64 46.3 11.52
46.4 13.76 46.43 11.7
Bosch Platinum +4
46.1 14.25 46.3 12.65
I took the highest and the lowest mpg and acceleration times and discarded them to come up with an average for each plug in each category. My tests indicate that the only significant increase was with the Splitfire Triple Platinum plugs. It also shows that mpg actually decreased with the E3, Torque Master, and Bosch Platinum +4 plugs. According to the Splitfire website, their plugs sell for $5.99/plug.
My conclusion: While Splitfire Triple Platinum plugs do give slightly increased mileage and slightly more power, it may not be worth the added cost.
Fran’s Comments: Thanks Larry for the excellent job and attention to detail. I would like to comment on my observations. You tested a number of radically different electrode designs that showed very similar results, but one thing stands out to me as an important design feature. Platinum. The Bosch Platinum 4 plugs did quite well but they only have one small center electrode that exposes platinum to the air/fuel mixture.
Your Splitfire Triple Platinum plugs, according to the Splitfire web site have three spots of platinum exposed to the air/fuel mixture, one on the center electrode and two spots on the forked ground electrode. This may account for the superior performance of these plugs in your tests. It’s too bad Splitfire didn’t publish your results before the Federal Trade Commission brought suit against them to stop them from making claims about their “superior product.”
I had plans a few years ago to rebuild one of my Saturn engines and install Platinum or Iridium plated exhaust valves and install a water mist injection system. My Saturn engines never wore out to the point I could justify rebuilding the engine so I still haven’t done that experiment. Also the electroplating companies would never give be a price for the electroplating. I am beginning to think that it might be worth it to try electroplating the entire end of some spark plugs with platinum and start with that. If anyone knows where I can get some plugs plated, please let me know.
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