While reliability might be the Honda Accord’s strongest suit, an above-average level of fuel-efficiency (relative to size) makes the Accord a solid choice for families and commuters, alike. The Accord has enjoyed consistent popularity through the years – with more than ten million sold – and has grown from compact to full size over that time.
There are simple methods that can be used to increase the Accord’s gas mileage. These methods are both operational and mechanical in nature.
Adopting a fuel-conscious driving style is the surest way to slash the amount you spend at the service station each week. If your Accord is equipped with an Instant MPG (mile per gallon) gauge, using it will help you to become a light-footed driver. Learning when and where to back off on the accelerator pedal is an essential step. A Real-Time Fuel Economy display provides visual feedback to let you know when to let up. If your Accord is not equipped with an Instant MPG gauge from the factory, you can add an aftermarket unit, such as the ScanGaugeE or AutoMeter EcoMeter for under $100 dollars. Both the ScanGaugeE and EcoMeter plug into the OBDII (On Board Diagnostics Port) that’s located underneath the dashboard. There are a number of smartphone apps that can help, as well, but you’ll need an OBD WiFi or Bluetooth adapter (or hardwired cable).
Performing preventive maintenance is essential, as there are many items that if overlooked, will cause the Accord’s fuel economy to suffer.* Basic maintenance provides the opportunity to use products that can incrementally increase the Accord’s gas mileage.
There are three primary products to consider:
- Synthetic Fluids – Switching to synthetic oil and transmission fluid can deliver modest gains. Brands to consider include Royal Purple, Redline, Mobil 1, Castrol Edge.
- Low Rolling Resistance Tires – In all likelihood, your Accord was not equipped with low-rolling-resistance (LRR) tires from the factory. Switching to a good LRR tire may provide slight improvement in fuel efficiency. Check for available of LRR tires, including the Bridgestone Ecopia, Michelin Energy and Primacy, Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max, and Continental ContiProContact.
- Lowering Springs – When a car is lowered, it becomes more aerodynamic. When it’s time to change the shock absorbers and struts on your Accord, consider replacing the stock springs with a set of springs that provides a slightly lower height. While lowering your car may improve fuel efficiency and handling, the ride will stiffen up. If your travels include rutted roads and off-trail excursions, you should avoid lowering your car. Brands to consider include Eibach and H&R.
The original gas mileage ratings for the six-speed manual 2003 Honda Accord Coupe EX V6 (shown above) were 20 city/ 30 highway. We’d consider fitting Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 or Michelin Primacy MXM4 grand touring all-season tires in the original 215/50R17 size, with a possible switch to a set of lightweight alloy wheels, like the Enkei Racing RPF1 (14.6 lbs.). Swapping in an Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set would provide 1.2-inches of lowering, front and rear. Over the course of 50,000 highway miles (at $4.00 per gallon), these changes have the potential to save $600 or more in gasoline.
In theory, switching to low rolling resistance tires, synthetic fluids, and lowering springs may improve highway gas mileage by a total of ten percent or more. While initial costs may be a factor, these are mitigated over time through savings at the pump. Although LRR tires needn’t cost more than quality conventional tires, they will cost more than the least expensive brands … no surprise there, as better rubber always cost more than the cheap stuff. Synthetic fluids are more expensive than their conventional counterparts, but offer better protection and longer service life, in addition to the potential for fuel economy improvement. More time between oil changes = fewer oil changes over the life of the vehicle.
There may also be opportunities to improve aerodynamics underneath the car, using bolt-on OEM tire spats. These little unobtrusive pieces of plastic and rubber have become commonplace on the latest models. They’re not glitzy, but they work. If they didn’t, every automaker wouldn’t be rushing to include them in their quest to optimize gas mileage. It may be possible to retrofit the tire spats from the current Accord onto older models. This will take some trial and error. A trip to the salvage yard could save a few bucks over the parts counter at your local Honda dealer.
Industry and media have been reluctant to approach this topic as a whole. While each product manufacturer may have interest in selling their particular brand of tires, oil, or springs, the automobile manufacturers do not have a vested interest in increasing the fuel efficiency of the vehicles that they have already sold. Or so it would seem.
Retrofitting used cars as they come back into the sales process could present an opportunity to improve marketability along with fuel efficiency. We already see manufacturer service programs that tout mileage improvement. While some may lobby to get those old cars off the road, a brand new car is not in the cards for most folks. For every new car that’s sold each year, three used cars change hands. With the whopping number of Honda Accords on the road, a significant opportunity exists for owners and service providers, alike.
* Proper attention must be paid to basic items such as tire pressure, wheel alignment, brakes (including the parking brake), oxygen sensors, and the fuel injection system. If the check engine light is on, it’s essential that you have the codes read to achieve a quick diagnosis.
– by Daniel Gray