Long term impressions - Millers Oils ECOMAX

Since introduced to Millers Oil's Ecomax last year, I have now been using it on and off. This includes the initial period where I used it on every fill-up which then is followed by a period where I did not use Ecomax. Consequently I have gotten quite familiar with the effects of Ecomax by now and this is my long term impressions.

There are many types of fuel treatment available in the market, each one said by their manufacturers to offer various benefits, mainly in terms of power, or fuel economy, or both. The basis for their effectiveness are quite varied, ranging from improvements in efficiency of the combustion, reduction of internal friction, and so forth. I have tested a number of them and I really do find that the more reputable ones actually works.

For those who have not read my initial impressions on TOVA/Honda-Geek, Ecomax is marketted by Millers Oils as a 'fuel treatment' additive with engine cleaning and octane boosting properties. Added in the proper ratio, Ecomax is stated to increase the octane number by 2. In use, it will also help remove carbon deposits in the engine internals and clean the injectors, restoring the operation of the engine to peak condition.

I have been using it on my 2004 1G Jazz VTEC which have been maintained as well as I can mechanically. I use top grade engine oils likE TORCO SR-1 at the standard maintenance intervals and being my daily-use family car, I change any parts that showed signs of aging or that needs replaced.

Ecomax is meant to be added to the fuel. The mixture ratio for Ecomax is recommended at 1ml for every litre of petrol. So for the typical tank capacity of 50litres for a Honda, this means 50ml of Ecomax is added. As the original bottles that Millers Oils uses for Ecomax is found to be prone to leaks, Cosmic Elite, the Malaysian distributor markets Ecomax using its own bottles. Their bottles are manually marked, with each mark indicating 50ml.

The process I used for Ecomax is as follows. I add Ecomax into the tank at each top-up and before I start putting in petrol. So I use the marking provided on the bottle to add approx 40ml into my tank, as my Jazz VTEC has a 40 litre tank. However, on subsequent top-ups, I cannot add 40ml again. This is because it is not possible to run the tank till empty. Typically, when the low fuel warning light comes on, there is around 5 litres or so of petrol still left in the tank. However, many enthusiasts do not like to run until the warning light comes on. Doing so can put undue stress on the fuel pump, especially if we are prone to driving fast. The fuel inside the tank can slosh to one side during hard cornering and the fuel pump will see an intermittent supply of petrol. This can affect the life of the pump. For myself, I have been driving on a 30-litres usage interval for my top ups. What I do is I reset the trip meter on every top-up, and mentally estimate when around 30 litres of petrol has been used by monitoring the on-board fuel economy readout. Basically I monitor the on-going mileage and use it to estimate how many kilometres I should have travelled for around 30 litres. E.g. if the fuel economy readout is showing around 12km/l, then I would have travelled 360km when I have used 30 litres of petrol. So I target for the next top-up when my trip meter shows around 360km.

But now, when I top-up, I won't add another 40 ml of Ecomax to the tank. This is because with approximately 10 litres of petrol left in the tank, it means there is around 10 ml of Ecomax in it. So if I add 40ml in again, there will effectively be 50 ml of Ecomax in the tank. Then on the next top-up, adding another 40 ml will leave 62.5 ml in the tank. And so forth. Thus if I just blindly add 40 ml of Ecomax each time I top-up, the mixture ratio gets richer and richer, in terms of Ecomax to petrol ratio. But as I target around 30 litres usage for each top-up, meaning 10 litres of petrol with 10 litres of Ecomax is left in the tank, I now only add around 30 ml of Ecomax to the tank at the top-up. This then maintains the mixture ratio at the recommended 1:1000.

Like driving for outright speed, driving for max fuel economy also requires the right technique, driving style and effort. It is important to understand that just adding an additive like Ecomax alone won't automatically deliver magical mileage figures. Just like that fact that a car is a hybrid does not guarantee one will get 20 km/l automatically. A concious effort must be made to drive the car in a manner that enables it to deliver the maximum fuel economy. This means using light throttle positions for gradual and steady acceleration, and minimal change of speed. Ironically, this means cornering a higher speeds, something one might associate with performance driving. But the greatest wastage of fuel is actually during braking and consequently, the greatest expenditure of fuel is during acceleration. Both of these directly degrades the fuel economy. So taking a corner without slowing down, or with minimal slowing down minimizes the energy lost to braking and to energy needed to speed up again after the corner. This directly leads to maximum fuel economy.

My experience with using Ecomax on my Jazz VTEC was that it was easier to get great mileage when the correct driving style is used. Results are more consistent and when there is a need to push the car, for e.g. to overtake a blocking vehicle, such situations doesn't penalize as much as they would have.

Results wise, when I was using Ecomax consistently, I found it relatively very easy to go into the 7km/l range, even when hit with adverse traffic conditions like encountering a lot of traffic jams. Consequently I was able to drive faster, and overtake more vehicles, without incurring a significant penalty in the fuel economy. When driving really conservatively and when driving conditions were complementary, I was easily getting into the 17s and 18s (km/l) and when conditions were ideal, even 20km/l and above were possible.

More importantly for me, use of Ecomax allows a slightly more 'aggressive' driving style; a heavier foot on the throttle. This allowed me to go faster, e.g. 90-100kph instead of labouring at 80kph only. And to accelerate a bit harder from traffic lights or when merging into fast flowing traffic, and most importantly, to overtake more frequently without blocking faster moving traffic. This is very useful as it allows me to avoid getting stuck behind slow crawling traffic as I often use the left-most, slowest lane when I am driving for outright fuel economy. Being able to overtake the slow moving vehicles in this lane allows me to maintain the condition (speed, throttle position, etc) for optimum fuel economy.

A lot of drivers makes the mistaken assumption that the slower they drive, the greater the mileage they get, which is wrong as mileage depends on amount of fuel spent going over a distance and the faster one travels, the less time needed to traverse a given distance and thus less time spraying fuel into the combustion chamber. So there is a balance, an optimum speed for given conditions which yields the best fuel economy. Too fast -or- too slow and fuel economy suffers correspondingly.

More significantly in my personal opinion, is that there is another more important benefit, often unrealised by many. Being able to drive faster means a journey takes less time to complete. This means less time spent, i.e. less time wasted on the road. Certainly few will argue that time is a luxury that is wise of us to not waste.

Initially, Cosmic Elite gave me two bottles of Ecomax for review testing. These lasted me a few months. When the two bottles eventually ran out earlier this year, I decided to run for the next few months without Ecomax, just to double check my results for purpose of writing this report. I am currently not using Ecomax and have not been using it for almost four months already. I am currently getting what I consider to be bad fuel economy - 12 or 13 km/l at best. In fact, at this moment, the ability to hit 13km/l has become quite a rare acheivement, especially with the very jammed roads recently due to 'puasa month' (fasting month for muslims). Even when I had the chance for a good stint of highway travel a few days ago, I was only able to get 17 km/l whereas by comparison I was getting 19 and even close to 20km/l when I was using Ecomax. This really cemented my opinion that Ecomax is truly beneficial to fuel economy, at least for my Honda Jazz and my driving style.

To learn more about Ecomax, read my initial impressions of Ecomax. Also the official Millers Oils Ecomax page.

All opinion expressed here are from experience. Your mileage will vary according to your own specific conditions.

To get contact information for Cosmic Elite, Malaysian importer for TORCO, click on the TORCO banner on the main page of this website.

Wong KN
August 2012
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