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Does the car's computer "learn" how you drive?

I bought a 2009 Hyundai this year, and at my first service check, I mentioned that the car wasn’t getting the kind of mileage I was expecting. He said it took 5,000 miles for the engine to break in (sounds fair), but also that after 5,000 miles, the internal computer for the car would “learn” how I drove, and become more efficient with the fuel. It’s been 8,700 miles and the mileage is not getting better. Was he just making stuff up?

Some newer engine/transmission management computer systems do “learn” your driving style and adapt accordingly. Many high-end German (BMW, MB, Audi, etc.) have been doing this for years. It should, however, not take more than a day or two of normal driving.

First thing I’d try is having the dealer re-flash the computer memory and see if there are any software upgrades. Then, drive around town like you normally do, put on some highway miles, get stuck in rush hour traffic, etc. It will not take 5,000 miles to do.


PS: What mileage were you expecting and what are you currently getting?

What mileage are you getting, and what are you hoping for?

It doesn’t take 5,000 miles for a new engine to “break in.” Read the owner’s manual for break-in information.

The engine management computer is CONSTANTLY making adjustments to the fuel mixture, ignition timing, etc, to suit the conditions at the time.

Some computers can adjust transmission shift points depending upon driving style. I don’t know if you car’s computer does this.

Thanks! The car gets up to about 38 miles on the freeway (no complaints), but as low as many 19 miles on the road, and they claim it will do better than that.

Which Hyundai model do you have? 38 mpg highway is very good. Since the difference between your city and highway mileage is so high, I’d venture to guess is due to you driving style – stop and go, idling, jack rabbit starts, etc.


" The car gets up to about 38 miles on the freeway (no complaints), but as low as many 19 miles on the road"

Please help us out and define “road” for us. Fuel economy figures are normally expressed as X/highway mileage, Y/city mileage–or something to that effect. “Road” would seem to imply some kind of highway, so what you are reporting is confusing.

Anyway, other than the vehicle’s basic design, the biggest factors in gas mileage are the condition/maintenance of the vehicle and the manner in which the driver operates the vehicle. Since your 2009 Hyundai (Accent? Elantra? Sonata? Azera? Santa Fe?) is very new, we can rule out maintenance issues, and that leaves the conditions under which it is normally driven.

If you normally “warm up” the engine, stop doing that, as it is not necessary. If you normally use drive-up windows for banks and fast food joints, learn to park the car and walk into the establishment. If you like to race away from traffic lights, try to accelerate slowly. If your driving patterns include a lot of stop and go driving with a lot of traffic lights, and lots of short-trips with shutting down the engine before it is fully warmed-up, 19 mpg may actually be very good on this mystery Hyundai model.

The mechanic who told you this was thinking about a different line of cars…