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Old 11-27-2010, 10:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Less power when driving in high elevation

Hi,
I have bought a 2005 forester with an automatic transmission, used, in Wisconsin and am now living in the mountains of SW Colorado. When I am driving on an incline my RPM's go much higher (up to 4,000) before getting into the higher gear. Many times it gets into the higher gear and then drops back into the lower. Usually between 3rd and 4th. 5 gears in total.
Is this jut how foresters run, I know they don't have the best pickup, but i feel like I am running my engine too hard and using too much gas. Any advice? Can you 'recalibrate' an engine for living in higher elevation?
Also, I need new all season tires. I've been looking at the Firestone Winterforce (we have them on our VW), would you recommend a better tire?
Thank you!!
-Sarah
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Losing power at higher elevation is just physics; thinner air, lower compression. I'm not familiar with the '05, but am guessing that it's fuel injected; it [I]should[I] adjust the fuel to the air mass on it's own. A clean air filter helps, too. If your tailpipe is sooty, it's running too rich. If it's carburated, you might have to rejet. Not sure how all that affects an A/T.
I just put Blizzaks on my '10, but plan on taking them off in the (late) spring. I really like them so far, but hear that they're too soft to run all summer. I've ended up running dedicated seasonal tires; I used to run all-seasons, but found that I didn't like the compromise. HTH, and have fun with the snow!
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The at has 4 gears, you're feeling the torque converter lock and unlock.

The winterforce is a dedicated winter tire, great for deep snow, and ice if they're studded.

How many miles on the car and how has it been maintained?

Going to higher elevation you will -always- lose power, air density is lower, this is why turbo models are great at higher elevation (in the most basic sense; the turbo forces air into the engine, instead of the engine sucking in air)
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Old 11-28-2010, 03:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wisco,

Being from WI myself and now living in CO, I can assure you it will become a "normal" feeling in no time. I still enjoy going back to sea level to play in the dense air!

The cars computer should take care of any air/fuel mix issues that need to be addressed at higher altitude. Takes a small amount of time.

Cheers,
MLM
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Old 11-28-2010, 04:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Normal behavior, as was mentioned previously. No need to recalibrate anything.

However, you do need to learn how to drive it is such conditions. First of all, it's ok to keep the engine in higher rpm under load (e.g., going uphill), 4.5-5K will give you most torque (acceleration) in any give gear, and you will not save much (if any) gas trying to keep rpm too low when driving up-n-down. Second, it is helpful to manually shift transmission into appropriately low gear (3rd or 2nd, depending on speed and incline) to prevent AT from "hunting gears" and get consistent performance (you'll be faster and safer); just don't forget to flick it back to Drive once on flat ground (might be difficult as you will be having way more fun in 3rd).
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Old 11-28-2010, 09:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wisco View Post
Hi,
Also, I need new all season tires. I've been looking at the Firestone Winterforce (we have them on our VW), would you recommend a better tire?
Thank you!!
-Sarah
I didn't like the Winterforce in my experiences with it. It's basically the most basic tire that you can get for actual snow tires. Even the studded versions are rated lower in ice tests than a good studless tire. My recommendation:

Lower budget
Bridgestone Blizzak ws-70
Mid budget
Michelin x-ice xi-2
High budget
Nokian Hakkapillatta (sp.)

Hope this helps,
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Old 12-07-2010, 04:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the replys! I do drive in 3rd when I am driving below 35 and it does seem to help. I think I am just used to the turbo engine, which we have in our VW. I'll check the air filter and get used to the slow climb. Thanks for the info on going upto 4,000 rpm's and it not being a lot different in fuel consumption!
I just purchased new tires: Hankook h727. I'll let you know what I think after the next big storm! Reviews sound great
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wisco View Post
Thanks for all the replys! I do drive in 3rd when I am driving below 35 and it does seem to help. I think I am just used to the turbo engine, which we have in our VW. I'll check the air filter and get used to the slow climb. Thanks for the info on going upto 4,000 rpm's and it not being a lot different in fuel consumption!
I just purchased new tires: Hankook h727. I'll let you know what I think after the next big storm! Reviews sound great
Below 35pmh you should be in 2nd, not 3rd (for when safety and performance counts more than MPG).
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Old 02-07-2011, 05:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Crazy Mountain Gas Mileage

My 02 Forester (AT) did this too during a roadtrip to Colorado this summer. I figured it was normal. What surprised me was my gas mileage in the mountains. When I filled up, I was averaging 27.4 MPG! This was crazy because I was basically flooring it every uphill on I-70 and the RPMs were always above 4000. Maybe it was all the coasting on the downhills.
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