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Orange County to San Francisco Trip in a 2011 Civic GX -- June 8, 2013

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  • Orange County to San Francisco Trip in a 2011 Civic GX -- June 8, 2013

    Just completed a trip from L.A. to San Francisco on June 8th in a 2011 Civic GX. This sort of trip can really put one's commitment to CNG to the test, as the car's limited range and relative scarcity of refueling options along the way must be carefully considered to avoid a worst-case scenario of being stranded somewhere unpleasant.

    A complicating factor for this trip is that I do not have a PG&E card, which limits options for refueling as one progresses northward. PG&E stations reportedly do not accept any other form of payment, which others on this forum have discovered the hard way. So taking route 101 seemed too risky to me, since the only station between San Luis Obispo and San Jose is a PG&E station in Salinas, making the 185 mile distance between SLO and San Jose a bit too close for comfort in a (potentially) 200 mile range vehicle. And if the station in SLO was down for some reason, it would have meant back-tracking to Santa Barbara and taking a completely different trip than expected. So I had to plan a route that could accommodate Visa and Mastercard at each stop, as well as allow for the possibility of any one station that might be non-operational. Some stations along the way are only available on Monday - Friday, so that also had to be taken into account.

    With all of that in mind, I took the following route from Orange County to SFO:

    1. Fill up the night before in Fountain Valley, not far from where I live.
    2. 405 north to Van Nuys, which has a station that provided an excellent fill.
    3. 405 to I-5 north to top off in Santa Clarita, which is only about 25 miles from Van Nuys but gave us additional range in case my next, much further stop was down for some reason.
    4. I-5 north to 41 northeast to Lemoore, a small town that's about a 25 mile (total) detour off I-5. The station was working, and we got an excellent fill despite 108 degree weather. (Note: if Lemoore was down for some reason, I had enough fuel to make it to Visalia, which has several stations and is about 30 miles east on 198.)
    5. 198 west to I-5 north to 152 west to 101 north, making it to SFO Airport with four bars to spare on the fuel guage.

    Total trip time was about 7.5 hours, including three fuel stops along the way and some traffic.

    I kept the speed at around 70 the majority of the route, with the A/C on the whole time. This helped keep the MPG where it needed to be (about 36 MPG on average, with two adults and a carload of stuff in the trunk and back seat) in order to keep my range to more than 200 miles per tank. The better range was especially important since the hot weather could have reduced the effective fill in Lemoore. The hottest temperature of the trip was 111 degrees, which is not an environment one would like to be caught in with an empty tank.

    All in all, this route proved to be relatively stress-free, and one that I'd recommend for anyone going either north or south, particularly if you don't have a PG&E card. A little planning really paid off, and we got there for a grand total of about $25 in fuel on a pretty hot day. Not bad!

  • #2
    Re: Orange County to San Francisco Trip in a 2011 Civic GX -- June 8, 2013

    Thanks for the trip report. I think this is the first time anyone here has reported on the Lemoore station. From the photo at www.cngprices.com it appears to be newer ANGI equipment.

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    • #3
      Re: Orange County to San Francisco Trip in a 2011 Civic GX -- June 8, 2013

      It was definitely a different configuration from the typical Clean Energy station. It's kind of a blur now, but I believe it had a pressure gauge that showed the fill progression in PSI -- this was useful. One comment on cngprices.com indicated some trouble with a lever at the station, but we had no difficulty. Best of all was that the pump gave us a great fill despite the high ambient temperature (108 degrees) Impressive!

      You have to pay at a separate kiosk rather than at the pump itself, but it's pretty easy to figure out. Also nice that they didn't make us watch a training video.

      This was definitely not a crowded station...

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