Thursday, July 31, 2008

Check Engine Light: $80 I Could Have Saved If I Knew Before Going To Dealership

I recently brought my 98 Acura to the dealership to troubleshoot my check engine light. They charged me $80 up front just to hook up there computer, download the error code and translate it for me.

It turned out that my problem was a "low flow" indication for my catalytic converter. The dealership then quoted a price of $1000 to fix the problem and then told me:

(1.) It's far cheaper to go to a muffler shop. I compared 3 shops and found one that quoted me $479 to replace all piping, catalytic converter and muffler.
(2.) You could have originally gone to Autozone and had them tell you the trouble code on the car, saving you the $80. You would then have to go home and look up the trouble code on your computer.

I looked under the car and found that I had rust holes in the piping before my catalytic converter. I think that this is the main reason for the problem. From what I understand I could probably do a $5 temp fix to patch the leak in the exhaust pipe before the converter... I can also disconnect my car battery and reset the check engine light.

Since my car is getting old (only has a trade in value of $2k), it isn't worth spending $479 to repair the problem. I'm going to default to the temp fix and will go to Autozone if the check engine light comes on again. If I can't fix the problem, I can just go to Autozone periodically to get an engine reading to see if any new error/trouble codes have cropped up.

Buyers of 2009 VW Jetta TDI Get $1300 Tax Credit

The IRS just announced that the 2009 TDI meets its requirements for the Advanced Lean Burn Technology Motor Vehicle Credit. Buyers of a new 2009 VW Jetta TDI qualify for a $1300 tax credit.

Turns out that diesel drivers can now enjoy tax credits similar to what hybrid drivers have been getting for the past few years.

Related Car and Driver Article.

VW Special Offers / Financing

Sunday, July 20, 2008

105 Hypermiling Tips

Ecomodder is an excellent site for the driver who wants to be thrifty with gas. This evening I came across a posting of 105 hypermiling tips posted on its site.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How Can You Spend Less Money on Fuel?

This is by far the most intelligent webposting on fuel economy that i've come across. It adds a little of the science behind fuel economy. If it does not address your interests in the subject, take the time to read the cited articles at the very end.

Also, try going to and searching for hypermile, hypermiler or hypermiling.

There are obviously more ways to save money and they include not driving, using and using gasoline credit cards.


41% Improvement in my Acura's MPGs

With today's gas prices, I've been thinking a bit more about practicing gas saving techniques. I have already been conservative in my driving over the past 2 years and routinely exceed EPA ratings.

Before gas prices exceeded $3/gallon, I was already:
1.) Coasting to red lights
2.) Gently accelerating about 1/2 the time. Rest of time accelerating as schedule required.
3.) Using cruise control religiously
4.) Minimizing use of brakes

Now that gas has gone "thru the roof," I've been keeping an eye out for some additional techniques.

About 2 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to drive from central Louisiana to Washington state. I'm moving my household to the Northwest and had my car loaded down with approximately 800 lbs of household goods and self.

My car is a 1998 Acura 2.3 CL, automatic. The 2.3 stands for 2.3 liter (4 cylinder). The EPA rates it at 19 city / 27 hwy. I regularly get 30-31 mpg hwy using techniques 1-4 above. However, on this trip I took one leg of my trip to test the following techniques:

5.) Observing speed limit. Basically, not exceeding it.
6.) Drafting. To minimize the danger of drafting, I kept about 1 car length distance for every 10 miles of speed. My favorite vehicles to draft were the RVs with the one-piece rock guards that went behind both sets of back tires. RVs were also more apt to maintain steady speeds on hills, as compared to 18 wheelers.
7.) Coasting in neutral down hills. This dropped my rpm from 2500-3000 rpm to about 900 rpm. Warning: This is illegal in some states and could get you hurt. The famous "click and clack" brothers who talk about cars advise against doing so.
8.) Ceased using cruise control when going up some steep hills. In doing this, I would remember my cars RPM while cruising before the hill. Once I reached the hill, I would listen for when my car was trying to apply more fuel and increase rpm. I would then immediately cease cruise control and maintain RPM vice speed. I would maintain RPM until I crested the hill. After cresting the hill, I would decide as to whether or not the downward slope was long enough to coast down or whether or not I would accelerate and reset cruise control.

Over the course of this experiment I averaged 68 mph and 37.98 mpg.

This represents an 11 mpg increase (40.7%) over my rated 27 mpg and with 800lbs of household goods in my car!

... It's about 2 weeks later now and I'm currently on travel and using a rental car. I've have / will experiment with two additional techniques with the rental car (4 cylinder Hyundai Sonata):

9.) Cutting off engine at stop lights. This mimics what hybrids already do.

This is my first time trying #9 and it's also being done in an unfamiliar area where I'm not fully aware of cycle times for red lights. It's probably best to test this on my route to work where I'm most familiar with which lights are long.

10.) Inflating tires to maximum tire pressure. I'm trying this tomorrow in a drive between Norfolk, VA and Washington D.C. I typically keep my tires at 32 psi but will try inflating them a little more after reading the manufacture's max tire pressure. Many "hypermiler" websites recommend increasing to max tire pressure. I'll raise the tire pressure somewhere between 32psi and the max pressure while leaving the pressure a tad below max pressure. Aside: my friend tried this technique with his Jetta TDI and lost one tire from tread separation (thus my reason for not going to max pressure but something close).

Friday, July 18, 2008

BMW: 59 MPG / 0 to 60 in 8.8 sec

BMW brought its 118d not for sale in U.S. diesel to New York City to accept the 2008 World Green Car Award.

It's a bit disappointing that BMW isn't selling this car in the U.S.. It's also more disappointing that the legislature is not more aggressive with our Nations' energy policy to promote cars like this. Sort of makes me think that Congress would much rather prefer low-economy cars so that they generate more income from fuel taxes.

Here's the link.