Fuel | My Black Brick

My Black Brick

Keeping a '92 Volvo 240 Wagon on the Road & Other Automotive & DIY Musings

Burning a Hole in my Wallet

My check engine light has been on in my brick ever since I drove through flood waters and stalled out. I’ve changed oil and flushed the transmission but ever since I’ve been getting awful gas mileage. Like 10 mpg city and 15 highway. I haven’t had the funds to get it looked at and am just not going on any long trips. The car runs fine on the highway but lags around town. Stepping on the accelerator just causes the car to pause for a moment, then revs normally. I’m guessing the engine is flooding with an overload of fuel, because if I’m steady on the pedal I don’t have too much of a problem.

I figure the problem is with the O2 sensor, even though I think it’s pretty new, like less than a couple years.

UPDATE: Now that I look at pictures of my catalytic converter install, I realize I have another O2 sensor I can test with. My old cat had cracked but I still have it in my basement, with O2 sensor attached. Looks like I need a new wrench and should start troubleshooting.

Looking at my iPhoto set I see I have tons of pics that I never got around to posting, of things like my overdrive install, flame trap, cat converter, etc. One of these days I should just dump it all onto this site.

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GPM vs MPG

Good Magazine has an interesting article about how we’d think differently about fuel consumption if we referenced gallons-per-mile instead of miles-per-gallon. How much gas do you use to go a mile? 10 miles? 100 miles? It’s fractional on the level of a tank of gas, but when you scale the numbers up it becomes easier to comprehend. Professor Richard Larrick bases fuel consumption against 10,000 miles.

The key thing about 10,000 miles is that is the distance that many people drive in a year. In fact, they often drive more. It really gives you a sense of, Okay, a year’s worth of driving is going to use 400 gallons, or 700 gallons.

The math makes the change of reference interesting:

This helps us understand that pulling cars out of the teens [in terms
of miles per gallon] is so much more valuable than pushing an efficient
car even higher. That only becomes clear when you start thinking about
gallons per mile. That tiny increase from 10 mpg  to 11 mpg saves
essentially the same one gallon of gas every 100 miles as does
increasing 33 mpg to 50 mpg.

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Can’t they get better MPG than a 16yo Brick?

gaspumpWith all the news about high gas prices, auto MPG estimates keep popping up in ads and articles. I’m astounded at the fact that many cars get the same mileage as my 16 year old Volvo wagon.

Granted, it’s a low pressure, 120hp four cylinder pushing 3,500lbs of steel around at 22 city/25 highway.

But c’mon Chevrolet! Your HHR has only 30 more horsepower, weighs 400 pounds less and gets the same 22 city and only 30 highway. And you try to pass it off as fuel efficient?

And Volvo? The V50 gets 168hp, weights 3200lbs and pulls 20 city/ 28 highway. 16 years and 400% increase in fuels costs and they can only gain 50 hp from the same net mileage?

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