Brick-a-Brack DIY Maintenance
I’ve been using the app “Car Minder Plus” for the past year and a half to document my gas mileage and repairs. It allows me to enter a garage of different cars and keep track of maintenance and service. Since I don’t have a fuel gauge it helps me keep track of how many miles I’ve gone since the last fill up, then shows my overall fuel mileage over 3 months, one year and lifetime.
This charts MPG over the course of 18 months. Note the dip after AMM broke.
Whenever I have a problem with the car I document it in the app so I have dates and mileage of when the problem occurred. I can also enter the expected time and mileage between services so they will come to my attention later and show me how dreadfully behind I am on my maintenance schedule.
My mileage is low enough that it's the date intervals that trigger the red light, not always mileage. Each of these items and their intervals can be set by the user.
These screen shots document the problem I had with my air mass meter. In the first you can see my mileage dive from over 20 mpg to below 15 mpg after I stalled in flood waters last August. I was pumping out unburned fuel for months before the problem was diagnosed and fixed. I was sure to document it all for future reference.
The "Repairs" area allows you to document anything and everything that happens to your ride.
Each repair item records date, mileage and your notes.
A bonus for “Car Minder Plus” is that you can email all your records from you iPod or iPhone. They come in a PDF file that you can print and hand to a mechanic if need be. Overall a useful app, I just have to be careful not to get my iPod Touch covered in motor oil and PB Blaster.
The NY Times is finally understanding the concept of high mileage in a consumer car. When the recession hit in 2009 the Times ran a few articles documenting how consumers were coping with their economic struggles by keeping their cars longer. Pity the poor family who needed to keep their 8 year old V70 instead of trading it in for a new car. Have mercy on the woman who is roughing it in her BMW with over 25k miles and going out of warranty.
Today the Times documents the trend of drivers keeping their cars past the 100k mile mark. The article feature photos of a clean and mean 1990 Volvo 745 with over 300k. Citing technological changes in piston rings, catalytic converters and rust proofing, engineers explain how recent cars can be expected to last much longer than vehicles from previous generations. And if you take proper care of it your car may even outlast you.
Rusted & Busted
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.
Travels & Tribulations
The brick reached an important milestone last week: it hit 149,999 miles. Really cool seeing all those nines. I’m looking forward to 199,999.
With 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?