Posts Tagged ‘cars’


A New Chariot, And A Challenge

December 23, 2008

Well, I decided that the winter beater was a little too beat, so I pulled the trigger on one of these Aveo 5 SVM’s that we had on the lot at my store.  It was a steal, ’cause it was sitting out there 60 days and the boss had it priced for less than what we owned it for.

Anyway, it’s a silver 2007 with about 12,400 on the odometer.  It seemed like a smart buy since it has plenty of factory warranty left, my techs said they hardly ever have problems, they hold their resale well, and I should be able to achieve some pretty respectable MPG’s with the little 1.6L engine.  Although, I did splurge and get some 16″ wheels for it (since I naturally get a discount, and the stock 14’s were just too cheap-looking), so it might effect my efficiency a tad.  We’ll see.


By the way, SVM stands for Special Value Model, which means that this car is about as no-frills as one can find these days.  A basic AM/FM radio, crank windows, 5-speed manual transmission, no A/C, cruise, or power…anything.  Pretty much just the essentials are included, although it does have side impact airbags and a nifty digital clock right on the dashboard.

As far as the MPG’s go, I thought I’d spend the winter tracking the tank and see what this little golf cart can do.  The goal is to beat my summer car, the modified 2000 Cougar aka “Slow and Low”.   On paper, this looks easily achievable, considering the official EPA numbers:


The Aveo is definitely at a disadvantage, however.  Consider alone the ambient temps here in Minnesota in the wintertime (below zero for most of last week), which translates into both less efficiency when she’s going, but also burning gas while she sits there warming up (I’m sorry, but when it’s 10 below, I’m going to run it for at least 5 minutes.  The car was so frozen the other day that the clutch actually stuck to the floor).  Now, add the snow factor (and all the spinning and slogging that results), along with the fact that I wouldn’t consider myself as an expert with a stick shift, and that I won’t be logging nearly as many highway miles (I’m transferring to a store that is much closer to home)….I think we might have a pretty good competition here.

So, for the record, Slow and Low burned 213 gallons of fuel and travelled 6505 miles last season, which sets the mark to beat at 30.537 MPG.  Can this little Aveo do it? 

Mileage logs will be tracked here.   Or, better still, I’ll try to figure out a way to paste the tracker button

somewhere on the main page (it’s a little too wide for the sidebar).


Yes, Yes, YES!

June 11, 2008

Take that oil man!  Yeeeeaaa!!!!!

To be exact, the last tank for Slow and Low made it to 30.009 mpg, and I am now an “expert” hypermiler:

I think it might have been that last 300 feet I coasted into the gas station.  Seriously.

Update:  It should be noted that I use the figures of 10% and 90% only as a best guess as to the percentages for my daily commute to work, and I just use them as a default.  Some days are better than others here in the Twin Cities, and often I find myself in gridlock on the interstate.



June 3, 2008

As it now reads in my sidebar, I’ve been employing different hypermiling techniques in an attempt to average 30 MPG in my modified 2000 Cougar V6.  Interestingly, my last tank was the closest yet:

I say interestingly because I did spend a couple of work commutes sitting in heavy traffic this last week.  This commute is probably 90% highway miles, and I’ve used that number when entering my mileage data onto the various websites I use to track my progress.  It leads me to believe that I should be able to get a 30 MPG tank if I have a lucky week of steady traffic flow.   Get outta my way Minnesota!   I’m sooo close!

Also, I noticed that Miles O’Brien and CNN has jumped on board, and posted a rather informative (and humorous) piece on hypermiling:

They mentioned one of my new online hangouts,, and I’m guessing that’s the reason why the site has this message posted at the top of the page (as of this writing):

Our server is currently experiencing a very high load with the recent increase in traffic. Please be patient with page load times — we are in the process of acquiring the means to upgrade our server hardware. If you would like to help us with this effort, please donate using the PayPal form at the bottom right of the homepage. Thank you!!

That stinks…it’s been down all day.

Anyway….take that oil man!


The Patriotic Duty Of Blowing One’s Stimulus Check

May 9, 2008

The other day I saw an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press:  The economic-stimulus rebate: Save it or spend it?   Having not yet received my check from Uncle George, I decided to read on.

America needs help. Sue Wagner, an economic patriot, is answering the call.

The Brooklyn Center telecommunications worker used her $600 check — part of the $168 billion national economic-stimulus package — for a spa that was installed in her back yard Tuesday.

I want this country to be stimulated,” Wagner said.

That’s exactly what government officials want to hear. Checks began to flow from Washington, D.C., this week, part of a program to lift the economy out of the doldrums by boosting consumer spending. Every taxpaying adult is supposed to get $600, plus an extra $300 per child for families. But as officials await the impact of the rebates, a Pioneer Press online survey showed fewer than a third of volunteer respondents would spend the money as officials hoped.

It got me thinking.  Should I blow this thing?  And if I do, will I feel patriotic?

I sat and thought about all the things I could do with an extra $600, and my practical side kept telling me that I should put it on a gas card to combat the ever-soaring gas prices.  Then I thought I should just dump it into my mortgage.   Heck, there are probably a thousand things that I could have done that would have been financially safe and reasonable. 

As I was arriving to work the next day, I got out of my 2000 Cougar, walked toward my building and looked back to confirm that I had armed the car alarm.  As I looked at it I was reminded how old the car was getting, and that it wasn’t looking as good as it used to.  It had a crack in the fiberglass front bumper valence, and my carbon-fiber hood was looking cloudy and discolored (having been subjected to the elements for a few years).  I decided right then and there what I was going to do with that check:  My Cougar was going to get a makeover.

So, I contacted my body shop and scheduled the appointment.  I told the guys while I was there for the estimate that this was a stimulus check expense.  They smiled and a few of them told me that work had been pretty slow lately and that they really appreciate the business.  Apparently people had better things to spend their money on than repairing cosmetic damage on their vehicles, or so I guessed.  I handed over the keys and told them I’d see them in a week.

Well, I recently got the car back, and I gotta say that I couldn’t be happier.  I figure that I killed a couple birds with one stone.  I had fixed up something that had been bugging me for quite some time, and used my chance to stimulate the economy.  I guess the added bonus is that I get to advertise it all over town as I drive around:



Dump The Truck

May 2, 2008

Today I spotted this NYT article (via memeorandum): As Gas Costs Soar, Buyers Flock to Small Cars

DETROIT — Soaring gas prices have turned the steady migration by Americans to smaller cars into a stampede.

In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.

The switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles has been building in recent years, but has accelerated recently with the advent of $3.50-a-gallon gas. At the same time, sales of pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles have dropped sharply.

In another first, fuel-sipping four-cylinder engines surpassed six-cylinder models in popularity in April.

I post this as a follow-up to the Gas Price Rant Thread, but also because I work at a dealership (yes, every once and awhile Chamber visitors will learn a little more about ChenZhen the man, and it’s true that I sell cars).

So, I guess I can say that this is hardly surprising to me, but I’m amazed at the change in the market in just the last 6 months.  We can’t give these trucks and SUV’s away, and the cars that many people would have previously laughed and pointed at (like the pictured Chevy Aveo) are now holding their values and flying off the lot.  People are doing the math at this point, and the cost of ownership of these V8 trucks is simply getting outta hand.  

For an example, let’s compare fuel costs between the Chevy Aveo (since I mentioned it) and the Chevy Tahoe (since the NYT mentioned it’s 35% drop in sales in the article), using my 10,660 mi. annual commute to work and back that I used in the “rant” thread:


That’s a difference of $832, or about $69 extra a month…just to drive to work.

Or, if one uses the default EPA estimates of 15K miles/year with 45% hwy and 55% city average, there is a difference of $1264, or an extra $105 a month.  Within the context of buying a new vehicle, it’s definitely going to be a factor because when you’re talking about a $600/month payment on a new Tahoe, you’re really talking about $700/month in relation to picking a more fuel efficient car instead.

The additional problem for those who already own one is that the market is so soft on them that they won’t get squat for it on a trade-in, so you’ll see more and more people flipped upside down on their payments (lingo we use to describe a situation where the owner owes more on their vehicle than it is worth), perhaps to the point that they can’t get out of it even if they wanted to.   We’re seeing these people more and more.

It’s getting rough out there, let me tell ya.