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Old 06-06-2008, 02:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Complete newbie here trying to squeeze 45mpg out of a '98 Corolla

I'm a soon-to-be sophomore in college and I've just stumbled upon ecomodder. I've been reading the forum and blog postings for about five hours now and I am completely obsessed. I have already ordered my ScanGaugeII and I'm going to see what I can do.

Current estimate is about 30 mpg (based on about 300 miles to a 10gal tank). I have tentatively set my goal for 45 mpg. I don't know if this is reasonable because I have not been practicing any of the 100+ driving tips before tonight and I don't know how much improvement those will yield before any modifications. I can really feel (and hear) the drag on the car when I approach 70 mph though.

I mentioned my new obsession to my mother in passing and she is adamantly opposed to my altering anything that will in any way hinder my safety (namely, removing mirrors), so I've decided to stick to the bottom of my car. Also, (and saying this as a newb), the '98 Corolla's profile looks like it will gain little from anything up top short of a complete boat tail.

Here's what I want to do:
Grill blocking
Belly cover
Rear wheel skirts
Front and rear wheel deflectors
Front and rear wheel boat tailing

All of my mods have to be easily removable so my mother will approve. I plan on using coroplas for the belly cover and perhaps the rear wheel skirts if I reinforce it with some sort of metal skeleton. As a slightly less removable option, I really like the painted screen method used here. Belly pan or vortex generators? This is certainly an easy method, but will it perform as well as coroplas?

The deflectors and boat tailing I want to do with some kind of plastic perhaps reinforced with a metal frame. I see a lot of people mentioning using lexan or other plastics that can be shaped easily with heat. Does anyone have any good sources of info on how to obtain/work with these materials?

Here are some paint mockups of what I'm planning. (note the night time atmosphere. It's 2AM and I'm so excited I can't sleep).

I plan on having the deflectors and boat tails on the back connected by the skirt. This will cover the wheel on three sides. I could maybe connect the underbelly to the enclosure on the inside if the suspension doesn't interfere.


I'm fairly certain that the openings on the bottom do nothing for the engine, so I opted to cover all of them.

Being a college student, I can't see myself spending more than $200 on this project (especially because I just bought a $150 ScanGauge). I do have plenty of time though.

If you could offer any suggestions about what kind of materials to use or modifications to make, I am all ears. I will conduct a test on the unmodified car as soon as I get my computer.

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Old 06-06-2008, 08:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Ok, well first off, welcome to the site.

Before, you go to crazy on aeromods (though they're not a bad idea, just not the first thing I would do for improvement), get your scangaugeII. Once you have that, you'll be able to determine if you could improve your millage just by changing your driving habits. If you haven't red them already, read the 100 + tips to getting great gas millage, there is some really good stuff in there. After you read that and see what your MPG is using those techniques, then I would recommend the aeromods you're looking at because aeromods will only show small improvements, where adjusting your driving will yield better % results.

But back to your aero stuff. I have a 1996 Camry that EPA est. got 21mpg and I'm now doing about 33mpg in the city and upwards of 45mpg on the highway with and that's without aero mods to it. I just recently built air dams for the front grill, and you're more or less right, those holes on the bottom of your corolla are similar to the ones on my Camry and they don't do a whole heck of a lot. I was able to block off all the holes on the bottom and leave my grill open and my temperatures are still stable, but as always, YMMV. But, when you're looking to make the blocks for those holes, consider using pink insulation foam. It's $10 for an 8'x3' sheet of the stuff and then get some sandpaper, around 600 grit is what I used and it worked great to shape the piece. Cut a template with cardboard and then transfer it to the foam board, use sand paper to get it to fit snuggly into the hole and then to hold it on I used packing tape around the edge because it seemed to stick to the foam better then duct tape did. I also used some cheap $0.99 spray gloss spray paint to make it match the color of my car.

Good luck, looks like you have some work ahead of you.
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Old 06-06-2008, 10:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to the site! It looks like your ready to go. That is great, but as NoCO2 said your largest gains will be from driving style. In fact, if you have a manual transmission I'm absolutely sure you could get 45 mpg without any modifications at all. I have a 2003 Matrix (larger and heavier than your Corolla) and I have gotten 43 mpg under some bad conditions and without hardly any mods (I had a grill block at the time). I'm sure I can get 45 in it, so I'm sure you can get that in your lighter and smaller Corolla (since they went a lot larger in 03).
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Old 06-06-2008, 12:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome to ecomodder! You look like you're off to a good start...where're you going to skool?
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Old 06-06-2008, 01:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Welcome to ecomodder! You look like you're off to a good start...where're you going to skool?
I'm going to be a sophomore at MIT this upcoming year
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Old 06-06-2008, 01:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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MIT, what a terrible skool.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Old 06-06-2008, 05:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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As others have said,welcome! I noted your plans and here's my suggestion which dovetails into what others have already said.Consider all your options for driving technique and how that can impact your mpg,then consider a little more home work.I have posted a number of installments on aero-mods with some quantified results from published studies.I haven't done boat-tails yet,however you said you wouldn't be doing that so everything else you mentioned has been covered.If you will study the numbers,you should be able to "build" the Corolla on paper.If you were to rely exclusively on streamlining to push the car from 30,to 45 mpg,you would have to reduce drag by 100-percent,no mean feat! If you'll spend a little additional time going into the project you may spend your time much more efficiently.Happy fabricating!
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Old 06-07-2008, 10:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes, planning your aero mods is fun, but basic maintenance (new air filter, engine and tranny oil changes, good brakes with calipers that aren't sticking, etc ...) and driving style changes will save you a lot more.

I had a 1996 Civic with slightly wider tires, aftermarket intake and exhaust and for the most part, i drove it like I stole it. I once had 4 sequential tankfuls that each averaged over 45mpg in the middle of summer.

Your goal is easily attainable ... but aero won't have a lot to do with it.
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Old 06-07-2008, 12:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bror Jace View Post
Yes, planning your aero mods is fun, but basic maintenance (new air filter, engine and tranny oil changes, good brakes with calipers that aren't sticking, etc ...) and driving style changes will save you a lot more.
I'm not much of a gear head (I mean, I can change my oil, replace my starter) so do you have any sites or resources that will tell me how to adjust these kinds of things?

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