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Old 09-07-2012, 01:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Chesapeake, VA
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Rusty - '88 Chevrolet S10 base
90 day: 23.72 mpg (US)

Doc - '08 Honda Civic EX-L
90 day: 29.6 mpg (US)
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Time for a change!

Hi everyone, like most people joining this forum I have been a longtime lurker for quite a while but I decided enough is enough and I need to get involved. I am going to start with my back story so sit back relax and grab some popcorn cause this might take a minute....

My story starts with my old S10 which up until about a year and a half ago was my daily driver. I drove that truck as my Daily driver for about 5 years and I'll be honest back them I knew much less about aerodynamics and driving efficiently but I did have some style! So I modified my truck for looks and despite the fact that I didn't know it I was also drastically improving its aero. With that truck I lowered it installed smaller mirrors a tonneau cover a different grill and headlights, different hood etc... which with all of that added up and my odd driving style it netted me an average of about 27 ~28 mpg per tank and that is with a good mix of city, highway and heavy stop and go traffic. When on longer road trips even while traveling at a less than ideal 70+ mph I would still usually get around 30~31 mpg. Oh and the EPA numbers for that truck were 20 city 26 highway and 22 combined.

Long story short I frickin loved that truck... and then it died. It languished in my garage for almost a year before I finally accepted the fact that I was not going to be able to repair it because of time/budgetary reasons. So I stripped off all the good stuff and sold it really cheap "as-is" and started daily driving our "extra" car the Bravada...

My Bravada which some of you might now is closely related to an S10. It is basically an upscale version of a Chevy S10 Blazer. Leather interior, power everything, heated seats and mirrors, sunroof, AWD (which was unique to the Bravada), and so on. Needless to say it is a luxury truck. This truck was originally bought for my wife when we had our first child... mainly because his car seat and stroller and assorted baby gear would not fit into her old Accord. The stroller we bought literally did not fit inside the car in any way shape or form. Yes we could have gotten a smaller stroller but my wife at the time really really wanted an SUV. Personally I really really wanted to keep the Accord which to this day it is still the best car I have ever owned... But I digress. That is an argument for another day and fairly similar to the one we had when she wanted to get a Minivan...

But anyway, when we bought that truck I was foolish enough that I did not research it's fuel economy at all, I figured "hey it's a fairly small SUV it can't be that bad can it." And honestly since it was originally my wife's ride I didn't have any idea just how bad it was until I started driving it every day. My wife didn't track her mileage or fuel usage and since at the time she worked much closer to home it was not really a big deal. Then as I briefly alluded to earlier earlier we did end up buying a minivan when we were expecting our second child. So at that point the Bravada was just an "extra" vehicle that we had for inclimate weather (thank you AWD) or when I wanted to take the family somewhere and not drive the Van. After a few month of the Bravada just sitting around I tried to sell it for about a month and almost succeeded a couple of times but then the S10 broke down.

Which brings me full circle to where I am now. Driving this absolute pig of a truck around 30 miles a day round trip. I have been driving it daily for about a year and a half now and initially my average fuel mileage was around 14mpg which for something so small with a v6 is just abysmal. I have made a few minor changes to the truck and to my driving style and currently I am able to squeeze an average of about 15.5mpg out of it now. But I am done with this truck. I mean I have no doubt in my mind that I could probably do some more aero mods and other stuff and maybe drastically improve the mileage to oh I don't know 18mpg. But the time, effort, cost etc are just not worth it to me. Regardless of what I do to it, it is still going to be a 4,400lb awd gas sucking pig. So I got another S10. unfortunately (or possibly fortunately time will tell) I could not afford another newer 2nd generation S10 and ended up buying a fairly well worn out 1988 s10. But the thing I love about this truck is that it is bare bones, a clean slate if you will, which also means that it is light... like crazy light compared to other S10s. It is a 2.5L 4 cyl with a 5 speed. From the factory it had no A/C, no power steering, no power locks, no power windows, no power brakes, no radio, no speakers, no cig lighter, etc... It is by definition a stripper model. It has everything it needs to drive, be street legal, be a truck, plus a heater, and pretty much nothing else.

I have not started commuting with this truck yet and it has been mainly use for basic work truck tasks like hauling stuff to the dump, moving furniture, and rusting slowly in the driveway. Mainly this is because 1) it doesn't have a/c and it gets hot and humid as crap here in the summer and 2) I need to have a state inspection done before I can get a base sticker and start driving it to work. For what it's worth it came with a valid state inspection sticker when I bought and was therefore legal to drive but it did not come with the supporting paperwork that I am required to show to receive a base sticker. Well now that the old inspection has expired and the weather has started to cool down I am going to go ahead and get the inspection done so I can start driving it and saving some gas.

My plan is to drive it for a while to get a good baseline mpg and sell the Bravada... I may have skipped a step in there, but I am really tired of this Bravada. But once I get a good baseline mpg for the truck I am going to go ahead and start doing some more mods in the hopes of reaching at least a 30mpg average. I say more because I'm not going to lie I have already done quite a bit to this truck. Once again it was all mainly done in the name of style but some of it should be applicable to improving fuel efficiency , adding a tonneau, lowering it taller tires and so forth. What I will do to the truck in the future I have no idea. But any time I mod something on any of my cars I never make it permanent I always like having the option to restore my cars back to stock. So while I am not against doing some more advanced aero modding I am not going to be doing anything that would require extensive bodywork to remove... like installing dozens of self drilling screws in the sheet metal.. just as an example. Honestly one of the things that I have already considered doing is an aero shell. I already have a hard flat tonneau cover but I could definitely deal with an aero shell. But honestly I want to try and keep the aero mods to a minimum though. I know they help exponentially more, the more you drive at high speeds and honestly probably less than 30% of my daily commutes are driven at those speeds. So I feel that the ROI would be fairly small. Now if I was driving more like 100+ miles a day with more than 70% interstate driving I would probably be outside measuring my truck for a boat tail right now.

In any case I am here to learn and mod and get more involved. And if you actually managed to read all of that God bless you. If not I'll sum it up...

TL;DR I used to have an S10 that got fairly decent gas mileage with little effort until it broke down. Now I am driving a Bravada that gets awful gas mileage but I plan on switching back to another s10.. and older, lighter, squarer S10 and once again trying to get good fuel economy.. but hopefully even better than the previous truck, even if it takes some effort this time.

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