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Old 07-20-2008, 12:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Detroit Area
Posts: 43

LilRed - '03 Mazda Protege LX
90 day: 29.09 mpg (US)
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The Stealth Grille Block

I wanted to try an air block on my upper grill. Here is my original grille area:

I wanted it to look clean not be too noticeable, but not take a lot of time to install and not be permanent in case I ran into cooling trouble (not likely in Michigan) or some other unexpected problem. I thought a while about various ways to do it, then got a really interesting idea today. Here's the grille block installed:

See it? No, its not on the back side of the grille... Here is a hint:

I wrapped the front of the grille in heat-shrinkable window film... the stuff you can use to add insulation to your house windows in winter.

To install it, I first studied up on how to remove a Protege grill and the glossy rim strip that runs along the top of the grille. Then I put the window film double-sided tape all around the outside edges of the grill (the parts that butt up against the bumper and trim. Then to improve air-tightness, I placed some foam tape around the bottom and sides:

Here is the front with the trim strip along the top. Notice the camera flash off the surface of the film?

I just installed this, so I need to drive it a few days and see if it will cause any obvious problems. It would be nice to do an ABA coast-down test, but it's hard enough to find time to squeeze in even quick projects like this one.

This window film stuff is fairly strong, though I'm sure a rock could punch a hole in it. And I don't know if the tape holding this on will be waterproof. So we'll how long it holds up. It only took about 45 to 60 minutes to install, so it's no big deal if I want to replace it after a while. Even if the window film does not hold up, if the grille block works well in terms of FE, maybe I could fashion a more permanent one. I do like how smooth and practically invisible this is for now.

Updates later on driving experiences and if it stays on over a few tanks of fuel, we'll see it's effects on my mpg's.
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