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Old 08-19-2008, 09:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How can I lessen my '92 Volvo's environmental impact?

Hello,

I drive a 1992 Volvo 940 GL, automatic transmission, 107,000 miles, 2.3L engine, (1992 Volvo 940 Specs - Specifications for used Volvo 940 - CarGurus). I live in the Boston area but go to school in Rochester, NY (where it's COLD). My parents were early Prius adopters and drive two of them, and after a couple of years with my Volvo, I'm interested in doing something about this vehicle's impact.

I have an ethical problem with throwing out or selling a great old car like my Volvo: it's a tank and easily will last another 200,000 miles, so if I sell it to get a more energy-efficient vehicle, I'm only benefiting myself as someone else will certainly drive it into the ground, polluting just as much as usual. Also, in the larger picture, I think the world's biggest hurdle with energy efficiency is not simply developing new technologies, but finding efficient and economical means to re-design our old technologies like my good old Volvo.

So, I'm hoping for some help with any options I have to modify this vehicle to make it more energy-efficient. To be clear, I'm interested first and foremost in modifications that would affect its environmental impact (less direct and indirect pollution), and second in modifications that would lead to more cost-effective driving (more fuel-efficient/lower cost to drive).

I already practice basic stuff in efficiency - keeping tires properly inflated, going down hills in neutral, riding my bike, etc - here I'm really looking for help with substantial mechanical changes in the vehicle: anything from using E85 to converting it to a full EV...I am fairly tech-savvy and a little bit mechanically inclined but I'm assuming I'll need a mechanic's help with at least some part of this.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Sam

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Old 08-19-2008, 10:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The environmental benefits of e85 are dubious at best, currently.

I don't think you can easily seperate the two (enviro vs cost effective), as many folks now consider CO2 a form of pollution and the worse your mpg the worse your co2 output (assuming a reasonably clean burning engine).

If you are feeling adventurous though then swap in a stick shift for starters, it will make the EV conversion easier later on too
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Prudence - '92 Volvo 940 GL Sedan
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I probably wasn't clear enough. What I'm trying to say is that it's okay with me to invest money in a vehicle for environmental reasons, without necessarily benefiting long-term in terms of $$.

I wonder what going over to stick would cost...way more fun to drive...
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It's probably hard to find a manual trans for that car, might be $1000 in used parts and a fair bit of research to find something that will fit and pedal assembly, etc, to see if it is even feasible.

I don't believe you have a lockup converter (don't really know for sure) so you should be able to leverage a noticeable benefit on the hiway as well as around town.

Of course adding a basket/trailer to your bicycle and using that for local trips is a real good eco bargain/quick fix too as you have observed.
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Welcome to the site. Its refreshing to see someone come here for environmental gains vs the usual cost issue. There are many things you can do to the Volvo to decrease environmental impact. I would suggest reading some of the stickied thread in the forums to get a better idea of what you'd like to do.

The manual transmission swap won't be an easy task, but shouldn't be incredibly hard. Price will depend on used parts avaliable in your area. I suggest using Car-Part.com to find prices on transmissions and other misc parts you'll need. For reference, I have a DIY written on how to do a swap on a Toyota Starlet on my site here. Its definitly not your vehicle, but it'll give you an idea of what you would need to do.
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Glad you made it over, Aerodynamics is where it's going to be at for a floating brick like that.
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Prudence - '92 Volvo 940 GL Sedan
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you mean an AWESOME floating brick???

make no mistake, I love this car and want to see it last another decade at least.

Is it possible to go to EV with an auto transmission? I like driving stick but it seems like a step backward in order to go forward...and at $1000 plus it could be a bit hard to swallow.
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Volvo

Coupe? Sedan? Wagon? Photograph from the side?
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Prudence - '92 Volvo 940 GL Sedan
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Sorry, forgot to mention that. It's a GL Sedan, pic from the side looks like this vehicle (this isn't my particular car but same model): http://www.analogstereo.com/images/om/volvo_940.jpg
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Old 08-19-2008, 01:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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lessen the Volvo

Quote:
Originally Posted by samuelmehr View Post
Sorry, forgot to mention that. It's a GL Sedan, pic from the side looks like this vehicle (this isn't my particular car but same model): http://www.analogstereo.com/images/om/volvo_940.jpg
samuelmehr,thanks for the photo.Helps alot! Looks like Volvo has refined the "brick" quite a bit already.The upper grille has been narrowed(good).Shadows thwart investigating for openings under the bumper.If there is a opening there,it might be possible to partially,or completely block the upper opening.Can't tell.One must be careful not to unintentionally fry important bits and pieces under the hood!The front airdam means that you already have the benefit of a partial bellypan,so completely smoothing the underside might not pay the dividends,say,a pickup truck might see.The flanks may be a bit dirty,although that involves mods to the rocker panels for the entire length of the car(as you see in one of today's Corollas).I like your wheel covers just as they are.They are much like Larry Shinoda's secret-weapon covers for the Trans Am Firebird of the early 80s.The side mirrors look okay aero wise,and while a little big for die hards,probably offer great and safe rearward vision.The cowl area in front of the windshield will be a little "dirty" however some of that ensures good cabin ventilation,a good tradeoff.I think the back of the car would benefit from a little cleanup.although it impacts access to the trunk.Something like Ford's Merkur XR4Ti used in the 1980s,or like AMG HAMMER did for the fast Mercedes.It's a combo streamlined rear roof extension combined with a rear,or bi-wing rear spoiler,which pushes the trailing edges out to intersect with an imaginary line defined by the ultimate streamlined teardrop form.You can see the profile at Projectermanent Kammback for Metro here at the aero forum.It will force the air to follow a path more like the roofline of a HONDA Insight hybrid ( one of the,if not the most aerodynamically efficient cars of its size class).I think rear mods are where the money would be.Anything you do to improve or reduce the wake behind the car will pay direct dividends at the gas pump.It's where about 70 cents out of every dollar you spend goes,when out on the open road.
.

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