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Old 06-05-2009, 08:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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My 'old' 2002 Ford Focus

Hi everyone,

I've been lurking here for a few months, and am impressed with the amount of information and help that is available.

I wanted to start a new thread highlighting the modifications that I'm making on my 2002 Ford Focus. I bought it new back in the beginning of '03, and have put just shy of 300 000km (~188k miles) on it since then. It has always been an efficient car for me, but I know that I can do much better than stock. I've tracked tank-to-tank fuel use since I bought it (I have with all my vehicles) and so I was pretty knowledgeable with the average FE I was getting, but gas prices the past year or so had got me thinking that I could do much better.

After reading through the '65+ efficiency mods' and the '100+ hypermiling tips', I first made some changes to my driving style and saw modest improvements and got above what the EPA said the car could do. That has spurred me on to make some simple and $0-cost (so far) modifications to the car like increasing pressure in the tires, removing the passenger wiper arm, removing the antenna, and a cobbled-together cardboard grill block. I'm still playing with the size of the grill opening necessary to optimize FE vs engine heat, and once that's sorted out I'll replace the ratty cardboard with something more permanent (and less ugly). My goal is 40mpg without too much visible modification, and then push on towards 50mpg with airdam, underpan, skirts, wheel discs, etc.

I was driving my wife's car (2003 Buick LeSabre) which has L/100km avg and instantaneous read-outs built into it, and by paying close attention to FE I was able to average over 38mpg on a 150km trip. Now I know that's just one trip, and it was largely highway travel, but it highlighted for me what a difference it makes being able to adjust your habits with real-time feedback. It didn't seem right that I could get better mileage in a massive sedan loaded with our 5 family members, and a 3.6L V6 under the hood then my little focus with it's 2.0L four-banger on my one-in-the-car daily commute.

So I ordered a ScanGuageII for my Focus, and it arrived yesterday.

I still think there's some calibration to be done, and I haven't completed a tank with it yet, but over the last three 70km commutes I am getting better than 6l/100km (40 MPG) (5.3l/100km ~ 45 MPG this morning). I know you'll all be skeptical until I've got several tanks-worth in that FE range, and I will too, but I'm really happy with what I see so far!

WOW.

I'm looking forward to many more improvements, but I am simply amazed at the huge difference that can be made by being intelligent about your driving habits.

Thanks to everyone who contributes to this forum, I have learned so much already.

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Old 06-05-2009, 08:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Congrats on the good mileage and welcome to the site.
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Old 06-05-2009, 08:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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FocunStein - '02 Ford Focus SE
90 day: 37.14 mpg (US)

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90 day: 21.89 mpg (US)

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ratty cardboard grill block

Here's the grill block as it stands. I'm starting with cardboard because it is easy to modify (and remove) until I get sorted out the correct amount of airflow the rad wants.


I am thinking I'll move the license plate, maybe just up an inch since it's covering a portion of the hole I've left in the grill block. I do want to make the move to something less visible (and ugly) soon, as I'm getting tired of the silly questions and comments from people at work.

The sloped part above the license plate is intended to direct air over the hood, rather than bumping into the vertical upper grill. My intention is to add a piece of plastic or fibreglass shaped to follow the curve of the hood down to the top of the bumper, and I would like it to be as wide as the inside edges of the headlights, but the signal lights are buried in the grill so I guess I'll have to move them.

That could wind up being a bunch of work, so if I'd like to know the opinion of folks on the forum, will making the nose more rounded make a significant aerodynamic difference?
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Old 06-05-2009, 08:55 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum.

Friendly reminder: are you talking MPG with Imperial or US gallons with the Buick?

Going for the ScanGauge was a smart move. You won't regret it one bit (sounds like you've already realized that); it'll pay for itself many times over with what you learn from it.
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Old 06-05-2009, 08:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The front of modern cars all have fully attached flow. There's lower hanging fruit to be picked elsewhere before you start worrying about how far back from the tip of the nose you can maintain a laminar boundary layer by reshaping everything to be fully smooth & rounded.

Question: does the driver's wiper always sit so high up the glass? Is there a void behind the trailing edge of the hood that it can sit in? (I'm not familiar with that detail on the Focus).
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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FocunStein - '02 Ford Focus SE
90 day: 37.14 mpg (US)

theSeven - '88 Mazda RX-7 GXL
90 day: 21.89 mpg (US)

Steve - '93 Ford Festiva L
90 day: 41.35 mpg (US)
Thanks: 5
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Daox: Thanks for the welcome! I have read many of your posts, and have already learned much.

MetroMPG: Oh no, I didn't realize that there was yet ANOTHER unit conversion to deal with. Being here in Canada I generally work in L/100km, and just convert back to MPG since those numbers make more sense to me. I find am always switching between metric and imperial measurements, my weight I understand in lbs, but distance I understand in km. I think there are a couple generations of people around here that are stuck between like me.

So I guess I will have to go dig around the forums and figure out the difference between imperial and US gallons and re-calculate. I don't have a clue which one the Buick uses for calculations, there's a nifty button that just switches the entire car from metric to .. uh .. non-metric. But there's a chance that I have been using the wrong gallon conversions with my fuel log, I'll have to double check and edit it if necessary.

Actually as a cool side-note, it's a silly little thing, but they don't bother to run both KM and Miles on the speedo, they just move the needle when you switch metric/non. Just struck me as a "duh, I should have thought of that" concept. Ok, so maybe I'm a nerd for finding that interesting. HE HE.
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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FocunStein - '02 Ford Focus SE
90 day: 37.14 mpg (US)

theSeven - '88 Mazda RX-7 GXL
90 day: 21.89 mpg (US)

Steve - '93 Ford Festiva L
90 day: 41.35 mpg (US)
Thanks: 5
Thanked 2 Times in 1 Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
The front of modern cars all have fully attached flow. There's lower hanging fruit to be picked elsewhere before you start worrying about how far back from the tip of the nose you can maintain a laminar boundary layer by reshaping everything to be fully smooth & rounded.
Thanks for that. I wasn't looking forward to the work necessary to modify the whole front. I'll stick with grill block for now, and move on to wheel disks, air dam, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
Question: does the driver's wiper always sit so high up the glass? Is there a void behind the trailing edge of the hood that it can sit in? (I'm not familiar with that detail on the Focus).
It's a little high in that picture (I think there's a fried relay that doesn't bring it back to 'park' when you turn it off) but in general it does seem to be out in the airflow a bit. I did adjust where the arm sits on the spline so that it should park as low as possible on the glass. I was considering adding a lip or something to the back of the hood to move the airflow up over the wiper. Do you think that would help? Or should I just take the whole darn thing off, and keep a 14mm ratchet in the car to put it back on in inclement weather?
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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FocunStein - '02 Ford Focus SE
90 day: 37.14 mpg (US)

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90 day: 21.89 mpg (US)

Steve - '93 Ford Festiva L
90 day: 41.35 mpg (US)
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lower grill block cleaned up.

I have often been accused of being someone who would spend hours pontificating on a topic rather than acting on it, so I decided to put my efforts where my mouth is and scrap the ugly cardboard plastered all over the nose of my focus.

After reading several success stories here on the forums I purchased some lawn-edging material with an airdam in mind (just gotta figure out a good way to mount it). I realized that this material would also work as a lower grill block fitted in behind the grill.

After cutting off the cardboard I took a good look and discovered a couple of interesting things.

1. The lower grill opening is not as wide as it seems, the outer section on each side is already blocked, apparently that's where foglights would have been mounted if I had purchased a different trim level.

2. There are curved pieces of plastic that lead directly from the sides of the lower grill opening to the rad, which seem to be there to close off the edges air flow and make sure it gets directly to the rad. If I'm blocking off part of the grill opening, should I be trying to move these guys over the the new outside edges of the opening, or fashioning something like them?



I cut off an 8 inch chuck of edging material, but the rounded lip wasn't letting it sit flush with the inside of the grill opening.


I trimmed off the rounded lip, and made some hi-tech holes for my supreme-quality mounting hardware (thank heavens for pocket knives and wire ties!)


And here it is mounted. Looks pretty stealthy, it blends in well with the existing grill. Stealth wasn't a requirement, but it certainly doesn't detract!
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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FocunStein - '02 Ford Focus SE
90 day: 37.14 mpg (US)

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90 day: 21.89 mpg (US)

Steve - '93 Ford Festiva L
90 day: 41.35 mpg (US)
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upper grill block, belly pan question

The upper grill block also resides behind the grill, but this one is still made of cardboard. It looks like I'll need to remove the upper grill (or at least pop out a few bolts and move it a little) to make a more exact template of the hole for more edging material to be cut to order. It's doing the job well right now, but doesn't have the same look, or ability to withstand weather as it will in plastic


While I was hanging around the front of the car with my camera, I lay down and got a picture underneath showing the drastic need for a partial belly pan (at least).


I think I shall follow the herd on this one and go with coroplast (any local elections coming up?), but I am thinking some aluminum or sheet tin would be better closer to the hot bits. From those of you with experience with these things, would alum rivets be a good method for attaching aluminum to coroplast? or would they pull through the plastic over time? Perhaps washers to spread the load?
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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FocunStein - '02 Ford Focus SE
90 day: 37.14 mpg (US)

theSeven - '88 Mazda RX-7 GXL
90 day: 21.89 mpg (US)

Steve - '93 Ford Festiva L
90 day: 41.35 mpg (US)
Thanks: 5
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ScanGuageII is the answer to my prayers

As I had mentioned before, I am amazed by the difference that I can make in FE by paying close attention to my new SGII. This is not news for many of you here, but for those who haven't taken the plunge to fit their vehicle out with some sort of feedback guage, I can't recommend it enough.

By a slight modification to my daily commute in to work this morning, plus really paying close attention to the LHP redout, I was able to pull 5.1 l/100km (~46 mpg). I am starting to understand the comments I've read around here about how hypermiling can become an obsession or addiction. I'm already treating it like a game, where I'm always trying to better my previous "Top Score"

Then I made the above-mentioned modifications to the air dams over my lunch hour, and was itching to see if they made a difference on my ride home. I didn't travel the same route (not even the same destination) so there's no direct comparison, but whether it was the cleaner front, some other environmental variables, better technique, or something magic, I just about hit my target of 4.7l/100km or 50mpg. In fact, the AVG was reading 4.7 for a little while, but I made a route change decision to avoid starting from near stopped at the bottom of a steep hill, but the new route took me down 6km of gravel road. I now know that driving on loose gravel is akin to driving with a parachute attached to your trunk as far as FE is concerned.

So I'm itching to finish off this tank so I can get some official numbers posted to my fuel log. Maybe I'm just odd, but does anyone else get the urge to just keep driving so that you can get to the end of a tank and do the calculations? Clearly not very good use of dead dinosaurs, and somewhat against the concept of making the best use of the fuel you consume, but I was tempted non-the-less. Yup, I'm officially a ecomodding dork.

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