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v-raze 02-22-2017 12:08 AM

Not your average high schooler!
 
Hello everyone!

I've always been an environmentally minded guy, and I got my first car last spring. It's a beautiful Imperial Blue 2008 Chevy Cobalt sedan, and it's got 145,000+ miles on the clock. The car was purchased so I could commute to my full-time internship that summer in fuel systems at Ford Motor Company. After a while, I started logging mileage and hypermiling, and I was eventually able to get my 48.6 mile round-trip commute to more than 40mpg average each day.

Now that school's been going a while, I've had a bit more time to work on my car and dream up all sorts of modifications to do as I have the money for them, and I figured I should probably interact with others who share my enthusiasm. I'm really excited to be getting more involved in the ecomodding community and learning from the best around. ;)

So far I've done a few mods to the 'balt itself, the most notable being an aftermarket intake that serves the dual purpose of drawing warmer air from higher up and vastly improving the sound and appearance of my engine. It also happens to be quite a bit lighter than the stock intake system, and cheaper to maintain, so I'm pretty happy with it.

I'd include some pictures but there's a five-post minimum restriction, so if you want to see them let me know and I'll put them in the thread later.

HydroJim 02-22-2017 12:38 AM

Welcome! I joined the forum when I was about your age. For reference, I graduated high school in 2014. I've come a long way since first joining but there is certainly a lot to learn around here. Just read through everything and soon you'll be an ecomodding expert.

Definitely post of some pictures of your cobalt. You're lucky to have such a nice and relatively new car at your age. Sucks you live up North where they use all that road salt. I grew up in Cleveland and since moving, I definitely don't miss all the rotten cars. Be sure to be cognizant of the rust before you drill any holes in the body for any modifications.



Unsolicited life advice that I feel obligated to give:

Congrats on the internship at Ford. That's quite an accomplishment for someone in high school. If you're interested in college, make sure to go to school with a good FSAE program. Lots of schools have them these days but some are better than others. Beyond undergrad, I know Clemson also has a great graduate automotive engineering program.

v-raze 02-22-2017 01:01 AM

Thanks for the advice!

I'm extremely happy to have the Cobalt, it's a fantastic vehicle. I wish we'd been able to get one of the better optioned models (re: OnStar, alloy wheels, forced induction) but I can add most of that stuff myself in due time, and I love it anyways. I've been setting aside money since it was bought in order to eventually purchase it, since my parents own it for now.

Thankfully, it's in pretty good shape as far as rust goes. The suspension/steering and the subframe all have the usual surface rust, but there's nothing on the body panels or the doors, so I'm hoping I can clean & coat the majority of the underbody this summer. It's kept outside, so I want to do everything I can to keep rust from becoming an issue. I do have an amusing picture of the layer of salt that's accumulated in the wheel wells so far- haven't washed it in a while. :(

I'm working on a college decision right now as I prepare to graduate this spring, currently hoping I can get an associate's degree in automotive service before transferring to university for a BS in engineering. My dream is to work with hybrid and electric vehicles, hopefully high-performance ones- unfortunately there's not much in the way of specific education for that yet, but I'll pursue whatever opportunities lead me in that direction.

In the meantime, I've got plenty of plans for the car once I start making money again. I'd like to add a solar panel to keep the battery topped off, switch to a deep cycle or AGM, and add a switch to disable the alternator.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 02-22-2017 09:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by v-raze (Post 534807)
The suspension/steering and the subframe all have the usual surface rust

I thought that it used aluminium subframes like the European versions of the Opel Astra (while the Brazilian-made versions of the Astra relied on steel subframes). But anyway, what kind of mods are you considering to do in the Cobalt?

v-raze 02-22-2017 09:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr (Post 534822)
I thought that it used aluminium subframes like the European versions of the Opel Astra (while the Brazilian-made versions of the Astra relied on steel subframes). But anyway, what kind of mods are you considering to do in the Cobalt?

Nope, pretty sure the Delta chassis vehicles all have steel subframes. I know some of the higher trims (SS) with the FE5 suspension have some aluminum parts like the control arms though, and I do plan on eventually upgrading to those. I'm hoping some time in the next couple years I can find myself a totaled or junkyard SS Cobalt/HHR or Saturn Ion Redline and pull all the good bits off it.

I have lots of plans for this car, but as far as ecomods go, here's some of my main goals:
  • 16" Alloy wheels
  • Solar panel to keep battery topped off
  • Better battery(ies)
  • Capacitor pack
  • Alternator disable switch
  • Full LED conversion
  • Catback exhaust?
  • Partial grill block
  • Manual transmission
Obviously a lot of these I can't do until I have the money and/or equipment necessary, but I expect these things and more to be achievable over the next few years.

I'm already running:
  • Aftermarket intake
  • Weight reduction
  • Tires >35psi
  • Shorty radio antenna
  • Door trim delete
  • LED reverse lights (stock bulbs were inadequate)
  • Half tank fills- always add a half tank when I get down to 1/4 remaining
One thing I've really loved about the Cobalt is the instrumentation- the DIC that comes stock is pretty darn accurate and can display average mileage (resettable for tanks or trips), instant FE, tire pressure, average speed (also resettable), two trip odometers, coolant temperature, oil life, remaining range, and outside temperature. I tend to leave it on FE and use it to hone my hypermiling skills but just having all that information available is great.

mcrews 02-23-2017 11:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by v-raze (Post 534802)
Hello everyone!

I've always been an environmentally minded guy, and I got my first car last spring. It's a beautiful Imperial Blue 2008 Chevy Cobalt sedan, and it's got 145,000+ miles on the clock.
d later.

My first car (in 75) was a 66 Mustang coupe. Baby blue, straight 6 200ci, automatic with a hang down a/c. Only 60,000 miles.
(thought you might appreciate the comparison)

Oddly enough, because my first car WAS NOT a V8, I got into mpg.
ended up installing a aftermarket trip computer.
used to get 27.5mpg on the road.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 02-23-2017 01:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by v-raze (Post 534865)
I have lots of plans for this car, but as far as ecomods go, here's some of my main goals:
  • 16" Alloy wheels
  • Solar panel to keep battery topped off
  • Better battery(ies)
  • Capacitor pack
  • Alternator disable switch
  • Full LED conversion
  • Catback exhaust?
  • Partial grill block
  • Manual transmission

I have already seen some custom motorcycles fitted with lithium batteries that are noticeably smaller (and lighter) than the average lead-acid ones. Anyway, decreasing the overall electric load and providing another power source (the solar panel), you could also try a smaller alternator to decrease the drag while it's operational.

oil pan 4 02-23-2017 02:08 PM

You can't just put a solar panel on a car it has to have a charge controller.

Solar 12v assist - EcoModder

roosterk0031 02-23-2017 03:25 PM

Partial grille block is the only thing on you list I think is worth doing. If you want a 5sp and blower I've seen Ion Redlines with under 100,000 miles for under $3000, just get the whole car.

You will probably need front wheel bearing before long. You could upsize the tires when time to replace. My 2010 LT came with 195-60-15, I replaced with 65 so same size as my XFE, I think could even go to 205's for summer use.

Front speakers will fail if they haven't already been replaced.

If interested in Fuel system, you can convert them to FFV so you can utilized E85 when it's cheaper.

2007 Chevrolet Cobalt

Don't think yours would be as easy as mine, but if you can find the right tuner might be able to optimize for FE. Or buy HPtuners and do it yourself.

oil pan 4 02-23-2017 03:46 PM

Stay away from forced induced if you care about fuel economy.

v-raze 02-24-2017 01:37 AM

Wow, where'd all these replies come from? :D

Quote:

Originally Posted by mcrews (Post 534882)
My first car (in 75) was a 66 Mustang coupe. Baby blue, straight 6 200ci, automatic with a hang down a/c. Only 60,000 miles.
(thought you might appreciate the comparison)

Awesome. I always liked the Mustangs, I can't wait to see how the hybrid model will turn out...

Quote:

Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr (Post 534887)
I have already seen some custom motorcycles fitted with lithium batteries that are noticeably smaller (and lighter) than the average lead-acid ones. Anyway, decreasing the overall electric load and providing another power source (the solar panel), you could also try a smaller alternator to decrease the drag while it's operational.

Yeah, I'm still looking into a few options as far as battery systems go. Ideally I could just throw some LiFePO4 cells in there with a step-up converter and call it a day, but being more realistic about my budget, I've got an old 12v AGM lying around that I'm thinking of putting in parallel with my starter battery and/or a capacitor bank. Handily enough, the Cobalt's battery is in the trunk from stock, so there's plenty of room for experimentation.

Interesting idea with a smaller alternator. I think the one that's on there is already pretty small, but I'll do some research later, there might be some gains to be had. It would at least be interesting to see what difference it made.

Quote:

Originally Posted by oil pan 4 (Post 534889)
You can't just put a solar panel on a car it has to have a charge controller.

Solar 12v assist - EcoModder

Sorry for not explicitly mentioning that, I figured it was implied.

Quote:

Originally Posted by oil pan 4 (Post 534894)
Stay away from forced induced if you care about fuel economy.

I'm aware of this. I also care about performance and having a good challenge. Chances are if I do boost it, I'll put in an aftermarket ECU anyways, in which case I can set up dedicated efficiency maps for daily driving.

I'm probably never going to get around to that anyways- ideally, I'll be converting this car to electric somewhere down the road, so I don't really want to sink too much cash into modifications to the drivetrain.

Quote:

Originally Posted by roosterk0031 (Post 534892)
Partial grille block is the only thing on you list I think is worth doing. If you want a 5sp and blower I've seen Ion Redlines with under 100,000 miles for under $3000, just get the whole car.

You will probably need front wheel bearing before long. You could upsize the tires when time to replace. My 2010 LT came with 195-60-15, I replaced with 65 so same size as my XFE, I think could even go to 205's for summer use.

Front speakers will fail if they haven't already been replaced.

If interested in Fuel system, you can convert them to FFV so you can utilized E85 when it's cheaper.

2007 Chevrolet Cobalt

Don't think yours would be as easy as mine, but if you can find the right tuner might be able to optimize for FE. Or buy HPtuners and do it yourself.

Thanks for the good advice, though some of it I'll most definitely ignore.

I have a lot of modifications I want to do to this vehicle, many of them quite ambitious, because I plan to keep this car as long as I possibly can. Yes, it would be easier to just buy a faster/better car, but this isn't about what's easy, it's about what I want to get out of my vehicle. (Also, where are you finding Redlines that cheap? I haven't seen anything like that around here, and I do keep an eye out.) The other reason I'm planning difficult and expensive modifications is that I enjoy working on vehicles, I enjoy challenging and novel projects, and I plan on a career working with cars- I'm currently preparing for my ASE certification exams in electrical and engine performance.

Things like the catback exhaust, manual transmission, and better wheels, are just as much and perhaps more for my enjoyment of the vehicle than they are for fuel economy. I mentioned those things specifically because they could provide some FE benefits, so might be of interest here.

I'm don't plan on running ethanol, for a variety of reasons. I'm also well aware of the common front speaker issues, I'll be upgrading the sound system when I have the disposable income to do so (so probably when they fail).


So, I promised pictures...
Here's a few. The first two are old, the others are from a few days ago.

https://s10.postimg.org/z0tk4dx3d/110_3766.jpg
https://s14.postimg.org/dqxcjyzw1/110_3999.jpg
https://s8.postimg.org/bnymwx0xh/IMG_5363.jpg
https://s8.postimg.org/qin8b3aid/IMG_5359.jpg

I also wrote an instructable when I painted the valve cover. It's held up pretty well since then, though I do wish I'd clear coated it, there are a couple spots it's been nicked.

ECO-AKJ 02-24-2017 06:25 PM

Another thing you could do is EOC up to 65MPH according to this: http://www.royrobinsonrv.com/images/...Guide-2008.pdf

v-raze 02-26-2017 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kingster1989 (Post 534977)
Another thing you could do is EOC up to 65MPH according to this: http://www.royrobinsonrv.com/images/...Guide-2008.pdf

That's definitely good to know. Thanks!


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