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Old 07-03-2012, 01:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
Albino Raven
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Prescott, Ontario
Posts: 7

The Green Wedge - '00 Toyota Echo Standard trim
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Hi all, my name is Albino Raven and I'm a modder-olic.

I lurk more than post, hunting for ideas to tinker with. I can say without a doubt that the tips given here work as prescribed. Initially joined the forum with my 2000 Toyota Echo stock. I was getting the EPA no problem of 42 miles on the highway. City was always lighter than expected, 26ish. It was up to 410 kilometers (was pushing for 420, but a deal came up I couldn't pass up)

Hypermiling was my first step. I managed to get to 50 MPG with some serious driver adjustment. Of course it comes to the point where being a tight ass on the pedal doesn't work so well in reality. it is fun though.

So I progressed to the next stage of my eco-modding sickness which requires tools, a hanging lamp and lots of books involving exploded views of VTEC engines and different configurations. And money, not lots of money as it turns out.

Being an Engineer by trade, most of my job is designing a solution that is passive to the end user. The duck on the pond analogy comes to mind. Placid on top of the pond, feet working their ass off under water. What I was aiming for in the Echo was to get the city closer to the highway and take any gains I could beg, borrow or steal.

Turns out with the 2000 Echo it was couple of simple changes, that would meet my requirements of Safe, Cheap and Extends fuel milage. So here is the recipe for a Toyota Echo to Achieve 50 MPG without breaking a sweat broken down into Free and Cost categories.

1) Tyres

The Echo came with 13 inch pizza cutter tyres. PSI on them is 35 pounds. (like every other tyre on the planet) For those that aren't sure what their tyre is rated for check the side of them. Look for PSI, that's the tyre pressure required. with all the changes I seen a 3 MPG gain.

1a) The sweet spot for me in Canadian winters and summers was filling the tyres to 40 PSI during the summer and 42 PSI once the temp is under 32F/0C. (Economy)

Cost: Buck to use the air hose every second fill up.

1b) Replaced stock aluminium rims with steel winter rims. Aluminium is one of the crappiest metals on the planet and rusts at the drop of a hat. That rust spreads to the rest fo the car quickly if not dealt with. It is the dumbest thing about the car industry, poor metal selection.

They might be heavier, but when traveling at 75 MPh (typical Canuck highway speed), you want to make sure the brake rotors work and don't fall off while driving because they've rusted out. (Safety)

Cost: $20 per rim.

1c) Pie plates for hub caps to increase aerodynamics and some nice chrome treatment. Looked pretty funky and VERY functional. you can give yourself a conservative .5 MPG by this alone with anycar. With the Echo, it amounted to .9 MPG.

Cost: $20, bought the plates from a local pizzeria. They have every size of pizza, therefore every size of hub cap. To mount them, bought the cheapest hub cap kit from Canadian tire and mounted the pizza plates to the hub caps with drill and some smooth top screws that flush with the pie pans. Total $50 (Economy)

1d) Rear Wheel well covers. Corregated steel is sold in every hardware store, so are steel shears. $20 per wheel well. Make sure you only cover half the wheel if driving in snow or you'll end up packing that wheel well with snow, ice and salt which increase drag on the tyres.

The mod btw protects your rear wheels from rocks, nails, sharp objects in general that are spit out by other vechiles on the road which is how most fatal blow out happen. Rock impales the side wall of the tyre and you and your car are all over the road. Think of it as Tyre armour.

Do not however cover the front wheels...ever.

Cost: $20, used the chrome treament for the wheel wells. (Economy) (Safety)

2) Engine

The stock VTEC is an awesome engine, in US cars the EcoTec is THE EXACT SAME ENGINE. So if ever listening to 20 year olds in a pissing match about tiny engines. Doesn't matter what engine you've got, the fact it turns over is the first step. This isn't an invitation is think about cramming a G5 ecotec engine in a toyota frame, but it can be done. best to work with what you've got.

2a) Filter/Cold air intake (CAI). K&N

Hands down the only after market parts maker that acts like it cares about effiencies in an engine. I would not recommend any other brand, I've tried them all and they suck badly, which is a bad thing in cold air intake.

It is also the one kit that anyone, and I mean anyone can do in a couple of hours by themselves and if they get stuck, the internet is full of happy customers and good company support that a solution is five minutes away.

Cost: $220 using the price hunter on Amazon.

2b) Flowmaster series exhaust.

I was skeptical about the exhaust system giving me anything but a lighter wallet, but like people have mentioned in the forums here, CAI + Straighter exhaust system = 3-7 MPG

Cost: Again amazon price hunter. Got a whole new kit for under 200 and the mechanic put it in for $80 at Canadian Tire in about 10 minutes. Total $280.

2c) Air Ram

This is tricky in an Echo, there is almost no space in the engine compartment. Other than the CAI, I would NOT recommend getting fancy with an Air ram.

2d) Transmission Fluid/Oil Filter/Oil Change.

Basic maintenace. I do them myself every 50k KMs. Cost is whatever market is for a 4L jug of each plus an extra quart of each. If not sure head to youtube to figure out how to change the fluids of a car for your ride. If you are having someone else do it in a high milage car, think of it this way, you have made a mortgage payment in having someone else do an hour's worth of work over the course of a year.

How's that for prespective?

Cost: Market free for all.

2e) Cleaning and Squeeks.

Clean spark plugs, clean engine, clean battery, Clean throttle body = happy car. Greased moving parts (doors, hinges, etc) = Happy car

When rusty, grab some tinfoil and some water. Elbow grease and some high heat paint or the rust will come back with a vengence. Do not use tinfoil on batteries, EVER.

For batteries, easier bringing it to Canadian Tire and buying a new one. Specifically the Canadian Tire Eliminator. It's built for tundra, the junk we get shipped from Japan and the US are junk regardless of how many full page ads there are in Maxim magazine. Only one battery choice and that's the Eliminator. Plus the warranty is the CT promise for durability, ie for the life of ownership.

Couple of basics for cleaning for all garages.

As many rags as possible, I use the kids old clothes.
Brake lubricant
Fuel Injector cleaner <--- first thing to do when buying a older car
Wire Brush
Sand paper of various grades
Dremel (nice to have)

Cost: Market prices, your time, elbow grease.

2e) Air conditioning

I bought the car with AC for the 100+ degree days we get here. But in Canada that is three months in the year. I remove the AC unit in October and put it back in April. How did I learn how to do this? Google. Where did I learn of this awesome idea. Here at Ecomodder.

Cost: Time.

3) Body

This one is tricky. The echo was built as a sub compact, so doing anything in terms of body mods is pointless so the primary goal I looked for was weight reduction. The echo gets loud at this point. But with the changes, the echo can now haul lumber around and be useful for things other than commuting.

3a) Seats.

Are you the only person in your car. Detail it like the car is for commuting. Pull out the seats and put them in storage. Dead easy to do. Couple of bolts and about an hour. That's it. This removes 105 lbs of curb weight in an already light weight car. If concerned about getting shoved around by the wind, don't be. We are only redistributing the weight.

Cost: Time and a ratchet set if you don't have one. (economy)

3b) Spare Tyre.

The spare tyre system that comes with the Toyota echo is a piece of garbage. Go and buy another tire and a proper car lift kit. That will put 40lbs in the trunk of the car so the wind doesn't shove the car around so much.

Cost: $50 for a useful lift kit, $40 for the spare on rim. (safety)

Post Mortum of the 2000 Echo Experiment

Having been well and over the 50 MPG mark for a couple of years even even driving like a loon (over the posted speed limit) was fun. But a 2005 Chevy Blazer that was in Cherry condition popped up. So some horse trading and haggling later I have a new-used truck and my sons now have my 2000 Echo experiment to fight over who gets the car for the day (whoever is up first, gets to the keys and makes the wife and I coffee).

So I'm starting from scratch with a 2005 Chevy Blazer. I have my CAI and Flow master on order, spark plugs are in good shape, cleaned everything, changed all the fluids in everything, Tyre PSI tricks and spent the ten bucks on a paper filter until the CAI gets here. Just from the minor changes my estimates on paper are pointing to 22 MPG highway, up from 16 MPG when I bought the truck two weeks ago.

Believe me, once the CAI and the exhaust are in, next stop is to get chipped. I want to see this SUV put a stock Honda to shame. The end goal is to stop once a week with the 950 kilometers I put on my ride weekly instead of three times, with the changes, I've stopped only 2 times this week but I can do better.

I want to thank all the people on this forum for their ideas to get started on my Echo and a big future thanks to the ideas for my new-used Blazer.

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Old 07-03-2012, 02:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
Function over form!
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Location: NorCal
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S14 - '95 Nissan 240sx se
Sports Cars
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Nice detailed post! Now, you should supplement it with some pics!!!! (assuming, of course, you have them).
Both the Echo, and the truck!
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Albino Raven (07-03-2012)
Old 07-03-2012, 02:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
EcoModding Lurker
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Location: France
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Finalkev1 - '03 VW Lupo 3L
90 day: 80.69 mpg (US)
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Wow, a lot of modifications! Have you got some pics?
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
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Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.07 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 61.98 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)

Even Fancier Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
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Hi Albino Raven - you're officially the closest EcoModder member to me - I'm just up the St. Lawrence in Brockvegas.

I second the request for a few photos of your Echo. I'm surprised I haven't seen it around - I DEFINITELY would have stopped to talk to the driver about his car if I'd seen DIY smooth wheel covers and rear fender skirts!

Originally Posted by Albino Raven View Post
Having been well and over the 50 MPG mark for a couple of years
Just to clarify, are you talking miles per US gallon or Imperial? Your use of "tyre" made me wonder.

But a 2005 Chevy Blazer that was in Cherry condition popped up. So some horse trading and haggling later I have a new-used truck and my sons now have my 2000 Echo
I assume you really needed a truck for truckish duties? It's going to hurt doubling your fuel use just for commuting, no?
Project MPGiata! Mods for getting 50+ MPG from a 1990 Miata
Honda mods: Ecomodding my $800 Honda Fit 5-speed beater
Mitsu mods: 70 MPG in my ecomodded, dirt cheap, 3-cylinder Mirage.
Ecodriving test: Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown

has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage
www.MetroMPG.com - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners
www.ForkenSwift.com - electric car conversion on a beer budget
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Old 07-04-2012, 01:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Black and Green - '98 Honda Civic DX Coupe
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90 day: 66.42 mpg (US)

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What a detailed post! Thanks for taking the time. A few of your mods go counter to the consensus opinion I have seen here on EM, so question: did you do any ABA testing of the CAI and exhaust?

See my car's mod & maintenance thread and my electric bicycle's thread for ongoing projects. I will rebuild Black and Green over decades as parts die, until it becomes a different car of roughly the same shape and color. My minimum fuel economy goal is 55 mpg while averaging posted speed limits. I generally top 60 mpg. See also my Honda manual transmission specs thread.

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blazer, echo, fuel economy, modifications

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