Modifying a 98 Contour (pics) - Fuelly Forums

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Old 08-15-2008, 08:09 AM   #1
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Modifying a 98 Contour (pics)

I have a 98 Contour with 227,000 miles on it. 2.0DOHC and automatic. It has been a shockingly reliable car, and with some careful driving I (and my wife) have been able to maitain about 31-32 mpg mixed driving with it. Not bad considering that it was rated at 24 mixed and 30 highway. So farm my best has been 37mpg with moderate hypermiling, fully loaded, 0w20 and 5psi over tires

I wanted to bring it up a notch, and then I discovered this forum! I have been taking a lot of ideas from this and started modifying. I am into performance cars and 4x4s so modifying cars is in my nature, and I am excited to have a reason to tweek my disposable daily driver.

I have not had the ability to do any ABA testing on any of it due to time constraints, but my total cost has been very low, so I am not too worried about recouping my costs... I am just hopping that all together they make a measurable improvement.

Also, I bought my car with a bra on it. It has come in handy for making easy testing mods.

Here is what I have done so far.


1) Changed from 5w30 mobil 1 to 0w20. I was able to go 9k miles on an oil change w/o needing to add with 5w30, I am hoping to get similar results out of 0w20, only 2k miles into it so we will see how it goes. I also use the V8 PH8a filter, which has about twice the capacity/filtering as the OEM filter.

2) Replaced antenna with a stuby extention. Technically I unscrewed the antenna, stuck it in the trunk (just in case I want it some time) and stuck a piece of antenna from my kids broken RC car transmitter in its place. Reception is reduced but isn't noticable in town.



3) With duct tape I have blocked the open areas below the bumper. the air inlet was covered with screen, so it was easy to tape over. There were holes for fog lights that I covered also. Watching my SG2 I have had to remove some tape because the fan was kicking in on the interstate. Easy to remove tape though. :-) Once I find out exactly what I like I will sew vinyl on for something more permanent. I also pulled off the hood part of the bra, it wasn't serving any purpose and was less aerodynamic.



The above was done earlier, the rest I did last night in preperation for a 500mile trip this weekend.

4) New front air dam. I noticed a chunk of garden edging laying around that looked about the size I wanted. I took a tin snip and an old license plate and cut out some brackets to bolt on to factory holes in the bumper cover. then I rivited the bumper cover on. It feels pretty solid. I will do some highway testing tonight with my wife driving and me watching from my bike. I didn't make it any wider because thats as big as the piece I had was. I never cut the edging at all.

Sorry about the dark pic, but it was late when I finished it.



5) The hub caps on this car aren't bad, but I decided to try taping over the holes. I may end up with pizza pan covers in the future, but I am trying to maximize mileage for this trip so this should help, plus it was cheap and revertable. I would like to do fender skirts in the future, but this was easier.



6) I wanted to make some Vortex Generators to try to improve the rear window area and trunk lid. I was thinking about using the designs made out of tin or the bent CD design, but I haven't gotten that far. I was thinking that the goal was just to get the air to come straight off the back of the trunk more... so why not put a wing extention on it. I took a piece of plexiglass I had laying around and cut it to the width of the deck lid (shape was mostly determined by the size of the material I had). I am going to try to hold it on with some really strong rare earth magnets (stolen from hard drives) and a little packing tape to prevent air from getting under the front. If I like it I will make a better mounting system, but it probably will still involve magnets. I am not really sure about this one, it may get cut from the list if I dont' like it. If I think it works I will have to do some ABA testing after the trip.

Again, sorry about the bad pics but it was dark by this time and I was getting condensation on everything.



7) I had moved my tire pressure up to about 38, for this trip I brought it up to 42.

I am working on the details for a Rear view mirror delete right now, but don't have everything ready, it seems a little harder to undo than other things I have been doing (not like I have to worry about resale value of a 10 year old car with 227k on it).

I also am considering pulling the wipers off for the trip, but need to check the weather forcast first.

I am interested in any feedback, I am amazed by the amount of knowledge on this group (and sorta irritated that I didn't find it earlier).

Mr_C
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:25 AM   #2
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Sounds like you're well on your way to getting better mileage. Keep us posted on your progress.

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Old 08-15-2008, 08:59 AM   #3
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I would like to know the results of the wing extension on the trunk. I had given some thought to doing the same thing on my '88 Escort with 478K miles. I too have several pieces of Plexiglas laying around and that was what I was planning to use as well. I don't have much to lose as far as looks goes either because as you would guess with its age and mileage it really looks like a used car. I just used some Plexiglas to do a partial 2/3 grill block on it the other day, but don't know any results yet.
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Old 08-15-2008, 11:19 AM   #4
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For the wipers, treat the windsheild with rain-x. As long as I am moving in my car I don't ever have to use the wipers.
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:19 PM   #5
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Just an update. I pulled the wipers and applied some RainX that I bought on the way home (thanks for the tip ). That shouldn't hurt.

I also did a little safety testing. I followed the wife on the drive home with her driving the contour and me on my bike. I didn't have tape for the rear "spoiler" too prevent any air under the front lip, so I only tested that up to about 40mph, but it was very stable. I took it off before the highway driving so I didn't risk breaking it before I got a chance to really use it. It is mounted better now ready for tomorrows trip.

I also drove alongside the car at about 60mph and observed the front air dam. It was suprisingly solid considering it is held on by 5 rivits attaching it 5 strips of license plate tin. Whew.

I did my first fuel calibration on the scangauge tonight. It was almost exactly 15% off in fuel measurement, which is right on with how far off it was on estimating my mileage. I can't wait to see how accurate it ends up being.

Mr_C
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:38 AM   #6
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been away from site a while; Nice work.
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Old 08-18-2008, 12:15 PM   #7
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Results...

I put in a total of 575 miles on the car this weekend. I didn't get to do much hypermiling because I spent most of my time on the interstate on cruise, and then when I was in Minneapolis, the traffic wasn't great and I was in unfamiliar areas, so coasting was pretty much out the window. On the positive side, the weather wasn't too bad and we did most of our driving early and late so I didn't need the A/C.

EPA on car is 30 highway, I usually get 31-33, with a single time best of 37.4.

First tank results were 421.4 miles and 11.4 gallons, for a total of 37mpg. I wasn't really excited about that until I realized that about 100 of the miles on the tank was spend driving in different areas around Mpls/St Paul, so my milage wasn't very good at all there. Cruise was set at 62, average speed for the tank was 50mph.

On the way back I filled up. By this time I have the scangauge tuned pretty well (had to change the "speed" so it would get the correct distance, not the correct mph, but thats a different thread). I was heading into the wind for the first 50 miles, and was getting about 38, I reset the SG when the road curved so the next 100 miles were with a side wind instead of head wind. My mileage for that leg was 40! I filled up when I got back into town which confirmed a 39.2mpg for the 150 miles back home. Cruise was set at 62 and my average speed for that was 59mph.

All in all, I think that I had a pretty successful trip. Unfortuantely, I don't know what pieces gave me the most advantage. I guess that means I need to do some more testing.

A few things I did learn.

1) the air dam can't be much lower, it scrapes when leaving some parking lots (especially when I was in traffic and couldn't slow down enough). The license plate tin mounting brackets held up well, and when I hit the ground in one area enough to push the center back, I was able to easily bend it back into position. I think a mounting bracket made out of spring steel would be nice.

2) the rear spoiler was much more stable than I expected. It didn't seem to move around at all. I plan on doing a test with it, without it, and with one that is a little longer to see which might help better. All in all I like it and am working on a new design that is still removable but doesn't require magnets and tape to hold it on. I did learn that if you are going to have a clear piece of plexiglas hanging off the back of your car you should round the corners or your absent minded 7 year old will walk right into it and cut her thumb (part of my improved design).

3) RainX works :-)


I want to do some A-B-A testing with the spoiler and the ground effects. I am not sure of the best way to achieve this. Here is what I am thinking. There is a very quiet, straight and level road near my house. I am thinking of doing a 70mph-30mph neutral coast down, measuring the time and distance it takes to slow down with a GPS (running watch). Either 3 passes one way or 4 passes, 2 each direction for each leg of the test. Any suggestions before I give it a try (probably some evening later this week, depending on weather)?

I have already taken the tape off the hubcaps (before it hardens too much and is hard to get off). The antenna will stay off and the wipers are going to have to go back on.

I am confident I got some improved mileage out of this, I think that it is probably in the neighborhood of 5% (~2mpg) , maybe even closer to 10% (~4mpg) but I really want to figure out which pieces are making the most difference, and then make them better. :-)

Here is a slightly better pic of the front (plus, my new bug collection).


Mr_C
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Old 08-18-2008, 04:51 PM   #8
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I have a '96 Contour with a 2.0L DOHC Z-Tech engine. I have gotten as high as 40mpg out of it on the highway with the cruise set at 55 with no mods. Sounds like you could improve a lot more by slowing down about 5-7mph.
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Old 08-18-2008, 09:41 PM   #9
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62mph was a compromise between fuel savings and logistics. I already had to get the kids up and get on the road by 5am and didn't get back till after 11pm (long days for a 7, 10 and 12 year old). Leaving 1/2 hour earlier and getting back 1/2 later (which is what would have had to happen if I drove 55) wasn't an option for this trip. Also, I spent the whole time on the interstate where the speed limit was 70 and most traffic was 75... so I was getting passed plenty the way it was. Luckly traffic was light.

I have driven 55mph and watched the scangauge. Without wind it gets a pretty consistant 40 at 60mph and closer to 42-44 at 55mph. I can get into the upper 40s if I slow down to about 45 (right above where the torque converter locks in OD).

Of course, the idea of the aero mods is to allow me to be less effected by air resistance, so I can keep the better mileage at highway speeds. I don't think the mods make any measurable difference at 45.

Nice to see another hypermiling contour driver

-Mr_C
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Old 08-19-2008, 04:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_C View Post
62mph was a compromise between fuel savings and logistics. I already had to get the kids up and get on the road by 5am and didn't get back till after 11pm (long days for a 7, 10 and 12 year old). Leaving 1/2 hour earlier and getting back 1/2 later (which is what would have had to happen if I drove 55) wasn't an option for this trip. Also, I spent the whole time on the interstate where the speed limit was 70 and most traffic was 75... so I was getting passed plenty the way it was. Luckly traffic was light.

I have driven 55mph and watched the scangauge. Without wind it gets a pretty consistant 40 at 60mph and closer to 42-44 at 55mph. I can get into the upper 40s if I slow down to about 45 (right above where the torque converter locks in OD).

Of course, the idea of the aero mods is to allow me to be less effected by air resistance, so I can keep the better mileage at highway speeds. I don't think the mods make any measurable difference at 45.

Nice to see another hypermiling contour driver

-Mr_C
Aero stuff starts to make a difference around 20-25mph, it just goes up exponentially from there. Keep playing with speed on your route, in the Subaru I have now 45mph=21.5mpg on average, 65mph=20mpg, but holding the throttle steady and letting the speed range from 40-67mph=27mpg. The end of route ET is about the same as doing 60mph on cruise control. In my car it's not a battle of aerodynamics, but a battle of a really horrible transmission and 4wd system, it seems your Contour is a MUCH better platform. If you haven't done the coast down calculations you'd probably find them very, very helpful.


I think the plexi tail is brilliant, I thought of that a while back, but you actually did it. Kudos to you.
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