Just thought I'd make my first post on this site.
I've been reading through several posts for the last few hours (yea... it's summer, and I'm a college student... nothing better to do).
I'm going on a very long trip in two weeks, and I'm trying to get ideas to make my car more aerodynamic (very cheaply) and other suggestions. Even though I average 30-32mpg highway with 4 average-sized adults and the trunk packed completely full (which I think is pretty dang good), I'm trying to improve it and save some money. I'm a college student... so I need to save everywhere I can.
Expecting to spend about $500 on this trip in gas, over-estimating that price by calculating with 28mpg... so I'd love to hear any ideas you would have specifically for my car. The front end... look at the pictures. How can I rig something up to the front to increase areo?
A Buick Century... My mom had a 97 Century wagon years ago. Nice little cars. I think the only aero mods that will make any difference are blocking off the wheelwells, a kammback made out of plexiglass mounted on the rear window, and maybe a partial grille block. I would not waste time on an air dam extension, the car is already low enough to the ground.
Now as I digress, and make a reference that few will get, even with some help from youtube...
Considering I can go two-tracking, and hop curbs without anything even touching the underside of the car... it's not really that low to the ground. (I'm sure that has something to do with the soft suspension too, though) My mom's 2002 minivan is much lower to the ground than my car.
As far as how ugly? Not that big of a deal, as long as I can paint it, and it's relatively cheap to do.
Yeah, but there's nothing under the car "in" the airflow. On your vehicle extending the air dam will actually increase your frontal area, and cause you to drag a vacuum under the car which will actually harm your mileage. I found the same on my truck, and I actually removed my air dam extension 2 weeks ago.
An air dam extension might work. The car is currently shaped to push a bunch of air under, so an air dam that's even with the front of the bumper could help keep air from going under the car so much.
OTOH, a belly pan might make that point moot.
Edit: Posted that while Jay was writing the above post. Jay, I didn't know about your air dam extension working out the way it did, did you post about removing it? I thought it was commonly accepted that somewhat of a vacuum under the car is a good thing because the underside is so non-smooth.
I was kinda experimenting with it, and no I don't think I officially announced its removal. I'm thinking that anything that might harm the airflow under the truck already had a factory skid plate mounted in front of it, which would act as a mini air deflector. The model Century that the OP has doesn't have much underneath as its a FWD vehicle. A belly pan would be quite simple to do, and probably yield far better results than any air dam extension would ever yield.
I would focus on driving technique (may be difficult with a bunch of college students) and tire pressure. I doubt you will have much time to experiment with other mods in the next 2 weeks, unless you are missing your factory front air dam or something.