Friday, February 10, 2006

Diesel PT Cruiser

On the 9th of February, 2006, I had an opportunity to test drive a diesel PT Cruiser. This vehicle option is not currently offered for sale in the United States. The car is has the Route 66 bundle of options, which probably means that it is loaded with features I personally wouldn't order on a new car. These might include the Moon roof, electric windows, the five disc mp3 CD changing stereo, tilt steering wheel, and brilliant yellow paint. I'd go with a stripped car with A/C and cruise control. At this point, I'd go with an AM/FM radio with Aux in - so I could plug in my iPod. Then I'd stick a Velcro patch on the dash to hold the iPod. Still, 5 mp3 encoded CDs can give you a total of about 70 hours of high quality music without fiddling with it. Great for those road trips to Argentina. The glove compartment is very roomy, and could easily hold the audio cable when not in use.

This car has a 5 speed manual transmission that is very forgiving and easy to operate. The 2.2 liter turbocharged diesel generates 150 hp, which is more than enough to make this sized vehicle very responsive. The steering and suspension make it agile. Most of my real driving is highway, and the 42 MPG highway rating would be very welcome to my 35,000 mile per year commute. The long range of the car would allow me to fill the tank less often, which would be a real time saver.

The car started instantly. Though it was a cold winter day, the car had just been driven. It would be interesting to see how it behaves on a cold winter morning after sitting out in the cold all night. This is an historic problem for diesel engines, but it isn't clear that it is a problem for this one. In any case, my house has an attached garage, so even if this is a problem for this vehicle, it likely would not be much of an issue for me.

I left the moon roof open. The windshield glare which such systems often generate did not materialize. I have no idea why not.

The clutch engagement travel is slightly shorter than my own car, but the feedback was clear, and after that first engagement, I didn't have to think about it again. The brakes are slightly more sensitive than my own car, but again, driving was very natural after the first minute. We'll see how my own car behaves when I go home. In particular, my own car does not have power steering...

The route I used put me onto the highway almost at once. For a moment, I was startled to be doing 100 on the ramp! However, the big numbers are in Kilometers Per Hour, not Miles Per Hour, so all it meant was that it could get up to 60 MPH to match highway speed with a significant margin. Once I realized where the MPH numbers were, it was easy enough to read without further thought. This car is clearly built for Europe, so, of course, the big numbers are KPH. The car drives smooth enough that it isn't that clear if you are doing 100 MPH or 100 KPH. Acceleration at highway speed is smooth, and there isn't any doubt that the rated top speed of 114 MPH is achievable. One of the reasons I haven't gotten a traffic ticket in years is that I obey the law.

I coasted to an exit, and followed around to get back on the highway for the return trip. This gave an opportunity to check out steering, turn signals, visibility, brakes, shifting and suspension in turns. The car gets high marks everywhere.

Back on the highway, I checked out the cruise control. A dash light tells you it is engaged, and it was able to smoothly accelerate and coast. I reset the Average Fuel Economy (which, despite the European target, read in Miles Per Gallon), and the numbers quickly climbed. The trip was too short to show EPA estimates, however.

The route then included some stop and go, and turns you might find in city driving. Since I'd just reset the Average Fuel Economy gauge, I watched the numbers go lower while idling at a stop light. That's to be expected. My house gets really bad gas mileage too.

My biggest complaint would probably be that though the steering wheel is on the left, the fuel door is on the right. Clearly, the fuel door should be on the driver's side of the car, as God intended. That way people don't end up facing each other at busy gas stations. Speaking of which, several gas stations near my house sell diesel, so there would be no fear of not being able to find it. Also, the generous range is also a welcome feature. Since diesel is safer than gasoline, I might consider carrying a small spare amount in a sealed container in the hatch. This is not something I do with gasoline cars.

My youngest vehicle has 150,000 miles. With luck, it will hold out until the diesel PT Cruiser, or maybe the diesel Caliber are sold in the States. If not, the there's always the diesel Jeep Liberty.


BayuFA said...

A product that has been in use for ten years but not available to the general puplic.

I believe every test has been done to this product as far as fuels are concerned but more are on the way for hydraulics.

Hey just to let you know that yes I am promoting this but if you dont want to save at the pump then dont go to the site but I believe no matter who you are gas is just to expensive.

The goverment is using it and many other huge company's. This is not just some fly by night company or product. This is the real deal.

I just finished my own personal auto test and my wifes dodge caravan was getting 16 miles and now getting 24 with the first tank.

My chevy truck was getting ten miles to the gallon and now I am getting 14. WOW! They even gaurentee that if it does not work for you to send the rest back for a full refund.

Stephen said...

It may be spam, but it's on topic. I'm leaving it up, not because I believe in it, but because it is more or less on topic. A previous, nearly identical post was deleted because it was posted to the wrong topic.

So i looked at the site. They're selling two things. One is a fuel additive. The other appears to be a 'get-into-sales' pitch, perhaps akin to Amway.

Ignoring the sales aspect, what is this fuel additive? They claim 'Immediate increase in fuel mileage resulting is SAVINGS above the cost of the product!!!'. They claim 7% to 19%. So let's say you've got a car that gets 32 MPG. A 7% increase brings you to 34 MPG. 32 * 1.07 = 33.92. A 19% increase brings you to 38 MPG. 32 * 1.19 = 38.08. Two things. First, are you actually computing your gas mileage, so you know that you're getting an improvement? I'll tell you now that you won't notice a 7% improvement without doing the math. Second, one tank of gas isn't enough. You really have to do the math over three tanks. In particular, most people don't fill their tank to exactly the same level each time. There can easily be a 10% change. The more tanks of gas you go through, the better you can average it. Second, the type of driving you do can make a big difference. Getting stuck in traffic one day can ruin your gas mileage for that tank. Doing a highway road trip can boost your mileage dramatically.

Second, just reducing your top speed by five miles per hour, say from 70 to 65, which is totally legal in every state (perhaps everywhere in the world) can save you 15%. This is a zero cost, zero hassle change. Using a cruise control at the same speed will generally save you 5%. Remember that using your brake costs you in fuel economy. Engine drag is equivalent to using the brake. So if you just put a little more distance between you and the car ahead, you find you use the brake less often. A little extra distance will enhance your safety as well.

What else do they promise? 'Better engine performance!'. How do you measure that? Run a drag race with your car? How much better performance? Who is going to do this? Certainly not NBC or Fox News. And not you or i.

What else? 'Reducing pollution in the environment!'. How are you going to verify this? When i lived in Massachusetts, we had a mandatory auto inspection program, including emissions. Adding a little white gas to your tank would get any car through. It makes your car burn hotter, which isn't good for it. Michigan has no such 'service', which means the equipment isn't available.

Let's say the product does work. Let's say it saves you 20%. Let's say your car has a ten gallon tank. You'd have to spend less than you pay for two gallons of gas per tank on this additive to break even. If it only saves you 10%, then you better spend less than one gallon of gas per tank.

My car is getting an average of about 43 MPG, ranging from 41 to 44. If this product works, and gives only 7%, i'd have to get 46 MPG. I have extensive records. Since 46 MPG is more than any tank of gas has ever given me, it is a good test. Give me a supply for three tanks of gas, i'll run a test under fair conditions. My car seems to have a 12 gallon tank - and i generally put a little over 11 gallons in it per fill up. Go to my profile, there's a link to my web page, which has my email address. Or just look up my resume there and send it via snail mail. I'll post results of any test in a new entry, and add a link to it in a comment here.

In summary, i'm quite skeptical about this product.