Eulogy for the Jeep

Jeep XJ Destroyed - 02

Back when it was en vogue to play music from Compact Discs, the Death and Destruction mixes provided adequate motivation to ruin lawns. Mo once took the Jeep to Florida, and Sag fixed the intermittent wipers in his anger.  Another time nine people took it on a camping trip that ended poorly, with no camping. It went to Pittsburgh twice, getting towed only once.  It had a laptop mount, because that’s important.  We yelled at passers-by with a megaphone until the police made us stop. It got pulled over by the police more times than anyone can remember, and even had its license plates confiscated in the name of gross irresponsibility. Sure, it crashed into some things unintentionally, but that … Continue reading

Chevy Volt Electrical Cost Analysis

Voltec Installation - Meter powered on

I’ve been tracking the electrical usage of our Chevy Volt, Sparky, for the past couple of weeks.   Before we bought Sparky we did some research on the Volt’s electrical consumption and did some off-the-cuff cost projections.  Unfortunately, there was very little real world data available online, mostly because other bloggers weren’t able to monitor their Volt’s actual kWh utilization and were instead using the change in usage pre- and post-Volt. That was my impetus for installing a kWh meter inline with my Level 2 charger,  a project that you can read about here. I’m going to periodically update this post with fresh data as it becomes available, and the numbers below cover the period 6/13/2011 through 6/27/2011. The electric rate … Continue reading

Chevy Volt Counterarguments: Price, Government Subsidies, and Operating Cost

I guess for better or worse, I’ve become a Volt advocate.  I’m no fanatic, however.  Only time will tell whether the Volt is a win or a loss, either for me personally or for the nation at large.  Will the batteries fail as soon as the 8-year/100,000 mile warranty is up?  Will GM still be in business to honor those warranties?  Will this first leap into mass-market electric vehicles (including the Leaf and Tesla) drive technological improvements and economies of scale? I can’t answer those questions. But I do love our Volt.  My wife and I bought it not because it was an electric vehicle, but because it fell into the criteria we set for price range (with rebates), performance, … Continue reading

Sparky: MPG Update

Sparky's Grille

Sparky has a few more miles on her, and so I wanted to give an update on her gas stats.  Why the gas stats, and not the battery?  There are three reasons:  I don’t have any electrical consumption data right now*, I would like to know the cost of a long road trip (which would be mostly gas-miles), and the lack of a clear MPG number just plain annoys me. *Electrical consumption data is now available here. What I mean is that the car itself, and the related OnStar apps will tell you that the vehicle has traveled (for example) “211 Miles Per Gallon“, which is such a misleading statement that I find it offensive.  While the car may have … Continue reading

Installing Our New 240V/Level 2 Voltec Charge Station (Phase II)

This is a follow-up to my previous post, Chevy Volt Metered Charging (Phase I). In the first phase, I ran a new dedicated circuit from the subpanel in my garage to the opposite wall to connect a 120V charging station.  In this phase, I removed the existing receptacle, rewired for 240V, installed the Voltec Level 2 charging station, and wired the kWh meter inline. It’s not my intent to write a full set of instructions for installation here.  The purpose of this post is to illustrate some of the installation steps with real-world pictures, which are somewhat hard to come by online (the pictures are rather small, but you can click on any of them for a larger version). As … Continue reading

Sparky Gets a Gift from Chevrolet (Unboxing)

A weird thing happened today.  There was an unsolicited package waiting on our front porch, labeled with the Volt’s logo. What could possibly be inside of it?  Was it a mistake and we got an extra charger?  The keys to yet another Volt?  Well, there’s not all that much to say about it, so here are some unboxing pics.. Ah!  Some… thing.  Well, it’s very nice cardboard with quality printing (the picture doesn’t do it justice). It looks like a book. Oh, it is a book!  And some other literature.  Wait, what?  Is that a Flip digital video recorder?  Yes, in fact it is a Flip DVR.  How odd.  In the enclosed letter is says something like “[..] record all … Continue reading

Chevy Volt Charge Cord – Hot During Charge

I thought I’d throw this one out there because it seems I’m not the only one observing this problem.  My Volt’s 120V charge cord and the short plug lead are running hot during charging. You can see some other people’s input here, on this archived forum thread (I was not involved in the thread, but it came up first in a related Google search): This is my charging setup (still waiting on the 240V Voltec Charging Station): To connect to the Volt, about half the length of the charge cord has to be unwound. I noticed yesterday that the plug (the NEMA 5-15R) was very warm.  The plug lead was warmer still.  I went on to feel the charge … Continue reading

Chevy Volt Metered Charging (Phase I)

Chevy Volt 120V Charger Mounted on the Wall

My wife and I recently brought home a brand new Chevy Volt (named “Sparky“), the plug-in electric hybrid vehicle (PHEV) from Chevrolet.  It’s a really cool car, and you can read about our first experiences with it here. Of course, the whole point point behind a PHEV is the actual plugging in.  The Volt comes with a 120V charger that plugs into your average 15A receptacle, and can fully charge the car in about 10 hours. Chevrolet’s charging station partner, SPX, sells a variety of Level 2 charging stations compatible with the Volt (and most plug-in electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf).  The Level 2 charging stations use 240V, and can charge the Volt in about 4 hours.  We’re going to be … Continue reading

Sparky, Amanda’s Brand New Chevy Volt

We have a new baby in the house, and not the pooping/barfing kind of baby. It’s a brand-spankin’-new Chevrolet Volt, purchased from Arnold Chevrolet in West Babylon, NY.  They had the last black Volt in all of Long Island. First Impression I didn’t really have any pre-conceived notions about Chevys, and have never owned one.  But we did have a 2005 Acura TL for a few years, and that’s the closest vehicle to which I can compare the Volt in overall build quality, fit, finish and features.  The Volt is comparable in price to a TL (discounting the $7,500 tax credit), and in my opinion is in the same class.  Hell, the front end of the Volt even looks similar to the … Continue reading

Rotor Puller Kludge

Background I’ve only recently begun doing my own maintainance and repairs on my Jeep XJ 2000. I’ve hit a few snags and problems along the way, and this page details a solution for the most frustrating I’ve encountered so far. I went to replace both my front rotors, and they were both well beyond stuck to the hub. I’d been hammering, pushing, pulling, and spraying the old rotors on one fine Saturday for over 3 hours (4 hours if you count the time I took to go to the auto parts store and stop for a beer). Finally it was close to getting dark when one of my neighbors came along and advised that I should rent a rotor puller … Continue reading