Econo Box – Light Up the Night

Been a bit since updating our newest addition, a 2014 Nissan Versa Note. Fuel mileage was the big push for getting the car and so far it’s not too bad. We seem to be leveled out at 37.8 around town. That includes maybe 5-6 miles of highway driving so we think that on longer drives we should see an increase. I changed the oil and filter at just over 5000 miles and I decided to go with the WallyMart brand of synthetic and a Napa Gold filter.

One of the issues that my wife brought up was the headlights. I took the car out a few times and had to agree, the headlights, even on high-beam didn’t provide much lighting. After doing a bit of Googling and yes my Googliness is rated pretty high – I was able to find a replacement HID kit out of Canada from XexonDepot. The kit’s price was reasonable and included everything I needed to make the conversion from Halogen to HID. Actually I was very impressed with the kit, not only was it well done but I only had to make a connection to the hot side of the battery and connect two ground wires – which were located right at stock factory ground connections. Everything else was just a very simple plug together deal. The lights themselves are fantastic, providing uniform light across the road and certainly much brighter. The bluish tint of the light looks pretty cool with the silver-grey paint too. This is a conversion that I would recommend to anyone looking to upgrade the lighting on their car. Overall, it took me about 40-45 minutes to install the kit and the results are top-grade.

 

Project Econo Box – Update

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Project Econo Box got it’s first real run recently. We made our normal jaunt down to Topsail Island for a few days and the car while a bit tight performed very well. Overall the ride was comfortable, the controls were within easy reach and fuel economy was right around 35-36. That is a bit below our expectations but we did have the car packed to the gills with stuff, some of it rather heavy and we encountered a lot of stormy weather on our trip down to the island. Coming home, we were a bit lighter and weather was rainy but not heavy. I did not check the fuel mileage on the return trip but simply based on the fuel gauge movement it seemed to be a bit better.

10556514_10152293285303481_7310373397569334177_n The dolphins were having a great time at the beach!

We did manage to shoot right past our 500 mile oil and filter change so that might be done at the 1000 mile mark now. I have also not taken time to check tire pressures yet. According to the owner’s manual, Nissan sends the car out with their normal grade of dino oil so maybe getting it over to synthetic and making sure tire pressures are up will assist the miles per gallon measurement.

We will have another report next month.

 

Project Econo-Box

Yes I know it’s not the most exciting thing talking about an econo-box vehicle. But I thought just maybe it could be jazzed up a little bit and made interesting – we will see how it goes.

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The econo-box in question is a brand new 2014 Nissan Versa Hatchback that my wife just picked up. There are a couple of different versions, plus a sedan. We do not think the sedan is very good and apparently not too many other people think much of it either. So, this car is the middle version, the higher end job was another $1700 and besides some foglights and wheels, there wasn’t much there for the additional money. We got this one in a nice pewter grey color with the cloth interior. It has all of the normal basic options, a motor that puts out just over a 100 hp and it is supposed to get 40 mpg. Driving the car is fun, it has enough power to move quickly, the noise level is decent and the basic layout of the car suits us. Out the door for $17k, I think we could have done just a little better but that included all of the taxes and fees that car dealers swindle you with today. Almost a thousand in garbage fees on this little car – and most of which I would have fought them on but the wife had already agreed to the price and wanted the car.

My wife believes that her driving style will get about 44 mpg out of it on the highway – so that is a challenge right there for starters. I actually think the car could go 46-48 but you would really have to pay attention and drive it on the moderate side. Right now, we need to get it broken in and take some readings to see where we stand with it. One of the tools I am going to use to get accurate information is a Scan Gauge. I bought this one a few years ago, and once you learn how to use it, you can really improve your mileage. It can store 4 vehicles and their information and since it plugs directly into the OBDII service port on the car, it is easy to move from vehicle to vehicle.

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Our first chore with the new ride was to seal and wax the paint job. This car has a decent paint job on it, very little orange peel in the paint (take a look at some of the new Cadillacs – I would be embarrassed) so I proceeded to give it a good wash job for starters. My normal wash routine is Meguiars wash mix, followed by a really good rinse, then using a small leaf blower to get most of the water off and finishing with an Absorber chamois cloth – nothing beats it. Next we moved the car into the garage and since it was a bit on the warm side, let the car cool down for a couple of hours. I next started the paint sealant job with a product from Surf City Garage in Huntington Beach called Nano Seal. This is applied liberally to the entire painted surface of the car with a microfiber wax applicator and then you allow it to set at least 20 minutes but I like to leave it on for an hour or so to get the most benefit out of it. Taking it off is rather easy using a microfiber towel. Next, I go for Mother’s 100% Carnauba wax. I just don’t think there is anything better on the market. Again, this is applied and removed with microfiber applicator and towel.  One of the funny things that I have noticed over the years is that you have a brand new car sitting there and if you drag you finger over the paint, there is not the first bit of wax on it but I bet they try to sell you a 3-500 hundred dollar sealant job before you leave the dealership!

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Next on the list is coating the interior with 3m Scotchgard to give it some protection from spills and messes. Once again this is something that can be done at home for a few dollars and will add a lot to your car. You want to make sure that the seats, carpeting, door panel fabric and headliner all get a good even coat. Just make sure you do not need to use the car for 6-8 hours; 24 hours is even better. The longer it has to dry out the better it does.

The last two things for now will be a oil and filter change at the 500 mile mark and a search for some decent wheels to replace the stock steelies and plastic hubcaps. We of course will go with a decent filter, either Wix or Purolator with the factory recommended viscosity in a 100% synthetic. Not sure if it will help mileage but it certainly won’t hurt it either. The replacement of the steel wheels might actually help the mileage a bit by reducing the weight but I really just do not like plastic hubcaps.

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Each month, I will be posting any changes made to the car along with it’s MPG number for the month – should be interesting to see how close we get to our predictions.