We miss our EV!

Discussion in 'EV (Electric Vehicle) Discussion' started by Isaac Zachary, Nov 17, 2020.

  1. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    Years ago I didn't have a car. I just used my bicycle for everything. But when I was about to get married I got a cheap car. From then on the wife and I stuck to few different 4 cylinder older cars including a 1972 VW Beetle, a 1993 2-door Mazda 323, and finally a 4-door 1985 VW Golf non-turbo diesel.

    The diesel was our favorite and the car we had kept the longest. It was cheap to run and own and just wouldn't die. The main problems it had was from the inferior quality of aftermarket CV axles and door handles. It seemed like every 11 months I'd just take the CV axles off and take them in for a warranty exchange and would put the "free" set back on and continue for the next 11 months. Door handles would last about a week during the winter months.

    But besides the CV axles and door handles it also made a huge cloud of black soot and had the acceleration of the titanic. I even got pulled over once because a cop was concerned since my vehicle was billowing out black smoke as I barely kept 25mph in a 50mph hill climb; the car fully loaded with our stuff of course.

    So we decided we wanted a newer car. But something easy to work on and cheap to own and run. In December of 2016 we decided on a used 2013 Nissan Leaf. I installed a level 2 "charger" and off we went. Most of our driving was just short trip stuff, which the Leaf could handle easily. The few times a year when we'd go on long trips we'd chose between taking the ol' diesel, renting a car, borrowing a car or just taking it easy in the Leaf. Taking the Leaf on long trips was a challange. There are still hardly any public charging stations around here. We mainly would plan 70 mile legs driving along the highway as slow as possible, barely make it with any battery and charge all night off of 120V outlets, then do it all over again.

    But then less than a year later things changed. We were needed about 70 miles away, over three mountain passes, on at least a weekly basis. We tried taking the Leaf for several months, but would creep along the highway at 25 mph just to make it. Then one cold morning we got stranded about half way there with no cell signal. It was only -13°F and things can get much colder here. So we decided to exchange the Leaf and Golf for something else.

    So in November of 2018 we got our 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. The car has averaged over 41 mpg and is nice and comfy. But then, even a before COVID hit, our need to go such long distances ceased. So now we're back to short distance driving again, which drives me insane. I hate warming up the car, especially for a trip that's just a mile or two. With the Golf at least I had a 1,500W block heater that got the engine up to running temps, but I haven't been able to install such a block heater on the Avalon. And even if I did, that wouldn't help warm up the catalytic converter.

    So now we're wishing we still had an electric. On the other hand, idealy I wonder if it's possible to get used to biking again. It seems like everyone now owns an SUV and drives like an idiot. Plus I work at night, in the dark. I can't tell you how many close calls I've had in our cars. I don't like the idea of taking a bicycle out on icy streets at night with so many SUV owners. I'm not saying all SUV owners are bad drivers, but SUV's do have a higher statistic for running over pedestrians and bicycles and I've even known a couple of people that have been ran over and killed on their bikes in broad daylight not that many blocks from where I live.

    So, what do I do now? Try the bike? Did I mention it gets as cold as -40°F here? Or do I start looking for a cheap EV? Or do we just keep driving the Avalon short distances that aren't enough to warm up the engine? The other problem is I just don't feel financially capable right now of taking on another vehicle that's not in the less-than-$1000 range. So do I trade out the big comfy Avalon for an EV?? I also have my project car, the 2006 Prius that's not currently road worthy.
     
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  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    bike sounds like a death wish.

    i would drive the avalon now, and wait for an ev, once joe gets into office, ev's should get cheaper
     
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  3. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Suggestions:
    1. 2015-2016 BMW i3-REx - these are much more affordable and the REx means you're not nailed by a broken fast DC charger. End of lease is more expensive but often has residual warranty.
    2. Lease (?) - may provide an affordable approach if the monthly payment is reasonable.
    3. Check eBay completed sales - the most accurate 'used' prices around.
    4. InsideEVs and Edmunds have car buying services including used.
    Bob Wilson
     
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  4. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Sounds like a simple decision. Keep the Avalon hybrid. I would not consider anything that was less than $3500 much less $1000. From a safety standpoint your good in a 2013 Avalon. From other posts it seems you have a cartridge style block heater. I would keep it plugged in and possibly add a lower radiator hose heater to get you closer to 1500 watts.
     
    #4 rjparker, Nov 17, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
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  5. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    Would a coolant heater fit in the Avalon? Still won't help with the catalytic converter, but better fuel economy and poor emissions is better than poor fuel economy and poor emissions. Then keep an eye out for a used Leaf that fits you budget for a second car. Sounds like even one with reduced capacity would work for you.

    You could look into replacing the Avalon with a Prius Prime. From reports, it is more comfortable than the 2006 Prius you have, and aside from extreme cold, will be running as an EV for most of your trips.
     
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  6. plug-it-in

    plug-it-in Active Member

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    I agree. Sometimes one's budget will interfere with ideas. I don't think you can have a reliable EV under a grand. Also your driving needs seem to evolve. These two points lead to keeping the Avalon.
     
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  7. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    Yes, I have a cartidge style OEM block heater. It helps a little. I'll keep looking for a way to heat up the engine more with more block heating solutions.
     
  8. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    On my Gen 3 Prius, I'd fully block the lower grille and use an EBH. That helped keep my mpg averages up (my commute was 6 miles). The yearly average was 4.8-4.9L/100km (about 48-49mpg) as my winter mpg dropped to 42mpg (or lower on the coldest of days) to 55mpg or higher on summer days.

    I'd look into grille blocking for your Avalon in addition to using the EBH. Yes it doesn't help the cat converter but if the engine is pre-heated, it can get up to operating temperature more quickly (or at least close to it. I guess it can't in -40 temps and short distances) and get the exhaust gas warm enough to warm up the cat converter.
     
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  9. plug-it-in

    plug-it-in Active Member

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    I know the feeling .... my 2021 Kona Electric with ~3,000km is at the dealer waiting for a new HV battery. Hyundai is good to me they gave me a new Tucson as a loaner. So at least we got wheels. But after driving the Kona E for seven or eight weeks I would never buy a gas car again. It seems that GM has similar problems with the Bolt. Both cars use HV batteries made by LG Chem.
     
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  10. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    My wife sighs every time we drive by a Leaf. (But she also does the same thing every time we drive by an old VW.)

    I did block the grill on the Avalon last winter. I'm not sure how much it helped. The only pain with that is living in the mountains when we do travel outside of town we have to climb some rather long steep grades meaning I either have to take the grill block out then put it back in, or built it for a happy medium, to where it covers just enough to not let the engine overheat during such hill climbs during the winter.
     
  11. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Do you have an OBD reader:
    • catalytic converter/O2 temperature or voltage
    • engine coolant temperature - a key metric
    With our old 2003 Prius: (1) catalytic converter reached operational temperature within about 45 seconds, and; (2) engine coolant temperature determined if the engine ran without going off. Using this information, I learned the engine coolant determined if the it ran or turned off. So I hacked a small controller and circuit to spoof a higher coolant temperature so the Prius engine would not run constantly. HOWEVER, these were Gen-1 Prius control laws. Without OBD metrics, it makes sense to study and then investigate cold weather tuning tricks.

    Bob Wilson
     
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  12. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    Man! If engine heat is the main determining factor I think I'll get to work at installing a bigger and better block heater!

    The Avalon does have a coolant temp needle on the dash. I also have a ScanGauge. And I also have a bluetooth OBD reader and the Torque app on my phone.
     
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  13. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    My temperature hack would reduce the coolant probe resistance to spoof a warmer coolant temp. I used a Texas instrument MSP-420 that would pulse modulate a transistor RC circuit to software control the duty cycle but there are simpler approaches. For example, run a wire into the cabin to a 0-2k POT and manually adjust to the desired, spoofed temp.

    We can go into more details but you’ll need a VOM, Harbor Freight, $10 version. Let me know. My earlier work should be Google searchable and I’m not the only one.

    Bob Wilson
     
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  14. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    I don't put much trust in such dash needles. In the past, they could just be wired to an on/off circuit.
    I've only used a partial grill block, but I leave it on year round, and you lose AC with a 100% block. The radiators are sized summer use in a desert.

    Is the scangauge showing the coolant getting too high on those climbs?
     
  15. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    The needle is made to make the car look good.
    It starts moving at around 100°F 38°C
    It gets to the middle at around 140°F 60°C and stays there clear up past 210°F 99°C.
    I've never seen it go past the middle.

    I've never had it overheat, not with the Scanguage either. I've also never taken it over a pass with any sort of a grill block. But I think I'll try the partial grill block. With the full block though the engine still seemed to cool down very quickly when parked.

    I've always dreamed of insulating the entire engine. I don't know how practical that would be though.
     
  16. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    If the photos are still around, take a look at @efusco’s photos of his Gen 2’s engine bay - it was stuffed!
     
  17. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    I put insulation in the HHR bay. Didn't do it with the Sonic since I was being cautious with the turbo.
     
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  18. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    As long as your sure she's sighing at the car and not the newer model driver you are probably OK

    Mike
     
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  19. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    Time to stuff the Avalon (and then the Prius)...
     
  20. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    The fully-electric vs hybrid seems a common quandary these days; don't have any answers, but thanks for the interesting read. (y)