Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Van is Back.

In my last post, blogger "have a nice day" pretty much described the repair work my mechanic performed better than I could have described, so read his comment.

Other information:

1. The oil pressure sender was replaced because it was leaking oil.

2. I have switched from Valvoline synthetic blend 5w-30 to Valvoline synthetic 5w-30. I have had problems finding the synthetic blend recently, so I thought now would be a good time to make the switch to full synthetic.

3. Lastly, I filled up with 91 octane (no ethanol) after getting the caravan back from the shop. I won't be doing this very often, but I thought it would be interesting to see any differences in performance compared to the 89 octane (10% ethanol) and 87 octane (no ethanol).

The following fill-up was achieved with 87 octane (no ethanol):

December 27:
277.9 miles / 13.935 gallons = 19.94 mpg

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bad News Update

According to my mechanic, the caravan has a blown head gasket. I looked around for pricing on replacing the motor, but it would be cheaper to do the repair work instead of buying a new engine block. Since the valve covers tend to go bad on the 3.0L caravans, I will be replacing those as well. Fortunately, I won't need to buy new cylinder heads; just get them milled.

Please excuse any possible terminology errors, for I am not car savvy enough to have in-depth engine discussions.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bad News

Monday, November 21:

For the previous fortnight I was not getting warm air out of the vents. I presumed this to be a petty issue, since it wasn't cold enough outside to frost the windshield, and I'm capable of dressing properly for cold weather. I made an appointment with my mechanic, Vern, for the following week.

I didn't think it was a thermostat problem, since the temperature gauge was reading in the normal range, and it wouldn't be a radiator problem, because that was flushed recently. I figured it to be more annoying than problematic.

I was proven wrong! While driving on the highway at roughly 12:25 am (Tuesday, the 22nd), my caravan overheated and stalled at 50 mph. I was able to put the transmission in neutral and coast to a side street before having to call a tow truck.

I will have the diagnosis within the next few days.

Caravan odometer = 178,003 miles

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sea Foam and Gas

I added a pint of Sea Foam to the gas tank before filling up with 87 octane (no ethanol).

October 13:
300.7 miles / 14.322 gallons = 20.99 mpg

Caravan odometer = 177,832 miles

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September Maintenance/Repair

The caravan's brakes have been bothering me for a while, so I decided to bring it to the shop for an inspection. I was going there anyway to get the radiator flushed and tires rotated. Unfortunately, it needed more work than just new brake pads. Here's a list of the work:

Radiator flush, tire rotation, front rotors, front brake calipers, front brake pads, rear wheel seals, rear wheel cylinders, rear shoes, turn rear drum brakes, and one pint of brake fluid.

Caravan Odometer = 177,709 miles

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Thank You Post

I'd like to thank everyone for making my blog the top 2 links when searching for "1993 Dodge Caravan SE Sport Wagon."

Thanks a lot, everyone.

Caravan odometer = 177,534 miles

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Late-August Gas

I spent $49.20 filling up the caravan with 87 octane (no ethanol) today, after going over 300 miles on 1 tank. That's normally not a big deal for most minivan owners, since they are usually 20-gallon tanks, but my gas tank holds only 15 to 15.5 gallons, thanks to an off-road incident with a rock.

There are a few things I should note before displaying the MPG:

1. This tank had about 10 gallons of 87 octane (no ethanol) and 5 gallons of 89 octane (10% ethanol).

2. I added a quart of Valvoline Max Life synthetic blend 5w-30 to the crankcase, and I made sure the tires were full of air before leaving for my trip to Lake Albert, America.

3. Roughly 190 miles came while I drove to and from the lake, so a lot of interstate/highway driving.

4. There's a small chance I didn't fill up completely, and my next MPG update could be significantly lower. I don't think this is the case, because the fuel gauge displayed 1/8 of a tank left. 1/8 of a 15-gallon tank is 1.875 gallons, and I bought over 13 gallons today.

So with those notes in mind, here are the numbers:

August 30:
335.5 miles / 13.482 gallons = 24.885 mpg!

I'm very proud of Beulah, myself, and our accomplishments together.

Caravan odometer = 177,443 miles

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Odometer, mid-August Gas

The caravan is finally over 177,000 miles.

August 13:
214.7 miles / 10.185 gallons = 21.08 mpg

I'm surprised I was able to achieve 21 mpg considering I had the air conditioner turned on a few times. It was very humid outside for about 3 weeks. This was with 89 octane (10% ethanol). The next gas update will be with 87 octane (no ethanol). Check back for the results.

Caravan odometer = 177,293 miles

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July Gas

I completely forgot about updating the blog, so I apologize for being so late with the newest MPG information. This fill-up was exactly $50.00.

July 9:
301.9 miles / 14.049 gallons = 21.489 mpg

Caravan odometer = 176,949 miles. The next update should have Beulah with over 177,000 miles! I think I might have a pizza party in celebration.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Future Plans

Once my mechanic is able to fit my minivan into his schedule, I will be getting the tires rotated and a front end alignment.

I'm currently deciding what and how much I should fix on the caravan. There are a few small dents/scratches and rust spots (I'm also undecided on whether or not I should post pictures of the deteriorating body), the front windshield has an ever-increasing crack in it, the back windshield has a few defrost lines not working, and the sun damage, oy vey, the sun damage is ruining the beautiful fire red paint.

I don't think I'll be re-painting her any time soon, since I still have to park outside. Most likely, it will be a new front windshield.

Caravan odometer = 176,833 miles

Monday, May 30, 2011

May Gas, Traffic Lights

May 23:
243.6 miles / 11.515 gallons = 21.155 mpg

It's a solid improvement, but not as high as I would like. If you look at my previous spring/summer MPG posts, I was getting 21.9 to 22.75 mpg.

Most of my driving occurs at night, after I finish work. There are very few people in the grocery store when I shop, and a limited number of cars on the road. I take a route that is considerably flat, with only 2 minor hills.

Unfortunately, the town and city I travel between have switched some of the flashing yellow traffic lights to flashing red traffic lights (midnight-6 am). Instead of possibly being able to make it to the store with only 1 stop sign, I now could end up having to stop at 7 traffic lights (8 stops total, if you include the stop sign) in a one-way trip. I thought the point of traffic lights was to keep traffic moving along. Apparently, it's to increase stop-and-go driving to ruin my gas mileage.

In conclusion, towns and small cities need to switch back to the flashing yellow lights to move traffic along quicker, and so I can get the best gas mileage out of my caravan possible.

I feel like Pierre Bernard after this rant.

Caravan odometer = 176,662 miles

Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Update

Here's my update for April 2011: I filled up the caravan one time. That's it.

I rarely drive long distances now because the US Dollar is getting weaker every week. It cost me $51.35 to buy 13.771 gallons of gasoline (89 octane, 10% ethanol). Too bad we don't have silver in our currency anymore; 1 quarter from 1964 (90% silver, 10% copper) can buy 2 gallons of gasoline! 25 cents for 2 gallons of gas, can you imagine that? Damn you, paper currency, that has no intrinsic value and can easily be debased!

April 18:
264.2 miles / 13.771 gallons = 19.2 mpg

Caravan odometer = 176,408 miles

Friday, March 18, 2011

Signs of Spring

It looks like spring is making it's way through the state. The temperature has been in the high 40s, snow has been melting, rivers are flowing high, and you can hear birds chirping in the morning. Another way to tell if spring has arrived is to see if a bird has crapped on your car yet. If you are like me, then spring has sprung.

Caravan odometer = 176,126 miles

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tire, Gas

One of the tires (rear-passenger side) had a psi in the low 20's, so with that fixed (37-40 psi range), I noticed a slight improvement in gas mileage. In addition to the increased air pressure, I don't recall the weather being as harsh since the last time I filled up the van with gasoline.

March 4:
209.5 miles / 12.688 gallons = 16.5 mpg

Caravan odometer = 176,084 miles

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Engine Block Heater

On Monday, I brought the caravan into the mechanic's shop and had him install an engine block heater. Why did I put a block heater on a soon-to-be eighteen year old van? It wasn't very expensive, and it's very cold outside. I have it plugged into a timer, so it's scheduled to start about two hours before I leave for work.

Caravan odometer = 175,900 miles

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Not very good numbers so far this winter.

179.6 miles / 11.381 gallons = 15.78 mpg

I take a lot of short trips, but 15.8 mpg? What the bleep is this about? Maybe I lost a bit of gas when the fuel pump and hoses (line and injector) were replaced. I don't know. Time to check the tire pressure again.

Caravan odometer = 175,873 miles

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fuel Pump

On Monday night after work, the caravan would not start. It was somewhat cold that night at 2°F, but not cold enough to be considered excusable behavior. Surely, it wasn't a bad battery (new - 2007.06.01) or starter (rebuilt - 2007.06.13). I went inside for a few minutes and then tried it again. Same thing. So I hitched a ride from a local and went home for the night.

The next day at work I tried starting the caravan again. Boo! Luckily for me, my mechanic's shop is less than half a mile, downhill, from where I collect my employment checks. With the transmission in neutral, Vern (one of the 2 mechanics) pushed the van with his truck that has a wooden push bumper on the front to get the van through the intersection. It was all downhill past the intersection, thanks gravity.

The reason the van wasn't starting was because it was not getting any fuel. The fuel pump needed to be replaced forthwith. Along with the new fuel pump unit, I needed one foot of fuel injector hose, one foot of fuel line hose, and five hose clamps.

The other mechanic (I don't recall his name) said I will likely need to replace the serpentine belt sometime this year. I believe the last time it was replaced was 2006.01.09, when the transmission was rebuilt (158,589 miles).

Caravan odometer = 175,707 miles

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Update for late November, December

The last 45 days have been unpleasant, weather-wise. There was a night of freezing rain, which annihilated my gas mileage. The ice was too thick for my scraper, so it took about 20 minutes to defrost. It was still raining when the ice melted, and I ended up having the caravan run for 30-35 minutes while driving only 2 miles.

Due to various reasons (cold weather, limited income, high gas prices), the caravan only takes short trips, which doesn't allow the engine to warm up for efficient mileage. The South Dakota winters make for cold starts. I have been thinking about installing an engine block heater to rectify this problem.

December 30:
194.3 miles / 12.14 gallons = 16 mpg.