Since I decided to keep my 1996 Saturn, now with 150,000 miles, I figure it has pretty much paid for itself and is now a “throw away” vehicle. I had experienced some loss of engine coolant and have tightened all hose clamps without solving the problem. I have noticed that the temperature has been hovering around 208 degrees Fahrenheit even though the thermostat is rated at 195 degree. Stock thermostats are rated at 185 degrees. The extra temperature may be causing extra pressure build up in the system and maybe there is a pressure relief valve in the system that I don’t know about. My solution is to use this vehicle for some extreme temperature operations for mileage testing assuming that the hotter the engine coolant temperature the better the fuel mileage will be, to a point where the engine is damaged.
Two requirements I have are to find an engine coolant that will hold up to the extreme temperatures that I will be testing, and rigging a temperature control device that will push the temperatures I would like to test. My search for an acceptable engine coolant was easy. In fact I stumbled upon a web page that advertised a high temperature engine coolant that is chemically similar to the normal ethylene glycol. In fact stumbling upon this page is what gave me the idea to do the tests. The page was advertising an expensive version of propylene glycol, which is not only has a higher boiling point but it is non-toxic. I am a little hesitant to spend $80 for a gallon of propylene glycol so I found a cheaper substitute. It just so happens that I have used propylene glycol as a domestic water pipe antifreeze in my motor home a few years ago. I called a local mobile home repair shop and found some dilute propylene glycol for only $4 per gallon. Since I already have water in my coolant system, which seems to want to boil off anyway, I figured if wouldn’t hurt to use dilute propylene glycol. While I was at it I figured it wouldn’t even matter that I left the normal antifreeze in the system as well, since is was chemically similar to what I was adding. It would just make a solution of coolants having a slightly higher boiling point. If I left the filler cap loose any water or ethylene glycol that wanted to boil off could easily be replaced with the dilute propylene glycol. As higher temperatures are tested the solution will be further adjusted.
For a temperature control device I preferred I higher temperature thermostat but none was available locally. I assume that a racing vehicle has a higher thermostat but there is no speed shop near enough to me and I failed to find a high temperature thermostat on the Internet. My proposed solution is to install a ball valve in my upper radiator hose which I will be able to adjust with an attached choke cable from inside the cockpit. I will monitor the temperature with the Auterra Dyno-Scan device available on our web site. My plan is to test temperatures of 210, 220, 230, 240, and 250 degrees.
My Saturn already doesn’t get the mileage it did back when it had 90,000 miles on it. My driving habits over the past couple months have been intentionally aggressive with average highway speeds of 70-75 mph. A mix of city and highway driving has consistently been achieving 32 to 35 mpg, with an average typically around 33.5 mpg. This has been with a coolant temperature of 208 degrees and with no components of the Hydrogen Boost system installed on the Saturn. I have intentionally gone back to stock petroleum oil and it has been 60,000 miles since an XCEL PLUS engine treatment was done. A recent test of conservative driving habits with slow accelerations in the city and highway speeds of 55-60 mph achieved 43.5 mpg. I will report on further tests and how engine temperature has affected the mileage.
I do not suggest that anyone attempt to achieve good mileage by increasing the engine temperature. Normal oil will break down, engine wear may increase with temperature and eventually there may be damage to head gasket. I expect that even with Amsoil and XCEL PLUS I will encounter engine damage and/or engine failure on my “throw away” Saturn. If we can learn some valuable lessons from these tests I believe it will be worth it. I am sure this kind of testing or operation would void your engine warrantee.
A few months ago I did some uncontrolled experiments using acetone as a fuel additive, with no real reportable results. Later I ran across a nice article on the subject, which can be accessed here.
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