Six Months In: Chevy Volt

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In August we decided to trade in our 2003 Mini Cooper S and got a 2012 Chevy Volt.   After just completing our sixth month with the car I figured I’d put down some thoughts on it.   Ours is a black / black cloth / white trim model, probably the most basic model offered.

Picking up the Volt

Turns out that even the ‘base’ model is fairly loaded, which makes sense given the relatively high price tag.  We’re extremely happy with the car so far and have given a lot of people rides in it and answered a ton of questions about it.  Rather than review it, I figured I’d just give a quick 6 month set of notes:

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A Pictorial History of My Cars

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As an automotive enthusiast and son of an auto shop teacher, cars have been a large part of my life.   My first job was at an auto parts store, and as far back as I can remember my family was working on cars.   My father has had 50+ over the years, I need to get that list together.

Anyway, here are photos of all of my cars in the order that I had them with some notes.

During the Summer of 1991 we picked a 1984 Chrysler LeBaron that needed work.   The passenger side was hit, and well – it was gold.  I was still suitably thrilled, despite being too young to drive it.

By the time I was old enough to drive it, a few birthdays and holidays had passed, and the car was all tuned up.   My father painted it black in his shop, and we installed a new  convertible top as well.   Here’s a shot of it finished (and me dressed up for some event.)

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Mini Cooper S

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In Fall 2011 I picked up a 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) from my friend Andy.   He was the original owner and had a short commute, so despite being 8 years old, it only had 86k miles on it.

2003 Mini Cooper S - Post Detailing

This particular mini was used in a lot of early performance product development, and has had a lot of different aftermarket parts on it at various points in its life, as well as measurement points to do testing of all of those parts, including airbox temperature, pre- and post-intercooler air temps, additional map sensors, wideband O2 sensor, etc.  It’s probably had 5 different intakes, different intercoolers, 4 different exhausts, and a host of other parts.

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Subaru Legacy HID Install

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Time: 2.5 hours
Tools: Screwdriver, 10mm wrench, stiff putty knife
Optional Gear: Heat shrink tubing, electrical tape,
Difficulty: Moderate – It doesn’t take a lot of tools, but it’s relatively complicated. After figuring everything out, the second light took much less time than the first.

Kit: VOLT Digital+ Conversion Kit from Xenon Expert. I got the 4300k bulbs, so they’re white without any blue.

All photos are clickable for higher resolution.  Complete set of photos (including some not listed here) is on my Flickr.

The 2010 Subaru Legacy has the following bulbs in the headlights:

Front Indicator:  W5W (5v Wedge bulb)
DRL / Hi-Beam: 9005
Low-Beam (Projector):  H7

This project is to replace the H7 Projector bulbs, but at the same time we’ll swap out the DRL’s as well.

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Subaru Legacy: Garmin GPS Install

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Time: 1.5 hours
Tools: Screwdriver, voltmeter, misc pliers, wire taps
Difficulty: Easy

All photos are clickable for higher resolution.

After looking at the overhead sunglasses holder and test fitting the Nuvi, we decided to hardwire it up there.

Pre-procedure photo:

Garmin NAV Install

 

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VW MKV Foglight Install

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I don’t ever use my foglights except when it’s actually foggy, so I figured I would get a set of yellow bulbs to cut the fog a bit. I got the same bulbs that VWVortex member Syntrix did — from European Autosport.

Note: The stock foglight bulbs on my GTI were 9006 regular headlight bulbs (55w). Some of the other MKV’s use H11 bulbs. Check before buying!

Daylight shot of my stock foglights:

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VW MKV Color-matched Sidemarker Install

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Euro Styles East sells a set of color-matched sidemarkers for all of the MKV chassis cars. The numbers are sanded off OEM sidemarkers, and then they’re sprayed with OEM paint. The install is very simple.

First, a shot of the stock sidemarker, for comparison:

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VW MKIV 6CD Changer Install

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Note: This was originally published years ago, but it still works.
Car: 2001 Jetta Wolfsburg Edition (1.8T)
Changer: VW OEM 6 disc changer (german)
Installation time: 15-30 minutes
Tools needed: I used a flashlight

Installation
This cd changer is the 6 disc german model and is not sold in dealerships in North America. PGPerformance was able to get some of these from Germany and did a group buy for us. Below is a picture of my car before I started the work. Note: It was getting dark, so some of the pictures look tinted a little bit.

My car doesn’t have steering wheel controls (wolfsburg edition) — but directions on making this work with the steering wheel controls can be found here.

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MKIV VW Audi TT Fender Vent

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Parts: Audi TT passenger side fenderliner (part #8N0821172B from www.parts4vws.com)
Installation time: 30 minutes
Tools needed: Ratchet with Torx sockets, disposable razor knife, drill, straight edge, rivets, rivet-gun,
black RTV

Other parts needed: None

Installation
When you buy the TT Fenderliner from Potterman, all you get is the part with the vent in it, since it’s smaller and easier to ship (and since they know that people are just going to hack them up anyway…) I think it was around $30.

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VW MKIV A/C Relay Fix

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During the Spring of 2003, I went to turn on the a/c in my Jetta and found out the hard way that it wasn’t working. I started a thread on vortex and quite a few people had ideas on what to check first.

When we opened the hood, it was easy to see that when I turned on or off the A/C, the compressor was never being engaged. It seemed like there should only be a few reasons why this would be so:

  • Low refrigerant pressure
  • The switch is bad
  • Something between the switch and the compressor is bad
  • The compressor is bad
  • A pressure switch is bad

I hooked up my Vag-Com and was able to verify that when I turned on my A/C, Vag-Com could see it. This was proof enough for me that the switch was working. In that Vortex thread, a few people suggested checking for wiring / power issues in the battery distribution block, but my wiring appeared to be fine. We checked all the fuses, everything was fine.

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