DEFA SafeStart Engine Block Heater replacement

After noticing rather lacklustre performance from my engine heater, I contacted DEFA to see how to see how I could diagnose the problem.  I checked continuity from the power cable and inter-connector all the way to chassis/ground, so power was getting to the unit.

Knut from DEFA provided a handy photo (from my blog!) with instructions to show how test with a multimeter.  (Remember, I can’t take it back to the authorised DEFA agent who fitted it, since Waeco-Dometic sell coolers in Australia, not heaters.)  The heater should present 170-180Ω between pins 1 and 2 and there should be no continuity between Ground and either 1 or 2.  Measuring under the car wasn’t easy, but it was enough to show that the heater was dead.  I checked again after I pulled it out to be sure.

Soon I got a brief message about the replacement, “FEIL : Brudd i sikring Kontaktvarmer”, which seems to translate as ‘Broken fuse in contact warmer’.

About 15 days later I received a new 413840 engine block heater from DEFA Norway under warranty.  They added a 460372 “Installation kit” or heat shield, which wasn’t fitted before. BTW, I have no idea how to use the copper wires to secure the heat shield in the manner of jubilee clips.

DEFA SafeStart replacement and heat shield
DEFA SafeStart replacement and heat shield

To help removal I had purchased a garage creeper.  Unfortunately, despite its low profile design it takes me very close to the under-tray while the car rests on stands.  There is a small service flap in the under-tray secured by three panel pins directly below the mounting point. After a bit of a struggle, the replacement was in place.  A quick test with a power meter on the socket showed 330W, just like the original.

It’s starting to get cold in the mornings.  Already there’s been 9 days in May at or below 0°c.  While the garage rarely gets below 5°c, pre-warming makes a difference, especially with my wife driving to work each day.

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Carspotting 2

Quite a list
Maybach 57.  The darkened windows and Kobe registration suggested that the owner might be camera-shy.

Rolls Royce Phantom in white
Prius PHV.  Quite a few, actually.

Prius PHV in Himeji
Prius PHV in Himeji

Austin A35.  Nissan did make Austin copies under the Datsun brand, but this particular car has Austin badge and bonnet ornament.

Austin A35 slowly climbing a hill - Kobe
Austin A35 slowly climbing a hill – Kobe

Corolla Fielder Hybrid (Corolla station wagon)
VW Type 3 wagon in LHD (Kyoto)
Four Prius NHW10-11 in the space of a few minutes and about 500m

Prius NHW10 in Kobe.  Note the wheels and bumper-mounted fog lamps
Prius NHW10 in Kobe. Note the wheels and bumper-mounted fog lamps

Mitsubishi i and i-MiEV.  It’s hard to tell them apart unless you can hear an engine running.
Nissan Leaf

There’s also a curious range of bicycle branding, typically on small-wheeled full suspension models
Ferrari.  There have been Colnago-Ferrari collaborations… this wasn’t one of them.
Chevrolet
Hummer

Quite why butch brands appear in dinkys I haven’t quite worked out.

20140210-115301.jpg

Carspotting Japan (1 in an infinite series)

In a word, immaculate. Cars, trucks and buses are all immaculately turned out. First sight was a line of Prius α (aka Prius V) taxis at Kansai Airport, the first of which received further cleaning attention from its driver. They were fitted with steel wheels with hub caps, as for the S “L Selection”.

A Prius α getting its windows cleaned by the taxi driver. Note the non-standard wheels and hub caps, shared with the rest of the Prius α taxis from the same company in that rank.
A Prius α getting its windows cleaned by the taxi driver. Note the steel wheels and hub caps, shared with the rest of the Prius α taxis from the same company.

Lots of Prii of every series. Including PHV (plug-in) and both NHW10 and NHW11 series 1 and Prius Aqua (Prius c).  In fact, I was watching a line of 8 cars drive by and 6 were hybrid: Prius, Prius Aqua, Lexus CT, Toyota Sai, Toyota Crown Royal Hybrid, Camry Hybrid.

NHW10 Prius, with bumper-mounted fog lamps
NHW10 Prius, with bumper-mounted fog lamps

At the other end of the scale, in Motomachi near our hotel I saw a Lexus RX570 in left-hand drive (!), blinged out to match the Escalade parked next to it. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to get that car. The term “coals to Newcastle” is quite apposite.

EV are not uncommon, such as the iMiEV I saw being chased past Sannomiya.  I caught the obvious shape of a Nissan Leaf from the corner of my eye while waiting for a train.

A surprising number of Jaguars.

Several brand now offer start-stop engines to reduce idling.

Petrol is about Y155 for regular or Y165 for high-octane, which to some residents of Sydney is a bargain. And as usual everyone was travelling at 20-25 over the 80 speed limit, and as far as I could see, no one died instantaneously. There were three tolls (or four if you count TOLL Transport’s facility on the river) between the Airport and Kobe. I lost count of the driving ranges. It was a bit early so no street-legal racing cars to report.

And I spotted a Mitsuoka Viewt outside Okubo Railway station.  Not sure whether to admire or despise that car.

Battery Fail – Garmin ecoroute HD

ScanGauge II
ScanGauge II (Photo credit: bikesandwich)

After being in denial for several months, I’ve finally bothered to check if the devices attached to the OBDC-II port affect battery life.  They do.

I have a Scangauge-e and a Garmin ecoroute HD attached by double adapter to the OBDC-II port.

The Scangauge sleeps when the car is turned off and wakes when the car wakes to pump up the brake pressure when the driver’s door is opened before being started.

The Garmin ecoroute HD is always thinking, according to the Garmin Knowledge Base.

Question:  Will the ecoRoute HD drain power from the car’s battery when not in use?
Answer:
The ecoRoute HD accessory only draws small amounts of the car’s battery power. There should never be any instances of the accessory causing the battery in the car not to function correctly.Note that ecoRoute HD will be powered and working even when not connected to a compatible Garmin device or application.
Last modified on:  10/10/2011

Well… small amounts of the car’s battery is significant when the battery is very small, as it is in the Prius.  At least the article points out that power is drawn at all times.

Last weekend I was staying in Sydney and I made a point of unplugging the OBDC adapter each time I handed the car over to the valet.  Even with using the car every day I didn’t want the risk of flattening the battery.

Only problem with unplugging each time is that the ecoroute HD has to reconnect to the GPS, a ritual that can only be completed when standing perfectly still.

So I’m trying with just the Scangauge attached to see what drain occurs overnight with a full battery…

The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide To Knife Fighting – a complaint on behalf of Prius Owners everywhere

I have just sent the following letter of complaint to ABC-TV.  Since it is riven with left-wing bias and post-modern wankery I don’t expect a reasoned response of even a response.  Therefore I post this to my blog in the hope to raise awareness of this insidious attack on our society.

UPDATE: 9/04/2013 10:51. My complaint has been received by Audience & Consumer Affairs and been allocated a reference number.  “The ABC endeavours to respond to complaints within 30 days of receipt. However, please be aware that due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, and the complex nature of some matters, responses may at times take longer than this.”

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to register a complaint about “The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide To Knife Fighting” episode 1 as shown on ABC 1 on Wednesday 3 April 2013 (not including subsequent re-broadcasts or iView). While I appreciate that the show does as it says in its promotional material and has saved me the time of watching two separate programs for the guidance of elegant gentlemen and knife fighting, it has failed me terribly in another respect. I refer of course to the recurring sketch of the dinner party guest who owns a Prius.  He is depicted as a sociopath who forces the other guests to live out his sick fantasies, powerless to resist his urges.  He is shown bullying the guests, forcing two females to kiss in a provocatively sexual manner, emasculating the males and humiliating the guests to perform “Scarborough Fair” as various states of undress and bondage.  As a Prius owner myself I must naturally object in the strongest possible terms to a characterisation of a Prius owner as one who is ignorant of the specifications and capabilities of his Prius.

EV Mode or EV mode?

The Prius Owner (PO) arrives unannounced to the surprise of the Dinner Party Guests (DPG) by virtue of running his car silently in EV mode.  However, he wrongly suggests that 24km/h is the maximum speed that can be attained in this mode.  If PO were a real Prius owner he would have known that Stealth Mode can be maintained at 66km/h in the NHW11* (2001 – 2003) and NHW20 (2004 – 04/2009) and 74km/h in the current ZVW30 (05/2009- ).  And even if he meant EV Mode (not EV mode) by pressing the EV button, this Mode is disabled at 40km/h, as long as the car in in Stage 3 or Stage 4.  That is a schoolboy error.

* Note: I’m ignoring the NHW10 Japan-only model (1997-2000) that may have been obtained by grey import for reasons that, if not already obvious, soon will be.

What is the sound of shaking Prius car keys?

Secondly, PO goads the DPG by shaking his car keys.  This is particularly puzzling since neither the NHW20 nor the ZVW30 have keys in the normal sense as all Australian-delivered Prii have the Smart Key System.  Any metal key would have been concealed within the black, plastic keyfob, which was clearly not present. Perhaps he was referring to the NHW11 model, which did have keys but also had a keyfob.  However this is obviously not an explanation as PO declares that he obtains a fuel consumption figure of 3.7 litres per 100km, which corresponds to the ADR 81/02 extra-urban cycle figure for the ZVW30, which busts the myth of the rattling keys.

“Because I get 3.7l/100km.”  Oh really?

Thirdly, PO stated that he gets 3.7l/100km, not merely that its ADR81/02 figure obtained under laboratory conditions is 3.7l/100km.  Here’s where the mystery deepens further.  Under real-world conditions, the average fuel consumption for the ZVW30 Prius is 5.0l/100km when the variety of driving conditions, techniques and climates are taken into account. It should be obvious to the even casual observer that PO must be intimately aware of the capabilities of his Prius and hypermiling techniques such as Stealth, Pulse and Glide, Warp Stealth, Super Highway Mode and Driving Without Brakes (notice that I have not mentioned drafting) to achieve the ADR81/02 figure.  That is not to say that such a feat is impossible; there is a 1000 mile club for Prius drivers, which corresponds to slightly better than 2.8l/100km for some 1609 km.  However, it is clear that PO’s poor knowledge of his own vehicle and, we can safely assume, poor knowledge of driving technique would make his claim of 3.7l/100km impossible to sustain.

Naturally, I can also dismiss the notion that his Prius has a plug-in conversion (See EV Mode or EV mode).    In short, I bet the character doesn’t even own one.

It is just this sort of misrepresentation of the Prius and their owners that I have sadly come to expect.  Should PO be a  regular character I can’t imagine what ignorance he will display next.  ABC has probably bought the series so there’s probably little you could be bothered to do about any future episodes.

BTW, I have owned a Prius for just over 1 year, so I am eminently qualified to comment.

Good day to you… I said GOOD DAY!

Prius tank-by-tank and year-on-year

My fuel consumption is much better than last year.  My first few fuel ups from January to March 2012 were:

  1. 5.3l/100km (estimated)
  2. 5.4
  3. 4.9
  4. 4.9
  5. 5.3
  6. 4.8

By comparison, this year to March my numbers are:

  1. 4.1
  2. 4.0
  3. 4.2

Yes, 1 fillup per month in 2013.

In 2012 from the end of January to mid-March we travelled 3661.9 km using 185.79 litres at 5.07 l/100km.  In 2013 from mid-January to early March we travelled 3001.9 km using 123.25 litres at 4.10 l/100km.  That’s like improving from 46.4 to 57.4 mpg (US), 55.7 to 68.9 mpg (Imp) or 21.2 to 24.4 km/l.

Why the big difference?

There’s a number of things that have changed from when I first bought the car:

  1. Driving technique.  I am much more conscious of how to get the best from the car, specifically Pulse and Glide, Driving without Brakes (not literally) and maximising regenerative braking.  Super Highway Mode is still a bit elusive for me, but I achieved a very high level of right-foot mastery.*
  2. Engine heater and grill block.  Together these get the engine up to temperature and keep it there.  The Prius’ startup modes respond to coolant temperature; the hotter it is the more EV and power you have access to.
  3. Tyres.  I had 3 Ovation ecovision VI-682 and a slowly-leaking Bridgestone B205 at 34psi.  Now I have 2 Bridgestone ecopia PZ-X and 2 Ovations at 47 psi front and 45 psi rear.   I know that the Ovations were an end-of-lease quick-fix to having 3 bald tyres, but why doesn’t Toyota fit low rolling resistance tyres from the factory?
  4. I replaced a dead 12 volt battery in late March 2012.  This could have caused poor fuel economy by requiring more from the HV battery and therefore engine to recharge the 12 v.
  5. No cruise control on the highway.  CC doesn’t know when the accelerate except to keep the speed constant.  This includes a very handy feature of using regenerative braking on downhills.  But it is nowhere near as good as a well-placed right-foot.
  6. I ignore Distance to Empty = 0 km.  You have about 9 litres of fuel left when that warning
  7. Major Service in July.  If anything has been lurking, it will probably be found and fixed.  Improvement in fuel consumption should be obvious… unless everything was perfect beforehand.
  8. LED lights, shark fin antenna and subtle aero tweaks.  These are minor changes.  Indeed some in the eco-modder community wonder if the OEM antenna is even long enough to be affected by the air streaming over the car.  But since they make the car pretty and don’t take away efficiency, they can stay.
  9. I use 91 RON instead of the “recommended” 95 RON.  The user manual says that fuel of 90 RON or higher should be used.  However, the fuel flap “recommends” 95 RON.  Research from PriusChatters shows that 87 AKI (91 RON) produces better fuel economy than 91 AKI (95 RON) in the Gen III at least.  Particularly if you very rarely rev the engine beyond the Eco zone, the extra energy in 95 RON is not put to any use.
  10. It is dryer and probably warmer this year.  Temperature has a big effect on fuel consumption and the hot weather has helped.

The real test will be to see how much of this I can maintain during a Canberra winter.  I suspect that I won’t be much better if at all because I had already adopted a lot of fuel-saving measure before last winter.

* I drove my Citroën C5 for the first time in a year yesterday.  The steering is very heavy (but good heavy), the throttle is so quick to respond compared to ECO mode on the Prius and the brakes are very strong; a Citroën trait.  And I can’t believe how low I could have my seat and how high I could have the wheel.  I only used the wipers instead of the indicators once, but I kept trying to engage the parking brake with my foot!

 

“Ferrari Impounded after Speed and Noise Orgy”, aledgedly

Ferrari 430 Spider
Ferrari 430 Spider (Photo credit: KlausNahr)

The funny things you see when riding…

As I hurtled down the Federal Highway/Remembrance Drive, spinning in top gear at up to 63km/h in the 100km/h zone, I noticed a Police car flashing reds and blues just beyond the Antill Street roundabout.  There’s a very prominent 80km/h speed camera just before the roundabout and a lot of warning signs and thick bump lines that get your attention… if everything else has escaped your attention and you aren’t even going to bother slowing for the roundabout.

Federal Highway and Antill St, Watson, ACT – Google Maps

But the Police car had stopped less than 50 metres from the roundabout.  If the car had sped through the camera zone there was hardly enough distance to stop.

I couldn’t help myself but ride past on the road instead of the bike path.  I’m going to guess that the car pulled over was a Ferrari 430 Spider in Rosso.  I zoomed past too quickly to hear and in any case they were parked in the bike lane so I couldn’t dawdle out in traffic.

In the past month I’ve noticed this Ferrari 430 Spider in Rosso and another one in Grigio Titanio Metallizzato or Grigio Alloy driving in high gears for all the world to hear.  There’s no surprise that they enjoy knocking it back a gear or two; the sound is very unusual and raw.  Ferraris are not common in Canberra, but you know them when you hear them and I’ve heard them often along Horse Park Drive.

I continued on to Dickson via Watson Shops, past the construction site that once was Satis Cafe and a good place for a cycling coffee.  Had coffee at Good Brother, as is my habit of late.  Even though they close at 1400, they were happy to serve take away coffee and allow patrons to sit on their outside tables as they cleaned up inside.  Lovely.

About an hour later I was riding back up the Federal Highway near Old Wells Station Road when I saw a Ferrari 430 Spider in Rosso being taken away on the back of a table-top truck.  I started to wonder just what had happened (and what was about to happen):

  • He had been speeding and Plod had finally caught up as he waited patiently on the other side of the roundabout, or;
  • He had broken down and had just pulled over when a nice Policeman stopped to offer assistance, or;
  • The car was given a defect notice for being too loud.

But there’s no “Ferrari Impounded after Speed and Noise Orgy.  “Summernats is in January” says arresting officer” story in The Canberra Times, so maybe it wasn’t a big thing after all.  And any Schadenfreude is short-lived when you’re going back up Federal Highway and faced with the reality of a long uphill ride.

12 Volt battery woes – Part 2

Having an indicator to show the charge level of the battery has been a boon.  However, its location is not very convenient.  In order to charge the battery I had to open the hatch and keep it from closing while the charger was plugged in.  It was not easy to position the charger.

Another trip to Battery World at Phillip to pick up a CTEK COMFORT INDICATOR PANEL M8.  I chose the model with the 3.3m leads so that I could fit it into the dashboard near the steering wheel.  Convenient to see the charge level and convenient to plug in the charger.

The battery is on the right rear behind the back wheel.  So it was a straight and fairly easy run along the sill to the dash.  Using my Kinchrome Panel Removal levers I popped off the plastic sill covers; from the front, the driver’s side kick panel (held to the firewall with a plastic nut), the front and rear sills and the B pillar cover.  I lifted the panel that includes the HV battery vent, but I didn’t have to remove it; it was sufficient to see where the metal clip for the rear seat was.

Note: The B pillar cover is a bit tricky.  Tip: Remove the cover from the seat belt bolt and then push the seat belt down until the bolt fitting is pointing to the floor.  Then you can pull out the B pillar cover over the bolt.

The sills on the right hand side contain the 12 volt battery cables in one clip and the rear window washer fluid pipe in another.  There’s enough room between those clips for the cable to sit snugly.  The cable routing from the rear door sill to the battery takes some trial and error, but there is a safe path.

First problem – the panel

The panel is larger than the Toyota standard.  There’s a 1.5 mm ridge around the opening and the CTEK panel would not fit.  And I had to fit it first before I could run the cable.

There wasn’t much in it.  I took a sharp hacksaw and cut into the corners.  Then I cut away only the bottom and left ridges.  This was enough to allow a tight fit and avoid more cuts that could have damaged wires behind the dash.

With a bit of fettling I found a cable path that was neat.

Second problem – not enough cable

Too short, very annoying
3.3 m is not enough

Annoying.  3.3 m should have been plenty, but it was 10 cm short.  No amount of fiddling would make it reach.  I had an idea to retain the original cable intact and create 2 cables to join it to the battery.  However, I didn’t want the fuse holder to be inaccessible under a panel.

So I spliced some heavy gauge wire into the cable.  And then connected the eyelets to the battery terminals.

Crimped, not spliced, strictly-speaking
Crimped, not spliced, strictly-speaking

Replacing the panels was straightforward.

The Comfort Indicator Panel’s traffic light system differs slightly from the Comfort Indicator Eyelet as green is 100%-90%, yellow from 90%-40%  and red for below 40% charge.

The beauty is that I can plug in the battery charger much easier.

You couldn't tell that it wasn't original
You couldn’t tell that it wasn’t original
IMG_1036
CTEK charger plugged in securely through the driver’s window.
Ridge in the panel openings visible in the upper left

Very convenient and easy to use and only slightly more effort than I had hoped.

And I still haven’t found (or looked for) the drain.

1132.5km on 45.17L – But is it enough?

1132.5km at 44km/h.  A shame that the 3.7 l/100km figure is so unreliable.
1132.5km at 44km/h. A shame that the 3.7 l/100km figure is so unreliable.

I should be very happy.

  • I’ve just registered my best fuel consumption result of 3.99L/100km.  That’s 70.8 mpg Imp, 58.9 mpg US and 25.06 km/L.
  • First dot lasted 177 km
  • Fuel warning beep at 903.3 km
  • DTE = 0 at c. 960 km, driving another 170 km.
  • My last 553.7 km was at 3.5 L/100km (3.7 corrected 63.5 mpg US) and 45 km/h

I’m sad because I was aiming to drive 700 miles (1126.5 km) on a single 45 L tank and I’m not sure if I made it within any margin of error.

Continue reading “1132.5km on 45.17L – But is it enough?”

12 Volt battery woes – Part 1

Two weekends in a row I had to get a jump-start from the Allianz roadside assist.  Either the less-than-1-year-old battery is on its last legs or the something is quickly draining the battery.

Unfortunately it is not easy to analyse the battery using the otherwise sophisticated piece of kit because it isn’t easy to rev or idle in a Prius.  The results of the test were inconclusive.  The Prius does not have an alternator to charge the battery, it uses the HV battery to do that with the HV battery in turn being charged by the small Motor/Generator (MG1).  So the fact that the battery is charging when the car is running doesn’t tell you anything.

So, out to Battery World at Phillip for a battery check and to discuss options.  Their testing suggested that the battery was in very good shape.  So rather than buy a new Optima Yellow Top for $385, I purchased a spiffy CTEK MXS 5.0 battery charger and because the battery is tucked away a bit, I bought a delightfully-named Comfort Indicator Eyelet M6.  Once again Scandinavia comes to the rescue.

The CTEK MXS 5.0 has 4 programs and 8 phases to cover small, large and almost dead batteries.  There’s a special setting for very cold conditions, which I might have to use in Winter.

CTEK MXS 5.0 battery charger.  Does your battery charger have that many lights?  Didn’t think so.

Since the charging current doesn’t get above 4 amps on the normal program, I could charge the battery in-situ without worrying about creating gas or excessive heat.

Since access to the battery terminals involves the removal of several panels, the Comfort Indicator socket provides easy access and it’s traffic light system shows when the battery is at 100%-80%, 80%-40% or below 40% charge.

CTEK Comfort Connector with indicator
CTEK Comfort Connector with indicator and masking tape solution.  I can see the flashing light through the back window, even with the tonneau cover on

So, before I need to use the car, I check the indicator.  If it’s red, I charge the battery.

Now to find what’s draining the battery…