And we end with what just might be a frightening and TRUE story... from the SDML
I didn't see the original post on this, so pardon the untimeliness of the post, but I wanted to share just a little insight about the FFV Spirit previously mentioned by...sorry, I don't recall who posted it, David pointed it out to me. The original post said something about seeing an auctioned car drive by with FFV stickers on the fenders, and the poster wondered what it was. Well, I own one, and I'd love to tell you all about it. First of all, this car is a rocketship. It flat-out out-accellerates *ANY* production car on this or any planet. It out-corners a Porsche, out-runs Lamborghinis, makes your GLHS's look like book ends and, generally speaking, is the single most underappreciated automobile the world has ever known... ...this, if you use the "everything I say taken to its absolute opposite" scale. This means: This car is a bomb, and a dud at that. There isn't a car in the world that would lose a race to it, even if you were to transport them to the moon, where gravity might be in the Spirit's favor. It couldn't out-corner a Volkswagon, couldn't catch up to an Alfa Romeo, proves that the GLHS wrote the book on performance 4-doors and, quite specifically, is about as valuable as a bucket full of elbows that you're paid ten dollars to carry fifty feet. My car is a '94. I understand they're still making SOME FFV Chryslers, specifically minivans. I have no idea why. The concept behind the FFV is simple: use cleaner fuel, save the environment, yahda yahda yahda, blah blah blah. Well, let's discuss this fuel. You have your choice of standard unleaded gasoline (the decomposed brains of dinosaurs, deep-fried into their own brand of molasses and squeezed until the plasma drips an awful amber color into your gas tank), or M85 Methanol (Clearasil zit cream). Sound yummy? Check this: M85 is readily available in Southern California. In fact, the closest gas station to my house has it. How convenient. In fact, M85 is a whopping $0.92 a gallon, last I checked, versus $1.17 for Dinobrain brand car food. The problem is, it takes TWICE AS MUCH to go as far as the Jurassic Mazola. Nice. Oh, but it doesn't stop there. See, Methanol will wash your motor oil right off your cylinder walls, so you can't use any old oil. Kick Dino out of there, and switch up to...betcha thought I was gonna say synthetic, dincha? *NOT!* Chrysler specifically wants exactly specifically one type of oil, and you can fetch this travesty of automotive glucose from your Chrysler dealer...at over $6 a quart!!! Oh, and did I mention the FILTER IS DIFFERENT?!?!? OK, so I had enough of this straight away. I figured, I'm just not going to run M85. That way, I can use the regular oil, regular filter, etc etc. *WRONG!* The clearances are such that if you use regular oil, you will go through, oh, I figured out it's about 1 quart every 250 miles. You'll get sick of that little oil can light coming on real quick, and considering you don't see any smoke, it's more than frustrating to try and diagnose where the "leak" is coming from. OK, I needed to find an alternate to the dealer's oil. Check the bottle, get the SAE rating, call every single oil company's consumer line, and NONE of them can help me. So, I start hitting parts stores, checking all the major brands I've used in the past (key point). I look at all the synths, I check every bottle. In the end, I finally found an oil with the SG rating that was on my dealer's bottle: PLAIN OLD PENZOIL WITH Z7 POLYCRAYON ADDITIVE which, in case you're shopping, works out the front door of Schlep Boys at $0.98 a quart. Jeez. OK, so you think that's the worst of it, huh? Not on your life, bubba. I bought the car for $1800 (hundred) with 56K (note two digits) on the clock. It had been MILDLY wrecked in the front, just enough to crease the hood, fender, and ruin the grille, lights, radiator and condensor. OK, no prob. I go to the yard, score a radiator out of a '92 Spirit 2.5 with air. Uh...no workie. Not even close. Doggonnit, hafta wait for a '94. I waited for almost a year, got a radiator from a '94 2.5 with air, and while it was different from the first radiator, it STILL wasn't right. Go to the parts desk and hear, "That's not a flex-fuel, is it?" <slapforeheadnoise> OK, fine, I'll just have to WIRE TIE MICKEY MOUSE the thing in there and use the upper radiator hose from a DAKOTA TRUCK with a foot chopped off, so the thing sorta wraps around Kentucky before making a graceful sweep near the air conditioning condensor on its way to the left front of the car before coming back to the inlet. Lower hose? Don't get me started. '85 Daytona, chopped in the middle with a piece of my kid's swing set leg spliced in the middle with two gigundo hose clamps holding the thing together like some kind of bad dream starring Elizabeth Taylor and that horsehead from The Godfather. Oh, did I mention it leaks? Calm, Carl, find your happy place. You can improve your cooling capability by actually installing an OVERFLOW TANK instead of that 3-liter bottle of Shasta Mountain Cherry Berry Extravaganza-slash-Jell-o Base flavored rudimentary substitute nutrition example of the beginnings of a root canal, which, by the way, is ALSO wire tied in. OK, this time I'm going to the dealer. While I'm there, I'm getting a speed sensor and a fuel filter to finish the "routine" maintenance and take care of a little problem with the car refusing to go faster than 65 (oh, did I forget to mention that? CLOCKWORK, it is. The car WOULD NOT go faster than 65, even downhill!!). OK, look at PAIS. Yep, one coolant bottle for the AA body in '94, no chance to screw that up. Yep, only one speed sensor too, and only one fuel filter. HEY, I shoulda come here first! AAAAUUUUGGGGHHH!!!!! *WRONG!* The coolant tank is different! Why the @#$%^&*! would the coolant tank have to be different?! It's different from the 2 examples I got from the junkyards, it's different from the fractured remains of the original bottle. Why is it different?!?! Well, at least I can get the other things done. AAAAUUUUGGGGHHH!!!!! The fuel filter is different!!! GAWD, it's got some kind of gnarly built-in stainless steel braided lines growing out of it...with QUICK CONNECTORS on it. NOW what am I going to do? Well, at least I can try out the speed sensor... AAAAUUUUGGGGHHH!!!!! The speed sensor is different too?!?!!? AAAAUUUUGGGGHHH!!!!! Look at me: I'm Charlie Freakin' Brown, and that concubinous bint Lucy has just yanked the football right out from under my mechanical sensibilities!!! AAAAUUUUGGGGHHH!!!!! Calm...breathe...calm... We had to go to Utah. Don't ask, we just did. Doing a whopping 65MPH, we drove 715 miles to a place where cold is defined by how long it takes to bite through a Chicklet while God is trying to invent the reverse-microwave all over your face, ears and neck. We stayed overnight... ...and the car refused to start. Dempsey helps me tow the pig to his work, where some of the craftiest techs I've ever paid have discovered something. Seems the FFV sensor is bad. Seems it's on Super-Secret-Double-Intergalactic-Backorder. I later deduce the thing must have liquid inside, either mercury or maybe a little Clearasil itself, I dunno. What I DO know is that once that sensor warms up, the car will start. What the techs do is trick the car's computer by splicing in a 9v battery, force-feeding the computer 1.5v, equating roughly 9% Methanol content. For the first time in months, we go faster than 65... ...*IF** I can remember to put the faceplate on my radio before starting the car. You see...well, don't see, because *I* don't see how what order the starting of the car and replacement of the radio faceplate has on anything, but it does! And, if I put the faceplate on first, the car now goes faster than 65. If I forget, the check engine light stays on, and exactly precisely at 65, the car starts bucking back and forth like I'm the unlucky kid at the birthday party who got that ONE go-kart that's the slowest of the field, and all the 5th-graders are slamming into my butt, chugga chugga chugga... OK, after a ton of false starts and 3 extra days in Donny and Marie Land (home of the Denny's but not quite a Dennys because you have to ASK for coffee and associated cups, because there's no such thing as a Postum cup or they'd leave one, upside down at every place setting, just like they do coffee cups at every other freakin' Denny's the world over, not like you'd WANT a hot beverage when your car is broken down and you have to walk 3 miles for breakfast and the weather is somewhere between the temperature of a wicca mammary and that ideallic-but-ever-mocked impossible climate- control setting of the fifth level of hell, but it would be nice to have that OPTION), we finally get to leave. Now, one thing I learned while I was waiting for my car is that there is a part number for a fuel filter with stainless quick-connect lines...but it's not for flex fuel. That's different still. How'd you like to pay $54 for a fuel filter? And, that speed sensor is the right one, you just have to wire in the retrofit pigtail they give you so you can use the same one every other car uses. The air filter? Dunno. The coolant tank? Dunno. What I *DO* know is that I have absolutely no interest in tracking down all the right parts for this car--I've spent too much on the wrong ones already!! Anyway, we did 24MPG on the way up to Utah at 65MPH, but we did 17MPG on the way back at 80MPH. Notice anything wrong with these numbers? Yeah. Let's do a test by unfaceplateizing the car between fillups. 24@ 65, 17@ 80. Nice. So, here's the short version of the FFV story, in case you made it this far: *ALL* of the parts, including the air in the tires, near as I can tell, is unique to the FFV. Any Led Zeppelin heard through the speakers will sound blatantly distorted so as to reveal Paul Schaeffer singing "Sweet Home Alabama" in the shower, because the nature of FFV vehicles is such that you simply cannot assign practical physics values to any of its componentry. Light bends around the car, making it invisible to parts books and all Dodge technicians who have not spent at least eighteen hours rebuilding the transmission of a New Holland tractor in eight inches of snow, and the computer was built by Steve Wozniak as a means to get back at Steve Jobs, but it ended up in this pig by accident and refuses to start unless the weather is somewhere between 62.3 and 62.5 degrees exactly, and the winds are out of the southwest between 8.3 and 8.4 MPH, and Venus is in retrograde and Plutarch is read by exactly 31 people at the same time, all pausing on the word "substantial," in existential contemplation... ...THEN it runs like a normal car. *ALL* of the consumables, especially the methanol-like-gasoline-flavored- substitute-but-not-the-way-we-think-of-saccharin-substitute fuel, require a HazMat rating of 5 or greater and gloves thicker than a tunafish sandwich to handle. While Penzoil isn't quite this nasty compared to a styrofoam cup of gasoline and Tide detergent, it is the single worst motor oil in human existence--case in point: the enormous clearances in the FFV engine magically filled up when using the stuff. I'm fairly sure Chrysler intended them to be a disposable car. I'm serious! There wasn't even a provision for a spare tire apart from the well in the trunk, which magically smelled like New Car Fume', and was filled with 34 2-liter containers of Mr. Pibb and a 3-ring binder outlining the safety procedures surrounding the apparently rare and unforseen circumstance that you might actually have to put FUEL in your GAS TANK, and, this being an FFV, you might want to try M85 Methanol, but be careful because looking at the shadow of the vapor escaping into the wind will cause your mirrors to turn to stone, your eyes turn into marbles, your wife turn into Rodney Dangerfield, and your hands turn into golf clubs. I'm guessing one of the pages in that binder has instructions on laying out stones in the middle of the desert that spell "SEND A GRAND CHEROKEE--I'VE GOTTEN A FLAT TIRE!!" so that if you actually do bust rubber, you at least will make it home before the NBA strike is settled. Don't worry, I hear they've released some more California Condors into the wild. Your FFV will magically disappear, courtesy of the Fowl Feeder Vehicle program spawned in Ann Arbor over a drunken tale of how the AMC Marlin came to be. At least, that's my perspective. I hate the damn thing, and I couldn't un-reccommend a vehicle more than ANYTHING with FFV in the name...anywhere. At least the stereo is nice.
I've only had my van going on a litte more than 3 weeks. I was told the only difference in a flexfuel and non-flexfuel vehicle is the computer so if they look under flexfuel and don't see anything have them look under MFI and if it's a part you can bring in the parts store with you, have them check a 3.0 engine and see if it matches.
So far, only two things I have looked for. An air filter and an output speed sensor. Both were listed as factory only/not available at AutoZone. But looking under 3.0L both were available and were identical with matching cross referencing numbers.
I haven't measured true MPG yet, but I know that I am getting very good mileage just from seeing the same miles I have driven in other cars and how often I have to add gas. I'm guessing at least 20+ city, 25+ hwy. I'm going to do an actual measurement starting on the next tank and will let you know. But I'd say you definately need something 'tuned' up. I'm no mechanic for sure. But simple things often overlooked such as airfilter and spark plugs can make a pretty significant decline in MPG if not replaced every so often.
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