I took the Scout out for a quick errand yesterday with Hazel to go pick up some dinner, and a small voice in the back of my head reminded me that I needed to get some gas. I’d already been to the other side of town to hit the dump earlier in the day, but our trip wasn’t that far and from what my mileage booklet said, I’d only gone thirty miles or so since my last visit to the pump.
I drove down the big hill from home into Ellicott City and just as I hit the bottom part of the road along the river, the truck died and I coasted to a stop on the shoulder. Hazel looked over at me from the passenger seat with reproach, then curled up on the seat and sighed. This is the second time this has happened at the foot of the hill—the first time it died pulling into the gas station a little further up the road—but it’s a warning I’m going to heed. I’m terrified of losing power going down that hill, and even though I know I could use the clutch to engine brake until a stop, when the steering goes out it’s like piloting an oil tanker. I’m terrified of digging in to the wiring behind the dashboard for fear the truck will never start again but the gauge situation and the wiper issue are now forcing my hand.
In the meantime I’m going to revise my mileage tracker to give me a better estimate of what my MPG actually is; my records show that I went down to empty in October of last year, which means I can use that and the records up until now to give me a better understanding of what my range is. Doing the math between now and then, I put 2887 miles on the truck, which converts to 3280 true miles (the ratio is 88 indicated to 100 true). I’ve put 296 gallons of gas into her between now and then, which works out to 11.08 miles per gallon. Not as good as Chewbacca did—Chewbacca was a 304 with a 2-barrel Holley 2100 carburetor and stock wheels, and she averaged anywhere from 12 to 14 depending on the type of driving and whether the top was down or not. Peer Pressure is a 345 with a 4-barrel Thermoquad on 32’s, and while I don’t spend my time racing from streetlight to streetlight, a 4-barrel is a lot thirstier. Also, all of the stupid emissions bullshit tacked on to my engine surely isn’t helping. To put things into perspective, my Jeep XJ with a 4-liter V6 got about 14mpg on average—keeping in mind the curb weight of the XJ was a full thousand pounds less than either Scout.
I’ve always figured no better than 10MPG as a rule of thumb, using my experience with Chewbacca’s low end and figuring 1-2MPG as a cushion was a good idea, but knowing exactly what my range is will help estimate even better. And there will be some digging around behind the dashboard come springtime: First, to hopefully diagnose and repair the gas gauge, and second to find the issue with the wipers and fix that.