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February 11, 2018 — Volt Glitch; Maester Goes Silent

FAWKES: 79,662 Miles
MASTER: 5,230 Miles

I drove Fawkes today for the first time in a while. Tracy’s red Volt fills in the void in long trips that limited Level 3 charager availbility keep Maester from making, and 2nd car miles for her when the Bolt EV is otherwise busy. But today, Maester was otherwise unavailable. Maester was parked solo in the garage, with its doors wide open, trim panels removed to make way for a sound deadening upgrade.

So Fawkes was our ride to brunch and a short stop at AutoZone to get a replacement trim clip for a couple I damaged prying the doors apart… It was a fine drive, in typical Volt fashion, save for one little problem. It’s happened before maybe once or twice each winter we’ve had it. On cold damp mornings, when the car has been parked outside, the car forgets to turn on the backlight of the main LCD display. No MPH, no fuel gauges, or odometer…

So we keep the Speed Box app on my iPhone as a speedometer. And the car’s center console screen has EV range stats to judge how much charge we have left. Not that it matters on an outing for a bite to eat. We wouldn’t run out of juice, let alone a nearly full tank of gas. But the app got us safely through through the glitch, After we ate, the display back to normal with the next time we started the car. It’s a silly and slightly annoying bug. But at least there is a technology solution for the few miles a year it triggers.

MAESTER: 5,230 Miles

Meanwhile, after lunch I wrapped up the car surgery on Maester. I took a few photos and videos and will try to get some online. But for now, here a few details and the results.

I purchased three different sound deadening foam products to line the doors, both inside and between the door and the trim panel. Inside the door I added one SOOMJ Studio Sound Acoustic Absorption Car Heatproof Foam Deadener panel to line the interior wall of each door. Over the side impact bar inside the door, and other oddly shaped spaces, I used Dynamat Dinaliner 1/8 inch foam liner, and over top of the factory vapor barrier under the trim panel, I added Dynamat in 1/2 inch variety. All together, it is about $150 worth of sound control product.

It took about 15 hours to open up the doors — figuring them out along the way, cutting and pressing down the sections of foam I cut to fit around metal fittings, and putting everything back together. Be mindful not to get the foam too close to the holes where the trim’s clips snap into the door. I went too wide and could not get the panels to stay snapped on. I broke a couple of the clips while trying, hence the trip mentioned before.

And the results? Before I even took a serious test drive and listen, I had to move the car out of the middle of the garage so that Fawkes could get back in and charge. I backed Maester out of the center of the garage, parked it at the end of the block, walked back to the house, moved Fawkes into its garage spot, and then walked back to Maester. The car had been sitting in the dark, in the cold (37°) for at least five minutes, yet the interior was noticeably warm by the time I got back in. The added foam still had trapped heat in the car from when it had been in the garage. Sweet! The potential savings while running the HVAC may be reason alone for the upgrade.

But how does it sound? The bass response of the speakers is noteably stronger. While my custom speakers have been clear with low distortion, I had felt that there was a void in bass frequency response around 80Hz. Part of this sound treatment plan was based on a hypotheses that where were reflections inside the door doubling back on the woofer cones and cancelling out the signal in certain bands. Not any more! The bass it terrific! (As I work my way through older journal entries, I’ll get to posting the details of the custom sound system I built.)

And for road noise? It is definitely lower. The high-pitched whine from the tires on grooved highway surfaces was appreicably dulled. Low rumble and mid-range sounds from other cars are also diminished, probably 2-3 dB, though I didn’t do before/after measurements. (I have failed as an engineer on that point.) My overall impression is that the car feels more calm now. The doors feel more solid, with more of a thud when closing and heavier swing. The remaining interior noise is mostly wind noise and motor whine, eerie, in a good “EV” way. I like it!

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