VA to CA and Back: Full Trip Wrap-Up

Being a former TDI owner, I still love to track fuel economy and other technical stuff. Come to think of it, I’ve tracked MPGs from the day I got my first car, a 1973 Beetle in 1986. Overall for this trip, I drove 7668 miles and burned 352 gallons of premium unleaded. That puts the trip’s average fuel economy at 21.7 mpg, which is 1.3 mpg less than on my previous trip to CA. I had hoped that the cargo trailer would be more aerodynamic than the top-loaded utility trailer. However, the cargo trailer is heavier, wider, and taller; plus, I think my speeds were consistently higher along the way. I suspect I-80 may be slightly more mountainous than I-40, too. I haven’t scrutinized the costs of hotels, fuel, and food separately. I don’t want to! But I do know that this trip was an expensive way to get a small amount of my mother’s stuff. Regardless, this was more about the journey than the economical acquisition of goods.

The car’s performance was flawless! Why would it be otherwise? If you read about last year’s trip to CA, then you’re aware that I had an engine problem. Looking at the final blog entry from that trip, I now realize that I forgot to provide a follow-up that I had promised. I will remedy that before sharing recent news about the car. The short version of that story is that my #3 injector had failed. Thankfully, it hadn’t failed completely. It still worked fine under light-to-medium loads. But it could not support enough fuel flow during climbs or at higher speeds. That resulted in misfires and a “cylinder hide” fault in which the #3 cylinder would deactivate. I “drove around” the fault by staying in fourth gear most of the time, keeping my speeds at or below 70 mph, and with moderate acceleration. I will share more details in a future entry that’s backdated to when it should have been published. Subscribers will be notified when I publish.

Back to my car’s flawless performance, “the little engine that could” is completely vindicated! Even my own suspicion last year that my engine troubles could have been caused by the long-term towing were erased as a coincidental failure. This year, the car had four new injectors and ran like a top! This cross-country trip subjected the car to a heavier, taller, and wider trailer load and took place over a longer route with higher speed limits and longer climbs. In short, I couldn’t be more pleased with this car’s performance! I started the trip with 120,216 miles on the car, a point at which many would hesitate to take a tuned GTI on a long road trip, much less couple a trailer for the journey. I returned to VA with 127,884 miles on the odometer and made plans for my next upgrade. Stay tuned for that!

Here is an update to my “States Traveled” map. The color key: Red is the car’s first drive. From there, light blue is my first road trip (Tail of the Dragon), orange is a Thanksgiving trip to STL, green is a trip to DE to buy some wheels, yellow is a trip to PA to buy some wheels (I’m a wheel whore), purple is a quick blast to ME… you get the idea. Personally, I’ve been to all of the states except for MN and ND. This map represents where my GTI has been. I used a new color each time a trip resulted in traveling in a state that my GTI hadn’t touched yet, which should explain the break between last year’s light green trip. This trip’s new states are filled in bright blue. Florida’s looking lonely down there. It may be my next conquest. The northern states will probably have to wait until next year ($$$). Hopefully, the car will still be in good enough shape to travel by then. One thing is certain: I won’t be pulling a trailer on that trip!

Off to the Mad Scientist!


About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 30 years. I have an electronics background and continue to work in the electronics engineering field. I taught myself the basics about automotive systems as well as how to perform some of my own maintenance (cars and bicycles). I became involved with Amateur Radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology has made my job and several of my hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography, electronics, amateur radio, web management, and reptiles. Visit my websites to learn more.
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