2002 SEAT Leon 20VT

For the first time ever in my two and a half years of owning the Leon, I calculated the fuel mileage. After a fairly even split of 200 miles of commuting and 200 miles of slightly exuberant recreational motoring, it came in at 33.5mpg. That was better than I expected, and means it would probably not take much effort to be knocking on 40mpg on a run. The only other thing of note this month was capturing a pleasing odometer reading.

I am getting ready to sell the Leon this month, though, if all goes well. It’s true, I have been enjoying it more than ever, but believe or not, my wife has actually requested something different. Additionally, we have some plans afoot for an automotive adventure this summer, which means some room will have to be made. Really, this seems like a fairly ideal time to let it go – it runs better than ever, still has eight months’ worth of MOT, and the cambelt was changed only two years ago. Since I never got round to attending to it, the bodywork isn’t brilliant at all, but the car is mechanically sound, and could form a good base for someone else to have some real fun with (or just happily use as a daily driver). Look for an advert in the next couple of weeks.

Current mileage: 85,197
Mileage since purchase: 12,914

2004 Subaru Outback 3.0Rn

Once again, most of my driving this month has been in the Outback. I spent a couple of Saturday afternoons lazily cruising through East Yorkshire, and the car is so well-suited to that. It is relaxing, comfortable and quiet, and with the big sunroof open, it just feels like a nice place to be. What’s more, faced with a bit of snow up in the higher elevations, you know you’ve got very little to fear with Subaru’s all-wheel drive system underneath you.

2004 Subaru Outback 3.0Rn

As I mentioned last time, the Outback was due for an oil change, which I did last Friday.  Interestingly, there is a lot of debate about how much oil the H6 takes: the manual states 5.8 litres, but oddly, that figure does not take the filter into account. Most of the forums suggest it is closer to 6.5 litres, and that is indeed how much mine took before the level read correctly on the dipstick.

Having the car up on jack stands provided a good chance to check things over at the same time. In the last month or so, I have noticed the average fuel economy dropping a bit, and while I know the cold weather is a factor, it seemed a bit too much to simply attribute to weather. I pulled the intake system apart to check for vacuum leaks, and gave the fuel lines a good inspection too, though nothing seemed particularly untoward. I did discover, however, that the throttle body was caked with a significant layer of carbon, so gave that a thorough cleaning. After the car was back together, I took it for a good run, and though it is probably too early to make any definite conclusions, it seems to have helped a bit – the average mpg reading has gone up about 1.5mpg since Friday.

The forums suggested that the solenoids that operate Subaru’s Active Valve Control System (AVCS) can also become clogged with oil residue, hindering performance. There are two on each bank of cylinders, so I pulled those out and cleaned them up, although there was no real evidence of them being clogged. Time will tell as to whether these measures make any discernible difference in performance and efficiency.

As always, no day in the driveway would be complete with a bit of cleaning, so I wiped down everything under the bonnet. For closing in on 145,000 miles, it still cleans up pretty well under there. With a good breeze and the temperature hovering around 10ºC, it seemed right to wash off the several kilograms of mud I’ve picked up in the past couple of weeks too. Maybe the extra weight I was carrying contributed to the drop in fuel economy…

Finally, how about a second round of pleasing odometer readings? It’s been a big month.

Current mileage: 144,636
Mileage since purchase: 5901

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