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Old 07-20-2019, 04:35 PM   #1
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Wrench 2000 SL2 Wagon Build & Questions

Hey, I'm new to the forum thing, but I'm hoping to share my build and provide specs as I make improvements to my 2000 SL-2 Wagon. However, I'm also hoping to find some knowledgeable advice and find answers to some questions I have as well. I hope you fellas find what I'm building interesting and that you'll help me figure stuff out that I'm not too terribly knowledgeable on yet! So what I'm hoping to build is still kind of a hazy idea, drawing from the Baja car, the offroad & utility vehicle scenes however, here is what I have planned so far.

I drive a anywhere from 40-160miles a day between work, home and college so fuel efficiency is a must in my build and the 4cylinder with automatic trans is currently averaging me 30-33.5 mpg however I'm looking to improve efficiency some more but unsure of how best to do so. To further improve the function of the power train, I want to improve cooling of the engine and trans for when I'm stuck in the city near my college & if I'm driving it hard or pulling a small "survival"/camp trailer. Lastly I'm looking to find brake and suspension improvements to add slightly to my max. load capacity as well as help me handle the vehicle under less than optimal road and traffic conditions.

To protect my vehicle I'm building a large, sturdy brush bar with yellow running lamps to widen my field of view to see deer in the ditches and two more white lamps for high beam use all to lower my exposure to a potential hit as well as protect my vehicle from a hit from Michigan's crazy deer population.

To increase the utility of my vehicle, I've installed a CB radio to provide a secondary form of comms in advent of an emergency & my cell being damaged or lack of cellular connection prohibits me reaching out for help. I plan to mount a roof rack with kayak holders, a hitch in the rear & move the spare tire to a holder mounted on the exterior so I can turn the spare tire well into an under floor hidden storage area and finish piecing together my cargo area's "roadside emergency chest." I plan to tint my windows to shield my interior from the sun's heat and provide privacy for any passengers or cargo I have inside as well.

Now, some questions I have before I go into really building this ol' wagon into something I can enjoy for a long, lil while are as follows:

1) better cooling of the engine, transmission and engine bay (on a tiny budget). I found some affordable, yet good looking bolt on hood vents on Ebay Motors, that I am looking to cut holes and mounts in place near the rear, sides of the hood for radiating heat away from the bay. I've found some higher performing fans that are compatible with my radiator. Would the combination of the large hood vents and radiator fan increase an marginal or significant improvement to provide ample cooling for the engine bay? As far as helping keep the transmission cooler, I saw guys cutting salvage yard radiators from small cars to half or shorter heights, then sealing the fine and plumbing them into the transmission as external cooling units, however I'm unsure of what all the risks (potential mishaps & mistakes to avoid) are of building these hack together coolers? Finally, a sum of question being, would the combination of these modifications to keep my power train cooler under load, increase my vehicle's work capacity, and would it be to any marginal or significant degree?

2) Would ceramic pads, combined with drilled & slotted rotors to replace my OeM disc brakes (needing replaced soon) increase my braking ability significantly enough to provide sufficient braking ability under a heavier load than my max. mfg recommended load capacity?

3) to increase room in my engine bay for the more heat dissipation and possible addition of a fabricated external trans cooler, I plan to remove the OeM air box either move it to an intake scope on the hood nearer to the manifold on the engine (more space as the air hose and box wont be across the whole bay) which brings me to my question. Will switching to a low restriction air filter on a similar sized tube or upsizing the intake to a larger cold air intake in a hood scoop in combination with a less restrictive muffler and larger exhaust pipe improve the flow and efficiency of the engine? I'm not sure if the computer uses a an index or actually measure real air flow? Will this improve fuel efficiency and what are the pros, cons and mistakes to avoid with this kind of modification?

4) suspension and improving my max. load capacity. Besides determining the max weight/force before bottoming out the struts what role does suspension play on the load capabilities of a vehicle and how can I improve the struts on my wagon? Also, will adding a spacer block on the rear struts to increase ground clearance in the rear improve my ability to use a hitch for a rear carry basket (150-250lbs) or small trailer (400-600lbs)?

5) What might be some things I'm over looking on improving my max load capacity? Will bettering my heat management, braking ability, and suspension do an significant change in load capacity or performance?

6) What are some things I can improve performance, efficiency and capacity while on a budget? I have access to tools and transport for trips to several pick and pulls for parts as well as access to a small garage and tools to fabricate or improve parts.
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Old 07-28-2019, 10:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 Wagon Build & Questions

1. Swap in a manual for better MPG, performance, and being able to ignore needing to cool the trans.

2. Keep stock rotors/drums and throw some Hawk HPS pads up front.

3. Not sure why you'd remove junk from the engine bay to somehow keep things cooler. Keep the stock filter and intake. It'll filter better and plastic doesn't transfer as much heat into the intake charge.

4. Load the trailer properly and you should be okay. There aren't any springs we can use to increase spring rate without also lowering the vehicle.
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Old 11-23-2019, 08:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 Wagon Build & Questions

there are springs that can be used to up spring rate with out a big drop will let everyone know by a post when im done ....front springs are 5.5 inches and rears 5 guess what most domestic stock cars use 5.5 and 5 inch springs so if your willing to do some spring trimming to get the height you want almost unlimited spring rates are im am an Afco dealer those are the ones im using with springs in the 200 ish range with a set of kyb shocks hope to make a post thread about this in the coming weeks.......
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 Wagon Build & Questions

Is your car running hot or something? It's designed to be most efficient at around 193 degrees Fahrenheit; that is the designed operating temperature. If you run cooler than that you'll create all sorts of issues with fuel management. Your engine will be running too rich. When moving it should have no problem maintaining this temperature. When not moving your cooling system will kick in; the fan will turn on at around 221 degrees and turn off at around 213. This is how the car is designed to work. With that said, if you are running hot then you need to resolve what's not working as designed. Perhaps your cooling fan is in need of repair or replacement.
1999 SL2 MT (287,130 km @ 10/2019)
2012 Ford Focus SEL HB MT
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1993 SW2 AT (10y)
2001 LW200 MT (3.5y)
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4cylinder, saturn mods, sl2 2000, sl2 wagon

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