By on March 15, 2016

1991 Mazda MX-3, Image: Mazda

Reader Brian Tai writes:

I’ve been an enthusiast and part-time DIYer for years now. I love to learn about everything automotive.

My question for you: why are cars with small engines always inline-fours? Why do manufacturers not put 2.0-liter V6s into cars? I know they don’t usually use big displacement inline-fours because of NVH issues, but what about the other way around?

Thank you for your question, Brian. I’ve been wondering about this very aspect of engineering for a while and you just gave me enough push to go sniffing for answers.

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By on October 15, 2015

BT writes:

Why aren’t we seeing diesel/electric hybrid cars and light duty trucks? Wouldn’t the fuel economy be phenomenal? Gas hybrids do well in their own right, as do diesels. So what’s holding up the diesel/electric Passat? Many cities have gone to diesel/electric buses for fuel savings, so we know the technology is real for passenger vehicles. Is the combined torque simply too much for mere mortals to use responsibly?

What gives, Sajeev?

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By on September 11, 2015

Air is Gross! (photo courtesy: exa.com)

Scott writes:

Hi Sajeev!

I have a 2015 Civic, but my question applies to lots of cars.

I live in Maine, which has lots of nice weather for driving around with the windows down. The buffeting, or “helicopter effect”, with the windows down is driving me batty! Also the “white noise” of the rushing wind is quite loud when the windows are open. I can adjust the windows to limit both issues somewhat, but is there anything else I can do? (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2015

Chances are if you have an Internet connection and even a passing interest in automobiles, you’ve heard about the “Jalopnik Camaro crash.” If not, here’s a quick catch-up: Patrick George, who covers a variety of topics for Gawker’s cars-and-planes-and-wow-just-wow blog, managed to understeer his way out of a lead-follow pace lap at Detroit’s Belle Isle Grand Prix course and into a wall. Damage to the car was relatively minor. He was then removed from the event by GM security, in marked contrast to the kid-glove treatment given About.com writer and part-time The Onion-wannabe Aaron Gold after Mr. Gold managed to put a Camaro ZL1 in the tire wall at VIR for no reason whatsoever.

The veritable blizzard of publicity for both Jalopnik and GM in the week that followed has caused some of the more jaded observers of the autojourno game to wonder if perhaps the whole thing isn’t a masterstroke of guerilla marketing. I have to admit I had my own doubts as to the authenticity of the incident, doubts that have not been completely erased by discussions with Patrick and other members of the Jalop staff.

After watching the video a few times, however, I’ve come to believe that it’s probably genuine. I’ve also come to believe that many of Patrick’s harshest critics on YouTube and elsewhere might have found themselves “in the wall” given the same set of circumstances. So if you want to know what Patrick did wrong, why the incident unfolded as it did, and how it relates to an off-track incident I witnessed myself the day before Patrick’s crash, then click the jump and I’ll explain it all!

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By on April 20, 2015

IROX Polymer-Coated Engine Bearing

Suppliers are integral to new technology in the auto industry to an extent not true since the early years of the 20th century, when ventures such as Ford began as mere assemblers, not manufacturers. That will be highlighted on Monday at the 21st PACE “academy awards” for supplier innovation. (For those not in the know, Monday’s the opening night of the SAE [Society of Automotive Engineers] in Detroit.)

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By on June 17, 2013

Aside from the great friendships forced via encouraged bribing that naturally occur when like-minded people congregate, the 24 Hours of LeMons is a fantastic opportunity for those wearing a Judge’s robe. Take last month’s race at Eagles Canyon Raceway: when stupid (yet purposeful) things like this Flavor Flav clock on the dash of this Mitsubishi Eclipse arrive, I can’t help feeling like I’m hosting “Pimp My Ride LeMons” edition…

While Xzibit makes hilarious faces/comments as the kids talk about their hooptie’s general crappiness, I just snap a photo and begin judging them…so click the link to see more hilarity. (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2013

2008_Wrangler_JK_Unlimited_Sahara

Is the next Jeep Wrangler getting a diesel? What about an air suspension? It’s looking that way, at least according to Automotive News.

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By on July 6, 2012

The problem with driving at night in the raining or snowing conditions is that your headlights work too well. They light up the rain and snow as much as they illuminate the road ahead, sometimes more so. In a novel approach using cameras, computers and DLP projectors to replace conventional headlight bulbs, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a “smart” headlight system that essentially shines light between the rain drops.

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By on May 3, 2012

“Ask an Engineer” is hosted by Andrew Bell, a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast. Andrew has his MASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto, and has worked on Formula SAE teams, as well as alternative fuel technologies in Denmark and Canada. Andrew’s column will explore engineering topics in the most accessible manner possible.

(Read More…)

By on January 23, 2012

 

C.V. writes:

I am a mechanical engineering student looking to learn how to work on cars.

My friend has given me the opportunity to take his 1988 Mazda B2200 extra-cab 5-speed. When I drove it, I saw why. The catalytic converter has broken off, and apparently pieces of it are in the exhaust. Would it be possible to just replace the catalytic converter, or should I replace the whole exhaust?

(Read More…)

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