The Truth About Cars » fuel The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 01:30:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » fuel Chart Of The Day: A Look At Global Gas Prices Fri, 16 May 2014 04:01:40 +0000 gasprices


From Zero Hedge, a look at global gas prices, with New York City as the benchmark. A look at the price of a liter of gas (multiply by 3.8 for the gallon equivalent) gives a better picture of the choices that people make around the world when it comes to buying cars.

While European countries are well known for having expensive gasoline (and subsidised diesel fuel, to boot), I didn’t realize that Australia, land of the V8 muscle car, was such an expensive place to fill one’s gas tank. No wonder the Aussie car market is shifting from the Falcadore to the Corolla and the Mazda3 – to say nothing of diesel, Thai-built trucks replacing V8 Utes.

Another oddity is Rio, where an ethanol-heavy energy strategy still yields little in the way of cheap gasoline. Perhaps Marcelo can shed some light on this?

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Piston Slap: A Tribute to the Mariner’s idle Escape? Wed, 05 Mar 2014 13:16:00 +0000

TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes:


Your post of 2 Mar 2011 was a great explanation regarding the cause of the “T” joint oil leak I’ve been experiencing. No one on any of the normal Ford sites has been able to pinpoint the problem, so I thank you for the information. (I’d discovered the source, but didn’t know the cause/fix until your post.) TTAC is now on my Favorites list!

So, I am hoping you might also be able to shed some light on the reason for the poor-quality idle I’m experiencing with the same engine. This does not seem to be a mis-fire, but more of a resonant vibration typical of an engine slightly out of time, and/or at the incorrect idle speed. It occurs primarily in colder weather (below 50F) and does improve once the engine is warmed – IF the ambient temp is above about 40F. When ambient is below that point, the strong vibrations do not disappear. Of course it is most pronounced in Drive/Reverse but noticeable in Park/Neutral as well. Manually increasing the idle speed slightly using the throttle does help. In warm weather the idle may be rough upon first start but improves pretty quickly.

I’ve investigated thoroughly (w/ propane) for a vacuum leak, cleaned the Mass Air Sensor and TB, and have replaced the IAC valve and spark plugs, with no improvement. There are no codes in storage to guide me to the solution, and I’m now thinking the MAS itself may be faulty but am not sure how to test it.

Have you seen this problem with other vehicles?

The vehicle in question is a 2005 Mariner with 114K miles.

Sajeev answers:

Thank you for your note, and Behold The Power of The Internet!!!

I often suspect the hydraulic filled engine mounts in these cases. A similar question was posted recently, and our commentators had suggestions you should consider. So have a read there, too.

sundvl76 replies:


Thanks for the link; read it all.

To add info to my question:

Engine mounts was one suggestion I’d found on another forum, and I’ve visually inspected them for leakage and also verified the engine does not move (power applied/brake on). Not saying it is impossible, but the symptoms are not the same as the Audi owner’s in the post.

Chevron or Exxon used 90% of the time, Shell occasionally. I also recall that when this first started (2 winters ago), I did an injector cleaning with the BBK kit, but no change in behavior was detected.

A small vacuum leak was also suggested – one which seals up when the engine is warm. Possible, but not sure how that matches up with my experience of the poor idle being dependent on ambient temps; the engine block should still eventually reach the same temp regardless of ambient. Incidentally, I’m in TX, so “cold ambient” is relative. . .

Thanks, I’ll keep watch on Piston Slap for further info.

Sajeev concludes:

If the engine mounts look that fantastic when running or not, consider the totally not impossible chance of clogged EGR passages.  I worked on a 1996 Sable LS (Duratec) that was EGR code free, but the uber-plenty EGR coking was a possible cause to its bad idle.  And while your Duratec V6 is significantly different from a UR-Duratec Sable, my EGR de-coking, fresh vacuum lines, a tune up (which you did) certainly cured the Sable.

And if those fail, perhaps you still need new mounts: perfection to your eyeballs doesn’t mean they are just out of spec enough to cause the funny idle.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Chevrolet To Offer CNG-Powered Impala Thu, 17 Oct 2013 13:00:20 +0000 cngimpala

Looking to take advantage of the natural gas boom currently occurring in America, Chevrolet will market a bi-fuel version of its Impala sedan starting next year.

With the ability to run on either gasoline or CNG, the Impala will be offered primarily to fleet customers starting in the summer of 2014. The CNG Impala will be offered as a 2015 model, with Chevrolet only expecting to move 750 to 1,000 units. The car will have a second tank for CNG in the trunk and should offer a combined range of 500 miles. GM CEO Dan Akerson was vague about the price premium for the car, suggesting it could be at least “a couple thousand” dollars. Other vehicles, like the Honda Civic and Ford F-150, carry premiums ranging from $3,000 to $7,500 for the CNG option.

Other auto makers such as Chrysler and Volkswagen have expressed interest in CNG. Chrysler offers a CNG powered Ram 2500 pickup, but lack of demand, as well as infrastructure, have been cited as potential stumbling blocks.

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Piston Slap: Inject Fuel Directly into…Oil? Mon, 29 Jul 2013 12:49:21 +0000 lead9-2011-mazda-cx-7-review

Evan writes:


I have a piston slap question for a friend at work. She drives an ’11 Mazda CX-7 2.3. For over a year she has had an issue with fuel in the oil. Enough that the oil level has been as much as 1″ above the full mark on the dipstick as a result (oil level was checked after service, and frequently between services). This is noticed within weeks of service/oil change.

The issue seems to be worse with more short trips, and the car has been serviced as recommended by Mazda (or more frequent oil changes when warranty fixes attempted). The dealer has had the car repeatedly over the last year, and now continuously for over 2 months. They have replaced the HPFP 6 times as well as replacing the injectors twice. Leakdown and compression tests show no issues. Canada has no lemon law (just horrible binding arbitration), or the car would probably be a buyback by now.

The dealer has spent over 13k in repairs trying to fix it. They are at a loss, and Mazda forums haven’t helped, so I come to you and the B&B hat in hand. Also, even if they can fix it how much damage will so much fuel dilution cause? Should they demand and reasonably expect some sort of engine warranty extension?

Sajeev answers:

I am totally bummed to hear about your lack of Lemon Law-ing ability in this case.  O, Canada! 

I would seek more information on arbitration and contact Mazda Canada formally (AND via Social Media) to see if they’ll do anything. Sell this Mazda after the (possible extended engine) warranty expires…unless you’re thinking what I am thinking.  Ya know, an LS4 swap.

Mmm, LS4-FTW…that would be so awesome.

(cue harp strings, dream sequence) 


OH YEAH!  Front wheel drive…with BALLS!  Zoom-ZOOM-Zoom!

Ahem, now where were we?

Finding conclusive information on why fuel-oil dilution exists is tough via Google, but this SAE paper might contain the truth. Too bad I’m too cheap to buy it, too lazy to read and summarize for everyone’s benefit. Maybe some engineers with active SAE memberships can chime in here?

What say you, Best and Brightest?  Time to get a lawyer?


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Shark’s on a Purging Diet? Mon, 10 Sep 2012 12:50:31 +0000


TTAC reader Tiburon Guy writes:

2001 Tiburon (yep, this one again): Gassing up clicks like it’s full, even after only a dollar, then keeps clicking. Tank is at an 8th when fueling and yes, i’ve made sure it’s not the nozzle (and does it no matter where I go).

OBDII code PO441 Small Evap Leak (changed gas cap, no difference) Had a buddy pull the charcoal filter from the back of the car and cleaned it out, no difference. Becoming a big pain in the arse now since every time I gas up it spits out at me and takes literally 30+ minutes to fill up.

Please help!

Sajeev answers:

No offense to Mr. Tiburon Guy (he seems cool) but this query is precisely why we have message forums. P0441 is a code you type into a forum/search engine and get an immediate answer.  I like this website to get the ball rolling. It gives a good description of the problem(s) and the systems involved.

Once again, more shame: you just threw away money on a new gas cap for no good reason! I know it was the easy thing to do, but it wasn’t gonna work.  So here’s the deal, a P0441 code means several things:

1. Blocked up charcoal canister, perhaps cleaning the filter was never gonna fix anything?

2. Blocked or bad canister purge valve, or the vacuum/electrics behind it are toast. This is my guess to your problem. 

3. Physical damage to venting system, or fueling system.

A quick bit of googling came up with this thread on; mandatory reading before doing anything.  Then find a similar thread about the Tiburon instead. Once you have all the right information, examine the system for damage and follow their instructions.  If all else fails, buy the shop manual(s) and do it all step-by-step from there.  You will find your problem.  Best of luck.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Eaton, GE Working On Affordable CNG Home Refueling Stations Mon, 23 Jul 2012 14:49:49 +0000

America may be the world’s up-and-c0ming natural gas producer, but if you have a car powered by CNG, good luck finding a station. CNG terminals are thin on the ground in certain parts of the country, and half of them are closed to the public.

While Honda was formerly in partnership with a home refueling station company, the history of the unit, known as the “Phill” has been rocky, and the system has largely disappeared from the spotlight.

Just-Auto is reporting that the Phill won’t be the sole contender for much longer – Eaton, a major automotive supplier, is apparently working on a lower-cost home refueling station - with a target price of around $500 (versus $4,500 for the Phill).

General Electric is also getting into the act, with their own low-cost charger program and a promising new technology, known as CNG In A Box, which

takes natural gas from a pipeline and compresses it on-site at an industrial location or at a traditional automotive refilling station to then turns it into CNG, making it faster, easier and less expensive for users to fuel up natural gas vehicles.

Natural gas prices may be the big variable here. Prices can’t stay at record lows forever, but as long as they stay low enough to make it a viable fueling option, expect to see the disciples of T. Boone Pickens making a big push. Eaton’s own system isn’t expected to come out until 2015 – who knows what could happen in three years?

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A Look At Gas Prices Across The Globe Mon, 26 Mar 2012 17:33:21 +0000

The Economist has put together the above chart showing global gas prices as of February 2012, as well as how fast they’ve risen in the past 12 months. Even with gas approaching $4 overall, we’re not doing too badly compared to the rest of the world.

While the French still have to cope with $10/gallon gasoline, their prices have increased the least, while Italians have seen fuel costs go up 18 percent. Italy ranks behind Norway and the Netherlands for the priciest fuel, while the US is still sitting at about $3.53 a gallon on average. Australia, land of the V8 super sedan, pays $5.82 a gallon. No wonder the Mazda3 has overthrown the Holden Commodore as Australia’s best selling car.

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House Science Committee Approves Bill Blocking E15 Thu, 09 Feb 2012 17:12:34 +0000

The House Science Committee approved a bill that bars the EPA from approving E15 gasoline without a further study into its effects. The bill passed 19-7 as members voted along party lines. The bill was sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

Automakers and corn growers have clashed over E15, which is made from 15 percent corn-based ethanol biofuel. The EPA allowed its use in 2001 and newer vehicles, but various interest groups, including  Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute protested. In December 2011, Congress ended a 30 year subsidy for corn-based ethanol, that cost taxpayers an estimated $6 billion per year. Brazilian ethanol, which is made from sugarcane, also had its tariff lifted.

Opponents of ethanol noted that 40 percent of America’s corn crop went to ethanol usage, boosting food and animal feed prices unnecessarily by as much as 20 percent. Ethanol blend fuels are said to cause engine problems in vehicles not specially adapted to use them. Brazilian automobiles, for example, are designed to run on heavy blends of ethanol, including E85.

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Piston Slap: I’m on tonight, you know my Gauge don’t Lie! Mon, 05 Dec 2011 21:07:51 +0000


Dave writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I just bought a 2000 Saturn LW1 6 weeks ago.  It has a L4 2.2 Liter engine with 200,000 miles on it.  After 3 weeks out of the country I came back and started it up.  Was a little rough then smoothed out.  I just changed parking spots.  Did this one more time.  The third time starting it up it would not fire.  No strange noises, just no running engine.  I suspected bad ignition coil.  I had just changed the spark plugs before my trip and they had about 50 miles on them.  Ignition coil was fine at all four points using a ignition tester.  I even put new plugs in again.  Fuel rail has the specified 60 PSI.  Theorizing that may the fuel injectors were shut down i tried starter spray in the air intake.  The motor will not fire.  A compression test with a gauge picked up at advance gave me less than 10 PSI on the two outer cylinders and about 24 on the two inner.  The Haynes manual is very unhelpful and only states for compression specs. that the lowest compression cylinder value should be no less that 70% of the highest compression cylinder value.

I read on-line (  the same but that no cylinder should be less than 100 PSI.  While cranking the engine there was some light smoke visible behind the engine above the exhaust manifold, but unable to determine the source.

My question is: are you aware of catastrophic head gasket failures on these engines?  I am surprised that the engine will not fire at all even if the head gasket does have a problem.  I have removed the valve cover and see that the timing chain is still there and working.

When I changed the plugs last month I applied anti-seize thread sealant to the plugs as instructed in the manual.  I am now having wild imaginings that the anti-seize thread sealant got into the cylinders and impregnated the gasket and is somehow responsible for this catastrophic failure.   I am going to tear into the engine tomorrow and try to replace the head gasket, because i need to get this car running again ASAP.  I am being hopeful and unrealistically optimistic that I cold get some input/ thoughts from you before morning when I start this laborious task…


Sajeev Answers:

You are in a tough spot: a seemingly severe mechanical failure. This is when we tend to trust everything we see or read, even if we shouldn’t.  It’s not your fault, but you need to verify what you are seeing.  It’s like getting a second opinion when a doctor tells you that you have 6 months to live. Because the lack of compression has sent you down a path of diagnostic madness. Which truly sucks.

So try another compression gauge.  I don’t know why, but these things are terribly unreliable and not durable. Bang it around in a toolbox in your garage (or the rental counter at your local parts store) and the needle won’t move nearly as much as before. The odds of you losing that much compression on all cylinders that quickly just doesn’t add up: so I think the tester is bad.

I think you need to check for spark the old-fashioned way…put a screwdriver in the end of a spark plug wire and lay it near a piece of metal…you should see a spark when you crank, and it should be pretty strong.  Google this for more information.

Good luck.  I suspect the ignition module finally crapped out.  Did yours ever get the recall?

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Rising Gas Prices Fuel Scams Sat, 30 Apr 2011 00:45:31 +0000

This video says it all.

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As Gas Prices Go Up, India Goes On General Strike Tue, 06 Jul 2010 14:32:28 +0000

Know what to do next time you see a higher price at the pump? Don’t buy gas on May 15? How lame. Learn from the folks in India. According to the BBC, India’s opposition parties have called a general strike against fuel price rises, and  “normal life has been disrupted in many parts of India.”

The government had announced fuel prices rises last month in an attempt to cut the budget deficit. The opposition said “hell, no, we won’t go” and India went on general strike. Businesses and schools were shut in Mumbai, Calcutta and Bangalore. A large number of flights were canceled, train services affected, demonstrators and police clashed in parts of the subcontinent. More than half a million trucks went off the roads after the main truckers’ union said it was supporting the strike.

The strike was fueled (so to speak) by commuters who stayed at home because the worried about getting stuck on their way to work.

According to The Nikkei [sub], Toyota suspended operations Monday at two factories on the outskirts of Bangalore due to strikes across the country over higher gasoline prices. Toyota said the factories were back online Tuesday.

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Yummy: Algae In Your Tank, Cooking Oil In Your Tires Sat, 22 May 2010 15:22:11 +0000

The conversion of vegetables into car fuel continues. In Japan, the Agriculture Ministry teams up with Toyota, Denso, the Chuo university in Tokyo, the Kyoto university and others with the goal of producing fuel from produce. From algae, to be exact. Are algae food? In certain parts of the world, they are. As I’m in Tokyo, dried algae are in the snack tray next to the computer, and they begin to infest the keyboard. The green stuff that wraps sushi is dried and pressed algae.

So far, edible algae are safe from ending up in your tank. The Japanese group hopes to extract oil from the usually uneaten Pseudochoricystis algae and turn it into car and jet fuel within 10 years. If successful, algae-based bio-fuel could meet 10-20 percent of Japan’s demand for refined crude, writes The Nikkei [sub]. For years, the process had been registered as a patent by Denso. The green stuff  reduces the carbon footprint in two ways. One by reducing the amount of oil. Two by munching on CO2 emissions from factories or power plants. The CO2 is introduced into water, the algae feed on it. Add some sun, and voila, gobs of algae.

Meanwhile in France, Michelin uses sunflower oil to produce their Primacy MXM4 tire, reports Tire Review. The patented “Helio Compound” incorporates sunflower oil in order to offer improved handling in both wet and snowy weather.

Using greens for cars is as old as the hemp car that was developed by Henry Ford in the 1930s. It had plastic bodywork made with hemp and used hemp oil as fuel. Would it have been successful, then “smoking the other guy” would have taken on a whole other meaning.

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Huge New Fuel Source Found: Old Cars Wed, 21 Apr 2010 09:20:01 +0000

Talk about unfortunate timing: Just as the scrapping incentives all around the world are running out, a Japanese company found a way to turn old cars into fuel.

According to The Nikkei [sub], Japan’s  JFE Engineering Corp. is set to open an automobile recycling center that turns the increasing amounts of plastics found in a car back into fuel.

The Nikkei says that the Kanagawa plant (halfway between Tokyo and Yokohama) will open in July. It has the capacity to process some 40,000 tons of scrap a year, which comes from automobile crushing sites in the Tokyo area. When the plant is through with the scrap, 9,000 tons of steel, copper and other valuable metals will have been sorted out. The sorting magnets are especially green: They use wind power. The many plastics in the cars will be put under pressure to create 30,000 tons of fuel a year.

Europe will be taking note of the new technology. Japan and Europe have strict end-of-life regulations on the books. In Europe, the manufacturer has to bear the cost to remove the dead vehicle off the road in an environmentally responsible way. In Japan, the cost is born by the consumer, in form of a deposit when the new car is bought. In the end, the consumer always pays. The new technology possibly could lessen the burden.

The cost of the new plant is vaguely described as “billions of yen,” but the return of investment promises to be considerable. JFE wants to generate 1.5 billion yen in revenue by fiscal 2013. They get their money twice:  through disposal fees, and from selling recovered metals and the produced fuel. Imagine a refinery that gets paid for graciously taking the crude.

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