The contrarian in me loves it when conventional wisdom is proven to be not so wise. For decades, even before the first oil crisis of the 1970s, motorists have been told that making sure that your air filter is clean is one of the ways that you can improve your fuel economy. It’s intuitive to think that a clogged air filter will affect the way an engine “breathes”, how efficiently it can get gases in and out of the combustion chamber and how that might decrease fuel economy. That may have made sense decades ago, however it turns out that two different studies, one on gasoline engines and the other on diesels, performed by a team at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, show that the fuel economy of modern, digitally controlled fuel injected engines isn’t significantly affected by the state of their air cleaners’ cleanliness. What made sense in the era or carburetors may no longer be applicable today. Apparently the engines’ ECUs working to keep emissions in spec are capable of leaning out the fuel mixture to account for a dirty air filter restricting airflow into the engine, resulting in insignificant drops in fuel economy. Though dirty air filters didn’t materially affect fuel economy in the modern cars, they did experience a decrease in acceleration performance so it’s still a good idea to replace a dirty air filter.
Abstracts of the studies after the jump. (Read More…)
My question is – when should I sell my current car? Our family runs a 2004 Pontiac Vibe with 109k miles. It is our only car and it seems to run better since it broke the 100k mark. It has been exceptionally reliable, cheap to own, and gets excellent mileage – I get 29mpg average! We like being a one car family and intent to keep it that way unless we suddenly become independently wealthy. (Read More…)
A few days ago I breathlessly described the highlights of old Porsche ownership – the immersive driving experience, the camaraderie among like-minded enthusiasts, and the opportunity to meet people through sharing the fun with others. In a cliffhanger, I also hinted that there were some downsides to driving that type of car everyday… of course it’s not always halcyon days of empty roads and spirited drives. I made that intimation for two reasons: Sometimes the car can grate on the nerves of even its biggest apologist, whereas the remainder of the time it’s broken, with that same apologist’s wallet in peril.
For years, Bruce Lubin and his wife Jenny collected tips to save time and money, published on their whoknewtips.com website and their Who Knew? book. Here are some good ones for your car: (Read More…)
Flashes and pulses.
I was staring at an archaic diagnostic system on a 1992 Volvo 940 wagon. It was located underneath the hood, inside a plastic cover, with six little holes for each one of the six digits, along with a cheap plastic wand.
What came out was morse code. Three little reds, stop. One little red, stop. Two little reds, stop. Code 312. Time to visit the brickboard, where the code could be translated to about fifteen different potential issues.
21 model years later, and we’re still not quite there yet.
Public schools have the unique misfortune of being the target for every harebrained idea related to learning.
Why? Because everyone is an expert! We all have great ideas! In quiet surrender, many public schools are left with ideas that result in excessive paper pushing and basic rote memorization.
Don’t get me wrong folks. Higher order thinking skills are also valued in most public schools (outside Texas). So long as they are also far, far away from the neighboring political bonfires.
So with that in mind, why not offer one more good idea from us gearheads?
Thanks so much for the data on fuel additives. I did later determine that it also can be a salve for ethanol-afflicted soft bits in the fuel lines. Here’s the deal though. My little 1994 Nissan Hardbody is a delightful little vehicle. (Read More…)
The average Toyota Camry likely sells for somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000.
What if you could buy a more durable version of that Camry for, say, $33k…. and get a bumper to bumper lifetime guarantee?
Just Imagine What I Can Do To Your Car!
Everybody wants a deal. But precious few people are willing to change their habits to make their deal last longer.
Between the comments, private messages and emails, you, the readers, sent over 100 comments on how to get the smoke smell out of Project Volvo. Thank you for providing me one of the rare opportunities to harness “crowdsourcing” in a way that isn’t some nebulous social-media pie-in-the-sky frivolity. I’ve made great strides with shampoo and vinegar/water solutions, and will be moving on to coffee grounds and other tactics. In the mean time, something else has caught my attention.
Okay, I have a question. Strictly follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule, or only perform demand maintenance? (Read More…)
How many of you have ever eaten horse chow? What? You don’t know what it is? Well it’s made out of four key ingredients. Oats, olive oil, honey and a bit of peanut butter added if you want extra richness. It’s the basic original granola and for the last fifteen years it has encompassed most of my breakfasts. Sounds healthy and a bit dull on paper. But it’s surprisingly good to eat.
Which brings me to a related question about our cars. What we can do to and for our own vehicles to keep them healthy and running strong?
Three years ago I suggested that Detroit win back car buyers by doing something no one seemed to be doing: provide customer care deserving of the name. In a similar vein, Steve Lang recently asked readers whether manufacturers or the government should do more when a model commonly suffers from an expensive problem. Well, according to an article in Automotive News this week GM has strongly encouraged its dealers to pick up the tab on more out-of-warranty repairs to reward and create loyalty.
According to the article, the bottleneck hasn’t been GM—the customer care money has been there, but dealers have been too tight with it because of fears that GM would punish them if they spent it. Why did dealers have these fears in the first place? The article doesn’t say. The important thing isn’t how these fears came to exist, but that they’re currently unwarranted. One dealer calls the new “open pocketbook” approach to keeping customers happy a “seismic shift.” Problem solved?
Thanks in part to the help of people from TTAC, TrueDelta received a record number of responses to July’s Car Reliability Survey—over 22,300. Updated car reliability stats have been posted to the site for 570 model / model year / powertrain (where warranted) combinations. With partial results for another 464 cars, the total is now over 1,000. These stats include car owner experiences through the end of June 2011, making them over a year ahead of some other sources.
TTAC commentator stephada writes:
Hello I drive a 2010 C4S, bought new, now with 42k miles and I am considering an Extended Warranty through a company called Protected Life, sold through the Porsche dealership. My service manager said they used to not offer this because they had trouble finding one that could cover things well enough, until they found Protected.
I’d like the Best and Brightest to weigh in on the specific example I’m facing. I’ve read the original B&B thread but it dealt with the issue philosophically and generally. I trust the B&B can help out again in my choices, as they did on the question of ”S or 4S?” [Ed: follow-up here].