Friday, December 5, 2008
The most common image that pops into your head when someone mentions the word “hybrid” is the classic, boxy, somewhat geekishly looking car that has the size of a go-cart and the power of one also. A new line of cars has developed in this changing automotive market called the Fiskar. CNet reviews state that “the world of plug-in hybrids is about to get a whole lot sexier.” The car is going to be debuted at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, and will offer styling, power, and efficiency like the United States has never seen before
The cars styling for a hybrid is remarkable. It has 22” wheels giving it that modern look and LED taillights making the car light up the night. It has a streamline appearance and the common flow of European Supercars.
The power plant in the car was not overlooked either. Even though this car is a hybrid it is still packing a punch while pulling over 400 horsepower out of the Electric and 2.0 liter supercharged, direct injected engine. The driver will have the choice of switching between two modes of driving. The first mode is what the designers call “Stealth Drive”. This is the configuration that allows for the car to get maximum efficiency while driving and very quiet, also, to give it that “stealth” feel. If the driver feels the need for power, and does not care for the fuel mileage anymore, the flip of a paddle sends the car into “Sport Drive” which allows the car full power. This switch unleashes all of the cars 400 horses, leaving almost all other cars behind.
This new car is sure to keep car enthusiasts guessing on what is coming next in the way of stylish hybrids. It has made the car industry rethink how a hybrid should be presented, and has steered them away from a cliché hybrid look. I just hope more of these companies push the envelope on developing great looking, efficient vehicles.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
On newer cars fuel injection has taken over the role of the carburetor. This is primarily due to the fact that the fuel injected engine is much more efficient and reliable than that of the carbureted engine. Fuel injection is much more reliable when it is cold outside and doesn’t have the problems like “flooding” that carburetion does. This is when fuel drips into the engine and “floods” the engine so it cannot be burned.
Fuel injection is a process that is controlled by the vehicles computer system. When you step on the gas the throttle body opens up its valve to allow more air into the engine. The ECU (Engine Control Unit, the computer that controls everything on the engine) senses that more air is being allowed into the engine so it pushes more fuel into the system. There are many different sensors that monitor this and make sure that the ratio of air and fuel being mixed is correct.
The fuel is “injected” into the engine by a number of injectors. These injectors are pulsating valves that are electrically controlled. When a current is run through them the valves magnetically open to allow the fuel to squirt into the engine. The longer the valve stays open the more fuel consumption there will be. The injector’s other job is to make sure that the fuel being put into the engine must be atomized, or made into as fine of a mist as possible. This makes for a cleaner burn and more efficient.
The fuel is brought to the engine by the fuel pump which was stated in a previous blog. The fuel is pressurized in a fuel rail that connects all of the injectors and supplies it with the fuel needed to burn.
The injectors have taken over the carburetion world just like computers have taken over most of the world’s industrial needs. These intricate computer systems along with fuel injection have allowed us to design and produce hybrids and very fuel-efficient vehicles. So the next time you get in your car and start it up, stop and think. There is a lot more going on under the hood than you might think!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
One major part of a car that many people do not know about, because of the lack of use of this part on newer vehicles, is the carburetor. A carburetor was put on vehicles before fuel injection was invented to allow the fuel and air mixture to flow into the engine. Carburetion is still used on many smaller engines and racing vehicles because of its ease of repair and the ever important cost aspect.
The carburetor is a small piece of metal made up of an intricate system of holes and valves that allow fuel and air to mix. Some engines can have more than one and they come in several different forms, each providing a different mixture of fuel and air, thus giving you a difference in performance. The most commonly known are single, double, and 4-barrel carburetors.
These carburetors usually are adjustable by small needles that can be screwed in or out to adjust the ratio of fuel to air. If the mixture is running to “rich” it means there is too much fuel in the ratio, and if it is running too “lean” it means there is too much air and not enough fuel. Having a wrong mixture can cause effects on other parts of the engine also, such as the formation of black or white build up on spark plugs.
Even though the carburetor is starting to go out of style because of its inefficiency and unreliability it will still be used because it is a cheaper alternative to fuel injection. Carburetion has been proven to be a huge stepping stone in internal combustion engines. It has been powering things since before the automobile was first put on the assembly line by Ford. Its successor though is making up for all the things lacked, make sure to read my next blog on fuel injection.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Due to a recent request for a blog that explains some of the simpler things on a car such as where you can check the oil or how to jumpstart a car, I will be writing a few blogs on some of these things that are good to know.
The first thing that is very important on a car is where the oil dipstick is located. This allows you to check and see if your oil is at the appropriate level, whether it’s too full or too low. The dipstick will always be located right around the engine block, since the oil is located within the engine itself. The dipstick is almost always yellow, and comes out of a small tube that protrudes out of the back of the engine. On top the yellow part of the stick, there is an engine oil sign and in most cases a small ring where you can grab it and pull it out to be checked.
When checking the oil, grab an old rag or something that does not matter to wipe oil on it. Pull the dipstick out of the tube in which it is kept, and wipe all the oil clean from the bottom of it. Then place the dipstick back into the tube, making sure it is pressed all the way in and remove it once again. Look at the oil at the bottom of the stick, there will be two lines, one saying full and one saying low or add. As long as the oil is in between these lines the amount of oil in the vehicle is fine. Make sure to wipe and place the dipstick back into the tube.
Another very key thing to know is how to jumpstart a car when the battery is dead. The first thing to know is how to “pop” your hood open. There is a release lever that is located to the left of your steering wheel, under the dash, that when pulled will “pop” the hood. Then, in the front of the car between the front grille or bumper and the hood there is another lever that must be pulled up to allow the hood to open. Once the hood is open prop the hood up with the given rod usually attached right in front of the radiator or on the bottom side of the hood. Do the same with another car that is able to run and make sure the two cars are within range so the jumper cables will be able to reach from one car’s battery to the other.
With both car hoods open, place the red (+) wire on each battery terminal that is red (+), do the same with the black (-) wire between the two batteries. Make sure to keep the running car on, this will make sure there is enough power leaving the car battery to “jump” the other car. Once the wires have been connected, try starting the dead car. If this does not work, wait a minute and try again. After a few tries if this does not work, there is something more significantly wrong with the vehicle.
These are just two important things to know while driving and owning a vehicle. Let me know of any situations you’ve been in or anything else you want to know.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Lets face it, my dad and I are your typical car guys. We like to see classic but also fast and if mom want a car like this, I don’t think my dad could let it get away. I actually got to drive one this past summer at my work, and let me tell you they are quick! But really any time you get a V8 you can’t go wrong.
For a price of just under $30,000 you can have an above average ride of your own. The Chevy Impala’s V8 produces 303 horse power for a little fun on the highway. And I already know what you’re thinking, a V8 now a days with gas prices? Well no worries this Chevy gets 25 MPG on the highways and around 16 in the city.
And since I’ve driven one I figured I’d tell you my experience. This sucker is quick. Its handles like a dream even though 90% of the newer cars today have the same feature. But not only is the Impala a means of fast transportation, it’s a well rounded car. The interior has a very comfortable feel to it. This is a car that basically any type of person could have. It reminds me a lot of the 90’s when everyone was getting a ford tarsus. The impala I guess is just the new age.
Its exciting to see cheap and affordable cars like these that can hang with the $60,000 cars. Not only is it cheaper than most of the cars in its class it brings speed and luxury to its owner. If my mom really does end up getting this I will defiantly have to take it out for a true test drive. Ill test out the top speed on some country road somewhere!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
When you put fuel into your car it builds up in your fuel tank, a big usually plastic or metal container located in the rear of the vehicle. The fuel tanks on newer cars have baffles inside of them to make sure that the fuel does not slosh around. They also have an inlet tube, outlet tube, and a vent. This vent is not venting freely into the atmosphere but instead runs through a filter and into the engine to let the vapors burn. The liquid fuel is pumped into the carburetor or fuel injectors by a fuel pump. The pump allows the fuel to be forcefully pushed through the fuel lines without running into problems like gravity pulling fuel away from the engine. There are two main types of fuel pumps, mechanical and electrical. The mechanical fuel pumps were made for the older carbureted cars, and the electrical pumps are what cars with fuel injection nowadays use. The electric fuel pumps can be low pressure or high pressure, making a huge difference when replacing them.
The fuel is pumped then towards the engine where it is turned into a vapor gas to be burned by either the carburetor or fuel injectors. If you catch my next blog I will be writing of fuel injection and carburetion.
Friday, October 31, 2008
This posting will be the first of a small series of entries that will explain some of the basic systems in a car that are necessary for the car to function normally. It only makes sense to start out with a system that starts an automobile, the ignition system. Many drivers just turn the key and they are on their way, not even thinking about what happens, but there is more that goes on between when the key hits the ignition and when the car actually starts.
Car’s used to have, in most cases, a distributor; when the ignition key was turned, a current ran from the battery, to the ignition coil, then into the distributor. Once the current hit the distributor it would be sent out to all cylinders via the spark plug wires and spark plugs. The coil basically magnified the current from the battery to a much larger current that allowed for enough voltage to start the engine. The distributor cap sent out current to each cylinder. Depending on how many cylinders a car had, the cap would have that many numbers of spots where the current could be sent out. The rotor was a small plastic piece that spun inside the cap, only making one point of contact to the inside wall of the cap. This contact point on the rotor would then touch each point on the cap as it spun to send out the electric current to each different cylinder in a specific order. If this order was wrong for any reason, such as the wires lead to the wrong cylinder, the car wouldn’t start.
Now, many cars are going to distributor-less ignitions where the ECU has total control over the ignition. Each spark plug has its own coil built onto it. This is a much more efficient system because there is no need for a distributor which wears down over time and there is no need for high-voltage spark plug wires which can also break down. This system is completely run by the car’s computer system, thus making the timing even better.
So next time you get in your car think about what happens when you slip your key into the ignition and turn it, it will surprise you how fast all of this happens.