Category Archives: Eco

Coolant Replacement

I live a little farther North than most of you so the taste of Fall is in the air. I know it was a 109% in Phoenix yesterday so you folks don’t worry about engine coolant freeze up but you do still need a clean and efficient cooling system. Flushing a cooling system is pretty simple the problem is to remove all the old coolant if you are going to change to a different type. The most you can hope to remove by draining is about 70% and this is by using a few tricks such as jacking up the rear of the vehicle and running it 30 seconds or so. Refilling the cooling system and warming up the engine will also help even doing this a couple times will remove more of the old coolant. The only tool available to the DIY, due to cost, is an air pressure driven vacuum tool, that will remove about 90% on a good day, this tool also makes refilling a snap as the coolant is drawn in by vacuum. Do not use GM orange lifetime coolant. In the test facility this worked great but the smallest leak that allows some air into the system can cause major corrosion problems. I use good old green anti freeze as with oil stick with a major brand they have a few more additives such as rust prevention and water pump lube . I also recommend A can of additive but not with a leak prevention feature. Any name brand water pump lube and corrosion prevention will work. I know this is a difficult for most DIY but properly dispose of you old coolant most cities have a hazardous waste facility where you can dispose of it.

Ethanol Based Fuels

I have been on the wire for some time about the use of ethanol based fuels. I think the savings gained is lost by lower mileage and power I have always been concerned about the fact ethanol is a cleaner and unless your vehicle is newer it can break loose gunk and cause all kinds of problems. In addition it can cause a breakdown of gaskets and seals. Further research has been done on the forming of formic acid, an E-85 byproduct, and unless the correct oil is used it can cause major problems. So with there being no advantage including not saving dollars I am not recommending the use of ethanol based fuels. If you insist on using it I would not recommend synthetic oil and would change the oil at 3000 miles regardless of the manufacture recommendation.The only reason I used it in the winter was I thought it helped with moisture in the fuel tank but that is incorrect.

Tesla Volt Or Leaf

With the Tesla electric roadster selling for 100K, after the federal incentive, I don’t think it is a marketable product. They have sold a 1000 units since released to the public in December of 2009 but they have to purchase 2400 chassis from Lotus by the end of 2011 or pay a penalty. The startup company has taken all the founders funds, Elon Musk and he sold back the majority of his stock during the IPO. The Chevy Volt is coming out later this year with a price tag of $41,000 and the Nissan Leaf priced at $32,000 before a $7500 federal incentive. The Volt is still pricey for a small car with no luxury and I doubt if the sales will be what GM has forecast. It is however a hybrid and does offer extended driving range compared to the Tesla, 244 miles on a charge, or the Leaf at 100 miles per charge with a final price tag after the incentive of 25K I think this will sell but as far as the Volt or Tesla time will tell. GM has their future staked on the Volt but I don’t think the battery technology is where it needs to be to make a total electric something the motoring public is going to stand in line to buy. In addition to the purchase price of the car the cost to install a plug in station runs $1200to$1800. Leaf stands for Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable. So Korea is building a battery plant in Detroit, with over half paid by government funds, maybe the battery situation will improve I doubt it but at least there is hope.

Michigan Based So Korean Battery Plant

Troy Michigan based Compact Power Inc, owned by Roncelli Co. a So Korean company, and has received 151 million in federal dollars to open a battery manufacturing company in Troy. They will create 300 jobs by 2013, and will build the battery for GM’s Volt. Total cost of the plant is 303 million. The funds do not have to be paid back. Michigan also awarded a 15 year tax credit to the company. How can this company not make money our government gives them half the cost of their plant and Michigan awards tax free status for 15 years. This is to a So Korean Company where all the profits will be sent out of the country. Sure they are creating jobs but why didn’t a US company step up to the plate and do this. It sounds like a no brainer to me. We worry about China and possibly Japan taking over our country but I think So Korea is slipping in the back door unnoticed. Update they are also going to produce the battery for the Ford Focus. They will start producing batteries in Korea and assemble them in Michigan until the plant is finished

Hybrid Vehicles

There are 3 designs in the hybrid market.MildA battery and electric motor assist the combustion engine. FullThe electric motor and combustion engine work together or it can run on either alone. Braking may be used to help charge the battery.Plug-in The combustion engine is a backup to the electric motor.The 3 are a state of flux and it is yet to be determined which will be the front runner I think it will be the total electric to be successful it has to not have a conventional engine.Total Electric The total electric is a rechargeable that you plug in to recharge. Most of the charging will be done at night so the idea that we will need more power to charge them is not true as we have excess at night. You do have to have a plug installed in your house but they will run 100 miles on a charge and will recharge to 80% in 15 minutes. As more become available the charging station will also be easier to find. Battery life and price are the largest drawbacks to their future success.FYI In 1902 Ferdinand Porshe developed a hybrid, in 1997 the Toyota Prius came on the market

Lithium Manafacturing

I knew very little about lithium and the source was a surprise, it is found in Chili, among other places, in a hot dry desert area they pump it out of a depth of about 130 feet, let it dry for about a year in plastic lined ponds, and you have lithium after some drying and purifying it sells for as high as $12K a ton. The supply is almost endless, but at one time oil was considered endless. China has recently found a way to decrease the cost of their lithium production and is expected to be a major player in the market.Exxon was working on a battery design in the 70’s but could not eliminate the risk of fire. At the same time the military also required lithium for H bomb production. They extracted it from spodumene in North Carolina which was an expensive and labor intensive process. The smallest flaw in manufacturing can cause the battery to overheat and at times explode. These safety concerns and a longer life span are the major hurdles in production at present. I doubt if I would buy a car with a battery manufactured in China as they try to cut too many corners, watch for some strict safety regulations in the near future.The lithium battery will not help dependencies on overseas manufactures as over 90% of the materials come from overseas. The energy department has devoted $50 million to auto battery research with most of it going to lithium. We presently use nickel metal hydride and they are improving every day, they presently have a life span of about 10 years but this depends on charging rates. They can be recharged to 80% in 15 minutes if you require a trip of more than 100 miles, but this shortens the life of the battery if used often. Heat is a batteries worst enemy. At present many who live in places such as New York, where it is expensive to own and park a vehicle, many will rent a vehicle for a day when required I can see this also for trips longer then a 100 miles for electric car owners.The major problem with this car is the cost it has to come down for it to sell. They sell for the same price as a well equipped luxury vehicle and I don’t think the motoring public is going to pay this kind of price without the luxury and prestige of a luxury car.

Using Cheap Fuel

Just read an article that stated that you can use a cheaper brand of gas with no problems and then it went on to suggest you use a fuel additive, such as a cleaner. This makes no sense to me why not spend a few more cents for fuel and avoid using an additive, which will probably not work anyway, and you will end up having problems. I use the mid grade of gas in all of my vehicles, no additives, and have never had any problems. I used to own an Amoco station and we never seen any fuel problems and then I bought a shop near a cut rate gas outlet and we seen all kinds of fuel problems. Coincidence maybe but I doubt it. I used Amoco Silver, which is no longer available, my wife’s Rivera has over 200K and her sister still drives it with no fuel problems. A good grade of fuel is becoming harder to find almost all the Major oil companies have pulled out of our town. I am presently using Cenex and so far so good. I don’t use ethanol blended fuels, not for any reason except I just am old school and like my gas plain. I will run a tank or two of it in the winter to remove some moisture, I know many say it does not remove moisture but I do it anyway. I don’t see how a fuel system could freeze up with the fuel pressures we are running in today’s cars but I have seen a throttle body injector freeze up. All of mine are MPFI so this is not a problem. If you do use a fuel additive be sure it contains Techron, Chevron is a good one and is the one I use, not in the tank, when cleaning a fuel system through the throttle body. I know fuel is expensive and we would all like to save money at the pump but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by saving a few cents as it will come back to haunt you with expensive repairs later.

Lead Wheel Weights

Why do we still use steel weights to balance wheels? I just read that the largest lead polluter in California is wheel weights. We still continue to use them and there are several alternatives that are very close to the same price. Stainless steel being the most obvious and they would not react with aluminum wheels the way lead does. There is also a powdered weight that I don’t know much about. They are both a quality replacement at about the same cost. I do think that car washes are at the root of the problem as the wheel cleaning brushes tend to remove the weights. They do still come off due to improper installation and they do not attach as securely to the thinner wheels on many vehicles today. I would think there would be a attachment method that would be more secure but, and I may be wrong here, NASCAR uses the same method at around 200 MPH. 3M also has a new system as they call it that looks like the best alternative, I couldnt find a price but it comes as a kit and they glue on.Years ago when I was younger I used to balance my tires by turning the tire on the rim until it became very close to balanced. I finished it with a small weight always on the inside, when necessary, as I didn’t like the appearance of the weight on the outside. I don’t recall ever doing this for a customer as the cost would probably been higher than the tire. I do agree that we need to protect our environment for our grandkids but we tend to let some things slip through the cracks and others we expend to much energy.

Electric Water Pump

When I first heard the term electric water pump associated with a gas engine in a car I thought I had read it wrong. Why would you put an electric water pump in a car. In a dragster or other high powered engine where every horsepower is being sought after there I can see it but in an everyday car. The advent of cramped engine compartments have brought about many changes and the electric water pump is one of them and I think we will be seeing more of them in the future. They can be placed almost anywhere as long as they have access to the cooling system and they are also very efficient. Most models that now use an electric pump mount it directly to the radiator. This eliminates several space robbing hoses, belts and increases the efficiency. It also decreases the side torque on the crank shaft usually not a worry in a everyday driver but a large concern in high powered engines.When the water pump was placed in and run by the timing belt. I could see this being a problem. It saved space among other things but it just did not work. Here is where the electric pump will come into play in the future. I can see a future engine with no belts some of the hybrids have already went this route with a electric AC pump and an alternator run directly off the cam.

Oil Change Intervals

Oil change intervals can bring about as many opinions as hair color in women or brands of oil among techs. There are light and heavy duty among many other items to consider. Many of the newer one have the interval figured by the body computer taking into consideration number of cold starts, highway miles driven and time spent idling and several other factors depending on the model.When I had 3 cars to take care of I just changed one ever month, made it simple but then over the years my kids got cars they married and their spouses had cars and my stable increased to 5 of my own. Now the situation became a little different. I would say to check the owner’s manual first and to follow the schedule and weight of oil they suggest. Stay away from the 0-30 and 15- 50 and other extreme weights stick with either 5-20,( only during severe cold) 5-30 or 10-30 There is a certain amount of leeway in these schedules so they are not hard to follow. Many now allow 6 months or 6000 miles between changes sounds like a lot to me but oil and engines have improved. Use any oil that has a starburst on the container and stick with the same brand, I would also use a name brand and not a store label IE Checker or OReillys. GM, Ford, Chrysler and the rice burners all sell their own oil but it is usually overpriced.With the dollars we pay for our vehicles I think using synthetic is a no brainer sure it is a little more expensive but it also protects and lubricates more efficiently. If you live in a colder climate then I would definitely use synthetic it is more efficient at cold starts. Oil change intervals should also be shortened in the winter if you live in a cold climate. Today’s computer controlled fuel systems do an excellent job of cold start fuel control but there are containments entering the oil during cold starts and short trips during cold weather. Manufactures discovered several years back that a thinner oil lubricates the upper part of the engine more efficiently so they tend to recommend thinner oils at lower temperatures I would lean towards the conservative side of their recommendations by conservative I mean to use the higher temps on the cold side and lower on the warm side. Good luck and remember it is more important to change your oil regularly then to worry about schedules. If you change your own oil please dispose of it properly