How many times have you gone out to your car on a bitter cold morning, started it, began driving, only for the heat to come on a minute or two from your school or work? For those of us living in cooler climates, this happens all the time. Fundamentally, your heater works by blowing air across a radiator that’s connected to your engine’s coolant system, however that radiator will only give off heat once the flowing coolant gets hot enough. Auto manufacturers are moving towards a new development in engine design that would cut down the time required for a vehicle to get to operating temperature – translating to quicker cabin heat, among other performance benefits.
This design, which has already been adopted by some auto makers, takes two traditional parts – the cylinder head & exhaust manifold – and combines them into one dynamic unit. The resulting part is known as an integrated exhaust manifold and it relocates the (previously external) exhaust manifold to the inside of the cylinder-head/engine-assembly. Now located internally, the engine is able to recycle thermal heat from the exhaust gasses, rather than just venting them to the atmosphere. These exceptionally hot exhaust temperatures are (more…)
There are some SUVs that come with a degree of rake from the factory, meaning the rear sits slightly higher than the front. This also happens when heavy aftermarket accessories are installed to the front – such as metal bumpers, bars, and winch accessories. There are leveling kits (different from a lift kit) designed to offset the height difference by introducing an adapter into the front suspension. Pictured below is the front of an FJ Cruiser before and after we installed a leveling kit. The rear fender sits at 7.5 inches above the wheel, while the front fender was only 5 inches. Once installed, you can see the same fender now measures 7.5 inches giving the vehicle a more level stance. Following a quick alignment, the FJ was back on (or maybe off) pavement!
This past week we had the opportunity to work on a rare Volkswagen Jetta. “Huh, what do you mean rare, like stunt car from the Fast & Furious rare?” Okay, maybe rare is a bit of a stretch, but unique would be fair. The reason being – 2005 was the only year the MK4 Jetta came with R-line trim, suspension, wheels, body kit, & the like from factory. This eleven year old Volkswagen had less than 70,000 miles on board to boot.
The customer brought us the vehicle the same day as purchase due to the exhaust firing like an automatic rifle. The previous owner had cut out the catalytic converter, resonator, and muffler from the exhaust – although it would need a catalytic converter to legally pass a VA State Emissions Test. There are a handful of car enthusiasts that sport this aftermarket setup (albeit illegal in Virginia), but this customer was not one of them. He was more interested in having it legally pass all the DMV tests to avoid any hassles during the annual state inspections.
Heating up the downpipe bolts
He was also planning to run performance tuning down the line, so we opted for a performance exhaust. We turned to the professionals at 42 Draft Designs, in Millersville MD for their knowledge in the performance world. For this vehicle, they recommended a 3inch diameter downpipe from the turbo, and (more…)
After months of teaser videos and easter eggs, Dodge finally unveiled their latest project last night at the New York Auto Show. Designed in secret by a select group of engineers, it’s described as the first production drag car that you would actually want to drive on the streets. You can watch the hour release video, but for those short on time we’ll break it down for you here.
- Built to be the industry’s first, and only, purpose built, production, street legal drag car.
- Comes stock with 315mm wide rear tires.
- New production 6.2L Hemi with new billet steel camshaft and valvetrain upgrades.
- Larger 2.7 liter supercharger, producing 14.5 lbs of boost.
Inside look at an idling engine
Oil is one of the most important fluids involved with the inner workings of an internal combustion engine. But who actually knows what engine oil is, and what do the automotive engineers expect from it? To put it simply, engine oil is a derivative of crude oil. Crude oil is found in deep underground pockets, from where it’s extracted and undergoes several refining processes. Among the many carbon chained molecules found in crude oil, engine oil is differentiated as the long chain alkane, cyclo-alkane, and aromatic molecules. Once sorted in refinement, these molecules are blended with detergents and additives to give the base oils alkalinity, corrosion resistance, and viscosity.
Alkalinity refers to the oil’s ability to absorb and neutralize acids- the unit of measure for this in petroleum products is known as the Total Base Number (TBN). (more…)
Many of us in the DC area got our first taste of cold this past weekend, with two nights that fell below freezing. Winter is inevitably around the corner, so make sure you and your car are adequately prepared! Your team at Auto Stop has put together a winter safety checklist for your vehicle that you can perform at home:
How old is your car battery? Has it died more than once in the past six months? Cold temperatures put a strain on the chemical reactions inside a battery. That means if its performance was poor in the fall, it may not make it through the winter. Consulting your service records to determine the age of the battery is a good starting point. If it has been in your car for more than three years, we would recommend having it tested (we offer this service free of charge). Don’t get caught in the cold this winter with a weak battery!
All-season tires do not behave the same in the winter as they do in the summer. The colder the conditions, the less malleable the rubber becomes. This means that they won’t grip the road as well. This is increasingly noticeable in wet conditions, so it is very important to give your tires a visual inspection before winter arrives. The tread on your tires is their primary defense against hydroplaning and channeling out road water. Notice below how the good tread is able to route all the hose water away from the surface of the tire. When you look them over, take notice of low or uneven tread-wear and be sure to inspect all four tires!
With cold weather setting into the region people are beginning to break out the winter coats, gloves, and scarfs. This is also true for the small critters who will soon be looking for ways to escape the harsh elements. During a courtesy inspection last week, we noticed one customer’s Cabin Air Filter had been converted into one rodent’s hideout, courtesy of a few belongings picked out from the glove box. Roadmaps, registration cards, and even tissues are fair game when it comes to building materials. The little critter likely made his way into the car through its inlet vent and navigated up the channels before getting cozy on top of the Cabin Air Filter. Fortunately, our technician caught this early on before the unwanted guest could create more problems for the customer and their vehicle.
But let’s back up a second. Is this the only reason we check our vehicle’s filters – to make sure no furry friends have turned them into bachelor pads? Not quite, but it’s a habit of checking our filters that keep smaller problems from turning into larger ones. The filters in your car have an important role of keeping you and your car protected from air borne particles. So, below we will differentiate between the two types of air filters found in modern vehicles. (more…)