music box

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stromber Device

How efficient will the engine be after installing the Stromberg device? Will it affect the original engine electronic systems?

I am jot going to dwell on any specific product but rather about products that increase spark intensity, and improve power and fuel consumption.

Most are basically spark intensifier, i.e increase the output voltage to the spark plugs. If the spark of the spark plug is more intense, and if the engine is less fuel efficient, there could be an increase in performance. This improvement is not across the board and would be vary from car to car depending on the state of engine and tuning.

Before electronic ignition was the norm, even fitting an electronic ignition system brought out imporvement due to better and consistent spark at all speeds. Having said that, the problem with many such products is that they are inconsistent quality and sometimes break down, leaving the driver totally at a loss.

Another problem with working with such high voltages is that the spark plug cables may cross fire if the insulation is not good enough or during rain, and plug failures or misfiring can be more often.

On an average, one needs only about 15kV for a spark to jump across the spark plug electrodes and usually these spark intensifiers go as high as 40kV or more, thus the problems with the cable, etc.

You can use such a product if you know what it is doing. As it is not OEM, you should not fit it during the warranty period as it may invalidate you warranty. And make sure it is backed by a warranty that in case of failure, you have someone to go back to.

Erratic RPM

I have a problem with the throttle response of my Wira Aeroback automatic. When idling, with aircond on, usually after the car has run sometime, the rpm meter goes up and down, between 500 to 3000rpm. At running speed the responsive is OK.

Before this happened, I adjusted the tuning near the throttle body with a screw driver until the tuning was higher. I did this because the engine suddenly switch off during low speed ( during standstill), which I thought was due to low timing.

Prior to this, I did a top overhaul, changing piston ring, valve seal, skimming and other things normally done during the exercise. Does this self reviving (up and down) of the engine mean something is wrong?

A mechanic suggested a cleaning of the injection part. Another guy assumed that the place where I have done the top overhaul has stolen the throttle body and replace it with a bad one.

The adjustment that you did was the idle bleed that adjusts the amount of air bypassing the throttle butterfly to vary the idle speed. However, looking at your problem I dont think it was caused by the adjustment unless you have unscrewed it too far but rather I think you may be having an air leak in any the hoses in the intake system. One thing to remember about EFI system is that the air-mass sensor must measure all the engine air requiremets in order that the fuel is properly metered through the injector. So, if there is any leak, i.e if there is any air getting into the engine that has not passed through the air-mass sensor, this would cause the air-fuel mixture to get too lean and the engine will start to 'hunt", i.e go up and down.
You need to check all the hose clips connecting the air-mass sensor to the throttle valve and the intake manifold for crankcase emissions, vacum, etc and make sure that they are tight, and the lamps are tight also. I think when the engine was put back together, some work was not done properly, and this is the result.

Bigger Sport Rims

I bought a new Toyota Vios 1.5G last year. I am thinking of replacing the original 15-inch sport rims with 16-inch sport rims. I prefer to have imported and lighter 16-inch rims. My car's original tyre are Eagle NCT 5 185/55R15.

1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of bigger rims?
2. Any adjustments I need to do with the suspension and brakes if I change to bigger sport rims?
3. What kind or brand of tyres and 16-inch sport rims that I should go for?
4. What is the most suitable tyre size for 16-inch sport rims? I prefer something balanced in terms of comfort and performance.
5. Are there such categories of tyres, eg comfort, comfort-performance. and performance?

1. I would say that if the engine performance of the vehicle has not changed, I dont see any advantage in changing. Usually the larger diameter wheels are fitted when there is a subtantial improvement in the engine performance and there is need for traction. Therefore the larger diameter with ultra low-profile wide tyres give the traction without having to change any the gearings.
Larger wheel also mean larger tyre and so there will be an increase in unsprung weight which may mean some adjustment to suspension settings if the weight difference is subtantial. As mentioned, usually larger diameter wheels will go with wider tyres and you will need to check clearance of the tyres in you wheel arches and ensure that you new wheels are with the same offset as the originals. I say this because some tyres shops would recommend offsets in order to clear the wheel arches but this would be result in some odd handling behaviour on uneven roads and in wett conditions.

2. I have no suggestion on tyres or wheel brands, but you should look for wheels that are not too heavy.

3. The equivalent 16" tyres for your car would be 195/45R16. This will keep you within the 3% rule with no need to make any changes to your speedometer gearing.

4. Remember that when one goes for low profile tyres, the tyres pressure needs to be increased and there will be some harshness in the ride which may not be acceptable to some people. There is not much the tyres can do except that the degree of harshness will vary sometimes with the brand of tyre.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Additives Bad For Engine?

Do fuel additives have adverse affects on engines performance? They are marketed as fuel savers. It does save on petrol cost, but I am worried it may damage the car. How do these additives wok in lowering fuel consumption?

Most fuel additives are either octane improvers or upper cylinder lubricants. The upper cylinder lubricants do help to lubricate the valve guides and to an extent the valve seats, as well as the upper part of the cylinder walls that are subjected to the heat of combustion.

The octane improvers sometimes contain small quantities of alcohol that may give a small improvement in performance. How much of performance improvement measured against the cost of the additive should tell you whether it is worth of cost. I do not think these additives would really cause any damage to the engine, although i would think that the emmission readings would be affected if the engine were put on analyser.

What Is The Acrylic For

1. What is acrylic and why do some people have a coat of it under their cars? Why they need for it? Should I use it, or is it just an accessory?

2. Do I really need to protect the bush with alumunium foil before it hardens? Why don't they do it before it comes out the factory?

3. How do I know if my kancil is having a battery earthing problem?

4. What could be the cause when it is hard to start my Kancil, no matter what time of the day? What makes the car jerk sometimes? Why does the cabin light blink when it is on?

5. Do I need to treat the battery by adding acid or something promoted by the petrol station?

1. Almost all paints used for vehicle are acrylic based and the clear coat is used firstly as a protection for the base, or color coat and secondly to give a good shine to the paintwork. This reduces the need for regular polishing as the clear coat holds a shine much longer. Polishing is still needed occasionally as the clear coat becomes contaminated with dirt etc.

2. Covering the bushes with alumunium foil is not going to help much because deterioration of the bushes is caused by constant load, and if it is rubber based, by zone in the atmosphere.

3. If the earthing problem is serious, you will have difficulty cranking the car but normally there are so many earthing points that you would not notice any deterioration in contact. What is important is the earthing strap between the body and the engine as this strap will carry a large current when the engine is cranked and if the contact is bad, it can heat up. Also never remove this strap as the current may try to find its way through throttle cable and start a fire. This may explain your problems in question no.4, and maybe you need to look at the earthing connections, mainly the battery to body and the body to engine.

5. These additives have been around or a long time. And frankly their effectiveness is unreliable. I would not use any of them in a good battery but if the battery is dead, I may try it as a last resort to get it going again, but frankly the battery will not rejuvenate itself.

Uneasy Over Engine Heat

2 months ago, I bought a 1996 Proton Wira 1.6 XLi (auto). Whenever I drive long distance, I can feel heat from the A/C vents. The temperature gauge needle always point at the middle section its reading. I pop open the hood and I can feel the tremendous heat from the engine. What is the problem?

The odometer is giving me problem too. Before I started from Kuala Terengganu to Kelantan, the meter showed 11,824km. When I reached Kelantan, it indicated only 11,846 a difference of 22km. Has my odometer cable gone bonkers or is some glass particles causing this? I found some glass bits twice under the floor mats and under the seat. I have feeling that the car was involved in an accident before. A mechanic showed me an old cross member and some sign of serious damage on the bodywork.

I do not think you are having an overheating problem because if so, your engine would have 'cooked' by now. When you mention hot air coming out of the A/C vents, is it all hot air, or is the air cold a bit, but you can feel occasional heat? If you feel only hot air, then your A/C thermostat maybe faulty or the expansion valve is freezing up and that can be sorted out by any god A/C technician.

On the other hand, if you sometimes feel hot air coming out of the vents, then you need to check if there is heat from the engine compartment coming into the air conditioning system. For that you would need to go under the dashboard to look for open vents or loose hoses. By the way, it is normal to feel the heat on opening the hood after a long run and does not necessarily mean that there is any problem with the engine.

Regarding the odometer, it could be the cable or the instrument itself. Try unscrewing the cable at the instrument and gearbox ends and replace it, making sure that the cable seats correctly. When the cable disconnected, try running the inner cable and check if it is sticking. If so, replace it. If after replacing the cable, the problem still occurs, swap another speedometer. I do not think the problem is with the cable because if the cable is faulty the speedometer needle would be moving erractically and you would have mentioned that

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turning Ignition Key Too Fast

1. When i turned ignition key of my Avanza Auto, my car did not start. I turned the key again and this time it started. There was a loud noise caused by the starter. I think I turned the key too fast. Will my action spoil the car?

2. I always drive during traffic jams. If I adjust the two nuts that fasten the acceleration cable so that the idling speed becomes lower, can I save petrol?

1. I am not too sure of what you have described, but it appears that the starter is not properly engaging the ring gear, causing what is known as "gear crash". If this continues to happen, you should take the car to the franchise holders and get it checked, as there will definitely be excessive wear on the gears if it continues.

2. Adjusting the throttle cable will only give more free play on the throttle and not have anything to do with fuel consumption. If the fuel consumption seems to be too high, get the engine checked and give it a tune-up as the tuning may be out or there may be some other problem causing the high consumption.

Strong Petrol Smell

1. My 1967 VW Beetle has been running well. But recently, every time after refuelling, there is a strong petrol smell in the cabin. I tried putting in different amount of petrol. The smell only appeared every time I filled up more than RM25 petrol. My mechanic said the fuel line and the tank have to be checked.

2. The dashboard indicator of my 2001 Proton Waja 1.6X goes on intermittenly. That also happens to the parking brake engaged indicator. Its occurence is not linked to certain brake applications or while driving at certain speed. A Proton mechanic said it could be due to a computer problem.

1. Your fuel tank may be leaking. As fuel tanks used to be made of steel and there is always condensation in the tank, it is likely with that age, corrosion had got to a point that it has perforated the tank. Take out the tank and fill it with water, firstly to get rid of all petrol and fumes, before checking for leaks. The tank can be welded to close off any holes but make sure that this is done by an expert or the tank may blow up in his face.

2. I am not sure of the mechanic diagnostics, but it may be just a connector problem and you may want to get person familiar with vehicle electronic systems, to check out the harness connectors because a poor connection can give the same indications. Regarding the handbrake, there is a switch attached to it indicator whether it is up or down. Check it out to see whether it is adjusted correctly and not triggering when it should not.

Engine Switches Off

When I stop at traffic lights, brake my 2001 Proton Waja 1.6 (A) and engage to 'N', the steering wheel vibrates violently. Secondly the engine switches off for 2 seconds and switches on again when I decelerate.

One thing we are sure of is that your engine is sick and it needs to go through a diagnostic check to find out its problems. Take it to the Proton service centre and get them to run it through their tester and they would probably find a few things wrong with it. You may be having problems with the throttle sensor or adjustments but it would be best to run it through a proper check.

Irregular Engine

When I start my 1997 Proton Wira Automatics 1.5 (fuel injection), the engine idles run irregularly at alternating high and low rpm. When I switch off and restart the engine, the condition would go back to normal. This occurs occasionally regardless whether the engine is cold or hot. I have used nozzle cleaning additives, changed the air filter and checked the acceleration cable. The normal idling speed of the engine is 750rpm but goes to 1500 during the trouble.

What should the standard ignition timing of my model be? Different woorkshop have given different readings ranging from 5 to 10 degrees BTDC. Will the catalytic converter be damaged through regulsr use? What is its influence on fuel consumption and power output?

Modern EFI engines are no longer like the days gone by where any mechanic armed with a screw driver and timing light can sort it out. If one does not have an EFI/Harness checker, any problem solving is really hit or miss. I suggest you take the car to a Proton service centre with all the necessary test equipment. Your problem could be any number of things and I would be guessing what could be your problem and that would be wasting time. Put the ngine through a test cycle and you will find out all that is wrong.

Catalytic converters wear out with use and there will come a time when it will need to be replaced. If you have been running leaded fuel, then the possibilty of it being in ineffective is greater. You can remove it and run a straight pipe in its place but technically you are running illegal engine and you are also adding to the pollution of the atmosphere.

Park Under The Sun

Many places in Malaysia do not have covered car parks. Many cars are parked under the sun and the rain most of the time. How does this affect our cars? How can we protect the paintwork? Is there anything we can do without spending much?

Anything parked in the open is subject to the effects of the elements. Sunshine, apart from heating up the interior of the car, also causes fading of the paintwork and fabrics through UV action. This is where vehicle tinted helps because good vehicle tints cut out most of the UV sunlight and reduce its effects. It is not necessarily the darkest tint that does the best job but the right material, so read the specs on the material before spending money on tinting.
The problem with rain is that it carries along with it all the pollutans in the air and particularly if the car is parked close to factories with chimneys emitting smoke. You can be sure that there would be by-products spewed out that would dissolve in the rain. A dizzle is the most corrosive and if the car is not washed for long period of time, this acidic rain will find itself into the gaps in the paintwork and start corrosion. The solution is to wash the car regularly, and even if you do not have the time togive it a good wash with shampoo, the minimum should be a hosing down every few days during bad weather. The paintwork can also be protected with a good waxing that would protected the paint from samll nicks and scratches and the effects of acid rain.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Transmission Fluid

According to the Owner's Manual of my Honda Accord 2.0 Vtec 1999 (automatic), the recommended transmission fluid is the Honda ATF Premium or its equivalent, the Dextron II or III ATF.
Instead of the above, can I use the Honda Continously Variable Transmission fluid (which is meant for CVT engine)? Will using this fluid affect the car's performance, or worse still, damage the transmission mechanism or torque converter?

CVT Transmission Fluid is designed specifically for that application, as the stresses in the CVT drive are quite different from that in a normal automatic transmission. Therefore if you use that fluid in your automatic, it may not have the qualities required and you may get transmission failure. stick to what is recommended and you will not go wrong

Dramatic Rise In Fuel Usage

I drive a 1990 Civic EF9 with a B16A DOHC VTEC engine. I face these problems:

1. The radiator cover cracked last month and I changed to a new one and flushed the radiator system. But after a few weeks, my reserve tank keeps decreasing dramatically. Normally, it takes me at least two weeks to refill the tank, but now I have to do it once a week. I found no leakage on the hoses or water-pump failure in the cooling system..

2. I bought a second-hand sports extractor which still has its two O2 sensors. I installed the extractor together with the O2 sensors but fuel consumption becomes higher than normal. I used to get 200km plus with RM30 of fuel but now I get only around 140-160km. Is there any failure on the O2 sensors although it is not indicated by the "check engine" light? Should I re-install my original sensors (from the OEM extractor)?

1. If you are sure the coolant is not venting out somewhere, then the other possibility is the radiator cap. The radiator cap is supposed to vent off excess coolant ito the expansion tank and allow coolant to flow back into the engine when there is needed, such as when the engine cools and a partial vacum is formed in the engine. If the cap is venting to the atmosphere then you are loosing the coolant through evaporation and the coolant levels will come down. The radiator cap has two seals and if the upper seal is leaking or not contacting the lip of the radiator filler neck, coolant will vent off. You may also want to check if the cap is of the correct pressure for you car. If the pressure setting is too low, it will venting off too early and you will lose coolant also.

2. Yes, the obvious thing to do is to replace the original O2 sensors because the ones that came with the extractor may be of a different specification or even faulty and that may be causing the heavy fuel consumption. Also you should remember that the extractor may be improving your gas flow and giving better performance and you may also driving the car harder, resulting in heavier consumption.

Squealing Brakes

Two months ago, I changed the front wheels brake pads of my Honda Civic automatic 1993. But since then, it produces a squealing sound whenever I use the brakes for the first km of driving but thereafter, there is no sound. The squeal is louder during cold weather.
The mechanic said it normal as the contents of the brake pads contain metal which causes the sound. Is this true?

There are several causes of brake squeal, mostly due to the brake pads vibrating because of rust on the pad backing plates or rust on the brake dust on the pads themselves.
In your case, it may be rust on the brake discs as a very thin layer of rust develops on the discs when the car is parked overnight, and on initial application of the brakes, this is causing the pad to vibrate. After a couple of applications, the layer is removed and the disc is smooth again and the squealing stops.
One solution is to remove the brake pads, clean the back and apply a thin layer of graphite-based grease on the back. The will reduce the chances of the pads vibrating and possibly eliminate the squealing altogether. Very hard brake linings can also cause squealing but that would happen almost every time you brake and not just in the morning.

Steering Wheel Vibrates

When my 1984 Proton Saga is idling, the steering wheel vibrates. When I step lightly on the accelerator, the vibrations case then return when I lift my foot off the pedal.
A mechanic fiddled with the carburettor and the vibrations went away, all this when the engine had been running for a few hours. when I started the car next morning, the vibrations returned.
What happened to those electronic tuning machines? I don't see them anymore. Most mechanics tune by ears now.

All four-cylinder engines have vibrations at low speeds, especially at idling. When the car is new and all the engine mountings are relatively soft, one does not feel the vibrations as they are absorbed by the mountings. As the mountings get older, they tend to get harder and the vibrations are easily felt. Also, the load of the air conditioning compressor tends to make engine vibrate more at idling and if the idle speed is increased slightly, the vibrations will go away. If the idling speed is not excessive like 1000 rpm, a slight increase of idle speed can eliminate the vibrations.
Otherwise, you may need a tune-up including valve tappet adjusment to get the engine to run more smoothly.