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Showing posts from May, 2011

The Light Show

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If it starts to look like a Christmas tree, you could have problems On just about every vehicle out there, the moment you first turn the key on, but before you actually crank the engine, a multitude of lights will light up the instrument cluster like a Christmas tree. As soon as the engine cranks and starts many of the lights shut off right away and the rest will shut off within a few seconds. If one of these lights stays on then you may have a problem. Knowing what the problem is and how severe the problem might be is a task left to professionals, but if you know what each one of these lights refers too, and you understand the various ways in which they may illuminate, then it will help you to know if you can ignore it for a day or two until you have a chance to take it into the shop, or if it means that you must pull over right away before you do major damage to some system on the vehicle. Sometimes these lights are called “dummy lights” this name comes from the idea that when the li

ATF Doesn’t Stand for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

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Automatic Transmission Fluid, The other oil change After oil changes and cooling system flushes the fluid that is probably the next most important, if you have an automatic transmission, is the automatic transmission fluid. This is that magical red fluid that your transmission is completely incapable of functioning without. The engine will still run without oil and coolant, the steering system will still steer without power steering fluid, but the transmission will quit working altogether if it looses only a few quarts of ATF. What is it Automatic Transmission fluid is essentially a specialized hydraulic fluid. Like all other hydraulic fluids it’s primary task is to transmit force. The automatic transmission contains numerous hydraulic circuits that channel fluid force in order to activate hydraulic pistons and servos. These pistons and servos are responsible for actuating various clutches and other braking mechanisms in order to make the transmission function. ATF must also lubricate

Forced Air and the Future

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Nothing like a little mouth to mouth to get you breathing deep Forced induction. These two words together can make a grown man salivate in a way that not many other things can. What this term refers to, in relation to the function of the automobile, is any device or method that forces more air into the intake of an engine. Forcing more air into the engine means that more fuel can be burned when needed, and more power can be produced by the engine when needed. Many people think that the force that causes the air to flow into the engine is the suction created by the piston moving down in the cylinder with the intake valve open. This is not true. The piston moving down only creates a vacuum, which is an area of negative pressure. Once this void is created something will rush in to fill it, and that something is air. The motivation for the air is atmospheric pressure. This is one of the reasons that the average car or truck will produce more power at low elevation versus high elevation. At

Keeping Your Cool

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What color do you need to stay cool? Green used to be the standard. Then orange became a common color for some cars. Yellow is now very common, but other colors like blue, purple, red, and pink? All of these colors are now common enough among the various makes driving around the streets today. These are the colors of the different coolants in the radiators of modern automobiles. What happened to green and what is the meaning of all of these new colors? All the pretty colors Coolant, or anti-freeze as it is also called, is the fluid that is found in the engine cooling system of every vehicle that is liquid cooled. The majority of engine coolants are made from a chemical known as ethylene glycol. This chemical is mixed with water in order to make the coolant that is found in the engine. Ethylene glycol is used because it does a few different things to benefit the cooling system. The first thing it does is raise the boiling point of the coolant mixture. The engine typically runs somewhere