Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Dreaded Exhaust Back Pressure

I remember the first time I saw a tuner's huge tailpipe. I'm pretty sure it was on a Civic and was at least large enough to fit a small cantaloupe inside of it. It was intriguing and almost laughable at the same time. I quickly learned from someone that the idea behind having a huge exhaust system on a car is to allow for the freer flow of the exhaust gases from the engine block with the aim of increasing power output. 

Anyone who has ever been to a racetrack knows that race cars have extremely loud exhausts. Why? They lack any restrictions in them. Your street legal exhaust system comes with sound dampeners as well as a catalytic converter to help reduce emissions and in turn air pollution. If you take all of that away, you remove the things that are slowing down the flow of gases.

Since you cannot legally remove your catalytic converter, and in most areas it is illegal to remove all of the sound dampening devices from your car's exhaust if you drive on the road at all, some car tuners have tried to work around this by slapping on dramatically larger exhaust systems. A fair amount of large pickup trucks do the same thing. 

Anything that restricts the flow of exhausts from the engine to the muffler tip is called back pressure. Back pressure can be caused by a number of obstructions, including a clog in the catalytic converter or a collapsed section of a car's double walled exhaust pipe. Too much back pressure kills power output, fuel mileage and can even cause a car's engine to overheat. In cases of extremely high back pressure, a car's engine might stall out.

But there is such a thing as going too large, despite what some tuners think. Exhaust back pressure is a double-edged sword. Too much and it can rob performance, but too little and it can rob performance. Your exhaust system works with suction to remove the exhaust gases from the engine and move them out through the tailpipe. If you relieve all of the back pressure the exhaust gases could be sucked back into the cylinders through the exhaust valves. So outfitting a car with a 1.6-liter four cylinder engine with an exhaust the size of a semi truck's is probably a bad idea.

Measuring your exhaust's pressure is the only way to accurately determine back pressure. The easiest way to do this is with a low pressure gauge. You have to tap into the exhaust system to measure back pressure, which is best done by disconnecting the air pump check valve. For the best accuracy, the check valve needs to connect to the exhaust system before the catalytic converter.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trying something new

Now know you love cars, and everything associated with them. Did you know that you can buy almost anything from Amazon? Sure you did. Well, of course there's costs associated with maintaining the blog and as a way to help keep the lights on, we've partnered with Amazon. So if you're looking to buy anything on Amazon, come here to Autobahn Automotive News first and click through on any of the Amazon banners on the main page. Then, whatever you buy on Amazon, we'll get a tiny percentage of whatever you spend. It's a win win. And you can get anything you want on Amazon with (to take one from Larry Miller), an actual Amazon.

Happy Birtday Mustang! And a special milestone.

April 17th, 1964. That was the day that the automotive world was turned on it's ear. It was on this day that Ford Motor Company unveiled the all new 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang. Launched at the New York Worlds Fair, the Mustang quickly rose to be Ford's best selling car since the Model A. It also launched the pony car craze that led to the muscle car. Ford sold over 400,000 Mustangs in 1964. 100,000 of which were sold in the first 3 months of production.

That leads us to today's milestone. 49 years to the day of the introduction of the Mustang, Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan plant produced it's 1 millionth Mustang. Production of the Mustang was moved to Flat Rock from the famous Rouge factory in 2004 for the launch of the redesigned 2005 Mustang. Since 1964, over 8.5 million Mustangs have been tearing up American roads.

The car, a ruby red 2014 convertible was driven off the line by Raj Nair, Ford's Vice President for global product development. The production of the 1 millionth Flat Rock Mustang also helps to launch the 50th anniversary year of the Mustang. 

Source: Ford Motor Co.

Press release:

FLAT ROCK, Mich., April 17, 2013 – Happy Birthday Mustang! Forty-nine years to the day after its 1964 debut in New York, the iconic sports car celebrates another milestone: One million Mustangs have rolled off the line at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant since production moved there in 2004. Ford is celebrating this milestone as year 50 of continuous Mustang production gets under way at Flat Rock Assembly.
Raj Nair, group vice president for global product development, today rode off the line at Flat Rock Assembly Plant in a Ruby Red 2014 Mustang convertible. Nair was riding shotgun with Ed Salna, material planning and logistics manager at the plant. Salna is a 27-year veteran of Flat Rock Assembly, starting work there more than a year before the plant produced its first car.
“Mustang is one of the most beloved nameplates in the industry, with fans around the world and throughout Ford Motor Company,” said Nair. “The team here at Flat Rock Assembly has built an outstanding reputation for quality while producing one million Mustangs over the last nine years, and we expect that to continue for many years to come.”
Ford has built Mustangs near its home base in Dearborn, Mich. for 49 years. The car was built at Ford’s famous Rouge factory, just a few minutes from company headquarters, for four decades before moving a few miles south to Flat Rock in 2004.
Introduced in April 1964, Mustang proved to be far more popular than anyone expected, prompting Ford to add production capacity outside Michigan. By early 1965 plants in Metuchen, N.J. and San Jose, Calif. were also building Mustang. Less than two years later, on Wednesday, March 2, 1966, the one-millionth Mustang rolled off the line in Dearborn. To date, Ford has produced and sold more than 8.5 million Mustangs.
The launch of Mustang production at Flat Rock coincided with introduction of the then all-new fifth-generation model – first in the series to get a dedicated platform. In addition to the standard V6 and the V8-powered GT model, Mustangs coming out of Flat Rock Assembly Plant have included several special editions and race cars:
  • In 2006 Flat Rock built a limited run of black and gold Shelby GT-H coupes for Hertz rental fleets to commemorate the 1966 Shelby GT350H rental car
  • 2007 brought the debut of the Shelby GT500 Mustang developed by SVT with a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 producing 500 horsepower, the most ever for a Mustang then
  • For the 2008 and 2009 model years, the Mustang lineup included the Bullitt, inspired by the car driven by the title character in the 1968 film of the same name
  • For the 2012 and 2013 model years, Flat Rock built the track-optimized Boss 302
  • The Flat Rock line has produced numerous competition versions of Mustang including the FR500, Boss 302R and the extremely successful Cobra Jet drag racer
The Flat Rock factory has been producing vehicles since 1987, when it opened as Mazda Motor Manufacturing USA and built the Mazda MX-6. In 1992 Ford purchased a 50 percent share in the plant and it was renamed AutoAlliance International. Over the years Flat Rock Assembly has produced the Mazda 626, Mazda6, Mercury Cougar and Ford Probe. In addition to Mustang, Flat Rock will add production of the Fusion sedan later this year.
“Flat Rock has gone through an amazing transformation over the past year,” said Tim Young, plant manager, Flat Rock Assembly Plant. “We’ve invested $555 million including a state-of-the-art, fully flexible body shop and an upgraded paint shop to make sure we’re continuing to build the best of the best for the next one million Mustangs.”
“The one-millionth Mustang is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the Flat Rock Local 3000 membership,” said Tony Bondy, UAW Local 3000 chairman. “It’s been great building an iconic American car since 2004, and with the introduction of Fusion along with our new plant upgrades, we will keep building world-class quality in Flat Rock for years to come.”
Ford is adding 1,400 jobs and a second shift at Flat Rock Assembly Plant to support new Fusion production as part of its plan to add 12,000 hourly jobs in the United States through 2015.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Drive a Minivan and I Can Parallel Park

2013 Toyota Sienna. Photo courtesy Toyota

Yes, I drive a minivan. No, I never thought I would. Trust me, when I was younger I hated pretty much every minivan on the road. They would swerve suddenly, cut me off, not pay attention to the road, etc. I pretty much thought minivan drivers were horrible. Oh, and the guys driving minivans always wanted to race, which I found incredibly hilarious.

Now I find myself driving a minivan. I'll be honest, it's not a blast to drive. Instead, I have it to be practical, plain and simple. I don't swerve all over the road, but I still see plenty of minivan drivers who do. I also live in a more urban area and so maybe I'm not your typical minivan driver.

Several days ago I was reading somewhere (I don't remember where now) some other automotive writer going off about suburban minivan drivers who seemed lost in downtown areas and struggled to parallel park. I thought it was interesting and it didn't hurt me because I already know I'm not your typical minivan driver. I can actually parallel park my vehicle, without parking sensors or a backup camera. When I first bought my minivan it took me a little time to get used to the vehicle's dimensions and blind spots, but I've driven much larger vehicles in the past.

So after I read this piece about minivan drivers not being able to parallel park, I was sitting outside of a row of shops in the downtown area here. I was parallel parked and was waiting for my wife. I started to notice compact car after compact car trying to parallel park nearby. Almost every single one tried to pull into empty parking spots nose first! One woman put her PT Cruiser up on the sidewalk trying to straighten herself out after pulling into a parallel parking spot nose first.

So I guess stereotyping people by the type of vehicle they drive doesn't always work, but I still give other minivans plenty of space for their erratic driving.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Twenty Annoying Driving Habits Everyone Should Stop

Some drivers need robots to drive them around
I have to admit there are a lot of things about the way people drive (or don't drive) that get under my skin. Maybe it's that I'm just more aware of cars and how people interact with them, or maybe other people just keep their pet peeves to themselves. Regardless, I'm going to vent here and list off twenty annoying driving habits that should be abolished starting now:

20. Hanging cigarettes out of the window. I'll admit I will never understand why people smoke. Smoking smells awful, it's horrible for your health in more ways than most people even realize and it costs a lot of money. I really don't care if other people are smoking, but I HATE it when other drivers hang their cigarette out of their barely cracked window. Get an ashtray and keep your stink in your vehicle! If you don't wan to smell it, do you really think the rest of us do?

19. Tailgating. I've mentioned this one before, but until people stop doing it I'm not going to stop mentioning it. I'm the guy where if someone tailgates me I will slow down to under the speed limit just out of principle and out of fear that if I have to suddenly hit my brakes I don't want to get whiplash. Tailgating other people is the equivalent to pushing in line. Grow up and move beyond grade school, people.

18. Turning the steering wheel by gripping it with your thumb facing toward you and your fingers facing the instrument cluster. I first noticed this before I started driving. My sisters would turn this way all the time, and guess what? They would also regularly lose control after exiting a turn's apex! I've noticed this habit is prominent among women, but it's a dangerous way to grip the steering wheel since you can easily lose your grip. Which leads me to seventeen...

17. Gripping the top or bottom of the steering wheel. I notice women are more likely to grip the top of a steering wheel with white-knuckled fear, although I've seen some men do the same thing. Men are much more likely to lazily grip the bottom of the steering wheel with one hand while the other is hanging out the window. Both can result in the vehicle spinning out of control or flipping. At least use ten and two, or better yet nine and three.

16. Weaving through traffic. Driving a "shaggin' wagon" I have dumbasses in their low-powered econo boxes cut in front of me all the time like we're in an F1 race and nobody told me. These people then proceed to do the same thing to other cars that could easily crush theirs. And guess what? They usually end up stuck at the same red lights as me.

15. Pulling up window-to-window with other cars. I purposely don't pull up window-to-window after I've had about a half a dozen cops tell me how dangerous it can be. I really hate it when other people try to do that to me, and it's even more annoying when I scoot up a few inches and they scoot up too while gawking into my car with a big, dumb grin on their face.

14. Trying to race people who have their kids in the car. I don't care if the other driver is in a Porsche 911 Turbo, if you can see little kids in the backseat DO NOT ENCOURAGE THE OTHER DRIVER TO RACE! Street racing is a bad idea anyway, but don't put little kids at risk because of your stupidity!

13. Flipping out because someone else honks at you. Sometimes we zone out at red lights, sometimes we don't see another car on the road -- we're all human. Car horns are designed to get other drivers' attention, not for venting frustrations. So when someone honks at you, just acknowledge the other car and any mistake you have just made, swallow your pride and move on -- period.

12. Brake checking other drivers. Tailgating is annoying, but brake checking other drivers is perhaps even more dangerous. Not only could the other driver crash into you but you could trigger a big pileup and people could be seriously hurt or killed.

11. Not letting others merge. This one is bad here and in other parts of the country and world. Not letting traffic merge leads to aggressive driving maneuvers (i.e. cutting other cars off) that causes traffic to back up. If we all allow drivers to merge everything will flow smoother and we'll all get to where we're going sooner.

10. Carloads of overly flirty girls/guys. I was young once and I get that when you get a group of teenagers or early twenty-somethings together it can get kinda crazy. But trying to distract other drivers by acting all flirty is kind of annoying. Trust me, you don't want to be the victim of road rage because a spouse/passenger doesn't like your advances on her hubby.

9. Not signaling. This is kind of a chicken or the egg debate. People cut off anyone who signals/people don't signal for fear of getting cut off. Maybe if we all didn't drive like a bunch of overly-competitive jerkwads, use our signals and let people in "our" lane we could all just get to where we're headed? Apparently that thought process is too much for some people.

8. Blaring music. There comes a point when a car's music volume obviously is no longer for enjoyment but instead is meant to just annoy other drivers. If you want to be a douche be prepared for reciprocation from other douches on the road.

7. Speeding down a lane that's ending. This in effect says you are more important than all of the people who transitioned over well in advance, especially if you end up driving on the shoulder for a while.

6. Doing anything but driving. Talking on the phone, webbing, texting, applying makeup, shaving, plucking eyebrows, watching movies: why is it so many people who are driving cars do everything but drive?! Robot cars cannot come soon enough, I tell you...

5. Getting preachy with your bumper. This is not really a driving habit, but it's still annoying. I really don't care what your political social views are when I'm stuck behind you in traffic. Preachy bumper stickers just tell me you're self righteous and self important.

4. Speeding through neighborhoods. I live on what should be a quiet street, except for the steady stream of commuters who use it for their shortcut during morning and evening rush hour. The increased traffic is annoying, but when people turn my 25 mph street into a 40 + mph zone it's downright dangerous. And these shortcutters often blow through stop signs because they're going way too fast for little residential roads. Speeding through neighborhoods is extremely rude, no matter the reason.

3. Revving your engine over and over. As I sit here writing this one of my neighbors is doing just this. It's a regular habit of his since he has a big throaty V8 I would love to shove down his throat. And no, he's not working on his car. Apparently people want to throw or rod or they want to be noticed for being annoying.

2. Not waiting for pedestrians in a crosswalk. I have almost been hit by people who don't think they need to stop for a parent and kids crossing in a crosswalk. Let me tell you one dork in particular I just about went over and dented his fender because he kept inching forward toward my kids after barely stopping in time. Doing that doesn't make you tough, it makes you a dick.

1. Driving super slow. Unless someone is tailgating you (see number nineteen) it's annoying and dangerous to be driving well under the speed limit. I know some nervous drivers think driving way slow is how they stay safe, but it gums up traffic and can cause an accident. If you're that nervous about driving get a bus pass or call a taxi.