Friday, October 30, 2009

The Complexity of Gasoline and Future Changes

People know that they need gasoline to make their vehicles run. Most also realize that this fuel is highly flammable but beyond these two major facts, very little is known about gasoline. The complexity of blending gasoline to fit the needs of the evolving combustible engine is just mind-boggling.

Where Gasoline Comes From

Gasoline begins as crude oil found deep below the earth's surface. After the crude is brought to the surface by drilling and pumping, a distillation process is performed where the crude is refined into virgin or straight-run gasoline. This process takes place at a refinery where not all gasoline comes out with the same chemical characteristics as another. This difference depends on the crude oil (there are different types of crude) and the type of processing unit at each refinery. Even now, the gasoline is nowhere close to being fit to use in our cars.

The Production Cycle of Gasoline for Vehicles

The virgin gasoline has to now be blended with hydrocarbons plus a host of other necessary hazardous chemicals. Benzene, toluene, naphthalene, trimethylbenzene, TPBE, and others are carefully measured into the mixture to protect the internal parts of our cars. The engine is a mechanical marvel but only when gasoline has been properly blended, do our cars work properly. Even now, the gas is not pure enough to support the intake valves, combustion chambers and fuel injectors found in the top end of the engine of vehicles. Detergents must be added to complete these blends.

Gasoline Seasonal Price Changes

Cars are run in all types of weather. We may think that the gasoline is the same old stuff year round but it is not. Have you ever noticed a price fluctuation right before summer and another right before winter? Refineries are switching from summer to winter gas, or vice versa, and this switch costs lots of money. The pipelines have to be cleared completely before a different grade of fuel can be brought in. This may cause shortages or overages of fuel, affecting the price.

What Is Summer and Winter Gas?

Even though our cars may warm up the running of the fuel in our engines in cold weather as opposed to warm weather, the gasoline must have the ability to evaporate quickly to fire in the combustion chamber of vehicles. While we want the fuel on top to evaporate quickly, we want to keep it as liquid in the gas tank. The warmer months provide heat that is necessary to cause evaporation to start our cars but in the winter months, there is no warmth under our hoods. A molecular change is made to winter gas to help start the engine of your cars easier and protect the internal parts.

More Processes and Additives of Gasoline

We have not even touched on the complexity of other processes used in making gasoline. Other methods are also used in making gasoline to stretch our gasoline supply for cars such as polymerization that can make molecules in the structure larger; alkylation combines olefin and a paraffin based substance; isomerization that converts straight-lines hydrocarbons to branch-lines hydrocarbons; and reforming that totally rearranges a molecular structure. Of course, there is also ethanol and individual state required special blends and detergents to help control pollution but that's a whole other story.

Can the Gasoline Complexity and Price ever End?

Alternative fuel cars are hitting the streets hard with the newest and freshest ideas ever for fuel free vehicles. Sweden has already declared to be fossil fuel free with their cars by the year 2030. Hydrogen vehicles, or hydro cars, are an example of what manufacturers are looking to in the future by using hydrogen to react with oxygen to produce water and electricity that actually powers cars and trucks and buses. Electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are also being studied and tested with promising results. In addition to being totally free from exhaust, these two different types of vehicles use absolutely no gasoline. This may sound like a story from Mars but who would have believed that we could have come up with such an extravagant system of fuel for our cars? Complexity seems to be the norm these days and one-day gasoline will be replaced with another just as extreme.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Figuring out the True Facts about those Fuel Saving Gadgets

Getting the best fuel economy out of all the vehicles that are on the road is more important today than ever before. This is why so many drivers keep a careful check on how many miles per gallon their car is delivering. Finding ways to improve the gas mileage is always something in which they have a great deal of interest. This is why fuel saving products are of particular interest to so many auto owners.

The interest in improving the gas mileage of cars always spikes during the fall and winter seasons. This is because cold weather means that it will take your vehicle more time and energy just to get started. Whenever the temperatures are low the engine in a normal car requires a longer period of time to get warmed up and ready to operate. Cold temperatures also means that the oil vehicles use will be more viscous. Both of these facts decrease the normal gas mileage in cars by as much as 50%.

The fuel economy in cars can be improved without the need for any fuel saving gadgets or special mileage enhancing gadgets. This is true at any time of the year, but especially so when there is cold weather present.

Keeping all of the tires on a vehicle inflated to their optimal pressure will certainly help. Regular over- inflation or under- inflation of tires on any type of motorized vehicles is not a good idea. Parking your vehicles in an enclosed garage can help keep them warmer which means it will require less gasoline to get the motors operating properly. Even an unheated garage is preferable to leaving cars outside exposed to all of the winter weather conditions.

If your vehicles use spark plugs exchanging the old plugs for new ones can help you improve your fuel mileage. This is especially true if the spark plugs have been used for a long time and have a number of miles already. Drivers also need to make sure that their car engine's thermostat is working correctly. Sometimes a car thermostat opens too quickly. This will make the engine need longer time to reach driving temperature. Any time your vehicles are exposed to extended warm up periods they will use a lot more fuel.

These are just a few of the more traditional ways that drivers across the country are improving the fuel economy in their own vehicles. However you will also notice that there are always many offers that claim you can improve your car's gas mileage if you buy some of the "fuel saving devices" that are available. It is easy to find these fuel improving gadgets because they are advertised in magazines, television, and at your local auto parts stores.

These devices are even being heavily advertised on the Internet. The claims and sales pitches that are used by the manufacturers always sound extraordinarily convincing. In fact, most times the performance that is promised seems too good to be true. These high tech fuel saving gadgets promise much better gas mileage for vehicles and usually they come with supporting statistics, information and glowing customer reviews, but do they really work?

There is no real change in the fuel economy of any of the vehicles on which these devices have been tested according to the EPA (US Government Environmental Protection Agency). Of course all of these fuel saving products have not yet been put through the paces, but of the thousands that have there are few positive factors to report.

Of the numerous devices and additives that are supposed to save fuel and improve the mileage in vehicles the sad fact is that they do not live up to the hype and advertising. There are devices that cause more air to enter the intake manifold which will cause a car to operate on leaner fuel. Many of these devices have been rigorously tested and only one created a small improvement in the gas mileage. Unfortunately this positive factor was overshadowed by the increased exhaust emissions that occurred.

Testing was also done on many of the liquid based injection systems that were supposed to be fuel saving products for cars driven by consumers. Always there was the same type of result as before. Researchers have just been unable to discover the fuel economy improvement that these products are supposed to deliver.

There are even some ignition system enhancement products for cars. This is yet one other class of fuel saving gadgets on the market. Not one of these ignition system enhancer devices caused vehicles to show any improvement in their normal fuel economy.

A very popular type of gas saving gadget is one that attaches to the fuel lines on vehicles. You can find a number of these devices that are marketed as either fuel line heaters, coolers or magnets for cars. Supposedly their design is able to ionize and cause changes to the very molecular structures of the fuel that you are using. Needless to say, these do not work, and you should save your money for other purchases instead.

If you are using one of the gas saving enhancers that needs to be mounted at the intake so that it can improve the mixing of the fuel that the vehicles use, beware. Basically what you have to do is to give your car a tune-up before you install this supposed "fuel saving gadget". Any slight improvement in the mileage that occurs is due to the tune-up, not the device.

If you follow the basic rules of good driving and maintain your vehicles properly you will improve your fuel mileage without spending extra money. Modify your driving so that it includes smooth acceleration and gear shifting; avoid "jack rabbit starts"; keep your tires inflated and make sure that you are not overloading your car with unnecessary weight for in town travel. You should be very cautious about any fuel saving additives and devices because very few of them result in any real gas savings.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

How to Increase Fuel Economy and save Money on gas

Everyone loves to drive on the open road. Motorized vehicles of any kind, but especially cars and trucks are a joy to drive. Unfortunately, not all of them get good gas mileage. Ask the average person how to improve your mileage and you're likely to be told to buy a more fuel efficient model. For some of us, this simply isn't an option due to certain circumstances.

Maybe we can't afford a new model, or maybe we just like the one we have. Regardless there are ways to improve your vehicles fuel economy without investing a lot of money. The first thing you can do to save money is to alter your driving style. This often means driving slower, but it does conserve gas.

Essentially you want to drive your car around 55 MPH where applicable. This does not mean drive 55 in a 35 zone. It means that on the highway instead of driving 65, or 75 in some cases, get in the slow lane and do 55. While it will take you a bit longer to reach your destination, your car's engine will use less fuel.

Using less fuel means you can go further, and need less at the next filling station. Other driving habits that can increase your vehicles fuel mileage include stopping slowly, and accelerating slowly. There's no reason to have a lead foot for both petals all the time. Of course, maintenance also plays a huge role in your gas mileage.

Make sure your tires are inflated to the proper PSI before driving. This will ensure the tires perform their best, last their longest, and get you the best mileage. This may not seem like it would affect your fuel economy but remember your tires are your cars link to the road. If they are under inflated, over inflated, or just in bad condition it will reduce your gas mileage. It's also important to make sure they are rotated, and aligned at regular intervals.

Making sure your vehicles engine is properly tuned up is also important. Oil changes, spark plug replacement, fluid checking, and belt inspection are all important to keeping your engine running good. The better your engine runs the better gas mileage it will get. Keeping your car washed can also help, believe it or not.

Modern cars are more aerodynamic and dirt and crud on the vehicle can interfere with this slightly. Filthy cars may lose 1 or 2 mpg, but that's still gas mileage lost. Keeping it clean will ensure this doesn't happen to you, and will make it look good as well. Older vehicles won't have this problem as much due to their design. Not that they aren't aerodynamic but they just weren't as dependant on it as modern designs are.

After you've done all of this, if you still wish to improve your vehicle's fuel economy, there are some options. You can use custom parts that improve fuel efficiency, or install custom air filters. These filters are designed to let a certain amount of airflow into yourcar in addition to filtering it. This results in better combustion of gas, which in turn results in better efficiency

Another option you have available is to modify your car's engine into a hybrid system. For people that love their machines this option is a good compromise. Essentially, you take the engine out and upgrade it. After doing this you install an electric motor system to work in tandem with the combustion engine. This process effectively turns the engine into a hybrid motor.

Your vehicles outward appearance will still be the same, but inside you will have a much cleaner, efficient motor. This is a very pricey procedure to undertake though and should only be done if you really love your machine. For the enthusiast among us it is a lifesaver. In most cases this procedure will double your engine's fuel economy.

So if you want to get the best mileage out of your motor remember to keep it tuned up, and take good care of your tires. Always practice safe driving techniques when getting behind the wheel, and never drive drunk. Remember to buckle up and obey all traffic laws regardless of what country you live in. Also, keep in mind that going slow to save a few MPG will save you a lot of money on gas.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Four Wheel Drive Systems

We've heard a lot about four wheel drive cars and trucks over the years. However, there are lots of different variants out there. That means that many people have questions about how their four wheel drive vehicles work. Let's take a look at some of the current systems on the market. That'll help you have an easier time selecting the right car parts for your vehicle and understand how your car handles.

We've seen four wheel drive systems, also labeled 4WD or 4x4 systems, on trucks for a long time. These are the simplest system available. These vehicles may use a lever to shift them between two and four wheel driver, or a switch to shift modes. In two wheel drive, only the rear wheels are operational. When 4x4 mode is engaged, all the wheels drive at once. Since the front and wheel axles are locked together, use this mode on surfaces where tires may slip.

Don't use this mode on pavement surfaces, hard packed areas or other places which are very hard and smooth, because minor differences in tire size may cause the axles to turn at separate speeds. This can cause what's called windup or binding in the transfer case. If you keep driving with this occurring the transfer case or axles may be ruined. 4x4 mode has a reputation for being good is slick or icy conditions, but this binding can actually make corning difficult, since the tires don't use the same paths during a turn. That can make your vehicle slide out of control all of a sudden.

The automatic transfer cases you'll find in many SUVs and trucks make braking and cornering much safer. These systems have an auto position on their shift controls, and offer rear wheel drive and 4x4 mode, too. Select auto mode when you're driving on surfaces where traction may be uneven. This will allow the vehicle to operate in two wheel drive until the tires start spinning then switch to 4x4 mode. As soon as slipping stops, you go back to two wheel drive again. This prevents driveline binding. An ABS system makes barking much safer, too. Always use two wheel drive mode on the highway if you have one of these vehicles, since some binding can occur due to differences in tire size.

All wheel drive is another type of four wheel drive system, seen on SUVs and trucks, and on many models of cars. If you have a Jeep, the system may be called full time, instead. These systems have a transfer case that allows the front and rear axles to work at the same time, without locking them. There are a number of different variations on all wheel drive. Some types split the torque between the front and rear wheels, putting most on the rear. These systems, offered by Volvo, Subaru, Jaguar, Porsche and similar companies, provide excellent handling and traction on any surface.

Other systems use a silicone filled clutch inside the transfer case itself. This allows a few differences in axle speeds, but tends to lock up when the differences between the two are too great. There are still other all wheel drive systems that are mostly front wheel drive, but have rear drive as a backup. Honda's CRV requires the front wheels to slip before the rear ones kick in, which might make a difference on slick surfaces. Nissan's Pathfinder couples the rear axle at start up, then put torque on the front when no tire slip happens. This is more reliable for a slippery start.

There are lots of different variants on four wheel drive systems. Some work well on hard surfaces, while others should never be run on these surfaces. Some systems use four wheel drive at all times, while others work mostly as front wheel drive with an auxiliary rear drive as needed. Unfortunately, even many auto salespeople don't know the difference. Try talking to the service department, instead, or take the time to learn all about the differences yourself. In the end, you'll be glad you had this information. You could save yourself some high repair bills and avoid buying unnecessary car parts. Learning about your particular vehicle's type of four wheel drive is just a smart idea.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Diagnosing Faulty Fuel Pumps

For older models, it wasn't hard to detect when your fuel pump was going out, and it was almost as easy to replace. There were two spots where you can find the fuel pump, either somewhere near the underside of the block, or attached to the head, near the camshaft. How these pumps work is that the pump unit consisting of a one-way valve, and a diaphragm that moved up and down with a pump handle, mounted inside the block, resting against a part of the crankshaft. When the crankshaft turns, it makes the pump handle move up and down, pumping fuel from the tank to the carburetor.

These car parts weren't very hard to replace, and the main thing that usually went wrong was either the handle mechanism, or the internal diaphragm. You could tell right away, loss of fuel to the motor, the heavy smell of gasoline, and you could actually see gas spewing out from the little breather hole. The whole unit can be removed with some open-end wrenches, and disconnecting the fuel lines. In front wheel drive vehicles, the manual fuel pump would be located by the camshaft, and the movement of the camshaft would make the pump work. You could find car parts to replace the pump at your local junk yard, as well as order them brand new. You should always replace things like fuel and oil pumps, or alternators, brand new, or refurbished in some cases, never from a junk yard.

Now when electric fuel pumps came out, there were ups and downs to them. One the high side, fuel pumps were now fully internal, and had now outside components, other than the fuel lines, and the electrical connections. You never had to worry about the diaphragm going out, or the rod arm breaking. The problem was, for some stupid reason, someone thought it was a better idea to put the pump unit in the tank, and the idea probably was that now that the pump was electric, it could be placed as close to the source as possible.

The flip side was that the only way to tell that it was going out was when it actually failed. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it was actually the wiring that failed, not the pump itself. The only way you could tell that something was amiss, other than you couldn't get your vehicle started, was that electrical fuel pumps could be heard working. You could actually hear it whirring, if it was working.

Instead of having to pull the whole fuel tank off to get at the pump, you can pick up inline pumps, that totally by-pass the main pump, and is placed along the firewall in the engine compartment. You connect the fuel lines, and connect it to a power source. If you don't know how to tie it all into your wiring system, so it only came on when the motor was started, you could put a kill switch, somewhere either close to the battery or mounted somewhere in the dash. Newer vehicles with fuel injection have a slightly different fuel delivery system. Fuel comes out from the tank, through the pump and filter, up to the fuel injector rail, then into a fuel pressure regulator and back into the tank. These systems are more complicated than the older car parts, and you have much more to deal with diagnostic wise.

First thing you should do when trying to locate the fuel problem is turn off the vehicles motor, then turn the key forward, If you can hear a whirring sound or an electrical motor sound, chances are your pump is fine. Next you need to check your fuel filter, located either near the tank itself, or somewhere along the line near the motor. The filter will usually be made from a hard clear plastic, and if you can see the little filter inside, it needs to be replaced. If this is all right, then you would continue along the line, to the fuel rail and see if you have problems there, or with the fuel pressure regulator. If you still can't find the problem, it may be best to have a mechanic look into it.

If you need an inline fuel pump, fuel filter, or anything else, you should first go to your local car parts retailer. With the computers they have, they can usually find the parts you need, even if it is an older model vehicle.