output sensor fix

Hidden and emissions warranties

The universal “hidden warranty”

Every car sold in the United States comes with a warranty you may not be aware of, which covers a variety of components for up to ten years or 100,000 miles. This is a set of “emissions warranties,” designed to ensure that cars do not over-pollute.

This mandated warranty was actually quite clever: it placed the burden of emission system reliability on the automaker, so they had an incentive to make the car stay “clean” for as long as they can. As a result, emissions systems tend to be very reliable over the years.

Check your warranty booklet for details; you may find that the factory covers not just the obvious emissions-related items, but also the fuel injection, spark plugs, speed and temperature sensors, throttle body, and turbocharger. (Some are only covered to the first replacement interval – e.g.… Read the rest

Coming soon to your car: dangerous big-rig safety features

The last few new class 8 trucks I have driven have had a bevy of new safety features that are the cutting edge of “looks good on paper.”  I know some of you aren’t worried about what is mandated on a big rig, but what starts here will trickle down to become the next pain in your rear. If you don’t believe me, look at talk of tracking cars with GPS so they can charge you for the miles you drive. That kind of taxation has been used in the trucking industry for years. What about seat belts? Those were required on commercial vehicles back when they were still a seldom-ordered option on passenger cars.

I’m not ranting about every safety feature; some of them are pretty good. I like ABS, which has helped me avoid some accidents, but that system was thoroughly tested and had the bugs worked out before it was offered.… Read the rest

Can new Chevy topple Ford pickups?

The 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500, shown at a centennial event, is billed as a complete re-design, with more customer research than any past GM pickup — feedback came from over 7,000 people. Like the aluminum F-150, it apparently shed a good deal of weight compared to past pickups; but it did so without restoring to aluminum body panels.

Automotive News wrote that the sharp curves suggest steel body panels; GM wrote that higher-grade alloys in the bed floor make it “more functional” and lighter in weight.

GM is possibly the most advanced company in using mixed materials together; the Silverado took advantage of these techniques, with the press release claiming “This use of mixed materials and advanced manufacturing is evident throughout the Silverado, resulting in a significant reduction in total vehicle weight and improved performance in many measures.”

GM is promising more powertrain combinations than in the past; Automotive News speculated this might include Cadillac’s potent V6 engines.… Read the rest

You’d think this Hyundai had a V6

We’ve driven cars with tiny little engines and big turbochargers before, and few satisfy. Even the relatively costly Volkswagen turbo is rather obviously just that — a well-executed four-cylinder turbo, with a slight lag when you first take off, and a definite buildup in power as the turbo spins.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport could have a V6 under the hood, as far as most people could tell; its little turbocharged engine displaces just 1.6 liters, but generates 201 hp and more 195 lb-ft of torque from a rather low engine speed.

Big numbers from small displacements isn’t unusual, but making it all feel as linear as a larger engine is. The Hyundai doesn’t give away the game with turbo whine or surges, and has just a barely perceptible shift from launch to boost. This is, in short, the furthest you can get from a 2013 Dodge Dart Aero.… Read the rest

Peterbilt 387/Cummins ISX long term test

My new Cummins truck isn’t a Dodge Ram. My new Cummins is the Ram’s daddy, a Cummins ISX 445, displacing 15 liters, with dual overhead cams and a variable geometry turbo. The turbo is huge, and the valve cover is half the size of the redhead’s kitchen table.

Variable geometry started as “variable nozzle technology” with the Chrysler Turbo IV setup. It lets the turbocharger act small at lower rpm, and large at higher rpm, so it has fast spool-up with high efficiency and high capacity.

The engine tag says it has 445 hp at 2,100 rpm, but mine seems to flat line at around 1600 rpm. The tag also mentions torque, and based on how it does the hills, I’m guessing it’s pretty close to the 1,700 foot-pounds it advertises, at 1,200 rpm.

I couldn’t believe that number was for real at first, but my first load took me across US 60 and down US 63 from Springfield to Memphis, up and down the hills over the mountains and through the valleys, and this engine took climbs in high gear that used to require two or three downshifts in my last truck.… Read the rest

Mazda3: fun and light

Known in most of the world as the Mazda Axela, the compact Mazda has that fine sense of being in touch with the road, without being punished by it; the engine balances acceleration with mileage nicely, and the light feel makes it a joy to drive.

Keeping things like banned acoustic glass and overdone sound insulation, so the Japanese sedan is noisier than some competitors, particularly with road noise, especially bearing the Blizzaks of our test car. Those  also brought controllable, mild skids in some fast turns, which we believe would not happen (at least, not as often) with the stock tires. That’s not to say you should expect to be sliding all over the road; the handling is quite good. The ride is also comfortable, with broken roads well filtered.

The Mazda3 has been rightly praised for its fun factor, and it’s easy to drive, from the clutch to the steering.… Read the rest

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: smooth and fun

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was recently refreshed, and it came out better for it. Well-equipped, smooth, and pleasant, we generally liked this compact and inexpensive crossover.

The 2.4 liter engine ( 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque) has an aggressive tip-in to make it feel more powerful at launch, which could require some dainty-footing; it was quick in daily driving, aided by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that dropped the gear ratio on demand.

Automatic full-time all wheel drive put power to the ground; sticking to FWD did hurt launches. Once moving, it’s easy to drive gently or, um, sportily. The car slows faster than usual when coasting, and has a slow crawl when idling in Drive. Still, it is quite good at choosing ratios, and has both paddle and manual shifters make it pretend to be a six-speed.… Read the rest

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Premier RS car review

The American-made Chevrolet Cruze boasts strong gas mileage, good handling, and just about ever safety and comfort item you can find on cars at twice the price. Buyers now have a single engine, a turbocharged 1.4, with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmission; you can option up to an eight-inch center display and seven-inch trip computers. The top Premier model has a different rear suspension than the rest, a pricier multilink setup, and our review reflects the Premier experience.

The Cruze is surprisingly smooth on city streets, but almost uncomfortably firm on highways; we had the RS package and found we could whip around turns more than quickly enough for most people. That said, we consistently scraped the front on our driveway.

There was little wind noise, but a good deal of road noise on the highway (less around town).… Read the rest