Tuesday, June 28, 2011

All this Chrysler Turbine talk....

With all this talk of the Chrysler Turbine, we thought we'd share some pictures from a recent trip to Detroit where we got to view not one, but two Chrysler Ghia Turbines. The first we found on display at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum at Chrysler's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Along with one of the cars being on display is also a separate display motor and cut away display showing how it works.

The second, is at The Henry Ford in nearby Dearborn. Their automotive display is currently under construction, but the Turbine was considered one of their more important cars to keep on display nearby with several other cars from their impressive collection.

Both cars can be seen here.

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum

The Henry Ford Museum

Book Review: Chrysler's Turbine Car by Steve Lehto

A fascinating book came in to the office about a month ago that really grabbed our attention. Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation. By Steve Lehto a forward by Jay Leno. With all of the talk of alternative energy and fuels and hybrid cars, you can't help but think back to the Chrysler Turbine program if you're a car nut like me. I had known about the cars themselves and a little about the user program from 1964 through early 1966. Outside of that, I had little knowledge of the program. That was until I picked up Lehto's book. It covers in fascinating detail the development of the turbine engine by Chrysler over a nearly four decade  period starting in the early 1950s by lead engineer George Huebner Jr and fellow engineer Sam Williams.

Lehto recounts many stories from those who worked on the program, including Bill Carry who was responsible for maintenance of the Turbine's used in the loaner program and may very well be the world's leading expert on these rare cars today. Starting in 1953, and ending just after Chrysler's first bail out in 1979, Chrysler developed 7 generations of Turbine powered cars. However, they never produced a single car for consumer consumption. The program became famous in the early 1960s with the launch and announcement of the Chrysler Ghia Turbine. The program gained popularity for the uniqueness of the cars, one being the ability to run on literally any liquid that could burn with oxygen and the cars jet like sound while driving.

Designed by Elwood Engel and built by Ghia in Italy. 55 cars were built and shipped to Chrysler in Detroit. 50 of those cars were lent to consumers all over the United States for free to use for about 3 months before going to another family. This was a ground breaking research and development project to see if consumers would actually BUY. The program was hugely successful thanks to lots of publicity. It also gave Chrysler over one million driving miles worth of research. Lehto recounts stories from many of the families that had use of the car also. Sadly a majority of the stunning Turbines were destroyed in 1966 by Chrysler, leaving only nine of these unique, entire hand built beauties left in existence. There is much speculation as to why the cars were destroyed, and the answer lies in the book, how ever we're not telling. You'll have to read for yourself.

The book then follows about further development thanks to money from the Government as an alternative to the traditional piston powered engine during the gas crunches in the 1970s and the eventual closing of the program after Chrysler's first bail out.

Had Chrysler not run out of money and killed the turbine program, who knows what would have or could have happened. Perhaps today we would have jet powered cars like many dreamed of in the 1960s. And with the original  car's performance being equal to if not greater than that of an equivalent piston engine, who know where performance could have gone. Maybe, we will see a resurgence in turbine technology combined with today's hybrid gas/electric powered cars? Only time will tell.

Chrysler's Turbine Car is 228 pages long with several black and white and color photographs. It retails for $24.95 and can be found in just about any major book store and of course online. We HIGHLY recommend it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some more words.....

Since I created this blog a couple of months ago I have recieved some great feedback from my peers. The main purpose of this blog is to promote my business and foster my love of writing. I have had over 1500 views of my blog. Mostly from here in the United States and Canada.  But, there have been some Germany, England, Mexico, and such. I wanted to say thank you to all for checking it out and reading. I have had some private e-mails as well from do it yourselfer's, techs, and shop owners as well. I would like to see more interaction between myself and the people that are reading my posts. Leave a comment or comments. Don't be shy. What would you like to see me discuss? Is there an issue that you would like to see how I approach it? Scantool questions? Anything? I hope to hear from you all. Thanks again.  

2000 Buick Lesabre Part 2

You remember our last case study. Well, I am called back to this shop because the vehicle left running well then a week later it has issues and a MIL lamp on. At this point do we have another issue? I arrive and start the car which seems to run pretty decent but the MIL is on for sure. I retrieve a code P0102 (Mass Air Flow Sensor Circuit Low). Hmmmm. Well, I do my checks and guess what? The culprit is a bad remanufactured Mass Air Flow Sensor. This car left a week ago with 137,052 miles on it and here it is with 137,182 with a bad MAF.
This the point where I get on my soapbox about the automotive industry. Here goes my rant. About 10 years ago the automotive industry changed from a quality driven business to a price point business. Today, it is all about getting the cheapest part possible. This saturation of cheap parts has driven the quality of automotive parts into the toilet. Manufacturers really don't care because even though they have a 30% defect or return rate, they are still making 150% profit. The general public is really ill informed about this. All they know is that they can go online and get that part for $45.00, why are you charging me $125.00. The big box stores reap the benefits of this by buying these cheap parts even cheaper due to volume and can offer these parts at ridiculously low prices. The real loser is the shop owner. He or she is put in a difficult situation. Should we try this cheap part to remain competitive. Possibly, tarnishing our image if this part comes back defective or worse yet doesn't even work out of the box. Not to mention the time and money lost on having to do the job over again. Or, do we offer a quality part that in some cases is double the cheap part price. Now he has to "justify" and educate the consumer on why it is more money. It is a slippery slope. If the customer pulls the car and the guy goes down the street and that shop installs the cheap part and it works, the first shop owner looks like a crook. This is a real issue in our industry. It used to be primarily starters and alternators. Now it is rampant. With auto parts just like anything else-you get what you pay for! The thud you just heard was me getting off my soapbox.
So what do I do here? It is not my fault this part failed right away. Do I charge the shop owner again to diagnose? He is one of my best customers. I take one on the cuff and inform the shop owner to only use a quality MAF sensor. We both live to fight another day. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2012 Beetle pricing announced!

When the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle hits the pavement later this year, base starting price will be easy on the wallet at $18,995.

The 2.5L serves as the base model, with a starting MSRP of $18,995. It  has a 170-horsepower in line 5 cylinder engine and offers fuel economy that is improved by 10 percent over previous 2.5L models. When outfitted with the five-speed manual transmission, the mileage is estimated at 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The optional six-speed automatic offers EPA fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. So it nestles right in the magic 30 mpg range.

Standard equipment a split folding rear seat (first time in a beetle), aux-in for portable audio players, a leather steering wheel, unique and customizable17-inch alloy wheels, and an eight-speaker audio system. Desirable options include a kaeferfach additional glovebox that is similar to that of the original Beetle, Bluetooth® technology, iPod® connectivity, heated front seats, three-color interior ambient lighting, and leatherette seating surfaces.

A 2.0L TSI will also be available with a starting MSRP of $23,395.  This model uses famed 2.0 liter four cylinder turbocharged engine producing 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. The four cylinder engine with automatic transmission offers an EPA fuel economy rating of 30 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg city. Standard equipment transmission wise will be a six speed manual with an optional six speed DSG automatic gearbox.

Adding to the impressive standard equipment list from the 2.5L, the 2.0L TSI adds larger brakes with red calipers, sport seating surfaces, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, foglights, three additional gauges on the dashboard, and alloy pedals. This is going to be one hot little bug.

A TDI Diesel is in the plans for release in 2012, and pricing has not been set for that model yet.

Press Release:

The Iconic Volkwagen Beetle Hits The Market With A Base Price Of Just $18,995

The highly customizable Beetle offers German craftsmanship and sophistication and a sporty new attitude
  • Powerful, Efficient 2.5L and 2.0 TSI® Turbocharged Engines at Launch
  • Forthcoming TDI® Clean Diesel Model Will Offer an Estimated 40 mpg Highway
  • Longer, Lower, and Wider than the Previous Beetle
  • Sporty Features Include 19-inch wheels, Performance-Handling Packages, and Sport Seats
  • Available Premium Features include Bluetooth® technology, Slide and Tilt Panoramic Roof, Fender® Premium Audio System, Keyless Access with push- button start, leather seating surfaces, and BI-XENON Headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights
  • No-Charge, Three-Year/36,000-Mile Carefree Maintenance® Program
Herndon, VA Volkswagen of America, Inc. today announced pricing for the 21st Century Beetle, the third generation of the classic people’s car. The new Beetle will start at just $18,995, offering an agile, driver-oriented coupe that respects the Beetle’s past yet looks to the future.

The 21st Century Beetle is an automotive icon reinvented, a nod to the heritage and character of Volkswagen and our remarkable history, said Jonathan Browning, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. This new interpretation of the original Beetle holds true to the traditional spirit of the car, with all the benefits of modern technologies and efficiencies.

The 2.5L model, which has a starting MSRP of $18,995, has a 170-horsepower in-line five-cylinder engine and offers fuel economy that is improved by up to 10 percent over past 2.5L models. When outfitted with the five-speed manual transmission, the mileage is estimated at 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The optional six-speed automatic offers EPA fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

The 2.5L comes standard with a split folding rear seat, aux-in for portable audio players, a leather steering wheel, unique and customizable17-inch alloy wheels, and an eight-speaker audio system. Desirable options include a kaeferfach additional glovebox that is similar to that of the original Beetle, Bluetooth® technology, iPod® connectivity, heated front seats, three-color interior ambient lighting, and leatherette seating surfaces.
The sportiest model the 2.0L TSI will have a starting MSRP of $23,395. This model uses Volkswagen’s critically acclaimed 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. As well as providing sparkling performance, the four-cylinder engine with automatic transmission offers an EPA fuel economy rating of 30 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg city.

The 2.0L has a standard six-speed manual transmission, with the option of Volkswagen’s DSG© dual-clutch automatic transmission. It takes the standard equipment found on the 2.5L and adds Bluetooth® technology, iPod® connectivity, three-color ambient lighting, larger brakes with red calipers, a kaeferfach additional glovebox that is similar to that of the original Beetle, sport seating surfaces, 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, foglights, three additional gauges on the dashboard, and alloy pedals.

In 2012, a TDI Clean Diesel model will become available, powered by Volkswagen’s highly efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. This will be the most fuel-efficient Beetle ever, with an expected highway estimate of 40 mpg.

The 2012 Beetle features sportier, more dynamic, and bolder styling than the previous model. It is also 3.3 inches wider, 6.0 inches longer, and 0.5 inches lower, giving the car a more muscular appearance that has a broad appeal. The Beetle will be available in three trim lines, some of which include the transparent, panoramic tilt/slide glass sunroof that is 80 percent longer than on the previous model.

The Beetle comes standard with the RCD 310 sound system with eight speakers; an optional premium VIII audio system features a CD changer, interface for SD cards, and a touchscreen. The Beetle will also offer concert-quality sound with an available Fender® Premium Audio System, designed exclusively for Volkswagen. In a partnership that combines quality automotive engineering and quality sound engineering, Volkswagen and Fender have teamed up to bring the raw emotion of live music to the driving experience.
The Beetle includes Volkswagen’s advanced Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in some types of collisions. The Beetle is also covered under the no-charge, 3-year/36,000-mile scheduled Carefree Maintenance® Program.

Source: Volkswagen.

Friday, June 3, 2011

2000 Buick Lesabre

This fine example of GM engineering has 137,050 miles on it. It has the 3800 K motor in it and the complaint is simple. When it gets hot it stalls out and doesn't want to restart too well. Let the car cool down and away she goes. My mind is already thinking crankshaft sensor, ignition module, bad ground for the fuel pump, ignition switch heating up and going open. These vehicles have always had issues with those parts. I start the car and the vehicle cranks well, fires right up and runs well. I have other vehicles to look at so I close the hood to build heat and let it run. I hook up my scanner to check codes and there are none. I am really not that suprised. I leave the scanner hooked up and go off to check the other problem vehicles. I come back to our Lesabre about 20 minutes later and it has stalled. I try to restart and it starts and immediately dies. I restart and try to feather the gas and it stays running barely. I get the distinct odor of a vehicle that is overfueling. I have been down this road before. I get out and open the hood. I disconnect the vacuum hose from the fuel pressure regulator fully expecting it to be wet with raw fuel. This is a very common intermittent issue on these cars. In fact, when I was on the techline I used to tell the techs over the phone my trick to add a piece of clear airline tubing from the aquarium store between the vehicles existing vacuum harness and the fuel pressure regulator and look for liquid fuel.
Dry as a bone as you can see! I hook my fuel pressure gauge just to see where that is.
Nothing wrong here. Well within specs. Now, lets look at some scan data. When you have a gross mismanagement of fuel you want to look at the big four. No, not Metallica, Megadeath, Anthrax, and Slayer( I have my tickets for Yankee Stadium) but RPM, Coolant Temp, Engine Load, and Throttle Position. So, that is what I do. Everything seems to be in order until I look at my MAF (Mass Air Flow) pid on my scanner while cranking. See below.

Yikes! That is correct 170 g/s (grams per second) during a crank event. Remember, our general rule g/s should basically be the same as you liter displacement at an idle and 40 times your liter displacement at wide open throttle. So we should see approximately 4.0-5.0 g/s at an idle and about 152 g/s at full throttle. we have 170 g/s just cranking! Do we have a bad MAF? It does seem lately that every other car I look at needs one. I am not convinced yet. I need to check the wiring.

Well the first thing I do is check for the proper open circuit voltage from the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) to the the MAF. the PCM sends out a voltage of 5 volts that the MAF will bring down to ground and release creating a square wave. The speed of this action is the frequency. The PCM uses this frequency to determine engine load. This input along with others helps the PCM to map fuel, ignition timing, egr, etc.
Nothing wrong here. I shake the harness and look at my min/max voltages. They don't waver. The remaining two wires at the MAF supply power and ground. Whenever possible I like to scope powers and grounds using the battery negative terminal as my ground. So I set my scope up to capture mode. I reconnect the MAF to load the circuit and I backprobe. I crank the engine and record.
Channel 1 is the power feed and channel 2 is the ground. Nothing wrong here. The reason I scope is to look for noise on either circuit. Something that could be missed with a multimeter. I reset my scope parameters and caught this on a start and stall.
Lots of ugliness. I was able to capture the MAF failing after it cooled down some. Check out the screen shot below.

This shot is at an idle. Notice we have great upstream O2 sensor activity, MAP kpa, and MAF value is at the expected 5.0 g/s. Then at about the 175 frame the MAF skyrockets and the MAP tanks, and O2 values peg. Let's get the cursor on that spike.

You are reading correct that is 307 g/s at an idle. To put it in perspective that would be a good value for a 7.7 liter motor at full throttle. The lesson here is never assume. Past experience and pattern failures are nice but you are better off looking at every vehicle as a brand new experience. Next.....