Is This My Car Or a Space Shuttle?

How car electronics change your daily life, on the road and in the auto shop

· You are driving to a friend’s house and the airbag light is flashing: Then you remember that it always does this when you have your dog Max in the back.

· You grab the door handle to open the door and your car alarm goes off, everyone is looking at you and you feel like a thief.

· You approach a stop sign and your car suddenly goes into low idle and stalls.

· You unlock your car and all the windows go down. This only happens on cold winter trips.

Weird stuff happens with your car and you don’t have any idea why. Gone are the days when Do-It-Yourself could solve a lot of car issues. Today’s vehicles are much more like spaceships or at least like a plane. In fact, your car may contain 60-80 separate little computers providing more computing power than the 1982 Airbus A310 had or the Apollo Moon Lander!

Because modern cars are more like complex electronically controlled spaceships, their insides do not much resemble those of cars twenty years ago. Instead of things like a carburetor you’ll find lots of wires under your car’s hood, connecting sensors to the computers and giving status on the car’s vital signs. Electronics enable unprecedented functionality such as hybrid power or safety functions like airbags, ABS or stability control, just to name a few. Maintenance jobs like a tune-up used to mean getting the engine’s performance back on track. Today embedded software takes care of it by checking constantly thousands of sensor signals compensating for worn out spark plugs, clogged filters, etc. The so-called limp-home function lets you drive on limited power when your engine is in trouble. In the old days this might have meant a break down.

If your car is as complex as a spaceship and makes you feel helpless whenever it plays weird tricks on you, perhaps you’d like a space-age preventive maintenance solution. How about piloting like a real spaceship pilot and not to worry about inexplicable malfunctions? That is what professionals in auto shops take care of. Not only do they inspect, service and replace the still remaining 5,000 moving parts; they also understand the electronics’ side effects, run complex diagnostic and test sequences in order to fix and avoid malfunctions. Since electronics mask emerging problems so there is no detectable sign for you until much later, technicians in your shop need to find the root cause early. When too late you might have a need for replacing expensive parts. A speed sensor going bad and compensated by the software might start burning your transmission oil long before the engine light goes on. Ask the experts in your shop about space-age maintenance for your vehicle. Let them provide you with the right program to meet your service priorities (And don’t forget to quiz them about Max and the airbag light).

PS: Max is indeed the cause for the flashing airbag light. The airbag software detected the occupied seat. The person seems to move very erratically though (Max is jumping around in the back seat), which is not what the software expects humans would do. So it concludes a defect wire as cause and triggers the airbag light to flash.

PPS: Did you experience great and/or weird things with your car? Leave a comment in the section below. I’d like to help you exploring what is possible through electronics.

Uwe Kleinschmidt

4 Useful Benefits of Detailing Your Car

Detailing your car is a practical option to rejuvenate the paint work and keep the interior clean and fresh. A well presented car is easy to maintain and certain to sell better in the future. Here are a few benefits of detailing your car:

Promotes good health

Many vehicles are likely to be carrying millions of microscopic occupants. Allergens and germs are easily able to flourish in the warm and compact space of a car. The build up of food debris, dust and general dirt on the seats, upholstery and inside the cabin filter can soon lead to the growth microorganisms. A full vacuuming session will remove virtually all of these particles. Plus, the use of appropriate cleaning solutions will help to sterilize the interior surfaces. If you start to experience sneezing and sniffling after entering your car, it may be time to have a complete interior cleaned.

Car’s resale value

A car that is kept crisp and clean is that much easier to sell in the future. A car with drab-looking interior or coated in dirt and grime isn’t likely to give the desired impression to a prospective buyer. Also, the regular car care is certain to help maintain or even increase the potential resale value.

Remove marks

Detailing is the most practical option to rejuvenate the paint work by reducing or removing the signs of existing etching, scratches, swirls or fading. Also, this will help to protect the paint and give it long-term protection. Any containment left on the paint or other finishes (vinyl, chrome, leather, etc.) will slowly eat into the material and cause long-term damage.

Also, the car that is regularly detailed is easier to clean and retains its shine for longer. The repeated protective treatments are also useful for slowing the build up of dirt which is less able to stick to the slick and shiny surface.

Stunning looking finish

Whether it is a Ferrari or Fiesta, the detailed cars are given a stunning finish that is certain to stand out. Even for those that regularly give their car a wash and vacuum, the full detailing takes things to a new level for the most impressive look.

Overall, detailing your car isn’t a necessity, but is certain to help maintain the attractive look inside and outside the vehicle. While a normal car wash can benefit, this doesn’t always do enough to remove the most difficult blemishes and stains. This is only achieved with a regular detailing.

The Science of Car Cleaning Products

In most cases you can clean and protect your vehicle with just a few basic car cleaning products. In this article you will learn some of the science behind auto detailing supplies so you can clean your car the right way.

Soil can be organic, non-organic or petroleum. That’s important to know. If you can identify the soil you’re dealing with you can use the right cleaner. When you use the correct cleaner most stains come out with ease.

Take organic soil as an example. Organic basically means that it contains carbon. Stains in this group include proteins, animal fat, body oil, mold, yeast, insects, bacteria and excrement. The classic example is the batch of hot French fries your three year old spilled on the back seat. That’s an organic soil stain.

Non-organic soil does not have carbon molecules. Most often we find these stains on the exterior the vehicle. A good example that frustrates most of us from time-to-time are water spots from minerals. Acid rain spots fall into this category, as well.

Finally we get to petroleum. These soils come from substances that do not contain or cannot be mixed with water. Motor oil, grease and road tar are the most common petroleum soils. Note that chewing gum is also a petroleum soil.

Now that you are aware of the three types of stains we can begin to discuss cleaners. Let me tell you, there are a lot of them. Unfortunately, no one has invented a true all-purpose automotive cleaner. Due to the many different surfaces and soils, automotive cleaners are complex mixtures of chemicals blended for a particular type of surface or soil. The most common chemicals used include surfactants, solvents, wetting agents, saponifiers and chelators.

Soaps and detergents are made using a surfactant. It’s an agent that has two compounds. One molecule is attracted to the soil itself, while the other loves water. The compound that’s attracted to water is a hydrophile. Its job is to surround the soil. The soil attracting agent is a hydrophobe. Its purpose is to break up the soil so the hydrophile can get to it and make it float away.

All cleaners needs a solvent of one sort or another to dissolve dirt and carry it away. Some solvents, including mineral spirits, work on petroleum soils and may be necessary on surfaces damaged by water. Did you know that the most common solvent used in cleaners is water?

Speaking of water, any solution that has a water base or mixes with water has a pH level. The term pH is merely a measurement of the relationship between hydrogen ions and hydroxyl ions. When you have more hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ions, that’s an acid. Likewise, if you have more hydroxyl ions than hydrogen ions it’s an alkali. Knowing this is important because any cleaner that falls at either end of the pH scale can cause serious damage.

The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. The lower half of the scale represents acids and the upper half represents alkalis. As you might have guessed, water is neutral and has a pH of 7.0.

If you know the pH of a cleaner you will know where you can use it. A carpet shampoo should have a pH around 8 or 9, whereas an all-purpose wheel cleaner should be between 12 and 14. Try using a cleaner made for wheels on your car’s fabric and carpet will make a pretty big mess.

Now that you know the basics you can better understand why there are so many car cleaning products and auto detailing supplies. Your vehicle has many different surfaces and they have different cleaning requirements. You can avoid using harsh cleaners by using basic protection. Wax the exterior several times each year and protect the interior with appropriate products. For the ultimate in protection, use an outdoor car cover or a waterproof car cover when you park outside.

Car Ding Repair

A car ding repair is easy to do if you have a good auto ding repair kit. Such repair kits are not so expensive; about $30 and it’s really easy to used. Such automobile ding repair kids can be purchased at most stores selling car parts or car accessories. The task you have to do is to pull or remove glue from the surface on all panels of the vehicle and most of these cheap ding repair items for sale today are really working for this purpose if the dents or dings are not too big. For small and medium dents or dings, ding puller devices provides a simple, cost efficient removal. Fortunately there is no need to access the underside of the panel.

We see a trend today that more and more vehicle manufactures are using light gauge sheet metal in the construction of vehicles. In fact, it is not difficult to dent many new cars by simply leaning against them. The nice things about these dent/ding out, glue puller kits are that they give the do-it-your-selfers and car amateur enthusiasts a professional option to expensive dent removal services.

There are also different kinds of ding or dent repair kit and each of them offers a tool for specific damage. So you must know which repair kit you need for fixing your specific problem. This is no big deal however, because the only thing you have to do is to tell the sales person in the auto part or accessory store what you’ll need to do and he or she will find the dent fix kit for your needs. To cover yourself completely, you can buy several of them, thus having a tool for any ding or dent problem your car might incur. If you purchase three different ding or dent fix kits, you’ll have what you need for all types of dent repair.

How to use these kits? Here is what you do:

  • apply a bead of glue to the pulling nib
  • affix the nib to the lowest area of the dent you’re going to fix
  • the ding repair tool slips over the threaded stud
  • a wing nut tool is threaded down pulling the metal up
  • as soon as the dent is pulled out, a couple of drops of a release agent that normally is included in the kit is applied to the glue and the pulling nib will come right off.

These dent fix kits are inexpensive and easy to use and they will not damage your factory finish.

Everything You Should Know About Car Body Kits

Getting a personalized look for your car is only possible with the help of body kits. It has a custom front bumper, rear bumper and two side skirts. But a customized one also has front and rear lips, fender extenders, spoilers, air scoops etc.

One should always look for a kit which goes with the make and model of vehicle you have. By installing the right kit your car will get better mileage and you can also enjoy a safe drive on the roads.

When it comes to the body kits you can get it in different styles, materials and qualities. A lip, a bumper replacement and a wise body are the three different styles of kits available in the market. The right kit can help you get a dramatic change for your car. It not only modifies the look of your vehicle but also helps you enjoy a better ride.

Have a look at the different kinds:-

Kit 1

Lip Kit

A lip kit has a lip attached to the front bumper of the car. It also has a side skirt along with a lip used for rear bumper. These are one of the best kits available in the market. It’s attached to the factory bumper. The only problem is that it gives a very subtle change and won’t deliver the dramatic difference that they are exactly looking for.

Tip 2

Bumper Replacement Kit

The second most popular one is bumper replacement kit. It has both the front and rear bumpers which can give a quick makeover to your vehicle. It also has side skirts. The reason it has become popular among all auto enthusiasts is because of the dramatic difference it brings in your car.

Tip 3

Wide Body Kit

A wide body kit is one of the most expensive ones which can dramatically change the look of your car. It has replacement front bumper, replacement rear bumper, custom side skirts, new front fenders etc. You have to pay a little more price if you choose it.

Conclusion

These are some of the most important factors to consider when you are looking for a body kit. Buying a cheap kit is not the right option. It’s advisable to not choose such kits. Make sure to keep your requirements in mind when looking for a kit. Keep all these excellent tips in mind to choose the best one for your vehicle.

Good Luck!