Technical aspects of automobiles

Archive for August, 2011

avoiding cold starts

First, are these assumptions correct?
(1) Starting a car when the engine is cold puts alot more stress on it
than when it’s already warm.
(2) And the colder it is, the more stress.

Because i’ve always assumed the above, I do the following, but I want
to verify whether it’s really worth it and doing any good…noone else
that I  know does this.

If I know I"m going to cold-start and then drive to  a destination that
is only a short distance (less than 5 miles) and then a second
destination a short time later,  rather than go to the first
destination and turn off the engine off right away (before it’s reached
full operating temps, at least based on the "thermometer" on the dash),
 I’ll usually drive around a little bit more, or let the engine run for
about more minutes, before turning it off……..since I know i have to
re-start it in less than an hour to go to my second destination….so
tha when i re-start it the engine should still be warm.

Also, in other cases, if after reaching the first destination with the
engine not fully hot…., rather than turn it off, i’ll just leave the
car and let the engine run (if it’s just a short stop over, like 5
minutes) and then go on to my 2nd destination.

I’m wondering whether i’m doing any good by this.

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Rear end Codes

I am restoring a 68 CHevelle.  The car is not all original particularly
the rear end.  I have the codes but I am having trouble finding what
car the rear end came from and what it is supposed to go into.

Any suggestions (besides Hollinger) where I could find the code


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1985 Honda Accord, Frozen Caliper Slider

My girlfriend has a ’85 Accord and the front right caliper won’t slide.
 The Piston still works.

Called around and we can’t get the bracket, but we can get the caliper.
 What’s the recommended way to replace this?  Can I unfreeze the
bracket, and if I do, will it still be OK to use with a new caliper and
pins?  What’s the best way to unfreeze the bracket (already tried
penetrating oil)?  Do we need a new caliper, or can I just get the pins
and the rubber bushings (they’re done for).


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Changing head gasket on a Legacy Outback 1996 2.5L engine

I think I have a leaking head gasket on my Legacy Outback 1996 (2.5L),
and I’ve decided to change it myself. I got the Haynes repair manual,
but a few things are not very clear and I was hoping to get some advice
from people on this list about the following points:

1. manual says that the procedure can be carried out without getting
the engine out, but that it is difficult. What is difficult about it?
The head bolts are easily accessible, but I’m a bit worried about how
long they are. If they were too long, I guess it would just be
impossible to take them out because they would bump against the side of
the engine compartment.

2. the manual says that the engine can be lifted by putting a jack
under the oil pan. Wouldn’t one need to disconnect the engine from the
transaxle first? (The manual doesn’t say anything about that).

3. do I need to remove the A/C compressor? The manual just says to
remove the compressor bracket, but I’m not sure the hoses are flexible
enough to get the compressor out of the way while removing the intake

4. I will be changing the timing belt at the same time. I was wondering
why I should position the engine at TDC for cylinder 1? Can’t I just
mark the position of camshaft sprockets, remove the old belt, put the
new one on, and make sure that sprockets are still in the same

5. Incidentally, is cylinder 1 on the left or on the right while
looking at the engine? The diagrams in the Haynes book do not have a
legend to indicate how they are oriented.

6. I have been told by someone who carried out this procedure on a
really old Volvo engine that valves need to be adjusted whenever the
head gasket is changed. I presume that doesn’t apply to me, and I don’t
have to worry about valves at all. Is that correct?

Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide!

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Odd Turn Signal Problem – 2000 Focus

My 2000 Ford Focus SE has developed an odd problem. The turn signal wants
to flash left. Driving down the road, the left turn signal will come on.
You can stop it by pushing in on the end of the turn signal, or by applying
upward pressure or slight downward pressure. This is the second time this
has happened. The first time, I took the shroud off of the steering column,
hoping to remove and fix whatever was wrong. I couldn’t see how to remove
the turn signal lever assembly, and when I got the shroud back on, the
problem was gone. (And I am not comfortable working on the steering column
with the air bag sitting in front of my face!)

Anyone have a link to instructions for removing the turn signal lever?
Or a suggestion of what is wrong and how to fix it? I think this would be
expensive at the dealer.

(This account is not used for email.)

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2006 Chrysler Pacifica

In eraly Novememer 2006, I bought a new 2006 Chrysler Pacifica with 14
miles on it.  These are some of the problems I’ve realized with the

- Heated seat not working in second row behind driver’s seat
– Second row seats do not tumble from 3rd row
– Car veers to the right; alignment may be necesary
– Selecting AUX mode on the CD/DVD to listen to the iPod connected to
the RCA jacks doesn’t work all the time

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Best SUVs – Consumer Reports

The new Mercedes-Benz GL- and R-Class luxury sport utility vehicles
outpointed competitors from Volvo, Audi, and Cadillac in tests for the
November issue of Consumer Reports.  The GL- and R-Class posted "Very
Good" overall scores in tests against the Volvo XC90, Audi Q7, and
new 2007 Cadillac Escalade. Though the Volvo, Audi, and Cadillac
finished lower in the scoring, those three vehicles still posted
"Very Good" scores.

To read the full text, please go to:

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1996 Pontiac firebird not starting

Hi, I have another problem with another car!!!  When you  turn the key
in the ignition, the car won’t start.  It just makes a clicking noise
and that’s it.  We think it might be the alternator.  We have replaced
the battery just a few weeks ago, and 2 years ago we replaced the spark
plugs and some coils (I believe).  Any help on this would be
great!!!!!!!  Thanks.

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Is the ESI-687 a current probe or a DMM?

We need a current probe for checking out fuel injectors using a
voltage-only scope. After looking at all the usual offerings on eBay, I
came upon a really nifty unit, the ESI-678, which USA Tool Warehouse is
offering as both a low amp current probe and a DMM for a good price
(search for item # 120045454746).

However, checking on the Electronic Specialties page ( ), it IS listed in the Amp Probe section
but no mention is made about the device having an output that can be
connected to a scope, type of connector on the cable (BNC or banana),
much less the output conversion (i.e., X mV per Amp). Granted, it does
seem to be a very competent DMM, but we already have one and we need the
probe function.

Wrote USA Tool Warehouse, but they only replied with the test ranges,
which we already knew. Wrote ESI, got no reply.

Can anyone having one of these instruments tell me if it is really a
probe or just a DMM?


John Courcoul

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