Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Starbucks for $7? Phew...

$7 Starbucks Geisha coffee?  Yawn.  When Starbucks starts selling Kopi luwak, then I'll be impressed.

Monday, November 26, 2012 gift certificates are lame

Someone gave me a gift of a gift certificate.  It entitles me to purchase like $50 with of dining coupons.

The problem is, there are all sorts of restrictions.  Every restaurant I see in my area that I would care to visit has large minimum orders, "dine-in only", "at least 2 entrees", etc.  

Too many strings.  

My advice: don't bother giving people these things, they're lame.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How To Use A Cheap Air Impact Wrench

I picked up a cheap air impact wrench from a certain retailer of cheap tools (rhymes with beers).  It is rated for up to 400 ft-lbs of torque, supposedly.

When I connected it to my 6 gallon "pancake" air compressor, and tried to use it to loosen my car's lug nuts, it was unable to budge them.  In fact, I could hold the socket with my hand, and feel that it was really feeble.

Then I read the instructions.  The recommended air hose is 3/8"ID, while my hose is a 1/4" ID, and I also have 1/4" fittings all around.  No wonder, the small hose and fittings are so restrictive, the impact wrench probably doesn't get enough air flow to do its thing.

So I went to Home Depot (which is like a pilgrimage site for me, I circle it's aisles many times...) and picked up a modestly priced 3/8" ID hose, as well as some 3/8" "automotive" fittings.  By the way, the 3/8" fitting kits were more expensive than the hose itself!

At home, I removed one of the quick connects from my pancake compressor and using some nylon plumbers tape to make a good seal, screwed on the huge 3/8" automotive connector.  Then I put the matching bits on my hose, and on my air wrench.

Now, the air impact wrench whacks off the lug nuts like a champ.  The air flow is obviously much improved--running the air gun continuously will drain my 6 gallon air tank in about 30s.  Which is why the instructions recommend a 20gal tank.

But don't let that dissuade you.  If you only need to use your air impact once in a while (like me, to rotate my tires), it will work.  You may have to give your compressor a little bit time in between pairs of nuts to rebuild its pressure.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Ethanol Mandate...

The ethanol mandate is idiotic and should be scrapped.  Not waived, or delayed, but killed.

Making fuel from food crops is basically a price support (read: corporate welfare) for corn farmers, at the expense of other consumers of corn.  The much anticipated cellulosic ethanol production that President George W. Bush anticipated when he signed the mandate has not materialized.  

In other words, we all pay more for food, so we can put ethanol in our gas, and make some farmers more money.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tesla COTY Reminds Me Of...

Tesla's Model S winning the Motortend Car Of The Year award reminds me of another premature award, when the Nobel Prize committee awarded a newly elected Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, apparently for things he was going to do.

I'm not saying the S isn't a great car, it might be, based on the few professional reviews that have been published.  Only a few hundred Model S have been shipped to end consumers so far, and Tesla is still producing only a couple hundred cars a week.  The S is not yet in what you would call "mass production".  

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Suzuki Packs It In

American Suzuki is filing for bankruptcy protection, and the mother ship (Suzuki Motor Corp) is leaving the U.S. market.  This is not a surprise, as Suzuki's cars never really took off, and the brand remained nearly invisible.

If I had to pick a next brand to go, I think I would pick Smart (998 sales in Oct 2012) or Mitsubishi (3,981 sales in Oct 2012).

Monday, November 05, 2012

Did Hyundai Cook Their MPG Numbers?

Did Hyundai cook their MPG numbers on purpose?  

Peter DeLorenzo, blogging over at The Autoextremist, makes the bold and blunt accusation that Hyundai purposely tweaked their calculations so they would claim 40mpg on several vehicles, for marketing purposes.

I'm not sure I would put that over on Hyundai.  They aren't some Chinese striver, desperately trying to break into the western market, packing their stuff with melamine and lead.  Hyundai is a serious, and very successful company, and they know full well the marketing damage and bad press that would come from cooking the numbers.   They were also aware that the EPA spot-checks fuel economy and emissions certification claims with their own testing.

No serious automaker would risk an embarrassing public EPA scolding, fines, and class action lawsuits to get from 38mpg to 40mpg, the risks are too great.

I have huge respect for DeLorenzo's opinion, but I think he's just flinging mud here.

My theory is that Hyundai's engineers either mis-interpreted the test procedure for fuel economy, with regards to the dynamometer setup, or perhaps messed up their testing methodology for obtaining some aspect of the road load calibration such as the air drag coefficient or road friction term.   Since the error was in their favor, they didn't challenge their results.  You can bet that if Hyundai was getting 36mpg instead of an expected 38mpg, they would have reviewed their procedures very closely.

Obama Vs. Romney: Who Is Better For Auto Industry?

Is Obama or Romney better for the auto industry?

It is true that Obama saved GM and Chrysler from a possibly very messy end, by forcing them into a government financed bankruptcy.  And it is true that Romney came out against government funding for the bankruptcy.  I think that if Romney were president at the time, and his advisors were telling him that a million jobs could be lost, he would have figured out a way to fund a quick-rinse bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler.  Probably, Romney would have not favored the UAW and threw the private bondholders under the bus as badly as Obama did.

But that is in the past.   The American public will not  approve of another bail-out of the auto industry, no matter who is president.  If GM or Chrysler fall down again, they will have to go it alone.

Going forward, who is better for the industry?

I believe that Romney is better based on his promise to back off of intrusive regulation, and aggressively pursue free trade agreements with major partners.  I think under Romney, the EPA will be reigned in somewhat, and who knows, maybe the CARB could be put in its place with some carefully crafted legislation. 

I also think Romney will be better for industry sales.  If he is successful with his economic growth agenda, I would expect sales to increase.

Friday, November 02, 2012

More Fisker Fires

Not good for Fisker.

Jalopnik has photos of 16 Karmas that burned out after being submerged by the rising seas caused by hurricane Sandy.

That's 16, at the same time and place, all of them failed the same way. 

This points to a design flaw... some electrical connector, which is energized at all times, is not sufficiently protected from water intrusion.  Or, perhaps, the battery pack itself is not properly designed against submersion.   Either way, it is more bad news for Fisker, and possibly for anyone who wants to insure a Fisker.

Inline image 1
Photo courtesy of Jalopnik

Hyundai's MPG Mistake


Hyundai is under investigation by the EPA for over-estimating the fuel economy, on the Monroney (consumer info) sticker, by about 3%, affecting about 900,000 vehicles.

This is going to be a very expensive mistake for Hyundai, in cash and market perception.  And with a big election so close, I can only assume EPA is going to hammer them with fines.

Sung Hwan Cho, president of Hyundai America Technical Center Inc., said the company in 2010 changed testing procedures to calculate road resistance that accidentally overestimated the fuel economy.

So what happened?  It sounds like Hyundai screwed up their dynamometer calibration for road loads.   In order to get a close match between road performance and lab results, Carmakers calculate numerical coefficients which are used to estimate the effect of air resistance, rolling resistance, vehicle inertia, etc. on a vehicle on the road.  These coefficients are used to correct the load that a chassis dyno puts on a vehicle, so that the fuel economy and emissions results are a reasonable match to real world performance.

With this change, Hyundai can't brag about having so many 40mpg vehicles.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ford Announcement: Fields COO, Farley to head Lincoln

This morning, Bill Ford Jr. and Alan Mulally announced that Mark Fields was going to be promoted to Chief Operating Officer, reporting to Mulally. The heads of Ford's various organizations would report to Fields, but the heads of HR, and Finance would report to Mulally.  

I have met Mark Fields once, at an industry event, a few years ago, during his "Bold Moves" effort.  I only spoke to him very briefly, but from his demeanor I got the impression that he is a very bright guy, very driven, and a bit cocky.  I also have the sense that he has an aggressive, competitive edge to him, more of a "hard charger" than you see from Alan Mulally.  

I think Mark Fields will serve Ford well.  He was partly responsible for the Ford Fusion, which helped save the company, product-wise, in the late 2000's.  

I was surprised to see that Farley was put in charge of Lincoln as well as Marketing and Sales.  It seems like a really big job--both global marketing for Ford and running the Lincoln brand are huge jobs.  I hope he can pull it off, because Lincoln really needs help.