cars and how they get that way

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Andrew
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Andrew » 26 Mar 2012, 09:05

The check engine light in my 4Runner came on. Shit.
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Kolohe
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Kolohe » 26 Mar 2012, 10:38

Typically, it's just* the O2 sensor for the catalytic converter.


*'just' in the sense that it's a straightforward, but normally couple hundred dollar repair.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 26 Mar 2012, 10:56

It can also be stupid crap like "You didn't tighten the gas cap enough".

Unless you have an emissions inspection coming up soon or the engine starts running poorly, you can likely ignore it until it's more convenient.
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Andrew
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Andrew » 26 Mar 2012, 22:12

I would ignore it, but I have emissions testing in a month. It turned out to be a throttle sensor and $100 to fix. I also took the opportunity to have some 150,000-mile maintenance done. Now I should be all set for my trip to Utahn wilderness in May.
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Highway
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 10 Jul 2012, 13:28

So yesterday the wife's car wouldn't start, and as suspected it was a dead battery: Installed in 2005, and the car gets very little driving. Like the last time it went anywhere was last Wednesday. So not out of the ordinary. Jumped it, drove it around enough to get enough of a charge in it to not have to jump it again, and then took it to the shop this morning. I still go to the dealer because their prices are competitive enough for me, and because Honda's are notorious for strange things that make them difficult to work on, and I don't want to get surprised by some inaccessible bolt underneath the battery that needs to be removed first when it's half disassembled.

So the point of the story is that I got the big upsell (not surprising) for a new timing belt and drive belts, along with water pump. Fairly expected, as the car is 11 years old with 75,000 miles on the original belts. But it also fit into something I've heard elsewhere and wanted to relay: Dealerships (and really all repair shops) are going to be really pushing the upsells for more maintenance. The trough of new cars sold in 2009 from Carmageddon is now really reaching into the profit center of dealerships (I've heard that typically, 50% of revenues for a dealership come from new sales, 50% from service. But 95% of profits come from the service and parts department). There are just a lot less cars reaching that point where they start needing some maintenance out there. What that means is that they are going to be a bit more pushy to get you to get that extra thing fixed.

Don't just reject what they say, but realize that dire warnings might be a bit exaggerated.
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JD
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by JD » 13 Aug 2012, 14:35

A question about manual transmission cars: is it normal for the travel of the clutch to be really long? I've only driven one manual car, but the brake felt about like brakes normally do, the gas pedal felt about like the gas pedal usually does, and the clutch felt like its travel, from all the way out to all the way in, was about 3x as long as either the gas or the brake. Or was that just a quirk of this particular car, or just a psychological factor of not being as used to it? (The car was a Nissan something-or-other, I think.)

It made me understand a little more why you're always given the advice to make sure the clutch is all the way in, but it also made using the clutch feel more difficult and fatiguing.
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Highway
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 13 Aug 2012, 14:49

Yes clutch travel is generally long, although the take-up point (where you start getting friction between the clutch plate and the flywheel) is variable somewhere on that travel. Some cars have it very close to the top of the pedal, while others have it more mid-pedal. The sensitivity (how much pedal travel from take-up point to full engagement) can also be variable. But there's usually a significant amount of extra space on the bottom of the pedal travel to make sure that the clutch is fully disengaged, because it's way better to have a little extra travel than to have it not clear.

And it'll feel a bit of an ordeal for you just starting out with it, because 1) you've never used your left foot for anything while driving except tapping along to the radio or holding the brake while you scratch your right foot and 2) because you're learning, so you probably went through a lot more starts and stops than you normally would driving, because driving along with a manual transmission isn't much different from an automatic, except it's harder to hold a coffee cup in your right hand.

I haven't driven a stick shift car for quite a few years, but I do remember some general tips for driving around. This will not be applicable to your track day, but if you decide you love the experience and get one: 1) While downshifting and engine braking may be cool to do, brake pads are MUCH cheaper than any maintenance on a clutch or synchros. 2) when going over bumpy things like railroad tracks or speed humps, it's best to have the transmission out of gear and the clutch engaged (off the pedal) to avoid shocks through the transmission. Again, transmission and clutch repairs are expensive compared to pretty much anything else in the car.

Oh, and never ride the clutch. Foot should always be off of it unless you're pressing the pedal. :)
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Jadagul
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Jadagul » 13 Aug 2012, 23:45

Agreed; clutch travel is really big. (This is actually why my mom stopped driving standards; she's pretty short, and when she was pregnant with me the belly pushed her so far away from the steering wheel that she couldn't actually get the clutch all the way down). But the relevant part of the travel is fairly small--after you drive a car for a bit you get a sense of where the clutch actually engages.

I do ride my clutch, actually--I'm lazy and just leave my foot on the pedal to right above where the clutch starts engaging at all. I doubt it's causing problems since the car operates exactly the same whether I'm off the pedal totally or riding it, but I could be wrong.

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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 14 Aug 2012, 00:15

It doesn't make an operational difference... until it does. And that time is sooner if you've been riding the clutch pedal. You're putting constant pressure on the throwout bearing which increases wear on that part, and likely also reducing the amount of normal force for the clutch plate and the flywheel, which leads to increased wear there as well, and therefore it will start to slip more quickly than if you had kept your foot off of it. And pretty much any part of a clutch assembly needing a repair means you're paying for the entire clutch assembly to be repaired.

Basically, you're needlessly wearing out your car faster than you could be. Maybe you get rid of it before you have to replace the clutch, but that just means the guy who gets it is going to have to replace it sooner than he otherwise would have.
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Jadagul
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Jadagul » 14 Aug 2012, 03:37

So is the idea that depressing the clutch is putting pressure on the throwout bearing, but not enough for it to actually move the pressure plate? So it doesn't affect the way the engine interacts with anything but it puts strain on other parts inside the transmission?

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Highway
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 14 Aug 2012, 08:57

Jadagul wrote:So is the idea that depressing the clutch is putting pressure on the throwout bearing, but not enough for it to actually move the pressure plate? So it doesn't affect the way the engine interacts with anything but it puts strain on other parts inside the transmission?
It'll even reduce the friction on the pressure plate a small amount, depending on how heavy your foot is on the pedal. And it's not noticeable when everything's in good shape, but as it wears, the clutch will start slipping earlier than it would have otherwise, so that's how it affects the way the clutch assembly works and interacts with the engine.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by lunchstealer » 14 Aug 2012, 13:34

Highway wrote:
Jadagul wrote:So is the idea that depressing the clutch is putting pressure on the throwout bearing, but not enough for it to actually move the pressure plate? So it doesn't affect the way the engine interacts with anything but it puts strain on other parts inside the transmission?
It'll even reduce the friction on the pressure plate a small amount, depending on how heavy your foot is on the pedal. And it's not noticeable when everything's in good shape, but as it wears, the clutch will start slipping earlier than it would have otherwise, so that's how it affects the way the clutch assembly works and interacts with the engine.
I've developed what I suspect is a bad habit at stoplights. I tend to leave the car in gear with the clutch fully depressed, even if I am aware that I will be waiting at the light for a while. When I notice myself doing it I take the car out of gear and release the clutch pedal completely, on the theory that keeping the pedal depressed when idling at a stoplight is putting wear on the throwout bearing. Is that the case, or am I just being paranoid?
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 14 Aug 2012, 14:43

lunchstealer wrote:I've developed what I suspect is a bad habit at stoplights. I tend to leave the car in gear with the clutch fully depressed, even if I am aware that I will be waiting at the light for a while. When I notice myself doing it I take the car out of gear and release the clutch pedal completely, on the theory that keeping the pedal depressed when idling at a stoplight is putting wear on the throwout bearing. Is that the case, or am I just being paranoid?
Yes, that's the case (and also wear on the spring assembly). The clutch is always better out than in. Basically, every second your foot is on that pedal, it's wearing it out. Now, you'll save a little bit of gas if you keep it in gear as you brake / coast to a stop at a light, then take it out of gear just before the engine starts to complain that the revs are too low (since modern engine management will keep the engine turning with less fuel at closed throttle by using the momentum of the car rather than idling), but that's not much.

And one of the worst things to do is to hold your car on an incline using the clutch. That's what brakes are for. The clutch is for going from stopped to moving, and for changing gears. Brakes are simple, easily checked, easily replaced, and very effective. The clutch is complicated, hard to diagnose (most problems will require taking it apart), difficult (and commensurately expensive) to replace, and second best (at most) at anything besides allowing you to change gears and go from stopped to moving.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by lunchstealer » 14 Aug 2012, 15:44

Highway wrote:
lunchstealer wrote:I've developed what I suspect is a bad habit at stoplights. I tend to leave the car in gear with the clutch fully depressed, even if I am aware that I will be waiting at the light for a while. When I notice myself doing it I take the car out of gear and release the clutch pedal completely, on the theory that keeping the pedal depressed when idling at a stoplight is putting wear on the throwout bearing. Is that the case, or am I just being paranoid?
Yes, that's the case (and also wear on the spring assembly). The clutch is always better out than in. Basically, every second your foot is on that pedal, it's wearing it out. Now, you'll save a little bit of gas if you keep it in gear as you brake / coast to a stop at a light, then take it out of gear just before the engine starts to complain that the revs are too low (since modern engine management will keep the engine turning with less fuel at closed throttle by using the momentum of the car rather than idling), but that's not much.

And one of the worst things to do is to hold your car on an incline using the clutch. That's what brakes are for. The clutch is for going from stopped to moving, and for changing gears. Brakes are simple, easily checked, easily replaced, and very effective. The clutch is complicated, hard to diagnose (most problems will require taking it apart), difficult (and commensurately expensive) to replace, and second best (at most) at anything besides allowing you to change gears and go from stopped to moving.
Yeah, I've only been driving stick with any regularity (and thus any actual skill development) for about a year. I have occasionally done the clutch-on-a-hill thing for short periods as an exercise to build my confidence on starts-on-hills, but not often.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 14 Aug 2012, 15:59

lunchstealer wrote:Yeah, I've only been driving stick with any regularity (and thus any actual skill development) for about a year. I have occasionally done the clutch-on-a-hill thing for short periods as an exercise to build my confidence on starts-on-hills, but not often.
Yay, story time! I learned to drive a stick in our 1987 Plymouth Grand Voyager (yeah, the first year they had the extended wheelbase minivans). That was also right after I turned 16 and got my license. So that summer we went to South Dakota on a road trip, and I helped share driving duties (because at 16 I was a better driver than my mom). We visited some family while we were out there, and somehow I ended up with a full van, at a stop sign, facing up the top of a pretty steep hill. So I got some under fire tutelage on using the parking brake to hold the car while you rev the engine and get the clutch to the take-up point.

I don't know if I've used a parking-brake start on a stick since then, but I did manage to get it that time.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by JD » 14 Aug 2012, 16:29

Driving in San Francisco, with its famous hills, I was a little startled to encounter some hills so steep that I had to squeal the tires to accelerate away from an uphill-facing stop sign...in an automatic. Didn't think about using the handbrake, but maybe I should have.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Kolohe » 14 Aug 2012, 16:30

Yeah, I learned that thing on the fly too when I first got my Rx-8 w/ de minimus stick experience and had to go up this hill http://goo.gl/maps/Sdq7q the first time to go hiking.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 14 Aug 2012, 16:44

JD wrote:Driving in San Francisco, with its famous hills, I was a little startled to encounter some hills so steep that I had to squeal the tires to accelerate away from an uphill-facing stop sign...in an automatic. Didn't think about using the handbrake, but maybe I should have.
If you can left-foot-brake, then it's not necessary. Just hold the car with the left foot on the brake, rev the engine up until you start to feel it pull against the hill, and ease off the brake. The main reason for the parking brake method with a stick is because you don't have 3 feet to hold the brake down while you feather the clutch and rev the engine. And heel-and-toe'ing it is not really appropriate in that instance (good for a quick blip on the throttle to match revs on a downshift if you're performance driving).
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Mo » 14 Aug 2012, 18:51

I once used a steep hill near where I grew up to push start my friend's car... with an automatic. I do not recommend this trick.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by pistoffnick » 19 Aug 2012, 12:27

lunchstealer wrote:
Highway wrote:
Jadagul wrote:So is the idea that depressing the clutch is putting pressure on the throwout bearing, but not enough for it to actually move the pressure plate? So it doesn't affect the way the engine interacts with anything but it puts strain on other parts inside the transmission?
It'll even reduce the friction on the pressure plate a small amount, depending on how heavy your foot is on the pedal. And it's not noticeable when everything's in good shape, but as it wears, the clutch will start slipping earlier than it would have otherwise, so that's how it affects the way the clutch assembly works and interacts with the engine.
I've developed what I suspect is a bad habit at stoplights. I tend to leave the car in gear with the clutch fully depressed, even if I am aware that I will be waiting at the light for a while. When I notice myself doing it I take the car out of gear and release the clutch pedal completely, on the theory that keeping the pedal depressed when idling at a stoplight is putting wear on the throwout bearing. Is that the case, or am I just being paranoid?
I feel it is better to leave the car in gear with the clutch pedal depressed. That way if the car behind you (or the car behind the car behind you) doesn't stop, you have an escape plan. Only after the two cars behind me have come to a complete stop do I take it out of gear and release the clutch pedal.

I drive a stick every day during the summer. I am very familiar with the shifting pattern. And I still fuck up the gear selection every so often. Better to wear the drivetrain a little than to not be in gear when you need to be in gear.

This actually saved me once in Kansas City. I saw the car behind my motorcycle screech to a halt. Then I saw the car behind him screech to a halt and rear end the car behind me. I let out the clutch and moved forward and to the right. The car behind me would have sent me flying into the intersection if I hadn't.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Number 6 » 20 Aug 2012, 14:26

Highway wrote:Yes clutch travel is generally long, although the take-up point (where you start getting friction between the clutch plate and the flywheel) is variable somewhere on that travel. Some cars have it very close to the top of the pedal, while others have it more mid-pedal. The sensitivity (how much pedal travel from take-up point to full engagement) can also be variable. But there's usually a significant amount of extra space on the bottom of the pedal travel to make sure that the clutch is fully disengaged, because it's way better to have a little extra travel than to have it not clear.

And it'll feel a bit of an ordeal for you just starting out with it, because 1) you've never used your left foot for anything while driving except tapping along to the radio or holding the brake while you scratch your right foot and 2) because you're learning, so you probably went through a lot more starts and stops than you normally would driving, because driving along with a manual transmission isn't much different from an automatic, except it's harder to hold a coffee cup in your right hand.

I haven't driven a stick shift car for quite a few years, but I do remember some general tips for driving around. This will not be applicable to your track day, but if you decide you love the experience and get one: 1) While downshifting and engine braking may be cool to do, brake pads are MUCH cheaper than any maintenance on a clutch or synchros. 2) when going over bumpy things like railroad tracks or speed humps, it's best to have the transmission out of gear and the clutch engaged (off the pedal) to avoid shocks through the transmission. Again, transmission and clutch repairs are expensive compared to pretty much anything else in the car.

Oh, and never ride the clutch. Foot should always be off of it unless you're pressing the pedal. :)
I disagree with point 1. If you know how to double clutch, then downshifts are not hard on the clutch or the synchros. In fact, I'd say that double clutching is an essential stick-driving skill.
On number 2-I've never heard that, and honestly don't see the logic, but I'm happy to listen.
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Highway
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Highway » 20 Aug 2012, 14:40

Number 6 wrote:
Highway wrote:I haven't driven a stick shift car for quite a few years, but I do remember some general tips for driving around. This will not be applicable to your track day, but if you decide you love the experience and get one: 1) While downshifting and engine braking may be cool to do, brake pads are MUCH cheaper than any maintenance on a clutch or synchros. 2) when going over bumpy things like railroad tracks or speed humps, it's best to have the transmission out of gear and the clutch engaged (off the pedal) to avoid shocks through the transmission. Again, transmission and clutch repairs are expensive compared to pretty much anything else in the car.

Oh, and never ride the clutch. Foot should always be off of it unless you're pressing the pedal. :)
I disagree with point 1. If you know how to double clutch, then downshifts are not hard on the clutch or the synchros. In fact, I'd say that double clutching is an essential stick-driving skill.
On number 2-I've never heard that, and honestly don't see the logic, but I'm happy to listen.
For car driving, you're probably much better off heel-and-toe'ing in a single clutch application than double clutching, if you're going to bother with engine braking, but for most people, it's just unnecessary wear, and something that can go very badly wrong. And especially from passenger car speeds in typical distances, the brakes are much more effective than the engine braking.

The logic for number 2 is that the clutch pack is much more robust when the clutch is out and everything is pressed together tight. Having the car out of gear is just an extra precaution, to make sure that shocks aren't transmitted back through the gears to the clutch and engine. If you have the engine fighting the wheels in high impulse situations, that's more likely to damage something in the gearbox.
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Number 6 » 20 Aug 2012, 17:16

Even with just braking, there's still a downshift in there somewhere. I tend to heel and toe every slowing downshift (most plain double-clutch shifts are for acceleration), and because I know how to match revs, I'm quite certain there's no more wear to the clutch plates or the synchros. Downshifting without rev matching, I agree is horrible abuse of the car.

How does one heel and toe without a double clutch?
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by lunchstealer » 20 Aug 2012, 17:21

Number 6 wrote:Even with just braking, there's still a downshift in there somewhere. I tend to heel and toe every slowing downshift (most plain double-clutch shifts are for acceleration), and because I know how to match revs, I'm quite certain there's no more wear to the clutch plates or the synchros. Downshifting without rev matching, I agree is horrible abuse of the car.

How does one heel and toe without a double clutch?
I don't have the rev-match skill yet, but I only use downshifting to get into the power band for passing or hillclimbing, or for long-grade engine braking to save the brakes. However, the car I'm using almost never gets used for trips into the mountains, and if it were, it's so boxy and light that I doubt engine braking would be necessary.
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Jadagul
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Re: cars and how they get that way

Post by Jadagul » 20 Aug 2012, 21:04

I actually have a friend who lives in the foothills of Altadena, and the slope from there to Pasadena is quite steep. On the drive back down from her place I leave the car in second and periodically have to tap the brakes to keep my speed below 40.

I'm quite irritated, though, that as far as I can tell my car has the gas and brake pedals laid out to make heel-and-toe very difficult. (I don't remember how; I just remember having trouble even getting my foot in a position to touch both, not worrying about any of the rest of the coordination).

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