Morin Brothers Automotive

San Luis Obispo Auto Repair

(805) 541-2407
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Category Archives: Driving green

Intensive Electronic Engine Managements Yields Lower Emissions, Greater Reliability, and Superior Fuel Economy

I replaced a Mass Air Flow sensor on a Volvo 850 yesterday. The diagnostic protocol I completed before condemning a $350 part reminded me once again how computers have taken over every aspect of engine management, up to and including “drive-by-wire” systems that actually control the throttle in response to inputs from the gas pedal, engine speed, gear range, etc. In other words, when you press on the gas, there is only an electrical connection to the engine from the pedal. Instead of a cable, there are two range sensors and a single redundant sensor to tell the computer how far down you have pushed the gas. The computer refers to its ‘look up’ tables and decides how much to open the throttle plate. Luckily for us there are redundant sensors and a ‘limp home’ mode that allows the car to be driven in event of a failure caused by an errant 44oz Coke. The Mass Air Flow sensor I replaced in the Volvo uses a precisely heated wire to tell the computer how ... read more

Categories:

Driving green

Bicycling as Transportation

The greenest form of transportation is attached to the bottom of your legs- your feet! The ‘carbon footprint’ of walking is about as small as it gets and it has the additional benefit of being healthy as well. However it takes time, and unless you only have a mile or less to go, getting around by foot can consume a large part of your day. Riding a bicycle, on the other hand, is a lot more efficient. Its’ carbon footprint is equally modest, and in small, relatively level cities like we have here in San Luis Obispo county, you can easily run errands and ride to work in less time than it takes to find a parking space. I began riding a bicycle regularly in my early forties, and have been a member of the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club (www.slobc.org) as well as several national cycling related organizations ever since. At first I learned a lot about cycling through trial and error, but when I began riding with more experienced riders I gained confidence, greater skill, and a ... read more

Categories:

Driving green

Engine Oil – A Necessary Evil

The oil that lives inside the engine of your car or truck is indeed a petroleum product and comes out of one of those sixty-six dollar barrels just like gasoline. It’s origin, use, and disposal has contributed to world wide environmental degradation just like it cousin, gasoline, and, like its’ cousin, it is a necessary part of daily driving. Inside your engine it lubricates in all temperatures, from Alaska to Death Valley, it prevents corrosion and oxidation, and carries away harmful by products of combustion including water, soot, particulates, and raw gas, all the while allowing itself to be ignored by everyone but the most conscientious driver. Recommended replacement intervals for this hard-working substance are all over the map. Car manufacturers are typically recommending intervals of 7500 to 10,000 miles. Click and Clack of “Car Talk” fame recommend 5000 miles. We at Morin Brothers and most “quick lube” franchises recommend 3000 miles. So who is right? The best ... read more

Categories:

Driving green

Priorities in choosing a new car

I’m a car guy, so automotive related stuff always catches me eye. New Times "man in the street" question last week was "If you could purchase a new car today, what would your number one priority be?" Two out of five said "Power, definitely power". One said style, one economy, and one (if I recall correctly) was happy if it just started every time. This gives us a pretty good idea why many of the car ads feature bigger engines and more horsepower and only a few promote their economy. We also get a quick lesson as to why fuel efficiency has been such a hard sell and why many of the new hybrids are actually more powerful than the cars they are meant to replace. Despite the huge jump in fuel prices and the environmental penalty, drivers are still opting for style and power over economy. Short of a huge shift in the American psyche, what can we do as individuals to "drive green"? First off, if we have a car we depend on, we should keep it in the best running order possible ... read more

Categories:

Driving green