What Are Brake Calipers
Brake calipers are an important component of your car’s braking system and play a vital role in slowing or stopping the vehicle. The majority of cars these days have disc brakes, if not in all the wheels then in the front wheel for sure.
The brake caliper contains your car’s brake pads and pistons. Its job is to slow the car’s wheels by making friction with the brake rotors. In a disc-braking system the car’s wheels are connected to metal discs, or rotors, that spin along side the wheels.
The brake caliper fits like a clamp on a wheels’ rotor to prevent the wheel from turning once you step on the brakes. Once you push the brake pedal, brake fluid creates pressure on pistons inside the brake caliper, forcing the pads against the brake rotor and decelerating your car.
Types of brake calipers
Brake calipers come in two types — Floating (Sliding) and Fixed. Floating calipers function in relative motion to the rotor, moving in and out as per the rotor’s motion. They house one or two pistons only, located on the inboard side of the rotor. The piston pushes the caliper when the brakes are applied. This in turn enables the brake pads to create friction on both sides of the rotor.
Fixed calipers, going by their name, are stationary. They have pistons on the opposite sides of the rotor. In some high end cars, fixed calipers also have two or more pair of pistons on the opposing ends, often known as pots.
While fixed calipers are more costly than floating ones, they are more performance oriented. This is why fixed calipers are found in most of the sports and supercars as they do a wonderful job in stopping cars at a fast speed.
Maintaining your brake calipers
When you apply your car’s brakes, there is a substantial amount of heat generated inside the braking system. This not only wear and tears the system but also weakens or in some cases breaks down the seals of the caliper.
On the other hand, if you don’t take your car for a spin regularly, there are chances that your calipers might rust, get contaminated or even start to leak brake fluid! While all these are a bit hard to notice at first sight, here are some tell tale signs that your car’s brake calipers need to be checked at once:
- Your brakes make a squeaking or grinding noise when applied,
- The antilock braking system (ABS) warning light turns on your dash,
- There are sudden jerks while applying brakes,
- Your brake pedal is either too soft or too hard,
- You need to constantly pump your brakes for them to function,
- There is leakage of brake fluids around the engine or wheels.
The key to maintaining brake calipers is replacing them immediately if any of the above mentioned symptoms show up. They can be bought as new parts or even as good quality second hand or replacement parts. Almost all private garages offer you replacement brake calipers with great quality, safety and durability.
Self Driving Cars – For the past three to four decades, humans have constantly imagined a future of autonomous flying cars. While our automobiles are yet to take off to the skies, we have very nearly arrived to the future where self driving cars will be the norm. As we had our first well-publicized fatal accident involving a self-driving Volvo car, we have more questions about mobility staring at us than ever before.
One of the first questions that pops in our minds with respect to the recent accident is that who is to be blamed for this? Is it the driver or is it the AI that ran the vehicle? While a lot of articles claim that it was the woman who jumped in front of the car with her bicycle suddenly, the possibility of her life being saved had the Uber been driven by a human cannot be ignored.
Some other unanswered questions that arise are why couldn’t the autonomous car avoid contact with the pedestrian? Was it because of a failure in the sensors or with an AI? Did the human driver take the appropriate measures to avoid a crash?
In a thought experiment by TedEd, the ethical dilemma of a self driving car is explored in depth. Let us assume, you are enjoying your Sunday meal in a fully autonomous car. Suddenly some heavy goods in a truck right in front of you fall down. On the left of your car is a biker wearing a helmet and on the right is a biker without a helmet. What should your car do in such a situation? Should go ahead and bang into the truck or should it slide left and crash into the biker with the helmet? Or rather, go right and collide with the careless biker without a helmet? If we bang into the one wearing a helmet, are we punishing him for following the rules? If we collide with the one without helmet, then we are not following the principle of minimizing harm!
If the car was driven by a human, any decision made would be considered as an instant reaction and not a deliberate pre-programmed decision of an AI. If any of the persons involved in the accident is killed, should it be considered a premeditated homicide? In any case, the fate of an accident is predetermined much earlier by programmers and policy-makers. Who is to be punished in such a scenario?
This is not to say that autonomous cars don’t have any positives. They are certain to reduce human errors while driving which shall bring down the number of accidents considerably. Moreover, it reduced the unproductive hours spent driving which can be utilized for other chores sitting in your car. Also, platooning by self driving cars can reduce traffic congestion greatly, which in turn will reduce the endless hours spent travelling daily.
Thus, before moving ahead into a world full of self driving cars, we need to maneuver through some of the moral questions and answer them keeping in mind our ethics and technology!
The Toyota Supra story
Toyota Supra – An all-new Toyota Supra sports car is just around the corner having been previewed at the recently concluded Geneva Motor Show alongside the GR Supra Racing Concept. As per leaked statistics, the new Supra will be powered by a 3L 6-cyl engine, generating 335bhp at 5500rpm and 332 lb-ft torque. It can reach 0-100 kph in less than 4 seconds. While the car is set to arrive in 2019, there is already plenty of buzz generated about Toyota’s re-born model. We explore why…
The Toyota Supra was built on the spoils left behind by the company’s other sporty looking coupe – the Celica. First introduced at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show, the Celica competed directly against Ford’s Mustang! By 1978, Toyota brought in a more powerful version of the Celica in its home market named the XX. The following year, the Japanese carmaker brought the Celica XX to American shores. However, in order to make the brand stand apart from a Mexican beer of the same name, the car was renamed as Celica Supra!
Fans wouldn’t revere the Supra as one of Toyota’s greatest sports vehicle if the original model hadn’t created several successors. The first-generation car’s greatest achievement in racing was, by Toyota’s own admission, performing speed car duties in the 1979 US Grand Prix. The pace cars didn’t want to post sluggish acceleration numbers so Toyota supercharged the straight-six to double it is horsepower output.
The second gen Toyota Supra was introduced in 1981. Back then, it became the first car with computer navigation in its home country. In America, Toyota Supra Miami was run by a 145bhp 2.8L engine and styled by the ‘trendy’ designs of the 80s!
Supra in Europe
In 1982, Toyota decided to penetrate the European market with the Supra. While initially, only France and UK were targeted with limited production numbers, the car later expanded to Sweden and Switzerland as well. Interestingly, Australia and New Zealand were also major markets for the Supra in the 1980s.
By the time the third gen Supra was introduced in 1986, Toyota had completely differentiated the Celica from the Supra. The latter was known as A70 came with features like ABS electric suspensions! Also available as an option from the third gen onwards was the removable top, which interestingly found mixed reviews among the enthusiasts.
Engineers forced the turbocharged six-cylinder’s outcome to 270hp for the Turbo A, a model created to homologate the automobile in competition series like Japan Touring Car Tournament (JTCC), Western European touring car series and even the World Rally Championship’s Group A category. Toyota highlights the limited-edition Supra 3.0GT Turbo A was the most effective Japanese development car at that time, with 0-100kph in less than 5seconds, off to a high acceleration of 270kph.
The 90s and all that JZ
In the 90s, Toyota’s now famous JZ engine was used for the Supra, which further enhanced the car’s power. This made the Supra Toyota’s most expensive car across all lineups in the Americas. While it wasn’t a volume driver vehicle even then, it had its cult following usually among the cream section of buyers.
The fourth gen model took four years to build, making it better than its predecessors in every way possible. The Turbo model of the same was considered faster than the Porsche’s 911 Carrera, reaching 0-100 kph in 4.6 seconds!
By 1995, the Supra debuted at the Le Mans alongside the likes of McLaren F1 GTR and Ferrari F40. At the turn of the millennium, the Supra managed to steal hearts of millions of racing and movie enthusiasts by making an appearance in the blockbuster movie, The Fast and the Furious! The following year in 2002, Toyota officially announced the end of production of the Supra, having discontinued the model in the US in 1998 and two years earlier in UK.
Over a span of 24 years, Toyota managed to sell 594,000 units of the Supra globally!
In the contemporary time, your car is almost entirely dependent on a central computer. This central computer accepts information from all around the car and processes them to calculate what to do next. Without that single computer, your car will basically stop working. So, what feeds that computer information? That’ll be the countless car sensors littered all over your car.
What is the purpose for sensors?
If you aren’t particularly keen with cars, you may not realize just how many sensors a modern car has nowadays. You can get a rough grasp by turning on the ignition and seeing just how many lights shine through the instrument cluster. They serve a very simple, but noble purpose in your vehicle, and that is to ensure optimal performance and safety of your vehicle. All those oil temperature gauge, coolant temperature gauge and fuel level gauge you see on a daily basis depend on various sensors.
Should a sensor report that something has gone awry, you’ll be immediately notified by the loathed bright yellow check engine light. Fortunately, with the advent of scanners and standardized engine codes, it’s less of a guesswork nowadays. While there are some sensors your car will run without, some car sensors, if faulty, will either cripple your car or just stop it from running entirely.
Some of the most crucial car sensors are found within your engine bay. That includes the crankshaft position sensor, which is absolutely critical to a modern engine’s operation. The sensor feeds the position and rotational speed of the crankshaft to the computer. Alongside the cam position sensor, the computer figures out a suitable ignition timing and fuel injection map.
Other than that, the coolant temperature sensor is also very important for an engine’s operation. It not only feeds real-time coolant temperature information to the computer, but the computer also bases the engine’s operation on the reading. While carbureted vehicles used to struggle with cold start, modern vehicles with fuel injection can enrich the air-fuel ratio on engine startup to aid with cold start. It’ll also idle your car higher, and the car will run on a fixed map until it warms up.
If you’ve opened up the bonnet of your car, you may have also noticed something protruding out of your exhaust manifold. That’ll be the oxygen sensor. This is particularly important to maintain an acceptable engine efficiency, as the oxygen sensor feeds your computer information of the unburned oxygen present in the exhaust. This information, in tandem with information from multiple other sensors, such as the manifold absolute pressure sensor and throttle position sensor, will tell the computer what ignition timing and how much fuel the engine needs. Typically, at cruising conditions, the engine will run entirely based on the sensors, rather than a set table, this is known as closed loop operation. In this mode, the engine will attempt to run leaner for efficiency.
Therefore, vehicle sensors are very important to a car’s operation. Nowadays, you can find sensors all over your car, even things as trivial as the headlamp and tail lamp can run off a sensor. The thing is, as vehicles become progressively more complex, more and more sensors will be added, therefore, it’s best that you realize just how important they are. The dependence on sensor can be frightening to some, as more electronics can translate to a less reliable car. However, when done right, cars can run on an efficiency we’ve never imagined possible, and efficiency is the name of the game in the future.
Why You Need To Pay Attention To Brake Maintenance
Car Maintenance is Important
Brake maintenance and Car maintenance are some of most important and simple things you can perform to keep your car running strong for years. People often overlook it, and then they scratch their heads wondering just why their usually stalwart ride has been letting them down recently.
Nothing Like Your Brakes
Keeping an eye out for your engine oil, making sure your air filter is clean are common maintenance routines. But perhaps one of the single most important aspects for both safety and longevity are your brakes and brake maintenance. If there’s one thing you should go all out for, it’s brakes.
You don’t want to save money on brake maintenance. Why? Well, because, like tires, they’re the few components that actually keep you on the road and off that tree over in the distance. You will fail car inspections if your brakes aren’t in top notch condition, and many people don’t really keep an eye out for their braking system.
Usually, you can know the state of your brakes via braking feel or listening carefully. For mild cases, you can hear a squeaking noise, signifying damaged brake lining, or uneven rotors. It can increase the rate of wear on the pads. If you hear a gnarly metal grind, chances are your pads are beyond worn. This will ruin your rotors quickly.
Those are minor issues; it may not be all sunshine if you fail to notice brake lining deterioration early on. It can cause your car to drag to one side, possibly due to contamination or uneven lining. If air gets into your brake linings, it’ll reduce your braking efficiency, and in serious cases your pedal can be to the floor just to keep your car from rolling.
The frequency that you need to service your brakes depends on where your car is driven. A car roaming around an urban jungle dealing with daily stop-and-go traffic will require brake services sooner than a car cruising on the highway or country every day. It’s not all black and white, but pads and shoes should be replaced between 20,000 and 60,000 miles. You may want to get your rotors machined every pad change as well.
Normally, you wouldn’t have to replace brake calipers, since brake caliper damage being quite uncommon. You should perform a brake fluid flush according to your vehicle’s manual, or every 2 years/30,000 miles. It’s a smart move to inspect your brake system often, including the brake lines. It can be periodically, e.g., every 10,000 miles, or just have your mechanic scrutinize it every oil change.
If you don’t know your way around a spanner, let the professionals deal with it. With that said, brake services aren’t rocket science. With a small toolkit and ample research, you should be able to perform pad replacements yourself. For any enthusiasts, it’d be a piece of cake.
Brakes in top notch condition should be silent and feel responsive once you depress your brake pedal. Of course, there’s the world of high performance pads, aftermarket rotors, braided brake lines et cetera. If you bring your car to a track day, you may be looking at pad replacements within months.
Brake maintenance is crucial in preserving drivability. What’s the point of, say, a 400-horsepower BMW M4 if everyone can hear your brakes squeaking from miles away and you can barely stop the car? You may be surprised at how much a set of high-quality pads can change your car’s characteristics too.
Cabin Filter and Air Filter what is the difference? Are you wondering why is your car suddenly chocking when you let your weight on the gas pedal? And what’s with that strange odor in your car every morning? Also, windows tend to get foggy quite a lot, for some reason.
If any of the above sound familiar, then it’s probably time to check and replace your car’s air and cabin filter. Let’s have a look at both of them and see what it’s all about and why you should often replace cabin and air filters.
Air filter lets your car breathe
In order to run, an engine needs two main elements: air and fuel. Mixed together and then ignited, these two generate mechanical power through combustion. Here’s the thing: outside air isn’t just oxygen, and any other impurities will reduce the efficiency of the burn inside the engine.
This is where your car’s air filter comes into play. Its pores are large enough to allow air molecules to go by unharmed but small enough to catch most of the dust and debris. Impurities get stuck into the air filter so they don’t go through the intake and reduce combustion efficiency.
However, as it accumulates dirt and dust, an air filter becomes less efficient at letting clean air going through – it gets clogged like a drain pipe. If you feel like your car is not properly responding to acceleration, the reason might be a clogged air filter. Your car is suffocating, and you need to get her to breathe. Buy a new air filter and replace it either at home or in a professional service unit. Then, fresh air will reach the engine and really spin the wheels forward.
Cabin filter let you breathe
If the air filter allows your car to breathe, cabin filters make sure you also get a fresh air charge. Think about it this way; the inside of a vehicle is a rather sealed environment, and unless you keep windows down, there’s little fresh air getting in.
Usually, fresh air is drawn from the front of the vehicle. However, since it first passes directly through or near the engine bay, air tends to catch various smells or get cluttered with dust. A quality cabin air filter stops dust from reaching the inside of the cabin and setting on shiny surfaces while letting fresh air reach your lungs.
Similar to a combustion air filter, a cabin filter will also get clogged with time and won’t be as effective in stopping odors and dust from reaching your car’s cabin. Another annoying effect of a cluttered cabin filter is that, since less air gets inside, windows will tend to be a lot foggier, especially during the cold seasons. This could affect road visibility and make you less secure on the road.
Replace your cabin or engine air filter with a compatible one as soon as you notice any of the effects mentioned above. Air filters are some of the least expensive car parts you can get. This is why you can ensure fresh air for you and your car without making a whole in your budget.
You get to your car ready to face the road ahead to work or just for a casual drive. You put the key in the ignition, turn it, but nothing happens. Or, the engine cranks but doesn’t for the love of God, start. What is there to be done? First of all, these are the signs of ignition problems.
Let’s go together through a series of car ignition problems, how to diagnose and how to do ignition repairs on your car. We will look at the most common ignition problems of today’s cars and give a brief insight on how to fix them.
Engine won’t crank
If you turn the key in ignition and engine doesn’t crank – no sound comes from under the hood, the issue is most likely coming from two places:
- The battery is dead
- The starter motor is faulty
To check whether the battery is dead, get a multimeter and connect its ends to each pole of the battery. If the voltage is lower than 9V, then you are most likely needed to replace the battery. Make sure to choose a car battery that has enough CCA (cold cranking amps) to get the car started properly. Another way to check whether the battery is dead is to try starting your CD player or headlights. If the CD player doesn’t start or the headlights don’t turn on, again, the battery is most likely at fault.
The starter motor is the part that actually cranks your engine to allow it to start its 4-stroke cycle. If the start motor is at fault, it will usually not crank at all, only giving out short metallic clicks. While on older models, starter motors can be repaired by auto professionals, it is better to replace it with a functional component.
Engine cranks very slowly
When the engine cranks so slowly that you can count the revolutions, it does by hearing the sound, the battery is probably at a low voltage. This happens when you forget to turn off the lights or when the battery discharges because of wear.
In the first case, just jumpstart it using cables and let it idle for a few dozen minutes so it will recharge. Otherwise, a worn battery must be replaced adequately.
Engine cranks but won’t start
There are cases when the engine will crank just fine but will fail to actually start. In this situation, it is most likely that the starter and the battery are NOT at fault. Instead, the spark plug ignition system may cause the engine not to start. Here’s what can happen.
First of all, power might not reach the distributor cap. The wire between the battery and the distributor may be seized, cut, or the connection might have come loose. Replacing the cable is the solution in this case.
If the cable’s good, then you might want to check the spark plug wires that go from the distributor cap to the spark plugs. However, the engine is likely to start if just one or two cables are malfunctioning, but will idle roughly and might also stop after a brief period of time.
Most modern vehicles come with an anti-theft mechanism that won’t let the engine start if you are using the wrong key or try to bypass the starting mechanism. There is a magnetic coil around the ignition hub that reads the data from a chip inside the OEM key of the car and compares it to the value stored in the ECU. If the data doesn’t match, the engine will crank but won’t start.
Sometimes, due to corrosion or major deposits on the magnetic coil, it might fail to detect the chip and thus prohibit the engine from starting even though you are using the right key. In such cases, the coil needs to be replaced and the key chip reprogrammed.
Given the above situations, you should now be able to quickly identify possible causes of your car’s ignition system not working properly. Don’t forget to ask for specialized help when dealing with electric current, to avoid injuries or further damage to your car.
There is so much going on beneath the hood when a car is running. Everywhere, something’s moving, vibrating, heating up or cooling down. To sum it up really fast, this is what happens: the engine sucks fuel from the tank, mixes it with air, ignites it and uses the explosion to create movement.
However, burning fuel generates heat. Usually, engines require a certain temperature to function properly, but what does it do with the extra heat? This is where the cooling system comes into action.
The inner workings of the cooling system
The overall cooling system scheme is not awfully complicated. Still, it does one of the most important supporting jobs for the engine. A basic car cooling system uses a pump to circulate fluid through the engine and then to the front radiator. The fluid takes on heat from the engine and exchanges it in the radiator.
You should also thank your cooling system for not having to freeze while you’re driving through the cold winter months. When you turn the heat on in your car, part of the cooling fluid travels to the interior radiator, bringing on heat collected from the engine. From there, an electric fan pushes it through the dashboard vents.
Taking care of your car’s cooling system
Just like any mechanical system, your car’s cooling system may cease to function properly. And without a doubt, this is the last thing you want to happen, especially when travelling long distances. Cooling system malfunctioning leads to engine overheating – not only that the engine won’t work at its best, but it also drastically increases chances of getting blown head gaskets and cylinder leaks. These things take a lot of time and money to fix, so it’s best to fix and maintain your car’s cooling system periodically.
There are two very common issues that can cause a cooling system to malfunction: leaks and clogging.
Leaks are best diagnosed by a dropping level of cooling fluid in the tank. If the fluid drops overnight or after driving for a while, there’s probably a leak somewhere on the installation. Finding the leak may be difficult if it is really small (like a pore), so you may need to check in with an auto repair shop. Usually, the issue is solved by replacing the hose causing the leak. You should avoid using crack plugging solutions found on the market; not that they usually don’t work, but may also clog the whole system.
In more severe cases, it’s the radiator or the head gasket that allows coolant to leak out. While replacing your radiator is doable with a bit of experience and proper tools, head gasket replacement should only be done by a professional.
On the other hand, a clogged cooling system won’t allow proper heat transfer, overheating the engine. Clogged systems are usually the result of improper maintenance or bad seals. It’s important to flush your cooling system once in a while, according to your car’s manufacturer instructions. This way, deposits won’t accumulate enough to create a blockage.
On a final note, always remember to use proper coolant recommended by the manufacturer for optimum results and engine performance.
Check Your Car Air Conditioner
With summer just around the corner, we’re all getting ready for extremely hot temperatures and great weather. You may be ready for summer, having waited for it all year long, but is your car ready? There’s nothing worse than driving without air conditioning in the middle of a hot summer’s day. It’s not just inconvenient and unpleasant, but borderline unbearable and dangerous as well. The threat of heat exertion is real, and having a fully functioning A/C is a must. There are a couple of ways you can make sure your car air conditioner keeps blowing cold air throughout the entire summer, and we’re going to show what steps you should take to ensure it stays that way.
Checking the System
Obviously, the best way of determining whether your Car Air Conditioner works or not is to turn the knob to cold and blast it on full. If it works as intended, it will start cooling the entire cabin within a matter of seconds. If it takes minutes for it to start cooling the car, or if it doesn’t blow cold air at all, you have a faulty air conditioning system on your hands. Don’t worry though, chances are fixing it is easier and less expensive than you might think.
Topping on Refrigerant
You see, the air condition system uses a special refrigerant known as Freon to cool the car. With time and usage, it will deplete and you will need to top it off. However, that’s not something you can do at home. It’s not a DIY job, so you will have to take it to an expert or a mechanic/service shop. Using special equipment they will check the refrigerant level and suggest topping it off if it’s necessary. A good car air conditioner service shop will perform the procedure at an affordable cost, getting you back on the road with a fully-working A/C unit in no time.
If refilling up on refrigerant didn’t help, there are several other things you should look at. For starters, you’ll want to have the condenser cleaner. Residue and dirt can accumulate, obstructing airflow and sometimes completely blocking it. Next, you can check and clean the filter. Just like the condenser it can get clogged up as well, so performing regular maintenance is crucial. If it’s too clogged up, you will need to replace it with a brand new one. Last but not least, you want to check the system for leaks if all else fails. Even the tiniest of leaks can cause the entire A/C system to malfunction. If there is a leak, you’ll need to take it to a specialist and have it fixed. The great thing is that air condition repair is relatively simple and cheap in most cases, especially compared to your regular maintenance procedures.
Recognizing Transmission Problems
Transmission Problems – The first step in solving transmission issues is diagnosing the actual issues. Luckily, transmissions are an extremely vital car component and will usually give clear indicators that there’s something wrong. Recognizing the earliest symptoms of transmission troubles can save you a lot of money and time. You can avoid an inconvenient breakdown or having to purchase an entire replacement transmission altogether. Here are the most common tell-tale signs that the transmission might be on its way out, as well as tips on what you should do.
Check Engine Light
Although it can be caused by a lot of things, the check engine light usually lights up only when something needs more urgent checking. Newer cars have a ton of sensors and it may be something as simple as a sensor malfunction, but it’s better to not risk it. If operational, sensors can tell you a component is on its way out long before you can even hear or see the issue.
Whether it’s an automatic or a manual, you’ll start noticing an erratic increase/decrease in rpms when shifting gears. This is known as hesitation. The car might be reluctant to enter a certain gear or will be extremely difficult to pull out of a gear. Automatics will experience more issues when in neutral or park.
The transmission needs fluid to operate correctly, just like the engine. Although it’s not regular maintenance, check your manufacturer’s recommended transmission service and perform it if it hasn’t been done in a long time. Checking the fluid pump, the filter and the actual trans fluid will ensure your transmission stays reliable if it’s properly operational. If you notice fluids dripping off the transmission case, it’s probably experiencing fairly major issues.
If you can hear strange noises like grinding, whining, buzzing, shaking and clunking, and are sure it’s not your fault, then it’s probably a transmission on its way out. Avoid driving the car and tow it to a mechanic as there is a chance that the transmission can be salvaged and rebuilt, saving you the effort and cost of buying a new one from a transmission shop.
If you can sense a burning smell it’s time to take immediate action. Differentiating between a burnt clutch and an overheated transmission is difficult, but a burnt clutch will be usually accompanied by white smoke. In the case of the transmission, there’s no smoke involved. If your transmission has overheated, it’s probably because it’s lacking fluid or the one that’s already in there is old and can’t do its job properly. Either way, sort it out right away or risk braking the transmission altogether.
What To Do Next
Take your car to a mechanic or a transmission shop who can perform a detailed transmission inspection for your transmission problems. He’ll tell you whether you need a new transmission or if the current one can be fixed. Remember to regularly flush and replace your transmission fluid (once every 35,000 miles), and be wary of the tell-tale signs to avoid complete transmission failure.