Category Archives: Maintenance

The Foggy Future of Refrigerants

Freon tanks await recycling. Image courtesy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Stable, nontoxic refrigerants changed the world, transforming food storage, expanding Sun Belt populations, even helping early movie theaters succeed. But they also wrecked the ozone layer — Earth’s shield against harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Today, as stockpiles dwindle — and prices rise — due to phase-outs set by the Montreal Protocols 30 years ago,  the future of Freon and its successors remains in doubt.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
As Stockpiles Dwindle, Freon Prices Rise

Going the Extra Mile (on the Same Tank of Gas)

Photo of a gas price sign.
Photo by Ildar Sagdejev

Call it ecodriving, hypermiling or plain old frugality, people today are trying every trick they can think of to wring a few extra miles from a drop of gas. Unfortunately, most fuel-saving tips range from the dubious to the downright dimwitted. Even the ones that work — such as making only right turns — veer into the ridiculous. In this Top 5 list, I’ve separated the classics from the clunkers and saved you the trouble of doing your own Mythbusters episode. Read on to discover….

Everyday Driving Tips to Save Fuel

Hobbled Horses Under the Hood – and How to Get Them Running Again

Well, there’s your problem. Photo by Leo-setä.

Does it feel like lately your car has exchanged horsepower for hamster power? If so, you might have a power problem, but good luck nailing it down; the same intricate fuel systems that mostly conquered vapor lock also introduced a slew of failure points, and pinpointing which one is responsible can try the patience of a shade-tree saint.

 Thankfully, there are some clear signs to look for, so get the banana out of your tailpipe and read…

5 Signs Your Engine Is Losing Power

Make it stop: Testing your braking distance

When we look at buying a car, we usually check out the gas mileage, the odometer, the standard equipment and, of course, the price. We rarely spare a thought for braking systems, because we presume (correctly, as it turns out) that the law requires manufacturers to engineer vehicles to stop within a certain safe distance.

There’s more to driving safety than counting car lengths or timing a 2 – 3 second following distance. Brakes have feel and balance. They work differently in warm, cold, wet or dry conditions. They fade over time. Nothing can substitute for knowing the distinctive braking characteristics of your vehicle. Do you know yours?

How to test vehicle stopping time

Brakes: How to check yourself before your wreck yourself

Giving your own brakes the once-over may seem daunting, but if you have eyes, hands and feet, you already possess the tools you need to catch some major problems before they spin out of control. In this article, I’ll show you how to use your body’s onboard equipment to inspect your fluid, pads and indicators, and take you on a quick tour of other tools you’ll need to check your fluid, bleed your brakes and test your proportioning valves.

What are the tools needed for brake tests?