Alternative Fuel Options for Cars 

Carl Turnley Alternative Fuel Options for Cars

A growing demand exists for alternative fuel vehicles due to government regulations and environmental concerns. Substitutes for conventional engines that are gasoline-powered and contain internal combustions are important for both consumers and the manufacturers who will provide them. Which direction should be taken is a tricky dilemma for both. There are several options.

 

Gas-Electric Hybrids

The original hybrid models, the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, each reached the U.S. in the year 1999. Today there are roughly 40 gas-electric models available for sale. Using electricity to power vehicles to some extent has significant benefits, both for emissions and fuel economy. A battery power at low speeds and handles stopping and starting. Regenerative braking and the gas engine charge the battery so it does not need to be plugged in.

 

Plug-In Hybrids

PHEVS, or plug-in hybrids, have larger batteries that can get the car moving with the use of electricity alone, generating zero emissions. These batteries are charged by plugging them in to a power source. Fewer models are available in the U.S., and the larger batteries add a hefty amount to the price tag.

 

Electrics

EVs, or electric vehicles, run free of gasoline entirely. They make use of a battery to store electric energy used to power the motor. Acceptance of EVs has been growing since their introduction to the market. Range anxiety is a deterrent that continues, as is the limited number of charging stations that lie outside of major cities.

 

Ethanol and Flex Fuel

Corn ethanol has made its way into the fuel supply of the nation thanks to the 2007 Renewable Fuels charge of the government. Ethanol has received a backlash because it contains less energy than does gasoline, which results in a fewer number of miles per gallon. It also takes a fair bit of energy to produce, leading to increased carbon dioxide emissions.

 

Biodiesel

Biodiesel, which is manufactured from animal fats, vegetable oil, or grease recycled from restaurants, raises conventional diesel fuel’s octane rating and burns in a cleaner fashion. It is also biodegradable and non-toxic. It can be used alone but is generally mixed with conventional diesel fuel. Biodiesel can be found in many vehicles that boast conventional diesel engines that lack modification.

Debunking Car Transmission Myths

There is a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding automatic transmissions, even within the automotive industry.  While some of these myths might have been true decades ago, modern technology has helped to level out the performance disparity between automatic and manual transmissions. Today’s blog is going to take a closer look at common transmission myths and the facts that will debunk them. 

 

Automatic transmissions are sealed units that are neither serviceable nor repairable.

It all depends on finding the right technician. Even though it seems like the only fix for a problem with an automatic transmission is a complete replacement of the unit, they are repairable and can benefit from being serviced. Those who don’t work with automatics can find the task daunting and nigh impossible, but for those who do, the task is still difficult because it’s easy for things to go wrong. The reason for this is that automatic transmissions contain a lot of small parts that are easily forgotten, so many mechanics don’t like to work on them. 

 

Cars with manual transmissions always cost less than their automatic counterparts.

While cars with manual transmissions tend to cost less, this isn’t always true. Consumer Reports notes that buying a car with a manual transmission can help consumers save between $8,000 and $12,000, but a number of cars on the market today, such as BMWs and GM models, cost the same regardless of their transmission. The maintenance cost of automatic transmissions may be higher, but better design has helped them to last the life of the vehicle, so long as the driver is taking care of it. Manual transmissions tend to not last as long and may need a few replacements during the car’s lifetime. Of course, this depends on the driver’s behavior and other variables as well. 

 

Automatic transmissions are less fuel-efficient than manual transmissions.

This claim is unfortunately true, however, manufacturers are closing the gap in fuel efficiency between manual and automatic transmissions. That being said, manual transmissions tend to beat automatics in fuel efficiency by a small margin in most cases. At its simplest, the problem boils down to weight and friction. Automatics are heavier than manual transmissions, which require more work and thus require more fuel. Depending on the abilities of the driver, though, automatics can be more efficient at times by switching gears at the most efficient time as opposed to manual if the driver isn’t good at hitting the optimal shift time. 

The Biggest F1 Races Taking Place in 2019

2019 brings another exciting year for Formula 1 racing! Even though we are past the halfway mark for the year, we still have a number of races to look forward to. Here are some of the biggest F1 races taking place in 2019.

 

Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2019 – 20-22 September

Singapore’s Marina Bay Circuit is known for its nighttime races, having hosted the first one in F1 history back in 2008. The physically demanding 5.063km course provides no shortage of challenges for the driver, from bumpy surfaces to high humidity. What’s more, the circuit features 23 corners during the high-speed lap. This race gives visitors a chance to experience Singapore at its best.

 

Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix 2019 27-29 September

The Sochi Autodrom was the site of the Formula 1’s first-ever Russian Grand Prix in 2014. The circuit itself grew from the internal roads of the park built for the Winter Olympics that same year. One of the unique features of the track is right at Turn 3, a 750m constant-radius left turn that takes drivers around the outside of the Poyushchiye fountain. This early autumn race means that it’s still warm enough for visitors to take advantage of some of Russia’s best beach resorts in Sochi. Unfortunately, ski season doesn’t start until at least December. 

 

Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix 2019 11-13 October

While the Suzuka International Racing Course (better known as just “Suzuka”) was built in 1962, it didn’t see its first Grand Prix until 1987. The track is one of the seminal courses in Formula 1, with driving challenges like snaking S curves and a crossover and remains a favorite among drivers. Kimi Räikkönen holds the current lap record of 1:31.540 from 2005, but we’ll see if anyone can beat that this year. 

 

Formula 1 United States Grand Prix 01-03 November

The Circuit of the Americas’ first Grand Prix was in 2012, which drew a crowd of over 100,000 spectators. The crowd witnessed Lewis Hamilton’s last win in a McLaren before he made the switch to Mercedes the following year. The circuit draws inspiration from a few of the other famous tracks in F1 history, like Suzuka and Hockenheim. The uphill run into Turn 1 provides the opportunity for some overtaking action.

A Brief History of the Hunt/Lauda F1 Rivalry

Few sports are as dangerous and misunderstood as Formula 1 racing. The fast-paced race-track based automotive contest is both exhilarating to watch and potentially deadly to partake in. So naturally, a little bit of rivalry between racers helps to dial the intensity up to eleven.

In the 1970s, when F1 racing was still in a somewhat formative stage, two men developed a unique relationship on and eventually off the race track. The British racer James Hunt and the Austrian racer Niki Lauda would spend the better part of the decade racing against each other in a fierce personal competition.

It all started in 1970 on the Crystal Palace circuit in London, England. Both drivers experienced some technical difficulties, but Hunt would ultimately go on to win the race. This was enough to kindle Lauda’s fighting spirit, and the two men would clash at nearly every high profile event for the next few years.

Things came to a tragic head in the 1976 racing season when Niki Lauda was involved in a crash on the Nürburgring circuit. Lauda suffered third-degree burns and was permanently disfigured as a result of the accident. Both men would go on to compete in the rest of the season, however, with James Hunt becoming the 1976 Formula 1 racing champion.

The Hunt/Lauda rivalry has since become a legend within the arena of automotive sports. Much has been made of the relationship between these two men, who in many ways were very different, especially in the wake of James hunt’s untimely death in 1993. There has even been a film made about the subject titled Rush and directed by Ron Howard; although it was apparently not very accurate to history.

One of the more dramatized aspects of the story is the animosity between Hunt and Lauda. While it is true that there was some heated competition between the two, they became friends relatively quickly. So while the races were intense and very much winner takes all, the spirit was friendly. Hunt was particularly disturbed after his friend was injured in 1976.

Despite their friendship, James Hunt and Niki Lauda were two very different people. It was a fast and reckless lifestyle of drugs and sex that helped contribute to Hunt’s early death. Indeed, after his victory in 1976, James Hunt had a diminished interest in competing as his status of champion allowed him all the luxuries he could want.

Lauda was a more reserved character and would go on to live to the age of 70 despite his terrible accident many decades ago. Niki Lauda died in May of this year. While both men are now gone, their heroic struggles on the race track will live on in the hearts of race fans from around the world.

Equipment Trends in F1 Racing – 2019

By looking at the latest tech designs for the 2019 F1 racing teams, we can get an idea of who will get a jump on the season. It seems that a shipment of new parts arrived in Canada providing a glimpse of what the teams are up to, and how similar some of these designs are. First up, at the Circus Gilles Villeneuve, Red Bull unveiled nose horns that will be used by the team. These horns sit in the nose transition area and help to control the airflow of the region. Mercedes tested a design pre-season, dog-leg shaped winglets where the chassis and nose meet in an effort to draw air around the chassis more effectively. Alfa Romeo Racing has developed an alteration of the design, using four fins on either side of the chassis for better results.

Since the beginning of the season, Renault F1 Team showed up in Monaco with dog-legged winglets on either side of the chassis. They have also developed the R.S. 19 rear wing, which has a more defined tail, and with deleted bounding lines on the three upwash wings has allowed for another strake in outer bounding lines. The outer surface of the endplate has been modified to for better airflow direction. A DRS Actuator pod has been given a tail which limits the amount flap that occurs when it swings upward. Renault has opted for a singular fin, as opposed to multiple, with a finned floor arrangement, hoping to boost floor performance.

Ferrari has the SF71H Azerbaijan GP is a similar finned solution which is designed to improve performance by relying on fully enclosed holes that lie on the floor slightly ahead of the rear wheels. Racing Point has been feeling the struggles they had last season, both technically and financially. This time they are bringing a series of parts to help them improve performance that has been previously untapped. First, is an add on solution for the nose similar to the cape one used by Mercedes. It is around the side and under the nose to guide the airflow already taken in by the nose downstream. Williams also began using Mercedes cape solution in 2018 and has an improved suspension to combine it with the hopes of performance improvement. Also using a cape solution is McLaren with the Spanish GP. It is a very complex solution in use since 2018, but they have made changes to the complexity of the nose to streamline performance.

F1 Safety: a Brief History of Innovation

carl-turnley-crashToday’s F1 races are the product of a long and layered history — especially in terms of safety. From mechanical designs to racing regulations, the sport has greatly evolved since its inception in the early 1950s, and this has generally made it better for drivers, officials, and fans alike.

Here is a brief look at F1 safety’s rich past.

Early designs and ideas

F1, as a competitive sport, can be traced to 1950, the year of its inaugural season. Early F1 cars had features designed purely for speed in lieu of handling components or, disturbingly, necessary safety mechanics; they featured front engines and drum brakes and were first put on display at the 1950 Formula One World Championship, held at Silverstone in England.

Proper safety measures, such as roll bars, were not formally introduced until the early 1960s. Other emerging concepts included flag signals, fire prevention components, and interrupters for electronic systems.

The 90s and early 2000s

Flash forward to the 1990s, when many of the aforementioned safety measures continued to be tested, supplemented, and innovated as the need for such measures endured. The early 90s saw the introduction of larger rearview mirrors, mandatory detachable steering wheels, and new regulations pertaining to car width and cockpit size.

In the early 2000s, these changes were complemented with numerous shifts — some drastic — in racing rules and protocol. For instance, new time penalties were implemented to drivers triggering a false start, causing an accident or collision, or forcing another driver off the course — a move generally intended to cast a deeper negative connotation over such potentially dangerous activity.

Today

While today’s F1 cars are arguably more uncomfortable than their primitive predecessors, they are much safer — and typically not at the expense of speed or efficiency. Crashes remain a regular part of the sport, some of them overwhelming and spectacular from a viewer standpoint, but, fortunately, many of the worst crashes have not been as severe as they look. Consider a 2014 crash from driver Kimi Raikkonen, which looked potentially fatal on screen, but resulted in nothing more than a sore ankle. 

This phenomenon is a direct product of modern racing safety, which itself is a product of continuous, relentless campaigning to keep the sport as safe and stable as possible. Now, cars undergo a series of dynamic, static, and load tests — all while maintaining the best aspects of the past, such as advanced fire suppression systems.

 

Tips for Getting Into F1 Racing

carl-turnley-f1Formula One racing is one of the world’s biggest entertainment pastimes — a competitive sport that demands dedication and perseverance from its participants. If you’re just looking for a new hobby, Formula One racing might not be right for you – but if you have the drive to succeed and the patience to train for years, these tips can lead you to victory.

Consider Racing School

If you’ve been driving on normal roads for years, you might think that you have an understanding of what it takes to drive a Formula One car – after all, it’s just faster, isn’t it? Not exactly. Formula One cars require faster reflexes than normal driving and involve higher stakes, not to mention the inherent differences in the designs of the vehicle platforms. Racing schools can give you an opportunity to refine your skills and see what you’re made of – not only that, but they allow access to vehicles you might not be able to try out otherwise. This is a great way to make sure this is the right path for you.

Start Slow in a Kart

Some suggest that you should train with a go-kart before you actually start Formula One racing – while this can be a valuable way to train your skills, it isn’t always necessary. That said, if you do need to start out slow, try earning a go-kart certification and finding a nearby course that has their own karts. That way you’ll save money overall and you’ll always have somewhere to train – and some go-kart races even have cash prizes, meaning you could earn back the price of your membership to the course.

Meet Racing License Standards

Since this is a rather dangerous sport, you’ll need to meet a number of requirements to become a Formula One racer – you’ll need to spend two years of licensed racing in a junior class of single-seat vehicles, like go-karts, as well as 40 race points from victories. You’ll also need 300 hours in a Formula One car itself on a course or as a junior member of a team – and, of course, you’ll need to be a legal adult.

Keeping all of this in mind, Formula One looks like a hard hobby to break into – but if you’ve got the skill and the commitment to go the extra mile, those steps should help you get started.

A History of Formula One Racing

carl-turnley-f1historyFormula One racing uses the fastest one-seater cars developed for road racing, deriving most of their speed from the fact that they can take corners with immense speed and create aerodynamic push that further bolsters their velocity. All vehicles in Formula One races must follow a set of standards first devised in 1946 before several revisions.

These 1946 standards led into the first Formula One events, namely the 1950 race at Pau in southwest France and subsequent world championship at Silverstone. From there, interest was piqued, and seasons started in earnest – the big developments in this era were mostly derived from alterations to the vehicle models.

Early races saw domination by Italian manufacturers like Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, and although the former managed to outspeed the competition during the 1950 season, Ferrari soon developed a new methodology that gave them a massive advantage over the competition.

Enzo Ferrari realized that increasing the engine power of their super-cars would mean lowered fuel efficiency, and that the resulting time spent refueling would ultimately neutralize any advantage from their more powerful cars. As a result, he equipped the Ferrari Formula One team with V12 4.5-litre 375s that saw nearly four times the miles per gallon and decreased pit time hugely.

Things changed again in 1958 when Stirling Moss breezed across the finish line in the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix, marking the first major win by a driver whose engine was mounted behind the driver’s seat. The British had realized that rear-mounted engines could give their cars better handling and weight, putting them at a sizable advantage over the formerly titanic Italian teams.

Dozens of minor alterations and changes to the platform continued until the late 1960s, when a new issue arose – the ever-growing speeds at which drivers moved meant that crashes were often fatal, and safety became more of a focus than it ever had before. Changes to the supercars led to better handling and more focus on protecting drivers.

Over the next several decades, titans rose and titans fell – names like Niki Lauda, James Hunt and John Watson proved their skill on the road and made Formula One racing a titan of world entertainment.

A Review of the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

carl-turnley-grandprixLet’s take a moment to recap the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, a race that was certainly exciting and action-packed:

The winner of the race was Lewis Hamilton driving for Mercedes. Lewis admitted it wasn’t his finest weekend until the final 10 laps of the race. He insisted Ferrari were “incredibly quick” during the race. During the middle stint of the race, he had a competitive race with Sebastian Vettel. Fortunately, Hamilton was able to perform a dazzling move on the brakes to surpass Sebastian and take second place. On lap 48, Hamilton passed Charles Leclerc to take first place. On the final stretch, Leclerc’s vehicle had a loss of power, due to cylinder failure, which resulted in not taking the victory lap.

The loser of the race was deemed to be Sebastian Vettel. He had an incredible start; however, it was downhill beginning on lap 38. His vehicle spun out, which resulted in Lewis Hamilton passing him up. The effects of the spin out caused the front wing to break off. From that point on, his hopes of getting a podium position were eliminated, he finished the race in fifth place. On a positive note, he finished the race one short of 100 races in his career. A feat only accomplished by Hamilton (130) and Michael Schumacher (142).

The race team considered the winner would be Mercedes. Mercedes was off to a great start during the season-opener; however, when they arrived in Bahrain the dust seemed to have settled. Ferrari was apparently no match for the Mercedes cars. Ferrari excelled during practice and in qualifying. Ferrari secured the front row during qualifying. It was expected for Hamilton to at least earn a podium spot, but not for his teammate Bottas. To much a surprise, it was Mercedes that took first and second place. This one-two finish was a first for Mercedes since 2014. It earned Mercedes 39 points clear of their rivals Ferrari in the constructor’s championship.

The overall winner was considered the Bahrain International Circuit. The usual warm desert sun was not out on Sunday, before the Grand Prix. Nevertheless, the climate was forgotten as the Bahrain International Circuit produced a stormy race of their own. The race was exciting throughout the event, especially the final 10 laps.

Addressing Common Car Tire Myths

carl-turnley-tireTires affect a car’s handling and braking, so keeping them in tip-top shape is a simple way to improve drivers’ safety, but both cars and tires have changed dramatically in the last decade, and yesterday’s conventional wisdom about their care and maintenance has evolved. Before hitting the open road, here are five common tire myths car owners should ignore.

 

 

Myth #1

A tire’s ideal inflation pressure is listed on the sidewall.

Fact

Tire pressure is set by vehicle manufacturers and can be found in the owner’s manual or on the sticker in the driver’s side door jamb. The pressure noted on the tire is its maximum inflation level.

 

Myth #2

Tire-pressure monitoring systems warn drivers when tires should be inflated.

Fact

Monitoring systems only warn drivers when at least 25-percent of a tire’s pressure is lost. A reduction of just 10-percent affects tread wear, fuel efficiency and cornering. Experts recommend checking tires monthly with a pressure gauge as part of routine maintenance.

 

 

Myth #3

Tires should be rotated annually.

Fact

For optimal performance, tires should be rotated roughly every 7500 miles. The front tires on front-wheel drive vehicles bear more weight than the rear tires and tend to wear out faster. Rotating them regularly distributes the work evenly among all four tires, promoting even wear and longevity.

 

 

Myth #4

A tire is safe as long as it has adequate tread.

Fact

Rubber tires break down naturally over time, even when not in use. Heat, cold, ultraviolet light and exposure to environmental chemicals can cause dryness and cracking in the sidewalls known as dry rot. Excessively dry tires can be treated with a tire sealant to make them safe, but tires with advance dry rot could come apart on the road and should be replaced.

 

 

Myth #5

A tire will burst if it’s inflated past the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall.

Fact

The pressure at which a tire will burst far exceeds its maximum pressure. While minor overinflation negatively impacts a tire’s performance and fuel efficiency, owners shouldn’t be afraid to fill them as recommended.

Tires are one of a vehicle’s most essential safety features, and to protect precious cargo; it’s worth staying in the know about their proper upkeep.