RepairPal Blog

I ran across an article today on that discussed a recent announcement from BMW of North America regarding turbo-lag problems with the twin-turbocharged inline six cylinder motor that currently powers the acclaimed 335i, among many other new BMWs.

From our perspective at RepairPal, what was interesting about the news is that BMW originally updated its engine software to address an engine noise problem, and in doing so, the new software fix created a small turbo-lag problem.  This is a terrific example of the deep importance and extreme sensitivity of computer controls in modern automobiles.  It wasn't long ago that a mechanic manually adjusted the air-fuel ratio and "tuned" an engine by listening to it run.  Now, software can address the specific behavior of turbochargers so subtle that many drivers would probably not even notice it--in fact, the engine computer and emissions control systems are constantly measuring and varying every step in the combustion process.  In other words, a modern car is constantly being tuned up by its engine computer.

While Ford continues to plead for a government bailout, there is some nice news coming out of the company too. They have unveiled the 2010 Mustang. The car is mostly a cosmetic makeover, carrying over most of the mechanical bits from the previous generation, including the V6 and V8 engines. The exterior is refined and gives the car a nicer, sharper look (if I do say so myself). Click over to Autoblog for more pictures.

Last night, President-Elect Barack Obama shared more of his thoughts about the suffering US auto industry on CBS 60 Minutes. He talks about, "creating a bridge loan to somewhere as opposed to a bridge loan to nowhere" so that the money does not keep GM, Ford and Chrysler in business just for another 6 months. Obama also reasserted that he is still focused on energy independence. See the interview below:

Ever since I saw this clip from the BBC's Top Gear, I've been waiting for the Toyota Aygo to appear in America.  I've read several times that it's coming, but it's been a couple of years since Edmunds and Autoblog shared whispers of this sort.  With the success of the Smart ForTwo, you'd expect Toyota to make it happen.  This tiny city car, which may go for less than 10 grand, has both a Renault and a Citroen mechanical twin, which should also both come to the US, but of course won't.

Once the Aygo hits our shores, if I can find a willing partner to donate the use of an abandoned airstrip, I'm totally putting together an Aygo Soccer League. It may be best if the airstrip is relatively close to a hospital.

The Green Car Journal recently named five finalists for their 2009 Green Car of the Year Award.  The Award was created to reward environmental responsibility among automakers.

The five finalists are:

California Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed increasing state sales tax 1.5% from 7.25% to 8.75% for 3 years to make up for the $11.2 billion budget shortfall. Included in the governor's proposal is levying sales taxes on auto repair services, which currently are not taxed. Up until this point, only auto parts have been taxed.

Such efforts to tax auto repair services in Florida have met strong opposition and have failed. Schwarzenegger is now going to face a similar backlash. The governor says the increases are needed to stabilize the state budget.

David Leggett mentions today in his blog at that in the midst of the horrible economic turmoil and uncertainty facing General Motors, the company has opened an auto manufacturing facility outside of St. Petersburg in Russia.

The plant opening ceremony was last week, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attended, so it was obviously a pretty big deal.  Mr. Leggett makes the important point that despite the recent nasty rhetoric being flung between Russia and the United States, an American company has made a big investment in Russia, and Russia likes it.

According to the Associated Press, Dean Kamen, the inventor of the famed Segway scooter, has created the first hybrid electric car based upon the Stirling engine.

The Stirling engine was first developed by Robert Stirling, a Scottish clergyman and inventor, in 1816.  A Stirling engine uses external heat to drive the internal pistons – the heat is applied to the outside of the cylinder walls to power the engine. 

Today President-Elect Barack Obama hosted his first press conference since being elected. He made the following comments about his plans for the US auto industry:

"The news coming out of the auto industry this week reminds us of the hardship it faces -- hardship that goes far beyond individual auto companies to the countless suppliers, small businesses and communities throughout our nation who depend on a vibrant American auto industry. The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

It's all over the Internet this morning: General Motors had another astoundingly bad quarter and continues to hemorrhage cash.

You can read about it in Autoblog or in the New York Times.