Your Choice in Transmissions Could Save You Gasoline

Aug 21, 2008

Are you in the market for a new car? Are you thinking that a certain tiny four seat subcompact will deliver to you the best fuel economy? Think again - some of today's cars are using advanced technologies which are helping larger, heavier cars achieve better fuel economy numbers than their smaller competitors.

Yes, you'll pay more for the larger models, but your pain at the pump will, in some cases, be slightly less than that tiny lightweight you have your eye on. The difference? It is all in the gears - transmission gears, that is. Let's take a look at a pair of models from different manufacturers to find what sets these cars apart besides their size......

Kia Spectra vs. Chevrolet Malibu

Chevrolet Malibu Picture

Kia Spectra Picture

For the record, the Kia Spectra is made in South Korea by the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group and is imported to the US while the Chevrolet Malibu is built in America. The Spectra is a compact car, the Malibu is classified as a midsize; both have enough seat belts to carry five passengers.

Base engine for the Spectra is a 2.0L I4 paired with a five-speed manual transmission while a four-speed automatic transmission is offered optionally. The standard engine for the Malibu is a 2.4L I4 that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Though the Spectra gets 24 mpg city and the Malibu 22 mpg city, the Malibu has a highway edge of 33-32. Interestingly, the standard manual transmission engine combination results in 30 mpg on the highway for the Spectra.

Extra Gears, Better Fuel Economy

What makes the difference between the two models? The two extra gears in the Malibu is what does it. Earlier models had a four speed manual which delivered 30 mpg, but with the six-speed now included, Chevrolet drivers can get ten percent better fuel economy than before.

Having extra gears means the transmission can operate at lower ratios which means that less fuel is used. For people who do a lot of highway driving, the Malibu wins out in fuel economy, besides being a larger, roomier car for long trips. This doesn't mean that the Spectra isn't a capable car, but it does contradict a certain maxim - smaller cars are always more fuel efficient. Instead, the maxim should be that cars with the newest technologies, particular those with modern transmissions of at least six gears could be the most fuel efficient vehicles available.

Technology You'll Pay For

Most certainly the Spectra and the Malibu are designed for different drivers so my comparison does not include price or prestige, but it does indicate that car shoppers should look very closely at what they are getting: the bigger car could offer the best combination of ride and fuel economy for you and your family - you just have to ask yourself if you are willing to pay for these enhancements.

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Copyright 2008-2012 - Matthew C. Keegan is the owner of a successful writing and marketing business based in North Carolina, USA. He manages several websites and is a contributing writer for Andy's Auto Sport, a quality retailer of aftermarket automotive parts including automotive body kits.

Your Choice in Transmissions Could Save You Gasoline

Beginner's Guide to Car Audio Installation - DIY

Aug 10, 2008

Speaker Positioning

Speaker installation is very critical for performance. Whether you spent $1000 or $10,000 on a set of speakers, if they are not properly installed, they would not sound as they should. Even though it may seem that the best position for most speakers are in the stock housing's that came with the car e.g. on the door panel near your feet, this is just not so. You would see why such positions are still used however along with alternative solutions such as center channels for 5.1 Dolby, LCD screen, in-dash DVD players. There are many factors that need to be considered in placing the speakers in the correct position.


The first thing to consider is distance. If the left speaker is only a couple feet away from your ears, while the right speaker is several feet away from you, then the sound will arrive at different times giving you poor sound. Since the left speaker is closer, it sounds louder. The best solution is to figure out a location where the difference between the distance of the right speaker to your ears and left speaker (also known as path length difference), are minimal. This is where kick panels become the preferred location......

Multiple Speaker Placement

If you have a system with two or more speakers per side, you need to try out different locations to obtain the best possible sound in your car. If you have a 2-way system with a tweeter and sub per side. The subs are mounted in the stock location at the bottom of the door. The tweeters are mounted high up on the front corner of the door panel. From the driver's seat, you can see that there are 4 speakers all aimed towards different orientations and all at a different distance to your ears. This interaction of sound waves at different frequencies arriving at your ears at different times seldom sounds good. The best thing to do is to position the woofer and tweeter on each side as close as possible to each other. This is also why kick panels are used so much these days. Professional installers do use some tricks such as inverting the tweeters' polarity when mounted for example on top of the dash while the woofers are low. Achieving good sound with unconventional mounting schemes is very, very hard and is only achieved after plenty of time has been spent trying different configurations.


Our ears can distinguish the direction of sound more easily at higher frequencies. This means that aiming the mids, and most importantly, tweeters towards your ears play a critical role in sound imaging. Midbases are not so critical, but should be also aimed towards the listener's ears if possible. To figure out the best aiming angle involves many hours -even days- of work. To start, try to aim the speakers towards the center of the car. Play around with different angles until you obtain the best sounding position. Subwoofers should be mounted up front for best sound. Since this is not possible in most cars, mounting subs in the back is not such a bad thing, since most people can't distinguish where bass comes from. If you have good midbases going down to 60 Hz or less and subs picking up the signal below 60 Hz, then the bass will seem to come from the front.


Subwoofers need a properly designed enclosure to give top performance. Midbases and mids also do sound much better if they are installed in enclosures. The best sounding and easier to build enclosure type for midbases and mids is sealed.

Mounting Speakers

If you are using speakers that fit into the stock location, make sure there are no spaces or holes. Sometimes building a wood or fiberglass baffle helps reduce holes and gives you much better sound. Always be careful when using power tools around speakers. Holes in speakers usually are not covered by the warranty. For unconventional speaker locations, sometimes metal has to be cut. If you have the resources, plasma cutters and pneumatics tools work great. For most of us that do not have these tools, a pair of metal snips (left and right cut) will do the job.

Take your time to plan your system and don't just buy brand and product for the sake of popularity. Sometimes the simplest system is the most effective.

Photo: 1,

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Beginner's Guide to Car Audio Installation - DIY

Basics of Car Audio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: What is car audio? Car audio is how we describe the sound system fitted in an car.

A regular car audio system refers to a manufacturer installed system. A custom car installation can involve anything from the upgrade of the radio to a total custom fit-out. Events are held where people compete for the loudest or most innovative systems.

The most common pieces of equipment are the radio/tape player/CD player/DVD Player called a Head unit, or a head deck. These components are likely to be upgraded with an after market product. Head unit technology has developed to include CD players with MP3, Ogg, WMA, AAC, and USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support. Car audio systems can have line-in jacks and other equipment features like tape adaptors, and video touch screen that controlling; navigation, dvd movies, mp3 players, back up cameras, and other accessories......

Most modern cars have a CD player/ CD recorder, and and optional CD changer, which holds several CD's. Now the manufactures are offering DVD players and LCD screens. LCD screens are located and integrated into things that slide out and folds up, or the instrument panel and the DVD head unit. The screen might show video output for a navigation system, 3G cell phone or parking cameras.

Speakers are located in doors and rear shelves of a cars. High-end stereo systems often have speakers mounted in kick panels, to accommodate larger drivers and better controller placement. Before stereo radio was introduced, the most common speaker location was in the middle of the dashboard. High-end systems will have Component Speakers that have balanced tweeter, mid-range, and woofer settings. They are available in two speaker and three speaker combinations, and include an audio crossover to limit frequency ranges that the speakers must handle. This allows each cone to produce optimal frequency for maximum sound quality and volume. In addition subwoofers are provided for bass and sub bass, the lower the frequency the less the ear picks it up, but the vibration is more pronounced. Sub bass is omni-directional, meaning that the ear can't figure out where the sound is coming from.


Amplifiers make power to drive the speakers. The amplifier is a very important component of a speaker system. It makes sure that the total power handling capacity of the speakers is adhered to. Amplifiers commonly come in two,four or six channels. Subwoofer amplifiers are mostly Mono Amplifiers. It is common that multiple channels are marked for the exclusive use in allowing for more than one channel to be used.


Capacitors are used to store energy for the amplifier. Capacitors are useful because they can reduce voltage loss to other components in a car. Large capacitors sometimes offset headlight and/or interior light dimming because of too little amp draw from the alternator. A capacitor is only good for an audio system trying to get too many amps from the electrical system. A capacitor doesn't provide more power, it just stores it. The alternator must have more than 20% amp power than the entire vehicle and sound system combined for a capacitor to be of benefit. About 0.5 farad of capacitance is needed for every 500 watts of power. A capacitor does not affect sound in any way. It is strictly for power conditioning.

Photo: 1

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Basics of Car Audio

No one plans to have an accident. But, you can be prepared if one should happen.

1. Before you have an accident, keep an emergency kit in your glove compartment. Drivers should carry a cell phone,as well as a pen and paper for taking notes, a disposable camera to take photos of the vehicles at the scene, and a card with information about medical allergies or conditions that may require special attention if there are serious injuries. A set of cones, warning triangles or emergency flares should be kept in the trunk.

2. If you have an accident: Stop. Do not drive away from the scene! You can be charged with "hit and run" even if the accident wasn't your fault if it involves a pedestrian, a moving car, or even a parked car or someone's property......

3. Move vehicles to safety. Make every effort to prevent further accidents. You may be liable for damages to approaching vehicles unless they are properly warned. Do not move your car too far. Make sure to turn on hazard lights and set out cones, flares or warning triangles, if possible. If your car can't be driven, have the emergency responders call a tow truck. Get the name, address and telephone number of the towing company and, if you can, find out where it is taking your car.

4. Move people to safety. Check for injuries. Everyone who can walk should move to safety.

5. Call for help. As soon as you can get to a telephone, call 911. Explain the situation and give the exact location of the accident, so that help can arrive quickly. Be sure to mention whether you need an ambulance or a fire engine. Don't hang up until the operator tells you it is okay to.

6. Cooperate with the authorities. In New York State if you are involved in a vehicle accident causing injury to person or property, you are required to stop and give your name, address, and show your driver's license and insurance identification card to the person who is injured or whose property is damaged, or to a police officer. If such information isn't available at the scene of the accident, it must be given to the nearest police station or judicial officer as soon as possible. Be sure to cooperate with the police officer investigating the case. But,stick to the facts. For instance, if you were driving 30 miles an hour, say so. Do not say, "I wasn't speeding."

7. Tell the police the truth. Follow police instructions carefully. Note the officer's name and precinct number, command, or barracks. Ask how you can get a copy of the police accident report.

8. But don't admit fault. Do not volunteer any information about who was to blame for the accident. You may think you are in the wrong and then learn that the other driver is as much or more to blame than you are. You should first talk to your insurance agent, your lawyer, or both. Anything you say to the police or the other driver can be used against you later. Do not agree to pay for damages or sign any paper except a traffic ticket until you check with your insurance company or lawyer.

9. Document what happened. Make a note of the details of the accident, including date and time, road conditions, weather conditions and speed of all other cars involved. It also is a good idea to draw a diagram of the accident showing the position and direction of the cars justprior to and after the accident: make a written description of each car, including year, make, model and color and the exact location of the collision and how it happened.

10. Take photographs. Use your camera to document the damage to all the vehicles. (Use a cell phone's camera if you have nothing else.) Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the accident. Take your own photographs even if the police take photographs or you believe that your mechanic or insurance company will take them.

(a) any broken parts, inside or outside the vehicle such as dashboard, windshield, seat, broken glass or lenses, bumper that fell off, etc.;
(b) vehicle license plates;
(c) skid marks;
(d) street signs; and,
(e) injuries to persons involved in the accident.

Take the photos from different angles and positions. Take more photographs than you think you'll need. ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE WATCH FOR TRAFFIC.

11. Exchange information. Exchange the following information after the accident: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle. If the driver's name is different from the name of the insured, take down the name and address for each individual. If possible, obtain the names of the insurance companies and the policy numbers covering the other autos in the accident. In New York State, it's the law to carry an insurance policy information card in every vehicle. These cards can be your source for such information.

12. Get witness information. If there are witnesses, try to get their names, addresses and telephone numbers; they may be able to help you if the other drivers dispute your version of what happened. Request that they talk to the police before leaving. If they refuse to identify themselves, jot down the license plate numbers of their automobiles. Do not discuss the accident with the witnesses. Do not give their names to anyone but the police, your attorney or your insurance company.

13. Report to your insurance company. Remember to call your insurance company or insurance broker immediately after the accident. Don't forget to send written notice to your insurance company as soon as possible. The notice should include the time, place and circumstances of the accident. If you fail to notify your insurance company of the accident in writing within a reasonable time, this could be grounds for the company's denying any obligation to protect your interests in the event a claim is made against you. Also, make sure your report contains the names of all injured persons and drivers and the names of all available witnesses.

14. Report to Albany. The law requires that the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident in New York State in which a person is killed or injured or one in which damage to the property of any person, in a written report with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. If the operator is unable to make such a report, another participant must make it. Remember to keep copies for your records. This report form, known as an MV-104, may be obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles or its website (over the Internet). Often, your insurance company, insurance broker or attorney can send you the form.

15. Call an attorney. Consult an attorney who is experienced in accident cases if you or a loved one is hurt. Ask lots of questions.

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The Secrets To Protecting Yourself After You Have A Car Accident

The BMW HP2 Sport is the latest iteration of the Bavarian Motor Company's foray into producing performance driven motorcycles. The quiet, staid, and lets just admit it boring motorcycles that came out of BMW in years past is history.

The HP line is BMW's new high performance, cutting edge line up. It's the motorcycle equivalent of their M line of performance cars.

The HP2 Sport is the third motorcycle in the HP line following the releases of the HP2 Enduro and the HP2 Megamoto......

The HP-2 Sport is based on the R1200S but is out and out designed for sports riders who are looking for a machine that has performance as well as endurance.

The HP2 Sport keeps some of the concepts that BMW motorcycles have become known for such as the BMW Motorrad Telelever front suspension and the EVO Paralever rear suspension. Other components have been newly developed or highly modified for use in the motorcycle.

The HP-2 Sport is powered by a twin Boxer motor that has a capacity of 1170 cc. The engine's cylinder heads were completely redesigned which allows the engine to rev as high as 9500 rpm. The engine has a 101 mm bore and a 73 mm stroke and produces a maximum of 130 hp at 8,750 rpm and 85 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm.

The bike has a close ratio six speed gear box, with first and second gear having higher ratios. This puts the gear increments closer to each other and results in less of a rev drop when progressing up through the gears.

The bike also has a gear shift assistant which allows the rider to shift gears without using the clutch. It works by sensing when the gear lever is activated. If it senses gear lever activation without the use of the clutch, it electronically reduces power to the engine which puts the engine in a low load state and makes it possible to shift without the clutch. If the rider uses the clutch, the system becomes inactive.

The riding position of the HP-2 sport can be described as relaxed. BMW has extensive experience with endurance racing and knows that for racers to be fast over a long period staying power is more important than a full racer's tuck.

The dashboard was developed by 2D Systems, which also provides analytic recording systems to Moto GP racing.

The dashboard has two modes and is switched by two controls on the left handlebar. In road mode, typical information such as speed, rpm, time, and distance are displayed. In race mode data such as top speed, circuit times, number of gearshifts and rpm is shown.

The HP2 Sport will push BMW further into the world of performance motorcycling.

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Edge On Motorcycling- The BMW HP2 Sport

21 Classic Pontiacs

Aug 1, 2008

So, you think you know your cars now, do you? Well, consider this to be a test of your knowledge of Pontiac history. 21 Pontiacs are featured here: some are current models while others are truly classic in every sense of the word, dating back to the early 1960s.

6000 - Full sized [or almost] front wheel drive sedan of the 1980s.

Aztec - Ugly is as ugly does. This crossover vehicle ashamed the Pontiac fleet for two years during the early 00s.

Bonneville - Full sized Pontiac sedan excitement retired in 2005 after more than 40 years of service. Part of GM's massive restructuring and retiring of top model names.

Catalina - This model hearkens back to the mid 60s when two door hard tops ruled the day. Discontinued during the late 70s during GM's "down sizing" shell game days.

Fiero - Mid-engine sport two-seater built for Pontiac during the go-go 80s. GM reached into their parts bin and took out Chevette and other components to create this little roadster......

Firebird - It goes without saying that this "pony" car is sorely missed. The good news is that it may be back by the time the 2009 model year rolls around.

Firefly - Twin to the Geo Metro, the Firefly was Pontiac's 3 cylinder captive import of the late eighties to mid nineties.

G6 - Current compact model in Pontiac's arsenal available in rakish coupe or sporty sedan.

Grand Am - With its 1973 debut, the Grand Am quickly became the division's mid-range performance car. Retired in 2005 with a host of other Pontiac model names.

Grand Prix - Hidden tail lights and a concave rear window marked the Grand Prix's 1963 debut. The car has survived GM's model name shake out and today's car is a mid-sized, front wheel drive sports sedan.

GTO - Introduced in 1967, the GTO was a true coupe turned sports car. Eliminated in the 1970s, the GTO is back thanks to GM's Australian division, Holden. Rear wheel drive and a big V8 too.

LeMans - Originally a Tempest model, the LeMans became its own model once the Tempest name was retired in the 1970s. Retired in the mid 1990s after a cheap Korean car was allowed to carry its name. Sheesh!

Montana - A minivan for Pontiac, if not for the ages.

Parisienne - During the 1980s Pontiac needed a version of the Chevrolet Caprice. This full sized, rear wheel drive sedan filled the bill.

Phoenix - Part of GM's "X cars" of compact import fighting vehicles introduced during 1979 as a 1980 model.

Sunbird - Nothing but a rebadged Chevy Cavalier.

Sunfire - Compact coupe retired in 2005 as part of, you guessed, GM's model restructuring.

Sunrunner - Nothing but a rebadged Geo/Chevy Tracker.

Tempest - From the early sixties until the early seventies, the term "muscle car" befit this hot coupe. Especially nice as a convertible!

Trans Sport - Hideous looking minivan that debuted in the early 1990s. Mercifully replaced years later by the Montana.

Vibe - A currently produced compact five door sport wagon; cousin to the Toyota Matrix.

So, there you have it. At least another half dozen models were left out from this time period plus many models that dated back to the division's founding as part of the Oakland Automobile Company in 1926. Pontiac excitement...have you caught it yet?

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21 Classic Pontiacs