Direct Injection: Efficiency at a Price
For a while now, direct injection (DI) engines have been all the rave: boasting better efficiency, more power, better economy. Sounds wonderful, right? Who wouldn’t want that? Well, DI engines have a dirty, dirty little secret that you will not discover until you are deep into a relationship with them. DI engines have much higher maintenance requirements and associated costs. If you ignore those requirements, the cost is going to compound itself many times over in the form of major repairs. If you’re thinking you’re going to save a few bucks at the pump, you had better save those few bucks because you’re going to need them.
WTF? Strange, Crazy, Amazing, and Downright Stupid Things at SEMA 2018
You can pretty much see anything and everything automotive related at the SEMA show. From pure-bred muscle cars, wild exotics, monster trucks, and full-on race cars. SEMA has something for everyone to love. On the other side of that spectrum, there is a lot that may not be to your taste. From the crazy awesome to the crazy clueless, here you can find a bit of each.
Check Out All the Awesomeness We Found At SEMA 2018 With This Mega Picture Gallery
One hundred forty thousand people descend upon the Las Vegas convention center for the largest aftermarket automotive trade show in the world. Welcome to SEMA 2018, where many of the top automotive aftermarket manufacturers, builders, and shops come together to learn, shop, and show off the best products and some of the best custom rides in the game. I overheard one SEMA organizer saying that if you were to walk up and down every aisle in every pavilion you would walk almost 54 miles and I believe it! Sadly, most of SEMA is very boring and very repetitive (I mean seriously, how many booths about tires does one show need?) but, there are always those automotive gems to look at and once in a while a new product that just makes you stop and say "wow." So, here are a few of those cars that made me stop and actually take a look.
If you’re anything like me, you probably enjoy powerful and sporty cars (especially of the big engine displacement or forced induction type), and you might even be thinking about upping the soundtrack of your drive with an upgraded exhaust.
We’ve all heard cars buzz by us with all sorts of exhaust systems (or lack thereof), and sometimes it’s just nothing but unenjoyable noise, like two beehives having a fight inside a coffee can, or grandpa’s flatulence after soft serve ice cream. Most common, cheap, ready-made exhaust systems are—to be frank—crap, and most of the cars you hear those on are crap, too (or are owned by those who have no idea or care what they’re slapping on their cars).
Exhaust systems are supposed to be more than some pipe and a round can with a little bit of sound deadening. The majority of car manufacturers put significant effort into R&D, desiring a specific sound (or lack thereof) from their exhausts via the use of various mufflers, resonators, equalizers, and flow dynamics. Different materials make different sounds. This is lost on many aftermarket exhaust companies since they’re trying to sell basic crap in mass quantity to the naïve. On the other hand, there are many companies who value style, design and quality materials, and who create quality products for your vehicle.
Why would you want an aftermarket exhaust anyway? It goes FAR beyond just a good soundtrack. Car companies have to make exhausts fit their vehicles so sometimes good dynamics are not top of the list. They have to fulfill emissions and noise requirements, among other requirements. Some low-quality products are made of crush bent metals, making them extremely restrictive. When exhaust is restricted, the engine has to work harder to expel used exhaust gases. Using a quality exhaust, perhaps with larger piping and fewer restrictions, you are freeing up that previously restrained power. Also, factory exhaust tends to be heavy, and when you get into the more exotic materials (like 304 stainless and titanium), you see fewer weight savings as well.
Again, why would you want an aftermarket exhaust? The answer is simple: more power, better sound, less weight AND better fuel economy. Yes, better fuel economy! It can, however, be a double-edged sword, because the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to make the same power, so you can be lighter on the long pedal, BUT the sound from the upgraded exhaust is usually so enjoyable that you’ll find yourself accelerating more than usual, so those fuel savings can go right out the window!
When picking your exhaust system for your vehicle education is important, so let’s review types of exhaust and materials used in them.
What is Water/Methanol Injection and Why Do You Need It?
A few years ago, a huge hype entered the aftermarket automotive world: the introduction of affordable “water meth” kits. In the past few years, the hype seems to have died down… but I’m confused as to why?
I mean… yes, E85 hit the mainstream market there for a while, but as quickly as E85 fuel stations came they also went, and it became harder and harder to buy this great racing fuel substitute. On the other hand, water/methanol injection gives you some of the benefits of E85, along with several unique benefits. Plus, water meth mix is cheap and easy to acquire. The benefit to cost ratio is good and, for anything forced induction, it’s also a safety net.
Now when you hear the phrase “water meth” for the first time, your mind might wander to thoughts of people missing their teeth, wearing mismatched shoes and flannel shirts with no sleeves and wonder how that is going to enhance performance on your car? Well, other than getting your car poorly washed for a dollar there might be some confusion.
If you’re one of the people waiting with baited breath for the new Toyota Supra to arrive so you can put one in your garage, I can almost bet more then half of you will be disappointed. And I’m referring to people that plan and will ACTUALLY buy one. And I say that because 98-percent of the time most cars are hated on loved online, it’s done so by people who have never owned and probably will never own previous iterations of said vehicles.