Just So You Know

My “little” surprise isn’t done yet, but if you check back this weekend and comment, it’ll be a LOT of fun!  I promise a giveaway, and a LOT of fun things to celebrate!  You’ll need to COMMENT to win the giveaway (it IS totally random), so comment on the next post that you see, and check back on Monday to see who won…

More About the Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk!

So, last Friday, I promised to tell more about the Ice Road (also known as the James Dalton Highway).  Sit back and enjoy more about this spectacular road that is the northernmost road in North America.  Of course, since the road is made out of pure ice, there are no trees.  This means that if you are going to camp alongside the road, DON’T make a campfire!  You will start to melt the ice, bringing you and anything else within 500 feet of you down to the depth’s of the ocean (at least you’ll meet Spongebob. . .)!  The ice melt begins usually in late April-early May, but this year, the road service says it looks like it will be closer to June.  Record snow levels are keeping the road open longer.  That doesn’t mean you should travel in late May, as weather conditions might change, bringing you down into the frozen Mackenzie River.  The Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk is only open in the dead of winter (from the time the ice is at least 3-4 inches thick) to mid to late spring.  The road is perhaps best known for it’s being featured on the second season of Ice Road Truckers.  The road conditions change depending on tides and weather.  Many people who went on the Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk say that the best traction is on snow covered ice – right in the middle!  Even if you drove a tank across the ice, you’d be able to tell the tale, as the ice can support up to around 2 million pounds per square foot.  That doesn’t mean you should test the ice to the edge of it’s abilities, as who knows what might happen.

There are very few cars that are suited to driving 10 hours a day, at -40˚ fahrenheit.  The cars that people who have driven the road recommend:

  1. 2005 (or newer) Jeep Wrangler with: 4WD, CB radio, plenty of spare tires, and a working heater and highly visible paint.
  2. 2011 Ford F150 SVT Raptor with: CB radio, plenty of spare tires, a camper shell and highly visible paint.
  3. 1988 Audi Quattro with: working heater, CB radio, and plenty of spare tires and parts, plus, highly visible paint is always helpful.
  4. 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser with: working heater, CB radio, plenty of spare tires and good luck.  Highly visible paint is a must-have on any car you drive on the Ice Road.
  5. 2003 (or newer) GMC Sierra or Chevy Silverado HD pickup truck with: 4WD, CB radio, diesel engine (a must-have because of extra torque), camper shell, plenty of spare tires and a full tank of diesel fuel.  Highly visible paint is always nice, too.
  6. 2010 Honda Pilot with: AWD, CB radio, plenty of spare tires and highly visible paint.

These are the cars NEVER to drive on the Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk:

Anything with 2WD!  It’s already hard enough for a semi driver with only two driving wheels, so they go very slowly.  Otherwise, when they brake, it takes hours to get back up to speed. But, when Motor Trend did an epic road trip from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, they took two SMART ForTwo’s, they said it was pretty scary in something so small that you can die just by tipping over. . .

Cars without heaters (a really, really bad choice).

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about my BIG (HUGE, GARGANTUAN, GINORMOUS) surprise on Friday!  So tune in for a special give-away!  Tell you friends, family and everybody you can think of.  And make sure to do some donuts on the way down the Unmuffled Auto News!  It’s ZOOM for the buck time!!

The Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk

The Alaska Ice Road (commonly called the James Dalton Highway or Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road) is a 414 mile road that goes from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk.  In the summer, the only way to Tuktoyaktuk is by boat or plane because the Ice road goes over a vast delta of the Yukon river.  Even though there is a road, it is a service road for the State of Alaska and the oil companies.  This road goes from Fairbanks, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay.  The only way to get to Prudhoe Bay is by something tough like a military vehicle, a Land Rover or Jeep.    The road in summertime is made of slippery gravel that apparently kicks up such big clouds of dust that accidents with a big rig are as common as an encounter with a Grizzly bear (actually very common. . .).  Up until 1995, permits were required to traverse the James Dalton Highway (the man who was the highway deputy supervisor [just a fancy name for foreman] back in 1943), but now you only need a permit in the winter if your vehicle weighs over 25,000 pounds.

All right, I’ll tell you the history of the Ice Road!  Way back in 1943, F.D.R and William Lyon Mackenzie King agreed that if and when there was a German and/or a Japanese invasion of the U.S., the U.S. would be trapped in, unless they could get into Canada or Alaska.  So, F.D.R decided to start carving two roads:  one to the coast, the other to Canada via Alaska.  The one to the coast would soon be cut off from everywhere else because of the Yukon River flooding.  The road to Canada would go to the small community of Tuktoyaktuk, where Americans would catch a plane to Canada and Russia.            Most of the road would be gravel, but about 35% would have to be on the Yukon River.  Since the attacks were expected to be in late winter, people would be able to get all the way to Tuktoyaktuk on gravel and the Yukon River.  Once the people were in Tuktoyaktuk, the Army Corps of Engineers would place mines in the ice and head off to Tuktoyaktuk.  The road never was used, but every year, the State of Alaska repaves it with gravel.

Since there is a lot to say about the ice road, please tune in again on Tuesday for more on the ice road. . .

Science Period!

What the Z@%$ IS Thermodynamics?  Well, it’s a branch of science that deals with heat; more specifically heat transfer.  It has four laws: the zeroth law, the first law, the second law and the third law.  If you are wondering why there is a zeroth law, it is because when scientists were first researching the properties of Thermodynamics, the scientists already had figured out the first, second, and third laws.  Then  another component was discovered, so……. the zeroth law came into being.

The zeroth law of Thermodynamics states that when two or more objects (i.e.:  two or three metal rods) come into contact, something called Thermodynamic Equilibrium will be attained.  Thermodynamic Equilibrium is the transfer of heat.  The first law has a bit to do with the zeroth law:  The first law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be destroyed or created.  It can only be transformed or transferred.  For example, when a bomb goes off, all the potential energy inside of the bomb is transformed into kinetic energy.  The second law of Thermodynamics is an expression of the tendency that over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and chemical potential equilibrate in an isolated physical system.  The third law of Thermodynamics states that if all the kinetic energy could be removed from the Universe, a state called “Absolute Zero” would be attained.  Absolute Zero will occur when the temperature of empty space reaches 0 Kelvins, or -273.15 Celsius, or -459.67 Fahrenheit.  Absolute Zero will be attained when all the matter and energy of the Universe is randomly distributed.  Of course, this is only the bare basics of Thermodynamics, and if you are interested in learning more, please Google it!

School, science and cars have coincided to create a new project.  I decided that Thermodynamics and cars was the answer! I plan to conduct an experiment on different types and sizes of engines to determine which engine will run the coolest.  Among others, I plan to measure the engine heat of a 2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD with the Duramax diesel engine,  2004 Ford F150, 2003 Chrysler Town & Country with the 3.8 liter V6.  My belief is that the diesel will run the coolest, followed by the F150 and the Town & Country.  Diesel powered engines run at lower temperatures than gasoline powered engines.  Since diesels have peak horsepower and torque at lower RPM’s, they should run at lower temperatures than gasoline cars.  Since most diesels are large (above 6 liters, but there are some that are 2 liters and smaller), engine size is also a possibility.

If you are local and are willing to or would like to participate, let me know.  I know that some of you out there have small engines, hybrids and diesels that are calling out to have their temperature taken (doctor, doctor!).   Stay tuned for more posts on this awesome experiment!

It’s Not A Camry (or Accord)!. . .

This pristine example of a 1979 Toyota Cressida (yes, that’s C-R-E-S-S-I-D-A) was the 1970’s Lexus.  It may look very similar to a 1970’s Plymouth, but looks are deceiving.  It had a 110 horsepower, fuel injected, 2.6 liter in-line six cylinder with a four-speed overdrive transmission.  If it was front-wheel-drive, nobody really cared (at least, that much…), but it turns out that it is actually rear-wheel drive.  In its first year of production, Toyota raked in the green backs, selling 18,649 Cressida’s for only $8,731.  Throughout it’s eight years of production, over 350,000 were sold.  It was available as a sedan or station wagon until 1986 (when production ceased).

Nowadays, the Cressida is a cheaper alternative than a late 1970’s to early 1980’s Cadillac, Lincoln, or Chrysler.  As Car & Driver said in 1983, “The Cressida is a cheaper, better-looking alternative to the normal Cadillac, Lincoln, or Chrysler.  It handles with a prowess of a Mercedes-Benz turbodiesel sedan, but is much quieter and easier to live with.  Overall, it is an amazing road tripper for going down the interstates.  From a distance, it can be mistaken for a Cadillac Seville.”

Out of the 350,000 Cressida’s on the road, approximately 200,000 were sold to South American customers.  The interesting thing is, about 180,000 Cressida’s are being used as  taxis.  They have an interior bigger than the Crown Vic (another popular choice in South America. . . ), which makes them versatile, easy to get into, and comfortable.

It had similar looks to the late 1980’s Toyota Camry and early 1990’s Honda Accord.  They are a bit on the expensive side for a 1970’s-80’s Japanese car, but are nice cars to take the friends on a long ride down the Interstate.  I’m thinking of getting one just because of what I’m saying. . . maybe Mom and Dad will sell the minivan and get this. . .

Help, I Need Somebody – Help!


Help me!  Please?  Pretty Please?  Okay, I’ll stop whining and cut to the chase (Zoomvroom, blog, take 37!). . .  So, however hard I look, I can’t seem to find a Chilton’s manual for my Baby!  This is a challenge to you!  If you can find a link or Chilton’s Repair Guide for a 1982 Chevrolet S10 Tahoe with the 4.3 liter V6.  I’ve looked everywhere: eBay, the Chilton’s Repair Manual for the 1982 Chevrolet S10 Tahoe with the 4.3 liter V6 and four-speed automatic is nowhere to be found.  As I said, I have thrown the gauntlet.  You can chicken out, or find a link and/or a manual for me. . .

Serpentine Belts – the snakey belt – Sssssssss

A serpentine belt (also known as the accessory belt) is a continuous belt that winds its way along the front of the engine (it is often close behind the radiator fans).  The belt goes round and round.  With a belt tensioner (or an idle pulley for diesels) it drives such things as the; alternator, power steering pump, water pump, a/c compressor, air pump, starter motor, etc.  Serpentine belts are so called because they look like a snake winding around.  Serpentine belts need to be made from heat withstanding rubber, because the friction will fray or cause a fire to a less hearty substance.

With cars 25-30 years or older, there could be a belt for every two or three accessories.  In the old days, with no housing around a belt, they would pop off and get shredded by the radiator fan!  When that happened, call a tow truck and expect a large mechanic’s bill!

One of the good things about a serpentine belt is that, since it is only one belt, it is much easier to maintain than 8 belts.  But, it can break under low tension.  High tension is best, but if it is too high, the belt will shred itself.  If you are worried about the belt breaking, look on the side with the little ribs.

Off topic and addressing my previous post.  A good-to-know fact: Chevy has figured out what the cause is for all the Volt fires.  They have announced a recall for every Volt sold in any market (this includes the European Opel version).  It is the housing that holds the battery coolant.  It cracks, allowing coolant to escape out and wreak havoc.  So, I thought those Volt owners might want to know from another source…  Plus, to add to Chevy’s embarrassment, they are telling owners that Volt owners should bring their Volti in for repair.  Basically, that means Chevy’s too embarrassed to say that it’s a recall…

Recall Alert!

Recall Alert! Recall Alert!  Recall Alert!  Of course, this is never a good thing, especially with a new car like the Chevy Volt.  Recalls are unfortunate for both the manufacturer and the consumer, and especially for a great product like the Volt.  This recall centers around the coolant.  They believe the coolant is the likely cause of raging fires that have broken out in Chevy’s all-new, all-cool(ish) car.  The coolant does not catch fire, but rather crystallizes and creates an electrical short that sparks the fires.

On November 25, 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an official investigation with a “little” (that’s a very BIG little) help from the FBI.     GM, an attempt to minimize bad publicity, GM has made offers to Volt owners.  They are offering Volt owners who will have their Volts (what is the plural of Volts?  Volti?) repaired, can get a free loaner car from Chevy. Any car you want.  Repeat, any car you want! – So if you want a Silverado 3500HD with the Duramax Diesel, or a Corvette ZR1 with all the performance options.

“The problem occurs when electricity is left stored in the batteries for some time after a crash,” said Mary Barra, GM’s senior vice president of global product development.  She also said that Volt owners should have a Chevy dealer drain the batteries if a Volt has been in a crash.  Even if a Volt owner “only” dented the bumper, that owner should still take their Volt to the local Chevy dealer.

GM has also offered to buy back Volti from disgruntled owners.  But, don’t look for a ton of auto-paparazzi articles about Chevy buying back 6,000 Volti.  The people who own Volts are much less likely to complain and sell their Volts back, as they’re the people who’ve waited a long time for this technology.

Since the Volt’s introduction in September 2011, GM has only sold about 6,000 Volts.  They’ve made about 12,000, many of which have waited since mid-November (when GM found out about the recall) for a new owner.  Out of those 6,000 Volt owners, only a handful (about 35) have taken up the loaner car offer.  When GM finishes a repurchase plan, not very many owners are expected to use it.  If they’ve waited a few years for technology like this, they get this technology, and then there’s a recall on it, don’t expect them to start complaining yet. . .

Auto analyst, Jessica Caldwell, of edmunds.com said “GM is only dealing with a few thousand cars.”  Caldwell also said,  “It’s much more manageable than a widespread car, like a [Toyota] Camry or Honda Accord, which would be logistically very tough and financially very complicated to do something like a repurchase.”   Even so, if you’re a Volt owner, you should still take your Volt to the dealer and have them check it out – even if its never been in an accident.

If you are a Volt owner and are worried about GM not honoring your warranty, rest assured, as you can call Chevy at 1-800-222-1020 from 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  If you would like to email Chevy, I have attached the link.  http://www.chevrolet.com/pages/mds/helpcenter/contactUs/contactUsPopUp.do

I hope that you all had a Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2012!