The Corporate Crisis: Executive Misconduct


How a corporation responds to a potential crisis involving allegations of an ethical lapse on the part of a senior executive has the potential to shape its corporate image long after the initial event is over. As Toyota and the Subway corporation are currently discovering, despite all best corporate governance efforts, including expertly crafted corporate compliance programs and codes of conduct, no corporation is immune from the damage that can be sustained from the alleged ethical lapse or misconduct on the part of a senior executive or corporate spokesperson. Mitigation efforts can be especially challenging when the senior executive’s alleged unethical or illegal conduct is unrelated to the corporation’s operations.

A comprehensive understanding of the underlying relevant facts is critical to the corporation’s decision making process. As well as a proactive and focused mitigation protocol that provides the corporation with the ability to demonstrate a good faith response to the misconduct.

All too often, C-suite executives believe that due to their organization’s robust and comprehensive compliance programs, their organizations are well protected from such ethical crises involving their key executives. As a result, integrity mitigation protocols tend to be assigned a low priority at the senior executive level.

Research studies have indicated that on average upwards of 60% of CEO’s and corporate boards have failed to successfully embrace integrity mitigation protocols into their overall corporate strategic planning. Given the potential consequences to the organization if such events are not proactively mitigated, it is essential that an organization has an effective risk mitigation program in place so that senior management can be prepared as best they can be. This is particularly true in today’s 24/7 news cycle and sound bite journalism. In the current environment, where instant access to the news is so readily available, a corporation cannot afford to play catch-up.

In the event that the senior executive’s alleged unethical or potentially illegal conduct is unrelated to the organization’s operations, the potential fallout and reporting obligations may not be readily apparent to the organization. This is particularly important to corporation’s that are publicly traded and heavily regulated, in which case, the alleged misconduct may require certain reporting obligations on the part of the organization.

Failure to comply with the mandatory reporting requirements, has the potential to increase the organization’s civil and criminal liability exposure. The FCPA, SOX and other statutes and regulations all impose varying levels of disclosure requirements.

In instances where the corporation learns that a senior executive is the subject of a government civil or criminal investigation, the corporation should take steps to monitor and if possible manage the company’s cooperative efforts with investigators. The goal here is to demonstrate the organization’s good faith response to the misconduct and more importantly, attempt to shape and focus the investigation away from the organization. In all discussions with investigators or prosecutor’s, the corporation’s should attempt to underscore the organization’s incidental connection to the matters under investigation.

While dealing with the crisis, the organization must take care to avoid ant inconsistencies between its regulatory and legal reporting statements and the message it send to its various constituencies about the employee’s alleged misconduct.

One of the best courses of action is for the organization to try to distance itself from the personal misconduct of the senior executive. Should the corporation choose to suspend the senior executive, the corporation should inform relevant constituents that the corporation’s operations will not be destabilized or disrupted by the absence of the executive. It should be kept in mind, that when dealing with the media, the corporation’s response should be proportionate to the interest of the matter.

Proper identification and assessment of the crisis is essential to the corporation’s ability to initiate a proper response. A corporation facing a crisis must be able to identify the options available to them. The corporation’s crisis response plan needs to be flexible enough to allow for adjustment to changing circumstances and environments. It is essential to keep in mind that crisis response mitigation is a process not a project. Accept the fact that some percentage of what you plan for today will change two weeks from now and will deteriorate over time. Above all when drafting your crisis response procedures try to avoid the “War and Peace” syndrome, and do not confuse crisis management with business continuity planning.

Equally important, and extending beyond the potential liability exposure, the corporation may find itself facing significant reputational damage. In such a situation, the corporation must assess whether an internal investigation is warranted. A properly conducted internal investigation will provide the corporation with the means of determining the underlying facts of the matter. The internal investigation may also implicate certain defects in the corporation’s procedures or the potential involvement of others within the organization. Also the internal investigation has the potential to insulate the organization from civil and or criminal liability exposure.

During a crisis keep in mind that the world is watching. Consequently, it is incumbent to know your audience. During the crisis, all of your corporate constituencies, shareholders, creditors, consumers, business partners, employees and especially regulators and industry analysts will be monitoring your response to the crisis. As a result, the organization must prepare and respond in a manner that promotes confidence and transparency.


Source by Michael Celock

The Seven Elements of Waste to Look For in Your Business


June is upon us and the kids will be getting out of school shortly. This means summer vacations to the beach and weekly trips to the pool. Many of us dread the swimsuit season since we may not be as “lean” as we’d like to be. Getting lean physically means eating better, eating less and exercising more. That is my current objective since our July trip to Myrtle Beach is approaching fast!

This made me think about getting “lean” as it relates to business. You may have heard of the terms “lean manufacturing” or “lean thinking” in different articles, seminars or books. Lean manufacturing or “lean” is a generic process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS). I know Toyota has run into some major issues recently so I don’t want you to shut down mentally at this point. The main reason that Toyota has run into the problems is the lack of focus on lean principles and total quality efforts that made them so successful in the first place. One of the keys to surviving in this economy is to do more with less and having a lean mentality in your business will help you get there.

Lean is NOT just for manufacturing! These concepts apply to all types of businesses as well as back office processes such as finance and human resources. Lean concepts can be applied to everything.

One lean concept relates to eliminating waste and is basically centered on the concept of “preserving value with less work.” Lean thinking points to effectively eliminating seven different types of waste in your business processes:

1. Transportation

2. Inventory

3. Motion

4. Waiting

5. Overproduction

6. Overprocessing

7. Defects

Let’s take a look at these and provide examples of each.

Transportation – This involves standard transportation from suppliers and to customers as well as the internal transport of information. UPS discovered the waste involved in transportation when it explored the simple concept of its trucks waiting at stop lights or stop signs to make a left turn. Significant amounts of time and gas were being wasted waiting to make left turns.

UPS rewrote their software programs to maximize the number of right turns when delivering packages. In 2006, this resulted in saving over three million gallons of gas, increased deliveries per truck and reduced CO2 emissions by 31,000 metric tons.

Takeaway – waste is everywhere if you look at things differently. Also, simple concepts can deliver huge results. Don’t outthink yourself. There is brilliance in simplicity.

Inventory – This involves storing and maintaining “just in case” inventory versus “just in time” inventory. Inventory that is made or purchased without orders or immediate use limits floor space, increases storage costs, reduces cash flow, etc. In its original model, Dell Computer had this mastered. Customer’s computer orders were placed online or over the phone. The computers were then put together with on hand supplier parts that did not become Dell inventory until it was added to the computer on order.

The customer paid for the computer when it was shipped and then Dell paid the suppliers for the parts inventory on 60 day terms after the shipment. How’s that for a cash flow model! Customer payment 60 days before I have to pay my supplier and I hold no inventory. Wouldn’t we all love that model!

Takeaway– Think of inventory as a liability, not an asset and ask yourself the question, “How do I fulfill customer orders with little or no inventory?”

Motion – Think of wasted motion as extra steps taken by employees based on an inefficient layout. There is significant waste related to motion in back office processes. For example, the expenditure process involves purchasing, receiving, vouching, approval and payment. Wouldn’t it make sense to have these functions as close to each other as possible as well as maximizing the automation of the workflow?

Many times these functions are on different floors, in different buildings and are not automated. People move up and down floors, send emails, drop off paperwork………you get the idea. This results in delays in approval, delays in processing, the scheduling of unnecessary meetings (Talk about waste!) and increases in cycle times.

Takeaway – Better layouts, better process flow design and increased automation eliminates unnecessary motion which reduces waste and increases productivity. Take time to think about the unnecessary “motion” that occurs in your business.

Waiting – No real mystery here. Think of periods of inactivity while people or machines are waiting for the next input. A great example is in the mortgage application process. You fill out your application with all the supporting information and hand it over to the mortgage company. They tell you it will take four to six weeks to process.

In reality, there is only 15-20 hours of actual work done on your application to complete it. The rest of the time is wasted on waiting. Work waiting for people (backlog), people waiting for work or people waiting for people. One smell test is Solitaire. If people are playing Solitaire, then you know time is being wasted waiting for work.

Takeaway– Look at processes that involve waiting and find ways to eliminate that time. If that is not possible, add new productive activities that can be done during the waiting period.

Overproduction – This ties in directly with inventory and waiting. Overproducing and waiting results in excessive inventory. A client of mine used to make product and then package it in finished goods based on customer forecast. Many times when the orders came in, the customer wanted different packaging than forecast so my client had to open up finished goods boxes, take the product out of packages and repackage them per the customer order. A waste of time, packaging materials and warehouse space as well as the opportunity cost of working on other orders.

In this case, the solution was to manufacture goods based on better customer forecasts (push) and then package and ship based on customer order (pull). This reduced inventory and rework as well as shipping orders more quickly.

Takeaway – look for ways to get better information to better forecast needs and figure out ways to maximize production efficiencies so finished goods can be shipped immediately upon completion.

Overprocessing – This is usually an issue when one sub-process is much more efficient than other sub-processes. For example, you run the payment processing section for a credit card operation. You decided to buy a high speed envelope opener that opens 60 envelopes/minute. Sounds great except for the fact that your staff can only process 30 payments per minute. The increased speed in letter opening does not increase the throughput at the end of the process. The money spent on this machine is wasted if it does not result in increased throughput for the whole process.

Takeaway – you must look at an entire process and measure it from beginning to end. Increased speed in one sub-process does not necessarily result in better total results. A processes’ throughput is only as good as its biggest bottleneck!

Defects – We’ve all heard the phrase, “do it right the first time” and that is the essence of this element. Defects in outputs (products, documents, deliverables, etc.) that causes the output to be disposed of or to need rework results in wasted materials, time and scheduling as well as missing customer delivery dates or client due dates.

I had a client that had a large department devoted entirely to back office error correction based on incomplete or inaccurate data that was input by customers via the web. By making some web form adjustments that required data to be input a certain way and rejecting customer submissions unless they were complete and accurate, we eliminated the “waste” of error correction by eliminating the problem at the source.

Takeaway – build quality into your processes so no rework is required. Determine the root cause of defects and eliminate the problem at the source and refuse to implement “band aid” solutions related to the symptoms.

I have found that by intentionally looking for waste based on these seven elements, I see waste everywhere. It’s like putting on different glasses and seeing a different world in front of you. For the next week, I challenge you take the seven elements (acronym is TIM WOOD for memory purposes) and look for them intentionally in all that you do.

I believe you will be amazed at how many wasteful things you will see through the course of the week and it will inspire you to get more “lean” in all that you do. Different lenses show you different things. Please let me know what you see!


Source by Derrick Strand

Car Heater Not Working – Blowing Cold Air!


There are several reasons why your car’s heater may be blowing cold air, instead of heat. It is important to understand how the heater works in your car before you can begin to try to diagnose why it is not working. First, there is NOT an electric heater element in the heater system in automobiles, like in portable heaters used in the home. The part that transfers heat into the passenger compartment is called a heater core. A heater core can be thought of as a miniature radiator. The car engine’s coolant flows through the heater core while the fan (also called a blower), blows air through the heater core fins. When air blows through the heater core fins, it is warmed, therefore warming the passenger compartment.

Start by checking the coolant. As we already said coolant is what warms the heater core. So if the coolant is low, there may not be a sufficient amount of warmth to transfer heat to the air in the passenger compartment. Since it ‘s cold outside, low coolant may not effect the operating temperature of the engine significantly, so you won’t be alerted to a coolant problem by the temperature gage on the instrument panel. Once the coolant is full, feel the heater hoses that go through the firewall. With the engine at normal operating temperature, BOTH of the heater hoses should be hot to the touch. If only one is hot, this indicates there is is a blockage in the heater core or there is air trapped in the heater core. Using a Lisle coolant funnel is helpful in purging the air from the cooling system. If the coolant is really brown, has been neglected, or if “stop leak” has been used at some point, the heater core could be stopped up. The blockage can sometimes be unstopped by removing the heater hoses and using a garden hose with a sprayer to flush the heater core out. If neither of the hoses are hot to the touch, there could also be a malfunctioning heater control valve, if used on the model you’re working on. Check for presence of a heater control valve by following the heater hoses back to the engine. Sometimes, a vacuum line could have a break causing there to be no vacuum to operate the valve. Also it should be noted that if this is your first winter with this car (and you’re unfamiliar with the car’s repair history), the previous owner could have by-passed the heater core because of a leak. When a heater core leaks, usually they wet the passenger side floorboard. The labor cost to change heater cores is usually expensive, so sometimes people will loop the heater hoses and by-pass a leaking heater core instead of repairing it properly.

Next check for proper airflow. After you’re sure the heater core is getting hot water flow, read the following information. Doors within the heater case are either controlled by electric actuators, cables or vacuum motors. Adjust the heat control to both extremes while listening for movement of the blend door. With a cable operated heater door it’s easiest to hear the door thump when it closes. If the door is not operating, find the door that controls the airflow across the heater core. If there is an electric motor that controls the door, tapping on it can sometimes make it work temporarily for testing purposes. A vacuum operated motor needs vacuum to work, so using a handheld vacuum pump for testing is usually recommended. If the vacuum motor does not hold vacuum, the diaphragm is leaking requiring replacement. To go deeper into diagnoses of the control head’s function and diagnosis, specific vehicle repair manual information is needed. But hopefully the basics laid out in this article has helped to get you started on the right track. 


Source by Dennis Bandy

Twin-Charging – Concept and Example Application


The first time I ever heard of twin charging (using both a turbocharger and a supercharger on the same motor) was probably back in year 2000. At that time I was very interested in performance for the Toyota Celica and naturally I also read a lot about its sister cars (that shared some of the same engines) such as the Camry and the MR2.

One of the most interesting aftermarket parts I ran across at the time was the HKS turbo kit for the 4AGZE powered 1st generation mr2. The 4agze (for those that are not familiar with Toyota engines) is a peppy 170 horsepower 1.6 liter engine powered by the Toyota SC-12 roots type supercharger. On this car Toyota used an electromagnetically clutched supercharger that could be disabled during low power requirements such as cruising, and engaged when the user demands it.

One of the most important parts of the HKS kit is the bypass valve. This valve was used to direct air from the supercharger to the engine at lower rpm/flow points. Once the rpm’s rise, and the engine starts to demand more air, and the turbocharger is fully spooled, the valve switches over gradually till the turbocharger alone is feeding the engine while the supercharger is completely bypassed. The twin-charged MR2’s were rumored to break the 300hp mark in some cases, depending on the final boost level and the supporting modifications, and this level of power for a 1.6 litre motor at the time was quiet astounding.

The theory behind this kind of system is to use a small positive displacement (roots style) supercharger. Supercharger performance efficiency is typically at its highest at lower engine and supercharger rpm’s (for example from idle to 4000 rpm’s). Above 4000 rpm’s the supercharger’s performance and efficiency starts to drop, the horsepower required to drive it starts to rise exponentially, and the air temperature coming out of the supercharger starts to rise dramatically limiting performance.

On the other hand, using a generously sized turbocharger will allow us to feed the engine efficiently with cooler air (than that from an overworked supercharger) and maintain high rpm performance. The problem with using a larger turbocharger is that a generously sized turbocharger typically doesn’t spool before 3000 to 4000 rpm’s giving us a limited power band and thus providing no performance boost at lower rpm’s.

The idea of twin charging is to use both a supercharger and a turbocharger to have each charger do what it does best, have the supercharger boost the motor for low end torque, and as it runs out of steam, the turbocharger comes online to carry us through to redline.

There are three aspects to these types of systems that make them prohibitive to most tuners:

1. Cost and complexity: Having a complete supercharger system as well as a complete turbocharger system on the same vehicle is a lot of money to spend and a lot of parts to deal with and diagnose in case something does go wrong.

2. The bypass valve used to bypass the supercharger (and yet hold in all the air pressure coming from the turbocharger) as well as being able to control this valve electrically or mechanically requires a custom made one off valve that isn’t quite available off the shelf. Although as I write this it seems possible to find a large sized dual chamber bypass valve plumbed to operate on the differential pressure between the turbo outlet and the supercharger outlet to switchover once the turbocharger pressure = the supercharger pressure + the tension of the bypass valve opening mechanism.

3. Since we are using two different types of chargers with two different efficiency maps, it can get very complicated to figure out how to tune the motor (especially with much simpler fuel injection systems that were used at the time) because the air density can vary dramatically at the same rpm point and pressure level depending on which charger is feeding air to the motor and at what proportion. This is also where the HKS turbo kit for the 4agze was at its weakest, namely at smoothing the transition point fueling between the supercharger to turbocharger switchover.

One of the things that has changed over the last 10 years is the availability (and proliferation of knowledge) about available alternative fuels or octane boosters. Two such options are:

1- E85 fuel which is comprised of 85% Ethanol which has an octane rating of about 100 to 105 octane vs the typical 87 to 93 octane pump gasoline.

2- Water / methanol injection systems that can be used either as supplemental fueling system (based on the methanol content which carries an octane rating of 110 octane or higher) or can be used for in cylinder cooling when the water vapor injected with the methanol transforms into steam inside the combustion chamber, thus extracting lots heat out of the combustion chamber, and thus slowing down the speed of travel of the combustion flame front simulating the effects similar to those of a higher octane gasoline.

With the availability of these octane increasing or octane simulating concoctions, it has become more accessible of recent for the performance enthusiast to build a different type of twin charger system that does not require a bypass valve.

In this type of system the supercharger outlet is routed to feed the turbocharger inlet or vice versa. Rather than either the supercharger or the turbocharger feeding the engine individually (in parallel operation) and switching between the two, we are now using a two stage compression system where one stage is the factory supercharger, and the 2nd stage is an aftermarket turbocharger system.

The net result of the two compressors is a compounding of pressure ratios. For example if the turbocharger waste-gate opening spring is set to a setting of 7psi of pressure above atmosphere (which is a pressure ratio of 1.5 given that 1 atmosphere is about 14.7 psig); and if the supercharger is mechanically geared to flow 50% more than the engine (for positive displacement roots style superchargers) at any rpm, thus having an identical 7psi boost setting or a pressure ratio of 1.5; then the resultant pressure ratio of the system combined is :

PR total = PR turbo * PR supercharger = a pressure ratio of 2.25

A pressure ratio of 2.25 is equivalent to 18.4 psi of boost (not 14psi expected by adding the two stages together).

So anyway, how does this relate to octane requirements ?

If the turbocharger is feeding the supercharger for example, and the turbocharger is ingesting fresh air at ambient air temperatures (T1), then:

1- The air exiting the turbocharger will be at a temperature T2, higher than the ambient air temperature (T1) by about 60-80*C depending on the exact turbocharger, and where we are on the turbocharger compressor and efficiency map.

2- The air entering the supercharger will enter at a temperature T2 ~=T1+60 and exit at a temperature T3 which is higher than T2 by about another 60-80*C depending on the exact specifications of the supercharger.

3- If we had an intercooler after the supercharger, then the air entering the intercooler will be at 120 to 160*C above ambient temperatures which is a lot of heat for the intercooler to attempt to shed in the short amount of time that the air passes through the intercooler core.

4- If we have no post supercharger intercooler (which is common on cars where the supercharger is packaged into the intake manifold of the car), then the air entering the engine will be at some 120 to 160*C above ambient.

5- This excessively heated air not only reduces power output (By about 1 horsepower for every 13*C) but it also increases the probability of the air fuel mixture automatically igniting in the motor pre-maturely before the spark plug has fired, and if this pre-mature ignition occurs early enough to catch the piston significantly far away from top dead center, then the battling flame front pushing the piston downwards, and the inertia of the system (and force of other firing cylinders rotating this piston via the crankshaft) pushing the piston upwards will cause extremely high pressures and a temperature rise on the surface of the piston ultimately damaging it and possibly damaging other parts of the motor as well.

For these reasons (pressure compounding, and combined temperature rise) sequential charging has seen very little application in the past. The use of a higher octane fuel by definition means that the air fuel mixture is more resilient to auto-ignition and detonation. Furthermore, in the event of a pre-mature ignition, the higher octane fuel creates a slower traveling flame front which gives the piston more time to travel upwards in the cylinder bore (Closer to top dead center) before meeting the flame front and this reduces the time that the piston surface is improperly pressurized and overheated reducing the possibility of catastrophic failure. Last but not least, the use a water / methanol injection mix includes two phase-change events:

1- The injected methanol changes from a liquid state to a vapor state at its boiling point of 65*C, i.e. as soon as it hits the compressed air mixture coming from the supercharger outlet. This phase change absorbs a lot of the heat out of the air and methanol mixture reducing inlet air temperatures even before the mixture reaches the combustion chamber and starts to get compressed. This temperature reduction goes a long way towards eliminating or highly reducing the possibility of detonation.

2- The injected water, changes from a liquid state to a vapor state at its boiling point of 100*C which depending on the availability of an intercooler in the system, my occur in the intake plumbing before reaching the combustion chamber, or may not occur until the mixture is ignited. Either way, when the temperature is high enough, the water mist injected in the air stream will flash vaporize into steam also absorbing a generous amount of the heat created in the combustion.

The availability of these two octane boosters makes it now possible for aftermarket performance part manufacturers to deliver safe and reliable sequential charging kits to the mass market.

One such kit which I ran across in an article from hot rod magazine was developed by hellion performance ( for the factory supercharged GT-500 mustang.

The kit supposedly produce up to 1000 horsepower at a boost level of 24 psi using two 61mm Turbonetics turbochargers.

To achieve 1000 hp requires around 1500 cfm of airflow at 24psi or 1500cfm at a pressure ratio of 2.63, or 750cfm @ 2.63pr per turbocharger.

Since most compressor maps for this size of turbocharger (61mm) peak out at around 600cfm @ 2.63 pr @ around 50% efficiency which is an extreme point on the map (i.e. the turbocharger is maxed out at this point). I’m going to say that I am confident that the kit is capable of supporting 800hp with a typical pair 61mm turbocharger, however 1000hp although dyno-proven, does not agree with what is published on most 61mm turbochargers. I’m not doubting the kit, I am stating that I don’t have a better reference for the specific turbocharger used in the kit.

Furthermore, feeding 1000hp from 8 injectors requires eight 750cc/min injectors by my estimate and this agrees with what is mentioned on Hot Rod magazine’s article of needing 75lbs/hour injectors (each lb/hour is roughly equivalent to 10.5cc/min) at a minimum or a total fuel deliver requirement of 900 liters per hour of fuel at a the fuel rail pressure which is typically around 45psi.

Looking at the flow capacity of the GS342 fuel pump supplied with the kit, which is 255lph @ 30psi, then using 3 fuel pumps gives us the capacity for 765lph which is about 2125 hp worth of fuel, so in that regard the kit is capable of supporting the power figure.

As you can see, it is possible to design such a complex system if the information (Turbocharger compressor map, turbocharger temperature map, supercharger compressor map, supercharger temperature map …etc) information were available before hand. What remains a mystery and an art of trial and failure, is how over-engineered is your engine, how much torque can it produce and still continue to survive, and how long can it continue to survive at elevated power levels. That is altogether a more exciting question to answer.


Source by Haitham Al Humsi

P0171 and P0174 Codes – Don’t Replace an Oxygen Sensor Before Reading This


So your car’s CEL (Check Engine Light) is on and you had the codes scanned at a local parts store. Your car has either a P0171, P0174 lean fault code or both stored in the computer, these codes are based on Oxygen Sensor (O-2) readings. A lean code or codes indicate that there’s too much oxygen in the exhaust. Remember parts stores have employees that have good intentions but they may not have the experience necessary to interpret what the trouble codes really mean. These codes are based on oxygen measurements in the exhaust. A common mistake with lean codes is to replace the oxygen sensors. This could be a very expensive mistake that will not fix the problem. Especially if both codes are present, because the chance of both O-2 sensors failing at the same time is very unlikely.

Most likely the cause is a vacuum leak. A vacuum leak can be caused from a vacuum hose, intake gasket or maybe even a leak in the air intake hose from the MAF (Mass Air Flow Sensor). Listen for a hissing sound that may lead you to the source of the problem. Some technicians will use a propane bottle with a hose attachment to help pinpoint vacuum leaks. With today’s computers it’s not quite as easy to check for vacuum leaks this way because the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) will compensate quickly for the added fuel and a change in idle is harder to notice. Oxygen sensor readings can be monitored with a scan tool while checking for leaks with propane, by looking for increased readings when enriching the mixture. Another way technicians can check for vacuum leaks is with a smoke test. By introducing smoke into a vacuum hose on the engine, the leak will be revealed when the smoke escapes from the problem area.

Aftermarket air filters that use oil on the element can sometimes damage the MAF. Over oiling the air filter may allow some excess to get on the MAF sensor wire or element. This can alter the reading, fooling the ECU into seeing more or less air flow therefore changing the air/fuel mixture incorrectly. I once worked on a car that would not start that had a problem with a MAF. When looking at the wire in the MAF, there was a burned piece of trash that made it’s way past the air filter. After cleaning the sensor the car ran perfectly. The ash that was on the MAF sensor wire was altering the reading by enriching the mixture so much that the car could not run. After talking with the customer, he said the air filter was just changed. This was obviously when some trash got into the air intake hose that settled on the hot wire of the MAF.

Fuel Pressure could also cause a lean condition. If the fuel filter is clogged or the fuel pump pressure is low, there could be higher level of oxygen in the exhaust also. Most of the time though, the ECU will compensate for the reduced fuel volume. So this is one of the least likely causes of a lean code.    


Source by Dennis Bandy

Nine Japanese Automakers


Japanese built and designed cars have flooded the North American market for over forty years now. Over time, many nameplates have come and gone, but Japanese cars continue to gain market share and acceptance with a growing number of motorists attracted to their high quality and durability. There are nine Japanese automobile manufacturing companies in existence. Can you name them? Let’s take a look at the list:

Toyota – The second largest automaker in the world is Toyota, maker of the Camry, the Corolla, and a host of SUVs, trucks, passenger cars, and a van. Toyota’s Lexus division produces luxury cars, while its Scion division manufactures youth oriented vehicles.

Honda – The Accord and the Civic are Honda’s two most well known models, followed by the Odyssey minivan, the Ridgeline truck, the Element, and several other passenger vehicles. Acura is the name given to Honda’s luxury car division.

Nissan – Drive a Datsun and then decide. Up until the early 1980s, Nissan’s North American nameplate was Datsun, but was switched to Nissan to give it a more global name. The Sentra, Maxima, and Pathfinder are amongst the division’s best selling vehicles. Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury car division. Renault Motors of France owns a controlling interest in Nissan.

Mitsubishi – Originally imported exclusively by Chrysler, Mitsubishi began to sell cars under its own name in the 1980s. Top selling models include the Lancer, the Eclipse, and the Montero. DaimlerChrysler owns a chunk of the company.

Mazda – The Tribute, Miata, and the “6” are some of the most well known Mazda models. The Mazda 6’s platform also powers several Ford Motor Company cars including the Mercury Milan. Ford owns an important stake in the company.

Subaru – Think all wheel drive and you may just think Subaru. The Forester, Outback, and Legacy are all top selling Subaru models. Fuji Heavy Industries [FHI] owns Subaru; General Motors has a 20 percent stake in FHI.

Suzuki – 20% owned by General Motors, Suzuki is as noted for producing cars as it is for manufacturing motorcycles. The Grand Vitara is one of its most noted models.

Isuzu – Did someone say General Motors? Again, GM owns a stake in Isuzu. At one time Isuzu imported cars to the US, but those days are over. Currently, Isuzu has a minuscule presence and the two vehicles they do sell – the Ascender SUV and I Series pick ups – are simply rebadged GMC vehicles.

Daihatsu – The Charade and Rocky were two models introduced by Daihatsu when the car company started selling vehicles in North America in 1988; four years later its North American operations were closed. In 1999, Toyota assumed controlling interest over the company.

So, there you have it: there are nine Japanese automakers, two of which are still independent. Much like the American market further consolidation is likely with nameplates disappearing entirely just like the Packard, Hudson, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and a host of other North American nameplates have driven off into the history books.


Source by Matthew Keegan

Driving And Renting A Car In Costa Rica – 7 Most Frequently Asked Questions


Driving in Costa Rica is not for everyone.  So make sure you know what you’re getting into before getting behind the wheel of a car in Costa Rica.  The following are the 7 most frequently asked questions about driving in Costa Rica.  These questions come in from my popular podcast about Costa Rica from folks from the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

1. What type of cars are available for rent?

Renting a car in Costa Rica is more expensive than in the U.S. so most people rent the smaller more compact cars that are a little cheaper.

Prices vary and during the high season you will pay more.  Around $20 or more per day.  Renting during Christmas/New Years will add another $50 or more per week.  I looked at five car rental company cars in Costa Rica and the average for renting a small car like a Toyota Yaris will cost around $205 per week. Please note this doesn’t include the required by law insurance which will add at least $10-20 per day.  So you’re looking at $250-300 to rent a small car per week.

You will find all the major car rental agencies in Costa Rica such as Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Budget, and others.

2. Is driving a good idea?

It depends.  Driving in Costa Rica compared to other countries can be a very scary proposition for most.  Costa Rica has one of the highest vehicle accident rates in the world.  Traffic laws and speed limits are often ignored.  Crazy and illegal turns across lanes of traffic are common.  Turn signals are rarely used and dangerous passing is common.  So you might driving on your lane when all of a sudden here comes a car in your lane going the wrong way because they’re passing on a blind spot.  The roads are in poor condition, and large potholes which could cause serious damage to your car is common.

Although the road conditions in the beach areas are worse the actual driving isn’t as scary since there is less traffic and since the roads aren’t the best people tend to drive a little slower.

I like to have my own transportation so renting a car is something I like to do but it all depends on your comfort level.  I’ve had friends and family who had never driven outside of the U.S. they found driving to be scary but a fun adventure.  So just take it easy and slow and you will be fine.  Don’t worry about the other drivers, just do your thing.

3. Do I need car rental insurance?

By law you will need the INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros) liability insurance regardless of your own car insurance coverage or credit card coverage.  The insurance required by law is known as TPL, SLI, SLC or API.  The cost ranges from $10-20 USD per day depending on the vehicle.  This insurance only covers damages to other people, cars, or property.  You will need to buy supplemental coverage to cover damages to the rental car or yourself.  However your own car insurance policy or credit card might cover that so call your insurance agent at home before leaving for Costa Rica and ask him or her if your insurance policy covers you for damages in Costa Rica.  You might also want to call your credit card issuer and ask them the same question.  If your own policy covers you in Costa Rica you’re set and you don’t need the supplemental coverage.  If they do not cover you, then I suggest taking out a supplemental policy offered by car rental agencies.

Optional-CDW or LDW – collision damage waiver which covers the cost of the car’s deductible amount which varies depending on the type of car and agency.  The cost will range between $10-20 USD per day.

Optional-Zero Liability – This will reduce your liability to zero against theft and vandalism, for example, the cost for this insurance is between $5-20 USD per day depending on the agency and car.

As you can see the supplemental insurance cost can add up fast so it’s important that you check with your insurance agent and your credit card company since you might not even need the optional/supplemental coverage.

If your insurance agent gives you the thumbs up do me a favor and get it in writing!  You don’t want any surprises.

4. What are car rental requirements in Costa Rica?

Requirements may vary depending on the car agency you use so check with them.  Most require a valid driver’s license (one from your home state or country is fine), a valid passport with your entry stamp, the Costa Rica mandated liability insurance, and you must be at least 21 years of age.

5. Is it safe to drive at night?

The problem driving at night is not crime, it’s just the unsafe driving and poor road conditions which are compounded even worse when you have poor visibility.  The roads are not lit up well and it gets pitch dark after 6:00 PM making it unsafe to drive for an inexperienced driver.

6. What are road conditions like?

The road conditions are very poor compared to the super highways of the United States or the Autobahn in Germany.  Drivers have to contend with unsafe driving habits of motorists, huge potholes, and even the highway is a two-lane road.  The roads get worse during the rainy season since road washouts from the mudslides from the mountains are common.

7. What side of the road do they drive on in Costa Rica?

On the right hand side, like in the U.S. and Canada.

One final tip

Make a copy of the profile page of your passport and your entry stamp and carry that with you along with your car rental papers.  You might get stopped by police and you will need to show this to them.  Do no carry your passport with you just make copies.  The Costa Rican government now allows you to carry copies instead of your actual passport.


Source by Alan Petersen

How To Bleed A Diesel Engine Fuel Injection System


There are certain rules of thumb when it comes to learning how to bleed a diesel engine. There are dozens of different diesel fuel injection systems running around but the same principle applies to all of them. The main principle is removing the air out of the fuel system. Check out this scenario below.

So you find yourself driving down the road and suddenly your diesel engine starts to knock, lose power and pump out a bunch of white smoke. Finally it dies and after a few cranks you decide to check it out further. You find out the fuel tank is empty. The last time you checked your fuel level gauge it read half a tank, and you realize it still reads half a tank after driving 100 miles. A defective fuel gauge sender (located in the tank) is not an uncommon problem which causes more inconvenience with an engine shut down condition.

So now that you have determined the cause of the problem it is time to top up the tank with diesel and bleed the fuel system. Generally speaking diesels need a high pressure atomized spray that turns into a combustible mixture when combined with high compression. Compressed air heats up enough in the combustion chamber to ignite the mixture and provide the high power thrust that diesel engines are known for.

Step One – How To Bleed A Diesel Engine

The first thing to do is top up the tank and fill the primary fuel filter (closest to the fuel tank) with clean diesel fuel. This filter relies on vacuum or suction from the fuel transfer pump to keep it primed up and moving along to the secondary fuel filter. Diesel fuel transfer pumps are either mechanically driven off the camshaft or electric motor driven. If you are really blessed you might even have a hand priming pump built into the system.

Step Two – Removing Air From The Diesel Fuel Injection System

Any way you look at it, the main objective is to rid the fuel injection system of air. Loosening fuel lines is a common practice for older diesels. Loosen off fuel line fittings before the injection pump then work the hand priming pump until you see no more bubbles streaming from the loosened off fuel lines. This will assure that there is fuel to the injection pump.

Step Three – Bleeding A Bosch Mechanical Diesel Fuel Injection System

As an example the Bosch fuel injection pump found in Cummins diesel engines has a bleeder plug on the front, right side of the pump body and can be loosened off first while pumping the hand primer found on the driver side of the block. The mechanical fuel injection system on these engines have the fuel lines exposed for easy access. Loosen all of the injection lines at the head. Cranking over the engine will accelerate the air removal process. When the fuel system starts to pick up fuel the engine will try to start and stumble. At this point tighten the fuel lines and keep cranking over the engine, you will have fire power before you know it.

Bleeding An Electronic Diesel Fuel Injection System

Newer diesel engines went to an electric fuel transfer pump. As soon as you turn on the ignition key the pump kicks in and automatically primes the fuel system. Using the Cummins ISC diesel engine as and example, to prime you must fill the primary filter first with clean diesel fuel and install the secondary fuel filter dry. Once the ignition key is on the fuel transfer pump will prime the secondary filter with clean filtered fuel from the primary fuel filter.

Once you know how to bleed a diesel engine and go through it a couple of times you will see the importance of getting the air out of the lines. Air compresses and won’t allow any movement of diesel fuel resisting the build up of high pressures that diesel fuel injection systems require to start and run the engine.


Source by John Whelan

The Advantages of Smart Car Keys


Pretty much all new cars nowadays are equipped with smart key technology, which has made putting a key into your car’s door to unlock it or into the ignition switch to start your car’s engine obsolete. Now you have a transmitter fob, which relies on radio frequencies to unlock a car’s doors and start its engine. At the beginning, when intelligent car keys were first introduced, they were mostly used in luxury cars, since it was an expensive technology, and it didn’t make sense to implement it in less expensive cars. Some of the most popular and advanced smart key systems include Mercedes-Benz’s Keyless Go integrated into SmartKeys, Toyota’s Smart Key System, Lincoln’s Intelligent Access System, and BMW’s Comfort Access.

Vehicles that come with such technology are equipped with computerized systems, and can identify the driver as they are approaching the car. The system uses several microchips and sensors that transmit information to the smart key, which opens the car’s doors thanks to a radio transponder chip that is installed in the key. This is a so called Passive Keyless Entry System, which doesn’t even require you to take your key out of your pocket or your bag and pushing a button to unlock the doors. Once you’ve entered your car, you can start the engine by pressing the engine start button.

These are perhaps the most significant advantages of intelligent over traditional car keys. In addition to being very convenient, they make your car difficult to steal. This is because thieves can’t unlock and start a car that has smart key features using the traditional method, that involves cutting some wires, then stripping and connecting them. The computer system in the car requires that the correct code from the smart key is transmitted, and if it doesn’t receive it, it won’t get the car going, no matter which and how many wires are cut and connected.

As far as the downsides are concerned, it’s worth noting that there are some added costs that come with owning a car with a smart key technology. If you happen to lose your smart key, it may cost you over $100 to replace it, whereas replacing a traditional key only costs $10 – $15. Plus, you can’t buy a new intelligent key wherever you want, since it’s a technology that is trademarked by your car’s manufacturer, and you can only get one at an authorized dealership, which means you’ll probably waste a lot of time and go through quite a hassle while trying to find a replacement key.

Furthermore, if you forget to turn off the engine before you leave the car, and leave the car in your garage, carbon monoxide will be released and it will get inside your house, which can result in fatal consequences.

To sum up, smart keys can definitely make your car rides more comfortable, but you have to keep an eye on them and try not to lose them, since you will have to pay a lot of money to replace them.


Source by Jordan Perch

Brand Name Blinds vs. Private Label Blinds


Let me start this story with a bad analogy. If you went to a car dealer and was offered the choice between a Toyota and a less expensive Toyota look-alike which would you choose? The salesman would invariably tell you that there’s no difference because they are made in the same factory. Furthermore, that because the manufacturer didn’t put the Toyota label on the car, it is 20% cheaper. How could that be? All things being equal, it stands to reason that there has to be a qualitative reason for the difference in price. If not, then the reason for the difference in cost is that the name brand stuff is marked-up way too much. So much, in fact, that the manufacturer can make the same stuff, offer it as a private label and still make a decent profit. Or, maybe the look-alike Toyota was made by a car company you’ve never heard of.

To continue my argument on the first point, that being there’s a quality difference between the two. I wonder what the quality difference is between a no-label window blind and a well-known brand like Hunter Douglas, or Levolor. Do they use cheaper mechanisms and materials? That seems unlikely because it would cost them money to run two separate production lines to produce approximately the same blind or shade. I was shopping online for new vertical blinds and noticed a fairly significant price difference between what looked to be identical blinds – the brand name and the no-name. So I called their toll free number to inquire who made their signature line, I was told that it was a company called Springs. I have never heard of Springs unlike the Hunter Douglas brand which I have heard of. Few people could name more then two brands of blinds and shades at least I couldn’t until I started shopping for them. But, odds are, Hunter Douglas and Levolor are brands people know. They are huge companies and make all kinds of window treatments and fashions.

The plot thickens. It turns out that most, as far as I know, of the well-known blind manufacturers don’t sell a private label variety. They are more interested in preserving their brand integrity. So it would seem that the validity of my initial hypothesis has suffered some erosion. But all I really did was come full circle and back to my original question. Is there a quality difference between a well-known brand and a private label? If not, then the cost savings is probably not worth it. That is unless they come with the same warranty. For the most part they do.

I started reading the customer reviews to find out if there was a noticeable difference between ratings of the brand name blinds versus the private label blinds. Interestingly, and somewhat ironically, I noticed that the average rating was slightly lower for the Hunter Douglas blinds as opposed to the signature (private label) blinds. Maybe this was a case of increased expectations. People know Hunter Douglas, spent the big bucks and had correspondingly high expectations. Kind of like if you bought a Mercedes and the doors rattled or they used a cheap plastic for the climate control buttons.

In the end, I figured that between the high customer ratings, the cost savings and the similar warranties the private label blinds would do just find for me. I went ahead and purchased some vertical blinds and so far have been happy. I may be a tough customer but you know what they say, Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware.


Source by Dave Sean Brooks