Does your car adapt to the way you drive?Written by Nick Shultz | | email@example.com
I get many questions from readers regarding their automotive related concerns and I thought I would share a few with you.
We will start with Stu from Oregon, who wants to know if his vehicle can really adapt to the way he drives.
The answer is yes, Stu, your vehicle does continuously adapt to changing conditions as you drive. This ability to adapt as you drive is referred to by technicians as “adaptive strategy.” The adaptive strategy process is simply a set of instructions programmed into your vehicles power train management systems on-board computer that enables the computer to change fuel delivery and spark timing commands in order to accommodate for the changing environmental or mechanical conditions that can affect engine performance. This reprogramming of your vehicle happens as you drive.
Actually, vehicles have had this capability for a long time now. Of course newer vehicles do a better job of adapting to the constantly changing environmental and mechanical conditions then did older vehicles.
Modern vehicles also have the ability to adapt transmission shift schedules to meet driver habits and varying environmental parameters as well. This adaptive capability is accomplished much in the same manner as was mentioned above.
Both these adaptive capabilities can be performed by your power train management computer either for a short term shift in operational parameters or for a long term shift in those same parameters. It only depends on the conditions your vehicles on-board computer sensors detect regarding monitored environmental and mechanical parameters.
You should be aware that after a battery change those adaptive parameters will be lost within your computers memory and you may notice a difference in the way your vehicle operates until your on-board computer relearns those sensed parameters.
The next question comes from Lora from Toledo who wants to know about a whining or screeching sound only when she turns right with her front wheel drive car. Lora the problem is most likely in the front left wheel bearing of your car. When you turn right you throw the weight of the vehicle to the left which is loading the bearing. This additional load is causing the bearing to squeal. Had you noticed a clicking sound on turns then we may have had issues with the axle shaft constant velocity joint.
Art, also from Toledo, wants to know if he takes his vehicle into the dealership if they will wait for the engine to cool before they replace his spark plugs. Apparently Art read my column on replacing spark plugs a few weeks back and is concerned that the servicing dealership may damage his heads by not allowing the engine to cool properly before they remove his spark plugs. Not to worry Art, your servicing dealership employs Master technicians who are aware of the problems associated with removing spark plugs from a cold engine. Be advised however that if your spark plugs have been in your engine for a long time they may still be difficult for the technician to remove.
Art also mentioned that he was going to have the dealership replace his stock spark plugs with platinum plugs. You should talk to the dealership and make sure that Subaru recommends the switch to platinum. Not all manufacturers promote the use of platinum plugs in their engines.
Finally, Kyle from Sylvania is restoring a classic Chevrolet and wondered about replacing the breaker point ignition system with an electronic ignition system. Kyle is concerned that the value of the vehicle will be diminished with the upgraded ignition system.
Kyle, you stated in your e-mail that you were planning on driving the vehicle for awhile after you get it restored. The electronic ignition upgrade will give you much better service in the field then could ever be achieved by the mechanical breaker point ignition system it has in it now. I definitely suggest you perform this upgrade. If you are concerned about the decreased value of the vehicle because of upgraded ignition system then simply keep the old distributer and replace it before you sell the car.
I am always happy to take your questions and will make every effort to respond to them in a timely manner.
For those readers among you who would like to improve your “auto sense,” I suggest you take our fundamental automotive classes here at Owens Community College. Registration for the summer semester is now open. Regardless of your experience or gender we would love to have you. Contact our registration office at (567) 661-7000 for more information.
Nick Shultz is an instructor of Automotive Technologies at Owens Community College. He is an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau who specializes in cases involving the Ohio and Michigan Lemon laws. He is a certified master automotive technician by ASE, General Motors and Ford Motor Co. Shultz, a Toledo native, will take questions from firstname.lastname@example.org.