Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer commuting woes, tips

One of my most favorite advancements in technology is those new signs that tell you average travel time to a destination. They even put one up on the Throgs Neck Bridge that tells you the time you will be sitting on the CBX if you go to the GWB. Brilliant.

But they also let you know when you are screwed. This morning, my commute on on the Northern State took me past the sign that tells you approximate travel times for the LIE (495) and the Northern state to the CIP. You know its bad news when instead of a minute value, it's just "dashes" indicating nothing but trouble.


So two hours into my ride this morning the realization hit me: It's officially summer. Why  are still so many cars on the road right now? Typically this time of year the traffic volume is significantly reduced, especially in the morning.  I don't know when releief will come, but I am looking forward to it.

Here are also some general tips for metro commutes this month:

  • Whitestone Queens bound: Always stick to the left.   After the toll, the lanes split and the right goes into a slow crawling two lanes while the left is a single fast moving lane

  • Throgs Neck: Weekend work on the bridge should make you think twice about the Clearview vs. the CIP

  • Deegan Northbound : construction continues on GWB ramp, making this almost never a good option

Whats going on:  A lot of good stuff in the hopper. I'm working on an articles of how to spot the new NYPD unmarked Taurus Interceptors, translating FM traffic data, and also installing a hard-mount radar detector.

Sine the most popular article3s by far on this site are the how-to posts on preparing your car for a hurricane and TPMS, expect to see more like that.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why your car loses power when you turn on the AC

Last night I walked out of my office and was blasted with  hot air, like someone was aiming 40 hair dryers at me, and today is going to be even worse. Seeking refuge,  I got into my car, and promptly turned on the A/C and set the climate control to 60. As the dash thermometer crept past 102 degrees, I was perfectly comfortable. Technology FTW.

Some might notice it, but when you turn on the air conditioner, your car can lose up to 20 HP. If you are cruising and engage the air conditioning, its more evident than going from a stop, but there is usually a performance loss no matter what type of vehicle you drive.

But why? There is nothing wrong with your car, this is the way your serpentine belt is routed on your motor. You see, the belt is turned by the engine, and drives thing like your power steering pump, alternator and water pump. Typically the belt routing also drives the A/C compressor.

When you hit the button to turn on the air conditioning, a clutch is engaged that adds resistance to the belt, because the belt is now working harder to turn more items then before. This is also why some people might notice a drop in gas mileage.  if you need a little bit more power when merging or when you know you will have to accelerate, you can always stop the system and then restart it.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400"] This is a typical layout of a serpentine belt that drives your engines functions[/caption]

People have also asked me why their car leaks water when the AC is on -  this is also something that shoud nto be a concern. The AC condenser drips water as it cools the air it sucks in, and this is normal. n fact, you should only be concerned if your car is not dripping water when the air conditioner is on, as this typically indicates a blockage in the line or malfunctioning condenser unit.