4WD Modifications - Tech Torque
If you want to know how ESC works, what a nanotube is, who Ackroyd was or why Australia will grow its own fuel - it's all here.
FUEL CELLS EXPLAINED
The fuel cell will power future 4WDs and here's how it works - March 2017
As vehicle makers enter a new era of propulsion based on electric motors it’s timely to look at the fuel cell. This cold (or warm) combustion power source is already in service in several areas, including portable electricity generation and vehicle power.
DIESEL FUTURE UNDER A CLOUD
Emissions compliance has spoiled diesel simplicity and reliability - December 2016
Five years ago we’d have laughed if someone said 4WD diesel engines are higher-maintenance and more likely to break down than petrols, but that’s the situation today. The latest diesels are high-maintenance and fragile.
HYBRIDS AND RANGE EXTENDED ELECTRIC 4WDS ARE COMING
Big design changes are coming faster than most people think.
It seems inevitable that the future of 4WDs is as hybrids and range-extended electric vehicles.
AIR SUSPENSION WORKS
Air suspension works on heavy trucks and 4WDs, too.
We clocked up 190,000 mainly bush kilometres on our Discovery 3 and the suspension lived up to Land Rover’s claims for superior on and off road behaviour over conventional steel spring suspensions. The rest of the vehicle was a disappointment, however.
ALUMINIUM 4WDS ARE HERE TO STAY
This lightweight metal is the key to weight reduction.
The amount of aluminium content in 4WDs is steadily increasing and some makers have adopted all-aluminium bodywork. What’s driving this trend?
AUSTRALIA'S SLOW ALTERNATIVE FUELS PLANNING
The Cars Of Tomorrow Conference Technical Highlights
‘She’ll be right’ has long been the Australian motto, reinforced by the smooth transition we made from a wool-based export economy to an iron ore- and coal-based one.
48-VOLT ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS ARE COMING
The current 12-volt system is running out of puff.
The 12-volt electrical system has been with us for many years, but is now running out of capacity. A dual 12V-48V system is the first step towards a higher-voltage solution.
CO2 ISN'T THE END OF THE COMBUSTION LINE
CO2 should be re-used, not buried.
If you took any notice of the current Federal Government (but who would?) you could be forgiven for thinking that there’s no such thing as Climate Change and we can go on blissfully digging up coal to burn here and sell overseas, while importing almost all our liquid fuels.
DIESEL EMISSIONS SYSTEMS
IIt’s not so long ago that we were all in fear of the imminent arrival of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) on 4WD diesels.The latest systems have DPFs and SCR.
In the first place, why do we need differentials at all?
In the early days of the motor vehicle, designers soon tumbled to the fact that a solid rear axle wasn’t the ideal arrangement across the back of a car, because when the machine went around a corner the outside wheel dictated the rotational speed and the inside wheel had no choice but to spin off excess speed.
DUAL-MASS FLYWHEELS EXPLAINED
We've been asked by many site visitors for some clarification on this topic.
Dual-mass flywheels are fitted to many modern manual-transmission 4WDs. What was wrong with the tried and proved solid flywheel and sprung clutch plate?
FLAT ENGINES COULD BE THE FUTURE
Opposed piston engines have been around for years and could be making a comeback.
The dual goals of meeting tight emissions standards and improving fuel consumption have seen some engine development companies look to designs of the past for inspiration.
GLOBAL ELECTRONIC STABILITY CONTROL
Victorian legislation forced the Federal Government's hand.
At a Geneva meeting in June 2008 the UN World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (UNECE WP29) adopted a Global Technical Regulation (GTR) on ESC for light duty vehicles and passenger cars.
LIQUID FUEL FROM COAL
It may be only a matter of time before we go down this route: what’s involved?
We’ve already passed ‘peak oil’, so it’s a dead-set certainty that oil prices will rise dramatically in the next few years.
MULTISPEED TRANSMISSIONS - WHERE WILL IT END
GM launched a 10-speed automatic in early 2017. Why, you may well ask.
Heavy trucks have been using up to 20-speed gearboxes for many years, so multispeed transmissions aren't new in the automotive world. However, they're relatively new to the 4WD scene and the main reasons are economy and emissions reduction.
Nanotechnology is set to turn most industries on their heads.
A nanotube is a cylinder made up of atomic particles and has a diameter that is as small as one billionth of a metre: a nanometre. Between 10,000 and 50,000 nanotubes can fit across the diameter of a human hair.
SHEDDING LIGHT ON HOW LIGHTS WORK
Technology has changed light efficiency in recent years.
Lights that lit the way for 4WDs used to be variations on the same incandescent-globe theme, but now there are HID and LED lights. Here’s how they all work.
SHOCK ABSORBERS EXPLAINED
Their workings aren't well understood and they're not all the same.
Shock absorbers are probably the least understood components of a 4WD's suspension. These devices are more properly called dampers and their function is to control spring action.
SHOULD THE DIESEL REALLY BE CALLED AN 'AKROYD'
The first liquid-fuel 'diesel' engine wasn't invented by Rudolph Diesel
Most people think that the internal combustion engine was invented in the late 1800s, but the principle of internal combustion was demonstrated by Dutch scientist Christian Huygens way back in 1673. In the Huygens engine a piston was blown upwards in a cylinder by a gunpowder explosion.
STOP-START TECHNOLOGY IS HERE
A stop-start engine is just that: when the vehicle stops, so does the engine.
It’s so obvious you might wonder why stop-start engines aren’t standard on all vehicles, but making stop-start work smoothly, safely and reliably is not as simple as it first seems.
THE CARBON BATTERY COULD BE THE ANSWER
Breakthoughs in carbon battery R&D may be the power storage solution.
We try not to get excited about battery breakthroughs, but this simple design seems to hold more promise than complex technologies. Let's hope!
THERMO ELECTRIC GENERATORS ARE ON THE WAY
Hot metals producing electricity - that's cute.
Within a few years it’s likely you’ll look under the bonnet of a new 4WD and discover there’s no alternator. The electric power to run the vehicle’s ancillary systems will come from the exhaust system – or, rather, from a thermoelectric generator (TEG) that’s part of it. The technology is being employed in post-2014 F1 racing cars.
TRACTION CONTROL EXPLAINED
It's difficult to find a new 4WD that doesn't come with traction control.
We’ve been living with traction-controlled 4WDs since late last century and systems have improved dramatically in that time.
TRAILER STABILITY RESEARCH
Much-neeeded trailer stability control is here at last.
Vehicles towing horse floats, caravans, boat and camper trailers are under-represented in accidents, but when they are, the consequences can be particularly nasty. Vehicle makers and lawmakers are finally doing something about this situation.
TWO TURBOS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
Series turbocharging is the diesel engine future - February 2014
When BMW released its 2008 twin-turbo, three-litre, X-5 diesel Down Under it was a 4WD production vehicle first. We’d been seeing twin-turbo engines for years, but this design was different.
VARIABLE COMPRESSION RATIO ENGINES
This holy grail of engineering may have been discovered - August 2016
Infiniti presented a VC-T (Variable Compression -Turbocharged) engine at the 2016 Paris Motor Show on 29 September 2016. It’s claimed to be the world’s first production-ready variable-compression-ratio engine.
WHAT HAPPENED TO GALILEO
No, not that Galileo, the renowned astronomer and father of modern science.
The Galileo we’re referring to and about which we haven’t heard much since 2007 is Europe’s challenge to the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).
WHY THE YANKS STILL LOVE GAS-GUZZLERS
The USA hasn't joined the global move to smaller engines.
The USA still has the cheapest fuel in the OECD and the reason is best sheeted home to previous US Governments and the American public.
YOUR FUEL FUTURE IS DEFINITELY BIO
Fossil fuel is running out, but the future looks bright.
If you took any notice of the nay-sayers you’d believe that there’s no need for Australia to do anything about alternative fuels. The truth is quite different.