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2014 Honda Odyssey Automatic Rear Tailgate Kit

 by autosphere on  |
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Last week I installed an automatic open/close boot strut kit in our 2014 Honda Odyssey and have learnt a number of things along the way that I thought I'd share in a detailed review.   The kit came from the supplier and was listed as the latest revision with an improved soft close function.  However it was missing installation instructions (!).  I had to work with the supplier for step by step instructions as the existing instructions that they had were either for the previous generation kit or not for an Odyssey and this took a bit of time. Contents of the kit   Once the instructions were sorted out, the install was fairly straight forward.  The trickiest parts of the install was feeding the wiring through the cabin, through the waterproof tube in the boot and down in to the rear boot.   Mid-install wiring mayhem First impressions: The automatic boot open/close function is super convenient!  I've always found the boot required a bit of effort to close in one go and often had to close it in two bites (once with the interior handle and then a second time pressing on the exterior of the boot to close it).  The wife also loves the extra functionality for the same reason and the hands off approach to opening/closing the boot is now something we'll be looking for in a future vehicle we purchase.      There are 5 ways to open (and close) the boot: Click on the unlock button on the remote 3 times. Use the normal unlock button. Use the supplied button next to the open/close sliding door buttons. Use the close boot button in the rear handle (only works for closing the boot). Use the foot sensor.   Other thoughts: The foot sensor doesn't work when I wear slippers however works fine when wearing sneakers. The feature that prevents the boot from closing when something physically interrupts the closing sequence requires a bit of resistance before it cancels the close.  But it works. The kit allows you to set the boot height.  Great for shorter people! The wiring is designed for a left hand drive version of the Honda Odyssey, which is sold in China so I had to extend 7 wires. The boot struts emit a high pitched hum when open which is a bit annoying when you're installing the struts but not noticeable in real life situations outside.  The manufacturer says that this hum is normal and is quieter than other products out in the market.   Overall, the negative points that I raise are a minor inconvenience that is outweighed by the awesome new auto open/close feature.  The family loves the convenience of opening and closing the boot without having physically move or lift a hand and would recommend it for anyone who owns an Odyssey.  Its definitely something that Honda forgot to include when they released the car but this kit will address that issue!

The importance of regular oil changes

 by autosphere on  |
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  A couple of months ago, I purchased a car with an unknown service history from the auctions as we needed a cheap car to runaround in.  Upon initial inspection of the dipstick, there was no oil registering so I decided to drain out whatever was left in the sump and to fill it up with oil before starting her up to see if the motor was in a working condition. Whilst I was opening up the oil fill cap, I discovered what infrequent servicing and neglect looks like: The black, solid looking substance which is clinging to the oil cap and top of the fill hole to the motor is oil sludge.   This shot of the head of the motor shows the extent of how much sludge has infiltrated the crevasses of the motor.   Its obvious that the previous owner has neglected to service the car and that the oil that was previously in there has become contaminated with engine metals, acids and air humidity, transforming it into sludge.  This oily sludge is solid and hard to clean, which in turn can clog up vital passageways in your engine if not removed. So, remember to change your oil frequently, sticking to the factory service recommendations at a minimum otherwise you run the risk of sludging up your motor and damaging it!  

Zac Edwards takes the Australian Gymkhana Championship outright quickest

 by autosphere on  |
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Our friends over at Techsport recently completed their Mitsubishi Mirage build and entrusted it into the hands of their chief mechanic, Zac Edwards to shakedown at the OZ Gymkhana Championship. On the 8th December 2013, wearing Hankook Z221 R-compound tyres supplied by Autosphere, Zac drove the quickest time of the day in the monster of a mirage.  We've got limited details on the Mirage, but we understand that it has complete Evo 6 running gear shoehorned underneath it, with the obvious custom widebody to cover up the extra girth.  This thing can seriously boogie! Heres a Youtube clip on top 4 shootout from Round 5 of the OZ Gymkhana Championship, which gives you an idea of how quick this car is and how well Zac pilots it: For more details on the Australian Gymkhana Championship, take a look at http://ozgymkhana.com.au.

Nick's comprehensive Skyline HR31 coupe build

 by autosphere on  |
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Check out an Autosphere customers' Skyline HR31 build listed on the Skylines Australia forum HERE. His old RB26 motor put out in excess of 500 whp and his new RB26/30 setup will produce even more!  Its scary to think what the final power output will be and what Nick will do with it on the track.   Its the most comprehensive R31 build thread we've seen in Australia and we love it!  Check out the link above when you get a minute - its a must for lovers of quality builds with a lot of custom fabrication. Nick uses the following products from Autosphere: Transmission fluid: Red Line Lightweight Shockproof The fluid is perfect for the RB25 gearbox and its synthetic nature will provide enough protection when put through a lot of heat and stress. Brakes: Motul RBF600 Perfectly matched to the weight of his car and the speeds Nick will be pulling up in, the RBF600 will provide a fade-free day of stopping on track.  

How often should my brake fluid be changed?

 by autosphere on  |
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We here at Autosphere are often asked about fluid replacement intervals, and one of the more common queries we receive is, ‘when brake fluid should be replaced?’  So we asked one of our technical contributors, Thomas Bullock to help write a short article on brake fluid change intervals, and here are his thoughts: Firstly like any fluid change interval, brake fluid is heavily dependent on the type of use the car is subject to. A street car and a track car will have very different requirements.  This article is only concerned with DOT3, 4 and 5.1 fluids, typically used in passenger cars. The primary function of brake fluid is to transfer hydraulic pressure from the pedal through the master cylinder to the individual pistons or wheel cylinders at each corner.  DOT 3, 4, and 5.1 fluids are commonly glycol ester based, and these types of fluid are all hygroscopic, or more simply, they readily absorb water from the atmosphere.  This absorption is important as it prevents any water collecting within the brake system and corroding the metal components within. However a secondary effect of this water absorption is decreasing boiling point as the fluid collects more water, which is why both wet and dry boiling points are quoted for brake fluids.  Managing this water absorption, along with other contamination and degradation of the fluid are the main reasons to change to fresh fluid.  Water enters the system via diffusion through the brake hoses and through the master cylinder breather. For a car that sees circuit use it’s important for the boiling point of the fluid to remain as high as possible, as the high temperatures reached can cause the fluid to boil in the calipers, making for a soft pedal and inconsistent performance.  So the fluid should be changed more often than for a street car, however given these cars are often pampered and see fewer street kilometers than most, this doesn’t mean that the fluid must be flushed every track event. ATE Super Blue Racing / Type 200 Amber is a DOT 4 brake fluid with a dry boiling point of 536F/280c and a wet boiling point of 392F/200c and is regarded as a bang for buck performance brake fluid when compared to the likes of Motul RBF 600 / 660 and Brembo LCF600. As a general rule, for a street/track car, we would recommend a full fluid replacement every 6 months to 1 year, with only a bleed of 250mL of fluid at most through the system before every track day or two. Ultimately though the intervals your car requires will become clear over time and track use, if for example after a number of track days the fluid boiling point has decreased enough to cause soft pedal fade issues, then more regular changes are obviously needed.  However the freshest fluid won’t solve a fundamental heat issue with brakes, so if you’re consistently cooking fluid it’s best to look for other solutions other than the fluid. Conversely for a car that solely sees street use, it is often best to simply follow the manufacturer’s recommended fluid change interval.  This is usually 1-2 years, which will see the brake fluid boiling point decrease noticeably from its dry boiling point, but still maintain an adequate level for the conditions encountered during road use.  Of course if you subject your street car to more severe conditions, such as driving in hilly terrain or towing then you should consider more regular fluid changes.  
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