The phrase “What’s old is new again” certainly applies to the Atkinson Cycle Engine. Although we may not know its formal name, the gas engines in all our cars and trucks are Otto Cycle engines; however, its lesser known fraternal twin is on the rise.
In 1887, James Atkinson Cycle patented another type of internal combustion engine appropriately called the Atkinson Cycle Engine. At the time, it was an interesting design but the Otto Cycle engine proved simpler and easier to build so that’s the direction that Detroit went.
Then, all the sudden, the old Atkinson Cycle engine turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for hybrid electric cars, leading to thousands of Atkinson Cycle engines being built every month as a result of the auto industry becoming increasingly electrified. The Toyota Prius played a big role in the .
With some assistance from , a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat dealer in Langhorne, PA, let’s start by looking at the operating principles behind your standard gasoline engine. As we mentioned above, automotive engineers refer to these as Otto Cycle engines. This internal combustion design has been used for over 100 years and is in just about anything that needs an engine. This includes, cars, motorcycles, aircraft, tractors, lawnmowers, and on and on.
With the way an Otto Cycle engine works, the first piston stroke sucks air and fuel into the cylinder and the second stroke compresses the mixture. The mixture is then ignited in the third, while the spent gas is purged in the fourth. This whole process takes 2 rotations of the crankshaft and is referred to as a “four stroke engine” because each complete cycle requires four piston strokes.
With an Atkinson Cycle engine, a couple of additional linkages have been added so that all four strokes can be completed with a single rotation of the crankshaft. To understand how it works, imagine the cylinder and piston in a standard engine, as shown in this .
On the intake stroke, the piston doesn’t move all the way down the cylinder. As a result, the intake valve doesn’t allow as much of the air/fuel mixture into the cylinder. The piston moves back up for the compression stroke, and at the top the mixture is ignited. The force sends the piston back down the shaft of the cylinder in the power stroke but this time all the way down to take advantage of every last bit of force generated by the combustion explosion. Then the piston moves back up to get the burned gasses out for the exhaust stroke. The result of this process is less fuel use but at the expense of less power.
So, with the Atkinson Cycle engine, you’ve got an engine that’s really efficient, but it lacks in power, especially of the torque variety. But, when you’re a hybrid powertrain engineer, you also have an electric motor that has copious torque all the time. So, combine the two and you have the perfect hybrid drivetrain. All you have to do is mesh the power from an electric motor with an Atkinson engine. And this is precisely what many hybrids do today.
History has a funny way of repeating itself. When patented in 1887, who would have predicted that the all-but-forgotten Atkinson’s engine and electric motors would ever be used together. Who would have thought that a 150 year old engine design would end up being cutting edge “green technology”? But as with all other internal combustion engine design, is there a future for it a world that will likely be ?
Only time will tell…
How To Spot A Future Classic Car
Classic cars go for big money these days, with the record currently standing at $38,115,000 for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. That’s a ludicrous amount to spend on anything let a lone a 50-year-old car, so what gives? What makes a car so desirable as to fetch such a seemingly exorbitant sum at auction?
Rarity is obviously a factor, but the car has to be rare for the right reasons. It’s not going to be worth anywhere near as much if there are only a few remaining because the rest rusted away. However, if there was a limited production run, you can be sure these cars will fetch huge sums of money at some point.
The , for example, was originally sold for £35,000 (~ $48,965) in 2010 when it went on sale eight years ago; today, the asking price for a high mileage example is more than double that, a boon for owners and alike.
In addition to the question of rarity, you have to consider the technical significance of a car. Cars nowadays, even the most basic, can be equipped with technology that were once reserved for the high-end luxury car segment, some of which are truly ground breaking and others that will be scrapped in one or two model years. When an automaker gets it right, though, the model to first feature the innovative technology can be worth a hefty sum in the future.
The BMW 2002 Turbo was the first production car to feature a turbocharger, which rocketed it into the league of exclusive and desirable vehicles instantly. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an example fetching going for less than £100,000 (~ $139,899) anywhere.
Finally, if a car has a competition heritage, there’s a good chance that it will be worth a lot in the future. Any car with a racing pedigree is more desirable because, for the most part, they helped shape the heritage and reputation of their respective brands, explaining why innocuous-looking car’s like the pip-squeak 1960’s Mini rally car can be bought now for around £30,000 (~ $41,900).
A future and relatively affordable classic to look out for is the , a manual version of which is twice as rare as the F40 supercar and is still available for under £100,000. Also worthy of consideration are old Porsche 911 models like the 996 Turbo — they have seen their price rocket into the stratosphere in the past few years.
Your Beginner’s Guide To Off-Roading
Having a four-wheel drive car provides peace of mind when navigating winter weather or the back roads, but why stop there? If you own a capable 4WD SUV or truck, there’s a whole world of off-road adventures waiting for you!
Never been off-roading? Not sure how to get started? You’re in luck! We have collaborated with the SUV and truck experts at to bring you a beginner’s guide to off-roading that we hope will help you better experience the full potential of your 4WD vehicle!
Step One: Get To Know Your Vehicle’s Off-Road Potential
If you already own a 4WD truck or SUV, it’s probably capable of traveling off-road. Knowing exactly which off-road friendly mechanisms your vehicle has, however, is important before tackling the trails. about your vehicle’s make, model, trim level and model year, and find out if you need to make any modifications before heading out. You may want to invest in off-road tires, underbody protection plates, some additional lighting, or a vehicle lift.
As an added bonus, if you bring your vehicle in for service and modifications, you’ll get access to expertise from a professional who knows about off-road vehicles and their mechanisms. Don’t be afraid to ask your mechanic questions!
Step Two: Find An Off-Road Community
Do you know any friends, family members or acquaintances who have off-road experience? If so, reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in showing you the ropes! Even if you don’t have any personal relationships with an off-roader, you can always find a online.
There are plenty of forums dedicated to off-roading, some dedicated to specific areas. Finding a community will make off-roading safer and more enjoyable, and is a great way to make new friends with similar interests.
Step Three: Learn The Lingo
The world of off-roading has its own set of terms and jargon, and it’s a good idea to read up on them before getting started. Not only will speaking the jargon make it easier for you to communicate with other off-roaders, but it will also give you a good foundation for understanding your vehicle’s mechanisms and capabilities.
Important terms to become familiar with include approach and breakover angle, locking differential, and 4WD high vs 4WD low. Hitting up Google or any other search engine will reveal many “Off-Road Dictionaries” that you can learn from.
Step Four: Go For It!
Ultimately, the best way to learn is by doing. But make sure you’ve done all of your homework and that your vehicle is prepared for the journey before hitting the trails. Bringing along someone with off-road experience is helpful, but if you can’t find anyone, just make sure to bring along a friend to assist with any trouble that may arise. Two hands are better than one, right?
Don’t have a capable 4WD vehicle but still want to start off-roading? Get in touch with professionals like those at Texan Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram to show you their incredible selection of trucks and SUVs and advise you on the best vehicle to with! Once you have one, try to find a private facility with beginner trails or a local area with low difficulty to ease yourself into off-roading before taking on more challenging trails.
No matter what you do, make sure to stay safe and have fun!
Your Guide To Shopping For A Used Car
Shopping for a car can be stressful, and not everyone knows what to look for. This gets even more complicated when shopping for a used car, especially when buying “as seen, as is” or from a private seller.
If you’re heading out to kick some tires and check out used vehicles, take a few minutes to go over this list of things you should keep an eye out for. Remember these rules of thumb on the lot, and you can feel confident that you’ll be making a wiser, better-thought-out investment.
1. Look Out For Body Imperfections
Chances are, unless the vehicle you’re considering is lightly used or has been taken perfect care of, there may be a few scratches, dings, or small dents. This is okay. What you really want to look out for is anything that might such as significant body damage or sections of the body not matching up perfectly, which is likely the result of subpar repairs. Look at body panels from an angle instead of head on, as this will make imperfections more pronounced.
2. Make Sure All Power Accessories Work
If the vehicle you’re looking at has power locks, windows, and/or mirrors, check to make sure they all work. Power mirrors and locks can be moved manually if they don’t work (although this will be inconvenient) but power windows that don’t work can be a huge problem. In many states, windows that can’t be rolled down, particularly the driver’s window, can be grounds for a vehicle to fail inspection.
3. Check The Tires For Wear And Tear
Be sure to check out the tires for wear. For starters, it’s good to see whether or not the tires will still pass inspection. If they look like they’re too worn down, and new ones will be needed for the car to be road-worthy, you can use it as a bargaining chip to negotiate a lower price.
Another important thing to consider is how even the wear is. If tires have worn down unevenly and seem to be barer in some spots than others, this could indicate that the vehicle is in need of an alignment.
4. Inspect Windshield For Cracks
Carefully inspect the windshield and windows for cracks and chips. These can be very small, and may not seem like a big deal, but our sources with tell us that they can become bigger over time. Particularly in extreme temperatures, glass may expand or contract, and this can cause a tiny crack to spread across your entire windshield.
Considering that windshields are usually designed to withstands during a rollover accident, it leaves all occupants at risk of harm if weak or compromised in any way, shape or form.
5. Check Oil Quality And Level
Bring along a clean white rag or roll of paper towels, and check the oil. Pay attention not only to the oil level (if it’s low, that could be a sign of a leak) but also the color and smell of the fluid. Dark or dirty looking oil, or oil that has a burnt smell, shows that the vehicle may not have been maintained as well as it should have been, or that it’s been burning the oil.
6. Assess Condition Of Interior Materials
Check out the interior for stains, rips or other blemishes. Discolored and even slightly ripped upholstery can always be covered up (if that’s something you want to commit to) but keep a lookout for burn marks on the seats, near the windows, and on the cloth ceiling. If someone has smoked in the car, the smell can be very difficult to remove, and even if it’s been covered up by an air freshener, you may never be able to get a truly clean smell back into the vehicle.
7. When In Doubt, Get The CarFax
If you follow these guidelines, you should have a good shot at getting a vehicle that you can count on. If you’re still unsure, though, if a price seems to be too good to be true, or if you’re investing in a used vehicle that’s still fairly expensive (like a used luxury model), you can always get a . In a private sale, you’ll have to pay for it yourself, but some dealers will cover the cost.