News Column

How do I get conversant Japanese language?

July 9, 2014

Paul Kaganzi -1

I own Toyota MKII Anniversary G110 2003. It has a TV screen on its dashboard but all writings and readings are in Japanese. How or which button can I press to switch to English language? Robert Kamya

Unfortunately, for some JDM (Japanese domestic market) vehicles, the audio and navigation units are pre-programmed in Japanese because the cars were built for sale on the Japanese car market. Whereas some other manufacturers like Mercedes Benz and Nissan build audio navigation systems with multiple language options, your vehicle audio does not have that option. You may have to consider looking for an alternative with the English language menu.

I have started to follow your newspaper writings and I am glad for your information. I would like to know the effects of stepping on the accelerator while you are in neutral and the car makes that funny sound. Thank you El jibren Katius

Whenever you step on your car's accelerator you instruct it to deliver more engine power. The accelerator is a foot operated mechanical or electronic device which actuates the delivery of more air to the car engine combustion process and subsequently increases the burning of fuel to power the engine. The more you accelerate the faster the engine revolutions and the more fuel you will burn.

If you over accelerate your car while in neutral gear you will waste energy and fuel which would otherwise be conserved by letting the engine idle or switching it off. Stepping on the accelerator while in neutral gear is also called engine racing. This action poses two dangers depending on how high the engine revolutions are and how long you keep them there. The first one is the strain and potential damage of your engine especially if it is not a high performance engine suitable for racing trials or an old and poorly maintained engine.

Secondly, there is the risk of damaging your transmission internal components when you accelerate your engine in neutral and suddenly engage the gears, a situation also called the 'neutral drop'. Here you may take off with your wheels squealing (burning rubber) but potentially damage your drive shafts, universal or CV joints and differentials.

Early this year I bought a Toyota Hiace truck, the mechanic advised me that the thermostat should be removed because its only useful in cold countries. Is it okay to remove it? Richard Ekwaru

The advice to remove your Toyota engine thermostat permanently is wrong and based on a misconception of the role of a thermostat. Removal of the thermostat can lead to poor engine fuel economy and performance as well as engine damage in the longrun. The recommendation to remove a thermostat usually happens when a used car is leaving Mombasa port for Uganda or when you take it to some mechanics for the first service.

This is based on the wrong belief that thermostats are designed for countries with winter weather. This is erroneous because countries like United Kingdom or Japan sometimes have hotter summer weather than ours. In fact, brand new cars built for our tropical conditions have thermostats in built. Sometimes it is removed by mechanics investigating engine overheating in order to confirm that it is not the cause of engine overheating due to failure.

However, the decision to do without it completely or to replace it with a new one is wrong. Primarily a thermostat is a heat sensitive stop valve which is designed to allow or restrict coolant fluid flow. The thermostat action maintains the minimum operating temperature of a vehicle engine which ranges between 85-95 degrees centigrade on different engines.

When you cold-start your engine, coolant is kept within the engine by the thermostat until the engine temperature reaches the specified opening point. Thereafter, the thermostat releases coolant to flow through the radiator and back in order to cool the engine.

Removal of the thermostat can cause damage to metallic components of the engine cylinder head and piston block due to uneven heating and cooling. The different metallic parts are made of different metal properties with varying expansion points. The heating and continuous exposure to cool water will cause damage to these parts due to uneven expansion or contraction. Secondly, the vehicle ignition and combustion systems rely on engine temperature information to function efficiently. Through coolant temperature sensors, the engine computer will monitor varying engine temperature in order to determine when to run the engine rich (deliver more fuel during cold starts) or lean (deliver less after the engine warms up).

When you remove the thermostat permanently you cause the engine to run rich all the time. This causes poor fuel economy, poor performance as the fuel air ratio is uneven, damage of spark plugs, increased intake valve deposit build up due to burning of uncombusted fuel and poor emission.

When you service your cooling system every two years, check the operation of the thermostat. A simple test is dropping it in in boiling water to confirm whether its spring valve releases. Always replace a worn out thermostat with a correct new one from a genuine Toyota parts dealer.

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Source: Daily Monitor, The (Uganda)

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