Saturday, October 29, 2011

Far from home, but never Hyundai.


So over the last couple of days I have been in the NJ/PA area  for a job interview. Hopefully it will pan out and some of you might have an available tech near you! I stayed with my parents and they were quite surprised when I called for them to come pick me up. I saw my dad first. I called him to come pick me up from the airport and though my phone conversation was brief and he did not seem to excited, it was when he actually saw me standing there I got some sort of reaction. Driving along in his 03 Elantra GT hatch, I could notice the incredibly harsh ride and noisy tires. I also heard the distinct sound of a bearing whirring away (especially on right turns. For those that might not know, the sound will get worse when you apply force to the bearing that is bad. So for him making right hand turns put pressure on the leftside and it was clear as day!) and the brakes were definitely making a higher pitched noise when braking. So I asked how long these things have been going on, my dad simply said "What noises?" this is very disheartening to me. His ears have been ringing for quite sometime and high frequencies allude him. I do with I was closer.  I have the tools, ability and the willingness, but I'm 1200 miles away. This sucks! Now if I get the job I will be 30 miles away instead. Fingers are crossed.

Up on the highway the tire roar was very noticeable. The bad struts are killing the tires and I'm sure the car has not been aligned in quite sometime( you can take a look at what the tires look like at "Its just rubber..."). Driving the car later that day to go to the store, I also noticed that the brake pedal goes to the floor and the clutch pedal is VERY high. This just confirms that he does infact need brakes and it would appear that the clutch is going to be gone very soon. I have always helped out in the past, but now I was unavailable. I'm trying to convince him to buy a Veloster. My mom and brother were quite surprised when they came home later that day. Their reactions were priceless! Although once my brother put the pieces of the puzzle together he seemed more upset then anything. Upset that he did not figure it out before hand! haha...I did a good job of being cryptic without lying.

The Bakers and Hyundai...

About 1992 I started my mechanical training with Hyundai, but my parents started buying Hyundai's back in 1988. The first car was a blue 4 door Excel . My brother and I decided that Hyundai was a cooler name then Yugo. Two years later my dad finally traded in his 1981 Pontiac T1000. It had a ton of miles on it and it was falling apart. Back to the Hyundai dealership and they drove away with a 90 Excel hatchback. This car lasted sometime and I ended up with it on my 17th birthday, I bought it from my dad for a $1. In NJ you can not just give it to somebody, it needs to be sold. I started driving that car when  I was 15 (it was a manual...along with all of the other cars they have/ will have). I finally gave it up for another car that will be mentioned later.

My brother frequently borrowed the 88 Excel and one lonely night in the summer of 91, he launched it off a set of railroad tracks. He is not what we would call mechanically inclined, so when the oil light came on, he thought nothing of it and kept driving. Needless to say that the motor seized. The oil pan was ripped off. Enter the 92 Excel sedan. This car lived its days taking my mother back and forth to work and on some family vacations. It was traded in for a 96 Elantra. My dad after giving me the 90 excel ended up buying a 97 Accent. Both of these cars went the distance and with over 125k on both the Accent went to my brother and my mom bought an 01 Elantra. Dad then bought his current vehicle, the 03 Elantra GT hatch. My mom moved on to an 09 Elantra, but unfortunately that was taken out by a text'r (check out the pics and story in...Common sense...Can it be taught?) Her current vehicle is now a 2011 Tuscon. For me, after the 90 Excel died a couple of times with electrical issues (damn Mitsubishi electronics and motor). I bought a 94 Excel and boy I racked up some miles on that car. Mostly from being and oversized load escort. It saw the Atlantic ocean from the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada and all the way out to Ohio and as far south as North Carolina.

DAMN! I have lost some weight since then. haha
It wasnt until the slave cylinder went out on my while in Vermont one summer day in 2000 that it had left me stranded (well almost). I stopped by a local dealership that I happened to pass by while escorting the truck. Stopped in to see if I could trade it in on a Tiburon. They obviously said no, I had no downpayment and a busted Excel with over 175k on it. So essentially I had nothing. I called my man at "our" dealership. He told me to come on down. I told him "It might take me awhile, I'm in Vermont...Burlington to be exact" He gave me a good chuckle and told me he'll be there till 9pm. He was a very dedicated sales man. So with just about no clutch ( I only used it for first gear, I powershifted the others, the was fun while in a 10 mile back up in Albany with stop and go traffic. I would have a clutch, then NOT have a clutch...good times.)
Besides the Orion and Eclipse system, I had Intrax Springs/KYB struts. Enkie RPO-1 rims and some other random stuff.
 About 6 or 7 hours later, I ended up at the dealership and drove away my silver 2000 Tiburon. A deer and three trees would eventually take the car out of commission after only three years of ownership. Would you believe that in that three years I racked up 109k on it? Yup and now I'm at 209k on my 03 Elantra GT hatch.

I have been with Hyundai for quite sometime. Along the way I learned from my dad and some of the mechanics that I used to help fix them. It eventually became my career and now we are back to the present. I know its a long read. Hang in there.

Now the reason I was writing this was to review the 2011 Tuscon that my mom purchased. I had the privilege of driving it about 200 miles and in that time I found myself somewhat enjoying it. Who would have ever thought that a CUV could handle so nicely, although the ride was kinda harch at times especially over the rough back roads in NJ. It was quite stable on the highway and even with it being rainy and windy it never once felt like an CUV. The steering is more then capable, but for whatever reason it seemed to have a hard time going straight. Its on center feel was heavy and pulling it away form center made the vehicle sway to the one side more then expected. It was accurate, but numb with very little feedback. Maybe I just need to get used to the Electronic Power Steering (EPS). The interior is a pleasant place to be and has comfortable seating.

The dash is well made and laid out. I found the steering wheel mounted controls easy to use and master. Even comes with Hyundai's USB/Aux input. This came in handy when I was alone and I could pop in my flash drive. Power comes from the Theta 2.4L which is rated at 176hp and 168 ft/lbs of torque (although if you go for the GL it comes with a 2.0L Beta good for 165 hp with 146 ft/lbs) is more then adequate and Hyundai claims 32mpg on the highway. Although I do not think that my parents have been averaging more then 29 on the highway. It could be the fact that they are going over 70mph and well the Tuscon has the drag coefficient of a blunted brick with rounded out sides. My mom likes it and I guess that is what matters. I'm not crazy about the looks, but it definitely looks better then the previous Tuscon. All in all not a bad car for the 22k it costs and if you feel yourself needing to sit up a little higher then a conventional compact sedan (like my mom now does after her accident) its a good fit and like always Hyundai's 100k/10 mile warranty is nothing to laugh at.

I'm hoping in the next couple of months I'll be moving back home and can once again help out. I'm not looking forward to the weather though...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Suspension Options...A beginners look at the aftermarket offerings.

Ok, so somebody over at asked me to write about the different styles of suspension options for Hyundai vehicles. Being that I have personally swapped my suspension around several times and used several different styles of suspension components I'll take a stab at it.

Get sprung...

The world of aftermarket suspensions can be incredibly complicated and if you do not know what your getting yourself into you can actually spend more money then you intended or buy something that you have no use for. I will attempt to explain the differences between spring/strut, sleeve coilovers, and full coilover suspension systems. There are many reasons why people swap our their OEM suspensions for aftermarket ones. It can be as simple as wanting to lower the stance all the way up to full time track use. This is where it can become quite diluted and you may loose your way. When looking for suspension components you must have a realistic idea of what you are going to do with your vehicle. Are you going to be doing Track days or autocross? Or just simply some curvy road carving? You do NOT want to spend money on full coilovers if your not going to use them. Its kinda like the old guy that buys the Z06 Corvette just he can park in the garage and drive it on Sundays...on the the left lane doing 65mph. THAT is not what it is intended for and I cringe every time I see it happen.

Please don't...

Ok lets start with sleeve style coilovers. I know its a weird spot to start, but I will tell you that I do NOT recommend them at all. Most of the people that buy these styles of coilovers are looking to go as low as they can for as cheap as they can. In the car world, its the worst case scenario. Going too low will actually hurt the vehicle dynamics and have an ill affect on handling. Most of the time they also use the OEM struts and do not care about the ride quality. What happens is the OEM struts are not designed to be lowered and you effectively reduces the struts ability to control the spring (especially considering the sleeve style coils are very very stiff). This is when you see cars kinda bouncing along the road whenever they hit bumps. This is not good for anything.  So yourself a favor and stay away!!

Get lower...

There are going to be a TON of options for lowering springs. Again this comes down to how low you want to go and your purpose. If you are just wanting to lower the car a little to get rid of that unsightly wheel gap, then lowering springs are for you. If you are just want something a tick stiffer to take some corners faster then lowering springs are for you as well. Lowering springs have a higher spring rate (this being the amount of pressure it takes to compress the if its stiffer it takes more weight to compress it the same amount of distance).  They usually range from an inch to about an inch and three quarters in drop. Now with lowering the car you also have to remember that you are taking away the equal amount of dampening. So if you lower the car 1.5 inches (like I have with my H&R springs) you take away an equal amount from the dampener. What that means is that the dampener will have a limited range of motion. (Fortunately for me, I had another option and lost almost no suspension travel. I'll reveal how I did it when I showcase my car).

Yes I know the Spring is upside down!
This could have an ill effect on the lifespan of the strut/dampener (strut is upfront and dampener/shock is in the rear...for the Veloster, UD/MD Elantra, RB Accent, and BK coupe...while older models have struts all the way around) and could cause you to bottom out and the ride quality could suffer a bit. All in all though, ride quality is usually retained but stiffened up a bit. When installing lower springs you will need an alignment afterwards as you have unbolted the two bolts from the knuckle. Do not let the person doing it say you need camber bolts. You can adjust the camber (although Hyundai says there is no adjustment) with the OEM bolts. Simple loosen the bolts push the knuckle in for more camber or pull the strut toward you and tighten for less camber. (if you do not know what camber is...I guess I'll have to do another installment with alignments as the topic. haha)

I like it stiff!...

While this is sometimes true its not necessarily the case. A full coilover system is a spring and shock combination. They are matched to one another, usually have camber plates, adjustable height, and adjustable dampeners (for coils, they are called dampeners). Lets start with the camber plates. These are literally plates where you adjust  the camber.
They are ontop of the dampener and come through where the top of the assembly bolts to the body of the vehicle. There are usually four bolts (ones shown here are allen head, pic below) you simply loosen them and slide them in either direction to get the desired camber. Toward the inside of the car for negative camber or pulled out for positive camber. Height adjustability comes in the form of rings that travel up and down. On my TEIN Super Street coilovers I could adjust the height, but it uses the spring perch to raise and lower the spring. Others like the new ARK coilover system have a pretensioner on the spring (this way the spring does not "fall" out of place when you jack the car up. The TEINs would fall out of place and you had to be careful when you lowered the car back down to the ground) and a seperate ring for the height adjustment. Its located at the bottom as shown here. This does NOT affect the strut travel and you have the same amount of travel no matter the drop. The rears are going to be different because the spring and dampener are separate pieces. Dampener control can come on either top of the dampener or the bottom of the dampener.
Shows adjustablity and the camber plate.

Again the TEINs had the adjustability (16 way) on the top. You simply just twist the knob to adjust. Ride quality with coilovers is superior to that of just normal drop springs or sleeve coilovers.(though if you get the right spring/strut combo it will ride just as well.) This is because the spring and dampener are matched to one another. Even though it might be quite a bit stiffer the ride quality is not as jolting as one would expect. Often times people who rode in my car did not know I had full coilovers on, but rather thought the OEM suspension was stiff. Coilovers are usually used when trying to lower the car to its optimum spot without loosing suspension travel or your going to be doing events like autocross, redline time attack, or local track days. Another feature with coilovers is that the oil used in the dampener is special in that it has a tendency no to froth up and become foamy. I must say that if you buy the correct struts/dampeners they too will have this advantage.

You can see on the ARK there are THREE rings. two are for the tensioner and the bottom being for height adjustability.

Definitely not the end...

This is just the beginning of suspension tuning. There are a multitude of components that come together to form the suspension. This article is a simple description of what the three are and how they work. Your application will/may vary. In the future, I will be doing an article on my own car and I'll show you what I have done with it over the years. Most of my modifications have been done to the suspension and brakes. I havent touched the motor due to the car being my daily driver, besides I have my eye on a future Hyundai product. So I have to keep this beauty running till it comes out, still even then it will be my winter beater.

Questions? do not hesitate to ask!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Common sense...Can it be taught?

 Driving circles...literally!...

I'm going to tell you now the answer is NO!!! I almost was in two accidents with in minutes of one another, both times while in a circle (you crazy New Englanders call them roundabouts...I'm sure others do to, but I'm from New Jersey...its a circle. haha). The signs clearly show you how to navigate a circle and in which lane one needs to be to exit the circle. Does this mean that people follow the signs or show courteous behavior while on the road? Nope, unfortunately. The sign states that the right lane should either exit right or go straight, while the left lane goes straight or continues around the circle. While in such circle I was in the left lane entering, my intention was to go straight. I figured the guy next to me would be doing the same as he did not go right out of the circle. Wrong, he decided to keep going around in the OUTSIDE LANE! So I had to hit my brakes abruptly to avoid that person and even though my horn was blazing the person just continued like nothing was wrong. This is NOT the circle that I drove through but it does have the same traffic pattern to it.

When I had arrived at my destination some two minutes down the road I realized that I forgot to stop by the bank. Fantastic, around the circle again because the bank was on the other side. Grab my money from the ATM and back on the road, this time while in the RIGHT lane to avoid any difficulties. A tractor trailer entered into the circle with me in the middle of it. He stops, I stop and then he looks at me, like I'm in the wrong. What is wrong with people? Is it that hard to drive around a circle? I guess that is why my home state of New Jersey is slowly getting rid of the circles. Its a shame, they are easy and convenient. One does not have to stop at a light and can continue on unimpeded.

Left lane IS a killer...

So most of us drive on road with more then one lane right? Well for most of us it is a lane for passing and traveling at a faster pace then the traffic on the right. Or at least this is how it is supposed to happen. The good state of Florida JUST made it a law to move to the right when not passing. I thought this was common sense/courtesy. Apparently not because on my daily travels I have to constantly go around these people. I even had a person argue with me that if they are doing the speed limit they do not have to move over. WHAT?! You are impeding traffic by, first going the speed limit, second by doing it in the left lane. Lets face it, for must highways the speed limit is a suggestion and most of us go over it on a daily basis. What this means is that the left lane hangerouters sit there (some even say "they can go around me") breaking the law and making everybody behind them very angry.

This is when accidents happen. People are going to speed, please do not be the police and try to stop them. If you do not like it move over and let them go by. Its not hard. Otherwise these angered people go around into the right lane and pass. They do it wether it is clear or not! They will squeeze past you at just about any cost. Now it might not be so bad if there is one person behind you, but what about two, three, or even four people pulling out into the right lane and gunning the throttle. Multiple people now are trying to squeeze past you. Its not a good scenario and can be avoided. I also know that people will tailgate and honk. This is not proper either and should be avoided. If your coming up to somebody who is moving slower then you give them a quick autobahn flash twice. Do not be an ass and hold your highbeams for an extended period of time. What your doing is starting a power struggle with the car in front of you. Nobody wins. So I will end by saying , please do us all a favor and move over.

Some more things that can kill...

We all also know that we should drive while distracted or angry. They both increase the likelihood of an accident. Some of those things more than others. Distracted driving, according to National Highway And Traffic Association, 16% of all fatalities on the highway were caused by distractions. Some distractions are very preventable. Wake up ten minutes earlier to shave, put on lipstick, or eat your bowl of cereal. I have driven close to 750,000 miles I have some stories about what people do on the road, but I'll save that for another time. Driving while intoxicated (on any drug) is one of those things that you would think would be common sense. Driving is a privilege not a right and if you are caught DUI it should be taken away permanently! 

My personal pet peeve are people on phones. Texting, talking, surfing the net or whatever else you can possibly do with your phone nowadays. I have seen the after math of what these types of distractions can cause. Pics are of my mom's Elantra. She was struck while going through an intersection. Presumably by text'er that blew the red light. She was able to walk away with minor injuries (she did throw a clot in her leg and she is still dealing with some aftermath stuff). Thank you Hyundai for building such a solid car! All airbags deployed as they should have and I'm convinced that it was infact the car that saved her. I just saw a woman in her Toyota 4-runner run over a curb, then slow down, then ran over the curb again. Why? well as I pulled up next to her she was texting away on her phone. I guess she does not get it. Some people have to have something bad happen to them before they get it. I just hope that myself or anybody else I car about is NOT there when it happens.

some vids just because...

So with that being said...

Hyundai has bluetooth standard in ALL vehicles and the new Veloster has a "talk to text" application. This enables the driver to speak and the system will convert your voice into a text message and send it through your phone. It uses Hyundai's new Bluelink system. This subscription only package as a multitude of features. Including stolen vehicle recovery gps, emergency alert, speed limiter, and geo fence are just a couple of the options available with the Bluelink system. What Hyundai has done is made it safer to use your phone (if you really need to). Hyundai also knows that things happen and my mom is case in point. So all of their vehicles now come with atleast 6 airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Eletronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), seatbelt pretensioners, and active headrests. Almost all of Hyundai's line up are 5 star safety rated as well. The Accent having 4 stars. So you know if your buying a Hyundai, your in good hands...big fluffy ones.

So please be safe and happy motoring! End rant/

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Veloster Turbo and you!

Ok, so we know that the Veloster is a great car! There is no doubt about that, one of its downfalls though is that it looks way quicker then it actually is...all of that is about to change. We know that the Veloster turbo is coming in the very near future. I'm guessing that the car will be unveiled at either the Detroit auto show or the Chicago auto show. For some reason, and I'm probably wrong about this, that they are going to have it at the SEMA show next to the other wonderful cars.

Black Rob said it best in 99' "Like Whoa!!!"...

We also know that Hyundai has changed the front fascia, and rear fascia with a very trick dual center mounted exhaust. Although a little birdie told me that the projector headlights and LED taillights will make it to the production version of the Turbo. What we also dont know is if they are going to be keeping the torsion rear bar with integrated 23mm sway bar. I have heard rumors of perhaps an independent rear suspension for this car. I would also like to see a limited slip differential as well, but I guess we will have to see...till then I'll keep my fingers crossed. All info for the motor was taken form the press release from HMC Gamma 1.6 T-GDI

GTI? Civic SI?...

Could it be that Hyundai will make the new Hot Hatch? I sure hope so! I would also like to thank the guys/gals over at for their support and all those that nominated me for the Super Moderator position. It has been a please sure be apart of such a great site! Look out though, its going to get busy...real quick!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hyundai and Motorsports.

 Rhys Millen is easily one of the best!

Well Rhys Millen does it again! He puts his Genesis Coupe (twin turbo charged 650hp!!) on the podium again in Irwindale! This time taking 2nd place. I received an email form the Hyundai Think Tank with a video, but it has not been release yet to the public (hence why I can not share it with you...BOOO!!

Rhys Millen has been with Hyundai for three years now. We first saw Rhys with his 2010 Genesis coupe at SEMA in 2008. This gave all of the Hyundai tuners something to talk about, especially since this car was at SEMA prior to the car even being debuted! Since then people have been taking both platforms (2.0 turbo and the 3.8 v6) to their limits.
Over the years, their joint venture has brought awesome cars like his Genesis coupe (for drifting and redline time attack races), but also the RMR 580. This fantastic car was used to climb pikes peak not to long ago this year. The previous year he raced his Genesis coupe and broke the record for RWD vehicles.

Rhys has also been busy building the Veloster rallycross car. This 2.0 liter(stroked out by BC from 1.6 liter) turbo AWD beast is packing 500+ hp. The car was first shown at the Chicago Auto Show but its first ride was in the Rallycross Series this past summer and at the 2011 X-Games. Although not as successful as they might have hoped, it brought the brand and the car to the rallying world again.

If you remember Hyundai had a World Rally Car some years back with the LC Accent (2000 model) and the WRC program ran from 2000 to 2003 until the budget wore thin and Hyundai pulled out in 2004. Too bad, it was smoking fast!! 300hp from turbocharged 2.0 Beta motor. People have tried to duplicate the car by putting the 2.0 in the LC Accent and then turboing it (its actually ALOT easier then you would think, its almost a direct bolt in) but without the lacks in the traction department. Check out the video of the WRC Accent VS the R34 GTR!

Others are following in the path of RMR and teaming up with Hyundai for this years SEMA Show. ARK will be representing with their latest rally inspired car. This 2012 Veloster will be sporting a TON of aftermarket parts from ARK, including a custum turbo kit making 210hp. ARK has been keeping the guys and gals over at updated on almost a daily basis. It should be sweet to see!! (maybe in person???)

Fuelculture is another break through company that has received a Veloster from Hyundai Motor America. This car sports a custom blue paint job (I actually LOVE this blue! if only Hyundai made a color similar!) and custom tan leather interior. They too have quite a bit of aftermarket goodies including KW coilovers. They too and are updating us on a regular basis.

Last but not least I would like to take a minute and talk about THIS Genesis coupe picture. This picture was released and the guys over at went bananas with it. I knew that this could not possibly be true because I have read about the new 3.8 liter GDI motor putting down 333hp would be the successor to the port injected 3.8 that was rated for 306hp. People began to suspect that THIS would be the new motor. I knew it then that it wouldnt be, but this is what spawned my entry "The return of H.A.R.D?" could you imagine if this WAS a factory option? it would be pretty sweet. What we did learn some weeks later was that this Supercharger has been in the making for the past couple of years with engineers from Hyundai American Technical Center and others from Rhys Millen Racing (RMR), Magnuson products, Harriman International, and Torvec INC. This motor is good for over 450hp! But dont expect to see this in show rooms. Instead you'll find it in the Genesis Coupe Hurricane SC to be showcased at SEMA in the not so distant future.

This is just the beginning...

Although Hyundai has been making a huge push toward having the most fuel efficient cars (4 cars that are at 40mpg or more), we know that CEO John Krafcik is a car guy deep down. He has his fair share of cars in his garage including a Caterham and a Porsche Boxter S. He knows his cars and how they should drive! I'm personally looking forward to seeing (and driving!) the facelifted Genesis coupe and Veloster Turbo. Both of these vehicles should be unveiled in the first quarter of next year (I'm thinking at the Detroit or Chicago auto show). They should then be on sale in Korea first, then shipped to our shores here in the U.S. There is also an Elantra Coupe coming (and I have heard a rumors of an R-spec edition...possibly with the same 1.6l GDI turbo good for 208hp and 195lbs that will be coming in the Veloster Turbo).

Keep feeding us Hyundai, because we are are going to eat them up!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ATH Presents: The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

New car but not new to the environmental scene...

For some time now Hyundai Motor Corp. has been involved with alternative energy vehicles. While this may be Hyundai's first "production" car to make it to Hyundai showrooms, they have been doing much more behind the scenes. The late 1990's and early 2000's there was a cultural push for alternative energy sources. Some companies saw potential and started doing their own R&D, Hyundai was one of them. While electric cars are not a new concept, I'll spare you the history lesson, bringing them to the masses is a different story.

Honda in 1999 gave us the "Insight" this funky 2 door hatch was the first to hit U.S. shores. While it did not sell the way Honda had hoped, it did kick the door open for other vehicles to come. Toyota was next and in 2000 we saw the "Prius" for the first time. Granted prior to 1999 there were a handful of cars that were all electric, most memorable is GM's EV1. What a shame, GM had a home run on their hands and they let big oil and lobbyist win. Shame on you GM.

Hyundai was working on its own electric vehicle. Hyundai introduced the Santa Fe in 2001, along with this introduction were 15 very special electric vehicles that made their way to the county of Honolulu. The 15 cars would be used as every day fleet vehicles. They had a range of 70-90 miles (sound familiar?) and worked flawlessly for their two year experiment. They had to pry the keys from their hands. Hyundai saw this as a success and continued with their research. Other car companies did the same and multiple hybrid vheicles have come out since then. A couple of years back while developing their new hybrid, Hyundai was looking even further into the future. Hyundai decided that their new "Tuscon" would be a good platform to add a fuel cell to and take a 28 day trip around the good ole USA. Even without refilling stations they were able to make it across the country. While the trip was for "Hope on Wheels" (a fundraiser to help raise awareness and treatment for childhood cancers). It also showcased Hyundai's ability to build a fully functional fuel cell vehicle. By 2015 Hyundai is hoping to have fuel cell technology in the hands of the masses, but with no is that going to work out? Well as it turns out, Hyundai bought out a failing oil company in Korea and is transforming the gas stations to hydrogen fill stations. Problem solved in the home land but what about here in the USA? Hyundai has a fight on their hands, hopefully lobbyist won't win this time around and we will be able to utilize one of the greatest natural resources and take our dependance off fossil fuels.

Did I mention that Hyundai also turned a chunk of Chinese desert to a flourishing green meadow? Its true...look it up!


Enter the Sonata Hybrid. The Sonata is one of the hottest selling mid-sized family cars in the USA at the moment. Most dealership can not keep them on the lot and it has won more awards then I care to list. You can go to to look for yourself. I'll spare you the facts of the "normal" Sonata as this review is about its hybrid variant. It essentially has the same interior with the exception of the driver gauge pod (we will watch a video later about that) and some other minor tweaks. The trunk has a slightly less room in it due to the Lithium-polymer battery, we will learn more about that later. Other differences between the two cars are the front and rear fascias, headlights and tailights. The fascias are dramatically different and help the Hybrid be as slippery as possible. The Hybrid also sports non traditional wheels with low resistance tires and undertrays that aid in the aerodynamics of the vehicle to help it achieve it 40mph highway/35mph city EPA ratings. But is the $6000 price difference worth it?

Hybrid is a Hybrid, they all work the same...or do they?

Hyundai does use a four cylinder motor and a powerful electric motor to power the hybrid true, but that is about the end of the similarities. Hyundai's Theta II 2.4 motor has been designed to maximize fuel consumption, this means that the 198hp mark comes down to 166hp and the 184 ft/lbs of torque comes down to 154 ft/lbs. It is then coupled with a 30kWatt electric motor that makes 40hp and 151 ft/lbs of torque. In combination its like having a motor with 208hp and 193 ft/lbs of torque. The torque curve is almost immediate with the electric motor assisting and then the motor will take over at higher RPMs. The transmission is the standard 6 speed automatic from the normal Sonata. It also retains its shiftronic feature, which I'm not sure why, but its there. According to the Hybrid will run to 60mph in 8.7 seconds which seems fair and will stop from 60 in a respectable 126ft.The Lithium-polymer battery makes it debut aswell. The battery is 25% lighter, 40% less volume, and 10% more efficient over its Nickel brethren. It also discharges slower to maintain charge 1.7 times longer.

This system is truly a parallel system. It can and will run entirely on battery power (EV Mode), together, or gas powered motor. Under normal driving conditions the car will switch to EV mode and the engine will sit dormant till its needed to either charge the battery or for acceleration. As a matter of fact, you can run EV mode all the way up to 74mph! I'm not sure any of the other vehicles in this class can do that. The Hybrid also utilizes regenerative braking, electric speed sensing steering, electric air conditioning, electric water and oil pump. The only thing that is belt driven really is the generator that is water cooled. The gauges will alert you to how the power is being used and where it is coming from (see video).

Does it work as a daily driver?

I picked up the car on Tuesday the 11th of October and had it for four days. I started with a full tank, so I zero'd out all of the information in the ecu. I started driving. It then became my primary mode of transportation. This meant that I had to install my son's car seat via the latch system (which by the way is the BEST way to install a car seat and I highly recommend you buy one that has this as a feature. We personally have used Britax car seats. They are up to European crash standards (70mph) not the American (35mph) standard...look them up, they are worth every penny!) and we were off. I was given the standard Hybrid model. There is only ONE upgrade and it costs $5000. The "Premium" package adds leather heated seats, 17" wheels, a huge moonroof and a bunch more. My initial impression was that the steering was light while in the parking lot and then tightened up while out on the road. Brakes seemed linear and stopped without any drama. The suspension is taut. It does not feel like a boat nor do you feel every bump in the road. I feel that great ride quality comes from Hyundai's SACHS Amplitude Selective Dampening shock absorbers. While handling is definitely not this cars forte, it took the corners nicely and was acceptable considering it had the smaller 16" rims with the low resistance tires. Even while on the highway with construction, it never once pulled and took the changing pavement well even while moving at a good pace. The motor and transmission are a good pair together. I actually never did feel the car shift once. What I did feel, and others have commented on it, is a slight hesitation while both modes of propulsion where in use. When it was in EV mode alone or gas mode alone, there was no hesitation at all and acceleration was smooth.

In conclusion, it sure does work! I enjoyed driving this car and testing it in the real world proved that its more then capable. Hybrids are designed to be fuel efficient and if driven as such you can yield some really good MPG. Around town I was averaging about 42 miles to the gallon (according to the on screen display) but once I was on the highway, the MPG's came down to about an average of 36mpg. Although I must say that the traffic on I95 here in Florida does not move at a hybrid favorable pace. I saw speeds of 75-85mph and that was sitting in the right hand lane holding up traffic. On my way back from Orlando I was able to take a more leisurely pace of about 65-70mph and on a consistent basis the vehicle switched to EV mode and my MPG started to dramatically improve. Picture shows the vehicle in EV mode while cruising on the highway.

 In my four days of driving I drove about 250+ miles and still had more then half a tank of fuel left. I was averaging, again according to the display, 36.8 mpg in both highway and city driving. I do have to note some of the annoyances with this car. One of the safety features are active headrests. They have a tendency to stick out too far and can be uncomfortable. I hear that most people flip them around, but doesn't that defeat the purpose? I also think that the seats could be a little more bolstered. Maybe its just me. One more thing to mention is that I could not get mine or my wifes phone to sync with the bluetooth in the car. Both phones would sync then turn off, so I'm not sure if it was a software issue or my phone. I have driven the Veloster and my phone sync'd with out an issue. Small thing with the headlights and the Daytime Running Lights. I LOVE the way the headlights look and the lighted ribbon that goes through them. However, its not bright enough, and the dull light in the corner really ruins the dramatic affect. Eliminate the light and make the LED's brighter! Picture down below is with the vehicle off and what it SHOULD look like during the day.

Is it worth it?

The simple answer is YES, this car will probably make to my garage with in the next year or so. My wife loved driving it and my son actually cried when we had to return it to the dealership. On several occasions I could see him watching the display checking out the cool graphics. He also liked the fact that I could put my MicroSD card (with USB adapter) into the USB port and play his favorite music. His Cd's reside in my wife's car. While this is a great family mover for the environmentally conscious, its just not my cup of tea. Although I must say that it did make me more aware of how my driving style affected my mileage. All in all, this would be for my wife who has always wanted a hybrid, but did not like how the others in the bunch worked or their really short warranties. The Sonata Hybrid fits the bill and I'm sure it will for you too.

Big thanks goes to Coastal Hyundai in Melbourne, FL

Turbo Fox Photography (pictures have logos on them) Thanks Andy!

More reviews to come! Show me some love and leave a comment below.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Its just rubber...How important could it be?


Well, has it turns out it is very important. Coming home from my in-laws last week, we had a really bad rain storm on I95. While I was driving, doing about 50 mph with my hazards on, I watched more then one person go flying by me, only to be to found in the middle guardrail or spun off into the trees to the right of the highway. Why? Rubber or should I say the lack there of. You see what these people failed to do was either maintain their tires or they were driving  too fast for the amount of tread left on their tires.

Coming from the dealership I can say for certain that most people have NO FREAKING clue what their tires look like or how to maintain them. Another thing they do not like to do is BUY new tires. For some reason people seem to think your just trying to get their money when you tell them they have bald tires. I have been amazed sometimes that people even made it there in the first place! Even when you show people how bad they are, they up right refused or would say "yeah I have a friend who...." Good for you, but please do something about it! Do not blow it off. Remember this is the single most important maintenance item that is severely overlooked . Its your link between the road and vehicle.

Maintenance of your tires is fairly simple. Maintain the correct air pressure and make sure they are going in a straight line. Seems easy enough right? The tire pressure for each vehicle is different. To find out what the tire pressure is for your car, just simply open up the driverside door look down into the door jam area (can  be on the body side or I have seen them on the door itself) for Hyundai they should be on the body side. For example, on my 2003 Elantra GT the correct pressure for the OEM tires is 30psi. Please remember that check your pressures BEFORE the car starts to move (when the tire is cold). Once in motion the friction of the tire on the road makes heat and with heat the gasses with in the tire expand. This in turn will increase pressures with in the tire. So if you had a low tire pressure prior to starting out it will say that your at the correct pressure, when in all actuality it is not. Having proper tire pressure not only insures the life of the tire, but also the correct contact patch with the road. There are cases where you might want less pressure, but these are going to be for situations like sand and maybe snow.  So unless your driving on the beach or trying to get out of a snow bank, make sure the pressures are correct. I could also go on about pressures for the sports car enthusiast, but for this particular article lets just stick to the basics, ok? if you have any questions by all means ask away!

Going straight...

You might have guessed it already, but I'm  referring to the car's alignment. The alignment is very important and should be checked atleast once a year. Depending on the vehicle, there are multiple things to adjust. Being about Hyundais I will use them as my example. A four wheel alignment is going to be your best bet (I'm not sure they do just two wheel alignments anymore...uh?) this will make sure that your front and rear tires are facing in the proper direction and within the OEM limits. Toe is a term that refers to front of the tires and the direction in which they are pointing on the X-axis. Toe out means just that, the front of the wheel is off center towards the outside of  the body. Toe in being the opposite. The tires are facing in toward the middle of the car. Toe will reek havoc on your tires when its off, even just the littlest bit. "Feathering" is when you can run your hands over the tire and feel slight little ridges of the backside of the tread (see picture to the right).  Camber is another adjustment. If this is not with in specs can cause some serious damage to your tires as well. Especially if the car is not engineered to have alot of camber. Camber is the position of the top of the tire relative to the Y axis (toe being the X dont remember X and Y??? haha look it up). Negative camber while good for twisty roads and race cars can kill the inside of the tires if it is excessive. Yeah I'm looking at you Hellaflush crew (dont get me started on that...I could go on for days). This means that the top of the wheel is pushed toward the center of the vehicle. Whole positive camber is just the opposite with the top of the tire moving away from the body. You can see here that I had a little more camber then this tire was designed for (-2 degrees). The tread progressively gets worse as you move toward the inside of the tire. With negative camber you are running on the inner part of the tire most of the time. This is good for cornering because of the McPherson strut suspension on my Elantra will "gain" camber as the wheel is turned. So inputting negative camber helps to keep the contact patch large while going through a corner. On the flat roads of Florida, all it manages to do is eat the tires up. 

Caster is the third adjustment but being that its usually fixed in a position and does not vary (atleast for Hyundai vehicles) there is no need to say much about it, except that its the angle at which the strut is in the Y axis. Most cars have a little bit of caster to help absorb bumps and make the wheel comeback to center with little or no help from the driver.

More tire are some pics of some tires I had laying around. 

You can see that on this particular tire, it looks like it has a very bumpy contour and will extend over the entire tread. Its not smooth at all. This is generally what a tire will look like when you have a bad strut. The strut is unable to control the bouncing of the spring, so the tire suffers the consequences by bouncing along on the road. These tires will ROAR like a mofo while on road too. More noticeably the faster you go.

This lovely tire had an internal failure. You can obviously see the tread coming through. this was making my wife's steering wheel wobble. At about 30mph it was very noticeable and the faster you went the worse it got. She decided to tell me about 2 weeks after...whoops! This was a blow out waiting to happen! 

Tread...How low an you go!

Well all tires have wear bars built into the tread. All you have to do is look. By law the lowest the tread can go is 2/32. This is the lowest of low and if you start to go lower then that, lets just say that your gonna end up in the woods like my buddies did on I95 that rainy day. If you do not have a tire depth gauge like this one here (sorry for the blurry pic). You can even use a Penny. With Lincoln's head facing down, the tread should cover up his head, if it does not then your looking to get a new set of tires. This last pic is of the wear bars. When you start to see these bars level with the rest of the tread then it is time for new tires. The picture below you can see raised portions in the grooves of the tread, these are the wear bars. Also if you go up to the second picture, you can see the wear bars are flush with the remaining tread.

I almost forgot!!!

Rotating your tires is also very important for tire wear. On Front Wheel Drive (FWD) cars this is very important because the front wheels propel the car and turn the car. These front wheels can and will wear much quicker then the rears. Depending on the tire you have on there will dictate how you can rotate your tires. Hyundai recommends that you cross the front tires to the back (opposite sides of the car from where they came from) and then move the rear tires forward on the same sides. IF you rotate your tires like this every 6k or so (think every other oil change) then every tire will be in ALL positions at some point and tire wear should be even through its life. Please remember though if you have directional tires, you can NOT rotate the tires in this manner. You simply move the front to the back and vise versa (on the same sides of the vehicle). I have seen plenty of "techs" put directional tires on the wrong side of the car. What happens is that water does not channel out from the center of the tread like it was designed to do AND directional tires are designed to go in one direction, if you put them on the wrong side of the car then they have the possibility of unraveling, Not a good scenario.

In the future I'll expand on this to include sizing, tread wear, and speed ratings. For now though, make sure you have your pressures correct! Your tires will thank you. Happy motoring.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ask and you shall receive!!

All Things Hyundai and Coastal Hyundai in Melbourne, FL are teaming up to bring you more car reviews!

Coastal Hyundai...

This family run business has been serving Brevard county for 22 years. The Nelson family, with lead from Bruce Nelson Jr. as president and Michelle Nelson as CFO, has made Coastal Hyundai Brevard County's best new car dealership and one of Hyundai's largest dealerships in the nation. Coastal Hyundai also holds the record for most Hyundai's sold in one month, in the southeastern district. With their professional staff ready, willing and able to help you the best they can, there is NO better time to drive a Hyundai!

How it went down...

I spoke with my long time go to sales man John Lyons who directed me to TJ Watson, the internet sales manager. Our conversation was brief but adequate. I'll spare you the boring details of the process, but Coastal Hyundai will be letting me take several of the new model cars out for my own reviews. However, with several different models that are new in the line up at the moment I'm having a hard time deciding on which car to drive first! This is where you guys/gals come in!

I need your suggestions! I'm looking forward to my new partnership with Coastal and bringing you the quality reviews you have come to expect from All Things Hyundai!

Coastal Hyundai's website...please click for more information!

I know a bunch of you read this, if you could please leave a post down below! Thanks and stay tuned for my Hyundai reviews!!!