Cleaner car shortcuts

Your ride rolls out clean and shiny, as the sun shines onto the paint job drying what’s left of the moisture. Clean chrome bits glimmer to a sparkly shine and mirrors reflect at its very best. As you pull away, you imagine bystanders whispering to others – is this a new car? How does he do it? If the car’s that clean, what’s the owner like? You revel in those self-fantasies and drive yourself to a cendol outlet to cool off all that steam. Car is parked, locked and you coolly walk across the street to relish your dessert.

You slurp the cendol to the last green noodle, relieved of thirst and head back to your car – from afar, you notice something is amiss. There appears to be something which isn’t the color of your paint, and it’s on your shiny, newly washed ride. You haphazardly sprint over, dodging cars and bikes, to find out those birds are at it again – leaving white drippy splotches on the surface. You cringe, and swear vengeance to those winged critters who wronged you; there will be no rest, for they will pay the price, blood for blood.

Exempting the vengeance part, the above situation pretty much applies to each Malaysian who owns a car. Most drivers give up at the thought of an uphill battle; there’s so much that can get a car dirty and the effort of getting a car decently clean never seems to be worth it. As for myself, my car is personally washed, cleaned and maintained to my own standards, and while it is certainly difficult to uphold those standards it is at times necessary for some shortcuts to be made. Below are my top 5 quick and simple tips I’ve learnt throughout the journey.


#1 Tissues are handy for cars too

Tissue rolls can do more than just those emergency trips to the public toilet – it can be used to clean up bird poo as well. If the poo is still moist, dampen the tissue with your sprayer and wipe off the mess. If it has dried, lay two or more layers of tissue covering the dropping and saturate the tissue with water. Allow 2-3 minutes to moisten the droppings, then finally wipe it away with more tissue.

#2 Avoid using the wipers

This might be tricky, risky even but how the problem begins is that dirt accumulates at the blades when your wipers are set at their horizontal positions. Dirt, bits of tree and bird are swept across your windscreen, scratching and smearing the glass surface as you flick the wiper switch without a second thought. I would suggest not to use them during light drizzles or rain unless your vision of the road is severely impaired. However, it is fine to use them while being in a heavy downpour as the rainwater will have dislodged the dirt (and you will probably need to use them in such a situation).

#3 In the middle of it all

After a 3 hour cleaning ritual you set out to drive off to fetch your date but before you do so, the skies cackle and rain starts to pour. What do you do? Just wait. Rain, as it first begins is much more dirtier than the rain after a period of time as it initially gets into contact with dust and particles in the air. However, after an extended downpour the rain is much cleaner after a while due to – yes you guessed right – cleaner air. So when it happens, run back in and wait it out for bit to not waste that 3 hour effort – and be sure to give your date a good excuse.

#4. Let it flow

You hurriedly drive back home, to bring your vehicle to the safety of your roofed car porch as the dark grey clouds start to roll in. Alas, some other driver who doesn’t care about their car impedes your way and you get caught in the dirtiest of rain. To avoid those dust rings and watermarks, simply get a 1.5 liter bottle filled with clean water and pour it over the car to let the rainwater (and dirt contained in it) flow off the paint. After all, less watermarks are better than more watermarks.

#5 Hit the gas, slam the brakes

This tip has some science backing to it – if you have just turned into an mall’s parking lot to escape the storm, take advantage of Newton’s First Law for your own benefit and do some rapid acceleration and braking to ‘shake’ off the rainwater still clinging on to your car. Be absolutely sure that the coast is clear and do not scare or harm any pedestrians in the process!

Cheers to a clean ride!

The OBD and the Myvi – the beginning

Note: Some might be aware there is a password protected page before this. This post was supposed to be out before it, so you don’t have to worry if you think you’re missing any part of the story.

As a person with strong interest and literacy in technology and weird curiosity, I loved to see how things worked. I would tear down casette tapes, stereos, and basically almost anything attached together with screws, and ogle at the little shiny bits and weird shaped objects hidden from view. Of course, the entire thing at most times wouldn’t work exactly the way it should after I reassembled it, but hey you now know how it works, right?

Fast forward to today. I still break open stuff – but as a responsible adult I leave them in at least the same, or better condition when I was done with it. Now when I finally bought my own car, and a car hasa computer and many screws inside – we all know what comes next.

I started this little project almost two years back. It started with a simple thought with the average fuel consumption meter on the meter cluster – how does it work? How do I know if it’s accurate? Why could it only show me the average? Then, there was a day which I was driving my cousin’s VW Golf MK6 and it could display fuel consumption at that very instant, which I thought which would be more practical to achieve a more fuel efficient drive with the Myvi.

Logic first, every car has an ECU – acronym for Electronic Control Unit which basically is a computer for the car’s engine. When you step on the gas pedal, you allow more air into it; which the engine in turn will calculate and instruct to provide sufficient fuel for the mixture to ignite. The explosion is turned to mechanical power, which turns gears and moves shafts, which makes the car go. Now with this in hand the car would definitely have some sort of sensors to monitor these events – but are the conditions monitored by these sensors available to the driver? Again, logic says yes as when you have an engine problem, there’s got to be a way for the mechanics to see what’s happening in the engine, and how the computer is reacting to the situation. Enter OBD2.

OBD2, which stands for for On-Board Diagnostics, with 2 being the revision is a term car enthusiasts would certainly come across. Simply put, it is a standard where a car’s ECU may report its condition via a receptacle common to all manufacturers, also known as an OBD2 port. Error codes are thrown and read from the same port, which simplifies diagnostics and repairs – but as hinted above they can be used to report sensor values, which the end-user may utilize to monitor the health or performance.


The OBD2 adapter to connect your car’s ECU to your laptop/car.

Fortunately, getting a physical connection to the ECU is easy. Unfortunately, getting your OBD2 cable or tool to communicate with your ECU is tough. Some ECUs work plug and play with the tool which they use settings common to many other vehicles, whereas some need a bit of tinkering to get both sides to handshake. There’s not much documentation on this process either, which I had to rely on a lot of experimentation and trial and error to get it working. I can’t tell how many times which I tested different setups to get the tool and ECU to connect – and when I finally succeeded, you bet I was excited to see it finally responding.

Once you have it connected, you can finally diagnose your own CELs and clear them if needed – certainly a very useful feature for those home mechanics or DIY enthusiasts. Also available to you would be the real-time sensor readings, which you can monitor certain vital engine parameters as you drive. Want to see if your CAI works? Install it and monitor your intake air temperatures. Is the car experiencing poor fuel consumption? Check the fuel trims and you can find how much the ECU is compensating. Need to know at what speed your car is the most efficient? Plot out your RPM, vehicle speed and fuel consumption against a graph. There’s certainly plenty more that you can do.

Next post, I will be taking a look at the available sensors that can be read, and also see what else is possible with the OBD2 tool.

PS. For those who are wanting to get one your 2011 Myvi/Alza, I’m currently selling an OBD2 adapter which is guaranteed to work on your car. It’s definitely worth the price, and you’re directly supporting the work of yours truly 😉