The Knowledge

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What are “High Intensity” (or “Xenon”) headlamps?

High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, with their distinctive blue-white light, are now being fitted to many upmarket cars as standard equipment, and are becoming increasingly popular as an option on other models.

Unlike conventional halogen bulbs, HID lamps dispense with the filament and generate light by means of an arc between two electrodes mounted in an arc tube filled with the inert gas Xenon.

HID lamps have a number of advantages over conventional bulbs.

The light output from an HID bulb is more than double that produced by a typical halogen lamp, giving a ... click here to read more

What is a pollen filter?

Many modern cars are now fitted with cabin or 'pollen' filters in the heating and ventilation system.

With increasing traffic congestion and commuting distances adding up to more time being spent inside a car, cabin filters not only increase the comfort, but help to protect the health of the occupants by improving the quality of the air inside the vehicle.

Air contaminated by dust, soot, fumes and odours is not only unpleasant, but can present a serious hazard to health. In particular, filtering out many of the pollutants present in the roadside atmosphere can offer relief ... click here to read more

How does Satellite Navigation work?

All UK Sat Nav systems are based on a network of 24 GPS satellites launched by the U.S. Department of Defence originally for military use. The satellites orbit the earth twice a day transmitting signals that can be picked up by GPS receivers. Using triangulation, together with the signals from at least 3 satellites, the receiver can calculate the users exact position and display it on the unit’s electronic map.

Essentially it does this by comparing the time the signal was transmitted by the satellite with the time it was received. With 4 or more satellites in view, the receiver ... click here to read more

What is ‘Synthetic’ motor oil?

Perhaps the single most important component in a car engine is the lubricating oil.

The oil used in car engines has two main ingredients, base oil and additives.

The base oil is refined from crude oil, which is then subject to various further processes to remove undesirable components and stabilise the oil. Additives, such as detergents and corrosion inhibitors are then incorporated into the final product to improve and maintain the performance of the oil.

Synthetic lubricants were originally designed for use by the aerospace industry in high temperature gas ... click here to read more

What does a Turbocharger do?

Internal combustion engines produce power by burning a mixture of fuel and air. The more fuel and air the engine can burn, the more power it can produce, so the bigger the engine, the bigger the power output. It is possible however to increase the power of an engine without enlarging it by the use of ‘forced induction’ which increases the amount of air entering the cylinders thus allowing more fuel to be added.

The turbocharger is basically a pump that compresses the air entering the cylinders, which is connected to a turbine driven by the exhaust gas. A typical turbocharger ... click here to read more