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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Booze Is For Humans

I really don't get it why E10 gasoline or gasohol was shoehorned into our major pumps without really spending some brain horsepower before really putting in to the market. There are conflicting information between automotive manufacturers and E10 vendors on what is actually good or bad for the consumer. First, E10 is a mixture of 10% alcohol and 90% gasoline produced for to increase profit and lower costs of oil companies, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ENVIRONMENT. It was part of a damage control measure to avert the 1973 Oil Crisis in which the OPEC or the Oil Petroleum Exporting Countries imposed an oil embargo to stop the U.S. from supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War. E10 was not made to make your car run better, in fact it was made to make car's life shorter so that customers can replace their cars every three or five years ensuring consistent sales for the car manufacturers who despises classic car enthusiast groups.

Alcohol-laced gasoline is not allowed to be used in any type of aircraft, which means E10 is not allowed too. In short, if it's bad for the airplane, it's bad for your car. E10 will degrade car's performance and it will not improve fuel consumption. Oil companies like Caltex, Shell, Petron and Total just simply ignore these facts until there's a formal complaint! Even if some car manufacturers has recommended against E10 use for their older models. For a keen eye, one will notice that most fuel pumps around Metro Manila today has the label saying "E10 Bio-ethanol, recommended for fuel injection engines", in other words, E10 is not good for carburetor-based engines and this includes some W123 with M102 carb engines.


Though there were workarounds with this E10 issue such as employing the use fuel additives that cleans the fuel lines, remove moisture, retains performance and so forth, but a religious car keeper has to really stock up tons of this addictive additives before leaving home.

Of course we love our classics and modern classics, they're built like tanks. Given that booze is for humans, now, we have to remind our rides to never drink and drive too.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Way Around

I'm always skeptic about other people's technology regardless whether it's big or small. Whether it's from Steve Jobs or Eric Schmidt, I'm not easily mesmerized or bedazzled by those fancy touchscreens and gizmos that talk for the reason that I hack and tinker with one of those on a daily basis. Plus the fact that these things rapidly goes out of style in a matter of months if not years. Just take for example the first generation iPod integration that was introduced in W203 and its other Mercedes-Benz contemporaries, by today's standards they are already out of style. But iPod integration is no big deal. I'm more concerned about on-board SatNav (Satellite Navigation) systems that occupies almost 50% of the center console.

SatNav or by its more popular term, GPS, during its early adaptation by Mercedes-Benz and other European marques were cumbersome (you need DVD for the navigation computer), bulky, two-dimensional and far from being useful and the fact that it's not ready for the world, if there's a Philippine map available I don't think it's usable and price-wise practical. So bringing a grey market W211 in the Philippines with a SatNav is like having a flower pot in your dashboard.

My first experience with GPS was when a colleague lent me a Garmin nuvi 205 that I can use to navigate around the Greater Washington Area (Maryland, DC, North Virginia). Of course, that's East Coast, you can always expect a good amount of detail and accuracy when cruising around interstates, streets, suburbs and so forth. What I want to see if it is going to be as usable if I bring one back to the Philippines.

So here comes Garmin Nuvi, mine is 205W. Unlike the Jurassic-era and period-uncorrectable Comand SatNav, Garmin nuvi GPS modules does not put my W201 out of style. Because it's detachable, it can be mounted in the windshield or dashboard, it doesn't ruin the classiness of the interior specially the W124 or W210. And my next big question is will it work in the Philippines, specially in the chaotic streets of Metro Manila? Lo and behold, it does.

And there are two Philippine maps to choose from, the one from Roadguide and the other from I prefer the latter because it is updated almost daily, the streets and points-of-interests are more detailed.


It provides audible turn-by-turn instructions and recalculates when you miss a turn, just like how it works in the United States. It shows how fast you're going and your estimated time of arrival to destination.

7.8km to National Highway

It's First World navigation to Third World streets.

550m to turn right

With the confusing maze of the streets in Metro Manila, when asking directions from inside your Benz cockpit is risky, it pays to have a GPS attached without ruining your style.