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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed!

18 May 2003

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Flame Me!

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I'm driving a Ford Laser with a GTX 1.8-litre turbo engine and am very curious to know what is the major cause of fire burning out of a car's exhaust. I have looked for an article or book on this but, unfortunately, have found nothing.

I was told that it is called a "misfire" and is due to wrong timing, but some people have told me it is due to excess fuel being burnt in the exhaust.

a) What is the technical term used to describe the above effect?
b) Some people have said that it is due to inaccurate timing at the fuelling. If the statement is true, does it mean that all of Japan's GT cars are not properly tuned?
c) Can the amount of flame out the exhaust be controlled by the driver while moving?
d) Do you need a large amount of fuel flow and very high boost before you can have this effect? If so, what is the boost level that is required?
e) What are the advantages and disadvantages of "flame burning out from the exhaust"?

f) I have been trying to tune my car to experience this effect using Super AFC, AVC and HKS Twin Power Ignition but without success.

I hope you could enlighten me on the above doubts. Thanks.

Chong Wee Ng

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The 'fire burning out the exhaust" is something you typically see on very highly tuned or race engines.

Put simply, it is excess fuel that is igniting in the exhaust system after the regular combustion process has occurred and the gasses are being pushed out the open exhaust valve(s).

Usually, these flames are caused by a vastly over-rich mixture being injected into the engine when the driver backs-off the throttle - the aim here is to keep the engine running cool. Ignition timing and valve opening characteristics also play a major part.

More recently, flames out the exhaust have also become a common sight on turbocharged cars running anti-lag systems (anti-lag system hardware is fitted to recent Mitsubishi Lancer Evo models, for example). In this instance, a relatively uncontrolled explosion takes place between the engine and turbine in order to keep the turbo shaft up to speed during times of small throttle openings. Your local Group A rally teams should be able to help you out on the exact details - one might even have a Mazda Familia GTX!

Must-Read Review on US Impreza STi

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I thought this might interest you and your readers - a 2.5-litre Subaru STi review from the US. "2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi"

Damian van Loon

Utter Crap Utterings Number 1...

About your "Utter Crap" article... I really like your articles, have been a member for a few years and will stay a member because of your clear, concise, non-jargon articles. Keep up the great work guys!

Roland Schmid

Number 2...

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Amen brother on the "Utter Crap" story. I for one have only just signed up and am more than happy for you to be independent in relation to stories about products - that's what I signed up for, and the moment I suspect you are not being independent, I will cancel my membership.

So keep up the good work - it's a bold move running a magazine online only. Being the dude who coded and runs I know what the fickle internet community can be like - hehe. My only complaint is you don't have more stories - more stories on S15 200SXs especially!

Andrew Griffiths

Number 3...

Regarding your article "Utter Crap" - well written. I have been a subscriber to AutoSpeed for 2-3 years now and one of the reasons, apart from the excellent quality of the articles, are your completely impartial and honest views. I am sure you will get many more emails such as this that will show that the vast majority of AutoSpeed readers support your position. Keep up the excellent work. Best regards from Scotland!

David Wilson

Number 4...

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I just thought I would mention that I liked your article about dealing with the crap. It is good to see someone still has the balls to strike back. While some readers want to hear how the expensive product they bought is good - so as to not hurt their ego - I just want to know the real unbiased details. Thanks guys!

Sam Q

Number 5...

Sorry to hear that people are rubbishing your site and articles. You do a fantastic job and I really enjoy reading the varied and detailed content of your newsletters. And, yes, I do find your opinions unbiased and well justified.

Alternatively, to escape the criticism, you could write about very expensive European sports cars that none of us could ever afford. But I suppose I could go and purchase one of the other motoring magazines to read (or perhaps look at pretty pictures) about those. Instead, I'd rather read AutoSpeed any day; keep up the great work!

Ben Jefferys

Number 6...

Well done guys! I read your "Utter Crap" article today not with disbelief but with admiration. The wankers and the conmen do come to the surface as the melting pot is stirred don't they?! Unfortunately there's little one can do to shield one's self from these critters. Over boosting in sh*& comments is a problem with these kind. There you go - invent a "sh*& comment blow-off valve." That should do it!

Shane Capararo

Number 7...

Loved your "Utter Crap" article this week! Michael has a real amusing streak when doing the angry ant bit... Thanks for the straight facts and for the AutoSpeed electronic magazine. It's got to be one of the better publications of its type!

John Fuller

Number 8...

"In regard to your "Utter Crap" article... FYI, if you wonder why so many people slag you guys I'll give you a simple answer. You made a lot of people unhappy when you shut the forums down. A lot of those people are now predominant on other forums... I am not justifying it or a part of such slander, just maybe thought you'd like to know.

Simon Gemser

Number 9...

I just read your article "Utter Crap!" and wholeheartedly agree with you. I am a subscriber and I read AutoSpeed at least once a day. I have seen information on your site that I have questioned, so I go out and try the same test or procedure you have - I usually find myself corrected by your correct information. I find that I learn things I didn't know or had forgotten, so keep up the good work. Stuff the *&^@heads who would sprout their own inadequate drivel as gospel; keep your reporting as direct and straight minded as usual. AutoSpeed may report things some do not agree with, but at least they are the findings of a source other than those that would promote their own products unfairly or untruthfully for their gain.

Scott Bell

Number 10 (There are heaps, heaps more but we won't go on)...

Fellas, I certainly hope you take your own advise and don't take any notice of the know-all %$^!ers to which you refer in the last issue. All that does is cause stress and take up valuable space in you sensational magazine; explaining yourselves is not necessary. Just keep up the good work.

Brian Wall

Supra Cogs

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I have a 1995 ex-NSW Police Holden V8 auto and want to convert it to manual. Looking at your site I noticed conversion to Toyota Supra 5-speed. Two questions - first, how much does the conversion cost and, two, will the Supra gearbox break if the car is driven hard? Also, are the ratios the same or will I have a high revving engine?

Densil Fourie

Your best bet is to get in contact with the experts in the gearbox conversion scene - Dellow Automotive ( and Castlemaine Rod Shop
( They'll be able to recommend torque ratings, optimum ratios and give you an idea of the work/cost involved in the conversion.

Powered Up

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In regard to your DIY Budget 12V Bench Supply...

This can also be done with some of the newer ATX style power supplies by joining two of the wires that will simulate the computer's instruction to boot up. This will also be safer as people will not have to muck around with mains wiring.

Bradley Ford

Powered Up 2

You just saved me about $280! I just read your story on making a 12V power supply from a computer - which I have numerous laying around. Thanks very much!

Greg W

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