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Monday, January 26, 2009


ART IN THE SHOP: Tanya Wischerath

imageLG is honored to host new works by Tanya Wischerath through February 2009.

Join us for the reception:

Sunday, February 1st 6-9p
Booze, snacks, art, and company
Link to a map

“An artist with an eye to the zeitgeist and a hand to the classical, Tanya Wischerath seeks to explain what is timeless about that which surrounds her. This is by no means an obvious aim—not one which will be captured at first glance—rather, aesthetic appeal is only an entry point into a much deeper contemplation on that which makes us human. Which stories shape that identification that is the most personal? What do we adapt from a collective consciousness but name our own for the sake of survival and flourish? Tanya Wischerath’s work explains that which is inexplicable; satisfying the task of a visual artist on fronts both immediate and resonant.”

For more works, visit TSWischerath.com

Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories: Community » Art »

Regulate Automakers Now!

Everyone’s abuzz about the new administration’s announcement to expedite California’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.  On my way home I listened to a debate on JL’s Newshour (available online, “Obama Orders Regulators to Revisit Fuel Standards” via PBS.org) between a representative for the regulators (Ian Bowles) and one for the automakers (Mike Dushane).  The industry argued, as it has since CAFE standards were introduced in the mid-seventies, that any effort to control vehicle fuel economy will only make cars more expensive, smaller (and ostensively less safe), and therefore unattractive to buyers, further jeopardizing the financial viability of the Big 3. This continued line of reasoning suggests that nothing has changed in our environmental awareness since the first Earth Day in 1970, or to the importance of energy independence since 1973, or regarding the threats to our national security since 1979.

For more on the correlation between energy, economics, and the environment, I defer to Thomas Friedman and his latest tome Hot, Flat, and Crowded

For more on the history of US automobile regulation, I highly recommend Taken For A Ride by Jack Doyle.

But the question of whether the government should regulate greenhouse gas emissions ultimately comes down to whether we recognize climate change as real.  Given what science has shown us (reference the latest synopsis from the IPCC) it is absolutely heinous for automakers to shirk responsibility.  Why not capitalize on the positive mood of the country and declare their efforts to help solve this international crisis?

Short of them actively and openly engaging the public in the importance of decreasing their product’s consumption of fossil fuels and making those changes themselves, the government has no choice but to force them to do so. 

While I subscribe to the opinion that market forces are ultimately more constructive than top-down regulation, the market also happens to work slowly, and often too slowly when it comes to environmental threats.  It is so refreshing to witness bona fide American leadership on climate change.  The automakers’ lack of cooperation seals them to a bygone era. 

 

Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


LG TV - Prius Dead Dashboard

NOTE: This blog has been superceded: Click here for the latest one

imageThe latest fad in Prius failures is the dead instrument cluster (combination meter): we have repaired two and since heard of others across the country.  Our first hand patients happened to both be cabs (both 2007 models, with 119k and 156k miles, see video below); a little digging on ye ol’ Internet revealed another cab with this problem (2006 model year with 182k mi) via PriusChat.  My salvage contact (Steve at AutoBeYours.com) also reported cluster failures from a cab company that buys from him.

A case posted on my beloved iATN (link for iATN members) came from a dealer tech in Cordova, TN, on a 2008 with less than 15,000 miles (effectively brand new) which he eventually attributed to cold temperatures.  We have several customers with high mileage, second-generation Prius with no such problems (e.g. our favorite Prius, see blog) and know of lots of similarly trouble-free Prius in much colder places than Tennessee.  There’s speculation about coffee (or other liquid popular with cabbies) getting spilled on the dash—the plateau before the instrument display makes a nice shelf for such things—that may be the missing link and a likely secret.  For now the root cause remains unknown.

The primary symptom is a dark instrument display, center speedo/combo as well as peripheral indicators (including “ready” light), with the exception of the “check engine” light, turn signal indicators, and security light (explanation of this to follow).  The cluster may go down while driving or at initial start-up.  Sometimes the condition coincides with a batch of interesting behaviors: the reverse lights, power button, and rear hatch release are inoperative.  This is especially disturbing since it makes it challenging to turn the car off.

imageThe solution is replacing the combo meter/cluster.  Extricate the top dash panel, flip it over, and remove the white plastic cover to expose the speedo circuit board. New ones are available from the dealer for a mere $711 (special order) and can be programmed with the original mileage.  With ninety minutes labor, the total bill is $951. The other option is a used board; while cheaper ($250-ish) they cannot be reprogrammed and will read the mileage of the host vehicle.  If this is less than your car, it could be a bonus.  If not, not.  Total bill with labor, $451.

That said, what’s the explanation for the weird behaviors?  It’s mostly confusion over vehicle speed: the speedo acts as a gateway to broadcast related information to other “body” ECUs on a dedicated communication bus called BEAN (Body Electrical Area Network) including those in charge of the power switch and the rear hatch.  If the vehicle is moving (or it can’t tell), the Power Source Control ECU interprets brief presses of the power switch as accidental and ignores the request, a safety feature to keep you from inadvertently shutting down the car when moving.  If the power button is held down, the car interprets it as an emergency and shuts down no matter what speed.  This function still works even when the instrument cluster goes down.  imageLikewise, the vehicle will prohibit the hatch from opening if it doesn’t know what speed its going.  Reverse lights are not related to speed, simply controlled through the combo meter according to gear inputs from the HV ECU.

The “check engine” light, turn signals, and security lights continue to work because their circuits are independent of the main computer processor inside the assembly (see wiring diagram, pictured).

Video of our second troubled cab, before the Power Switch stopped working:

Video of the same cab when the Power Switch finally acted up:

Video of case posted on PriusChat:

Link to post on PriusChat, “Instrument Panel Problem”

Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories: Repair »

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


LG on PBS’ NOVA

“The Big Energy Gamble” on PBS
Tuesday, January 20th, 8pm

Luscious and friends will appear in the latter third of the upcoming broadcast focussed on California’s mandate to control greenhouse gases.  The filming took place in mid-April last year, over an entire day at the shop.  It will be interesting to see the editing choices and messages therein.

Read more on the broadcast (via PBS.org)
Watch the full program online, starting January 21st

Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories: LG in the News »

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