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Saving Gas Through Cylinder Deactivation

Matthew Keegan
 


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One way that automakers are helping to improve gas mileage is to employ advanced technology including cylinder deactivation. With this technique, your V6 or V8 powered car only uses half of its cylinders while you're cruising down the highway.

Because your car doesn't need full power when operating in cruise mode, the unneeded cylinders are temporarily put “offline" but reactivated immediately once you step on the gas. Your car's computer controls the engine, ensuring that needed power is available on demand.

If this technology sounds like something you've heard before, you have.

Way back during the early 1980s, GM unsuccessfully tried cylinder deactivation with Cadillac by offering what they called at that time “8-6-4 displacement. " Unfortunately, computer technology wasn't as advanced as it is today and that experiment failed, requiring GM to buy back thousands of cars. These days, thanks to state of the art central processing unit chips, cylinder deactivation is viable and used by many automakers. In most uses, sensors tell the engine to shut down half of its cylinders, a move which reduces gas consumption. Though average gains range in the neighborhood of about 6-8%, a universal implementation of this technology could reduce our dependency on foreign oil while lifting corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) industry wide.

For about five years now GM has offered active fuel management [or AFM] for several V8 engines and that technology has now found its way to V6 engines which power the Chevrolet Impala and other models. Honda has its own variable cylinder management [or VCM] for select V6 powered Odysseys, Accords, and Pilots. Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes, Toyota, BMW, Nissan, and other automakers are also using cylinder deactivation with even more manufacturers expected to jump in. Expect that this technology will eventually become common on four cylinder cars, allowing these engines to run on just two cylinders.

Thankfully, the latest attempt to shut down unneeded cylinders appears to be a success. With refined hydraulic valve lifters and improvements in engine and exhaust tuning, engines featuring cylinder deactivation technology are able to transition quickly and quietly from a fuel efficient mode to one requiring maximum power.

For drivers, cylinder dectivation allows them to enjoy the best of both worlds: access to power on demand and a boost in overall fuel economy.

Copyright 2008-2012 - Matthew C. Keegan is the owner of a successful writing and marketing business based in North Carolina, USA. He manages several websites and is a contributing writer for Andy's Auto Sport, a retailer of quality Chevrolet Silverado lamdo doors and Chevrolet Silverado mufflers .

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