Tech Tips March 2013


March 2013 Index Tech Tips Local News National News Biz Tips


Counterfeit AC Refrigerant Poses Serious Danger to Technicians

The Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) is alerting the automotive industry about the serious dangers of counterfeit and contaminated AC refrigerant after another 3500 cylinders of counterfeit refrigerant were seized by Saudi authorities earlier this month.

The problem is caused by counterfeiters who are manufacturing cylinders of AC refrigerant labeled as pure R-134a but in fact contain R-134a mixed with other refrigerants like R-40.

When R-40 is exposed to aluminum, commonly used in a/c system components, it forms a toxic, flammable and highly volatile compound known as trimethyl aluminum that is explosive upon contact with air.
R-40 is a harmful and dangerous material that is not suited for use in automotive R-134a a/c systems.

CCAR invited guest blogger Bob Miller of Train Them Now LLC to publish an article on the issue to help explain the dangers and offer some solutions for repairers that handle AC service.

According to Miller, if R40 is found in a system, the system is considered unrepairable. There is no safe and approved solution for removal of the refrigerant and neutralization of the aluminum compound that may have been formed.

Miller suggests several precautions:

– Always identify refrigerant on every vehicle before you hook your equipment to it
– Be wary of R-134a being sold well below the current market price
– look for misspellings or poor quality on cylinder labels that might indicate a counterfeit
– hook a refrigerant identifier to a new cylinder of R-134a as a precaution


Honda Develops New Technology to Join Steel and Aluminum

Honda has developed a new technology to join steel and aluminum and will initially introduce the technology with the launch of the North American version of the all-new 2014 Acura RLX expected to hit showrooms as early as March.

The first application of the technology will be used to bond a new aluminum outer door panel on the RLX, which has conventionally been made of steel, to the inner door panel which will remain a steel component.

To enable the use of aluminum for the outer door panel, the process actually involves the application of several newly developed technologies to address corrosion (electrical corrosion) and thermal deformation caused by the different expansion rates of steel and aluminum.

The technology to join dissimilar materials required the adoption of a ‘3D Lock Seam’ (3DLS) structure, where the steel panel and aluminum panel are layered and hemmed together twice. To prevent electrical corrosion, Honda will use a highly anticorrosive steel for the inner panel and a new form that assures the complete filling of the gap with adhesive agent. To control thermal deformation, an adhesive agent had to be designed with low elastic modulus (better ability to stretch) for the 3D Lock Seam. Together, these technologies eliminate the spot welding process used to join conventional steel door panels.

The new technology reduces door panel weight by approximately 17 percent compared to the conventional all-steel door panel. In addition, weight reduction at the outer side of the vehicle body concentrates the point of gravity further toward the center of the vehicle, contributing to improved handling.


Nissan Announces Expanded Use of Advanced High Strength Steel

Nissan announced its plan to expand the use of Advanced High Tensile Strength Steel (AHSS) in to up to 25 percent of the vehicle parts (measured by weight) installed in its new production models. Nissan will make use of AHSS starting in 2017 as one of its initiatives to help reduce vehicle weight.

Nissan will use 1.2 gigapascal (GPa) Ultra High Tensile Strength Steel with High Formability in the new Infiniti Q50, which goes on sale in North America in 2013. Nissan says that it is currently the only auto manufacturer using this grade of steel for cold pressed structural body parts.

Nissan will then increase the adoption rate of AHSS as far as 25 percent of the gross weight of the parts installed per vehicle beginning in 2017 and aims to reduce the weight of Nissan’s vehicles by 15 percent.

Prior to the development of 1.2GPa ultra high strength steel, Nissan says it had been difficult to use high tensile steels for vehicle parts with highly complex shapes. Through an optimal combination of materials, the jointly-developed High Formability steel has attributes that enable it to be used for parts with complex shapes. Combined with high-precision die design and a suitable welding process, the steel can now be applied to the production of more vehicle parts. In addition, employing 1.2 GPa high tensile strength steel leads to fewer materials used per vehicle produced, and existing production lines can be used without a big modification.

Under the Nissan Green Program 2016, Nissan’s mid-term environmental plan, the company is aiming for a 35 percent improvement in fuel economy compared with 2005 on a corporate average for all Nissan vehicles by the end of fiscal 2016. To that end, the extensive use of Advanced High Tensile Strength steels, including the new 1.2GPa ultra high tensile steel, will contribute to reduced vehicle weight and better fuel economy.

The new 1.2 gigapascal (GPa) Ultra High Tensile Strength Steel with High Formability was jointly developed by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation and Kobe Steel, Ltd.