One hundred corporations are responsible for over two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions. Granted, this would stop being true if consumers stopped buying from them, and fighting climate change is indeed everybody’s responsibility.
This doesn’t change the fact that legislation that hamstrings individual drivers is no more than a band-aid in this regard. If politicians really wanted to do something about global warming, their starting point would not be whether your car gets 21 or 22 miles to the gallon.
Yet this is about the amount of emission savings General Motors’ Active Fuel Management system can claim.
How Modern Car Engines Estimate Power Requirements
Essentially, your car’s computer guesses whether you’re about to need large amounts of horsepower. If it decides that you won’t, it “switches off” (deactivates the valves to) half of the cylinders in a V6 or V8 engine.
The problem is that, should you suddenly need to accelerate or go uphill, your car will be far more sluggish than need be. If you have an automatic transmission, you’ll hear it downshifting in protest. If you drive stick, you might wonder if the bottom has just fallen out of your engine.
One solution is to rip the AFM hardware out of your engine, or at least reprogram the computer to stop using it. This is not, however, something GM recommends; you’ll probably be kissing your warranty goodbye.
RA003R’s Power Management
This gadget fixes the problem in a much less drastic manner. While it’s plugged into your car’s OBD2 port (the same under-dashboard connector automatic fault detectors use), your car’s normal software is overridden, but not overwritten.
As long as it’s installed, Active Fuel Management is disabled and the accelerator works like it’s supposed to. Pull it out, start the car again, and you’re back to the factory settings without having to know anything about your vehicle’s digital innards.
The bad news is that you will notice a drop in your gas mileage with this installed. If that amounts to 10% or more you should really rethink your driving habits.
The good news is that monkeying with your engine in this way can actually improve reliability. GM’s AFM technology still has a lot of bugs to work out: it makes your vehicle chug oil and frequently causes the valve lifters to fail. Circumventing the whole thing can therefore save you money, not to mention keep you from getting stuck on the side of the road.