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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed

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Hooked on Hybrids

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I'm looking for a Toyota Prius hybrid – second-hand due to funding. I'm living in Perth, Western Australia and am wondering if you can give me some information regarding reliability, how the hybrid ‘thing’ works and what price range I would be looking for - also if there are any other types of hybrids from other car brands second-hand. With fuel continuing to go up in price and the want to be greener I would appreciate any help you can give me.


See the articles Prius Progression, The Affordable Hybrid, The Toyota Prius Hybrid - Part 1, The Toyota Prius - Part 2, The Toyota Prius Hybrid - Part 3, New Car Test - New Generation Prius and New Car Test - New Generation Prius. A review of the Honda Civic Hybrid can also be found at Honda Civic Hybrid and the Honda Insight can be found Special Feature- Honda Insight. We’ve got plenty of hybrid stuff to look at!

Airbag Deflation

Can anyone help? I have been quoted about AUD$900 to turn off the airbag light that has come in my car on due to moving the steering column up and down. The price is to replace the complete airbag. Is there an alternative?


We recommend that you take the car to a dealership specialising in your particular brand of car. They should be able to run a diagnosis to pinpoint the problem and, hopefully, fix it for less. However, you may be up for a complete replacement.


I'm sick of speed traps - they are, in most cases, revenue raisers. I have been cited by the QLD Police Dept for warning drivers that they were entering a speed trap. I was flashing my light. Any Ideas on how to fight this?


We’re not sure how to fight that one. Can any readers help?

DPA Can Do It?

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Re the DPA (Digital Pulse Adjuster)...

I'm wondering how feasible it would be to use one of these on the BA Ford XR6 Turbo to allow a little higher boost? Could it be done?

Dean Claxton

The DPA can be used to adjust the boost pressure of any vehicle running electronic boost control that uses a pulsed wastegate solenoid. However, on its own, it doesn’t get around boost cuts or sophisticated closed-loop boost control systems. This will require some research relating to your particular vehicle.

It’s not all about kWs...

I've just read Julian's latest Driving Emotion (Driving Emotion) and I have to say I know exactly what he’s saying.

I've recently had my car on the dyno - just for curiosity’s sake - having spent quite a bit over the last few years on modifications to intake, exhaust, timing, filters, etc. The result - 71.4 rwkW. Yep, I can hear all the readers laughing “HAW HAW HAW” right now.

But what do I drive?

A naturally aspirated 1991 1.6 litre Mazda MX5 - all 900-odd kilograms of one of the most enjoyable motoring experiences I've ever had. Immensely chuckable,  near instant driver feedback and so well balanced. I can't help but smile every time I turn the key and pull out of the driveway.

So what if I don't have carpark bragging rights? I'll see you at the end of the twisty stuff - I'll be the one with the huge grin on my face!

Michael O'Brien

Turbo Giveaway

Re Telstar/626 Turbo Twins at Response... Just a note on the Mazda MX-6/Telstar TX5/626 Turbo prices - you are a little off the mark in expecting them to sell for AUD$6-7K these days. You will be lucky to sell them for AUD$4-5K unless it’s a good condition MX-6 (the most sought after model).

Ross Roberts

At that price they really are absolute bargains!

Conversion Hunt

Could you tell me of any places in Perth, Australia that do steering conversions from LH drive to RH drive? I am having trouble locating someone to do it.


Can any readers help?

Tuning Qs

I have read your articles on the Digital Fuel Adjuster (DFA) and modifying the signal from an airflow sensor and would like to know what if any differences there are if you have a MAP sensor instead.

Also how can you adjust closed loop air-fuel ratios if the oxygen sensors are controlling the mixtures?

Les Dombi

A one dimensional interceptor (such as the DFA) doesn’t work as effectively on a MAP sensed engine as it does on an engine that relies on an airflow meter signal. In a MAP sensed engine, there’s almost zero manifold vacuum as soon as you hit wide-open throttle. This occurs at ANY revs.

Consider this.

Let’s say you nail the throttle at 2000 rpm and wind the engine out to 7000 before up-shifting. In this event, the MAP sensor will send virtually the same ‘full load’ signal to the ECU all the way from 2000 to 7000 rpm. This makes it impossible to tune mixtures at specific load/rpm points when using the DFA. Any load input changes that you make with the DFA will be felt across the entire rev range. Sure, you might trim the top-end mixtures to achieve greater power but you’ll probably be running too lean at low/mid revs. See The Fueltronics AMFC for an article where this problem has been encountered.

Closed-loop mixtures can be adjusted with a(nother) DFA dedicated to intercepting the output of the engine’s oxygen sensors. The DFA can be reconfigured to suit a 0 – 1 volt range, as commonly outputted by oxygen sensors. Some experimentation might be needed due to the irregularity of the sensor output as it passes 14.7:1 AFR.

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