Monday, November 24, 2008

ATX Thug on a GMC Yukon XL Denali


2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
I was able to wash our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali yesterday and take some new pictures of the 17" ATX Thug winter rims I installed last week.

Now I can explain why it ended up taking me two days to complete the install. Everything was going fine that afternoon and I was on schedule. I had all the wheels installed, nuts properly torqued, and TPMS sensors successfully reprogrammed. In fact, I had already inflated two of the Firestone WinterForce tires to the proper PSI when I noticed the directional arrows on the sidewalls were pointing the wrong way. I discovered that had installed all four tires on the wrong side of the vehicle. So I had to remove and swap them around--that was eight tire changes!

But that wasn't the end of it. I had to reprogram the TPMS sensors again. The procedure to get the car to relearn the sensor position is to let air out of the tire. When I let air out of the first tire, I was a bit hurried and I somehow jammed the valve pin so that it would not seal air anymore. Air kept escaping at a very rapid pace and not matter what I did, it wouldn't stop. I finally decided to hook up the air compressor to it to keep it pumped up and prevent it from going completely flat while I finished the process of relearning the rest of the TPMS sensors.

Once that was done, I jacked up the Denali again, removed the damaged tire, and installed the spare: Tire swap number nine! It was too late in the afternoon on Sunday to go to a tire shop so we had to go out and complete our grocery shopping on the spare. The next day when I went into the tire shop I was fully prepared to swallow the cost of another TPMS sensor to replace the one that I had broken. Luckily for me, after a little bit of investigation by the guy at Volco Tire, the sensor was not damaged--the valve pin was simply loose. Once tightened it held air normally and was happily on my way home without a cent leaving my pocket. I did have to swap the tire one more time though, but I was in a much better mood for tire swap number 10!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

GM Navigation: I take it back... Again!

Well, I think I spoke too soon. I tested out the new navigation disc on our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali with the "limitations" off and it's not what I thought it was. The capabilities of the nav don't change much with the limitations on or off.

First of all, with the limitations "ON" you are only allowed to choose a previous destination or the address book or one of your favorites when the vehicle is moving. (With the old system, I believe you could only choose from your favorites or one that had been voice tagged.) When you slow down or stop--full function returns.

I didn't find any other differences or additional functions with the new update.

With the limitations "OFF" you get the additional option of picking your destination from the map. To me this is useless because it doesn't help my wife find where the closest McDonald's is to the hotel we are staying at when we are still 3 hours away from the hotel. You could probably come up with a bunch of other road trip scenarios where it would be handy to search for a destination or POI. It's just not convenient (or safe) to have to pull to the side of a freeway to do that.

To me the update disc is still worth it though because my old disc was so out of date. Plus, it was free so I shouldn't complain. I'm still glad that I bought a Garmin Nuvi 750 to supplement the factory nav because with it there are no restrictions at all.

Type rest of the post here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GM Navigation System: I take it back!

In a previous post I complained about the factory navigation system in our 2006 GMC Yukon XL Denali. The data was old and software was excessively restrictive, not allowing even the passenger to enter any destinations while the vehicle was in motion.

I take it all back. With the latest disc update I received last week, (GM p/n 25974486U) all those deficiencies have been removed. It now has updated roads and POIs and the restrictions for using the nav system are now optional. There is a setting on the Radio Menu that allows you to turn off the limitations. No nag screen (that's better than Honda!) and full function while driving? Whoo, hoo!

The only thing that could make it better is if someone found a hack to modify the splash screen :biggrin:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - Winter Tire Swap: 13565 km

I installed the winter tires I bought from Tire Rick on to our Yukon XL Denali today--and what an ordeal that was! I'm too tired to tell the whole story right now, but I'll just let you know that I swapped tires 9 times and I'm still not done! Tomorrow I'll have to get one of the tire valves repaired before I'll be finished. I'll spill the beans later. For now, I'm riding on one spare.

The ATX Thug wheels do look pretty good, though, and I'm looking forward to taking some pictures. The weather has been pretty mild and is predicted to stay like that for at least next week, but with my wife due with our 5th child in 3 weeks, I didn't want to leave it too late.

Here's some data from Tire Rack:
  • Firestone Winterforce 265/70R17 = 41 lbs.
  • ATX Thug Black w/Teflon Coating 17x8.5 = 28 lbs.
When I weighed 2 of the rims I got 70 lbs. each for both of them so it looks like Tire Rack's numbers are pretty accurate.

Click below to read about the weight of the stock 20" chrome wheels....

I put all four of the 20" OEM chrome wheels with Bridgestone Dueler 275/55-20 tires on the bathroom scale and got 79 and 79.5 lbs each for three of sets, but one surprisingly came out at 81 lbs.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

GM Nav Disc p/n 25974486U

It finally arrived. The updated GM Navigation Disc version 4.0c arrived in the mail almost 3 months after I ordered it. The wait was so long and the nav disc I had (version 1.10) was so old that I got frustrated enough to buy a Garmin Nuvi 750 in the meantime. But I'm not complaining. The actual ordering process was very efficient and I received this disc update for free as part of a special program offered by GM.

Updating the nav system was very easy. It was just a matter of swapping discs and the software installed automatically in under 5 minutes. After the install, my address book and favorites were deleted and my location showed up as Washington, DC while the system tried to acquire the GPS signal.

The disc that came with our 2007 GMC Yukonc XL Denali had data from 2004. Many roads in our area were missing and it could find almost none of the points of interests we were looking for. The new disc has 2007 data and includes the roads that were missing and a lot more POIs. It even includes map data for Alaska and Hawaii. In fact, it even as one POI that our Garmin Nuvi 750 refuses to take us to: the Costco on Ottawa Street. There's a few other differences that I've noticed. One is that the nag screen has been reprogrammed so that it doesn't come on all the time anymore. I guess I'll learn more about the changes as I use it.

Click below to see before and after screen shots of a road that was missing.

Before: The blue dots show the route when the Denali is "off-road."



After: Yaay! The road is there!



GMC Yukon XL Denali: Locking Fuel Cap Removed - 13600km

I decided to remove the locking fuel cap that I installed on my 2006 GMC Yukon XL Denali a while back. There were rumors that the Yukon had an anti-siphoning device but I could not find confirmation myself until today.

I bought a Flo 'N Go gas pump to use in the garage so that I could fill up the Burgman without having to make a special trip down the mountain. After I put it together I tested it to see if I could siphon some gas out of the Denali....

I couldn't. There was no way to get the tube far enough down the fuel neck to reach the gas because of obstructions. I shoved and shoved the tube and then it got stuck between 12-18 inches down. So I feel confident enough that siphoning gas out of that 119L tank would not be an easy task. (Of course, drilling holes is a completely different issue!)

The locking cap was not all that convenient. With it, I would always forget to take the keys with me and would have to run back to get them out of the ignition. That of course turned off the stereo so that my wife and kids would have to sit in silence while I filled the tank. And then, unlocking and removing the cap without applying pressure to the key (as directed by the instructions) was nearly impossible. Plus, once it was off, there was no tether to keep it close-by. Putting the OEM fuel cap back on will make filling the tank much more convenient.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008

VW R32: Bumper side markers

While I was having my city lights wired like DRLs I learned that one of my bumper side markers had partially melted. Eh... what!? These particular clear side markers were from 42 Draft Designs.

Anywhoo, upon learning of this I immediately ordered new clear bumper side markers -- from a different company! -- as well as yellow LEDs to reduce heat output.

Bumper side markers are easy to replace. Push in towards the front part of the side marker (there’s a spring behind it). Slide side marker slightly to the right and then remove by angling it out to the left. Bulb pulls straight out from bulb holder.

For some reason pictures I upload are all over-sized, so here are the links:

Melted side marker (jpg) from 42 Draft Designs.

ECS Tuning Diamond Clear bumper side marker with yellow LED
(jpg).

Additional details
.

Type rest of the post here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

New Toy: Garmin Nuvi 750

My first experience with in-car navigation was during our 2005 road trip from Thunder Bay to Washington, DC. I had a Magellan Roadmate 760. It was large and clunky and could not easily be carried in your pocket, but I quickly learned how valuable portable GPS could be. We made sure that the 2006 Honda Odyssey we bought had a factory navigation system and did another road trip in 2007, going from Vancouver to Washington, DC. In town, there might not be a great need for GPS but it sure helped us get across North America without fumbling with maps that can lead to car accidents or getting lost.

So it was no surprise that we wanted navigation in the Denali and we got it.

Despite that, I recently bought myself a little gift for my birthday: a Garmin Nuvi 750. Yes, I know it’s indulgent since we already have a factory navigation system built-in to our 2006 GMC Yukon XL Denali. But Costco Canada Online had it on sale at such a great price ($270) that I could not resist. Besides, I was tired of waiting for GM’s updated navigation map disc to ship. I posted a few month ago about how impressed I was with the GM NAV Disc Center. They were professional and efficient and offered two free annual updates. But the new disc has been back-ordered since late August, and the disc that I have right now is from 2005. That probably means that the data on it is from 2003 or 2004. It’s much too old to be of any real practical use. On top of that, unlike the Honda Navigation, it was impossible to enter any information into GM’s Nav system while the vehicle is in motion. This was a major annoyance during any of our road trips because pulling to the side of the highway just so my wife—the passenger, not the driver—could check the location of the next fast food restaurant or gas station seems ludicrous.


Portable GPS units offer much more features and are more frequently updated than factory systems. The Garmin Nuvi 750 is no different. It came in the box with 2008 map data (dated 2009) and includes over 6-million Points of Interest. During our extended road trips, having a large number of POI’s made the biggest difference in how effective the Navigation unit was—even more so than encountering a new road or two that wasn’t on the map. A neat feature about Garmin GPS units is that you can customize the vehicle icon used on the maps. That's why there's the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean in the picture above. It was the closest thing to a barge that I could find :wink:

Why was Costco selling the Nuvi 750 for so much below MSRP? I don’t really know. The Nuvi 750 does not have Bluetooth capabilities and does not come with a real-time traffic antenna. But we’re not big cell phone users and the traffic antenna can be added on in the future. Besides, real-time traffic (as well as MSN Direct) requires a paid subscription that I’m not that interested in pursuing right now. Another factor might be the fact that many new GPS units like ones with voice-recognition are also being introduced. We had voice recognition on our Honda navigation system, but other than being neat to use when it worked, I hardly used that feature at all. That made the former top-of-the-line Nuvi 750 a really good bargain.


The Nuvi 750 allows you to download extra voices and vehicle icons as well as play MP3s and store pictures. And because it accepts high-capacity SD memory cards (SDHC) it will store enough music so I won’t get bored. I bought an 8 GB SDHC card for $20 and am having difficulty filling it. It takes a bit longer for the 750 to load all the songs, but it gives me hours of listening.

The Nuvi 750 also came in handy this past Halloween when I took the kids out trick-or-treating because I put it into “pedestrian” mode and used it to track our progress around the neighborhood. I should have marked the positions of all the houses that gave out the best candy :LOL:

I can’t wait for our next road trip!

Here are a few more screen shots from the Garmin Nuvi 750:






Wednesday, November 05, 2008

VW R32: City lights as DRLs

I previously posted that in the near future I'll be heading up to Canada for my next job. To meet Canadian safety requirements I need to have daytime running lights on my R. Stock, the 2004 R32 does have DRLs but stock the R doesn't have HIDs. I disabled my DRLs to prevent damage to my OEM HIDs caused by running them at partial power.

I'm not getting rid of the HIDs, so I needed to look for a way to have DRLs at the same time. I considered a few options:

  1. Install fog lights and wire them up as DRLs. For a time this option was leading the group but cost and time eventually ruled it out.
  2. Some R owners have wired up string LEDs in their front vents, a much different looking and cheaper alternative to real fogs. When the LEDs are on they look pretty good, when off they look a little chintzy if you notice them. I didn't see a problem with wiring them up like DRLs. But... what if down the road I have to replace the LEDs? When I talk about wiring things to DRLs please don't get the impression that I'd be doing anything like that myself. I feel much more comfortable letting a professional do the job. So back to a shop to replace LEDs/wiring? I don't think so.
  3. The option I'd settled on was to wire my DRLs to the city lights and replace the city lights with high-intensity LEDs -- the stock city bulbs aren't being bright enough to act legally as DRLs. Replacing city light bulbs should be something I can do myself (I've changed the low beams, before) though I've since taken a closer look under the hood and it looks extremely tight.
Anywhoo, after talking to my shop they recommended a different idea: connect the city lights to the ignition coil (or something like that) so they turn on whenever the R is turned on.

We have a winner!

For some reason pics aren't uploading properly for me, so follow this link for pictures.

Type rest of the post here.

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