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About albatross83

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  1. Thanks for that guide -- outstanding disassembly instructions that I'm sure I couldn't have figured out on my own without breaking anything. It appears that the audio goes straight into the amplifier, so that gives me hope that my original idea would work fairly easily. Presumably one of the pins is an "override" signal that switches the amp from the head unit to the alternate input (the Motorola BT in this case). I know on the ES that the H/U is involved in some way, since you can program 6 preset phone numbers IIRC, but again, I don't know if the input/outputs from the IS and ES H/Us are the same. I imagine I'll have to get a 2-day TIS subscription and do some frantic downloading of all the electric/electronic manuals. Good food for thought though; thanks for the reply!
  2. Anyone know if this is possible? I know such a thing was never offered in the IS (bluetooth without Nav), but the ES350 of the same year DID have that option. If the head units are the same (internally -- obviously the faceplates and displays are different) then I'm thinking I could get the P/Ns for the steering wheel buttons and mic and wire them up to the radio. Heck, for all I know, the mic might already be present. I'm just thinking that with part reuse and all, the capability might actually be present in the stereo, just untapped, as it were. EDIT: As an alternative, maybe it's possible to add-on the entire NAV system. Hmm.. maybe the recent snows have provided the junkyards with a fresh stock of ISes for me to gut :D
  3. I use All Seasons, which don't get great traction in any conditions, but get decent traction in *all* conditions. Forget what they are, but I've been fairly satisfied with them. They still have good tread after 2 years (albeit less than 20k miles in that time). I was looking at chains and/or winter tires, but not sure if I'll go that direction now that I've heard the lack of success from others. At any rate, I do OK in Colorado winters, and the greatest challenge is getting into my driveway; particularly since the entrance is more of a curb than a ramp. I can't really get up any speed without slamming into the "curbramp" and @^%@ing up the suspension, but at the same time, I can't get up the driveway without any momentum. Usually I end up having to shovel the driveway and part of the street bare just to make it into the garage. As for TCS/VDIM, they can be very counterproductive in the snow, and I routinely disable them. Anything up to 2-3 inches is ok, but higher than that -- particularly anything deep enough to reach the undercarriage -- and I'm not going very far. I did manage to make it uphill in 7 inches, but it took a few running starts and steering was nearly impossible. The only thing the "snow" mode seems to do is lessen the pedal/throttle ratio, so it's basically worthless unless you have trouble noticing when your wheels are slipping, in which case it makes it harder to accidentally overthrottle.. I keep an eye on my tach though, and if it starts increasing while I'm not accelerating, I let off the accelerator. It would be nice if they made AWD with larger engines/more power than their RWD counterparts to compensate for the parasitic loss of the drivetrain. That's really the only thing that keeps me from buying an AWD sport sedan. For now I just use my GF's Jeep when the weather's really nasty.
  4. Correct me if I'm wrong, but unlike the game, I think the paddles only force a downshift (within limits), not an upshift. For example, if you click the upshift paddle (or use the shifter knob) from 1st to 2nd at, say, 3000RPM with full throttle, the car still won't shift until it reaches nearly max RPMs. Since you can only prevent an upshift, the very best you can do is to avoid a late shift.. something the transmission will do on its own when left in auto. Additionally, for downshifting, it's almost always faster to simply mash the throttle, which will automatically downshift (assuming you're not already doing over 130, in which case you can't downshift anyway). The only benefit I've seen from manual shifting is to use engine braking, and that doesn't work too great on an automatic anyway thanks to the torque converter. It's useful for reducing the required braking on declines, but to get any appreciable engine braking, you typically have to use a gear lower than an equivalent 6-speed manual, which means you're using very high RPMs, and that's just more wear and tear on the engine (which is a lot more expensive to service/replace than some brake pads/rotors). Basically, in my opinion, the paddle shifters on the IS are close to useless.