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October 27, 2005

Autospillology — 'Coke management strategy' in the 21st–century automobile


No, you won't find the word "autospillology" in any dictionary.

First I'd ever heard of it was in yesterday New York Times, in a story by Bonnie Rothman Morris.

Autospillology is the study of the effects of spilled liquids inside cars.

Morris wrote about the rapidly growing body of knowledge in this booming field, including what Ford engineers dealing with the problem call "Coke management strategy."

Here's the article.

    The Growing Science of Autospillology

    We know that sugar is bad for our waistlines, but it's probably bad for our car gearshifts, too.

    If not properly managed, spills can wreak havoc on a gearshift, said Todd Spaulding, an engineer at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich.

    Liquid can drip into the circuitry, which is "not a good thing," he said, causing malfunction.

    "We don't want it to stick because pop has spilled on it."

    But there is hope: Mr. Spaulding said he found that not all spills were created equal.

    His testing has shown that the stickier the drink, the more potential for trouble.

    Coke: bad.

    Mountain Dew: kind of bad.

    Coffee: bad, especially with cream and sugar.

    Red Bull: "maybe even worse," said Mr. Spaulding, who added that is just a hunch because he has not tested the drink.

    Best: diet soda, which isn't sticky when it dries.

    To prevent major soda malfunctions, the engineers designed little gutters buried under the gearshift panel that channel the soda away from the electronics and out of the car.

    "We call it the Coke management strategy," Mr. Spaulding said of the results of his work.

    Now Mr. Spaulding is pouring different-size sprinkles of dust over the gearshift.

    Can a chocolate-chip-cookie crumb catcher be far behind?

    Only the gearshifts know for sure.

October 27, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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