Monthly Archives: April 2016

Spin on a Custom Rolls

On the Southern California coast, in Newport Beach, Barclay Butera ( first made inroads into the design realm. Today, more than 20 years later, he is known well beyond the seaside city, not only for the coastal-luxury-inspired interiors that launched his career but also for the full-fledged lifestyle brand that he has come to be. In addition to his Newport shop, he has showrooms in West Hollywood, Calif., and Park City, Utah; more than a few coffee-table books devoted to his residential-design projects; and myriad products for the home, from furniture and bedding to candles and upholstery.

The coastal-chic style that started Butera on that path remains a driving force in his work and a talent for which he is sought after. He recently lent his signature style to this Rolls-Royce Dawn—a one-off design that made its debut in August at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance—for a client who wanted the car to pair well with her oceanfront home.

In collaboration with the client and the Bespoke design team at Rolls-Royce (, Butera specified for the drophead coupe a maritime look and feel. The body is Arctic White, the hood Mid-night Sapphire; paneling in the interior is teak, the durable hardwood used so often in yacht decks. The Dawn’s other cabin details include Arctic White leather seats with gussets, piping, and monograms in navy blue, and an artisanal clock based on Rolex’s original Yacht-Master.

No doubt Butera’s vision is suited for sitting pretty in a driveway. But the car also has a V-12 engine that generates 563 hp, should the owner wish to take a drive along the coast.

Replace the PCV Valve

The positive crankcase ventilation system was one of the earliest emission-control devices. It draws leftover combustion gases from the crankcase (the oil pan and bottom of the engine) and routes them back into the engine, where they’re burned in the combustion chambers instead of escaping into the atmosphere.

The PCV system is seldom listed as a maintenance item, but it can cause performance and emissions problems. A valve that’s supposed to regulate the flow of these gases is the heart of most PCV systems (some newer vehicles don’t have a valve). If the valve doesn’t open and close on schedule, or if any part of the system clogs, the result can be a rough idle, sluggish acceleration or increased oil consumption.

The PCV valve is usually mounted in a grommet on a valve cover, at the end of a hose or tube. One way to check whether a PCV valve is functioning is to remove it and shake it. If you can hear a metallic rattling noise, it’s likely in good working order.

Whether an engine has a PCV valve or not, a hose or tube in the PCV system may become clogged from built-up sludge, or a vacuum hose may leak, so it pays to inspect the entire system, clean it if needed and test the valve for air flow.

A clogged PCV system or inoperative valve can increase oil consumption because pressure builds when the vapors in the crankcase aren’t allowed to flow into the combustion chambers. That additional pressure can force oil past seals and gaskets. If the valve is stuck in the open position, or there’s a leak in the system, that will allow too much air into the engine and throw off the air-fuel mixture, likely triggering the check engine light.

Catalytic Converter Problems

images-8Catalytic converters are located in the exhaust system, between the engine and the muffler, and are one of the last lines of defense against air pollution from vehicles. They use ceramic-coded beads and various precious metals (the catalysts) to convert pollutants like unburned gas and nitrogen oxide into harmless gases.

They often last for 10 years or more but can be damaged by contamination, becoming clogged or overheating.

One potential contaminant is leaded gas, which can destroy the catalysts, although it is rarely found in the U.S. Others contaminants include engine coolant, which can leak into the combustion system because of a faulty cylinder head gasket, and engine oil. Those fluids can clog a catalytic converter so that exhaust gases are restricted from passing through. Car engines are like athletes in that they require lots of oxygen. If the exhaust is restricted it means less air can get into the engine, and performance suffers. If the engine responds sluggishly or quits after running for a while, a clogged catalytic converter could be to blame.

Catalytic converters can overheat because of excessive amounts of unburned gas caused by a misfiring spark plug or a leaky exhaust valve. In addition, a failed oxygen sensor can cause overheating.

On many vehicles, the “cat” is located under the vehicle, and like other parts of the exhaust system, it can be damaged by road debris or by running over a curb.