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Showing posts from 2008

First Snowfall with our Yukon XL Denali

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Denali-snow2
Originally uploaded by istargazer. We finally got snow today. We've had unusually cold temperatures this past week, but wasn't until last night and today where we got enough snow to really mean anything. That gave me the opportunity to try out our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali.


I have to say, I was quite impressed with the way the Denali's AWD handled itself in the snow. We've been having unusually cold temps the past week--tonight it's going to drop to around -9° C (about 16° F)--and we received about 4-5 inches of snow through the night and during the day. It was the first snowfall of the season.

Coming from my 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI that had AWD, no traction control and was super fun, I was a little worried that the nanny on the Yukon would be too intrusive. Our 2003 Toyota Sequoia had a button to turn off the traction control, but it never really turned off completely--it was a total fun-killer.

I tried the Yukon with and without traction control on …

Baby Enzo

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Well, the reason why we bought our Denali arrived yesterday:

Baby Enzo, originally uploaded by istargazer. Specs:
Gender: maleWeight: 7 lb 0 oz.Length: 19.5 inches In-service date: 4 December 2008
Build date: classified
Production number: 005


Mom and baby are doing fine :0)

VW R32: Disappearing Coolant

A couple years ago my R's coolant warning light went off. I had it checked and the dealership couldn't find any leaks. Huh. I topped it off and everything was fine... until this weekend.

Click below the fold for more.

I'd just come back from an 830+ mile round-trip drive to Canada and back. After reaching home I popped the hood and to my shock the engine coolant level was 2 inches or so lower than normal, right at the "min level" mark. The engine was warm, too, which is when I always check the coolant.

No one could check my R that day, so the coolant was topped up to 1-2 inches above the "max level" mark. The next morning, with the engine cold, the coolant level had dropped back to the "min level" mark, where it stayed until I took it to the dealer the following morning.

The dealership put the coolant system under pressure (15 psi) for 40 minutes and couldn't find any leaks. Eh?

What the heck? Anywhoo, the coolant has been topped of…

ATX Thug on a GMC Yukon XL Denali

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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 an…

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 …

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:

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

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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 sto…

GM Nav Disc p/n 25974486U

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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 eve…

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 of…

2006 STI - Ken Block: Gymkhana Practice

Ken Block in a 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI specially prepared by Crawford Racing. Absolutely amazing!




Always and Forever

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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.

New Toy: Garmin Nuvi 750

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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 o…

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:

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.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 ple…

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween! 2008, originally uploaded by istargazer.

...ONE!

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Red Eye Skull Denali - closeup, originally uploaded by istargazer. By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes:
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!

~ Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

Two...

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Denali-HDR1, originally uploaded by istargazer. Round about the cauldron go:
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

~ Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

Three...

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Denali-HDR2, originally uploaded by istargazer. Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

~ Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

GMC Yukon XL Denali - 12995 km: Custom Front Splash Guards

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Denali-HDR3
Originally uploaded by istargazer. Yesterday I took the family and the Yukon XL Denali out on some gravel roads to test the way it handled during full-on ABS braking and how the 20" rims felt over potholes. ABS was loud and noisy and the dubs weren't that uncomfortable.

You can tell from the picture that the Denali was in great need of splash guards, particularly so in the front because kick-up from the tires hits directly on to the sheet metal of the fender and front doors. Today I took some truck splash guards I purchased from Canadian Tire last year(really they were just large rectangular pieces of black plastic) and installed it. No pictures, yet--I have to get used to the look but hopefully they'll do the job and protect the paint.

Spoke too Soon

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Whew. False alarm. There was a time where I religiously checked the Canadian U.S. vehicle admission list, but I stopped in 2005.

Luckily. Fortunately. Thank the stars -- my brother checked the list and told me the R32 is now admissible in Canada. When did they make the change regarding importing R32?

I don't care!

More beneath the fold.

It was a close call, too. This weekend I was going to look at a couple cars. I might have actually pulled the trigger.

So... good news. But earlier today I also had a funny/odd/irritating experience at Rockville Audi. The salesman wouldn't give me a quote. He would only give me MSRP (which, by the way, I'd already looked up online). Eh? I couldn't quite believe what he was saying.

To paraphrase, "I can't give you a quote because quotes are based on individual cars, and unless you actually decide to buy an Audi I'm not going to bother looking to see if a car with your options is available...." Eh!? Same thing h…

Car Quest

Now that I'm looking for a new car I'm getting a little excited despite the upcoming loss of my R. My absolute requirements are navigation and HIDs. Navigation from manufacturers are often massively over-priced, but with my R I've realized the exorbitant prices might be worth it.

More beneath the fold....

There was no nav option with my R, so I've been making do with a portable GPS. Except I don't carry it with me all the time, and I don't leave it in the R. A few occasions I found myself wishing I had brought my GPS with me -- only a few occasions but nonetheless highly aggravating ones.

Anywhoo, I liked the navigation system on my dad's G35 so that's what I looked at first. The dealer has an excellent deal ($7-8k < MSRP) on a 2008 G35 sport 6MT they need to get rid of to make way for the 2009s. Great, but not practical -- I've read that the rear seats don't even fold down. I'd like more space than that.

I looked at the 1- and 3-serie…

VW R32: My Inconvenient Truth

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I have to sell my R.

I accepted a job in Canada so I have to sell my R.


I thought it might happen. I considered the possibility it might happen but I didn't think it actually would happen. It looks like it is in fact happening. It looks like Volkswagen's decision to not have the 2004 VW Golf R32 comply with Canadian regulations is soon to bite me in my posterior.

Why? Because it's not just a matter of changing a bumper. The 2004 R32 is completely inadmissable in Canada until 2019. I can drive my R in Canada with U.S. insurance, but I can't insure the R in Canada.

Wangos.


A Visit to the GM Dealer... What a total waste of time! Three and half hours of wasted time!!!

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2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - First Service Visit (12866 km)

When we picked up our Denali from the dealership back on August 21, 2008, I noticed right away that the Seat Belt Comfort Holder on the 2nd row passenger seat was broken. It was no big deal. It just meant that my oldest daughter would have to sit on the driver's side because the belt didn't sit properly on her shoulder without it. Our salesperson ordered the part right away. With subsequent follow-up calls, we were told that the part was back-ordered.

A few weeks ago, we got a call from our salesperson telling us that the part had finally come in and that someone from the service department would give us a call to arrange an appointment. That appointment was today and I was told that it would be quick, that it would be done in about an hour. However, when I checked back in an hour they had said it was not finished yet. Despite me seeing our Denali in the service area with no one around working on it, we waited for ANOTHER…

GMC Yukon XL Denali 12788 km: Dead Battery

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We were at Lion's Park today to take advantage of the sunny autumn afternoon. It was warmer today than it had been all week. We ate a little picnic lunch in the Denali and then the older kids went outside to play. Aston was napping so I sat in the Denali listening to the XM Radio. We had canceled our Sirius subscription last week, and I was using this time to get familiar with the new XM channel line-up. When Aston woke up from her nap we took her out to join the other girls in the playground. What I didn't realize was that Aston had napped for almost two hours.

After playing at the park for another 45 min, we got the family buckled and strapped into the Denali to go home and discovered that the battery was dead. Well, it wasn't completely dead--the lights, radio, windows, memory seats, power mirrors all worked. There just wasn't enough power to start the engine. Luckily enough, the first people to walk by had jumper cables and they were kind enough to help us get on ou…

Aston and The Denali

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Aston and The Denali
Originally uploaded by istargazer. Our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali is definitely earning its keep.

Last weekend, in addition to our busy schedule of birthday parties and grocery shopping, I loaded up the family to take the set of wheels from our Subaru Impreza WRX STI to get the tires dismounted. It was no problem at all fitting the four 17" rims and tires in the cargo area behind the 3rd row. But after removing the tires, the space required to carry them almost doubled. Not a problem. I folded down one side of the 3rd row and Calista sat up in the 2nd row with Sydney and Aston. Four separate tires and four separate rims along with 2 adults and four kids, 2 booster seats, and 1 child-seat--all swallowed up by The Beast.

Chrome: How much is too much?

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I know that our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali started off with a lot of chrome from the factory. But because we first started shopping for an Escalade, when I look at the Denali now I only see the chrome that is missing :LOL: It's a long, long way from my European/Japanese sport sedan sensibilities, but maybe it goes back to my Dukes of Hazzard childhood :biggrin:

Today, in between storm systems, I washed the rear hatch and added another piece of chrome trim. I had been looking for this piece from Putco on ebay for the last couple of weeks but noticed that it was a two-piece set. I only wanted the top piece. On a whim, I searched Amazon.com and to my surprise found that they carried the exact same piece at a lower price with free shipping! Because the price was lower than anything I had seen on ebay, I assumed that it was just for the top piece. Even the picture they showed focused on only the top piece. When I picked up the part in Point Roberts on Friday, I discovered it was actually …

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - Hardwired V1 Radar Detector

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I've had our Valentine1 Radar Detector for a long time now, ever since we bought Dixie, our 1999 Volkswagen Passat. The V1 has saved me numerous times from an expensive ticket. In fact, driving without its warning arrows makes me feel like I'm driving blind. I really appreciate using the hardwire kit to tap into the fuse box because moving it from vehicle to vehicle has been very easy. Almost 10 years later, the V1 recently moved into our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali. The picture at the top shows the lights all lit up, but normally, the main unit stays dark and all information is relayed to the hidden display.



Unfortunately, I couldn't find a switched source in the Denali's driver-side fuse box. (It's a weird GMC thing that all accessories and outlets are powered even when the key is out.) I was too lazy to go looking for another source so I just kept it like that. I just have to remember to turn on the V1 when I'm going to do some spirited driving and off when I ge…

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - 11541 km: DRL disabled

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denali-front-suzuki-3
Originally uploaded by istargazer. The debate over daytime running lights is on-going with very passionate people on both sides. That being said, I'm an advocate for freedom of choice and the control as well as the responsibility over one's own actions.

I take pride in myself for driving defensively and being aware of my surroundings at all times. Being a driving enthusiast, I focus on my own driving and on those people driving around me. Riding my Burgman around town, I know how much other people on the road can be pre-occupied with everything else but driving.

I also understand that to take a particular skill to a higher level you need control. Being hampered by electronic nannies that cater to the lowest common denominator does not maximize your safety. One of the biggest problems with DRLs is at night where some people drive around with them on, not realizing that their headlights are not on, their tail lights are not on, and the road in front of them…

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - The Search for Winter Wheels and Tires

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One thing that I've learned over the years is that nothing performs better in the winter than a dedicated winter tire. Since I've always believed that tires are critical to vehicle safety, it was no question that I would be buying a set of winter rims and tires for our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali. Even thought the Denali has full-time AWD, winter tires would make sure that we would be able to stop as well as we could go.

The only question was the type of rims I would on the Denali. Ours came with 20" wheels. The standard Yukon comes with 17" so those were the two options that were available on TireRack.com. I looked at 17" rims at first because I figured that they would be lighter, give us the most options for tires, and allow me to install chains if I encountered anything really serious. Plus, I was sure that 17" wheels would be much cheaper than 20" ones.

The Hankook Ice Bear W300 performance winter tires I bought for our previous two vehicles (a 2006 Sub…

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - 11500 km: DENALI badge added

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There are quite a few extras that that differentiate a "Denali" from a regular GMC Yukon. One of the most obvious from the outside (in case you miss the over-sized chrome grille and 20" chrome wheels) is the "DENALI" badge on the driver's and passenger's doors. However, from the rear, there is no way of telling if you are following a Denali with a 6.2 L - 380 HP engine or regular Yukon with only 5.3 L and 310 HP. After seeing a lot of other Denali owners customize the looks of their trucks, I decided to do the same thing and put a Denali badge on the back hatch, too. I've debadged many a vehicle in my time and am past that phase of my modding career so simply swapping one for another was a good compromise. After checking prices on Ebay (and seeing excessive shipping costs), I ordered the badge from a local GM dealer on Thursday and picked it up the next day. I wanted to take advantage of the warm weather while it was still here, so I put it on yest…

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - 11440 km: Chrome Mirror Covers

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I knew it couldn't last long before I started getting the itch to personalize our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali. I bought some chrome mirror covers from Ebay last week. There are a lot of different styles, but I liked this style with just the lower part of the mirror chromed mostly because that's what I noticed the Escalades had when we were test driving them :0) Plus, I think it's a bit more subtle than a full-out chrome mirror that a lot of vehicles have.

In the picture below, I'm half-way through my work and you can see that the passenger mirror is chrome, but the driver's side is not.



Look below to see more pictures.