Saturday, January 12, 2013

It's The Small Victories

Back in the 70s I had no fear of mechanical endeavors.  I had a Jeep that needed constant repair and  I was confident to open the hood and crawl in and mingle with the problems.  As time went on cars got more complicated and one needed uni-task tools and an array of diagnostic equipment.  Often one has to remove half of the under the hood content just to replace a plug.  I  had to remove all sorts of stuff just to replace the head lamp on my former Dodge pick-up.  I was shocked to see what one needs to remove just to replace a lamp in the floor shifter of a Subaru.  I fixed it and that will save me paying for an hour of labor.

I recently got a car that is not meant to be worked on by humans.  There is a plastic covering over the entire engine.  The only thing that is visible and accessible is the dip stick for the oil and the oil filler cap.  I discovered that the windshield spritzers were inoperable.  I had to remove a panel on the bottom side of the hood just to discover that the hose had become disconnected.  I was actually able to fix it.

The car doors constantly locked and the alarm went off every time I opened the door and there I found the rubber gasket on the key was stuck depressing the button for the lock mode.I was able to free it with a sharp tool that lifted the rubber gasket.  Another problem solved.

I love finding solutions to the small annoying problems especially since I am no longer equipped to handle the larger problems. It just makes my day, but fortunately these successes haven't spurred me into taking on any larger projects.  Perhaps my next car will come from a simpler time before the auto industry went craze with conveniences most people can't seem to live without.


Blogger g said...

I used to fix all my own vehicles. Have to say my 77 toyota pickup was the easiest. Also had a 75 chev pu that was pretty easy to work on.

I had a few mid 90's pu's that I could do routine maint. on.

My Prius is impossible. I can't even replace a headlight without yanking engine parts out. PITA!!

6:07 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

g, And I think I'm going to start taking the vehicles in for oil changes now, too. It's probably less expensive than doing it myself.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

If you can maintain a FacepageSpace account or run a blog, you can analyze and repair many of the few problems modern autos have.
When I bought my big truck, I purchaced Autoenginuity and a $100.00 reference manual for it.
When the check engine light or "MIL" illuminates, One plugs the laptop into the OBD-II outlet under the dash and retrieves a code. Autoenginuity has code definitions as part of the program, but the book is really great at breaking down the related systems, sub-systems and sensors / outputs involved.
Once you determine the devices involved, you divide your screen into as many graphs as there are possibilities within the affected system and assign a sensor to each graph. The graphs are scaled at upper and lower limits for each sensor parameters.
Now, clear the code and fire up and go for a drive,
When the offending device runs out of range the associated graph turns red BINGO!!!
Clear the code and try for repeatability: BINGO!!!
Replace the device for cheap and save hundreds each time as apposed to having someone else do the same procedure at $65.00 per hr.
And forget about the cheapy ass hand held "code readers". waste of money.
Check out:
Some of the best money ever spent.
My first repair would have cost me $850.00 at the stealership.
Double of what I paid for the diag equipment and book!
New cars are MUCH easier to work on than old ones. My VW bug does not tell me what is wrong with it like the new ones with OBD-II
Of course, not everything on a car is a part of OBD, but most important things are.

12:23 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Gearhead, I have a reader and constantly have to clear the check engine light for stuff that has been tested and nothing is wrong. My new car it's the O2 sensor, the Subaru it is another sensor that has been replaced twice and tested and works fine. The Dodge truck had two faults that constantly kicked in.

Anyway, trust me, you wouldn't want to work on my new car...

Alice, the Subaru is the same, you have to take out the shift column and then the dash board and then the instrument panel unplugs and lifts out. Estimated time to repair is 90 minutes. If I ever do it I will replace all the lamps just so I'll never have to do it again.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

"Gearhead, I have a reader and constantly have to clear the check engine light for stuff that has been tested and nothing is wrong."


This is the reason that at age 48 I had enough critical mass, that I really never had to work another day in my life. Troubleshooting has been my life. I love it. I understand it. I crave it. Everyone else hates it!

If your MIL illuminates, you have a problem. Clearing the stored code accomplishes nothing.
If the shop tells you that there is no problem THEY ARE WRONG!!
And lazy, lazy liberal, union types are frequently wrong.
And,,and, I repeat; your "code reader" is a worthless piece of garbage!
Without diagnostic capability, just retrieving the code is worthless in many cases.
YOU CAN DO IT! If anyone can trace down the problem, you can as well.

9:16 PM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Actually, I'm surprised that you don't need a special tool just to open the hood.

I'm sure that will be next.

7:39 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, actually the hood latch is the best I've ever seen. You hit the switch inside the car and a trigger pops out from the grill.

Gearhead, I'm going to have to disagree with you. This car has been to two shops, one of which is a specialty shop which would have been delighted to take every cent possible from me from me. They told me that I will get erroneous lights from time to time for the O2 sensor. The other shop said the same. I don't panic at check engine lights anymore unless they are flashing. This car also shows a burned out light on the right tail section. I replaced all lamps, they all work yet the broken lamp indicator stays on. I'm just going to cover the dash with black electrical tape. I could leave the car at your place...

8:27 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Guy said: "I don't panic at check engine lights anymore unless they are flashing."

A flashing MIL indicates "Severe Misfire" In OBD language.

8:58 AM  

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