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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,993
    This is kind of sad - High prices are driving more motorists to rent tires (LA Times)

    Getting a flat tire in Newfoundland is better than hitting a Mosse on the road, you gotta count your blessings.

    I checked out that article about people renting tires...maybe that's how I should get to Florida. I guess if people rent a TV that they could buy for $500, and pay $30 a month for 36 months and are willing to pay $1080 for that same TV, then it can be done with tires too.

    Trying to find the right tire somewhere in Newfoundland is making me think more and more about just getting the tires before leaving for Florida in November.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,257
    Good, that's the way it should be
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Ya, but didn't that memory/purchase happen on your side of the border?? Ya can't put that one us, just cuz decided to include Cda in your travels ;) ...and hey!..what about the fact that you did way more miles on your side than here?? Nice try, Steve :P
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    that's the way it should be

    Why's that?
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited June 2013
    Hey..that's great news! And just like Ray said..the way it should be..

    You know what is still a bit frustrating about that entire scenario, is the fact the instrument cluster was made so damn cheap it can't even last 10 years.. Plus, I can't imagine them being all that complicated in the first place. If a trace board line was injured during install then a few years of temp changes could pull it apart, and then that one could likely visually be seen. I've had success with soldering a trace, altho admittedly it was on a portable phone handset and an older one so fairly big stuff to work with. (compared to cell phones sorta thing..it was still pretty dang fiddly..I had 3 magnifying glasses stacked up and even my smallest soldering tip was huge where I was trying to use it. The solder flowed a hair and then I had to cut it)
    I guess it could also have been a chip on a mini board, and to re and re one of those you would need a full soldering station etc. Do you have that in your repertoire? Even still, try to find a chip on its own...the whole dang industry is designed to fill landfill sites instead of repair and recycle. It's the way this world is now.. :sick:

    edit - altho as for the cheap cluster...to be fair..who knows...someone might have boosted that 2004 some year and reversed the cables for a second...that kinda thing is not the car's fault and it sure can cause grief on down the road with electronics..
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,257
    'that's the way it should be

    Why's that? '

    Cardoc diagnosed the problem, he should get the work (and $'s) to fix it
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    The customers concern was on cost. So, he "should" pay for the repair if he can't afford it, just to make cardoc happy?
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    edited June 2013
    Yeah, I've only purchased a half set of tires up your way over the years. And no, didn't get either tire at Canadian Tire (although I have a great electric kettle from them).

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  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,993
    . And no, didn't get either tire at Canadian Tire (although I have a great electric kettle from them)

    Canadian Tire stores are highly successful. They used to sell their own brand of tires at one time, but, people like the name brands.

    I once got Esso (now Exxon) tires for my 81 Cutlass. They were called Atlass tires and it ruined the whole car.....I hated that car after I had those tires put on. I'm not big on no-name stuff, if it isn't good you don't know who to blame.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    I always liked them, but I sure have heard a lot of grumbling about them too. Big target I suppose.

    Couldn't stand it; decided to do the oil change myself. My guy okay'd the brakes, cleaned the throttle body and redid my air filter. My filter box has warped over the years and isn't too good. He couldn't find anything else to mess with. $44.

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,695
    I had a 2004 Focus that had the trip odometer go out after my wife took it off roading(kind of an exaggeration).
    It was replaced under warranty and was in the 350-375 dollar range.
    I do remember they had to pre program the miles into the odometer and they ended up about 30 too low.
  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 5,025
    Mine is the original oil --- maybe the issue is with the stuff you got when you had it changed. Since you have a lease -- why even think about it.

    Just a curiosity more than anything, I'm certainly not worried. Mine has always been dark/dirty from the factory fill through 4-5 changes.

    1999 Chevy S10 / 2004 Merc Grand Marquis / 2012 Buick LaCrosse

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited June 2013
    The customers concern was on cost. So, he "should" pay for the repair if he can't afford it, just to make cardoc happy?

    Where would the software industry be without some kind of protection for IP? For a long time the laws weren't enforced, or at least it seemed that way and pirating of software was almost accepted as the norm. Today the software industry takes IP very seriously and we see significant enforcement of laws that protect the companies that produce software. Its frustrating as a small business for us to buy software and only get to have a license to use it for a given period of time and then it turns off ensuring constant cash flow for the I.P owner.

    Our trade literally produces IP with that diagnosis in the same way that you writing a program does (iirc you are in the software industry, correct?). But not only is there no protection for us, its still widely accepted that once we produce given information, we are no longer the owner of that information. What happens to us is exactly what would happen to a company who's software gets pirated and then sold for a fraction of what that company needs to generate a profit.

    Now of course what I wrote here amounts to only the first thoughts or draft towards answering your question. Today the guy gets to do whatever he wants with the information provided and its simply assumed that we have been fairly compensated for our effort. The facts are the repairs still heavily subsidize the diagnostic portion of the shop visit and that's why you see me working two jobs (the shop and teaching) to try and keep pace. That also is one of the underlying reasons that techs who do the stuff described in that first thankless post are uncommon. There really isn't a reasonable return for the efforts that we have had to put into our careers.

    Again, this is just the first thoughts and I will need some time to polish this up and better present the full picture.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    edited June 2013
    One thing you'll have to sort out is how software is usually sold to the general public. I license Word and that just gives me the right to use it. The work product produced is mine and I can sell that, but I can't reverse engineer the product and sell it. At most I can sell the license.

    I buy parts and service from the auto shop. A diagnosis is information I'm buying, but there's not a license restricting how I can use that information.

    A doc tried to sell me a part when I broke my leg. I declined but paid for the diagnosis and his other conservative treatment (didn't want a plate and screws. :) )

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  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    The ground circuit failure was inside the connector for the sensor itself.

    So, another connection/wiring problem. Seems to be a recurring theme here.

    Out of curiosity, how many of the electrical problems that you come across would you estimate are due to connector, connections, and wiring? Under wiring, I would include circuit card (PWB) problems such as cracked traces on instrument clusters, cold solder joints, etc.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Its frustrating as a small business for us to buy software and only get to have a license to use it for a given period of time

    Well, technically, if you read the shrink wrap license or end user license agreement, it probably says that you do not own the software; that the maker of the software retains full rights to the software; and that you are just purchasing the right to use that software. Furthermore those license agreements also probably state that the software is not guaranteed to do anything, and that the company is immune from any kind of legal action should the software cause harm.

    That goes way beyond IP protection.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,190
    >At most I can sell the license.

    Are you even able to do that? Wasn't there a problem about Microsoft not allowing transfer of Windows licenses by sale by the original user?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    that the maker of the software retains full rights to the software; and that you are just purchasing the right to use that software.

    So how do you think consumers are going to react when the manufacturers time out the license to operate the fuel injection or other system software in their cars? (hypo)
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    Yeah, I think I've read that Windows 8 is tied to the motherboard so you'd have to sell it with the software. :-) Probably depends on the version; with a system builder version you can probably do whatever you want and still get support.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Out of curiosity, how many of the electrical problems that you come across would you estimate are due to connector, connections, and wiring?

    Nearly 100% of the ones that are referred to me by other sources and just about 50% of the ones where I get to be the first one to see the car. There are quite a lot of events that the diagnostic routine leads straight to the circuit fault, it gets repaired and no parts need to or get replaced.

    The Tribute was a fine example of how this quite often works out. With the diagnostic rate, and then the labor rate even though I did have to use a "pigtail" to repair the failed circuit we won't really make money on the repair unless she becomes a regular customer and we get to have the tires, suspension and engine performance work that her car still needs. Competition and consumer pressure forces the pricing to be too low to stand alone.

    Under wiring, I would include circuit card (PWB) problems such as cracked traces on instrument clusters, cold solder joints, etc.

    I'm not including those as wiring issues, to me those are component issues. While some components can be repaired you quickly learn that without a real way to test the repair other than to put the part back in the car and run it for a few weeks worth of cycles you leave yourself wide open to forcing the customer to be your test bench and make it likely that they will have to bring the car back "for the same thing". Combine that with no ready reference for whether a particular chip or item on the board inside the component has a durability issue or not and we would probably have more failed repair attempts than the business can tolerate. So the best choice is to have someone who specializes in the component repair to do that, while we make sure that the rest of the car is operating correctly.

    Well anyway, the cluster showed up late thursday and it will go in today. Did I mention that the battery is bad on the Focus? (I'm pretty sure that I did) He's going to replace that himself, that or he's probably going to have a parts store do it for him.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    So the best choice is to have someone who specializes in the component repair to do that, while we make sure that the rest of the car is operating correctly.

    For something like an instrument cluster, the economics of repair sort of works since the new parts are expensive, but even so, there's only a few online places that do that work and I bet most broken clusters get replaced with new ones (assuming parts are available).

    But for something like a blower resistor on my van, it wouldn't be worth turning on the soldering station at a dedicated shop, much less having a general repair shop try to fix a broken trace on it (yeah, mine is solid state).

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  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,993
    Great article ......bmw owner having the same kind of problem I am having at 12k miles (19K kms). He says BMW is telling him not to rotate tires and Bridgestone says to the tires.

    This guy has the same problem I am having, noise and vibration fo=rom premature wear. I would prefer not to have these run flat tires.

    Wheels.ca ; bmw - to rotate tires or not to rotate tires?

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    In my line of work, things like instrument clusters and ECUs are considered assemblies, or units. Components are the individual things that go into making up those assemblies, and include capacitors, resistors, transistors, diodes, and integrated circuits.

    But, that distinction is really not germane to what I was poking at, and that is the fact that it is the interconnects between components or assemblies that are the major cause of failures. The interconnects are the weak link.

    Your experience closely follows that of my industry. We see very few actual failures of components, unless there has been an over voltage or short circuit condition that was unanticipated and so not protected against. Most of our failures are with the interconnects, either on assemblies (solder joints, PWB traces), or in the wiring/cabling/connectors that interconnect those assemblies.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,489
    edited June 2013
    If you don't have a staggered wheel tire set you should rotate them. The following article is courtesy of my friend Mike Miller(Techical Editor for Bimmer and Roundel magazine):

    Tire Rotation Examined
    By Mike Miller

    Initially, if your BMW has staggered tire and wheel sizing, meaning the rear tires are bigger than the front tires, click the little box in the upper right hand corner of your screen. You can’t rotate your tires anyway.

    BMW presently recommends against rotating tires. Here’s why: In the US, it's normal to bend wheels occasionally, to one extent or another. And not all tires anywhere in the world are perfectly round. When a technician mounts and balances new tires, during the balancing process he will typically note which tire and wheel assembly is the "roundest", i.e., which has the least runout and requires the least weight to achieve 000 on the balancer. These two "roundest" assemblies he will mount at the front owing to BMW's incredible sensitivity to wheel balancing issues.

    Then, down the road, the owner or another well-meaning tech rotates the tires front-to-rear. Next thing you know Old Jed's a millionaire -- you've got a vibration in the steering wheel. The reason is that one of the tire and wheel assemblies formerly at the rear and now at the front are not entirely round. If a technician rotated the tires, the customer then brings the car back to the shop complaining of a vibration, requiring a road test, dismounting, balancing, more road testing, etc. Often the customer will balk at paying for the additional work.

    Moreover, at BMW dealerships, the customer satisfaction index (CSI) is hugely important in dealer relations with BMW of North America. When NA does a random CSI call on a service customer, scenarios like the foregoing result in comments like, "Well, I had my car at Big Mega Dealer and now I have a front-end vibration! So, I guess I can’t give them a high score now can I?" The system is not set up for further explanation, and without that further explanation, the customer input impacts negatively on the dealer’s CSI score. Eventually dealers complained to BMW of North America, and the end result is the no-rotation policy.

    The thinking is, when you have a BMW that doesn't shake, leave it alone.

    Now, armed with this knowledge, if you want to rotate your tires front-to-rear, there's no doubt that you'll get longer tire life. Just be aware of the possible balancing ramifications.

    The presumption that the customer is incapable of understanding, or unwilling to understand, these issues is, unfortunately, often correct. However, Roundel Tech Talk takes the approach that it is better to at least attempt to educate people rather than throw out the baby with the bath water.

    © 2002 Mike Miller

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    This guy has the same problem I am having, noise and vibration from premature wear. I would prefer not to have these run flat tires.

    Fixed it for ya....

    To get the performance out of the tires as if you want to drive it like your always racing someone, you unfortunately have to give something else up. The author is correct, and side to side rotation will help a lot. The staggered sizes of course force that to be the only option. At least if they aren't full directional tires you have that option because that allows for the reversal of rotation. If you have full directional, now you actually have to dismount and re-mount and balance the tires to "rotate" them, and that is a waste of time IMO. Being run-flats, I can't even do that for my customers. I don't sell enough tires to justify a $4000 upgrade to my tire machine. (Let alone drop $10,000+ for a new first class version)
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,993
    Tire Rotation Examined
    By Mike Miller


    Thanks for the article...interesting. What do you think about RFTs? It isn't a deal killer for me, but if I like an Audi, MB or Jag, next time around, that could tip the balance.

    I don't think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. I like the fact you don't have to change a tire on a busy highway or in the middle of nowhere, but, you could be stuck waiting to get new tires if one goes, and if one goes you will probably need 4.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,489
    I run RFTs on my wife's 3er; I have a winter and summer set of tires/wheels. If I get a car with RFTs they will be replacet with conventional tires ASAP; I'll just buy one of BMW's M Mobility kits(or its Continental Tires equivalent) and throw it in the trunk.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Then, down the road, the owner or another well-meaning tech rotates the tires front-to-rear. Next thing you know Old Jed's a millionaire -- you've got a vibration in the steering wheel. The reason is that one of the tire and wheel assemblies formerly at the rear and now at the front are not entirely round. If a technician rotated the tires, the customer then brings the car back to the shop complaining of a vibration, requiring a road test, dismounting, balancing, more road testing, etc. Often the customer will balk at paying for the additional work.

    Moreover, at BMW dealerships, the customer satisfaction index (CSI) is hugely important in dealer relations with BMW of North America. When NA does a random CSI call on a service customer, scenarios like the foregoing result in comments like, "Well, I had my car at Big Mega Dealer and now I have a front-end vibration! So, I guess I can’t give them a high score now can I?" The system is not set up for further explanation, and without that further explanation, the customer input impacts negatively on the dealer’s CSI score. Eventually dealers complained to BMW of North America, and the end result is the no-rotation policy.


    Let's see if I have the rules of this game correct. If I had written the above paragraphs, I would be making excuses but when someone else writes them its acceptable. Check...
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,489
    edited June 2013
    Let's see if I have the rules of this game correct. If I had written the above paragraphs, I would be making excuses but when someone else writes them its acceptable. Check...

    Life is hard...
    In Mike's example the tech isn't doing anything wrong- and Mike isn't attempting to justify lazy, sloppy, or incompetent work. There are no "wrong numbers". Also, I've never attempted to justify the flawed CSI metric that BMW(and most all other manufacturers ) utilize.

    Perhaps later I'll post one of Mike's comments that addresses poor service...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Also, I've never attempted to justify the flawed CSI metric that BMW(and most all other manufacturers ) utilize.

    Well what do you know, There's something we agree on!
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