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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    I'd be sure to break any clips on the trim around the steering column first thing

    That's OK you don't get paid for comebacks and things broken negligently will be deducted from your pay if it happens more than once. ;)
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,240
    You forgot the
    'no TSB's found'

    That and the
    "no codes detected"

    Describes my most recent dealership visit (Even though I know of a TSB that 'seems' to fit symptoms and also states no codes may be present)
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Describes my most recent dealership visit (Even though I know of a TSB that 'seems' to fit symptoms and also states no codes may be present)

    Hey Ray.

    Tell us, what is the symptom you are referring to, Make, model, year and engine and if you have the TSB# what is it?
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,171
    Lots of TSBs are limited by VIN so if that's how the dealer searched for it, that may be why it didn't show up.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited July 2013
    Lots of TSBs are limited by VIN so if that's how the dealer searched for it, that may be why it didn't show up.

    And with good reason. A TSB is often related to discovering an issue with a given component that was produced during a given time period and could have been provided by a specific vendor. Anything outside of the cut point could have already addressed the issue that the TSB is supposed to correct.

    If someone's skills as a tech are limited to grabbing a TSB and throwing the alleged fix at a car, without confirming and proving that it was valid each and every time then he/she will endure a very high percentage of comebacks, and would have a very short career as a tech.

    That's why I would like to know the specifics here, so that I can see if the TSB is really appropriate to the issue. One problem however is with the TSB information already in hand it would be easy for someone to bias their description of the symptom to make it more likely to fit the TSB when it may not truly be the same.
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,240
    Ok since you asked (I'll try not to write a book). First off I am in no way an auto-tech and don't pretend to be. I do however diagnosis things in a different line of work and know you sometimes have to look beyond basic symptoms to find answers ( I also know I may be full of poo poo, wouldn't be the first time). I am not whining about dealership, if something was missed, oh well it happens. I know it may or may not the TSB I have seen.

    Now for the other stuff.

    Its a 2011 GMC Terrain V6 AWD

    I had been noticing for quite a while I wasn't getting the MPG's I would expect (pleez pleeez pleeeez don't get stuck on that. I know about various things like driver habits, road/weather conditions).

    While pondering why this might be I happened to notice the HVAC system didn't appear to work as I would expect.
    When driving along with vehicle at normal operating temp, A/C /recirc/defrost / auto-climate / last setting feature all OFF I noticed when turning temp up a bit (heater) it would have warm output to begin with, but then would get noticeably cooler within a couple minutes. This did not seem right to me (as HVAC was in Manual mode). It would be the same every time I upped the temp.

    My suspicion was perhaps A/C or auto-climate was coming on, or being on when it shouldn't be (A/C does have a price in MPG doesn't it?)

    I did a little UN-technical test one weekend with A/C and all the other stuff mentioned above OFF. On a flat road with cruise set to 56 for 80 miles or so
    I had reset the aver MPG on D.I.C. display (usually close to calculated) and obtained 24.5 mpg.

    The next weekend I took a similar trip (flat road cruise set to 56 and around
    the same number of miles, weather about the same), only this time I tried to take HVAC out of the picture by pushing the fan button to turn it off completely, the results, 27.3 MPG

    I took it to the dealer for the potential HVAC issue, explaining the TEMP change that I didn't think should happen and my thoughts about A/C being on.

    I was very hesitant about mentioning MPG's (and correctly so) because I thought they would turn it into MPG complaint. Despite me verbally explaining it was NOT an MPG issue and that my mileage IMPROVED on the second trip, they wrote it up as an MPG thing and spent x amount of time doing scan and adjusting air pressure, blah, blah blah.

    PI-0622 talks about unexpected temp changes and as I recall (can't find the whole TSB now) codes may or may not be set.

    Please feel free to explain the error in my thoughts if I'm wrong, I'm not sensitive :)

    ( I forgot the part that I had gotten better mileage until I had used auto-climate for the first time, and again its not on now).

    Dealership, as an attempt to fix, re did the flash/program for HVAC system.

    Haven't had a chance to do my UN-technical check yet to see if its mode to my liking.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,396
    edited July 2013
    I'll relate my own story without trying to project upon yours....

    My Fiesta always kicks on the A/C compressor when I have the car set in "defrost" mode, regardless of temp setting on the dial. I lose a good 2+ MPG when this is in place. I used to always use my cars in split defrost/floor mode, as that is how I prefer to get my fresh air in the car, but cannot do that with this one.

    Drives me nuts, and makes no sense (they say it is to help improve the defrost functionality, which is bunk - I have never had an issue with a windshield fogging due to humidity in any car, and none before this one have had that "feature" that I can tell). As an added bonus, I cannot use my defrost mode on a warm, rainy day. If I have the temp setting on "cold" and have it in defrost, the interior radiator for the A/C will ice up after about 100 miles, which means I get no air flow at all. Workaround? Set the temp to close to the junction between the "blue" and "red" sides of the dial, and roast in the car. *facepalm*
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,262
    What Gm is doing to newly trained techs is exactly why unions were formed.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,633
    Yes, and then the unions got out of control.

    I predict there will be a MASSIVE shortage of techs in the very near future.

    They are generally not a happy bunch and many will do their best to discourage others from getting into the trade.

    It used to be a good mechanic with the right skills and tools could usually beat the book times and make a decent living.

    From everything I hear, this is simply no longer the case.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Did you ever nice that no-one ever dares write about the practices that drive a lot of the good techs from the trade? They are all to happy to grandstand when they catch a thief, but don't do anything about why he was the last one standing. Heck they even turn around and do their best to exhonerate the manufacturers and their dealers. But do anything that works to lay blame where it really belongs? Not in our lifetimes..,.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,580
    I've known a couple MB techs - both got out of the dealer business and opened independent shops. It might be a local thing, as indy specialized make shops seem to do well here. I wonder if that creates competition for the dealer to offer better conditions to keep skilled people.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,564
    the "blame" is really in the training system. We have no real apprenticeship program in place in this country, and so the level of incompetence in auto repair is bound to be high to begin with.

    How could it be otherwise, with no licensing?

    A contractor can't practice without a license, nor an electrician.

    Added to that is exploitation of the technician by profit-squeezing dealerships and franchises.

    Added to that is automotive technology expanding much faster than on the job training could possibly handle.

    If Doc could charge as much tuition as a state college to train young technicians, how's that for a win-win for everybody?

    MODERATOR

  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,171
    edited July 2013
    A TSB is often related to discovering an issue with a given component that was produced during a given time period and could have been provided by a specific vendor. Anything outside of the cut point could have already addressed the issue that the TSB is supposed to correct.

    Makes sense ... but ... I frequently read stories where people have had the same symptoms that are described in a TSB but are denied help because their VIN falls outside the range. That scenario sure comes up a lot for situations that are not "truly" the same. And the owners then go on to fix their problem by doing the TSB steps themselves.

    I think it's more of a bean-counting issue and more often an attempt to limit warranty payouts. You also see the manufacturers trying to limit coverage when the car issue is related to weather. Lots of people get denied because they don't live far enough north or south, even though they have the same issue covered by the TSB.

    Your comment about "no-one ever dares write about the practices that drive a lot of the good techs from the trade" - well, that story isn't complete buried. It's just not as eyeball grabbing as catching some sleezeball ripping off consumers. Eyeballs sell ads.

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  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 5,025
    My Fiesta always kicks on the A/C compressor when I have the car set in "defrost" mode,

    I've never owned a car that didn't do that, heck even my 79 Continental did.

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

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,396
    edited July 2013
    From my perspective, it is just a direction for the car to blow air, much like the face or floor vents. Now, I admit that many of the cars I've had did not have A/C on them in the first place, but those that do/did never have issues with:

    1. Vent system freeze-up
    2. Noticeable change in fuel economy

    So, unless the system on the Fiesta has some sort of issue (design or otherwise), I have to surmise that the other units did not engage the A/C unnecessarily like this. I mean, the FE change on the Fiesta is seriously appreciable. For example, I was running 44 MPG on my current tank for the first 150 miles or so, then we had a couple of days of heavily humid, cool (high 50s/low 60s) weather where I found I needed to use defrost setting to set the air blowing on the windshield to prevent fogging, and after two days of that (~50 miles), my FE was down to 38.

    But, on the plus side, I guess the solution is simple enough.... just take the A/C belt off! I hadn't thought about that before, but such a simple solution! Problem solved. :D
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,240
    All my vehicles are like that also. Fairly often on mine they fog on inside so the warm drier air helps evaporate the moisture better. Of course if the fog is on outside extra fuel is being wasted
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited July 2013
    Your evaporator should not be icing under any normal operating condition. Have your dealer check for a faulty expansion valve and/or a possible over or under fill of R134a. edit or for a faulty lower fan speed resistor? i.e. fan not actually running? That would allow an otherwise correctly function A/C system ice the evaporator.. This particular scenario was just discovered by Shiftright on his MINI. Some circuits tho are usually wired thru the fan switch to avoid this so if the fan does not come on (your interior blower fan), then the compressor doesn't either...there are tons of differences among the brands, even tho most do end up following the relative same end-result rules.

    I concur with your frustrations tho regarding any defrost (or part defrost...that's where they basically really screw it up) tripping the A/C. Parts of this puzzle is because of a few idiot-proofing attempts. The primary one being a customer complaining of a fogged windshield, but ignorantly having the recir door closed..so duh...your source of humidity is the occupants breathing. Simple fix, but idiots always prevail in this world as everything is built to the absolute lowest common denominator. :sick:

    So they know that if you have chosen recirc door closed on purpose, but require a defrost of the windshield then if the air is conditioned, problem, solved..now...to make it not so simple tho, not all brands do this..sometimes hitting defrost will open recirc door to fresh air mode. But the A/C compressor still runs.

    Now..also..one of the reasons they have the compressor cycle in deforst mode is they want the compressor to cycle regularly throughout the year to keep seals well flexed and the system lubed inside. It does make sense.

    I can't speak for your Fiesta, but Honda does let you program your own HVAC control pod. It is not told on the OM, but the process is out there if you Google it. I decided to do it, BUT, I also did so knowing to deliberately cycle my compressor often during off seasons and/or after a defrost mode setting that triggers the compressor (it still comes on) I leave it cycle a few times at the minor expense of FE for only a few miles. The difference tho, is now when I hit a defrost mode that cycles the compressor, I can hit the A/C button and turn the compressor back off at will, yet the system stays in defrost. Check with Ford...they may reluctantly tell you how to set yours up the same if that is allowed. Knowing Ford though (the control freaks that they are), their system probably does not allow this mod.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,633
    You hit the nail on the head.

    Anyone can buy a set of tools and get hired as a "mechanic".

    Of course they probably won't last long but until they wash out they can do a lot of damage.

    The price of a quality set of tools is staggering and ongoing. An electrician can carry everything he needs in a hand held tote tray in most cases and the technology doesn't change every year.

    I know that if had a young friend or family member approach me and express
    a desire to enter the automotive trade repairing cars, I would have a serious
    chat with them in an attempt to change their minds.

    The business has changed and in my opinion, not for the good.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,396
    That is all very interesting, gimme! I have an appointment to have a bunch of warranty stuff looked at next week; perhaps I should mention this as well? I'm not sure how they could replicate it without similar conditions, but, from my perspective, the system was trying to work, there just wasn't much air movement through the vents. The blower motor was operating full bore.

    I ended up having to run the last 200+ miles to home with the windows down enough to circulate air to keep the windshield relatively transparent, but up enough to keep rainwater out of the car (it literally rained for that whole 330-mile trip!

    In order to get it to work again, I had to put the heat on full bore and, after about 45 minutes, it was back to substantial air flow.

    So, interesting that you mention the recirculation-while-on-defrost. The Fiesta allows me to do that. No other car that I have owned has. Perhaps that's the difference? Also, I hadn't thought about the need to cycle for the health of seals, etc., but can see the value in that. I'll look to other mitigation options first before resorting to belt removal.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,262
    I see shops touting ASE as a credential for their mechanics. Does that mean anything ?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited July 2013
    But, on the plus side, I guess the solution is simple enough.... just take the A/C belt off

    If diabling the system is what you want to do, removing the fuse or the relay for the compressor would be much easier.

    From my perspective, it is just a direction for the car to blow air, much like the face or floor vents. Now, I admit that many of the cars I've had did not have A/C on them in the first place, but those that do/did never have issues with:

    1. Vent system freeze-up
    2. Noticeable change in fuel economy


    The system freezing up suggests that the low side temp (and of course pressure) was too low. There should be controls to prevent that from occurring. The evaporator discharge temperature sensor connects directly to the instrument cluster to send that information on to the network and if the evaporator gets cold enough to freeze, the PCM should have commanded the compressor off.

    As far as the fuel economy implications, the harder that the system is working, which means the more heat that it is pumping the more that the fuel economy will be affected. Once the evaporator iced up, the system wouldn't be doing any work at all.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited July 2013
    I see shops touting ASE as a credential for their mechanics. Does that mean anything ?

    It does to me, but if it really means anything that can only be judged by everyone elses opinion. So, lets find out.

    What does a tech having ASE certifications mean to YOU?

    (You being eveybody that has been lurking, as well as taking part in this forum).

    Be advised I'll be happy to forward all of the opinions voiced to ASE.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,633
    To me, it means that person took the time to study to pass the ASE exams which used to be pretty challenging.

    If a shop will only hire ASE certified techs to me, that would be a good sign.

    Still, there are a lot of guys who are great techs who see little value in getting ASE certified.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,564
    I see shops touting ASE as a credential for their mechanics. Does that mean anything ?

    Well for one thing it means you are a good test-taker. It may not mean you are a good mechanic.

    What i mean is--just because you are good at figuring out their "trick questions", does translate into diagnostic skills on a car?

    MODERATOR

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,396
    edited July 2013
    Thanks for the extra info. Based on yours and GST's responses, I have to say that it is likely something was not working properly on the car for the freeze up to happen.

    As for fuel economy, A/C use only noticeably affects it at low speed driving (such as around town, commuting stuff, which is the type of driving I was doing with that ~44 mpg tank). On the highway, I can't tell a noticeable difference. I've run to Palmer and back without the A/C and returned about 40 mpg, and then also used the A/C the whole time and returned about the same. But, I do notice that the car's responsiveness is sluggish with the A/C running, so it's obviously creating some parasitic loss (probably has something to do with the little 1.6L, 120 hp engine?).

    On the flip side, when I do want the A/C to cool the interior of the car, it does a really good job. :P It reminds me of the system on my Dodge Grand Caravan. That thing had an amazingly good HVAC despite the cavernous interior and generous glass.

    I'm curious about your thoughts on Ray's vehicle.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Anyone can buy a set of tools and get hired as a "mechanic".
    Of course they probably won't last long but until they wash out they can do a lot of damage


    In some cases with a good mentoring program and keeping them doing the easiest stuff, they can get a foothold and be productive up to a certain level. We have too many in the trade like that.

    The price of a quality set of tools is staggering and ongoing.


    I have more money in my hand tools than our house cost. By the time you count what I own as shop tools I'm now over 300K. And it will all be worth pennies on the dollar when I'm gone. We aren't even counting the "vaporware" that we have to "rent" each year now. (15K-20K)

    I know that if had a young friend or family member approach me and express
    a desire to enter the automotive trade repairing cars, I would have a serious
    chat with them in an attempt to change their minds. i>

    Did you happen to notice there was no where to comment on that UTI press release?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Well for one thing it means you are a good test-taker. It may not mean you are a good mechanic.

    How would our college graduates that frequent these forums feel if their diploma's were thought of the same way?

    What i mean is--just because you are good at figuring out their "trick questions", does translate into diagnostic skills on a car?

    First of all, they are not all "trick questions". Many are purely product knowledge based. But in some ways one of the faults is ASE has to be generally based while we have manufacturers training and certifications that are very specific. Could you imagine what it would be like if someone had to have Ford factory certs to do anything with a Ford product? Some would like to see that today, just image what the cost to be an independent would be if that was the case. It's already gotten to be impossible to do all makes and models, especially with the high tech stuff. Doing just the big seven like I do demands way more study-time than people expect.

    Did you ever look into the L1 Advanced Diagnostic Certification? The best way to describe that test is it measures how well a technician can read and apply information to a generic vehicle on the fly. That test mimics what I do day in and day out in the shop. It genuinely measures who is a diagnostic technician and who is not.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,564
    "How would our college graduates that frequent these forums feel if their diplomas were thought of the same way? "

    I think the comparison is quite apt actually. Would you let a surgeon cut you open based on the high score on his biology examination?

    But no, I have not see the advanced testing. I was reading a typical test on brakes and suspension and noticed right away that the advantage goes to the applicant who knows how to read trick questions and how to outsmart the test.

    MODERATOR

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,374
    The RH Xenon lamp on my son's 2004 X3 began acting up again and finally went belly up; I asked my SA about it and, like me, he though it was probably the ignitor. So-like an idiot-instead of just swapping in a new bulb(which I already had) or swapping ignitors side to side to verify the problem I went ahead and bought an ignitor. Guess what was bad. Oh well, at least I now have a spare ignitor. The new bulb is quite a bit whiter than the LH bulb, which is acquiring a pinkish hue. That's an indication that the LH bulb is probably not long for this world- so if my son takes the truck to college I'll go ahead and install the other bulb before he leaves.

    As for long term high mileage BMW ownership, the X3 recently passed the 155,000 mile mark. The costs of non-scheduled repairs has averaged out to eight cents per mile since it hit 100,000 miles. That number would be considerably less if the sled wasn't AWD, as the stupid transfer case was the one major repair. Since the truck has been paid off since 2007 I still think I'm way ahead of someone who flips a car every 3-5 years and always has a car loan or lease payment.

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

  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,171
    edited July 2013
    Not bad, but I can't resist saying that my number is .05 cents a mile and includes everything but gas. A lot of that number is tires and brakes - shoot, it's a penny a mile just for tires.

    I'm behind on figuring my total running costs but as of '05, that number was running .38 cents a mile. Toss in depreciation and it's a more realistic .54 cents a mile, give or take.

    It really helps that a new headlight bulb for the van costs maybe $9. :shades:

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