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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • 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: 17,346
    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.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    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?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,267
    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.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    "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.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,011
    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

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    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:
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,346
    I don't bother figuring out my cost per mile on our cars nor do I check gas mileage often. I figure it is what it is.

    When one headlight bulb failed after nine years on one of our CRV's, I changed both of them. I figured they were installed at the same time and rather than wait I just changed it ahead of time.

    I do that with car batteries too. Five years is enough and I want to do it on MY schedule rather than getting stranded some dark rainy night.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    edited July 2013
    We all have our idiosyncrasies hobbies. :-)

    I'm sure Roadburner would have died of boredom if he'd been forced to drive my minivan for the last decade while I'm looking forward to packing it next week for another road trip.

    Assuming the last repair continues to hold up of course.

    Unfortunately to us frugal types, the $700 light bulb scenario has trickled down to minivans now. :sick: May as well lease a Bimmer and get the free maintenance for 4 years, rinse and repeat.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    ASE= Reputable, Professional, Trustworthy, Trained

    Bozo= Not
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,011
    Unfortunately to us frugal types, the $700 light bulb scenario has trickled down to minivans now.

    Actually, the bulb was $39.50 from Amazon. The unneeded ignitor was $95.40 from my dealer. Nine years and 155k miles from a bulb isn't all that bad, methinks.

    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
    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?

    So what do they call the person who graduates last in his class at medical school?

    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.

    "We are working on that" is the best that I can say. When ASE pulls a team together to re-write a test, each question goes through some serious debate so that the team makes sure that being able to answer it correctly demonstrates competence in that small aspect of the career that the question is focused on. Trying to use testing to measure the kinds of skills that a tech has to bring to the job is a daunting challenge and of course the tests have to change all of the time or else someone really could study for them and then they lose some of their effectiveness.

    Today, if someone cannot pass the tests then they really aren't the people that the consumers need us to have in the shops. Being able to reason out the correct answer during testing in some cases is a measurement of the techs critical thinking skills.

    I towed in a Hyundai from a transmission shop yesterday. (approx. a 2000 iirc) I'll start working with it on Monday. The report is that it runs poor, stalls, and has little to no power at times and it also sets a code for one of the solenoid circuits going open in the transaxle. The performance issue (reportedly) wasn't present before the transmission failed and was rebuilt, and apparently we don't know if the solenoid circuit issue predates the transmission failure or not. The solenoid circuit failure is random in nature and it may be a week or more before it occurs and I could easily only get one shot at identifying the cause.

    ASE testing today is still a minimum standard, but its the only one we have. We don't have a way of measuring a techs ability to tackle the kind of problem that this Hyundai is presenting. The L1 comes close to examining the knowledge and the attention to detail that is required, but it cannot measure the disciplined approach that will be demanded. Certification testing measures how well someone has a grasp on things they have done repeatedly. The Hyundai will be the first and likely the only time I ever deal with this specific system, and failure isn't an option no matter what it takes. At the same time, someone selling tires, changing oil and hanging brakes will make a lot more money for the time that will be invested into this Hyundai, think about that.

    The drivability issue on the Hyundai will be gravy, but the transmission control solenoid circuit will require me to set as many testing points as I can and when the problem occurs, even if its for just for a fraction of a second over 100 miles of rural driving I have to have proof of what it is. Otherwise I'll have to change my test routine and wait for the next occurrence. These problems can only be beat with patience and a good plan, and quite often the good plan is yet to be figured out.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    edited July 2013
    I lied - the one replacement headlight bulb cost me $11 in '05. The other OEM one is okay at 186k. The brake light bulbs are $1.50. But you do see stories like this one more and more. (He doesn't mention what car he drives).

    Need New Headlights? That'll Be $700....

    That's for an assembly but even so, the labor for simple bulb replacements is getting up there for some cars. It's funny how many hits you get searching for "$700 headlamp replacement". Seems to be the magic number.

    I do have some miniature instrument panel bulbs that are burnt out and they are hard to find. That was going to be my summer project but I've postponed it again. These days I don't drive much in the dark anyway.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    I would agree with that. If you can't pass the ASE tests, you should have that wrench slapped out of your hand---at least if you are working on other people's cars.

    I tend to regard that ASE certificate on the wall as an indication of the technician's motivation and desire for self-improvement rather than a warranty that he'll fix my car first time every time.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,886
    I wonder what kind of car that was...replacing an assembly is not routine wear and tear - he bought a messed up car, and now gets to pay the price. Oh well. That's what junkyards or ebay are for. In a modern MB, the ones I know anyway, bulb replacement is easy, there is room behind the assembly, and usually a little door or cover to access the light.

    Sealed beam style lights must be the easiest and cheapest - but it's not 1968 anymore.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,194
    I haven't been to a service dept. lately but I remember seeing multiple certificates from ASE and in dealers, certificates in specific areas like A/C etc.
    do techs have to participate in regular updated training to keep the certification intact ?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    edited July 2013
    for "Master Technician" certificates, you must re-certify every 5 years (tests A1 through A8) or you lose that status.
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