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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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Comments

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,556
    I will watch damn near any of these shows. But one that just started is hideous ("armerican car prospector"). So obviously faked, even by the standards of this type of show, and horribly "acted".

    Overhaulin is good. Foose is for real, and I don't understand how they can possibly do it so quick.

    Wheeler dealers is great. Love those guys.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,194
    edited September 2013
    American Prospector is so obviously scripted, I only watched 15 minutes.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Most of the techs I know don't watch any of those shows. None of them represent what we really deal with day in and day out. We wouldn't be able to put up with most of the antics they portrait. In the end they only manage to put out yet more false perceptions that we have to overcome.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,910
    edited September 2013
    In that part of the world, you'd probably have to know how to maintain the body armor and anti-carjacking flame throwers along the running boards.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 16,886
    edited September 2013
    Oh, I meant to include prospector. Definitely in the hate column. How the hell did that guy make a career out of buying and selling junk. Oh, hey, they did that show already. It was Sanford and Son! Only now it lacks the intentional comedy.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '08 Town&Country

  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    edited September 2013
    I guess then it will be cheaper to work on, anyway. Tiny wire wheels with a million spokes sound better, especially if they are gold.

    I am kind of surprised an old MB hasn't been messed up on one of those shows yet.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Typical call, the owner has a van that he does all his own work on and it failed the emissions test. Being a 95 it gets the TSI which is a two speed idle test in Western Pa. My first thought was it's a van, yuck. I've never liked working on them and the older I get and the harder it is to move around it just gets more unpleasant. The guy was fun to talk to however and he wasn't really too interested in repairing it right now as much as he wants to do just enough that it qualifies for a waiver sticker. To get a waiver in Pa the owner only has to spend up to $150 attempting to repair the car. Only certified repair technicians can authorize a waiver so he was told to call us. When diagnostics and repairs are done by a shop the whole bill can be applied towards the waiver fee. If the owner does the work himself only the parts that were used qualify and he has to provide the receipts for the parts, have two failed emissions tests and then the technician has to confirm that the work was done and follow the rest of the routine to authorize the waiver. The customer had only put on about $70 in parts so he didn't qualify for the waiver yet, but they could be applied towards it and if we do the diagnostics that would get him to where he needs to be. He joked about just getting a bill to put him over the limit but I have my policy on that and if he has to spend a dime we make sure that he gets some value out of the expense and we really work towards making an improvement in the vehicles performance. (I won't throw parts for the sake of throwing parts). The last thing we agreed on was since this is a (conversion) van and the engine cover needs to be removed, he would pull the passengers front seat and have the engine cover fully exposed so that I would not have to spend any time doing that. He set his appointment for this morning (Friday).

    This morning he called to let us know that he couldn't keep his appointment today. His son went into sudden cardiac arrest last night and he has been in the hospital with him all night and he had to head back there. The worst part was when he said that it doesn't look good for his son. Meanwhile he was apologizing for not being able to make it in and was worried that it would be an issue for us. All I could do was offer our sympathies and let him know we would add his son to our prayers and re-assured him that his family was more important and taking care of his van can wait. We will be there for him when he is ready, and for him to not worry about us because I have plenty of work to keep me busy. Just thinking about what he was going through put a dark cloud on the whole day. :cry:
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    This link really did strange things to my browser. Opened a half screen of something and seemed to lock the cursor on this window. Could not get to much of anything else. I cntl+alt+del and started Task Manager and stopped the application.

    I have run one virus/malware scanner and nothing was found, but just thought I would note the problem I had.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited September 2013
    That's strange. Linked in is a professional networking site and the link still works just fine. Well anyway the only thing you missed is they want an experienced Audi tech and the rate of pay you can expect for moving to South Africa is 18,000-20,000 Rand a month.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    It worked for me too.

    FWIW, ZAR 20K is worth about USD 2K, so not a huge wage - maybe a lower cost of living than some of the US, but not the safest most stable society either.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    http://answers.edmunds.com/question-Found-code-U0201-2008-Chrysler-Town-Country-- What-it-178718.aspx

    I'm a bit confused here...you say that when the issue is happening, the starter relay loses voltage? So in that case you mean the car doesn't even CRANK? You need the starter relay to crank the engine over.

    They have actually done pretty good to get as far with this as the poster described.

    If that's right, and it doesn't even crank, has anyone checked the ignition switch itself?

    The ignition switch is meelry an input to the TIPM and doesn't carry any significant current. The right way to check that is to simply monitor the TIPM scan data and see if crank is commanded. Depending on the exact platform some vehicles will have a crank fuse, and if you don't see the crank input in scan data first that would be the second point to check. In the shop though this diagnostic is performed almost 100% with a scan tool such as the WiTech. Aftermarket tools have gaps in the support that often leave techs without all of the information and that forces them to have to do more by hand.

    Have they checked for other P codes as well?

    The PCM does control the crank relay ground, but it needs to see the command to do so on the CAN bus from the TIPM. The PCM is usually only involved in the theft deterrent system in a way that has it shut the fuel off in the event of a possible theft report, or if the PCM does not recieve a go command. Even then we still have to be careful about assuming that this is indeed a theft system issue because they do not all interrupt cranking the same way if at all. If this system interrupts cranking it does so only after the third failed attempt to start during a theft detection, or if it recieves a content theft report. But at the moment a false theft detection is quite unlikely because the poster didn't give any report of a specific symptom that I would expect to see. That being said that does open the door wider for a random failure in the crank command portion of the system that controls the crank relay. For the poster to report that they don't see the command to the relay it sounds like someone has been taking a better than average approach to this.

    SKIM, SKREEM uses a stand alone transciever that identifies the key and then brodcasts the go/no-go command out onto the network and the modules that need that information grab it. CTSS polls the door modules and they also have to issue a go/nogo (generically speaking don't have enough time to elaborate) So that makes the U0201 is a very important piece of information. With a loss of communication with a door module, the system cannot confirm content safety integrity and so it is possibly disallowing vehicle operation.

    FYI there are fourteen modules and a total of thirteen switch inputs to them that can result in a No-Go command from the CTSS.

    At this moment they need to use the bi-directional controls in the scan tool to confirm that the PCM can command the starter to crank, and if so then concentrate on why it isn't either being told to, or allowed to crank the engine.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited October 2013
    I have a little more time to address this diagnostic. What they are dealing with in this random no-start isn't uncommon today as far as how complicated things can get. What makes it even tougher is you only have the short period of time that the no-start is occurring in order to collect data and begin to try and analyze the problem, once it starts there is nothing else to find until the next event occurs.

    One of the first screens that the factory scan tool opens up after it automatically ID's the vehicle is a communication screen. The scan tool actually only communicates with the TIPM and everything else that occurs relies on the TIPM actually making the data request and transferring it to the diagnostic CAN C bus. Any bi-directional requests made by the technician via the scan tool have to be processed and then passed on to the appropriate module by the TIPM. Chrysler typically used three data buses in 2008. The class C diagnostic which again is only for communication between the TIPM and the scan tool, a high speed CAN C bus where you would find the PCM, ABS, SRS, TCM, (essentially all of the most critical modules). The CAN B bus or low speed bus which has all of the non critical modules which includes the SKIM/SKREEM, RKE and all of the door modules. The TIPM lists all of the modules that are written into its vehicle build configuration list on that opening screen. Each module then is shown to either be communicating on its assigned data bus and the page also reports if any of the modules have codes set in them. (BTW I do an entire class on communication diagnostics devoted to O.E. GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicles, there is no time to cover that kind of information here)

    Aftermarket tools don't do any of that, and that's a problem in itself but it also puts the exclamation point on a bigger problem. A shop doesn't need that specific functionality all of the time, in fact its pretty rare to need it and we are talking maybe only five out of a hundred diagnostic routines, per manufacturer. But when you do need it, its priceless to have and a game stopper if you don't.

    I have and maintain a Snap-On scan tool just like 70% of all aftermarket shops and it does a good job for all but these kinds of problems. These tools aren't cheap to own and maintain. With an initial purchase somewhere around $4000, to $12,000 depending on which tool a shop or tech chooses to purchase and then the updates (two of them) that run about $1100 a year the average shop looks at their Snap-On scan tool and if they have had them for a few years knows they $20,000 or more invested in it and then they find out it doesn't do the whole job when a problem like this Town and Country comes along. The cost difference in tooling alone was $9000 for the DRBIII and then another $6000-$7000 depending on which of Chryslers three tools a shop has. That issue alone has its own financial pressures because the StarScan and StarMobile are obsoleted and cannot be updated beyond 2010 and 2012 model years respectively. The WiTech that replaces them has to be updated yearly or it turns off, at least the other two keep working.

    The choice that top shops had to make was to go ahead and buy the O.E. tools for the manufacturers that they wanted to support. For Chrysler products that was the DRBIII which worked on all of their products up to 2003, and it got phased out as the CAN systems were added to the different models. The CAN cars were initially supported by the StarScan, which was quickly replaced by the StarMobile , and then it was replaced by the WiTech. The cheapest of these tools was the laptop based StarMobile at $6000. The most expensive, and current tool is the WiTech at $7000 which not only requires updates of the software to stay current it needs them just to stay turned on. The StarScan and StarMobile while they cannot be updated at least remain functional. No matter what, without one of these tools network communication issues which that Town and Country just might be experiencing are almost impossible to diagnose. It would be surprising if the shop that the car is currently at has made this extra investment to have one or more of these tools. (Remember this gets repeated for each manufacturer that a shop tries to support) When you factor in that the need to have them is on the order of five (maybe ten) percent of visits that makes the cost to do so prohibitive if one only looks at the potential return on the investment.

    As the systems get more complicated and as vehicle systems become more network and software oriented it isn't going to get easier to diagnose problems like this, its going to get harder. (Think srs49's four engineers at 200/hr for X days hard) and under the present atmosphere for auto repair there isn't any kind of return on the investment to justify even trying to be able to fix these kinds of problems. The real numbers are there are less than 100 aftermarket shops in the country that are genuinely ready to handle that Town and Country No-Start efficiently and the pressure to get what we do on a daily basis even cheaper deserves to see that number shrink. Anyone of you can rejoice in your own efforts to save some of your own money because you think its only your gain at our expense. The owners of the Chrysler T&C are the ones who are now getting to see what that cost of that really is and soon (quite deservedly IMO) they won't be alone. So instead of harassing me over your right to save money any way that you can, you really should gloat it out over on that posters request for help, its what has really been being said all along.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    " Anyone of you can rejoice in your own efforts to save some of your own money because you think its only your gain at our expense. The owners of the Chrysler T&C are the ones who are now getting to see what that cost of that really is and soon (quite deservedly IMO) they won't be alone. So instead of harassing me over your right to save money any way that you can, you really should gloat it out over on that posters request for help, its what has really been being said all along"

    Hold on just a minute. Are you trying to say we all need to take our vehicles to a shop, no matter what the problem, so they can run a diagnostic scan (and charge us, the consumer, for it) in order to pay for the high priced scan tools you all have to carry? Because that's sure what I read into your last couple of sentences.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Hold on just a minute. Are you trying to say we all need to take our vehicles to a shop, no matter what the problem, so they can run a diagnostic scan (and charge us, the consumer, for it) in order to pay for the high priced scan tools you all have to carry? Because that's sure what I read into your last couple of sentences.

    No you don't need to take your cars to a shop for any problem. You can always just buy a new one.

    What choice does that T&C owner have right now? The day will come when an electronics issue will result in a car essentially being totalled. Meanwhile we can't sustain a business model that would prevent that because we can't overcome the price pressure your opinion represents. We lose for trying, and that shop is losing for not. You have posted before how tossing a part seems like a reasonable move (even though that same approach will be criticized in the next breath) well here you have that scenario played out and they tossed a module (and a battery, starter, switches) at the car and even identified wiring issues and yet the problem remains un-answered.

    So why don't they just take this to a dealer? The dealers don't care if a tech can solve a problem like this or not. They only care about how many labor dollars a tech turns and that vehicle would be a loser for them too, so they normally turn it into a sales opportunity and the van heads to the auction, or maybe even the scrapyard.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    edited October 2013
    "So why don't they just take this to a dealer? The dealers don't care if a tech can solve a problem like this or not. They only care about how many labor dollars a tech turns and that vehicle would be a loser for them too, so they normally turn it into a sales opportunity and the van heads to the auction, or maybe even the scrapyard."

    Certainly, a short-sighted dealer might see the situation that way, but a lot of dealers that depend on and cater to repeat sales for a sizeable segment of their sales don't see it that way at all.

    It seems you're doing exactly what you complain about others doing to car repair shops.... You're painting all dealerships with a single, broad brush.

    Do you not see the irony here?
  • ohenryxohenryx Posts: 285

    So why don't they just take this to a dealer? The dealers don't care if a tech can solve a problem like this or not.


    Certainly some dealerships will fall into this category. The better run dealership sees every visit to the service department as an opportunity, a chance to win over another potential customer.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    Speaking only for myself, but if I take my Belchfire 6000 SUX to the dealer for repair and he can't fix it, and then suggest I trade it in on a new model, you can bet your bottom dollar that if I DO trade, I won't be getting another Belchfire brand vehicle.

    That business "relationship" has been permanently terminated...
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 16,886
    edited October 2013
    So instead of harassing me over your right to save money any way that you can

    Did I miss something? Who is harassing you over saving money?

    You have posted before how tossing a part seems like a reasonable move (even though that same approach will be criticized in the next breath)

    I think you are confusing 2 very very different scenarios here. Several posters, myself included, have stated that "tossing a part" is a reasonable move for the DIY'er. As you have thoroughly stated, you have a great deal more equipment and you should be able to diagnose the problem properly and get it right the first time ... at much greater expense. And as I have stated, I choose to gamble. I'll bet a $25 part against 2 more hours of my diagnostic time or, worse, $5 in gas + $85 diagnostic fee + $50 parts + $110 labor. Yes, there is a chance I will lose. That's why I call it gambling. But, IMHO, the odds are very much in my favor. If I win, I win about $250. If I lose, its $25. That's 10:1 odds, and I can tell you from my 25 years, I get it right a hell of a lot more than just 10% of the time.

    BUT, you have to keep something in mind: the few posters here who even attempt these things and make these gambles are such a slim minority, it is hardly worth mentioning. It sounds to me like you take it way too personally and somehow feel our efforts make any kind of ding on your livelihood, when, in fact, I would bet there is not even 1 successful DIY'er for every professional repair shop out there. Just as an example, in my office of 130 people, there are only 2 of us who even attempt to do anything with our own cars, and the other guy still has a shop that he uses on a regular basis for bigger jobs. So let's call it 1.5 out of 130, or 1.1%. Certainly not the difference between making and breaking a repair shop.

    NOW, as to the T&C in the example. I happen to own a 2008 T&C, as a matter of fact. Thankfully, the repairs thus far have been manageable. I've only had to replace the brakes, the 3rd row power seat, a coolant T-pipe, the DVD player, and various other little things here and there.

    And, in relation to this car, I'll give you a good example of why I wind up avoiding dealerships most of the time for repairs. First time the 3rd row acted up, it was stuck in the upright position. Wife brought it to the dealer for an oil change and mentioned it. They called and said the whole thing needed to be replaced to the tune of $1800. We passed. I did a little reading and found a tip on resetting the seat. I did that in 5 mins and it worked fine for a long long time. At a much later date, it broke one of its brackets. However, the new seat (smaller side only is needed in this case) is $550 and takes not even 30 mins to replace. $1800? I think not. On another occassion, I called them to inquire about changing the trans fluid for us. Nope. They don't do that. "It is lifetime fluid." Well, not according to the transmission manufacturer. OK, fine. I'll just have to do it myself. So I ask if they have the dipstick in stock [background: from the factory, it has a dipstick tube but they install a plug rather than a dipstick. Mopar, however, sells a stick.]. Again, I get the explanation that it is lifetime fluid and there is no way to check the level and no stick available. Great. Thanks. So here we have a situation where I'm TRYING to give the repair shop money and they won't let me. So I order the stick online and buy the fluid at a Pep Boys and have to do it myself... yet again. So, you see, it is not always completely my doing and I'm not intentionally trying to keep food off your table, Doc. I'm just given no other choice when I can't find anyone else to trust.

    BTW, that transmission thing is an epidemic. Sans the dispstick, I had the exact thing happen with my BMW. Service rep said its lifetime and they don't do it. "Interesting. So why does your parts department sell a filter and fluid for it?" He had no answer for that. He did admit MAYBE they can do it, but it would be prohibitively expensive. So, again, I ordered the stuff online and did it myself. So that's another dealership that didn't take my money. Go figure.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '08 Town&Country

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    It seems you're doing exactly what you complain about others doing to car repair shops.... You're painting all dealerships with a single, broad brush.

    Do you not see the irony here?


    Irony? No there is no irony here even if you think it appears that way.

    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Automotive-Fixed-Operations-Managers

    There are a lot of good managers on that site, and its common to see them discussing issues related to dealer principals pushing them in a direction that restricts their abilities to serve the dealers customers. There are a lot of poor ones there too, and the articles keep repeating. From doing free inspections to sell more work, (they argue that making the techs do the inspections for free creates the drive to sell something to try and make the money back) to the ones where they cannot find qualified techs.

    Are there some dealers who are raising the bar? Probably but the moment they do you see it also reflected in the prices they charge for the cars they sell and they get duly punished for that. Wait, maybe I do see the irony....
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