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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,630
    Ford fixed that problem. they stopped putting the gas cap on at all!

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    Yep. My Escape has the cap-less filler neck.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    Good to see that Ford is getting there with self-diagnosing cars.

    Every manufacturer is exploring ways to build in rationality testing to make it easier and reliable to detect, and then alert the driver to system faults. It's the perception that it will make the diagnostics and repairs simpler that is completely false. The technology being added to the various systems on today's cars is only limited by the imaginations of the engineers designing them. srs seems comfortable with the idea that SWAG's (scientific wild a$$ guesses) are an appropriate "diagnostic" step instead of having a work force with all of the training and experience that would required to take an analytical approach every time. He apparently gets away with doing that with his customers, we don't. If we work like that we are incompetent hacks. Meanwhile when we try to take a true professional approach we get pressured (as can be seen by some of the responses here) towards being one of the incompetent hacks that you would turn around and complain about once again. This would all be funny if it wasn't so frustrating.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    srs seems comfortable with the idea that SWAG's (scientific wild a$$ guesses) are an appropriate "diagnostic" step instead of having a work force with all of the training and experience that would required to take an analytical approach every time. He apparently gets away with doing that with his customers, we don't

    SWAGs have their place in the spectrum of troubleshooting tools.

    We warrant many of our systems for 20 years. We provide built in test (BIT) diagnostics (hardware and software) that can be run when the system is deployed in the field to identify a problem and tell the tech what module to replace. He/she replaces the module, reruns the diagnostic routines and, if all passes, away they go - the system off to do it's mission, and the faulty module is returned to the factory for more detailed troubleshooting and repair.

    So the smarts is in the hardware and software that make up the diagnostic routines, not in the tech that swaps out replaceable modules in the field. Which module the tech is told to replace is a lot more than a SWAG.

    In our case it's just not practical or cost effective to provide the detailed training and test gear to those in the field who are probably only rotating through a 2 year assignment.

    Is what I just described infallible? Of course not. We still have returns for failures that cannot be fixed with the techniques I described. But from an overall cost standpoint, it is still effective. I don't know what our numbers are, but if (say) 90% of the in-the-field failures are fixed by swapping out modules, leaving 10% to be returned to the factory, then that is still cost effective versus training and equiping every tech in the field.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    I was just over at Bay Bridge Motors, a Mini Cooper specialist, getting some advice and some work done. We talked about a howl I get when releasing the clutch when the engine's cold--this happens in 1st gear for about 10 minutes, then it's gone.

    His response? "Oh, yeah, that's a common issue. It's the dual mass flywheel vibrating slightly until it warms up. We could replace the entire assembly for $1700 but quite honestly, it doesn't affect clutch wear and it could stay that way for the life of the car".

    BING! No fear, no up-sell--just common sense.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    Is what I just described infallible? Of course not. We still have returns for failures that cannot be fixed with the techniques I described.

    Such is the nature of machines.

    I don't know what our numbers are, but if (say) 90% of the in-the-field failures are fixed by swapping out modules, leaving 10% to be returned to the factory, then that is still cost effective versus training and equiping every tech in the field.

    So do you blame the techs, discipline them and/or call them hacks when your system fails?

    We warrant many of our systems for 20 years.
    To me that means there must be quite a bit of up front profit in the sale, and there is nothing wrong with that because a business doesn't survive without it. Some portions of the GP go towards future developement of the wares you bring to the market, and of course some of it must go towards growing a capable workforce.

    In our case it's just not practical or cost effective to provide the detailed training and test gear to those in the field who are probably only rotating through a 2 year assignment

    Really so what happens to these people after you're done with them? Just joking of course, that sounds like it has a military connection to it. Sadly in our trade there is a lot of that same attitude but it has the appearance of being closer to a five year window as techs are forced to always look for greener pastures that are rarely able to live up to expectations.

    Our trade has to move past this revolving door mentality and it really has to be able to garner a career oriented perspective. You can't justify training your techs to thrive beyond a two year parts swapping capability. Meanwhile there is so much to have to learn in our trade today that twenty or even thirty years isn't enough. In fact today it may not be possible for any individual to be able to "do it all" in their lifetime.

    I just read this article.

    http://allthingsd.com/20130107/automakers-open-their-in-car-platforms-first-up-f- ord-and-soon-gm/

    This is just a glimpse of yet another skill techs like myself will need to have polished and ready to go when someone is able to upload something that starts corrupting some vehicle software and ends up with who knows what not working. We still won't get to do swaptronics, today replacement modules learn the vehicle VIN from the network the moment they first power up and once learned it cannot be reprogrammed. That is intended to reduce theft concerns, it's argued that there will be no sense in stealing it if it won't work in another car. That's just one more challenge that we have to overcome today for our customers, and it's not something we should be blamed for.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    His response? "Oh, yeah, that's a common issue. It's the dual mass flywheel vibrating slightly until it warms up. We could replace the entire assembly for $1700 but quite honestly, it doesn't affect clutch wear and it could stay that way for the life of the car".

    aka, "It's normal, they all do that". BUT If it was under warranty some would insist on it being replaced anyway. Someone else would invariably call the manufacturer about how they were treated by that employee who just refused to care about the problem that their car has........ :sick: It's almost a wonder why he would risk his job in telling you the truth that it's really not a concern......
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Well it's not a dealer so that wasn't an issue. Sure, if the car was under warranty, the clutch and flywheel would be replaced, but as is often the case, many factory defects do not manifest until after warranty.

    It was the view of this particular shop that newer cars are getting worse and worse when it comes to basic reliability, which suggests to me that new car owners should be bailing out at the end of warranty time.

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  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    So do you blame the techs, discipline them and/or call them hacks when your system fails?

    Nah! They blame us for not designing things better :P .
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Have you seen some of the car tech at CES in Vegas? Who the hell is going to fix this stuff? Will cardoc repair my armrest when it stops tweeting? :P

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  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited January 2013
    No, haven't paid much attention to the goings on at CES. I'm not what one would call an early adapter :shades: . But, like most years, it seems to be full of products that are looking for a need. I mean, do we really need another TV upgrade?

    Going along with what you and thecardoc3 said, I would worry more about what measures (or lack thereof) the automakers and their vendors are taking to prevent their systems from being hacked.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,826
    Officer, my self-driving autonomous car just drove itself to the chopshop. :D

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    the user interface on the 2014 Impala looks exactly like a smartphone screen. You can have multiple screens and you can save your favorite apps. You can even swipe the screen icons from the center display, with your finger, and that screen will appear in miniature in your dashboard display.

    Ford drivers their "infotainment" center through bluetooth & an android phone---funny though, to drive it with an iPhone, you need a cable!

    I didn't actually see an armrest that tweets when I touch it with my elbow, but I'm sure it's coming. What with 'google glasses" and all, I expect drivers will soon be watching movies... :cry:

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,744
    It sounds like you have a great shop.

    Other places would have strongly suggested that you spend the 1700.00.

    Besides, since this is so common it probably would have started howling again at some point.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    The only downside is if I wanted to sell the car I have to spend the time to convince the new buyer that the noise is of no consequence. Some buyers will care, some will not.

    But really, who in his right mind would spend $1700 to fix an intermittent squeak that goes away when the car warms up?

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    But really, who in his right mind would spend $1700 to fix an intermittent squeak that goes away when the car warms up ?

    Well that of course depends on who's $1700 they think they can spend. Your potential buyer would be happy to try and spend your $1700...

    So why are they going to a dual mass flywheel in the first place, and just what does the noise it is making really mean?

    Here is one style of a dual mass flywheel.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnaXB8q3uzQ

    The advantages of these is a lighter flywheel can be used and it des a fantastic job of dampening out variations in crankshaft speed, especially at low rpms. Another advantage to these is better acceleration, and less gryoscopic effect which really comes into play with a small light car, turning high engine rpm's and turning tight corners. In essence it's a performance upgrade, while it makes low speed driving more pleasant. Until something goes wrong that is.

    Here is a site that sells solid flywheels to eliminate the DMF. There are a lot more of them, I just grabbed this one off a google search.

    http://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/shopcart/MN01/POR_MN01_Tclutc_pg1.htm

    A little squeek is of course not really a big deal, but a banging sound, or worse banging and then no sound at all means the flywheel has failed and now the crankshaft speed pulsations will be directly transferred into the gear box, and that can and does cause damage there.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    edited January 2013
    Oh I have no objections to the *theoretical* merits of dual-mass flywheels, nor do I doubt the ability of German engineers to come up with a great explanation as to why it is necessary on this car--having any noise or vibration in the transmission of a small FWD supercharged car would be very annoying indeed.

    However, in the EXECUTION of this brilliant little device---ay, there's the rub.

    Apparently what I'm hearing is a vibration in the DM flywheel itself.

    this is one case where, when the MINI dealer says "oh, they ALL do that"--he's probably 90% correct.

    The Porsche dual-mass flywheel had other problems, far more serious. They just seem to disintegrate.

    if you ever want to feel like drinking DRANO, pay someone to do a flywheel and clutch on a Porsche 928.

    Some interesting observations:

    1. Did you read the comments under the video simulation of a DM flywheel---everyone hates them!

    2. Pelican parts makes it quite clear that there are risks involved in replaced a DM flywheel with a solid one: (I also corrected their spelling errors) :P

    " Installing the solid flywheel may increase noise from the transmission. Professional installation recommended."

    I'd sure go for professional installation--it's a devil of a job, and I'd sure hate to have to do it twice-----12.5 hours labor. :surprise:

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    The Porsche dual-mass flywheel had other problems, far more serious. They just seem to disintegrate.

    if you ever want to feel like drinking DRANO, pay someone to do a flywheel and clutch on a Porsche 928.


    There are times that I don't see some of the blessings in my life as clearly as I should. But If I ever have the kind of money where I could own a Porsche, I wouldn't have to pay someone else to do it. I looked up the parts and labor and checked the R&R routine. That looks easy compared to some of the things I've done through the years.

    Did you ever do a rebuild on a Northstar? Rethreading the block alone takes longer than the Porsche clutch job. How about injectors on a 6.0 DIT? There's a reason that we preach "Just say no to 6.0".

    I'd sure go for professional installation--it's a devil of a job, and I'd sure hate to have to do it twice-----12.5 hours labor.

    Again, today this isn't extra-ordinary by any means. Try doing a transaxle on a Toyota 4-Runner. You're dropping the engine, transaxle and final drive out the bottom, and then you have to divorice and re-marry all three at the same time.

    We haven't even touched what the hybrids and now electrics are bringing to the party.

    Did you read the comments under the video simulation of a DM flywheel---everyone hates them!

    There are times that I can tolerate the whiners, but usually I just skip them.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    An engineer who has been working pretty hard to help techs and shop owners make the right decisions for their customers alerted us to this advertisement over the weekend.

    http://www.brakeandfrontend.com/issue/article.aspx?contentid=102226

    Then he asked (and made us go find out on our own) if there was anything notable about it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    edited January 2013
    Well it's the parts prices on the Porsche that hurt...the labor isn't so bad on the 928...something like 6 or 7 hours. But $1000 for a clutch disk (retail) is a bit much. I think the whole job cost me $2200 or so. And $1200 for a radiator and $1600 for a water pump.

    Nope never tackled a Northstar but I've studied the engine and i want no part of working on it, that's for sure.

    As for the 12 hours labor on the MINI, I guess there is labor and there is TEDIOUS labor---you know what I mean---the difference between straightforward R&R and knuckle-busting R&R.

    RE: OIL FILTER --- well, my first reaction was: Given that your average Hyundai already runs 175,000 miles routinely with no engine failure, using "plain ol' oil and filter"---what exactly is the goal here? :confuse:

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,744
    Those Northstars were notorous for leaking oil at the rear where the block mates together. I guess all of the earlier ones do this sooner or later.

    My buddy was quoted someting like 4500.00 to fix his. This would have exceeded the value of his car.

    Luckilly, a delivery truck ran into him and totalled his Cadillac.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    I don't know how feasible it is, not being schooled in engineering, but I'd like to see cars develop more kinds of 'quick-release', engine-out technology, so that the engines and transaxles can be serviced outside the car. We already have a number of FWD cars with "service modes" which allow you to pretty much pull the entire front end off the car, or at least away from the car.

    Electronics disconnects will be tricky, what with all the multi-plexing going on now.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,177
    Pop an engine out and back in? My driver side DRL bulb is out, and I think I'm going to have someone replace it for me.. Looks like the whole air box has to come out. :(

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  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,574
    You have to pull the front bumper on my Mazdaspeed 3 to R&R the xenon low beam bulbs...

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

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,630
    sounds like you just reinvented the VW Beetle. Couldn't 2 guys with a pipe wrench drop the entire drive train in about 1/2 and hour?

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    you have to pull the front bumper on my Mazdaspeed 3 to R&R the xenon low beam bulbs...

    Same thing is true for my son's Acura TL.

    Wonder what I'm going to find when I have to replace the HID bulb in my G37 :sick: .
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    RE: OIL FILTER --- well, my first reaction was: Given that your average Hyundai already runs 175,000 miles routinely with no engine failure, using "plain ol' oil and filter"---what exactly is the goal here

    You might be surprised to learn that many Hyundai engines don't last that long and even for them as the technology gets more exotic, the incidence of failure tends to increase.

    Here is another filter spec sheet.

    http://www.mobil.com/Shared-Files-LCW/mobil-1-ep-oil-filter-design_amer_en.pdf

    If we learn what the differences are and consumers don't, then we get slammed once again.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,432
    1 guy.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    That Mobile 1 filter document you provided the link to looks more like a marketing brochure than a spec sheet.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,744
    I had a guy that worked for me tell me that he could pull a VW Beetle from the parking lot to his stall, install a new clutch (have to remove the engine) and have it reparked in the lot in a half hour.

    I didn't believe him until he did that one day with time to spare.
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