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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    It was a brilliant move for AutoZone to drive traffic to their stores with free code reading. The manufacturers just need to shortcut that process so we don't have to leave our own garages.


    There is perception, and then there is reality. Today AutoZone shows up and puts up a great big booth at the aftermarket trade shows and tries to talk to shop owners and techs about doing business with them. The top shops and techs walk right past them. We don't buy parts off of them because of their past (and in some cases still present) practices. Auto Zones in California got busted and paid significant fines for their claims of performing diagnostics and now no longer offer that in their stores in that state.

    Ford and the rest are supposed to have a fleet of service ready techs already - they are called dealer franchise employees.

    I've been here for more than a year now trying to make people aware of what is really going on. I'm really starting to believe that it's been a waste of my time.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 17,713
    >freight up nice older cars and get them completely rehabbed off-shore from the frame up. Bring 'em back and resell them.

    So for a car under warranty with problems, one just selects a similar replacement from the stock of remanufactured cars at the local area dealers, turns in their bad lemon/egg, and drives away. Then their car goes to China, cheap repair work off-shored there, and the car comes back. I'd say buy stock in the shipping lines.

    This message has been approved.

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,983
    edited November 2012
    In the future, just the "skateboard" chassis will get send back to the factory for rehab.

    Cardoc, I've seen stories about California shutting down AutoZone and the other parts stores and preventing them from pulling codes.

    Sounds like protectionism to me; the US dealer lobby is strong everywhere and this is likely another example of a way the car dealers and existing shops try to protect their sales by shutting down competition. Of course, being California, they have an agency to regulate the auto shops and "protect" consumers.

    At least ODBII readers are getting cheap enough so that Californians can pull their own codes and then head to AutoZone for a new O2 sensor.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    I've seen stories about California shutting down AutoZone and the other parts stores and preventing them from pulling codes.

    Sounds like protectionism to me


    They were cited for seeling parts that the customer didn't need, and others that didn't repair the problem with the car. Essentially it was a version of the same kind of a sting operation that Edmunds was involved in with NBC last year only this was carried out by the California Bureau of Auto Repair.

    So if they were out to protect someone, it was the consumer, not auto techs and shops.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,983
    Maybe Shifty can fill in the blanks, but my understanding is that no auto parts store in California can pull codes for customers.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 17,713
    >So if they were out to protect someone, it was the consumer, not auto techs and shops.

    I'll take the protectionism aspect as a large reason as well. Indeed, dealership lobbies are very strong here in Ohio as well. Even to the point of having a law that seems to add on $250 in fees to a sale as a documentation fee. But I read fairly well and I read the revised code and found it applied to paperwork for "time" transactions which means a fee for selling a loan to the buyer. It did not apply in full necessarily nor did it apply at all to cash sales to buyers. But the stores try to use the idea they have to charge one and all the same "documentation fee."

    I'll have to ask if the local Autozone pulls codes.

    This message has been approved.

  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,917
    From what I have seen and heard about old scooters that are "restored" in the less developed world and then sent over by the dozen, I can't say I would want an old car that had been treated similarly. Penny wise and pound foolish at best.
  • "They were cited for selling parts that the customer didn't need, and others that didn't repair the problem with the car."

    Well THAT would put just about every dealership in America in jail.... :P

    I wish the government would hold themselves to THAT high standard...

    RE: AUTOZONE TESTING---in California, it's "in-store" testing only, not testing on the car. So i think you can bring your alternator in, but not the whole car.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    The attempts to claim that online advice or guesses can replace the experience of a properly trained technician have gone on for so long that many consumers now believe that there is merit to the attempt.

    A 2010 Fusion was towed to the shop yesterday. While it was still on the way there the owner showed up and announced that she knew exactly what was wrong with the car because it lurched, then the wrench light came on in the instrument cluster and then it wouldn't accelerate.

    Now if you want to look up the TSB related to the trouble code P2111 go right ahead and you will see the Fusion listed, with the 2.0l engine, plus you will see cut-off dates that before and after which the TSB doesn't apply. Her engine is the 2.5l, so the TSB doesn't apply. So why did her car shut down on her stall and wouldn't restart? There is a charging system issue and she was driving on the battery until the car simply lost power and quit. She had low system voltage codes stored in the IPC, ABS, PCM, FICM, FIDM, SRS, (which also lost comm with the OCS) and the GEM/SJB. She does not have any codes set for Genmon, and Gencom circuits.
    After charging the battery no problems were detected with the charging system, the alternator was charging at 14.3v, and could be commanded down to 12.6v, and then up to 14.6v.

    She drives the car about eight miles to and from work.

    There was a P2111 stored in the PCM's memory, it was not an active code.
    You have one shot to diagnose and fix the car, what are you going to do? (and I even spotted you codes from modules that you wouldn't have been able to retrieve with any tool other than the Ford IDS)

    http://www.arcamax.com/automotive/automotivenews/s-1237662

    Another tech found this article sunday. I already sent the author an e-mail with direct links to show him where to get up to date information.

    Substituting a 5W30 for a 5W20 can result in piston and cylinder wall scoring, micro-welding of the piston rings, deposits forming in the ring lands which leads to the rings sticking and excessive oil consumption. It causes variable valve timing system response errors which will in turn cause the PCM to shut that system down and generate a MIL resulting in a loss of fuel economy and/or power. Approved 5W20 products have a significantly lower volatility than non approved versions. Typically a bulk 5W30, will use high levels of ZDDPs, (which degrade O2 sensors and catalysts) while approved products have to use other additives that cost a little more but are actually more effective because they don't flash off and go out the tailpipe in the first 500 miles after the oil was changed. Pricing pressure and advertising helps make the company mentioned in the article get a larger market share but it's based on a lack of proper consumer education. Then in this case even a high school automotive instructor who wrote that article is a decade behind with his education on this subject.

    That's just about par for online advice in both of these examples. Given enough chances someone just might guess what was wrong with the Fusion, but this job isn't about guessing, it's about education and taking a disciplined approach to test the vehicle correctly, each and every time. When there is no trouble found initially, it often demands patience and some creative thinking in order to figure out how to test so that the source of the trouble can be found.

    A 2002 Lincoln was brought to the my shop by another shop. The Check Engine light is on. The customer reports that the car is "slow to start".

    What I observed. His slow to start means that it cranks, and cranks, and cranks and then might finally fire up. You can turn the key off and then re-crank the engine during the attempts to start the car, you can try manipulating the throttle with nothing appearing to actually help. (it's not even trying to fire) It simply just starts when it can finally start. How would you diagnose this one? Do you have a plan or do you just want to guess and throw parts at it? Oh, I should mention it's already had four attempts at google guesses and they all failed to fix this to the tune of $700 that he has already spent. The other shop found that out and decided they didn't even want involved and simply scheduled the car with me for tuesday morning. I had to move it from where it was parked and got to observe the described condition before we went home monday.

    FWIW, I'll have about fifteen seconds to try to completely diagnose the issue, that was how long it cranked before it started for me. That should easily be enough time.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Substituting a 5W30 for a 5W20 can result in piston and cylinder wall scoring, micro-welding of the piston rings, deposits forming in the ring lands which leads to the rings sticking and excessive oil consumption. It causes variable valve timing system response errors which will in turn cause the PCM to shut that system down and generate a MIL resulting in a loss of fuel economy and/or power

    You're saying that using an oil with more VI improvers in it can cause all those things you mentioned - everything else in the oil being the same?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    You're saying that using an oil with more VI improvers in it can cause all those things you mentioned - everything else in the oil being the same?

    The confusion starts with the assumption that "everything else" about the two oils "is the same". Then it goes downhill from there at a rapid pace. The use of the word "approved" while I may not have written in every sentence is a very important part of this.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited November 2012
    You said "substituting a 5W-30 for a 5W-20 [oil]...". Most readers would assume that the only difference in those two oils is the VI numbers - that both are "approved".

    And I agree that the term "approved" is most important.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,452
    edited November 2012
    Why would someone bring a 201 Fusion into your shop while it is still under factory warranty? and BTW, there's no such thing as a Fusion with a 2.0 until 2013.
    Regarding the Lincoln, you must be a real softy for Fords, otherwise I can't see anyone feeling as obligated as you to fix it, other than Henry himself. :)
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,983
    Maybe the runner from the Ford dealer drove it over when their service department couldn't get it working. :D
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    The bulletin isn't clear which engines are in which cars, but it does include a 2.0 engine in the bulletin, and it does not include a 2.5.

    Why would someone bring a 201 Fusion into your shop while it is still under factory warranty

    It still has some warranty on some emissions components, but there are a lot of things that the warranty has expired on. The customer bought this car from Enterprise a little over a year ago. It's got 68K on it.

    Regarding the Lincoln, you must be a real softy for Fords, otherwise I can't see anyone feeling as obligated as you to fix it, other than Henry himself

    I own a few of them.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Maybe the runner from the Ford dealer drove it over when their service department couldn't get it working.

    Not this time, but it has happened a few times in the past, and not just with Fords.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,452
    edited November 2012
    I kind of figured the Fusion was out of warranty.
    You didn't mention what model Lincoln it is.
    Conti, LS, Navi, Town Car?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Continental.

    So I'm a little torn. Do I go ahead and and explain each of the diagnostics and the repairs right now or should I wait a little longer to see if the googlers want to try and make their guesses?

    By taking the time and testing correctly the repairs were both quite simple, although there was more than one thing wrong with each of them and you do have to get all of the faults found or the car or it "would come back" and to that customer "you don't know what your doing". They may even decide that your not capable of solving the problem and want their money back for what you did do.

    Tell you what, we can imagine that you actually did do some testing, whether you tried to rely on google or not. I'll wait a day and will answer up to three questions on each car. You'll have to ask the right questions but since there are several of you that could be a dozen or more questions from which I can choose from to answer. Now either google really works for diagnosing vehicle problems and you can do this or it doesn't.

    Steve if you want, I'll email the answers to you, just don't open then email untill after we play this out.

    If enough people try to work through these broken cars, I may even carry this further and answer a few more questions, provided they resemble testing and not guessing.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    OK, I'll bite.

    You said the 2002 Lincoln (this is the one that's hard starting, right?) had several parts replaced already to the tune of $700 before it was brought to your shop.

    Well, if it’s not trying to fire at all, my guess would be no spark or fuel. If you have both of those, then it should least try to do something. So I would first check to see if I have spark, then see if I’m getting fuel to the fuel rails (weak fuel pump?).
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,983
    edited November 2012
    Steve if you want, I'll email the answers to you

    No thanks, just tell me what all 6,000 sensors say.

    Oh, there's only 40 sensors in the car?

    Well, there's your problem right there.

    "Smarter machines, for example, can alert their human handlers when they will need maintenance, before a breakdown. It is the equivalent of preventive and personalized care for equipment, with less downtime and more output.

    “These technologies are really there now, in a way that is practical and economic,” said Mark M. Little, G.E.’s senior vice president for global research.

    Today, G.E. is putting sensors on everything, be it a gas turbine or a hospital bed."

    Looking to Industry for the Next Digital Disruption (NY Times)

    It won't be long until your safety glasses will be telling you that your attention is lagging and to go take a break. (Wall St Journal)
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