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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    They might fail occasionally due to manufacturing defects, but rarely due to oil problems or filter problems. If it's not a factory defect, then it's usually owner neglect.

    If you buy a brand name filter and use synthetic oil, you're fine. All the rest is marketing hype IMO. Fear-based.

    I've had more cars than birthdays, and I've never blown up an engine. Why? Am I special? Blessed? A genius?

    No. I just take really good care of my cars.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,049
    edited January 2013
    I've never blown up an engine (unless losing a few headgaskets on my '89 Voyager under warranty counts) and I use whatever is on sale at NAPA or Walmart. Regular SuperTech and Frams usually.

    We have been tire-kicking new cars for years now but that's part of the dread on the flip side - special oils, more complications, more stuff to break. If Thecardoc has to spend so much time keeping up, what's a poor slob like me supposed to do? (not to mention I'm an hour or two away from a dealer).

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    Until this oil filter company benches tests engines for extended mileages and shows marked and measurable difference in internal wear, fully documented and peer-reviewed, I'm not buying their "new" product.

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,797
    I need some serious facts to make me switch from the Motorcraft FL-1A I've using in my Mustang for the last 21 years.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    This could all be "scientific" JU-JU...in other words, the marketing department takes some very credible sounding "fact", like...oh, I don't know...something like "our filter will screen out particles down to X microns".......and you say to yourself "Wow....X microns".

    The problem is that your engine doesn't CARE, nor is affected, by particles the size of neutrons....really, it doesn't....... :P They will just gladly bounce around in suspension until your next oil change.

    After all, engine and cam bearings do not touch---there is space between them, and plenty of room for a neutron or heaven forbid, something even bigger.

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  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,621
    I use Mobil 1 filters exclusively on my Wrangler's 4.0- primarily because Advance Auto has a promotion every few months where you get a good deal on 5 quarts of M1 and they throw in a M1 filter for next to nothing. I do stick with OEM filters on my BMWs and Mazda.

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

  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,797
    edited January 2013
    My '02 Explorer had 133k on it, and I have never changed the oil.
    I let the dealer do it every 5k and rotate the tires at the same time.
    It costs me between $40 and $50, depending if I have a discount coupon or not.
    I just changed the drive belt on my Honda Snow blower.
    If I admitted to my mistakes, CarDoc03 would sent me to the wood shed for a whuppin.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    This could all be "scientific" JU-JU...in other words, the marketing department takes some very credible sounding "fact", like...oh, I don't know...something like "our filter will screen out particles down to X microns".

    Nice! You're on the right track.

    The problem is that your engine doesn't CARE, nor is affected, by particles the size of neutrons....really, it doesn't.......

    But there is a particle size that getting larger than it can cause significant issues. That size is widley accepted to be 20 microns.

    So these filters advertise that they are almost 100% effective at particles 1/3rd larger than the permissible size. How effective are they at the 20 micron size, and how many grams of debris can they hold before they are forced to bypass?

    I wonder who's filter sheet I should link next? You really need to look at the specs for some of the $1.99 filters out there.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    If I admitted to my mistakes, CarDoc03 would sent me to the wood shed for a whuppin

    LOL. You should see what it takes to do a head gasket on some of today's engines.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    This is hard for me to read and I'm not talking about the writing skills of the technicians.

    http://www.indeed.com/forum/job/automotive-technician/AUTOMOTIVE-TECHNICAINS-DON- T-GET-PAID-WELL/t32112

    I know first hand that the complaints you see them voicing there are not exaggerations.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    A sad tale indeed---although I do take issue with the one tech who blames the PUBLIC for his low wages! SAY WHAT?!!! The logic of that escapes me.

    I did an interesting experiment the other day---I made a list of my favorite repair shops in San Rafael, California (the ones I respect). They are all doing well, which is one reason they are my favorites---they 've been around a long time so I've gotten to know them.

    Anyway, I then matched the list with reviews on YELP, and guess what? All 4 and 5 star raves.

    Then I made a list of shops that I would never bring my car to, or recommend---and the YELP reviews were horrendous.

    So it seems to me, that at least in part, the success and prosperity of the shop, especially in these days of the Internet, are very closely allied to customer satisfaction.

    And I might add, these favorite shops of mine are NOT cheap!

    CAVEAT: These are not general repair shops, but specialty shops.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,762
    I think years ago in another forum we talked about the old Frantz filters that used a roll of toilet paper.

    At the time they claimed you never had to change your oil again nor did you have to change your regular filter.

    Just put a new roll of toilet paper every 2000 miles.

    Anyone else remember those?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,762
    Yes, that was hard to read and sadly this reflects the way most techs still in the business feel.

    When I was in the mobile tool business I often was able to recruit some quality people who were simply tired of making little money for working so hard.

    Another factor to consider that it's a physically demending job. More so than most people realize and you don't see many guys working the line once they hit their mid 40's.

    These same guys will often do their best to discourage the younger guys from going into the business.

    I wonder what the Vo-Tech schools are doing enrollment wise.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    A sad tale indeed---although I do take issue with the one tech who blames the PUBLIC for his low wages! SAY WHAT?!!! The logic of that escapes me.

    The fact that he is always free to quit being a technician and go do something else for a living his wages are his fault. Otherwise I do know what he is referring to.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    I wonder what the Vo-Tech schools are doing enrollment wise

    The school that I am teaching at last night and tonight isn't doing well at all. In fact the instructor there is planning on retiring at the end of this year and they don't even have a stong candidate to replace him. One of the other schools in the area is likely going to be giving up one of there instructors to fill the slot and their program is struggling so much that it can't place any of their kids into internships.

    You can read the writing on the wall simply by looking at what is happening when it comes to maintaining the shops equipment, the superintendent won't spend any money on the shop, not a penny.

    Heck come the end of the school year we might be looking for a location to hold our classes.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    edited January 2013
    If you go to my facebook page you will find a pressure transducer waveform from cylinder #2 on this car. Another shop sent it to me because it was setting misfire codes on all four cylinders on the RH bank, and they had already tested the compression, replaced all of the spark plugs and even swapped the coils and injectors side to side and nothing made a difference at all.

    Using the pressure transducer it's very clear to see that the RH camshaft is retarded some 22 degrees causing in effect to much exhaust gasses to be trapped in the cylinders and that's killing combustion. In many ways it's like an EGR valve that is stuck open, which is why they misfired at idle, but under certain engine speeds and throttle openings, would start to contribute and the engine ran pretty strong. The diagnosis is the cam gear has come loose and is turning on the camshaft. Luckily this simply needs reset in time and hasn't done mechanical damage to the valve train.

    I had another that car we diagnosed just before the end of the day tuesday. A 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe for the transmission stuck in first gear and the speedometer reading between 0 and maybe up to 6mph on occasion, but mostly just 0. Someone else had already been throwing speed sensors at it with no success. The testing was straight forwards, after confirming the reported issue and watching the scan data also showed no input (or at least incorrect input) from the VSS (Vehicle Speed Sensor) I disconnected the sensor and attached the oscilloscope and confirmed a good sensor output of some 12v AC peak to peak. When I re-connected the sensor I had 0v with the scope back probing the connection. That means that something is grounding the circuit and the voltage that the sensor is producing is simply not able to be seen by the PCM. To prove if it was the harness or not I disconnected the PCM and using channel B of my scope I connected to the VSS signal on pins 20 and 21 of the PCM's green connector. Now when I turned the wheels by hand I could see a signal from the VSS both at the sensor where it was back-probed and at the PCM's connector, and the two signals were identical. Reconnecting the connector to the PCM revealed no signal again. The grounding of the signal was confirmed to be occurring insde the PCM and it will need to be replaced to repair the vehicle.

    The customer paid for the diagnostics and took his truck stating that he would be back later this month to have the repair done. I'll upload the VSS signal capture to my facebook page as well.

    http://www.facebook.com/john.gillespie.127648
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    Gee, it got quiet in here all of a sudden. :shades:

    When it comes to high tech testing and diagnostic routines, using a pressure transducer like this is way up there, but it's not the only one that we(I) use on a regular basis. No doubt however this was something that is pretty new for everyone else here and many have likely never seen this demonstrated. All I can really say about that is there is a lot more where that came from and if you really think about just how much education and training, and experience goes into preparing to perform at the highest levels in this trade then we shouldn't have to deal with the perception that anyone can buy a cheap code puller and be ready to do our job anymore.

    I did see an email that someone posted what appeared to be an add for a carbon cleaning system. No doubt adds like that deserve to be cut from here, too bad however that some of what would be mentioned in that add would be good information that needs expanded on, while some of it would deserve to have someone tear it up because of the misrepresentations that they often push. There have been many shop owners who have seen these systems advertised and been told that they can buy these machines, sell the services they provide and employ a less expensive technician to perform the services and make their customers happier. They push their sales pitches in a manner that suggests that it is state of the art training, so in essence the shop owners get scammed by many of these machine sales-people. The machines have their place in the shop, and there are vehicles that will benefit from the services they can provide but it takes a real technician to evaluate when it is time and make the proper reccomendation. The carbon cleaning machine is just another extension of "Can you put it on the machine and have it tell you what is wrong" myth. It's no different than pushing the idea that all you need to do is pull a code and you can know what part to throw at a car. Meanwhile top techs are using the kinds of tools and skills that the Jaguar required and the "experts" had no idea that it was even possible to do.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,049
    Gee, it got quiet in here all of a sudden.

    Well, when you said "The grounding of the signal was confirmed to be occurring insde the PCM and it will need to be replaced to repair the vehicle", I didn't think you'd appreciate being called a parts swapper. ;)

    The post about the car engine carbon cleaning system was from a gentleman from China and was removed for soliciting. I guess it's like the power flush push a while back (a way to flush one's wallet).

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    I didn't think you'd appreciate being called a parts swapper

    LOL... The funny thing is he took the diagnosis and left. So who knows if I'll ever get to earn the full value of the effort that was provided.

    The post about the car engine carbon cleaning system was from a gentleman from China and was removed for soliciting. I guess it's like the power flush push a while back (a way to flush one's wallet).

    When performed for the right reasons, it is a valuable and necessary service. When it's done for the wrong reasons it is wallet flushing. JMHO.
    The biggest problem however is when a third party without any real training and experience tries to guess as to whether it was properly advised or not.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,049
    Twenty years ago people would just take their cars out to the highway and stomp on the gas and "blow them out". Seems like diesel owners still do that ("blow their noses").

    Next up will be particulate capturing gizmos for gas engines similar to what's required on diesels now. That's fine, assuming the soot gets that far as combustion occurs in your engine.

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  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    The post about the car engine carbon cleaning system was from a gentleman from China and was removed for soliciting. I guess it's like the power flush push a while back (a way to flush one's wallet)

    Or like those makers of N2 equipment who push nitrogen in tires :P !

    Flame away !
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    Or like those makers of N2 equipment who push nitrogen in tires

    First I'll say that I put about 78% pure nitrogen in every tire that I fill. :shades:

    However, there are specific circumstances that the proponents of the systems have going in their favor.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,762
    I once watched an old timer decarbon a Chevy V-8 with water.

    He carefully sprinkled water into the carburator while he held the linkage open.

    I honestly thought it would blow up, oh, the noise it made and you should have seen what came out the tailpipe.

    Afterwards, the compression was restored and the engine purred like a kitten!
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,049
    I see similar claims for stuff like Seafoam nowadays.

    If it's smoking like a fiend, it must be working.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    That's because there is, in fact, a scientific basis for what he did. Water injection, properly done, can decarbonize a combustion chamber; however, pouring water in an engine, hit or miss, with guessimates, is risky. I don't know if you've ever witnessed "hydrolock", but it ain't pretty ! :cry:

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    Before I forget, I was talking about reviews of various repair shops.

    I would suggest that whenever a shop owner or mechanic posts complaints online about customers, the 'business", etc, that the reader check out his reviews online.

    If his reviews are all bad, and he's online whining like a baby, maybe it IS time for him to leave the game---for everyone's sake, including his own health.

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  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,310
    >specific circumstances that the proponents of the systems have going in their fa

    Are those for tires on passenger cars? I know some points of supposed benefits for long use tires such as truck tires.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    Well it's like any other "claim". If it were actually true, then we should be able to see actual lab tests where tires with nitrogen in them lasted longer than the tires in the control group.

    In other words, not just some scientific "theory" that sounds good (e.g., and I'm just making this up---"nitrogen, unlike oxygen, does not react with the molecules of.....blah blah...).

    There are principles of science that can be quoted, and which ARE true, but in reality they often don't matter in a given situation.

    The latest psuedo-scientific craze is trying to explain our everyday reality by "quantum mechanics".

    I don't think that the claims for nitrogen are any more provable than the claims made in a cat food commercial. At least I have yet to see this proof.

    I remain optimistically skeptical. :P

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  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    There are principles of science that can be quoted, and which ARE true, but in reality they often don't matter in a given situation

    Yep, that's my take on the N2-in-passenger-tires debate. There are circumstances (Space Shuttle, jet fighters and passenger airlines, off-road mining equipment, race cars) where the limited benefits of N2 in tires make sense. But the benefits of N2 for the general driving public is minimal, and not worth it IMM if one has to pay $5+ for the N2 fill up.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,730
    since it came up, there was a wheeler dealers episode on not too long ago where they demo'd a engine cleaning system. I think they were working on a Cobra kit car with a Chebby V8.

    anyway, serious looking contraption, with a few different inputs (a series of chemicals, etc. to use). Took a fair amount of time I think, but at least based on the before and after emissions run Edd did, it made a huge difference. Supposedly ran better too afterwards, which makes some kind of sense I guess!

    Can't recall the name of the system, but it did not look cheap.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (mine)

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