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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,917
    you work on commision or something?

    That is not really a schedule, and not sure where it came from, but it is something. Though the 10K interval is not accurate, at least based on the MM.

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

  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,249
    Afaik, all the Guide info comes from the manufacturer. You could try the Acura Owners site. There's stuff in the '12 TL manual about Maintenance A and Maintenance B (and sub items 1 - 6), and to change the oil every year if the "service due now" message doesn't show up. And there's stuff about other inspections independent of the Maintenance Minder (brake fluid every 3 years, inspect idle speed every 160k, adjust valves during any service if they are noisy).

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    adjust valves during any service if they are noisy

    Makes one wonder who wrote that. Typical valve wear will have the valve faces and seats in the heads wearing the fastest and that means the valves get tighter and make less noise. When they get too tight they can hang open and that causes them to burn and fail. So a little valve noise is actually better than no noise.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,249
    edited February 2013
    Guess whoever wrote the 2012 Acura TL owner's manual wrote that. It's on page 540 of pdf version I downloaded.

    image

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  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,917
    that looks about like what my owners manual has in it.

    I always got a kick out of their "inspect the idle speed" at 160K. Seems very random. First, with a tach, kind of easy to do every day. and by that mileage, who cares?

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

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    edited February 2013
    The mechanic specifically said that the line "wore out "-

    This is worth a little revisit. We can't see the line, so all we have to judge this is experience. As I said earlier here in western Pa, a corroded line would be quite plausible. I've got a feeling that the mechanic in this case didn't have an attorney and defended himself. There are many people who don't communicate well under pressure situations. As simple of an event as this was he may have been a lot more nervous on the inside that was displayed on the outside. Saying that the line wore out leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Had he of had his own lawyer, (assuming again that he didn't) his lawyer would have made him be specific about just what "worn out" meant.

    he acted as if it was almost a consumable part like a rotor or clutch disc.

    They fail and need replaced, heck it's one of the first on the street repairs that I did as a sixteen year old. That AMC Gremlin that I was running around in was only three years old and it lost one of the cooler lines and leaked transmission fluid all over the street. I remember my dad showing me how to use the flaring tool, and the tubing cutter. Then we bought some copper line and transmission fluid and he dropped me off where the car was sitting. The rest was up to me.

    Had he said "The line had corroded and was starting to leak at a thin spot in the tubing."

    He was a mechanic, and likely accepted the failure as common and expected everyone else to know as much about the way they fail as he did. In retrospect he probably should have worded it differently, but thats why he should have had a lawyer represent him. Although that probably would have cost more than replacing the line did.

    I'm going to give this a 75% chance that he got ripped off by the system.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,663
    The manual for my Mazdaspeed 3 states:

    "Audible inspect[sic] every 120,000 km (75,000 miles), if noisy, adjust"

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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,236
    I'm with Doc on that one--I'd rather have the valves a bit noisy (presuming they aren't hydraulic") than have someone attempt to adjust them and make them too tight--which would be a fatal mistake.

    many of these newer cars use a shim method to adjust valves, and so on a V-6 that's going to be pricey, and to no good end whatsoever.

    If they are clattering, sure, but a little tippy-tap noise when cold---just ignore it.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,249
    Nowhere in the manual is "noisy" defined.

    But I'm sure some ultrasupreme dexos46 will quieten things down nicely. :-)

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,236
    As is often the case, unscrupulous repair shops will use irrelevant or harmless noises (tippy-tap valves), or perfectly normal situations, (consuming a pint of oil every 10,000 miles, a "dirty" dipstick, etc) to alarm people into spending money. You can trick the most intelligent person if that person has no expertise in a certain area.

    Conversely, an intelligent car owner with no expertise in cars can drive an honest repair shop crazy with illogical demands.

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  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,663
    If they are clattering, sure, but a little tippy-tap noise when cold---just ignore it.

    You would definitely need a mechanics stethoscope for my Mazdaspeed 3; you can't hear anything over the piezoelectric fuel injectors...

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

  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I agree, plus..bucket and shim systems go way longer between checks. They may be a pain to do when the check indicates it's necessary, but at least they rarely need doing. On bikes (and probably most DOHC car engines too) you can check with cam in place, but many you have to remove the cam in order to actually make an adjustment change.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    edited February 2013
    How.many of.you guys change the oil viscosity to the season? As mentioned earlier my Mazda MPV had a 3.0 duratec engine, rated 200 hp.
    5w-20 suppose to cover all
    Temp ranges. But owners manual says can use 5w-30 in summer, which should offer better engine protection in high heat fora bigger engine correct? Always dealer maintained
    but dealer usually did not write viscosity used. I know lower viscosity helps with mpg. But, as noted earlier, MPV burning oils bit early. Any thoughts?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    You'll notice that the 5W20 is likely approved for all the temperature ranges the car can encounter, and the 5W30 likely starts at a much warmer climate and overlaps the 5W20.

    Ambient temperature is an important consideration when it comes to choosing an oil for cold starts, but it isn't as important for when the engine has reached its operating temperature. That's why both oils are acceptable for year round use, and they are both tested for harsh conditions as well as engine load. Engine load is the more important concern, the harder you work your engine, the hotter the oil gets. That's why the manufacturers specific tests have requirements for 301f (150C) and not just 100C like you usually see published. That 5W20, that meets Mazda's specs (Ford's) will protect your engine just fine.

    Kevin M taught us to realize that a car running around Yuma Arizona when its 130 out during normal use doesn't make an oil as hot as it could get in a truck towing a trailer up an Alaskan mountain in the winter. The correct 5W20 can protect both of them just fine if that's what they call for.

    Always dealer maintained
    but dealer usually did not write viscosity used. I know lower viscosity helps with mpg. But, as noted earlier, MPV burning oils bit early. Any thoughts?


    The manufactuers have been going to thinner oils and while fuel mileage is a consideration, there are a lot more reasons than just that.
    Thicker oil flows slower, and when it gets into some of the very hot places in an engine, it sometimes can be too slow to flow back out of there quick enough. That causes the oil to get overheated. One of the jobs for engine oil is cooling. If an oil hits a hot surface and it flows off very quickly it will pick up heat, but not so much that it gets damaged. Thinner oils do that very well . A thicker oil because its flowing slower can get so hot that it leaves deposits behind from it breaking down. This is what gums up the piston rings and leads to cylinder scoring and finally increased oil consumption.

    For everytime that you have seen someone try to use the defense that the manufacturer would have to prove that the wrong oil was used in an engine to deny a warranty, realize that I just told you one of the things that they will look for and they can analyze the deposits that were left behind that gummed up the rings and prove exactly what happened.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    edited February 2013
    Conversely, an intelligent car owner with no expertise in cars can drive an honest repair shop crazy with illogical demands.

    I'm glad you included that. It can get really bad with unrealistic demands such as when one guy with a Cadillac wanted to run 38psi in his tires. This was early on in the phase in of TPMS and a local shop had done what he requested. The TPMS light came on and besides using the magnet and following the book, they had no idea what to do with the car. They thought that it must have a bad sensor, but couldn't figure it out so they sent it to me. I'm not a tire shop, but I added TPMS tools to my collection right away, and have had to upgrade those tools through the years. (That's about ten grand to date just for TPMS)

    When I started checking the car I quickly found the tires over inflated, and I reset the pressures to specs (30PSI). The light went out. That's when I called the other shop and they told me the guy screamed all over them because he insisted that he was running 38psi in his tires before they were replaced and the light wasn't on, so he's sure they did something wrong to the car. It was easy to find documentation that the light would come on if a tire was under inflated by 25%, but no where was there documentation that explained that the light would come on if a tire was over inflated. There also was no way to change the tire pressure spec in the vehicle system back then either so at that point I was done. The car was later picked up by the still screaming customer, (with the light out, tires correctly inflated) and he still wouldn't believe that there was nothing wrong with the car.

    For my troubles that idiot still bad mouths me and my shop, all because I did a favor N/C and checked his car out for the tire shop.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    Nowhere in the manual is "noisy" defined.
    But I'm sure some ultrasupreme dexos46 will quieten things down nicely


    My Bro-in-law qualifies remarks like that with, "If you cant dazzle-em with brilliance, baffle-em with BS." :P
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    edited February 2013
    I agree, plus..bucket and shim systems go way longer between checks. They may be a pain to do when the check indicates it's necessary, but at least they rarely need doing

    I had the head off of a Sentra late last year. When I got it back from the machine shop, I figured it would be far easier to do the valve adjustment before the head went back on. After getting all of the sizes that I needed I called the dealer and his parts guy replied that they not only didn't have any of the shims, they had never used any. He used his locator and he claimed that there wasn't a single dealer that had a whole set of the shims. The best that he found was a few that each had one or two.

    I called up my machine shop and talked to them about the situation after I had talked to the shop that the dealer uses. Let's just say the machine shop had to be very creative to get the existing shims to work correctly.

    I was glad I chose to address this before I put the head back on.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    the dealer and his parts guy replied that they not only didn't have any of the shims, they had never used any. He used his locator and he claimed that there wasn't a single dealer that had a whole set of the shims. The best that he found was a few that each had one or two.

    Amazing, in that if a customer did have a car that needed adjustments (like your guy's Sentra) that they don't stock the ability to do the job. This speaks to them just throwing it back together with what may had they been the chosen shop to do the job..and probably charge the guy as insult on injury.

    In future, try a few bike shops...they tend to carry pretty good shim stock, and work with each other trading sizes..
    I'm not sure, but I suspect shim overall dimension sizes are probably not much different between car and bike engines? Putting that out as a question, but I think might be the case with similar sized displacement engines and valve trains....or at least bikes that are not tuned super hot with steeper cams and such. Possibly the thinner sizes might be harder to come by for auto use and milder cams?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,236
    The proper weight oil is also important for hydraulic variable valve timing systems.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,778
    Many years ago, I bouught John Muir's book " How to keep your Volkswagen Alive"

    He REALLY stressed the need for me to lie on my back every 3000 miles and do a COLD valve adjustment on my beetle and I did!

    Funny thing, they never needed to be adjusted but I still did it.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,249
    That was a classic, spiral bound to lie flat and everything. Mine seemed to benefit from the valve adjustments.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,778
    That was a great book and fun to read. I passed it along when I sold my VW.

    I think I may have adjusted one valve one time but otherwise they never needed it.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,663
    Amazing, in that if a customer did have a car that needed adjustments (like your guy's Sentra) that they don't stock the ability to do the job.

    And as I mentioned earlier, I know of at least one BMW dealer that never bought the special BMW tool needed to do valve adjustments on the S14 and S38 M motors, even though the SI system called for a valve inspection at @15,000 mile intervals.
    Amazing is right...

    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: 1,524
    I know of at least one BMW dealer that never bought the special BMW tool

    The odd part about that is one would think that would have been an essential tool, and in North America, the franchise agreements were worded in such a way that the dealers don't have a choice in the tool purchases. They get boxes shipped in and the moneys come right out of the dealers bank account. There are lots of dealers with boxes of essential tools that have never been opened.

    That being said, before I went on my own, I was buying lots of tools that the shops that I was working in should have been buying. I had my own jack, and jack stands from my dealership days. I had my own scan tool, and oscilloscope. Heck I even had my own press and shop crane among many other items.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    edited February 2013
    I've had several new customers from check engine lights that were the direct result of the wrong oil in the engine.

    Meanwhile on my blog here is an example of "You can't tell if oil is due to be changed by just looking at it".

    My Mustang, which gets stored each winter had it's last oil change Nov 9th. 2011 since I am teaching in Tennessee this week, we decided to sneak it out of Pa. But I knew I needed to change the oil first. So with almost
    sixteen months and just over 4800 miles on it, here is what it looked like on the dipstick.

    http://johng673.blogspot.com/

    Yep, you cannot tell by just looking at it.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,249
    edited February 2013
    I'm going to give this a 75% chance that he got ripped off by the system.

    After reading this story in the NY Times tonight, I wonder if your estimate is too low (GM "brake lines are so susceptible to rust they may burst").

    The oil myth quote goes "If the oil turns dark or black quickly, it's no good. You can tell the condition of oil by the look, smell or color of it. Dirty (black) motor oil means the oil is breaking down".

    (Big tool sale tonight only at Sears btw).

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    edited February 2013
    The oil myth quote goes "If the oil turns dark or black quickly, it's no good. You can tell the condition of oil by the look, smell or color of it. Dirty (black) motor oil means the oil is breaking down".

    From your quote.

    A common misconception is that high quality motor oil should come out of an engine looking clean at the time of an oil change. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the oil is doing its job of cleaning the engine, then it should be dirty when it is drained

    People read that, and would look at the oil that was still in my Mustang and with no other information think that it was OK to keep running it. The mileage that we put on the car last year was 80% highway miles with one way trips of fifty or more miles. We rode 500 yesterday, and are in Bowling Green Ky. this morning. After touring the Corvette factory and museum today, we will be headed on to Memphis.

    After reading this story in the NY Times tonight, I wonder if your estimate is too low (GM "brake lines are so susceptible to rust they may burst").

    First this isn't a problem with just GM vehicles. Honda, Ford, Chrysler and others all also have brake line corrosion concerns. The lines are fine and probably last the lifetime of the car if you aren't in the rust belt like we are. I have some cars that before we went to the copper-nickle alloy have had some pieces of line replaced more han once. Even the coated lines you can find at the parts stores don 't last. I have one truck that the owner asked me to not only use coated lines, we rust proofed every inch of the lines that I installed. That worked, so far...

    In Pa. we still have state inspections. At one time techs could fail a car if the lines looked bad enough, today we can only fail them if they are leaking, and what happens later that day isn't our problem. On one hand that may seem like it doesn't make any sense, but if we are to fail the lines by what they look like (judgment call) then we can get it wrong both ways and can be held responsible. Think about it, we could condemn a line, only to have it last another year or more, (we would be rip-offs selling unneccesary work) and we could not condemn that same line only to have it fail later that day (now we are incompetent, or must have done something to the line to make it fail). The facts are, you just cannot tell by looking at them. The best we can do is show the customer, and tell them they need to plan on dealing with them, but we are not allowed to fail them. As watered down as the state inspection program has gotten to be, I wouldn't be surprised if it eventually goes away completely in the near future.

    Some of the notable experiences are lines that have failed while we had a customers vehicle in for another repair. One was a Ford truck with a powerstroke diesel driveability problem. I was doing my baseline tests, which included an automated test that requires me to hold the vehicle with the brakes and a line burst in the shop. I was moments from going out on the road with the truck. That's one of those "I got good news, and I got bad news phone calls" for that customer. The bad news is of course that the line failed, the good news is that they didn't experience the loss of the brakes themselves. With me behind the wheel, its my insurance if an accident had actually occurred, but its also my driving skills and attention to detail that are tested to try and prevent an accident. No one has ever questioned needing the lines replaced and usually feel bad that their car put me in that position. To me its just part of the job, and I feel better knowing that my customer didn't have that frightening experience.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    After reading this story in the NY Times tonight, I wonder if your estimate is too low (GM "brake lines are so susceptible to rust they may burst").

    BTW. GM and Chrysler both had so many tranny line problems, they sell factory bent replacements cheaper than I can make new lines from bulk.
    Don't forget fuel lines in this too. You should see what it might take to do a simple fuel filter replacement, you could get into doing every brake and fuel line on a car as they fail the moment they are disturbed.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,249
    edited February 2013
    Well, you know what they say, "Just because an oil isn't light, it doesn't mean that it is safe to continue to run in your engine." :shades:

    I've never lived in the rust belt until we moved to the UP three winters ago. The amount of road salt they use up here is just amazing, compared to my AK experience at least. It took ~15 years before I had to start rattle-canning the lower door areas of my Tercel up there. My Idaho rides were old but pretty pristine after the decade in Boise but they are rusting now.

    Pennsylvania likes to tout their auto inspections and toss out stats about how much safer the cars are there. I have my doubts, but I'm not surprised to hear that the program may go away. People tend to hate those inspection programs.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    Big tool sale tonight only at Sears btw

    Did you know that Craftsman tools that were bought with the full lifetime warranty aren't guaranteed anymore if I go to the store with my work shirt on? Of course I don't have and use many of them anymore,since my box has mostly Snap-On and Matco tools in it. The majority of the craftsman stuff that I do have has been taken home to use on the garden tractor and around the house. I still break one on occasion when I do use them. It doesn't seem right that they can discriminate against professional mechanics when it comes to the warranty.
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