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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,530
    edited February 2013
    Guess they don't want their tools to be "used" but yeah, I have seen a lot of products disclaim the warranty for professional or commercial use. Most recently the in-laws' electric blanket (not for motel use).

    Sears should rename the sets to Wannabe Mechanic's Tool Kits.

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    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    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.

    Safer cars, safer roads

    There is only a little pressure to kill the program right now, however there is some activity to try and amend the emissions testing that we do. The emissions program is tied into the safety inspections in that, you cannot get a safety sticker until you satisfy the requirments of the emissions program. Sen Elder Vogel wants up to a ten year exemption on the emissions testing because in hs opinion there just aren't enough broken cars that it gets credit for being repaired. IMO all someone would have to do is add an amendment to that bill to kill the safety program and it will all fall in a hurry.

    There is both good and bad in that, the bad side is that there are quite a number of shops who's existence relies on the inspection program. A lot of those won't be able to change direction fast enough to stay viable without it. They do a lot of good, and necessary repairs, but the loss of the program would have some customers putting some of these repairs off for a long period of time. That is until fate finally catches up with those vehicle owners. The shops would need to drastically cut expenses and IMO the shops don't have the cash reserves to wait out the lul in vehicle traffic. Then by the time the consumer does get forced by the car itself to have something done, we will have the classic situation where the repairs cost more than the value of the car and that will hurt them more at that point in time then all of the repairs strung out over a larger time period would have.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,694
    So Sears is admitting that the wrenches and sockets that the sell aren't professional quality?

    When I worked for Sears, they didn't do that.

    Still, if people saw the abuse some tools take they wouldn't believe it.

    The pros didn't want to hear the word "abuse" but so often it applied.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,847
    Sears is just admitting what every mechanic already knows. :)

    You want to break every knuckle on your right hand? Just put a lot of torque on an open-end Craftsman wrench.

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    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.

    Well, that's exactly what SC did several years ago. Annual car safety inspection was required, but the price was state-regulated, yet the state kept adding on inspection requirements. Finally, it became impossible to find any shop willing to spend the time to do an inspection, since they lost money on every single one.

    That forced the state to do away with the inspections.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,477
    edited February 2013
    You want to break every knuckle on your right hand? Just put a lot of torque on an open-end Craftsman wrench.

    In December I broke a 1/2" to 3/8" Craftsman adapter trying to loosen the lug bolts on my wife's car when I was installing the winter tires/wheels. It dated back to the '80s, so it can't be blamed on being made in China...

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

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,694
    No, it can be blamed on using the wrong tool for the job.

    Very common tool to break and for good reason!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,461
    How do you know it needed to be replaced?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,461
    Yeah, I'm always a little nervous about using a 1/2" to 3/8" adapter, and just for that reason. You can put a whole pile of torque on that little 3/8" socket (& adapter) that it couldn't possibly see through use of a 3/8" ratchet (without the use of a breaker bar).

    I have such an adapter and do use it on occasion, but do so with care. Heck, I've broken lug nut wrenches trying to loosen their namesakes. I wouldn't dream of using a 3/8" socket! :surprise:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,461
    I'm not real picky about the brand, but I do make a point to buy my tools US-made. I don't know for certain whether they're better, but I'll support industry in my own country where I can.

    Tools are one type of purchase where I expect that it should be a once-in-a-lifetime event. For me, that's turned out to be twice-in-a-lifetime, as apparently someone else needed my tools more than me about fifteen years ago. C'est la vie.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,477
    I wouldn't dream of using a 3/8" socket!

    Well, I've used it since the '80s, primarily for wheel changes- and I typically applied 65-95 lb-ft of torque. I ended up buying a 1/2 inch drive 17 mm impact socket and a longer breaker bar- but my next garage purchase will be an 18V cordless impact wrench- it should save my back and be more convenient in the pits.

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

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,694
    I hate hearing stories of people getting their tools ripped off.

    In the "old days" they used to hang horse thieves because they were basically stealing a person's liveihood. No difference between that and stealing a man's tools.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,847
    Sorry to interrupt for a moment, but when you have a chance, please stop by our new "Forums Future" discussion and tell us what you like, and do not like, about our current forums, and how we might improve them when we implement new software! Mr. S thanks you, and please continue.

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,461
    Darn straight. It took me a couple weeks before I wasn't walking around livid all the time. My wife (fiancee at the time) still married me though, so I must have toned it down within a reasonable time frame. :blush:

    Many of those tools I had purchased with summer jobs in middle and high school, though, so I had a lot of investment in them, even if the total dollars lost was "only" about $1,500 or so.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    I know a few techs who have lived through the nightmare of having their tools get stolen or lost in a shop fire and it isn't a pretty picture. Its rare for a shop to insure its employees tools. There are a few that do, but they are the exception. The average senior technician will easily have over $50,000 in his tools. Some might think that the techs home owners insurance will cover the tools and in fact with a rider to do so and an accurate inventory list on file with the agent, they do, provided the tools are at the techs home.

    Insurance companies play games too. If I suffered a complete loss, they will cover about $160,000 for my tools but only if I am replacing them. My actual loss would be over $300K retail today.

    The most ignorant of all of the stories would be about a technician who's tools were stolen while he worked at a dealership. The dealership of course required the techs to have their own tools, and they didn't provide any insurance for the techs tools. He didn't have the money to replace his tools and subsequently lost his job over it! A bunch of us got together and each chipped in with anything that we had duplicates of and we got him reasonably set up, and even helped him find another job but nothing was really going to ever erase the hurt he experienced.

    There was an attempted break in at my shop last fall. The alarm system scared off who-ever was trying to break in, and since I work on all of the local policeman's personal cars, they responded to the call in a big hurry. Still, its always a concern. :(
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    So we are on our way back home from the work that I did in Memphis. We stopped into a truck stop and took a short break from the road. While I was waiting for my wife I took a minute to check out some of the products on the shelf. The Kendall Liquid Titanium 5W30 bottle caught my eye, so I looked to see what it said on the back.

    API SN, ILSAC GF5. OK, that's the current standards. Then it had Chrysler MS6395 (T). Now that's excellent, they specified the exact rating that they met and it is the newest Chrysler specification. They had the Ford WSS M2930-B. Then they showed "GM 4718M (obsolete)". I put the GM spec in quotations here because they are open about the fact that the specification is no longer in effect by listing it as obsolete. However, the fact that it meets the Chrysler MS6395 "T" actually means it really does exceed that obsolete GM spec. But at the same time, it did not say dexos1 anywhere on the bottle. There was nothing on that stores shelf that had the dexos1 label on the front of the bottle. There were other products that met the API 5W30 and they weren't even all SN.

    If a GM vehicle owner that requires dexos1 had to add oil, that Kendall was the best choice, especially since it meets the newest Chrysler spec. But they made it very clear that it isn't approved for the dexos1 specification. So this morning I checked and guess what, there is a brand new list for dexos licensed products. (Feb 20th 2013) Kendall does not have one. Now the next time you are out at the store, compare what you see on the back of their bottle, to what you find on other products.

    http://www.gmdexos.com/licensed brands/dexos1licensedbrands.html

    When consumers, shops, and techs understand how to choose the correct products for given cars, they will find the correct products on the store shelves.

    BTW, there were no products suitable for any of the European vehicles on that store's shelf.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited February 2013
    Doc,

    This short video of a runaway acceleration event was on the CNN website yesterday. Being a mechanic that has a better understanding of the interaction between the many components on modern cars, I would like to get your opinion on what you think happened.

    Personally, I find it difficult to believe so many sub-systems could fail simultaneously....

    The family has secured the services of an attorney...

    http://www.cnn.com/video/standard.html#/video/us/2013/02/27/dnt-teen-out-of-cont- - rol-car.wfaa
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,694
    Doc,

    Do you REALLY think using an "incorrect" otherwaise quality oil would affect the life of a car's engine one twit over 200,000 miles?

    Assuming it's changed on time of course.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,847
    I'd certainly take a 2-1 bet that it wouldn't matter at all. I'd ask for odds just to sting the purists a little harder when I win :P

    Of course, the problem with such a scenario is that there are a lot of other things that can affect an engine over 200,000 miles.

    I would take a bet, though, that I could put a premium oil, without regard to specification, in my car, and drive it for 30,000 miles without incident and without ever changing it--topping it off of course, and swapping out the filter.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,694
    I totally agree with you but I couldn't bear to leave oil in a car for 30,000 miles!

    I still remember the "Pennzoil" engines from the old days. After beating the valve covers off with a rubber mallet you couldn't even see the rocker arms!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,324
    Just like the Toyota incidents, I don't buy it. Shifter locked out, brakes failing to respond, and accelerator broken at full throttle position ... all at once. And I assume, although not mentioned, e-brake cable broken, too.

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

  • boomchekboomchek Vancouver, BC, CanadaPosts: 5,108
    I'm not a mechanic but I assume these systems are not connected to each other through one computer?

    Worst case scenario he shold have been able to activate the e-brake although at those speeds it might have done very little and totally burnt the rear brakes.

    What about just turning the key off?

    And lastly he could have slowed down by gently scraping the middle divider until friction would cause him to stop?

    On a somewhat related side note back in 1997 when I had my new 1997 Civic back then with a 5 speed manual an odd thing happened to me a few times.

    I started the car in neutral, and suddenly my ABS and CEL lights came on and when I attempted to press the clutch it would not press, instead making a grinding noise. Transmission was in neutral, the clutch pedal would press in only about 1/2 inch before making the grinding noise (it was not like the gears were grinding, it was another weird noise), and nothing I could do to put the car in gear. I always thought the clutch was fully mechanical and independent of any components, mechanical or electronic so it was weird what caused it to be stuck. The dealer could never replicate the problem and it happened only twice or three times over the 4 years I had the car. After that incident in a way I believe that sometimes mechanical parts like brake pedals could "freeze up". :confuse:

    Anyways after I turned the car off and restarted it, no lights came on and everything worked fine. :confuse:

    2007 BMW 328i Sports Pkg, 1993 Honda Accord EXR (my 33rd car).

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,847
    yeah but we have synthetics now and way better oil filters---true, it might constitute a form of 'abuse' and I'm not recommending it, but I think a modern engine could survive a 30,000 mile oil change--changing out the filter should prevent sludge. I'd put certain limitations on the test of course: no towing, no extreme climates, no track racing, etc.

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,461
    Yeah, I don't buy it either. Especially since this was a 16-year-old; not only is such an event unlikely, but for someone who has driven so few miles? That's astronomically unlikely. I call BS on this one, and I'm interested to see how it sorts out.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    What about just turning the key off?

    According to the video clip, he tried that.

    No dice.

    Throttle wide open, can't shift into neutral, can't turn off the ignition, can't engage any brakes, but somehow the steering works just fine.

    And the driver's cellphone works, too...
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    I call BS on this one, call BS on this one,

    I was too, until finding out he flipped the car 5 times. Not even a teenager would be so dumb to risk their lives over a lousy couple hundred grand.

    Also, why drive an hour? Better to dial 911, get a couple witnesses, then jam the car against the concrete divider and cry whiplash.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I was too, until finding out he flipped the car 5 times. Not even a teenager would be so dumb to risk their lives over a lousy couple hundred grand.

    Yet, teens get out and risk their lives every day doing stupid stuff in cars for NO money.

    I seriously doubt the driver had plans to crash his car, but then again, how many kids that crash racing other kids set out with the idea of crashing?

    IMO, the crash at the end was simply the culmination of the odds of a crash finally adding up and outweighing the luck the driver had enjoyed for the previous hour or so.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,324
    i thought about that... but you can always come up with a scenario.

    Like this one:
    kid is obviously brand new driver. At 16, is he even supposed to be out there alone? Anyway, speeds past cop, knows he is screwed, so let's try this trick! then it just gets out of hand. He can't figure out a way out of it and just keeps going, maybe figuring he'd run it out of gas as his way out. Unfortunately, his lack of skill catches up with him before that happens.

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

  • boomchekboomchek Vancouver, BC, CanadaPosts: 5,108
    It's a good theory but I don't think it's possible to keep your foot off the brake for a full hour without slowing down.

    Even the most skilled drivers could slip up and out of instinct slam on the brakes when approaching a hazard or slow moving vehicles in which case the vehicle would slow to half the speed it's going before the driver would "remember" that they're pretending their brakes don't work.

    2007 BMW 328i Sports Pkg, 1993 Honda Accord EXR (my 33rd car).

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Do you REALLY think using an "incorrect" otherwise quality oil would affect the life of a car's engine one twit over 200,000 miles?

    What do you think about companies that don't clearly label their products, oil or otherwise? This one is clearly labeled correctly. Why are they the exception?

    Bigger question, why survey my opinion about the potential risks before you as a consumer ask that question of the companies that are using confusing statements in their advertising?
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