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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,573
    Still, I'd like to have some general idea of exactly what is unique in the Chrysler specs...

    Ditto. When Mobil 1 5W-30 received Honda/Acura HTO-06 approval XOM released a flyer explaining what the standard required(essentially improved deposit control on turbocharger components). That's why my Mazda has received a steady diet of M1 5W-30.

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

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    You know, it's very easy to discount those that don't pay any attention to the lubrication specifications manufacturers list for their cars, but once one starts to "dig into" the specifics of which make/model needs what lubricant, and sees how rapidly those specs change, its a bit more understandable....

    Especially since, overall, I suspect there aren't that many people that experience lubrication-related failures in the first, say, 100K miles of service.

    So, at the end of the day, maybe the old saying "parts is parts" may be more applicable than we realize...

    BTW, I just returned from running a few errands, and on a lark, I stopped by 3 auto parts stores (all chains) and none of them had the Pennzoil needed for the Abarth on the shelf. I'm sure they could probably order it....
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,820
    I stopped by 3 auto parts stores (all chains) and none of them had the Pennzoil needed

    So much for "energy saving" oil, lol.

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  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,573
    BTW, I just returned from running a few errands, and on a lark, I stopped by 3 auto parts stores (all chains) and none of them had the Pennzoil needed for the Abarth on the shelf. I'm sure they could probably order it....

    The only places I've seen Pennzoil Ultra 5W-40 for sale are Pennzoil's own web site and Amazon...

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

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited March 2013
    I posted this here because I'd like to get cardoc's opinion on how he views this issue...As well as anyone else's opinion on where this is going...

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-28/pricey-apps-dated-software-may-s- top-the-connected-car

    Don’t be fooled by that new car smell. The in-dash operating system of the most sophisticated new cars runs on a “software kernel” that is at least five years old, says Derek Kuhn, vice president for sales and marketing at auto software developer QNX (BBRY), which has provided software for Mercedes-Benz (DAI), Audi (NSU), and BMW (BMW). That makes the technology about as old as that second-generation iPhone sitting unused in your bottom drawer.

    Reliability is important—and boring. Swapping out your car’s OS every 18 months for a new one is not a business carmakers want to be in. There’s a reason for that: Automakers need reliability more than they need to satisfy consumer demand for the latest tech features. Yes, software updates can be downloaded onto the car’s OS, even over the air. But during the typical seven-year life span of a car, automakers fear, a major bug might knock out the software that controls everything from diagnostics to apps. “We cannot have a scenario where 300,000 cars have to go back to the dealership at once to have the SIM card replaced,” says Marcus Keith, head of project at Audi Connect.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,040
    I'm going to take somewhat of a pessimistic view on where this is going.

    I predict that in 5 years time we will begin to see some newish cars declared "unfixable", and that they will have to be shipped back to the automaker for repair--either as a buy back under warranty arrangements (possibly a new kind of warranty), or as a pro-rate by time used (like a battery), and then re-sold as "reconditioned". This won't be the same as lemon buy back---this will be a car actually shipped back to the factory.

    This will happen because circuits will become so integrated that dealership technicians won't be able to accurately diagnose them anymore, or the diagnosis will be so painstaking that labor rates will approach repair costs at NASA.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,820
    I think he's reading but Cardoc3 is having log-in issues and we haven't been able to help him get back logged in yet.

    Online flashing and updates and self-repairing circuits is what I'm holding out for. Probably won't happen for another generation though.

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    This will happen because circuits will become so integrated that dealership technicians won't be able to accurately diagnose them anymore, or the diagnosis will be so painstaking that labor rates will approach repair costs at NASA.

    Well, I certainly agree that the traditional nature of a dealership service technician is destined to change dramatically, possibly by adding a new class of technician... One whose primary function and background is electronics, with little to no actual mechanical training.

    In many cases, some repairs may be resolved by using a "team approach" of mechanical AND electronic trained service personnel... Which will surely result in higher costs for repairs.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,256
    >Online flashing and updates

    I can only imagine the problems with online flashing for the consumer if it goes anything like a lot of updates from Microsoft for operating systems and some other programs I've used. Do an update and another bug is discovered in the updated software.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I can only imagine the problems with online flashing for the consumer if it goes anything like a lot of updates from Microsoft for operating systems and some other programs I've used. Do an update and another bug is discovered in the updated software.

    ... and, that's after a "successful" flashing, which isn't exactly a guaranteed outcome...
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Awwww.... Bummer, Dude!
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,820
    edited March 2013
    Honda had big problems when one of their hybrids was "updated". The flashing wound up hammering the gas mileage, leading to a class action settlement.

    Bugs are a given, but that happens with parts too. They can be mis-designed initially or an "improved" version from the parts counter may wind up breaking too soon or may cause an unexpected issue with another system in your car.

    Or maybe the improved oil spec that the engineers came up with didn't work so well in the real world, lol.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,040
    That's an interesting solution--a technician who is not a mechanic. I'm not sure this is entirely possible, to divorce the actual car from its computer circuitry, but it might work out in a largish shop or a dealership.

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  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    The writing has been on the wall for awhile now..Instead of insisting that people learn how to drive in extra slippery conditions, we coddle them with ABS..stability control, anti this and anti that, and...the worst of the worst, a car that can park itself. As purchasers, we should never have caved into the tempting morsels they spring on us every year..All this crap has to be able to work together..and as we know too well by now, it doesn't. Or when it does work.. it's not for very long..."Gee, we've never seen it do this before"..

    There's a Lexus ad that irritates the living carp outta me everytime I see it..this Asian chic is in a new Lexus showrm and slides in behind the wheel of....something..forget now...and her first and constant gaze for the rest of the ad is being fixated on the centre dash to let all the iCrap tantalizer her into making a purchase..Who freakin' cares if the heater outlet on the driver side roasts her right foot, or the defrost vents blow higher than where the frozen wiper blades are hopelessly encrusted in 3" of frozen snow and ice...as long as she can distract herself appropriately by 'connecting' in the home away from home. Ya...that'd be the one traveling umpteen feet a second without nary a glance at the road..
    PPfffffttttttt..
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,629
    easy to see as the cars get more and more integrated and computer sophisticated, that a lot of the digging will either be just plugging it into the master computer, which can have the factory experts watching what is going on. Self diagnostics can't answer everything, but a remote guy can certainly look at all the data points, and maybe direct the on-site guy as what to do.

    not really that much different than a local shop outsourcing to Cardoc's shop for the complicated diagnostic work. Only difference is, instead of him doing the steps himself, it will be telling someone else what to do.

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

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,801
    Some things like ABS and stability control are 100% valid advancements that save lives. But the "connected" stuff and the self-parking etc just dumbs it all down. Lexus drivers can be some of the most oblivious of them all, aimed at a demographic who almost flaunts their cluelessness.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Some things like ABS and stability control are 100% valid advancements that save lives

    Slippery slope. Both of them help mask incompetence, and often has them crashing anyway..but at a higher speed.

    Question...what are the odds that someone who has new tech in their car like Subaru's Eyesight, will actually allow themselves to spend more time with their eyes off the road because they have the confidence in the tech? How can that be a good thing?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    OK, no more logging in with "fakebook". Sheesh.

    The systems are there for online reflashes, in fact GM's Onstar has been tested extensively. But there are some issues that have to be dealt with, it's one thing to download and install software in a shop. We manually shut down specific systems when necessary because they can start communicating during the reflash event and crash the update which risks bricking a module. We also supplement battery power with a dedicated clean power source.

    When it comes to remote programming you have the problem of the car needing to be powered up, and depowered during the update, as well as make sure that the system voltage doesn't fall below a minimum.

    Then we have the little problem about an update occurring, and the owner just happens to need to use the car in the middle of the event.

    Then you have cars like BMW, and if you need to update one module, the system updates all of them and it takes a number of hours to do that.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    The in-dash operating system of the most sophisticated new cars runs on a “software kernel” that is at least five years old

    Yea, that's correct. Right now the manufacturers are all setting up to actually build the 2014 models. The 2015's and 2016's are well down the path of design and engineering to the point that prototypes are built and being tested. The 2017's and even potentially 2018's are the only cars that really still have room to design in today's electronics technology. That means they are four to five years "behind" by the time the cars actually come out. While I would expect the manufacturers are adjusting the time tables for the electronics and basically adding as much of that stuff as late as possible they still have to work with what they can find out there when that time comes.

    Reliability is important—and boring. Swapping out your car’s OS every 18 months for a new one is not a business carmakers want to be in. There’s a reason for that: Automakers need reliability more than they need to satisfy consumer demand for the latest tech features.

    Have you ever heard of a vehicle that while driving down the road suddenly all the gages go to the bottom, then swing all the way to the tops, and all of the dash lamps" test", and then the cluster starts to work normally again? That is the classic description of the instrument cluster module having to, or being forced to reboot. The fun part is that could be a problem inside the cluster, and it could be external to the cluster.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    This will happen because circuits will become so integrated that dealership technicians won't be able to accurately diagnose them anymore, or the diagnosis will be so painstaking that labor rates will approach repair costs at NASA.

    If you really caught what I've been talking about the complexity has been there for more than the last decade, and when the cars present with these mind numbing problems the techs are usually left holding the bag and aren't paid correctly to even bother trying to solve these problems. It's always spun on them that "If they knew what they were doing, blah, blah, blah".

    Meanwhile there is always going to be someone else who still thinks that the computer will just spit out a code and tell them what is wrong. (aka what part to replace) How many times have you seen me write that we can't attract the people that we need? We really don't have anything to offer them compared to what they can make in other careers.

    I predict that in 5 years time we will begin to see some newish cars declared "unfixable", and that they will have to be shipped back to the automaker for repair--either as a buy back under warranty arrangements (possibly a new kind of warranty), or as a pro-rate by time used (like a battery), and then re-sold as "reconditioned". This won't be the same as lemon buy back---this will be a car actually shipped back to the factory.

    The real picture is that its cheaper to buy back a car once in a while than it is to completely train and then carry a fully capable group of technicians that can handle those kinds of problems. But what happens when there is no longer a warranty on the car? Now the buy back possibility is off the table, and eventually the owner has to find someone who can and will spend the time to fix it. Consumer experts have no idea what it takes to make yourself, and/or your shop capable of being that answer and they turn around and so they give consumers advice that works to push the consumers away from us. Its been pretty much a thankless pursuit to train and be equipped to be that shop, we just came back around to the build it and they will come idea.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    Well, I certainly agree that the traditional nature of a dealership service technician is destined to change dramatically, possibly by adding a new class of technician... One whose primary function and background is electronics, with little to no actual mechanical training.

    While I can't say that there won't be straight electronics techs who can't slap a set of brake pads on a car, I'm inclined to say that for the most part it won't work. That tech wouldn't produce enough revenues in a typical shop, and they would ultimately starve him/her right back out of the door. (if they didn't throw them out first). On top of that we aren't even considering how bad the competition is between techs inside a dealership, and how dealer politics would come into play.

    In many cases, some repairs may be resolved by using a "team approach" of mechanical AND electronic trained service personnel... Which will surely result in higher costs for repairs.

    It would definitely cost more to do that but management isn't ready to pay just one of those people to solve the kinds of problems that cars can present with today. They darn sure aren't going to pay two of them.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    Honda had big problems when one of their hybrids was "updated". The flashing wound up hammering the gas mileage, leading to a class action settlement.

    There was one noteable case where an attorney filed for herself and won, only for it to be overturned. Honda quoted fuel mileage as directed by the EPA, the methods for predicting fuel economy have recently changed and are still evolving.

    Honda's hybrid battery was failing prematurely, that's why there was the software change. Extending the life of the battery did result in a decrease in over all fuel economy.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,522
    They couldn't cheat like this if the public didn't support it

    The big problem as the link's title suggests is that there is a huge market for intentionally doing it incorrectly. When you run the numbers, your talking triple what my shops total revenues are for the same time period, and they didn't have to spend anything to do it.

    Try and picture how it feels on my side when at 9AM this morning I'll be having a long lost customer come in for a evaporative emissions diagnostic. (It's already had the gas cap replaced, four times and no I'm not kidding). It's also had the cannister assembly replaced, the filler neck, and the cannister vent valve somewhere else.

    I know going in the job is a loser, and being successful won't convert her back to a full customer. She's moving away.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,820
    edited March 2013
    Online (or USB-style flashes) will speed up, and there's redundancies built in that can now help you avoid "bricking" your computers, whether it's your laptop or a car. Won't matter if it's unclean power or the need to use the car or a power surge; the systems will get smart enough to pause and then resume when the glitch has passed.

    The Honda case got the attention of the automakers. Honda did a lot more than recite the EPA numbers though, and that's why they settled the bigger class action suit that Peters dropped out of. Honda puffed about the mpg before the reflash, but it was the reflash that really hammered most owner's mpg.

    Ford is offering $50k help people learn how to save gas. The reward is likely going to go to a software app developer. (Denver Post).

    Oh, welcome back. ;)

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,801
    edited March 2013
    I see different kinds of problems there, not really apples to apples. ABS and ESP et al can help in a panic situation where even a decent driver will simply react, not always in the best way. Junk like self-parking, "save me from my lack of attention" features, mobile connectivity stuff etc are just dumbing it down. I know casualties have fallen since the widespread adoption of ABS/airbags/esp and the like, which is the point. So long as fogging a mirror grants a person a license, many new drivers represent a horrible lowest common denominator, and driving is seen as a secondary chore, it's not going to change. Frankly, I don't want to drive that 1977 Corolla with manual everything and no safety equipment.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,040
    "But what happens when there is no longer a warranty on the car? Now the buy back possibility is off the table, and eventually the owner has to find someone who can and will spend the time to fix it."

    Well this comes right back to my dire prediction of some months ago---when a 2013 car, out of warranty in 2018, develops massive electronic problems, it will be discarded, like that flat screen TV you put in the dumpster when little white spots starting darting across the screen.

    OR, as consumers become enraged when their $40,000 purchase is a useless pile of scrap metal and plastic after only 5 years, perhaps the government will compel manufacturers to buy them back on a pro-rate, and, of course, build this expense into the purchase price of the car.

    Before you balk, consider that this is probably what Apple does already. Surely that little tablet computer can't cost $800 to build.

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    First of all, glad to see you're back on-line and posting!

    While I can't speak for independent shops, I do see the real possibility in the future of dealership "classification", in which the top-tier dealers have electronics specialists, and are regionally located... Perhaps receiving monetary support from the manufacturer to act as a regional support center for lower tier dealerships (and by tiered, I mean as in service level competence approval) and also an actual secondary service support center where vehicles that can't be repaired by lower tiered dealerships are flat-bedded in order to be repaired.

    I'm just not ready to accept the possible feasibility of junking a 4-5 year old $$$ car because the local dealership can't figure out what's wrong.... At least, not yet.

    I may change my opinion as time passes...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    I see a real future for Chevy 350 EFI conversions.... :P
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,040
    An engine swap won't save you---these new cars are so complex you can't "separate" their components very easily.

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Agreed... Even in many of the less expensive, less optioned vehicles, basics such as the brake systems are intertwined with the engine management systems... Or soon will be.

    So, unless someone really wants to "gut" a vehicle's capabilities, the days of relatively easy engine/drive-train swap outs are long gone...
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