Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!





A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

16970727475164

Comments

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,679
    Sure. You simply strip every piece of wiring out of the thing and simplify, simplify, simplify. Ultimately what you end up with is a classic machine wrapped in modern trimmings.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited March 2013
    Sure. You simply strip every piece of wiring out of the thing and simplify, simplify, simplify. Ultimately what you end up with is a classic machine wrapped in modern trimmings.

    Well, its certainly possible, given enough time, money and effort.

    Still, there are lots of information-exchanging subsystems that are expecting to talk to each other, and when some of those inputs are removed, lots of things no longer work as intended. Sometimes, they no longer work at all.

    It's light-years different from when I was a teenager in the late 1960's and early 1970's, when all it took to was to have access to a machine shop and someone with the ability to make items like motor mounts and adapter plates.

    Of course, if reliability isn't a factor and time is unlimited, one can eventually get it to work, at least partially. It's nothing I would want to attempt personally, unless I had access to a lot of qualified technical advice.

    Just look at how difficult it is to make some cars work correctly and reliability today, and those cars have been engineered from the bottom up to have each subsystem interface with each other correctly.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,972
    yes a classic machine with no trimmings, such as heat, AC, wipers, windows that go up and down and an engine that can't possibly pass an emissions test. :P

    Mr. Computer is not going to like that new engine at all, so Mr. Old Computer will have to be used, and he'll have to be taught how to talk to the rest of the car.

    Good luck with that.

    I think you reach a point where there is no point.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,679
    I guess we'll just reach the point where there are those of us who live in areas of independence, and the rest (vast majority) who use mass transit or their feet. ;)
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,972
    maybe in the mythology of simpler days, yes, but I'm going to put away my Daniel Boone cap and just go out and buy and older car that I *can* fix. I want no part of a Frankencar with an electronics rat's nest to deal with. I could be out earning money instead. :P

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    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.

    This one tested out quite normally, it clearly had a leak, and the P0440 means its a large leak tank area on a 2000 Camry. It was a bit troublesome after that because using the smoke machine, the pressure being delivered was clearly dropping, but the smoke wasn't visible. So out comes the head phones and the ultrasonic microphone. The leak could be heard at the filler cap. Close examination of the new filler neck showed damage that looks like it was dropped at some time before it was installed. It isn't real obvious until you really study it but it is bent and the cap simply can't seal the system.

    So now it goes back to the other shop to have it replaced again.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    I didn't get to fix this, the guy only wanted to know what was wrong. He only agreed to one hour of diagnostic time and while I actually went a bit over the hour we kept the price exactly as quoted which is quite common. To get the scope captures, the right hand cooling fan had to be removed for access, and specific circuits had to be identified and then the circuits measured. All told there were some twenty odd scope captures, but only the most valid ones are on the blog.

    The owner had replaced the ignition module, coils, plugs and wires. In fact he had changed the module and coils several times with used parts. The trap when that happens is people often add a problem on top of the original one.

    When you look at the scope captures, the red trace is the coil current through the module taken with the low amps probe. The on time, and the timing of the coil command events are erratic and that is his misfire. The rest of the diagnostic is to find out why that is occurring.

    Enjoy
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    The last two posts so far have gotten no responses, and that made me think about these two sites. One is a lawyer's site who is a lemon law expert, the other is an ex-mechanic.

    http://jimroal.com/repair.html

    http://www.normantaylor.com/mechanics_flat_rate_pay_system.html

    Having made an entire career repairing cars when I look at what is said on those two sites I know that there is even more to the story than just what you see on them. Back when we had to fight through problems like that 92 Buick Park Avenue misfire, and we weren't paid diagnostic time, a tech like myself could spend several hours working to find out exactly what the problem was, only to then have the customer do what that guy did and say he was going to fix it himself. Even if I had gotten to repair it back then, the repair only paid for the replacement of the computer. The time spent cleaning and tightening the ground connections wouldn't have been paid for either.

    Today, not only isn't there proof that any of the labor times in the books have been created by a legitimate time study, many of the labor times are nothing less than fraud. Something that really needs to be done is a real time study for specific repairs and then get the manufacturers to explain why the times that they quote are wrong. You want consumers to have quality repairs? Help to expose and fix all of the problems that the trade faces and progress will be made towards that goal.

    On a recent repair that I did, a heater core in a Mazda B3000 (Ford Ranger) a warranty company was involved and they claimed that the labor guide quoted the whole repair at 7 hours. Meanwhile Mitchell showed 7.1 hours, and was very explicit that the time did not include the recovery, evacuation and recharge of the AC. When this was pointed out the warranty company representative tried to claim that the AC didn't need to be discharged to replace the heater core. Well, since he had Alldata I made him look up the procedure and then he saw that the evaporator core under the hood did need to be removed to access the bolts that held the plenum assembly to the firewall. He tried to go from one old flat rate cut the time trick to the next. In the end I wrote the entire exchange into the statements on the work order explaining to the customer why the bill was different than what the warranty company was going to pay. The customer accepted the fact that any help paying for the repair was still help.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,942
    edited March 2013
    I wonder if the situation described by the lawyer will be any different in the Tesla situation where the factory owns the dealership and hires the techs. As noted in the flow chart, the real reason for the mess is money, money, money.

    Here's my nomination for quote of the day:

    "It is amazing the time and effort Chrysler went through to make sure these vehicles could not be serviced." (link)

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    It is amazing the time and effort Chrysler went through to make sure these vehicles could not be serviced."

    Having replaced a couple of those steering racks, they aren't any more difficult than most any other. My normal routine is to connect the steering shaft, then the lines, and then you bolt the assembly to the K-frame (sub-frame) or cradle. That is not how its described to do in a service manual. His problem is that he's probably has it bolted to the K-frame already so yea, he's struggling to attach the steering lines. I might be able to look up the labor times, in fact I'll try to do that in a little bit. Off hand I expect to find that the customer pay rate for that job will be about 2.5 hours, allegedly including adjusting the toe-in angle. (That's NOT an alignment) The warranty time for the exact same job is going to be about 1.5 hours. My average time for a steering rack, without the alignment is right about 1.5 hours.

    You can tell him what he needs to do to connect the steering lines, which is unbolt the rack and connect them first. Then see how reacts to the suggestion that the whole job should have taken less than two hours.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    As noted in the flow chart, the real reason for the mess is money, money, money

    A former NAPA ASE Tech of the year Greg M. is quoted as saying money broke this trade and its going to take money to fix it.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,942
    edited March 2013
    That is not how its described to do in a service manual.

    Techs are always finding better ways of doing repairs that save them time and money. That motivation isn't there for the manufacturers - they want the parts designed for fast assembly on the line. So we're back to the money issue - how do you motivate an engineer to design for ease of repair after the sale?

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    I like the line that came after your quote:

    "Lucky for them I love my 96 Caravan. But, I curse this design! I had to replace my steering rack on my '93 Caravan and it only tool a couple of hours. So, I do know what I am doing. Please help"

    This job, repairing cars, will find ways of making anyone look like they "don't know what they are doing" all the time. It simply comes down to the number of chances someone has. I can say that no major league pitcher ever managed to strike me out, and I never made an error at shortstop. Both are true statements, but neither of them actually describe my athletic abilities. They only attest to the lack of sufficient chances. (that would be none BTW) That posters claim of knowing what he is doing would be the same as me using my two baseball statements as if I was some kind of a baseball superstar. :sick:
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    how do you motivate an engineer to design for ease of repair after the sale?

    I can't think of any that would be seen as ethical, moral, or humane....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,972
    All designs are compromises...so the engineers and the stylists and the accountants all fight it out....unfortunately, the consumer is not in the room when final decisions are made. :cry:

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    unfortunately, the consumer is not in the room when final decisions are made

    Neither are techs, but when the blame game starts all four of those groups attack them first.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,972
    That's an education problem, and again, the stylists and designers and engineers aren't in your shop to explain to the consumer why it has to be that way.

    It's the old "can't they design the engine so that there's more room to work in there?"

    Sure they can, if you want 2" less legroom!

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    One has to remember the logic being used in assembling a vehicle.

    Ease of assembly will always trump the ease of repair, if for no other reason than in assembly, every part has to be "touched" in every vehicle assembly...100% of the time. It would be a rare circumstance indeed in which a single part would have to be "touched" in every vehicle for service at some later date down the road. So, cut a guaranteed cost now as much as possible, or engineer for cutting a possible cost that may never materialize in the future.

    Regarding the published "time to repair guesstimates", I'm reminded of a recent 30 page-long article about the costs of medical care that TIME magazine published.

    In it, the researcher continuously spoke of the "Charge Master", which is the "official price list" of all items and services provided within a hospital, as well as the initial point of negotiation in contracts with insurance companies, those paying individually, etc.

    The "Charge Masters" have been around, and in use for so long, no one seems to know exactly when, how or who created them, yet they remain the basis for all costs determinations that are hospital-related. They are so imbedded within the system that no one is willing to re-examine their actual validity in today's terms.

    Just guessing, but that seems to share a lot of characteristics with the "time to repair" estimates used in auto repairs...I
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,142
    So, cut a guaranteed cost now as much as possible, or engineer for cutting a possible cost that may never materialize in the future.

    And, if it's any consolation, those savings do get passed on to the consumer. As much as we might gripe about the high cost of living, cars are actually pretty cheap, when you take into account all the safety features and equipment that's standard these days.

    Back in 1985, my Granddad paid around $13,500 out the door for his 1985 Silverado, which I still have. Last fall, I bought a 2012 Ram for $20,751 out the door. Adjusting for inflation, that Silverado would be around $29,000 today! Adjusting backwards, the other way, my Ram came out to around $9600 in 1985 money.

    Now, for a 1985 truck, the Silverado is pretty well equipped. Power windows, locks, cruise, nice (for the time) stereo, tilt wheel, upgraded interior with cloth and carpet on the door panels, 15x8 Rally wheels, 2-tone paint, etc. But a LOT of technological advances have been made since 1985...ABS, traction control (also takes some of the fun out of spirited winter driving), a transmission with 3 extra forward gears, an engine with cylinder deactivation, airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, and Lord-knows how many computer controls, and other advancements.

    I'm sure that if the auto makers hadn't found ways to cut costs in assembly, my $20K truck would have been closer to $40K.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,972
    You could compare hospital healthcare costs with auto repair flat rates, but only if you used standard hospital billing procedures---which means, a) you have no idea whatsoever what it will cost to fix your car until after the repair, and b) the price on your bill bears no resemblance whatsoever to what the insurance company actually gives the repair shop. :P

    So if "doc" were a real doc, he would take in your car and 3days later your bill could be $275 or $43,000.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    If we really compared the two, the big one right away is either anyone can grab a knife and do an apendectomy, or else there has to be some kind of a licensing system put into place in auto repair. Since I can't see anyone agreeing to either of those IMO the rest of the debate would be just a waste of time.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    how do you motivate an engineer to design for ease of repair after the sale?

    I can't think of any that would be seen as ethical, moral, or humane....


    That kind of motivation, or direction has to come from the top down. It has to originate at one of the "C" level positions. And that is never going to happen unless it can be shown that designing for ease of repair helps the bottom line.

    Unfortunately, it's probably more profitable for the company to make their vehicles as difficult to repair as possible. At least after the warranty period has expired :sick: .

    A lot of the equipment I design goes to the government. Aircraft avionics we design usually come with a Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) requirement. Maybe that's 1 hour, or 2 hours, after access to the equipment has been provided. If our equipment does not support that requirement, the government can withhold part of the payment due. That affects the bottom line, so there is an incentive to make sure the equipment meets the MTTR requirement. When we're designing something new, a Maintainability Engineer will be part of the design process to help make sure those requirements are met.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,942
    edited March 2013
    Ease of assembly will always trump the ease of repair

    Have to wonder if that would hold true if the engineers designing the product also were responsible for fixing the item when it needed service or repair. Perhaps if we had a 10/100k warranty on everything in the car, including wear items, we'd know. Or we could just legislate maintainability engineering. :)

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,972
    Well somebody better do something because it's getting completely out of hand.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    Perhaps if we had a 10/100k warranty on everything in the car, including wear items, we'd know.

    What you would get to know is how much the predicted cost of that warranty impacted the sales price. Nothing is free.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,972
    Or you just buy a Toyota:

    I bought a new Scion xA, sold it to a friend at 35,000 miles

    She now has 75,000 miles on it.

    Here's a list of repairs we've both done since new:

    that's right---nothing, just oil, gas, filters and tires. :)

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    Here's a list of repairs we've both done since new:
    that's right---nothing, just oil, gas, filters and tires


    On one hand that's great and its why I often remark, "They don't build them like they used to".

    But even this has a cost. From a techs POV, we don't see them and the systems on them until they do break. Then it is a learning curve as steep as one could ever be. You can't teach someone to be able to work at that level, they either have the talent, and push themselves to get the training that is required or they simply aren't qualified/capable to do it. Now add in the fact that the tools are getting prohibitively expensive to start with, and on top of that we don't even get to own them, just a license to use them for a while and you have your throw away car when it does finally break.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    You could compare hospital healthcare costs with auto repair flat rates, but only if you used standard hospital billing procedures---which means, a) you have no idea whatsoever what it will cost to fix your car until after the repair, and b) the price on your bill bears no resemblance whatsoever to what the insurance company actually gives the repair shop.

    Well, it was never my intent to compare car repair costs to medical costs.

    The point I was attempting to demonstrate was how antiquated systems can be in determining the actual costs/efforts to accomplish a stated goal, whether it be auto repair or medical treatment.

    From what I've gleaned from cardoc's previous comments, he doesn't exactly strike me as being completely satisfied with how the rates and times for car repairs are calculated...
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,636
    From what I've gleaned from cardoc's previous comments, he doesn't exactly strike me as being completely satisfied with how the rates and times for car repairs are calculated

    The word "fraudulently" comes to mind.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited April 2013
    Have to wonder if that would hold true if the engineers designing the product also were responsible for fixing the item when it needed service or repair. Perhaps if we had a 10/100k warranty on everything in the car, including wear items, we'd know. Or we could just legislate maintainability engineering.

    That seems like a moot point, since manufacturers in a capitalistic system will always be more concerned with making a product and getting it to market to sell, rather than repairing a significantly lesser number of units that experience failure later in life.

    Frankly, I don't see any possibility of legislated maintenance engineering. Didn't we address (or at least, tell ourselves we did) that aspect by passing various "lemon laws"?

    Competition could, in essence, mandate "engineered reliability", and it has, up to a point.... Just not 10years/100K miles (yet),
Sign In or Register to comment.