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Right To Repair - A Hot Issue or Big Problem?

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  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,160
    What I'd hope to see would be cars designed by the factory to be easier and cheaper to fix, with more built-in diagnosis and repair functions. Telematics is getting there already, what with people being able to call OnStar and get their doors opened and codes read.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    If you wish in one hand and........

    What I'd hope to see would be cars designed by the factory to be easier and cheaper to fix, with more built-in diagnosis and repair functions.

    The factory cannot write trouble trees that can guide a technician through vehicle loss of communication faults. It's up to the tech to have the training, the equipment, and then take a disciplined approach to solve network issues. Your not going to have techs that can do that without them first having a career worth learning.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    http://uptimeblog.enigma.com/the-uptime-blog/tabid/50748/bid/91519/Fewer-Mechani- cs-Fixing-Harder-Problems.aspx

    They recognize the issue, but fail to comprehend that software won't be the answer. Although they do have quite a chance of adding an additional layer to the CODB. Does that really sound like what you want?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,549
    perhaps but it would prevent customers from being hijacked every time a check engine light goes on.

    Right now, the trouble code system is arcane and the explanations so badly written you have to wonder if the authors are born english-speakers.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    perhaps but it would prevent customers from being hijacked every time a check engine light goes on.

    How many still think that all they need to do is put a piece of tape over the light?

    As far as "hi-jacking" them goes when you promote that kind of a perspective it's no wonder nothing that we do ever gets to be "right".

    There is an 05 Durango with a 5.7l sitting outside the shop that a back-yarder, ( DIY'er), was throwing parts at. If anyone hi-jacked her it was that wanna-be tech. With $900 in parts thrown at it and it still couldn't be driven around the block she finally got it towed out of his yard. So what did I find? It has a bent exhaust valve Cyl #2. Now the way it was running made it tough because it wasn't just that one cylinder that was misfiring, it was shutting down the all four front cylinders, and wouldn't idle at all. It wasn't setting any misfire codes. The diagnostics were all done through experience and by using the most up to date routines. (Compression testing with the O-scope and a transducer)

    Now we are doing the real dance, she is convinced that replacing the car makes more sense than repairing the engine. So she's prepared to spend $30,000 to fix a $2000 problem........

    Right now, the trouble code system is arcane and the explanations so badly written you have to wonder if the authors are born english-speakers.

    Hey if you really don't like the scan tool and trouble code method you could try your hand at the loss of communication problem that I repaired on that 99 4-Runner that had neither trouble code generation or scan tool capabilities.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,549
    hey don't knock the black tape method. If you own a German car, it's just about essential equipment. Every time I climb into the mountains on a long upgrade, it'll light up a fuel trim code. The car runs fine, the light goes off. It's just a game we play. Been doing it for years.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Every time I climb into the mountains on a long upgrade, it'll light up a fuel trim code. The car runs fine, the light goes off. It's just a game we play. Been doing it for years.

    Did you ever consider pulling over and doing a key off/on to allow the system to recalculate for the lower barometric pressure caused by the altitude increase?
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,160
    Loss of communication faults can somewhat be eliminated or at least narrowed down with alternate circuit routes. Lots of boards do that already and the screen output is such and such a trace is bad. From there you go to a self-repairing board, simply by re-routing the circuit.

    Isn't it about time for wiring harnesses to simply go away?

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,549
    No, I hadn't thought of that, but I figured what's happening is that the supercharger, being on high boost for long periods, is screwing up the fuel mixture. That little 1.6L is working pretty hard at 8,000 feet, to propel the car at the legal limit uphill.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Cars aren't a big circuit board. Even so different sections inside a PC require wiring to connect them together.

    As magnificant as PC's are today they are about as complex as a toaster when compared to an automobile. To try and have a car that could have a module select and use an alternate wire to self repair you would have to triple the amount of wiring in the car, and that would be a waste of resources for 99% of the vehicles on the road. Even then the best that would do is cause just enough fewer actual repair events that you remove a significant layer of experience that the techs must have to be proficient to deal with the cars that do end up needing repairs.

    Looks like we will never get rid of the theme here that mimics the new car dealers perspective. You don't want technicians fixing the cars, you simply want the owner to replace it with a new one no matter how much that method costs them for transportation. That's a good strategy fostered by the people who make their living selling cars, but it's not a good strategy for the average owner. The problem is they have been listening to the other way so long that they think that it's wrong for a car to ever require any repairs.

    I just repaired a Nissan Sentra for a fellow who is laid off. It was $1400 to give him back transportation that he can rely on for several years to come.
    That effort saved him ten times as much money right now, assuming he could even buuy another car since he doesn't have a steady job right now. That Durango I mentioned earlier could be back on the road for about $2000, the owner says she doesn't have that kind of money and somehow thinks that buying a new car will be cheaper for her. She wants another Chrysler AWD SUV. The sales tax she will have to pay will be over $1000, and the depreciation will be double what the repair will be the moment she pulls the new one off of the lot. Her payments on the new one will have her at the break even point by February, except she will still have 56 more months of payments on the new one, meanwhile she could have been putting that money in her bank account if she had simply fixed what she already has. But don't tell consumers that, those manufacturers and dealers need them to replace their cars instead of repairing them!
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Both your fuel and timing maps rely on a barometric pressure measurement or calculation. Your check engine light is probably coming on for a rich exhaust code because there is less oxygen available for the same pulse width of fuel. The fuel trims would be trying to correct for that up until they reach the level that the programmers set as the threshold for the system detecting that it is out of control and you end up with a check engine light. By shutting the car off, the system re-measures the barometric pressure and then correctly calculates an appropriate base injector pulse width and that brings the fuel trims back to tolerance. Now if you drive back down the hill, you'll again have to do a restart to allow the system to relearn (or measure) the higher barometric pressure. If you don't do that now the system will code for being too lean. "Basics, basics, basics, always start by checking he basics!" ;)
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,160
    edited November 2012
    PC require wiring

    PCs yes. But that's a dying category; mature anyway. No loose wires in tablets or smartphones and few if any in most laptops.

    Automobiles seem complex until you break them down into their various systems. They still got four wheels and running boards, to quote the old Campfire song. Brake system, HVAC, engine, drivetrain, lights and accessories. Fuel system, exhaust and sensors. New safety gizmos (back to the brakes). Peel back the sheetmetal and it's really not rocket science. Make the components easier to swap out and you can just plug and play anything from the alternator to the transmission and send the core back to a rebuild facility where the great techs can refurb them to factory spec. We're already there with BCMs, starters, alternators, engine cores, yada yada.

    You're not getting the point about rewiring circuits. That technology is already here and the price will fall like all other printed circuits have, so self-repairing computer nodes will be the norm. We're talking a few traces, not six pounds of insulated copper wiring.

    Something has to give - otherwise the standard in twenty years will be ZipCars and public transportation. Few things are as expensive as owning a depreciating asset like a car and Gen Y may have figured that out early. If you are making $25k a year, a $1,400 repair bill (with no guarantee that something different isn't going to break next month) means that a big part of your working life is spent on transportation.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Something has to give - otherwise the standard in twenty years will be ZipCars and public transportation.

    Do you really think there is any chance of ending up anywhere else, unless the "consumers" change their habits first?

    Few things are as expensive as owning a depreciating asset like a car and Gen Y may have figured that out early. If you are making $25k a year, a $1,400 repair bill (with no guarantee that something different isn't going to break next month) means that a big part of your working life is spent on transportation.

    Compare that to dumping the car for yet another $400 a month payment for the next five years, and then a $450 a month for the next five years after that, etc...

    The alternative is and has always been competent repair, and that needs to be recognized by the consumers. Every other responses here seems to still go towards trying to discourage long term ownership and service and repair. The depreciation values of a given vehicle is controlled by those who sell vehicles to make their fortunes. They don't create an accurate picture for the average vehicle owner and haven't for decades. Properly repaired my cusrtomers Nissan will do EVERYTHING that any brand new car will do, except come with a guarantee of almost five more years of payments.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,160
    edited November 2012
    Well, it won't have a warranty and free roadside assistance when something else breaks on it. :-)

    Consumers are changing their habits and this may be the last "golden age" of new car sales. The kids aren't buying. I doubt that repair costs figure into their decision but us old guys don't like paying the freight that the local garage charges either.

    I'd sure be upset if I had to remove a fender skirt and some other junk just to replace a headlight bulb, but apparently there are some cars like that out there. Or my friend's Concorde with the battery buried in the fender. What are these engineers thinking when they design stuff like that, knowing that replacement will be required in a year or three?

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,549
    edited November 2012
    Not so easy---I'm using an undersize drive pulley on the supercharger as well. I rather doubt that your excellent suggestion will work, since I stopped at rest stops, etc and it made no difference.

    The black tape, however, seems quite reliable. :P

    Besides, there will always be more pressing needs--a MINI breaks something every few months, and it's always punishingly expensive to fix.

    The last fun event was a "simple" door lock actuator---too bad they used fasteners made in Mongolia for .02 cents apiece, as well as burying the actuator where human hands dare not tread.

    I did it but I wish I hadn't.

    Between access issues and multiplexing, newer cars are built in defiance of mechanics, not to help them.

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  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,065
    edited November 2012
    I'd sure be upset if I had to remove a fender skirt and some other junk just to replace a headlight bulb, but apparently there are some cars like that out there.

    On the GMC Acadia, booktime to replace the front headlight is .8 hours. Imagine that to replace a $15 part. People have been complaining that dealers charge up to $300 labor to replace the headlight. Course GM revised the original procedure which required tire removal as well as the front wheelhouse front liner. Currently only the front wheelhouse front liner removal is required for bulb replacement.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,160
    All to save 15 cents a copy going down the assembly line.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,549
    On some cars you have to take the bumper off.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    On others with the HID headlights you don't even know if the problem is the headlight bulb or the ballast (transformer), or both. There is no practical way to test the ballast since it generates the 25,000v that is required to turn the headlight on. The only thing we can do is dissasemble both headlight assemblies and try the bulb in the opposite ballast.

    From there we have the motorized aiming assemblies. There are cars that we cannot check and adjust the headlights on "correctly" because it requires bi-directional commands from the factory scan tool to put them in the "home" position for aiming, and then there is another function to re-train the headlight aiming controller.

    The engineers often have claimed that they try and consider servicing issues during design but you can't prove that for the most part by what I've seen. The moment I find the next new fastener that means I'll be purchasing yet another whole set of sockets and possibly wrenches I have all the proof I need about how much they think of technicians.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,160
    The only thing we can do is dissasemble both headlight assemblies and try the bulb in the opposite ballast.

    You mean you just swap the parts out instead of doing a proper diagnosis? Gasp! ;) ;)

    In another twenty years, this place will start looking like Cuba with a bunch of 40 year old cars limping around because they'll be all we can afford to patch up and keep rolling.

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  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,065
    In another twenty years, this place will start looking like Cuba with a bunch of 40 year old cars limping around because they'll be all we can afford to patch up and keep rolling.

    Now that you mention it I always wanted one of these:

    image
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,160
    "Rather than spend that money, some automakers will probably decide to stop selling their cars in Massachusetts, he said."

    That one made me smile. I count 30 Honda dealers alone in MA. I don't think Honda is going to shutter the doors on them.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,549
    Oh the old "I'm taking my ball and bat and going home" routine.

    It'll never happen.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Here is the European version of the legislation.

    http://www.r2rc.eu/

    Just remember what they always said here, its not about parts.

    Effective access to technical information, multi-brand diagnostic tools and test equipment, spare parts and training is crucial for the independent automotive aftermarket to provide 260 million motorists in the EU with the quality services and parts they deserve for the aftermarket care of their vehicles.

    They have a Facebook page too.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/right-to-repair-campaign-r2rc-eu/thank-you-37000-- voices-in-favour-of-sector-specific-rules-for-the-aftermarket/430201880228
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,160
    edited February 2

    "There is good news for motorists who have been turned away from local independent repair shops with an explanation that only the automaker’s dealership can correct a particular problem.

    Almost every automaker has agreed to start making available to mechanics nearly everything — security systems being a major exception — offered to their own franchised dealerships.

    [A]utomakers also agreed that, starting with 2018 models, they would standardize diagnostic tools to work on all vehicles, not just those from one maker.

    Carmakers to Share Repair Data (NY Times)

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