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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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Comments

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,253
    edited April 19

    I don't know if they even realize or care that they are going to lose two of the remaining shops within five years as the owners retire.

    Well, as with so many examples of leadership lacking vision, hindsight will grant them 20/20 on the subject. :)

    The great fallacy of politics is that politicians think the obstacles current/future politicians face are the result of current/future failures rather than being a reflection of their own failure to act years ago.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    edited April 23
    Not good publicity for Tesla but it won't bother the Tesla devotees. They will simply explain it away.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,253
    Yikes. That's a helluva lot of stored energy, so if something goes wrong and it overheats.... it's going to be quite the heat source!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You have to know what you're doing if you're going to wrench on a Tesla.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,870
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I really admire their cars but man, I do not like the company and some of its practices.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited April 28
    Andy B wrote this in a Facebook group and it's worth sharing.

    Among the misconceptions in our industry, such as, "the dealer is the expert", there is the thought that poor pay and working conditions among independents tend to drive bodies out of the technician field. Well, the local BMW dealer just built an enormous 75 bay service department, and they are in a complete state of staffing disarray. One of my top technician's brother-in-law just gave his notice to that BMW dealer, in order to take a position at a forklift company as a repair technician. He also said that 5 of his fellow dealer techs gave their notice this week. Why would they be doing this, working in a brand-new, "state of the art" facility, for a prestigious German brand?? It's because DEALERS are the ones driving people out of our industry, grabbing every warm body out of the tech schools, and then shoving them into their service department meat grinder. If we independents can get to them before they burn out in disgust, we have the ability to show them that there is a future in this business, a future where you can buy a home, raise a family, take a vacation once a year, and even have some laughs and enjoy coming to work. It is incumbent on us as quality independents to broadcast this message far and wide.
  • henrynhenryn Houston, TXPosts: 2,575
    I have said before, my father was an auto mechanic, working at dealerships for many years before leaving for a construction (dewatering) foreman job. My younger brother also worked for many years at new car dealerships. It is a crummy career, I would not recommend it to anyone.

    "position at a forklift company as a repair technician" -- if that is with a medium to large company, with a standard 40 hour work week, paid holidays and sick leave, medical insurance, etc, etc, then he is undoubtedly much better off.
    2018 Ford F150 XLT Crew Cab, 2016 Chrysler Town & Country Touring
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited May 6
    A young technician posted this in a forum asking for guidance. The question is, what should we tell him?

    I have been asked a few times WHAT kind of work I prefer to do.... I have been at this Ford dealer for a month and have handled everything they have thrown at me.
    Last night I mentioned that I like to scope inputs and do hard to find stuff.
    My manager mentioned that guys that do that kind of work don’t flag a lot of time so lower checks.
    What are your guys thoughts?

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    BTW Why doesn't the italics or bold commands work?
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,412
    A young technician posted this in a forum asking for guidance. The question is, what should we tell him?
    I have been asked a few times WHAT kind of work I prefer to do.... I have been at this Ford dealer for a month and have handled everything they have thrown at me. Last night I mentioned that I like to scope inputs and do hard to find stuff. My manager mentioned that guys that do that kind of work don’t flag a lot of time so lower checks. What are your guys thoughts?
    Manager is correct, isn’t he? The “books” don’t allow much time for diagnosis, right?

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited May 6
    qbrozen said:


    Manager is correct, isn’t he? The “books” don’t allow much time for diagnosis, right?

    While he is correct in one sense what it really shows how poorly managed the shop is and why it is hard to find and keep quality people in the trade.

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 136,764

    BTW Why doesn't the italics or bold commands work?

    We seem to be having some issues with certain browsers, when it comes to the commands at the top of the quote box.

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  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    One thing is for sure, he needs to do what makes him happy in life, and never relent in his pursuit.

    Since apparently techs are behind the 8 ball financially no matter what role they take, he should get a financial adviser to help him make the best life possible.

    My mechanic is looking for a systems specialist and is willing to pay for training and all. Most techs he meets want to do mindless jobs all day long. So your tech just needs to find a shop that is hungry for the guy who wants to be challenged.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    The API and ILSAC standards are finally catching up to the requirements for today's cars. Well almost, according to this article they will in May of 2020.

    http://newsletter.motor.com/2019/20190508/!ID_GetReadyForGF-6MotorOil.html?fbclid=IwAR1nSPKZmsXGBPF3gIUj-w_Xz1F-pnWjU_TWkZu4C0DQzUoGigfSlpO0o_g
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    Have you been following this thread? https://forums.edmunds.com/discussion/53813/jeep/compass/jeep-compass-2019-no-start#latest

    I can't help but think of all of the different vehicles that I have worked through with similar style complaints. In some of the cases it took a week or two to painstakingly work down to the source of the problem. Imagine having forty to sixty hours into something like that, and not get paid for the time. Techs like me lived that. I feel for the vehicle owners, but not for the dealers or the manufacturers.

    Those Jeeps. Being able to prove the source of the issue wouldn't be difficult but if it is a software issue that would need someone else to deal with. If it is a hard part issue inside of a module that is going to be a real nightmare because they might have to totally redesign and manufacture new modules.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    The Compass is stuffed with Fiat parts--so, no wonder.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    "The court ruled the shop shouldn’t have skipped the scan without informing Grooms about what the diagnostic could have discovered."

    A judge telling a private business what they have to do and worse, mandating language that they must say. This is insane, but predictable nowadays, particularly in NY or LA.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    I have a guitar amplifier from about 1950, a simple circuit, that I need repaired. I called the vocational school near me and asked if the electronics repair department would repair it. They eliminated the electronics repair curriculum ten years ago. The schools' property looks great and they always seem to be updating it. From what I know, I have to guess that the school has continued to be highly successful for many decades now, ergo, this cut would not be a "budget" based issue. This is just one more force leading us all to throwing electronic goods into the landfill.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 136,764
    edited June 2
    I think it has more to do with the price of new electronics. For a repair to be cost effective, the tech would have to work for $3/hr. Why train someone for that?

    They probably don’t have a shoe repair apprentice program, either. ;)

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited June 2
    guitarzan said:

    I have a guitar amplifier from about 1950, a simple circuit, that I need repaired.

    If you can get it to me it should be easy.

  • henrynhenryn Houston, TXPosts: 2,575
    kyfdx said:

    I think it has more to do with the price of new electronics. For a repair to be cost effective, the tech would have to work for $3/hr. Why train someone for that?

    They probably don’t have a shoe repair apprentice program, either. ;)

    Way back, I knew a guy who had a TV repair business. He shifted over to repairing high end computer monitors, also buying / selling / trading monitors. Eventually gave it up and started selling new cars.
    2018 Ford F150 XLT Crew Cab, 2016 Chrysler Town & Country Touring
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,412

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,253

    guitarzan said:

    I have a guitar amplifier from about 1950, a simple circuit, that I need repaired.

    If you can get it to me it should be easy.

    I was going to say, I'm sure my son can fix that.

    It's a tremendously valuable skill set. However, it's not an end in itself anymore (e.g., making money by fixing electronics). It is a building block; a tool that allows one to create new things, diagnose concerns, etc.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    My electronics training and experience opened a lot of doors inside the repair trade and was a big part that led me to what I do today. 
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited June 10
    From Automotive News

    https://www.autonews.com/dealers/nada-tackles-service-tech-shortage

    SAN FRANCISCO — NADA Chairman and longtime dealer Charlie Gilchrist is determined to do something about the retail auto industry's shortage of service technicians.
    After all, technicians are quitting or retiring far faster than training programs can provide replacements. Yet seats in automaker-sponsored training programs go empty.
    "Our industry is experiencing a dangerous shortage of technicians," Gilchrist said in his Jan. 26 keynote speech at the National Automobile Dealers Association Show here, announcing what NADA calls its Workforce Initiative. "This is not a can we can afford to kick down the road."
    The problem is not new. But NADA's approach reflects a twist: The NADA Foundation, which is more typically associated with charitable contributions and emergency relief from natural disasters, is leading the Workforce Initiative.

    Sykora: Dealership is always on the lookout.
    "The need is so great," said Annette Sykora, chairman of the NADA Foundation Board and a Ford dealer in Levelland, Texas. Sykora said that like other dealerships, her store is constantly on the lookout "everywhere" for new technicians.

    "One of the best ways is to encourage kids to get into the industry," she told Automotive News.
    The foundation is leading plans to promote careers in the retail auto industry and help would-be dealership technicians find training. The initiative supplements the recruiting efforts of individual brands, state dealer associations and technical schools, which historically have worked independent of each other.

    Show of hands
    According to NADA, U.S. technical colleges and training programs graduate approximately 37,000 service technicians annually, but that's not nearly enough. NADA says the retail auto industry needs roughly 76,000 new technicians every year to keep pace with jobs being created, plus retirements and replacements for technicians who leave the industry for other reasons.
    The net result: The industry is experiencing an annual shortage of 39,000 trained technicians, said Gilchrist, who represents Detroit 3 brands plus Nissan, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi through his Gilchrist Automotive in Weatherford, Texas.
    "If you could, would you hire a trained technician today?" Gilchrist asked his NADA Show audience. Hundreds and hundreds of hands went up, in an auditorium full of dealer principals, dealership managers and employees, family members and industry service providers.
    Filling those empty seats in automaker training programs is an immediate goal of the new NADA program. It includes an interactive map on nadafoundation.org, where would-be trainees can find all automaker training programs in one place. The site also allows prospective technicians to search for jobs, scholarship opportunities or other information about careers in the industry.
    "Toyota is only interested in where the Toyota centers are. Ford is only interested in where the Ford centers are. Chrysler is only interested where Mopar is," Gilchrist said. "Everyone is ignoring everyone else's programs."
    Separately, FCA US announced on Jan. 25 it was expanding its technician training program and launching a networking campaign called "Assemble Your Future." The goal is to get students together with potential career opportunities at dealerships, at FCA, and with Dodge SRT and Mopar-sponsored professional racing teams.
    The NADA Foundation also announced an initial round of donations for the Workforce Initiative, including $50,000 from the National Auto Auction Association, $50,000 from truck manufacturer Paccar and $25,000 from Porsche Cars North America. The NADA Foundation has donated an additional $250,000 to the effort.
    Bad storytelling
    Promoting dealership careers is a big part of the new NADA initiative. According to NADA, the average dealership technician in the United States makes $61,067 in salary, plus benefits. Experienced technicians at franchised dealerships can make more than $100,000 annually, and service managers even more.

    Brinkman: Overcome “reputation tax.”
    "As an industry, we're really, really bad at telling our story, for why you would want to work in the industry at all, let alone at a particular dealership. Yet every dealership has a story to tell," said Scott Brinkman, vice president of product at Hireology. The Chicago vendor helps small businesses, including dealerships, hire employees and manage human resources needs.
    Brinkman said it's essential for the industry to recruit technicians from outside auto retail, but there's a "reputation tax" to overcome, because the industry is known for long hours and dirty, difficult work.
    He said Hireology identifies candidates in "adjacent" businesses where employees likely learned some mechanical skills, such as quick-lube locations, trucking operations and the military. Recruiting is focused on newcomers, he said. "You're not going to find a master technician with 20 years of experience who doesn't already have a job if he wants a job," Brinkman said. "You're just not."
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited June 10
    I put a response there.

    Hmm, this is four months old. This article is being discussed by technicians who care about the trade and the work that they do here. https://diag.net/msg/m1674u... You have to be a member there to access that but here are some excerpts.

    One of the best technicians I have the pleasure of knowing wrote this. "It's another feel good program for auto dealers. He asked "If you could, would you hire a trained technician today?" Gilchrist asked his NADA Show audience. Hundreds and hundreds of hands went up, in an auditorium full of dealer principals, dealership managers and employees, family members and industry service providers. Instead he should have asked "Are you willing to pay a top trained technician what he's worth?" No hands would go up."

    If you want to fix the tech shortage, you need to start by fixing the problems that the techs have to constantly overcome. Flat rate doesn't work anymore and hasn't for years simply because the rates aren't flat. As one of the other responders pointed out you hire "A" techs at $30/hr and then assign jobs that pay half of what it takes to do and he/she is only making $15.00 hr. That makes the promise of a $100,000 career seem a bit far fetched because it would take 6600+ hours a year to hit that number. (BTW there are only 8760 hours in a year) Now that's not saying that someone out there isn't making $100K but under the current system they are about as rare as someone who wants to work over 6000 hours a year.

    "The salaries he quotes are not nationally based and may only exist in major metro areas, if at all. The older techs are being driven out of the profession by high tech. Not because they can't repair electrics, hybrids, ADAS, data communications, infotainment, etc. but because they can. Being an older, fully trained A tech in a dealership means that you are forced to survive on mostly low paying warranty work because the younger techs can't repair them. It's not an incentive to get paid maybe 2 or 3 dollars an hour more than the B tech in the next stall who is doing brakes, flushes, alignments and all the gravy work and flagging double your hours. B techs have learned that it's not to their advantage to become an A tech and get a pay reduction so they don't take any basic training required to qualify for advanced courses."

    That is a management failure for growing that culture and nothing in the above article addresses it. The master tech that can handle anything that comes in the door could turn great hours doing customer pay "gravy" work, but the reality is just that easier work is mostly done by less experienced techs and the top techs are barely surviving on warranty rate. One dealership near us is promising 120% of the warranty rate. That is a move in the right direction but read the next quote and tell me just what does that 20% do after the time has already been cut to 41% ( net result is still a 50% loss for the tech)

    "It's very common in a dealership to see a warranty job that pays 8 hours reduced to 3.3 hours for no reason. All G.M. labor times are constantly being reduced over and over again but the principals insist that training is the reason for the tech exodus. G.M. will no longer allow their techs to call technical assistance to initiate a case. Instead, they must e-mail in a list of filled in documents and await an e-mail response. The time involved to do this is not covered under warranty and is unpaid to the techs. Who would want to open a case any more?"

    Unpaid time performing required tasks, in a career that is based on being paid for what you do. Labor times that fail to pay the tech the time that it actually takes to do the work, let alone be able to beat. You can't explain that away you have to fix it and all of the other reasons why you can't attract candidates. It also isn't going to work to just promise better for future technicians, history often repeats itself and right now there is no proof that anything that changes will be for the better for the techs.

  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    Every field is driven by pay. We saw it with IT. Then medicine exploded and nursing offered good pay and people showed up. It is not rocket science. Number one, people want to make a good living in this country so that they can have a good material life. If it does not pay, no one will show up. If it does not pay and it is back-breaking, surprise LOL, still no one will show up.
  • andres3andres3 Southern CAPosts: 11,107
    guitarzan said:

    Every field is driven by pay. We saw it with IT. Then medicine exploded and nursing offered good pay and people showed up. It is not rocket science. Number one, people want to make a good living in this country so that they can have a good material life. If it does not pay, no one will show up. If it does not pay and it is back-breaking, surprise LOL, still no one will show up.

    ON the other hand, when the economy was down, people would work for anything doing anything.
    '16 Audi TTS quattro 2.0T, '15 Audi A4 quattro 2.0T, '19 VW Tiguan SEL 4-Motion AWD
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    While all of the tech job sayisfaction stuff circles, the technology in the cars never stops advancing and the work to diagnose and repair these things just keeps gettng to be more and more complicated all the time. Try and picture a tech who is studying hard to keep pace with technology like Cadillacs Super Cruise and the reward is to take home less for the effort. https://www.wired.com/story/your-cadillac-can-now-drive-itself-more-places/
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited June 16
    When I was a young technician I would hear my mentors say "What goes around comes around". Time and time again we were told that we were disposable that there was always a drawer full of applications for people who were waiting for a chance to take our positions from us. "Mechanics, you guys are a dime a dozen". All the times in the questions forums where the perpetuating theme was that you could just know what was wrong based on the symptom or you could Google the trouble code and the answers would just lay out on the screen. Well it looks like the comes around side of the old line is finally coming to bear and it's hitting harder than anyone ever expected. Take this plea for help out of Buffalo New York. https://www.mytwintiers.com/news/looking-to-hire-an-auto-technician-good-luck/2079314829?fbclid=IwAR2Ay4JAwJod47Xc-zqLD-euodlh-Z_34nRvcYg0w4GQaTWF-OgqOyoAOmo

    Basic services, nothing really technical at all and it is a pretty decent wage with real benefits and they can't find anybody to fill the openings. On one hand it serves everybody right that this is coming full circle and as I pointed out countless times its going to get worse, a lot worse before it ever starts to get better. If management could wipe away all of the reasons for someone to never consider the career overnight, it would still be twenty years before the next generation is up to speed as the technicians that are needed to replace the senior techs that are leaving. On the other hand it's still sad to see we were right all along that the trade couldn't be sustained with the way everyone of us was treated.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818

    guitarzan said:

    I have a guitar amplifier from about 1950, a simple circuit, that I need repaired.

    If you can get it to me it should be easy.

    I was getting ready to ship it to you. I began researching on the Internet and found someone who says that these models were noisy from the factory. Aficionados rewire them completely with twisted pair wire and tap the transformer to ground leakage current through some resistance. It seems counterproductive to go through all of this.

    Well there is something I would not have known because I was not around in 1950. I do have two tubes on order. Plug-n-pray. If it still hums loudly (probably) I may send it off to ebay. It belonged to someone very special to me who has since passed, but in general I do not believe in keeping stuff just to keep stuff...hard decisions.

    Thanks a lot Doc I appreciate the offer!
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoPosts: 129,712
    @thecardoc3 - I read that article from Buffalo.

    My question is this - won't the natural laws of supply and demand come into play, eventually?

    It's not like the need for auto technicians will simply go away. We are still selling in excess of 13 million new cars, every year, and 99% of them are ICE. Service and maintenance will still be necessary.

    If there aren't enough applicants for the jobs available, I would expect wages to go up. Granted, that doesn't help when folks aren't taking the necessary training to fill those jobs to begin with, but there seems to be a bit of a renaissance in trade labor - electricians, plumbers, etc. The kind of jobs that can't be outsourced, and the kind of jobs that, in the long run, pay pretty well.

    Just one outsiders perspective, right or wrong.

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    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R / 2014 MINI Countryman S ALL4

  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    One key that Doc has hammered is that owners refuse to pay for diagnostic hours. So on average there is no money to raise salaries. The other half is, let us be honest, dealerships are owned by small groups of businessmen, the kind that Elliot Ness would have gone after. A,B,C,D,E....brands are all owned by the same people. It is not a free market! but rather whatever these owners decide they will do with the businesses

    I am thinking of Hollywood. A new executive takes over a studio. He shuts down TV show X, which is profitable and fills the slot with show Y, "Because he likes that show better." Networks/studios fund all operations with a tiny handful of successes and they do whatever they want with the rest. In the car world the dealers buy up all of the used cars that look great on the outside and sell them for many times what they paid for them, and that funds whatever else they want to do. The rest does not have to make sense.

    Money does not always drive business decisions. Usually, but these cases are exceptions.

    A friend recently sent a video. This guy is great LOL:


    If everyone stopped buying used cars from dealerships, perhaps that would reshape the landscape.

    Also the federal rules requiring OEMS to have independent dealerships should be re-examined.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,360
    Every time I see him I'm reminded that a village is missing its idiot.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160

    Every time I see him I'm reminded that a village is missing its idiot.

    I think that's like the second thing we have ever agreed on.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    guitarzan said:

    A friend recently sent a video. This guy is great LOL:

    The worst thing about our trade is anyone can claim to be knowledgeable, "Scotty" wouldn't even be employable when there are no other applicants.

  • henrynhenryn Houston, TXPosts: 2,575

    Every time I see him I'm reminded that a village is missing its idiot.

    I think that's like the second thing we have ever agreed on.

    +1

    2x to 4x what they paid for it? In their dreams, maybe.
    2018 Ford F150 XLT Crew Cab, 2016 Chrysler Town & Country Touring
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    Michaell said:

    @thecardoc3 - I read that article from Buffalo.

    My question is this - won't the natural laws of supply and demand come into play, eventually?

    There are dynamics in play that muddy the waters. The first of which is how long it takes to truly master the work. First there is no finish line, if someone has been a tech for thirty years and stops trying to learn, they immediately start falling behind. This is one of the problems with the idea of becoming a technician because it will lead someone into other careers. The career has to start rewarding someone for doing it for their entire career or ultimately nothing will change.
    Michaell said:


    It's not like the need for auto technicians will simply go away. We are still selling in excess of 13 million new cars, every year, and 99% of them are ICE. Service and maintenance will still be necessary.

    The trade is suffering greatly from stratification. There is simple work that can be learned in two years or less and then numerous different levels. Meanwhile there is always the incentives to jump out and do something else where the grass is truly greener.
    Michaell said:


    If there aren't enough applicants for the jobs available, I would expect wages to go up. Granted, that doesn't help when folks aren't taking the necessary training to fill those jobs to begin with, but there seems to be a bit of a renaissance in trade labor - electricians, plumbers, etc. The kind of jobs that can't be outsourced, and the kind of jobs that, in the long run, pay pretty well.

    Just one outsiders perspective, right or wrong.

    Not wrong it's just the upside down nature of the career. A tech will hit a point where he/she is doing lots of maintanence and general services that can be knocked out in a fraction of the time that they pay and make some pretty good money. Then they start getting saddled with doing more and more complex tasks and suddenly all of the money disappears because they are doing harder work. A few of the quotes from some of my recent posts do a good job of representing that issue. Working through the kinds of problems that can occur today is more like working in a research laboratory than it is a quick lube. It often takes time to the point that it can look from the outside that no progress is being made at all. You see the stories, "They had my car for XXXX or it's going back for the Nth time." Few are willing to, if they even know how to compensate a tech for that kind of time investment and that is usually the last straw and we lose a lot of talented people.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    A Facebook video you should watch. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1430705700298843
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    edited July 3
    My car is (still!) a 2000 Celica. The mechanic I traded the dealer for fixed most things bang on but the A/C has had several repairs. Even so from years 10-19 the A/C has never worked more than 9 months. On a recommendation I just went to a mechanic that specializes in A/C. He replaced a line that has a (freaking) site glass on it and a valve, another $400 part. Using a Freon-era HC detector he found a vapor leak at the site glass. There has been dye in the system, he mentioned that no dye is detected in the leak area (why doesn't vapor pull at least some dye?) Also, he has wanted to get a newer detector, designed for the current refrigerants but "they don't work." (I can see some of the challenges others have had with this car.) I asked him if this may have been bad for ten years, "probably, it is one of 3 things that always goes on these cars."

    At the same time it has heated up outside a problem developed. When the car is first started there is a hesitation. If it is cool it is almost not noticeable. If the car sat in the sun and it is scorching out, I press the gas and NOTHING HAPPENS. The idle might dive a little bit. I have to play with the gas over 15+ seconds. When it finally starts revving the problem slowly disappears. Revs x time seems to be the fix (like the intake wanted to cool from air type of feel.) This mechanic took snapshot data, fixed the AC and gave the car back to me, and told me he needed to analyze the data and think about it. (Better than blindly swapping parts methinks.) He is perplexed. I found similar posts online for when this gen was brand new and *according to those darned Internet posts* dealers replaced the MAF sensor and the problem went away. One owner put the prior sensor in and POOF the problem returned. This mechanic said the MAF is not doing anything because it is not getting any air yet, so that would be a red herring. Being a motorcyclist and seeing screwball things happen with a bad battery I was wondering if it is not getting enough power at the initial idle or if the battery is an issue. After driving home the voltage was 12.8 and I put it on a Battery Tender. Very quickly the indicator showed that the battery was over 80% charged. The battery is a year old so that was what I expected.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    The new leak detectors have to conform to this SAE standard to be approved. https://www.sae.org/standards/content/j2791_200701/
    Here is an example. They have to detect a .15ounce (4grams) a year leak at 3/8" but not alert at a .07 (2 grams) ounce a year.

    https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/05/11/1353629/0/en/J2791-J2913-Certified-Refrigerant-Leak-Detector.html
    Most of the quality tools are going to run in the $400-$500 range.

    The dye moves with the refrigerant oil, the oil has to leak for the dye to show up.

    The MAF sensor is a primary input to calculate the base injector pulse width under all conditions. A MAF that is incorrectly reporting the airflow will result in the wrong amount of fuel (too rich or too lean) being delivered. The only difference between the cold start and the engine after it has run long enough is closed loop operation where input from the O2 sensors get's added to the calculation, but at 15seconds on a car that old you really wouldn't be in closed loop yet. If there is an issue with the MAF reporting the airflow the first thing to look at is the engine load calculation, you should be able to hit 100% engine load at wide open throttle under any engine speed. If you cannot reach that level the next thing to look at is the combined long term and short term fuel trims. If they are adding fuel then the MAF is under reporting the airflow. If they are taking fuel away then the system is getting too much fuel.

    A system power issue will have a far greater impact of fuel pump operation,. injector on-time, and ignition system output than nit would on a MAF. In fact the PCM would modify the injection pulse to compensate for low power if that was in play, so that aspect can be ruled out.

    For a tech to address your starting issue he/she has to set all of the testing in advance and then let the car sit long enough to get the problem to occur. That means use an oscilloscope to monitor injector pulse and ignition commands, crankshaft position sensor (or distributor reference) signal to the PCM, fuel pressure, and using the scan tool any other data as seen by the PCM. Then adjust the testing based on what was discovered during that first fifteen second window and wait for the next event if necessary.

    A MAF is likely to cause this issue and a lot of people do just throw the part at the failure. The irony of that being successful is found in the fact that the discipline, knowledge and experience needed to figure the problem out the first time, every time, doesn't get studied and practiced and is therefore lost to all but a handful of people.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    Does the car run safely with the MAF sensor disconnected? Would that be a valid troubleshooting step for me? Also, good or bad, I cleaned the MAF with isopropyl and performance did not change at all.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    Some cars will run better if the MAF is faulty by disconnecting it, others may not run at all. One of the tests that we used to do back then before we did VE (Volumetric Efficiency) calculations or used the calculated engine load data pid was to scope the sensor signal. What you would typically see on a snap throttle is a sudden inrush of air taking the signal just over the 3v range. Then it would drop as the intake filled with air at atmospheric pressure with no where to go until the rpm's come up. With a really sensitive sensor, we would often see individual cylinder pulls as the signal then rose above 4v. A bad sensor, one that is under reporting might only hit 2v on the initial throttle opening and barely make 3v after the engine finally sped up. There could be as much as a two second lag before reaching 4000rpm with some bad sensors and a little trick to help prove that the MAF was the problem was to give it a shot of propane during the throttle snap to see if that assisted the engine to speed up and caused the O2 sensors to spike high.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=MAF+signal+throttle+snap&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=lvzIWv7VRRbkZM%3A%2Ckvoi88fyeBoO4M%2C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kRNOtZ7A1MevJOxLg888og8fMMKAw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiaz76h853jAhVTZM0KHe_HBvsQ9QEwEXoECAkQBA&biw=1366&bih=619#imgrc=lvzIWv7VRRbkZM:
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    edited July 6
    Apparently I do not learn well. I bought a MAF. It made no immediate effect. Now I think I know what the problem is: A clogged cat. There is a rattle underneath the car. It can't breath until it gets going. The power has been slowly diminishing but I did not think about it until now. There are no codes set yet. Would the mechanic's snapshot data be able to verify this?

    The cat is 19 years old. I have been reading on how they fail. I did a cross country trip and the mechanic on the other end neglected to fasten the engine cover after an oil change. It ground off on the road, leaving the underneath exposed. I road through icy conditions which would have splashed freezing water on the hot converter. That was five months ago. I wonder if that finished off the aged cat.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    Take the information above about driving the car and capturing the engine load data along with the fuel trims. If the engine is struggling to breathe, you will see low calculated engine loads just like the bad MAF sensor but the fuel trims will be making very low compensations. That occurs because the air that is flowing is being measured accurately by the MAF sensor so the base injection pulse-width calculation is accurate. Since the initial measurement of airflow is correct fuel trims don't have to make up for an error.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    The tools techs need to have to be efficient at their jobs never stops changing. Here is the latest addition to the collection.
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