Howdy, Stranger!

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





Howdy, Stranger!

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

Did you get a great deal? Let us know in the Values & Prices Paid section!
Meet your fellow owners in our Owners Clubs

A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

1278279281283284289

Comments

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,078

    I think he means that they can guess what is wrong but have to accept the failure rate. They shouldn't presume they are as good as a well-trained technician. Trouble codes can certainly fool you.

    However----At $135/hour shop time where I live, I can afford a couple of guesses....but they should be educated guesses.

    Well, that's the private folks. If I take my car to the shop, I've already done the guesswork; what I need is someone to take the professional route and ensure that when I get my car back, it is truly and well fixed.

    If the management is encouraging guesswork in the interest of time, that really doesn't do anybody any favors.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,082
    edited December 2018
    Well, we were originally talking about private owners. Doc's original statement was:
    Well the first step is to get everyone outside of the trade to accept that they can't just guess what is wrong with a car based on a given symptom. Testing has to be performed the right way, each and every time.

    Those in the trade certainly should not be "guessing."

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,089
    qbrozen said:

    Well, we were originally talking about private owners. Doc's original statement was:
    Well the first step is to get everyone outside of the trade to accept that they can't just guess what is wrong with a car based on a given symptom. Testing has to be performed the right way, each and every time.

    Those in the trade certainly should not be "guessing."

    "Everyone outside the trade" includes anyone who isn't in the bays doing the work.

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,245
    :D

    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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490

    qbrozen said:

    Well, we were originally talking about private owners. Doc's original statement was:
    Well the first step is to get everyone outside of the trade to accept that they can't just guess what is wrong with a car based on a given symptom. Testing has to be performed the right way, each and every time.

    Those in the trade certainly should not be "guessing."

    "Everyone outside the trade" includes anyone who isn't in the bays doing the work.

    Fair enough. If you aren't actually in the trenches turning wrenches, then you have to present yourself as perhaps an "educated guesser"---but THAT doesn't mean you can't be right---and in some cases, if you apply due diligence to a problem, you CAN be as right as a technician. But you're using different methods that wouldn't work in an actual repair shop environment. You're experimenting, you're making phone calls, you're on line viewing videos or downloading files or diagrams. You are way less efficient and expending far more labor than a trained technician. But you aren't a dummy just because you aren't wearing a blue shirt.

    Not all problems are tricks. Not all trouble codes have triple meanings. Many do, but not all. You can be a DIYer and zero right in on the problem in some cases.

    I can think of a handful of diagnoses I made which were proven correct. I let the repair shop FIX the problem, but I already knew what it was and what had to be done.

    Naturally with 2018 cars a lot of what I said goes out the window. There are any number of systems on new cars that are simply not "serviceable". Not by ANYBODY in the field.

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,245


    Fair enough. If you aren't actually in the trenches turning wrenches, then you have to present yourself as perhaps an "educated guesser"---but THAT doesn't mean you can't be right---and in some cases, if you apply due diligence to a problem, you CAN be as right as a technician. But you're using different methods that wouldn't work in an actual repair shop environment. You're experimenting, you're making phone calls, you're on line viewing videos or downloading files or diagrams. You are way less efficient and expending far more labor than a trained technician. But you aren't a dummy just because you aren't wearing a blue shirt.

    Not all problems are tricks. Not all trouble codes have triple meanings. Many do, but not all. You can be a DIYer and zero right in on the problem in some cases.

    I can think of a handful of diagnoses I made which were proven correct. I let the repair shop FIX the problem, but I already knew what it was and what had to be done.

    Naturally with 2018 cars a lot of what I said goes out the window. There are any number of systems on new cars that are simply not "serviceable". Not by ANYBODY in the field.

    As it happens, I’m currently diagnosing an issue with one of my cars; once I have resolved the problem I will post a summary of the entire process- and I will happily admit if I gave up and took it to one of my indie shops.

    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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    edited December 2018
    Well good luck with it. On my Volvo, the scan tool immediately picked up the problem with an actuator motor for the HVAC, which helped me understand the problem, but alas, it doesn't identify which motor. So then I worked all the buttons on the system and figured out the one that was not responding. I then paid to have that motor calibrated, but that didn't work--it's just out of range. Then of course there's the problem of replacing it, which requires the entire dashboard to come out---and "while we're in there", ALL the actuator motors should be replaced. Naturally I'm just going to live with it--it's not a problem at all in my climate zone. The car gets mighty toasty through the mid-level and defroster vents.

    On the Mini Cooper, too, the scan tool (borrowed a better one) picked up the defective seat belt receptacle (which is gas-charged). Cleaned all the connections, no change. So it's about 99% certain what the problem is, especially since these are notorious for failing. Ordered a used seat buckle (female) that was pre-tested for $65 bucks. So I'll be into this $65 + one hour of my labor vs. a repair shop doing the whole thing with a new part for $400.

    On the Dodge pickup, the combination of the ABS light on and the speedometer failing at the same time was a solid tip-off that we were dealing with the differential speed sensor--which the scan tool correctly identified. That was a cheap fix, which I was able to do on my back with a few wrenches and a part sent UPS.

    Point is--a shop approaches these problems differently, and I totally get that. They don't mess with used parts, and they will gladly rip apart the dashboard and replace all the motors for $2,000, or the seat belt for $400, or the speed sensor for $150. It's just all in a day's work for them.

    What I was trying to do in all these cases was not to outwit the repair shops--they know way more than I do--but to get enough information that I could make an intelligent decision as to the next steps.

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,245
    edited December 2018
    In my case both the scan tool and the symptoms are pointing towards 3 possibilities. One is an inexpensive bit of maintenance that was not performed by the prior owner, so I'm going down that route first; even if that doesn't solve the problem it still needs to be done.

    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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    That's the way---go from the simple to the complex.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,245
    So, I performed the maintenance that the prior owner had neglected- over 14,000 miles late. At this point I've spent one hour and $74 on diagnosis/maintenance. I drove it tonight for 20 minutes and it ran fine- no CEL. I'm definitely not declaring victory yet as the issue was intermittent- but I have definitely eliminated one possible cause.

    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: 5,089
    When it comes to simply waiting to see if a code resets as confirmation that a problem has been solved, you first have to take into account the code enable criteria. If the conditions were correct for the test to run, then in most cases it should have. If the conditions were not correct then the test simply may not have run. Another thing to consider is would the code require one trip (continuous monitor) or two trips (non continuous monitor) to mature? In the case of a non continuous monitor such as evaporative emissions or catalyst efficiency the first test failure generates a pending code (mode 7) but the system doesn't set a MIL (mode 3) until it has two test failures in a row. If it never fails twice in a row, it isn't really fixed but the light won't come on.

    Sometimes a car presents with a condition that a test will just barely pass or fail somewhat randomly. That is often described as being an intermittent failure because the light can go on/off repeatedly over some period of time. Since it takes two passes or two fails to change the status of the MIL. In reality it could be failing a lot more than the driver might realize.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 817
    edited December 2018
    Doc that reminds me of Three Mile Island. One had to be an engineer in order to interpret the lights and gauges on the console of the nuclear plant. One could argue that the displays were practically meaningless, a significant compromise from designers who must not have known what they should be indicating to the operators. They just knew their task was to display something about the system status. The operators could not interpret what was happening, and we know the end result.

    It is a good thing that automobile systems are pretty well protected from going boom. But being stranded can feel almost as bad as a big explosion.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Why do some CELs not erase even after the problem has been definitely solved?
  • henrynhenryn Houston, TXPosts: 2,575
    guitarzan said:

    Doc that reminds me of Three Mile Island. One had to be an engineer in order to interpret the lights and gauges on the console of the nuclear plant. One could argue that the displays were practically meaningless, a significant compromise from designers who must not have known what they should be indicating to the operators. They just knew their task was to display something about the system status. The operators could not interpret what was happening, and we know the end result.

    It’s interesting you bring up the Three Mile Island incident. Most people have no idea what actually happened there. Robert Cringely served on the Presidential Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, and he has a very interesting write up here.

    https://www.cringely.com/2009/03/31/three-mile-island-memories/

    TMI wasn’t caused by a computer failure but the accident was made vastly worse by an error of computer design. Specifically, TMI-2 had a terrible user interface.

    We had a confluence of bad design decisions at TMI, some of them made by the U.S. Congress. U.S. law specifically prohibited using computers to directly control nuclear power plants. Men would do that and nearly all of those men would be former nuclear reactor operators from the U.S. Navy. Computers could be used to monitor the reactor and in fact it would probably have been close to impossible to monitor it without the help of computers. There were just too darned many valves and sensors for any team of humans to keep track of reliably, 24/7.

    So the computer (there was one) monitored the plant and raised an alarm if specific parameters changed. Then a guy would flip a switch to open or close some valve, solving the problem.
    Here’s how it was supposed to work. Something went wrong. The computer noticed what went wrong, set off audible and visual alarms, then sent a description of the problem to a line printer in the control room. The operator would read the print-out, check the trouble code in one of many manuals, then make the adjustment specified in the manual. Simple, eh?

    Too simple, it turned out.

    What happened at Unit 2 was a little more complex. A cascading series of events caused the computer to notice SEVEN HUNDRED things wrong in the first few minutes of the accident. The ONE audible alarm started ringing and stayed ringing continuously until someone turned it off as useless. The ONE visual alarm was activated and blinked for days, indicating nothing useful at all. The line printer queue quickly contained 700 error reports followed by several thousand error report updates and corrections. The printer queue was almost instantly hours behind, so the operators knew they had a problem (700 problems actually, though they couldn’t know that) but had no idea what the problem was.
    2018 Ford F150 XLT Crew Cab, 2016 Chrysler Town & Country Touring
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,089

    Why do some CELs not erase even after the problem has been definitely solved?

    The answer would be a case by case situation. One could be a blocking condition preventing the test that originally generated a code from running. Another one could be that the enabling criteria simply haven't been met, keeping in mind that a non continuous monitor needs to pass twice to turn the mil back off. I have seen instrument clusters fail and simply lose control of the MIL. One of my favorites is you have a vehicle that has multiple issues but other tests were blocked by a given failure. You go in and fix the failure that had a code set and now that unblocks another test or tests which once they run fail, and that results in the MIL staying on but when pulled you find a different code(s).

    The bottom line is to always think "system" when doing an analysis.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/ownership/the-horror-of-the-check-engine-light-and-the-joy-of-fixing-it/ar-BBPF3jZ

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Can anyone make any sense out of this man's story about visiting a dealership for a repair?

    https://forums.edmunds.com/discussion/53836/gmc/yukon-denali/what-are-these-little-indentations-for-on-the-sides-of-steering-wheel#latest

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,089
    edited January 1
    The location would appear to be where the horn pad/drivers air bag retainers would be accessed. I don't have information on hand for a 2018 so I don't know ( can't prove ) if they are still using the same design. But at this point it looks like either the tech is supposed to break through that extra flashing just like they did or else maybe the piece wasn't made correctly and those "dimples" should have been cut holes all along.

    This video shows how to operate the release lever (spring) with the air bag removed.

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,245
    It's much ado over nothing; If it was me I'd just clean up the access holes and forget about it.

    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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    edited January 1
    Yeah, I was thinking to just razor them clean with an X-acto knife or put a blob of gray latex caulk in there.

    What's interesting is that he re-posted a photo of what appears to be the ACTUAL access holes. Puzzling!

    https://forums.edmunds.com/discussion/53836/gmc/yukon-denali/what-are-these-little-indentations-for-on-the-sides-of-steering-wheel#latest

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,089
    That would not appear to be the access hole for the airbag. They are at 3 and 9 o'clock with the wheel held straight ahead as in the first picture. He will need to zoom out so that I can see where exactly that other hole is.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,089


    It took less than twenty minutes to diagnose the car, two hours to capture the video, and almost ten hours of editing.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,078
    That's commitment! I have tried (and failed) to do editing on a couple of dash cam vids. I just don't have the patience for it, particularly when I spend the time to push through all the editing, it works perfectly, then I render it only to find out that it is now garbage (choppy, erratic, audio/video not meshed properly, etc). So frustrating. :disappointed:

    Good info in yours, though. I felt awkward watching you, though, like you were sitting on a foot stool at the dinner table or something. If you can align it so that your chin is in the center of the frame, it will make viewing much better.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,089
    Always something to learn, at least I looked at the camera, (most of the time) VBG. I didn't want the Harley Davidson shirt that I had on taking up too much of the view. It probably would have been ok, but that was a choice that I made.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,089
    What editor have you tried to use? I am still learning shotcut but really like it.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,078
    edited January 2
    Blender. I use Camtasia at my office when doing meeting or training recordings, but that is a bit rich for my blood in terms of buying a personal license.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,089
    edited January 3
    The flat rate "system" when it was first implemented actually had the manufacturers have employee's actually do the repair under perfect conditions and time them. Then they made appropriate additions for all of the steps that occur with each repair such as getting parts, performing the paperwork duties, etc. Back then they didn't pay anything for diagnostics, they somehow just expected the mechanics to know what was wrong within a few moments of looking at a car. They also didn't pay for road testing in order to prove if a car was repaired correctly and that no other issues arose as part of the repair procedure. The results were labor times that an average technician could meet or beat and top techs could routinely generate a bonus of hours.


    Today there are no time studies actually performed, in other words, they don't actually employ someone who can do the job to prove if the time that they decide to pay is fair and accurate. Keep that in mind as you read the attached article from Automotive News.

    https://www.autonews.com/article/20181217/RETAIL05/181219924/flat-rate-pay-system-continues-to-divide-dealers-and-technicians


    Flat-rate pay system continues to divide dealers and technicians
    Rick [email protected]

    CHICAGO — The flat-rate pay system, which assigns specific amounts of time to do vehicle repair and maintenance work, was a key issue in last year’s strike of service technicians at Chicago-area auto dealerships. Flat-rate is a blessing to techs who can regularly beat “book times,” but a curse to others who can’t always complete jobs in the allotted times. The system, in place for decades, provides an incentive for techs to work faster, so they can book 50 or more hours a week while working only 40 and thus earn additional pay. It also enables dealership service departments to boost revenue by billing more labor time.

    Tom Shirey, dealer principal of Shirey Cadillac in Oak Lawn, Ill., defends the incentive-based flat-rate system. It provides the same motivation traditionally used on the sales side of a dealership and increases shop efficiency, he says. “When the mechanic is on the incentive system, if he does the work correctly and fixes the problem, then he gets on to the next job without wasting any time,” Shirey told Fixed Ops Journal. “The only thing we sell in the service department is time. The more efficiently we use time, the better the end product is going to be for the mechanic, the dealership and the customer. “If there is no incentive and they’re on a 40-hour guarantee, you’re basically putting them on a weekly salary,” he adds. “We wouldn’t have been on an incentive system all these years if there were a better way.”

    Beat the clock
    Union-represented technicians say that beating the clock under the flat-rate system isn’t easy, even for experienced mechanics. That can affect the quality of repairs, they argue. “It promotes shoddy work because it makes a guy have to turn hours,” said John Buttney, a journeyman technician at Haggerty Buick-GMC in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park, Ill. Customers often tell a service adviser that a “noise is coming from somewhere,” Buttney adds, and that’s the only guidance the tech will receive. That lack of information forces techs to spend valuable time chasing the elusive noise or an electronic gremlin and fall behind schedule.
    “It can be just [a loose] heat shield or something like that, and then you get paid a few tenths [of an hour] to fix it,” Buttney says.

    Sam Cicinelli, a leader of the union that represents Chicago dealership technicians, says techs frequently encounter problems that increase repair times while the flat-rate clock keeps ticking. “You strip a bolt, and now you’ve just lost on that job because it’s taking you that much longer to replace a strut because one of the bolts is stuck on the housing,” Cicinelli says. “They have to get a torch, heat it up, tap it out or cut it off.”
    Chris Becktel, a journeyman tech at Toyota of Naperville, says there is enough work at his shop that he can usually book more than 40 hours a week. But he is under constant pressure to beat the clock while tackling difficult jobs, he adds.

    “The most skilled, highest qualified guys are usually given the worst work,” Becktel says. “They know the less qualified guys can’t fix it.”
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    What a mess. How can you do time studies on modern cars anyway? Each "problem" can be quite different, even with the same light on, or the same code.

    I think part of the problem is that service advisers don't operate at a very high skill level themselves.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,245
    edited January 4


    I think part of the problem is that service advisers don't operate at a very high skill level themselves.

    That's what I find encouraging about the SAs that I worked with at my BMW dealer; they know as much if not more than the techs with respect to diagnosis and foibles of a specific engine or drivetrain.

    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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well they must have been techs then? My opinion is that if you haven't been turning wrenches in the last 5 years, then you aren't at the same level as the techs anymore.
Sign In or Register to comment.