Jeff Bach, Author at Transmission Digest
Feelin’ the Love

This article is about a customer who believed his car not starting related to his under-hood encounter with a strange critter. After chasing off his uninvited guest and making a visual inspection, the customer had the car towed to his Toyota dealer and explained that the critter was somehow responsible for the problem with his car.

No Idle Curiosity

The car was a 2008 Chrysler Sebring with a 2.4-liter engine. She complained that there were times when she stepped on the gas and the car would just idle along. Lately, she told me, the idling had been accompanied by a blinking icon showing two bars and a lightning bolt between them. She said that when the car wouldn’t accelerate, she could turn it off, restart it, and it would be OK for an undetermined amount of time.

Chew on This: Curious Tech Sinks His Teeth into a Start-Stop Problem with a Prius Hybrid

I repaired the ground circuits and tested the coils. They were now all firing. I put the plugs and coils back in and cranked it again. Watching the energy monitor on the dash, I could see that the engine was cranking but not starting. This was disappointing since I thought I did well finding the ground-wire issue. The strange part about this car is that the gas engine cranks at 1,200-plus rpms and keeps cranking until it starts, sets a no-start code or you turn off the key. The coil codes were gone, but now I got a P3191 no-start code. I managed to catch some interesting crank no-start data that illustrates pretty well what I mean when I say you can’t tell the difference between cranking and starting on these cars.

Something ‘crazy’ causes systems to quit

“The speedometer drops off,” my friend Lee told me when he brought in a Jeep Grand Cherokee he wanted fixed. “Then the gauges quit and all the warning lights come on. This thing has been acting crazy on and off for a couple of years. Nobody can figure it out.”

‘Test, Don’t Guess’ When Lightning Strikes

I have had the opportunity to deal with several vehicles that were actually struck by lightning. Usually, various modules are fried; however, there was one that just threw me for a complete loop. The vehicle ran, but no electrical circuits in the body worked (windows, door locks, radio, etc.) I expected to find a main power circuit problem, but much to my dismay, there wasn’t a single blown fuse. The problem turned out to be on the ground side of the vehicle. The main body ground circuits that ran along the rocker panel under the driver-side doorsill were completely melted away.

Shops Still Shy Away from Working on Hybrids

Troubleshooting takes knowledge and a great deal of hands-on experience, yet the payoff is worth it.

It’s been a busy time for hybrids in my shop. The training schedule has been hectic and the buying and selling is starting to get some movement. The Consumer Reports rating on the Prius as the best value in used cars sure hasn’t hurt either.

Fast Fix on Chevy Snowplow

This particular truck is a 1996 Chevy 2500 series four-wheel-drive converted from a diesel to a 350 5.7-liter fuel-injected Vortex with an aftermarket powertrain wiring harness and a 4L60-E electronically shifted transmission. The guy bought it for his landscaping business strictly to plow snow. It had a bad transmission, which he had one of the local transmission shops overhaul. It came to me with the transmission banging hard when you dropped it into gear. It also had a rough 1-2 shift and didn’t shift at all from second to third.

Gen 1 Prius Keeps Going, Going

It’s no secret that the Generation 1 Prius is my pick for favorite commuter vehicle. When these cars are properly serviced and running as they should, you just can’t beat them for transportation. They were designed to be the best hybrid vehicle on the market, and there were few cars that could compete with them when they first came out. Toyota put the cars in service in 1997 and had time to work out the bugs and even redesign the high-voltage (HV) battery.

Theft System Spooked

I recently fixed a neighbor’s car that wasn’t starting due to the theft system not reading the key. I’m sure that some of you are familiar with the method of fooling the security module by bypassing the passkey ignition switch with a resistor. I got a call from him a few days later saying that it messed up again with the same problem. He wanted to know if the resistor went bad.

I took a look at the car and realized that the theft light was staying on, but it wasn’t working normally. It didn’t flash with the door open and it wouldn’t set the security system. It also wouldn’t disarm with the key in either door. I realized that it was a security issue, but not a passkey problem.

Not Getting ‘Skunked’

This week I got one of those in from a customer who was recommended to come here by another shop that had given up on finding the problem. After several attempts and customer drop-offs, the shop couldn’t get the problem to occur. The vehicle was a 2007 Ford F-150 pickup, and the problem was it would occasionally blow the brake-lamp fuse. The circuit seemed simple enough, not like a spider-plant circuit we sometimes run into.

‘Flood Damaged’ Prius Gets a New Life

Much to my surprise, I was able to get the immobilizer system to work after replacing the original module with a combination module and key from another vehicle. After it was programmed I started the vehicle. This also surprised me. I had checked the fluid levels and inspected the vehicle for evidence of the water to see what the immersion level was. I found no evidence of water anywhere, but the engine ran extremely rough and knocked something awful.

Misconceptions about Hybrids all too Common

Hybrids are coming to our shops, like it or not. I seem to be getting a lot more customers lately who are asking questions about hybrids. They want to know things like: “How far can you go on one before you have to plug it in and recharge?” “How dangerous are they?” “What happens if you run into a flash flood or get into an accident?” “Could you get shocked getting out of the car?” and “How long does that $10,000 battery last?” There are a lot of technicians out there who have some pretty strange ideas about hybrids also.