“Wiring problems,” “shorts” and drains are words that act like a double-edged sword for me. They seem to be the place where otherwise competent technicians tend to draw the line when it comes to problems they enjoy working on. I understand why a lot of techs feel that way after seeing some of the weird problems I’ve encountered.
In 2000 the Dakota hit sales of more than 175,000 units, but last year it was a dismal 13,000. The V-6 is the best-selling engine because the RAM1500 gets about the same gas mileage as a Dakota with a V-8. Why write an article about a truck that appears to be dying? If Fiat can save Chrysler it will happen only if they sell vehicles, lots of them, so I think that if this truck stacks up well to the competition we should recommend it to our customers. We will compare the 2004 Dakota V-6 automatic 4WD to the 2011 model.
The sheriff wanted to be more competitive with his Charger so he could win more than one third of his races. The Charger – here in Metro Denver – ran the quarter mile in 15.9 seconds and averaged 88 mph with the stock 5.7 Liter Hemi engine, automatic transmission and 2.80 differential gears.
When times get hard, people tend to do things themselves as much as possible before spending money to pay a professional. That’s completely understandable. It’s when they reach the point that it’s costing them more to do it themselves and yet they keep throwing money at the problem that I can’t understand. That’s the point where ego overrides logic. I guess once you get in so deep, it’s hard to cut your losses. It seems to me that it’s about the “twice-what-it-should-have-cost” point that I’ll get that phone call.
I have been reporting on serviceability of motor vehicles from the viewpoint of a technician for many years now. I normally pick a car, truck, van or SUV that sells 100,000 or more units per year – cars you will almost certainly see in your service bay.
Corvette is not in that category, but every boy or girl growing up after WWII remembers a Corvette as the coolest car in the world. They certainly have a mystique about them that made many of us, at some point in our lives, want to buy or at least get behind the wheel of one. But when they need service or repairs, do the technicians love ’em or hate ’em?
When a 1998 Honda Accord rolled into my shop with a customer concern of “poor shifting,” I thought a moment before saying “Yes.” I began with a fluid check and a test drive, finding that the shifting was indeed “poor.” I followed the test drive with a thorough visual inspection above and below the vehicle (Figure 1), and I wondered just how many possible causes could exist for this shifting issue.
The complaint on the car was that it ran terribly rich and the fuel mileage had gone down to about 8 mpg. The car had been to two independent shops and, last, at the Ford dealer. It had had both O2 sensors replaced and two electronic control units (ECUs) installed. The dealer told the owner that the car was getting as good a gas mileage as it was going to get. They had installed a new ECU because they said the one that was in it was an aftermarket part and wouldn’t work properly. The car was not setting any codes, but the sooty exhaust made it obvious that it was running pig rich. A scan check revealed that the engine was reaching operating temperature, the manifold-air-pressure (MAP) sensor was working, the engine was in closed loop, and the O2 readings were showing lean. I got the image in Figure 1 by connecting one channel of my scope to one of the O2 sensors and the other channel to the injector signal at the ECU.
Frustration can be seen on every technician’s face from time to time. Will it ever end? Electric cars can give us the relief for which we have been waiting for more than 100 years. And it can start now.
The first two electric cars on the road today are the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. The Leaf is pure electric (no gas tank), and the Volt is more of a plug-in hybrid. They are here, in the hands of a few early adopters. There is nothing to compare the old versus the new as we usually do, so we will compare them with each other.
In my opinion, the new Dodge Charger is one sweet ride; turn it into a police cruiser and it looks fast and intimidating just sittin’ on the side of the road. When our local sheriff dropped off his patrol car, it still looked impressive; however, the service-engine lamp and supplemental-restraint lamps were both illuminated, and there was a noticeable seat-of-the-pants misfire. This charger was currently pretty lame, and we pulled her directly into our “Emergency Room” (Figure 1).
In this day and age of technology, most of the problems motorists encounter can be found on a “fix database” somewhere. The more everyone relies on these fixes, however, the less we technicians are needed to troubleshoot problems. Technicians are not the only ones looking for fixes on the Internet. “Do-it-yourselfers,” as well as many car owners who are caught in the current economic crunch, are finding their own solutions on the Internet with simple Google searches.
You, the technician, need a voice of reason. This article completes eight years of reporting on the basic construction of different carmakers, but we have never looked at BMW.
BMW is one of three car companies that make motorcycles; Honda and Suzuki also make motorcycles. Each company has a history of racing. At the track, making the car or motorcycle hard to fix is the wrong way to go. All three of these brands are well respected in reports on their two-wheeled machines, but how do American technicians view the four-wheeled BMWs?
Even old data can be found online
I have noticed lately that many familiar sources of information have some amazing features that allow us to save diagnostic time, as well as space on our bookshelves.