Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Yes, the gas cap was on!

Hi John,
You hit the nail on the head when you said my Tundra had warranty issues.  I took it to Toyota of *****and and they did ~$2000 worth of work.  It was all covered under warranty except $7 for gas for the loaner.  They found code P2442 and water in the air valves. (Thats what I had too, JP) The invoice says they performed TSB repair replaced valves and both air pumps.  It took almost all week last week to get things straightened out, though.  

The first guy I talked to in service (on Monday) said he was 99% sure it was a loose gas cap.  He said to tighten the cap and drive it for a couple days to see if the dash lights cleared.  He said it wouldn't hurt to drive it.  Of course, it didn't help the light situation.  I called back Wednesday late afternoon and talked to a different guy who said to bring it in right away.  I took it in Thursday morning and picked it up Friday afternoon, good as new (almost!).  Thanks for your help.
When I first saw this 08 Tundra, it was in limp-mode and 4-wheel drive. Have you ever seen a vehicle that goes into 4WD if an emissions component is bad??? 

I like the safe diagnosis, the one that covers everything - "loose gas cap". Hmm, well new to me and I've been doing this automotive service/repair thing for a living since 1974... hmm

Is it a new-car warranty issue???

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Subaru oil leaker

Look Ma, it's a Justy! My-oh-my! 

I thought all the "old-cars" had been crushed during the “cash for clunkers” project, so I pondered about other nifty cars that might show up at my shop’s front door. Here is a short story about one such cash4clunkers escapee; a fine running 1994 Subaru Justy.
Now this example of auto-technology was one that Subaru wished we’d all have simply forgotten, yet all THREE CYLINDERS ran great and it was worth a little restoration. 
A guy, the owner who shall go nameless uses this little car as his daily work commuter.

WHY IS IT HERE? Reasons for this visit were Simple Routine Maintenance. A timing belt, front crank seal, a look at the oil spraying on the engine, gee! Oh yes, the infamous distributor body seal was a leaker as well.

Let’s repeat this guy’s tale for the NEED for ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

 "As I pull to a stop in rush hour traffic, (Think Lots OF OTHER CARs in a congested intersection), clouds of smoke unfurl from beneath the hood. The other drivers around me always look over in my direction. The smoke envelopes the front of the Justy, and I'm pretty sure most of the other drivers are betting when the FIRE will begin on my Subbie!"

 No idea how long this "smoking issue" had been going on, but it had become embarrassing and a worry to this guy, the Justys' owner. Many worn out seals, leaking oil, had all makings for a rolling Justy fire-bomb waiting to happen. You know anticipation, just like when the lunch-truck shows up, but that's fairly predictable.

What will show up next I wonder; perhaps a Yugo or as Carl said a GEO?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When is it really empty?

The question should actually read when is my gas tank empty. I just wanted to see if any of you would suffer pangs of memory guilt. Better yet, do you have a history of driving the car plain out of gas. Do you?

Is it more than likely if the engine stalls and won't restart that your first thoughts are of gasoline? Or what about the light that resembles a tiny gas pump. Does it flash or steadily glow yellow? And it's been doing that for nearly thirty miles so far...?

Look at what 30,000 miles of repetitive vapor driving left in a new fuel filter. That crap was the fuel pump, it was new, but now it doesn't work. look. 

One fact we all seem to forget, this includes myself, our vehicles have fuel pumps. These fuel pumps feed the fuel injection system; they're the heart of the system you could say. These fuel pumps are submerged in the gas tank for a reason.

The internal parts of a fuel pump are cooled and lubricated with the fuel in the gas tank. Let the level run low and the fuel pump wears out at an accelerated rate. So to keep the fuel pump alive try to make QUARTER FULL the same as empty.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Are you Cavitating?


Having a conscience in the automotive service industry, and making a living can be like mixing oil and water. I find myself in a constant battle the Ying and Yang of making a living or just simply telling a customer the ramifications of all that I have found. Although it's not my money or car; should a person throw good money after potentially bad?
As a customer, client or guest you need to rely on my honesty. I voice my opinion at times to inform you of repairs I feel might be opening up a proverbial 5 pound can of worms.

All this is simply put on the table as a reference before I begin my story. Currently I have such a vehicle in for repairs and it’s been leaking engine oil much like a severed artery would leak blood.

The car has nearly 275,000 miles on the odometer. Should I be thankful for the work or should I be giving of my observations and opinions. What if my customer cannot afford expensive repairs or ultimately the replacement of this vehicle? 

A decision must be made by an intelligent mature automobile owner. My job is to diagnose, estimate and inform them of what I’ve found. I must then turn the information and observations over to the owner for a final decision.

Restoration Observations

I haven’t seen this car for well over 30,000 miles. Although it had one of my lube reminders in its windshield it was thousands of miles overdue. The oil leak was so profuse it didn't justify a standard LOF. The habit of topping off the oil, but not changing the oil filter was being followed.

That sewing machine sound

Yesterday morning before repairs began I started the car to position it onto a hoist. As the motor sprang to life I was instantly reminded of my childhood and the sounds that a Singer sewing machine would generate.

I quickly turned the key off to check the oil level; it showed oil was a quart low. I again started the engine and although the noise was still there, it wasn't as loud as before and began to finally disappear as volumes of oil began coursing throughout the engine.

My diagnosis and comments
The sound is like valve lash adjuster clatter. For the moment I will assume that the rapid loss of oil can only be from the oil pump, which on this car is driven by the timing belt.

Was it Cavitation?
Yes because air pockets had formed in the oil pump. Have you ever heard that term cavitation, if not you should look it up or even Google it!
This was a very successful repair. The oil pump seals were the cause as I'd  thought they might be and engine damage was not obvious. I will put the car on a 3K interval and watch as well as listen for the next year. I have a good feeling about the car now.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Winters visiting your neighborhood too!

Summer of 2012 was a good time to be a cat, but not a mouse.

Our two and and a half month long summer gave me many views of this happy kitty. Was she begging for attention or was she just showing off her “catch of the day”, I will always wonder.

What did all that really mean?

After a couple minutes of hard thinking I realized that the rodent population was keeping up with that centuries old reputation of “breeding like ….”! Another thing remembered was the approaching Northwest style winter.

There is something you and I have in common: Your car.
Hmm...whats that smell? Has anyone else noticed it?”

And so the phone calls begin sometime in November or December. The weather has started to get real wet, cold and most likely we have snow. Rodents are now eagerly seeking out warm places to hold-up for our winters hardest months.

Besides your house, they really like cars & trucks that are seldom cleaned. For inside your car or truck, a rodent passenger with relatives will find you have a virtual meal-on-wheels with morsels in just the sizes they prefer!

Another annoying fact;

Mice tend to nest near the heater core. You may even find a surprise nest in the glove box! Sometimes they build a nest inside the blower motor fan. They then leave to forage while you drive around with their new nest tucked neatly away within your dashboard.

Or they go on a ride with you except their in that nest they've built INSIDE YOUR heater blower fan. There tends to be a little bit of noise and then odor if that happens. Think about it, you've been at the fair with the rides that spin around...hmm.

I'll stop there and let you think a moment about all the items and areas we service on your car or truck and how likely it would be for us to spot a mouse if you have them, before you have to make that call to us.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Do I really need brakes?

...well do you want to stop?

You could say “isn’t there a super cheap way to fix my brakes” or better yet “can we do just one wheel at a time” my response to either would be no. In life the saying “you get what you pay for” most definitely applies here.  

Let’s say you own a higher-end 1998 to 2003 model year vehicle. The brakes are causing all sorts of warning lights to illuminate your Christmas tree dashboard. Ignoring it seems like a good choice. Just forgetting to mention the problem to those of us who service your vehicle is not really a test of our honesty.

Decide to ignore that bright BRAKE or ABS warning light and you have three choices;
1)   Immediately depart the service facility on the back of the tow truck.
2)   Own up to a problem you feel should be addressed by skilled in brakes.
3)   Repeat step two, ask for a diagnosis and an estimate. Best choice.

Here are the/your reasons:

Many pre-2000 brake problems can be traced to the fact that those Cars or SUV’s had options that were considered standard. Yes, they were installed on only that one year, make and model and you purchased it. You didn’t know that all the driving you were doing was really just for research and development?

The Twist or call it Luck

A little twist to the above statement; the car company that manufactured your vehicle is out business or they sold themselves to another country. Many of the parts that were available, although for a short time, are now on a shelf in a warehouse somewhere waiting to be cataloged and inventoried.

Some food for thought:

If you like your car, sport utility vehicle or crossover utility vehicle then you’ll fix it. Do you feel safe and comfortable when you’re driving it and fuel mileage is acceptable? Once again you will fix it. After all why wouldn’t you want to fix it? Ever heard of a Tucker or a Corvair..?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tundra AFR Sensor Code O2, O2

The Front O2 sensor(s) on a later model Toyota Tundra is really called an Air Fuel Ratio sensor. It usually develops a heater circuit failure around 90K miles or later. This ToY fit those parameters & the check engine light was on.
Why did it fail? Read on..
Simple comparison…
How long does an average incandescent light bulb last? If you stuffed it into your exhaust subjecting it to extreme heat and vibration it wouldn't last 10 minutes.
Now take a heat emitting element & enclose it in metal. In this scenario you’re the computer and you Command it to get real hot, real fast. How long will it last? Environment determines life span and this is a harsh environment. Temps range between 600 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, not including that it’s getting splashed with water. A good reason light bulb elements aren't used and you just learned something!
Repair on vehicle!
Since the AFR Sensor failed it needs replacement, but look, there are serious side affects you discover upon removal. All the threads are mushed over or as some would say; stripped. 

What to do!? Do you replace the exhaust manifold to get new threads or do you chase those old threads and regain 70% or more.

I did the “chase-the-threads” thing as an experiment and this customer was lucky. Fewer problems seem to defeat the experienced technician, special tools help as well.