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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.
             Or
2)   Own up to a problem you feel should be addressed by skilled in brakes.
             Or
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. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Volvo Oil leak discovered by Accident

There are always oil leaks on higher mileage cars. How bad they can get depends on how long they're ignored. Take this Volvo for example; it started to loose power, and then the CEL/MIL appeared! CHECK ENGINE (scary, generates apprehension of BIG REPAIR BILLS! eek!)


Engine began to run on possibly three cylinders. Code P0300 for multiple/random misfires appeared. Time to park the car or, jump into that frightening world of diagnostics. You know the one, you fear it because you don't understand what it's REALLY all about. 

There are books that explain theory and practical application of automotive diagnostics, but they seem to be written in a long forgotten language, right? - Not really. Watch and read the diagnostics that follow.

**Drove car into shop (actually pushed is much closer).
**Removed turbo to inter-cooler pipe to access valve cover/ignition area.

 (just the beginning...)

(Cause of code P0300 )

**Found all coil packs and harness in their own "oil bath" under that center plastic cover. 
       **Removed all coil-packs to access spark plugs. 
**All but two of the five cylinder head plug wells were or had been full of oil. 
(the cause isn't always that difficult to locate)

**Only one spark plug is stilled threaded into the cylinder head. 
(thank goodness for those coil packs although they're not intended for that..!) 

**# 4 plug has been blown out and threaded hole in cylinder head is damage too. A portion of that spark plug is also missing and is most likely been through the top of the engine or worse. 


                                (bummer........ gotta make a few phone calls now)
**# 3 plug well is still full of oil so I must correct myself, there are possibly two cylinders without plug hole thread damage.

There are two ways oil can collect in plug hole wells; 
1. Gasket material sealing failure between cylinder head cam cover to the cylinder head. (rare)
2. Oil leaking slowly out of the filler cap and collecting in the lowest point. That's where the plugs are. (common)


Diagnosis: Needed an oil cap because at the mileage this Volvo with TURBO shows they're usually in need of some simple maintenance to open up passage ways & allow this sucker to run! 

BUT, this problem has become one that is more in depth than one would really have expected.

MORAL: Call an independent repair facility such as ours. We will establish routine 5K service/inspections. You get reminders to have a 5K done. Then things like this just won't seem to happen to good people like the ones that own this car.  JP