Jump to content


Gonzo

Publisher
  • Content count

    1,906
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    101

Gonzo last won the day on September 23

Gonzo had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

501 Excellent

About Gonzo

  • Rank
    Expert Member
  • Birthday 01/10/1959

Business Information

  • Business Address
    9911 e. 5th st., Tulsa, Oklahoma, 74146
  • Automotive Franchise
    Other
  • Website
  • Banner Program
    Other
  • Certifications
    ASE CMAT
    USMC
    TEA (Tulsa Executive Association) Past president and chairman of the board
    FATHER, HUSBAND,

Recent Profile Visitors

20,372 profile views
  1. Water Cooler Diagnostics We’ve all heard the phrase, “codes don’t fix cars, good diagnostics does”. Codes are merely a direction or path, not the answer as some might think. Those “codes fix it all” believers are usually at the bottom of the diagnostic chain. You know the type; those Neanderthals with little wrenches and big cheater bars, or the ones that follow the old adage, “When in doubt-rip it out” method of diagnosing a problem. It’s seems to me that car repair for a certain demographic of people has always been something related to hand-me-down repair information, not diagnostic skills. I believe it’s all because of the availability of cheaply made parts and bad information. Some of it is hearsay, but a lot of it comes from two guys chatting next to the water cooler at work, and neither one of them have any automotive diagnostics background at all. This latest case study is a perfect example of why swapping parts and paying attention to those water cooler experts isn’t always a good idea. A trained technician with diagnostic background and less time at the water cooler may be what you need. A 2007 Dodge 4.7L pickup came into the shop with a stalling problem. The owner had already stopped by the water cooler and made a trip to the code fairy. Since no codes were stored, there wasn’t much for him to do except follow the water cooler genius’ advice. He swapped out every sensor and computer part he was told about and a few more he could barely reach, just to be safe. All of which didn’t change a thing. Before writing up the work order, I had to listen to his story, which ended like most of them do, "I've already spent too much on this truck, and I don't want to spend a penny more." (I wonder what kind of commission the water cooler guy got from the part store for helping this guy spend all his cash.) The stalling was pretty predictable, usually every 15 minutes. Just as it would stall, the check engine light would rapidly flash, then the truck would sit silent. If you turned the key off and back on, the truck would run perfectly as if nothing happened, right up to the very moment the whole scenario repeated itself. Since the only odd thing was this momentary flashing of the MIL, I decided to hook up a scanner and wait to see if this odd failure would show up on the screen. Sure enough, code P0688 popped up momentarily, just as the truck stalled “ASD signal low”. Out of habit I reached up and cycled the key. Dang it, the code never stored and the truck is back to running correctly again. I’ll have to wait one more time and see if I actually had the right code number. Since it only occurred as it went through its death roll, catching this failure was going to be tricky. It was the correct code alright, but no signs of dropped voltage or weak connections anywhere to be found. It’s time to pull out the big guns. Break out the scope boys! With the scope hooked up to two different injector leads and the remaining channels on a couple of coils, I spent the afternoon watching the ASD voltage like a nervous hen watching her chicks. As if on cue, the truck died. Not a bit of change on the scope. I’m definitely going at this the wrong way. Something is dropping off, or at least I assumed it was. Instead of looking at the ASD signal, how about checking the injection signal and coil signals from the PCM? This time the scope did have a weird response. Just as it stalled there was a little extra squiggly line that didn’t belong in the pattern on the coil input leads. Very subtle difference, but enough of a difference that it needed closer attention. The voltage signal spiked a bit higher than normal just as the truck would stall, and then the voltage would drop to zero. It must be the PCM or a coil. Since the signal was only there for a brief blip on the scope, it wasn’t exactly something I could put my finger on just yet. Time for some old school tricks. Since the PCM was new, I could at least (with some trepidation) rule it out for now. I could test further, or I could try to create a problem that might mimic what I was seeing on the scope pattern, or with luck, if it was a spike that was coming from a coil, disconnecting it could show the problem. I decided to give this truck a miss of my very own and see if I could increase that little squiggle into a bigger one. I'll unplug one coil and watch the scope pattern. If I’m lucky, the truck will either stay running longer than it normally did, or it might show me a larger voltage spike. Sure enough, I found it on the third coil. As long as that particular coil was left unplugged, the truck ran well past the usual stall time. To verify it, I plugged the coil back in and watched the scope readings directly at that coil. A millisecond before the stall the coil spiked to the top of the screen as the truck shut off. Just as I suspected, if it was on the coil that was causing the problem the spiked voltage would show higher there than on the adjacent coils. The big question for me was why did it not set a code? The reason was the coil lead led straight to the PCM. The extra high voltage going back into the circuit simply turned the PCM off as if the key was turned off. There’s no codes for shutting the truck off, only codes for failures that make it shut off. The solution...replace the coil. Now and then there are problems that don’t follow the diagnostic steps laid out by the engineers. Even though you’d think every aspect and every type of condition has been tried and tested, or at least talked about around the water cooler. There are times when you’ve got to look past the “assumed” problem and dig a little deeper to find the cause. There's no doubt this repair is going to be another one of those conversations around the water cooler, but I seriously doubt anywhere in this story will the novice know-it-all admit that it took an experienced technician to locate his problem, not his water cooler buddy. Oh, and I don’t expect to hear him say as he leans on the cooler, “Codes don’t fix cars, mechanics do” even when there isn't a code. View full article
  2. Water Cooler Diagnostics We’ve all heard the phrase, “codes don’t fix cars, good diagnostics does”. Codes are merely a direction or path, not the answer as some might think. Those “codes fix it all” believers are usually at the bottom of the diagnostic chain. You know the type; those Neanderthals with little wrenches and big cheater bars, or the ones that follow the old adage, “When in doubt-rip it out” method of diagnosing a problem. It’s seems to me that car repair for a certain demographic of people has always been something related to hand-me-down repair information, not diagnostic skills. I believe it’s all because of the availability of cheaply made parts and bad information. Some of it is hearsay, but a lot of it comes from two guys chatting next to the water cooler at work, and neither one of them have any automotive diagnostics background at all. This latest case study is a perfect example of why swapping parts and paying attention to those water cooler experts isn’t always a good idea. A trained technician with diagnostic background and less time at the water cooler may be what you need. A 2007 Dodge 4.7L pickup came into the shop with a stalling problem. The owner had already stopped by the water cooler and made a trip to the code fairy. Since no codes were stored, there wasn’t much for him to do except follow the water cooler genius’ advice. He swapped out every sensor and computer part he was told about and a few more he could barely reach, just to be safe. All of which didn’t change a thing. Before writing up the work order, I had to listen to his story, which ended like most of them do, "I've already spent too much on this truck, and I don't want to spend a penny more." (I wonder what kind of commission the water cooler guy got from the part store for helping this guy spend all his cash.) The stalling was pretty predictable, usually every 15 minutes. Just as it would stall, the check engine light would rapidly flash, then the truck would sit silent. If you turned the key off and back on, the truck would run perfectly as if nothing happened, right up to the very moment the whole scenario repeated itself. Since the only odd thing was this momentary flashing of the MIL, I decided to hook up a scanner and wait to see if this odd failure would show up on the screen. Sure enough, code P0688 popped up momentarily, just as the truck stalled “ASD signal low”. Out of habit I reached up and cycled the key. Dang it, the code never stored and the truck is back to running correctly again. I’ll have to wait one more time and see if I actually had the right code number. Since it only occurred as it went through its death roll, catching this failure was going to be tricky. It was the correct code alright, but no signs of dropped voltage or weak connections anywhere to be found. It’s time to pull out the big guns. Break out the scope boys! With the scope hooked up to two different injector leads and the remaining channels on a couple of coils, I spent the afternoon watching the ASD voltage like a nervous hen watching her chicks. As if on cue, the truck died. Not a bit of change on the scope. I’m definitely going at this the wrong way. Something is dropping off, or at least I assumed it was. Instead of looking at the ASD signal, how about checking the injection signal and coil signals from the PCM? This time the scope did have a weird response. Just as it stalled there was a little extra squiggly line that didn’t belong in the pattern on the coil input leads. Very subtle difference, but enough of a difference that it needed closer attention. The voltage signal spiked a bit higher than normal just as the truck would stall, and then the voltage would drop to zero. It must be the PCM or a coil. Since the signal was only there for a brief blip on the scope, it wasn’t exactly something I could put my finger on just yet. Time for some old school tricks. Since the PCM was new, I could at least (with some trepidation) rule it out for now. I could test further, or I could try to create a problem that might mimic what I was seeing on the scope pattern, or with luck, if it was a spike that was coming from a coil, disconnecting it could show the problem. I decided to give this truck a miss of my very own and see if I could increase that little squiggle into a bigger one. I'll unplug one coil and watch the scope pattern. If I’m lucky, the truck will either stay running longer than it normally did, or it might show me a larger voltage spike. Sure enough, I found it on the third coil. As long as that particular coil was left unplugged, the truck ran well past the usual stall time. To verify it, I plugged the coil back in and watched the scope readings directly at that coil. A millisecond before the stall the coil spiked to the top of the screen as the truck shut off. Just as I suspected, if it was on the coil that was causing the problem the spiked voltage would show higher there than on the adjacent coils. The big question for me was why did it not set a code? The reason was the coil lead led straight to the PCM. The extra high voltage going back into the circuit simply turned the PCM off as if the key was turned off. There’s no codes for shutting the truck off, only codes for failures that make it shut off. The solution...replace the coil. Now and then there are problems that don’t follow the diagnostic steps laid out by the engineers. Even though you’d think every aspect and every type of condition has been tried and tested, or at least talked about around the water cooler. There are times when you’ve got to look past the “assumed” problem and dig a little deeper to find the cause. There's no doubt this repair is going to be another one of those conversations around the water cooler, but I seriously doubt anywhere in this story will the novice know-it-all admit that it took an experienced technician to locate his problem, not his water cooler buddy. Oh, and I don’t expect to hear him say as he leans on the cooler, “Codes don’t fix cars, mechanics do” even when there isn't a code.
  3. Doing better, not quite all the way back from it all. I'm getting around great, playing golf and all. Things like crawling under a dash are out though. Lots of those type of movements will take a long time to get back to normal...at least for me. I'm not at my shop these days, spending my time teaching and writing articles. This article is really based on the lack of preparedness of the students leaving the college program at the college I'm teaching at. Their theory is that they'll learn that on the job. My thinking is....learn it now, get good at it later. But, I'm just a substitute teacher...lol....like...what do I know anyway. I've only been in the trenches for three decades and I don't have a clue what repair shops need in the way of fresh mechanics. Hopefully they'll let me teach an advanced class on the subject for those who want to know how to flash.
  4. Flash or Pass A few decades ago cars were just . . . well, cars. They had an engine, transmission, a starter, a heater, maybe an air conditioner, and all the usual accouterments that made them a car. Mechanics toiled away at replacing engines, rebuilding master cylinders, and fixing transmissions. Almost every component on the car was reworked to a like new condition and some parts may even have been rebuilt several times, before they were too worn out to go around the horn one more time. Labor rates raised and fell with the economy, while parts suppliers kept up the demand for rebuild kits as a normal over-the-counter parts inventory. Then somewhere along the way something changed. The era of the microchip followed right along with the era of plastics. Things were built not to “rebuild”, but to toss. Thin plastic housings with hundreds and hundreds of micro circuits all wired into a microchip made up circuits that allowed the impossible to become the possible. Some tasks became obsolete, like the telephone switch board operator, even bank tellers nearly went extinct when the ATM machine was developed. The world would never be the same with the microchip in every facet of modern life. Machining tools could now process and manufacturer automotive parts at such close tolerance that less material was needed per component. The prices for some of these components fell to less than or equivalent to the rebuild kits. Rebuilding an automotive component was soon a thing of past generations. The skills of the mechanic were now overshadowed by the microchip’s ability to manufacture a part better and cheaper than he could repair the old one. Soon, all this “toss-when-worn-out” reached the microchip itself. Computer software started finding itself in the very same throwaway society. Maybe not in the sense that we actually threw it away, but a new set of instructions or an updated program may be needed and flashed into a replacement processor. This brings up a whole new problem for the mechanic. Now those skills he developed in rebuilding a master cylinder have next to nothing to do with reprogramming an anti-lock brake module, and if he wants to stay in the business of repairing today’s cars he’s going to need to know how to program, or at least understand the need for and/or the process, rather than knowing the old school way of rebuilding a master cylinder. So as a mechanic, you have to ask yourself, “Do I flash, or do I pass?” Passing on the flash may mean you might not have the type of work in the shop that you can handle anymore. Luckily, there is a way around that problem. These days nearly every car on the road has more than one type of computer device in the car, and there’s a very good chance that at some point something will need a software update or reflashed because a component has been changed or upgraded. In a way reflashing, programming, coding, or the other various software issues there are in the modern car are somewhat of today’s version of rebuilding that master cylinder to a like new condition. Cars these days are lasting longer, running longer, and have different types of break downs than models from those early days. That’s doesn’t mean changing brake pads or installing a reman transmission isn’t done on a daily basis, they most certainly are. It’s the other side of the repair business, the computer updating and reflashing that’s an even bigger part of regular maintenance than ever before. So, which type of repair shop are you? Are you the shop that will do the mechanical work, but leave those electronic issues to someone else? It’s something every shop owner, as well as technicians need to think about. Of course, the amount of investment and the continual training involved can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there is a way to do the mechanical stuff and be a proficient repair shop without breaking the bank, and still service your customers’ electrical and software needs. The mobile diagnostic technician is the answer. Seriously, I never dreamed there would come a day I would be saying this, but the mobile tech is a viable source of revenue and a vital source of technical skills that a shop without those skills should utilize. Now, I’m not talking about those fly by night boys with a box of tools, I’m referring to the diagnostic scanner mobile tech who has the experience in dealing with all the websites, programming issues, and has the up to date information on how to perform such things as reflashing, key programming, and reloading of new software. What’s happening in the automotive electronic world reminds me of how things were when manufacturers switched from points and condensers to electronic ignition systems. A lot of guys refused to learn the new systems and soon found themselves only working on older models, which eventually faded away. Somewhere along the way of the electronic ignition systems, parts swapping became the norm. Instead of testing or diagnosing a problem it was a lot easier to keep the various types of ignition modules in your tool box, and when a “no-start” came in it only took a few minutes to swap the ignition module with your test piece. It did save diagnostic time, and it did get results, but the microchip and new technology has struck back again. The old school ways of parts swapping vs. in depth diagnostic with scopes and scanners has just about run its course. Now, swapping components can lead to an even bigger problem than what the car originally came in for. However, the general public is having a hard time comprehending the reason for these diagnostic costs. It used to be that they would bring the car to the shop, the mechanic would do some fiddle greasy job that involved rebuilding some part or swapping the old ignition module, and he didn’t charge a diagnostic fee. If a part was suspected as bad, it could usually be swapped out without any worries. That’s just not car repair anymore. Now swapping components with integrated modules can lead a disaster. On the other hand, those techs who pick up the pieces after one of these parts changers finish slapping parts should be commended. The aftermath of installing a processor without knowing the eventual outcome can be a brutal blow to the pocketbook. Radar systems, infrared and optical systems, cameras and proximity sensors aren’t the kind of components easily rebuilt, if at all. But, there’s a good chance you can reprogram most of it. Yes, we still have engines that need built and gears that need changed, but there seems to be a lot more in the mechanic field that involves electronics. To be today’s top mechanics and a repair shop that can get the job done, a lot more emphasis has to be put on that little microchip than on a rebuild kit. Flashing modules and loading computer software updates are just a part of the business now. Programming ain't for everyone, and some shops and techs can get by without ever dealing with it. But, when needed, utilize the expertise that is available to you. Learn how to flash by attending a couple of classes or find someone that can do it for you. Help your customer help you increase your bottom line. Don't pass on the flash. View full article
  5. Flash or Pass A few decades ago cars were just . . . well, cars. They had an engine, transmission, a starter, a heater, maybe an air conditioner, and all the usual accouterments that made them a car. Mechanics toiled away at replacing engines, rebuilding master cylinders, and fixing transmissions. Almost every component on the car was reworked to a like new condition and some parts may even have been rebuilt several times, before they were too worn out to go around the horn one more time. Labor rates raised and fell with the economy, while parts suppliers kept up the demand for rebuild kits as a normal over-the-counter parts inventory. Then somewhere along the way something changed. The era of the microchip followed right along with the era of plastics. Things were built not to “rebuild”, but to toss. Thin plastic housings with hundreds and hundreds of micro circuits all wired into a microchip made up circuits that allowed the impossible to become the possible. Some tasks became obsolete, like the telephone switch board operator, even bank tellers nearly went extinct when the ATM machine was developed. The world would never be the same with the microchip in every facet of modern life. Machining tools could now process and manufacturer automotive parts at such close tolerance that less material was needed per component. The prices for some of these components fell to less than or equivalent to the rebuild kits. Rebuilding an automotive component was soon a thing of past generations. The skills of the mechanic were now overshadowed by the microchip’s ability to manufacture a part better and cheaper than he could repair the old one. Soon, all this “toss-when-worn-out” reached the microchip itself. Computer software started finding itself in the very same throwaway society. Maybe not in the sense that we actually threw it away, but a new set of instructions or an updated program may be needed and flashed into a replacement processor. This brings up a whole new problem for the mechanic. Now those skills he developed in rebuilding a master cylinder have next to nothing to do with reprogramming an anti-lock brake module, and if he wants to stay in the business of repairing today’s cars he’s going to need to know how to program, or at least understand the need for and/or the process, rather than knowing the old school way of rebuilding a master cylinder. So as a mechanic, you have to ask yourself, “Do I flash, or do I pass?” Passing on the flash may mean you might not have the type of work in the shop that you can handle anymore. Luckily, there is a way around that problem. These days nearly every car on the road has more than one type of computer device in the car, and there’s a very good chance that at some point something will need a software update or reflashed because a component has been changed or upgraded. In a way reflashing, programming, coding, or the other various software issues there are in the modern car are somewhat of today’s version of rebuilding that master cylinder to a like new condition. Cars these days are lasting longer, running longer, and have different types of break downs than models from those early days. That’s doesn’t mean changing brake pads or installing a reman transmission isn’t done on a daily basis, they most certainly are. It’s the other side of the repair business, the computer updating and reflashing that’s an even bigger part of regular maintenance than ever before. So, which type of repair shop are you? Are you the shop that will do the mechanical work, but leave those electronic issues to someone else? It’s something every shop owner, as well as technicians need to think about. Of course, the amount of investment and the continual training involved can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there is a way to do the mechanical stuff and be a proficient repair shop without breaking the bank, and still service your customers’ electrical and software needs. The mobile diagnostic technician is the answer. Seriously, I never dreamed there would come a day I would be saying this, but the mobile tech is a viable source of revenue and a vital source of technical skills that a shop without those skills should utilize. Now, I’m not talking about those fly by night boys with a box of tools, I’m referring to the diagnostic scanner mobile tech who has the experience in dealing with all the websites, programming issues, and has the up to date information on how to perform such things as reflashing, key programming, and reloading of new software. What’s happening in the automotive electronic world reminds me of how things were when manufacturers switched from points and condensers to electronic ignition systems. A lot of guys refused to learn the new systems and soon found themselves only working on older models, which eventually faded away. Somewhere along the way of the electronic ignition systems, parts swapping became the norm. Instead of testing or diagnosing a problem it was a lot easier to keep the various types of ignition modules in your tool box, and when a “no-start” came in it only took a few minutes to swap the ignition module with your test piece. It did save diagnostic time, and it did get results, but the microchip and new technology has struck back again. The old school ways of parts swapping vs. in depth diagnostic with scopes and scanners has just about run its course. Now, swapping components can lead to an even bigger problem than what the car originally came in for. However, the general public is having a hard time comprehending the reason for these diagnostic costs. It used to be that they would bring the car to the shop, the mechanic would do some fiddle greasy job that involved rebuilding some part or swapping the old ignition module, and he didn’t charge a diagnostic fee. If a part was suspected as bad, it could usually be swapped out without any worries. That’s just not car repair anymore. Now swapping components with integrated modules can lead a disaster. On the other hand, those techs who pick up the pieces after one of these parts changers finish slapping parts should be commended. The aftermath of installing a processor without knowing the eventual outcome can be a brutal blow to the pocketbook. Radar systems, infrared and optical systems, cameras and proximity sensors aren’t the kind of components easily rebuilt, if at all. But, there’s a good chance you can reprogram most of it. Yes, we still have engines that need built and gears that need changed, but there seems to be a lot more in the mechanic field that involves electronics. To be today’s top mechanics and a repair shop that can get the job done, a lot more emphasis has to be put on that little microchip than on a rebuild kit. Flashing modules and loading computer software updates are just a part of the business now. Programming ain't for everyone, and some shops and techs can get by without ever dealing with it. But, when needed, utilize the expertise that is available to you. Learn how to flash by attending a couple of classes or find someone that can do it for you. Help your customer help you increase your bottom line. Don't pass on the flash.
  6. A real problem would have been to estimate it. As it was, ..... More time was in it than what was billed. I've seen jobs, repairs, and cars that were given up on because an estimate wasn't possible. If the customer is understanding, like this one it can be done. If they are not, well.... It ain't going to happen. I still made a buck on the job, but it should've paid more, maybe not for hours but for the difficulty and not so much for the actual hours.
  7. Old story, busy week. Ran out of time to complete a new story. But, this one came to mind after working with the students at the college. They seem to spend a lot of time telling me what they think is a problem or something they've done in the past that's wrong with the cars instead of fixing what they're supposed to do. (The college cars are never going to see the road again these cars have been torn apart so many times they should have been held together with velcro instead of screws LOL). I tell them all the time, "Don't count the alligators...just drain the swamp."
  8. Drain the Swamp and Count the Alligators Occasionally the customer has more confidence in you than you do yourself. The old farmer tells his hired hand, “Get down there and drain that swamp today.” The hired hand says, “Looks like there’s a heap of alligators in there.” “Don’t ya never mind about them gators, you just get that swamp drained!” the old farmer explains. Some days I feel like the hired hand. I’ll get a job in, and I already have the feeling there is going to be a whole heap of alligators between me and draining that swamp. This time around it’s a 2004 Nissan 350z with a non-functioning convertible top. The top was up, but wouldn’t move, other than unlatching the rear (5th bow) window section of the top. Jim is an old customer who loves his little Z car, and was well aware of a few of the alligators lurking under that deck lid. How did he know? Easy, he already tried to get it repaired at a convertible top shop, but they weren’t up to the task of taking on this alligator infested swamp. Jim’s only comment to me was, “I don’t care how many problems you find, just get it working for me.” After gathering all the TSB’s, wiring diagrams, procedures, and any other bits of info I ventured out into untested waters to see what I could find out. All the test procedures started out by checking pin-out voltages and resistances at the convertible top ECM, and guess where that is?… under the very same deck lid that isn’t moving… hmm, imagine that. The trunk is the only option. You’ve got to crawl in there and find the cables to release the deck lid manually. You could tell somebody else had already been working on it; the emergency cables were nowhere to be found. I looked like some sort of contortionist trying to get down into the small little opening at the bottom of the trunk with my bore scope. I had to wiggle it around in there, until I found the very thin wire cables that would release the latches. (They were pushed back under the lining of the storage area, which is not accessible from the trunk area) Ugh, I haven’t even moved the top yet and I’m already swimming with the gators… what could be next? Once I got the deck lid up I could then remove the interior trim and test the ECM to see what needed to be done. The output voltage for the 5th bow actuator motor was coming out of the ECM, so unless the wires are broken or disconnected the motor must have failed. Ok, now crawl out of the storage area and wrestle my way into the passenger compartment, then pull the trim piece on the back window up to expose the 5th bow motor. The motor brushes were shot. Lucky for Jim, I just happened to have some brushes that were a perfect fit. Might as well replace the brushes and see if it will work. I gave it a try. With a flip of the control button the 5th bow swung up into perfect upright position, but the top wouldn’t move. What now!?!? Back to the ECM and check the stop switches and motor voltages to the top. This time the alligator is in the ECM. Inside the ECM I found the circuit board lead to the top motors was burnt in two. Ok, fix the circuit board and try again. The top moved smoothly through its folding process. As the top closes the 5th bow actuator has to rotate in the opposite direction, so it will sit flush inside the convertible top storage compartment. As the bow moved to its next position the whole thing quit again. Oh come on… enough already… more alligators?!?! Yes, more alligators. Another trip back to the ECM, this time I found the stop switch for this position wasn’t working. Somebody had bent the micro switches so far out of whack there was no way most of them were ever going to work. By now I’ve called Jim at least a dozen times to keep him informed of what I was up against… his only answer, “Keep draining the swamp” Ok, Ok, I got it… I’ll put my waders on and crawl upside down and sideways to get this thing working… but…man these alligators… they’re everywhere. If you counted the different movements from completely up to fully down there are 12 separate electrical/mechanical operations the top has to go through, AND they all have to work in the correct sequence. One micro switch out of position and something else begins to move at the wrong time. I thought I was done with my alligator counting by the time I had the last micro switch in place, but the first time I got the top to fold up and drop into the storage area, it would stop about an inch or so from completely going down. Seriously? More gators on the prowl? What did I miss this time? I went thru all the electrical and mechanical diagrams again… Nothing, every step was correct, but there had to be something missing. Then I found the answer on one page. One short reference to some elastic straps that connect the 2nd bow to the 3rd bow. These straps spring the 2nd bow towards the rear of the car to allow for clearance, so the canvas and all the linkage arms can drop that last inch or so into the storage compartment. I did some more searching and found the part number 97150-CE01B “strap, elastic, convertible top”. I called the dealer and gave them the number… “Yea, it’s a good number, but we’ve never sold any.” I’m shocked. From what I found out lots of these convertible tops had the same problem. I figured they would have changed hundreds of these. It looks like it’s a common alligator in this part of the swamp; seems to me every top should probably have these replaced with the new part number, (know somebody with one?… give them that part number). “Well, get me a set of them.” Once the parts came to the shop, installing them was a piece of cake compared to everything else I had to do. At least now I could see the bottom of this swamp. No more alligators, no more swamp to drain… I’m done. I found 20 different problems in the top mechanisms and electrical components. That’s a total of 20 alligators that were lurking in this swamp. What a job! It took a lot of effort to solve all the problems that I found. It didn’t matter much to Jim how many things needed taken care of, the smile on his face as the 350z top worked like new made all that gator wrestling worthwhile. I almost gave up on it several times, but Jim insisted that I keep at it… I’m glad I did. So the next time I take on one of these gator infested jobs, I know exactly what I’m going to do. Ignore the difficulties, and do just like the old farmer told his hired hand to do. “Drain the swamp, and don’t pay no mind to all those alligators”. View full article
  9. Drain the Swamp and Count the Alligators Occasionally the customer has more confidence in you than you do yourself. The old farmer tells his hired hand, “Get down there and drain that swamp today.” The hired hand says, “Looks like there’s a heap of alligators in there.” “Don’t ya never mind about them gators, you just get that swamp drained!” the old farmer explains. Some days I feel like the hired hand. I’ll get a job in, and I already have the feeling there is going to be a whole heap of alligators between me and draining that swamp. This time around it’s a 2004 Nissan 350z with a non-functioning convertible top. The top was up, but wouldn’t move, other than unlatching the rear (5th bow) window section of the top. Jim is an old customer who loves his little Z car, and was well aware of a few of the alligators lurking under that deck lid. How did he know? Easy, he already tried to get it repaired at a convertible top shop, but they weren’t up to the task of taking on this alligator infested swamp. Jim’s only comment to me was, “I don’t care how many problems you find, just get it working for me.” After gathering all the TSB’s, wiring diagrams, procedures, and any other bits of info I ventured out into untested waters to see what I could find out. All the test procedures started out by checking pin-out voltages and resistances at the convertible top ECM, and guess where that is?… under the very same deck lid that isn’t moving… hmm, imagine that. The trunk is the only option. You’ve got to crawl in there and find the cables to release the deck lid manually. You could tell somebody else had already been working on it; the emergency cables were nowhere to be found. I looked like some sort of contortionist trying to get down into the small little opening at the bottom of the trunk with my bore scope. I had to wiggle it around in there, until I found the very thin wire cables that would release the latches. (They were pushed back under the lining of the storage area, which is not accessible from the trunk area) Ugh, I haven’t even moved the top yet and I’m already swimming with the gators… what could be next? Once I got the deck lid up I could then remove the interior trim and test the ECM to see what needed to be done. The output voltage for the 5th bow actuator motor was coming out of the ECM, so unless the wires are broken or disconnected the motor must have failed. Ok, now crawl out of the storage area and wrestle my way into the passenger compartment, then pull the trim piece on the back window up to expose the 5th bow motor. The motor brushes were shot. Lucky for Jim, I just happened to have some brushes that were a perfect fit. Might as well replace the brushes and see if it will work. I gave it a try. With a flip of the control button the 5th bow swung up into perfect upright position, but the top wouldn’t move. What now!?!? Back to the ECM and check the stop switches and motor voltages to the top. This time the alligator is in the ECM. Inside the ECM I found the circuit board lead to the top motors was burnt in two. Ok, fix the circuit board and try again. The top moved smoothly through its folding process. As the top closes the 5th bow actuator has to rotate in the opposite direction, so it will sit flush inside the convertible top storage compartment. As the bow moved to its next position the whole thing quit again. Oh come on… enough already… more alligators?!?! Yes, more alligators. Another trip back to the ECM, this time I found the stop switch for this position wasn’t working. Somebody had bent the micro switches so far out of whack there was no way most of them were ever going to work. By now I’ve called Jim at least a dozen times to keep him informed of what I was up against… his only answer, “Keep draining the swamp” Ok, Ok, I got it… I’ll put my waders on and crawl upside down and sideways to get this thing working… but…man these alligators… they’re everywhere. If you counted the different movements from completely up to fully down there are 12 separate electrical/mechanical operations the top has to go through, AND they all have to work in the correct sequence. One micro switch out of position and something else begins to move at the wrong time. I thought I was done with my alligator counting by the time I had the last micro switch in place, but the first time I got the top to fold up and drop into the storage area, it would stop about an inch or so from completely going down. Seriously? More gators on the prowl? What did I miss this time? I went thru all the electrical and mechanical diagrams again… Nothing, every step was correct, but there had to be something missing. Then I found the answer on one page. One short reference to some elastic straps that connect the 2nd bow to the 3rd bow. These straps spring the 2nd bow towards the rear of the car to allow for clearance, so the canvas and all the linkage arms can drop that last inch or so into the storage compartment. I did some more searching and found the part number 97150-CE01B “strap, elastic, convertible top”. I called the dealer and gave them the number… “Yea, it’s a good number, but we’ve never sold any.” I’m shocked. From what I found out lots of these convertible tops had the same problem. I figured they would have changed hundreds of these. It looks like it’s a common alligator in this part of the swamp; seems to me every top should probably have these replaced with the new part number, (know somebody with one?… give them that part number). “Well, get me a set of them.” Once the parts came to the shop, installing them was a piece of cake compared to everything else I had to do. At least now I could see the bottom of this swamp. No more alligators, no more swamp to drain… I’m done. I found 20 different problems in the top mechanisms and electrical components. That’s a total of 20 alligators that were lurking in this swamp. What a job! It took a lot of effort to solve all the problems that I found. It didn’t matter much to Jim how many things needed taken care of, the smile on his face as the 350z top worked like new made all that gator wrestling worthwhile. I almost gave up on it several times, but Jim insisted that I keep at it… I’m glad I did. So the next time I take on one of these gator infested jobs, I know exactly what I’m going to do. Ignore the difficulties, and do just like the old farmer told his hired hand to do. “Drain the swamp, and don’t pay no mind to all those alligators”.
  10. There’s an App for that Technology has a way of surprising us all by surpassing itself over and over again. One day you’re dialing a rotary phone wired to a land line, and the next we’re communicating between micro wave towers and satellites. We now have the capability to talk to anyone anywhere on the planet with a small hand held device just as long as you’ve got a signal. But, talking isn’t enough for our modern world. We want the ability to connect with everyone and every sort of business or hobby we can think of through our magic little smart phone for any reason and at any time we’d like. It could be for local or world news, maybe to keep in touch with friends across the country, or how to do something you’ve never done before. Book a hotel room, find a new job, check the weather, the possibilities are endless. The technology in our hands is by far more technically advanced than what was used for the Apollo space missions. Think about it, we sent men to the moon with less technology than what you have in your pocket right now. Looking at it in those terms makes me realize the depth and scope of this new technology, it’s truly amazing. If it wasn’t for museums hardly anyone born lately would have any idea how life was before transistors. Something else to consider is that anyone born a decade ago has never known a world without a smart phone. People born just a few decades earlier have never known a world without the internet. Another decade more and those people have no concept as to how the world made it from day to day without a home computer. Going even further back before the home computer, a computer to those folks was this huge machine inside a climate controlled building with these big reals of magnetic tape spinning randomly around or large stacks of punch cards that zipped through a machine at lightning speeds. Going back to the 30’s and 40’s, a small screen 2 way conversation wrist watches was only in the newspaper comic strips and something that might resemble a computer was only found on a sci-fi movie down at the Bijou. Now, we not only communicate, but we can source information about anything you can think of right at our finger tips. Need to know the yardage at the golf course, there’s an app. Want to know the ingredients of a chocolate cake, yep, there’s an app for it. Can’t figure out how to fix your car, you got it… there’s an app for that too. Wait a minute… Did I say fix your car with an app? I thought car repair was some sort of highly skilled trade that took years to learn the proper techniques and even longer to be proficient at it? That’s right, the very same. Anyone with a smart phone can be an expert in any field they would like to be an expert in, and it doesn’t take much to make a “You Tube” video on any subject, especially on how to fix your car, and with a little extra effort you too can make an App on car repair as well. Some are developed, produced, and edited to a high standard and at a professional level. Others, well I’m not sure any thought was put into the content, background, or the poor grammar they used. Years before the internet a mechanic learned their trade by being in the trade, now we’ve got what are commonly referred to as “You Tube Mechanics”. These are the guys who couldn’t repair much of anything without consulting a You Tube video or going to their favorite App and more than likely never considered going to a trade school or opening a repair manual to find reliable information. Even though the general rule of thumb in the business these days is not to follow a traditional apprentice program but to learn as you go doesn’t mean you won’t learn something from today’s method of watching videos or viewing Apps, it’s just how much knowledge is lost or passed up by not following in the footsteps of our seasoned master mechanics and learning the trade from their well callused hands. I’ve got to admit, there are a lot of great Apps out there for the mechanic to have on their smart phone. For example, OEM1stop or NATSF where all the manufacturers’ websites are listed. You can find an App for calculating the cylinder volume on an air cooled Volkswagen, or the alignment specifications for just about every car out there, to what type of headlamp fits a certain car. It’s endless. Whatever information you need, chances are there’s an app or some sort of site for it. But, with all this helpful wisdom an App can’t fix the car for you. You still need somebody to get in there and make the repairs accurately. It used to be (years ago) a car would come into the shop that a friend of a friend spent the weekend under the hood trying to solve their friends car woes. Then, along came the internet and the smart phone which brought a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. But, in the end, the car still has to limp into a repair shop for a mechanic to get it back on the road. Take this typical internet repair that happens on any typical day at any typical repair shop in any typical town in the country. The car comes in on the hook and before it’s even on the ground the mechanic notices parts dangling out from the bottom of the car. The repair order only states that it stopped on the customer while driving and that he had attempted to look at the problem himself. Upon further investigation the dangling parts and the condition of the motor showed signs of someone trying to remove the timing belt. The plastic cover had a crack from the top to the bottom and it just so happens to be one of those covers that secured various hoses and wires away from moving parts. It was clear that somebody had tried to take it apart without knowing all that needs to be known on how to remove it. A few words were mumbled by the mechanic that we don’t need to repeat and a call was made to the owner. (On a smart phone of course) The conversation started and ended with how he watched a video and downloaded an App that showed the timing marks. The App had some great information on it, but the video lacked the complete step by step procedures. The kind of steps that a seasoned mechanic would do without thinking about. You know, checking for hidden bolts, or how you should always give a light tug before reaching for the prybar and damaging something. Things like, cleaning the surfaces before starting so that you’re less likely to miss a bolt or fastener or have a tool slip on the greasy surfaces, to name a few. But, the app didn’t mention any of that. Now the customer isn’t here just for a timing belt, but a new timing belt cover, a harmonic balancer that was mauled into a useless pile of metal because he didn’t have the correct removal tool, and to replace all the missing special timing belt cover bolts the owner let fall into his gravel driveway never to be found again. Not to mention, nothing has yet been properly diagnosed. Maybe what the automotive field needs is an App that shows a consumer how to dial their smart phone and contact a professional mechanic before they attempt a DIY repair at home, in a gravel driveway, with off shore-poorly made tools, and no proper safety equipment. All the while, trying to balance their cell phone on the edge of the fender watching a You Tube video from a source with no credentials showing their expertise or experience. Yea, there ought-a be an App for that. View full article
  11. There’s an App for that Technology has a way of surprising us all by surpassing itself over and over again. One day you’re dialing a rotary phone wired to a land line, and the next we’re communicating between micro wave towers and satellites. We now have the capability to talk to anyone anywhere on the planet with a small hand held device just as long as you’ve got a signal. But, talking isn’t enough for our modern world. We want the ability to connect with everyone and every sort of business or hobby we can think of through our magic little smart phone for any reason and at any time we’d like. It could be for local or world news, maybe to keep in touch with friends across the country, or how to do something you’ve never done before. Book a hotel room, find a new job, check the weather, the possibilities are endless. The technology in our hands is by far more technically advanced than what was used for the Apollo space missions. Think about it, we sent men to the moon with less technology than what you have in your pocket right now. Looking at it in those terms makes me realize the depth and scope of this new technology, it’s truly amazing. If it wasn’t for museums hardly anyone born lately would have any idea how life was before transistors. Something else to consider is that anyone born a decade ago has never known a world without a smart phone. People born just a few decades earlier have never known a world without the internet. Another decade more and those people have no concept as to how the world made it from day to day without a home computer. Going even further back before the home computer, a computer to those folks was this huge machine inside a climate controlled building with these big reals of magnetic tape spinning randomly around or large stacks of punch cards that zipped through a machine at lightning speeds. Going back to the 30’s and 40’s, a small screen 2 way conversation wrist watches was only in the newspaper comic strips and something that might resemble a computer was only found on a sci-fi movie down at the Bijou. Now, we not only communicate, but we can source information about anything you can think of right at our finger tips. Need to know the yardage at the golf course, there’s an app. Want to know the ingredients of a chocolate cake, yep, there’s an app for it. Can’t figure out how to fix your car, you got it… there’s an app for that too. Wait a minute… Did I say fix your car with an app? I thought car repair was some sort of highly skilled trade that took years to learn the proper techniques and even longer to be proficient at it? That’s right, the very same. Anyone with a smart phone can be an expert in any field they would like to be an expert in, and it doesn’t take much to make a “You Tube” video on any subject, especially on how to fix your car, and with a little extra effort you too can make an App on car repair as well. Some are developed, produced, and edited to a high standard and at a professional level. Others, well I’m not sure any thought was put into the content, background, or the poor grammar they used. Years before the internet a mechanic learned their trade by being in the trade, now we’ve got what are commonly referred to as “You Tube Mechanics”. These are the guys who couldn’t repair much of anything without consulting a You Tube video or going to their favorite App and more than likely never considered going to a trade school or opening a repair manual to find reliable information. Even though the general rule of thumb in the business these days is not to follow a traditional apprentice program but to learn as you go doesn’t mean you won’t learn something from today’s method of watching videos or viewing Apps, it’s just how much knowledge is lost or passed up by not following in the footsteps of our seasoned master mechanics and learning the trade from their well callused hands. I’ve got to admit, there are a lot of great Apps out there for the mechanic to have on their smart phone. For example, OEM1stop or NATSF where all the manufacturers’ websites are listed. You can find an App for calculating the cylinder volume on an air cooled Volkswagen, or the alignment specifications for just about every car out there, to what type of headlamp fits a certain car. It’s endless. Whatever information you need, chances are there’s an app or some sort of site for it. But, with all this helpful wisdom an App can’t fix the car for you. You still need somebody to get in there and make the repairs accurately. It used to be (years ago) a car would come into the shop that a friend of a friend spent the weekend under the hood trying to solve their friends car woes. Then, along came the internet and the smart phone which brought a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. But, in the end, the car still has to limp into a repair shop for a mechanic to get it back on the road. Take this typical internet repair that happens on any typical day at any typical repair shop in any typical town in the country. The car comes in on the hook and before it’s even on the ground the mechanic notices parts dangling out from the bottom of the car. The repair order only states that it stopped on the customer while driving and that he had attempted to look at the problem himself. Upon further investigation the dangling parts and the condition of the motor showed signs of someone trying to remove the timing belt. The plastic cover had a crack from the top to the bottom and it just so happens to be one of those covers that secured various hoses and wires away from moving parts. It was clear that somebody had tried to take it apart without knowing all that needs to be known on how to remove it. A few words were mumbled by the mechanic that we don’t need to repeat and a call was made to the owner. (On a smart phone of course) The conversation started and ended with how he watched a video and downloaded an App that showed the timing marks. The App had some great information on it, but the video lacked the complete step by step procedures. The kind of steps that a seasoned mechanic would do without thinking about. You know, checking for hidden bolts, or how you should always give a light tug before reaching for the prybar and damaging something. Things like, cleaning the surfaces before starting so that you’re less likely to miss a bolt or fastener or have a tool slip on the greasy surfaces, to name a few. But, the app didn’t mention any of that. Now the customer isn’t here just for a timing belt, but a new timing belt cover, a harmonic balancer that was mauled into a useless pile of metal because he didn’t have the correct removal tool, and to replace all the missing special timing belt cover bolts the owner let fall into his gravel driveway never to be found again. Not to mention, nothing has yet been properly diagnosed. Maybe what the automotive field needs is an App that shows a consumer how to dial their smart phone and contact a professional mechanic before they attempt a DIY repair at home, in a gravel driveway, with off shore-poorly made tools, and no proper safety equipment. All the while, trying to balance their cell phone on the edge of the fender watching a You Tube video from a source with no credentials showing their expertise or experience. Yea, there ought-a be an App for that.
  12. Well, I'm not 45 but I damm near dropped dead from a heart attack. My shop is officially up for sale. I priced it pretty low so it would go, but if I don't see any action in the next month or so it's going to get liquidated. I've got other pans in the fire and can easily maintain my lifestyle with next to no change at all... even without the shop income. So, if you're looking to buy a turn key shop, I've got one. If you'd like to drive to Tulsa with a big truck and load the whole place up and move it... by all means come get it.
  13. Good one, now that's one I've never run across... or is that a bad pun? LOL Actually, I was avoiding rodents, deer, and other mammal or marsupials in this story. I'm saving that for a later story. This was strictly on the bug infestation side of the nastiness. I forgot about the lice... or how many times after being in one of those bug infested cars all you wanted to do was shower. LOL
  14. Bugs In The Rugs Ants, moths, bees, flies, wasps, spiders, scorpions, roaches, yellow jackets, fireflies, centipedes, silver fish, lady bugs, katydids, mosquitos, termites, fleas, mites, and fly larvae (maggots). No, that’s not a list of insects on the back of a can of insecticide. That’s just about every type of creepy, crawly nasty little bug I have encountered in a car at one time or another. It’s enough to make your skin crawl. Sometimes it’s not so much what you run into, but where. For instance, I was working on a little foreign car, checking out a faulty turn signal. I diagnosed a bad lead on the front turn signal socket, and had already pulled the lens off and supplied a ground to the bulb, so I knew what I needed to do. Just sling under the car and reattach the ground lead that was hanging there. The car was low to the ground, but I managed to wedge myself under there just enough to make the repair. As I managed to turn my head to see the turn signal housing, there… just a ¼” from my nose was a large nest of red wasps. They were all darting around working on their nest totally oblivious to me. I didn’t stick around long enough to introduce myself. Something I’ve learned after being at this for a few years: If you get one of those carpet cleaning trucks in the shop for repair, make sure you have plenty of roach spray handy. It’s not uncommon to pop the lid off of the fuse box to find hundreds of those nasty little critters trying to find a new hiding place. I’ve even seen a few behind the lens of the instrument cluster just minding their own business as they walked over the gauge needles. They tend to eat wires, leave their acidic droppings on circuit boards, and their dead relatives laying in the vents. Nothings worse than getting “bug sprayed”… with bugs when you turn on the blower motor. Now when you’re trying to find an odor, or some reeking smell that has literally chased the owners out of their car, don’t be surprised if you’ll eventually find a dead mouse or some other strange varmint carcass in the duct work, trunk, or under the carpet. The worst is when the flies have found it and started laying eggs on it. For the investigative type mechanic, the fly larvae is a good way to determine how long whatever it was has been decomposing in the customer’s car. You see, a fly can lay more than 100 eggs on a warm moist body and in 8 to 24 hours the larvae will begin to hatch. Those wormy, wriggly, crawly little ugly, nasty things stick around for about 5 days and then start to pupate into an adult fly. A capital “G” for gross. Knowing all of that will allow you to inform your customer when their little friend became post mortem in their cabin filter or wherever it was you found it, although at this point they’re too grossed out to really care about your CSI skills! Spiders can bring out the heebeegeebees in the biggest, baddest mechanic on the planet. I once worked with a guy who was completely petrified of spiders. We were tearing down an old car that was in for restoration when he removed the door panel and a large tarantula came crawling out from the bottom corner of this old rusted door. Honestly, I’ve never seen or heard such a big fella scream like a little girl. He not only came up with his own high pitched language that only he could understand, but managed to dart across the shop and up onto the top of his tool box so fast he didn’t have time to let go of the door panel. He stayed up there perched on his tool box talking some sort of gibberish only he could understand, as he was kicking tools out of the open drawers. The tarantula had to go, or he wasn’t coming down. I got elected to shoo the little critter out the door. We literally had to pry the door panel out of his hands and coax him down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. His tool box needed a bit of straightening after all was said and done. Ants for the most part are pretty harmless. I’ve never ran across fire ants in a car, but I can only imagine what that would have been like. The ones I’ve run across are just the busy little ant type doing busy little ant things. Sometimes the hardest part is finding where they’re coming from. Half the time you’ll see these little guys marching along one after another in single file heading to another part of the car. If it’s a car that’s been sitting in one spot for a long time chances are they’ve built an elaborate home somewhere in the car and it’s your job to find out where. Good luck with that. Sometimes you wonder how some of these insects find their way into a car in the first place. Like pulling a spare tire out of an old car and find a scorpion staring at you. Or mud dauber wasp nests all over the engine compartment. They sure do find some of the oddest places to build their little nests. One time I’ve even found them on the carburetor choke plate on a car that was only sitting for a few days. The owner tried to start it, but had no luck with it. He then had it dragged into the shop to have the no start problem checked out. After a bit of carburetor spray to dissolve the mud it started right up. The owner being the kind of a jokester he was, now had a new story to tell about his old car. He started his little tale with, “Guess wasp up with my car?” Whether it is a family of arachnids or any other family of insects invading your car, somewhere some mechanic has probably already experienced it. As they say, “There are more bugs in the world than there are people.” So there’s a good chance you’ll run across a bug in a rug or one in the trunk of that very car you’re working on. Just work on some fast reflexes, a few nerves of steel, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep a can of bug spray handy either.
  15. Bugs In The Rugs Ants, moths, bees, flies, wasps, spiders, scorpions, roaches, yellow jackets, fireflies, centipedes, silver fish, lady bugs, katydids, mosquitos, termites, fleas, mites, and fly larvae (maggots). No, that’s not a list of insects on the back of a can of insecticide. That’s just about every type of creepy, crawly nasty little bug I have encountered in a car at one time or another. It’s enough to make your skin crawl. Sometimes it’s not so much what you run into, but where. For instance, I was working on a little foreign car, checking out a faulty turn signal. I diagnosed a bad lead on the front turn signal socket, and had already pulled the lens off and supplied a ground to the bulb, so I knew what I needed to do. Just sling under the car and reattach the ground lead that was hanging there. The car was low to the ground, but I managed to wedge myself under there just enough to make the repair. As I managed to turn my head to see the turn signal housing, there… just a ¼” from my nose was a large nest of red wasps. They were all darting around working on their nest totally oblivious to me. I didn’t stick around long enough to introduce myself. Something I’ve learned after being at this for a few years: If you get one of those carpet cleaning trucks in the shop for repair, make sure you have plenty of roach spray handy. It’s not uncommon to pop the lid off of the fuse box to find hundreds of those nasty little critters trying to find a new hiding place. I’ve even seen a few behind the lens of the instrument cluster just minding their own business as they walked over the gauge needles. They tend to eat wires, leave their acidic droppings on circuit boards, and their dead relatives laying in the vents. Nothings worse than getting “bug sprayed”… with bugs when you turn on the blower motor. Now when you’re trying to find an odor, or some reeking smell that has literally chased the owners out of their car, don’t be surprised if you’ll eventually find a dead mouse or some other strange varmint carcass in the duct work, trunk, or under the carpet. The worst is when the flies have found it and started laying eggs on it. For the investigative type mechanic, the fly larvae is a good way to determine how long whatever it was has been decomposing in the customer’s car. You see, a fly can lay more than 100 eggs on a warm moist body and in 8 to 24 hours the larvae will begin to hatch. Those wormy, wriggly, crawly little ugly, nasty things stick around for about 5 days and then start to pupate into an adult fly. A capital “G” for gross. Knowing all of that will allow you to inform your customer when their little friend became post mortem in their cabin filter or wherever it was you found it, although at this point they’re too grossed out to really care about your CSI skills! Spiders can bring out the heebeegeebees in the biggest, baddest mechanic on the planet. I once worked with a guy who was completely petrified of spiders. We were tearing down an old car that was in for restoration when he removed the door panel and a large tarantula came crawling out from the bottom corner of this old rusted door. Honestly, I’ve never seen or heard such a big fella scream like a little girl. He not only came up with his own high pitched language that only he could understand, but managed to dart across the shop and up onto the top of his tool box so fast he didn’t have time to let go of the door panel. He stayed up there perched on his tool box talking some sort of gibberish only he could understand, as he was kicking tools out of the open drawers. The tarantula had to go, or he wasn’t coming down. I got elected to shoo the little critter out the door. We literally had to pry the door panel out of his hands and coax him down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. His tool box needed a bit of straightening after all was said and done. Ants for the most part are pretty harmless. I’ve never ran across fire ants in a car, but I can only imagine what that would have been like. The ones I’ve run across are just the busy little ant type doing busy little ant things. Sometimes the hardest part is finding where they’re coming from. Half the time you’ll see these little guys marching along one after another in single file heading to another part of the car. If it’s a car that’s been sitting in one spot for a long time chances are they’ve built an elaborate home somewhere in the car and it’s your job to find out where. Good luck with that. Sometimes you wonder how some of these insects find their way into a car in the first place. Like pulling a spare tire out of an old car and find a scorpion staring at you. Or mud dauber wasp nests all over the engine compartment. They sure do find some of the oddest places to build their little nests. One time I’ve even found them on the carburetor choke plate on a car that was only sitting for a few days. The owner tried to start it, but had no luck with it. He then had it dragged into the shop to have the no start problem checked out. After a bit of carburetor spray to dissolve the mud it started right up. The owner being the kind of a jokester he was, now had a new story to tell about his old car. He started his little tale with, “Guess wasp up with my car?” Whether it is a family of arachnids or any other family of insects invading your car, somewhere some mechanic has probably already experienced it. As they say, “There are more bugs in the world than there are people.” So there’s a good chance you’ll run across a bug in a rug or one in the trunk of that very car you’re working on. Just work on some fast reflexes, a few nerves of steel, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep a can of bug spray handy either. View full article


×