As a mechanic or do-it-yourselfer you have to love it when things that you use every day like a tablet or cell phone can be used to diagnose problems with cars. This article will focus mainly on diagnosing cars with android as I have purchased a Nexus seven and the torque android app to connect my Bluetooth elm 327 to the 7 inch tablet. But if you are an Apple product fan, all of these products work just as well on many of the Apple powered devices such as the iPod touch, and IPads of all sizes. I have a 5 minute video posted below that is slowly gaining traction on YouTube.
It shows off the advanced features of the android torque app. I held off jumping into this arena of using cell phones and tablets to interface with an automotive computer because they just didn’t work well when they first came out. Although they may not be bug free the connections and compatibility is much improved from just a year ago. In fact my OBD II android application automatically updated yesterday and it seems to work even better then when I first got it.
When I discuss using android powered devices to diagnose automotive problems with my fellow mechanics they start asking tough questions that I thought you would enjoy the answers to. Continue reading
1987 Chevy Turbo Sprint
This past weekend I went to a local car show and saw a weird 80s car that an ex-girlfriend of mine owned. It was a 1987 Chevrolet turbo Sprint. This was her first new car and was one of only two years that you could buy an intercooled three cylinder engine in the 1600 pound car.
In 1987 intercooled turbochargers were brand-new to the car market and General Motors was installing them on the legendary Buick Grand National. Although regular turbochargers had been around and available on older GM cars the intercooled version was new automotive technology to us. It allowed for higher boost pressures and overall better performance due to intercooling.
When she let me drive the car I realized that this roller skate was something special. I wasn’t sure how special until a guy at work said my girlfriend’s car is faster than your girlfriend’s car. To a mechanic in the auto repair business this is a glove slap to the face. So I said oh yeah, how would you like to put your money where your mouth is. He said I’ll meet you at Atco Raceway for the Friday night Street night event and we’ll see whose girlfriend has the faster ride.
Weird 80s car drag races
Broken power seat switch
Some vehicles are susceptible to broken power seat switches. My neighbor has a late 90s Ford pickup that has had the control switch for the power seats replaced several times. Although he would like to blame his wife I think it is actually a poor design.
The power control master switch sticks way out from the base of the seat. It’s positioned in such a way that when you swing your feet in (depending on the length of your legs and the size of your feet) the Master control is kind of in the way.
Add to this the fact that the automotive parts themselves are made from cheap plastic and they will not survive a collision with a person’s foot. Just below I have included some popular power seat switches. Replacing this part on most models is relatively easy and often only requires a screw driver. Keep in mind Luxury German cars have complex systems that make it much harder to diagnose and repair. In some cases you might want to have the step by step instructions from a factory service manual.
In my neighbor’s situation its just a matter of removing the trim panel that snaps into place and then removing the two Phillips head screws that secure the master power seat switch to the bottom part of the seat frame. Continue reading
Controlling tailpipe emissions is considered important in the United States and growing around the world except for a few tough holdouts. If the U.S. is so serious about regulating automotive emission controls and controlling tailpipe output then how come some states require no testing at all?
Some States have rigorous testing and some only have very basic testing procedures that test tailpipe emissions at idle. These engine idle tests might certify that the vehicle exhaust emissions are within the limits set by the local or federal laws even though they may not under road conditions.
Although most States require a yearly vehicle emission control test it would seem more efficient if all States where doing something. Some states like New Jersey that use to have some of the toughest standards and required a yearly inspection have pulled back to an every other year inspection process.
Smart Automatic Transmissions
Smart Automatic Transmission
Some drivers do not realize how smart automatic transmissions are in modern vehicles. This is one of the few systems on the automobile that actually learns what the driver wants and how they normally act. After studying the driver’s long-term and short-term habits the transmission control module does its best to deliver what the driver expects.
Smart automatic transmissions are able to change gears automatically in response to operating conditions as well as the driver’s habits. The transmission computer monitors the condition of the engine and compensates for any changes that are required for optimal performance and fuel economy.
At the same time it also memorizes the typical driving style of the primary driver. With this information the TCM can adjust the timing of the shifts by controlling the valve body and even the converter clutch lock up engagement to provide what is required by the driver at the appropriate time.
What else can a Smart transmission do Continue reading
2004 Chevy Blazer
Daytime running lights was voted into a Canadian law several years back and required all new vehicles to be equipped with running lights that were automatically turned on during daylight hours. This automotive technology was developed with safety in mind.
In the United States General Motors was one of the first companies to also make this standard equipment on all GM vehicles that were sold in North America. My 2004 Chevrolet Blazer is equipped with daytime running lights. And they have not been completely trouble-free.
For one thing they are on so much that they experience more bulb failures than any other bulbs all my truck. There is also quite a lot of heat generated from the bulbs being on all the time. This can eventually melt the bulb sockets and the plastic lenses and housings that they are mounted in.
How daytime running lights work
On some vehicles they use the high beam lights as dedicated daytime running lights. Continue reading