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LotusExcelle
2009-Feb-25, 02:53 AM
Why I don't like working on my own vehicles (or "Adam should just win the lottery and get it over with)

Okay so a bit of background is in order. I'm an ASE certified Master Automotive and Master Heavy technician. For those unfamiliar with ASE (http://www.ase.com/) it is essentially a national (U.S.) certification standard for all things related to vehicles - a sort of "finals exam" but for mechanics.

Here (http://www.ase.com/Template.cfm?Section=Why_You_Should_Look_for_an_AS E_Certified_Technician&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=586) is some more info. Or this is the wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_Service_Excellence) page.

Okay so I'm an experienced and, to toot my own horn, really really good tech.

Also, as a primer, Michele (my soon-to-be-wife) and I both own Subaru Foresters.

My car sprouts a very common head gasket leak. Its 'external' meaning it drips coolant out of the motor instead of leaking it into the engine. Which is nice - it means I don't have to replace the main bearing or anything like that.

Anyway about three weeks go I pulled the motor out planning on doing everything to it I could think of. Subaru motors are in the 'flat' configuration... picture a VW bug motor of old. So for me the easiest way to get everything done is just yank the motor out (2 hours about) and start replacing things.

Okay well there were some parts issues that delayed the process and fast-forward to tonight when the entire thing is back together and ready to rock.

Michele pulls up to work and says her car smells funny. I go and look and what is this? The head gaskets on her car are leaking *internally* and causing the coolant to severely overflow. I wasn't too worried - my car was to be ready shortly.

I started my car up and it ran like a top. Just better than perfect. But.

And here is why I can't stand working on my own vehicles.

drip.

drip.

drip drip
drip dripdripdripdrip.

Rear main seal is leaking. = Entire motor comes back out.

Adam = ****ssssseeeeddd.

pantaz
2009-Feb-25, 03:28 AM
You have my sincerest sympathies. I am familiar with the experience!

jokergirl
2009-Feb-25, 07:16 AM
My sympathies. At yeast you can do it yourself and don't need to pay $$$ to a bloody contract dealer who is sure to mess it up anyway (at least in my experience).

(I would probably be OK with doing it myself. But these days you can neither get the tools nor the replacement parts as a normal person... sigh)

;)

novaderrik
2009-Feb-25, 09:38 AM
My sympathies. At yeast you can do it yourself and don't need to pay $$$ to a bloody contract dealer who is sure to mess it up anyway (at least in my experience).

(I would probably be OK with doing it myself. But these days you can neither get the tools nor the replacement parts as a normal person... sigh)

;)
you can buy any tool or any part you need to do anything on any car yourself.
and if the cost of any special tools is prohibitive, then you can usually find some place to borrow those tools.

sarongsong
2009-Feb-25, 09:47 AM
...My car [Subaru Forester] sprouts a very common head gasket leak...I do see a lot of [primarily foreign] autos for sale relatively inexpensive in the classifieds with just that problem. How to avoid it and is it particularly common to Subarus? Is there any model year after which they solved the problem? Subarus are quite popular in local mountainous areas where 4-wheel is pretty much a necessity and I've been considering a used one for my next vehicle.
And here is why I can't stand working on my own vehicles...drip. drip...Rear main seal...Deepest condolences :( ---thought for sure you were going to say "No oil!", which is what a neighbor forgot to add after meticulously re-building his custom '50 Merc and going for a drive. :doh:

jokergirl
2009-Feb-25, 10:29 AM
It's not primarily foreign, there are several GM cars with quality issues to the gaskets as well.

Most European car makers are these days trying to have custom-size and -head screws and proprietary software tools (the error display won't go away even if you fix the problem unless you set it with the tool) to keep people from using non-contractors. I'm quite grumpy at this.
Our old Pajero (that's a Montero for you) and new CR-V luckily didn't have those restrictions yet...

;)

sarongsong
2009-Feb-25, 11:30 AM
...quality issues to the gaskets...Is that the usual culprit; originally installed 'bad-gaskets'?
(Oh, and by 'foreign', I meant to say Japanese. :) )

...Most European car makers are these days trying to...keep people from using non-contractors...Spoilsports!

LotusExcelle
2009-Feb-25, 11:40 AM
The Subaru EJ25 motor (used in, for example, Foresters of the 99-..03? range) is known for external leaks. Its primarily a design flaw but there is an additive - essentially 'Bars Leak' that you add to the coolant that pretty much eliminates this problem. However they *also* leak oil out of the head gasket onto the exhaust causing some nice and lovely smells.

I like Subarus but the EJ25 motor does not impress me.

And *every* vehicle/engine has its own quirks and problems. Some more catastrophic than others.

Jokergirl - if it helps you feel any better I have about 60k worth of tools and that doesn't include any software. And I *still* have to borrow a tool from time to time.

darkhunter
2009-Feb-25, 12:39 PM
I like working on my own cars--although my Mitsubishi has an intermittent problem that goes away every time I get it in the driveway running. Spend hours trying to find the fault, then as soon as I'm out somewhere with no tools, it dies... :(

Trebuchet
2009-Feb-25, 05:27 PM
For an auto repair horror story, told to me years ago by a coworker:
His car was, I think, a Datsun 510.
Checked the oil one day and found the dipstick rusty.
Diagnosis was a cracked block.
Pulled the engine, bought a new short block, assembled the old head and accessories to it.
Reinstalled.
Not long after, found the dipstick rusty.
Turned out the re-used water pump, which sealed off the front of the pan, had a pinhole leak in the casting. Nothing wrong with the old block.

LotusExcelle
2009-Feb-26, 03:12 AM
Okay avid readers here is an update. Fixed the rear main seal and got it all back together again and ready to rock.

Topped off all the fluids and made sure it was top-notch. Checked to see if any random engine codes came up - everything is fine.

Left work at 8:40pm to test drive it and 50 feet from the work driveway I hit a deer. Yes. It happened. Really.

The odd thing was - I didn't get mad. I just nodded, backed the car back into the shop, and called for a ride.

All that work and BANG. A deer.

Gigabyte
2009-Feb-26, 03:17 AM
Deer, the most dangerous animals known to cars.

Trebuchet
2009-Feb-26, 07:40 PM
Okay avid readers here is an update. Fixed the rear main seal and got it all back together again and ready to rock.

Topped off all the fluids and made sure it was top-notch. Checked to see if any random engine codes came up - everything is fine.

Left work at 8:40pm to test drive it and 50 feet from the work driveway I hit a deer. Yes. It happened. Really.

The odd thing was - I didn't get mad. I just nodded, backed the car back into the shop, and called for a ride.

All that work and BANG. A deer.

So are you going to pull the engine from it while the body work is being done and drop it in your wife's? While you're fixing her engine to put back in your car?

LotusExcelle
2009-Feb-26, 09:45 PM
No - the long and short of it is that mine is in much better shape overall and I can't really stomach either car right now.

mugaliens
2009-Feb-26, 09:46 PM
In high school I did 100% of all my own work. After all, we were a four-person family with 4 cars, and I could always walk the mile to school instead of driving...

In college I did 100% of my own work. After all, I was a one-person family with 1 car, and I could always walk the mile to school instead of driving.

For the first two years after college, I did 100% of my own work. After all, I was a one-person family with 1 car, and I could always walk the one block to work instead of driving.

For the next three years, I did 100% of my own work. After all, I was a two-person family with 2 cars, and I could always walk the three blocks to work instead of driving.

For the next five years, I did 100% of my own work. After all, I was a two-person family with 2 cars, and my wife could always drive me to work.

For the next several years thereafter, I began letting others do more and more of the work. After all, I was a three-person family with 2 cars, and my wife could not always drive me to work as she had to take our son to daycare, go shopping, visiting with friends, and...

For the last four years, I have been doing progressively more and more of my own work. After all, I am a one-person family with 1 car, and I can always ride my bicycle the 7 miles to work...

The common theme, here, is that I have to get to work!!!

The Backroad Astronomer
2009-Feb-27, 06:47 PM
Deer, the most dangerous animals known to cars.
No moose are.

chrissy
2009-Feb-27, 11:04 PM
I know how you feel LotusExcelle, my Subaru had the same problem with the gasket going, the oil leaked everywhere and it was a pain to sort it out, then the CV joint packed up but all in all I think gaskets are a problem area for most or all Subarus. I have changed my car when the CV went on it a shame because it was a great 4WD car, but too expensive to sort out. :(

Gigabyte
2009-Feb-28, 12:56 AM
No moose are.

With that logic, elephants would win.

Delvo
2009-Feb-28, 01:22 AM
Here's why I sometimes hate cars in general, even without doing the work on them myself...

Recently, mine has had a tendency to repeatedly lurch (between once and twice per second) when given light pressure on the gas pedal, as if it couldn't decide whether or not to downshift and rev up, especially if already going at a high speed. I took it to a general mechanics' shop, where they suggested taking it to a place that specializes in transmissions (and other general automotive services to, but their specialty is transmissions) because that's where the problems seemed likely to be coming from.

At the transmission place, they said the transmission was not causing this, although the transmission fluid hose did have a leak and needed to be fixed or replaced because that would destroy my transmission soon otherwise. They said the lurching was an engine performance issue. Then they said something I'd never heard of from any other such place: that there was a general complete diagnostic examination they could do on the engine which would reveal the cause of the problem, with precision and certainty. Usually, mechanics just sort of guess one thing, check it, make a second guess if that doesn't work, and so on, which often takes lots of time, repeat visits, and money for the "repairs" that are the only way they know of to test a given guess. This place's complete diagnosis would cost money itself, but the specificity and precision of the answer would offset it both financially and in reduced stress and annoyance. And the scientific, fact-based, procedural approach appealed to me so much that I was all set to go around praising them, if it worked, because this was so different from the usual routine of cursory checks and single-issue tests and guesses. The result of the diagnosis was that I needed a software update in the powertrain control module, which only a dealership could do.

So I went to a dealership and talked to a guy who had no idea what I was talking about, didn't even seem to know how to look up the right kind of information about the PCM software update, asked how in the world the place I'd just been at had come up with that, and said they'd need to do a diagnosis to figure out what the problem was (even though he knew that I'd just had one already and was only there to get the thing treated, not rediagnosed). So I left the Department of Redundancy Department and went to another dealership.

There, they knew about the software update and said they'd do it for me if that's what I wanted. But they also told me that that wouldn't improve the way the engine was running. According to their brief free 23-point inspection of certain easy-to-do-quickly issues on a standard checklist, the engine had three other unrelated problems that were actually causing the trouble, none of which had been caught in the complete, thorough diagnosis I had just recently had done. One was the air filter. Another was "TBI" (Throttle Body Something, which was about a surface being covered with "carbon" so some plate that was supposed to make contact with it couldn't make contact). And the other was bad sparkplugs, including both that some of them were cracked and that at least one wasn't even connected. I've seen the air filter since then and it looks fine, and I'd never detected a drop in horsepower like what it should have had if 1 of its 4 cylinders had no sparks, plus it's a dealership and those are notorious anyway, so I thought they were trying to sell me stuff I didn't need and just had them flash the PCM. At first, it seemed to work; the engine sound was quieter and lower-pitched, acceleration seemed slightly more powerful, and I couldn't even make it lurch anymore when I tried.

Then the lurching and noise came back over the next few days. Today, I needed a jumpstart because of a dead battery (apparently my fault; headlights) and noticed that the lurching seemed even worse than before on the trip back from another city... but those weren't the worst problems I had with the car even just today. Not long after I decided to take it in somewhere for the lurching again, it overheated. So, driving a few miles at a time and then pausing to cool down again each time, I made it to the mechanics' shop I'd been at in the first place.

I had already made an appointment there for Tuesday because all of this is happening at the same time that the car was also due for an oil & filter change, a state-mandated inspection, and new rear brake pads. But the overheating was an emergency, so I had to find out whether they could take it on Saturday morning on short notice for just that, even ignoring the rest. The Saturday and Monday schedules were already full and they're closed on Sunday, so now they'll probably have it until my appointment was supposed to be anyway, because even if they do find spare time to work it in tomorrow and/or Monday, it won't be enough for all of this, and even the coolant problem alone couldn't be finished on Saturday anyway.

This, of course, necessitated a rental car... which turned out to be the same make & model

So now, after being taken to four places (five including the one who told me about the brake pads before this story even began) my car is going to be gone for days, I've missed a day of work (this evening; right now actually) and the total list of car issues that have landed on me practically all at once now includes:
•transmission fluid hose
•oil & filter change
•state inspection
•new rear brake pads (but not rotors... yay.)
•the lurching, the cause of which is currently unknown (worsened to stuttering & sputtering more often and more severely, as of today)
•the overheating, the cause of which is currently unknown
•sparkplugs?.. maybe
•air filter?.. maybe
•throttle body thing?.. maybe
•even the battery & jumpstarting thing!
•four days of car rental
•wasted money on "diagnosis" which was wrong
•wasted money on PCM flash which accomplished little to nothing (and could have made things worse)

All of this, of course, is just when I was looking forward to using my college loan money which just recently arrived, to pay down some of the credit card debt which I've accumulated because the loan disbursements arrive so late and are so small, being based on my 2007 tax return from before I had to quit to go to college... so all of this will eat up half of that money like I never even received it.

And this, not global warming, is why cars are the work of the Devil. They don't just sometimes have things go wrong; they actively plot against you, suddenly piling up one thing on top of another on top of another at just the worst possible moment based on your other financial circumstances...

ktesibios
2009-Feb-28, 02:15 AM
And this, not global warming, is why cars are the work of the Devil. They don't just sometimes have things go wrong; they actively plot against you, suddenly piling up one thing on top of another on top of another at just the worst possible moment based on your other financial circumstances...

Hear , hear. In twenty-something years of working as an electronics tech I've become something of a technological animist, which I define as the belief (or the sneaking feeling) that widgets have spirits.

Most widgets have spirits that are either benign or neutral. They break down, you fix them and that's it. It's just part of the normal cycle of (non)life.

But there are three genuses of technology which have spirits that are actively malign and enjoy messing with the heads of human beings. As soon as you've fixed one problem they getcha from behind with another one.

Those three groups are cars, TV sets and computers. They hate us and want us to suffer and are quite good at achieving that end.

LotusExcelle
2009-Feb-28, 03:01 AM
I know how you feel LotusExcelle, my Subaru had the same problem with the gasket going, the oil leaked everywhere and it was a pain to sort it out, then the CV joint packed up but all in all I think gaskets are a problem area for most or all Subarus. I have changed my car when the CV went on it a shame because it was a great 4WD car, but too expensive to sort out. :(

It isn't just Subarus with gasket issues. But it is still annoying nonetheless.

As an aside headgaskets for my particular car call for 10.2 hours labor time. At the average shop rate the labor alone would run about 800 dollars and according to the NASIOC site most dealers range in the 1500-2000 dollar area. Not to mention all the additional stuff I did to it what I was in there anyway.

I keep reminding myself that by doing both our cars I'm literally saving thousands and thousands of dollars.

LotusExcelle
2009-Feb-28, 03:11 AM
Here's why I sometimes hate cars in general, even without doing the work on them myself...

Recently, mine has had a tendency to repeatedly lurch (between once and twice per second) when given light pressure on the gas pedal, as if it couldn't decide whether or not to downshift and rev up, especially if already going at a high speed. I took it to a general mechanics' shop, where they suggested taking it to a place that specializes in transmissions (and other general automotive services to, but their specialty is transmissions) because that's where the problems seemed likely to be coming from.

At the transmission place, they said the transmission was not causing this, although the transmission fluid hose did have a leak and needed to be fixed or replaced because that would destroy my transmission soon otherwise. They said the lurching was an engine performance issue. Then they said something I'd never heard of from any other such place: that there was a general complete diagnostic examination they could do on the engine which would reveal the cause of the problem, with precision and certainty. Usually, mechanics just sort of guess one thing, check it, make a second guess if that doesn't work, and so on, which often takes lots of time, repeat visits, and money for the "repairs" that are the only way they know of to test a given guess. This place's complete diagnosis would cost money itself, but the specificity and precision of the answer would offset it both financially and in reduced stress and annoyance. And the scientific, fact-based, procedural approach appealed to me so much that I was all set to go around praising them, if it worked, because this was so different from the usual routine of cursory checks and single-issue tests and guesses. The result of the diagnosis was that I needed a software update in the powertrain control module, which only a dealership could do.

So I went to a dealership and talked to a guy who had no idea what I was talking about, didn't even seem to know how to look up the right kind of information about the PCM software update, asked how in the world the place I'd just been at had come up with that, and said they'd need to do a diagnosis to figure out what the problem was (even though he knew that I'd just had one already and was only there to get the thing treated, not rediagnosed). So I left the Department of Redundancy Department and went to another dealership.

There, they knew about the software update and said they'd do it for me if that's what I wanted. But they also told me that that wouldn't improve the way the engine was running. According to their brief free 23-point inspection of certain easy-to-do-quickly issues on a standard checklist, the engine had three other unrelated problems that were actually causing the trouble, none of which had been caught in the complete, thorough diagnosis I had just recently had done. One was the air filter. Another was "TBI" (Throttle Body Something, which was about a surface being covered with "carbon" so some plate that was supposed to make contact with it couldn't make contact). And the other was bad sparkplugs, including both that some of them were cracked and that at least one wasn't even connected. I've seen the air filter since then and it looks fine, and I'd never detected a drop in horsepower like what it should have had if 1 of its 4 cylinders had no sparks, plus it's a dealership and those are notorious anyway, so I thought they were trying to sell me stuff I didn't need and just had them flash the PCM. At first, it seemed to work; the engine sound was quieter and lower-pitched, acceleration seemed slightly more powerful, and I couldn't even make it lurch anymore when I tried.

Then the lurching and noise came back over the next few days. Today, I needed a jumpstart because of a dead battery (apparently my fault; headlights) and noticed that the lurching seemed even worse than before on the trip back from another city... but those weren't the worst problems I had with the car even just today. Not long after I decided to take it in somewhere for the lurching again, it overheated. So, driving a few miles at a time and then pausing to cool down again each time, I made it to the mechanics' shop I'd been at in the first place.

I had already made an appointment there for Tuesday because all of this is happening at the same time that the car was also due for an oil & filter change, a state-mandated inspection, and new rear brake pads. But the overheating was an emergency, so I had to find out whether they could take it on Saturday morning on short notice for just that, even ignoring the rest. The Saturday and Monday schedules were already full and they're closed on Sunday, so now they'll probably have it until my appointment was supposed to be anyway, because even if they do find spare time to work it in tomorrow and/or Monday, it won't be enough for all of this, and even the coolant problem alone couldn't be finished on Saturday anyway.

This, of course, necessitated a rental car... which turned out to be the same make & model

So now, after being taken to four places (five including the one who told me about the brake pads before this story even began) my car is going to be gone for days, I've missed a day of work (this evening; right now actually) and the total list of car issues that have landed on me practically all at once now includes:
•transmission fluid hose
•oil & filter change
•state inspection
•new rear brake pads (but not rotors... yay.)
•the lurching, the cause of which is currently unknown (worsened to stuttering & sputtering more often and more severely, as of today)
•the overheating, the cause of which is currently unknown
•sparkplugs?.. maybe
•air filter?.. maybe
•throttle body thing?.. maybe
•even the battery & jumpstarting thing!
•four days of car rental
•wasted money on "diagnosis" which was wrong
•wasted money on PCM flash which accomplished little to nothing (and could have made things worse)

All of this, of course, is just when I was looking forward to using my college loan money which just recently arrived, to pay down some of the credit card debt which I've accumulated because the loan disbursements arrive so late and are so small, being based on my 2007 tax return from before I had to quit to go to college... so all of this will eat up half of that money like I never even received it.

And this, not global warming, is why cars are the work of the Devil. They don't just sometimes have things go wrong; they actively plot against you, suddenly piling up one thing on top of another on top of another at just the worst possible moment based on your other financial circumstances...

I'd like to help you out on this if I can. What kind of car, what engine, year, etc? Also where are you located?

danscope
2009-Feb-28, 04:39 AM
Why I don't like working on my own vehicles (or "Adam should just win the lottery and get it over with)

Okay so a bit of background is in order. I'm an ASE certified Master Automotive and Master Heavy technician. For those unfamiliar with ASE (http://www.ase.com/) it is essentially a national (U.S.) certification standard for all things related to vehicles - a sort of "finals exam" but for mechanics.

Here (http://www.ase.com/Template.cfm?Section=Why_You_Should_Look_for_an_AS E_Certified_Technician&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=586) is some more info. Or this is the wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_Service_Excellence) page.

Okay so I'm an experienced and, to toot my own horn, really really good tech.

Also, as a primer, Michele (my soon-to-be-wife) and I both own Subaru Foresters.

My car sprouts a very common head gasket leak. Its 'external' meaning it drips coolant out of the motor instead of leaking it into the engine. Which is nice - it means I don't have to replace the main bearing or anything like that.

Anyway about three weeks go I pulled the motor out planning on doing everything to it I could think of. Subaru motors are in the 'flat' configuration... picture a VW bug motor of old. So for me the easiest way to get everything done is just yank the motor out (2 hours about) and start replacing things.

Okay well there were some parts issues that delayed the process and fast-forward to tonight when the entire thing is back together and ready to rock.

Michele pulls up to work and says her car smells funny. I go and look and what is this? The head gaskets on her car are leaking *internally* and causing the coolant to severely overflow. I wasn't too worried - my car was to be ready shortly.

I started my car up and it ran like a top. Just better than perfect. But.

And here is why I can't stand working on my own vehicles.

drip.

drip.

drip drip
drip dripdripdripdrip.

Rear main seal is leaking. = Entire motor comes back out.

Adam = ****ssssseeeeddd.

***************************
Hi , I know what you mean. I have a 1999 Subaru Outback which serves me well. I am a pretty good mechanic. I decided to replace 4 spark plugs.
Shouldn't be much of a problem....Hmmmm..... 7 hours and every darn
adapter I own plus a magnet and a lot of patience. And......they were not
the right ones. I had purchased some Bosch Platinum plugs. Expensive enough
and no wear, right? Not particularly. They loaded up within a couple months.
I tokk it to a friend of mine....a specialist. He pulls the easiest one to get...
while the engine is till hot!!! He shows it to me. Quote: "This is the WORST plug you can use!!!!". Well, I got something called an "IRRIDIUM PLUG" which he likes. And as it turns out, so does the Subaru.
Patience and research. These engines are peculiar, but strong and durable.
They require a dedicated touch and certain maintanence from time to time.
But...they don't give you much room between the chassis and the head.
2 inches...? How ridiculous. This is not an easy job. Not by a long shot.

Best regards,
Dan

novaderrik
2009-Feb-28, 09:35 AM
***************************
Hi , I know what you mean. I have a 1999 Subaru Outback which serves me well. I am a pretty good mechanic. I decided to replace 4 spark plugs.
Shouldn't be much of a problem....Hmmmm..... 7 hours and every darn
adapter I own plus a magnet and a lot of patience. And......they were not
the right ones. I had purchased some Bosch Platinum plugs. Expensive enough
and no wear, right? Not particularly. They loaded up within a couple months.
I tokk it to a friend of mine....a specialist. He pulls the easiest one to get...
while the engine is till hot!!! He shows it to me. Quote: "This is the WORST plug you can use!!!!". Well, I got something called an "IRRIDIUM PLUG" which he likes. And as it turns out, so does the Subaru.
Patience and research. These engines are peculiar, but strong and durable.
They require a dedicated touch and certain maintanence from time to time.
But...they don't give you much room between the chassis and the head.
2 inches...? How ridiculous. This is not an easy job. Not by a long shot.

Best regards,
Dan
can't be as bad as putting plugs in a late 60's Ford Mustang with a 390 or 427.. you gotta lift the engine a few inches to do it.

Van Rijn
2009-Feb-28, 11:17 AM
It's kind of funny: I'm pretty good at amateur home repair and other home type tasks. I wouldn't try to put on an entire roof, or replace the entire plumbing system, but have done most things short of that: Added and wired a room, replaced all kitchen appliances, replaced or added toilets, sinks, shower/bath valves, redone cabinets, replaced hot water tanks, always handled pool repair, fixed central air conditioners, etc. There aren't many times that I need a specialist.

I also put my own home PCs together, and do embedded projects for fun, but that's another matter.

Anyway, I'm not against "do it yourself" work. But: I don't work on cars. Oh, I did take auto shop in high school and did great. I did do a bit of work when cars didn't have many computers and when there was a bit of room under the hood to work in. But, in recent years I just gave up. It's not worth the trouble for me to learn all the details.

danscope
2009-Feb-28, 07:47 PM
Yep, the manufacturers have gone out of their way to keep you out of the engine compartment. It takes an eight inch metric allen wrench just to release the airfilter. Remember way back in the day....way way back.....
when you had a little wing nut , and could change your air filter in 60 seconds? Those were the days, my friend.
Best regards, Dan

HenrikOlsen
2009-Feb-28, 07:53 PM
... an eight inch metric allen wrench ...
Is this a joke?

Or did you mean 3mm?

chrissy
2009-Feb-28, 08:14 PM
Delvo it might be your alternator, or you have dirt in your fuel line. *shrug*

Van Rijn
2009-Feb-28, 08:19 PM
Is this a joke?

Or did you mean 3mm?

Sounds like a joke to me, describing a common situation: The (very) unlikely specialty tool that's absolutely required to do a job that should be easy.

RalofTyr
2009-Feb-28, 08:35 PM
My starter won't come out from my headers, so I have to remove my headers to get my starter out, however, I have other vehicles and modes of transportation, so I've been procrastinating.

danscope
2009-Mar-01, 02:26 AM
Is this a joke?

Or did you mean 3mm?

Hi, I knew someone who had a car that required an extended metric allen wrench to release the aircleaner. I've since forgotten which type of car.
But they clearly prefer that the car goes to the dealer for simple service.
Dan

LotusExcelle
2009-Mar-01, 04:43 AM
Delvo it might be your alternator, or you have dirt in your fuel line. *shrug*

This is what I get paid to do so I don't expect most people to know all the little things involved - but neither of the two things you mentioned would cause what Delvo is describing.

A bad alternator would simply stop charging. It would quickly discharge the battery and the car would simply shut off and not crank over again. There is a brief period during which it would act odd if it is a newer car but we're talking minutes.

The fuel system on modern cars operates at about 40psi at idle - and any dirt in the line is trapped by a very fine fuel filter. The most likely scenario in a plugged filter is a lean mixture which would trip a check engine light and then simply not start at all.

That being said there are over 1000 codes an engine can trip - each is either a direct link to the problem or a symptom of a problem (lean codes are often misdiagnosed as bad oxygen sensors when in fact they are usually just plugged fuel filters).

I've asked Delvo for more info on his car as I'd like to help if I can... it is *really* hard to diagnose cars without being on-site but its worth a shot.

Delvo
2009-Mar-01, 06:28 AM
What kind of car, what engine, year, etc?PT Cruiser, 2001 (first year they came out, and one of the earliest available actually obtained from dealer late summer 2000)... 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with an automatic transmission, as I think all Cruisers have always had and the latest still do


Also where are you located?Nowhere near you, so I don't know what you could do about it. I can't imagine mechanics listening to suggestions I got from somebody they've never met on the internet who's never even seen the car.


A bad alternator... There is a brief period during which it would act odd if it is a newer car but we're talking minutes.I presume what you're after is a diagnosis of the lurching. This was indeed not just a matter of minutes. It originally gradually developed over months, then I was told about the powertrain control module software update and had that done, then the lurching went away, then it got back to the way it had been within a week and a half, and maybe even a bit worse. By "worse" I mean two things:

1. It originally happened only with slight pressure applied to the gas pedal, so I could avoid it by pushing harder/farther so it would make up its mind to rev up like it meant it instead of revving up and backing off repeatedly as if indecisive... but for the last couple of days of driving, the threshold moved up, so slightly greater amounts of pressure on the pedal would still cause it, or even nearly stomping on the pedal might cause one cycle of it before going on with the real acceleration.

2. The intervals between lurches, when it would rev down, seemed longer and deader than before, almost as if it were a few seconds from just stopping. A few times, it reminded me of an engine just about to stall, like when you're trying to get moving from a standstill with a manual transmission and don't push the clutch in far enough.

Also, the lurching seems to have been associated with a change in the type of sound the engine made. Over the same weeks that the lurching got worse in the first place, the engine's noise went from smooth, quiet, and low-pitched to rough, louder, and higher-pitched. The higher pitch wasn't very high like a squeal, but just enough to make it sound like a growl instead of a purr. Then, when the PCM software was updated and the lurching was gone for a while, the engine sound was low and smooth again. And while the lurching returned over the next 10 days or so, the rougher, higher sound came back with it.


The most likely scenario in a plugged filter is a lean mixture which would trip a check engine light and then simply not start at all.Mine kept starting and never gave a warning light. (At least not until the cooling problem suddenly hit yesterday, which seems unrelated, and that light was the thermometer, not "check engine".)

The dealership that told me that the PCM software update wouldn't solve the problem gave me a few recommendations after doing some checks of their own, which I've passed along to the mechanics who have the car now, so they're going to be checking the sparkplugs and throttle body.

mugaliens
2009-Mar-01, 09:31 PM
I experienced lurching in an 84 Civic. Once it got warm, or at speed, it had no problem. Only getting there. Did it for a couple of years. One day, when it was in for something else, the mechanic said he fixed it, something apparently simple enough that he fixed it for free.

Worked fine after that.

Neverfly
2009-Mar-01, 11:37 PM
I experienced lurching in an 84 Civic. Once it got warm, or at speed, it had no problem. Only getting there. Did it for a couple of years. One day, when it was in for something else, the mechanic said he fixed it, something apparently simple enough that he fixed it for free.

Worked fine after that.

Probably a frayed wire on the speed sensor.

danscope
2009-Mar-02, 06:42 PM
Have someone check the crankshaft sensor. Possible.
Best regards, Dan

Delvo
2009-Mar-04, 10:47 PM
Well, they flushed the coolant and replaced the thermostat, and did my oil & filter change and state inspection, and replaced my rear brake pads. But, because of the expense of all of that, I didn't have them do anything with the spark plugs or throttle body or check for any other possible causes of the lurching.

And the lurching is gone, as if the dying thermostat had somehow caused it.

And this, not Global Warming, is why cars are the work of the Devil. Even when things go right, it still doesn't make any sense.

danscope
2009-Mar-04, 11:33 PM
Ghosts in the machines.

LotusExcelle
2009-Mar-05, 03:56 AM
It is unlikely the thermostat change will have a lasting effect. There is an outside chance an erratic coolant temp signal could cause running issues but your ECM would figure out that it was a wildly inaccurate signal and trip a code.

From what you describe it sounds like one of two things... bad spark or (my vote) vacuum leak. By vacuum leak what I mean is there could be a small crack in your intake gasket, an air hose going to your intake that is dried or broken (and hence leaking) or some other leak of air into your intake.

In fact I'll go so far as to make that my official diagnoses. If you find I'm right (after you take it to many different places and they hang a lot of different parts on it and still don't fix it) then let me know.

**Edit**

I woke up this morning and realized I'd forgotten to ask something. If it is a MAF-metered intake then suspect the MAF first. For some reason I thought it might be a MAP based system but can't remember.