April 2018 Archives - UnderhoodService
Lessons From A Day Being Out Of My Comfort Zone

Being under the dash or hood of the modern car is my comfort zone, but it doesn’t hurt to get out of that comfort zone. I could use a reminder now and then that what I do for a living isn’t all that bad, and I owe my customers a great deal of gratitude for their patronage and for putting up with this snarly old mechanic.

Why I Hate Some Mobile Mechanics

Mobile technicians have been around since the 1920s. Back then, a mechanic would set up shop on a street corner or vacant lot and put up a sign. Today, mobile technicians put an ad on Craigslist or join an online referral service like Amazon, Otobots.com or YourMechanic.com. Other low-tech mechanics set up in the parking lot of the local auto parts store.

Domestic Oil Specifications

Engine oil can be one of the most confusing and controversial products to select for a domestic vehicle. Engines with turbochargers, direct fuel injection and advanced internal components are forcing OEMs to rewrite oil specification. These specifications are typically listed on the back of the bottle, on a product data sheet or the oil manufacturer’s website. In the case of some 5W30 oils, the bottle might not be able to hold all of the OEM specification the oil meets.

Automatic Belt Tension: Don’t Take It For Granted

Most late-model engines have serpentine belt drives for the engine-driven accessories. And, most people know that belts are a maintenance item and eventually have to be replaced. However, many don’t know the spring-loaded automatic tensioner that keeps a serpentine belt tight is also a wear item. Consequently, the automatic tensioner may also have to be replaced when the time comes to change the belt.

Creating A Road Map Of A Technician’s Career

Almost everywhere that you find a group of automotive service professionals, you will also find a discussion of how there are not enough new folks entering the industry. This is an area I have been interested in and involved with for decades. Rather than provide a list of reasons why this is happening, I want to focus on what you can do for your business to change your shop’s employment future. But, be forewarned that you may not like some of the answers, because they require work that is not traditionally in your job description.

Corrosion And TPMS

It is that time of year again when the affects of road salt, deicers and potholes start to take their toll on vehicles. The latest victims of the salt belt are TPMS sensors and valve stems. The corrosion we are all most familiar with is that which affects steel, iron’s most common alloy. While just the presence of oxygen in the air, along with some moisture, is enough for something made of steel to begin to corrode, most of the time it is accelerated by some other environmental factor, which causes the most problems.

Electronic Throttle Control Diagnostics

A customer calls and tells you his car has suddenly went from highway speeds to idle. The check engine light is on, and no matter what he does, the car won’t go above 30 MPH. What’s wrong? Without looking at it we can only speculate, but I’ll bet it’s going to lead to a problem with the electronic actuated throttle system.

Giving It The Gas: When The Fuel Pump Isn’t The Problem

The most famous last words in automotive diagnostics are, “We’ve always done it this way.” In many cases, “always done it this way” consists of diagnosing a fuel pump by squirting some type of liquid or gaseous hydrocarbon into the air intake. Case in point, a 2011 Nissan Rogue had suddenly stalled on a busy summertime highway.

Servicing Decoupler Pulleys

Alternator pulleys are not so simple anymore. Many late-model vehicles are equipped with special pulleys that are engineered to reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and extend the life of the alternator. An Overrunning Alternator Pulley (OAP) has a one-way clutch mechanism inside the hub that allows the belt to turn the alternator in one direction, but allows the alternator to “free wheel” and spin at its own speed when the engine suddenly decelerates.