The Digital Shop
I had the very good fortune to attend an automotive software conference in Santa Barbara earlier this month. I was very impressed with the new technologies. It was what I learned there that motivated me to write this article. This article will deviate from my normal course of topics, but I think you will find it most interesting, informative and beneficial.
There is a powerful new technology for the automotive industry that puts the consumer in the proverbial driver’s seat when considering or purchasing automotive diagnostic, repair and/or service. Now the consumer can see what the technician sees and read what the technician writes. It brings transparency to an often stressful and difficult process and builds confidence and trust with the consumer. Timely communication is vital for a healthy business/consumer relationship. Well-trained, well-equipped, competent shops absolutely love this technology. It is revolutionizing the consumer decision-making process by digitally communicating important, timely information, including pictures and/or videos to the consumer’s mobile device or PC. You can now make decisions from the comfort of your home, workplace or wherever. This technology is not futuristic. My shop’s conversion to a “Digital Shop” will be completed by Feb. 1. Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the automotive Digital Shop.
The Digital Shop is a tablet-based system. During a vehicle inspection, repair or service, the technician will take pictures and/or video of areas of concern or interest and make notations in the technician comment box. The technician will use highlights and arrows to quickly direct the customer’s attention to the exact point of concern.
Please allow me to use some examples to better illustrate how the Digital Shop platform works: Let’s say the technician discovers an Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) warning lamp is on during a vehicle inspection. The technician will use the tablet to take a picture of the vehicle’s instrument cluster, including the illuminated ABS lamp to document the discovery. Throughout the diagnostic routine, the technician will take pictures and/or video of testing data and process and enter com ments into the comment box. Automotive is no longer a mystery. Like I said, now you can see what the technician sees and read what the technician writes.
With some failures a video is the more effective communication tool. A video of a defective component in motion is more understandable than a verbal explanation. After all, a picture/video is worth a thousand words.
Let’s say a customer’s complaint is an overheating engine. When the vehicle’s cooling system is pressurized, a slow leak is discovered. Take it from me, it is impossible to snap a picture of a coolant droplet as it just starts to fall away from a defective water pump, for example. Digital images are an effective communication tool for mitigating miscommunications.
Another key feature of the Digital Shop platform is vehicle tracking. As the technician completes a task, it is marked as complete and that information is available on the customer’s digital device. This information is valuable when attempting to balance a busy schedule.
Other very important features for the technician are manufacturer’s Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs), recall and warranty information and manufacturer Service Recommendations, which will be included for every vehicle work order. In addition, the vehicle service and repair history will also be available. This is important for a thorough and complete inspection, repair or service. It may be the customer’s complaint is addressed in one of the TSBs. Wouldn’t that be the obvious place to begin? Having all this information in one place at the same time increases efficiency which is important for a proper and complete process.
In addition, having the vehicle service history present will allow the technician to compare previous test results to current testing results. The technician can easily find severe degradation of a component or system and proactively intervene prior to the failure. The primary function of an engine oil service and vehicle inspection is to prevent and eliminate breakdowns and costly repairs.
Let’s say the technician recommends a repair or service that is unfamiliar. With the Digital Shop platform, a link will be provided to a brief informative video animation that will demonstrate and explain the recommendation. The video will answer many of the most commonly asked questions. This will prepare the customer for their soon-to-follow phone call from the service adviser.
After a Digital Vehicle Inspection has been completed, it will be emailed or texted to the customer’s PC or mobile device. Customers will then have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the information and view the video animations. About 30 minutes after, the customer will receive a phone call from the service advisor. With each looking at their own digital copy, the service advisor and customer will review and discuss the vehicle inspection report point by point, image by image. Any lingering questions or concerns such as priorities, financing, time and cost will be addressed then. The customer will be given an estimate for each recommendation.
In my opinion, there is never too much information when making a decision concerning the health and safety of a vehicle. Some customers want to see it all, and some want to see little or none. With the Digital Platform you can “have it your way”. It’s my recommendation to create a digital file. A good, solid, complete vehicle history adds value to the vehicle, especially when sold.
That’s all for now. Hope this helps. As always, I’m looking for interesting and informative automotive topics to write about. If you have any suggestions, recommendations, or general or specific questions about a vehicle, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 559-907-7661.
FYI: There will be two Madera and three Fresno “Tune In – Tune Up” events in 2018. Madera dates are Feb. 10 and Nov. 10. Fresno events are March 17, June 16 and Sept. 8. If you have any concerns your vehicle may fail or has already failed a Smog Inspection due to high tailpipe emissions, there is financial help available. Income is not a disqualifier and there is no cost. Some 93636 residents have already taken advantage of this program. It works well and I can help. Send me a text at the cell number above and I will explain the program.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Warren Parr, ASE Master-Certified, Advanced-Level Specialist (L1) Hybrid Specialist (L3)
Fun with Diagnostics
Last month I had a couple of very odd vehicle diagnostics and repairs I thought you might find interesting and entertaining. The first diagnostic was very difficult, taking several days, but the second was much easier taking about an hour or so to diagnosis.
The first case study was a 2002 Ford F150 pickup with a 5.4-liter engine. It had the check engine lamp illuminated with a P0171 (Bank 1 lean exhaust) trouble code set. P0171 and P0174 (Bank 2 lean exhaust) are the most popular trouble codes I deal with for this vintage of Ford. I have considerable experience with this problem, but never before have I diagnosed a valve cover gasket as the cause for an illuminated check engine lamp.
The mass air flow sensor (MAF) is located in the engine’s air intake ducting and its job is to measure incoming air. A typical MAF sensor incorporates a “hot wire” that is maintained at a constant 200 degrees F above ambient air temperature. When the engine speed changes, the air flow passing over the “hot wire” changes and the “hot wire’s” temperature is affected. The powertrain control module (PCM) varies the electrical current (flow of electrons) through the wire to maintain that constant temperature. That current is used to calculate the mass of air entering the engine at any given time. The air is calculated into grams per second.
The perfect air to fuel ratio for a modern gasoline engine is 14.7-1. For every 14.7 grams of air entering the engine, 1 gram of gasoline is needed. How do we consistently achieve a perfect air to fuel ratio? We use air/fuel ratio and oxygen sensors to monitor the oxygen content in the exhaust. If the oxygen content is high (unused), there was too little gasoline injected for the available air. In that case the PCM will “trim up” and increase fuel delivery. If the oxygen content is low, too much gasoline was injected for the available air and the PCM will “trim down” and decrease fuel delivery. When the perfect 14.7-1 air to fuel ratio is achieved, complete combustion occurs and all the fuel (oxygen and gasoline) will be consumed and no tailpipe emissions created. The oxygen content in the exhaust is EVERYTHING with regard to exhaust emissions and fuel mileage. The bi-product of complete combustion is carbon dioxide and water vapor, what we humans exhale.
Here’s where things got difficult. The positive crankcase ventilation system (PCV) is a vent for the engine’s crankcase. Sixty years ago, we just vented the crankcase gases into the air, but with emissions concerns the PCV system was invented. Now the intake manifold is the crankcase vent.
The crankcase is the lower portion of the engine block that houses the crankshaft. The engine oil pan is a component of the crankcase. When cruising down the freeway, lots of pressure and air currents are generated in the crankcase. The largest contributor to crankcase pressure is “blow by” or compression leakage past the piston rings. If it’s not depressurized, engine oil will be pushed past the engines gaskets and seals.
TECH TIP: If an engine is leaking oil, test the PCV system first.
When the vacuum (negative pressure) created in the intake manifold is applied to the crankcase (positive pressure), those gases are drawn into the intake manifold where they are mixed with fresh incoming air. The blended air enters the cylinders where it is mixed with gasoline and combusted.
When the PCV is functioning properly, the crankcase, oil pan, timing cover and valve covers are in a state of vacuum. When one of those gaskets fail, a vacuum leak is created and unmeasured air is drawn into the intake manifold. Any air that finds its way into the intake manifold and does not pass through the MAF, is unmeasured. When the PCM sees the unmeasured air/oxygen in the exhaust, the PCM “trims up” fuel delivery. If the vacuum leak is large enough, the check engine lamp will be illuminated and a trouble code P0171 and/or P0174 will be set. Now I know it’s possible for a valve cover gasket to leak vacuum without leaking oil and illuminate the check engine lamp. Installing a new valve cover gasket stopped the PCV vacuum leak and the correct air to fuel ratio
The process used to discover the valve cover vacuum leak was to connect a smoke generator to the intake manifold and fill it with pressurized smoke. The smoke was forced through the defective gasket seal.
The second vehicle was a 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 with a Cummins 5.9- liter diesel engine. The customer’s complaint was the automatic transmission lost overdrive. I connected my scanner and displayed the transmission information. During my test drive, the overdrive function was normal. I did notice that torque converter lockup did not occur. When that does properly occur, it feels just like another gear.
Inside the transmission’s torque converter is an impeller and turbine. The impeller forces transmission fluid through the turbine causing it to spin. The turbine in turn spins the transmission input shaft which through a series of events turns the vehicle’s drive wheels. At best, that fluid coupling is 90 percent efficient. Somewhere around the early 1980s a torque converter clutch (TCC) was incorporated to lock the impeller to the turbine. The torque converter coupling efficiency increased to about 98 percent, increasing fuel efficiency. When coming to a stop the TCC needs to be unlocked or the engine will stall. The brake pedal level position is monitored by the PCM so that when the brake pedal is depressed, the TCC is unlocked. During the test drive I noticed the brake pedal level was low and soft. The scanner indicated the brake pedal was depressed. I stuck my toe under the brake pedal and raised it up. The brake pedal position indicator changed to released and TCC lock up followed. The transmission is fine. It’s the low brake pedal level that’s keeping the transmission from shifting.
When I checked the brake fluid level, I noticed a new master cylinder and power booster. As I’ve mentioned before, guessing is the most inefficient and most costly way to diagnosis. The rear brake reservoir in the front of the new master cylinder was empty. I topped it off and inspected the rear brakes. The left rear wheel cylinder was leaking. Replacing the rear wheel cylinders and bleeding the air out of the brake system raised the brake pedal to its normal height and brake and transmission functions were restored. Really – a leaking brake wheel cylinder caused the transmission not to shift?
Yes … it did.
OK everyone, that’s all for now. I hope you found these case studies as interesting as I did. As usual, I’m looking for interesting automotive industry topics to write about. If you have any suggestions, ideas, comments or a general or specific question about a vehicle, please send me an email to email@example.com or text me at 559-907-7661.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Warren Parr, ASE Master, Advanced Level and Hybrid Certified Technician
Calling Young Fans
Over the past several months I had the opportunity to attend several advanced training classes. The most interesting class was the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) class. Several features resulting from ADAS technologies are Parking Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning. ADAS vehicles blend radar, sonar/ultrasound and forward-looking infrared. ADAS vehicles are currently in production and are the predecessor to the self-driving vehicle.
Thanks again to my 93636 family for all your support and encouragement. Two weeks ago Sunday, as I was walking into church, I heard a voice saying, “Our son was very excited to read your Ranchos Independent article.”
“Thank you,” I replied. “Is he here? I would like to meet him.”
“He’s outside playing.”
“How old is he?” I asked.
Now his parents had my full attention because I’m wondering which article I wrote that would interest a nine-year-old boy.
“Which article did he read?”
“Your most recent article about the Ford F150.”
NO WAY! That article was one of the hardest and most difficult articles I’ve written. I wasn’t able to meet the young man that day but as destiny would have it, Wednesday night our families arrived at church together and parked side by side. There he was, all nine years of him. He was wearing a big smile and grinning from ear to ear. I felt like a big-time celebrity. I walked over and shook his hand. “My name is Warren, what’s yours?”
“Jake, how would you like to go to the shop with me and hang out?”
“Cool,” Jake answered. We talked a bit and then I made my mistake.
“Jake, what’s your favorite car?” I expected him to say Corvette, Mustang, Camaro, Dodge Viper or some kind of American muscle car. Jake’s favorite car was one I’ve never heard of, some kind of Nissan. To save face I change the topic and asked Jake if he would help me at my Flat landers Celebration Complete Car Care booth. He said yes, so I would like to invite everyone to stop by the booth, meet my new best friend Jake and check us out.
93636 pre-teen and teenage readers, sorry, I didn’t realize you are out there. If you are interested in cars, I’d like to speak to you for just a bit. The automotive repair industry is wide open and there are many great opportunities for you. It’s not always easy but it can be quite rewarding. Let me share some statistics with you. Sixty six percent of today’s automotive technicians are 45 years and older. Less than 3 percent are 18-24 years of age. We will begin retiring soon so opportunities will abound.
Everyday vehicles are becoming exponentially more complex. The tool of choice for today’s automotive technician is not a wrench, it’s a laptop and tablet, or two or three. We are car doctors. It’s our job to investigate, test and repair problems. The need for well-trained, competent, qualified automotive professionals has never been greater and that need will only increase. I wish I could be there with you.
It was once my vision and hope to implement within our local school district a comprehensive automotive vocational training program including advanced placement. I haven’t been able to make that happen so instead I’m going to give you some good advice that will prevent you from being disadvantaged in the future when competing with others who attended Career Vocational Training programs: Take all the math you can.
Math is the language of science and the foundation of automotive diagnostic. Any and all classes related to the science of electricity is essential. Physics and chemistry will also be very helpful. An engineering class would be the icing on the cake. Remember, cars are designed by engineers using math and science. We just reverse engineer them during diagnostic. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Come by the Complete Car Care booth at the Flatlanders Celebration on Saturday, May 12 and let’s talk.
Last week, a 2009 BMW rolled into the shop for an emissions inspection. As usual I started the inspection by familiarizing myself with the vehicle’s emission label. As I was reading through its list of emission components, there was one unfamiliar to me: DOR.
After a bit of investigation, DOR is the acronym for Direct Ozone Reduction. On my BMW the DOR was the radiator. DOR components have special coatings that react with the ambient air passing over its surfaces. A catalyst in the coating converts ground level ozone, the main component of smog, into oxygen. DOR treated radiators can convert as much as 75 percent of the ozone it contacts into oxygen, which vehicle manufacturers use to offset tailpipe and evaporative systems emissions. The amount of ozone conversion credits available depends upon the size of the radiator and airflow rate. Factors that impact the air flow rate are the radiator’s cooling fan and vehicle speed. Several mitigating factors that impact the ozone conversion rate include system deterioration, density of traffic, road grime, temperature variations, vibration and weather conditions. In order to demonstrate overall effectiveness, manufacturers are required to conduct on-the-road driving or wind tunnel testing at 14 different speeds for a minimum of 10 minutes per speed.
Since DOR-treated components are considered emission control devices, federal law requires they be monitored for performance. The OBDII (On-Board Diagnostic 2) system will directly or indirectly monitor the component’s ozone conversion effectiveness. If the conversion rate falls below the minimum standard, the Check Engine Lamp will be illuminated and a diagnostic trouble code is set. YES, that is correct. Your radiator can be used as an emission reduction device. Good stuff, huh?
As usual, I’m in search of interesting and informative automotive topics to write about. If you have any suggestions or general questions concerning a personal vehicle or the automotive industry as a whole, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 559- 907-7661.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Warren Parr, ASE Master, Hybrid and Advanced Level Technician
Travel Prep Your Car
It’s that time of year again. The 28th Annual Flatlanders Day Parade & Craft Fair is coming to the Maywood Center on Saturday, May 12. The parade begins at 10 a.m. but the craft fair begins at 8 a.m. and runs till 3 p.m. I would like you to stop by my booth at the Craft Fair and introduce yourself. You can talk about your favorite In Good Hands article, ask a question about a pesky problem with your car, or just say “Hi.” We’ll be in spaces 27 and 28 on the southeast corner. I hope to see you there.
Spring and summer is upon us. For me, that means lots of cool automotive training classes. For you guys it means travel and vacations. I wish I was traveling with you.
Since I’m not, I thought I would give you a few pretrip vehicle inspection tips that will help keep your summer travel safe, comfortable and enjoyable. Every inspection or test may not be applicable to every vehicle.
Let’s start with a vehicle walk around. Is the vehicle flat and level? Are there any fluid leaks under the vehicle? While standing in front and then the rear of the vehicle, have an assistant turn on each set of lights (high and low beam headlights, emergency flashers, turn signals, brake lights, etc.) one at a time. Have the assistant look at the instrument cluster and make sure each indicator lamp illuminates. Make sure the side mirrors are adjusted correctly.
Next, let’s inspect all wheels and tires, including the spare. A flashlight will be helpful. Take the palm of your hand and rub it around the circumference of each tire, bottom front to bottom back. Roll the vehicle forward to expose the bottom of the tire and do it again. It should feel even and smooth. If you feel rolling hills (cupping), it’s an indicator the wheel is bouncing. Using your flashlight, look inward at the top of the shock absorber or strut shell where the plunger extends upward. It should be oil and dust free. A collection of dust is an indicator of a leaking component. Bounce on the front and rear bumpers of the vehicle. It should cycle (rebound and recoil) one time maximum after you jump off. I recommend shocks and/or struts be replaced in pairs, front and rear. If the shock absorbers and/or struts pass your inspection, have the wheels balanced and rotated. At this time, you should also be inspecting for hazards such as nails or screws.
Turn the steering wheel all the way left and then right to expose the front tires for easier inspection. Is the tire tread depth even across the tire? If the center is more worn, the tire is likely over-inflated. If both edges are more worn, likely the tire is under-inflated. All vehicles should have a tire pressure label on the driver’s side door jam. TECH TIP: For many vehicles, the front, rear and spare tire pressures are different.
If one of the above wear patterns is present, let’s first attempt to correct it by setting the tire air pressure correctly and rotate its position on the vehicle. If more correction is needed later, adjust the air pressure accordingly in increments of 3 pounds per square inch (psi). There should be a maximum tire pressure stamped on the side wall of each tire. Don’t exceed. If either the inside or outside of the tread is more worn, that’s an indicator of worn suspension, steering component(s) or misalignment. Do the same thing for the rear tires except for the steering wheel thing.
Tires have several “wear bars” between each tread. The “wear bar” height is 3/32. If the “wear bar” is even with the tread height, it’s time to replace the tires.
It’s a good idea to replace all tires together. The smaller circumference tires (used) will spin faster than the larger circumference tires (new). The different wheel speeds (via wheel speed sensors) can confuse the transmission, antilock and/or vehicle stability modules resulting in reduced performance and/or false warning indicator lamps set. If your vehicle is a fulltime 4-wheel drive or allwheel drive, you MUST replace all four tires together. You CANNOT MIX tires with different circumferences. The different wheel speeds will cause the clutches in the transfer case to slip and overheat. VERY DISTRUCTIVE!
OK, wash your hands and jump into the driver’s seat. Turn the ignition key to the “ON” position but do not start the engine. This test is called a “Bulb Check.” All monitored systems warning lamps (check engine, oil pressure, coolant temperature, battery, brakes, drive restraint, vehicle stability, etc.) should be glowing unless that system is monitored by a gauge. If a warning lamp bulb is out, the vehicle will not be able to warn you in the event of a system failure. Fix it immediately.
Briefly start the engine. Every warning lamp should be turned off, indicating each system passed its monitor. Honk the horn. Activate the windshield washers and wipers. Apply the parking brake to check for proper adjustment. Turn on the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system and check the blower motor, mode, temperature and recirculation functions. You never know when you may need the windshield washed or defogged.
Time to raise the hood. The engine should be cool before performing the following inspections. Check the engine oil, engine coolant, power steering, windshield washer and brake fluid levels. Check both the radiator and coolant reservoir levels if possible. Everything should be full. If not, there is a leak. Turn the radiator cap over and inspect the two rubber seals for cracks. Replace as necessary. Top off the cooling system with distilled water or the correct coolant only.
The same is not necessarily true of the brake fluid. If the brake fluid level is low, that’s an indicator the brake pad linings are low. It’s not necessary to add brake fluid unless it’s below the minimum level marked on the brake master cylinder reservoir. If you need to add, there is a leak.
Some vehicles, like BMW, do not have an engine or transmission oil dip stick. That information should be available on the driver information display. Scroll through the menu and check your fluid conditions.
Start the engine and bring it up to full operating temperature. The following tests should be performed with the engine at idle. Set the HVAC blower speed and temperature functions as high as possible. TECH TIP: If the heater is NOT TOASTY HOT, the engine coolant level in the radiator is likely low.
With the cooling system now pressurized, inspect the radiator, radiator and heater hoses for swelling, leaks or other defects. DO NOT TOUCH any plastic coolant component or hoses connected to a plastic component. Several times in my career I have been scalded from a plastic component that under stress exploded from just the touch of my finger. Very painful. Watch the electric cooling fan(s) cycle. When the fans are spinning, place your fingers through the vehicle’s grill and you should feel the ambient air passing by.
Turn every electrical load to high (AC, high beams, radio, flashers, etc.) so the alternator and air conditioning compressor loads will stress the serpentine belt. Have your assistant turn the steering wheel back and forth. The belt should remain steady and true. If it vibrates or is sloppy, time to replace it including the belt tensioner.
If your vehicle has a transmission dip stick, check the fluid level, color and smell. It should not be brown, dark or smell burnt. If so, or the transmission fluid has 100,000 miles or more of use, my advice is to change the fluid even if it is life time fluid. Better to change the fluid and extend the transmission’s life.
Check the battery cable ends for corrosion and/or looseness. Wiggle the cables. They should be tight. If there is corrosion on the battery posts or cable ends, a little baking soda mixed with water will dissolve the acid corrosion. By the way, 7 Up works great also.
Let’s remove the air filter cover and inspect the air filter. Next, using your garden hose and spray nozzle, spray water through the front grill and through all the heat exchangers (power steering and transmission coolers, AC condenser, radiator, etc.). Let them soak for 5 minutes to allow the debris to soften. Spray again at high pressure until they look clean and the nozzle water freely flows through each core. Your air conditioning and other affected systems will perform so much better.
Finally, drive the vehicle to an empty parking lot and safely turn tight circles at medium speed, forward and reverse, while braking. This test loads the wheels, axle bearings, constant velocity joints, differential, steering linkage, suspension and braking components. Listen for odd noises (clunks, rattles, popping, etc.) and/or the feel of driving over bumps. If one of those conditions is present have your shop of choice diagnosis the problem.
OK guys, that’s all for now. Have a happy and safe motoring summer. Send me pictures, including pictures of your vehicle. If you have any questions or need help, come on by or send me an email or text. I will be glad to help. Don’t forget to stop by on Flatlanders Day.
I’m always looking for interesting and informative automotive topics to write about. Please email me at email@example.com or text me at 907-7661 with any suggestions or questions.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Warren Parr, ASE Master, Advanced Level and Hybrid Certified Technician
Questioning the Future
I was very glad to meet so many of you that came by my Flatlander’s Day booth Saturday, May 12 and introduced yourselves. I very much enjoyed my time answering questions and demonstrating some of my industry’s new school technology. It was especially fun explaining to the “Do It Yourselfers” crowd what the humps, bumps and wiggles of some automotive waveforms represent. I enjoyed watching their facial expressions change as they understood and the little grin that implied, “You’re cheating; this is too easy.” Thanks again 93636 for all your support.
Well, it’s hard to believe three years passed so quickly. To the best of my recollection, this is the 37th article of the “In Good Hands with Warren Parr” automotive column. It’s always been my intent to inform and educate readers about advancements in automotive technology so that you may make informed decisions with regard to the repair and maintenance of your vehicles. Normally, I like to be upbeat and share interesting things that happen in the shop during the normal day-to-day happenings. This article will depart from that tradition as I’m currently very concerned and disappointed about the health and future of my industry.
Seven years ago, my son resigned and left our company for employment with the California Department of Corrections. At that time, it was very difficult to find his replacement. After weeks of searching I settled on a young man with a strong aptitude and work ethic.
After seven years of investment in his education and training, he also became a top tier technician. Well, Fresno City College came a calling. He too resigned and left the business for opportunities in the public education industry.
I’ve been looking for his replacement for the past five weeks but I have not found a single applicant with the skill set I want. The closest I’ve found are technicians in the 50- to 60-year-old range who will all to soon be eligible for retirement and I’d have start the search process all over again. I’m looking for young talent to invest in and train who will help me elevate my company and my industry to the next level, but I can’t find that individual.
Currently, the average age of an auto motive technician in the United States is 52 years of age. Young people are not entering the automotive repair industry in sufficient numbers to replace retirees. My industry is experiencing a significant shortage of qualified technicians.
I believe the problem is largely the consequence of the systematic elimination of vocational education opportunities from the public schools. The programs that remain are “old school” and outdated.
The automobile is by far the most complex and most sophisticated piece of technology that we interact with on a daily basis. The primary reason for that complexity is the implementation of increased fuel economy and air quality standards. By 2040, Europe will ban the sale of all fossil fuel vehicles. As my industry races rapidly toward the all-electric, self-driving vehicle, the nature of my industry will change. Last week I performed an all-systems module scan on an ordinary, average vehicle. I counted 33 modules reported. The modern vehicle is a series of computers and processors networked together bolted onto four wheels. From where will the talent come that will be needed to diagnosis and repair these systems?
Last month I too was recruited to teach an automotive emissions class at Fresno City College. As part of my due process, I decided to sit in and observe the class.
Part one of the lesson plan was very basic and simple. It was designed to teach the students how to successfully prepare and place a vehicle onto the dynamometer for a proper Acceleration Simulation Mode (ASM) emissions test. No concerns here; I perform this procedure many times every day.
Part two of the lesson plan concerned the chemistry, formation and diagnostic of the unwanted tailpipe emission, oxides of nitrogen (NOx). NOx is the component of tailpipe emissions that turns the air into brown smog. The instructor explained the relationship between air/fuel ratios and NOx formation. During the presentation he only briefly mentioned lambda. Where did he find this curriculum, in a time capsule?
This is what I learned 20 years ago. We’ve moved on. I’ve been exclusively using the lambda calculation process the past 10 years as the first line of defense when battling a NOx or any emission problem. It’s as though the past 20 years of emissions research and advancements in science and technology never happened.
At the break I asked the instructor from which edition he was teaching and when it was last revised. I was unprepared for his answer: The curriculum was developed by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair and is the most current edition. All students are required to take and pass the course in order to obtain a California Smog Inspector License. OH MY GOSH!
Why is air/fuel ratio still being taught? It’s very ambiguous, complicated and doesn’t provide a process to calculate the ACTUAL air/fuel ratio. Lambda is much easier and much more accurate. The curriculum being taught in California’s public community colleges is outdated and just plan misleading. These students will need to be retrained when, and if, they actually pass the test to become a licensed California emissions diagnostic and repair technician. I cannot in good conscience teach this curriculum. I told the instructor I would reconsider if the curriculum is revised and updated. I’m still waiting for the call.
Last year I received an email from a well-known national automotive industry cooperation. I had been nominated by one of my instructors for a position on a newly formed national automotive advisory committee. Our charge was to evaluate the company’s current and proposed course curriculum and provide input and direction concerning future instructional and training needs of our industry. Last October I flew to Denver for our first meeting. The common denominator with all 10 members was we were all heavily involved in our local public education system, strong supporters of Career Vocational Training and invested in new school automotive technology. WOW; a room of people just like me.
Committee members came from as far east as Florida, as far north as Illinois and as far south as New Mexico. I was the only member from west of the Rocky Mountains. At some point it was revealed that the co-operation was in the process of creating a magnet charter school in Colorado. The school is modeled after the European model and will bypass the regular public school system. The school will be a fully accredited, six-year school (grades 8-14) in which students have the opportunity to graduate with an accredited automotive degree. If successful, the co-operation would in effect franchise the model throughout the United States.
We were asked to consult on the curriculum and program designed to successfully transition introductory level students into qualified and employable automotive technicians in six years. I fully support the co-operation’s vision, investment, tenacity and courage. If the public school system will not do it, someone from our industry needs to.
All right guys, that’s all for today. As always, looking for interesting and informative automotive topics to write about. If you have any suggestions, recommendations or any general or specific questions about the automotive industry or a vehicle, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 907-7661.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Nothing to Fear with FLIR
Well, it’s an election year again and three Golden Valley Unified School District seats will stand for election. Areas 1, 2 and 4 form the majority on the five-member trustee board. Areas 1, 2 and 4 encompass everything just south of Ave. 13, from Trigo to Rolling Hills.
In my opinion, public education has failed many of our students by not providing traditional Vocational Education classes. There is a great need and many opportunities await students in the vocational trades industries. School boards are always looking for grants, the passage of new school bonds and/or alternative funding sources to implement Vocational Education. The truth is the money is already in the budget. Vocational Education is just a low financial priority for school board members. For 20 years we have been talking about Vocational Education in GVUSD. Wouldn’t it be great to elect three (one from each area) strong, pro-Vocational Education candidates to our school board? Monday, July 23 is the candidate filing deadline.
Three months ago, a 2006 Ford Mustang GT rolled into the shop with a hard steering complaint. When turning into or out of parking spaces, the steering was very hard. Hard steering complaints are very difficult to diagnosis at best. The reason for that is components tend to be buried and not easily accessible. When accessible, the pressure testing data I retrieved was not useful because manufacturers’ specifications were not available. Basically, I’m left with a subjective diagnostic based on symptoms and/or pattern failures. I determined the Mustang’s power steering pump was defective. I flushed the hydraulic system, filled it with fresh new fluid and installed a re-built pump. Three weeks later the Mustang returned with the same complaint. After more pattern failure research and subjective reasoning, I determined the power steering rack and pinion steering box was the problem. I called the customer for permission to replace it also. During the conversation, I learned some additional details that caused me to question my new diagnostic.
I need to get it right this time. How do I diagnosis the power steering system objectively? How do I measure it? What technology is available to me? Is the belt slipping? Is the pump pulley slipping on the pump shaft? Is a hose or fluid passage obstructed? Maybe there is an internal gear box seal leaking … HEY! If the belt or pully is slipping, heat will be generated from the friction (kinetic energy converted to thermal energy). I can measure that. With my FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) technology in hand, I duplicated the hard steering complaint. There was no increase in temperature at the power steering pully or belt, so I eliminated them as potential causes. I also know from science that whenever there is a change in pressure there is a corresponding and proportional change in temperature. If there is a restriction in the system I should see a change in temperature. Again, I recreated the complaint and scanned the system. I did not observe any abrupt temperature changes so I eliminated the power steering hoses and steering box from my list of potential causes. The only component remaining was the power steering pump. Again, I flushed the system and replaced the pump. Problem officially solved. HEY, it’s just science.
During that time a Cadillac CTS with an overheating brake problem arrived. This vehicle had many shiny new brake components installed. The complaint was that after several miles of driving, the brakes would drag and overheat. I connected my Tech 2 scanner to the AntiLock Brake System Module and retrieved two trouble codes. They didn’t appear to have a direct relationship to the complaint, so I suspect they were accidently set during the previous diagnostic and repair. I selected the ABS automated testing and diagnostic feature of the scan tool and performed a brake system evaluation. The brake system was functioning as designed.
I erased the codes and went for a test drive. After several aggressive stops the front brakes began smoking heavily. Using my FLIR, I measured the brake temperatures. The brake components were not hot, not even close and no trouble codes were present. I returned the vehicle to the customer with the recommendation to use a better quality brake pad (NAPA) and go easy on the synthetic brake grease. Thanks to FLIR technology, problem solved.
The FLIR technology development I’m most interested in is in the area of “electrical parasitic draw diagnostic” (dead battery in the morning symptom). The idea is to allow the vehicle to rest overnight and equalize to the ambient air. Electron flow (current) in a circuit generates heat. The next morning when we access the vehicle’s fuse boxes, we are looking for the fuse(s) that have a heat signature greater then ambient. Once we find it, we access the components on that circuit looking for a heat signature above ambient.
“Do It Yourselfers,” this technology is available on your cell phone. Get it and use it. It works well.
Last year in Denver at the national CTI advisory committee meeting, FLIR was one of the two technologies I supported and lobbied for. Last week at our online quarterly meeting, both FLIR & NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) technologies were presented as new training courses in development. WOW!
In September the advisory committee will visit the CTI Development and Training Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m looking forward to meeting the FLIR & NVH curriculum development teams. I’m hoping to bring back what I learn and pilot the new curriculum. I’ll keep you DIYers posted. Hope this helps
That’s all for today. Happy 4th of July. As always, I’m looking for interesting and informative automotive topics to write about. I can be reached at email@example.com or text me at 907-7661 with any recommendations, suggestions and/or general or specific questions about a vehicle or the automotive industry.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Warren Parr 2013 & 2014 NAPA/ASE California Technician of the Year
Ford Powerstroke 101
2018 has been a very good training year for the automotive industry. This year Ford rolled out its first $100,000 pickup truck, the 2018 F-Series Super Duty Limited. The service and maintenance recommendations for Powerstroke vehicles is extensive and precise. Last week’s Ford 6.7L Powerstroke class addressed many of these complexities. In addition, I did a little research and thought I’d pass it along with some of the training I received. This class caused me to re-think my business model.
Ford estimates by 2020, trucks, commercial vehicles and SUVs (including offroad and performance versions) will account for 50 percent of U.S. new vehicle sales. Ford is reallocating $7 billion in capital from cars to SUVs. Ford will replace 3/4 of its lineup and add four new trucks and SUVs. Ford will also introduce the hybrid version of the F- 150, Mustang, Explorer, Escape and Bronco as well as some full electric vehicles.
The rest of this article is dedicated to the many Powerstroke enthusiasts I see cruising around 93636. I hope this helps.
The Generation 4 6.7L Powerstroke diesel engine is rated at 400 hp and 900 ft. lbs. of torque. When installed into the F-Series chassis, they are capable of very high towing capacities. Proper service and maintenance is central to the reliability, prolonged life and usefulness of this vehicle platform.
The first step in determining the proper maintenance schedule is to determine if the vehicle use is normal, severe duty or a combination thereof. The definition of severe duty use is: excessive idling, frequent stops, driving conditions that require four-wheel drive, frequent hauling or towing, hot, cold or dusty climates and the use of biodiesel fuel.
TECH TIP1: Engine Oil Service: Ford has a new engine oil specification for the Powerstroke engine. Chevron DELO 400 and Shell ROTELLA diesel engine oils no long qualify. Use engine oil meeting the WSS-M2C171-171-F1 standard only.
Severe Duty miles need to be separated out and manually tracked. The maximum oil change interval for severe duty driving is 300 hours. The maximum combination driving interval is 7,500 miles. The oil capacity of a 2017 and newer Powerstroke is 17 quarts.
For those rare 6.7L vehicles that are not severe duty vehicles, a maintenance processor will monitor the vehicle usage and calcu late the engine oil condition. The Oil Life Monitor will alert the driver when it’s time for an oil service.
TECH TIP 2: Fuel Filter Service: The 6.7L Powerstroke engine uses two fuel filters and both should be changed every 15,000 miles or at least once per year.
The primary fuel filter housing is mounted to the Diesel Fuel Conditioning Module (DFCM) located on the left frame rail. The DFCM delivers 1 gallon of fuel per minute at 70 psi to the high-pressure fuel system. Two thirds of that fuel is simply used to lubricate and cool the highpressure fuel pump and injectors. The remaining 1/3 is available for delivery to the cylinders. If a DFCM filter is restricted and volume and/or fuel pressure is reduced, the engine will run normally but the lubrication and cooling process will be inefficient and damage will occur to high pressure system components.
CHANGE THOSE FUEL FILTERS! The DFCM is self-priming. After filter(s) replacement, turn the ignition key on but do not start. The pump will run for 30 seconds, backfilling the fuel injectors. Don’t forget to drain the water separator. The secondary fuel filter is located on the left side of the engine compartment.
TECH TIP 3: Cooling System Description and Service: A dual cooling system was developed to meet the many challenges of the 6.7L Powerstroke vehicles. Each system has its own radiator, water pump and set of thermostats.
The primary cooling system (high temperature) supplies coolant to the engine block, engine oil cooler, turbo charger, heater core and stage 1 of the EGR Cooler. The primary system utilizes dual thermostats at 194 and 201 degrees F. Staggering the thermostat openings facilitate a more even engine warm up process and reduces engine block thermal shock. The thermostats are located in the coolant return. The primary system capacity is 7.5 gallons.
The secondary cooling system incorporates a two-stage radiator. The upper 2/3 supplies 140-degree F. coolant to the transmission and second side of the EGR Coolers. The lower 1/3 supplies 113-degree F. coolant to the Cold Air Charge and Fuel Coolers. The secondary cooling system capacity is about 3 gallons. Use only Motorcraft Specialty Orange Engine Coolant mixed 50/50 with distilled water.
The initial engine coolant replacement interval is 60,000 miles and every 45,000 miles thereafter if the vehicle is operated in Severe Duty conditions. DO NOT reuse the coolant after a repair. Coolant additives are sacrificed onto cooling system component surfaces. New components need new coolant.
TECH TIP 4: Automatic Transmission Service:The TorqShift transmission family uses a special transmission fluid, Mercon LV. Ford recommends the fluid be replaced at 150,000 miles. If the fluid is dark or smells burnt prior, exchange the fluid and replace the transmission filter. The system capacity is about 18 quarts.
TECH TIP 5: Transfer Case Service: The transfer case also uses a special fluid. DO NOT use the Mercon LV transmission fluid in the transfer case unless specifically recommended by Ford. Ford reports catastrophic failures of transfer cases when Mercon LV is used. The capacity is 2 quarts and a 60,000-mile service interval is recommended for severe duty applications.
TECH TIP 6: Differential Service: Rear differential: Ford uses 75W-90 or 75W-140 synthetic gear oil in their rear differentials due to the extreme pressures exerted by the 6.7L hightorque engines. If the differential is equipped with a limited slip, special additives are required. Use the additives if there is any doubt. The system capacity is about 4 quarts and a 50,000-mile service interval is recommended for severe duty applications.
Front differential: Ford recommends a standard 80W-90 gear oil. The system capacity is 2.9 quarts and a 50,000-mile service interval is recommended for severe duty applications.
OK guys, that’s about it for this one. Do it yourselfers, I only covered a small amount of the information in the 6.7L Powerstroke workbook. If you would like some additional information, send me a text or email and I will print that out and shoot you a copy. As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-7661.
Warren Parr ASE Master, Advanced Level and Hybrid Certified
I would like to begin my article by congratulating Golden Valley Unified School District and its governing board for breaking ground on our new GVUSD Career Vocational Education Facility. I would also like to extend my personal thanks and congratulations to Mona Diaz, Maria Knobloch and Brian Freeman for keeping your 2015 GVUSD Special Election campaign promises to make Vocational Education one of your priorities.
WAY TO GO GUYS!!! Thanks also to Steven Lewis and Andrew Wheeler for your commitment and support for Vocational Education.
Isn’t the primary and fundamental purpose of public education to prepare students for career opportunities? There are tremendous employment opportunities within the automotive industry. Please GVUSD governing board, consider the automotive industry when you develop the curriculum and build those facilities. My industry has suffered from a shortage of trained and qualified technicians for many years. The problem is nationwide and, in my opinion – at least in part – the result of the systematic elimination of Vocational Education curriculum from the publicschool system. One hundred-thirty years ago the U.S. farmer also experienced a significant decrease in available labor as many left the farm headed for the big cities of America. The American farmer turned to technology to compensate for that shortage. In my judgement, as a result of that decision, today’s American farmer produces the highest quality and greatest quantity food products at the lowest prices anywhere in the world. Their successful model has inspired and motivated me to also embrace technology as the means to deal with my industry’s labor shortage.
Recently I needed to replace some older worn-out low-current amp probes, so I headed to my favorite automotive technology store, AES Wave of Fresno. They are the largest distributor of Pico technology and one of the largest automotive technology manufacturers and distributors in America.
Carlos walked me into the warehouse and showed me his selection. I already knew what I wanted, but for me, being in the AES Wave warehouse is like being a 5-year-old in Disneyland.
“Hey Carlos, what’s that?”
“That’s the newest Pico technology in
low-current amp probes.”
“Why does it have such a large jaw?”
“It’s designed for parasitic draw testing at the battery cables.” (A parasitic draw is a small current (milliamps) that drains the vehicle’s battery dead overnight.)
You mean I no longer have to disconnect the battery cables and install a bridge when testing for parasitic draws? WOW! This technology will definitely enhance my diagnostic ability and decrease my risk. Every time I disconnect a vehicle’s battery, I take the risk that a module may not come back online when the battery is reconnected. At the very least, every time a battery is disconnected the vehicle’s adaptive memory is lost.
As my brain began processing this new technology, I realized in theory it has the potential to fundamentally change automotive electrical diagnostics beyond the probe’s stated purpose. Here’s how: A vehicle’s battery is the warehouse where electrons are stored. When an electrical component is activated, electrons flow out of the battery’s negative post, through a battery cable, through the load and back to the battery via a cable connected to the positive post. The battery and battery cables are common to every electrical component and system in the vehicle.
The flow of electrons is called current. When current flows through a wire or cable, a magnetic field is created. The current amp probe measures that magnetic field and converts it into current or amps. The greater the magnetic field, the greater the current. Since EVERY electron must flow through the vehicle’s battery cables to complete its mission, why don’t we just measure the current there? I simply place the new lowcurrent amp probe around a battery cable, turn the ignition key to the “ON” position and activate the component’s switch (blower motor, power window motor, power seats, etc.). When the electrons flow, I can measure it.
If the new technology works, I no longer need to remove covers, panels or other obstacles to access electrical components. I no longer need to consult a wiring diagram to find the correct wire to test. With other electrical components, like fuel injectors, ignition coils, actuators, solenoids, etc., I can place my diagnostic scanner into bi-directional control and activate those components with it.
This month, several vehicles come into the shop with power window failure complaints. This presented a very good opportunity to implement and test the new technology. The good thing about power windows is a vehicle never has just one. Therefore, I should have at least one good component to gather “known good” baseline data to compare to the suspect component data. In the past I was unable to implement this strategy because of the extra time and difficulty to disassemble and reassemble a second door.
The science performed perfectly. It was quick and accurate. The waveform was identical to the waveform taken at the component. The first vehicle suffered from high resistance in the power window motor. That resulted in low current flow which caused the slow window complaint. The second vehicle had a defective power window switch. Intermittently the switch would stick in the “down command” position so the customer was unable to roll the window up.
The new Pico Low-Current Amp Probe technology has proven itself to me to be a quick, reliable and easy way to perform new school electrical diagnostics.
OK guys. That’s all for now. As always, I’m looking for interesting and informative automotive industry topics to write about in future articles. If you have any suggestions, or questions regarding my industry, a personal vehicle or any other automotive issue, I can be reached by texting 907-7661.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Warren Parr, ASE Master, Advanced Level and Hybrid Certified
Faraday Brings the Future
Thirty-Three years ago, Sept. 28th, I walked through the front door of Complete Car Care for the very first time. Man, oh man how vehicles have changed. The complexity of a 2018 vehicle compared to its 1985 version is immense. I don’t foresee that trend slowing anytime soon but I do foresee the nature of that complexity changing as we rapidly move to the electric vehicle.
Tesla Inc. has a new challenger in the full-electric vehicle market place: Faraday Future (FF). FF recently moved into its new production facility, formerly the Pirelli tire plant in Hanford, to assemble its new FF 91 car of the future. The facility is 800,000 square feet and will support up to 1,300 jobs for our local economy.
FF is an American start-up technology company focused on the development of intelligent electric vehicles. FF was established in April 2014 and is headquartered in Los Angeles.
FF’s lithium-ion battery technology produces the world’s highest energy density batteries and will extend driving ranges well in excess of 300 miles on a single charge. This represents a significant step forward in battery technology and removes the largest obstacle for full electric vehicles. As I recall from my hybrid/electric vehicle training classes, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt lithium-ion batteries achieved driving ranges of 80 and 50 miles on a single charge respectively.
FF’s proposed electric vehicle will have 15 percent higher specific energy than a Tesla Model S and it utilizes a multi-cell solution where both individual cells and/or groups of cells can be replaced. In my mind, that will make the vehicle easier and less expensive to diagnosis and repair.
Full-electric vehicles have significant advantages over today’s vehicles in that full-electric vehicles do not need an internal combustion engine or transmission. FF’s Head of Design, Richard Kim, discussed his interest in creating a vehicle that featured internet access, in-car entertainment, aromatherapy technology and ergonomic interior design. Aromatherapy technology uses plant materials and other aroma compounds to improve psychological and/or the physical well-being of the user.
WOW! Is this a cure for road rage? I need some aromatherapy technology in my vehicles. The stick of perfume in my air duct doesn’t work so well these days.
Faraday Future plans to begin testing its self-driving vehicles on California roads soon. On Aug. 28, FF celebrated its first-ever successful, pre-production build of the new FF 91 vehicle on the Hanford factory assembly line. The FF 91 will be the first full-production vehicle and flagship model of FF. First deliveries are expected in early 2019. The FF 91 is an all-electric, ultra-luxury, autonomous-ready and seamlessly connected, intelligent vehicle. The FF 91’s Dynamic Vehicle Control integrates torque vectoring (ability to vary the torque to each wheel), four-wheel steering and semi-active damping suspension systems into a synchronously functioning unit. FF 91 users will experience a smooth, agile, enhanced ride with sure-footed traction that will allow the FF 91 to accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than three seconds. Remember, the torque (twisting force) of an electric motor is consistent. The FF 91 will accelerate just as hard at 1 mph as it will at 100 mph. In fact, electric vehicles accelerate so hard that many require special tires to keep from twisting the tires’ sidewalls apart.
The FF 91 is intuitive and will recognize and greet you before you enter the vehicle. As the vehicle learns your habits and patterns, it will anticipate your driving preferences and content choices. The more you use the vehicle the more intuitive it will become. One third of the vehicle’s interior is dedicated for internet living space. FF’s vision is to create a mobility ecosystem that empowers people to move and connect freely. The race for full production of the FF 91 has begun and FF is currently hiring on a large scale.
One of FF’s priorities is its partnership with the College of the Sequoias (COS) in Visalia to educate and train newly hired employees at California’s Training and Resource Center in Hanford. In groups of 20-25, the newly hired employees, will undergo 40 hours of team building, decision making, problem solving and leadership-skills training needed in the Hanford facility. The COS training will be followed by additional manufacturing training on site at the Hanford factory. FF Senior VP of Manufacturing, Dag Reckhorn, said, “The worker training program with College of the Sequoias through the California ETP grant is essential to the future success of the Hanford facility.”
Also in discussion for the near future is a formal FF Management Training curriculum with a select group of community colleges in Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties. I’m sorry to see Madera Community College is not mentioned in this group. Local opportunities abound in the automotive industry. My industry needs bright, young and intelligent minds which GVUSD has in abundance. I urge the GVUSD Board of Trustees to consider these facts when building its curriculum and new 11-acre Vocational Education Training Facility on the Liberty High School Campus.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Warren Parr ASE Master, Advance Level and Hybrid Certified
Education is the Future
Earlier this month the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools held his annual Career Tech Expo at Chukchansi Park. The Career Tech Expo is the largest Career Fair event in the Central Valley each year. Thousands of Fresno County high school juniors and seniors were bused to the event to investigate career opportunities.
This year the Fresno Select Group decided to participate in the event. FSG is a business development group of 13 local independent NAPA AutoCare Centers. One of the major impediments to business development and growth for the local automotive repair industry is the lack of trained, competent and qualified technicians. We purposely set out to attract students to our booth. We wanted to do something with a WOW factor.
In that regard, one of the vehicles we displayed at our booth was a newer Lexus. By installing a Bluetooth device into the vehicles OBD II connector, we were able to control many of the vehicle’s functions remotely with a handheld scanner. As students approached the empty car, it started honking its horn, rolling its windows up and down and flashing its lights. We definitely got their attention, not to mention how entertaining it was to watch their reactions. With that attention we promoted the many benefits and opportunities within the automotive industry and demonstrated other new school automotive technologies.
I was very disappointed to learn that only two public high schools within the Fresno City limits offered an automotive vocational program: Central High School and Erma Duncan Polytechnical High School. The only other Fresno County public high schools that I’m aware of to offer an automotive vocational program are Clovis and Clovis West.
As I understand it, Duncan Polytech is a charter school and students are selected through the application process. Access to Fresno public school vocational automotive programs is extremely limited at best. In fact, the vast majority of students we spoke with did not have access to traditional vocational education opportunities.
On the spot we decided to improvise. We passed out business cards to those stu dents who showed more than a casual interest during our demonstrations. It’s our intention to invite these students into our shops where they can first-hand observe the interworking of a modern-day automotive repair facility. We also want to connect some of the new school technology to live, running vehicles and give those students some hands-on experiences.
Our display also caught the attention of several instructors, educators and administrators. We were greeted with great enthusiasm and received several invitations to visit school sites and speak with students. Among those who visited our booth was the lead instructor from the Fresno City College Automotive Program. I think FCC presents the greatest opportunity to implement a new school training curriculum. The problem has been for us that FCC receives much of its financial support from manufactures like General Motors, Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Group, so small independents like ourselves have largely been on the outside looking in. We are hoping to bridge that gap and partner with FCC. We independents, FCC and students would benefit greatly from that partnership.
One of the joys of many years in the automotive repair industry is occasional I get to blend the best technologies from the new school and old school worlds. Earlier this month a 1950 Lincoln rolled through the door. It had a flathead Ford engine with a conventional points-type distributor and a carburetor. I’ve never worked on a flathead engine before. The customer requested diagnostic for a “Tip In” condition and an oldfashioned secondary ignition tune-up. Man oh man, cars sure have changed, but the basic science and engineering is the same. Just like any other car, I used the same new school technology to diagnose and repair this old-school vehicle. In the past a timing light, dwell meter and tachometer would have been the technology of choice. Today a lab scope, pressure transducer and a low current amp probe were my technology of choice.
By using a pressure transducer instead of a timing light, I can accurately adjust base ignition timing to within .001 of a degree without the need to find or use timing marks. By using the low current amp probe I can watch the coil saturation (dwell) and current load for each of the eight cylinders. An old school dwell meter averages the dwell across the eight cylinders. Because of the dwell meter limitations, if any of the distributor’s cam lobes are excessively worn (misfire), that condition is not detectable. Another advantage of the low-current amp probe is if I apply Ohm’s Law and use a little math, I have an accurate assessment of the condition of the ignition coil and its electrical circuits. If I had this technology and training 30 years ago, I would have been the KING of automotive drivability in the diagnostic world.
The moral of the story is new school technology and training is very adaptable, efficient and universal because at its core automotive science and engineering is basically common.
The automotive industry has a lot of work to do. We need to build a comprehensive new school technology curriculum that can be taught at the public school level. As a group we need to support our public school automotive instructors and volunteer as advisors. As a result of FSG’s participation with the 2018 Career Tech Expo, I think we have a much-improved understanding of the needs and challenges before us as we work with education to build a comprehensive automotive vocational education program.
As always, I’m looking for interesting and informative automotive industry topics to write about. If you have any ideas, suggestions or a general or specific question about a vehicle, please text 907-7661. I would like to answer those questions for you and possibly include them in a future article.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636
Warren Parr, A 2013 & 2014 ASE/NAPA
California Technician of the Year.
Car, Drive Thyself!
Earlier this month I was in Raleigh, N.C. as a guest of Car Quest Training Institute. One of the demonstrations I observed was an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) camera alignment. Camera alignment is critical for ADAS and self-driving vehicles. The engineer placed alignment targets in front of the vehicle, beside the vehicle and attached to the rear wheels of the vehicle with light beams bouncing from target to target.
If the forward-looking camera is misaligned by just two degrees, at 200 yards out that camera may be looking outside the vehicle’s lane of travel and incorrectly reacting to other vehicles and objects. With “Lane Departure” and “Blind Spot Detection” features, cameras are used to monitor painted lines on the road surface and detect objects unseen in the vehicle’s rear-view mirrors. In a word, if the cameras are misadjusted, the technology doesn’t work.
Earlier this year, Ford Motor Co. announced its collaboration with the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, to begin work on a driverless grocery delivery service. The joint pilot program will explore the use of self-driving vehicles to deliver groceries and other consumer goods. The Walmart project is the latest initiative from Ford to increase its self-driving delivery vehicle market.
“Like us, Walmart believes that selfdriving vehicles have an important role to play in the future of delivery,” said Brian Wolf, Director of Business Development for Ford’s autonomous vehicle business. “Together, we’ll be gathering crucial data about consumer preferences and learning the best way we can conveniently connect people with the goods they need.”
Automating the arrival of goods to consumers’ front porches would slash shipping costs roughly in half, experts say. Consultant McKinsey & Co. predicts that in less than a decade, 80 percent of all items will be delivered autonomously.
Ford and Walmart will test this concept as part of an existing grocery/delivery partnership between Postmates and Walmart. Postmates of Miami-Dade County Florida will play a crucial role in the Ford-Walmart collaboration. Postmates currently delivers goods ordered from Walmart stores to customers’ doorsteps in Ford vehicles. Since Ford and Walmart are already working with Postmates, the companies intend to use that infrastructure to get their pilot up and running quickly.
This project is not Ford’s first venture into the delivery service industry. Since midFebruary, Ford has completed more than 1,000 successful autonomous vehicle deliveries in the Miami, Fla. area for Domino’s Pizza. Ford works with approximately 80 national and local companies to provide autonomous delivery options.
This isn’t Walmart’s first automated-vehicle partnership either. Walmart had been searching for cost-effective customer delivery options so earlier this year a store in the Phoenix, Ariz. area began working with Waymo, an independent self-driving technology company that began life as the Google self-driving car project in 2009. It transports customers to and from its store to retrieve groceries in autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
Although the technology is expensive, it will trim delivery costs. This cost savings and convenience will allow Walmart to be more competitive with rivals such as Amazon online. Currently Walmart has grocery delivery options available in 800 stores across 100 urban areas nationwide. That number is expected to double next year.
As self-driving cars come closer to reality, automakers and tech giants are increasingly viewing driverless deliveries as lucrative business opportunity. Ford is emphasizing the usage of autonomous vehicle technology for commercial purposes. In July of 2018, Ford Motor Company created a separate business unit, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, to develop technology for self-driving vehicles. Through 2023, Ford will invest $4 billion in its subsidiary company. By 2021, the company aims to launch the production of commercial self-driving vehicles. Ford foresees a market worth $332 billion developing by 2026, in which ride-hailing revenues will account for $202 billion and delivery services valued at $130 billion. Ford is “doubling down” on the commercial side of self-driving technology. It’s a safer bet for Ford, and one that could pay off well.
According to Ford, the current business model of selling cars to customers via manufacturer dealerships generates a profit margin of 6- 10 percent. Ford estimates the potential profit margin in the autonomous-vehicle business is “… much higher than that.”
Ford has underwhelmed some investors because of its later launch date than competitors like Waymo and General Motors Co. Ford’s explanation was not only will it deliver a purposebuilt self-driving vehicle by 2021, it will also create a viable business model and market to go along with it.
For Ford, that amounts to launching thousands of self-driving vehicles for immediate and sustainable profits, which they believe is different than what other manufacturers are thinking. Ford announced plans to replicate its Florida model in the Washington D.C. market next year and a third city soon after. Currently Ford and Walmart are examining vehicle configurations and/or modifications necessary for grocery delivery, in which orders tend to be larger and more varied. They’re also investigating how many individual orders can be supported on a single trip and what compartments are needed onboard to ensure orders are secured. One of the more challenging design areas is the successful delivery of perishable groceries.
OK guys, that’s all for today. As always, I’m looking for interesting automotive topics to write about. If you have any suggestions or any specific questions about a specific vehicle, please text me at 559-907-7661.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636.
Warren Parr, a 2013 & 2014 ASE/NAPA
California Technician of the Year
Big Brother, Your Car
Merry Christmas and a Happy 2019 from the Parr family and the Complete Car Care team. We want to thank you all for your continued business and support. For me, 2018 ends with a required 20- hour emissions update class and test. Since emissions is fresh on my mind, I thought the opportunity of this article would present a good time to write about California’s emissions testing program.
In my opinion, if the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was sincerely interested in clean air, California would change its forest management strategy and policies and become proactive about wildfire prevention. The amount of emissions emitted into California’s air each year from wildfires is substantial. Instead, CARB is attempting to find a way around the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights’ 4th amendment protections. Just saying.
For at least 10 years, I’ve heard rumors about the CARB OBD III program. During preparation for this article I found detailed documentation that would suggest the rumors may have merit. What is the CARB OBD III program? The intent of the program is to reduce the time between when a vehicle’s emission failure first occurs and the actual repair.
The Clean Air Act of 1963 was the first federal legislation regarding air pollution control. It established a federal program within the U.S. Public Health Service that authorized research into techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution.
The Clean Air Act allows California to seek a waiver from the prohibition keeping states from enacting their own emission standards for new motor vehicles. The United States Environmental Protection Agency must grant a waiver before CARB’s OBD III program can be enacted.
The program would require each new vehicle sold in California to be equipped with a small device capable of storing and transmitting the vehicle’s identification number, the receiver station identification number, current emissions fault code(s), date and time of the current and last query and the status and integrity of the monitoring system. The transponder will also be equipped with a memory function to prevent loss of stored information if the vehicle’s battery fails or is disconnected.
When a vehicle emissions fault is detected, a notice would be sent to the vehicle owner requiring an out-of-cycle emissions inspection within a certain number of days. If the vehicle is not inspected and brought into compliance, penal options include withholding the next vehicle registration, a citation, fine or court appearance.
Receiver/Tracking Station options include roadside readers, local station networks and satellites. The roadside reader technology has been tested in California since 1994. The technology is capable of reading eight lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic at 100 miles per hour. The roadside reader technology can be installed at fixed locations or installed onto portable and mobile units. When the reader technology detects an emission fault, the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) and fault code(s) will be transmitted to authorities.
Satellite technology can be linked to a cell phone or other tracking device like General Motors’ “OnStar.” When an emission fault is detected, the vehicle owner would be alerted via cell phone and/or the tracking device. That information would also be relayed to public authorities. Technologies and options available to enforce OBD III regulations include CHP Roadside Pullover or remotely disabling the vehicle via the OBD III device. Other possible uses for the OBD III technology are police pursuit immobilization, tracking and citing speed limit violators.
What legal issues arise from OBD III? Do public health arguments override our constitutional protections of privacy and consent?
OBD III would sanction private citizens based on the use of “suspicionless mass surveillance” of private property and random testing. It would empower CARB, an un-elected body, to sequester private property. It’s not clear to me how due process, the right of private citizens to directly confront accusers and rebut witnesses and 4th amendment protections would be protected.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects U.S. citizens from random search and seizures. ”The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated …”
The drawback with California’s current emissions testing program is the entire California vehicle fleet must undergo biannual emissions inspections in order to identify a relatively small number of failing vehicles. Approximately 10 million vehicles at a cost in excess of $168 million are inspected each year.
CARB suggests if the inspection process could be automated, only those vehicles with actual emissions problems would be required to undergo a FULL emission inspection. As I understand it, the biannual inspection process would remain intact and the costs associated with it.
CARB has identified the major obstacle blocking the implementation of OBD III is public acceptance of a device they would pay for with the capability to disable their vehicle without their permission. The following is a CARB suggested strategy to gain public acceptance. In CARB’s own words:
“Ways to obtain public acceptance may be to offer incentives by including this device as part of a package that provides other benefits. These benefits could be an anti-theft device and/or a smog readout device. The smog readout device could eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming periodic inspections at smog stations. With the idea that the only time you would need to go to an inspection station is when the automobile exceeds smog-generating limits”.
That is an obvious strategy of deception. OK guys, that’s all for now. I’ll let you know as details develop. As usual, I’m looking for interesting and informative automotive industry topics to write about. If you have any suggestions, ideas, comments, general or specific questions concerning a vehicle, please text me at 559-907- 7661.
God Bless America and God Bless 93636.