I had an 84 Mercedes Diesel with a six speed heater/AC blower. At around 300K miles the heater started blowing fuses and needed replacement. I called the service department of the local Merc dealer and asked what the flat-rate was for blower motor replacement; the answer was 6 hours! That was six hours of a trained Mercedes mechanic with all the correct tools, a lift, and plenty of flat, dry place to put everything they removed. It really does pay to call a dealer (though in many cases your local mechanic will also have a flat-rate book) and ask how long a given procedure will take. I've been able to get photo-copies from the dealer of the exact procedure on many makes. BTW the short cut for the Merc was to cut a hole in the floor pan under the car, remove the blower motor, rivet and seal the floor pan and go on your way after an hours work. Mercedes did NOT authorize their techs to make the short-cut repair but every mechanic in the shop knew about it! Cars are designed and assembled to minimize assembly time. Adding 5 minutes to every assembly of 50 thousand cars is a lot of money! Call first, it'll save you hours.
Except that these days makers are considering 5 years to be the useful life. And cars should last 15 to 20 years. I usually get 25 or more out of a car.
Things like keyless entry, remote start, nav system, cpu climate control, and even automatic transmission, power windows, power door locks, security systems, immobilizers, etc., have all cost people a huge headache in time and money because the odds are they MUST fail unreasonalbly frequently.
The conditions cars exist in simply is not capable of allowing these cpu controlled systems to continue functioning reliably. Ignition and fuel control is bad enough, but there is an excuse for that. There is no excuse to put a cpu in the AC unit. And no one tells people that their keyless entry is going to kill their car battery eventually. If people only knew the truth about what these system end up doing, no one would want them. It is like we are fooling them.
Rigby5...you said "Modern cars are designed incredibly badly". I guess that depends on your point of view. I think that good cars are those that don't ever need much in repairs (corrective maintenance) during their useful life...just mostly preventative maintenance. Also, the various performances and features of new cars is much improved from previous years.
I have a new Honda car for economical commuting. I will be following the preventative maintenance according to the owner's manual, including changing the coolant as recommended (which I think is every 5 years or 100,000 miles). Not performing the preventative maintenance can void the factory warranty for items affected.
I am sure there are plenty of stories about this particular repair but being that this is the one of mine most memorable I just have to chime in. It was a Chevy Vega (I hear the groans) but it ran really well for us for quite a long time. The heater core was in the usual place, somewhere above the passengers feet but it was totally blocked by the heater and air conditioning duct. I found the manufacturers instructions and after dropping the steering column, removing all dash componebts, removing all entertainment componebts, removing HVAC controls, removing a couple of metal braces, and dismounting a fuse panel, the offending duct was removed through the drivers door. After that the removal and replacement of the heater corer was quite uneventful. Total invested time - three long evenings. I support the contention that Chevrolet starts vehicle assembly from the heater core out.
AMC's were the opposite. They were all designed from the get-go for both straight 6's and V8's. I went thru a few in my poor days, and they were quite easy to work on (all mine were straight six, lots of room on either side of the engine). My first 1976 jeep had a V8 (360 4 barrel) but the engine compartment was HUGE (lots of room on either side). Nice thing about Jeeps is you don't need a jack or lift for most jobs (enough clearance under to roll a creaper without lifting).
Unfortunately, my '88 Jeep has a GM tilt steering column. Notorious for the bolts coming loose, which mine eventually did this year, I had to completely dissassemble the entire column to tighten them (took the better part of a day). Now I just have to fix that "death wobble".
You can't be serious? Do you really think the incredible complexity and cost of trying to diagnose a CAN or LIN bus even remotely compares to the simple cost of a few extra wires? The interface chip alone is going to cost hundreds of times what the simple copper could cost. And while copper is extremely resistant to heat, cold, moisture, vibration, static, emp, etc., the same can not be said for a bus interface chip.
I owned a 1975 Chevrolet Monza with a factory small-block V8 motor. Changing the spark plugs on the driver's side was not big deal (steering shaft in the way). I simply loosened the two hex head screws for the left motor mount (directly underneath the car), then jacked up the motor using a hydraulic jack under the oil pan...then easy access to the spark plugs.
I wish it were so easy to change the spark plugs on my 1998 Chevy Camaro Z28...that aluminum Corvette motor is really packed-in tight! Fortunately, the owner's manual recommends changing the spark plugs every 100,000 miles. When I asked the dealer and mechanics, they said don't bother changing the plugs unless the engine has a problem with the old spark plugs. The car still runs like new and easily passes California smog, with 135,000 miles...on the original platinum spark plugs.
Modern cars are designed incredibly badly. Aluminum exchanges and delecate micro electronics are guaranteed to have a very short life, but yet at extremely difficult and expensive to diagnose or replace.
But I have to totally disagree with the idea of often replacing coolant. Water is always slightly acidic and it is important to have coolant chemicals to neutralize that, but new coolant is always much more reactive and corrosive than old coolant. Coolant NEVER wears out, and old is always much less corrosive than new. It is running plain water or frequent coolant changes that harms the cooling system, not just putting in 50/50 mix and leaving it alone. Once the collant has stabilized, leave it alone.
Fifty-six-year-old Pasquale Russo has been doing metalwork for more than 30 years in a tiny southern Italy village. Many craftsmen like him brought with them fabrication skills when they came from the Old World to America.
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