One thing that I learned with this episode is that the modern computer controlled automobiles are sometimes very difficult to troubleshoot. Sure, one can push some buttons on the Corvette's dash to troubleshoot, which is more than one can do with most newer automobiles, but other maladies can prevent the system from working. Bad ground connections, usually from corrosion, and low battery voltage can often disable the computers. These were checked first. In my case, the two computers, Power Control Module (PCM) and Body Control Module (BCM) seemed to have enough voltage to operate a relay (clicking sound) and flash the dash lights, in sync. However the BCM didn't have the ability to read the resistance of the pellet in the key to satisfy the security system. But, a couple times it did as the engine would crank but not fire. Each GM dealership should have a diagnostic computer called a Tech II for trouble shooting, but this is still no guarrantee of identifying the root cause of the problem. The gentlman that helped myself and others is a GM certified technician, and the way he identified the problem was experience. He recommended that a previous Corvette owner with the same problem replace the ignition switch on a hunch, which solved this owner's problem. He was good enough to send the faulty switch to the technician, who disassembled it, observed the contacts, and figured out how to fix them. My good fortune is that he shared this insight on the forum. This epsisode reinforces my long time theory that experience in auto repair is the best diagnostic tool.
The potential $1,000 figure quoted in the article is probably not very far off. Having the ability to do the repairs yourself is huge, given the cost of parts on many of today's vehicles. Even more so on the 'Vette, which, according to Consumer Reports, has only an average reliability rating for models between 2006 and 2011.
Love your story Bob. I too do a lot of my own car repairs (I own a 33-year-old car). Usually, whatever repair I need to do has been done by someone else who has posted step-by-step instructions, often with a video. This Internet thing is great. I hope it sticks around.
I have to agree with comments so far – Mechanics often play it safe, and replace parts – not to intentionally run up the bill (as my Wife speculates) – but, because they can't find the real root cause issue; and then they justify it with statements like, "well, that element had a lot of corrosion, and would have need replacing SOON, anyway -so- better safe than sorry". The much more frugal side of me has often frequented On-line blogs and boards to find better clues.
Bob, it is very common for auto mechanics to "throw parts" at a problem. Actually, I found when I was working on my own cars (typically old British sports cars), I did it myself, since they were not easy to diagnose. That is why we often collected old cars and parts, so it generally did not cost a lot. We also did not have the on-line forums.
Earlier this year paralyzed IndyCar drive Sam Schmidt did the seemingly impossible -- opening the qualifying rounds at Indy by driving a modified Corvette C7 Stingray around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.