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Popular Mechanic, Vol. 1: A Long, Strange Trip So Bare With Me

Don’t you miss the days when you were having problems with your car all you had to do is take it to a mechanic and they could literally hear what was wrong with your ride. And you didn’t have to even be a mechanic to be able to hear that something was wrong with your automobile just by listening to how it sounded.

Nowadays, you need to be a dam near electrical engineer to work on these bad boys. To give you an example on how bad it really is for your everyday mechanic, I saw a video on Youtube of a mechanic who was trying to repair a transmission. The man had to get on the phone and call an engineer to get a walkthrough on how to put that crap back together. Smh. Isn’t modern technology grand! Hope you can sense every bit of the sarcasm in my font from that last sentence.

I ran into an issue involving my grandmother’s car some time ago. She had went off to the store, one of many of her store runs (more about that in a later post) when she ended up in front of Specs’. She gets what she needs and when she comes back to start the engine. She gets nothing. She proceeded to work with it for the next 10 minutes and nothing happens.

She saw one of the many tow truck workers in that area and she called out to one of them for help and he (very reluctantly) came over to see what he could do to help her out. It took him over the course of 10 minutes but he was able to get it started for her so major props to him on doing a great deed. He said that his scanner showed that everything looked okay but it had her “locked” out for some odd reason. So he asked if she had any more stops to make which she said no and he advised her to head straight home which she did.

Now this is where I come in. I talk to her about it and she tells me all what happened so that’s when I head down my backyard mechanic lane to see if I could find out what’s wrong with it and how to fix it. One thing I noticed when I checked the car a day prior was that I felt like the car was missing a bit. So I checked some of the spark plugs that were the easiest to get access to because to do the whole thing, you pretty much have to disassemble the whole intake manifold AND you have to watch out for that pesky transmission dipstick that’s in the way as welll. So to make it easier that would also have to be moved.

I removed two of out of three on bank number 2 and I checked whether or not they were still holding the right gap. Both of them failed so I thought to myself well, why not go ahead and replace all six of them and call it day. Maybe one of those plugs are not working correctly and could be causing the car not to start but not just not start but it wasn’t cranking either and I’m going to get into the difference between the no-start & no-crank in a little bit.

So I head on out and retrieve the right plugs and placed them into the ride and I’m still having the same problems. So I can eliminate the spark plugs as a culprit off the list even though they did give me a bad spark plug at Autozone.

The next thing I did was called up my father and asked him what could be wrong with it since he has a lot of more experience then I do since he used to be a mechanic many moons ago. We started looking and asking why that red dot was blinking when we would go to crank the ride. The red dot was for the security part of the vehicle to keep people from stealing your ride. We always see that light whenever we had to disconnect the battery.

We worked with it for a few minutes and we got it start and we drove it around town and it had lots of power. Felt like a new car again. My brother said the same thing the previous night because he somehow got it to crank and drove it around and raved about how much more powerful it was. That was thanks to the new spark plugs.

The first place we took it to was this shop that my grandfather used to take his car to way back in the day. The man told us that they didn’t operate on these “new” vehicles because they didn’t have the right scan tool for them. He did read the engine codes we had on it. He asked if we could leave it and I told him no. He said that you’re going to have to take it to a dealership because it could be anything from a simple key issue to the engine computer.

We ended up taking it to another repair shop that my uncle uses for his vehicles. This shop might’ve had about 6 or 7 cars there already so we had a little bit of a wait. Once he got to the vehicle, he took it in the shop and wasn’t even two minutes later when they pulled it back out telling us, “that these cars have all sorts of electrical problems.” Then he gave us a card with the number and address of a man who does auto-electrical work.

We go and visit this guy and this man had literally cars stacked on top of cars. I kid you not. He had to have at least 20–25 cars in front of his place. By that account, he wouldn’t get to our car atleast til’ Christmas of 2045. We waited for about 10 minutes and we never saw anybody come in or out the building so we went back home.

We visited his place a few days later and with a little bit of time, we were able to talk to him about our car. Now we can tell right away that the guy didn’t want anything to do with ride. He opened up his gate and drove our car inside it and he told us to swap out the battery in the key fob and try that and see if it fixes the problem and it doesn’t bring the car back to him.

We tried that and it didn’t work. We looked into the battery next. Now we ended up taking that old battery to get tested at least 5–6 times and it always came back that it was still a good battery but needed to be charged.

We called up a local locksmith to see if we needed to have a new key programmed to the computer. He said the key was good but it could be a loose wire somewhere or an issue with the engine computer. We paid him 50 bucks for not doing sh*t and he went about his merry way.

We took it to the first dealership. The mechanic, oops I mean service technician, was working diligently but the place we took it to had bad business practices. I’ll elaborate what that means in a few. We dropped the car off at the place and took a shuffle back home.

We got a call that next day about the “what-could-be game”. The what-could-be game is when the service advisor calls you up at your house and tells you all what could be wrong with your car and runs down the prices on what it will cost to fix those would-could-be problems.

For example. well, sir, it could be your wiring harness and if that’s bad, it will cost you 2000 dollars. Or it could be your PCM (Powertrain Control Module) and that could be 1500 dollars so after hearing that we went on down to retrieve the car back. It took them about 35 minutes to get it started so that they could bring it back to us and the service advisor gave us the same spiel in person as he did on the phone.

So we got into the car and drove it home. This thing was limp as a mutha. We couldn’t get the transmission to shift a dam during that ride home. We had to drive very slow with our hazard lights on the whole trip home. It was so bad that we immediately thought about selling the vehicle. I had learned of this key fob trick to check for engine codes and I basically stopped counting after 10.

After I took some time away from that headache, I thought to nyself how about you just unhook the battery again and to see if that would help. Well, we still had the same problem but we got rid of about 99 percent of the codes. We just had the basic three codes, that I could read, which were the P1004, U0100 and another involving the fuel system. I can’t remember it at this moment.

We took it to one more mechanic to see if they had an answer and they didn’t know di_k. These folks were so clueless but their business practices were superb. They didn’t charge us for bringing it to them the first time but they did charge us the second time. The reason why we brought it to them again was that the car started actually working correctly out of nowhere the first time they had possession of the vehicle. After keeping it for about a week, they gave it back to us free of charge.

Now the second they had possession of the car, it had all the bells and whistles on what was wrong with it. Meaning the check engine light was on and included were the codes that I mentioned above earlier. I even gave them my two cents on what was wrong it and where they needed to check. I had learned that by shaking the first connector to the PCM, the car would go thru its regular diagnostics and would be able to start. Just wouldn’t be able to shift that well at first. You’d have to restart it to get the transmission controls to work right.

Even though this crap was about as long as drawn out as this post, it still provided me with a lot of information about what is wrong with my vehicle and how you all can save yourself a lot of headaches and money in process by learning from what I did wrong and what you all can do right. I cover all that in Part 2 because this post is too DAM longggggggg as it is. See ya in a few.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Opinion Piece, Personal Narrative, True Story