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Wednesday
Jun112014

The Crank Sensor

As you know newer vehicles do not have a ignition points, distributor, and a distributor cap to name a few components from the old school ignition systems.

Its a high tech system with individual coils, and triggering replacing the ignition points of way back in the day. The triggering usually runs from the crankshaft in one fashion or another.

Walter is no different, having 2 spark plugs per cylinder, ignition coils on top of the spark plugs, at first blush its a bullet proof system with a crank triggering from the flywheel.

Such a system gives the initial impression of lasting forever, with the exception of the spark plugs which were replaced last year.

Here is the deal:

We noticed that the idle had become marginally rougher, V8's are smooth at idle in drive, now the idle is a few increments rougher. There are no signs of anything amiss. This develops when there are a myriad of things going on, with higher priorities that an incrementally rougher idle on a car. Plus if something is really off some light is going to turn on in the dash or so we thought.

Last Friday a member of the family is using the car, we get a call that its turning over and not starting...we should mention that we have absolutely no patience for any vehicle that does not start. Fortunately the car is in a parking lot, by the time we get there with our just in case kit of a booster pack, and spare key not to disturb people. Walter fires up instantly, the check engine light stays on momentarily and then turns off.

What could it be? Perhaps its just a glitch...yes a case of wishful thinking when there are a ton of other priorities. Sunday morning the car does the same thing, except this time there is really no time to deal with a non starting car that is full of stuff. 

Fortunately we have a few vehicles available, we get into another vehicle to catch up to Walter and empty it out in case it persists in not starting. In the meantime we get a call that the car started. It then stalls at an intersection in the middle lane to absolutely not start again. 

Sunday morning busy intersection, cars backed up behind it, who needs this on a Sunday morning with a bunch of other stuff to do and little time. Serendipity steps in on our return from the rescue mission "Oh Walter is just up front...why are the flashers on?"

If you dont have a CAA membership get one, these folks are very helpful, in less than 30 minutes the flatbed is there to pick up Walter after transferring the contents to another vehicle. Obvious by then commandeering a 3 lane intersection.

While waiting for CAA a call to our friendly mechanic..."its the crank sensor" a common occurrence on those cars. Obvious that now all the dots connect. The sensor is garbling the signal which leads to the rough idle, its intermittent, no start, stall, then start again.

The best part is that the car started Monday morning at our friendly mechanic. Once the car was plugged to the DAS the crank sensor appears as a fault code.

You have to wonder who got a promotion by saving a few pennies on a crank sensor with poor durability. The spreadsheet jockey that saved the pennies, surely did not consider how annoying, and potentially dangerous an intermittent crank sensor can become.

A crank sensor is about $200. the circumstances around it are priceless, and time wasted irreplaceable.

 

 

Tuesday
Jun032014

Update June 2014

Its been a few months, Walter is up to 152,000 kilometers, its slowly creeping up there on the way to 200K.

What has been going on?

We visited our friendly mechanic which is busier than ever. Its helpful to have a few vehicles and leave the car for a few days to have the work done.

The right rear axle has been replaced. Huge difference, ABS is back, as well as traction control, electronic stability, and the cruise control. Interesting to see the impact of a sensor on an axle, and the effects on the car. It cascades to a myriad of functionalities that suddenly do not work due correctly to the axle being defective. 

No...did not get a new axle...yes it took a while to source a used one.

The clunking sound in the front suspension was a ball joint, we have replaced ball joints, suspension arms, and more ball joints. Must be fair to say that the front suspension is a weak area on the car.

The rear suspension is good for now, although as you can just imagine air suspensions, rubber bellows, age, wear and tear, it all tends to accumulate. One advantage, a few weeks ago we had to transport 4 20 liter buckets of paint in the trunk. Yes...it goes down and once the car starts goes back up to normal ride height, its cool.

Obvious there are a few additional stone ships, the windshield has additional road abrasion, all part of winter driving, road salt, its the wear and tear process.

The windshiled is cracked...at the bottom where the wipers park, in the black area. A crack that goes across the entire lower portion of the windshield...go figure how it happened. Probably on a cold day either a pot hole or wave in the pavement created a flex and the windshield cracked.

Yes...fresh oil and filter, yes...the valves tick when the engine is cold, obvious not as loud as in winter. 

The socket for the right front signal light burnt out, not the bulb, the socket. Its a $13.00 part and was replaced, good thing it was the right which is easy to replace...the left not as easy.

The rust blobs are increasing in size, its the annoyance of an older car that starts to corrode. Not a huge deal at this point. It does generate the question of why is it corroding?

The summer tires and wheels are on its refreshing to have the sticky tires for the summer, We have had the on ramp moment.

It drives strong, there is something about a V8 sedan that remains endearing. The 3 valve per cylinder V8's of the day had a good level of "grunt" (torque) which augments the satisfaction quotient.

Fuel economy, on the highway its 10 liters per 100 kms, surface streets it deteriorates to 13-14 liters per 100 kms.

Its still enjoyable to deal with an older car, that by now has a patina

Agreed...one can make payments on a brand new something else, for the maintenance costs of this car, so far this year.

 

 

Tuesday
Mar182014

Update March 2014

Its still winter, although spring is only a few days away. Been colder than usual, and as you know with cold there are always a few additional clunks, clanks, noises coming from any vehicle.

"Walter" is no exception making its contribution towards a few more sounds especially when starting on a brisk morning.

As you can imagine we are compiling our mental list for the upcoming spring inspection.

With cold weather the ticking valves until the engine warms up are more pronounced, and a few other sounds that go away ounce operating temperature is reached. 

Its up to 149,000 kilometers...agreed still a way to reach 200K.

The car has been on a few road trips as well as the usual errands on surface streets. It starts, it warms up quickly, and runs very well under the present conditions. Obvious...there are new wiper blades, winter tires, regular fill ups of windshield washer fluid. There are benefits to a 7 liter winshsield washer container.

As you can see from the photo salt is used profusely to keep roads in driveable conditions.

The sensor on the rear axle is increasingly acting up, with a few lights blinking in the dash, we are waiting for warmer weather to do an update. When the sensor on the axle acts up it affects the ABS, ESP, SBC, and traction controls, its the joy of a car with all sorts of tehcnology. 

As you know cold conditions are not ideal for any kind of fuel economy, whatever it is we simply gas up the car, on the highway it tends to use an additional liter to cover 100 kilometers.

On the list for "spring"

 

  • The right rear axle.
  • There is still a minor clunking sound from the front suspension.
  • Oil change
  • Check the rear suspension which drops down in cold temperatures.

 

The car does what its supposed to do, and does it very well under the present frigid conditions.

 

Tuesday
Jan142014

Ouch Revisited

Its fascinating when cars tend to act up around the same time on consecutive years. If you remember last year around New Year we had an ouch experience with the rear suspension, which was resolved for a reasonable amount of money.

Yes...we counted ourselves fortunate at the time...wow averted a painful experience.

Around mid December 2013 the rear suspension is acting up again, with one side going down, and subsequently coming up when the car is started. While getting the lingering feeling that it might just get worse, we are nearing the end of the year.

The conclusion is that there is something strange going on with the rear suspension, in addition to a clunking sound from the front suspension. 

Its winter, its cold, who needs the aggravations...well on January 2, as anticipated the rear suspension is way down, and no longer comes up...interesting.

Try to get a car with no rear suspension on a flatbed, another interesting experience. This time the gut feeling was to not drive the car like last year. Something to do with being lucky once and perhaps not again. 

A call to our friendly mechanic "I'm sending you the car, its down, fix it."

This time its was the compressor that was defective, and it required 2 other suspension arms in the front.

Its a classic case of an 11 year old car with an air suspension, and a delicate front suspension with an accelerated wear curve. 

A few days, and an ouch later the car is up, the clunk is gone, and the sensor on a rear axle is acting up.

Its part of the joys of fooling around with an older car.

 

 

Wednesday
Nov272013

Update November 2013

Temperature sensorAs Project 200K progresses, there is a way to go, the car has 144,000 kms. Yes...we have done a bit of driving this past summer. 

What transpired during these past few months.

For the 3rd year at almost the same time of year (end of August), and with the same climatic conditions (hot, humid, and rain), returning from a road trip the air conditioning stops working. You almost can't make this stuff up, that for 3 consecutive years the air conditioning stops working under similar circumstances; at almost the same place on the 401.

This time the system shuts down, is it refrigerant, or something else. A visit to our friendly mechanic, and its some sort of temperature sensor (photo) behind the dash that is defective and shuts down the air conditioning.

At this point while delving in the HVAC system, the valve (under the hood) that controls the water flow for the 4 zones was replaced. We knew the valve was occasionally "acting up".Its a common/known issue, and especially during the summer hot air comes out of the rear vents when the valve "acts up".

Checking the entire HVAC system, replacing the sensor and valve amounted to a few hundreds.

From the new cabin filter during the previous visit, to replacing the temperature sensor, and valve we have hopefully resolved all the HVAC issues. Obvious that its more pleasant when its cool in the car on a warm day.

Although the Falken Azenis are great "sticky" summer tires, they are probably useless in snow. 

Falken Eurowinter HS449A quick word on tires:

As you know high performance tires do not last a long time. We drove approximately 80,000 kms on a set of summer and winter tires.

This car has 2 sets of wheels and tires, and 2013 is the year to replace tires. We replaced the summers in the spring and now came the time to replace the winters. We installed a set of Falken Eurowinter HS449  on the 17 inch winter wheels.

Agreed, replacing 2 sets of tires in one year ads up to a few thousands. Keeping in mind that these 2 sets will last a few years.

As winter arrived a few days ago, we also replaced the wiper blades. There are all sorts of wiper blades at all sorts of prices. For some reason the most expensive are from M-B and they are also the ones that work the best.

Perhaps we forgot to mention, this past summer "Walter's" paint was clay barred to remove all sorts of stuff that makes its way on the paint of cars, and was waxed. Yes...its good exercise to clay bar and wax a car.

Wondering about fuel economy on surface streets and short trips? Take a look at Walter's fuel economy, as you probably know colder weather is not conducise to improved economy.