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(SeattlePI)   Late-model cars frustrate mechanics   ( divider line
    More: Obvious  
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22632 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Mar 2004 at 4:58 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

133 Comments     (+0 »)

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2004-03-15 05:41:09 PM  
Yeah, that stupid 97 corolla I got - only 150,000 miles on it and I had to replace a bulb.

Nothing else but tires and brakes, and a battery at 100k.
2004-03-15 05:42:20 PM  
And another thing... my 1981 BMW 320, with 320,000 miles on it... STILL runs great and looks hellagood.
2004-03-15 05:43:40 PM  
From the Federal Freedom of Information Act, which only applies to records helds by a Federal agency (note: US State laws are modeled on the Federal FOIA)


[this section being records exempt from disclosure, see #4, or #3 if a another statute compels car manufacturers to file their codes and manuals with the government]

"(b) This section does not apply to matters that are--

(1)(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order;
(2) related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency;

(3) specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than section 552b of this title), provided that such statute (A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld;

(4) trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential;"

The Federal FOIA does not require any private (or public company) to file records with the Federal Government. Other statutes do but often those very same statutes restrict government release.

c.f. tobacco additives and tax returns.

Unless someone can quote chapter and verse I fear, dear fellow, your starfish has learnt to type.
2004-03-15 05:45:42 PM  
This guy in the article needs to hook up with AllData. For a yearly fee it gives you access to service info on almost every car built, online 24/7/365. Most every shop I deal with uses it.
The resources are out there, this guy just doesn't know where to look.
2004-03-15 05:46:51 PM  
I can't believe we let an industry lock away information outsiders need to work with that industry's products and thereby kill off competition. What would happen to the computer industry if the code was inaccessible, and some software company that was exceptionally unethical started abusing its position?
2004-03-15 05:49:23 PM  
b230fbuddy, you a 245 guy or 700/900? I recognized your designation.

Arnold_Ziffel, let me guess, a 1982 240 sedan. I'm not sure about the years (although it appears to be an older one; older tail, older front), but it's obviously a nice little old 200. I proudly drive my '89 240 GL, and I plan to do so for many more years (I think only an accident could stop me!). It even got recently repainted, in preparation for another 15 years on the road!
2004-03-15 05:49:43 PM  
I am getting bored with the super station wagon (Navigator) and would like a sedan/coupe hot rod. Any suggestions?
2004-03-15 05:49:44 PM  
You are better off buying a used car that costs maybe $1000.00, as long as you or a mechanic friend can verify it wont need major repairs immediately. Then drive it. Not too many repairs cost much more than a couple or three car payments these the junkyards should have adequate part supplies for the car you paid $1000.00 for. And the money you save on insurance and registration fees...I am gonna do all this once the brand new car I bought last year is paid for.
2004-03-15 05:50:13 PM  
Many people don't realize that manufacturers ARE required to put out T.S.B.'s (Technical Service Bulletins) on their cars and trucks. These include recalls and many other items of notice.

Check out yours for free.
2004-03-15 05:51:14 PM  
I got a 80 244, 82 245, 87 744, 91 245SE, 96 855, and a 2001 v70 :-D What are you running?
2004-03-15 05:51:40 PM  
Oh, b230fbuddy, pop on over to the Brickboard, if you haven't heard of it. Dave Shannon (posts as "daveshan" there) has a page on removing the dash on a 240 and switching the blower motor. Supposedly it's all really easy with basic tools, at least to him.
2004-03-15 05:54:13 PM  
I'm happy with my '95 least I can reset all the computer codes from under the hood. Now those '99 and newer cars, those scare me.
2004-03-15 05:54:17 PM  
Damnit FunkLord, you beat me to this! I suppose there's a reason that I should become a TotalFark, 'eh.

I'm glad I wasn't the only person who picked up on the Apple Microprocessor vs the IBM Microprocessor.
2004-03-15 05:56:03 PM  
That's quite a collection of Volvos! I'm glad to see the majority of them are RWD (heck, half are 240s!), as those are my favorite.

I've got the 1989 240 GL (blue) handed down from my mom, and she now drives a 2001 S40 (white).

Both are quite sweet, but I've indicated I want to keep my car instead of inheriting hers so she can get a new one. The S40 was bare-bones, without even a CD player, and I don't like FWD cars at all.

Plus, if I ever learn how to do more work on cars than just changing the oil, I think I'll get a lot more out of fixing the amazingly simple 240s.
2004-03-15 05:56:23 PM  
I ahve replaced 1 heater core on my 80 244 and a blower motor on the 91 245se. Never said it was impossible... just the biggest PITA you ever saw ;)

My first project was a heater core replacement... then the next major one was a AW70 to m46 conversion on my 91 245se... both without any manuals to help me.

HOLY CRAP there are a lot of volvo guys over here on fark! :-D
2004-03-15 05:57:23 PM  
Driving cars into the ground is the only way. The only thing that even comes close to how effectively cars have been marketed are diamonds - the good news is that you can actually use a car.

The fact that our society believes that a depreciable asset that costs tens of thousands of dollars becomes obsolete within 3 years or 36,000 miles is simply obscene but further proof that our society is stuffed to the gills with debt whores who need penis extensions.

Also am I the only person who dislikes the term "late model" shouldnt it be recent model?
2004-03-15 05:57:27 PM  
if you ever want any help on your cars just shoot me an email.. i emailed you with the address in your profile. I do some indy work on the side.
2004-03-15 06:01:43 PM  
re: HOLY CRAP there are a lot of volvo guys over here on fark!

u to the gh
2004-03-15 06:01:57 PM  
Arnold_Ziffel And other Volvo fans: We had a sweet '72 142-S that was a joy to work on. Even the dual bell carbs with the needles never gave us a problem...Then it got stolen in '87,never to be seen again. :( We miss that car.
2004-03-15 06:02:22 PM  
Well hell, late model chicks frustrate me. Quit ya' biatchin'!
2004-03-15 06:02:27 PM  
Running any cool stuff on that 240 of yours? I got a ENEM v15 cam, aw70>m46 covnersion, ipd 25/25sways, ipd upper strut bars, cherry turbo braces, poly bushings, "dale's own" custom cam gear, and some other things i can't think of right now. Projects in the works are a 300 buck turbo conversion. Going to run about 5-6 psi through a 13c turbo on the older style manifold, then bump it up to about 14-17 with a 60 trim. this is w/o swapping pistons, just doing some basic IC mounting and fuel inejction tinkering.
2004-03-15 06:05:26 PM  
I thought that the US gov. had mandated that all manufacturers had to support the ODB II standard for diagnostics, to prevent this sort of lock-in.
2004-03-15 06:05:56 PM  
[image from too old to be available]

that is my baby :) got it with 137k 2 years ago this april. Now has 180k.
2004-03-15 06:06:19 PM  

Toyota Corollas are some of the most reliable cars I've ever been around. We were out in the middle of nowhere, about 3 am, in my girlfriend's 89 corolla when the lights started to go dim, and the car finally stalled and quit. Dead alternator. Both of us were pretty much broke, and I was thinking of creative ways to sell body parts on the roadside to pay for a tow truck and repair. Get a tow truck out there, and he jump starts the car, then whacks the alternator with a wrench. Immediately the headlights and everything else light up at full power. Drove it another year and half with no problems whatsoever before replacing it with an '01 Corolla.
2004-03-15 06:07:17 PM  
Well Mr. Wolfe, my starfish has many talents, but typing isn't one of them.

It goes deeper then that act but it is required. My 8 years of tenure with the leading electronic automotive information provider was funded by that fact.

So how about you kiss my starfish.

Carry on, talk amongst yourselves.
2004-03-15 06:07:44 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
2004-03-15 06:13:33 PM  
The car we had when I was growing up was a 76 Light Blue 240 and it was the biggest piece of shiat car I've ever experienced. Some cars are just possessed and that freaking car must have been made by drunk cousins of the Swedish chef the day before xmas break and then picked up the day after. It had every electrical problem possible 6 times and no matter how much the old man worked on it, different shops we took it to, something else in the system would crap out and we would be farked.

It was so bad we sold it for an avocado colored 1972 Ford LTD and was 100% better.

I wear that car like a badge of courage.
2004-03-15 06:20:04 PM  

The Mazda 3-series is definitely worth checking out, especially if you row your own.
2004-03-15 06:21:06 PM  
I don't even see the Matrix anymore. Just a woman in a red dress over overhead cam over there...
2004-03-15 06:24:53 PM  
Might as well build your own fuel injection controller.
2004-03-15 06:28:31 PM  
I haven't read the thread, but I'm a mechanic working at an independand shop, and I thought that maybe I'd throw something out.

If you are planning to buy any European car, Subaru, or older Mazda, expect to take it to the dealer. It is mostly the European car makers that refuse to distribute information.

Limitations on available information are not the only problem.

Volkswagens, though better than most Europeans in area of disclosure, are designed in many ways specifically to keep American/Asian style tools (including simple things like wrenches) from being used.

Volvo, for many years, had a "change oil" light that could only be reset with either a specific tool unavailable (except to owners of dealerships) in the US, or by removing the Instrument Cluster.

BMW has been and still has such a light that requires a special $500 tool (approximate going price) to reset.

Mercedes Benz....
Most of these cars require $7000 to $12000 in repairs before hitting the 3 years/30,000mi. mark, if you want it to be in genuinely good condition. If you can afford the initial purchase price and the cost of ownership, stick with the dealer and slightly higher prices just for the peace of mind.

Here's my ranking of information hoarders from worst to best:
Subaru (good technology there, though)
Old Mazda (1998 and earlier)

And, of course, consider that Mercedes Benz (gasoline fueled) cars are meant to last only for two years. After that you had best buy a new one, as it's cheaper.
2004-03-15 06:29:14 PM  
Two things:

ODB-II only covers components of the car that have to do with the emissions system and air-quality. They won't give you diagnostic data on any other system failures.

It's not just about interpreting the trouble codes if you get them, it's getting them in the first place.

Look at Toyota for example. They're changing their entire system architecture to a networked system that requires a special, proprietary Toyota handtester to work on. They're not for-sale to non-dealers, and the system is so new that barely any work has been done on reverse-engineering it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to have a heavily-computerized, self-diagnosing car (with a long warranty), but I'd be happier if it gave me some of the diagnostic data, rather than just the dealer with a scantool.

2004-03-15 06:30:35 PM  
I love Volvos - what could be better than an expensive, heavy, box-like car that's based on 50 year old technology and looks like a 72 Granada - that only women and castrati drive them shouldn't deter the rest of us from appreciating their, how would you say it Volvo-ness...
2004-03-15 06:32:44 PM  
Yea... can't imagine why I wouldn't like a porsche designed engine in my 850, nor a engine in my 240 that can be modded to all hell from older parts cars and turbocharged for under 300 bucks.
2004-03-15 06:35:23 PM  
Just call me Dave

Re Volkswagens: The guy I bought my Porsche from owns a late</strike recent model Jetta with the VR6. He said one of the most difficult things to get past for shade tree maintenance was changing the spark plugs. Apparently you need a special wrench to get them out. I asked him if he had to buy the special tool from VW at a high price, and he just laughed and said that VW doesn't sell the tool... that would keep people from going to the dealer. He did eventually manage to find a tool that would do the trick.
2004-03-15 06:36:27 PM  
Damn HTML tags! Must. Use. Preview.

Re Volkswagens: The guy I bought my Porsche from owns a late recent model Jetta with the VR6. He said one of the most difficult things to get past for shade tree maintenance was changing the spark plugs. Apparently you need a special wrench to get them out. I asked him if he had to buy the special tool from VW at a high price, and he just laughed and said that VW doesn't sell the tool... that would keep people from going to the dealer. He did eventually manage to find a tool that would do the trick.
2004-03-15 06:38:15 PM  
I guess my old standby trick of throwing away the EFI and replacing it with a holly will no longer work.


(actually the EFIs are pretty cool and I had very little trouble working on the last one, then the car turned inside out.

Then it exploded.)
2004-03-15 06:39:48 PM  

Odd that. I've never had a problem with plugs on a VW. Really, though, almost anything can be done on them if you're willing to either buy the foreign-manufacture tools or put normal tools to the bench grinder.
2004-03-15 06:55:26 PM  
Just call me Dave.

Well that sure is interesting. My father has a 1997 S500 with 90k miles that is still going strong. So far it has only been in the shop for routine, minor maintenance.

Mmmm I just love that car. Can't wait until he gets the S55.
2004-03-15 07:02:35 PM  
I own a Jetta, and this is all true. special tools and codes and everything. craptacular. I just pray I don't get serious troubles.

tunes up on my own are going to be tough, as I can't get the plugs out.
2004-03-15 07:09:31 PM  
There are a number of cars that have sealed bonnets (hoods) already. I believe the most recent Ford Ka, the Merc A series and possibly the Smart Car have the words 'No user servicable parts inside' stuck in a prominent location.
2004-03-15 07:14:37 PM  
I can do everything myself on my Focus, and parts are dirt cheap.
2004-03-15 07:15:11 PM  
I've seen many Mercedes with 200K + miles on them, Volvos too. Maybe those owners just need to seek a different shop. It sounds like Dave likes Chevys and Fords.
2004-03-15 07:16:29 PM  
I'm not talking about running. Most mercedes are capable on running for well over 300,000 miles. What I say about Mercedes (again in general, there are always a few that woprk out okay) is that most of them require extensive repairs to perform at or near original performance.

That said, most drivers will not notice such things as:
-medium (less than 10%) loss of peak acceleration power
-hazardous fliud leaks
-increased steering play (inaccuracy) up to 50,000% of factory spec
-poor fuel economy
-increased stopping distance (by 65% or less)
-loss of "feedback" or "road feel"
-increased harmful emissions
-decreased climate control performance
2004-03-15 07:24:48 PM  
Chevy's? Nope, not much to my taste. Many of them are pretty, but in general they're designed to appeal to middle aged women. I have no use for multipe cupholder, and none for fold-away baby-changing stations.

Fords? If I were gung-ho about Fords would I speak badly about Volvo and Jaguar, or would I just sort of ignore them and extoll the virtues of the Grand Marquis and the Focus?

That said, a typical Ford or Chevy brake job costs less than $600 at my shop. In fact, somewhere's around half come in at under $300.

I have never put brakes on a Mercedes for less than $1200.
2004-03-15 07:27:28 PM  
[image from too old to be available]

Some guys'd kill to drive a car like this
2004-03-15 07:50:32 PM  
Actually, you don't need any special tools to change the plugs on the VR6. That is, unless you consider an engine hoist a special tool.

Read a VW shop manual. First step is very often "Remove Engine from Car"
2004-03-15 08:04:42 PM  
Volkswagen vs. Ford:

step 1: Remove engine from car because otherwise you'll have to buy a fancy tool and lots of band-aids.

Ford Truck:
step 1: Remove engine from car because otherwise you'll have to put fresh batteries in your flashlight.
2004-03-15 08:15:54 PM  
85 Jaguar XJ-S V-12 v 99 Nissan Quest V-6
problem--both leaking transformer fluid
repair estimates--Nissan $2000 Jaguar $90

Same Jag v 99 Mazda Protege
problem--parking kiss
repair costs--Mazda $1200 Jag no damage at all

The Jag is actually fairly easy to work on. Haynes Manual and Jag CD Rom plus amazing internet support. I plan to purchase a Series III XJ6 and will never buy another car for myself again unless I come across a 65 Stang or something.
2004-03-15 08:21:06 PM  

Personally, I find the Jags to be some of the easiest of the Euro-crap to work on. R&I (removal and installation) is usually about the same as a 5 to 15 year older Buick.

Still, though, diagnostic information and parts information are well below acceptable, and if you're concerned about either comfort or performance .... well if you like those things you don't buy a Jaguar built after 1955.
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