Sunday, 23 December 2012

Carless in London ... almost

The chap who maintains my car came round this evening to find out what was causing the engine warning light to come on. He attached a suitcase-sized diagnostic computer to the electronics interface port (whatever happened to just listening to the engine?), pressed a number of buttons ... and waited. After a couple of minutes he pressed another couple of buttons ... and waited again. This process of button pressing and waiting continued for nearly twenty minutes, at which point he announced that the fault was an engine misfire.

Another, smaller diagnostic computer was then attached in place of the original one, and this confirmed the diagnosis. It even 'generated' a fault reference, and once this had been entered into a database program that was installed on a laptop computer that the mechanic had brought with him he announced that the fault was ... an engine misfire.

All the electronic gadgetry had done was to confirm that there was a problem with the engine, but not what was causing the misfire. In the end – and after some discussion – the mechanic has advised me not to drive my car until he has had the opportunity to check each individual cable in the ignition system. As this will take him some time (the odds on him finding the fault in the first cable are about as good as my chances of winning the National Lottery!) it looks as if my wife and I will have to rely on her car to get about over the next few days ... assuming, of course, that her car's battery does not go flat again.

Now where did I put my Freedom Pass?

6 comments:

  1. I've had that warning light come on in several cars. Usually it was due to an over enthusiastic sensor but on the most recent occasion a £200 electronic component was giving notice. It took my specialist 15 minutes to replace it.... With the correct electronic fault code reader it should be easy to diagnose.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tim Gow,

    The engine has been a bit 'lumpy' when cold or when operating at low revs for the past couple of days, and I was about to contact my mechanic when the warning light came on.

    The problem with the fault code reader is that the code number it gave did not identify what was causing the actual fault other than to state that it was an engine misfire. The electronic bits and pieces were all set up for my make and model of car, but the readout was not very helpful … hence the use of the smaller diagnostic computer to try to gain more information as to the cause.

    The engine is a standard Zetec engine, and I understand that a common fault with this type of engine is related to the ignition cables suffering from minor breaks and/or cracks after so many years of service. My mechanic suspects that this is the cause of the intermittent misfire, and further testing will hopefully identify or isolate the problem.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  3. I miss the good old days when all a mechanic needed was a pair of pliers a screw driver and a lump hammer.
    The other 2 were to remove pieces so you could give the engine a good whack with the lump hammer. Usually worked a treat. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  4. Redtroop,

    I was able to do most of the basic repairs and maintenance on my first car (an Austin A40!) with little more than a set of scanners, a couple of screwdrivers, and a pair of pliers. Now I look under the bonnet ... and don't even know what some of the things in the engine compartment do.

    Oh for the good old days!

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds similar to a "You've got a poorly foot". I'm not allowed to use lump hammers anymore :O(

    Regards, Chris

    ReplyDelete
  6. Chris Kemp,

    It turned out that the expensive diagnostic computer had not been properly programmed. It has been now ... and it identified the problem in seconds. I now have a new ignition coil and set of ignition cables (which were fitted very quickly) and my car now purrs along better than it has for months.

    That said, I still preferred cars that I could fix myself ... although I never had to use a lump hammer. (Is it true that all Ladas came with one as part of their in-car tool kit?)

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete