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Tech Stuff


Electronic/adaptive ride control: A brief overview of today’s systems

Electronic stability control (commonly referred to as ESC) is designed to slow and control the vehicle from unwanted oversteer and understeer. An ESC system takes advantage of the existing ABS and traction control systems.


Nailing tough A/C problems: A review of new tools and diagnostic strategies

As labor rates climb, and serviceability gets increasingly convoluted, it is becoming more and more important to diagnose A/C problems as accurately as possible. Of course, being that air conditioning is generally diagnosed by interpreting pressures and looking at the “general vicinity” of where UV dye can be spotted, it’s less than an objective, exact science.


Ford distributorless ignition system

The distributorless ignition system (DIS) was introduced in the 1980s to eliminate parts that affect emissions as they wear, but it also helped improve performance and fuel mileage. Today DIS has been phased out in favor of coil-on-plug (COP) ignition, but Ford was still producing engines with DIS as late as 2008, so you’ll be servicing these systems for many years to come.


Parasitic draw diagnostic strategies

Key On Engine Off (KOEO) battery draws have always been a relatively difficult concept for customers to wrap their heads around. They figure when the vehicle is turned off, nothing is on any more. However, these problems are hardly new, as vehicles have had shorted wiring, switches, and other simple problems for years.


I hate thieves

Anyone who works for a living to support themselves and their family, pays their taxes and abides by the law hates a thief. Low-life criminals who take advantage of honest folks are the scum of the earth.


Tool review: Innova 4400 coil and module tester

Is the coil good or bad? During the recent Automotive Aftermarket Parts Expo (AAPEX) Show in Las Vegas, Innova debuted its 4400 Coil and Control Module Tester, a counter-top diagnostic unit ideal for both shops and parts stores. The bench-top tester is designed to safely and easily test the circuitry of conventional ignition coils, coil-on-plug coils (COP), distributorless ignition systems (DIS) and electronic ignition modules (EIM).


Engine sealing tips: How to avoid problems from annoying leaks to devastating damage

Sealing an engine involves several concerns, including the containment of combustion pressure, preventing coolant and oil from entering the combustion process, and preventing oil, coolant and vacuum from leaking out of the engine. Theoretically this should be a straightforward process, but if performed incorrectly without attention to detail, problems can range from annoying leaks to devastating internal engine damage.


Brake pad copper content: Material will be phased out over a 15-year period

Brakes have been around for as long as the wheel. The original friction material was probably Fred Flintstone’s feet. Romans saved their sandals by using wooden blocks pressed against the wheels of their chariots.


Fuel trim: How it works and how to make it work for you

When diagnosing a check-engine light or drivability issue, you can learn a lot by looking at fuel trim data on a scan tool. Fuel trim can be affected by just about anything between the air filter and the muffler, including sensors, injectors, ignition, EGR, the engine’s mechanical condition and even the crankcase ventilation system. Fuel trim numbers alone won’t provide a complete diagnosis, but if you know what to look for, those numbers can lead you in the right direction.


OBD-II Mode 6: Making it part of your diagnostic arsenal

Mode 6 has been around for many years now. Technicians have often not made much use of it because they find it confusing and often not that informative.

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