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Tech Stuff

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ECU soft resets: Killing power to on-board modules does wonders in diagnosis and repair

When a smart phone is not working quite right or a PC gets frozen, what’s the easiest way to fix it? Turn it off, start it back up, and hope the problem is gone. Some PC users even wait a few seconds to turn the device back on, hoping it gives time for the computer chips to power down.

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Today’s key fobs/smart keys provide convenience -- and cause problems

In these days of vehicle owner expectations for their vehicles to perform tasks that would previously require a minor physical or mental effort on their part, the remote “key” has become a mainstay of late model design. Rather than inserting a metal key into a tumbler lock (obviously a task that requires far too much effort and manual dexterity), we now expect to press a button on a wireless transmitter to perform this arduous chore of locking or unlocking the vehicle doors.

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Oil change intervals revisited

There has been quite a bit of discussion among both the public and within the industry regarding engine oil change intervals. My opinion is that any engine’s oil and oil filter should be changed at a frequency of about 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

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Investing in the proper lift can increase shop productivity

If your shop has the most efficient lifts, you will get more repair jobs out the door faster in the same work day

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Tool review: Disc brake analyzer

A very handy specialty tool that I’ve recently discovered is Innovative Products’ Disc Brake System Analyzer, P/N 7884, which features a pair of precision mechanical pressure gauges.

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Synthetic engine oils: Addressing questions, mysteries and myths

While the use of synthetic engine oil has become rather commonplace in today’s market, there still are questions, mysteries and myths regarding synthetic engine oil. And curiosity is again piquing in many car owners’ minds since so many makes and models now require synthetic oil.

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2014 oxygen and air/fuel sensor update

Back in the day when electronic fuel injection and computers in vehicles were first coming out, oxygen sensors were new. Technicians freaked out wondering how they worked and had to figure out new ways to diagnose vehicles. Eventually, they got used to the pattern failures (i.e. oxygen sensors stuck lean, bad heater circuits, etc.) and understood how they worked: the richer the fuel mixture, the higher the voltage and the leaner the fuel mixture, the lower the voltage.

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NVH revisited: Correcting concerns relating to vibrational issues

Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) issues are certainly not limited to wheels, tires, brakes and steering/suspension areas. Engine faults (misfires, rotating assembly balance, etc.), worn or damaged engine mounts and driveline issues (driveshaft, transmission and drive axle) are all potential contributors to NVH concerns.

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Never assume anything: (i.e.: you get what you pay for)

One of the frustrating aspects of performing automotive service work is occasionally dealing with a faulty new part. Leading parts manufacturers have an excellent track record of quality control, but sometimes a bad part slips by and ends up in a box that’s sitting on your local supplier’s shelf.

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Tool review: Jump-N-Carry jump starter -- Portable model packs a punch for quick battery boost

Portable battery jump starters are a mainstay of just about every shop, especially dealerships and fleet shops. The convenience of a portable battery pack is obvious, allowing a weak battery to be jump-start boosted quickly enough to allow an engine start for vehicles parked in storage lots or to rescue a stranded motorist.

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