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Tech Stuff


Coil-on-Plug Ignition: The Art of COP Misfire Diagnosis

When an engine with coil-on-plug (COP) ignition starts to misfire, there are two challenges: finding out which cylinder is misfiring and finding out why. Even if you find a bad coil, simply replacing it is not the whole repair, because like so many other parts of a vehicle, COP ignition coils don’t really die, they’re murdered. We’ll discuss how and why later; first let’s focus on finding the misfire.


Where’s the Respect for ‘Parts Changers’?

The knowledge and skill of technicians who diagnose and service today’s vehicles is critical to the success of any shop. Whether the required component replacement or system assembly is performed by the same specialized technician who performed the diagnosis or by a general service tech, the proper installation of a part is far from simple. So when someone makes a comment such as “he’s just a parts changer,” it makes my blood boil.


Tool Review: Lisle Brake Caliper Piston Compressor

As we all know, replacing pads on any brake caliper involves compressing the piston(s) to make room for the new pads. As pads wear, friction material thickness is reduced. As the pads get thinner, the piston(s) continue to move further out of their bores.


Use These Tips to Obtain Superior Gasket Sealing: Avoiding Leaks Requires Precision Work

Engine leaks are both annoying and potentially lead to engine damage and failure. In this brief article, we’ll discuss ways to obtain proper sealing of oil, coolant and engine vacuum, while also providing an overview of various gaskets and sealing materials.


Oils and Filters: Selecting the Correct Lubrication and Filtration

As we all know, the diversity and selection of engine oils available today can seem mind-boggling. We have choices of “conventional” oil (petroleum based), high-mileage oil, synthetic blends and full synthetics. Trying to make sense of it all, or should I say, advising customers with regard to selecting an oil, can sometimes seem frustrating.


Brake System NVH Woes: Addressing and Avoiding Noise, Vibration and Harshness Issues

The usual complaint after performing a brake service is typically going to involve noises — squeaks, squeals, squawks or vibrations. You name it, brake noise under moderate to light applications is a common complaint, but what causes it? And why don’t they make noise under a hard application?


The Importance of Being Auto Centric: Repair Facility Is on a Quest for Excellence

Tom and Deb Ham’s Auto Centric repair facility is located in Grand Rapids, Mich., a state bordered by four of the Great Lakes. Since opening in 1978, this upper-tier repair business exemplifies the definition of both grand and great.


Battery Testing 2.0: That Clicking Sound Doesn’t Always Mean a Bad Battery

Sometimes diagnosing a no-crank/no-start problem can be more difficult than diagnosing a driveability problem. The average passenger car or light truck has at least two dozen electronic control units on-board, and luxury vehicles can have three times that many. Some of those tiny electronic brains can make a decision that will drain the battery almost overnight.


Make Shop Safety a Top Priority

Shop safety is one of those topics that must be reviewed on a regular basis. It is also as enjoyable to discuss as sitting down to buy life insurance. I just hope my column reminds everyone to stop and take note of this important topic today.


Tool Review: Sonic Strut Spring Compressor

I’ve owned many coil spring compressor tools designed for use on MacPherson struts, some of which I like and some that I despise. Sonic Tools USA’s model 120001 (made for them by Scangrip Canvic) is now my favorite.

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