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Thread: Time for a rant....

General discusssion about other British cars that don't have their own forum (yet).

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    Jedi Knight catfood's Avatar
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    Time for a rant....

    After over a century of motor car production you would have thought the manufacturers would have perfected a system that would wash your windscreen without freezing. I can't think of one modern I've had over the last 20 years that did not freeze up when the temperature approaches freezing. And who had the bright idea of linking wiper operation to the water jet. Turn the washers on and they're frozen - result an even bigger smear than the one you were trying to clear as the wipers spread the salt and unburnt diesel produced by the lorry you were passing all across your field of view.

    My previous car was a Rover 620 Turbo. It has to be one of the warmest engine compartments out so what do Rover do. They stuff the washer bottle right at the front of the engine compartment where the cold airflow blows over the bottle keeping all that warm engine heat away from the bottle. They the route the washer feed the cold side of the various bulkheads around the engine, just to make sure there is no chance of the water getting warm.

    Hey I'm really getting warmed up now!!!

    Peugeot 405. Classic washer design. NOT! Who had the stupid idea of running the washer pipes along the wiper, smack bang in that cold airflow. Result, any temperature below about 3 degrees and they froze.

    In fact the only car I have had that doesn't freeze is the Healey that has the washer bottle inside the engine compartment being kept warm by around 600lbs of internally heated cast iron. However I don't tend to run the Healey in the cold weather that much as I don't tend to insure it over the winter!!!!

    So I've had my rant. What do other people hate about modern car design that you think should have been designed out decades ago.

    Come on, vent your spleens.....

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    Yoda Bret's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    The easy answer to that question are idiot warning lights & gauges!
    [img]images/icons/mad.gif[/img]

    All to often they are none descriptive and provide little “true” or usable information to the driver. The best example of this is the engine check light. If you read the owners manual it says basically that you need to take your vehicle to the dealership service center. Worst yet is that if you don’t clear the warning light you can’t get an emissions test performed until it is cleared.
    [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]

    The check engine warning light could be an indication of just about anything from a broken seal, a sensor, an emissions or computer management issue all the way up to a major mechanical engine problem. The trouble is the only way to find out for sure what is wrong is to either have your own code reader (OBD-1/OBD-II) or pay the mechanic or the dealer about $60 to $100 bucks just to read & clear the code. All of that and you can’t even reset the code to get rid of the warning light until you address the reported problem. The actual problem turned out to be a seal on my fuel cell's sending unit. Fixing that that ended up costing me another ~$150 mostly for labor.

    After that experience I ended up purchasing a OB-II code reader the last time I had a check engine light and it was a little over $130 and almost paid for itself the first time I actually used it. I had a check engine light about a year ago that ended up being my car’s gas cap. After replacing the gas cap I reset the code and I was back on the road for less than $15. Had I not had the code reader I would have had to take it to someone else to find out what was wrong.
    [img]graemlins/nonod.gif[/img]

    [ 02-27-2004: Message edited by: Bret ]</p>

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    Great Pumpkin aeronca65t's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    <blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Bret:
    ....I had a check engine light about a year ago that ended up being my car’s gas cap....
    <hr></blockquote>

    That happens to me, and the culprit is always the same.....the gas-jockey has left the gas cap loose (Note: Here in New Jersey, we are not allowed to pump our own gas....the car *must* be filled by a gas-station employee).
    Anyway, the cure isn't too bad: disconnect the battery and ground the positive cable (when the car's switched off, obviously). It's happened twice in the Miata and about 6 times in the WRX.
    As for poor designs, my M2 Miata ("MX-5" to Steve) has pretty sorry washers too. Even with lots of Anti-freeze in the system, the spray nozzles get covered with snow and freeze up.
    Personally, one thing that bugs me in modern cars is uncalibrated gauges, such as a coolant-temp gauge that simply goes from "Cold" to "Hot". Same thing with oil-pressure gauges....I don't care if it's in "bar", kPa or psi......just give me some *numbers*!
    My Miata is maybe the worst example....the "gauge" is simply hooked up to an "on-off" sensor, so it can only read at the mid-point of the gauge or "zero".

    [img]graemlins/crazyeyes.gif[/img]

    [ 02-27-2004: Message edited by: aeronca65t ]</p>

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    Jedi Warrior
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    In 35 years of driving in Canada (where it freezes occasionally) I've never had the washers freezing problem you describe. Are you using windshield washer fluid or water? No-one here would ever contemplate filling the washer bottle with anything but washer fluid, rated to -35 C. People in northern areas use winter fluid rated to -45 C. As for wipers, we use "winter wiper" blades, where the whole frame is encased in a plastic membrane, so it doesn't get wet and freeze. Not an infallible system, but it generally works pretty well.

    In the 80's Ford marketed cars with a heated windscreen (electrically heated via a transparent metallic layer in the glass), that worked pretty well except that it blocked radar signals from your detector. GM produced cars with a heated patch on the screen where the wipers parked.

    Of course, it the heater output of my various English cars over the years is anything to go by, English manufacturers assume the lowest temperature on earth is about 10 C.

    [img]graemlins/canpatriot.gif[/img]

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    Luke Skywalker KLUTZ's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    <blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Eric:
    Are you using windshield washer fluid or water? No-one here would ever contemplate filling the washer bottle with anything but washer fluid,
    [img]graemlins/canpatriot.gif[/img]
    <hr></blockquote>


    [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img] HUMMMMM.... What EXACTLY are you trying to say, Eric?? [img]graemlins/canpatriot.gif[/img]

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    Jedi Knight catfood's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    I do use an antifreeze/detergent in my car. However the stuff we get over here isn't 'Canada' rated and doesn't help a lot. The point I was making is that with a little thought car manufacturers could easily design out the problem.

    Years ago a friend of mine had added an after market accessory to his MGB. It consisted of a simple copper coil that routed the washer water around the radiator hose thus preheating the water. While not 100% effecive it did reduce the freezing problem considerably.

    A simple cooling water heated waterjacket around the washer bottle would be a cheap and effective improvement (as would placing the water bottle in a position where it would benefit from the heat generated by the engine).

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    Re: Time for a rant....

    I suppose that would help once the car was warmed up, but it would be of little use when the water bottle split from the contents freezing overnight at -40. You wouldn't have any 'squirt' for a considerable time until the washer bottle and lines thawed. The washer fluid isn't anything special - water, methanol and some blue dye. I pay less than $2 Canadian for 4 L (roughly $1.40 US per gallon), so it's not a major expense.

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    Yoda Bret's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    <blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by aeronca65t:


    That happens to me, and the culprit is always the same.....the gas-jockey has left the gas cap loose (Note: Here in New Jersey, we are not allowed to pump our own gas....the car *must* be filled by a gas-station employee).
    Anyway, the cure isn't too bad: disconnect the battery and ground the positive cable (when the car's switched off, obviously). It's happened twice in the Miata and about 6 times in the WRX.

    &lt;&lt;SNIIP&gt;&gt;
    <hr></blockquote>

    True enough. But most folks wouldn’t know that much about the gas cap and would have naturally just taken their car to a dealer or a local mechanic as the owners manual suggested. In my case the gas cap outwardly “looked” to be fine and seated properly(two clicks). So had it not been for my OBD-II code reader & my trusty Haynes I wouldn’t have been able to decipher the engine warning/error code. Otherwise it would have been like grasping for straws presumably forever or until I got lucky & found the faulty (leaking) gas cap.

    [img]graemlins/cheers.gif[/img]

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    Yoda
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    My mother recently had the check engine light come on in her new Buick. The first question I asked her was when she had fueled up. I found the gas cap loose, and tightened it properly, and shortly thereafter the light went off. For a problem like that, once the computer "sees" no problem after a set amount of drive cycles, it will turn the light off by itself. The check engine light will only illuminate for an emissions related fault. Low oil pressure, or an over-temp won't turn it on.
    If it sets a "hard code", such as a burned out 02 sensor or a bad EGR valve,for instance, the problem will have to be fixed and the code cleared manually in order to kill the light.
    Jeff

    [ 02-27-2004: Message edited by: Bugeye58 ]</p>

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    Re: Time for a rant....

    For some reason, Subarus are very prone to a filler cap/check engine light problem. No idea why, but it's well documented.

    Also, most cars have some built in diagnostics that can be accessed in some way. On my Neon, there's a particular method of cycling the key on and off, which triggers a pattern of flashing lights. And for most cars, the method and translation is available online.

    Still, I wish I had an OBD-II reader.

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    Yoda Bret's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    <blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Bugeye58:
    &lt;&lt;SNIP&gt;&gt;
    For a problem like that, once the computer "sees" no problem after a set amount of drive cycles, it will turn the light off by itself. The check engine light will only illuminate for an emissions related fault. Low oil pressure, or an over-temp won't turn it on.
    &lt;&lt;SNIP&gt;&gt;
    Jeff

    [ 02-27-2004: Message edited by: Bugeye58 ]
    <hr></blockquote>

    Jeff,

    Yes, that is true. But in a case like a “faulty” gas cap, you could tightened it until kingdom come and it never would have cleared the check engine light.

    Without the OBD-II I never would have been able to figure out what was wrong, and would have had to take it to someone to be fixed and pay through the nose.

    [img]graemlins/cheers.gif[/img]

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    Jedi Warrior
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    Without OBD II, you would not have had a check engine light for a loose gas cap. The purpose of OBD II is to validate the vapor recovery system. Randomly, and it must be that way, several solenoids will open or close to isolate various parts of the fuel system on the low pressure side. Vacuum is applied or not, and pressure readings (leak down) are monitored. If the cap is loose or defective, the pressure will not hold and the light comes on. Once the problem goes away, the light will go back off after the next random test. Other hard codes come on when other failures occur, and if it is one that is catastrophic to the environment, like a dripping injector, will remain on until the problem is fixed. Under a load with these conditions, the light will blink. Softer failures, like for example, an air temperature sensor, will set codes, but self erase if corrected. Finally, remember that the readers, or the codes that are set, do not define a defective part. They define a defective circuit. An example might be a loose ground wire on the throttle position sensor. It would create a high resistance, which would return a higher than expected voltage to the computer, which would interpret that as more throttle than is the case. That throttle position would be unexpected, given the vehicle speed, and a code would be set for the throttle position sensor, but the sensor, of course, is perfectly fine. The code points the technician to a circuit, which must then be diagnosed. (This is fun.)

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    Re: Time for a rant....

    With late model GM vehicles, a "check engine" code can also be diagnosed remotely through the OnStar system. I have not had an opportunity to actually use this feature, but it sounds nice in principal. The operator should at least be able to tell you if the fault will permnit you to keep driving. I have used OnStar a couple of times for other functions and the amount of information available to the operators is impressive (or scary, if you are a bit paranoid.) The OnStar people seem to be the only ones associated with GM who are knowledgeable, friendly and willing to provide a measure of assistance. It sure beats going to a dealership.

    [ 02-27-2004: Message edited by: Texas_Cicada ]</p>

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    Obi Wan 78Z's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    I've never had freezing problems either and it gets really cold here. Although my wife's old Dodge Shadow had water jets that would only worked occasionally but that was an electric problem (that spirit of Lucas was strong with that one). We used to just stop ever once and a while and wipe the window with a snowball. [img]graemlins/canpatriot.gif[/img]

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    Re: Time for a rant....

    Being that I live in Southern California... Freezing what? I think it froze here in 1969 when it showed on the beach? I know it gets cold in the mountains, the snow covered mountains are so beautiful when viewed from my beach front patio, the North facing side and besides it's 65 degrees here today, that cold enough for me.

    Oh and on the auto makers thinking? That would be something new. How come the Brits can build a sports car that us wide hipped, bigger Americans can fit into without much concern and the Japs can't.

    I was looking for a sports car in my budget... couldn't get in a Miata or Honda 2000 (and they are designed here in Irvine! I went with a 30 year old Jensen Healey because I fit comfortably and I like the car and the performance. So...

    Wake up the future designers and human factors engineers in the auto market and build cars that fit us. Heck, I had to loose 160 pounds to get my Cobra replica to fit too, so don't tell me to loose weight! Removing my tree stump legs just isn't an option either.

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    Yoda Bret's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    Boy, I take good notes.

    I got curious so I went through the records on my 2000 Dodge Intrepid. It turns out that back when I had the "Check Engine light" I had the following error code:

    P0455 – Display readout said: “Evap Leak large leak detected.”

    According to my Haynes Manual this meant that a large leak had been detected in my Evaporative system in my car. Looking at the manual for a check engine light there are literally 98 codes (I counted them) directly linked to the “check engine light”. Along with what looks to be another hundred (+/-) codes listed in my manual unrelated to the check engine light. And while many won’t nail down specific root cause, almost all seem to point you in the general location of the problem. Heck in some cases the the codes will point to an actual component(s)

    But in my case the code listed above didn’t actually tell me that I had a bad gas cap. While the possibilities have been narrowed down significantly, I still had to do a little detective work. But beings how there are only 5 codes related to the evap system it narrowed things down a bit for me. Making diagnosis even easier was the fact that two of those error codes could easily be eliminated, as they weren’t related to leaks. That left only three the codes. The one I had indicating a “major” leak and two others indicating medium & small leaks.

    So with that information I turned to the schematic drawing of the EVAP system. After inspecting as much of the evap lines as possible I did what any engineer or technician worth his weigh in 60/40 solder would do – I replaced the easiest (& cheapest) item first. The Gas Cap!

    This isn’t as amazing as it might sound, as the error code indicated that it was a “LARGE” leak – not a medium or a small. I mean the gas cap actually “IS” the biggest opening to the fuel tank and evap system isn’t it? But again had I not had my Haynes Service Manual and the OBD-II code scanner, I’d probably still trying to figure this out.

    [ 02-28-2004: Message edited by: Bret ]</p>

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    Re: Time for a rant....

    Good work, Bret. A guy doing this for a living would have used basically the same process of elimination. He'd have had a little advantage toward the end though, by using a tester for the fuel cap to positively identify it. Where he makes or loses money is exactly this sort of thing. The first time through, he'd have had to slug his way, item by item, until arriving at the gas cap, which would have paid him about six minutes labor. That week he took home a small pay check. Now having seen it many times, he simply pulls the cap, tests it, and still gets his six minutes, but only took two.

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    Great Pumpkin aeronca65t's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    <blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Eric:
    In 35 years of driving in Canada (where it freezes occasionally) I've never had the washers freezing problem you describe....
    <hr></blockquote>

    It's not the washer solution in my case, I use similar stuff to you....it's the frozen clumps of snow that block the spray nozzle. In my car (the Miata below) they're sort of hard to clear when "frozen over". The obvious solution is to build a garage...not in the cards right now.


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    Jedi Trainee huck6's Avatar
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    Re: Time for a rant....

    Wow, was all of that snow piled on top of a soft-top?

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