Andrew Markel covers Nissan TSB NTB99-057d on the inspection of shocks and struts. This TSB gives definitive guidelines on what is normal and what’s abnormal when it come to leaking fluid. Sponsored by Nissan.
Video courtesy Brake Front End.
Andrew Markel covers how to diagnose if a leak is a leak or just normal seepage. Often engine, transmission and drivetrain components will show signs of seepage that might actually be a leak and could indicate the failure of a seal, gasket or casing. Sponsored by Nissan.
Video courtesy Brake & Front End.
With attention driver aids, like lane departure, automatic braking and autonomous driving features, it is easy to forget they need existing automotive technologies to operate. This video examines the close relationship between these advanced systems and everyday repairs, like wiper blades and brake pads. Sponsored by Nissan.
Video courtesy Brake & Front End.
When you start looking for oil for an exotic car, things can get confusing. Words like “approved,” “recommended” and “exceeds” are thrown around like a car in a four-wheel drift. But if you do your homework, it is just like specifying oil for any late model car or truck.
The first place to look is under the hood or rear hatch for the oil information. Manufacturers like Ferrari and Jaguar will place a sticker with the recommended oil weight and possibly an oil manufacturer near the engine. You should check the owner’s manual or service information for the manufacturer-recommended weight and requirements. The final stop is the oil manufacturer’s product datasheet.
Exotic cars are still under the same emission requirements and warranties as regular vehicles. Many of the oils specified are formulated to reduce additives that could reduce the efficiency of the catalytic converters. Many manufacturers have switched from 20w50 oils to 5w40 and 0w40 oils to improve fuel efficiency and reduce startup emissions. Going with a racing oil may damage the engine and emission control devices.
Ferrari does not have a published oil testing procedure or standard, But they do have approved suppliers that typically correspond to the car sponsorship or technical partner sponsorship of their F1 team.
In the owner’s manual, the recommended oil is listed and the API SN or ACEA (A3/B4)specification. Most late-model Ferrari vehicles will require a 5w40 or 10w60. The oil should be high-quality and a full-synthetic.
Porsche uses an in-house method to test motor oils. These tests can last 203 hours under summer and winter driving conditions using a Porsche engine. Some tests include five one-hour track sessions on the Nurburgring racetrack. The test measures engine cleanliness, oxidation and wear.
Late-model Porsche vehicles have four oil specifications including C40, C30 and C20; A40 oils are the latest specifications for some vehicles starting in 2018. C40 and A40 oils are typically 5w40 oils. C30 and C20 oils are 5w30, 0w30 and 0w20 oils that are used in certain Cayenne and Macan models. Some Cayenne models will list a VW/Audi oil specification.
Since Lamborghini became part of the VW group in 1998, the oil specifications for the engines follow the VW oil specifications. For 5w30, the oil specified needs to meet the VW 504 or 507 oil type.
Like Lamborghini, Bentley is now part of the VW group. Depending on the vehicle and engine, the service information will specify a VW 502-507 oil. Some models specify a 0w40 oil.
For high output engines like found in the SLR and AMG models, Mercedes specifies a higher grade of oil like oil specification 229.3. To find the correct oil go to bevo.mercedes-benz.com.
Automatic hubs are used on many 4×4 trucks to disengage the front wheels when four-wheel drive is not needed. The main advantage of being able to disengage the front wheels on the go is that the driver doesn’t have to stop, get out of the vehicle and twist a dial on the hub to disengage or engage the front wheels. The automatic hub does it automatically on the fly. The locking mechanism inside an automatic hub is sort of like a one-way clutch. When torque is applied by the driveshaft, it forces the hub to slide in and lock.
The hub then remains in the locked position as long as the transfer case remains in four-wheel drive. When the driver shifts to two-wheel drive, the clutch mechanism inside the hub slides back out and releases the hub, allowing the wheel to turn independent of its axle shaft.
There are a number of automatic hub designs and not all are capable of engaging while the vehicle is in motion. Some of the older types require the vehicle to stop and back up a short distance to engage the locking mechanism. Some automatic hubs don’t engage in reverse and others use a vacuum diaphragm to engage the hub (or the axle shaft) when switching between two- and four-wheel-drive modes.
The driver may not notice anything is wrong until he finds himself stuck axle-deep in mud and realizes the front wheels aren’t doing anything. Or, you may hear some grinding noises when he shifts to four-wheel drive and may think something is wrong with the transfer case or front differential.
For the same reasons that prevent the hub from engaging, a hub may also fail to release. Anything that binds the internal mechanism can prevent it from sliding and releasing. The most noticeable symptoms may be an increase in fuel consumption, noise on the highway and/or increased front tire wear.
Diagnosing an automatic hub problem may require test driving the vehicle or raising a front wheel to see if the hub is engaging and disengaging properly. Put the transmission in park, set the parking brake and raise the chassis so one of the front wheels is off the ground while the other is still on the ground. When the transfer case is in two-wheel drive, the hubs should be released, allowing the wheels to turn freely when spun by hand. If the axle shaft turns when you spin the wheel, it means the hub has not disengaged.
To check engagement, rotate the axle shaft backwards. This should lock the hub. Try turning the wheel by hand again. The axle shaft should now turn with the wheel if the hub is locked. If the hub fails to lock, the hub will have to be disassembled and inspected or replaced.
To check release, hold the axle shaft steady and rotate the wheel backwards. You should hear a click as the locking mechanism slides back out and disengages the hub. Rotate the wheel forward again and it should turn freely.
Another way to check the hubs is to raise the vehicle on a frame contact lift so that all four wheels are off the ground. Then start the engine and place the transfer case in four-wheel drive and the transmission in drive. If the front wheels don’t turn, look at the front axle shafts. If both shafts are turning, but one wheel is not, the problem is a bad hub on the wheel that isn’t turning.
Like it or not, recent mandates limiting the concentration of copper allowed in brake pads could be our generation’s asbestos crisis. We are just at the start of what could be a painful, but necessary, process that will impact your shop and the environment in a positive way – even if you do not live on the West Coast.
Here are 5 things you need to know about impending brake pad regulation:
Spurred by copper-reduction laws enacted by California and Washington in recent years, several other states had originally drafted legislation aimed at reducing brake pad pollution. However, the EPA’s Copper-Free Brake Initiative, in tandem with California and Washington’s existing laws, effectively made other state-specific laws unnecessary since these regulations set an unwritten nationwide mandate for compliance for all parts manufacturers.
Along with manufacturing and distribution, the California and Washington state regulations target the “installer” (not the most flattering term) in the law’s language. This means a shop in these states could be fined $10,000 fine per violation if a non-approved brake pad is installed. These fines do not kick in until 2025.
While copper has gotten most of the attention, these new laws target pads with other dangerous materials, such as asbestos, chromium and other heavy metals.
While these laws will not be in full effect for several more years, many components of the laws are being phased in already. As of Jan. 1, 2013, friction material manufacturers who do business in Washington state were required to submit a report on their use of copper, nickel, zinc, antimony and other metals. In 2015, all new inventory was required to be labeled stating if it complied with the law. Manufacturers, distributors and “installers” have until 2025 to sell existing inventory.
These laws put new financial and technical burdens on friction material manufacturers. Under the Washington law, friction formulation has to be tested and approved by a laboratory and the applications using this material must be submitted so the right label can appear on the box. Every step in the process costs money and time. These burdens may be so great that some manufacturers could get out of these markets completely.
I recently saw a post from a shop owner on a technical help forum who was having a problem finishing up a transmission R&R. The car was back together, but the transmission was not communicating with the engine control module. The transmission control module was inside the valve body and needed to be programmed for the vehicle so it could communicate.
This was no novice. Previously, he was able to solve a similar issue with a scan tool that could perform some limited programming. But this time, the module on the remanufactured transmission needed to be reflashed and reprogrammed on the vehicle to complete the job.
In the thread of the forum, shop owners were exploring the options to get the vehicle back on the road. Some suggested he find a local service that can program the car, but the shop was in a very rural area. Others said he should remove the valve body and ship it to a service that can perform the programming.
Other members said maybe it was time for the shop to invest in training and tools to do programming and reflashing on site.
The choice to reflash is the hardest because there is no one solution or single path to follow. No matter how many training classes you attend or magazine articles you read, it is not until you start specing out and purchasing the computer, tools and subscriptions that you realize what you are up against.
Before you purchase a computer, it is a good idea to select how you plan to connect to the vehicle. Most of all, you need to understand what the interface can and can’t do.
SAE J2534-1 is the protocol for reflashing and reprogramming emissions and engine module calibrations through the generic OBDII port. The SAE, EPA and automakers collaborated to comply with the mandate that emissions calibrations can be updated.
If you need to program a non-emissions module on some vehicles, you might need a vehicle interface that can communicate using SAE J2534-2. But these two communication protocols are not enough for every vehicle or every module. Automakers will also use other communication protocols for other modules and systems on the vehicle.
If you specialize in one make, you might be able to get away with just a USB cable with the OBDII connector on one end. These cables can be very effective for vehicles from one manufacturer because they are hardwired for the OEM’s software. Unfortunately, suppliers do not make cables for every manufacturer.
The next solution is a J-Box. This still connects to a USB port on the computer and the OBDII connector, but in between is an electronics-filled box. The guts of the box switch the pins in the OBDII connector and translate the information from the vehicle and computer. These can handle multiple makes and protocols. With either cable or J-Box, it is critical to look at the coverage and compatibility with the vehicles coming frequently to your shop.
However, each OEMs is still allowed to approve or certify if a cable or J-Box will work with its software and website. You may find that a cable or J-Box will work one day, but the next day there could be problems. When these problems occur, there is support out there from the OEM, tool manufacturer and even online groups of technicians. One of the best sources is a Facebook group called J2534 Discussion for Beginners-USA Only.
Most OEMs require a Windows-based PC with specific hardware. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer, some specify the computer’s operating system use a 32- or 64-bit version of Windows 10. Most manufacturers will stop supporting Windows 7 at the end of this year.
GM calls for an “enterprise-grade” computer and access point (Wi-Fi router). It can be difficult to define what enterprise-grade means but in its supporting documents, GM defines it as hardware intended for businesses. Dell calls it a PC for work. HP calls its line “laptops for business.” The main attributes are better hardware and technical support than consumer-grade computers. If you have questions about your PC, look at the documents on the OE’s website.
The other item to consider is the hard drive. Manufacturers including Honda and Ford require that the hard drive needs to be solid-state. Solid-state drives have dropped significantly in price over the past five years.
Pay attention to the type of USB connections on the machine. The type of port you need to look for is a Type-A port – this is the most common rectangular USB port. If the computer says it only has Type-C ports they will not work with most reprogramming cables. Even if you purchase a USB Type C to Type-A adapter, there is no guarantee it will work.
Type-A ports can be USB 2.0, 3.0 or 3.1. Some reprogramming and reflashing cables will work with USB 2.0, but most require or recommend 3.0 or 3.1. The best way to tell is by the color of the port. USB 2.0 ports are black inside and USB 3.0 and 3.1 ports are blue. USB 3.0 and 3.1 is 10 times faster than 2.0. USB 3.0 can deliver 4.5 watts of power. USB 3.1 can change the wattage and voltage depending on the device. When selecting a vehicle interface device, look at both the device manufacturer’s specifications as well as the OEM’s requirements.
Some reflash and programming sessions can last more than an hour. Reflashing voltages can vary from 12- to 14-volts depending on the OEM and model. If the battery voltage drops below a set voltage, the reflashing process will stop and possibly damage the module. Chrysler calls for a consistent 13.1 volts, but Honda says that a battery jump pack can be used.
Your old battery charger should not be used because these turn the power off and on. There are battery maintainers made specifically for reflashing that can deliver the correct voltage and amps during a procedure. Check the OEM’s website for information on the equipment about maintaining the battery. It is best to invest in a battery maintainer made for reflashing before starting to reflash process.
You will need to subscribe to the OEM’s service information website. Subscription fees vary by OEM and have several payment options. Make sure you write down your logins and passwords. Before you start reflashing, take the time to register and navigate the OEMs’ websites – bookmark the essential pages on the sites in your browser.
You will not be able to perform flash reprogramming straight out of the box. It takes time to set up the computer and register at the OEM websites, so on a slow day, take some time to experiment on shop vehicles. There is nothing worse than having to wait for a verification email from an OEM to just start up the subscription. Learn before you burn.
Article courtesy Underhood Service.
When faced with an illuminated charge light diagnosis on most late-model vehicles, do not automatically assume the problem is inside the alternator and potentially unserviceable. The problem could be the pulley and belt drive system. Neglecting to test and diagnose the pulley can lead to unnecessary replacement.
Almost every late-model car or truck is equipped with an overrunning alternator pulley (OAP) or an overrunning alternator decoupler (OAD). An OAP is a one-way clutch like a socket wrench that turns in one direction and locks when turned the other direction. An OAD operates in the same manner but has a special clutch and spring that absorbs vibration to smooth out the vibrations in the drive belt system. Regardless of the type, the pulley should be checked before condemning and removing the alternator.
These new pulleys allow the alternator to “free-wheel” or “overrun” when the belt suddenly slows down. This prevents the belt from slipping and reduces vibration. Best of all, the system needs less tension and you can even use a narrower belt. This can result in a 1.5% to 2% fuel economy improvement. However, these pulleys have a limited lifespan due to how they operate internally.
OADs and OAPs behave the same, except the OAD will have a “spring feel” because of the internal spring. Testing can be performed on the vehicle with the belt attached.
Article courtesy Underhood Service.
What’s so significant about the 2010-current Ford Fiesta brakes? First, the Ford Fiesta is one of the first sub-compacts on the market with the “Full Monty” of ABS/ESC/EBC/TC to come as standard. 2014-current models even have torque vectoring. Second, this vehicle uses an old drum brake technology to solve a modern problem with cars equipped with electronic brake distribution.
The front brakes are the conventional single-piston floating caliper design. Servicing the pads is straightforward and simple. The stock pads use a double floating shim arrangement to control noise.
The standard rear brakes on the Fiesta are a self-adjusting drum system. You might think they did this for cost or weight, but it is Ford’s solution to stop rear brake wear problems that has plagued the rear disc brakes of small cars with electronic brake distribution (EBD).
EBD provides more control over the brakes during normal stops by using the rear brakes more and in different modes. This gives the vehicle better pedal feel, less nosedive and prevents rear brake lock up. But, wear rates for rear disc brake pads was in some cases half the life of the front brake pads.
Several manufacturers tried to correct the problem with new reflash programming procedures and friction materials, but Ford had a different solution for the Fiesta.
Ford stuck with rear drum brakes (ST models have disc). Drum brake shoes typically last longer than brake pads on a rotor of a similar size because there is more friction surface area between the shoe and drum. By doing this, Ford has avoided the problem of rear brake pads wearing out faster than the front pads.
During initial application, full pressure is applied to the rear brakes. Once vehicle deceleration exceeds a certain threshold, the ABS module closes the appropriate solenoid valves in the HCU to hold the rear brake pressure constant while allowing the front brake pressure to build. As the vehicle decelerates, the valves are opened to increase the rear brake pressure in proportion to the front brake pressure.
If there is a DTC in the ABS module specifically for the HCU, or there are two or more wheel speed sensor DTCs set, the EBD is disabled.
After the brake shoes are replaced, you must use a brake drum gauge to set the new shoes to the size of the drum. The clearance between the drum and shoe is about 1 mm. Adjusting the parking brake is critical for the self-adjusters.
1. Remove the floor console finish panel to access the parking brake cable adjuster nut.
2. Make sure the parking brake control handle is in the fully released position.
3. Remove the brake drums.
4. Loosen the self-adjuster one full turn on both axles.
5. Using a cable tie, secure the parking brake actuation lever to the brake shoe as shown on the passenger side rear.
6. Install a 4 mm Allen wrench against the parking brake actuation lever on the driver-side rear only.
7. Adjust the parking brake cable adjuster nut until the allen wrench falls out.
8. Remove the cable tie.
9. Adjust the brake shoes.
10. If new rear cables have been installed, carry out the following sub steps. If new rear cables have not been installed, proceed to step 11.
a. Cycle parking brake control lever to the 10th notch 10 times to stretch the new cables.
b. Remove the rear drums and verify that the gap exists between the parking brake stop lever and the brake shoe web.
c. If the gap is zero, repeat step 2 and steps 4 thru 9.
11. After assembling the wheel, verify the wheel turns freely to ensure there is no brake drag present.
12. Fully depress the brake pedal 10 times. Apply the parking brake to verify correct operation.
13. Install the floor console finish panel.
Article courtesy Brake & Front End.
“We don’t do that type of work” – a shortsighted policy that can actually cost you service opportunities and shop profits.
Troubleshooting an automatic transmission can be one of the most intimidating diagnostic procedures a shop faces today. The first reaction is often “We don’t do that type of work” – when, in reality, there is real profit in performing drivetrain diagnostics and “in-the-car” repairs.
The modern automatic transmission and attached drivetrain system has many “mechatronic” parts that control and protect the traditional clutches and planetary gears. These devices shift the gears, lock the clutches and regulate the fluid pressures. Most of these items can be diagnosed and replaced while the transmission is still in the vehicle.
Special tools are often needed when diagnosing transmission problems and overhauling units. The days are gone when transmissions were purely mechanical and hydraulic and all you really needed was a set of high-pressure gauges to check line pressures. Back then you also needed a vacuum gauge to check the engine’s intake vacuum and the integrity of the vacuum modulator. But with today’s electronic controls you need a scan tool, scope and a multimeter.
Transmission codes and sensor data on late-model vehicles are accessed through the OBD II diagnostic connector and the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) diagnostic gateway module. On some vehicles, the information is often found in a separate Transmission Control Module (TCM) or Body Control Module (BCM). Either way, you’ll need a scan tool to access fault codes and operating data.
A scan tool can also help you check for communication faults between the PCM and transmission controller if the vehicle has separate computers. Problems here will typically cause the transmission to go into a “limp in” mode that may lock it in second gear.
Some transmission problems may or may not set a fault code and turn on the MIL lamp, so it’s important to always scan the PCM or transmission module for codes if there’s a transmission-related complaint or drivability issue. Some engine sensor failures (for example, the throttle position sensor, MAP sensor or vehicle speed sensor) can also affect the operation of the transmission. It may be necessary to also check these sensors as well.
If you find a transmission fault code, you may have to check the resistance of a solenoid in the valve body, its operating voltage or the frequency of its control signal from the computer. This will require a digital multimeter (DMM) that can read voltage, resistance and frequency or dwell.
You’ll also need the applicable service information that includes wiring schematics and OEM diagnostic charts with test specifications for all the components that need to be checked. This kind of information can be found in OEM service manuals, on OEM websites (daily one-time access fees range from $15-$25) or through online technical information service providers. You should also check for any technical service bulletins (TSBs) that may be related to the transmission problem. In some cases, it may be necessary to reflash (reprogram) the PCM or transmission module to cure a particular fault.
When using a scan tool to diagnose a drivetrain problem, it’s often what is not displayed on the scan tool that will lead you to your final diagnosis. The modern transmission is one of the most connected components on a vehicle. If a PCM or TCM can’t see inputs like engine speed, load or throttle position, it will assume the worst and put the transmission into a safe or limp mode.
The transmission does not have discreet sensors connected to the throttle body, crankshaft or intake manifold. Instead, the transmission shares information with the engine control and other modules in the vehicle using a serial data bus. Most vehicles manufactured after 2004 put the TCM or PCM module on the hi-speed, two-wire CAN network along with BCM and ABS modules.
The topology for these networks is typically a loop. If a module is not operating, the existing modules can still communicate on the bus. When you’re using a scan tool to solve a transmission problem, you may have to look at the PIDs or datastream from the ECM or BCM to see what modules are communicating on the bus.
If you can’t communicate to a transmission control module with your scan tool, look for transmission information in the connected modules. The BCM will monitor information from the TCM on gear position so it can tell the instrument cluster what gear to display for the driver.
It can also work the other way. If a TCM is not able to communicate with the ECM, looking at the transmission-related PIDs for calculated engine load, throttle position and manifold air pressure may show that the ECM is not communicating on the network or has other issues.
Article courtesy Brake & Front End.