Monday, December 19, 2011

2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

A bright yellow 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 3.8 liter with 117,263 miles on the odometer is at Mr. T's shop. The vehicle came in as a no start, no crank condition. The battery load tested bad so a new battery went in with the same result. I am informed that they can jump out the starter relay and the car will crank but will not stay running. Let's look at the starter circuit for starters.
Ok we have a starter relay which is called out as a crank relay in this diagram. The relay is PCM controlled. The PCM will engage the relay when it sees a crank voltage input and the gear input is correct. We don't want the vehicle cranking when in gear. But, there is one more piece of the puzzle. Lets look at some theory.

This is some Passlock (the vehicle theft system) theory from GM. I underlined the parts that pertain to our issue at hand. Passlock has been around since 1995/1996 on GM vehicles. On some years/models it will disable the starter relay operation and other years it won't. Check the description of operation if you are not sure. I know what I am doing next.

I hook up my Tech2 and perform a Class 2 DTC check. I use this to see what modules are reporting on the Class 2 data line. I see an issue here already. There is a module that is linked to our problem that is not here. The BCM is AWOL. Now, we have to find out why. I check the fuses that power up the BCM in the left side instrument panel fusebox which are good. My next step is to see if there is any add on items such as an aftermarket alarm that would be causing issues with the BCM.

The BCM is located under the left side of the dash buried up high. There is an aftermarket alarm involved that dropped on me as I dropped this panel. I disconnected the aftermarket alarm module and rechecked to see if the BCM came back online. No dice. We have to get right at the BCM.

There it is tucked up high. I wrestle it down and backprobed the powers and grounds right at the BCM they are fine. The next thing I do is to disconnect all the connectors at the BCM and walk away from the vehicle for 20 minutes. I return and reconnect the BCM. Let's recheck to see if now the BCM is reporting.
Well look at this. The BCM is back online. The car starts and runs now. This is what is called "logic lock" in the industry. The module was electrically locked and shutdown. Disconnecting it for 20 minutes and reconnecting unlocked it. I have seen this on Chrysler and Nissan vehicles as well as GM vehicles. There is much debate about what causes this and what is the proper repair. I believe logic lock is caused by voltage fluctuations, surges, spikes, or excessive ac voltage ripple. In this case I believe the weak battery caused the logic lock. I did check charging rate and for ac ripple as well. Now, the proper repair some believe would be to change the locked module for fear it will lock again. The theory there is that the module lock is a symptom of a bad module. I give the shop owner the options. He decides to let it go as is and to inform the customer of the possibilities. This vehicle has been out now for a month and doing just fine.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Motorbike Digitally Painted Ink Sketches

Here are the last of 2011s motorbike sketches that have received the digital treatment.

Rudge TT Rep style 250cc

1911 Humber 3.5hp 500cc
1923 BSA Model E 770cc V Twin

There are a few car sketches left to receive this treatment and then I'll need to find some more subjects to skribble.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2001 Nissan Sentra

This 2001 Nissan Sentra 1.8 liter with 216,173 miles on it rolled into this shop with the MIL on and running rough. The car's owner "diagnosed" it as a bad fuel injector because he had trouble with injectors before. The shop owner called me in to confirm or disprove the customers "driveway diagnosis". I start the car up and indeed it runs rough and has a MIL on. Lets check the code for starters and then roll up the sleeves.
Ok, we got something to go on. I have a P0303 code for cylinder #3 misfire. I am thankful for this because Nissan on the whole usually sets a P0300 code for multiple misfires rather than specific cylinders. Either way we need to confirm if the PCM is telling the truth about which cylinder is misfiring and then find out why it is misfiring. Whenever possible I like to backup what the PCM is telling me. So......
My scanner allows me to do a power balance test. When I select a cylinder I can disable that cylinder and check for contribution. I am looking for rpm drop when the cylinder is killed and I am looking to feel the engine running change as the cylinder is disabled. Here I disable #3 cylinder and the rpm doesn't drop and I do not feel any change in how the vehicle is running. I always try a known good cylinder to compare and check whether my scanner is doing as advertised.
Here I do the same procedure with #1 cylinder. I get a substantial rpm drop and the vehicle runs much differently with #1 cylinder disabled. So, now we know we have a true blue problem with #3 cylinder. What's next?

This Sentra is a California emissions vehicle. It uses two upstream oxygen sensors to monitor fuel control. Oxygen sensor 1 is bank 1 that monitors cylinders #1 and #4. Oxygen sensor 2 is bank 2 that monitors cylinders #2 and #3. Important to know when we look at fuel trims. Just a FYI there was a CA (Clean Air) version that had one Air Fuel ratio sensor upstream instead of two oxygen sensors. Know which emission standard you have when doing testing.
Here are the fuel trims for this vehicle at an idle. Nissan uses what is called Alpha for fuel trim. Basically 0 Alpha is perfect fuel control. Nissan actually displays true 0 Alpha as 100. The Ottotest interprets it a bit differently. But, it serves the purpose. Whenever I have a misfire I always look at fuel trims. They can give you clues to where to go next and zero in on your problem. Remember, my job is to diagnose quickly and accurately. I see nothing here that would tell me that this vehicle suffers from a fuel injector issue. If the fuel injector was plugged or inoperative I would expect to see exaggerated numbers in the positive range as the PCM tries to compensate for the lack of fuel. The exact opposite would happen if the injector was leaking. At this point I am not looking at a fuel related misfire.
Those of you that know how I operate should not be suprised by the next step. Out comes the scope and low amp probe. I need to look at the ignition system. This year utilized 4 COP (Coil on plug) units. First our problem cylinder.

Yeesh! Here we have a textbook example of a shorted coil. The turn on portion of the pattern goes straight up. No turn on oscillations at the beginning of the pattern (more on primary current and turn on oscillations later this month). Let's check a known good cylinder.

Notice the difference. A nice sloping turn on with turn on oscillations at the very beginning of the turn on pattern. This vehicle has a bad COP unit on #3 cylinder. Let's check that #3 injector to satisfy the customer and shop owner.
Looks good to me. Nice pattern with about 4.0ms of on time. A nice injector turn off spike and we know it is not clogged due to the "pintle hump". Let me point out the pintle hump.
This is the pintle hump. This is the actual mechanical closing of the injector viewed through the scope. No pintle hump and typically the injector is clogged or damaged mechanically. Some pintle hump injector patterns will not be so defined. It is something I look at when looking at injector scope patterns. I inform the shop owner to get a quality COP unit and spark plug for #3 cylinder. I also advise to check the rest of the plugs as well.
 Just to go the low tech route as well I put my open gap style spark tester on #3 COP unit start the vehicle and we have no spark.

More pictures of "chia pet" modules

Remember last time when I told you about another van that had an EPA issue. Well here it is after the shop helper cleaned it with some bleach. Remember, this is after!
Here is the vinyl mat lifted up. The helper did an excellent job of cleaning. This vehicle is going to need at the very least a new SDM, setup, and repair of the rotted harness.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Digitally Painted Ink Sketches Part 2

Here's the next round of digitally painted ink sketches.
Mostly bikes this time with a Model T thrown in for good measure.

Trojan Gearless Cycle Outboard
1904 500cc Peugeot
1923 Harley Davidson JD
1908 FN 4 Cylinder 500cc
1919 Blackburne
1924 Ford Model T

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Best of this Years Event Sketches

A lot of people ask me at shows what I do with my sketches. Mostly the sketches are done to further my knowledge of various cars and bikes by being able to sketch from real life. I learn a lot more by sketching from an actual car or bike than a photograph. Until now these sketches have just stayed in the sketchbook. After a review of this years sketchbooks I decided to chose the sketches that I think work well and take them a bit further. To save ruining the original sketch I scanned the sketchbook pages and then painted over them in Photoshop . To give an example here is a before and after of the process.

Here are the rest of the paints from today.

I'm definitely going to be doing more of these and possibly produce some prints from the best ones, so if you are taken by one in particular let me know.