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RepairPal Blog: Mechanic's Corner

Advice from experts concerning automotive parts, repairs, and services

We have filters to protect us and our expensive devices from harmful debris. Think for a moment about the furnace filter in your house. If you don’t change it or clean it every so often, it gets clogged and can’t do its job well.

There are many factors which combine to make a great automobile repair technician, but all truly great technicians will have the following four characteristics:

I recently performed some repairs on my 1994 GMC Sonoma pickup. Along with replacing the fuel injector due to a leak from the fuel pressure regulator, I also replaced the spark plugs, air filter, and fuel filter. Not long after these repairs were completed, I began to notice a slight engine misfire when pulling away from a stop.

Picture yourself driving down the road on a dark and stormy night. Suddenly you hear a strange knocking noise that fills you with dread. Could it be … gasp … your car? You ask yourself: What is it? Can I make it to my destination? How much will it cost to fix?

When you put batteries in your TV remote control, they eventually die and you toss them out and replace them. Your cell phone, however, has a rechargeable battery that you plug in to charge. Since most of us do not plug our cars in (yet) and we don’t toss out our car battery on a regular basis, how does the battery charge?

Last week I explained why our vehicles are equipped with a tire pressure monitor system (TPMS). This week, let’s look at how these systems work.

As we begin 2012, I am reminded how our cars have become more and more complicated with each passing year. This added complexity can make repairs very difficult for our service technicians. When I began working on cars in the 1970s, they were pretty basic. Each passing year has added a level of complexity and there seems to be no end in sight. This places a huge burden on entry level technicians and the schools that train them.

Do our cars have too many warning lights? A lot of us may think so, but for years, warning lights were the best way vehicle designers had to inform the driver of a potential fault.

When you get right down to it, the reason car repairs are so expensive is because everyone involved is trying to make a living. The parts supplier must manufacture the part. The parts distributor must inventory and supply the repair shops. The repair shop must charge a labor rate that will allow them to remain in business. The technicians must be paid a hourly wage that reflects their investment in training, certifications, and tools.

As a follow up to last week’s blog describing how a four stroke piston engine works, this week I would like to talk a bit about the different fuels used in cars today. Although an internal combustion engine can run on just about any liquid or gaseous fuel, the two most common are gasoline and diesel.