Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Slave to a Computer

It all started several months ago, I took my VAN to my favorite Auto Shop for an Oil-Change and Tune-Up if and as necessary. All was OK, only an Oil-Change was necessary.

A few days after the Oil-Change, the dash board Engine Service Light came on. Worried that something major was wrong, I called the Auto Shop for another diagnostic appointment. They could squeeze me in on the following Monday.

Unfortunately, I forgot the appointment. I called the Mechanic, and told him that I just remembered that I had purchased an On Board Diagnostic (OBD) with Blue-tooth for my HTC Droid Cell Phone and that I could tell him the Fault code. He said the Fault Code was a simple Failed Catalytic Oxygen Sensor, which did not effect the VAN's operation. I could probable continue driving without a problem, but it would mask additional Faults from being noticed on the Dash. But, that is OK, I have the OBD output on the Cell Phone that I review often. We decided that the repair could be done at the next Oil-Change.

At the time/mileage of the next Oil-Change, I was far from the Auto Shop, and therefore I took the VAN to the local Oil-Can-Harry's for the change. No problem, they do a good job. But, of course the Service Light was still on.

I later received e-mail notification that my Tabs were expiring, No problem, as always, I just send a check to the DMV and they return the Tabs.

Not this time. The check was returned because an Emissions Test was required.

What?? I never had an Emissions Test requirement before.

OK, I called my Auto Mechanic, to see if there is anything regarding Emissions that I should take care of before Testing? He said NO, the best way is to have the VAN tested, the test is only $15.00, and if it fails we could repair only as necessary. He suggested the near Testing Facilities was close to home.

The next day, I went to the Emission Test Facilities (about 15 miles away). They went crazy - I had something plugged into the OBD port on the VAN! They were concerned that I was trying to subvert the testing system. They calmed down when I explained that it was a Cell Phone OBD monitoring device. I should have removed it before approaching the testing station.

The VAN Failed the Emissions Test (remember the Fault and Service Light). The Emissions Test System could not continue until the Fault and Problem was fixed. With a Failure, they allow for one free test after repairs.

OK, I called my Auto Mechanic, to get an appointment for repairs, an early appointment was available next Monday (his shop is about 25 miles away, the other direciton).

Within a hour, the Mechanic had decode the Fault Code, and determined one of three Oxygen Sensor needed to be replaced. The Mechanic had stocks for two of the three, but not for the failed sensor. An order was placed, I would have to return the VAN the next day for the repairs to be made. It should only take about an hour.

Surprisingly, repairs only took an hour, . . . plus $288.00 :-(

OK, I was off to the Emissions Testing Station (about 15 miles away) for the re-test. I removed the OBD Interface before arrival.

The VAN Failed again! This time it failed because the On Board Diagnostic Computer Fail Codes had been reset (normally done after a repair), and the "Drive Cycle Reset" had not completed. What?

OK, I called the Auto Mchanic, What is a "Drive Cycle Reset"?

Oh, he forgot to tell me about that. When the OBD computer has rebooted, the VAN must be driven a few days for sensors to re-acclimate. Or, I can drive a Standard Factory Prescribed "Drive Cycle". The Mechanic suggested that my OBD Cell Phone Monitor may provide status of the "Drive Cycle".

Yes, two of the eight Drive Cycle requirements had not completed, The Catalytic and Evaporative System sensor status were reported as not complete.

The Mechanic suggest that I just drive as normal for a few days. On Monday we could review results and initiate a plan.

The next day, after a few minutes of driving, the Catalytic Converter Status completed. Only the Evaporative System was now in question. Did it also need repair?

OK, on Monday I call the Mechanic, this time to get the official "Factory - Drive Cycle Reset" recommendation for the OBD Computer reset. The Mechanic reported the following procedure as per the factory:

  1. Fuel Tank must be between 15% and 85% full (Dang, I just filled up, I will have to siphon 5 gallons out :-(
  2. Start Cycle with Engine Cold (I will have to wait until the next morning)
  3. Drive at 55mph until engine is hot, then drive for additional 6 minutes at the same speed
  4. Coast without breaking for 25 seconds
  5. Accelerate back to 45mph
  6. Repeat above Coast and Accelerate cycle 4 times
  7. Drive at 50mph for 2 minutes
  8. Coast to a Stop, without Braking
  9. Once Stopped, Hold the Brake while still in Drive, wait for 2 minutes

That "should" reset the OBD Computer sensor statuses.

OK, today I got up early to do a "Drive Cycle Reset", I had several errands to run anyway. Finding a place to play with acceleration and coasting was a little difficult. But I got it done, twice.

But, NOPE, the Evaporative System was still not complete.

The Mechanic suggested I return for Emissions Testing, maybe it will pass without that status. Again, I made sure that the OBD Interface was disconnected before arrival at the Testing Station,


Later I checked the OBD Evaporative System had not completed. Apparently the Testing Station allows for that.

Now to get my TABS, I used my phone to find the nearest DOT Licensing Facility (2 miles). Dang, the  phone was wrong, the DOT Facility closed up shop. The next nearest was about 20 miles away.

Now, with another $58.00 and I now have my VAN TABS !

The reason that the VAN now requires an Emission Test, is because I recently moved into more populated ZIP code. Emission Testing is required each two years :-(

I now know a lot more about OBD Computers, much more than I desire.

This TAB renew effort has taken about three weeks.

I guess, . . . we are all slaves to one computer or another, and I will bet the OBD is just a small simple 4 bit processor!

Several days later, I noticed the OBD Evaporative System has finally completed.


No comments:

Post a Comment