MECHANICALLY SPEAKING: More MacGyvering for the 21st Century

"The modern day tool kit requires smaller strong tools, a multimeter and a scan tool.

Two weeks ago I alluded to the fact that modern day automobiles can be MacGyvered the same as your thirty or forty year old automobiles. I suggested some additional tools are required. Well …. I lied. Just kidding.

The modern day tool kit requires smaller strong tools (we all know there is not a lot of space under the hood for working), a multimeter and a scan tool. Modern day repairs place considerably more emphasis on Ohm’s Law i.e. there is a lot of electricity/electronics involved.  They also require a little computerized intervention from that aforementioned scan tool.

Many people curse that little orange engine light I have written about many times, only because it seems like it is always on for something (another article for that subject). In reality that little orange light is your friend. You never had a little light to guide you through dark when you were working on your seventies’ muscle car.

Take a choke problem. Yes, you may remember the days of the carburetor and the manual choke which then begat the automatic choke which begat the electrically assisted automatic choke. Yes, those were better days…..not.

The choke was there to essentially mechanically reduce airflow and increase fuel flow when starting and running a cold engine. Cold engines need more fuel mixed with air to start and run.  As the engine warms up the fuel to air ratio must be reduced. With a manual choke the driver was in charge of balancing the air fuel mixture. The automatic choke took away that level of control. You old timers might equate it to my lamenting the replacement of manual transmissions with automatics.

So your seventies behemoth won’t start when it gets below zero. What did you do? Is the choke working? Open the hood, remove the air cleaner. Look at the flap on the top up the carburetor.  Is it closed? Does the choke open partially while the engine is cranking over? Is the engine over choked or under choked? Pry it open with a stick (seventies MacGyver). Try starting it. Will it start now? You may know the drill.

Step into the twenty first century. Out to start your fuel sipping compact car in the cold. It cranks over fine but won’t start. What to do? Connect up your scan tool. Read the codes. No codes. Check the sensor inputs to the engine computer. The modern day choke is much simpler. It is an electrical sensor that reads engine temperature directly from the coolant. Let’s see, the outside temperature is zero. My scan tool reports that the engine thinks it is minus thirty degrees (too much choke). Modern day MacGyver thinks. This vehicle has both an outside air temperature sensor and an engine coolant temperature sensor. The outside air temperature sensor reads zero as it should. Lift the hood. Find the coolant temperature sensor and disconnect it. The engine computer recognizes the missing information, turns on the check engine light and seeks the input of the second best choke information from the outside air temperature sensor. The engine starts on the first try.

Modern day MacGyver thinking gets you out of a jam. A choke is a choke be it the seventies version or the two thousands version.

In our pursuit of the non polluting automobile the engine performance control system has become fairly complex. With complexity has come redundancy. There are many backup strategies that keep an engine running. Sometimes the modern day MacGyver can force a backup strategy to get you home to your favorite mechanic.

E-mail: nutechauto@telus.net

Just Posted

High hazard in downtown Trail

Roofing work began early Monday morning at the Trail Memorial Centre

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

Second hospital road part of plan, says Trail mayor

Martin was in Whistler last week for the UBCM; city delegation met with health ministry

Participation by women in West Kootenay/Boundary elections up slightly

More running than in 2014, but about same number as 2011

Syringa Creek fire ‘being held’

The fire has burned 3193 hectares; Deer Creek fire is also “being held” at 3849 hectares

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

Most Read