Ask a Mechanic Where I Came From — Volkswagen Country Buggy

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Volkswagen Country Buggy

A Whole New Way of Thinking again and

by Richard McCuistian

I’ve for more than a quarter of a pulling wrenches and chasing Early on I became well with the world of oil, gasoline, and high-speed steel; I went as a very small boy to the day at my dad’s shop, I didn’t any toys. I played with ball bearings, creepers, and a iron. As I stood on a wooden at the age of five in my dad’s shop solder and watching it drop in blobs onto that wood and looking out the open over a peanut field, I was a way of thinking that was new to my pristine mind and would set the course of my It was the early ‘60s.

It was around when I built a dune out of junk VW parts and an engine my dad put and drove it up and down miles of tree-lined red clay dirt with no driver’s license. early experiences and the time I with my dad at his shop planted memories deep inside me. I remember (and love) the and sounds of a busy garage, and I forget just how much I those sounds and smells I step into one. I enjoy the crisp, familiar of a ratchet in the hands of a craftsman, the hammering of impact wrenches, the and the smell of hand cleaner and new tires and kerosene, and the roar of engines These and dozens are peaceful sounds and smells to a guy my roots.

Electronic ignition was when I started out, and seasoned mechanic I knew it. It required a whole new way of thinking ignition systems. In time, ignition lost its shroud of and I reached the point where I had at least as many modules and pieces as I had points and condensers. Chrysler decided to hang crazy Lean-Burn brain box on the of the air cleaner and built the ignition into it, thoroughly confusing with yet another new way of thinking. And it over yet. Not by a long

By late 1981, with a half-dozen years as a professional under my belt, I had attended my real school. It was a two-day Motors training session on Command Control in Houston, where I learned the basics of new Electronic Engine Controls a female instructor who was one of the sharpest that I had ever encountered. Ms. taught us all about closed fuel control, and feedback and gave us some interesting on troubleshooting GM’s HEI that a lot of still don’t know

Ford had forged ahead of GM in one car line by equipping Lincolns throttle body fuel but I wasn’t to discover that until another three had passed.

By 1984, I was working for a dealer and had attended factory in Jacksonville Florida on electrical and fuel control systems on makes. Some of the things I the hard way in the field but had never understood began to fall place. I found that the in my understanding were suddenly filled with pieces I had missing for so many years. As I the new information, I adopted a whole new of the industry and with it another new way of thinking.

Electronic Fuel had become the order of the day on most by the mid-eighties, with the dull of electric fuel pumps from once-silent fuel and the first two things I found reaching for quite often new additions to my toolbox, namely a pressure fuel gauge and a tool.” In a world of constantly rules and vanishing carburetors, I was into yet another whole new way of

My dad had been working on Bosch fuel injection since when VW released it on their 3 platform, but for me, EFI was a new dragon to be tamed. I was at a Lincoln Mercury dealer I discovered Ford’s early EEC with their crank strange rotor alignment and non-adjustable timing. The Variable carburetor was an interesting way to handle delivery, but I was more interested in the new it would require to master Electronic Engine Control I was beginning to get the big picture and I had the idea a guy who really understood fuel could fix most cars using those annoying trees and shop manual

Now I was up to my ears in Hall effect thermistors, and potentiometers, pulse modulated outputs, etc. but I was every minute of it. I had managed to up with the industry and for a while I I was abreast of every change, at in the Ford vehicle lines. But were other electronic that had nosed their way in.

I was new challenges in non-engine related systems like Programmmed Control, Variable Assist steering, and Electronic Air Suspension, could really give interesting problems. Somebody up the coined a new term, and these of systems were dubbed Dynamics” in some of the literature I was Electronically controlled transfer were a viable option in vehicles and represented a new way of thinking in arena, while we all were to keep up.

I found that vintage 4-wheel antilock systems worked fine problems developed in high vehicles, shocked customers down thousand-dollar estimates, and once-expensive models were the highways with their ABS obscured by duct tape or a of a girlfriend.

By the time 1986 and went, I had been schooled and in EEC systems specializing in vehicle and driveability at the volume Ford where I was to work for the next and a half. I tried in vain to use H manual to fix some of the tougher for a week or two after I came from EEC certification school, and I finally put the manual back on the and started measuring voltages and on every car that came in, I satisfying customers and fixing right. Ford service adopted my method of checking a couple of years later. I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated the old H manual, but I had developed my own methods a new way of thinking again.

Adaptive became a new item programmed Electronic Engine Controllers to with product variability in the and it was initially confusing when I a faulty part with a new one to have the vehicle run worse. again, a new way of thinking and a new set of rules had to be What complicated matters for technicians was that some (like Chrysler) didn’t mention adaptive learning in literature and we had to find out the hard way if you snatched the battery cable off for a an hour so the controller would it’s bad data entries and trying to use the old figures to compensate for a that was no longer there.

For several years I was the only guy my dealership had, and I settled a routine of working out 12 to 15 cars a I didn’t have time to tune-ups; I was too busy getting rid of smoke, bucking and jerking, EGR surges, MIL lights, etc. and I got good at it. God only knows how oxygen sensors I replaced.

My bought the Jeep franchise in and my service manager sent me to about six or seven times year for week-long schools on and Renault fuel injection and systems. As one decade rolled the next, I saw electronics beginning to root in transmissions and braking Speedometer cables were to disappear on many vehicle with drum-driven speedos first by digital, then analog units. I found than a few instrument clusters to contain complex computers receive gauge, tach, and information over a multiplex Replacement cost on some cluster units approaches the price of a nice laptop PC.

I was to read that Chrysler had their cruise control on vehicle lines with electronic transmission shift to prevent shift hunting the cruise was engaged in hilly They called it “fuzzy in the Master Tech training It made sense to do that, we got a lot of complaints from customers shift hunting with engaged, but it was another new way of thinking. computerized auto transmission were de-torquing the engine the of each shift to eliminate the gear change of bygone The interesting thing about new way of handling old characteristics is that if I read about it I never have discovered it on my own. the way more and more new strategies They silently take and change our world from the clusters of electronic boxes surround us.

Remote Keyless was a particularly interesting option became more common on vehicles than not, and I had to new procedures every couple of concerning the programming of keyless

Volkswagen Country Buggy

On the service engineering front, the big automakers spent fortunes on producing highly advanced diagnostic machines to interface vehicles that were electronics systems comparable to found on military fighter The most useful diagnostic that came as standard with these units was the to attack intermittents by installing a electronic box that would with the PCM, letting the make a data recording the intermittent concern reared its head. The recording was downloaded to the big back at the shop and the data be interpreted to see what was going on. recorders were to become my useful diagnostic tools for concerns, particularly on hard-to-find problems. But using the tool and the graphs it produced required guessed it) a whole new way of thinking. Merely understanding the vehicle good enough any more. I now had to to interpret data from machines that cost than my house.

Passive systems had appeared early on GM with resistor-coded keys and modules designed to foil thieves. Then more systems began to appear in the which called for another in thought patterns and the development of new techniques. For instance, Ford’s Anti Theft System checks for an authorized key (via a radio transceiver near the cylinder) and communicates over a bus with the PCM. If the electronic key isn’t recognized, the PCM doesn’t get the from the PATS module and the doesn’t start. I had to learn a lot of on this system, and every it came out on a new platform, the module be in a different place. This was annoying when using the tool to code new keys, I had to remember which module the PATS function, and it changed new model year. Some modules are stand-alone, some are into the instrument cluster, and were integrated with the Replacement PATS keys cost twenty dollars or so, and the anti theft system has to be to receive the new electronic key and told or not to dump the old ones. Other call their versions of system by different names and procedures vary.

By the late on-board computers were more and more routine functions once managed by modules. Speedometer calibration and functions have migrated to the mysterious confines of these boxes. With many new modules, data from the old has to be transferred to the new one after replacement, or won’t read properly and lights will remain Some vans have controlling the electrical systems end and other modules controlling the end electrical systems.

As the ‘90’s continued to whistle by, distributors disappeared in favor of packs and finally coil-on-plug and the ignition module was moved from the bulkheads, fender and radiator supports to be nestled in the state confines of the Engine on many vehicles while regs settled into that called for a standardization of data link connectors, and codes. Another whole new set of sensors, programs, and systems was put in to make sure the emission systems were doing jobs. Boy, talk a new way of thinking! Previously we had foreground in the controller that handled like fuel control and timing and background managers handled stuff like EGR and purge, but now we had a “big brother” manager that made everything else was performing to government standards!

The Processor, ECA, SBEC, etc. was “Powertrain Control Module” destined to be designated the “PCM”), and other terms were by federal mandate between With the new regs, we picked up a new sensor in the pipe behind the for the purpose of checking oxygen capacity. Another new idea by the ever-tightening federal standards was fuel tank pressure is to be checked, and re-checked by the PCM to make there are no leaks larger a pinhole in the evaporative system or tank. “Smoke machines” become the order of the day for finding leaks.

Misfires are carefully to the point of being a nuisance, the PCM can sometimes detect an extremely misfire and pop on the annoying MIL even there are no noticeable problems. there are other times a really nasty misfire can without setting a single code, but if a misfire is serious some PCM programs will the injector down, confusing techs into thinking the circuit is the cause of the problem it is actually an effect. Powertrain Module reprogramming fixes are by the manufacturers for many of the problems in the field nowadays. There was a when we used vacuum delay valves, and revised or ignition parts to make the changes.

The reliable old diesel pickup remained unchanged until diesels shattered the comfortable of the light diesel mechanic by still another deep and new way of thinking in truck engines.

As we into the new millennium, the bulky diagnostic machines in most service bays have honed down, reprogrammed, and for a new century. Many handheld now have more power and capacity than the early PC’s, and the PCM is required to take a of ten or twelve different items any parameter wobbles out of line far and long enough to trigger a code. It was a welcome new way of thinking made this information to independents as well as dealership


Still the levels of sophistication to increase. Some models sensors in the rear bumper to the driver when a collision is during reversing maneuvers. Positioning Systems are showing up on expensive models now, with the capability to manipulate and vehicle electronics with a downlink. Would it be too far fetched to that manufacturer satellite might one day be checking emissions and our PCM’s as we drive down the I don’t think so. All it takes is a new way of again. R.W.M.

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Volkswagen Country Buggy
Volkswagen Country Buggy
Volkswagen Country Buggy
Volkswagen Country Buggy
Volkswagen Country Buggy

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