Thursday, August 16, 2012

Electrical Component Not Working In Your Vehicle, Check the Fuse

 If you have an electrical component in your vehicle that isn’t working, there’s a way that you can check it yourself before you pay a technician to do a diagnostic. There are many things in your vehicle that are electric, radio, lights, wipers and wiper motor, power windows, power door locks, even your fuel pump. I’m sure you can think of more, but this is just an example of what needs electrical power to work.

So that brings us to the device that protects these circuits and ultimately the component. These protectors are your fuses, for the most part. If you have an electrical component that isn’t working, the first thing you want to is find the fuse and check to see if it’s burned out.

Typically, there are 2 fuse boxes in your vehicle. One is located under the hood and the other is usually somewhere under the dash on the driver’s side. Look in your owner’s manual for the exact location. Next, you need to find out where the fuse is in the fuse box for your component.

Sometimes you get lucky and the inside of the fuse box cover tells you what each fuse is, otherwise you need your owner’s manual to find this information. Once you locate the fuse, you need to pull it out and check it. Most fuse boxes supply a fuse puller, attached somewhere in the box or the cover. This helps you to grab the fuse to remove it.

Once you remove the fuse, you want to look to see if it’s been blown. Blade fuses will have two flat metal blades connected in the middle by another piece of metal. If a fuse is bad, the piece between the two blades will be disconnected, or broken.

There are many reasons that this could happen. A power surge or a wiring problem are a couple examples. You’ll need to replace the fuse if it is blown. You want to make sure that you always replace it with the recommended amperage, this is the number on the top of the fuse. If you don’t have an extra fuse, you can buy them at any automotive store. Fuses are all the same, meaning that the color code doesn't change. 10’s are red, 15’s are blue, 20’s are yellow etc. You do want to know if you have a regular blade fuse or a mini blade fuse. It helps if you take the fuse with you so you only have to make one trip.
Once you replace the fuse, the component should work. If the fuse blows again, you will need to have a technician diagnose the problem. The great thing is if the fuse was all you needed, you just saved yourself the cost of paying a shop to diagnose the problem. Fuses today are only about 25¢ where a half hour of diagnostics might cost you $35. Don’t be afraid to get in there and look for yourself. Anything it shows you how to do in your owner’s manual is most likely something you can do on your own.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fogged Headlights....You Can Fix That!

With the average age of vehicles on the road being 10 years old, this means more maintenance for the owner. While there are big jobs that require a trained technician, there are still a few things you can do yourself.

If you have an older vehicle and you've noticed that your headlights have a fogged look to the plastic, don't fret....I have a fix for you. Getting your headlights polished can cost you anywhere from $40-$100 at a shop, but with a kit from 3M you can do it for around $20.

I decided to get this kit and do it myself. I had plenty of volunteers with vehicles that had headlight problems. The vehicle I worked on was a 2002 VW. My concern was that the car belonged to a new driver and safety is number one with me.

One of the first things you'll notice after you use this kit is how you can make them clear again and the next is how much brighter your lights will shine the next time you drive at night. You can purchase this kit at most automotive stores or online. The kit comes with everything you need but a drill. They even have a new kit out that you can do by hand. It's a little more time consuming, but works just as well.

The directions are easy to follow and provides pictures at each step so that you know you're doing it right. I used my cordless drill and it worked just fine. It took me about an hour to do both lights my first time. The nice thing about it is if you don't get it right, you can do any part of the process again.

Here's a picture of the vehicle after I did the headlight on the left. It's hard to see because of the sun, but if you look you'll notice that you can see the inside of the headlight on the one I cleaned and you can't see it on the other. I would say to give it a try. You can even go online and watch a video about it as well.

Once you've cleaned the lights it best to keep them waxed so that this doesn't happen again. If it does, you know that in an hour you can clean them up again!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

LSYE's Chicken Soup

When I was working at a dealership as a technician, for the most part, the other techs treated me like everyone else. They helped me and I helped them and there really wasn’t an issue about me being female in an all male environment.
The first conflict came about when a retired gentleman came in with a radio problem. Because the car’s mileage was below the first 3,000 mile service, it came to me. I checked the radio and found no problem with it. When the service advisor talked to the customer he asked to speak to the technician. I could tell by the look on his face that he was surprised when a woman came out to talk to him.

I explained how the radio worked and that it was working as it should. He told me that he was not satisfied with my answer and asked if he could speak to a male technician. I took him back out to the advisor and explained his request to speak with a male technician.

At that point, even though I was upset at being questioned, I went back to work and on with my day. About 20 minutes later I saw the owner of the vehicle motioning for me to come over to him. He seemed much more reserved and was having trouble looking me in the eye. I asked him what I could do for him and he told me that he had just come over to apologize to me. He said that not only did the male technician tell him the same thing that I did about his radio, but that the other technician asked him why he had questioned me, was it just because I was female?

The man felt a little sheepish and didn’t give an answer, but it was obvious, since he asked for a male technician, that he had questioned my ability to work on his vehicle. I told him that I was upset that he questioned me because I was a female, but that I appreciated the fact that he came over and admitted his mistake.

The interesting thing was that from that time on, whenever he came to the dealership for work, he would come over and see me and ask me about the technician working on his car. He always asked me to check on it and let me know what they found.

Even though we were from different generations, and had been raised with different ideals, we were able to find common ground. It’s important to admit when we’re wrong; it’s the only way we grow, as people and as a society.