Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sick, And Proud Of Myself

"The engineer is the key figure in the material progress of the world. It is his engineering that makes a reality of the potential value of science by translating scientific knowledge into tools, resources, energy and labor to bring them into the service of man ... To make contributions of this kind the engineer requires the imagination to visualize the needs of society and to appreciate what is possible as well as the technological and broad social age understanding to bring his vision to reality." ~ Sir Eric Ashby

About 31 or so years since the last time, I once again have the flu. I am so healthy normally that anytime I get the least bit sick, I feel like I'm dying. So it is with this bout. If I stop blogging, it could be that I'm dead. I'm kidding, but I really feel horrible.

Right now, the way I'm feeling, death would be a relief.

Anyway, besides that, I am feeling rather proud of myself. I am not a mechanic, nor could I ever be mistaken for one. But I am proud to say I actually made a successful diagnosis of my car problem the other day.

Do you see this?

That little black flat rectangular thing attached to that hose is what's called a Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF). It is situated on the hose that links the air filter with the air intake. The MAF is supposed to sense and monitor the amount of air flowing between the air filter and the manifold. It is electronic. If it fails, or simply reads the air flow wrong, it causes major problems with the car.

In my case, the car runs but it runs badly. It chokes and sputters and stalls when the car is stopped. As long as I'm moving, the car runs fine. But whenever I stop the car at a red light or a stop sign, it has a tendency to stall. Although, if I put it in neutral while stopped it idles a little higher and lessens the chance for stalling. If it stalls anyway, it starts right up again.

I thought, because I really don't know much about cars, that it was a bad fuel filter, particularly after I took the car to AutoZone, and had them run a computer diagnosis on it. They will do that for free. That must be a little known secret because auto shops in the area here charge up to $100.00 for a computer diagnosis.

The computer said the the EGR valve (one of many Emissions control devices which bleeding heart liberal sob sisters pressured the automakers to start installing under the pretence of saving the Earth) was bad and the fuel/air mix was lean. That would mean the fuel injectors weren't getting enough fuel, or more air than fuel. That would logically explain the way it was acting.

So, I bought a fuel filter, which should have been easy to replace, but due to my clogging arteries, every time I attempted to get under the car to change it, I would get dizzy and light headed. So, I took it to my local mechanic and asked him if he could install it for me. He said he would do it for $59.00 but "It's not the fuel filter". Then he said he would run tests on the car for $80.00, but I turned him down.

Not only could I not afford eighty dollars just to find out what was wrong, but if he fixed the problem I knew it would cost much more. They are great guys there and are excellent mechanics but the last time I had him do a tune-up, it cost me over $600.00.

So, I returned the fuel filter and spent about $30.00 on a EGR sensor (Valve?) and installed it. It took two days due to the fact that it was difficult to get at, and because I was trying to turn the nut in the wrong direction. (it only took me two days and a broken socket wrench to figure that out) A mechanically-minded friend managed to get it off for me. From there, it was relatively simple to install the new one. Then I started and ran the car to see if that did the trick.

It didn't.

So, I took the car back to AutoZone and ran the computer test again. This time it indicated there was another problem with the air fuel mix, and said "Suspect bad MAF". I asked how much a new MAF sensor was, and was told it costs $121.00.

So, MAF-less, I went back home and started poking around that part of the engine with a screw driver. I took off both ends of the hose that the MAF is on and ran the engine with the hose (and MAF) disconnected. It ran perfect without the MAF sensor! That told me the MAF was definitely the problem.

After researching the internet to find out more about the MAF, (I was actually trying to find someplace that would tell me it's ok to drive without the MAF connected, which I didn't learn) I found I could clean the MAF, and that might actually solve the problem. That would save me a bundle!

Cost for a can of MAF cleaner? $6.49.

Ok, now we're cooking!

But then, it occurred to me that maybe I didn't previously run the car without the MAF long enough, as I had started it at the time, cold, and the car really doesn't start acting up until it has warmed up. So, after driving to AutoZone, the tool store, and Sears in a vain search for a screwdriver bit, I returned home and let the car run while I removed the air intake hose with MAF attached. While I was loosening the screws that hold the hose on, the car died. I finished taking the hose off and then re-started the car. It ran perfect again, and this time, I let it run for about 20 minutes to see if it would die.

It didn't. Then, I was absolutely sure the MAF is the problem.

One small problem however: The MAF is held on by two tiny screws with a star shaped hole in the heads, unlike any screw I had ever seen before. The can of MAF cleaner directions said the removal of them would take a "T20 Torx* security bit". That is a screwdriver bit, made specifically for removal of MAF screws in Fords.

Naturally AutoZone doesn't stock T20 Torx security bits, but they referred me to a tool store down the block, and said they would have one.

They did, but it was one bit in a huge tool kit with about a hundred various types and sizes of screwdriver bits. Cost: $10.00. But I have absolutely no use for all those other bits. I didn't want to spend $10.00 for a fifty-nine cent part, besides, I have only $10.00 until a week from Friday.

I need a bare minimum $16.49 plus tax.

So, the actual repair will have wait a while.

I said all that to say this: I correctly diagnosed the problem using logic and common sense. I am very proud of myself. And I'm not even a mechanic!

But I am sick.


Henry said...

Good job! The equivilant doohicky on my wifes car went out a few weeks ago; the previous year's model allowed for cleaning, but, of course, the newer one could only be replaced. $220 part, plus $105 labor... OUCH!!

Feel better soon!

Lone Ranger said...

Two things:

First, in just a few months, you'll be able to blame all your problems on Obama.

Second, righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.

Poison Pero said...

As a friend I hate to say this, but as someone who works in the medical field I must: DID YOU GET YOUR FLU SHOT?

By the way, the Ranger is right, I can't wait to blame everything on BO....Hey, if Lefties can blamme hurricanes on W then we can blame getting sick on the Triumvirate From Hell.

Speaking of which, what are the odds Harry gets bumped from this group?

Arthurstone said...

(one of many Emissions control devices which bleeding heart liberal sob sisters pressured the automakers to start installing under the pretence of saving the Earth)

For which you and yours should be grateful.

Sorry about your flu. It's no fun. I had it last about 15 years ago and haven't missed my flu shot since. And while that inoculation may be yet another commie plot I'm glad I have it done. Haven't been sick since.

Mark said...

ArthurStone writes: "For which you and yours should be grateful."

Why would I be grateful for a technology that doesn't even work? Geeez, I just wrote that the engine ran perfect after I disconneced the MAF from the engine, proving it isn't needed. The only thing these emission control devices are good for is to make sure many more things will go wrong and be more difficult and costly to repair.

Your own copy and paste jobs demonstrate they don't work. If they worked, wouldn't California and Utah's air be better? I mean, we've had emission control devices in our vehicles for decades now.

Pero, I don't get flu shots. As I mentioned, I haven't had the flu since about 1977, and I only had it at night for three days. Incidentally, This time around it came on suddenly yesterday, and today I already feel better. Since writing this post.

Joe said...

Mark: Well get well and fix that little puppy!

tugboatcapn said...

Lately I have been picking up extra change I can believe in by working on cars for the neighbors and friends in the evenings and on weekends...

Would you like me to come and fix it for you?

Mark said...

Yes please, Tug, but I can't pay you. This economic crisis is killing my business. I am making about 1/5th of what I was making before the collapse of Freddi and Fannie.

Mark said...

Tug, if you are a mechanic, maybe you can answer this question:

Can I disconnect the air intake hose with MAF attached and still drive my car without damaging it permanently? I am thinking if I take the hose off and cover the intake with some cheesecloth or something, It might be a good enough air filter.

tugboatcapn said...

I wouldn't reccomend running it for very long without the MAF connected, but if you do decide to, at least just unplug the sensor, and leave the tube and air filter connected.

Have you tried looking in a salvage yard for another sensor?

You might get lucky and get one for $10...

I wish that I lived close enough to help you with it.

Trader Rick said...

Screw the sensor--you don't need it.
And you can get a little Torx set of bits anywhere for under five bucks--they are not just made for Fords (which is your basic problem, by the way.)

Mark said...

Tug, I went online and requested one from a used auto parts database. The cheapest offered to me so far is $25.00 shipped.

Rick, The cheapest Torx security bit set I have found so far was $9.99.

Nobody can find bargains better than this old Scotsman.

By the way, my flu is gone. It lasted one and half days. I have always had remarkable recuperative powers.

Mark said...

LR, I know righty tighty etc...But the nut I was having trouble with was a sort of flange nut, kind of like a plumbing connection, and I couldn't figure out which way to turn it, especially when it was so hard to even see, much less get at.

Anonymous said...

>Why would I be grateful for a technology that doesn't even work? Geeez, I just wrote that the engine ran perfect after I disconneced the MAF from the engine, proving it isn't needed.

Making the car run isn't the purpose of emission controls. It just makes them run cleaner. Which is a bad thing why?

>Your own copy and paste jobs demonstrate they don't work. If they worked, wouldn't California and Utah's air be better? I mean, we've had emission control devices in our vehicles for decades now.

With logic like that it's easy to see why you don't believe in science. First you assume that UT and CA's air would be the same even if cars were polluting as much as they did 50 years ago. (A moment's consideration of the fact that trying to commit suicide by running your car in the garage with the doors and windows closed won't work with a modern car should have tipped you off to how ridiculous this statement is.) Second, your argument implies that there are no other sources of pollution than cars. (Equally ridiculous).

You started out by saying that you didn't know anything about cars, then proceeded to hold forth about why emission controls don't work with poorly reasoned or outright silly arguments. Reasonable people have come to know this as the modus operandi of the right wing.

Cameron said...

Not to lessen the importance of good air quality, but I thought the following excerpt from the Salt Lake Tribune (I live there) article was classic:

"air pollution is one factor among many that exacerbate heart-failure symptoms. Eating pickles, french fries and other salty foods - which makes the body retain fluid and the heart work harder - is worse."

Sounds like we need a MAF for pickles.

Mark said...

Hey, Too-cowardly-to-publish-a-name,

I didn't say emission controls don't work. I said they are unnecessary.

You really think shutting yourself up in an air tight garage with the engine running won't kill you? Well, I don't know. Why don't you put it to a test? If you live you win, if you don't, I, and the rest of the blogosphere wins.

Mark said...

"Making the car run isn't the purpose of emission controls. It just makes them run cleaner. Which is a bad thing why?"

Well, to answer your question, though I don't need to, It is a bad thing because when they fail, which they often do, it creates bigger and more expensive problems. And they are a needless expense! Few people have died or even been mortally endangered by air pollution, except in their own minds. It is another of the looney left's fantasy causes, which they exploit to make more and more money off the gullible middle class such as you. You bleeding heart liberal sob sister environMENTALists are always feigning concern for the welfare of the middle class, why doesn't it ever occur to you idiots that making cars much more expensive to maintain hurts the middle class the most? The only people who can afford to maintain high maintenance vehicles are the so-called rich.

Gayle said...

I'm proud of you too, Mark. I never could have done that.

Sorry to hear you have the flu, and I hope you get much better really soon. Last time I had the flu I thought I would die from it too. It's horrid!

Gayle said...

Oh, perhaps I should read the comment thread before commenting. Sorry. But I'm glad you're feeling better, although I don't see how anyone can recover from the flu so fast. Are you sure it was the flu?

Gayle said...

Okay, you can scratch that comment regarding your feeling better. I just read the comment you left on your last post. How in the world anyone can get over the flu in one and a half days is beyond my comprehension, but I'm glad you're doing better! :)

Mark said...


I came down with a stomach Flu on Wed afternoon, and by Friday morning it was completely gone. I've alwasy had amazing recuperative powers.

Also, I took Tug's advice, and disconnected the wires from the MAF, tested it to see if it would work, and then, satisfied that it did, drove the car to Richmond and back today( a distance of about 150 miles round trip)with absolutely no problem. The car ran perfect.