The Best Part About Electric Vehicles

The Best Part About Electric Vehicles

I have figured out, hands down, the best part about electric vehicles.

I don’t get involved in opinionated discussions about electric vehicles (EVs). Do I have an opinion? Sure, but I’m more interested in the facts, and I get them from both sides. Whether you support or oppose them, it’s a deep subject that can be viewed in different ways. I understand both viewpoints, so I’m just neutral on the conversation. Maybe that’s my opinion. Neutral.

I do think there’s a lot more than meets the eye whichever side you’re on, and I think the future is the only way we’re going to know the ultimate success of EVs, which will be long after my tank of gas runs out and I coast through those pearly gates (I hope)!

But, regardless of which way you feel about these new electron-burners, I have figured out, hands down, the best part about them. It is the charging system, and to be exact, when the charging system isn’t working!

Think about all the other problems with cars. Fuel leaks, oil leaks, coolant leaks. They all get ignored until they make a huge mess and make it more difficult for us to fix. Or the car catches on fire or smokes and stinks as it goes down the road. Then, there’s the rattle noise that gets fixed by turning up the radio, until it turns into a grinding noise and eventually a car that gets towed in, and I can’t believe how much we’re charging to fix it! You know the stories!

So, here’s the EV connection. If you can’t charge the battery, you go nowhere! This is a huge benefit to auto technicians. Vehicle owners can’t ignore the problem. “It’s just a small leak, it’s not that bad yet, I’ll fix it at the next oil change, I’m only keeping this car for another month.” All the excuses will be gone. No charge…no go.

And DIYers won’t be diving much into this. It’s too dangerous. Now, we’ll get problems in our shop as they happen, long before they get passed around to every “expert” in someone’s phonebook.

What happens now when a car has a problem? It gets Googled, then YouTubed. Somebody buys some parts and throws them on. It doesn’t fix the problem. Then, they go to an auto parts store and buy what the scan tool tells them. Or, maybe they craft some ingenious remedy of their own. When none of this works, the vehicle owner doesn’t have enough money left for a professional diagnosis, and for some reason they think we should take pity on them.

This will all be a thing of the past. The more things that are electrical, the more we’ll see in our shops from the get-go. This EV thing is looking better all the time. I’m sure there’ll be weird stuff with EVs, and who’s to say the scope of diagnosis won’t take us off-site with a potential cause of the problem (the charger) being located at someone’s house. Who knows what kind of bizarre sleuthing we’ll have to do to get to the root of weird problems, like a neighbor who secretly “borrows” a power cord over night for their own EV. I can see it now. TS

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Don’t Forget the Basics

Every now and then, I get tunnel vision during diagnostics, and forget to think about the big picture.

2000 Jeep Cherokee

We’ve all made the mistake, at least I know I have. Every now and then, I get tunnel vision during diagnostics, and forget to think about the big picture. And this last episode even violated my cardinal rule: don’t leave a malfunction indicator light (MIL) unresolved.I always recommend fixing every problem that causes the MIL to illuminate. I hear the excuses all the time about why people would rather live with the light, but I always tell them, even if the immediate cause of the light doesn’t affect the dependability of the vehicle, if something else happens that does, you’ll have no idea of knowing. That’s the beauty of computer controls. You always know when something is going on.Just a couple weeks ago, a friend called me because they were having trouble with the transmission in their 2000 Jeep Cherokee. It was shifting erratically, and it occurred after driving on a very hot day. The fluid was dark in color, and when it last had been changed was unknown.This particular vehicle was located in Arizona, so phone-only troubleshooting was the only option. I decided to focus on the condition of the fluid and the hot climate. We’ve all faced neglected and burnt transmission fluid and had to make the decision of change or not to change. Some say change it, but some say that may cause the transmission to completely fail, so leave it alone.I decided to roll the dice, and, in this situation, I decided the fluid should be changed. Then, knowing the climate, I decided to dig in and focus on the other factors that could affect the fluid. After asking questions, I learned that the cooler in the radiator had been bypassed and the only cooler was a small aftermarket unit. I also discussed the fact that if the fan clutch was not operating properly, it could cause a problem with cooling as well.Taking my advice, the Jeep’s owner changed the fluid and filter, installed a new radiator, reconnected the transmission lines to it, installed a new aftermarket cooler in line and installed a newfan clutch.After performing all the work, the transmission continued with its erratic shifting. No better, no worse. The next day, unexpectedly, the engine stalled when coming to a stop. This had never happened before. The Jeep’s owner decided to check for trouble codes and found a code for the throttle position sensor (TPS).He didn’t think about looking for codes before because the MIL was already illuminated for another problem. He was “living with the light.” After replacing the TPS, not only did the engine run better than it had in a while, but the transmission shifted perfectly and has ever since.Of course, it all makes perfect sense. I wasn’t there to see the MIL, I didn’t think to ask if it was illuminated, and on or not, I didn’t even think to check for codes. My tunnel vision in this case only made me think about the transmission fluid, not the information the transmission needs to know in order to shift properly. Luckily, the outcome was good and the owner is happy knowing the transmission is serviced and the fluid is being properly cooled. TS

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