This is a report on the latest Mexican car owner to ask me to read his codes. I previously mentioned the garbage pickup. They got a new driver. I was asking him if they had fixed the garbage pickup. No.
Anyway he mentioned his personal vehicle had codes but no one had a scanner. I told him to bring it by. After some time he did. It is an American 1998 Chevrolet Cheyenne V-8 1500 with 274,000 miles on it. I do not know which V-8. He stays close to home, because he has not had the mandatory smog verification done for a long time. He did when he first imported the truck, but you can’t do smog if you have engine codes. And, he couldn’t get a mechanic who knew anything.
It just happened I bought a Haynes in Spanish for GMC and Chevrolet pickups through 1998.
Most of the monitors were not ready.
When I scanned it, I got a P0131 and a P0452. The first says low voltage out of Bank 1 Sensor 1. I had to look up Bank 1, and found it is driver’s side. Sensor 1, the manual said is on the downtube, before the cat, and is visible in the engine compartment. My guess is the bad sensor code precluded running many other tests.
I explained diagnostics to him. When you get a failure, you have to list the things that could cause that failure. Then eliminate them one at a time. And, in the sensor issue it would seem with the high mileage he needs to try the sensor first, since there was no visible problem. He agreed.
On the P0452, it had something to do with evap. So, I told him, let’s look at the gas cap. Which is broken all to crud. I told him first get a new gas cap then we will see what comes up. I am sure there will be more.
Then we had a discussion on mechanics here. I told him someone had explained to me there were no mechanic schools here. Some get jobs for a car manufacturer which has its own schools. The rest, well, he used the Spanish word for ‘guess’. What can I say, when everyone believes you have to use 20W-50 oil in your cars?
I told him the story. A few years ago a doctor friend had an old gray Chevrolet, and he kept complaining it was heating badly. The mechanic kept replacing the engine computer. One night he was really frustrated, so I finally realized he needed my help. I asked him if he had ever replaced or rebuilt the radiator. He said, no, he had not.
I told him your radiator is clogged with well over 100,000 miles and no radiator service. He said, with some hesitation “Are you sure?”
I told him, yes, I was sure. And, I was. I didn’t even look at the car. Some things are just obvious.
He stopped by a radiator shop in his travels. The service guy found the radiator plugged with lime. He ran a rod through and the heating problem was gone.
The doctor told me later, “You are a genius.”
I smirked and told him, “Yes, I am a genius but not for that. Any more than you are a genius for knowing a patient is pregnant.” He laughed.
He sold the car soon after and bought a red VW of some sort.
Anyway that is how untrained mechanics here are.
After I finished explaining what I could, the young man asked how much he owed me. I love these people. And, I do not need their money. I am not rich except by comparison to these people. If I asked him to pay me something, with his low pay, and his wife and a kid with him, a bolt of lightning should come down and fry me in my tracks.
Next time he comes by for garbage, I will tell him if the code doesn’t go out, to come by and i will erase the codes. I simply don’t know, from lack of experience, if they will go out when the failures are fixed.
I definitely feel inadequate to be helping people like this. But, the choice, well, there is no choice at all.