Underhood - Service Repair

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Taking care of today's vehicles

One little oversight can result in big — and costly — mistakes.
Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 06:00
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Today’s cars can go longer and harder than those of even a decade ago. But that doesn’t mean we can treat them less kindly. In this article, I’ll talk a bit about everything from the routine oil change to the diagnostic problems that were caused by the lack of proper maintenance.

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Not So Routine
Recently, I got a rude awaking being back in the shop doing simple tasks such as oil changes and maintenance. Now, I am not complaining about the maintenance or diagnostic work. That’s no problem since I always keep my skills up to speed working on problem vehicles. The area I want to focus on is oil changes. Not that it’s so hard to change oil, but resetting the oil lights or messages are another story.

If you have been around a while then you know most of the domestic and Asian vehicles are not that hard. But if you work on European vehicles, you know what I am talking about. Let’s take a look at some of the helpful information sources that you can utilize.

The information systems ALLDATA, AutoData, Identifix, Mitchell and MotoLogic have very helpful information, but you need to follow the steps very carefully until you do a few of the tough resets and get them down. Let’s not forget that there is very helpful information on YouTube and Google when someone has gone through the process of documenting the procedure, or better yet videotaping the process. The other solution is from Launch Cresetter and CanDo Reset+ that offer a small handheld oil reset tool that plugs into the system similar to most scan tools. The Launch Cresetter and CanDo Reset+ (Figure 1) units offer an automatic or a manual reset. Having the hand held units are very convenient since you have all the information right in front of you without have a labtop or tablet.

Let’s talk about oil; it’s not your father’s motor oil any more. Specifications for motor oil are extremely important in order for an engine to operate properly. Besides using the correct weight oil, the oil needs to meet one or more of the follow specifications; API, SAE, ILSAC, ACEA and Dexos to name a few. The following is an example out of ALLDATA: VW Oil Quality Standard VW 502 00. Other than heading over to your local VW dealer to buy the approved oil, what do you do?

You know how I preach checking the Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs), right? Guess what? For a list of engine oils that meet Volkswagen oil quality standards refer to the most current TSB "Engine oils which meet Volkswagen Oil Quality Standards.” Use only engine oils that expressly meet the Volkswagen oil quality standards specified for this vehicle. Using any other engine oil can cause serious engine damage that will not be covered by any Volkswagen Limited Warranty. Other OEs have similar warnings on the use of oil in their engines. 

“What’s the big deal?” you might ask. “Oil is oil, right?” Engines today are the high-performance sons and grandsons of years past and run much tighter tolerances with less room for errors. Variable Valve Timing (VVT) actuators use oil pressure to function properly and the use of improper oils will impact, even damage, VVT components. This ain’t your granddaddy’s Buick Roadmaster, anymore!

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