I had a conversation with someone the other day who claimed his mechanic rolled back the odometer on his car. This is a late-model car with a digital odometer. I always thought digital odometers were protected from this, but a quick Google search reveals that it’s actually quite common and easy to roll back a digital odometer. I guess this is now something a buyer has to worry about on top of everything else when buying a used car.
For example, how could you ever tell a car was rolled back — say, 10,000 miles — when the car is legitimately in good condition?
What are your thoughts on this? And how can a buyer protect themselves?
TTAC commentator Igozoom writes:
I’ve been reading your postings for years and decided to actually share my (maddening) issues with you.
I have a 2006 Mazda3 S five-door (five-speed manual, 2.3-liter) that I purchased new in December 2005. It only has 101,000 miles on the clock but has had a few significant problems along the way despite regular maintenance. However, the most recent issue has me stumped.
I’m looking for some advice on a reliable, yet affordable OBD-II scanner to look up and clear the check engine light (CEL) on my 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI. While a dedicated Ross-Tech VCDS would be ideal, the price and future ownership of this (or any other VAG) vehicle is not.
TTAC commentator TrenchFoot writes:
Hey, I’ve got a problem in that I like data. As an engineer and car enthusiast, I want to know more data points than the manufacturer thought I would/should. So I want to add some tech to my ride, and I want it all. The problem is, no one seems to sell the all-in-one solution I’m looking for.
I have a 2007 Chevy Express AWD 1500 (backoff with your comments, I love that van!), but tech in that rig is limited to a power locks. Since I use it to tow a smallish travel trailer, I’m always wondering about the state of the tranny. So my wish list is:
TTAC regular David Holzman writes:
When my scan gauge says my engine is under 99% load, and I’ve only pushed the gas pedal about halfway down, does that mean, as I suspect, that I can floor it and I’m not going to get more than a drop more power out of it?And, in a modern car (’08 Civic, stick), will the computer control prevent me from wasting gas by pushing the gas pedal beyond the point where I’ve reached 99% load?
TTAC commentator Toy Maker writes:
Hi again Sajeev,
Steven Lang’s post buying quality tools piked my interest again on getting myself an OBDII scanner. But which one is right for me? Even the Autel brand mentioned by Steve have readers ranging from $30 to the $350 Autel MD802 mentioned in Steve’s post.
I don’t plan on working on my cars much, just want to use more than onomatopoeias to converse with my mechanics. (Nice. – SM)
TTAC Commentator Tree Trunk writes:
I comment on TTAC as Tree Trunk from the frozen tundra in interior Alaska and am looking for advice on how to deal with an out of control repair of an old beater. I have a ’95 Isuzu Rodeo with 130K that until recently had been a pretty low maintenance, reliable ride.
Out of the blue the check engine light came on and the engine stalled. A handy friend checked all obvious things to get it running again without success. It would start up run for a few min before reving wildly and then die. Luckily I thought, it broke down close to a reputable shop (NAPA certified) so we towed it there.
Seven weeks and two thousand dollars, not to mention the rental car cost I am back at square one. First they diagnosed bad PCM, a rebuild unit was in five weeks later, two weeks behind schedule. I made it half a mile down the road before it stalled again.
This time around it was supposedly a slack timing belt hitting the crankshaft sensor causing the engine to stall. Week and another thousand dollars later, after first ordering the wrong parts and then not all the needed parts the engine started up, but wouldn’t you know it stalled again.
In hindsight, I should have scrapped it the moment it broke down. But short of finding a time machine that is not an option.
Now I am waiting the next call from the shop and need advice from you and the best and brightest. It seems obvious that the one or both of the diagnostics were faulty and some third thing is causing the stalling.
What do I do, keep paying with a smile, demand a full repair free of charge or something in-between?
My son enjoys being able to spread out when driving and also appreciates the convenience of hauling several of his buds around. He drives a 2001 Cadillac DHS. He has just moved to Massachusetts and registered the car there. It failed inspection with OBD codes P1860 and P0741. He has 60 days to resolve the problem. A little internet searching informs that these codes are related to the torque converter clutch circuit and the solenoid valve.
The codes may indicate anything from a bad electrical connection to a failed plastic solenoid (I hate plastic) to a worn TC clutch. Other than the not so likely electrical connection fix, labor is at least 12 hours, even for the solenoid. I don’t see this as an emissions or safety issue, but then I’m not the state of Massachusetts.
Most car enthusiasts bemoan the rise of electronic systems in automobiles because they create a layer of interference between ourselves and the direct, mechanical control of our cars. Sure, electronic controls are cheaper, lighter and allow for easier diagnostics, but they rob automobiles of the elemental simplicity which is so often fundamental to their appeal. And, as a study by researchers from the Universities of Washington and San Diego [in PDF format here, via ArsTechnica] shows, the various electronic systems in your car actually makes it vulnerable to hackers who could disable key systems remotely. Titled Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile, the study explains that the electronic complexity of modern cars actually leaves them extremely vulnerable to all kinds of attack, raising serious concerns about how safe we really are in our cars (especially if we happen to have an enemy or two).
TTAC Commentator Detroit-Iron writes:
I have a 2000 Ford Ranger, 2wd 3.0L V6 with 143k miles. The CEL has been on for at least last 70k and I finally went to AutoZone and got the code read. Turns out the O2 sensor is bad and the EGR valve is stuck. Is that the kind of thing that I can fix myself? I don’t want to put a whole lot of money in this truck seeing as it has a lot of miles and has been running reasonably well, if inefficiently (21 mpg all highway), for so long. I have an ok tool set and I do my brakes, but I recently paid $70 to have the fuel filter replaced-I’ve done it before and I didn’t want to do it again. The truck is going back to my parents to be semi-retired and put into “farm use” so I wouldn’t mind fixing it up a little before giving it back but I don’t want to spend a lot.
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