Saturday, June 26, 2010

Part 2: Fixing Dash Lights on a Late Model GM Vehicle (Out of Warranty).

This bears repeating, I do not have control over what you're working on, how you're working on it, or what your working with. There are risks to fixing anything and you assume all risks involved. Even if you're careful, stuff happens and you could cause personal injury or property damage. When in doubt, call a professional...

You may be tempted to buy a junkyard piece and be done with it, but the chance of getting one with same options as your vehicle are slim and getting one with the correct mileage is nil. The former is for functional reasons (who wants a tire pressure warning light when your car doesn't even have the option?) and the latter for legal reasons. Odometer fraud is a federal crime and any discrepancies MUST be declared on the title. This WILL reduce the value of your vehicle unless you plan on junking it in the near future. Extended warranties usually won't cover speedometer faults and certainly not bulb changes. So your options are limited. What to do.

My choice was to dig in and fix this, carefully.

There are eight light bulbs that need to be changed to get the instrument panel lit again. This does not count the bulbs for the idiot lights that wear infrequently. This is going to be helpful for the next step. Radio Shack is still the best place to get parts for electronics, but inevitably, they will not have the 12 incandescent bulbs this cluster has. As it was, I cleaned out every one they had and I had to do some digging. The ones preferred are the 12 volt - 50 miliamp Bi-pin lamps (#272-1154). You can use the 12 volt ones with the hookup leads, but these are a pain in the tuckus and you WILL break at least one trying to prepare it. Get the Bi-Pins bulbs, you'll be glad you did. You will also need a 15 watt soldering iron (no higher) and a roll of .032" 60/40 rosin core solder (not acid core)

The instrument cluster's held together with tabs that snap on like the edges of a tote. First remove the lens and set it aside. This is where it gets tricky. The needles need to come off and they are not intuitive or indexed. It would be good to mark their positions on the dial with a grease pencil (do not use a marker or paint) or your readings will be inaccurate. There are tools to remove these, but a regular fork placed under the needles where they attach to the stepper motors will suffice. Lift up gently on the needles with the fork to remove them.

Unsnap the back of the cluster and you'll see the printed circuit that lives inside. A word of caution here and this is one reason why this is risky. You need to work where you can ground yourself to protect against static electricity, which will destroy a circuit board. The best place is in the kitchen where you can at least touch the faucet.

One either side of each stepper motor, there lives a bulb and these are not unlike Christmas tree (not holiday tree) bulbs in their form factor. The difference is that the Xmas tree bulbs are too tall to fit. The bulbs sit on ceramic holders with each lead into a solder joint. twist the bulb and holder off the board. As there are four solder joints under the holder, pay attention to the ones the leads go into and they are larger, so that will help.

Take your bi-pin bulb and carefully, with pliers, bend out the pins at a 90 degree angle so they can sit in the solder. The rest of the job is going to be soldering in each bulb so they stand upright and and not burning up the circuit board, or your appendages. The bulbs with the wire leads will have to be installed like the originals and these are tricky. I cannot teach a person how to solder parts together in this post. This is something I've been doing since I was ten years old, tomorrow I turn 40. This is not the part to practice your skills on either.

One you get the bulbs in and you're satisfied they're in securely. put the dash together, making sure the stepper motors are at their lowest limits AND and the needles are in their original positions (HINT these are not going to point below the marks until you actually hook the cluster up, but some adjustment is to be expected. BE careful or you will compromise the accuracy of the speedometer and may to use a GPS to set it straight. If the job's done with care, you'll have your dash lights for less than $20.00 for about an hour's worth of work. Compare this to being without your car for several days and paying the dealer five bills. Maranatha!

Fixing Dash Lights on a Late Model GM Vehicle (Out of Warranty).

Remember, I do not have control over your work or workmanship. The process is pretty straightforward, but mistakes happen and you could cause personal injury or property damage doing this. When in doubt, call a qualified mechanic. Auto electronic systems are very expensive.

Bulb changes on a car or truck are a fact of life. From the amount of cars and trucks I see on the road with burned out headlights, daytime running lights, brake lights and turn signals, this is something not enough people acknowledge. For most, if the car starts and runs, they get in an go and don't pay attention to anything unless a friendly police offer points this out. The result is a $100 fix up ticket and a trip to the shop, or in my case trying to fix it yourself. Of course, once the item's fixed, then find another officer, have him or her check out the problem and sign off on the ticket, mail it in an waive the fee. Either way, you still have to fix the issue. It's a lot of time wasted for something you could have been proactive on. My opinion anyway.

Dash lights are equally important, unless of course you don't mind driving with a flashlight strapped to your shoulder or the interior lights on. Neither one's a good choice and could cause a crash. Driving without dash lights can cause you to have an accident, run out of fuel, or a speeding ticket that may result in a fix up citation too. I had to replace the bulbs on my parents' minivan and heater unit at about 130,000 miles. This usually involves removing the steering column covers or dropping the steering column, unsnapping the trim around the instrument cluster and removing 4 7mm screws, and sometimes a cable for the shift indicator (carelessness usually breaks these things). Then all you have to do is unhook the wires, (maybe a cable for the speedometer, but these are non existent on cars built after 1996) and remove the cluster. All there is to replacing the bulbs is twisting the holders on the back of the cluster and swapping the bulbs out.

However, GM has made this a bit more involved. The cluster is easy enough to get out. All you have to do is undo to two 12mm nuts to the steering column, a few 7mm screws holding the trim on and a butter knife to get the trim off the rest of the way. This is a five minute job. 4 7mm screws (with Phillip's heads) hold the cluster in and once you get it out, the only thing to remove is the wire harness.

I removed the cluster and found none of the usual bulb holder on the back. There are no screws holding this together, only tabs. Needless to say, one of the few bulbs I could get to with a pair of hemostats was soldered in. There was no ready access to them either. To be on the safe side, I went to the GM dealer and they quoted me $500 to replace the bulbs in the cluster. This was so not happening...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

To Err is Human...

It's just south of 50 days since the unfortunate accident in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 hard-working people and has created one of the worst environmental disasters since Chernobyl. The latter has absorbed the liberals to the point of eclipsing the former, which to me is much more poignant.

And there is plenty of blame to go around, including Americans' insatiable thirst for oil. I think of this fact every time I see my disabled car and the thirty or forty dollars of gasoline sitting in the tank going to the scrapyard. But this has turned into another polarizing event which has divided us yet again. Understandably, there is a strong emotional component to this disaster and we are emotional creatures.

However, this doesn't change the facts. This was an accident. BP made a mistake, that's all it was. The effects are horrendous and they will have to clean this up, but the facts remain that this is just an accident. The public relations nightmare this firm has endured would have been a strong disincentive to do this deliberately. The fact that oil is over $70 a barrel right now is another hit to the oil company, not to mention the hit they took on their stock. They've been more than prompt at at least trying to fix the problem, which is more than I can say for any armchair critic, myself included.

I went ahead and clicked the "like" button for BP's Facebook page, and have presented articles in a truthful, yet voice of reason-like manner. I'm not mad at BP folks; I'm not mad at anyone to tell the truth (save for the devil and his minions). Mistakes are a part of being human. We are human after all, even though the liberals would like us to believe we are gods despite evidence to the contrary.

And I have gotten flak for this stand. Unless you're rabidly mad at a huge multinational firms, you can't possibly be human. Unless you're a Communist who loves big government and hates it when someone might be better off than you, you're defective. And if you're a Christian, people will question your sanity. The thought that someone can forgive someone else or not be consumed with hatred is anathema to the liberal secular humanist crowd.

I want to let you in on a little secret if you're lost. This life your living, as much as you loathe it, is as close to heaven as you will get if you don't accept Jesus as your Savior. This oil spill will be a welcome relief compared to what's coming soon. During the tribulation, water of any quality will be scarce and wealth will be measured in food. If you miss the rapture and go through the tribulation, you'll learn to cherish the times we live in now. It will make this look like a domestic dispute.

Right now, the wheels are already in motion.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bible Misunderstandings - The Trinity...

I came across a post tonight from someone professing to be a Christian, but denying the Trinity of the Lord. In other words, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Some Christians deny the Trinity because they say, the Bible doesn't make mention of it. Even Catholics, who claim to believe it will probably chalk it up to tradition (I was a Catholic and this was explained to me as a mystery) as the origin of a source of contention in the body of Christ today. I'm no Biblical scholar, but people have rejected the advice of those with more letters after their name then mine, so I'll give it a go anyway. Who needs a scholar when you have the Bible, right?

First of all, the Old Testament is claimed not to mention the Trinity at all. While the it isn't overt doesn't mean it isn't there. There are references to "us" and "our" when God refers to Himself as if there was more than one person.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... Genesis 1:26

The term used in the Old Testament "adonai" means "my masters."

The plural form for God "Elohim" is used throughout the O.T. , if the Jews of the time were to use something as a pair the word "Elohiayim" would have come into play.

Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Consellor, The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

There are many more veres that point to this fact. The Bible doesn't always spell this out the way we want it, but the truth is there. I believe the vaguries are there so as not to tip the Lord's hand, but this is my opinion. Even Satan reads the scriptures.

The New Testament has one verse which I'll use from 1 John 5:7.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word (Jesus, the Son) and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

This verse is watered down or non-existent in "modern" English translations of the Bible. This is incompetence, if not outright deception. But the fact is if you deny the Trinity, you are glorifying man and if you preach this, you're preaching heresy.