Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tailgate Release Fix for Buick Rendezvous

Tailgate release switch. 
I apologize for not having more than this for a picture, as there is no fix for my camera and trying to do a step by step with pictures is more of a pain anyway. Just visualize what you need to do and the rest should fall into place. If you have a Rendezvous or Aztek, this should take you less than an hour. If you're an Equinox or Torrent person, I don't know the procedure, but the times should be similar (I did the 'Vous on the fly anyway). Haynes has a repair manual for you ladies and gentlemen anyway, so go buy one. Those with a Rendezvous or Aztek either have to subscribe to Alldata every year, or fix stuff on the fly. As always, I have no control over the quality of your work, nor the condition of your equipment, nor your mechanical ability. When in doubt, hire a competent mechanic to perform the work. Perform this and all other repairs at your own risk.

The switch itself is only about 30 dollars U.S. as of this writing from the dealer and you can get them cheaper online. However, when you're broke and payday is a week away, or you're cheap there is another way to fix  it for next to nothing. You'll need some silicone caulk or some electrical tape, a set of Torx bits and some Phillips ones as well. A small flat head screwdriver, and a pair of tweezers are also necessary. 

The switch lives underneath the handle on the tailgate. The touch pad closes a circuit and sends a signal to the body control module to open the latch. The result being you have access to your stuff. If this switch fails, you better have remote handy or you'll be taking this to a mechanic or crawling in the back to pry out a plug to operate the release. I imagine you could reach the two Torx screws holding this switch pretty easily, but I went ahead and removed the plastic body panel under the handle anyway. All you do is remove the Torx screws out from underneath and carefully work the panel from the gate. The top edge is head on by those molded in clips; DO NOT BREAK THEM or you'll have to glue this top edge in. I used a reasonable amount of care with mine and had no problem. 

You'll have to go underneath the handle and remove the Torx screws holding the switch in. Remove and look at it before you disconnect same. The neck of this should be black with no corrosion or soft spots. Also take not of how the wires on the electrical connector are hooked in. There is a black wire and a white wire. Remove the switch from the connector and look inside where it hooked up. There will be three pins inside. If you have an ohmmeter, or self-powered test light, use some alligator clips and hook it up to the to pins right next to each other. Press the touch pad and the light should light, or the meter should go to  zero. If not, try moving leads to other pins and repeat. If it works, you can save the switch. If not, you're going to have to replace it. 

If you've determined that you can save the part, you'll want to take note of which pins work and scrape out the gel from the neck of the switch. The problem with this switch is that the gel deteriorates and wherever there is salt being used, it gets into same and eats up the pins inside. One will likely be eaten up if the switch failed, but if the others are still in good shape, you can seal this with silicone and let it cure. Take the plastic clips off the connector and now you can move the leads where you need them to go. That red rubber plug in same is worth saving, so move it to the abandoned space. Push in the wires and reassemble the connector. Plug in the switch, make sure the doors are unlocked and squeeze the switch. The latch should unlock. Put the gate back together and you're done. Maranatha! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

In Response to Chris Hansen Dateline Air Conditioner Repair

The show was aired more than a few years ago, but I just ran across this on You Tube yesterday. Here are the links: Dateline AC Repair and Dateline AC Repair 2 and both are from account PrecisionAirHeatAZ on You Tube. My opinions might not reflect those of the account mentioned. One thing we should all agree on is that we need integrity and accountability in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning industry; any industry for that matter. I agree that technicians shouldn't gouge customers nor should they look to replace parts that don't need replacing. What I do take these shows to task over is that EVERY contractor out there is going to REQUIRE his or her techs to "up sell" to some degree. The honest way is to look for anything that might be breaking down and this should, but doesn't always include putting gauges on the equipment to check the refrigerant charge.

Let's just say for an instant that the contractor who did the "right" thing and plugged in the fuses got a call back saying that her air conditioner quit working. It happens a lot more than you think. I've went on many a job to fix one problem on a 20+ year old system only to have another part call it quits a week later. The customers are not usually happy that you intended to save them money, because the unit quit working again. If this happens you can bet that technician is going to be hauled to the carpet for a scolding. If the customer calls another contractor, that contractor is duty bound to refute what the first one said to get the work. This happens all the time; it's a damned if you and damned if you don't scenario. You can have 30 good reports but the three bad ones will be those the boss takes the time to bring to your attention.

If a customer gets put off with the pricing structure of the firm, that customer will call a competitor in getting the bare minimum done. The next thing that will happen is the customer will call, write and bad mouth the first technician. The price of a service call doesn't cover the cost to get the truck to the door. Neither does the price of a tune up or inspection. Accuse all you want, but most would never have the service done if a service call was $200 to $300, much less a tune up. Firms train their techs to find problems and suggest to the customer to get them fixed. This is how the bills are paid. Since many firms warranty their work for the duration of the season, that unit needs to run, or the firm needs an "out" if the customer fails to have the work done. Otherwise, that tech will look like he or she didn't do the job, or likely messed up something due to their perceived incompetence (or even sabotaged same). The firm will lose money on these calls.

In all fairness, no one wants a salesman in their house. My wife and I had to throw a gentleman out of our house 15 years ago because he was insistent that we buy a $1500 vacuum cleaner. I wouldn't want my wife being confronted with a technician giving her an estimate for $1900 worth of work on a 20 year old air conditioner, nor trying to push a new one on her either. As for the tech that didn't even look at the fuses, shame on him. The proper thing to do to go to the thermostat first and make sure it's calling for cooling. If something isn't running at all, then look for the obvious. If it's just a switch, then check to make sure the unit is running correctly. If they don't ask, write it down, let the customer sign the invoice and collect for the service call. If they decline the repairs and their air conditioner dies; no warranty. If the repairs are going to be more than $5 or $600, then suggest this could be a good down payment on a new system. Easy as that. Just give them the facts and let the customer decide. They're the boss.

If you're a customer needing work done and trust the tech to do the work, ask him or her the price. If the price seems high to you, tell them you need to wait and get another estimate. Don't haggle (at least in the United States), beat him or her up on the price, or complain to the owner that the tech did you wrong. First of all, it isn't the techs fault the prices are "so high" but what the owner has determined has to be for the business to run. These techs deserve to be paid a lot more than what they make. Not to excuse poor customer service, but anyone can find anything wrong about someone to ruin that person's career. That person likely has a family to feed and bills to pay, regardless of what you think about them and their work. Think about what they did and how you handled it before you complain. Nobody deserves to lose their job over a misunderstanding. Aren't the unemployment roles swollen enough? Maranatha!

G.E. Water Heater Fix.

First of all, I like General Electric products for the most part save their televisions as we bought one in 1994 and it lasted 2 and a half years, but oh well. If you have to have a home center rather than a plumbing or heating contractor install one, these are well made and will give you a decent service life. Today, I was called to one where the pilot burner had been going out. You see, they had replaced this water heater a month ago and the pilot had been going out, so the home center just had the installers replace the water heater, again. The replacement, two week old water heater was also having issues with the pilot burner staying on. I checked the venting, which my boss insisted was the problem as did G.E.'s tech support. After nearly 30 minutes of trying to get the venting to backdraft, I placed a call to a coworker who suggested I test the thermocouple.
To test the thermocouple, you need a 3/8 inch open end wrench and a volt meter that tests millivolts. A thermocouple should test in at 30 millivolts which this one did. The one thing that I did find was that it was very loose inside the gas control, which would cause the problem that the customer (who was at his wits end) described. 
I tightened the thermocouple into the gas control snugly with the wrench and lit the water heater. So far, so good. If this is happening to you new G.E. water heater, give this a try. Maranatha!