Monday, January 26, 2015

Whirlpool Front Load Washer E28 Code Fix (try this first).

As always, when in doubt consult the services of a competent technician. Use caution when working on parts and never work on live electrical circuits unless you are trained to do so. Untrained individuals working on sophisticated electronic equipment such a washer, car or even a wheelbarrow can do permanent damage to the equipment, rendering it useless...

Fortunately, this "fix" is pretty simple, at least if it works and there are no guarantees. E28 means a lack of communication between certain parts inside the machine, and there are nightmares of swapping parts to fix this. First of all, you need to put down that screwdriver and step away carefully; take a deep breath and relax.

You have to either pull this code up by pressing an releasing a certain button 2-5 seconds and releasing it for a total of five cycles. ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON and the codes will flash. However, the symptom we're looking for is that the washer will intermittently leave the clothes inside a wet heap. They won't spin out at all. As a homeowner, you should be cleaning out the filter or having this done once in a while. A clogged or stuck pump could be the issue, but more often than not, the problem is how much detergent you're using.

Since high efficiency washers came to be, the promise of lower water and energy bills rang true for a lot of people. Along with lower water usage, owners are still having a difficult time with soap in these machines. Many will fill the dispensers to the "MAX" level with h/e soap, use a quarter cup or whatever they believe the manufacture says is the right level for their load. First of all, stop!

These washers are sold all over the world, and the max levels are for those countries where h/e soap is not widely available (I live in the United States where it's VERY available). Since the premise is that the h/e version is more concentrated (it has less fillers), you are adding and wasting hundreds of dollars over the life of the machine AND you are shortening the life of same AND setting yourself up for a service call.

If you use h/e soap, you ONLY NEED ONE TABLESPOON FULL, two tablespoons max. That's it. The washer can only use so much at a time and the rest will either rinse out or deposit itself inside the machine to create problems with sensors and electronics. If you're doing this, again, stop. You also want to use a washer cleaner weekly for several weeks and monthly thereafter. Hopefully, the glitches will stop and your clothes will spin out. It this code was on all the time, better call a service tech, but this should help save some money.

As a bonus tip, wash your smalls in a mesh bag or hand wash them as these can get sucked into the pump. That's it. Maranatha!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Change in Policy, Concerning Advertising.

I've been blogging since 2009 on this site, through thick and thin, through a lot of changes. Through this time I've dealt with financial hardships, several job changes and continued to write this blog. I thank Google from the bottom of my heart to be able to use this venue to write, as I have used them for eleven years. My hope is to help people out of some sticky situations that are hard to find a way out of even on the World Wide Web. I love the comments readers have given over the years, good and bad.

I have NEVER asked for a dime, as help should have its own reward. However, I had a heating and cooling company peddle their services on one of my posts. There was nothing wrong with the message they gave, but these firms charge you big bucks to come to the door. I know because I've worked for several of them and had to deal with customers upset over paying $500 for a $130 control board, or $318 for a $25 hot surface ignitor. Adding insult was to deal with a boss that said I should have shown the customer the value, which was among several reasons I left the industry for good last year.

Businesses are there to make money and there is overhead to be paid for sure, but I will not permit someone to advertise their wares on this blog in the comments section. If you want to suggest that someone seek the services of a competent professional or have a better way of doing something, I respect that and will insist that on every post that involves all but the most trivial of fixes. As a pro myself, I have the scars to prove that some things are dangerous. I nearly lost sight in my left eye due to a chemical burn as one of them,

 It is strictly for the love of people, writing, and some of my interests in the context of helping others. Even if you don't do the fix yourself, you can appreciate the effort made to get something put back in working order. Hopefully, this blog will continue to help, or least make you laugh at same for years to come. Maranatha!

Stanley FatMax5 Spotlight 520 Lumens Review

Fixing appliances requires you to be able to see what you're working on and this is an understatement. I work in dark basements, laundry rooms, even kitchens trying to find broken parts, leaks, even shutoff valves. Even in  the best lit of venues, you will have to look inside a dark appliance and will need to see things clearly to avoid touching a live wire, a hot element or moving part. All of these can end your workday at the speed of fright.
Over the years, I've become quite the connoisseur of flashlights. Maglites have been the mainstay of this madman's collection as long as they don't get lost in a customer's basement or crushed in a dead car (long story). However, these are either too bulky for the big ones, and sometimes not bright enough for the minis. I spend about $10 a month on batteries to keep the lights on. So the thought of a rechargeable mini spotlight that I could work on appliances, autos and that occasional frozen pipe under the house is tempting. My eyes aren't the greatest for reading small print on appliances, so more light helps these to stand out.

I got this light late in December as a "Christmas" present and the price is about $30 to $40 depending on whether or not you get it on sale. It comes with a 110v and a 12v charger for your car. The model I got did not come with the headlamp as depicted above, but the rest was exactly the same. The light is supposed to be 520 lumens or candlepower as it used to be called, which is about bright as a car headlight. There is also a power saving mode that extends the battery charge, which is supposed to last up to ten hours. In truth, the power saving mode significantly cuts light output that would make a penlight seem superior. The light output at full power is more than adequate when replacing the alternator in my car, or looking for a leak in an ancient washing machine. When the battery power gets low, the light beeps and abruptly goes off.

Which is often as the battery seldom lasts more than two hours. Even though the light is probably at 520 lumens as advertised, the way the lens spreads the light (this is a spotlight after all) means that less light will be pinpointed on that model number than the average mini Maglight. Charging the light takes time, especially with the vehicle charger and even with frequent charges, the battery seems to call it quits at the most inopportune times. What's more is that the light will not come on when the battery is charging. If it goes out when changing a tire or trying to find a leak, remembering to bring the charger will not bail out you out.

My assessment on this light is for my purposes, it's going to help if you have one job that won't take long to do. If you need something that's going to stay on for quite a while, or need to get back in action quickly, this is a good one to pass over. I can change the batteries in my mini Maglight quickly enough, but waiting several hours for a light to charge is not an option in my line of work. I may relegate this to home or camping use for the foreseeable future unless I can figure out a routine to make this usable for work. The size and light output are phenomenal, but "up to 10 hours of run time" is slightly misleading. If you had this in low power all the time, maybe, but to use this for the intended purpose you're going to need to recharge it much much sooner. Maranatha!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

PCV Valve Replacement on 2005-2009 Chevy Equinox or 2006-2009 Pontiac Torrent 3.4 Liter.

Car repairs that are improperly done can cause injury, death and property damage. When in doubt consult a professional mechanic. Do this and any other repairs at your own risk.

I've been reading all over the information superhighway about replacing a PCV valve on my 2006 Pontiac Torrent (Yes, this has been quite the weekend for vehicle repairs, but the weather was decent and I needed to fix a few things on both cars). Mine has been living in the valve cover for nearly nine years and 99,054 miles. While there are many arguments for and against replacing this part, it needs to be checked when the oil is changed. If it fails, you risk burning oil or flooding your air filter in same. This happened on my Rendezvous and it was a mess. The part on my Torrent had just about had it.  

GM, in all their collective wisdom has put a bracket for the PCV valve on their Chinese-made 3.4 liter; securing it to the valve cover and necessitating replacement of the latter to fix the former. Instead of buying a $3.00 part, you now have to spend $200 to have a valve cover replaced. The bracket is riveted to the aluminum valve cover, preventing even a cursory inspection of the valve and easy replacement. Again, I've heard the arguments for why GM has done this, mainly customers installing substandard parts. However, even the top of the line PCV valve is less than $10 for this engine. This is a decision based purely on profit that will hurt them in the long run because customers will fail to do this as a maintenance item and then blame GM. This is despite the fact the engine is a pretty decent runner. Even though it is primitive by today's standards, it does provide decent power and economy. It's also fairly simple to work on (something I value immensely), save for this inane setup with the aforementioned valve.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix that will take five or ten minutes to perform. You need a straight blade screwdriver and a decent size pair of groove joint pliers. Remove the engine undercover. Carefully pry off this bracket from the valve cover starting with the passenger side until the rivet pops out. Remove the PCV line from the valve. Then grab the bracket with your pliers and gently rock and pull that bracket off the valve cover. These do not go all the way through, nor is this bracket needed to hold the PCV valve into the cover, as the grommet will hold it in just fine. Discard the rivets and the bracket and do your usual maintenance to the valve, replacing as necessary. Then re install that stupid engine cover. Here's to progress, Maranatha! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Installing Trailer Hitch Receiver on 2005 - 2009 Chevy Equinox (2006 - 2009 Pontiac Torrent)


The Chevy Equinox is a small Sport Utility Vehicle offered since the 2005 model year and restyled for the 2010 model year. This is when the GMC Terrain replaced the Pontiac Torrent. To my understanding, the receiver will work for the 2010 to 2015 Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain, As well as the first generation Saturn Vue, but check with your retailer first.

The receiver I bought was from etrailer.com and the manufacturer is Curt. The reason I got this hitch was because of the 2 inch receiver opening will give me more flexibility when adding accessories to this vehicle, such as a bike rack or platform that would not work with a 1 1/4 inch.  It will not increase the towing capacity, as these will tow about 3500 pounds with a non weight distributing setup and from experience, this will be very dicey toward the top end. With a weight distributing setup, this will tow up to 4000 pounds, which seems a bit high for such a small vehicle. My trailer, a 1996 Viking Epic, is about 1000 pounds dry, so this hitch should be more than adequate.

WARNING! as always, installing a trailer hitch can be hazardous. Always wear safety glasses, a hat, and gloves when working under the vehicle. Improper tightening or use of fasteners can cause injury, loss of life and property damage. Follow instructions to the letter, and when in doubt, consult a qualified installer. Grade 8 fasteners for S.A.E. or 10.9 grade bolts are a must for anything to do with installing trailering equipment. Use the fasteners with the hitch if all possible. I have no control over your work, and offer this for entertainment purposes only. Do this any any other repair or installation at your own risk.

The tools you will need are a torque wrench, a socket set, 8" extension, a wire brush that will clean bolt holes as well as scraper, some rust inhibiting paint, penetrating oil like PB Blaster or a lubricant such as WD-40 or Motorkote. It would be a good idea to get some cardboard to stage your parts and tools to prevent them from getting banged up on the driveway. You may need 4, grade eight, 7/16 standard thread bolts the same length as the ones that came with the kit unless these supply same.

Clean the bolt holes, two on the left over the exhaust pipe, two on the right and two on the bottom of the bumper with your spray lube and wire brush. Scrape away any loose paint, rust, and dirt from where the hitch is going to attach to the car. You will need to remove the knockout on the bumper with a screwdriver, then try threading the bolts in to make sure the threads are clean. As I found out, the bolts on the left and right were 7/16, NOT 12 millimeter, and I spent nearly 20 minutes trying to thread the 12s supplied with the kit.

Once you're sure that all of these will thread, you will need to get your 12 mm bolts and washers and lift the receiver up. Start the two holes in the bumper several turns, then work on the left side over the exhaust pipe, then the right side. If you had to use the 7/16 bolts, be sure you use the washers that came with the kit as nothing available at the hardware store will be strong enough to hold this safely in place. Even the grade 8 washers will buckle when you tighten the bolts. Tighten everything gradually and then torque them down as specified. Be sure to check these bolts periodically to make sure that nothing comes loose. In the 15 years I've installed a half dozen trailer hitches, I've never had this problem, but I still check on every one. Maranatha!

Alternator Replacement for 2005-2009 Chevy Equinox, 2006-2009 Pontiac Torrent.

Time to take the grandchildren home, and load up their seats, them and the rest of their effects into my SUV, and of course the wind chill is below zero. Turned the key and the engine would not start with the odometer at 99,050 miles. Time to call my daughter's boyfriend to pick up the kids, as this vehicle isn't going anywhere. I grab my jump box and phillip's screwdriver to access and jump this thing. After several tries, it starts. Since I just replaced the battery a month ago, and the connections are clean and tight some more checking was needed.

The night before, the clock and CD player reset after driving to fix a car seat issue (long story) with my wife. With these in mind, and I couldn't find my voltmeter to test the charging system, it was time to pull the alternator and have this tested.

As always, car repairs involve risk. Injury, death and property damage can result from improperly installed parts. You can also break some pretty expensive parts trying to get this replaced, and this madman has seen plenty of under hood fires on various cars over the years. It's a safe bet that some of these are electrical. Even though the voltage is fairly low, you can still weld rings, watches, and other metal bits to metal bits on the car with the electricity present. You MUST disconnect the negative battery cable on this beast before you dig in; do this and any other repair at your own risk.

To remove the alternator, you need a phillip's head screwdriver, a 5/16 socket, a 15mm socket, a 10mm socket, as well as socket wrenches and and a straight blade screwdriver. There are two alternator manufacturers that supplied parts for this vehicle. Valeo was the more common one, and Denso the less common one.  The Valeo part has two bolt holes that are accessible from the passenger side of the vehicle. The Denso has three bolt holes, one accessible from the passenger side and two are vertically installed between the alternator body and the firewall. A battery charger is also a good thing to have along with some charging posts. You can get a decent charger cheap. Mine cost about
$35 and can fit in a glove compartment. Get one with a minimum of 4 amps, but 6 amps is best. It
there is any doubt as to the condition of the battery, either have it tested or replace it outright, especially if it's more than 4 or 5 years old. I would replace it with a good quality conventional lead acid battery. Unless your name is Richie Rich, or you're a serious audiophile, I would not bother with Optimas. The reason is that these are over $200 for a red top battery. What's more it will not last you that much longer to justify the exorbitant price, but I digress.

In addition, the Denso alternator is going to be harder to find. I had three parts suppliers in the area tell me they had to order the part, and the final one, Advance Auto Parts, had the part for $185 plus tax and a $60 core charge. I spent about $200 with tax, but those are the breaks.

To remove the old part, you will need to remove the negative battery cable first. The battery lives
under the ignition computer and a plastic cover that's held on with several phillip's head screws. The  
battery is a pretty ordinary 75 group underneath though. Remove the engine undercover, which is held on with the oil cap and some snaps to access the alternator. You will also need to unplug the EGR connector on the front passenger side of the engine before you can remove the cover. Gently pry up on the plastic tab inside the connector where it mates with the valve to remove it. The connector should come off easily. Now you can remove that cover and set it aside. Honestly, the covers are to make the engine compartment look prettier and cut down on noise and that's about it. This one also affords some protection to a very fragile canister purge solenoid, which is on top of the intake manifold and held with a 10mm bolt. Unplug and remove this from the manifold. You can leave the line attached and move it carefully out of the way, but that's your call. The part is about $35 if you break it.

Next thing is to remove the 1 and 4 ignition wires from the coil at the back of the engine. Then the
connector from the throttle body by unclipping the retainer and sliding the lock up. You could remove

the throttle body to afford more room, but this isn't necessary and you may need a gasket for this. Do
be careful as this is plastic. You'll need to remove the air cleaner assembly leaving the wiring
attached.

The lower should be removed as well, but not completely necessary as long as you can access the belt tensioner to remove the belt from the alternator. If the belt is worn, you will need to remove the engine mount to access it and before you complain, this is pretty common on many front wheel drive car

Remove the plastic exciter harness (excited yet?) and the battery terminal from the alternator with a 10mm socket. Remove the bolts from the alternator and in the case of the Denso, these need to go back into their original locations and two of them will be easy to mix up. One is a hair longer than the other, so keep them in order. I loosened them all first and then removed one by one with the exception of the back bolt on the passenger side of the vehicle. There isn't a lot of room back there to work, but it isn't too hard to get these out. that passenger side bolt will need to come out with and go in with the alternator.

Wiggling this out is going to be a P.I.T.A., but it will come out without damaging anything else. Install the new one, and put that passenger side bolt in the back before setting it back in its new home. Tighten all the bolts (the Valeo version should be easier in this regard) then hook up the electrical connectors, the belt, the solenoid, throttle body, air cleaner, ignition wires, battery cables and that cover and EGR harness. The battery should be fully charged as a dead battery will not start the engine. Even if you manage to get it fired up, you'll punish the new alternator. Unlike a generator, an alternator needs a fully charged battery to energize the alternator field; hence the exciter circuit. The days of pushing a car down a hill to get it started are long gone. Maranatha!