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Rebooting the Car

 3:35 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Modern cars are quite annoying as the more gizmos the put in they dang things the more unique and interesting ways the gizmos find to malfunction. Luckily I've been able to "reboot" many of the malfunctions by finding some way to reset it once which typically gets it working again and saving bunches of money in needless repair bills.

Case in point something odd happened yesterday and my turning signals (blinkers for the rest of you) suddenly stopped working altogether. No fast flash like the bulbs were blown, no green light on the dash when you flip the lever, no light on the front or rear of the car, nothing. Dead dead dead, completely broken.

I figured it could be a blown fuse or possibly the blinker relay had died. Well, I quickly learned that in my car the relay which typically is located next to the fuse box was located in the dash so repairing that could be costly. I also later learned there's a simple hack to get to it by only removing a couple of screws from the center vent on the dash and it's right there but you and I know the mechanic probably wouldn't know that and removing the whole dash pays better but now that I know they won't be able to screw me in the future if a repair is needed, I digress.

Anyway, after reading others issues and answers about turning signals on my car I read that the emergency signal pulled way more juice and if you engage the CRUISE button (enables/disables cruise completely so you don't accidentally activate buttons on the steering wheel) that it even increases the voltage. Armed with this tidbit I went back out to the car and engaged the emergency flashers with cruise active and VOILA! the relay snapped and they were back in action. Turning signals still didn't work but a quick reset of the car on/off and VOILA! everything worked as normal again.

I was thrilled beyond belief that yet again I was able to get some stuck gizmo unstuck just by knowing a few tricks of the construction of that car.

Wonder how many others with the same issue have spent hundreds of dollars having their sash yanked off to replace a part a mere 6 screws away, or that could've been reset the same way I did?




 4:23 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

>>my turning signals (blinkers for the rest of you)

indicators here in the UK :)


 4:53 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

They should have picked that up in the beta. hehe

But, you're right, a service technician may not have known the trick, and an unscrupulous service company might have taken advantage.

Good work on sorting that.


 4:57 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

incredibill - It seems there are lots of undocumented hacks for cars. I read the other day that a theft ring is able to spoof the door open remotes for certain cars.

My son was able to re-program the key fobs for our two trucks (Same parent co, differnt brands, same general vehicle). He did something like turn the on and off key about 8 times, then set the fobs

On both our trucks, there is a way of hitting the setup button while turning the vehicle on so that you get a complete set of diagnostics thorugh the 2 line on board computer display.

With cars getting smarter the wiseguys will figure that a bit of code tweaking will be better than a .22 for those nasty jobs.

oh yeah, don't forget, some problems are solved by a reboot. Pull the battery cable, wait 10 min and reconnect.


 4:59 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

ONe other thing. The shop I use has helped me a couple of times when there was an alternative to an 8 hour dash disassembly (one was to drill the heater door spindle and put a pin through it. The other was similar to the alternate path mentioned above).

Been dealing with this guy for a while and have never seen him try to cheat. In fact, he steered me right on a mistake i was making with tire pressure.


 5:42 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

oh yeah, don't forget, some problems are solved by a reboot. Pull the battery cable, wait 10 min and reconnect.

Unfortunately disconnecting the battery turns my radio into a brick requiring an anti-theft security code to be entered before it works again.

Last time that happened I found the number and instructions on how to do that on the internet and it worked like a charm.

I'm sure the wonderful people that steal car radios found the same information so the anti-theft code is completely worthless now and just annoying.

spoof the door open remotes for certain cars.

The algo in the fob is supposed to synch with the car and allow you a few stray clicks but the car will only accept the next 256 codes and nobody knows where your fob and car are synched unless you snag it wirelessly and have reverse engineered the fob algo which would allow you to crack into any car at any time. Must not be easy or cars would disappear left and right. However, give that fob to a 2 year old to play with for at least half an hour and see if you can get back into the car. Great trick to play on people with annoying children.

When I rented a Chrysler 300 the new fob made me insane. The damn car unlocked itself any time you got close and the electric 'key' in the car only worked when the fob was in the car and there was no keyhole for a real key. I never knew if that car was ever locked and I've been places where some radio signal from a store security system or something jammed my car fob from functioning at all unless I was literally at the car so I can see easily getting stranded when by a simple radio jammer and all the Chrysler owners would just be sitting there with no place to go.


 9:11 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Now, for those dialects that saw the topic title and thought "You can replace the boot of your car? How in the world do they do that?!" ... ;)


 9:30 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Easy..major customising of cars frequently involves changing the "boot"..or removing it altogether..
Speaking of customising..


 6:44 am on Apr 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

I had a 72 ford f-250 up until recently that was in my family since it was new, it was still in really good shape. There was a grand total of about 15 wires under the hood including the 6 for the spark plugs (straight 6 300, all torque). It was a joy opening the hood to work on it, you could literally crawl into the engine compartment.


 8:26 am on Apr 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

you could literally crawl into the engine compartment

No excuse for not replacing blown bulbs. In my last car you couldn't get to one lamp cluster without first lifting the battery out and the other was accessible in theory if you didn't mind leaving the skin off your knuckles behind.

Of course with older cars they needed to be easier to maintain because you had to get under the bonnet (hood) rather more often than with a modern one.


 12:42 pm on Apr 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

I recently had to replace both blinker bulbs (yes, the blinkers are problematic at the moment) and had never replaced a bulb in the 10+ years I've owned this car.

After flailing about trying to figure out how to access the bulbs, which looked impossible, turned out the entire light assembly was held in place with 2 plastic rods that slide off and the entire component, left or right lights, just came off the car!

I was stunned.

Then I looked online and replacing it wasn't terribly expensive either.

I still find it odd that one bulb blew and the week after I replaced it the other blub blew.


BTW, you have to be careful as there are lots of rip offs out there doing excellent SEO work to get your money. When I first put in my bulb numbers some LED versions came up for $40/pair vs. the ones I knew I needed which ended up being $4/pair.


The blinkers went offline again today and the emergency flashers did reboot whatever caused it one more time. I kind of remember having sporadic blinker issues a time or two in the past but nothing that stayed off and it recovered on it's own back then.

I see a repair bill coming in my near future as anything that keeps doing this is probably going to escalate into a full blown failure soon. I'm just hoping it's not the electrical system causing the problem as I've read that the either a faulty generator or regulator could cause spikes that zap the relays in such a manner. This would also explain both blinker bulbs blowing in near tandem a few months back. Of course that could also cause a variety of blown fuses and circuits if it's the case so I could be sitting on an electrical system time bomb that a simple test could detect and save me a bunch of money down the road. Trip to the mechanic for a diagnostic coming real soon.


 6:48 am on Apr 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

"generator or regulator"
I haven't seen those referenced for quite a while. Alternators replaced the generator/regulator combination sometime in the early 70s if I recall correctly.

Diagnostic codes are the proper way to diagnose and service modern vehicles, workarounds are possibly suitable for field repairs until you can get to a technician. I sold my 54 Ford, I've never looked back.


 8:21 pm on Apr 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

your flasher relay is going bad.... it has to be replaced, this will just keep happening till the "trick" doesn't even work anymore.


 8:29 pm on Apr 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Took 2003 Ford Explorer in because ABS light on dash kept coming on. Tech said it need a new pressure transducer switch. They wanted $175 to replace. After a little research I figured out what they called a pressure transducer switch everybody else called a brake pressure switch. Bought it at the Ford parts department for just under $32. Took less than two minutes to replace. Saved over $140. Could've saved more if I ordered the switch online and waited 4-5 days for it to get here.


 11:21 pm on Apr 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

LAwman - Speaking of brakes.. About 30 years ago I was spending my summers down the jersey shore. My friend had a 60's mustang. I dropped over and he was just finishing up replacing the front brakes.

"Wanna go for a ride"? Being older now, I would have realized that, given the two empty Heineken six packs, "NO" Would have been the correct response.

But, being young and dumb, I hopped in. The bay was 2 blocks away and he headed that- a-way banging through the gears.. As we got ready to make the turn onto the side street I hear (*#&#&*#&^ and saw that the brake pedal was down to the floor without producing the slightest amount of braking friction.

He downshifted back down and we took the turn at an insane velocity.. We made it back to his driveway without having done an instant replay of Chappaquiddik.

The post mortem revealed that he had forgotten to install one of the cylinder pins resulting in the brake fluid draining out on the first application of the brakes.


 1:24 am on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

faulty generator or regulator could cause spikes that zap the relays in such a manner.

lol.. what? you mean alternator and um... diodes? you'll blow your battery up long before it zaps anything low voltage in your car.......cause thats how it all feeds.


 11:39 pm on Apr 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

FWIW, the blinker hasn't had a single issue since. Works like nothing ever happened and we've been all over hell and back recently, lots of road time.

However, the right rear window suddenly appears to have lost power and I haven't had time to figure out if it's broken wiring in the door, if it's even getting current or popped a fuse or something as there's a few fuses inside the car and some big fuse panel on the engine that really takes a mechanic to figure out. Not to mention I don't own a volt meter anymore so I can't so a simple test at the moment.

The interesting part was the left rear window worked a few days earlier, then I got an oil change and they sprayed the door hinges as part of the regular service and later that day is when I noticed the window didn't work. Coincidence?

I'm actually starting to think the car has gremlins!

My other hypothesis is now that it's 13 years old it's just behaving belligerently like any other teenager.

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