Sunday, March 8, 2015

This Is Why Automotive Design Engineers Should Be Kicked In The Balls Until Their Eyes Bleed

Let me give you a bit of background  before I come completely unhinged here.

I have been a mechanic my entire adult life.
I am a natural born mechanic, I can remember working on my pedal car when I was five fucking years old.
I have over thirty five years of professional experience on top of working on my own shit since I was a kid.

I have an Associates degree in Applied Science for Automotive Technology that is Ford Motor Company specific and worked at a Lincoln/Mercury dealership for ten years.

I worked in construction for many years and have worked at construction equipment rental outfits.
I have worked on Cranes, Big Trucks, Dozers, Backhoes, you fucking name it, all the way down to lawn mower engine type shit.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever come close to being so ridiculously engineered with total disregard for serviceability as automobiles.

I have literally seen automotive parts that were installed at the factory that were stuffed in on an assembly line where it was convenient that require disassembling half the fucking car to get back out.
I have seen a heater core installation that required completely stripping the dash board of every single component attached to it and then removing the entire dashboard out of the vehicle, just to remove a leaking heater core.

These are the kinds of idiotic engineering feats that make me want to punch someone in the face, repeatedly.

There is absolutely no reason for it.

Take the Ford Tempo for example.

To get the heater core out of that vehicle, you drained the coolant, took off two hose clamps and the heater hoses, dropped the glove compartment lid down and removed four screws.

That's it.
You then pulled the heater core out, stuffed another one in, put the four screws and the cover back on, hooked up the hoses, tightened the clamps, filled the cocksucker with coolant and you were done.

You see, I had to replace the heater core in my thirty two year old El Camino today.
Not the first time I have ever done this job either,

Let me show you some pictures.

Towards the top there you can see the heater shut off valve, that round silver thing. The heater core is right there under that cover on top.

Should be easy to get to, right?

Yeah, right.

There you can see it sitting down in the hole with the tubes sticking out, ready to pull.

Now let me show you what it took to get there.

That is  the the cover I had to take off.

There are some of the THIRTY TWO MOTHERFUCKING SCREWS AND SIX BRACKETS I had to take out just to get that cover off!

 I had to yank both wiper arms and a polished aluminum cover that goes clear across the bottom of the windshield and the blower motor too.

Just to make it more fun, I had to use six different sockets for all those little screws.

Metric and standard both, of course.

 By the way, they like to hide these little screws in really weird places too.

A quarter inch drive air ratchet made it go a lot quicker though.

Someone PLEASE explain to me why all this fucking bullshit is necessary?

It's absolute insanity like this that makes me hate the people that design this shit with all my being.

There should be a fucking bounty on their heads.

This is why it costs so much to have your God damn car worked on people.

It's also why so many mechanics drink too much.

There is absolutely no reason they couldn't have put an access cover on that big plastic mess, with four screws to take it off.

The whole job could then be done in under a half an hour.

Look at this again and remember that this was designed way before computer design was available.

Some fucking asshole spent a month designing that fucking thing.

That same asshole should have been made to pull that heater core out and put it right back in forty two times in a row.

This is how you teach educated idiots the meaning of serviceability.


Wraith said...

Here's the irony...

This seems more prevalent on American cars than Japanese cars(not that the Land of the Rising Sun never does shit like this, but they're usually far more intelligent). But when it comes to bikes, you can turn that on its head--I bought a Harley in part because it was FAR easier to work on than any Jap bike I've ever had.

How about we send our HD guys over to Japan to teach them the same thing Japan should be teaching our auto companies: HOW NOT TO FUCK THINGS UP FOR THE MECHANIC.

Anonymous said...

Actually Busted, the engineer probably received a big fat bonus for designing something that requires so much time and effort to replace, more money will be collected when the part fails and needs replaced. Obsolesce and complicated repair efforts have been purposely engineered in all durable goods we buy today. It has been a fact of life since the late 50's.

Now then, I have never been the Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge type, but the easiest to fix and service vehicle I have ever owned was a Jeep CJ. If any guy could not take a wrench to a jeep, then they simply need to sell any and all tools they own.

Phil said...

I hear that. I bought a brand new Honda 450 back in '83.
Jesus Christ what a pain in the ass to work on that thing was.
I never knew the Japs had metric fingernails until I tried working on that sonofabitch.

Ro said...

If you think this is bad try working on stuff from Satan's own car manufacturer Renault. Even the little car they make the Modus, should've been called the Crapus, is a nightmare. Changing a headlamp bulb requires removing the entire front bumper and engine shield. Horrible car, should have an ice axe supplied as standard so you can beat the shit out of it everyday.

taminator013 said...

Not nearly as bad as the Modus, but a few years ago the lovely missus needed the driver's side headlight replaced in her 2005 Elantra. Okay, no sweat. I picked one up on the way home from work and figured that it would take about 30 seconds to do. Wrong. You have to remove a cover over the battery, take out the battery which has a clamp bolt that is a bastard to reach, disconnect the wiring clamp and screw with these funky clips that hold the bulb in. To top it off there is barely enough room for a munchkin to get his hand in there. Forty five minutes, six nicks and cuts and about a hundred yelled motherfuckers later the job was done. The same bulb went out a couple years later. I told her to stop at her mechanic and have him do it..............

Robert Fowler said...

Back in 2001, we had a Ford rep show up over complaints of their cutting warranty times. Right after he told us the techs in Detroit tested these times, he made the mistake of asking if anyone had any questions. He fucked up. I told him he needed to haul ass back to Detroit, load up a couple of those super tech and bring them to Iowa. When he asked why I explained it to him. Anyone can work on a fresh off the line car or truck. Bring the motherfuckers out here to where before you even start working on the rusted in bolts, you have to wash two years of mud and pig shit off of them.

Since I was the diesel tech, I got to put up with all of the cool modifications some farmers did to their trucks. The snowplows weren't bad. Then there were things like seeders and salt spreaders that were electric and they just found a hot wire and started cutting. Extra braces welded on for towing equipment right in the way and other cool mods.

The rep was speechless. The owner of the dealership stood up and started clapping. If looks could kill, I would have been melted like the wicked witch. I don't know what the rep told anyone back in Detroit, but I'm pretty sure my name got mentioned with a warning not to ask if anyone had a question. They didn't raise the times back up and about a year and a half later I had enough and went back to truck driving.

Walter Zoomie said...

I feel you, brother. In a more temperate clime, I would bypass that motherfucker in a heart-beat and be done with it.

I changed a heater core in a '91 Caddy once.


One Fly said...

Glad I missed all of it. This is why I pretty much quit doing this shit. Frustration and stress level waaaaay to high and NO satisfaction level when finished. So I can do this shit - so fucking what. I'd rather hike in a jungle or a canyon.

Sixbears said...

That's a nasty little design. I'm pretty fed up with changing diesel filters in an E350 van. The air filter assembly, assorted hoses, wires, and clamps need to be removed. Then there's no absolutely no room to squeeze the damn thing in. Reassembly is even worse. That's on a part that can need replacement often with just one bad load of diesel.

I've got to buy another used car when I get back home and I'm definitely going to keep ease of repair in mind.

c-90 said...

Try the MLRS rocket launcher. The US version vehicle is a modified Bradley chassis, in American standard nuts and bolts. And the Launcher/Loader Module LLM was developed for international use, metric tools needed. So the support maintenance guys need complete tool kits in metric and American standard.

Jesse in DC said...

Boy do I feel you there... Just did a heater core in a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee... Dash out, console, etc, then the heater box.... 2 days of PITA work. But the really fun job I have going is replacing the heads on an 06 Jag... Prior to 04, Jags were assembled by human beings, and truth be told, they were easy enough to fix. In 04, the Ford designed "aluminum car" came out. I have NEVER in almost 40 years of fixing cars, have EVER had one this bad. I even had to remove the wiper arms... To get the heads off. Holy shit, I have a new cutoff date for cars I will service...

SiGraybeard said...

I always heard the most expensive cars like Caddies, Rolls Royces, Bentleys and such were easier to work on because the top management told the designers to design for repair, and it was OK if that made the care somewhat more expensive. People who bought the top end cars were more likely to bring them to the dealer, and they wanted to keep the dealer cost down, too.

Is that just a myth?

Phil said...

I remember them doing that back in 98, I think it was because I bailed in 99.
They stated that they wanted to cut costs and save one billion dollars, in one year.
They cut the warranty repair code book in half. That one billion dollar savings came directly out of the ass pockets of the mechanics.

When you mentioned farmers modifying their rigs I cringed.
I can only imagine the shit you had to put up with.
They can be a creative bunch. (Cough Cough)

I also went toe to toe with the res and filed challenges to their repar times.
I finally said fuck it after ten years. I don't know if you remember the ASSET program but that is the two year degree I mentioned.
I had already been a mechanic for ten years when I entered that program so I smoked it.

Fat lot of good it did me in the long run though.

Nice to see you were a fellow Blue Oval fan. I gave up on the bastards and went back to Chevy.

Phil said...

Yeah , I remember when Ford took over Jag. What a clusterfuck.

It's not like Jag didn't already have it's own peculiarities but then the Whiz Kids from Ford got their grubby mitts on 'em and after that you didn't know what the hell was what anymore.

As for a cut off date, that is exactly what I did myself.

I refuse to work on anything built after 2005 and it has to be a relative for me to do that.
I appreciate you stopping by.

Phil said...

I have run into that shit before, trust me.
Having half a roll away tool box scattered across the floor trying to fix some god forsaken abortion cobbled together by some fucking asshole engineer.

Ford was good at that for some time and what always killed me about those sonsabitches was that several of the bolts would have the same diameter and thread pitch with different head sizes so you had to have six different fucking sockets out to take the same sized bolts out.

Gary said...

Most automotive designs are driven by cost of assembly, you can blame the accountants for this. They will force a company to reduce time to assemble or parts costs and service is often a secondary consideration.

Wraith said...

The Honda 450 twin? I threw my back out trying to pull the motor from one of those damn things...!!!

Phil said...

That's the one.

Broke the timing chain tensioner pinch bolt off at 500 miles then broke a headbolt off in the case trying to get the head off to fix that. A two week nightmare of trying to get a broken easy out out of the aluminum case.

Wound up blowing it out with a torch and putting a helicoil in the crater left behind. Fucking disaster.

I used to ride that thing on the street like a dirt bike.

Chris Mallory said...

I saw the heater core thing with Ford. I had an early 80's Bronco II, the heater core came out in about 15 minutes. Unclamp a couple hoses in the engine compartment and spring the glove box open. On a 1999 Ranger, removing the heater core involved taking out the whole freakin dash. But then radios are the same way. Some you can pop out with a couple pieces of wire. Others require the dash to be removed. Sheer idiocy.

BadTux said...

One thing I like about my Jeep Wrangler is that working on it is a breeze. Everything's out there in the open and easy to get at. Same deal with my old Kawasaki KLR-650 motorcycle. Pop off the seat, pop off the gas tank, and everything's right there in the open ready to be worked on, and because it's a big thumper there's not a whole lot of "there" there in the first place. Changing the light bulbs does require popping the grill off and removing the light bulb ring with a Torx screwdriver, but this is *literally* popping the grill off -- it's held in place by plastic pop rivets, pop your plastic fork tool under them, pop them out, and then pull it off the clips and reverse to reinstall.

Talking about Torx, Chiseler loves them some Torx. At least they don't round out when you sneeze at'em like Phillips-head screws do, but dammit, we already had one socket-head standard (ye olde Allen hex key), why'nhell did they have to invent a new one? Answer I get is along the lines of Torx screws being easier for robots to line up screwdrivers on or some shit like that. Sigh. So now I got a full set of goddamn Torx screwdrivers and Torx sockets to take up room beside the hex head drivers and wrenches and sockets too. I need a bigger roll-away, mine is bursting at its gills and has overflowed into drawers elsewhere in the garage. Because I can't get rid of any of that other stuff because I have cars that need those, too. Sigh.

It sucks that the "American" car makes can't just bloody well go to metric, already. On the other hand, they're using so many legacy parts that it might be impossible to do so. I can tell which decade which part on my Wrangler was designed in by whether it uses English or Metric bolts or screws. Wheel lug nuts? 1960's Dana axle, 3/4". Dashboard handle on passenger side? Early 2000's Daimler, 7mm screws. Air filter retainer bolt? Mid 2000's Daimler/Cerberus, 10mm. Engine oil drain plug? Early-mid 2000's Daimler, 17mm socket. Axle cover bolts? 1960's Dana, 1/2". Etc. Sigh.

BadTux said...

There's some newer cars that are easy to work on. But it's hit or miss. Mostly miss if you're talking about anything that looks sleek and aerodynamic, they got that look by smashing everything into the tiniest pointiest nose possible...

BadTux said...

Hearing you guys talk about how bad the business has gotten makes me glad that I'm the world's slowest mechanic. My dad was a mechanic and I was doing brake jobs by the time I was ten years old, but even today it takes me half the fucking day to do a simple-ass brake job on the front of a vehicle with solid axles and disk brakes (no crappy ass drums to mess with, no CV joints or shit, disk just slides off the wheel lugs once you take the caliper off). So I called it quits on trying to be a mechanic and went and did other shit instead that I seem to be able to do faster. Sounds like I accidentally made the right choice. Pity, I do enjoy working on cars, even if it takes me forever and a half.

BadTux said...

That pretty much describes the pre-2007 Wranglers too. Simple-ass vehicles that you could fix with a BFH, baling wire, and pliers if you needed to. The new 2007+ Wranglers drive a helluva lot better, and are a helluva lot safer too (electronic sway control in a top-heavy vehicle like a Wrangler definitely has prevented mundo rollovers), but working on them, while easier than most cars, just ain't the same as on those old CJ's and pre-2007 Wranglers.

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