Q: We had issues with the battery on our 2001 Chevy S-10, so we changed it approximately eight months ago. No issues for a while. Approximately one month ago, the truck would not turn over, and with the ignition key in hand and nothing on, I was watching the gauges going up and down as if power were surging on and off. I charged the battery and got the truck started, and all was well until the other day. While I was driving along, the truck suddenly went dead.
I jumped it from another vehicle, and it died again. The next morning, I checked the voltage and it was 4.1 DC. I jumped it from another vehicle and then checked the voltage, only holding 8.0 DC. I jumped it for another 10 minutes and only 8.3. I disconnected the battery and charged it for five minutes and checked, and the battery was at 13.8. We drove it to a mechanic, and all checked out well. It has been OK the rest of the week, but I am waiting for my son's call that it died again and he is on the side of the road. Any suggestions?
A: There is a series of tests to be performed on this vehicle, including the battery, alternator and charging system. I also would take a very close look at the fuse box connections, as well as the engine ground and connections at the starter and the alternator. Because this problem is going to leave you stranded, and most likely at the worst time and place, you will need to have this fixed. This may be beyond the capabilities of a lot of general repair shops. Try an electrical specialty shop.
Q: I just read your article on spark plugs and heard of other horror stories on a job that at one time was mundane. I work for a large jet engine manufacturer. One of the things we would do when assembling combustors was use graphite on the nuts. I have seen these parts come back to the shop with large holes and burnt pretty badly; they always came apart. The temperature of this part far exceeds anything seen in a combustion engine.
The first time I changed out an O2 sensor, I was dreading it. Wasn't I surprised that someone at Toyota had the wherewithal to use graphite on assembly. Wouldn't you think that someone would treat long-life plugs? My truck right now is at 60,000. Guess what's getting done next weekend?
A: I only wish Ford would read our articles. It would take only a smidgen more of the process to put graphite or never-seize on the plugs, or even change the maintenance schedule to a spark plug change at 50,000 miles. This would save on big labor charges and also make the coil over the plugs last much longer. I don't know; maybe it's planned obsolescence.
Car Care Tip: Did you know Sylvania makes ultra-bright backup light bulbs for most cars? Check out availability for your year, make and model.
• • •
Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to email@example.com.