Engine management....WHY?

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Mastercamper, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Mastercamper

    Mastercamper Read Only Funster

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    Over the last 60 years, I have owned, driven or been responsible for 100`s of vehicles, from motorcycles ,through cars, vans, trucks, P S Vehicles, campervans, motorhomes etc. I have learned that maintenance and respect for the mechanicals and basic knowledge of what happens under the bonnet are the keys to trouble free motoring. Over more than 1,000,000 miles, I have suffered very few roadside breakdowns. When these have occurred, I have usually been able to sort them out ,and only had to refer to breakdown services on very rare occasions.
    Over the last few years, however, with the proliferation of so called engine management systems. I have suffered several roadside failures, necessitating reliance on rescue services and the consequent inconvenience associated with breakdowns.
    In each case it has not been a mechanical failure as such, but a computer failure in a sensor which has shut the system down. Each repair has been ridiculously expensive needing the replacement of a sensor, to say that, that which was not faulty is no longer faulty, if you get my drift.
    My question is this:- Should progress inevitably be regressive as is the case with engine management systems. Do we really need them?
     
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  2. dave newell lvs

    dave newell lvs Trader-Vehicle Services

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    But its not "regressive" as you put it. It is progressive. When I started in the motor trade coming up to 37 years ago the average life expectancy of a four cylinder car or light commercial engine was around 60,000 - 80,000 miles and no car makers other than Volvo had odometers that went above 100,000. Now it seems almost unthinkable for any engine to cover less than 150,000 before needing major attention. Breakdowns were a common and every day occurrence, yes they could often be fixed at the roadside by a competent DIYer but did it have to be so frequent? Modern engine management systems have made engines more powerful and more economical, for example a 1970s Ford crossflow 1.6 would produce around 70BHP but modern day motors are producing 100+BHP from the same capacity, my 1995 MX5 has just been mapped to get the best out of the mods I've done to it and now produces 137BHP and 136ft/lbs torque, not bad from an engine that's "just run in" now with 114,000 miles under its belts. Yes sensors fail and are often the cause of breakdowns but they don't actually break down anywhere near as frequently as they used to.

    D.
     
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  3. Mastercamper

    Mastercamper Read Only Funster

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    Yes, I agree to a point, but what I am saying is that regular maintenance was always considered to be necessary as a means to safe and reliable motoring. I am now suffering more failures due to the failure of sensors, not to the failure of regularly maintained mechanical components. Why are sensors so expensive to replace?
    In the last year I have had to replace a dpf sensor (£140 + Fitting) for an 18 inch piece of wire with a small plug on one end and a small probe on the other, ABS sensor again no brake fault just a sensor giving up. Currently a complete engine shut down caused by a sensor saying there is a fuel problem,( when of course there is not.) Vehicle immobile, awaiting mobile fitter to get me going again. Definitely not progress, to my simple mind.
     
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  4. dave newell lvs

    dave newell lvs Trader-Vehicle Services

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    But the problem here is you are judging the entire motor industry on your own limited experiences. Many people have modern vehicles that never give them trouble.

    D.
     
  5. Mastercamper

    Mastercamper Read Only Funster

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    We could continue to argue the point. My own limited experience tells me that sensors are causing a problem that I don`t have. Several vehicle technicians are telling me the same thing. Probably your own limited experience has not encountered these same problems. All I am saying is why do we need these unnecessary technical gizmos when we have managed quite well up to now, when progress is causing so much hassle or is it just another way to line the pockets of the motor trade repair industry. Present company excepted of course
     
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  6. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    I think you need to bear in mind modern vehicles are a bit like modern electronics in that they are not meant to be repaired. This is an exaggeration of course but essentially they are designed to be extremely reliable for a set time and at the end of their design life to be thrown away.

    Most of our MHs are based on white vans designed to last around say 7 years then be scrapped. This doesn't mean people can't keep them on the road longer but it does get increasingly difficult.
     
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  7. Trikeman

    Trikeman Read Only Funster

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    The main reason for the technologies you mention is to reduce emissions whilst producing power across the range.
    In the good old days the engine (pump or carb fed) was controlled directly from your right foot - today's vehicles 'respond' to what your right foot is indicating to the per-programmed electronics,,,,,, don't matter what you do with your right foot the engine will only do what has been pre-programmed into the electronics for the given pedal position (plus other variables). This gives (and maintains) the best air/fuel mixtures for the given requirements and load.
    This programme relies on temperatures, fuel pressures, throttle demands, exhaust oxygen levels etc etc etc. All this is calculated to give the lowest emissions for the best performance, within reason. With the old systems you slammed your right foot down and a fair proportion of the unburned fuel came out the rear as high emissions.:Eek!:

    The sensors you mention are integral and vitally important components within a sophisticated system - though agreed expensive but as also indicated, generally reliable, unless not maintained.

    Trikeman. :Wink:
     
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  8. Mastercamper

    Mastercamper Read Only Funster

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    [HI]

    [/HI]

    Hello DBK.
    All I am asking is why?
    In this day and age when recycling is thrust upon us, am I forced into a position that failure of a sensing component is tantamount to huge expenditure on something that isn`t actually needed?
    I agree that engines have become much more efficient, and that white van technology is what is regarded to be the norm. But does it make sense that, for instance a failing sensor can cause a complete engine shut down, which has happened to me twice now, fortunately not at 70 mph on the motorway, but never at a convenient time, (if such an unnecessary breakdown could be described as a convenient time)?
    Do ,for example we all instantly know what all the dash warning symbols mean when a sensor plays silly b**ggers or because so many false warnings manifest, do we assume that they are calling wolf and ignore them till one day a proper fault is recorded? Even a poor earth connection can cause Blackpool illuminations on the dash.


    Progress?:Eeek:
     
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  9. Mastercamper

    Mastercamper Read Only Funster

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    How pray, do you maintain a sensor?
     
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  10. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    You don't, you just replace them. That's what much maintenance is these days.
     
  11. Mastercamper

    Mastercamper Read Only Funster

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    Exactly.

    How do you know that it is going to fail?

    Is there a hidden agenda that says all sensors need to be replaced before they fail?
    When they do fail it can be disastrous if they shut everything down unexpectedly.

    What is the point?
     
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  12. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    Honest John's thoughts on the matter.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/festival-of-motoring/10031645/Are-modern-cars-less-reliable.html

    I'm not sure I agree that modern cars are less reliable than cars of old but they certainly won't last as long. Our local paper has an article in it about a couple who have just driven 20k miles from Alaska to the tip of South America in an Austin 7. They had mechanical problems but could always get it fixed locally. Do it in say a Toyota Land Cruiser and you would be surprised if anything broke - but if it did the local garage would probably be stumped until a part was flown out. Which would probably be the wrong part if the garage didn't have the right diagnostic equipment.

    I spent most of my working life with military vehicles and as a generalisation equipment now is streets ahead in term of reliability with what went before and it is also a lot more complicated. Not that the complications make it more reliable, that's down to design, materials and manufacturing for quality.
     
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  13. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    yes, we do need engine management systems.....to keep the tree huggers pacified.

    The automotive industry managed quite well for a 100 years without them.

    There are very few true mechanics left and getting fewer by the day....only fitters and vehicle technicians (computer geeks to you and me)

    Fitter = fit the part but dont know why
    Technician = diagnose the fault but dont know what the part looks like.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
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  14. meexi

    meexi Read Only Funster

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    Mechanics

    Mechanics are not mechanics any more that would use there 5 senses to find a fault and repair it.

    They are fitters who will try one component after another until the engine management light goes out.
     
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  15. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Funster

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    We are a two car family. Both cars are serviced every six months and have the usually daily and weekly checks. One car has never (touch wood) given us any bother, the other has been a constant worry with the EMS going haywire on a regular basis. Seems no rhyme or reason why one car should be trouble free and the other a headache.

    When we have the Christmas tree effect the solution is to switch it all off, go and make a cup of tea then try again in 30 mins and it has usually cleared itself. The diagnostics at the garage always come up with something different - once including a problem with something not fitted to our model of car! We even had the EMU replaced under warranty but that didn't make any difference. It seems to be a common problem with that make / model looking at the internet forums.
     
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  16. oldflemo

    oldflemo Funster

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    [HI]The sensors you mention are integral and vitally important components within a sophisticated system - though agreed expensive but as also indicated, generally reliable, unless not maintained.[/HI]
    Can I ask somewhat stupidly perhaps what maintenance can be done on sensors?
    If this can be informed then perhaps a lot of heartache and bankache can be avoided
    Regards
    Ian:Smile::Smile:
     
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  17. robnchris

    robnchris Funster

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    Some very interesting trains of thought on this one.

    I`m thinking that yes cars, trucks anything with an internal combustion engine are these days lasting a whole lot longer without any major mechanical work but I would put that down to finer tolerences in machine parts, better materials and possibly the most important far better lubricants.

    As stated by the poster it`s 99% poor quality electronics that let even the most expensive vehicles down.
     
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  18. SUGGY

    SUGGY Funster Life Member

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    Ford Transit 2009 , When my engine malfunction light came on at sidi ifni , the garage put the lap top on it and the diagnostics had recorded 72 faults :Eeek:

    after stripping the erg unit and pipes , we found they were well carboned up , after cleaning everything , resetting the system fired up went up the road the light came on again and recorded the same faults plus loads more , :Doh:

    Mpg computer is showing an average of 32 mpg the other day 42.7 mpg at 45mph :Smile:

    If i was in the uk , iwould just keep to the bus routes , here in morocco it is not that easy :Rofl1:

    i thought i was buying realiability in getting a transit ........:cry:
     
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  19. fifthwheel

    fifthwheel Read Only Funster

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    I am working on a Renault Master 2002 van doing a camper conversion I am dreading taking the thing abroad when finished. I just know we will get electrical problems I probably cant fix, this isn't progress is it?
     
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  20. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    in a word...none.

    Sensors are a sealed unit with no servicable componants....apart from air flow sensors which can be cleaned with care.

    Only 'maintenance' would be removal and a wipe with a clean rag if they are an external sensor.....ABS etc....but the chance of failure of the sensor remain the same regardless, only the functionality could be compromised if dirty......but that isnt the sensor which has failed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
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