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Written by Randy Gerdin on February 1, 2017

Our staff and I have been working on cars and truck for many, many years. More often, it seems we look at each other and just say, “Crazy”. Of course, we are referring to the technology of vehicles and what it takes to repair them. Recently, we had a full size major brand pick-up into the shop. The complaint was a check engine light and occasionally the truck seemed not to shift properly. The owner also had purchased a couple of non-factory key fobs off E-Bay that he wanted programmed. We started in, scanned the computer with the factory scanner, and found 4 codes all relating to the oxygen sensors and their circuitry. We took the vehicle on a 10-mile test drive while monitoring the oxygen sensors, as this vehicle has 4. While driving, we did not notice any issues or irregularities with the sensors, their response time, or any other issues.

When we got back, we opened up our on-line professional database/repair manuals, did our research, and found that this vehicle had a program update available for this condition, as well as a transmission update. The repair manual instructed us to perform the update, clear the code, and test drive. If the codes stayed cleared, that would be all that is needed. If the codes returned, the Power-Train Control Module (PCM) computer would need to be replaced. In addition, the manufacture had released a recall on the PCM for this issue. That is great. However, we needed to go through those steps to verify what needed to be done. In fact, after the update to the PCM, the codes returned and we informed the owner of the recall, which he should have received in the mail.

We then started to program the key fobs. The first step was to replace the batteries in the fobs, because they were dead. After we replaced the batteries, we then did the reprogramming sequence. When done, we found the vehicle would start, but the door lock-unlock did not work. We then, with our factory scanner, went into the body control module and monitored the lock-unlock signals. We found that the computer would recognize one of the fob signals, but not the other. Also, the locks would not actuate on the truck. We could use the scanner and lock and unlock the doors, but the E-Bay fobs would not work. That is one big risk with getting aftermarket keys/key fobs. There is just so much security built into these vehicles. Without this security, someone could pick up used or aftermarket fobs, program them, and in essence steal anyone’s car. Crazy!

We encountered another technical challenge a few weeks ago while installing a remote start system on a 2016 vehicle with a push button start, no real key. We went through the entire installation, and at the end found out the remote key fob had not been properly programmed at the factory to allow the remote start system to activate. The owner needed to take the vehicle and key fobs back to the dealer and have them reprogrammed. At first, the dealer did not understand what needed to be done until after our technician spoke with the dealer technician. They did what they needed to do, returned the vehicle, and we finished the install and programing. Once again, “Crazy!”

I regularly spend time reading technical journals regarding what new technology is coming out. Again, I say “Crazy”. Technology is moving at an increasingly rapid pace. My concern is, what happens when these vehicle are ten years old or older? I feel we don’t know what is going to happen with this technology. But as always, each day is a new day of learning. One unfortunate consequence is it seems that all this new technology can come with an increase in price as well as a steep learning curve for the consumer. I Hate When That Happens!

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