Old Vehicles Equal Old Problems

The Joy of Vehicle Ownership

Like many people, we own an older vehicle as we don’t want the payments and maintenance schedules that come with owning a new vehicle. No worries about having to make appointments for oil changes and doing things like changing the brake fluid at 24,000 kilometres. However, unlike new vehicles, you don’t have many of the repairs that may be needed covered by warranty. I currently do a lot of driving, so having something having a vehicle that isn’t a major issue to replace and one I can pay cash for is a good thing for us. The last thing I want at this point in our lives is payments, and I do like performing my own repairs as I can ensure the repairs are done properly and save the $100 plus per hour most garages now charge for labor costs. Unfortunately, there are times when those old vehicles equal old problems and those repair costs cannot be justified given the value of the vehicle.

Emissions Issues?

When you have a newer vehicle, you often must suck up the repair costs if the repair in question is no longer covered by warranty. With vehicle emissions requirements these days you have no choice but make the repairs required if you want to keep the vehicle on the road, and those repairs can be very expensive. Need to replace the catalytic converter? You’re looking at a cost of $1000 or more if you must go to a garage for the work. Even if you’re able to do the repair yourself, parts will likely cost over $500 and you may need to purchase special tools to complete the work. When it comes to vehicle emissions repairs, the costs can be very expensive, and you often have no choice but dish out the cash to have those repairs completed.

Time for New Plate Stickers

My wife’s birthday is next week and as the vehicle is in her name, we must renew our plate sticker next week as well. As what usually happens with us, the check engine light came on the day before the renewal letter for the plates came in the mail. When I checked the code with my ODB II scanner, it showed up as a generic code, which means it’s not something that is going to cause the vehicle to suddenly die while driving it. The code indicated that there was a low voltage reading detected on one of the oxygen sensors meaning the catalytic converter is not working correctly or one of the oxygen sensors is faulty. Since my scanner does not have the ability to read live data, I decided to get a scanner that does have that ability.

A Scanner for DIY Mechanics

I found one on Amazon for a price that is much less than the one I purchased at Canadian Tire some time ago that I’ve been using. The BAFX 34t5 ODB II scanner from Amazon.com simply plugs into the port in your car and transmits the live data via Bluetooth to an app of your choosing on your phone or tablet. The app I use on my Android phone is called Torque and works extremely well. I was able to determine with the Bluetooth scanner that the issue was in fact the catalytic converter and that the oxygen sensors were still working correctly. You really can’t go wrong with the BAFX 34t5 ODB II scanner as it only costs a little over $20 USD and the app is another $5. That it’s able to provide live data and record that data to your Android device is amazing considering I spent over $200 for a handheld model a few years back that requires a cable to connect to your vehicle and doesn’t provide half the information the Bluetooth one provides.

Conditional Pass for Emissions Test

After spending a considerable amount on replacement parts and spending a very long time getting the car jacked up high enough to get under it and try removing the old catalytic converter myself, I find that the old one currently installed was modified by the previous owner. They welded the flanges between the catalytic converter assembly and the rest of the exhaust system. Since I don’t have a welder or a torch to cut the old one off, trying to remove and replace it seemed to be a job that was beyond my capabilities. It looks like I will have to return everything and then head to a garage to see what can be done. In Ontario they now have what’s called a “Conditional Pass” for an emissions test. If your vehicle fails the emissions test and you have an estimate stating it will cost more than $460 to fix, they will give you a conditional pass which requires you make the necessary repairs before the next test is required in two years. I doubt I will have the vehicle in two years, but if the estimates to fix it are what I believe they will be, it will be hard to justify those expenses given the age of the vehicle and the mileage it now has.

Pros and Cons of Older Vehicles

Owning a vehicle is almost a necessity here in Ottawa. Although newer vehicles are typically more reliable, they are also more expensive to operate. Owners can have some comfort in knowing that many issues that may occur during the first few years of ownership are covered by warranty, there is the required scheduled maintenance that must be done at the owner’s expense. Failure to complete the necessary repairs will result in your warranty becoming void and no longer honored. We have had several new vehicles over the years and the maintenance costs can become quite high if you happen to do a lot of driving. The maintenance schedules are based on mileage or months of use, so one way or the other, the expenses are coming out of your pocket at some time. I believe many of the maintenance jobs are nothing more than a cash grab for the car companies and the dealerships who sell them. Why would you need to have your brake system drained, flushed and refilled knowing that vehicles for many years now have been using sealed systems? How does the brake fluid become dirty or contaminated if it is in a sealed system? The same goes for the power steering system and differentials. Maybe the car manufacturers know something I don’t about contamination, but it seems to me that a sealed system should not be a concern for contamination.

In any case, I must go for an emissions test on Monday and then get an extension on our plates. I then have many items I need to return for the job I was planning on doing myself. I guess that will give me some extra time to research on how to make money online from YouTube and other online entities. I’m starting to enjoy writing and posting on my personal blog and would like to expand into videos and perhaps even start writing and performing music.

As always, feel free to leave any comments you many have. If you want to learn more about the OBD II Bluetooth scanner, leave you question in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them as quickly as possible.


GP Joa

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