Then And Now

iggieDecember 8, 2007

This afternoon I helped my son In law replace a fuel pump on his Foed Tarus. we had to remove the gas tank etc the part a rebuilt cost a bit over $100 The job took about 5 hrs. This made me think back to an incdent that occure a few years back. The fuel pump went out on my 61 Ford. The wife and I were scheduled to attend a birthday party for a friend. I bought a fuel pump at a local parts place for $15, replaced pump in about an hour and we went to the party. I wonder have we really made any progress?

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Did the '61 Ford get 30 miles per gallon, start easily and be instantly ready to drive smoothly in sub zero weather, and protect you with advanced safety systems in a high speed collision? Some have different ideas of progress than others.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 1:10AM
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A friend wanted me to help him change his fuel pump on his son's Monte Carlo Z34, but we were busy at the time. The cheapest fuel pump available was around $300, and garages wanted $700 Plus for the job. Of course the tank and straps were rotted as well. He ended up having a garage do the entire job for $1150. Turns out the new fuel vapor pressure sensor was defective and another sensor was supposedly defective so he couldn't pass the NYS emissions test during his inspection. The garage refused to drop the tank without charging him so I did it for him and sent him to a business associate to have the vehicle inspected. The garage had also tossed out the rubber cushions that pad the tank so the tank was rattling.

I do enjoy the simplicity, lack of electronics, sensors and the ease of service of many older vehicles.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 12:07PM
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**Did the '61 Ford get 30 miles per gallon, start easily and be instantly ready to drive smoothly in sub zero weather, and protect you with advanced safety systems in a high speed collision? Some have different ideas of progress than others.**

Your talking about technology. Iggie's talking about serviceability.

IMO, there is no reason other than cost and ease of assembly at the time of construction for manufactures to bundle required components together and bury them where it takes a day's labor to get at them. In this example, they could have mounted the electric fuel pump anywhere. Why put it in the gas tank strapped to the underside of the car, access cover sandwiched between the car body and the tank? They could often times at least put an access panel through the car body so one could get to it without tearing the whole car apart. What it would take to replace it wasn't a consideration of the design team.

One of my pet peeves is heater cores. They often times put that thing right against the fire wall on the inside of the car. Then pile layers of crap, the duct work, evaporator, the computer module, wiring, air bags, steering column, and dash in front of it. They could put an access panel on the firewall or inside the ac housing so one could get to it from the outside. Sometimes they do. Most of the time they don't. One way costs $60 for the part and an hours labor (20 minutes actual repair time) tops to replace. The other way is $60 for the part and a days labor. As long as the product makes it out of the warranty period which is a fraction of the life of the car, the manufacturer could care less how expensive it is to repair. GM opti-spark is a good example. Pretty much your basic electronic ignition system, only mount the distributor in front of the engine under the water pump which is under the ac compressor and air pump. Water pump fails, it takes the distributer with it. Need to replace the plug wires, cap or rotor there's a day's labor. Need to replace a $2 rotor up there you might as well replace it all since you're already paying for a days labor just replacing any one thing. Engine sure LOOKS cool though, and it's loaded with all that marvelous technology. Costs $1000 every time you need a tune up, but it does get 5 mpg more than the old school engine did. Guess that's all that matters.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 12:09PM
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The 61 Ford did not get 30 mpg, but neither does the Tarus, does have air bags and might be a bit safer. In my opinion a lot of this so called advanced engineering is a simply a means to force car owners to take vehicles back to dealers for service. 3-5hundred dollars to replace a water pump is ludricous, I don,t care what they say about progress. A lot of this supposed advance engineering is simply a measure to thwart DIYERS.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 3:13PM
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Well, we can sit here all day and b itch about serviceability, but it's not going to change a thing. Cars are designed to be assembled cheaply and efficiently. An auto manufacturer is in business to make money, not to make a pleasant experience for the backyard tinkerer.
As for the way things are packaged, you can thank the endless demands of the environmental and safety Nazis prompted by decades of waste and excess for that; just another part of living in the new safe, sanitized, politically correct, dumbed down America. The days of the 3 ton, leaded gas swilling boat with acres of room under the hood are gone forever. Deal with it.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 7:27PM
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The manufacturers tell us they do consider service-ability, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. But dang, if this is how they can do when they do consider what it takes to service a car, I'd be scared to think of what it would be like if they truly didn't care.. (TIC)

The average time to service a fuel pump on a Taurus is just under two hours.

Fuel pumps are inside the tank to help control fuel leaks and subsequent damage to the enviornment from leaking fuel evaporating.

A Ford Taurus does in fact get right about 30mpg on the highway. Some a little better, some a little worse...

Often times people will say that they are making it tougher to force all of the work back to the dealers, not just out of the DIY'ers garage, but mine too! The facts are cars that are getting harder to work on because the technology is advancing at an ever faster pace all of the time. It's up to the people that WANT to work on cars to keep up, or get left behind. It's happening in independent shops all around the country, the technology is advancing at a rate that they are not prepared (maybe simply not capable of) keeping up with.

'60 era's car, fuel pump diagnosis. Normal tools required to do it correctly, about a $5.00 vacuum pressure gage, and a 1/2 gallon measured vessel.

Today that same diagnosis could require a scan tool, $4000+-, A fuel pressure gage/volume kit, $1000, Occiliscope,. DSO (digital storage occiliscope) $2000-$8000 on average, low amps current probe to go with the scope, $200-$500. Subscription to service information $200 a month, on a lease.

$300-$500 to replace a water pump, if that is all that was really going on, well maybe. In fact some cars are higher than that, much higher. Some are lower. I can think of one right off hand that it's less than $100 today.

In the 60's, even the 70's a guy could be a "mechanic" with about $200 worth of todays money in tools at Sears. Heck a tow truck would have barely cost $2000.

As of right now, including my newest "tool" the 2008 Chevrolet 5500 series flat bed, I have over 1/4 of a million dollars invested. By the time I retire, that 1/4 mill won't have been drawing interest in some retirement account, it will all have made it to the scrap heap with the only return from it being the net profit made from my labor using it.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 8:11AM
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**A Ford Taurus does in fact get right about 30mpg on the highway. Some a little better, some a little worse...**

John, It might get 30 coasting down hill or while being towed, that's about it. 25 is more realistic and that's pushing it, at least for the '93-ish model years. That's part of the reason I haven't been all that gah gah over smaller cars. Seem to have to go way small to get significantly better (hwy) fuel economy than a larger more powerful vehicle. As to serviceability, I find no excuse for burying common wear items. It's just not a priority to the manufacturer so they don't give a cr*p. The priority is shinny paint and lots of bells, whistles and lights so they can attract some monkey over to buy it.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 8:25AM
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Fuel economy didn't mean jack to many of our former auto service customers with out of warranty vehicles. If they were getting around 20 MPG in real world fuel economy they were happy as long as their vehicle was comfortable, dependable, good in the snow and didn't cost a small fortune in maintenance and repairs.

I've always preferred heavier powerful vehicles with plenty of low end torque, good acceleration, wide powerbands and decent handling characteristics. Some of the economy cars I test drive feel like go-carts.

There are bound to be future cost and serviceability issues due to increasing safety, emissions and fuel economy targets. I imagine the complexity and expense of maintaining and servicing future LEV, hybrid, clean diesel, hydrogen or electric vehicles is going to force longer parts and/or emissions warranties.

While I aquired some valuable properties, tools and equipment, I'm glad I'm out of the auto service business. My hands, knuckles and forearms are in much better shape and I swear much less these days.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 11:23AM
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I can remember asking my dad for $2.50 so I could drive across the state & back. I was getting probably a bit over 30 mpg in a mg. The lowest I remember on gas war weekends was around 15¢'s per gal.
My tank only held 7 gallons when bone dry so that $2.50 was probably 2 fill ups.

He asked me what I was going to eat on... I told him orange groves. He handed me $20 and told me to not tell anybody I had it and to hide it in my wallet.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 11:56AM
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I get 28mpg short trips and 33 highway on a 2005 Buick Century.About the same on a 2007 Malibu.I drove Chevy Cavaliers for several years and they got the same mileage but were small cars.

The best way to prevent a fuel pump failure is to not run the tank low.I never let mine get under 1/4 tank.I see many have problems and there the run it to E and put in $10.00 type.

Gas mileage depends a lot on driving habits.If your in a hurry every time you get behind the wheel.Then your going to burn more gas and brake pads.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 1:05PM
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