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STAYING AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Repair shops need to keep up and keep informed, especially when it comes to problems under the hood.
It is a treacherous landscape for repair shop operators and it seems like a jungle sometimes. Automotive technologies are constantly changing. Customer expectations are through the roof and new repair shops are always springing up. So, how do you stay ahead?
The simple answer is to equip your shop with the best talent, the best tools and the best parts for the repair. Fortunately, Mopar® is on your side.
If your business involves FCA US LLC vehicles, including both gasoline and diesel powered models, you’ve come to the right place for help navigating the new standards and best practices. Because every Mopar part comes with a Mopar engineer. There are a few engineers featured on these pages, but the knowledge and experience of many engineers is there for you in every Mopar part.
OPEN IT UP
So, what’s happening under the hood? What should you look for? How do you guarantee a successful repair? Most customers hold off seeking your help until things get bad. Transmission trouble, engine misfire or overheating, hard starting, loss of fluids or the ultimate, no start.
“There are plenty of tips we can give to techs when they’re troubleshooting our transmissions,” says Lou Mancini, the transmission systems manager of Service Powertrain Quality for Mopar and FCA US LLC. “It’s important to make the right repair but it’s also important to check other parts of the system to make sure the vehicle does not come back.”
For example, technicians will see the heavy-duty 48RE transmission found in many 2003-2007 diesel powered Ram trucks. The 62TE six speed came on the scene in 2007, and the NAG1 5 speed all have lots of FCA US vehicle applications over the years. The venerable 41T has been in service since 1989. All of these variations means there are many different possibilities in terms of servicing those transmissions. Techs need to be educated in the differences because no two are the same.
Suppose your customer reports occasional stalling on their diesel powered Ram. The problem could be in the torque converter.
“Inside a diesel torque converter there is a stator to amplify torque,” says Mancini. “There’s an overrunning clutch and a steel retainer that holds the rollers and springs vertical. If that bracket breaks loose, all the parts become unclocked and then the vehicle could stall.”
With Mopar parts, you get running engineering changes on parts that the aftermarket doesn’t get. “There’s a new design on the retainer that we have used for almost two years now and we have not seen one failure since,” says Mancini. That upgrade applies to all diesel torque converters for 1994-2007.
KEEP IT FLOWING
Mancini also cautions all techs to do stringent testing on transmission coolers with every major repair.
“Cooler flushes are not being done enough when a transmission is replaced,” says Mancini. “Ninety percent of the time that’s Ok because the cooler may not have been affected. But 10 percent of the time, if the failure contaminates the cooler, you’ll have a repeat repair and replacement required.”
Mancini encourages a flush of the cooler. “Some techs use a can of aerosol that may remove some of the dirty fluid from the cooler, but without volume and pressure you may miss trapped contaminants. It could take 100 miles for those contaminants to break loose. When they do, the vehicle comes back and the new transmission may be wrongly accused of failure. Do a hot flush in both directions.”
Another helpful hint to successful repairs is to perform either a Quick Learn or Drive Learn on a vehicle with an electronic transmission repair that included replacement of critical components like solenoid packs, control modules, valve bodies, or when the entire unit was replaced.
Quick Learn is a process where the diagnostic tool is used to run a program that actuates all the clutches. This is always done stationary — not while driving. Drive Learn is exactly that — by driving the vehicle it learns the application and release timing for the clutches. After driving for some time, accomplishing the shifts stop and go, the trans will eventually “learn” the application and release rates and improve on the shift quality. Both the Drive and Quick Learn need to be performed under certain conditions. Temperature is the most critical. These “learns” are different between some transmission designs.
The pressure is on all technicians to complete the repair quickly. But according to Mopar® a comeback is not repeat business. An electronic transmission needs to learn the speed of the activities inside the transmission. Without that learning taking place, the customer may come back when the transmission does not shift according to expectations.
“It’s like shooting clay pigeons,” says Mancini. “Keep shooting and eventually you will get the timing down and hit some. The transmission will eventually learn to shift better but that learning should be at the hands of a technician performing the Quick Learn or a Drive Learn.”
And if the learning curve is important on a four- and five-speed transmission, imagine the importance when your business turns to repair of newer eight- and nine-speed transmissions found on today’s models.
TOLL FREE MOPAR TECH SUPPORT
Did you know that Mopar® has a dedicated engineering center and toll-free tech support for many of its new and remanufactured products?
Ralph Rulli, a Mopar technical quality/product expert, analyzes field data and helps coordinate technical support for Mopar Reman powertrain control modules.
“It’s a great feedback loop. We get monthly reports on who is calling in and what technical questions they’re asking. We use that to refine the process to improve the overall customer experience.”
If you’re having technical issues with a Mopar repair or remanufactured part, call 866-262-8517.
INSTALLATION SHEETS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND
Mopar supplies Installation Sheets (I-Sheets), including Quick Learn and Drive Learn instructions, with service transmissions and components. “We’ve offered I-Sheets for many years,” says Mancini. “They have part numbers. They are designed to help the technician, to make sure they don’t miss something. I-Sheets help them diagnose. They suggest things like, ‘here’s your new valve body but what if you have a bad positive cable in the battery, or sensor connection?’ If the technician is diligent he or she can fix all these things so the car does not come back again.”
You get I-Sheets exclusively from Mopar. They help you navigate your way to a guaranteed, quality repair.
LITTLE THINGS LEAD TO BIG REPAIRS
It’s shocking to learn about the neglect and lack of attention paid to important things like, oh, the engine, by unknowing or uncaring vehicle owners. Oil change? What oil change? Is that important? Keep in mind, it’s equally important to avoid neglect on the technician side.
So when an engine failure happens, turn to the original for guaranteed success. Joe Kummer is the remanufacturing engineering lead in Product Development Engineering for FCA US and he has seen some of the worst in his many years working with engines. One of his favorite stories is actually a recent side-by-side test (insert link to video) conducted on a Mopar replacement engine and a new unit purchased in the aftermarket.
Things that may seem insignificant can make all the difference in the real world. Like seals and gaskets. Like the quality of motor oil. Always check for oil level, oil contamination and leaks from head gaskets, valve covers, oil pans and intake manifolds. And hopefully that oil filter on that 100,000 mile engine is not stamped “Factory Installed.”
THE BIG BANG
“We did a dyno test on an aftermarket engine and the engine literally blew up after 15 hours,” says Kummer. “Our Mopar engine ran for 750 hours. In the aftermarket engine they had some generic brand gaskets. That’s suspect right there. If the gaskets are inferior, the potential for problems is high.”
“Something like a head gasket, which is expensive and a high labor repair, they can fail fairly quickly,” says Kummer. “To test the head gaskets we do a deep thermal shock test where we run an engine to operating temperature, then chill it down to minus 20 degrees in 30-40 seconds. That’s a gasket-killer test. We have proven technology and years of experience.”
What they were seeing on engines that failed led Mopar to start supplying O.E. gasket kits with replacement engines. “A lot of components were transferred to the new engine from the old one,” says Kummer. “We could see oil leaks on the old engines and when we looked at the gaskets we couldn’t figure out where they came from. Techs were buying gaskets from any source available. We decided some time ago to ship long blocks with valve cover gaskets, intake and oil pan gaskets – whatever it would take – to make sure they used O.E. approved gaskets so we knew the engine should seal properly.”
With stringent fuel economy and emissions rules coming into the mix, transmissions are going even more high tech to help maximize efficiency.
Another area of interest while under the hood is the engine oil cooler. The oil cooler keeps the oil at the proper temperature for longevity and to help achieve optimal MPGs, and Mopar® supplies new oil coolers with certain powertrain purchases.
“When you have a catastrophic failure of the engine, some bad stuff can get into the oil cooler,” says Kummer. “If the old cooler has dirt and debris in it, and it is installed on the new engine, as the engine heats up, it dislodges the dirt and can cause a catastrophic failure. At times we give coolers to them. If the engine does not use the cooler they can put it on the shelf.”
Mopar has also made it easier for technicians to determine if a customer is experiencing engine problems due to running the engine too hot. A small telltale, about the size of a nickel, has been added to replacement units that would give clues upon inspection.
“We added a telltale on the back side of cylinder heads on the water cooling cup plugs that melts at 250 degrees,” says Kummer. “If you overheat the engine, these melt. A tech could use that telltale when a customer has an overheat condition in the field, then comes back to his shop. If they’re melted you know it’s not a chance occurrence.”
CHANGE, NO CHANGE
It’s indeed a jungle out there. Luckily, a few things remain constant in vehicle component technology. Starters, for example, haven’t changed significantly in 30 years. “A bad starter should display a fault code, or on earlier models of course you can get the telltale clicking sound when the solenoid does not engage,” says Phil Hines, an engineer at LTD, a Mopar approved remanufacturing partner. “There could be a weak battery so the tech will need to do some electrical testing to determine the cause.” It’s less about the difficulty in diagnosing and more about making a repair with a quality replacement.
“If an alternator fails it trips the OBDII light/check engine or battery light,” says Hines. “The tech can pull those codes and he gets a list of tests to isolate the problem. Choosing the right part to make the fix is the key.”
As always, Mopar Reman starters and alternators are made to O.E. specifications, including any running engineering changes that have taken place over the years. Tolerances are carefully checked and rechecked, new O.E. bearings are installed, new seals added and corrosion treatment applied to rotors and stators.
Hines noted that more 6-phase alternators are coming into play on newer models, compared to the common 3-phase. “That’s not a major change that will affect the technician, but the 6-phase units provide a more stable currentand voltage across the board. It’s certainly a technology upgrade.”
Keep reading Mopar Magazine in the coming months as Mopar continues to help you navigate the challenges of evolving technology and increasing customer expectations.