Tips For Choosing a Digital Storage Oscilloscope For the Automotive Technician

Next to a good scan tool, I think having a good scope is vital to diagnosing today’s cars. A scan tool will tell you what the control module is “seeing”, but a scope will tell you if the module is being told the truth by allowing you to see the actual input from the sensors.

The scope you choose should be in line with your needs and your budget. There are a variety to choose from, but they generally fall into 2 categories: handheld, or PC-based.

Let’s take a look at the two.

What Is A Scope?

When measuring voltage, there are three tools that immediately come to mind. The first is the Digital Volt-Ohm Meter, or DVOM. This tool simply measures voltage and displays it on the screen. Most have a variety of features that allow you to record minimum and maximum readings as well, and certainly they have their place in diagnosing electrical problems.

The next tool is a Graphing DVOM. This tool now allows the measurement to be plotted on a graph over time, allowing the user to see the variances in the signal as they occur.

Last is the DSO, or Digital Storage Oscilloscope. The DSO, too, graphs the voltage signal over time. The BIG difference between all three is the rate that each samples and records these signals. Let me back up a bit. Each tool “samples” the signal and then plots the average to the display screen…whether in a numerical value or as a graph. The accuracy of the reading is impacted, therefore, by how many samples per second the tool records and averages. The more samples taken, the more accurate the reading. Of course, there are variances inherent in each tool as well that need be taken into consideration. The typical DVOM may sample at the rate of 200-400 samples per second, as compared to a good DSO with a sample rate of 20 MILLION samples per second.

Now consider the speed at which some input signals occur. As a reference, the typical spark plug takes 1.5 milliseconds to “fire”, and we’ve all seen a spark jump it’s gap. The graphing meter or DVOM just can’t sample fast enough to catch imperfections in signals operating at this kind of speed. And that is just one area where a scope shines!

In addition to measuring voltage, a scope can be used to measure pressure, vacuum, and current with the right accessories. These abilities allow a good scope user to perform engine diagnostics faster and easier. Imagine, for example, testing the mechanical health of a modern transverse V6 in a matter of minutes, rather than hours!

HandHeld Scopes

Handheld scopes are more convenient than most PC-based scopes and often more user friendly, with built in databases and testing methods. The Vantage PRO, by Snap-On, is probably the most popular and most capable of the handheld offerings out there. Cost, however, may be a factor for most, with the PRO 2-channel costing more than many PC-based 4-channel units. The key is in how much help you really need…Do you want all the “bells and whistles”?

If cost is the primary factor, then the UEI scope/scan tool may be the choice for you. Having experience with the original UEI ADL7100 scope (I still have it!), I think most beginning scope users will find this scope more than sufficient for most testing needs.

If it’s real diagnostic power you want, though, then PC is the way to go

PC-based Scopes

There are PC and PDA scope options available today, and all offer more power for diagnostics than the conventional handhelds. The ability to utilize higher sample rates, view on a larger screen, and store/record more information allows the user to find those elusive “glitches” that a handheld may miss.

PICO scopes are at the forefront of automotive PC-based scopes, and are competitively priced to handhelds. Unlike the databases in most handhelds, updates for the PICO are free. Because of their early relationship with Tom Roberts, PICO has become the top choice of techs looking for PC scope applications.

There are also other choices in PC scope software/hardware, and I encourage you to do your homework when comparing. Remember, tools are an investment in your productivity and their cost should be compared versus their benefits. Keep in mind, too, that any scope is only as good as the user. Make sure the tool you choose…and the company you choose to purchase it from…will be there to help you learn how to get the most out of your new scope!

Car Care Products – How To Select The Best In Car Care Products

Aftermarket car care products can always prove challenging when first buying for your car. Car care products and detailing supplies are the fuel that makes a passion for a new or new used vehicle so that choosing the right products are essential to having keeping a vehicle nice. This article examines the various types of products that go into making a new car sparkle both inside and out.

After purchasing your new car or when you are fixing up your current automobile, the logical step is getting and using the correct tools and chemicals that get you that perfect shine. You are, of course, inspired to go that extra mile which is why quality car care products are appreciated by all auto/truck enthusiasts.

Whether you are a professional detailer or just a weekend hobbyist, the following tips will help you have a vehicle you can be proud to drive.

Six Quick Tips For Shining Up That New or New Used Vehicle

Invest In the Correct Tools

Car wash mitts, applicators, sponges, brushes, car vacs, dusters and leather care products – these are the tools that keep the interior looking its best. Picking the correct car wash product is not as easy as it used to be. Nowadays there are many types all designed at an advanced level of car care far beyond those old standbys – dishwashing soap and dusty, rusting bucket. Many products that aren’t available in auto shops are now online. Don’t be afraid to ask or email to get the products that fit your needs.

Polishing Up Your Charmer

Polishing utilizing a gentle, high lubricity formula that’s easy and safe for all paint types is the best. Add to that the latest clear coats which can be used on a daily basis to remove dust, grim and loose contaminants keep your automobile looking its absolute best. If you’re mot entirely versed as to what products are right for your surface care needs, you need to establish a relationship with a reputable car shop or online store owner.

Establish via email or in person if the vendor has good information

It is very important to figure out prior to purchase if the vendor is knowledgeable and helpful. You need to ask clear questions, look for online support either via instant messenger or via email and establish rapport with the vendor who can steer you in the right direction.

Rapport Is Everything

Establish rapport and clearly outline what you plan to do from a simple clean-up and shine, a full service overhaul and near professional detailing for your car to meet qualifications for show excellence, or just minor detailing for fun and hobby on the weekend. Either way with a good relationship, you should be able to find the best specialty and regular car care products to bring out the perfect finish on your car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle.

Selecting Quality Car Care Products

There are various car care products offering differing levels of quality all designed for people who care about the appearance of their car. Things to remember when emailing is to ask questions like:

– Does it leave a white residue on plastic trim

– Will it produce a durable shine that lasts

– Is it competitively priced

– Do you provide inexpensive accessories to do the job

– Shipping and handling costs

Some car care products are made from inexpensive carnauba waxes and there are also unique product categories which can help discerning consumers decide what types of products best suit their vehicles. With a range of personally selected, high quality automotive products to compliment and enhance the results with dedicated customer support are an essential part of the mix.

Different places provide better products

Try and find a store or online outlet the combines the best of various outlets including: best car wax, car care products, and auto detailing supplies to give your vehicle the perfect show winning shine. You want it to be one-stop shopping so that you can get as much of your project materials and start the work. It should be the number one car care source for auto detailing supplies, the best car wax, car care products, car polishes, auto accessories, polishers, and car detailing tools store.

While professional auto detailers demand professional grade car care products, you are entitled as well to the best which will allow you to achieve professional detailing results, time savings and delivered within a budget category that you can live with.

Installing the Low Range Off-Road Defiant Armor Suzuki Samurai Bumper

Every year around this time I clean up my garage with a garage floor cleaner and other stuff to get ready for the winter and what I will be working on through the season.

I stood there and looked at my Samurai and considered all the things I have going on with it. Right now, the engine is being built (I hope), the factory fender flares are off because I will be putting Bushwackers on (which will be covered in another article), the factory plastic rocker guards are off because I am in the middle of putting on Low Range Defiant Armor Rocker Mount Rock Sliders (also to be covered in another entry in the near future, after some minor body work is done), and then there is the Low Range Defiant Armor Modular Front Bumper kit that I ordered which is still in the boxes.

I wanted to wait until I had a good recovery winch picked out before I did the bumper kit install, but I got to thinking…

Since I now have a giveaway in process for a FREE Low Range Defiant Armor Suzuki Samurai Front Bumper kit, perhaps this would be a good time to mockup the install

… plus, I was dying to see what it looked like in person.

Before I knew it, I was under the rig with the Sawzall, struggling to cut through the hack job of a bumper extension that the previous owner(s) did before I bought the vehicle. You’ll see what I mean in a bit. The instructions that Low Range provides with the kit state that cutting the ends off the bumper mount tube is optional, but the way mine was already modified I had no real choice.

Speaking of the instructions, they are very concise and expertly written (you can check them out on the product page). Follow along with my exploration into making the front bumper go from something weak and useless to something strong and useful.

Shown is the factory bumper with a basic bar welded to it as it came to me when I bought it.

I removed the driving lights and turn signals from the bar and bumper.

Here is how the previous owner(s) extended the front bumper out to clear the 31″ tires. Have you ever seen a more shoddy weld job?

I have to admit, I have never used a Sawzall that much, but I removed the factory bumper without too much issue. I was very surprised at how light the factory Samurai bumper is. It barely offered any real protection at all compared to the Low Range kit.

After making the cuts, I shot the exposed areas with some flat black rust preventative spray paint to keep it corroding.

After removing the factory bumper, it is pretty simple from there. Just position the winch plate per the instructions…

… then bolt on the winch plate cover, the bumper ends (and you have a choice of them, I ordered the short version) and your choice of stinger bar. Then torque the supplied hardware to the specs provided in the instructions and you are good to go!

All in all, it took me around an hour not including cutting the bumper tube off. Makes a hell of a difference, doesn’t it? I think I am going to call up Low Range and place another order for the additional available stubby ends to widen it up a bit and offer more tire protection. Once I get a winch picked out, I’ll revisit this with the final installation. Until then, I am not sure what I am going to do with those Hella driving lights. Maybe I will figure something out by the time I figure out which winch I will go with.

Above all, this is a very high-quality kit made with precision and durability. It is designed very well and even packaged with care. I am thankful that Low Range made these for the old’ Samurai!

Do It Yourself Car Window Tinting: Things You’ll Need to Consider

Do it yourself car window tinting is so tempting because it appears that it can save a lot of money compared to hiring a pro. Some online tinting kits claim to cost about 10 bucks plus the $15 to $25 cost of the half a dozen tools you may need. The idea that you might be able to reduce glare, increase privacy, decrease theft potential, keep cooler in the hot times and maybe add a nice looking touch to your favorite ride for less than $35 can be a tempting proposition.

Well that’s the up side. The question is how difficult is it to actually apply the tint, have it look great and last like the professional jobs?

It starts with the prep. Obviously when you apply the tint to the inside of your auto windows you will need it to be absolutely spotless. Any dust or dirt particles will need to be completely removed with the proper cleaning chemicals and a razor blade. You will need to be careful to not scratch the glass while cleaning because any scratch will be apparent under the tint.

If you own a dog its hair can be a royal pain to control. You not only have to remove the hair stuck to the window surface but as you move around the car you will be stirring up hair that is resting on the floor and seats. You may have to continually re-wipe the glass prior to applying the tint. Sometimes this can be such a big problem that you may even need to first have your car detailed professionally which will add quite a bit to the final cost.

Another nuisance occurs with the hairy felt-like spacer bars that are often found at the bottom of any roll-up windows. The felt needs to be tediously covered with something like masking tape in order to prevent the little tiny hairs from landing on the window and getting pressed under the tint film during the preparation and application processes.

The rubber door window seals often get in the way of cleaning and installing. They need to be pried away from the glass with expensive duct tape. Sometimes it is best to remove them altogether. It’s even necessary to remove the door panels of some car models in order to get it just right.

One of the most challenging parts is fitting the tint to the back window of just about any car. Sometimes the 3rd brake light makes it difficult or nearly impossible to work and will need to be removed and reinstalled after the job is complete. It can be necessary to actually remove the entire deck at the top of the back seat.

The windows usually bend vertically as well as horizontally and require very careful piecing and fitting so that the seams become invisible and that there is no crinkling. Some professional installers will practice under the coaching of a master, experienced installer on 6 or 8 cars for free or at a greatly reduced price in order to begin to get enough experience to do a competent job. It can really be that challenging.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the problems that can occur to make your first tinting job a nightmare. Like any craft it takes time to efficiently solve the many challenges that inevitably will come your way. Unless you are a very patient, mechanically inclined and experienced do-it-yourselfer you may find that the complexity and craftsmanship requirements of this type of project is well worth leaving it to the experienced professionals.

Cleaning Oil, Grease, Butter, Vegetable Oil, Margarine, Cosmetic Creme Stains From Your Car

One of the worst problems in the cleaning of cars is the wide variety of stains that appear on the seats, carpet and interior. We will discuss the ways to clean such tough stains in car interiors as Oil, Grease, Butter, Vegetable Oil, Margarine, Cosmetic Crème Stains. First off the important thing is to use a Neutral soap or Neutral products with a ph of 7. (PH is measured on a scale of 0-14 for acidity or alkalinity) 7 are in the middle meaning neutral. This way none of the products used will form chemical reactions while using them.

Mobile Auto Detailing and Mobile Car Washes use a variety of trade secrets to clean such stains effortlessly and efficiently and charge quite a bit to do it. The average cost to detail the interior two front seats of a car is $25.00 plus carpet shampoo of $25.00.

Some companies recommend certain brands to their mobile car wash teams. The best types of cleaners for these stains are solvent based and should be used carefully. They can combine and make more of a mess if not used properly. Caution is important and a virtue and this is truer in this scenario than in any other part of auto detailing. First clean up the main mess by scraping excess and getting it down to as small an area as possible. Plastic razor blades work good for this. Then gently dab your solvent cleaner on the stain without ripping and it should start to come up. If you get no discoloration from this you can then wipe gently. When you are all completed try using some foam type upholstery cleaner and wipe. Then perhaps some warm water on a rag to finish the job.