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!

Brake Repair: Tips For Finding A Good Auto Service Center

If you drive, your brakes need to be repaired and your brake pads need to be replaced from time to time. The signs of problems include pulling of a brake to one side, spongy or mushy brake pedals, loud noises coming from the brakes, grinding noises, and brakes that do not function properly.

When brake pads get worn out, they need to be replaced immediately. If you don’t replace them, you will damage your rotors and pay more money in the long run. You should also get your brakes inspected one or twice each year.

Remember that your brakes will not stop effectively if your brake pads are worn out. No one wants to hit a tree or have an automobile accident because their brakes will not stop.

Changing the brake pads will ensure that you get the best performance out of your brakes. You can check your brake pads on your own, but if you don’t know what to do, find a reliable auto repair service center or brake repair technician. If you change your pads when it’s too late, you will cost yourself a lot of money and you won’t be safe on the road, so I recommend that you change them immediately.

The brakes are one of the most essential parts of a vehicle. If you had a problem with your engine, you could just pull off to the side of the road, but if your brakes fail, you can have major problems.

Quality brakes will save you money and they can save your life. If your brakes are good, you won’t lose control of the car easily, so it’s worth it to spend more money on quality brakes during your brake repair. Most auto repair service centers use quality products and quality brake pads, so it is in your best interest to get your pads replaced in a reliable place.

Don’t live with low-grade brakes or brake pads. Quality brakes and brake pads stop faster and last longer. Many auto service centers use the top brands in the automotive industry.

Most people expect their car’s to work perfectly when they need them, especially if they need them in emergencies, but that’s not always the case. Fortunately, according to statistics, brake failure accidents are pretty rare. However, you should not let just anyone repair your brakes because brake failure can occur because of faulty installation or faulty servicing.

You should take the time to find a good auto repair shop that won’t rip you off or do a poor job when you need help with your brakes. You should also make sure you only take your car to certified technicians who have experience. Further, you should find an auto repair shop that offers some kind of warranty on their work.

When you have found a good auto repair shop or brake technician, find out what the repair costs will be and ask questions when you need to. Find out why you were having problems. A good technician can answer all your questions.

Tips On Buying A Steering Wheel and Cover

Pretty much everything on your vehicle can be replaced with original OEM or customized aftermarket accessories to help upgrade its performance or overall style. One of the simplest things you can do is to replace your stock steering wheel by considering buying a steering wheel, from aftermarket retailers, to give your car a stylish sportier look as well as better handling.

Some important tips to consider when shopping around to buy steering wheels from various suppliers are:

1) Make sure you are buying the correct sized wheel by taking the time to measure your current one. There are many sizes and shapes of aftermarket steering wheels on the market so if you are unsure you can ask the seller before deciding on a purchase.

2) The new wheel needs to be just the right size, which is comfortable for you without restricting your view of the dashboard or instrument panel.

3) When searching to buy steering wheel from a particular online store you have many choices. You can buy from regular retailers or even wholesalers who are trying to unload excess inventory or older models. The deals you will obtain are much greater than that of regular local stores and the selection of different styles and colors are more plentiful since floor display space is not an issue.

4) Determining the specific style to buy really depends on your own preference and taste. You can easily match the interior or look of your vehicle with 3-4 spoke steering wheels, multiple colors, boomerang or ultratech style wheels or even professional Formula 1/GT style racing performance steering wheels just to name a few.

5) Next on the list is choosing the type of finish you want. Some popular examples are vinyl, wood, leather and even carbon fiber steering wheels. Choosing the right type can add a stylish and elegant touch to the interior of your car.

6) Last but not least, after checking to see if it is the right size to make sure it is actually comfortable to the grip, since you will be using it to drive for long distances, to ensure safety on the road.

After choosing the correct one to buy you now need to think of protecting your new investment. There are a multitude of choices when searching to buy a steering wheel cover. The cost and manufactured quality of these particular covers ranges greatly but it should be no problem to find one at the price range you can afford.

Useful tips to know when searching to buy a steering cover are:

1) Be very wary of the total cost. It is not impossible to discover steering wheel covers that cost as little as five dollars but can be as much as fifty dollars. This is one time where you get what you pay for since the price of the item really helps in determining the actual quality of the goods.

2) Make sure to accurately measure the total diameter of your steering wheel and the circumference around the grip. This information is vital in deciding the correct wheel cover to purchase. If you are not sure, another choice would be to simply provide the year, model and make of your vehicle to the seller so that they can check their charts to determine the proper dimensions for you.

3) Next comes the type of material you would like. Steering wheel covers come in leather, wool, sheep skin, terry cloth, cloth, and vinyl. If leather is your choice then you need to be aware of the quality. Top grain leather, which is actually the top of the hide where the hair grows, is smooth to the touch. One step below, in types of quality materials, is known as splits or suede’s. The finish of these grains is rough but manufacturers will usually buff and apply plasticides on the grain to make them appear to be top quality. However, this particular material does not have the same feel and texture as that of top grain leather. You can expect to pay about thirteen to fifteen dollars for lower grain leather and anywhere from forty to fifty dollars for top grain leather.

4) Bear in mind the consideration of the ease of installing the cover and how it fits on the wheel itself. Your goal is to have a nice snug fit without it being too tight. Many covers are designed to easily slip on or stretch over the entire rim of the steering wheel while others are designed to be sewn right onto the wheel itself. Lacing cord and needle are usually provided with leather covers that have pre-punched holes in them already. All you have to do is stitch the cover to the wheel to make sure there is a snug fit.

5) Now we come to choosing the color. Despite the fact that most people who buy steering wheel covers choose plain old black, many manufacturers offer a wide range of colors to match all types of vehicle interiors. Be daring and choose a different color that matches your personality.

6) The grip of the steering wheel cover is also an important factor to consider. Some companies provide varying thicknesses of grips. One example would be a cushion grip wheel cover where it is designed to help reduce driving fatigue for the driver. The molded design features ergonomic thumb pads and finger grips to increase driver comfort. These types of covers are available in a number of grips from regular to extra-thick.

Now that you know what to look for when considering to buy steering wheel or buy steering wheel covers take a moment to browse through the wide selection available in our directory. When searching to buy steering wheels you will find that we have done all the leg work for you and provided reliable sellers who sell at rock bottom prices.

5 Tips to Help You Maintain Your Windshield

If you own a car, you may be looking for some useful maintenance tips to avoid costly repairs. After all, you don’t want to end up damaging your vehicle and paying thousands of dollars for repairs. Therefore, in this article, we are going to share 5 tips for your windshield maintenance. Read on.

1. Maintain a Safe Distance from Other Vehicles

While driving at high speeds, make sure you maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. If you drive too close to the car in front of you, chances are that something may bounce off the road and hit your car, especially the windshield.

If this happens, you may have a cracked windshield. If you get it repaired as soon as possible, you won’t need to pay for a windshield replacement.

2. Clean and Replace the Wipers

With regular use, the blades of the wiper get blunt and dirty. It’s important to remove the sand and dirt gathered on the windshield. Also, the wipers should be replaced in a timely fashion so that they don’t damage your windshield by creating scratches.

It’s easy to clean the wipers. All you need to do is soak a piece of rag in wash liquid and use for cleaning.

3. Don’t Leave the Wiper Blades up

In winter, wiper blades tend to fall and hit the screen. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to idea to leave the blades up prior to the ice or snow storm. They should be down at all times, especially in winter. If you don’t follow this tip, you will end up ruining your windshield.

4. Don’t use the Ice Scraper

In winter, another common reason why windshields get damaged is because of people who scrape ice from their house windows. While scraping ice, they tend to get too aggressive and end up hitting the car windshield.

Another common type of damage occurs because of the rubber moldings and trim parts. So, what can you do to be on the safe side? An easy way to prevent the damage is to avoid making use of a snow shovel to remove ice and snow from your car. If you don’t follow this advice, you may end up paying for a replacement.

5. Don’t Use the Wrong Cleaner

Another thing to keep in mind is that the windshield glass should be cleaned manually every couple of weeks. The purpose is to remove the dirt left by the wipers. It’s not a good idea to use cleaners that contain ammonia for this purpose. The reason is that ammonia can cause damage to the glass tint. A safer alternative is to use a window cleaner and use it on the windshield with a cotton towel. This method is safe as it won’t cause scratches or streaks.

In short, these are the 5 tips that you can use in order to maintain your windshield without putting in much effort. Also, these tips will help you avoid common mistakes so that you don’t have to pay for costly windshield repairs.

Ten Pre Sale Car Cleaning Tips

If you are selling your car there are a number of things you can do that will vastly increase the chances of it selling for a good price. Most people will give their car a quick clean before selling but if you spend a little extra time paying attention to areas that are usually left neglected, then potential buyers are more likely to see your car as the more desirable purchase.

1. Ensure your wheel arches are thoroughly cleaned using a degreaser or an all purpose cleaner, suitable brushes and an old wash mitt. They can then be dressed to help rejuvenate the plastic liners. Clean arches really help to give the impression of a well looked after car.

2. Clean the rears of your wheels as well as the faces & spokes. Most people will only clean the front of their wheels and so if you make the effort to also clean your wheel rears with a long reach wheel brush you will help to give your vehicle the upper hand and can even make it look like it is not heavily used, even if it is.

3. Dressing your tyres really finishes off the look of a freshly cleaned car. If arches and wheels have been properly cleaned, dressing the tyres will help to compliment these parts. Faded, tired, brown looking tyres are guaranteed to bring down the look of an otherwise clean car.

4. Rusty lug nuts look tatty and leave your car looking neglected and old. They should be removed and painted to give them a fresh new look. You do not have to spend allot of time doing this, a few light coats of satin silver or black spray paint before refitting will greatly help to improve the look of the exterior.

5. License plates should be replaced if they are cracked, oxidized or faded. You may think that prospective buyers will not care about license plates and will overlook them but a new set will help to give your car a fresher more youthful appearance.

6. Your engine bay should be thoroughly cleaned & dressed. Most people neglect the engine so if a prospective buyer views your car after viewing one with a dirty oily engine bay then it will help to leave a good impression and show that you care about the car.

7. Door shuts should be cleaned to remove any loose debris or build up of grease and dirt from around the hinges. The door shuts are one of the most common areas for rust to form so if they are clean and contaminant free it lets potential buyers know that rust is not likely to be a problem in the near future.

8. Your upholstery and headlining should be thoroughly cleaned to rejuvenate, freshen and brighten up the interior. Most people will only vacuum off the interior and will probably not touch the headlining so you will have the advantage of having a fully restored interior.

9. Leather should be deep cleaned using appropriate brushes and cleaning products to remove dirt from the grain. After cleaning, leather should be fed/conditioned to prevent it from drying out and keep it supple. This process will also help to bring back the original scent of the leather which is very desirable especially when trying to sell your car.

10. Plastics and trim should be cleaned and rejuvenated using appropriate products. Interior plastics & trim should be cleaned and dressed with a product that leaves a natural, non greasy finish while the exteriors should be treated with a durable product that will give a deep dark finish and protect them from rainwater & UV rays.