Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Do you have an infestation ?

If you live in an area that supports a rodent population than you run the risk of getting a rodent infestation in your automobile, which can make the vehicle unbearable to drive due to the Oder that the rodents leave behind from urine and feces. This is the story of a rodent infestation and how we solved the smelly situation.

The above vehicle is a newer model Chrysler Town & Country mini van. Our customer lives in Alpine California which is in San Diego county the third-most-populous county in California, just behind its northern neighbors Orange and Los Angeles and it also ranks fifth in the united states over all. Alpine is higher in  elevation than San Diego city sitting at 1841 feet above sea level.  Alpine has a lot more trees and ground cover and is in a cooler, wetter climate than San Diego and has a lot less population density and so it supports more wild life.
Our customer called and complained of a bad smell coming from his vents inside the car. He asked if we could do some thing about the smell and I told him that we deal with this situation on a regular basis.

So our customer brought in his mini van and we started the process. Upon preliminary diagnosis we made the decision that flushing chemicals through the vent system wouldn't be good enough we would have to pull out the entire heater-A/C box (Plenum box) and clean the pieces individually.  The first thing we had to do was rip out the Plenum box from the mini van (this was a big job)The above photo shows the van with  Plenum box already out and on the ground.

Here's a picture of the top of the box and the evaporator core (the evaporator is what the A/C uses to produce cold air).  Notice the white paper covering the evaporator core ? That was where the rat or rat's were living making a nest there. The rat's get into your vehicle through the outside fresh air vent which they usually chew through. Rat's can also make a mess out of your wiring, they love to chew through wiring.

This is a picture  of the blower motor cover notice the feces in the bottom ? There was a lot of feces we found and the smell was very bad. Also our customer has a medical condition that involves his breathing so he can't stand the smell of a lot of things chemicals included, so we decided to replace the parts where the rat was living. Most of the time we have chemicals we use to clean out the parts that are infected but the stuff has a chemical smell and we were afraid that the rat urine and feces had soaked into the plastic parts making them useless.   

This picture above is most of the parts we had to replace, the plenum box on the table and the rest of the plenum box parts are lined up across the wall. Total cost of replacement parts was about $1200.00 plus labor. We had to purchase the majority of the parts from the dealer which  made the cost expensive.

I've heard tell that Irish Spring bath soap bars will keep the rodents away they don't like the smell. You cut the bars into pieces and spread them around and on your vehicle especially in the engine compartment, keep them away from hot surface's though ( this is hear say from a friend so don't quote me but he claims it does work ).  The other option to prevent infestation could be to bait the area with traps or sticky traps if you keep the vehicle parked, also you can call an professional exterminator they could have some more tricks up their sleeve that I don't know.If you suspect a infestation you can check under your hood for rodent feces and snail shells, they love to eat snails. If you have a motor home look for chew marks in the wood surfaces leading into the interior of the cab. If you have a rat problem you will notice the smell first most likely. The next step would be to call your local radiator or A/C shop and ask them if they have experience in rodent infestation and what they do to rid the car of the smell, if they are in the know they will offer to clean the vehicle out with special cleaner that foams up in your vents, or they may have to pull you plenum box and do a more thorough job as we had to with this customer. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to give us a call we are always happy to help and can point you in the right direction.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Fixing your cars plastic tank radiator

I just ran on to a post on instructables.com someone was asking how to fix a plastic tank on his car's radiator http://www.instructables.com/answers/How-To-Repair-A-Car-Radiator-Leak-In-The-Plastic-A/
Me being a radiator man and taking my craft seriously I had to post a reply. There were reply's with all kinds of answers to this persons question  none of which will work to fix his plastic tank.

This is a picture of a crack in a plastic radiator tank. This is the inlet tank of the radiator (their the one's that ALWAYS crack) The inlet tank receives the hot coolant from the motor and the inlet tank cracks behind the inlet connection as shown in the photo,  The outlet tank almost never cracks it's the one that get's the least heat and wear and tear.

A new tank pictured above that we can install onto a radiator is the only way to permanently fix a crack in a tank other than replacing the radiator entirely. I have never seen any other method work for more than a few hundred miles or a week or two. And that's because there's nothing on the market that will vulcanize with the tank material to cause a permanent repair, also the tank it's self is degeradated to the point of causing the crack in the first place so your trying to repair something that is beyond it's life span. The normal life span of a plastic radiator inlet tank is 7-10 years or around 100k miles. Some people get lucky and with the right circumstances I've seen tanks last a long, long time, but that's not the norm in the industry.
So here's what happens. You pull the radiator out of your car clean out a groove on the crack, wire brush it real good, clean it with acetone or some other cleaner, try to isolate the crack with wire ties and then spread $15.00 worth of JB weld or some other epoxy on it, by the time your done you've spent 4 hours and $50.00 worth of supply's on trying to fix it. Reinstall the radiator on your car and run it for a week or so just to find that sure enough it leaks again (and it will). After 31+ years in this industry and trying every thing that's come out to fix plastic tanks including  my own inventions, I haven't seen anything that works. ( in the late 80's when the plastic tanks first came out we had nothing to repair them with including new tanks! new tanks were not available yet!) So we tried everything you can imagine and some you can't.

 The answer is complete replacement. The new complete radiators you can buy now days are so inexpensive that it has made tank replacement obsolete on all but the big industrial radiators and the most expensive automotive applications which is unfortunate for the radiator shops as we used to make good money changing plastic tanks, but alas everything changes.

 If you know of a technique that works to really repair a plastic radiator tank I would love to hear from you, and as always if you have any questions please give us a call we are always happy to help.
If you can't afford to replace your radiator I suggest adding water to your cooling system and saving your money till you can get it fixed. Also if the leak is real big don't drive your car with it leaking as this can and will cause engine damage from loss of coolant.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to save $1,250.00 on your car's A/C

Do you own a newer model Audi A4? and is your air conditioner not working like it should? This was the trouble one of our customers suffered with his Audi 2004 A4. He took his Audi to the local Audi dealer one he frequents (or did) and trusted (or used to).

The story goes that John (we will call him John for the sake of a name) took in his Audi to one of our local Audi dealers here in beautiful San Diego. The complaint was that the A/C wasn't cooling like it used to. John handed over his keys to the service manager and his car was taken away behind the wall that separates the customers from the working technicians and John got a ride back to his place of business where he awaited a call to tell him why his A/C wasn't working right.
About three hours later John got the bad news "the air conditioning compressor and related parts needed to be changed" this project would set john back about $1,400.00 and he would be with out his car for a day or two.
Well John decided to get a second opinion and asked one of his employees who they deal with (John works at a refuse disposal company)  and so John was referred to us that's how we ended up with Johns Audi.

When we hooked up the A/C machine to Johns car we noticed that the A/C system was completely out of R-134A freon so Donovan our main technician does the usual inspection , recharge and A/C performance test and to his surprise the A/C blows  just as it should nice and cold (45deg) and the compressor and related parts are preforming like they should. We looked the vehicle over several times looking for a reason that would keep the compressor from functioning but everything looked good. At that point I call John and give him the good news "looks like we can save you about $1,250.00" all you need at this time is a recharge and a service that will set you back $150.00. Needless to say John wasen't to happy with the dealership he has patronized over the past few years. I guess the technician could have made a mistake but that's not my real guess, and that is what gives all of us in the auto repair industry a bad name. I believe it was a false up sale, someone needed to make a few thousand dollars and they didn't care how. The morel of this story is get a second opinion especially if its a big job.
John is now our customer and probably will be for a long time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

BMW 2002 A/C custom hoses

Here is a classic BMW 2002 (model not the year) that is being restored by one of our customers Bavarian Rennsport Located in Ramona California.
We are helping Bill the owner with air conditioning hoses and a drier installation. Bill routinely restores these model's of BMW's and his work is some of the best around. 
 Here is the drier we installed on the fender well right where it would be from the factory. We also helped Bill get all of the A/C parts he needed to do this job.
 One of the hoses we installed going to the condenser.
 Through the firewall and into the car we go.
 Picture of the evaporator box and control unit.
 One  more shot of this beautiful automobile. We do lots of custom A/C work and are proud to help all we can.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Heavy equipment radiators

This is a picture of a “over the road truck radiator” this radiator would fit in a Peterbuilt, Mack, Volvo white or many other big rigs moving down the road. We work on a lot of these radiators and they take special equipment to be able to handle them along with unique skills and training. I decided to write this blog because we have picked a lot of new clients with truck fleets and large radiators to fix.

 Heavy equipment cooling systems are built tougher than standard automotive systems, radiators are bigger they are assembled differently and are produced from stronger materials. So they are made to be rebuilt several times before they run out of life. The majority of the heavy equipment radiators are still made from copper and brass with steel tanks and side straps, some are changing to aluminum like most of the industry is facing in the automotive sector. The copper brass ones are easier and better to rebuild than their aluminum  counter parts.

We start by testing them when they come in on the truck to make sure the unit will hold up to our rebuild process remove the tanks which are usually fastened together with bolts, run the parts through our hot tank and then to clean out the radiator itself we physically run a “steel rod” down each tube that carries the cooling liquid through it so as to clean out any dirt grease or obstruction in the tube. Clean the outside with wire brushes and elbow grease paint and prep all the parts before reassembling the unite. (that is what these guys are doing below)

When we are all finished we do a final test in our test tank by plugging the radiators connections with plugs adding air pressure to the radiator dunk it in a tank filled with water and look for leaks to appear. If we don’t see any leaks we dry the radiator off and do a final touch up with paint then deliver it back to our customer. This whole process has taken anywhere from 5-10 man hours to complete. 
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