Everyone in the automotive service industry, from the apprentice boys in the parts cleaning room to the experienced service engineers heading the technical support teams, firmly believe that there is ample scope for improvement in the design of automobiles they handle everyday, let it be the noise level or the fuel consumption or the power output or the braking efficiency or anything one can think of.

From simple things like making a small dent behind the side view mirror housing to “improve aerodynamics” to grinding away piston and connecting rod material to “increase fuel efficiency”, they continuously strive to bridge the “gaps” the R&D people have left behind.

There had been many disastrous consequences… but they never learn… they continue to “improve”…

I am no exception…

A light truck with 2.6L petrol engine is the latest victim. See the water pump!

Customer was complaining about overheating in the mountains.

True… the temperature gauge needle start to rise during steep climbs… sometimes reaches a little below the red line…

Continuous driving on four wheel drive low in 2 and 3 gears… high engine rpm at low vehicle speeds…

“I have sixteen light trucks… “X” is not like this… “Y” is not like this… only your vehicles… I took four new… all the same!”

“The needle is not reaching the red mark” “during severe engine load only” customer is not in a mood to accept. He invites us to try his new “X”

Standard inspection procedures for engine overheating… everything is fine.

New water pump, new radiator, new fan viscous coupling… no use.

All new vehicles… The same old story… R&D people have missed something! The wizards at the service department was sure…

They are furious at the “idiots” who designed the cooling system…

Workshop manual flies to the dust bin…

Diagnostic equipments take cover behind the spare parts rack…

First “modification”

Fan viscous coupling gets a piece of thin metal sheet inside. Viscous coupling is jammed. Road test… No overheating now…

“Is this a helicopter!? I can’t bear this noise…”

So that can’t be a ‘solution’.

But it is confirmed now… lack of airflow across the radiator!

Nearly 7.5 cm gap between the puller type fan and radiator…

Shouldn’t it be kept closer to the radiator? These guys at the R&D!

Easy… a 3 cm aluminium flange comes between the water pump and the fan coupling… fan is closer…

“Sir, do you need any tools?” the technician expects trouble…

“hmm… put a 10mm spanner… to scratch my back while driving…”

I was so confident nothing will go wrong…

It was almost 5 in the evening when we started…

It was Thursday… weekend…

The way side eatery was full…

5.40 pm… at the police check post… only 4WD vehicles are allowed beyond this point…

6.40 pm…20 km away from the check post… at 2280 m above the desert… my companion was dreaming about the orchards and the fruits we are going to have fresh from the trees…

“Orchards? You mean date palms!?”

“My dear… you have to go there to believe it… grapes… pomegrantes… peaches… pears… strawberries…”

This is how I enticed him into joining me for the road test on a holiday.

The last leg of the climb… the steepest… Four low… 3rd gear… 5000 rpm… I tried to drive just like the customer was demonstrating a few days back…

A grinding noise and smell of burnt rubber…

The water pump drive belt is gone… it took the other two belts also…

No alternator… no powersteering pump… no air conditioning compressor… and the mobile phones indicate no signal…

I expected a little extra loads in the radial direction… but an axial load sufficient enough to pull out the water pump shaft breaking the casing was beyond my imagination…

No coolant leaks…

Help is 55 km away… 2280 m down… but they can come only upto the check post even if they know about our plight… no 4WD vehicles with them…

Turn the vehicle and drive in neutral!?

But how to turn the vehicle?

We were at the middle of the steepest section… need to start the engine… but the water pump shaft was hanging from the pump casing… with  the pump impeller stuck inside the casing… the fan resting against the radiator…

The fan has to be removed…

10 mm spanner… I declare it the king of all tools… that was the only tool we needed now… and… that was the only one tool we took with us…

Soon we started our descent…

20 km of treacherous road… sharp curves and steep inclines… no power steering… no brake assist…

Pad fade… fluid fade… green fade…. I recollected the theory of brake fade… which was going to happen first?

I had to start the engine a couple of times to get engine brake assisst…

By 10.30 pm we reached the check post…

10.45 pm help reached…

11.45 pm we started the engine…

2.15 am I reached home…

And the overheating?!

We solved it! 2 days later…

How?

Sorry… Thats for another post…

Advertisements