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Anyone interested in brainstorming? Car electric issues.
Old 01-07-2019, 11:00 AM   #1
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Anyone interested in brainstorming? Car electric issues.

Is anyone up for a brain game? This a puzzler for us.

12 y/o car. It's an '07. We've owned it for about seven years. No electrical issues.

This is our son's car. He's a new college grad with limited savings. Car was slated to be traded in over the summer but he would do it now if that's the consensus here.

While making a turn, the SRS/AirBag light came on and stayed on. No potholes were hit, nothing. Just a smooth turn.

The dealership hooked it up to the computer and got all sorts of hits, of which all are wrong. Here are the ones I can remember:

* right rear accident sensor indicated impact. (wrong. However-- five years ago, impact to LEFT bumper. Typical fender bender. No airbags deployed & bumper replaced.)
* comfort control isn't working (wrong-- ac & heater work fine)
* remote locking isn't working (wrong-- remote works just fine)

Apparently, they couldn't run a complete diagnostic until the crash sensor is replaced. Said they could not re-initialize the SRS light and the AirBags were disabled because of such. Part not in stock (of course) and has to be ordered.

Also, they never actually checked the ac/heat or the locks because they gave a quote for the replacement sensors.

Owner gets in car to go home and think about options (car is only worth about $2,000 private sale on a good day). No lights at all are on and upon starting, the engine lights indicate all is well (the usual lights come on then turn off). Two days later, still no lights and all seems to be well.

I think that's it. Anyone have ideas? We thought about advising him to replace the impact sensor in case the wiring just dry rotted or something (around $300) and doing nothing else but the other incorrect faults have us concerned. We are wondering if those indicate something major is about to die. The entire electrical system/computer are our thoughts but we are not "car folk" so we're just guessing.

WWYD? Fix or ditch? If 'fix', what would you fix?

Thanks for playing!
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Old 01-07-2019, 11:14 AM   #2
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Get a cheap OBD scanner on Ebay, plug it in, clear the history and events. Drive the car a bit and see if any of the lights come back on.

They go for $10-$15, there's a free app from the google playstore you put on your phone or tablet and communicates with the scanner over bluetooth.

Even if any of the lights come back on, the scanner will give you the diagnostics codes and tell you what the issue is - so you at least have an idea of what is wrong.

Some of those events can be generated for no particular reason and if it had not been checked/cleared in the past, it would still be there.

Also, check if there is a recall on the car for the airbag. Ford just announced a big recall late last week.

If the car runs good, and would pass inspection (if your state requires inspection) without major investment in a repair, then keep it until they need to tow it away.
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Old 01-07-2019, 11:14 AM   #3
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Hello, Carmax?

I am also not "car folk" and I would be done. Get a nice, safe sensible replacement. A new Corolla at a good discount should last another 12 years.
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Old 01-07-2019, 11:51 AM   #4
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It all depends, if the car's only worth $2k (east coast, rust issues?) you can either drive it more or just get rid of it. Or you can even try bringing it to a good independent shop that specializes in SRS and similar diagnostics (body shops typically have good contacts if not an in-house technician). There are a few very popular guys on the east coast (I know them through their YouTube channels) that are *very* good with diagnostics. Let me know if you're on the east coast (Long Island, Upstate NY etc) I can give you their contacts.

SRS light can come on for various reasons, something as simple as the seat buckle wiring fault or the clock spring in the steering wheel having corrosion etc. Based on what you described, the only relevant code is the one about the impact sensor code. The other codes are usually from the body control module not the SRS module. It's possible when the bumper was replaced they mixed up the left/right wiring? Just a thought.

What is the exact make, model of the car? You can look online to see if other owners have had similar issues?
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Old 01-07-2019, 11:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njhowie View Post
Get a cheap OBD scanner on Ebay, plug it in, clear the history and events. Drive the car a bit and see if any of the lights come back on.

They go for $10-$15, there's a free app from the google playstore you put on your phone or tablet and communicates with the scanner over bluetooth.

Even if any of the lights come back on, the scanner will give you the diagnostics codes and tell you what the issue is - so you at least have an idea of what is wrong.

Some of those events can be generated for no particular reason and if it had not been checked/cleared in the past, it would still be there.

Also, check if there is a recall on the car for the airbag. Ford just announced a big recall late last week.

If the car runs good, and would pass inspection (if your state requires inspection) without major investment in a repair, then keep it until they need to tow it away.
+1, Like he said
often local shops will do a free OBD check, clear off codes and see what really shows up. I had an early Jeep Cherokee which has a gas tank canister leak reported. Dealer checked it and there was no problem in the canaster but the cost to replace the sensor cost as much as the evap system. I would run it with the CEL on till before smog test and clear off codes and it would hold through inspection. No real problem. I still checked codes periodically to make sure that wasn't anything else going on.
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:03 PM   #6
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FYI, OBD2 code readers don't necessarily read ABS and SRS codes since there's no standard for the latter two (unlike obd2 which is a standard). They're usually manufacturer specific so be mindful of that when looking for the code reader/scanner.
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvalley View Post
It all depends, if the car's only worth $2k (east coast, rust issues?) you can either drive it more or just get rid of it. Or you can even try bringing it to a good independent shop that specializes in SRS and similar diagnostics (body shops typically have good contacts if not an in-house technician). There are a few very popular guys on the east coast (I know them through their YouTube channels) that are *very* good with diagnostics. Let me know if you're on the east coast (Long Island, Upstate NY etc) I can give you their contacts.

SRS light can come on for various reasons, something as simple as the seat buckle wiring fault or the clock spring in the steering wheel having corrosion etc. Based on what you described, the only relevant code is the one about the impact sensor code. The other codes are usually from the body control module not the SRS module. It's possible when the bumper was replaced they mixed up the left/right wiring? Just a thought.

What is the exact make, model of the car? You can look online to see if other owners have had similar issues?

I am thinking the clock spring is the issue, especial since the OP stated it happened when in a turn.


For OP, clock spring is not an actual spring, it is a wiring flat ribbon cable that is wound and resembles a clock spring shape. It allows the wheel to be turned while maintaining all of the electrical connections.
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
I am thinking the clock spring is the issue, especial since the OP stated it happened when in a turn.

For OP, clock spring is not an actual spring, it is a wiring flat ribbon cable that is wound and resembles a clock spring shape. It allows the wheel to be turned while maintaining all of the electrical connections.
Wow - you are good!

This just set off a light for me...because we have a VW and recently received a notice from them on this specific issue...

"Extended Warranty Coverage - Steering Wheel Clock Spring Certain 2010-2018 Model Year Volkswagon Vehicles"

Quote:
Reason for Warranty Extension

Certain vehicles may, over time develop an issue with the steering wheel clock spring that causes the airbag light to come on. This is due to hair or other fibers that may contaminate the airbag clock spring (a spiral wound, flat cable that keeps the airbag powered while the steering wheel is being turned). ...
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:29 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
I am thinking the clock spring is the issue, especial since the OP stated it happened when in a turn.
That's exactly why I mentioned it
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:31 PM   #10
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The challenge is just finding a high quality independent auto repair shop that can properly diagnose the problem. This is an issue that a car dealer service dept. will eat customers' pocketbooks on.

CAN/BUS modules in cars (after 2008) communicate back and forth with each other, and they often cost cost $1,000 eac. It's impossible to throw electronic modules at problems without 100% accuracy in diagnosis'. And mechanics are not electrical engineers. It takes experience.

I have a high line European sports car that's taught me too much about modern electronic cars. My only saving grace is online forums dedicated to my brand and availability of salvage auto parts online--including electronic modules.

Go find a great independent repair shop.
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Old 01-07-2019, 01:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njhowie View Post
Get a cheap OBD scanner on Ebay, plug it in, clear the history and events. Drive the car a bit and see if any of the lights come back on.

They go for $10-$15, there's a free app from the google playstore you put on your phone or tablet and communicates with the scanner over bluetooth.

Even if any of the lights come back on, the scanner will give you the diagnostics codes and tell you what the issue is - so you at least have an idea of what is wrong.

Some of those events can be generated for no particular reason and if it had not been checked/cleared in the past, it would still be there.

Also, check if there is a recall on the car for the airbag. Ford just announced a big recall late last week.

If the car runs good, and would pass inspection (if your state requires inspection) without major investment in a repair, then keep it until they need to tow it away.

Dh has a scanner but we never could get it to 'talk' to the VW even though it's supposed to be compatible. I think I'll have him drag it out and try it again.

No airbag recalls.

Car runs great. The plan was to drive it until it died on the road or until the summer when a replacement was planned. Heh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Another Reader View Post
Hello, Carmax?

I am also not "car folk" and I would be done. Get a nice, safe sensible replacement. A new Corolla at a good discount should last another 12 years.
You read my mind. Carmax was yesterday. A lowly $1,500 was their price. The problem with replacing the vehicle is what to get -- a big move is coming up and the location is unknown. An SUV is the most likely replacement but a few more months to wait would be great. It was already planned to make a vehicle change over the summer but DS would prefer more time to decide what he wants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvalley View Post
It all depends, if the car's only worth $2k (east coast, rust issues?) you can either drive it more or just get rid of it. Or you can even try bringing it to a good independent shop that specializes in SRS and similar diagnostics (body shops typically have good contacts if not an in-house technician). There are a few very popular guys on the east coast (I know them through their YouTube channels) that are *very* good with diagnostics. Let me know if you're on the east coast (Long Island, Upstate NY etc) I can give you their contacts.

SRS light can come on for various reasons, something as simple as the seat buckle wiring fault or the clock spring in the steering wheel having corrosion etc. Based on what you described, the only relevant code is the one about the impact sensor code. The other codes are usually from the body control module not the SRS module. It's possible when the bumper was replaced they mixed up the left/right wiring? Just a thought.

What is the exact make, model of the car? You can look online to see if other owners have had similar issues?
No rust issues--- just a 12 y/o car with a fender bender. KBB gives a range of $2200-2900 in Fair cond. It's simply an '07 VW Jetta with over 110,000 miles and an accident. Not involved in the massive recall issue a few years ago. Other than the paint coming off in between the front & rear doors (a can of spray paint will fix), the car looks fantastic on the outside. Sadly, the inside is literally falling apart. Dry rot, most likely.

I don't even know how to find such a repair shop in my area. Google is no help for such things either. It seems VWs are the curse of death around here. Thanks for offering to point me to someone in your part of the country, but I'm nowhere close.

I saw online in a VW forum about the seat wiring but this is the first I've heard about the clock spring. If rust is a factor with the corrosion you mentioned, this could be a good starting place. DS left the sunroof open at least twice during monsoon rains & ended up with tons of water in the cabin. It's not hard to imagine the steering column getting soaked. It has been about four years since that happened, though....

The bumper sensor--- wouldn't a mis-wiring have shown itself before now? We're talking about four years ago, I think.
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Old 01-07-2019, 01:11 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by yakers View Post
+1, Like he said
often local shops will do a free OBD check, clear off codes and see what really shows up. I had an early Jeep Cherokee which has a gas tank canister leak reported. Dealer checked it and there was no problem in the canaster but the cost to replace the sensor cost as much as the evap system. I would run it with the CEL on till before smog test and clear off codes and it would hold through inspection. No real problem. I still checked codes periodically to make sure that wasn't anything else going on.
Shops like repair shops or like AutoZone, etc? A second opinion on the codes would be nice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvalley View Post
FYI, OBD2 code readers don't necessarily read ABS and SRS codes since there's no standard for the latter two (unlike obd2 which is a standard). They're usually manufacturer specific so be mindful of that when looking for the code reader/scanner.
Hmm. I'll mention this to DH when (if?) he finds his scanner. That's godo to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
I am thinking the clock spring is the issue, especial since the OP stated it happened when in a turn.



For OP, clock spring is not an actual spring, it is a wiring flat ribbon cable that is wound and resembles a clock spring shape. It allows the wheel to be turned while maintaining all of the electrical connections.
Since two of you mentioned this, it sounds like a good place to start. I mentioned in a previous post that DS left his sunroof open a couple of times and got lots of rain in the cabin several years ago, so corrosion is definitely a possibility. Also, we are in a super humid climate and the car has always 'slept outside'.



Quote:
Originally Posted by njhowie View Post
Wow - you are good!

This just set off a light for me...because we have a VW and recently received a notice from them on this specific issue...

"Extended Warranty Coverage - Steering Wheel Clock Spring Certain 2010-2018 Model Year Volkswagon Vehicles"
Definitely not our year, but I've had a vehicle where they've ended up going back to older models for recalls, so I find this extremely interesting.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamaman View Post
The challenge is just finding a high quality independent auto repair shop that can properly diagnose the problem. This is an issue that a car dealer service dept. will eat customers' pocketbooks on.

CAN/BUS modules in cars (after 2008) communicate back and forth with each other, and they often cost cost $1,000 eac. It's impossible to throw electronic modules at problems without 100% accuracy in diagnosis'. And mechanics are not electrical engineers. It takes experience.

I have a high line European sports car that's taught me too much about modern electronic cars. My only saving grace is online forums dedicated to my brand and availability of salvage auto parts online--including electronic modules.

Go find a great independent repair shop.
I think there is only one independent shop here who does VW work and they have something like a 6 week wait just to get seen for anything (according to the local Reddit folks). I despise our local VW dealer and they have soured me for life on VWs.

I agree about the whole diagnostic thing. It seems there are no 'mechanics' anymore and they only know what the computer tells them, so they are limited in what they can see & treat. Such is a pitfall of the fancy stuff, I guess.
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Old 01-08-2019, 11:42 AM   #13
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On the bright side, if you wear your seat belts, the airbags don't provide much additional protection. Given the low value of the vehicle, I'd just drive it until summer and replace it as you'd planned.
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