|photo source:ozone park|
Behind the eight ball, that's where I've put myself!
I went down to the Smog Hut and asked the technician about my resetting the CEL He told me some bad news, That the computer was now in reset mode and the car would immediately fail the test. He said that I would need to drive at least one hundred miles to reset the computer.
That might be a bit of a problem, the front end of the XJ6 is kind of wonky, It's not like I want to pile the miles on. I especially don't want to drive it on the freeway in the condition that it's in.
I went to seek advice from another Star smog provider. Actually a former provider, his certification to perform that test was pulled by the State, he claims that it was because he wasn't failing enough cars. I really couldn't say if that was true or not. Either way he told me that one hundred miles was on the long side and that it should reset at around forty miles. He explained that the procedure was to wait for the CEL, scan codes, perform necessary repairs, reset code, drive car and if the CEL stayed off, then have the smog test performed.
I could see that this might be a lengthy process. I decided to drive the car to work and sure enough just as I reached forty miles on the trip odometer the CEL came on. The car was still running fine though.
The next day I got a call from my Daughter who told me that there was something wrong with her car, again. Actually she was pretty distraught as she said the the car was smoking badly but she at least found a place to park it at at the curb. She was only a couple of miles from the house so I went to pick her up. A quick look under the hood confirmed that there was coolant sprayed all under the hood. I first thought that a hose must have been left loose and slipped off but no. I thought that maybe that plastic thermostat housing had cracked again, but no. I noticed that one of the coolant sensors was missing and it was obvious that all the coolant had come streaming out of the hole. Luckily the sensor was still attached to the wire so I inserted it back into the hole and tried to screw it in. It tiurned but didn't tighten. I realized that it was a push fit and retained by a clip ( just like the other sensor!) Okay, I decided to let the car stay there overnight and drive it back tomorrow after work. On the way home I stopped at Winchester Auto where I ordered the sensor clip, 7.50 for a two clip package seemed a little steep to me.
|I found these offered on the Internet for 17.98, I guess that I got a good deal!|
I returned with a gallon of water to top up the radiator. I drove the car home and arrived before the motor was hot enough to boil the coolant. I carefully inspected the sensor opening and didn't find any damage or cracks. I must have pushed the clip partially off when I was wiping down the top of the housing. I replaced the sensor with the new clip, cleaned everything up and drove the car for fifty miles to check for leaks. There were none. Success? Not really, my Daughter asked me where the whirring noise was coming from, she had never noticed it before. I responded that I didn't hear any noise, and I really didn't at the time, but a day or two later when using the car for errands, I did notice a sound while driving around the crowded Downtown area.
I thought that it might be from the belt and idler wheel, both were the original parts. I bought the two items for 67.00 at Winchester Auto. I replaced them in less than an hour. Was the sound gone? Hard to tell. Still, the car is running fine.
Does it ever end?
Besides dealing withe XJ6, I think that I'll take the XJS to get smogged before the deadline in the middle of December. If it passes, I'll be done with it for now. I can get started on rebuilding the suspension later, or not. If not, maybe I'll put on non op status and suspend the insurance. It wouldn't hurt to save a bit of money.
Smog Test anxiety.
I'm the one that put myself behind the eight ball.
I've got a collection of cars that are not easy or cheap to fix. Obviously I referring to my three Jaguars.
However there is no need to jump to conclusions. I just need to take it one step at time.
My '96 Mustang passed the smog test and will be okay for the next two years.
My XJS passed it's last test without any problems and is currently insured, running and registered. My hopes were high.
The Bay Area finally got some much needed rainfall. Quite a gully washer of a storm. Once it passed and the weather reports have predicted a short break. I decided to take advantage of the dry weather and drive the XJS to the Smog Hut. I knew that the car would have plenty of time to arrive completely warmed up. This is important so that the catalytic converters are nice and hot.
I gave the keys to the tech and tried to appear as nonchalant as possible as I sat in the waiting area. Time passed slowly as I looked through the collection of several years old magazines, occasionally stealing a nervous glance at my car in the service bay. I suppose that all this angst could appear to be kind of silly in the grand scheme of things, after all it's just a car. Well that's all true, but like most of you I've got a life full of responsibilities and commitments that I have to take care of. My old cars are just a little reward that I allow myself. Yeah, they are important to me.
The good news is that the car passed with flying colors. So that worry is gone, for at least a couple of years. I had quite an interesting conversion with Hugo, the tech. He told me that the car had passed the test with wide margins and he said that it should be good to go for another six years, (three testing periods?)
I told him that I was concerned about replacing something like the four catalysts, two which are built into the exhaust manifolds. He told me that pre 1996 vehicles were allowed to replace the original catalysts with after market units, as long as the configuration and ratings were equivalent. That was good news to me. I had been concerned about the future of older catalytic converter equipped vehicles, at least in California.
|An example of a Walker after market C.A.R.B. compliant catalytic converter.|
Keep hope alive!
Well the future can wait. I stopped by the local AAA on the way home, paid my fees and left with those treasured registration tags in my hand. I've got plenty of work ahead of me for the next couple of years. Tonight though I will relax.
While I had a few days off I decided to see if there was anything that I could do with the XJ6, meaning simply, Can I fix it myself, or is it time to start paying someone money to fix the car?
I've been poring over all the possible OBD II threads on the Jaguar Forum trying to glean some understanding. There were some discussions about bad engine grounds causing some problems and throwing codes. There have been many threads that advised that the cars are very, I mean very, sensitive to bad and failing batteries. It seems that even a full twelve volts just isn't enough to satiate these beasts electrical systems. I've read that this is more of a problem with cars newer than model year 2002. The cars will start easily, but the low voltage throws an electrical monkey wrench into the works. It kind of makes some sense to me. I'm pretty certain that even my older car has a multi plex wiring system that runs current back and forth to various systems using the same wires. Kind of like an Interstate highway system for electrons. I guess the low voltages hinder them from merging smoothly, or passing slower traffic or causes them to conk out before they reach their exit!
My car was treated to new battery before I bought it, but I was foolish and let it die numerous times during it's down time. I should have maintained it with a battery tender (float charger) during that period, now I'm looking at a 180.00 expense for a new battery. I charged the old battery up but it only registers a little over twelve volts and drops off if the car isn't run over several days. The alternator has to run quite a bit to maintain the charge and I think that causes the idle to be higher than ideal.
First, I decided to add a new ground strap to the engine. It couldn't hurt, right? I found some unused threaded bosses on the intake manifold. I could run the 15 inch ground strap to an existing hole on a bracket that supports the air box. I just needed to run the strap under the MAF (mass airflow) sensor. I removed the top of the air filter box first. The filter was in good shape, so that was ruled out. I was going to remove the MAF sensor housing and tubing that connects to the throttle body bellows. I looked closely at the junctions. The clamp to the bellows was loose! Even worse, it looked like it had come slightly apart and was allowing an air leak. This could throw off the system, resulting in a malfunction that might (fingers crossed) trip the CEL. The clamp on the throttle body where the bellows attached was a little loose also.
A loose gas cap or even failing to completely seat the oil dip stick can trigger a code, so this situation might be the cause of my problems.
I carefully seated the MAF sensor housing, to the throttle body tube and bellows and tightened everything securely. I used my OBD code reader and cleared all stored codes causing the CEL to go out. The last time I did that, the CEL was re-activated when I drove 40 miles. So I did. The CEL was still off.
I decided to go for a hundred miles and see what would happen, Still no CEL! Had I found the problem? I decided to replace the battery and rule that out as a factor. Maybe this wasn't a factor but I wanted to be sure that it wasn't contributing to my problem. I drove the twelve miles to the Smog Hut. Hugo hooked up his reader and told me that not all the programs were reset. The car needed to be operated at over 40 mph. and the evaporative system check required the fuel tank to be three quarters full. He suggested that I drive it for 40 miles at freeway speeds. I said that I didn't have time for that.
As I drove off I thought, why not drive down to Morgan Hill, It was still early and the traffic was not that bad, yet. I stopped and added 30.00 worth of gas, that would bring it past three quarters. I drove it down US101 at 65-70 mph. The round trip would be well over fifty miles. I had been a bit concerned about the sloppy front end but it turned out that it wasn't as bad I remembered it to be. There wasn't any wandering or darting under braking.
When I returned to the Smog Hut Hugo checked for codes and found that all the cycles testing had been completed. The car was good to go. Another nervous twenty minutes passed until I got the all clear report. Finally! On the way home I stopped by the AAA and picked up my new, very hard won registration tags.
Definitely. I've written that after my Mustang and XJS passed their tests that I was free for two more years. Yes and no. Sure, I wouldn't have to sweat the test for another couple of years. But I shouldn't have waited until the last minute for the XJ6. It had lit the CEL quite a while before the test was due. I had plenty of time to look into it. The Mustang and XJS did not display any CELs so there was no indication that there were any existing problems. Even so, it's best to run the cars through the tests a couple of months early. This way if problems develop you have time to deal with them. Operating your car with expired registration tags can be quite stressful, you are a case of "rolling probable cause." You are subject to being stopped by police at any time. Yes, I carried all my paperwork with me, report of deposit of fees, ( probably the most important document, the State wants it's money! ) smog test request form and proof of insurance. I had even taped a one day trip permit in my rear window. Even so, I ended up driving car for another month while sorting things out. And, my registration tags were expired from 2017! Even if you can avoid being issued a ticket, the traffic stop can make you late for work. Luckily, a fellow of my advanced years driving a demure white Jaguar must fly under a cop's radar. That's one thing good about getting old!
And that wraps up the Smog saga, at least for the next two years!