Sunday, June 04, 2006

Passing Strange

My 1992 Plymouth mini-van, broke down Thursday evening. After some trouble shooting, I determined that it was the "brain", the ECM, (Electronic Control Module).

The problem was, ECMs can be quite expensive compared to the worth of an old car. Most cars have separate control modules for different things, ignition control, mass air sensor, etc. This car has one rather large unit which controls everything.

The solution; go to a junk yard, (or so I thought). Most cars have different ECMs for different engines and sometimes different accessories. They might work on a number of different models with the same engine through a range of years,. Not mine! It must be for a 1992 model mini-van with a 2.5 liter engine. So though the junk yards are full of mini-vans, I couldn't find the exact ECM I needed.

Did I mention that it was raining Thursday and that the car I borrowed broke down in my driveway and I had to fix it?

Getting a late start, I combed the "you-pull-it" junk yards. I'm a mechanic, among other things, and combing the junk yards isn't a new experience for me. I ran into the usual people you meet in a junk yard, (i.e.) people that shouldn't do mechanical work but are trying to save a dollar. (A guy breaking a side window trying to get it out and a guy who got mad at me. I wouldn't let him use a tiny pair of vice grips to remove a oxygen sensor.) But I couldn't find the ECM I needed.

I decided to try one out on a mini-van that was equipted like mine but one year newer. I took it home and drilled a couple of holes, (it was shaped slightly different than mine), to mount it and hooked it up and stared the engine. Everything seemed fine but I had to wait a couple of hours before I could road test, I didn't want to break down and not have anyone at home to come and get me.

When my son came home from work I road tested the car and it ran beautifully, (only), no odometer, no speedometer, no cruise control and when I got home, the engine wouldn't shut off!

Depressed, I went on the Internet to check prices and availability. They ranged from $400 for a new ECM to $170 for a "rebuilt" with a $90 core charge, Which would in all probably would never be refunded. So I'm looking at a cost of $260 to $400 plus s&h and three days delivery, (actually more like 5 to 7 since it was after hours and the order wouldn't be processed until the next day.


My wife had been praying for me the whole day, I was glum, I'd missed a days work and I would have to do without my car for several days, meaning. I would have to get up earlier get home later and still get my chores done at home.

I was about to make a decision on which way I was going to go, ($400 lifetime warranty, $260 1 year warranty), when I decided, for some reason, to type the part number into google. I found a link to a message board where a guy was telling a friend that if he needed the part he would sell him one that he bought but didn't need. The message was three years old.

The guys signature had a name and business name so I typed that into google. It had a web page link and I clicked on it. The web page had a phone number and area code, (my area code). I called the number and the guy still had the part, would sell it to me for what he paid for it, ($100), and he lived here, in the same city as I, within a few miles. And I could come right over and pick up the part.

He doesn't sell car parts, he runs an electronics business out of his home.

I picked up the ECM, put it on my mini-van and drove it 70 miles yesterday.

51 comments:

drummaster2001 said...

karma is a tricky thing. but in the end, it worked out for you. sounded like a long shot, like how i got tickets to a red sox game.

my family also had a early 90s plymouth voyager. we gave it to my aunt when we got a newer ford windstar. the plymouth was a much better automobile- better gas mileage and much more reliable.

Elmer's Brother said...

the power of prayer Sir Warren is an amazing thing

Always On Watch said...

Warren,
That's quite a car-repair saga. At least the Internet came to your rescue. And what are the odds that the fellow with the needed module lives in the same city as you? As EB mentioned, the power of prayer!

Years ago, we had "brain trouble" with my 1985 Chrysler Fifth Avenue. We got a brand new brain, and it was defective! From the factory! Had I not loved that car so much I might have had to put it out of its misery with a quick shot. I considered it. And not long after the brain glitch, the spider gears went; we had to replace them twice because the first junk-yard parts also had problems.

I don't know which part of your story is funnier (now, in hindsight): the borrowed car broke down on you in the driveway or your van wouldn't turn off because it had the wrong brain.

Great car-repair story! My husband loved it as well.

the merry widow said...

Wow Warren! Isn't it amazing to deal with a G*D who knows the future and sets it up so we have what we need, when we need it, for a price we can afford, where we can get to it? I love G*D stories!
Thanks for sharing it!

tmw

beakerkin said...

At least the story has a happy ending. All that is missing is a racoon or woodchuck on the way home.

This area I am in must be the red wing blackbird capital of the world . I drove thirty mises and saw little else.

cube said...

Wow! What a story. Good for you!

Warren said...

DM, I have nothing but praise for the Plymouth mini-vans. This one was gave to me but it needed some expensive engine work. It was always parked in a garage and rested unmoved for almost 5 years. It doesn't look very old at all.

EB, yes, I believe in the power of prayer. I'm just glad the answer wasn't no.

Warren said...

AOW, the odds are truly amazing.

I had a friend that bought a used program car with a full warranty.

It had a bad battery but they told him at the dealer that the ECM was bad and replaced it. He drove to work the next day and the thing downshiffted itself and the engine overtemp light came on then the car shut itself off. When it cooled down, (not from overheating but just to air temperatures) it started up and he drove home. He took it to the dealer the next day and left it.

They told him there was nothing wrong with it!

He drove it to work the next day and it did the same thing. He called a wrecker and had it towed to the dealer again, and again, they told him nothing was wrong.

He called me and told me the story and I told him that they put a bad ECM in the car.

The dealer hadn't checked the ECM while the car was at operating temperature and like on my mini-van, it would fail when it was at operating temperature but worked fine as long as it was cool.

The dealer wouldn't budge from their position but under the warranty, (a dealership warranty), they had to foot the bill. So I told him to drive it until it failed then call a wrecker and if they told him there wasn't anything wrong, do it again.

Two more times and they decided to replace the ECM

Warren said...

Beak, I wonder if red wing black birds are migratory. I saw one yesterday but I don't see them at all in winter.

MissingLink said...

Very happy ending.
Makes you think: "why didn't I start with typing the part number into google?

Warren said...

Well Missing link, I did!

LOL

But the problem was with the way a search engine works.

I also typed in the make and model of the mini-van and it returned thousands of hits gradded on the percentage of "hits" by key word. By the time I got past "1992 Plymouth Voyager 2.5 liter 4677435", (the last number being the part number); I'm sure it was buried somewhere in that monumental pile of information... somewhere.

The part number was also 7 digits long and that list would include numerious partial numbers, including phone numbers.

Thats not the real number, I don't remember the correct number offhand but try typing it in and see what kind of returns you get.

:^)

F.B. Jones said...

My car has had a clear tape window on the drivers side for over a month. I payed $1500 dollars for it and I have only put a $1000 into it. including new brakes. I love my used car. I will never pay for a new one EVER!

Some roadkill would have been a nice finish.

Warren said...

FB, I've never owned a new car. I once bought a 1970 Gremilin in 1971, it had 19000 miles on it. I kept it for 11 years and sold it for $300.

That's the closest I've came to owning a new car.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

The Beamishmobile turns 20 next year.

the merry widow said...

Warren- You probably did see the blackbirds this winter, outside of breeding season the males lose thier red wing epaulets. Without them, they're just blackbirds! The starlings(which I abhor, they're imports from England!), the males anyway, get yellow beaks and speckled feathers during breeding season.
Good morning and G*D bless all here!

tmw

the merry widow said...

jobro, because of the Health Dept. codes, I know you have a bathroom at home, so you have no reason to come here to defecate. You also have your own blog to publish your opinions, just because you cannot attract the audience you desire doesn't mean you have to come here or to Beakerkin's blog to sling poo. You are a health hazard. It is also disengenious of you and uppity to show up when you both know that most people are at work. Something that I don't believe you are well acquainted with.

tmw

Elmer's Brother said...

jb when is the UFO picking you up?

Always On Watch said...

Warren,
I've never owned a new car/

There's another common bond!

But I came close to buying a new car when I bought the Mustang, which was only about a year old at the time. My midlife crisis and a present to myself for my 49th birthday. I bought it well below value, and it had only 6000 miles on it (Now = 85,000 miles).

The best car deal I ever got was the purchase of a 1965 Dodge Dart, for which I paid only $31.50. We had to have it towed, but a new started was all she needed.

We drove that car for years and sold it only because it was damaged in an accident; while on the body shop's lot got trashed when somebody broke into it and yanked the stereo system. By that time, in the late 70's or early 80's, getting all the windows replaced well outweighed the value of the vehicle; besides, another great deal came along.

That '65 Dart was our first vehicle with AC.

Elmer's Brother said...

Sir Warren I need to borrow your troll picture. Thanks.

Always On Watch said...

I see that some cleanup has occurred here. :)

the merry widow said...

My Tahoe is 11 yrs. old and has 113,000 on it! Runs well, why trade something that works?

tmw

Always On Watch said...

TMW,
Keep what's reliable--that's my method.

NeeSmart said...

Computer !
Heal thyself.

FLORIAN said...

Add uptown steve to the troll abortion list.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Go to the light Carol Ann... Mommy's in the light...

the merry widow said...

The only new vehicle I've ever owned was a Newport moped! Well, let me take that back, when we were moving to Cal. We traded our 2 old vehicles in for a new Jimmy. Drove that one half to death before we traded it for the used Tahoe. We needed it to transport ourselves, a 2 yr. old, a 5 month old, 2 old German Shepards, an old cat and hauling a U-Haul trailer! We didn't kill anyone in the 5 days we traveled either! that was a miracle, the cat yowled for 2 days and the 2 yr. old is ADHD! He's 17 now and still alive, but we replaced him with a dog who's ADHD! Are we gluttons for punishment?
Good morning and G*D bless everyone with a wonderful day!

tmw

Always On Watch said...

TMW,
a dog who's ADHD

How can you tell?

the merry widow said...

AoW- When the ADHD son gets totally freaked out by the dog's hyperness! When your son says, "Mom, I can't stand that dog, he's making me crazy." My standard reply was,"I don't know why, he's JUST LIKE YOU!" Heeheehee, and my daughter picked him out at the pound too! My late was ADHD, our student minister claims he's ADD but I tell him, "You are ADHD!" He jumps on the pool table among other things. The student's minister. He can also talk on the phone, hold a conversation with a person in his office, type on the computer and grade a test at once! The dog is like him too! G*D has a sense of humor, I am surrounded by all these ADHD males, and I;m not even close! And people wonder why a get a full body massage once a month! I have to be untangled at least once in a while.

tme
P.S. Probably explains some of my posts!

Elmer's Brother said...

tmw - that's called multitasking

Elmer's Brother said...

Oh - Sir Warren JB has this crazy idea that we should like care what he thinks. I think his mother dropped him on his head a couple of times to many or he is just a glutton for punishment.

Actually it could be both.

Here comes the UFO JB, Calypso Louis is calling you.

Elmer's Brother said...

JB put your tinfoil hat on and if you don't have one I got a collander for you.

Elmer's Brother said...

you also might want to strap on a burka and head on in to the mosque, your pussies of jihad are calling you.

Elmer's Brother said...

hahaha
Haven't you cut and pasted this same comment from Beaks?

First I was a jack booted thug for twenty years including combat in Iraq. The only ass kicking I saw was when the pussies of jihad was getting their asses handed to them.

Second were you the child your mother never wanted?

Third: If you want validated I suggest you contact the local shrink, perhaps with a few years of rehab you might resemble a human being again.

Elmer's Brother said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elmer's Brother said...

Since you are the brave one I suggest you make your way over to Iraq and show us what you got....

that's what I thought you're a pussy too.

Elmer's Brother said...

so you're not going to Iraq?

Elmer's Brother said...

I knew you were a chicken s*it.

tazzmax said...

Hey Warren, I thought you aborted the "head coffin" moron?

He's like a bad disease,huh?.....Just keeps on coming back for more treatment.

I'd bet he has an egg shaped head, where the doctor stood on it while he pulled his tail off, when he was born.

tazzmax said...

Hey, Brown-ass, are you one Nagins' nagas?

tazzmax said...

J.Brown-ass sure does fit the profile of one of the "mental giants" who floated out of the plantation, {NO}, along with the other slime to pollute elsewhere!

Elmer's Brother said...

jb are you too busy dodging handouts in N.O. or were the jack booted thugs helping you off your roof?

Brooke said...

Glad you found the part! Power of prayer!

Looks like Warren will need to do a little more housecleaning tonight!

Glad to see ya' back, Nanc!

tazzmax said...

J. Brown, I have no love for Bushie, the "skull&bones, new world order guy",....and I'm a conservative, but I sure as hell can't stand the likes of demo-rats, such as commie traitor Kerry!

Bush has been persuing the war off the playbook of the demo-rats,.....PC,...and that's why they're having so much trouble in Iraq.

When you go to war, you go to kill the enemy,.....not love them to death.

Collateral damage and civillian death is a fact of war, and I'll guarantee you, most of those so called innocent civillians are not innocent,....they are aiding and abetting the insurgents.

Hell no, I wouldn't fight in a war that I couldn't defend myself in!

It's either kill them, or they kill you, bottom line.


The pacifist, commie loving demo-rats sure don't have an answer, except do like the French, and surrender or tuck their cowardly tails between their balls and run.

Mr. Ducky said...

Gee, and you still paid more than the car is worth.

Warren said...

John Brown was extorting me to reply to his paranoid delusions.

So I did and now he has closed his blog to comments and is in the process of deleting my posts.

You just can't make some people happy!

Warren said...

Ducky said:
"Gee, and you still paid more than the car is worth."

Worth to who dummy?

The worth of an automobile is determined by your needs and the lifetime costs, not what you paid for it!

Elmer's Brother said...

sir warren if you wish to delete my comments I will understand.

Warren said...

No EB, my friend.
Everyone here knows what's going on or if not they may ask and I will explain.

However, if you want them removed, I will, or you may do so and I'll remove the remains, ie "this post removed by author".

I'm not anal, I don't have that overwhelming desire to make everything look just exactly right. I just keep my word and I told the "stain" that I would be removing any posts he makes. He is not welcome here! I want people to know I aborted his posts.

I need to recount them but I believe that ten were removed today, actually yesterday, and four the day before that.

Everyone of those red headed trolls represent the removal of one of his comments and I have ten to add.

the merry widow said...

Is it just me? Or does it seem that jobro posts in waves? There appears to be an ebb and flow to them.
Warren- Love the G*D story, brings out more from others, it's very encouraging!

Good morning and G*D bless with a beautiful, smooth runnung day!
tmw

the merry widow said...

P.S.- Maybe a different hair color for every 5 or 10 trolls aborted to save on space?

tmw

nanc said...

why would ANYBODY delete elbro's comments? other than it looks as though he's talking to himself...