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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2010 Ford Explorer, P2104 and P2111 Codes

I finally had a motor vehicle case to blog about that might help someone. Two weeks ago in the morning a young woman in her late twenties drove in a 2010 Ford Explorer. I went to greet her from the back room, where the sequel to Rick Cantelli, P.I. was in production on my laptop. The woman popped out of the driver’s side, and marched up in my face. I had halted to see where she was going. I will refer to her as Ellie Explorer for the blog. Ellie stopped before she ran me over, with folded arms over chest stare. 
“Good morning. Can I help you?” I tried pleasant.
Ellie pointed at the Explorer. “Can you fix this or not?!”
Uh oh. Since I had never seen her or the Explorer before, I assumed that was a rhetorical question. I’ve had customers come in angry and ask if I could fix something, but they usually don’t tack on ‘or not’. “I do work on Ford Explorers. Perhaps if I…”
“I’ve had three shops work on this already!” Ellie jabs her finger at the recalcitrant Explorer. “I want to know if you can fix it! I don’t want to pay again to have it worked on without it being fixed!”
This is where being an old geezer helps. I took on my stern, no nonsense look, since my pleasant face was getting me abused. “First off, young lady, let’s use our inside voices. I can understand you being upset if you’ve paid to have your Explorer fixed at three shops without success, but if you plan on taking it out on me, I’ll have to ask you to leave.”
“Sorry…” Ellie went back into folded arms position with a more resigned look. “I don’t know what to do with this thing. I took it to Ford first. They nicked me for a $125, did their computer scan, cleared the codes, and test drove it. The codes didn’t reappear, so they gave it back to me. A day later it jerked on the freeway, and the check engine light came back on. Ford agreed to retest it, which they did. They gave it back to me, saying it was an intermittent problem, but they installed an updated TPS sensor under warranty. They had already changed the throttle body the first year I had it under warranty. A week later, the light was back on.”
Ellie paused waiting for me to say something. “Okay, did you have Ford retest it?”
“No, I took it downtown to an electronics shop (she named the place, but I was unfamiliar with it) because I was worried I’d get stuck out in the middle of nowhere. I drive this up in the mountains all the time, especially during ski season. I showed the guy over there my invoices from Ford after he came up with the same two codes Ford did, having to do with the throttle. That stopped him, because he had been about to recommend replacing the throttle and TPS sensor. They tried rerouting the harness from those… ah… coil on plug things, thinking maybe there was interference causing it. That didn’t work and I was out another $110. The electronics shop looked at it again, and thought maybe the computer needed reflashed, but I showed them the Ford invoice where they updated the TPS, and pointed out that Ford had done a reflash. He said this may be a case where the problem will have to get more consistent. Jesus… I mean… with all the gadgets you people have, why can’t they tell you what’s wrong?”
I didn’t have an answer for her on that, but I did know it happens occasionally. “You took it to a third shop. What did they do?”
“They didn’t charge me for the computer scan. When they looked over my other work, and the fact I already had over 80,000 miles on it, they suggested doing a complete maintenance tune up, including replacing the coil on plug things. They were honest about not knowing if it would solve the problem or not, but that I was nearing the time when it would need to be done anyway. That made sense, because they said it might be a misfire the computer wasn’t detecting causing feedback into the throttle sensor circuit. I gave them the go ahead on the damn expensive maintenance tune up and the light came back on three days later. It did seem to start and run better though. That shop rescanned it for free, and told me the same thing as the second shop – wait for the problem to get worse.”
Oh boy. I looked longingly at the backroom where my laptop awaited with Rick Cantelli and his fictional adventures calling to me. My publishing partner and agent, RJ Parker, keeps telling me I have to give up the ‘Bennie’ work, and concentrate on writing exclusively. (Bennie is my humorous name when the r on my nametag gets smudged into an n I have written about) I pointed out to him when I finish the Rick Cantelli sequel, I’ll have written six full length novels this year, and still kept my day job. Ellie and her Explorer were making ‘Bennie’ think maybe it was time to start considering it though. Maybe like my fictional Cantelli, a good deed would be just the thing here to improve the karma of ‘Bennie’ work.
I took a deep breath. “I’ll tell you what. Leave it with me. I’ll look it over and if I can’t find anything there will be no charge. If I do find something related to the codes I believe will fix it, I’ll charge you my $75 diagnostic fee plus the cost of the fix, which I will get your okay on the repair first over the phone. I’ll give you a six month money back warranty on the code problem. I want you to understand the warranty will not have anything to do with other problems that crop up. Since you’ve never gone more than a week without the codes coming back, we should know quickly whether it’s fixed. That’s the best I can do.”
She thought about it while staring death rays at me, trying to see if I’d break down and start blubbering. When I didn’t, she handed me her keys. “I’ll call for a ride. I hope you can fix it.”
Me too.
After she left, I set up my laptop computer used only for ‘Bennie’ business with the latest programming and diagnostic software on it. I came up with the same old codes of P2104 (Forced Idle) and P2111 (Throttle Stuck Open). There were no indicators of fuel or misfires in the digital data. I took it through the more specific Mode 6 testing, and only came up with fails having to do with the throttle. There were no indicators of misfire. At that moment, the ‘Bennie’ retirement song was playing in my head (Bennie and the Jets).  :)
I opened the hood then with my CSI mini Maglite, looking for clues rather than DNA samples. A half hour later, going over grounds, power leads, and problem areas for wiring harness I had read about and found on Expeditions and other Fords, I found the problem. The harness was chaffed by the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) tube and valve. It was tiny, but allowing what I found out was a TPS signal wire to contact ground intermittently. I repaired the wiring, and rerouted the harness. I only charged her the diagnostic fee, but she warned me she’d be back in days with the same thing wrong. I didn’t blame her for thinking that, but I had the guarantee written on the invoice.
She called this morning after two weeks and two trips to the mountains. It looks like ‘Bennie’ is back in business.

I will be at 60,000 words for the Rick Cantelli sequel by Halloween also.  :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hard Case III: Voyage of the Damned

On the writing front, I'll be passing 60,000 words this weekend in my sequel to Rick Cantelli, P.I. and it's still just as much fun as the first one.  :)

This is a big weekend for Hard Case III: Voyage of the Damned. It's already #2 on the New Hot Releases in Assassins, and #6 in ranking behind Lee Child's One Shot. Here's a screen shot of it just for fun.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

HARD CASE III: Voyage of the Damned

Voyage of the Damned, Book 3 in the John Harding series, released today, with the paperback available tomorrow. The sequel to Rick Cantelli, P.I. is on track for Christmas. I passed the 41,000 word mark last night. I've learned if an author wants to maintain sales, the new product has to keep coming. The days where an author could write a few books, hit the big time, and relax are in the past.  :)  I don't mind. My head's full of voices anyway, and I love writing stories. This new one is 103,000 words in length, so it's a little longer than the first two in the series. My partner, RJ Parker thinks it's the best yet. I do too, but we're prejudiced.  :)


Here's the blurb for it:

John Harding’s Murderer’s Row uncovers a name while on a standard protection gig. Soon, they’re plunging into a South American jungle stronghold on a snatch and grab rescue. Under Lynn Montoya’s knife, they learn the kingpin financier’s identity spreading chaos around the world.

Harding and his crew race from one locale to the next, one step ahead of a brutal financial puppet master’s plans to wipe them out even after his death. In addition to his ongoing missions, Harding has agreed to fight a behemoth nicknamed ‘The Destroyer' in the converted Oakland warehouse with rigged judges. Throw in a little show business consultation, and John has his hands full with the usual: violence, America’s safety, love, and of course humor.

Another bit of good news is my friends at Book Trailers Showcase will be including me in a feature for November 2013's edition. I'll be discussing my DEMON new adult series.

Here is October's issue, which was a real smash hit, covering many reviews and new books. I also had four full page ads going because they are the best for affordable marketing. Have a look:

Book Trailers Showcase E-mag, October 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013


While preparing for the release of my third book in the HARD CASE series, VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED, I’ve been hard at work on the Rick Cantelli, P.I. sequel. I can’t really call it work, because it is simply a lot of fun. The idea I hinted around at in the first book about the contract killer, Trish Rocha, and her infatuation with Rick can now be pursued. Rick and Lois put Rocha behind bars in the first book, but she makes her way into the sequel with very funny results. Funny in my head anyway, because none of us know for sure if something we write will be entertaining to readers or a complete miss. I do realize how obsessed an author can become with the hand wringing anticipation of releasing a new novel. I mentioned my new Rick Cantelli sequel in these past couple of posts, because writing a new novel is how I deal with it. Yes, I believe VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED to be a very entertaining pulp fiction installment for my character John Harding and his crew, but who knows? Only writing cures publishing angst. Diving into new Rick and Lois adventures, where another world opens up for me to interact in, cures publishing anxieties completely.


The obvious plus side for dealing with publishing release in that manner is a new novel moves along toward its own release. By the end of today, I’ll be nearing 30,000 words in my Rick Cantelli sequel, approaching nearly a third of the way to completion. I don’t write novellas, because I’m not comfortable with short fiction. I have a set of scenes floating around in my head, and they are stark enough in there already. I like reading action and character interaction, especially with humor. I write the same thing. I don’t write from a formula. My characters are larger than life denizens of pulp fiction. I don’t write real life. I escape from it when writing. I actually laugh when a reviewer critiques one of my novels with the dreaded words ‘this is completely unrealistic’, ‘unbelievable’, or ‘this could never happen’. Well, I beg to differ. It happened in my head. I liked it, I laughed while writing it, and became so involved in the action as to picture watching the scene as it traveled from my head to the computer. Now, it’s time to leave the blog world, and reenter Cantelli land, a place of darkness and shadows, violence, and of course humor.  :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

RICK CANTELLI, P.I. hits #18 on Amazon Private Investigators Category

Nothing much funny or otherwise in auto repair land, or the East Oakland demilitarized zone – all quiet on the western front.  :)

Good news on the writing – my novel RICK CANTELLI,P.I. made it to #18 on Amazon’s very tough Private Investigators category. Even getting into the top 100 is tough in that very competitive category. The third book in the HARD CASE series VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED will be released very soon, and I made it over 15,000 words in the RICK CANTELLI, P.I. sequel, which my partner Author/Agent/Publisher RJ Parker and I should be releasing sometime around Christmas. Writing the adventures of Rick and Lois was a laugh out loud thrill for me this past weekend. Here’s a screen shot of my #18 placing on the Amazon Private Investigators category ranking.