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This is just nutty - Equiraptor's Journal
This is just nutty
The shop can't find anything wrong with my car. They took it apart and tried to start it, and it started fine. They looked for damaged components and can't find any. It's been behaving *perfectly* for them. *pulls her hair out*

So... I guess I'm getting it back after work today and I'll keep a close eye on it.
13 comments | Leave a comment
nrubenstein From: nrubenstein Date: January 12th, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe a little spark across the starter motor? That'd give you a little whiff of smoke out of the center console.
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: January 12th, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
The smoke was coming from between the passenger seats, almost at the back of the passenger compartment. That seems... Kinda far away from the starter motor...
decibel45 From: decibel45 Date: January 12th, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is the ECU or anything in that area?

The only thing that comes to mind would be the fuel pump, but there shouldn't be any way for smoke from that to get inside the car...
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: January 12th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
The ECU is behind the passenger seat. I think some of the cabling does run through that console, but they said they checked that cabling and its showing no signs of being what caused the smoke. They also watched it (having removed the carpeting and other covers) while starting the car and didn't see anything abnormal.
decibel45 From: decibel45 Date: January 12th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Guess it's time to install a fire extinguisher...
poisonkitty From: poisonkitty Date: January 13th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, that made me lol :)
poisonkitty From: poisonkitty Date: January 13th, 2007 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Smoke coming from the ECU would make me a bit nervous, too. If there was sparking from a bad connection with the ECU, that could be the source. If there's enough smoke to actually see it through the carpet, then something should look burnt somewhere. Did you double check their work? I would feel compelled to pull back the carpet myself. Good luck with that.
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: January 13th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC) (Link)
The smoke wasn't coming from the ECU. It was about two feet, horizontally, away from the ECU. It was coming from an area with holes - it didn't have to pass through carpet for me to see it.

It definitely wasn't the ECU that was smoking. Wiring to the ECU? Quite possible. To see the area the smoke was coming from, I'd have to remove that plastic in the center console that holds... Well, that holds all the crap I put in the center console. The description I gave to the mechanics was far, far more detailed than any of the descriptions I've put online.

I might take a look around in there. I'll definitely have my eye out for interesting things around the area.
dopplertx From: dopplertx Date: January 13th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I used to repair televisions and VCRs back in the day, and I lost count of the number of times a customer would bring something in and describe how it was malfunctioning. I'd put it on the bench, and it would work fine, so I'd put it on a back bench and continue to test it throughout the day. I'd call the customer to come pick it up free of charge the next day. Almost 100% of the time, they'd be back later that day or the next, saying it malfunctioned in the same way they had described, as soon as they got it home.

I once read one of those mini-stories that Reader's Digest puts on the bottom of some pages, about a technician who had this same experience. In one case, he finally decided to psyche out the VCR. He opened the case, and taped a polarioid of himself to the inside. The customer took the machine home, and it actually worked perfectly from then on.
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: January 13th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I joke about my car being scared of the shop, or wanting to go to the shop.

For a while, I would regularly have difficulty shifting. I'd take it by the shop on a particularly bad day, and suddenly, it'd work again. It didn't take me long to figure out that downshifting to put the engine at over 6,000 RPM seemed to temporarily fix things.

So that mystery was "solved"...

Except then the car started chewing through (clutch) master cylinders. One only survived three months. It should never need another master cylinder, even with the racing clutch in the car. Finally, they found a screw that was loose.

I think that screw was loose the entire time I owned the car. The clutch had been lower than it should have been from day one. Of course, I didn't know that at day one, but I've later driving Miatas that didn't have the clutch problems mine had, and the clutch is... different. Now that the screw's fix, the clutch isn't quite on the floor. I don't have to worry about a twitch in my toe causing the car to stall at red lights.

So, slowly, bit by bit, they're figuring out the little things. One of my, "It's rare, but it happens," turned out to be a bent brake piece. Now, there's this smoke. We're all at a loss for now, but if I can just be careful enough to avoid the car actually catching on fire, maybe we'll catch it one of these days.

Or maybe I'll just buy a new Miata and stop worrying about it. :)
From: stenz Date: January 13th, 2007 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just start carrying meat around in your car - sounds like maybe you should have a metal rack installed between the seats, about two feet horizontally of the ECU, and keep said meat on said rack - this smoking process will add a distinctive flavor (mmm, that's the flavor of poisonous fumes), and the dry Texas heat will slowly dry cure it.

Miata Jerky will be the latest sensation, sweeping the nation. You will stop worrying about what is causing this, and instead worrying about what to call it that won't infringe on any brand monikers. Once that is resolved, you will then have to figure out how to get more Miatas to do this, to increase your production numbers to meet with demand.

I'm here to help.
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: January 13th, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Haha! I just have to wait for the current thunderstorms to pass. ;)
xulong From: xulong Date: January 13th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
what a pain in the ass...
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