That OBD II code has become the bane of my existance. Last week, Leslie’s Audi A4 alternator gave up the ghost after 130,000 miles, and I sucessfully replaced it. Though that operation was more complex than it needed to have been, it saved me a trip to the dealer, and should have been the end of the story.
But alas, this has not been the case. During the repair, I disconnected the battery to avoid troubles, and as step one in virtually all repair instructions. That may have been my fatal mistake. I now have a car that will barely idle, and will not drive. Diagnostic code set is P1545 – which is a throttle position sensor error.
I don’t believe the sensor suddenly went bad, and unplugging it, changes the code to P1544 which shows correctly the sensor is out of the loop. I have two friends in the mechanic trade with access to “Alldata” the all knowing, master troubleshooting and diagnostic proceedure based online service. Calling in some help from these guys, with their more expensive, and capable scan tools than the one I have above, we are able to discern the sensor does change voltage when actuated, but the car’s computer, the “Motronic ECM” does not output data relative to this sensor in the data stream. The two just aren’t talking to each other. In fact, that’s clearly explained in the trouble shooting flow – that the car may need to be taken to the dealer so that they can use their proprietary scan tool to resychronize the throttle position sensor to the car’s ECU.
How can this be? In talking to my friends, they tell me it’s only getting worse. While this ’99 model year car uses the OBD II, or On Board Diagnostics II generation computer systems, models of cars into this century now have multiple computers networked together on a CAN Bus, and use wireless communications to actuate power window and other controls. In fact, just this week a 2007 model year truck, who’s battery died had to have it’s computer system completely reflashed, the equivalent of reloading Windows on your laptop computer, just to get it to restart, turn on the radio, roll down the windows, or start up the DVD navigation system.
Are automakers designing this way to increase the revenue stream from non-warranty services? The computer industry has certainly recognized that there is higher profitability in services that hardware. IBM has liquidated it’s printer, storage, and PC hardware divisions while growing it’s services and consulting division through aquisitions.
Looks like I’m not going to be able to escape the dealer after all. I’ll load up the car and drop it off over the weekend, so they can get this resolved Monday. Should be about a 10 minute job that probably books at least an hour of labor.
I hauled the car to the dealer last night and dropped it off. Luckily, they were closed and didn’t see my defeated look as I rolled it off the back of the truck and into the service lane. We filled out the key drop off, and I got a call today by 10 am. All fixed, $115 please. It was just a calibration using their VAG tool as I guessed. To soften the sting, they advised they had washed and vaccumed the car for us. There is really a lesson there on service – getting your car back clean and fresh smelling plays well to the psychological perception that your condition has been improved by the money you just spent. You feel you got more “value”.