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Your inner MacGyver

When it comes to using your MacGyver skills to get your broken down 21st century vehicle back on the road again a very different tool set is required.

Bailing wire, duct tape, a hammer, Vise grips, and a screwdriver probably won’t get you very far. Many an old time MacGyver hands over the keys to their broken trusty steed reluctantly. The whole time they are muttering. “I remember the good old days when all I needed was …. and I would be driving old Betsy home.

Believe it or not the newer vehicles can still be MacGyvered but it helps if you embraced the new technology and continued to hone your skills. The basic systems of the modern automobile are no different now than they were in the late 19th century. They are just a ton more refined and a ton more reliable.

I guess you could say it is tough to hone your skills if you are driving a well maintained late model vehicle. You may have driven more than 250 000 kilometres without ever experiencing more than a dead battery.

You may say “Skills, who needs them I got a cell phone and BCAA”. Sure, but what sense of accomplishment will that give you?

Speaking of a cell phone. If you are packing a smartphone and you are blessed with being broken down near enough to a cell phone tower. You have a much better chance of MacGyvering a solution to your problem. Google, Yahoo, or maybe even Bing might throw you a gift on the first page.

You will still likely need some tools. I would fatten up your old time tool kit with a little more variety. Once you lift the hood of any modern automobile one thing is for sure, there is not much room to work under there. A good set of quarter inch drive sockets with screwdriver bits are a must. I say good set, not cheap set because quarter inch drive tools are small but you are likely going to use a lot of force on them in tight quarters. If you value your knuckles you will appreciate the toughness of good tools. Stripping a screw or a bolt not only lessens the likelihood of removal but it also means your knuckles will have a couple layers of skin removed.

Electronics and computers have invaded your automobile. Brush up on Ohm’s Law. It hasn’t changed. Carry a simple multimeter. Know how to use it. The old fashioned test light is still useful but it is not friendly to computer circuits and letting the smoke out of a control module can be very costly.

Last but not least I would have some type of what we in the business call a scan tool.

Minimally you need to be able to communicate with your vehicle’s engine control computer. Since 1996 this type of communication tool has some standard protocols. A tool that can talk with your engine and transmission computer is not that expensive. Do not sucumb to just a code reader as that will get you nowhere fast. Even less money is required if you have a smartphone, pad, pod, or computer device to act as the brain of the tool. There is an app for that!

So now you have the necessary tools. Stay tuned. Modern automotive MacGyver has run out of space.

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