Guest Post by Tony
There’s an old saying in the world of auto mechanics: “Cars, like people,
will let you know when they’re not feeling well. You just have to listen.”
This was especially true back when cars were all metal and muscle and no
electronics. Today? Well, they still talk, but it’s more like a whisper in a
digital dialect that needs an accurate interrogator and translator.
The Mysterious A’s and B’s of the Volvo S60 ABS
Let’s start with my 2014 Volvo S60. A dependable ride since the day I
bought it used with 41,000 miles on the clock in 2018.” Out of the blue, as
I’m cruising through my neighborhood on a wet day, and I get a weird vibration
from the front end like the brakes are gently but rapidly being tapped.
The ABS warning light flashed, then on bright and steady. Immediately after
that the cascade failures started. The cruise control disengaged and the
driver information display started a series of messages: The City
Safety/Collision Warning was off line and the Traction Control System
sympathetically joined it. It’s like the electronic brains of the braking
safety system had gone on strike! I still had brakes but none of the safety
features were online. Was it the basic brake system or the safety sub-system? Faulty or wet wiring? A ECU glitch?
The old Tony would’ve started replacing the usual suspects – brake pads,
maybe some wiring, even looking at the ABS module connectors. But that
method is a money-draining gamble. And with no real clue and a limited
budget for time and money, I had no intention of playing automotive
My Wife’s Mini Cooper: The Garage Drama Queen
Enter my wife’s 2014 Mini Cooper Coupe she calls Abby. A John Cooper Works
model with enough sass to make any car enthusiast grin. But, like all drama
queens, it thrives on attention or more precisely, sulks with a lack of it.
Abby’s latest act of defiance? The engine began to idle as if it had
chugged ten cups of coffee, the cooling fan wouldn’t stop even after
shutting down the motor and pulling the key. The battery drain was killing
the cells. When on the road the engine temp never got hot enough to warm a
cup of tea, as if it perpetually sat outside in a North Dakota winter.
From my muscle car memories I compared Abby’s symptoms to the ”sick” cars
of my youth – except for the high idle and continuous fan, she acts like
there’s an open thermostat. However, the high idle and continuous fan seemed to
indicate an overheating condition. Confusing!!!
An internet search pointed to several possibilities, mainly sensors, but no
single likely solution. Complicating things, is the Mini cars have a lot of
variation in engine bay layout depending on engine displacement and
accessories. It’s all a tight fit, too! I had to take a peak, but in popping
the hood, I was met with a maze of hoses, water pipes, wiring harnesses, and
turbocharger plumbing. The culprit could’ve been any sensor seen (and
unseen) or a combination of them. Without fault codes, I was trying to
diagnose an illness with persistent but conflicting symptoms. Pure
guesswork at this point.
Cracking the Codes with YOUCANIC Scanner
That’s where the YOUCANIC UCAN-II scanner became a game-changer. It’s an
all-in-one interrogator and a translator for car talk. Plugging it into the
OBD II port, the mystery of the Volvo was solved in short order: a specific
The ABS wheel speed sensor had thrown a failure code. It wasn’t just “somewhere
in the brake system.” It was a particular sensor: the right front to be
exact. Twenty-two dollars for the part and 30 minutes of my time to change
it. A precise diagnosis saved me both time and money by avoiding a trip
to the brake repair shop.
The diagnosis for crabby Abby? UCAN-II presented two distinct fault codes
related to the coolant system which led me straight to two concealed coolant
sensors; not the easy ones, but the one on the multi-branch hose block and
the other on the thermostat housing on the backside of the motor. Thankfully
neither needed replacing, just cleaning the electrical connectors and a firm
reconnect. Without the scanner, I might have embarked on a wild goose
chase, removing and replacing parts left and right.
Muttering about Modern Auto Electronics
Cars today are a blend of mechanical art and digital wizardry. Because of
that wizardry, they offer unmatched precision to diagnose problems.
However, the cryptic messages from the driver information system, the
myriad of sensors and sub-systems can make repairs feel like a shot in the
dark. With tools like the YOUCANIC scanner in your garage, you’re listening
In the car’s systems conversations. You’re no longer shooting in the
dark; you’re sniping with precision.
In the final analysis, it’s about evolving with the times. It’s about
“logging into” your car, tapping the diagnostic systems, understanding the
reports, and remedying the faults. This will ensure that these machines are
running at optimum performance and keeping us safe on the home streets, at
the track, or on the open road.
Have questions about your car? Get assistance in our newly launched forum section. We’re here to provide support!