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Entries in repair (2)

Thursday
Aug222013

iPhone 4S Volume Adjusts Up & Down On Its Own

My iPhone 4S recently developed a problem with its volume control buttons. Magically, all by itself, the iPhone's volume setting would change. My fingers wouldn't be anywhere near the volume buttons but the volume would suddenly adjust, as if some ghost was pushing the buttons. It affected both the ringer volume and the music volume. I'd be walking along with earbuds on and the volume would suddenly drop to zero.  WTF?!

A little research on the web revealed that it's a somewhat common problem. There are numerous related topics over in Apple's forums. What I learned is that it's a mechanical wear issue inside the volume button assembly. The backside of the volume buttons press against a flex pad that has traces for the volume control circuit. The volume buttons are kept separated from the flex pad by a spring. Over time, the edges of the spring wear through an insulative coating on the flex pad, thus intermittently closing the circuit and causing the volume level to change. It can affect either volume button, or both.

To fix the problem, Apple's engineers designed a little shim that slips in-between the flex pad and the spring, restoring the layer of insulation.

Diagram showing placement of shim within volume control assembly (click image to enlarge)

Quick and Inexpensive Repair!

I made an appointment with a Genius at my local Apple Store. The Genius was easily able to replicate the problem (the ringer volume started adjusting on its own while I was turning off the passcode for the phone). I was a little disappointed when I was told my iPhone was too far out of warranty for the repair to be done for free. But my disappointment evaporated when the Genius told me the total cost of the repair (placement of the shim) would be $6.00 (including sales tax)! The repair was completed in 20 minutes and the volume button demon has been exorcised from my iPhone 4S, hopefully for good!

The repair was very inexpensive (click image to enlarge)

By the way, somewhere along Apple's iPhone 4S production cycle, the shim apparently became a standard part of the volume control assembly. Later model iPhones shouldn't be as prone to developing the problem.

Thursday
May122011

Roll Your Own Toolkit for the Miata

One of the most important things you should take with you on a road trip is an Auto Club membership card.  And don't go for the standard membership, which gives you just seven miles of free towing per incident.  It's a much better idea to upgrade to the Plus membership (at minimum), which gives you 100 miles of free towing per incident.  If you ever need to have your car towed more than ten miles you'll be very glad you paid for the Plus membership.  Those extra miles could cost as much as $25 per mile.

That said, it is also important to be prepared for mechanical problems that you might be able to deal with yourself.  You need a toolkit.  Some manufacturers include a basic toolkit with their cars.  But it's better to roll your own.

Literally.

Bucket Boss Tool Roll (click image to expand)That's the Bucket Boss Duckwear Tool Roll model #07004.  As it turns out, it's just the right size to fit in a convenient (hidden) storage spot in the Miata's trunk.  But first, take a look at all the tools it can hold.

Custom Toolkit for the Miata (click image to expand)

No Need to Give Up Trunk Space

As I mentioned, there is a very convenient storage spot in the Miata's trunk.  It's a little tunnel that runs down the right side of the trunk toward the passenger seat.  On a NA Miata (1990 - 1997) you'll need to remove the spare tire.  On a NB Miata (1999 - 2005) you'll need to remove a couple of plastic rivets to pull back the trunk liner.

I wrap a medium-sized towel around the tool roll before shoving it in the tunnel.  The towel helps prevent rattles, plus it might come in handy during roadside repairs.

Convenient Tunnel Storage in Miata Trunk (click image to expand)

The beauty of using the hidden tunnel is that you don't have to give up any of your precious trunk space.  With the trunk liner back in place the toolkit is barely visible.

Carry a Toolkit Without Giving Up Trunk Space (click image to expand)Tire Repair Kit

It's also a good idea to carry a tire repair kit.  Granted, many times a blowout will result in damage to the sidewall and that's why carrying a spare tire is always the best plan.  But it is also fairly common to pick up a nail or screw in the tread that creates a slow leak.  You might wake up the next morning to find a flat tire.  Minor damage like that can be repaired fairly quickly and quite effectively with a tire plug.

Important:  Tire plugs are intended for temporary repairs.  The first chance you get, you should take the tire to a tire store and have a proper patch applied.

I put together a tire repair kit that fits in a small camera bag.  It contains a small 12-volt air compressor, tire plugs, tire plug installation tools, rubber cement and a tire pressure gauge.

Home-brew Tire Repair Kit (click image to expand)On my 2001 Miata, the tire repair kit fits nicely into the recess on the right side of the trunk.  That's a small first aid kit behind it in the photo below.

Tire Repair Kit & First Aid Kit (click image to expand)

OBD II Scanner

I also carry an inexpensive OBD II Code Reader in the trunk of my Miata.

OBD II Scanner Tool (click image to expand)

If your Miata's check engine light comes on, the OBD II scanner could prove to be the most useful tool you carry.  I printed a slip of paper with some common Miata engine codes and keep it with the scanner. 

  • P0134 - O2 Sensor (No Activity)
  • P0300 - Coil Pack (Misfire)
  • P0301 - Random Misfire Cylinder 1
  • P0302 - Random Misfire Cylinder 2
  • P0303 - Random Misfire Cylinder 3
  • P0304 - Random Misfire Cylinder 4
  • P0325 - Knock Sensor 1
  • P0339 - Crankshaft Position Sensor
  • P0402 - Dirty Intake Manifold
  • P0420 - Catalytic Converter / Front O2 Sensor
  • P0421 - Warm-up Catalytic Converter Efficiency Below Threshold Bank 1
  • P0455 - Possible Loose Gas Cap
  • P1170 - Fuel Air Metering
  • P1345 - Cam Position Sensor
  • P1518 - Intake Manifold Runner Control ('99-'00), Intake Manifold Shutter Valve ('01+) 

Of course, it's helpful to have something like a smartphone or other device with internet access to look up the codes.  Once you have the code, simply plug it into the search feature at Miata.net forum.  At Miata.net, you'll not only figure out why your check engine light came on, but you're virtually guaranteed to find a few answers on how to deal with fixing it.

On road trips, I've needed the OBD II scanner more often than I've needed a screwdriver.  So far, it's always been something simple like a loose gas cap that throws a check engine light code.  One time the code indicated a problem with my mass air flow sensor.  I had used a pressure washer to clean the bugs off the front of the Miata the night before and I managed to splash water up onto the mass air flow sensor's electrical connector.  Thanks to the OBD II scanner, I knew to turn my attention to the MAF.  I separated the electrical connector, dried it out, and reset the check engine light.  It's been fine since.

Be Prepared

No, I wasn't a Boy Scout.  It's just common sense to be as prepared as you can for roadside emergencies.  Hopefully, you'll never need any of the tools.  But you'll sure be glad you have them if you do end up needing them.