Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Defective ETM in Volvo Can Result in Accident.

[This is the Blog version. I am going to send other formal versions all over Thailand.]

ETM Related Volvo Accident

This is a letter to bring attention to public that a defective component in certain Volvos built between 1999 to 2002 with electronic throttles. All of the following models with petrol engines are affected: not just the 1999-2001 V70s and C70s, but the S60, S70, S80, XC70 and the model year 2002 V70 non-turbos and C70s. Also, all S60 and V70 Bi fuel models are affected. Sources have indicated that there is a 94% failure rate on this item before 100,000 miles (160,934 km), which happens to be beyond standard warranty period covered by Volvo Thailand.

The ETM (Electronic Throttle Module) used in these Volvos worldwide will have a high failure rate due to a defective design. The component in the ETM wears out resulting in the car going into erratic idling with a diarrhea of black soot coming out from the exhaust. At such times, the engine may shut down without warning and cause the car to be out of control as the brakes will be rendered ineffective. This I, guarantee scares every piece of shit outta you, better then going for any detoxifying enema treatment. Sometimes the car accelerates without even steeping on the gas like got a piece of ghost in the engine. Even without complete engine failure, an erratic and low power output form the engine may also result in lost of control, same detoxifying experience. This, I have experienced personally many times and believe is the cause of accident mentioned herein.

When the engine check light in these cars finally turn on and a visit is made to dealers, the fault with ETM will normally not be detected as the OBD (On Board Diagnostic system which makes warning lights turn on and report on errors) will indicate oxygen sensor failures. Example of OBD codes that I have encountered are P0134, P1132, P0140, all which points to the two oxygen sensors which I have already replaced less then a month ago.

On the day of the accident, 23 December 2006, the engine was running fine at first. But a while later, the engine began to hesitate with the PRM going up and down. A truck was parked on the side of the road. On approach, the brake was applied to slow the car as an attempt to stop before going around the truck was negotiated. The car did not response and the accident occurred. Should this have been at high speeds, I could have ended up with more then one car, in separate little not so cute pieces. After the hassle of insurance claims and everything else, the car was started again and mysteriously everything went back to normal, no engine problem. WTF????

Then the next day in the middle of heavy traffic, the engine began to hesitate. However, there was no warning lights on the dash, as the day before. That was when I made a u-turn in heavy oncoming traffic and realized I cannot brake effectively, detox again. If you wanna simulate this problem, try this. Drive, then u-turn onto oncoming traffic. Turn off engine in middle of motion and try to brake. Pray for divine intervention. Fortunately this time, there was no accident. I took out my OBD tool (a small gadget which I have to perform diagnostic on the car) and plugged it in. There again, indicated the oxygen sensor problem (P0134). Let me repeat hair-raisingly that I have just replaced both bloody oxygen sensors on the dealer’s advice on the same situation mention forth less then a month ago. The car was spewing black smoke and smelt of petrol. The engine was idling erratically and cannot be driven. My OBD also indicated that the throttle was swinging between 20 to 40 degrees when actually I was not pressing on the accelerator at all. The engine was about to cut out, the traffic was heavy. I did not want to engage a tow truck to have my car towed. I cannot drive to a dealer in such a condition. How to drive? The car was puttering like shit and don’t even know when got brakes. In an attempt to solve the problem, I send a reset command from my OBD tool to the car’s computer. Everything returned back to normal immediately like magic.

I drove to the dealer, 26 December 2006, at Sukhumvit Road (SMC Motors). Normally, foreigners have tear balls experience everywhere in Thailand when facing customer service (because it does not exists). Foreigners normally need a head as cool as absolute zero to engage in more then basic customer service negotiations. I was directed to a young sales chap who claimed he could help me with the ETM issue. My first question to him was that if he was aware there were problems with the S70 cars. His shocking answer back to me was “Yes, car have problem, turbo very hot”. This effectively heated my absolute zero temperature head tremendously till the point my expanding brain almost exploded out of my still cool skull. The good thing was that he realized he could not deal with the situation. Before I went supernova in response to his lack-of-intellect answer, he asked for the Senior VP to attend to me personally. I was glad the senior gentlemen spoke excellent English. He was very helpful and explained to me the situation with this ETM issue. Dealers in Thailand were well aware of this problem in fact long ago but closed one eye. The ETM will not be replaced if the car is driven in without the engine check light on. And, if the warranty has already expired beyond the standard period, customers will have to pay for it. What then bothered me is that Volvo is aware of the defect and that the ETM may fail and pose a danger to the driver before 100,000 miles and not taken any preventive measures. Volvo is thus aware that failure may occur beyond standard warranty period and Volvo did not replace the ETM in my car in the countless routine maintenance schedules beforehand, thus leaving me to play dice with the fairies up in heaven. Must they wait for an accident to happen before they do anything? Assholes. When the problem does arise, the car can no longer be driven reliably. How can one then drive to the workshop safely with the engine check or ETS indicator bright like Christmas lights? Where is your brain dear Volvo Thailand? No wonder Volvo has only got about 2% market share in a recent car sales report in this huge market, what bad after sales service.

Over in other countries, there were already many incident reports (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, EA05021 NHTSA Recall Campaign Number, US) and Volvo has extended a warranty of up to 10 years or 200,000 miles (321,868 km) on these defective ETMs to curb unnecessary detox. According to news sources, the ETM will be replaced for free and there is a recall exercise going on. Why is it then that Volvo owners here have to pay for the replacement? Volvo Thailand is hiding something and not telling the public so as not to loose face? I have a sample receipt from another country showing that a 1999 S70 with a mileage of 132,787 had her ETM replaced for free. The technician told me I have to pay for because my S70 is a turbo. Hello, think I goondu or what? An ETM is an ETM after all. It may be of a different size but what’s the difference when the defect is due to design concept? Eg.. u got penis I got penis. Different size but still we use them to pee. Senior VP said only selected owners are notified of this issue in Thailand officially to get their ETM replaced for free. What??? That means the rest of us are selected to die in accident? As a dealer, they have to follow instructions as per Volvo Thailand (the Volvo HQ) and the latter had ordered for me to pay through my ass even thought I have encountered several near and finally an accident. Volvo for Life? Volvo I cannot drive now.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Non-existent Customer Service in Thai Banks

To all foreigners like me working here, it is next to impossible for us to get a Credit Card if you happen to be getting the standard “Thai” class salary. Why it is that banks here do not understand the fact that being a foreigner does not mean we have access to unlimited amount of legal tender? You need a salary scale at least 5 times that of the average Thai THB$15,000.

Initially when I tried to apply with SCB (Siam Commercial Bank), I got rejected several times with no apparent explanation except for the usual “regret to inform you” letter. The staff in the branch could not tell me where my application went wrong even thought my salary is definitely a few times above the average. That was until I decided to write an email to ask SCB if there exist a double standard involved for foreigners. In the country I come from, we get replies immediately the next working day but here, it takes a lot of effort to get customer service to response. I resent the email a total of 6 times. For the record, it took almost 14 days to get a response. They finally cleared the air that I needed a monthly salary of THB$100,000 (huge contrast to THB$15,000 for locals).

With the questioned answered, I know now foreigners with average income like me can forget about getting any credit facilities from the foreigner unfriendly SCB. So I approach UOB (United Overseas Bank) bank in Ratchada crying out my problem. They were kind enough to speak to me whom sometimes still cannot make complete intelligent sentences in Thai. The staff explained that unlike SCB, UOB does not have this double standard applied to foreigners. They encouraged me to open a saving account with them so as to facilitate the application of a UOB credit card and for easy future payments. Thus I took the trouble and did as they said. First of all it is not easy for foreigners to fill up banking application forms. They are never in English. So it was a cumbersome few days for me getting translation services.

To cut things short, I got my card application rejected by the UOB and am stuck with a UOB saving account of no purpose. The explanation in the letter is that my income does not meet requirements (although it definitely does). I have written an email to them to ask why I was deceived. It has been a week now with no reply and I don’t think I ever will. Getting shoddy services, double standard treatments and paying a “foreigner price” for almost everything when eating, shopping or staying are all part of fun of living and working in Thailand. But to get the same from banks where we trust our money with is not within any acceptable limits of threshold.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rabbit Habit

My Rabbit

# A Rabbit will try to get your attention by hopping around in circles close around your feet when you are standing.

# A Rabbit will high speed crash right into the fridge when you open it and attempt to open the cookie bag within.

# When given a chocolate chip cookie, a Rabbit carries it in its mouth around the room to eat it elsewhere safe.

# When a Rabbit is out from its safe cage, you can play E-San music (Thai county songs) loud to scare it back into its cage without physical intervention.

# A Rabbit enjoys warmth by lying stuck next to you when you are in bed.

# Dogs are not the only animals that lick on us to show affection. Rabbits too but occasionally they will attempt to chew on your meaty parts.

# Kang Kong is not the only thing that Rabbits eat. They love to eat leather chairs, wooden doors and parts of your computer or handbags.

#A shoe will die when it encounters a Rabbit.

# To catapult a Rabbit in a controlled direction, put face close behind rabbit with aim and make a very loud hissing sound like a cat.

# Rabbits cannot brake efficiently on tiled floors and usually crash after catapult.

# To make Rabbits jump vertically, tap on its nose with fingers.

# To make Rabbits angry-stand-fight-claw-bite, shake a bunch of loose toilet paper violently in its face.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Smiling Silly in Bangkok

I am smiling. It’s been cool for the third day. My car thermometer reads 27 degrees C when I drive. I cherish these short Bangkok winter days. Eating outdoor for dinner by the pond, drinking coffee awaiting my car washed. It is different the feeling. I am marinated in this rare annual weather condition. The daylight carries a kind of foreign tranquility in the bustle of chaotic traffic. There is an invisible shroud of contentment around me. Its cool, I am smiling. I looked into the night sky smoking in the balcony, leaning against the soothingly chill concrete, I wished my friends were here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Festive Gifts

During the approaching New Year, companies will send gifts (aka bribery) to customers and neighbors will exchange gifts in the community. Eggs. You can wrap a dozen eggs in one basket give it to your friends, neighbors, mother, GF’s family etc. Why I asked? They told me everyone eats eggs. It’s a common food item. Eggs = gifts.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Real Meaning of Thai GIG

Thailand Resort

Thailand Resort

Monday was a holiday. So me and GF went to the wild again with our wabbit. My wabbit is getting used to sitting in cars, no longer afraid and hiding, it hoped around all over the cabin and nested itself on my lap while I drove throughout the journey. Sidetracking a little, how I trained my wabbit not to get car sick? Well, my room has tiled floors. The wabbit has no grip on it. So I spin it around at 100rpm then let it loose. See it run in panic toppling and falling, banging into my cloths basket, fall, lay sideways with his legs still in frantic running motion. It was hilarious. Very good for de-stressing, pass the stress on to my wabbit.

We went on Sunday, with another couple, so it’s a couple go holiday thing. Through my half baked Thai, I overheard the gal talked about her calling her boyfriend. Sometimes in that period, the guy had incoming calls and he would stroll away from us and talk behind a tree or something. When he returned, the gal asked if that was his girlfriend studying in America calling. WTF!!!. ?? Thus concluded they are a GIG couple and confirmed with my GF. On these two days, they stayed in the next bungalow to ours. Sunday, on arrival, 2pm. Loud moaning like porno film. Near dinner, 4pm. Loud moaning. After dinner, 7pm. Loud moaning. Night time after drinks. Should have many many moans but I am deep asleep already. Monday 9am before swim, more moaning and the windows on their bungalow shook with Richter 5.0 . Fortunately, I have my GF with me else brain flooded by testosterone fluid.

Gig phenomenon is very common in Thailand. Much more then in Singapore 10 folds. Almost every one of my friends or GF’s friends I know have gigs. It even happens in my darn office. Guess Thai people really likes fun. They can have a “steady” and yet have many gigs. This not only applies to men but is very common with the women as well. Gig couples I know are normally an older woman, about 30, with a toy boy of 25. Most of the people I known do not have their fathers in the family anymore. Mostly due to a blown cover ops and the father naturally selects the gig to continue life with as she offers more excitement. When gig meets, it is carnal explosion like experienced mentioned above. Reason for having gigs – boredom in long relationship, bad sex but partner is husband quality, partner away for long time, etc. Girls will tell me if they do not have fun now, then what? Waste a life away? Interesting Thai mentality. Thai girls needs lots of sex and they really moan loud. Untrained foreigners who have girlfriends here are often living the lie of their gals. Think about it, you are not around for months, you think your girlfriend stay home and clean your house diligently? With a mentality of “Do not have fun now, then what? Waste a life away?” you think so? Have you ever tamed a tigress (aggressive sexual tigress)?

Truly, looking from the other perspective, Thailand is men’s paradise. It is easy to be a gig here as I have tested waters. No strings attached relationships are very effortless to establish. Pre-requisites for foreigners, you need to know Thai. Else your scope of reach will only be that of Ah-go-go girls.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Unseen Thailand

Thai Temple

The Thai Temple offers not only a place where you can strike lottery, but also a place where you can eat and sleep. Great news for backpackers if you do not mind the occasional drifting spirits and the skeletons that they keep for show.

Thai people when traveling, often likes to stay in temples for they do not charge you, but instead accept a donation of any amount that you will give. However, it is not to be taken advantage of as the amount of donation given is inversely proportional to the likelihood of being strike by lightning on a clear day. In a common village temple, you get to sleep in the big hall with most likely wooden floor. The toilet is literally a hole and like most Thai places, the flushing system is a bucket of water with an algae infested floating scoop in it. Sometimes when you are doing your output process, a really huge spider will stroll across the walls or a giant gecko will be watching you like a pervert camera hidden.

Meals, you get to taste real Thai food, most likely in buffet style. The caretakers will cook and layout the spread on a common table. Just pick what you want and feast. After that you could have a smoke anywhere you want, maybe even join the smoking monks, but do respect the temple and not to treat religious ornaments as giant ash trays.

Some well funded temples in the northern region offers near 3 star hotel services. It is really a hotel like building they constructed. Run by volunteers and you sleep in rooms for 2 with attached toilet that has proper heating and flushing facilities. There is commonly a pantry area where you get free flow of coffee. You need to book in advance by calling the temple up. Most Thai tour groups stay in such places. And again, pay any amount you want. From what I heard, on group tours, the organizers pays only THB$50 (SGD$2) per room per night. It is most likely they will never strike lottery in this and their next three lives.

To repay the kindness for sheltering you, wake in the morning and offer the monks your service by washing up dishes, sweeping the floor, cleaning the toilets or catching that hidden pervert gecko. Once seen on TV, in Australia, a Thai person on tour went to a scarce Thai temple there and stayed over as well.

Things I never knew. A holiday that never ends.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What are Hot Springs For?

What I am about to write is about the working quality you could get from Thai people. Although sometimes they tend to show a slight hint of intelligence, most of the time, getting a job done means patching everything together without proper future insight into the effect of a solution. That means equipment failure in my line of work and loss.

I was having dinner one day in the food court. Thai suppose to be a rather poor country aye? But hey I see wide LCD displays everywhere in the average food court. Probably someone had got huge under table transaction for approving these installations, ripping his unknown boss. Maybe he is the boss himself and could be driving a new car by now thanks to that. I love Thailand.

Hot Spring in Thailand

Anyways, it was noisy, couldn’t hear the program. The LCD was showing natural hot springs found on several parts of this nice country. It showed mostly people soaking their foot, scrubbing their foot, washing their foot, local rural people all happily chatting together sitting by the edge of the natural formation with their buffalo shit stained foot in the warmth of Mother Nature. It seemed to focus on everything’s that got to do with hot spring giving therapeutic foot treatment. The next scene showed mineral water being bottled by a factory that draws its supply from one of these hot springs. Whomever that planned this program segment is typically showing the majority incompetent side of Thai - little brains and IQ level that of single cell organism or common sense of typical pool algae. Or he could be trying to run a nation wide boycott on mineral water. Great… Thai made mineral water is natural water flowing from the scrubbed foot of Thai people. Even if I could hear what the program was saying, I still did jump to the same conclusion. Could be a voodoo thing to make foreigners drink the water and have us love Thailand forever.

Therefore, mineral water equals foot water. Beer made from mineral water equals foot soaked in beer water. Soda from mineral water equals carbonated foot water. Etc Etc. Next time you pick up a bottle, inspect to see if you can find the small translucent scrubbed off skin fragments from the underside of the Thai population.

(My displeasures in this blog are fueled by recent work issues. Nothing against Thailand generally.)