Using a Zubie Key: A Year in Review

Zubie

Almost a year ago I purchased a Zubie Key, which is a device that can be used to track the location, and monitor the status, of a vehicle through a vehicle’s OBD-II port. This device has a built-in cellular connection and requires a yearly subscription fee of about $100. My motivation at the time was to integrate it into my home automation setup, which I actually did by connecting it to the IFTTT service combined with text message notifications that my home automation software¬†can receive and process.

A year later I am uncertain whether or not I will continue to pay for the service. Mind you, it is not bad and has lived up to my expectations. But with daycare and various other child-related costs I’m not sure that it’s worth (that suddenly more valuable amount of) $100.

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Using a Zubie Key (Vehicle Monitoring Service)

ZubieMy wife recently purchased a new vehicle and so I started thinking about also purchasing a new vehicle. And then I decided that not having a car payment was something that I currently prefer over having a car payment (note – my wife had a very good reason to purchase a new vehicle, I do not).

Instead of purchasing a new vehicle I decided to add some enhancements to my current one. One of those enhancements is a Zubie Key.

The Zubie Key requires a subscription service that costs $99/year. The device works in conjunction with the Zubie Cloud service, which is used to review data via Web browser or from the Zubie App. When connected to a vehicle’s OBD-II port the device automatically connects to the Zubie Cloud via cellular connection. GPS is also built into the device.

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A View of What Fails in the Blend Door Actuators (Impala 2008)

Actuator-01As a 2008 Impala owner I’ve become well acquainted with a specific part failure. Typically, it’s not expensive to correct (as long as it’s not one under the dash) but it can be inconvenient and over time I’ve had to replace two of them multiple times each.

For those that have experienced this problem I decided to post some photos that help reveal where the failure occurs.

The first photo included in this post shows an unopened actuator.

The next photo shows the actuator split open:

Actuator-03

When I opened the actuator several of the damaged teeth fell out of the casing. A closer photograph reveals that several teeth from a gear are missing:

Actuator-04

I suspect that all of these that have failed in my vehicle would show the same problem. Could this problem be solved by using metal gears? Perhaps.

2014 Year-End Review of Enduring Tech

Over the years I’ve published several posts about various devices. Frequently, I’ll return to the original posts and add notes describing my experiences with those gadgets that include details such as whether or not I still use them or if they turned out to be as useful as advertised.

For this post I’ve chosen to highlight the devices that I still use, at least a few times each year, that have endured and remain useful. Though I’ve acquired some excellent gadgets in 2014 I’ve chosen to exclude those here as those items have not yet been used for an extended period.

Unfortunately this won’t include every device worthy of this recognition – only those that I’ve previously highlighted in this blog. In addition, I chose not to write about all of the devices that have since failed, or failed to live up to expectations – those experiences are typically available in the older posts.

But my search for technology that works well, and meets or exceeds expectations, is the reason that I maintain this blog. Over the years I’ve chosen to share several experiences in the hopes that they’ll either serve as good recommendations or, unfortunately, as suggestions to avoid certain products (or at least know what to expect from them).

I’ll begin with the oldest item first.

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Solving a P0449 Engine Code on a 2008 Chevy Impala (Evaporative Emission System Vent Valve/Solenoid Circuit)

About a month ago my car began showing an engine code, which appeared after I ran out of gas (that is its own story). Using DashCommand on my iPhone, and connecting to my car, I was able pull the following code:

Evap-Valve-Solenoid-00

Unfortunately I was unable to permanently clear the code. Every time I cleared it the code then reappeared a second later. So it wasn’t simply a left-over from running out of fuel, though I suppose that perhaps the event itself contributed to the equipment failure.

After doing some “research” via Google I determined that it was a relatively simple part to replace.

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Fixing a Window Lift on a 2008 Chevy Impala (Driver Side Window)

Note: I take no responsibility for any issues you may experience should you choose to follow this guide. You must completely read this guide in its entirety before proceeding as the final steps require some additional preparation.

When I left work this afternoon I approached my car and found this:

Impala-Door-01

Considering that an automotive windshield is typically rather transparent, as is most glass, it may be helpful for me to point out that the driver side window is down in the above photo.

Upon seeing this was I was so confused that, for a moment, I was actually stupid, which is generally uncharacteristic. Stunned, I entered the car and just sat there trying to remember if I had rolled down the window on my lunch break and simply forgot to roll it back up.

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Crystal View Headlight Restoration Kit

Headlight-Restoration-00

The headlights on my wife’s car had become clouded and were in desperate need of a good restoration. Taking advice from a friend of mine, I purchased a Crystal View Headlight Restorer/Defogger kit from one of the local auto parts stores for just over $20. You can easily find several different restoration kits from various manufacturers. I have no idea if one is better than another but I’m pleased with the results of this kit (and my wife is as well).

This isn’t a run-down of the process. To put it simply, I followed the directions exactly as outlined in the included instructions with only one exception (the addition of masking tape around the edges).

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