Friday, October 9, 2009

Corvette Percussive Maintenance

Corvette Percussive Maintenance

You may have heard the humorous phrase "percussive maintenance" used to describe hitting a malfunctioning piece of equipment--and having it fix the problem. Often, this is because there is some loose connection that just needs some jostling.

For the last year or so, I have been frustrated by a problem with the Corvette's heating and A/C system. The panel that displays outside temperature, thermostat setting, etc., has become so faint that it was difficult to read with the top on the car in daylight, and completely impossible to read with the top off the car. At the same time, all the rest of the dashboard displays worked fine. The dealer had not a clue how to fix it without replacing the entire control display--which would be very, very expensive.

I spent some time thinking about this on the way home this evening, and it occurred to me to start experimenting with the dashboard rheostat that controls the rest of the dash panel illumination. Sure enough, the very faint display changed approximately in relation to the rest of the panel illumination--it was just too faint, even at the brightest setting. So there was power going to the faulty display--and it was varying as it should. Could it be just a loose connection? So I tapped on the front of the faulty display with my finger--and it briefly brightened up, then faded again.

As one of the operative rules of percussive maintenance says, "It hitting it doesn't solve the problem, use a bigger hammer. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway." So I tapped it a bit harder--and this time it brightened up, and stayed bright. It still isn't quite as bright as the stereo controls, but then again, it never was quite as bright, even when I bought the car in 2002. But it is now so bright that I have confidence that I will be able to read it in daylight again.

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