Posts Tagged ‘fix’

Fix for “Vehicle details could not be found” on the DVLA vehicle lookup. Maybe…

Saturday, November 28th, 2015


Another random ‘how to’. I was recently trying to check what date my Ducati needed its road tax and MOT. I went to the DVLA Vehicle Check site at, entered my reg and make (it auto completed “Ducati”) but received the following:

Vehicle details could not be found

Vehicle details could not be found as it has not been possible to locate the vehicle details, your enquiry cannot proceed and has been cancelled. If you want to check the vehicle record held by DVLA…

Tried another vehicle I own and it worked fine. It just didn’t like the Ducati for some reason. Decided to try a few other sites that seemed to refer to the same database. The MIB at least managed to tell me it was insured. It was a start.

Then I went to at . It’s a paid service but the first step is free and just verifies they can locate the vehicle. On entering my reg number, it returned:


We have information on our database regarding [REG NUM], a Ducati 748bip-98 (Motorcycle). Check before you buy. Choose a check to proceed.

The interesting bit was “a Ducati 748bip-98 (Motorcycle)”. It seems the DVLA have mashed up the make and the model in their ‘make’ field in their database. Where others just ride a Ducati, I seem to ride a Ducati 748bip-98. Snappy!

Back over the the DVLA site, I entered my reg and “Ducati 748bip-98” in to the make box and it worked!

If this is happening to you, you may want to give it a try.

Guide to replacing a BMW E46 4 cylinder pre-cat sensor

Monday, December 2nd, 2013


Did a bunch of searching online for this when mine broke and couldn’t really find anything that related to the 4 cylinder E46 BMWs. Got a good steer from the good folk over at Bimmerforums so thought I’d share the full process in the hope it saves you the same journey.

The problem:

I have a 2000 BMW 316i SE 4 cylinder. The engine light came on and I checked the error codes using my Peake R5/FCX-3 reader. This plugs in under the dash in the ODB2 port (or in the engine bay on pre 2001 cars with an adapter) and came up with a single code ‘A6’ which reads in German as “Periodendauer Lambdasonde vor Kat” … and translates as “PreCat oxygen sensor”. In normal speak, the exhaust sensor just before your catalytic convertor is faulty. Thinking about it, the engine did seem a bit sluggish and sometimes stuttered at low revs when parking and would sometimes ‘dip’ during initial acceleration, especially from low revs or up a hill. Some form or fuelling / management problem would explain all of that.

The science:

The oxygen sensor (also known as a lambda sensor) tells the engine management how to alter the fuelling based on what gases are currently coming out of the engine. It can sense too much unburnt fuel and then reduce the intake mixture and vice versa.

4 cylinder cars (316 and 318 models)

There is a sensor before the catalytic converter (pre cat) and after (post cat) on the 4 cylinder BMWs. They are located under the car and can be clearly seen slicking out of the exhaust pipe either side of the catalytic converter. This is what the rest of this article is about.

6 cylinder cars – Bonus description!

Just as a side note, on the 6 cylinder engines, there are two pre cat sensors. They are located directly on the exhaust manifolds as they exit the engine block. There is 1 sensor for each bank of 3 cylinders. These banks are either referred to as Bank 1 and Bank 2 or Cyl 1-3 and Cyl 4-6. The sensors are tucked down the side of the engine and need a special tool to remove them. There are plenty of YouTube videos about replacing these sensors though.

Part needed:

You can find cheaper versions for around £45 but I went for the OEM Bosch part number 11781247406 at around £85 off Ebay. You want to be searching for something like “BMW e46 318 pre cat sensor” but then check the description for compatible models and years. If possible, contact the seller to make sure as these are notoriously easy to get the slightly wrong part / connector. I ordered mine from (Ebay name kmspartsonline) and they actually rang me to double check. Top service!

Step 1:

Jack the car up on the front right corner jacking point. The standard BMW jack will do. Go as high as you can then place a secondary support under the car to act as a backup if anything goes wrong. I used a pile of bricks with a small piece of wood on top. You’ll be working under the car, so being super-safe is critical.

Step 2:

bmw_cat_1Locate the sensor. Looking under the car from the left side, it looks like this. Note the jack on the far side of the car. This is BEFORE I added the backup support.

Step 3:


Give the sensor a good spray of WD40 and leave for a few mins. Then just unscrew the sensor. You’ll be doing this from below so think about the direction a little before. With the spanner on the sensor, pull towards the front of the car. In the image from step 2, the unscrew direction is anti-clockwise – as normal. It may take a bit of a tug though as it’s been expanding and shrinking a whole load over time.

Step 4:


Unclip the wire and carefully pull the connector out of it’s retaining clip too. You will probably need two hands to disconnect the connector. I needed a small flat-headed screwdriver to initially prise the connector tabs apart so I could then pull the two halves apart.

Step 5:


Not really a step but here’s the old and new sensor next to each other. Note the grease on the thread of the new sensor. It came like this but if yours didn’t, but a dab of copper grease or similar on the threads before you install.

Step 6:


Screw in the new sensor. I had a bit of a mare locating the thread when trying to do it one handed and from an angle. After some huffing and puffing, I crawled further under the car  and used both hands. Went in straight away. Strange. Tighten it up and reconnect the connector, seating the cable in the clips as you go.

Step 7:

When I started the car, the engine light was still on and the Peake reader reported the same fault. Most modern cars need to be run through 3 full cycles for it to confirm that the fix has cleared the fault. Read more here and here. I’m currently doing this but the initial pickup when accelerating was noticeably stronger, so I’m happy it’s done the job.

Hope that helps!

TEST LINK. £! Nothing to see…

Xbox 360 RROD reflowing – doesn’t always work

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


I love broken stuff. It gives you an excuse to try and fix something. If you succeed, you’re awesome. If you fail, it was broken anyway, right?

Base in point… my Xbox 360 has been having the infamous Red Ring Of Death (RROD) for about a year now. In normal words, it’s broken. I did the usual searches and tried all of the following:

  1. Stuck toothpicks in the fans to heat up the mother board so it resets itself
  2. Replaced the heat sink and thermal paste with the ‘fix kit’
  3. Read the error codes by holding down the eject button
  4. Cleaned out the fans
  5. Moved it to a well ventilated area
  6. Covered it in ace packs
  7. Updated the software
  8. Tried holding open the CD tray to force a reset
  9. Light candles around it in an X pattern and chant pagan poems

Nothing worked. Then GTA 5 came out and I *needed* to get that damn Xbox fixed.

Why the RROD?

Cutting a long story short, the main reason for the RROD is overheating and then poor connections to the main processors. The processors are soldered to the motherboard with small dots of solder. With repeated use, heating and cooling, these dots of solder become brittle and can lose contact with the motherboard. You can’t just crack out the soldering iron as the ‘pins’ don’t come through the board, they are surface mounted on one side.

Reflowing explained…

Enter a technique called ‘reflowing’. Essentially, you heat up the solder until it ‘reflows’ back in to nice liquid solder and makes a good connection again. This can be done with a constantly moving heat gun, a professional rig or by placing the board (with some protection) into a special over. Or a domestic oven according to the internet.

The process is simply to strip the xbox down to the motherboard, wrap the sensitive components and plugs around the edges with insulation and foil, expose the chips in the middle and whack it in the oven on full blast for 10-15 minutes. The trick is to then let it cool down gradually so the solder doesn’t have any stress points.

Here’s how it turned out…

First, cover the sensitive bits. here I’m using ultra-high tech kitchen towel.


Expose the main chips and solder points below too.


Add a base for the board to sit on in the oven. Turn the oven to 200ºC and wait for it to heat up.


Cover the insulated areas with a few layers of aluminium foil, keeping the chips exposed and place on the oven rack.


Cook for about 10 minutes.


When cooking is complete, open the oven door and wait for an hour for everything to settle.

Then marvel at the pile of melted Xbox parts and capacitors oozing brown goop all over the place. Proceed to salvage the fans for some project-or-other you will probably never get around to. Keep the hard drive with all your data you can’t really use. Quickly look on Ebay to realise it’s already awash with all the other parts you have left over and fetch no more than 60p. Salvage the heat sink fix kit just in case, you paid extra for it after all. Then take everything to the recycling centre in one last gasp at salvaging something positive out of the whole, embarrassing debacle.



So what would I have done differently? Should have just bought a second-hand console off Ebay for £50. Then waited for the Xbox One to come down in price a little and go for one of those. Still, at least I have some cool looking fans… and at the end of the day, it was broken already, right? Nothing ventured, nothing gained!



LifeHack: How to fix your TV remote buttons…

Monday, September 24th, 2012

We bought a Sony LCD tv a while back and over the years, some of the buttons on the remote started to become unresponsive and vague. Mainly the volume buttons. You had to press them harder and longer to get any response out of them at all.

I tried the usual tricks, I replace the batteries, blew into it really hard, banged it on the sofa, stoof really close to the TV… you know, the technical stuff. I then went a step further and took the remote apart, cleaned the contacts and reassembled it. Worked a little better but went back to normal after a few days. I suspected the little black rubberised contacts that close the circuit on the main printed circuit board had lost their ability to, well, contact. Very weird, but I had a plan. 20 mins later, my remote was reacting instantly, just like new!

So here’s what I did…

STEP 1: Get your kit together

You’ll need:

  • A remote with annoying buttons
  • Small piece of foil
  • Double-sided sticky tape
  • Ruler
  • A blunt knife to take the remote apart with
  • A sharp knife or scissors

STEP 2: Take your remote apart

This may be different on your remote but on the Sony remotes, just jam the blunt knife in the bottom notch and twist. Takes a bit of brute force, but it works in the end.

Once you have it started, just work around with the knife.

STEP 3: Remove the rubber key membrane

When you have the remote apart, remove the rubber key membrane. Watch out for any extra plastic bits that may be in front of it and pop them back into place if they come out. Note the green circuit board with the zig-zag looking contacts. Give them a quick wipe with a damp, soapy cloth then dry them off. Do the same to the little black contacts on the back of the rubber membrane, they will need to be clean for the tape to stick.

STEP 4: Make the foil tape

Take a small strip of double sided sticky tape and stick it to the foil. Be sure to rub the tape backing hard to make the foil stick well and keep it nice and smooth. You don’t need much. Ignore the really thick tape I had, you only really need a strip about 4mm wide and about 10cm long.

STEP 5: Cut the tape 

With the foil side up, use the ruler and sharp knife cut a thin strip of the foil tape about 4mm wide. Then look at the back of the rubber key pad membrane and slice the foil strip into tiny squares big enough to stick onto each of the black contact pads. They will probably be several different button sizes on your remote, so just work your way through them, cutting the foil to size each time.

STEP 5: Attach the foil

Now just peel of the backing to each of the foil squares and carefully stick them onto the black contact pads. I didn’t really need to do all the buttons but I figured I may as well. Some I left as I didn’t use the buttons anyway. Some of the smaller buttons were quite fiddly to attach but using the tip of a scalpel really helped peel the backing off an position them. Don’t worry if they don’t stick too well, they don’t need to do much when it’s all assembled, just as long as they stay in place.

STEP 6: Reassemble and you’re done!

No pic for this one as you just put the rubber key pad back and snap on the remote cover again. Job done.

Now just point it at your TV and savour the instant responsiveness you’ve been missing all this time!

Ducati 748 brake light stuck on? Try this…

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Just thought I’d share the latest fix for another classic Ducati intermittent fault.

I’d been having a few electrical problems, but tracked it down to a dodgy loom connector. Lots of stuff was going mental, lights were coming on, rev needles were moving by themselves. Replaced the loom. Sorted.

But some extra problems are still hanging about and I’m never sure if the loom may still have a dodgy connector. One problem was that my rear brake light would stay on. But not always. Grrrr! Mostly when I started her up, the light would be permanently on (like I had the brake pressed). I’d go for a ride and when I got back, the brake light was working normally. Maybe 40% repeatable.

Looked online and lots of chat about microswitches needing replacing, losing a dowel rod and foot brake sensors needing replacing. I wiggled everything in a half-arsed attempt to track it down. No joy. I disconnected the rear brake sensor (there’s a really obvious connector just above the clutch cover). The light stayed on. Must mean it’s the front brake somehow.

I turned my attention to the tiny microswitch behind the front brake lever. It had no obvious connector so I assumed it plugged into the headstock loom, which needs the front of the bike disassembling to reach. Not fun. I squirted it with WD40. Pressed it loads. No change.

I decided to unscrew the microswitch to check it. There are two tiny flathead screws and even more fiddly bolts at the back. Make sure you dont lose them! After removing it (brake lights were still on), I pressed the microswitch… brake lights went off. Eureka! Turns out the microswitch had moved maybe 1/10th of a mm back and now didn’t work. The switch’s natural state is on. You have to press it up against a little push-rod that connects to the lever to activate it… and switch the lights off. Confusing I know. When you pull the brake lever, it push-rod falls away (as there’s no brake lever pushing against it) and it deactivated the switch… which goes to it’s normal ‘brake light on’ state again. Makes sense I guess.

Anyhoo, long and rambling way of saying I simply reseated my microswitch a hair’s width closer to the push-rod / lever and it was enough to press the microswitch (turning the brake light off). Don’t move it too far in though, as it will require the brake lever to be pulled in a fair way before the rod has moved back far enough to deactivate the switch (turning the light on).

May not sort your problem out, but it’s definitely something to check.

How to remove the front panel from a Samsung RS series fridge

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Here’s the latest in the series of my “I fixed it and here’s how I did it” articles. This time it’s a Samsung RS21JGRS fridge freezer. The ice dispenser ‘flap’ came loose and stopped the ice coming out. Quick search on t’internet didn’t yeald much so in the spirit of sharing, here’s how it’s done. This is also the way to get to the water nozzle, change the face plate etc. and is relevant for most RS21 models I guess.

You should also know I’m not a freezer engineer, this will mess with your warranty, I’m not liable for any damage or harm you cause etc. Use this as a guide, what you do with it is up to you. The photos below show the electricity being on… you should probably switch yours off! It only takes 10 mins or so to do the whole procedure, so nothing will defrost in that time. Remember, safety first kids!

Step 1: The freezer door of your fridge/freezer should look something like this… with water dispenser on left and ice on the right.

Step 2: First up, push the tip of the water tube backwards to release it from the plastic housing. It kinds pops out but don’t push it too far back, it’s just to release it.

Step 3: Use a blunt, fat screwdriver blade and insert it in any of the two slots under the main faceplate. It’s important the screwdriver (or other tool) isn’t too sharp or scratchy as it may mark the main fridge surface if it slips. Very gently but firmly, lever the panel outwards (pull screwdriver handle towards you). It should make a loud pop as the tabs let go. Try not to twist the screwdriver as this may cause small dents in the plastic. It’s a bit disconcerting at first but it does work.

Step 4: Work your way around. There are four on each side. See the image on step 6, the notches are there the ‘pops’ that should happen.

Step 5: Wiggle the panel out. There is an electronic connector at the back with a clip holding it on. Lever up the clip and push the connector apart. This will separate the panel completely. Put it somewhere safe.

Step 6: Should look something like this…

Step 7: Undo the two (maybe three) screws holding the plastic panel in place and hinge it out as shown. You can unclip the wires if you like, but you really don’t have to with this technique.

Step 8: To get the panel out of the way, I taped it to the handle…

Step 9: The ice flap has a long hinge pivot on the left and a short on on the right. If you need to remove the flap, push the right side towards the left (or prise it with the big screwdriver you used earlier) to free the right-had pivot.

Step 10: Once free, pull it towards you a little and to the right to release the longer left pivot. Watch out for the little spring thing. Put your finger under it to stop it going ping. Be careful to pull the flap directly towards you once free, as the funny white lever on the left hand side needs to slip out of the hole without snagging.

Step 11: Flap removed…

Step 12: And finally: When you reassemble, you have to be careful to do three things at once while refitting the flat. First, put the funny lever on the left in the hole. Second, make sure the spring lever is pulled back and has some tension on it… and is to the left of the slight fin on the roof of the housing. Lastly, make sure the left pivot (the longer side) goes in first. Once you have all three checked off, just push in the right side to engage the right pivot. Job done! Now assuming you’ve switched off the electricity, you may notice the strange lever on the left won’t go in the hole. This is the delay mechanism you hear after it dispenses ice. It will only release when there’s power and the microswitch on the panel has been activated (i.e. when it’s all back together again). If it stays out as pictured, just push it upwards to release the ratchet thing and the flap should pop back flush to seal the hole.

Parts: If you need to replace the flap, it looks like this…  Part # DA63-00410A and are about £10. Last place I found one was in the Netherlands here.