Cristoper Cabrera checks the TIS system that is full of information about all the models of Toyotas, one more step in solving the problem of the blinking AVS light. "It feels great to figure something out. You feel like you've accomplished something."
Photo by Shirley Ruhe/Gazette Packet
Blink. Blink. The hood of the 2007 Toyota Highlander is propped open. Cristoper Cabrera, certified technician at Jack Taylor's Alexandria Toyota Scion, is sitting in the driver's seat, a bulky black machine on his lap, scanning the codes for a blinking AVS light. "It will give me some ideas on where to look." The machine spits out a couple of suggestions including " abnormal leak in the accumulator" or "the brake booster pump motor on time abnormally long."
Cabrera walks to the front of the vehicle and peers into the labyrinth of hoses. "This is the accumulator," he says pointing with his small flashlight. It sits beside a small ribbed orange hose that covers the high voltage wire. "The hose is orange so you notice it. If you work on a hybrid, you have to be certified. You could electrify yourself. It has so much voltage."
Cabrera works from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and alternate Saturdays. He says he can do 12 or more oil changes in a day or it can get complicated when people bring in other problems later in the day. "It could be anything. The guy next to me and I get all the heavy jobs like rebuilding an engine because of our experience."
Cabrera has been at Jack Taylor's Toyota a year and a half but was at Lexus of Alexandria for 12 years before that. He said he learned on the job and didn't have any special training when he started but knew how to do an oil change. "I was fortunate my friend who worked there gave me a chance."
The automatic door three workstations away rolls open and a blast of 20-degree air whips through the garage. Cabrera is bundled in a gray hat pulled over his ears plus heavy black pants and black boots. "It's not too bad when all of the doors are closed." At the next workstation over, the mechanic is joking about the Powerball Jackpot, still tantalizing possible winners. "I could use it; I have seven children," Cabrera says.
Cabrera moves to the TIS on the wall to input the details on the possible causes of the blinking light. He scrolls down the information, selecting boxes in the computer and burrowing into a solution. "The TIS system has all of the car models," he says. "There is a service bulletin for a certain part, and a lot of information, so you know how to troubleshoot the problem." Today's preseason checkup for the Highlander including the oil service, tire rotation and inspection of filters will take about half an hour, but the largest part of the work on the vehicle will be the diagnosis of the AVS problem. "Then we will have to fix it; that's another story. But," he continued, "It feels great to figure something out. You feel like you've accomplished something."
Assistant Service Manager Simpy Behl stops by to ask if Cabrera can switch gears and turn his attention to another customer with a rush job. Behl explains to Cabrera the car had to be jumped and the customer is in the waiting room until her car is fixed and she has to pick up her children. "We have a lot of customers in a hurry," Behl says, "so we're always busy trying to get them what they want."
Cabrera recalls probably the hardest job he ever did was electronic. "I'm still building my skills in this area. Oh yeah," he remembers, "when I was still at Lexus, a car came in with all kinds of lights on the dash." He checked the history and discovered the car had been shot at. "I guess the bullets hit all those wires inside the vehicle." He says it took a long time to fix. "There were a lot of broken wires. It was a learning experience" but he decided not to ask the owner how and why the car got all of those bullets. He just fixed it.