After Monday’s mid-level standard job in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021, This morning I picked up one of the ‘Story Missions’. Unlike many games where you go off on a quest to collect, find, deliver or kill, CMS 2021 delivers the quest to you. It comes with a hell of a lot of ‘unknowns’ and your task is to fill in the blanks. Unlike Mission Impossible, you don’t get the ‘should you choose to accept it’ line and nor does the work chit self-destruct. Once you’ve taken the job, you just have to get on with itπŸ˜…

The story line behind this particular job is that the guy has brought in his van to have it serviced. It’s been a long time since it was last checked over and he uses it every day with heavy loads but he doesn’t think there’s too much wrong with it! That’s your first clue – this is going to be a big job. At the time of opening the work chit, you will immediately be confronted with 8 pages of faults and none of them has an identified part. They’re not even itemised into sections like in the Salem we covered in the previous post. The good news is that this vehicle may be a mess, but its bodywork is fine. You can concentrate on the things that make it go πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘

So, what do we have? It’s a Bolt Cargo – in real life a GMC Vandura. The first task is to decide how best to approach this when there are 8 pages of faults. I think the best way is to break the task down into two areas. Engine faults and Running Gear faults. Given the information about the engine’s misbehaviour in the story presented I decided to break out the OBD Reader and Multi-meter – start with the engine. It was immediately clear that the van didn’t want to start so taking it for a test run was out of the question anyway. My initial testing showed up the items preventing the engine from starting – the fuel filter and the starter motor. I replaced both immediately because it was clear that there was much more wrong with the engine than the testers used were able to tell me. Now that it was possible to crank the engine, I used my compression tester to look for issues with the pistons, rings and crankshaft – that gave me a clear view of the scale of the engine problems!..

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…I took the decision to remove the engine from the van because so much was wrong inside the crankcase and because there’s not a lot of room in the engine bay…

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…The engine was placed on the stand in my workshop where I can see all round it…

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…and the dismantling could begin. In my previous post I mentioned having a notepad and a coding system to allow you to keep a record of which parts needed changing. The reason for that is so that you only do what the customer needs – you aren’t doing a full engine rebuild like you might on a restoration. I usually start at the top and work down. Here we are at the valve push-rod removal stage after taking off the air filter, carburettor, head covers and the valve rockers…

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…and, in the box of bits we had a good mix of things needing changing and quite a lot that we could put back too…

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After pulling the cylinder heads, it was time to turn the block on its side to allow me to remove the oil-pan and oil filter before examining the pistons and crankshaft…

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…Up above had been carnage – down below was no different…

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…Then, after removing the pistons it was time to remove the crank pulley, water pump and brackets from the front of the block to allow access to the timing chain and gear, both of which were worn out…

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…And that’s the engine dismantled, ready for rebuild with replacement parts. Now here’s the thing – while the engine is in the vehicle, I can check the work chit anytime I like to confirm that the item I just fitted has fixed the issue. But while it’s on the stand, that option is not available. I’m on my own and that’s why I have a notepad with a coded picture of what parts I need to replace with new…

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..If it’s not on my pictogram, then I can use the second hand part. Now I reassemble the engine πŸ‘

Here we are with the front rebuilt – everything on here is reused with the exception of the Alternator – top right…

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…and, hidden behind the fan and crank pulley, the crankshaft, timing chain and timing gear.

Replacement pistons, crankshaft, bearing caps and rod caps…

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…seen through the ghostly impression of the oil-pan that I’m about to replace.

And, finally, the reassembled engine ready to go back into the van…

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This is the moment of truth and it’s good to check the engine’s info for anything that might be missing at this point…

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…anything missing should show up as not having a status. You can get a rough idea of the level of new replacement items versus reused bits from this snapshot. And then, once it’s in situ, a check with the work chit should show up anything that you put in the wrong place…

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…It all looks good. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of using a crib-sheet like I did to ensure that you get things in the right place – otherwise, be prepared to be swapping things about to clear the faults. You don’t want to go there!

With the engine back in the van I can turn my attention to the running gear faults and, because the engine now works, I can use the Test Track and the Test Path to identify almost all those issues. That’s why I chose to do the engine faults first 😎

I think I’ll do a post on running gear faults another time. I hope you enjoyed this insight into Engine fault findingπŸ˜ŽπŸ‘

Following on from my previous Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 introduction, here are some thoughts on gameplay and the changes from the 2018 edition. I think the launch screen is a major improvement although it retains the same profile options…

…clicking on Play takes you to your profile slots…

…If you are creating a new profile you can select one of 4 modes. If you are new to the game I’d go with Normal as that gives a good enough level of help for most players and you’ll be soon be making lots of money. Experienced players like myself will choose Expert.

The biggest change from the 2018 edition is the separation of tools and facilities from progression. You still upgrade your skills as before and get benefits like cheaper parts purchase…

…Things like the Test Path that used to be opened as you reached a certain level are now bought when you have the cash…

…That allows you to choose when you want to buy certain things. Using the Test Path as an example, I didn’t buy that until after I’d bought things like the car wash and paint shop – The test track (accessed via the map screen) finds most of the same suspension things and you can usually spot brake issues with a simple visual inspection. The screenshot above taken at level 2 shows that I bought the OBD Tester and the Multi-Meter. These are the two most useful tools you can have in early game when most of the vehicles you will be offered to work on are modern – I recommend buying them first πŸ™‚ You can see that expanding your garage is expensive and so are most other major improvements, so choose when you think it is best to buy those.

Once you have reached a level where you can reliably fix parts and have plenty of money in the bank (at least Cr60k) you may want to visit a barn and see what nice vehicles you can buy to rebuild. Barns and the Junkyard are accessed via the map…

…Check the prices carefully – sometimes a car will be a bargain but they can be overpriced too. Ideally, until you have fully upgraded your skillset, you want a vehicle that has generally good body and interior condition. One of my first rebuilds in game this time was a Chevy Impala which had good bodywork. I only rebuilt the mechanical parts and gave it a respray to make a good profit. Here’s the finished car…

…Once you’ve got to level 6 on your renovation skills though, you can rebuild total wrecks from the junkyard. Here’s a BMW that I bought – I’ve just washed off all the muck so I can see what I’m looking at…

…Later, after sourcing most of the bodywork items that were missing from barns and the junkyard, it was time to move it inside for the rebuild…

…Here’s the finished car…

…Chrome with black wheels πŸ™‚ Behind is another barn find that just needs a full mechanical rebuild to make a good profit.

All of this rebuilding is probably the main activity in game but there are lots of story jobs to work through and doing jobs is a good way to keeping your cash flow under control πŸ™‚ Here’s an example of a story job from level 8…

…There are also two normal jobs listed below. There are 72 vehicles in the base game and you can add more with DLC’s – Currently there are Nissan and Electric Vehicles available to purchase. You can also add in mods from the Steam Workshop.

I hope that’s given a good insight to the general gameplay. I think the balance of relaxed play and the occasional head-scratching fault makes for a good game to fit between those other more stressful things in life πŸ™‚

There was a time when computer games released at specific times of the year, Christmas, Easter and the run up to the summer holidays. The target audience was presumed to be kids. It was a false assumption made by CEO’s – computer games are played by people of all ages! It took a while for the realisation to dawn, but now most games release when they’re ready. Of course, some games release when they’re far from ready – back to CEO’s again and their inability to understand that a solid product is more important long term than immediate shareholder gratification. It’s the Triple A publishers that are most likely to make this error and some are absolutely hated by the gaming community for their cavalier attitude. Ok – that’s better – had a quick rant… πŸ˜‰

So we’re now in an era where games can release just about any time. Car Mechanic Simulator’s publisher decided to release the 2021 version on August 11th – halfway through the summer holidays. Following on from CMS 2015 and 2018, it was expected to just be a rerun of the exact same gameplay of the previous editions. Perhaps a bit slicker? I was in for a few pleasant surprises.

One of the short comings of the previous, 2018, version was poorly optimised graphics – making for some interesting visual glitches on older systems. There was also an annoying hesitation when you moved from the parking area, for example, back to the garage. If you moved the mouse during that period the screen would freeze for several seconds – that even affected top of the range systems! So 2018 had a number of minor issues. There were a number of bugs in the beginning too but, as the game had been released as early access, the community accepted them and they were soon fixed. Time to see how Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 shapes up in comparison, especially as it came out as a full release.

I’ll start with the graphics – Just so much better than 2018. I’m going to walk you around the garage as you find it when you start the game and you can see for yourself. Here is the roadside view…

…and a closer look at the main workshop…

…Go inside – there is reassuring metal roller sound if you choose to go through one of the vehicle entrances πŸ˜‰ – and there’s an old school bus to greet you…

…and some posters high on the wall…

…All the basic machinery you’re going to need to start fixing cars is present – you can see the tyre removal and wheel-balancing rigs under the Fierte poster and the separator for shock absorbers is hiding behind the yellow locker. What you don’t have are work-benches to repair parts – how you get those is part of later gameplay and something that will have to be covered in another post. Go out the back of the main workshop and you can see there’s plenty of room for your business to expand…

…I wonder what we can use that building for? It looks like there’s already some work going on in another corner of the plot…

…There isn’t, yet… πŸ˜‰

I think you can see from those screenshots that the graphics of the latest iteration of Car Mechanic Simulator are very nice and I find them very engaging. They make it a joy to come to work πŸ™‚ There are none of the annoying visual glitches that existed in the 2018 version. Scene changes are swift and smooth. As hinted above, this is just the first of a series on Nuts and Bolts posts where I will be talking about CMS 2021 – the next will cover gameplay – but let me say from the start, this is a very nice game that will have you hooked for hours. You can pop in for a few minutes to do a quick repair or choose a much longer job if you want – it’s a flexible game that fits well with a busy IRL schedule. When your real job has stressed you out and you want to wind down but keep the brain ticking over, this game is a good choice – you can take your time, nothing is against the clock and there are no alien hoards to disrupt the calming process. Highly recommended πŸ™‚