Vehicle diagnostics

check engine light, vehicle diagnostics

Diagnosing modern day vehicles

You may call someone a great mechanic, and they are a plenty! However, when it comes to vehicle diagnostics, particularly on todays vehicles; it takes a special kind of technician to be successful. A kind of technician who is willing to go the extra mile, with some stick-to-it-ness; one that is willing to accept the unacceptable at times; and willing to learn each and every day.

Modern day technicians are required to be on a continuous growth curve, one that is never coming down. Most of their growth will come on the job, along side plenty of training courses, usually as part of a focus group of like-minded technicians; who just want to figure stuff out.

Why does this matter to you?
By now you probably already know that everything you do in your vehicle is controlled by a computer. But you may be surprised to find out that there are no more mechanical connections to anything other than the steering shaft, the brake system and the shifter linkages on a manual transmission.

All modern vehicles are “drive by wire”

Sensors, through a communication network, let the computer(s) know what it is you are asking the vehicle to do. Then, the computers control actuators and electric motors through various circuits and in a fraction of a second you feel a seamless transition into a driving experience that you have come to expect each and every day. A sort of wizardry if you will.

Suffice it to say, when you turn your key, the engine starts and when you press the accelerator pedal, the car pushes you back into your seat. The next thing you know, you find yourself at work, or wherever it is that you intended to go.

That is, until something goes haywire…

“Haywire”, meaning; erratic, out of control, or simply not as planned. I like the word haywire, mostly because my grandfather would use that word while I watched him work when I was young; he used various other words and phrases which I won’t get into here.

He always showed me that everything is “fixable”. He never gave up, and was always successful in his endeavors. Little did I know how much that would impact my professional life.

Fast forward a bunch of years where I find myself working as a technician at an independent automotive shop; one that was not on board with the much-needed ongoing training; training took time and money, so they opted out.

The company I worked for did subscribe to technical service information, however, it was viewed as a waste of time for a tech to be reviewing it… And when we did use it, we were asked, “what are you doing”?”, “We don’t have time for that”; so back to work we went.

Working like this forced me to train myself, for one reason; I was not going to replace any parts on a vehicle unless the vehicle needed them. In order for that to happen, some clear diagnostics had to take place.

I was on my own and what you could call, “freestyling”; thinking outside the box without even knowing it. I was forced to determine my own repair pathway by figuring out complex circuits and the computers algorithm; all in real time. I resented this, however, after starting Caliber Automotive and training my technicians, I developed a new perspective.

Expertise is the fallout

We are always learning, we are always in training, we are always putting our heads together, we are always-never giving up.

We are able to accurately qualify circuits in one step as opposed to the 10 steps that are included in the factory flow charts. FYI Factory flow charts, while useful in their own right are designed for technicians of varying capacities; as another self managing system. They will mislead many technicians and will cost you money, (read this article for example).