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A diagnostic 'choose your own adventure'

A recently purchased VW gives the new owner a wild surge while using cruise control.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 07:00
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  • 2003 VW Golf
  • 97,000 miles
  • 2.0L (AVH)
  • 01M (4 speed automatic)

Complaint: Won’t go into fourth gear and has a lack of power at highway speeds when in cruise control after driving for 15 to 20 minutes. The speedometer seems funny at times, too.

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The used VW that was just bought and had a surge during cruise control.

As a child, I used to love to read the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. For those unfamiliar with them, they consist of one story — typically of the sci-fi or fantasy genre — that offers multiple endings. As you read the story, it gives you the option to “…go to page 8 to stay on the path to the right.” Or “…to fire the rockets, go to page 14.” If you ended up at a bad end of the story, you could start over, or just go back to the last bad decision and try another option.

Diagnosing certain code or no code complaints doesn’t seem much different on modern cars. Whether you are a follower of flow charts or come up with your own plan of attack based on certain symptoms or data, we all are led down a path that may or may not yield the fix for a given complaint. Though we can take many paths to get to the end, in automotive repair there can only be one true ending, and that is getting the car fixed right to get it back to the customer.

Recently I had a chance at my own choose-your-own diagnostic adventure. Just like a well-read book has earmarks and signs of wear and tear, this car wore its history — with its wiring pulled out of wire looms and mismatched splice and dice wiring connectors, not to mention the list of used parts already swapped.

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