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Tackling automotive challenges with the scientific process

Sunday, July 30, 2017 - 07:00
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CHICAGO — Handling the technology being thrown at us on almost a daily basis is a challenge. Knowing the systems, understanding how best to diagnose them when something goes wrong, and learning new system procedures and processes are but a few of the challenges we face. How in the world did we keep up with it all for so long?

If you’ve been successful at it, I’m willing to bet you’ll share with those less fortunate that it is your process that makes the difference. And Eric Ziegler, owner of EZ Diagnostic Solutions and contract trainer, would likely agree with you. During NACE Automechanika 2017 in Chicago, his July 29 class, “Essential Diagnostics - The Steps You Need To Take In Tackling Every Drivability and Electrical Concern,” outlined his thoughts on what makes a good diagnostic process – a process that can be applied to any troubleshooting challenge you face.

Eric Ziegler instructs his course, “Essential Diagnostics - The Steps You Need To Take In Tackling Every Drivability and Electrical Concern,” at NACE Automechanika Chicago.

Among the many tidbits Ziegler shared with the attendees was how to develop a logical plan of attack, or “POA” as he cares to refer to it as. He told the audience that he was struck by the “Scientific Process” he learned in junior high school and showed he applies the same process to isolating the cause of a drivability or electrical concern, highlighting the lesson with case studies that he has personally diagnosed in the field.

Ziegler demonstrated the process by leading the class through a variety of actual diagnostic challenges he’s faced in the field. He stressed the need to gather data in as efficient manner as possible and how important it was to read up on system operation and theory, even if you think you already know. He also pointed out the need to check the service information source for any Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) that may be applicable to the problem your customer is complaining about.

And what does he do when he gets stuck? Ziegler had a tip for that! He showed everyone how to write it down; list what you know about the problem, what you don’t know about the problem, and what you’d like to know about the problem. Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to know, Ziegler explained, then you can design your test — or “experiment” — to get that missing information.

He also showed those present that they need not fear the new technologies the OEMs are creating every day. No matter how seemingly complex the system may seem to be, he explained, by applying a process and taking the time to study up on the systems – doing your homework before you pick up a wrench – they, too, could successfully isolate the fault and repair the customer’s concerns. Of course, he added, you’ll need to keep current on your training.

“I think I bring a comprehensive yet common sense approach to diagnosing modern vehicles, Ziegler told me after the class. “I use real world case studies that are from actual broken cars that I diagnosed.” Ziegler’s passion for our industry and the future it affords is well known to those that know him. Later in our conversation he shared, “My career was profoundly influenced by a great instructor.  Because of this, I always have looked at training as a way of helping others and paying it forward.” Having sat in your class, Eric, I’d say you did that – and then some.

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