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When the customer doesn't tell you everything

Friday, March 1, 2019 - 09:00
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The scene opens with the camera fading in to reveal some of the characters. There's a young unnamed couple, it's a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine. They are frolicking without a care in the world and appear to be dancing in an open field of flowers with total abandon. There’s a picnic basket, a bottle of wine and two glasses, some homemade snacks and two pairs of shoes on the edge of an unfolded sheet. By the looks of their clothing it must be taking place somewhere around the mid-1960s. The camera fades to dim as the couple runs towards a standing of trees hand-in-hand.

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The scene continues on a street which looks like any typical residential neighborhood for the time period, where the newest car seen is a 1968 Ford LTD — and it is being jump-started. The camera pans to one of the other vehicles alongside the road with its hood open. Before the camera can view what's happening in front of that car there is a loud bang! Sparks fly and smoke billows as two young lads jump back screaming. One partially disrobes, taking his T-shirt off to try swat at the flames now erupting from an unseen location. He then uses it to insulate his hand as he grabs one of the jumper cables.

It's clearly apparent that a proper procedure was not followed! The camera fades to dim.

Fast forward. The same unnamed couple, slightly older now, is arguing. A child cries in the background. It’s clearly evident there's trouble in paradise! Past-due bills are scattered on the dining room table. Old newspapers are laying on the living room couch and chair.  One of the window blinds is cockeyed and the home appears in total general disarray.  The camera fades to dim.

In the next scene appears a student at a desk testing intently. He slams his book shut, hands the teacher his paper and leaves the room. The student is one of the two young men who were attempting to jumpstart that LTD many years ago.  In the next scene he is shirtless on his couch with an infant on his knee that is sucking a baby’s bottle while at the same time, a technical service manual that he's reading rests in his lap. Beside him, a half-eaten dinner sits on a plate. He decides it's time to put the baby to sleep, go take a shower and call it a day. His dinner never gets finished. The camera fades to dim.

When the camera fades back in it shows us a current environment. The familiar girl, aged now, crying on the phone. She is hysterically explaining she doesn't “KNOW what happened” to whomever it was that was listening on the other end. The camera pans out to show knocked over furniture, a lamp lying on its side yet still brightly lit and a smoky kitchen stove with a pot on it while unintelligible discussion takes place in the background. There are someone's legs, attached to feet with shiny, new-looking shoes on them, visible beside the kitchen doorway but the body is lying still on the floor. Sirens wail in the background. The woman cries uncontrollably as the sounds of police vehicles gets louder. The camera fades to dim.

In the next scene appears a now well-trained mechanic who is sitting in a 2003 Ford Excursion just across the street from an unkempt yard where two police cars arrive from different directions. He looks up curiously as the police officers rush to the front door of the house, already slightly ajar. His curiosity lasts only so long and he returns his focus to the IDS software displayed on his laptop on the seat next to him. He has a job to do, he mutters to himself, thinking he doesn’t have time to satisfy his curiosity about what may be happening across the street. Thankful, he feels, that he didn’t get involved when he next looks up to see yellow “Crime Scene” police tape being attached to trees surrounding the property he can see through the windshield.

Unfortunately, he gets dragged into the criminal investigation when an observant police officer notices Jaime and comes over to chat. The officer queries the mechanic then stops abruptly after one of Jaime’s answers. It wasn’t something that quite “fit” into the crime scene — and causes the officer to say “well, we didn’t know THAT before now.”  Suddenly, the sound of a gunshot interrupts the impromptu interrogation…

When customers are less than truthful

Have you ever been performing diagnostic routines that presented results inconsistent with the customer’s explanations of the events which led up to the failure? Did it make you think you were dropped into some sort of a TV Crime Drama show — the way nothing you were finding wrong with the vehicle was making any sense based on what you were initially told? Sometimes, when further queried, the customer suddenly remembers other, usually vitally important, facts and anecdotal parts of the story which were mysteriously omitted when the diagnosis first began. It can be a frustrating experience, one that’s shared by many of our readers every day!

2003 Ford Excursion

This Excursion, with 186,823 miles and a direct injection — Turbo 6.0L, was just that type of a “job.” Knowing the shop owner, as I have had dealings with him before, I know his communications sometimes require deciphering in order to understand them. This text was no exception. The shop owner’s initial complaint was stated as: “The vehicle was towed here after the batteries went dead overnight, but with anti-theft issues can you remove them." I’m already feeling like I’m in a who-dunnit.

Ford IDS software doesn’t “know” whether a vehicle is fitted with a particular module.
Where you get Ford’s As-Built Data to program a module as it was originally.

Upon arriving at the shop, I found both of the batteries (this is a diesel) were dead. Zero volts; “Oh, just wonderful” I thought. If we are to be able to accurately diagnose ANY type of electrical problem, we MUST have fully charged batteries, ones which pass a load and a conductance test. After I explained this to the shop-owner we agreed he would charge the two batteries in the vehicle and I would return at the end of my day. When I returned, I scanned the vehicle’s network, found a Powertrain Control Module (PCM) without a VIN and a Generic Electronic Module (GEM) not reporting. I asked them to order one and left because it was late in the day. I was going to do some research at home, now that I have some initial tests performed and an IDS Log File with lots of information to which I can refer. They called, the dealer argued about the truck needing a GEM, and claimed the vehicle wasn’t equipped with it. I did some research; IDS said it was "OPTIONAL" as did the Ford Professional Technician’s Society (PTS) website. OK, no problem, I scheduled time to go back the next day.

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