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Live at MACS: Understanding computers just as important as the work they do

Monday, February 4, 2008 - 01:00
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Computers are a vital part to not only today’s shops, but they keep the vehicles on the road running. Techs’ abilities to understand these systems are more important as vehicles in their shops change.

With that in mind, Jerry “G” Truglia, president of Automotive Technician Training Services (ATTS), presented “Getting to Know Computers” during the 2008 MACS Trade Show and Convention. The seminar focused on how automotive computers get their data and how a technician can understand what the on-board diagnostic system is telling him.

Using information and graphics gleaned from some of his toughest case studies (which Truglia called war stories), he showed his audience how to go beyond what a scan tool shows and beyond standard diagnostic procedures. He told his audience “the computer is the most expensive fuse on the car. You need to use the most important tool you own: your brain.” He presented some unusual but simple procedures, such as disconnecting a sensor to determine if the reported reading is real or a value substituted by the computer itself.

Another quick but often overlooked technique is to simply check for AC voltage at the battery, which is caused by a faulty alternator but can masquerade as a wide variety of driveability problems.

Truglia is a nationally-known trainer with his own diagnostic service/research facility in New York City. With 30 years of experience as a tech, service manager and shop owner, he has authored numerous books and magazine articles and has contributed several technical articles to Motor Age. He is also recognized by the EPA as a technical expert in the field of OBD and is an adjunct professor at Rutgers University.

The training presented at the annual MACS Convention and Trade Show traditionally has focused on heating and air conditioning systems in all types of ground vehicles, however MACS recognizes the fact that most A/C specialists also perform other types of service and repair. This year the training program has been expand to include topics outside of air conditioning, and initial feedback indicates the decision is popular with technicians.

In addition, most of the training seminars are presented three times over the course of three days, allowing everyone access to each seminar instead of forcing people to chose some and miss others. This new format will likely be repeated at future MACS Convention programs. Next year’s event is being planned now and will be announced at the close of this convention.

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