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Changes in diagnostic strategies

How we address the inevitable changes that occur in automotive diagnostics is mostly influenced by our attitude towards change itself.
Friday, September 20, 2013 - 11:01
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Some say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results. When we technicians employ a test procedure that works well, we don’t change it and we don’t expect different results when we use it. That would just be crazy, right? Well, what happens when the vehicles change but we don’t?

Ford F-Series trucks may use a 5.4 Liter engine, like the one having problems as described in this article

We work in an industry where change itself is prevalent. As an automotive technician, I’ve sometimes wondered who the engineer was that decided to do “such-and-such” when the way it was done before worked just fine (almost every technician can fill in the blank for “such-and-such”). On more than one occasion I’ve tilted my head, perked my ears and raised an eyebrow all at the same time while asking aloud “why didn’t they do so-and-so instead?” Sometimes though, I asked that even when no one was around to hear the question. Proof positive the engineers were temporarily driving me nuts trying to figure out their logic.

Wiring Diagram which includes (among other things) both Knock Sensors, the PCM and their connecting circuits

I understand. It’s human nature to resist change. But it seems as if the auto manufacturers detest keeping things the same, even when things work well already. I abhor changes done simply for the sake of change! I hate change worse if I’m unprepared for it. I hate change because *I* have to change. I have to change my attitude and try to consider the benefits of this latest change (whew, what a bunch of “changes”!).

I recognized early in my career that the auto repair industry is dynamic. By that I mean it has never NOT changed, at least not since I joined it. It seems that almost daily new technologies are developed therefore new diagnostic strategies and techniques must be developed as well. Due to 

The “Lacks Power” Symptom Chart mentions abnormal engine noise as a possible culprit for causing this complaint but offers no dynamic component testing procedure

that inherent nature of the business, I’m committed to embracing change because of the exciting learning experiences we gain from it. Once I get over the initial despising the changes response, I look at it as an opportunity to expand my knowledge in other ways of doing things and as a way of viewing circumstances from a different perspective.

Here’s an example of a design change I encountered recently which took quite some time before I changed my attitude…

Feeling Powerless
I was asked to come to a shop to help them diagnose a vehicle whose owner complained it “lacked power”. This vehicle was a 2006 Ford F-250 with a 5.4L with 108,506 miles on the odometer. Before calling me, the shop had already performed “all the basics” but hadn’t come to any conclusion for a cause of the complaint.

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