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How confident are you in your foundational auto repair skills?

Monday, July 1, 2019 - 06:00
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How did you learn how to work on cars? Did you, as I did, learn at the side of an older mechanic? Are you self-taught? Or did you attend a post-secondary program in automotive technology?

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Regardless of the course that brought you to where you are today, how confident are you in your foundational skills? Are they based on myth or reality? Are they out of date or up to date?

I used to think I was pretty well informed until I started writing as the occasional contributor to this magazine. I'll never forget an article I wrote many years ago, focused on diagnosing fuel systems, that contained some erroneous information that brought the wrath of the readers down upon my head! Until that point in my fledgling writing career, I based nearly every article I wrote on my personal experience and training. I discovered that what I'd been taught was not always correct. I also discovered that there would always be a few Motor Age faithful that would be sure to point my mistakes out to me!

Using a scope to diagnose electrical concerns requires a solid foundation in electrical troubleshooting. How strong is your base?

And ever since then, I've made every effort to ensure that what I wrote, and what was submitted by our contributors, was as true and accurate as I could make it.

So back to my question. How confident are you in your foundational skills and knowledge?

Let's find out

I'm not trying to put anyone on the spot or make anyone feel bad about their current technical capabilities. Far from it. I am trying to help those who may be operating on the dark side to see the light. I can't begin to tell you how much I've learned in the last decade as the magazine's technical editor, including how much I've discovered I had learned incorrectly as well as what I didn't know at all! From understanding the latest ADAS technologies to the nuances of servicing wheel bearings, I've found there is always something new to learn. And it makes me a better tech in the process.

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So let's try a little experiment. Following is a short quiz to test some of your foundational knowledge. Willing to try it out?

(Photo Courtesy Mitchell 1 ProDemand) — Figure 1

1.  Technician A is troubleshooting a blower motor that runs slow on all speeds (refer to Figure 1). He backprobes the BLK TAN wire at the blower motor with his voltmeter, selects HIGH speed with the fan selector switch, selects HEAT with the mode switch and turns the ignition key to the RUN position. He reads 4.7 volts. Technician A says the reading most likely indicates a failed blower motor. Technician B says the reading most likely points to a bad ground at G202.

            A.  Technician A

            B.  Technician B

            C.  Both technicians

            D.  Neither technician

2.  Technician A says you can detect a failed front wheel hub bearing by grabbing the tire at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions, then shaking the wheel assembly back and forth while feeling for play. Technician B says that the use of a dial gauge to measure the end play of the bearing with the wheel removed is the preferred method of testing. Who is correct?

            A.  Technician A

            B.  Technician B

            C.  Both technicians

            D.  Neither technician

3.   Technician A is diagnosing a cooling fan motor that won't operate. He uses a scan tool to command the fan on while backprobing the still connected two-wire connector with his voltmeter. He reads 12.6 volts on both sides of the connector. Technician A says the most likely problem is a faulty fan motor. Technician B says the most likely problem is an open ground circuit. Who is correct?

            A.  Technician A

            B.  Technician B

            C.  Both technicians

            D.  Neither technician

4.  Technician A says that a small amount of "anti-seize" compound is necessary when installing spark plugs into an engine with an aluminum cylinder head. Technician B says that spark plugs should be tightened with a torque wrench. Who is correct?

            A.  Technician A

            B.  Technician B

            C.  Both technicians

            D.  Neither technician

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