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Dragnet Diagnostics - Just the facts ma'am...


Gonzo

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Joe Friday Diagnostics

"How would Sgt. Friday explain auto repair and diagnostics…

Que the music: "

The story you’re about to read is true; the names have been

changed to protect the innocent.

Monday morning, it was cold that day. I was working day shift out

of the repair division. There’s a suspicious vehicle at the front of the shop.

A customer walks in the door. I’ll take it from here. I’m a mechanic, the name’s Friday.

It was a 2003 Ford, 5.4 liter, fully loaded and sounded like it was running rough. The lady came to the counter.

“Good Morning ma’am, what can I do for you,” I said to the complaintant.

“Yes, I’m here about my car,” she answered.

“There’s a problem with the car, I see. What can you tell me about it?” I asked, in my usual non-threatening, but confident monotone voice.

“I was on my way to deliver my recyclables to the east side collection area, because I’m a concerned citizen you know, when my car started to make a coughing and clattering sound. I thought I would bring it in to have it checked out,” the owner answered.

“Coughing and clattering, hmm, not a problem. I’ll get it investigated, I can interrogate the pursuant this morning, especially for a concerned citizen such as yourself,” I answered while maintaining my professionalism.

“Well, do you need any other information from me?” she asked.

“Just the facts ma’am, just the facts,” I said.

“The check engine light came on,” she reported.

“This could be of some help. Sounds like a possible 0300 (engine misfire). But I’ll check it out first, I’ll need to finish my investigation in order to give you any proper results,” I said to her, while my pen was busy jotting down the facts onto the always present handy notepad.

She left the car with me for further interrogations. Using the scanner made the results easy to locate. It wasn’t long before I got an answer. It was a P0302 in progress… misfire on no#2 cylinder… normally an open and shut case.

09:30 Am, working on the assumption that the perpetrator was somewhere near the 2nd cylinder; I went in for further investigations. I checked the usual suspects. Pulling the plug didn’t yield any new clues. The plug was good and answered all the standard questions. The coil was a more likely suspect; a simple test could answer the problem.

I’ll set up a little sting operation by using a decoy. Taking the nearest coil and replacing it with the suspected faulty coil, and put the known good coil on the other plug. I was hoping to see the miss move to the other cylinder. It didn’t. In fact it was gone.

10:05 Am, Now the challenge was on. I’ll have to go back over my facts and check the crime scene again. There’s something I must have overlooked that might be the key to this investigation. Two things come up as good possibles; the connection or terminals at the coil, or the spark plug boot attached to the coil. The plug boot had a good alibi… it had just been changed, in fact so was the spark plug. That left the coil connection.

A more in-depth interrogation of the connector is needed. My years of technical diagnostics work told me to look closer at the wire and the connector. The guilty party in this case appears to be one of the wires at the connector. It was barely hanging onto the housing. Only the plastic sheath was still connected, and the wire itself was not answering to any of the standard questioning or interrogative tactics.

Under the intense glow of the high powered shop light the investigation continued. Resorting to some strong arm tactics I pulled on the wire while using a few choice investigative words, the plastic sheathing kept getting longer and longer. Soon, it snapped under the pressure to expose the desperado for the perpetrator it really was.

11:45 Am, The repair was completed, and tested to verify the repairs were effective. The car in question was back with its rightful owner by the end of the day. I now can close the file on this one, another job well done.

In conclusion: With the P0302 in question deleted from the computer history, the coil connector was then convicted of failure to cooperate. With her car back on the road she could once again be a productive concerned citizen of this great metropolis.

Case closed and now, back to the front desk waiting for that next problem to come through the door. This city is full of broken, non-maintained, and poorly running cars. As a concerned citizen I’ll be on the lookout for these suspicious misfires and other infractions of the auto world.

There are thousands of men and women in this city, who know that being an auto tech is an thankless, grease covered job that's done everyday without any fan fare. Then again, I'm part of that glamour-less, grease covered world... my names Friday, I'm a mechanic.


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         0 comments
      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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