5 Ways to Put SureTrack Probable Components to Work for You

The SureTrack Probable Component List gives technicians a quick start to building their diagnostic strategy for a code or symptom.  This blog post includes the top 5 ways that the Probable Component list can help technicians become more efficient by using the list of SureTrack Probable Components.

1) How do I access the Probable Components?

The list of Probable Components is found in two places in the ProDemand auto repair information software:

  • On the 1Search results page following a search
  • Under the SureTrack tab in the 1Search module

Fig 1: List of Probable Components viewed in the SureTrack Tab

The Probable Component list functions in the same manner, either way you navigate to it. As you read from the top of the Probable Component list to the bottom, you’ll see the components sorted based on the number of “fixed it” counts, with the highest number at the top of the list. There is a link at the bottom of the list to show “more” or “less” results depending on the current view. You can also sort the Probable Components list to show the less popular results on top. (See question 5 for why you might want to do that.)

Similar to Real Fixes and the Common Repair Procedure Graph, data for Probable Components is created from real aftermarket repairs by actual automotive repair shops. Mitchell 1 has a database of hundreds of millions of repair orders that our diagnostic editorial staff (current and former diagnostic technicians) uses to analyze information relating codes and symptoms to the component replaced. Another important point is that Mitchell 1 almost exclusively is used by professional technicians, so the Probable Component information shows the actual components that other professional technicians use to repair the vehicle.

2) How do I use this information as part of a diagnosis?

You should be looking to build a diagnostic strategy. The Probable Components list allows you to prioritize the order in which you will diagnose your problem. Start at the top of the list by testing the most likely components for failure, saving you diagnostic time by learning from what other professional technicians with a similar code/symptom have already determined.

The Probable Components are not meant to be a parts-swapping checklist. Instead, the Probable Components list provides clues that can help you to diagnose the code or symptom which brought the vehicle into the shop. You have to take the information given to you in the SureTrack module together with your experience and common sense to build your diagnostic test strategy.

3) How will my beginning diagnostic technicians benefit from looking at the Probable Components?

Beginning diagnostic technicians might need help developing a diagnostic strategy of knowing which likely components to test and in what order. Using the Probable Component list shows the relationship between the symptom/code and the component replaced based on real world repair orders. Best of all, the Probable Component list is already sorted most likely to least likely. The Probable Component List can act essentially as a checklist to begin diagnosing as quickly as possible and avoid idle time trying to decide what to test first.

Let’s take an example of a P0191 on a Ford F150 5.4L. The P0191 is a fuel rail pressure sensor range/performance problem:


Fig 2: List of Probable Components related to a P0191

By using the Probable Components list to guide our diagnostic strategy, the technician is already pointed toward the most efficient use of their time – to diagnose the most likely issue first. In this case, the technician can start by testing the fuel pump driver and making his or her way down the list. There is no lost time spinning your wheels thinking through where to start.

4) How will my more experienced diagnostic technicians benefit from looking at the Probable Components?

We’ve heard comments from more experienced diagnostic technicians that “I know by heart the first 3-4 things to check for, what I need is to understand that rare fix that isn’t so obvious.” Using the “sort” feature on the probable components list is the way to solve this problem and find the more rare and unique fixes.

Let’s use that same example of a P0191 on a Ford F150 5.4L — a fuel rail pressure sensor issue. After using 1Search, our initial Probable Component results are shown below with the fuel pump driver module, fuel filter, and fuel pump being the top results. An experienced diagnostic technician is already going to know to go to start his diagnosis with those top results. But also look at the bottom of the screen and notice the link to see “more….”


Fig 3: Click “more…” link to view full list of Probable Components

After clicking the “more…” link, you can see there is an additional result of the inertia fuel shutoff switch that may not have been at the top of the techs mind when thinking of likely fuel rail pressure issue (see example below). Using the OEM procedure, checking the inertia fuel shutoff switch doesn’t happen until step 28. It’s pretty much buried. As a more experienced technician, if you’ve already checked the obvious items and you still haven’t solved the customer’s symptom complaint, then looking through the Probable Component list will show those more unique cases where a component that you wouldn’t have considered first actually turned out to be the most likely result.


Fig 4: More rare component failures appear toward the bottom of the Probable Component list

5) Can you show me another example where I’ll save time by consulting the Probable Components?

Because Mitchell1 uses real repair orders to build Real Fix and Probable Component lists, the information you find in SureTrack is assured to be relevant to the vehicle in your bay. Here is another example where you’ll save time by making your diagnostic process efficient:

Let’s say you have the same 2004 Ford F150 5.4L used in the example above, but this time with a P0171. That is a common lean condition code, meaning that Bank 1 of the engine is too lean. This code could be caused by a number of different component failures including a faulty mass airflow sensor, an air leak in the system at a hose or valve, failed oxygen sensor, failed fuel injector, plus more. Let’s use the list of probable components to build a diagnostic strategy.


Fig 5: P0171 search results for a 2004 Ford F150 5.4L

From our Probable Component List (above), we can directly build a diagnostic strategy to begin with the fuel filter and following the list from there. The beginning diagnostic technician is off and running. In this example, 128 different repair orders verify that the fuel filter was the reason for the P0171 appearing.

What if we switch our example to a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Pickup 5.3L? You can see below that we get a different set of components that are most likely to be responsible for the code, starting with the intake manifold gasket. Even with the same code, two different vehicles can give you a different list of probable components.


Fig 6: Po171 search results for a Chevrolet Silverado 5.3L

These examples demonstrate that any level of diagnostic technician can benefit from using the Probable Components list. Even if you’re familiar with the code, different vehicles have different likely components that have caused the code.

By looking at the Probable Component list first, you can ensure that you’re working in the most efficient manner possible to diagnose the symptom and complete the job.

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About the Author

Gary Hixson

Gary Hixson is a Sr. Market Manager at Mitchell 1, and is responsible for product and market management of the Repair Information product line. Most recently he managed the release of ProDemand™, the industry-leading repair, diagnostic and maintenance information system.