Jumpstart Your Diagnosis with a Little Research

QuestionMarkHave you ever jumped “into the weeds” to solve what seems like a complex vehicle issue, only to discover some time later that it was something basic, like an alternator with a bad diode or a loose battery cable? It’s OK, it happens. But it’s happening less often for technicians who use their repair information system to do some quick and simple research right at the beginning of the repair.

Here’s how it might play out. The vehicle arrives at your bay with a “no start” and you check off all the basics: battery, starter, ignition switch, etc. All of those are fine and no DTCs are present, so now you move on to less common problems and components to find the cause. At this point, you turn to your repair information resource to dig in deeper and reveal the culprit. You select the vehicle and then type in the symptom or diagnostic trouble code (DTC). And…

This is where the time-saving magic happens: You are presented with all the components that have historically been associated with that symptom or DTC on your vehicle, ranked from the most common component to the least common. You now have direction to start your diagnosis and repair based on the experience of other professional techs who have faced the same issue with that vehicle.

That is how ProDemand® from Mitchell 1 delivers real-world insight: Mapping symptoms and DTCs to probable components, based on millions of actual repairs from professional auto repair shops. If you are more interested in “rare fixes” — the ones that are not obvious, but solved the problem in some cases — you can also invert the list of probable components to show the least common fixes first.

Would this kind of quick insight guide you to the most likely area to start your diagnosis and save you time?

As an example, let’s take a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta with an air conditioning problem. The vehicle owner has told you that when she starts the car and begins driving, the AC blows warm air for the first 10-15 minutes and then finally kicks in with cold air. The technician suspected that the compressor clutch and was not engaging and set out to find out why. Using ProDemand, he learned that this particular vehicle actually does not have an electrical compressor clutch, but instead uses a variable displacement compressor with a computer-controlled valving system to regulate the output.

CRPChart_2009 VW Jetta_AC-Inoperative

After typing in “air conditioning inoperative” into the search field in ProDemand, the air conditioning compressor displayed as the most commonly replaced component for this symptom (see chart above). However, with only 90,000 miles on the car, he was second-guessing the diagnosis. After all, the car is not that old and compressors are expensive. So, again he turned to ProDemand and discovered that historically, compressors are replaced on this vehicle starting at 50,000 miles and peaking around 100,000 miles. So the vehicle in the bay is in this “sweet spot” and he felt confident proceeding with the job. He also found all the procedures to remove and replace the compressor, which ultimately did fix the problem.

This is the type of scenario that can give you the big picture and save you from going down the wrong diagnostic path. Just a little bit of research up front can save a whole lot of time and help you keep moving cars through your bays right on schedule.

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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.