TSBs Can Help Diagnose CarsPosted 8/18/2006
By Brian Manley
My last two installments of Tech to Tech focused on the need to have a critical eye when servicing a client's vehicle in the service bay. This is a prime opportunity to identify situations with your customer's car that otherwise may go unnoticed. If we're keeping a critical ear when we drive our customer's car, and having a critical eye when we pop a hood open, let's take the next logical step and find additional information when we are accessing our shop's information database.
When addressing situations requiring a diagnosis and analyzing a customer concern, I often consult General Motors Corp.'s tried-and-true, strategy-based diagnostics guide. The chart begins with:
Certainly it makes sense to always verify the customer complaint and perform visual inspections, but when we get to the box that states "Check for any applicable TSBs," how often do we do it? I have to admit I sometimes get a little lazy and just perform a quick search. If I don't get a quick hit, I grab the scanner, check another car, talk to someone standing at my office door, etc. However, I have found on more than one occasion that spending some good quality face time with your PC can pay off big time when chasing down those quirky clunks or addressing an intermittent, fill-in-the-blank issue.
Some TSBs have become so popular that they are a part of our diagnostic routine. For example, if a malfunction indicator light (MIL) is on, what is the first thing you ask your customer? "Did you just fill the tank with gas?" The cause could be a loose gas cap.
The Shifty Ranger
I have an online version of a big-name information provider at my fingertips. So I searched for the concern under the "symptoms" heading in one of my databases, but got no hits. I then consulted the International Automotive Technicians' Network (iATN) and searched the "closed with fix" heading under the "search fix database" heading. It was here that I found a reference to low-line pressure, and a factory TSB number.
I then took my new information to a friend who had another big-name information provider on his computer. I performed the same search and bingo ... I found a TSB that addressed my concern almost perfectly. It addressed a revised transmission valve body service kit and updated valve body separator plate. As I read, I got the impression that if I were to call my local Ford parts department with this kit number, he would respond with "How many do you want?" I must admit that I felt a sense of relief when I heard that the kit contained a revised separator plate with gaskets "glued" to the plate. This fact hinted at what I might find when I pulled the pan.
Being a pull-the-pan-off-only-on-occasion kinda guy, I didn't realize right away what I was looking at, but after some scrutiny, I saw it. There was a chunk of split gasket reaching out from between the valve body and the case (see picture).
In this situation, the search for the TSB saved my customer the agony of a transmission replacement.
We have all had the car with the intermittent concern that drove us nuts; how often do you consult the TSB list for help? While searching the same model above, I found the following headings, which could certainly help cure certain headaches:
A recent Identifix bulletin in a past issue of AutoInc. identified a dirty MAF as the cause of low transmission line pressure, a slipping transmission, and two replacement transmissions!
Expand Search to iATN
I have used iATN to help repair more vehicles than I can count. On occasion, the TSB is actually a response from a technician who has experience with a particular make or model that I am seeing for the first time. Other times I often find a clue imbedded in the "closed with fix" section.
One recent thread discussed a 2002 Honda that cranked but would not start. The car had no spark, and all normal tests did not point to any of the ignition components as the culprit. Another tech suggested referring to the immobilizer light (green with picture of a key) on the dash. If you turn the key on, the light should come on for two seconds and then go out. If the light turns on for two seconds then flashes, your problem is with the immobilizer system.
It turns out that the vehicle had been stolen recently, and the new keys were not registered with the car.
Taking full advantage of all your resources can make your life easier and more productive, and should be one of the first steps to take in your diagnostic routine after performing all of the "normal" methods of diagnosis. Sometimes TSBs actually tell you what the failure parameters are, and can help you duplicate the customer concern. That being said, it pays to reference these early in your diagnosis.
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) offers several member benefit programs to help shops with their diagnostic services. Alldata, Delphi, Identifix and Mitchell 1 each offer service information or advice in troubleshooting and diagnosing cars. For more information on these benefit providers, please visit the Members Only section of ASA's Web site; or call ASA's membership department at (800) 272-7467, ext. 295; or review ASA's electronic benefits portfolio at www.ASAondemand.com.
AutoInc. Web Site |
ASA Web Site |
Senate Reviews McCarran-Ferguson Act, Insurance Reform Legislation |
A New Way to Estimate |
Beyond the Classroom |
Marketing Today |
Men and Women Together in the Bay: How's It Working? |
Guest Editorial |
Tech to Tech |
Tech Tips |
News Briefs |
Taking the Hill |
Around ASA |
Shop Profile |
Net Worth |
Stat Corner |
Copyright (c) 1996-2011. Automotive Service Association®. All rights reserved.