Motivated to Mentor

Maybe it’s time you went back to school. Not for classes but to recruit quality apprentices. Here’s why it’s good for business. In a recent conversation with one of my industry partners, an independent shop owner located two miles from our high school’s automotive program, I invited him to come to our next Business and […]

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A Tale of Two CRVs

Case studies illustrate diagnosing a vehicle’s misfire and a customer’s misfire. If your shop is like ours, Honda CRVs make an appearance weekly. Mostly for maintenance, but sometimes they need to be diagnosed. We’ve seen several lately with around 200,000 miles and still providing reliable service. CRV No. 1 Our first CRV came to us […]

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Give ’Em an Upgrade

Your customers expect authoritative advice. So check out these examples for making their cars better than new. Our customers rely on us for our wisdom and experience, and this is of upmost importance when we have a chance to make their vehicles better than new. Two recent examples illustrate opportunities that I had to improve […]

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A Hard-Start Mystery

This 26-year-old Jeep Cherokee requires a bit of investigation, but if you follow the clues you’ll reach a solution. If you’ve been working in an independent shop for a while, you’ve seen your share of Jeep Cherokees come through your door. Throngs of four-wheel-drive enthusiasts love them, and the vehicles come to us in all […]

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Cracking the Codes

In Colorado, two cars with failed (I/M) 240 tests suggest the vehicles’ owners must seek help. In Colorado – and elsewhere, I’m certain – P0442 codes can be counted on to bring cars into our service drives. But in Denver and other heavily populated, pollution-producing areas in the state, we have an additional layer of […]

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Data Driven Decisions

Armed with smartphones, Google and Amazon.com, customers are repairing their own rides. Sometimes, experience-based information systems can help diagnose a vehicle. I said sometimes because these systems can lead a technician down the wrong diagnostic path. As independent repair professionals, we have an array of information systems to choose from – OEM to aftermarket – […]

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DIYs or Bunnies?

When fuses get “smoked,” don’t go bonkers. Instead, do a deep diagnostic dig. With vehicles staying on the roads longer than ever before, we’re seeing more age-related issues with our customers’ cars. With age comes the increasing probability for human intervention in the form of aftermarket alarms, stereos and exterior lighting. A recent multi-hour, hide-and-seek […]

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Age-Related Issues – Call for Alternative Measures

More issues call for more diagnostic ‘what-ifs’ With the average age of vehicles on the road hitting an all-time high of 11.4 years, I continue to revise my path of diagnostic “what ifs?” The preponderance of age-related issues creates the need for me to consider alternative pathways to identify the root cause, especially when diagnosing […]

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Taking a Short Trip Back to the 1970s

It’s fun to revisit old friends. In a service and repair world filled with CAN/BUS systems, scan tool diagnoses, and iATN archives, I found a recent repair interesting due to its lack of these technical needs. My customer arrived with a 1971 Chevy C10 long bed pickup truck, accompanied by a concern that his dash […]

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Oh, the Joy of Being a Technician!

It brings adventures, like solving this Explorer’s problem. One of the great joys of being an automotive technician is the thrill each day brings. I know: That may be a much too cheerful interpretation of what adventure awaits us with each new repair order, but I try to maintain a positive outlook on life! One […]

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Craigslist ‘Deal’

With no vehicle history whatsoever, a clunker gets revived I recently had a customer begin our conversation with seven terrifying words: “I got this great deal on Craigslist!” I cringed a bit. How do you react to this situation? So many scenarios ran through my mind that it was hard to decide which nightmare I […]

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No-Start After Fender Bender

Circuit relay causes a mystery on ’96 Lexus. When the ’96 Lexus was dropped at our door, it came with a simple concern: “Vehicle stopped running following accident. Airbags have deployed.” A trip to the ES300 confirmed that both airbags had indeed “popped” (see Figure 1). With just over 100K on its odometer, and needing […]

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