One of the daily challenges that all automotive repair shops face are intermittent problems.
Noises, poor running, no starts, dying as driving, vibrations that don’t happen all the time are all in this field.
In any kind of problem solving in any kind of profession, there are 4 logical steps to problem solving.
- Experience the problem.
- Theorize what the problem is. This is the time when past training and experience comes in. We consider all the possibilities that are probable.
- Diagnose to prove or disprove your theory. This is when test equipment is used.
- The most important of the steps is you repair or replace the part in question to make sure your theory is correct. The “proof in the pudding”. Is the problem solved or fixed?
If the problem is not there all the time, you can lose two to three of these steps. This is where the problem lies.
We have had vehicles that will crank over but won’t start. One of the first steps is to read the onboard ECU (electronic control unit or computer) to see if any codes are present. If they are, would the component cause the vehicle not to start? Worse yet, many no start problems such as a bad intermittent fuel pump don’t store a code.
In this case of a bad intermittent fuel pump, we can’t experience the problem unless it just so happens to fail on us, can’t test the problem and most important, not sure that if the theory of a bad fuel pump will solve the problem until it is installed and mileage is put on the vehicle.
Noises and vibrations are another tough one. You have to experience them to be able to repair them. One thing for sure, you can’t see a noise or vibration which makes the diagnose tougher. The good news is I have never had a intermittent noise or vibration strand anyone.
Sometimes the customer has to be patient until the intermittent problem becomes more prevalent.
On times when a vehicle won’t start, the customer needs to have understanding the problem may not get fixed the first time and a part may be logical replaced that didn’t fix the problem. In this case, that procedure becomes part of the trouble shooting because all problem solving is the process of elimination.
Please keep in mind; modern vehicles are the most advanced item that most people owe, a moving, highly technical marvel that enhances your driving experience.