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A Difficult Diagnosis: When Multiple Conditions Create Similar Symptoms

A Difficult Diagnosis: When Multiple Conditions Create Similar Symptoms

July 21, 2022

Customer complaints of rough idle, misfires, crank but no start or long crank time symptoms can be a challenge with today’s technology. Random or multiple misfire codes may be stored in memory. Symptoms that seem like an ignition related issue may actually be fuel related, carbon induced, or in some cases a normal characteristic. Fuel […]

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FLUID LEVELS AND SERVICE INTERVALS: LOW FLUID LEVEL CAUSES POWER TRANSFER UNIT FAILURE

FLUID LEVELS AND SERVICE INTERVALS: LOW FLUID LEVEL CAUSES POWER TRANSFER UNIT FAILURE

May 20, 2022

LOW FLUID LEVEL CAUSES POWER TRANSFER UNIT FAILURE Are you accurately checking those fluid levels and recommending fluid flushes or exchanges, where applicable? Unfortunately, many service technicians fall into a pattern of just performing lubrication services requested by the customer, which is usually triggered by a service reminder light indicating that it is time for […]

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Injector Pump Failure: Fuel System Flooded with Metal Particles

Injector Pump Failure: Fuel System Flooded with Metal Particles

February 24, 2022

The shop had performed a service on the customer’s 2015 Silverado equipped with a 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel, which included a fuel filter replacement. Weeks later the customer contacts the shop owner requesting re- imbursement in the amount of $14,000 to cover the repair cost of the fuel injection system due to an alleged defective […]

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Silencing Engine Sounds: It May Be Impossible with Today’s Technology

Silencing Engine Sounds: It May Be Impossible with Today’s Technology

January 4, 2022

It is not uncommon to receive customer complaints involving noises that may resemble noisy valve lifters or bearing clearance related noises. Other sounds may include piston slap during cold starts lasting for a couple of minutes in cold temperatures. Some of these noises are a normal characteristic for the engine with no means of silencing […]

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Low Oil Pressure Warning: A System Clean-Up May Be the Cure

Low Oil Pressure Warning: A System Clean-Up May Be the Cure

October 20, 2021

His quiet morning drive to work in his 2013 Silverado was interrupted by chimes and a Stop Engine Low Oil Pressure Warning. That can be a scary event, as major engine damage can result due to lack of lubrication. These symptoms have become a common occurrence for GM vehicles equipped with Active Fuel Management. When […]

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GM’s Active Fuel Management: Diagnosing Low Oil Pressure Symptoms

GM’s Active Fuel Management: Diagnosing Low Oil Pressure Symptoms

August 13, 2021

Symptoms of a low oil pressure condition have become a common complaint on GM vehicles equipped with active fuel management, sometimes referred to as displacement on demand. The symptoms may be the result of one of two malfunctioning pressure regulating valves or from a restriction in a filter screen positioned beneath the oil pressure sensor. […]

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Ford Trucks and SUVs: Diagnosing Noisy Front Hubs on 4×4 Applications

Ford Trucks and SUVs: Diagnosing Noisy Front Hubs on 4×4 Applications

May 3, 2021

Customer complaints of clicking, ticking, grinding or ratcheting noises from the front hubs during 2WD mode may be due to a mechanical or a vacuum related issue. The front hubs on the following applications are equipped with actuators referred to as Integrated Wheel Ends (IWE). These actuators function via engine vacuum and spring tension. Vehicles […]

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Low Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI): Can Produce a Catastrophic Engine Failure

Low Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI): Can Produce a Catastrophic Engine Failure

January 21, 2021

New technology poses new challenges as smaller displacement turbocharged engines create some major challenges for the vehicle manufacturers and the technicians servicing the vehicles. When cruising, the turbocharged gasoline direct injected engines (TGDI) consume only a fraction of the fuel the larger displacement engines equipped with port fuel injection require. When called upon for performance, […]

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Turbocharged Engines And the Importance of Timely Service Interval

Turbocharged Engines And the Importance of Timely Service Interval

January 14, 2021

Turbocharged engines are becoming common, as vehicle manufacturers utilize smaller displacement engines. Turbochargers and direct injection can make a small displacement engine behave like a larger displacement engine, plus achieve better fuel economy, and that is the reason for their popularity. Engines that operate at higher altitudes benefit greatly from the turbocharged arrangement. Many fail […]

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Practicing Shop Safety: A Technician’s Life May Depend on It

Practicing Shop Safety: A Technician’s Life May Depend on It

November 24, 2020

Having been involved in the automotive field for the past 54 years, I have experienced firsthand how minor negligence can lead to a catastrophic event. Many technicians fall into a pattern that results in the technician taking some steps that could result in personal injury or damage to the customer’s vehicle. It is human nature […]

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Radio Frequency Signal Interference Leaves Muranos with No-Start Symptoms

Radio Frequency Signal Interference Leaves Muranos with No-Start Symptoms

August 20, 2020

Two ladies in like Nissan Muranos were chatting in a shopping center parking lot. After loading their groceries, both encountered a no-start condition. What are the chances of this occurring with two like vehicles parked next to each other? It is all about the strength of the signal and it is not uncommon to encounter […]

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Brake Pedal Effort Panic! When There’s No Power Assist

Brake Pedal Effort Panic! When There’s No Power Assist

June 30, 2020

The location was at a hydroelectric dam that was popular for fishing and water sports. Turbulent doesn’t describe the water conditions created by six generators producing electric power and seventeen flood gates opening and spilling excess water from the lakeside of the dam. The currents were treacherous and would concern the most experienced boater. However, […]

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Throttle Related Symptoms When the Engine Lacks Throttle Response

Throttle Related Symptoms When the Engine Lacks Throttle Response

March 30, 2020

When the customer complaint is poor or no acceleration or the engine has lost power, where would you start with the diagnosis? Most would assume something major and expensive to repair. Following are some basic checks to consider before getting too deep into the diagnostics. MAXIMA LOSES POWER A complete service had been performed and […]

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Cabin Air Filters: Are You Recommending a Filter Replacement?

Cabin Air Filters: Are You Recommending a Filter Replacement?

December 20, 2019

Two lungs filled to capacity with air contaminated with rotting bugs, molded leaves, dust, pollens, mold spores, mildew and other pollutants doesn’t sound healthy. With a contaminated cabin air filter that is exactly what the customer is breathing. WHAT’S A CABIN AIR FILTER? Often, when approaching a customer with a cabin air filter replacement recommendation […]

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From Key to Keyless Ignition

From Key to Keyless Ignition

December 17, 2019

The transition from a key to an electronic code (Keyless Push Button Start) comes with a new set of challenges and safety measures that must be considered to prevent injury to the vehicle operator or the technician. Most view the fob as a key and that is not the case. It allows keyless entry to […]

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Gasoline Direct Injection – New Service Opportunities

Gasoline Direct Injection – New Service Opportunities

October 7, 2019

Gasoline Direct Injection comes with a new set of challenges and service opportunities that the technician must be familiar with. Many of today’s vehicles are fitted with a relatively new fuel system technology for the automobile, referred to as Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI). While this technology has been around for 100 years, it has just […]

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Electronic Parking Brakes: Practicing Safety When Servicing the System

Electronic Parking Brakes: Practicing Safety When Servicing the System

September 5, 2019

When servicing the rear brakes on a vehicle equipped with an electronic parking brake, are you taking the required safety steps to prevent personal injury? Failure to take the precautionary safety measures may result in severe damage to the hands and fingers. FLASHBACK OF YEARS PAST The year was 1968, and I was a student […]

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Air Filter and Housing Inspection: Damaged Housing or Filter Seal Prompts Low Efficiency Catalyst Codes

Air Filter and Housing Inspection: Damaged Housing or Filter Seal Prompts Low Efficiency Catalyst Codes

June 15, 2019

When low-efficiency catalyst codes PO420 and PO430 appear, the last place that most technicians would consider would be a defective air filter seal or damaged/distorted airbox, allowing air filter by-pass. Often, the mentioned codes result in oxygen sensors and the catalytic converter getting replaced, which may be a short-term expensive fix, especially when the condition […]

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Accessory and Suspension Modifications: These Can Present Diagnostic Challenges

Accessory and Suspension Modifications: These Can Present Diagnostic Challenges

May 29, 2019

Accessory components and suspension modifications that enhance the cosmetics or performance of a vehicle are readily available for most vehicle makes and models. Technicians must consider these components and modifications when performing their diagnostics. When modifications are made to steering, suspension, or tire and wheel assemblies, they can have an effect on the handling characteristics […]

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Engine Coolant Leaks: Corrosion…Electrolysis…or Excessive Thermocycles?

Engine Coolant Leaks: Corrosion…Electrolysis…or Excessive Thermocycles?

March 23, 2019

When most think of engine coolant (antifreeze) it is in relation to its freeze-point protection with little consideration of its ability to provide lubrication and protection from system corrosion. Unfortunately, engine coolant normally does not receive any attention until one of the following scenarios occurs: 1) The engine overheats. 2) Freezepoint protection for winter is […]

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Active Fuel Management: It Can Pose Some Challenging Diagnostics

Active Fuel Management: It Can Pose Some Challenging Diagnostics

December 20, 2018

Customer complaints of chirping, ticking, squealing, or squeaking sounds accompanied with misfire codes stored may be the result of valve lifter or camshaft failures on vehicles equipped with Active Fuel Management (AFM), sometimes referred to as Displacement on Demand (DOD). Pinpointing the source of the noise can be a challenge for the technician and the […]

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Oil Pressure…Filtration…and Viscosity: Vehicle Manufacturer Specifications Really Matter

Oil Pressure…Filtration…and Viscosity: Vehicle Manufacturer Specifications Really Matter

November 20, 2018

With an oil pressure reading of 5 PSI at idle, the customer was certain that some major engine repairs would be necessary. Fortunately, some research prevented a lot of unnecessary repairs, as that was normal oil pressure for the vehicle at idle. Today’s engines have different lubrication and filtration requirements and adhering to those specifications […]

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Distorted and Damaged Air Filters: The Condition May Be Water Induced

Distorted and Damaged Air Filters: The Condition May Be Water Induced

August 20, 2018

While performing a routine lube service on a 2015 Ford Transit, the lube service technician identified a severely damaged air filter. The filter was distorted and damaged to the point that foreign debris could be drawn into the engine, in addition to fragments of the filter media, which could result in major damage. The technician […]

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Battery Protections Systems: Creates New Challenges for Electrical System Diagnostics

Battery Protections Systems: Creates New Challenges for Electrical System Diagnostics

August 10, 2018

The technician was challenged with two vehicles with major electrical concerns. Late in the diagnosis, it would be determined that both vehicles were functioning as designed. Battery Management System The first vehicle involved a 2013 Ford F150 with no power to several electrical systems/devices. The failed systems included: No A/C fan action; the audio system, […]

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Battery Testing

Battery Testing

June 20, 2018

Make It a Part of Your Vehicle Inspection If testing the battery is not a part of your vehicle inspection…it should be. A heads-up notice on a failing battery can save your customer a lot of grief. During a recent oil and filter change, the technician performed a vehicle inspection that included a complimentary battery […]

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Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon

Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon

April 25, 2018

They Can Be a Lube Service Nightmare! The 2018 Chevrolet Colorado with a 3.6L engine had received a routine oil and filter change. Days later a low oil pressure indicator and some serious engine noises plagued the vehicle. Warranty repair at the dealership was denied.

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Servicing Fuel Filters

Servicing Fuel Filters

March 20, 2018

Neglecting a Filter Replacement Can Be Costly While much emphasis is placed on servicing filters during routine vehicle maintenance, little attention is given to the fuel filter until an engine performance issue occurs. Neglecting the fuel filter can result in damage to some expensive components such as an electric fuel pump or some costly fuel […]

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For Your Share of the Repair Business

For Your Share of the Repair Business

December 1, 2017

Focus on Customer Relations and Retention With an aging fleet that is currently approaching 12 years, this translates into a lot of needed repairs to keep these vehicles operational. The independents are not the only service providers that have an interest in this market. New car dealers are taking steps to secure their fair share […]

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Gum and Carbon Deposits

Gum and Carbon Deposits

November 1, 2017

Create Engine Performance Challenges It was a busy morning with multiple vehicles arriving on roll-backs with no-start symptoms. The vehicles ran perfectly the previous day, only to encounter a no-start condition the following morning. The symptoms were that of loss of compression. Each vehicle…

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Lube Service Intervals

Lube Service Intervals

September 1, 2017

Are You Making the Right Service Recommendation? For those accustomed to 2,500-mile lubrication schedules, extended service intervals are a concern. Tripling that mileage service interval (sometimes more) just doesn’t seem right for the health of the engine. Due to high warranty repairs, some vehicle manufacturers are…

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Dealing with Oil Pressure

June 1, 2017

It’s a Matter of Regulation The vehicle owner had his oil and filter changed, and days later, oil deposits in his driveway revealed a leaking oil filter as the culprit. The filter was replaced, but the leaking symptoms recurred within days, and this time the filter gasket was protruding from its mounted position. Installing two […]

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Mystery Filter

April 1, 2017

Prompts Low Oil Message Panic comes when the Low Oil Pressure Message/Light appears in the instrument cluster. The first assumption is no oil pressure, which is certain to cause major engine damage. Any symptom or signal relating to the possibility of low oil pressure should be treated as no oil pressure, even if the engine […]

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Engine Noise Complaints

Engine Noise Complaints

February 1, 2017

They Could Be A Normal Characteristic While engine diagnostics may not be your specialty, you may have to deal with engine noise complaints, especially if the customer is convinced the noise symptoms occurred following your lube service. Nothing is more frustrating than having to deal with an engine noise related symptom when you know the […]

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Working Smarter, Not Harder

Working Smarter, Not Harder

December 1, 2016

Doing More With Less While some shops focus on increased car counts, others enjoy steady growth with fewer vehicles. It’s not magic…it is just a matter of performing inspections and making the needed service recommendations…

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The Dynamics of Automotive Service

The Dynamics of Automotive Service

November 1, 2016

Veteran Technicians Adapt Well to New Technology While visiting a shop, I listened as a young technician rambled on about the new technology and jokingly added how the older techs needed to retire. He claimed they were not as receptive to new technology and change; therefore they couldn’t keep up. My thoughts were considerably different. […]

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Elusive Electrical Challenges

Elusive Electrical Challenges

July 1, 2016

The Condition Could Be A Matter of Where the Vehicle Was When A brief stop at a fast food restaurant resulted in a no start condition and a No Fob Detected message displayed on the Corvette’s dash. A roll-back was summoned and the vehicle started perfectly when arriving at the dealership. Lengthy testing failed to […]

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By-Passing the Oil Filter

By-Passing the Oil Filter

April 1, 2016

It’s Sometimes Necessary to Ensure Sufficient Lubrication Oil filter by-pass valves come in many different arrangements. Some are buried out-of-sight within the oil filter and others may be mounted in the filter housing or oil filter cap and are clearly visible. For those applications, inspect and replace any damaged components or assemblies, as required.

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Troubleshooting Oil Filter Housing Leakage

Troubleshooting Oil Filter Housing Leakage

February 1, 2016

What to Know About Chryslers’s 3.6L Pentastar Engine The shop had just performed a lube service on the 2014 Jeep Wrangler equipped with a 3.6L Pentastar engine. Days later, the customer returned with an oil leakage complaint. When parked on an incline, oil would pool beneath the vehicle and a foul odor was emitted due to the oil coming in […]

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Maintenance Really Matters

Maintenance Really Matters

December 1, 2015

The Technician is the Maintenance Reminder Light You are the maintenance reminder light and it’s not a job to be taken lightly. Your customers trust you with their second most expensive investment. The instrument cluster is filled with gauges and lights that reflect the operating conditions of the engine. Unfortunately, many vehicle owners have become accustomed to relying on these instruments […]

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Brake System Failures

Brake System Failures

November 1, 2015

Dealing with Brake Line Corrosion I had just read with interest an article published by The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning a brake line investigation and how it had been closed without identifying a defect that would initiate a recall order on GM trucks and SUVs built in model years […]

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What’s the Hubbub with Wheel Bearings?

What’s the Hubbub with Wheel Bearings?

September 1, 2015

Know This Multi-Function Component With the early model vehicles, packing wheel bearings was a required routine service, or a service performed during a brake job. Theinspection involved removing the bearings and washing them in a solvent, including the race, and performing a visual inspection. Ths form of inspection is not possible with the current sealed […]

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Gasoline Direct Injection – Identifying Normal System Characeristics

Gasoline Direct Injection – Identifying Normal System Characeristics

May 1, 2015

Identifying Normal System Characeristics In the last On the Line article titled “Gasoline Direct Injection And New Service Opportunities,” we addressed the benefits of the direct injection system in improved performance and fuel efficiency…

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Air Intake Restrictions

Air Intake Restrictions

December 1, 2014

Due to Inclement Weather Conditions The Chevrolet Silverado equipped with a 6.6L Turbo Diesel was down on power, the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) was illuminated and a PO101 mass air flow sensor (MAF) performance code was set in the current failure and history file, and the Power Reduced Message was displayed on the instrument cluster. […]

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Establishing Labor Charges And Making Legitimate Service Recommendations

Establishing Labor Charges And Making Legitimate Service Recommendations

October 1, 2014

And Making Legitimate Service Recommendations Never let a customer feel as if they have been overcharged or taken advantage of.  A courtesy service/inspection can make you money and generate a lot of goodwill and referrals…

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Oil Leaks Can Be Challenging

Oil Leaks Can Be Challenging

July 1, 2014

Take Time to Make an Accurate Diagnosis Looking for the quick fix almost always results in a return, and is sometimes accompanied by a customer whose patience is wearing thin…

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Servicing Ford’s Power Stroke

Servicing Ford’s Power Stroke

February 1, 2014

Dealing with Aerated Fuel Major performance symptoms occur when a diesel fuel system becomes aerated.  With some systems these conditions are due to problems inherent in the system by design…

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Diesel Fuel Filters

Diesel Fuel Filters

December 1, 2013

And the Challenge of Fuel System Aeration You just serviced the customer’s Duramax diesel and installed a new fuel filter.  You followed the proper bleeding procedure to remove the air, and the vehicle started and ran perfectly. To your surprise, the customer calls the next morning with a no-start condition…

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Lube Service Challenges

Lube Service Challenges

November 1, 2013

New Technology Requires New Level of Service In the past, most powertrains were forgiving when it came to lubricants, oil, viscosities and engine deposits. Many lube shops consolidated and took the approach that one oil viscosity was suitable for all applications…

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Diesel Applications

Diesel Applications

August 1, 2013

Can Pose Some Challenging Symptoms The majority of the questions and concerns tha we receive regarding fuel filter installations involve diesel applications. The diesel power plants can offer some challenging experiences…

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Throttle Body Cleaning

Throttle Body Cleaning

June 1, 2013

It May Require Some Computer Relearning Throttle body cleaning may require some computer learning and possibly a little training for the servie technician…

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Driveline Bump

Driveline Bump

April 1, 2013

It Feels Like a Brake Related Problem The symptoms are that of the vehicle being bumped in the rear by another vehicle immediately following a stop or when accelerating from a stop, which is often referred to as launch. When the condition first occurred, the customer thought they had been hit in the rear by […]

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Gasoline Direct vs. Port Fuel Injection

Gasoline Direct vs. Port Fuel Injection

February 1, 2013

It Makes a Difference with Valve Deposits Often, in our diagnostics we identify intake valve deposits as the cause of an engine performance related symptom. The vehicle owner may assure us that they only purchase Top Tier fuel and they supplement with fuel system additives…

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Low Voltage and Electrical Interference

Low Voltage and Electrical Interference

November 1, 2012

They Can Play Havoc with the Vehicle’s Electronics In a recent OTL article titled: IMPROVING YOUR BATTERY KNOWLEDGE, we illustrate the importance of good battery maintenance. In addition to a no-start condition, we cautioned that low voltage conditions and electrical interference could create some major challenges with the vehicle’s electronics and electrical accessories…

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Improving Your Battery Knowledge

Improving Your Battery Knowledge

October 1, 2012

A Discharged Battery May Cause More Problems Than a No-Start Condition When performing vehicle inspections are you checking the battery or just waiting until the customer complains of a no-start condition? In addition to a slow crank, a low battery voltage condition can create some major challenges with the vehicle’s electronics and accessories…

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Troubleshooting Systems that Share Similar Symptoms

Troubleshooting Systems that Share Similar Symptoms

August 1, 2012

It Makes for a Difficult Diagnosis The complaint documented on the repair order as simple… “I have a problem with my brakes.t feels like the brakes are hanging up, momentarily.” Performing a complete brake inspection failed to identify a problem with the braking system.

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Excessive Oil Consumption

Excessive Oil Consumption

March 1, 2012

…and Your Shop Has Serviced the Vehicle Since New! Trust me, this is not going to be a pleasant exercise. Have you ever provided services or made a repair on a vehicle and had the customer return, complaining of a problem or a condition that supposedly was not present until you serviced the vehicle…

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Diesel Service Tips

Diesel Service Tips

December 1, 2011

That Can Save a Lube Service Tech Much Frustration Diesel applications often present the most challenges for lube service technicians. Unfortunately, most do not get the opportunity to service many diesels, and therefore do not establish a pattern of normal characteristics of the engine…

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A Simple Diagnostic Solution

A Simple Diagnostic Solution

November 1, 2011

For Some Frustrating Engine Performance Sumptoms Difficult to diagnose symptoms often have a simple diagnostic solution. It is important that you perform some basic tests concerning the overall health of the engine before you dive too deep into the diagnostics…

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

September 1, 2011

The Occasional Dilemma May Require Some Concessions If you have been in this business for a few years, you will appreciate the following sequence of events, as you have probably been there. Those who haven’t should take heed, because eventually you will have the experience…

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Performing Inspections

Performing Inspections

July 1, 2011

How To Make Service Recommendations Perform a throrough inspection prior to making a service recommendation. It is easy to fall into a pattern of just performing those service requested by the vehicle owner…

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Aftermarket Oil Filters

Aftermarket Oil Filters

May 1, 2011

And the Factory Warranty A misinterpreted factory service bulletin has stirred so much controversy and confusion. The message from the vehicle manufacturer is clear and any reputable filter supplier/manufacturer should be comfortable with information contained in the bulletin…

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Disturbing the Air Flow

Disturbing the Air Flow

March 1, 2011

Turbulent Airway Promotes Check Engine Lamp and Trouble Codes Imagine servicing a vehicle that induces an air filter inspection or replacement. The customer returns the next morning with an illuminated Check Engine lamp, convinced that the problem was related to your services…

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