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I suppose that it must be unusual for a shop to place such great emphasis upon careful diagnosis, reason , and reasonableness but after a lot of years in the automotive repair business and the thought that my mother put before me from the beginning. "Knowledge is Power", which is the basis from which honesty and integrity should grow, reaching a correct diagnosis where that is possible, is the basis for professional repair work and customer satisfaction. The little tale of woe that I want to start this column with is a case in point and reflects the costly extremes to which dishonesty and incompetence can reach. So correct diagnosis and REASON is the key.
One day a customer brought in her Subaru wagon with a repair estimate of $1800 from a large auto dealer. The estimate read like this:
1. Bad cam sensor must replace
2. Engine misfires: replace fuel injectors
3. O2 sensor is out of range: replace O2 sensors
4. Bad catalytic converter: replace
Total repair costs $1800 and this must be true, said the customer because the computer told them so. Well, upon some reflection with my finest computer Reason I began to consider the reported computer findings and came to the following conclusion:
A bad cam sensor is an easy thing to test if I remove the bad sensor that the estimate suggested what would that cause!
First symptom would be engine missfires because the on board computer would not be able to determine when to fire the injectors or sparks this being the case raw (unexploded gas) fuel would enter the exhaust system since it is the job of the 02 sensors to monitor how much fuel enters the exhaust so they would swing wildly out of range and the catalytic converter would be overwhelmed by the raw fuel and it would send a cat failure code.
At This point I felt comfortable with my theory and hard tested the cam sensor (with a meter) I found a hard failure (short to ground) in the sensor. I replaced the sensor. cleared out the erroneous codes (phantom codes) Charged $87.00 dollars and I made my customer happy, & I made money, and I was able to maintain my professional standards.
LESSON TO BE LEARNED
Computers are wonderful tools but they exist to SERVE the mechanic not replace a thinking professional mechanic. "Knowledge is power" and lots of experience helps.