So, last week I was in Maryland at VW training. I have been going up there for the better part of 7 years for training courses that are lead by VW instructors. These type of classes required at least once every year to maintain Factory Trained status. That means every year I go through some pretty intense training.
There is a strange thing that seems to happen almost every time I am at training, a complete wipeout of my confidence. Now I am not the best VW mechanic in the world, but I feel like I do a pretty good job. I have my own way of diagnosing car, and it has served me well over the years.
Confidence is such a huge part of my job. I would say that it can influence the way just about any job goes. I have watched some really good mechanics “second guess” themselves in to spending hours diagnosing a car, that should be an easy fix. Heck, I have done it myself.
When I travel for training, it is usually a 2-4 day class. Time is split between lecture and on-car training. The instrutors seem to have a way to make me feel like I have been “doing it wrong” all this time. Making mechanics feel like they are “doing it wrong”, is not their intension, but they are REALLY good at it. I understand that instructors are trying to show us mechanics that there are “better” ways to do things.
The problem is, it makes you question every step in your diagnostic process. Second guessing is a one way ticket to letting a car kick your butt. Mechanics need to have that, “trust your gut” mentalitly ALL the time. I spend hours looking at the way cars behave. Looking at readings that show what the engine computer is seeing, and how it is responding. After 7 and a half years of doing this, a good mechanic develops an internal baseline of what these numbers should be. Spending 2 days of training basically reboots everything back to my first day.
Without getting overly technical (aka kinda boring), the class was about vehicle inputs and outputs. A vehicle input would be like the switch for the headlights. The output side would of course be the headlights. Years ago, this was a basic operation. One that in a few minutes everyone would understand. Today everything is controlled by modules. The switch is not a switch, its a module. In an effort to reduce vehicle wiring(the most expensive overall part of the car) things are controlled by modules. A switch would have 1 or 2 wires for every function. An old Cabrio window switch would have 20 or so wires. Now that same switch will have 9, and 3 are for the lights in the switch. This class was methods to diagnose theses types of systems. The way I was doing it was similar to listening to a walkman. Now I would be listening to music on an IPhone 4gs(which I want REALLY bad).
The class overall was really good. I was able to learn some things, and it was a great refresher of some others. I will take me a week or so to get my confidence back and get in full swing of things. This method of diagnosis will just be another “tool” in my tool box.
I hope this was a little insight into what training mechanics go through. Does everyone have the same feeling when you go to training? Post up in the comments and let me know how training is for you!