Yesterday we talked about what it takes to be a top level, Master mechanic. One thing that I left out was LUCK! Yep luck. Yes a good mechanic needs to have top notch diagnostic skills. But it never hurts to get lucky. I thought I would tell a few stories about getting lucky fixing cars.
A 2004 Passat wagon came in for the radio cutting out. It had been around and around the shop. The radio had been replaced several times, the amplifier had been replaced and rewired several times. The radio would only cut out once every few months. Like many times when a problem is sporadic, it never messed up at the shop.
When it got to me, I spend about an hour messing with it. Checking this, testing that. Looking at all the work that had been done to the car. Finally, and very frustrated, I flopped down in the back seat. The radio cut off. I stood up, and the radio came back on. YES! I found something. It might have not been the problem, but I was able to duplicate the customers concern.
I pulled the bottom of the back seat up. There was a nicely wrapped wiring harness that ran right under the seat. I pulled the harness up, and the radio came back on. It turns out that a small part of the body of the car was rubbing a wire. We never found it because we never had anyone riding in the back. It was something that the customer did not put together. A quick wiring repair and she was good to go!
I guess me getting mad at the car paid off. This next one happened to the guy that works next to me. It also happened last week. This is one of those weird electrical issues that we see from time to time.
The customer’s concern was the headlight was not working. The tech pulled the car in, and found nothing. All the lights were working. He checked all the faults in the vehicle and found several faults for lighting.
Next he disconnected the module that controls most everything in the car. That really made the car mad. Now all the things the customer told us started happening. It was not just the headlight, ALL the lights were going nuts. Some lights on, some lights really bright, some only half lit.
After diagnosing the car a little further, checking ground connections, fuses and so on, he had no answer. We chatted about the car for a while and didn’t come to any answer. He was pretty frustrated, and I didn’t blame him 1 bit.
While we were talking about the car, I started whacking the fuse panel with the butt of my flashlight. All of a sudden, the lights came on. Poof, just like magic. Not really sure which fuse or relay made the car happy, I started whacking again. This time everything worked fine. We turned the car off and let it sit for a few minutes.
When we turned the car on, the lights were off. I started whacking the fuses again and BAM, found it. We pulled the fuse and found that the fuse was burnt on the backside. Technically, the fuse was good. The issue was the fuse block. It was slightly melted causing the fuse to lose contact. Another easy fix, but a hard problem to find.
So you see, there are times where being lucky is good. Sometimes stumbling onto a problem is just as awesome as actually diagnosing the problem. Fixing a car is fixing a car, for the most part, I don’t care how I find it.