Starting With the Basics and What Happens to Mechanics that Don’t

A post came into the blog yesterday about brake fluid. If you have been following along with my posts, you know I have done some about brakes, and brake fluid. This comment came in response to my “5 things everyone can check post

Good article, please advise folks not to top off their brake fluid.
If brake fluid is low, get a professional to check your system for leaks, or check the pads (or shoes if you’re whip is old enough). If you top off the fluid, then put on new pads, you’ll end up with a mess!

When I first read the comment, I thought- crap, I forgot to say something about brake fluid. That was obviouly not the point the commenter was making. The point of the comment is, brake fluid is low for a reason. It has either leaked out, or takes up the space of worn brake pads.(if your not sure what I mean, don’t worry, it doesn’t matter for this post)

That really got me thinking about some automotive basics. A highly skilled, highly trained mechanic will always tell you “start with the basics” and “Keep It Simple Stupid”. What most mechanics will not tell you is, how many times they got burned by not following their own great advise! To be honest, I am right there with them!

At the dealership level, we see some of the craziest problems. Thankfully, we have tens of thousands of dollars worth of diagnostic equipment at our disposal. Dragging out the big guns is not usually the best first step!

I remember one time a customer brought their car in because the battery kept going dead. I did some basic checking, the battery voltage, the generator output, and so on. I could not find anything out of the ordinary.  I preceded to perform a “Parasitic Current Draw” test on the vehicle. This test will tell you how much the battery is draining when it should be “sleeping” The results for the test were way above the specification. So the next step would be to find out where the drain was coming from.

I spend about an hour or so digging thought wiring diagrams, trying to figure out what could be staying on. I removed the radio, disconnected every sensor I could get to, removed trim and started to disconnect modules. Nothing seemed to make the drain go away. I forget what I was about to unplug next, but I climbed in the back seat, looked down and found a flashlight plugged in to the 12volt outlet. I removed the light and the drain went away. I would guess that I had spent a good 2 hours working on this car. All because of a flashlight! Yep, A FLASHLIGHT!

I could have fixed that car in about 5 minutes if I would have checked the easy stuff first. For some reason, I let my ego get in the way of what I was doing. Bad move on my part. How do you tell a customer they have to pay $300 for me to remove the flashlight from their car? You can’t, that job was one that I got to fix for free!

Starting with the basics is improtant! Making it a habit is be tricky!

I hope you guys got a good laugh today! I hope everyone has an awesome weekend!

3 replies
  1. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Does a Micky mouse ball on a antenna bring back any memories? Might be time for a post on how noise can resinate through a car!

  2. Mustang
    Mustang says:

    How about days looking for a grinding noise “obviously” from the drivetrain at highway speed. Manufacturer sends a technical rep to help find it. Replaced multiple electronic controls for all wheel drive system. I was riding in the back seat, tech rep in front passenger seat, technician driving. I positioned myself to get my head near the floor to locate the area of the noise. When I turned my head, one ear down towards the floor, one towards the roof, realized the noise was coming from the ROOF! Air over the roof racks was buffeting and caused a groan that sounded EXACTLY like it was coming from the drivetrain.


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