File photo/Trail Times

Complex vehicle diagnosis takes time and money

Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician in Trail

Yes, we all would like to know when our vehicle rolls or is pushed into the shop what the final tally will be.

Admittedly, when we know exactly what is wrong the answer to that question can be quite definite. But ….. when the problem is unknown…. it depends.

That is the answer nobody likes to hear. I know I wouldn’t but that answer is real. Your mechanic is going to have to spend some of your hard earned money to get closer to the answer to that question.

Many of you admit that the modern vehicle is chock full of technology and you are right. It is. Many of you admit to not even wanting to lift the hood. You should. Did you read your owner’s manual when you bought the vehicle?

So, not only is your vehicle a marvel of technology it is also a packaging marvel. Everything has a place and other than the box of your pickup truck those places are more crowded than they have ever been.

When there is a problem with your vehicle, the technology and the packaging come into play when determining an outcome (financial outlay) so to speak. Your mechanic will bring out his/her investment in technological tools and technological knowledge to make a diagnosis.

Before they can start they need your okay to spend what you may think is a substantial sum. The process of diagnosis is more important than ever. The time and cost to just make a guess (Google or otherwise) is not effective or efficient.

Sometimes the diagnostic process will involve replacement of parts that may or may not be the root of the problem. The engine is running rough and the spark plugs are totally worn out. The spark plugs must be replaced. The spark plugs may eliminate the problem but further damage may exist. Ignition coils that fire those spark plugs may have failed as well but until those plugs are replaced ignition coil damage can’t be determined.

Spark plugs used to cost a couple bucks each. Yes, I am that old. Now they can be $10, $20 or even $30 each and your vehicle may have four, six, eight, twelve or sixteen of them. It may have taken half an hour to replace in the past but now it could be two hours. I can feel you adding up the dollars and the answer to your problem is not complete.

Okay, the spark plugs are done but the problem is not gone. Now we can test the ignition coils. You used to have one ignition coil. Now there is one for every cylinder. Find the bad one and replace it or replace them all? Access to these ignition coils is the same as replacing the spark plugs. It could be the same job all over again.

Knowing how much a repair is going to cost before you know what is wrong, even just a rough estimate is in many situations impossible. There is significant value in each step along the way. Many times these steps have to be performed logically to get to the real problem at which time an exact quote is possible.

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