How do you deal with intermittent Problems

Nicholes Technician Reading, Pennsylvania Posted   Latest   Edited  

I was curious how some of you deal with intermittent issues where you can’t duplicate a problem with a customers Vehicle, but you know there is a issue?

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Vincent Diagnostician
Dallas, Texas
Vincent Default
 

Keep stress testing ‘it‘ while monitoring relevant PIDs or circuits in the hopes to capture the failure. Depending on how critical the failure is I have had vehicles for a few 100 miles.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Michael Default
   

If we can't duplicate it but like you said the issue is known we give the customer a few options. Let us have the vehicle until we can duplicate and we give them one of our loaners or they come back when the issue is happening more. What is the issue?

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Nicholes Technician
Reading, Pennsylvania
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It’s just a general question when others run in to these type of issues since I have in the past

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David Owner/Technician
Milton, Ontario
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Hi Nicholas: This is a difficult one due to it being Heavy truck. I have experience with this and it is hard to get the drivers to give you correct ( or any) information to duplicate the issue. Sometimes it does boil down to operator error/issues. If no fault codes are logged with freeze frames and you don't know if the unit was loaded ( how heavy) or if it was under load then you are in a…

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Tanner Instructor
Wellford, South Carolina
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Many probably won't like this answer but I deal with calls for intermittent vehicles daily. The biggest advice I can give you is to remember this: I didn't build it, buy it or break it. We all want to help the customers out but sometimes it's virtually impossible. I have shops call me all the time and say we need help with this car, it acts up once a month for about 10 seconds and we've…

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Ross Owner/Technician
Carleton Place, Ontario
Ross Default
 

That is great advice Tanner. We need to be very careful that we don’t get deeply involved with vehicles that the customer does not want to fix as much as we want to see it fixed. Most of us have been involved in fixing a vehicle based on pride and then we pay for it out of our emotional bank account but that won’t pay our bills. Make sure the customer and yourself are on the same page as far…

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Anthony Technical Support Specialist
Kirkwood, Pennsylvania
Anthony Default
 

Hi Nicholes: Are these your vehicles (your location) and not from another location or sales & service? Can you give an example? Are you asking about an open circuit, short to power, short to ground, short to communication-high side or short to communication-low side? Without knowing more, Harley's response seems to be the closest. Guido

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Geoff Diagnostician
Lahaina, Hawaii
Geoff Default
 

Depends on the severity of the fault. e.g. for an EVAP DTC they are simply told "it's not broken at the moment let's wait until it becomes more obvious". OTOH for a random stall, they are told that they could leave it here forever, or we can take an educated guess, with their understanding that it is not a definite solution.

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Victor Owner/Technician
Doral, Florida
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I Employ patience together with some extensive equipment use and research​.​Such an approach hasn't failed me yet.

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Albert Owner/Technician
Towanda, Pennsylvania
Albert Default
 

Here's how I deal with those kind of issues. First I let the shop or customer know how much time I will spend on the car and how much it will cost them regardless if I find the cause or not. then I get as much info as I can about the issue from the shop/customer then see if there are codes look at the freeze frame and go from there. usually with intermittent problems it comes down to shorted…

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Rudy Technician
Montebello, California
Rudy Default
   

Intermittents are the worst. I give a legitimate effort trying to duplicate the customers concern,reviewing relevant data,searching for relevant pattern failures,TSBs etc.....but we sell diag in blocks of time and once the times up,its up. I have other work to do and cant spend unpaid time on one vehicle. If I feel like I might get somewhere,Ill ask for more time,but usually I advise the SAs…

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Caleb Technician
Mishawaka, Indiana
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I do a lot of intermittents. Honestly every situation is different. However I have a few basic rules #1 Ride with/interview the customer. I would say 30-40% of the time its normal operation and the customer just needed coached. #2 I usually dont test for more than an hour. Ill let the car run all day outside with equipment hooked up but as far as spending physical time with it not more than an…

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Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin Default
   

Gather as much information about the symptom(s) as possible (ask questions, read DTC's, review freeze frames, etc), run the verbal descriptions through my mental sieve, then analyze service information to determine what can and cannot cause the symptom(s). Occasionally I suggest replacement of a part due to indications without proof. It is extremely rare that I either spend more than .5 hour…

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Rudy Technician
Montebello, California
Rudy Default
 

I dont feel there is anything unprofessional about returning the vehicle if the problem cannot be found in a reasonable amount of time. Doing all you can to help the customer is a given,but prudence should be observed when dealing with these matters, for obvious reasons.....

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Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin Default
 

The "cannot" is the key, and is rarely the cause. Far more often, the reason for giving it back to the customer is just "did not". Just driving the vehicle with hope that the symptom will present itself often is NOT doing due diligence. Analysis of what IS and CAN BE known makes an enormous difference compared to the typical "wait for the fault to talk to you". Think about what frequently…

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Albert Owner/Technician
Towanda, Pennsylvania
Albert Default
 

Good point Marlin, I try to think about who the likely culprit is for symptoms that are given when and if I don't find any codes usually the scope is hooked up so I can see any glitches

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Mike Instructor
Fresno, California
Mike Default
 

Nicholes, Could you please -email me at … -- I have something i'd like to discuss with you. Thanks!

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Chris Diagnostician
Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Chris Default
 

Nicholas, I start off any intermittent diag with a thorough interview of the customer: time of day, weather, area, general mood when it happened (late to work and someone cut them off and so they slammed down on the accelerator when normally they just put put around), and generally try to get a quick 5 minute test drive in (this is so I can get a general idea of their driving style/habits…

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