How much time should take to a good technicians to do a complete diagnostic

Joel Diagnostician California Posted   Latest   Edited  
Discussion
Industry
Is 1 Hour Enough To Do Diagnostic

Hello every one , I wanted to heard from you guys about this subject. 

I was fire from a shop because it was taking me too long to do diagnostic. More than 1 hour 

Well the story behind is I got the covic ,I least that is what I think base on the símtoms even the test said negative .twice, it took me me down for 2 weeks the body pain and the headache so on. When I returned to work the boss said he has to let me go because I exposed his employees to the virus .but realistically it was more because he complaints about diag time. 

I was new in this shop I only had 4weeks working for this shop I was exited because they work on Europeans vehicles and I like challenges and those vehicles are for me .

Well the owner is mechanic and he thinks the diagnóstic portion as labor. His set up is 1.2 hr for brake fluid flush, alignment 1.2 hr and diagnostic 1.0 hr including vehicle inspection. 

In 1 hour he is expecting to have full unswer a but do not miss any thing or try to sell some thing as diagnostic step if you can not duplicate or test prooved what is the cause of failures .

I was hired most basically to do diagnostic mechanical staff too. So here we go if a diagnostic takes longer than expecte . every hour I have to go with him and and ask for more time and explains what I did. And why I need more time. Ther is coming the trouble car .

Comes in a 2009 subaru out back with turbo .

History this vehicle is burning turbos 3 turbos another shop has installedthem . each of them does not last more than1 month . they replace the complete engine and still burns the turbo also they mentioned the vct sytem has a dtc and the previous shop said need cam sensor . The owner does not trust them any more also the owner of the vehicle is suewing that shop and has involved the bearu of automotiv repair involved. 

Now I get this 1 hour diag . When I scanned it has no dtc and all readiness. Monitor incomplete. Nice I drive the vehicle during road test I saw the rh side vct is not advancing the good side does but bad side rh does not . By the time I returned to the shop I have a pendin dtc for rh vct . When I get to the shop I searched for tsb in deed there is a tsb that matches my sinmtoms , burning 🔥 turbos, the tsb mentioned about in the block there is the oil supply to vct and turbo and the filter get plugged, this filter is inside the bango bolt so those parts were transfer to the new engine. 

I apply power and ground the the vct solenoid and I get not movement on scan data also the rpm on engine not changing . This is on rh where the fault is present. 

I do the same test on the lh good side and engine stumble scanner show 40 degrees of facing . Great I swapped the solenoids and still rh does not work while lh does.

I have so far 75 minutes in it . Ups I am over time I should stop at clock time . 

I went and report I said I have not checked the computer command I know we have issues on This side , I would like to check the control side they said no you spent more than 1 hour , now is time to tear down I did find plugs the filter . Also the new turbo was gone . We replace all of those, retest time for me , I have not Time asign for this but I go for road test and I check on scan data that same rh does not face at all ? 

I disconnected the vct apply power and ground And now faces 40 degrees watching scan data , engine stamble . same than lh,good I have oil supply and good solenoid and faces right.

With the pico scope I scope the vct solenoid lh and rh side both wires groun and power control lh side good working syste , and rh sistem with issues the power control is there but the ground has resistance . This test were done at the solenoid.

I ask for time to check wiring I thought they pinch somethin when the engine was swap and chekc computer command .

I get 1 hour , so my color wiring diagram does not match the actual color on the vehicle, I go to oem diagram same color do not match , looking for pin out at the computer , conector wrong diagram the 1 hour is gone.

Ask more time , now I find the colors are diferentes but I am in the right wires at computer performed the same test, still bad ground coming out from computer, load test the circuit 4 amp test lights illuminate bright at the other end . Bor both wires power and ground to vct solenoid . So my diagnostic is done computer. I did not check power and ground my other 1 hour is gone already. 

The owner of the shop who is mechanic does not belive or trust in my diagnostic. He goes over to all the steps , I show him the scope captures but I belive does not know how to interpret them as they are not scope user. Later he told me to open the timing cover to check timing marks , and also to check or swap the vct actuactor gear. I said but I tested them dynamically with engine running and it face 40 degrees on scanner. He got update and said I am the fack-- boss and no asking for your opinion also the diagnóstic time is taking too long and I am paying out pocket for this diagnóstic my saving account is almost gone from paying diagnostic time . Well next day is when I feel ill and I left work to take care of my issues . 

Now he let me go and Said he fires me because I was negligent and put his employees in risk with the virus . 

My main question comes here , is one hour enough for drivebility diagnostic, or is the really I can not make it , as most shops give the technician 1 hour , while the guy is doing brakes and suspension is getting bonus because is flagging a lot of hours.

Because the boss said a good technician should take about 45 minutes to complete a full diagnosis and vehicle inspection if you want to explore or learn about the vehicle you can practice the other 15 minutes I do not mind that but do not go over 1 hour book time . 

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Francisco Diagnostician
Mexico
Francisco
 

Joel,sorry to hear about this.I've seen your channel before you certainly have some diagnostic skills​.​All i can say is, cars are so complicated now compared to 10 years ago that an hour isn't enough most of the times.i'm glad i don't have that pressure.i wish you the best​.​good luck man​.​take care

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Matt Diagnostician
Minnesota
Matt
 

Sounds like he did you a favor. Any prospects on a new facility to work for? As for your question, I don't think there is a reasonable answer. Lots of vehicles take minutes to find the root cause, some you may even know before you pull it into your bay. Other vehicle issues take up the whole initial analysis fee. After that, you sell time to test or the shop eats it out of ego (not insinuating…

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Elvis Technician
California
Elvis
 

Hey Joel here at our shop we do an initial 2 hour diag. If I have exceeded those hours, I have to stop and request more time. Our inspections by itself can take up to an hour. I think the whole initial hour diag is outdated. Especially on newer vehicles. Sorry to hear about this. I believe that your boss does not understand what a diagnosis really means. Shame on them.

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Glenn Owner/Technician
Texas
Glenn
 

One hour to diagnose a job another shop has screwed up twice? That for one is not realistic. The one hour standard is not written in stone, if the shop management is still stuck in that 30 year old (out dated) unwritten standard, then they are not a real modern shop. I am not sure how the labor laws work in Cali., but it may be good to talk to an attorney and get legal advice on this matter…

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Matthew Technician
Nova Scotia
Matthew
 

I agree with Mr. Fanslow's statements above and feel like you'll get a strong consensus for your side of this argument on here. Any diagnostic would never be so black and white to have a blanket policy that it should be solved within 1 hour, it's an unrealistic expectation. I think the most important thing in diagnosis is making sure you're correct and verifying that, and to me would be 100%…

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Brian Owner/Technician
British Columbia
Brian
 

Sounds like the shop owner doesn't get it. Getting a nightmare vehicle in, sometimes it takes an hour just to investigate and research what has gone before. Walk away and leave them to their disaster.

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Juan Technician
California
Juan
 

If you can diagnose every car that comes in in an hour, you'll have every shop owner knocking down your door!!! Too often, I see diagnoses from other shops (especially dealership guys), where they are just totally off base. I kind of see it as … if it's not a simple diagnosis, they make something up & write up a big estimate to discourage the owner from going further. When I see them, the…

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Carlos Diagnostician
California
Carlos
 

Diagnosis Pricing Not all services can be estimated using the flat-rate system , One Hour rate . Diagnostic work is a good example because every troubleshooting process is unique. Many auto repair shops quote a basic diagnostic charge that includes certain procedures and a maximum time limit ,(One hour rate ). If the problem cannot be identified within that time, they will contact the vehicle…

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David Technician
Ontario
David
 

Sometimes an hour is enough. Sometimes it isn't. Drivability problem from another shop? One hour and you're just getting a feel for it. There are no rules when it comes to diagnostics, you'll be better off somewhere else.

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Jeff Technician
California
Jeff
 

To steal a quote from Glenn Young, if you can't diagnose a car in one hour you are out of knowledge, tooling or information. Were proper tooling and the enough information on this specific vehicle available to you? Do you have experience on Subies? Glenn did make that statement probably 15 years ago, my observations are that the key ingredient doing diag work is you must have the appropriate…

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Saifullah Diagnostician
Ontario
Saifullah
 

Hmmm, I don't really agree with you Jeff. It's not black and white. One simple example is a parasitic draw. Think about that one for a few minutes.

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Jeff Technician
California
Jeff
 

I have found proper testing on parasitic draw makes that problem easy, most of the time. You're right diag work is complex in so many ways and no hard fast rules apply.

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Jared Diagnostician
Maryland
Jared
 

Nah, you have an unrealistic former employer… we sell initial diagnostics to customers 1-2 or 1-3 hours. Very rarely does it take me past that, but sometimes it does. Sometimes the shop justs eat it and i plow ahead if im close to finding problem at the end of those time frames, because we make out good due to pattern failures on the sub 1hr diag jobs. Some cars, if i see it on the lot, before…

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Saifullah Diagnostician
Ontario
Saifullah
 

Diagnostics and flat rate are like oil and water. No matter how much you try and shake it up, they just don't mix. A lot of shaking going on at dealerships I tell ya.

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William Technician
West Virginia
William
   

Great metaphor. I agree completely. The incentive structures in the dealer are all wrong.

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Nicholas Diagnostician
New York
Nicholas
   

The shop I work for has a diagnostic fee of 149.00. This includes finding problem area and up to 1 hour of testing. If additonal time is needed we ask for per hour time for pinpoint testing, if needed. If we do the repairs we usually put the 149.00 toward the repair. You can't put a time on diagnostic work, it could take minutes, hours or days depending on the problem and the condition of the…

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Saifullah Diagnostician
Ontario
Saifullah
 

I don't agree with putting the 149 towards the repair. It wasn't an estimate you provided the customer, it was a diagnosis. A diagnosis that you spent time on. Technician should be paid for expertise/skills

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Nicholas Diagnostician
New York
Nicholas
 

It helps sell the repair. Brooklyn is a tuff place, they act surprised when you tell them there is a charge for it.

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Glenn Owner/Technician
Texas
Glenn
 

Send them to Auto Zone, they diagnose for free. What more can a person ask for?

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Matthew Technician
Nova Scotia
Matthew
 

Had a family member recently tell me their friend scanned the check engine light in their CRV and came up with an “Oxygen Sensor Intermittent" fault. How much is that to fix? To be fair, they cleared the code so all is well.

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Glenn Owner/Technician
Texas
Glenn
 

Sadly in situations like this, a lot of shops want quick diagnostics from techs and then techs are under pressure to provide answers. Often, the tech just hands the service writer a shopping list of all possible parts as a CYA measure. Customers are sold un needed parts and repairs every day because they typically think a ‘technician’ is a walking book of knowledge. I think most techs are…

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Alan Owner/Technician
Mississippi
Alan
 

My thoughts exactly send um to AutoZone so they can put that machine on it to tell um exactly what's wrong. They going to print out a maybe this maybe that sheet for the customer and sell the customer a bunch of parts they don't need customers going to get somebody to put the parts on and when the car is doing the same thing as before they put the parts on. now there two or three hundred…

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Jamey Owner/Technician
California
Jamey
 

Selling the repair is a management problem, not a technician problem. Applying the diagnostic charge should only be done if management is the only one who is giving it away. I have worked in this field for over 35 years trying to convince the motoring public that my/our work has value. Giving it away in the form of free diagnostics does not lend value to our work.

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Edwin Mobile Technician
South Carolina
Edwin
 

Do these same people act surprised when they go to the doctor and they are charged for the diagnosis?…Probably not.

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Rafael Owner/Technician
California
Rafael
   

Joel, It is hard to judge what is fair/right to charge for diagnosis… not one problem is the same, so they should be treated and approached differently, and so the charges to diagnose. Most Shops DO NOT CHARGE ENOUGH FOR DIAGNOSIS (this is a fact!) because they underestimate the difficulty/engineering of newer cars and the tooling/diagnostic equipment, research, and knowledge it takes to do…

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Fred Owner/Technician
Oklahoma
Fred
 

I've been working in this field for 41 years. That boss has no idea how long it takes to properly diagnose a difficult problem .

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Zeb Diagnostician
California
Zeb
 

So glad my independent shop employment days are in the rearview mirror. My last independent shop did have a flat 1hr diagnostic fee w/ an * and some CYA written in Fine print. Our shop owner knew some diag’s were going to beat flat rate and others were going to cut into the profit. Most of the time it was the diag that was incorrect that caused issues not the extended diag’s that proved correct…

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Glenn Owner/Technician
Texas
Glenn
 

I only miss one independent shop I worked at. They had a policy that diagnostics start at 1 hour minimum and the vehicle owner would be contacted with progress and updates at the one hour mark. If a repair solution was arrived at, an estimate was written up by the service writer and techs' notes. If the problem took more time the customer had the option to stop there or have us continue. The…

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Adrean Diagnostician
California
Adrean
 

He fired u kus u had gotten sick that sounds like it’s illegal .. diags should take a hour but not all of them I mean some are easy some are hard . Some take less than a hour some take more time

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Stuart Mobile Technician
Illinois
Stuart
 

This is an area that has been going downhill for the last 30 years or more​.​Charging and paying for diagnostic time​.​On one hand you have the parts stores advertising free services that customers perceive as diagnosing to help sell parts​.​Then you have shops that advertise free diagnosis to get the vehicles in the shop​.​Now you have customers…

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Saifullah Diagnostician
Ontario
Saifullah
 

Well said Stuart!

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Chris Owner/Technician
California
Chris
 

A diag and a vehicle inspection are not the same,as a shop we would not get involved with that Subaru without 3 hrs to start​.​no vehicle inspection included I'm happy to credit back time spent with a vat 40 or a cooling system inspection but not a diagnostic process. Any diag that goes beyond the usual 1 hr stuff should get blocks of time allocated.

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Justin Technician
California
Justin
   

I think we should start paying the diagnostic tech in every shop as a sublet . For example if shop charges 160 an hour and most reasonable shops pay 1.5 hours to start which is usually discounted, say 190 . how about paying diagnostic tech half of that dollar amount just for diagnosing -90 or all of it even-190( if job sales ) . If we Look at part time auto instructor pay it’s around 60 -80 an…

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Dudaps Engineer
Russian Federation
Dudaps
 

Sorry! It's so bad… In Russia, somebody break stupid head to such boss!!! Somebody takes a hammer and break stupid head of boss!!! Sorry for my English…

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James Owner
Alabama
James
 

Their is a lot of good discussion, I haven't read everyone's post but regarding the turbo failures. I have had a lot of experience with turbo's, the oil feed too the turbo always gets replaced, coking can occur in the line restricting oil flow to the center section as discussed in the tsb. This should be common knowledge among all of us automotive technicians. Always include the oil feed line…

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Iqbal Owner/Technician
South Africa
Iqbal
 

Hi all it is a big problem especially when it comes to diagnostic work. my approach is win some and loose some because I have my own shop and do all the diagnostic work my self I take it as a challenge to fine the problem and fix it first time​.​When the vehicle comes I immediately explain to the customer how the process of diagnosing a vehicle. Sometimes I spend 5 hours but i come…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael
 

It varies. 1 Hour is normally a starting point. I expect my technicians to let me know if more time is necessary before they spend a ton of time on it. I also expect that if they ask for 2 or 3 hours of diagnostic or more and the customer approves it that they give me an accurate diagnosis. If the customer doesn't approve diagnostic time we don't address the issue other than a visual inspection…

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Michael Technical Support Specialist
California
Michael
 

One hour WAS a ok when I was wrenching in 2005 on ten year old (1995) cars. It sounds like you may have had two repair problems, whatever was causing the turbo to fail, and what ever was causing the cam timing issues. In the big paicture, how much time and money had the customer already spent? How hard would it be to use that information in the sales process to sell as much time as is really…

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Henry Owner/Technician
California
Henry
 

Joel, Sorry to see this happen to any sharp tech. I have been looking for a good Diagnostic guy for my shop for 2 years and haven't found one yet. I think I would give more thought to helping a good tech get faster than beating him down for being “slow”. Strong diagnosis guys are not a dime a dozen out there! Good Luck!

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Michael Technical Support Specialist
California
Michael
 

Henry, You and Joel should talk, he lives in your area> As I recall from previously living in the Santa … area, your shop is one of the better shops in the area. This could be a win for all…

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Henry Owner/Technician
California
Henry
 

Yes Mike, I have no idea how to contact him through the DN Platform. If you read this Joel give me a call …! Thanks Mike

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Joel Diagnostician
California
Joel
 

Thanks I will contact you

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Eric Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Eric
 

Hi Joel, I've been doing automotive testing for a long time and not just on computer modules and electronic control systems, there weren't many of those around in the late 1970's when I started my shop. I've found having processes in place and following those processes makes it a lot easier to be successful when testing vehicles. I have read a lot of your help requests and have noticed that…

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Zeb Diagnostician
California
Zeb
 

Eric, You take an experienced methodological approach to diagnostics. I question how many tech's have a dedicated “plan of direction” for their diagnostic routines and what to do when results are inconclusive. I learned years ago (still need practice) to engage my brain before my hands. This means I check for TSB's and review codes (setting criteria etc) and review theory of system operation…

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Joel Diagnostician
California
Joel
 

Nice wite up , at firts I have no dtc on the work order states the other shop recommended cam sensor, I drove the vehicle monitoring scan data for vct lh side faces , rh does not at all great , subaru does not allow to do bidirectional control on vCT solenoid. Getting to the shop I activated witj power probe the rh solenoid , and the engine rpm did not change as well on scan data . Lh good…

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Rafael Diagnostician
California
Rafael
 

Joel and all interested, On the Virtual Vision event going on today, there is a speaker presenting “Mastering Diagnostic Sales…”… I am on it right now, and it is a great and very informative presentation by Jason Servidio from CTI+ WTI

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Babu Owner/Technician
Virginia
Babu
 

Open your own shop , if possible , u will have complete control and of lots of learning to do

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Justin Technician
California
Justin
   

To everyone . How much do you guys charge for a check engine light with no problem found and how do you guys sell that fee with honesty ? It is not uncommon to have step 1 in trouble chart be to erase code and perform road test under same driving condition as per freeze frame to see if code even returns . If it’s a diesel you can spend hours driving to verify repairs or set monitors . Do we give…

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Zeb Diagnostician
California
Zeb
 

Justin - You can't “honestly” charge a customer for not correctly diagnosing the problem.

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Justin Technician
California
Justin
 

Just looking for feedback so keep that in mind .So if we change the word to “ “Inspection “ would that warrant an actual time charge such as .5 hours . I feel like there could be occasions where we spend an hour to road test , review freeze frame and let’s just say it’s a problem such as customer Causing code by double foot driving . You call and they don’t admit to it or don’t understand . Code…

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Zeb Diagnostician
California
Zeb
 

Justin I understand what you are asking. I will preface by saying I have not experienced any phantom codes since my Ford OBD1 days. Whomever is intaking the work, service writer, shop owner etc had better screen the customer thoroughly before taking there key's as I assume you are talking about new customers. New or old if you clear a light and it pops again you have some explaining to do. The…

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Jamey Owner/Technician
California
Jamey
 

Why not? If you follow a structured approach to diagnostics and you test according the manufactures procedures or a trusted aftermarket source of procedures only to come to an incorrect diagnosis, why would that all the sudden be free to the customer. Doctors get paid when the patient dies. Attorneys get paid when they lose a case. Why are automotive technicians expected to be perfect every…

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Francisco Diagnostician
Mexico
Francisco
   

Jamey,very well said​.​Doctors make many misdiagnosis and still charge for it,not to mention lawyers​.​As for business, intermittent faults are not profitable if not duplicated in that hour ,so communication with the customer is important so an agreement can be had.i dont call it diagnosis but a test drive/inspection.

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Saifullah Diagnostician
Ontario
Saifullah
 

Good points Jamey.

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David Technician
Ontario
David
 

Respectfully, the customer is paying for the process. NOT the result.

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Glenn Owner/Technician
Texas
Glenn
 

Hi David C., I have to agree with you, the days of POKY the test light tech and the AZ free computer scans are cheating customers from reality. This is why many shops are behind the times. Customers come in demanding an instant answer and shops are bowing to the beat down to keep work coming in. Often times these situations turn into the carrot and the stick routine. The one hour bait routine…

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Jamey Owner/Technician
California
Jamey
 

Generally I estimate 1 hour for Diagnostic inspection time. If I can’t duplicate the problem or it is so random or intermittent that I can’t even ascertain a diagnostic approach, I will charge .5 and tell them I will use the other .5 if they have to return for extended diagnostics. I leave it up to the customer. It can get tricky. If the car stalls, but will not stall for me, I can’t even…

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Michael Technical Support Specialist
California
Michael
 

The correct terminology should be “trouble shoot”, diagnosis implies that a cause will be found. While it's helpful if a cause is found, it isn't a certain thing. Quite often the manufacturer recommends replacing a part and rechecking, that doesn't fit the definition of “diagnosis”.

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Joel Diagnostician
California
Joel
   

Thanks

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Joel Diagnostician
California
Joel
 

I feel it like your comments is coming with zarcasm. But we all are here to learn and improve. I might be wrong . but my whole point here is to learn an find a Balance in between , shop owner, technician and customers. As new technologies modern vehicles are here the diagnóstic is getting more complex and what I see in this industry is as time pass thoug the shops complaint #1 is I do not find…

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Jared Diagnostician
Maryland
Jared
 

Truth. 100%.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Texas
Michael
 

I always did an hour and usually have an idea before my time is up. Rarely charged more time unless it requires actuaI R&I to diagnose. I have lost many hours, but the experience made me better next time. I have been working on a BMW for two days for a misfire on 6 and an F150 for a shudder from the rear with no luck. I couldn't charge the customer for all the hours. Several technician have…

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