How far should you go in your diagnostics
This is a discussion that I think is important and proved to be what this particular vehicle needed was more testing. The vehicle was a 2005 Ford truck with a 5.4 and it exibited classic timing issues. The technician did a relative compression test and it came back showing very uneven compression. Several other techs including myself wanted to see further testing on this and the tech himself did as well before putting in the engine that was there for the vehicle. He was suppose to replace the engine but he wanted to know why. This being a 3 valve is tricky pulling a plug but he did and performed a in cylinder on each bank of the engine. This proved there was indeed a timing issue and the cam crank also showed there was. This vehicle has 250k on it so would you stop here and install that engine. We have evidence its a timing issue but do we know for sure its the chains or possibly the Cam actuator itself. Well in this case the tech went further and pulled the valve cover and removed the VVT solenoid and found it stuck fully open. Tech also noted inside the engine was clean. He installed a new VVT solenoid and the engine ran smooth. So how far are you willing to go. This technician went the distance and saved his customer alot of money and he also learned from the experience. He could have stopped after a couple tests and replaced the engine but for him he wanted and needed to know exactly what was wrong and sometimes we all need to do that.
Good point but I believe he did it for his own peice of mind. Most the tests performed can be done within a hour and once you know you gotta dig a little deeper maybe another hour or two. So say 3 hours max about 300 dollars versus around 5,000 with a reman engine installed
Definitely saved some money . Just wondering if the customer actually paid for all 3 hours .. I love doing diagnosis and also go out of my way to test new things it systems that intrigue me
I think it's a tough call sometimes. I'm not a diagnostic tech, I'm a business manager. So my main concern is the right diagnoses, a satisfied client and getting paid for our time to do the testing. We usually ask our clients how far are you willing to go? Many are unwilling to pay for the time it took your tech to find that it was a VVT solenoid issue. Many are willing to pay. In this case, since the motor appeared to be well maintained we'd approach it like this:
Client, this is what we know. Give them what we found so far. Then let them know their options. In this case it would be further inspection at an additional cost to see if there are any other problems causing their symptom besides a motor replacement. We let them know that we may do the further inspection at a higher cost and may come back to still recommending a motor replacement. However, we may find a legit repair that can save them the cost of a motor. This is also the time to explain the risks of repairing high mileage components.
The second option is to replace the motor since it has high miles so we give them an estimate on that too.
The third option is to do nothing and tow it away.
Ultimately, in this scenario they decide to investigate further, replace the motor or tow it away.
In the case at your shop I think the tech did the right thing. He used his experience, took it as far as he could and ended up the hero. He should be commended for that. Hopefully, your shop was compensated for the time it took and the client is happy.
That's my 2 cents
This is where we get in our own way sometimes. We REALLY want to know what is wrong, and repair things. Sometimes, this does not satisfy the customer's desires.
I did something similar on a transmission issue once. The customer became upset and left a negative review, because he actually just wanted me to validate his desire for a new transmission.
Many times, what the customer wants is more important than what the vehicle needs.
This too . Say we fix the timing issue with just the vvt sol. And down the road the timing jumps in the chain they might comeback Not so happy . But without a doubt he did the right thing and actually fixed it down to the root cause of the problem .
Marlin, wow, that's frustrating. You go the extra mile and figure out what the car actually needs and get a negative review. No good deed goes unpunished
How would you or the technician have approached diagnostics if it were a low mileage engine?
To start off, I would say, "Good Job". Now, from experience with this engine, perchance did the oil pressure get tested? That is the lifeblood of the variable cam system. Over the years, I have seen many of these engines get a lot of work done to them, only to find out the real cause was a worn engine that would not sustain proper oil pressure. As technology marches on, the need to cover the basics first is even more important.
Many times I get the rush to get in and find the problem and skip over a few very basic things that should be tested.
Oh BTW, on a discussion like this, waveforms & scan data testing enhance the discussion.
Thanks for putting up the discussion.
Yes I agree it was not my diagnosis but helped with some of the reading of the waveforms he shared and gave him advice on what I saw. Just glad to see someone want to know why they are replacing something honestly. Im sure as we reccomended him to do was check oil pressure on this and if I hear anything else I will add it. Main point was to get a discussion going on when is enough data to make a call.
Yes this case is not mine I used it as a point that sometimes you just have to go a little further to get your 100 percent diagnosis. I didnt wanna share names unless he says thats ok. But my main goal was for a discussion on whether or not other techs are willing to go the distance in their diags or stop at one or two tests.
With 250K on the clock I think it would be best to educate the customer of the issues that those engines have and that he is probably better off to put a new engine in it. This would buy him peace of mind for a long time (or should). Repairing today's VVT issue does nothing to prevent another failure right away.
Now that being said if this engine had had 100K on it I would be a lot more likely to push for the internal repair.
This is much like the old days where the top end needs to be repaired (valve job, head gasket etc) But the bottom end still has 100K plus, bit of a gamble.
Educate the customer and let them make the choice.
As long as you're getting paid for it you should go as far as you need to get the diagnosis correct. If a GOOD diagnostic tech is checking something out and they have 30-45 minutes into it, it's time to sell more diagnostic time to your customer. We usually charge extra for compression testing, even a relative test with the scope. The problem occurs when someone who maybe isn't really good at diagnosing a car is diagnosing a car, and let's face it there is a lot of that out there. I'm going to use the example given in your post to ask a couple questions, I am not trying to imply that anyone in this situation isn't a good tech so please don't take it that way.
How long should it have taken to diagnose the vehicle in your post? Hindsight and looking from the outside in I would think it would go something like this:
Suspect timing - confirm with scanner - check oil supply solenoid - done.
Is it correct to charge the customer 2 or 3 hours for that diagnosis? Was pulling plugs and doing compression testing necessary? I don't have those answers but it's something to think about.