Technician discussion & training

Albin Diagnostician Leavenworth, Washington Posted   Latest  

I don't know if this post comes out of frustration, or concern. I have been a member of iATN since April of 1998 and I must say, if it were not for iATN, I would not be the technician that I am today. Last night I was reading in the TTF and I read this post…

The poster gave a tip about cleaning a throttle body which fixed a misfire on the engine. On the surface, that seems impossible, although as technicians, we must deal with strategies that are built into the vehicles. I along with others asked some questions to the poster about how and why he was able to fix this problem by cleaning the throttle body, and the poster seemed to get his feathers ruffled.

Now, in my experience, ruffling feathers can be a good thing, and it can be a bad thing. How can this problem be taken care of on this new network adventure? Now personally, I see nothing wrong with asking questions, and please believe me, over the years, if some of the great minds in this industry had NOT asked me some questions, I would still be filing points and adjusting them with a feeler gauge.

Second thought. On the Chrysler product that was mentioned in that post, cleaning the throttle body seemed to fix the misfire. Now, on a daily basis, we as technicians work with strategies that are designed into the vehicles and are not aware of them working behind the scenes. Case in point, Ford disabling a fuel injector when a misfire is detected. (Yes, I know that is pretty old stuff and most all manufacturers do that one way or the other), but where can this information be found? I know where I found it on Fords, it was in my front yard, on a Crown Vic at one of the July 4th campouts. Some of us techs were fiddling with the car and happened to notice the injector pulse went away when an ignition misfire was induced.

I would love to see this industry have information and training available where these sort of things can be learned. I am reaching,,,, or have already reached the point, where I could get along without knowing this sort of stuff, although, some kid is going to be replacing me on down the road, and I would sure like for them to have a desire to know this seemingly,, "insignificant stuff".

Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia

I agree Albin. Joining iATN in 1998 re-vitalized and motivated my interest in the field through many of the discussions, debates and cases argued by a group of people passionate about being the best and raising the bar. Since those times, iATN has grown immensely and continues to endure growing pains and  perhaps a shift from the original focus of a relatively small active group of participants, whose main interest was to strive for professionalism. 

It is my hope that discussions here on the Diagnostic Network will be lively, informative and thought-provoking, while remaining respectful. 

FWIW, this is my 50th year associated with the trade since leaving school in 1968 and I still don't know 1/2 of everything! I moved from engineering to work full-time in automotive. Regardless, each trade was approached as mastering a craft. It included learning about the history and culture and I found myself working on vehicles and systems already 30-40 years old. I never wondered why or objected to working on mechanical braking systems or pressing crankshafts apart for bearing service. 

However, here I am today working with 2017 vehicles and seeing disinterest by many at having to work on a 10 year old vehicle. For sure there must be a few die-hard "gear heads" who lap up anything automotive, but it is quite apparent that there is a mass of "GoogleTubers©", whose sole interest is often the quick fix, with no need to understand how systems function. The "hard drive" in my old "noggin" is overflowing with stuff that I may never need to use again, yet I am thankful that I took the time to learn and apply such information. 

Albin, perhaps we have different perspectives, values and appreciation for the challenges that we have faced, compared to some others. I don't know.  However, I do also sincerely hope that those who replace us in the service bays will be willing to dedicate a significant amount of time to exploring and learning about vehicle systems whenever possible, rather than just waiting until faced with a system failure. 

FWIW, I didn't "back into" the automotive repair field as a result of failing grades in high school, which has often been the situation in North American schools for males struggling with academics. I made a conscious choice to make a career in vehicle diagnosis, service and repair. I also do not for one minute regret my decision to enter the field, or my sideways career shift some years ago, that continues to allow me to assist some like-minded novices and journey person technicians develop critical thinking skills and expertise that should serve them well in their role as technicians.

I truly hope that this new venture by Scott serves as a forum for positive interaction and skill development through active discussion.

+2 Ð Bounty Awarded
Scott Manager
Claremont, California

Hi Albin,

In my opinion, gaining a deeper understanding of anything will generally prove to be beneficial for anyone. However, professionally articulated dialogue is not always easy to come by and is an art we hope to promote (moderate) through the use of message ratings. In the future we plan on gathering info from those who downrate messages so that we can help guide the author and allow them to edit their message and control their message visibility.

Please let me know if you have any questions.



+6 Ð Bounty Awarded
Bill Technician
Rosetown, Saskatchewan

Message rating sounds like a great idea. I find myself posting with little thought, just to start conversation. Knowing that I would be rated on messages holds me more accountable and will make me think more before typing mindlessly.

+2 Ð Bounty Awarded
Tanner Mobile Technician
Wellford, South Carolina

Hi Albin, Hope you are doing well! 

After reading this last night I took some time to jot down some notes on this subject. I hope they can help everyone. I want to start off by stating that I am younger than most as many of you already know. I can remember the nights of everyone straightening me out in the chat room on IATN when I thought I knew everything. The varying ages of technicians is a dilemma not only in the bays but also on forums, Facebook pages or any other form of social media. We have to remember that ones tone through a keyboard is often much different than that of the person face to face. As a young technician I was brought up in the age of computers, learning how to type in school, how to do research using various sources and how to know if that source was good or not as well as how to talk online and through email. We were taught that emotion is hard to convey through text and we have to understand that and do what we can to make our demeanor known.

This is where I will bring up your post from IATN that you mentioned, not all information posted is going to be good. We have to see that and make a conscious decision of whether or not it is worth commenting on. If we decide it is worth getting involved then we need to understand that our first response should be handled with kid gloves. Saying things like YOUR WRONG like so many enjoyed doing on IATN is a sure fire way to come across with a disrespectful tone. I'm hoping we can avoid this problem on our new network. Language barriers need to be taken into account as well. In the post on IATN I can only assume that the technician describing a misfire actually meant a hesitation. In order to confirm that and do so without filling the thread with a bunch of questions and no answers I find it easier to private message the original poster. This does two things, keeps the thread neat and organized and also opens up the opportunity for one on one coaching. Once an outcome or explanation is reached, the original poster can then go back and edit his post so it has good usable information for everyone.

To summarize we need to use our soft skills much like we would when talking with a customer. You never know what the person on the other end of the keyboard is like or what frustration level they may be at. This should be kept in mind when responding to online reviews as well. A lot of the guys that like to respond with harsher tones also do so on their reviews and end up with multiple bad reviews because of it. Re read your comments out loud before posting and maybe even ask others their opinion of how it sounds before submitting. Lastly I feel that if a thread gets out of hand and is on a collision course I feel it is best to just delete the thread and give the members a warning and after the second time remove them. Posts like these do nothing but discredit the professionalism of our industry. I have a long road ahead of me to try to help shape this industry into the professional and respectful career that I believe it should be and I can't do that without the help of everyone. Thank you everyone for your time.

Tanner …

+5 Ð Bounty Awarded
Brin Diagnostician
Melbourne, Florida

Hey Albin,

I appreciate your post. It will be difficult to impossible to keep everyone happy. Some are just too sensitive while others could use working on their soft skills. I'm glad to hear that Scott and the Team at DN have already put some thought into this and are considering and working toward some possible solutions. 

I wonder if DN will have official statements with examples of how professional diagnostic discussions should and can remain professional. Forum Discussions Best Practices. I'm sure that they will. 

As we move forward with DN, we need to do our best to keep things professional while challenging each other to be the best that we can be. We also need to be careful with muting and or removing members, and deleting comments and or threads. Managing that aspect well will make this Network a true gift to the Industry. Right now, some admins on some of the Social Media Groups are not managing this well. Members are being muted and removed for simple disagreements.

When it comes to preparing for or being aware of unusual modern vehicle strategies. We can often make due with good critical thinking skills. Our aftermarket educators need to continue to focus on building upon these skills but we can't stop there. We need to find a way to get Vehicle manufacturer and their engineers more involved with the aftermarket. I know that there will be concerns with sharing propitiatory information but certainly, some of the veil can be lifted. I know that iATN was fortunate enough to have some manufacturer engineer participation and I hope that DN can take that to the next level. The other solution, is the reason we are able to discuss this very topic. We will be better in numbers. I know that I'm preaching to the choir here but your story about the July 4th Camp Out is a perfect example. 

Thanks for allowing me to participate,


+6 Ð Bounty Awarded
Justin Mobile Technician
Herriman, Utah

I would like to thank all the guys here already for their comments. I really feel Tanners comments are some of the best for this subject. I know Personally how it feels to be shouted down when I am unaware of what I don't know. I can assure you nothing positive came from those experiences and only made me want to stay away and not participate. Tanner is absolutely right when he says that we can't understand what a man is going through on the other end of the conversation I know I have a hard time communicating effectively in person but even more so in text. We should strive to lift up those that are not at our level, not exclude or talk down to them. I know for me when I am helping others with the knowledge I have be it much less than many of those here and in the other forms of networking, use a rule of thumb that I don't care how advanced they are as diagnosticians. What I care about and I think we should all try to foster is the desire of the person to better themselves. If they want to learn help them. 

In my personal experience in this industry I have experienced the harsh judgement of those that felt I was not worthy of being a diagnostician. There was a time not very long ago when I was very ignorant to the diagnostic process. During that time I asked questions to those that I looked up to in the industry. The attitude and the backlash I have felt from some of the more judgmental of those has been harsh to say the least. A little about me I have been in the industry for 24 years now. I came up working in my grandfathers shop sweeping floors, take trash out and fetching parts. When he retired I went to work for his brother who ran a very successful tire shop. These two brothers were polar opposites of each other. Grandpa was everyone's friend and had lots of cars to work on, but no money and junk equipment and cars to drive. His brother was very successful in business. He drove a tight ship and I learned about the different styles of management then. I learned as I went ant never really had a true apprenticeship. Not Getting a formal training education was out of the question. I came from nothing, with nothing. I excelled at fixing cars. I never really loved it but I was quite good at it. Fast forward a few decades of bouncing from one shop to another looking for the right fit. I never found it. Owners that refused to invest in the right equipment, didn't invest in the techs and treated every tech that came through like a piece of equipment. Only to throw them away when they were done using them. I killed the flat rate game and kept my nose down. Last year it came to a point where the shop I was the shop manager and lead tech reached a point where we could no longer see eye to eye. They wanted grunt work out of me and I needed to focus on the future. So we parted ways.  

I found Vision two years ago. The first legitimate training I attended was at Vision 2016. Let me tell you my eyes were opened. Up till that point I had no clue what I didn't know. I know I'm still very ignorant to so much. The difference is I am doing everything I can to overcome that. After getting my eyes opened and my mind blown at that first vision, mostly by John Thornton I left Kansas city knowing my entire understanding of the industry would never be the same. I jumped both feet into finding the answers to the questions I had and still do. I attended 4 conference that year. I purchased a WPS500 at that first vision. I then bought my picoscope a few months later when I had saved enough to get the basic 4 channel kit. I now have just about everything pico offers for their scopes. I attended 4 more conferences the next year. Last year I met with a group of like minded guys at Automechanika that shared my strong desire to learn everything we could. We have since met at other training events as a group and talk daily on a facebook messenger group. 

Back to the point of all of this I wanted desperately to make connections and network with anyone that would have me only to be turned away and treated poorly by guys that feel a need to believe they are superior. In current knowledge they can make that case. I would ask that we try and change that to better the industry. Take the time to help someone that is looking to better themselves. Like Albin stated he was the guy that was looking for the silver bullet to a point and had someone take the time to help his see what he needed to see. The reason so many go to google and youtube for the answers is because they don't know where else to go. Quite literally, we don't have guys mentoring the youth like we used to. I was in the industry over 20 years before I found the training events that that could help me see what I needed to see. 

+5 Ð Bounty Awarded
Bob Mobile Technician
West Chicago, Illinois

After reading the thread, I'd like to add my .02.   To have discussion requires questions. If silver bullet seekers come asking with little to no data and the bullet is shared, this helps nobody and hurts everyone.  I see too many people looking to be the smart guy or the helper guy and hand out bullets.  Handing out free information that we work for on Facebook, YouTube, iATN or DN does not truly help elevate the trade.  Walking with someone that wants to learn and guiding them to answers does elevate.

+9 Ð Bounty Awarded
Craig Service Advisor
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Excellent point Bob.   I've always found that the best and brightest techs are among the most absurdly generous individuals with their time and knowledge.  

There is immense fulfillment in helping solve a truly complex problem for someone.  

We've all felt that.   

At the end of the day however... if we cannot be paid well to do this fine work... we will continue to fail to attract the best and brightest to the profession.  

We must value our knowledge.  This is a knowledge based business.

+6 Ð Bounty Awarded
Jim Curriculum Developer
Frederick, Maryland

Writing is a more difficult form of communication than verbal. In writing there is no body language, tone of voice an other cues. I learned many years ago that meeting a person made me read in their voice. Any previous misconception evaporated. 

On the topic of items like default strategies or cues in systems I think one key will be enforcing the concept of READING data and not SCANNING it. With modern engines approaching the 300+ PID range there is a lot to see and use. Between good data reading, familiarity with service information/resources and solid reading skills, much of what we are looking for can be found. The captures attached are from a late model Toyota. Showing the fuel injector status as well as the active test override of fuel cut for diagnosis.  

+1 Ð Bounty Awarded
Scott Technician
Longmont, Colorado

I read this post, and it’s replies, and the phrase (proverb?) that comes to mind, is, give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. TEACH him to fish, and feed him for a lifetime. 

Tanner raised some very good points, but, I don’t agree with him 100%. If someone posts incorrect, misguided, or downright wrong information they need to be called on it. 

Not in an insulting manner, but with grace. Also with truth. We don’t do anyone any favors sugarcoating things. 

If something sounds very counterintuitive, questions need to be asked. What? how? why? Hopefully, if the original poster doesn’t have the answers, someone else can fill in the gaps.

I learned diagnostics the hard way. There was no internet. Most shops had very little service info, and what they had was generic aftermarket manuals. I was the junior tech, and so instead of the brake and front end work, I got all the “tough” jobs no one else wanted. I got good at it because I had to. I remember the Compuserve Cars forum. It was great, but I had 3 young kids. The internet was not high priority. I found iATN in 1996, and it was a game changer for me. I’m not a frequent poster on any forum, but far more on iATN than anywhere else. 

I don’t learn as easily as I once did. That just means I have to work harder. If you can’t/won’t/don’t try, how/why should I help?

+6 Ð Bounty Awarded