Being a “lead tech”

John from Morgantown Technician Posted   Latest  

So people are leaving my dealer and I’ve been left with the task of being “lead tech”. I’ve been doing this for only 2.5 years. I’m ASE A1-A9 and L1 Certified, but I don’t know everything. I got my ass handed to me on a tow in diagnosis today. Though I’ve put in a tremendous amount of effort to learn everything I could. Again I don’t know everything and can’t solve every problem, but boy I’d sure like to be able to. The guys rely on my to help with the problem cars we get. I try to relay all info I get from you guys or on YouTube from SMA/NLA/ScannerDanner. Idk haha I’m just drunk and frustrated I couldn’t be the tech I wanted to be today. Thanks for reading. Appreciate you guys for spreading information like you do.


Eric from Avoca



Well John, some days ya get the bear and some days the bear gets you. Do you need help with the car that beat you up today? 


John from Morgantown



No, thank you though Eric. It was an old Nissan Murano, P0300 bank one was not firing. Eventually found B1 Cam sensor's signal output was at 8.4v instead of 12v. Circuitry was good, just needed a new sensor. P0300 was the only code so I didn't pursue the sensors at first just did the usual tests first. Would have been nice if a Cam sensor signal performance DTC was also there.


Ryan from Edmonton



You can't know everything. If you did, you would be somewhere else making way more money. You just need to know more than most as a lead hand...and from what I've seen of the techs out there, that isn't hard to accomplish.


Steve from Puyallup



Best advice I can give you is to learn how to learn. I’ve been a tech for 34 years. A lead tech for 22. I’ve owned my own shop for 17. I spend 15 minutes EVERY morning learning SOMETHING that I didnt know about in the auto repairIndustry. And now with YouTube its much easier than it was in the late 80s when I was starting. You’re at a dealership so spend 15 minutes every morning learning something new about the thing you do on your line of vehicles. In no time you’ll be blowing the other techs away. 


John from Morgantown



This is a great idea, I'll start doing this today. Thanks!


John from Beaver



All great advice so far. When I was a young technician I ran into a lot of things that took time to figure out, and I remember someone often saying things to me like "You're supposed to be a master technician and already know all of this, we can't pay you to learn how to work on someone's car!" They were wrong then, and would be even more wrong today. The thing about our career as technicians is walking up to something you have never seen before is normal and that is never going to stop happening no matter how long you do this. Needing to do research to figure out how something works and gather other information in order to build a diagnostic plan is part of the process. Unfortunately few in management understand this, and often times vehicle manufacturers don't really understand the right way to go about diagnostics either so they often fail to give us exactly what we need. That's not saying that they don't work pretty hard creating the information that they do put out there they just don't support a logical game plan.

When getting into a diagnostic routine, there is always a repeatable base routine in play. The steps go something like this but remember they aren't written in stone and are dynamic in nature and can quite often be occurring in a different order and even at the same time. I'll write this from the perspective of an electrical issue, but every diagnostic routine follows the same basic pattern. I did a video recently about a suspension noise diagnosis that explains that in more detail.

1. Verify the customers concern.

2. Perform system performance tests. That would be confirming system voltage at key on, and with the engine running. Attach a scan tool and pull codes from every module on the car.

3. Start investigating scan data associated to the issue, make and save a recording of it.

4. Now to service information, Remember that a trouble code is the identification number of a test that has run that has failed. One of the first things you need to know is how exactly did the computer run the test. From there you will have to figure out how you can run the test the exact same way that the computer did. Keep in mind if the problem is intermittent you may only gather a direction from testing during the failure so you might have to preset your testing connections in anticipation of the problem. During this phase of the routine, you will be looking for TSB's, printing out schematics and pre planning your test connections. Make sure to write down on the schematic what the voltages should be at various parts of the circuit when it is operating correctly. It's also a good habit to write down what you measured both when the problem is and is not present.

5. At each phase of this routine what happens is you will make an observation or discovery of some kind and you have to examine that in order to figure out your next step. Part of examining what ever it is you discover requires you to figure out how to change the circumstances of how you are observing the concern. With electrical issues that usually amounts to choosing a different test connecting point and/or adding another tool that provides different information like a low amps current probe. With the video I referenced above driving the car in a different manner resulted in getting it to make the noise on demand and not just over bumps.

6. Now you are back to the research phase again. Research this time basically means gathering more information if necessary, and using critical thinking skills to decide what your next move is going to be. Change your testing routine in some way and attempt to make another discovery. The tough part for us is sometimes we will choose wisely and other times we could have chosen better, but there is usually no way to know which is right every time until after the problem has been figured out. All we can really hope for is to do better next time. youtube​.​com/watch?v=Xg2VST…


Dean from Albany



This industry needs more people like yourself. Keep up the good work and today is a new day. 

Great job!