Dirty Harry and Swaptronics

Anthony Technical Support Specialist Kirkwood, Pennsylvania Posted   Latest  

Hi:

Mike recently posted about a vehicle he was called out for. The "diagnosis" was a bad PCM. He was tasked with programming the replacement.

diag​.​net/msg/m51t688gvl…

In Mike's …e, it required diagnosis because a problem was introduced to the vehicle though he, too, ended up using swaptronics. Eric commented as to how a "Silver Bullet" mentality would end up being the order of the day for the original shop. Note: I do not disagree with Eric or Mike's viewpoint/approach. Let's talk about the original shop though. Assuming that they would've done a modicum of diagnosis, would swapping the ASD as an initial step have been a bad thing to do? 

Dollar-wise, it appears to be the most cost effective. Let's face it, the price of the relay is much less than .1 labor. Where does Dirty Harry come into things? With the commodification of parts ("cheap" pricing), quality is often iffy. In this …e, you may think, "Do I feel lucky? Well, do you, Punk?"

Double-edged sword, n'est pas?

Guido

+2
Agree
Dave Mobile Technician
Ironton, Ohio
Dave Default
 

Given the fact that most vehicles now contain a whole fuse box full of identified relays , a quick relay swap is a good, efficient and cheap step in doing many diagnostic jobs. I see many shops doing this even though they quickly become lost if the swap makes no change.

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Obie Technician
Spokane, Washington
Obie Default
 

Many times "swaptronics" is a valid diag procedure. You must have confidence in your parts. Known quality is tough to get, and without that pitching crap to see if it sticks is pointless. Pattern failure, no codes and such can be solved quickly at times with a thoughtful approach and good quality parts. Both can be hard to find at times and I believe mobile repair which lives by the first and…

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Rudy Technician
Montebello, California
Rudy Default
 

Anthony- There are those that think there is only "one" way to properly diagnose a vehicle. Too bad for them. Learning is life in this biz and finding reliable short cuts has always been the auto- technicians way, whether it be a tbelt job or a diagnosis.....

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Gary Owner/Technician
Buena Vista, Colorado
Gary Default
 

Dollar-wise, it appears to be the most cost effective. Let's face it, the price of the relay is much less than .1 labor. Where does Dirty Harry come into things? With the commodification of parts ("cheap" pricing), quality is often iffy. In this case, you may think, "Do I feel lucky? Well, do you, Punk?" Hello, Guido I've had enough problems with marginally bad relays that I would much rather…

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Jamey Owner/Technician
Ventura, California
Jamey Default
 

I don’t consider using another relay to be swap tronics. It’s quick and accessible. And given the fact the he checked the voltage and found it low, it was a logical approach. Ordering a PCM without checking powers on controlled actuators..... that’s swap tronics!

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Agree
Anthony Technical Support Specialist
Kirkwood, Pennsylvania
Anthony Default
 

Hi Jamey: Fair enough. Unless there was voltage regulation in the relay (old Mitsubishi duplex relays come to mind), Mike knew there had to be an issue here because he stabbed the circuit and knew what to reasonably expect for a test result. (the second part is just as important as the first part.) What if he didn't? As you may be able to see, it could be real easy to get into a circle jerk due…

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Jamey Owner/Technician
Ventura, California
Jamey Default
 

Experience is above all the most important. Having your A$$ kicked several times by problems makes us learn, I don't know if the shop he went to wants to learn. Some shop owners and managers just hire bodies and when it gets tough, they call in a guy like Michael. I guess that's ok. I just can't see doing it that way.

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Eric Owner/Technician
Edgerton, Wisconsin
Eric Default
 

Hi Jamey, If he would have just swapped the relay without testing, like a lot of shops do I would have to disagree with you. If he tested, found low or no voltage and then decided to try a relay swap I agree it would be a step in the testing process. If the relay swap fixed the problem then I would still want to inspect the connectors the relay plugs in to. A lot of times today just touching…

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Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin Default
 

I definitely agree. Swapping or replacing relays to "test" for a fault is a terrible plan for a standard method, for numerous reasons including the one that you mentioned.

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Sam Mobile Technician
Flint, Michigan
Sam Default
 

Guido, I have to agree and disagree with you point here. Mike was not called to do a "diagnosis" He was called to program a PCM because that is what the dart hit. The shop that threw the PCM is completely at fault here, Mike was doing some basic checks. He swapped relays based on information he gathered from testing. Had he just swapped the relay I would have agreed with you 100%. If Mike had…

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