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Innova R&D Team
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Innova diagnostic scanners assist you in understanding your vehicle, finding problems, and providing guidance for repairs. You can access the same advanced technology used by professionals, without the high costs or subscription fees.Learn more about Innova Scanners
If a vehicle system isn't operating correctly, then it should be repaired. This is where diagnostic and other skills come into play. It's important to recognize that something isn't operating the way it should be by applying your knowledge of the vehicle system, then applying this knowledge further and combining it with the skills of diagnostics to be able to find out the reason.
Finding the problem when complex automotive systems go wrong is easier if you have the proper knowledge. This knowledge consists of two parts:
It's also important to know about these definitions:
Note: General diagnostic principles and techniques can be applied to any system, physical or otherwise.
Note: The six-stage diagnostic process is recommended but there are others that are similar.
After using the Innova 5610 to read the trouble codes, the mechanic goes through the first 4 of the 6 steps in the Six-Stage Process. He knows how to rectify the issue now but needs to fix the problem, then check to make sure all systems work correctly.
Here is a very simple example to illustrate the diagnostic process. The reported fault is excessive use of engine oil.
Here is another example using a vehicle's cooling system that has a fault. Remember that the diagnostic procedure can be applied to any problem – mechanical, electrical, and even medical. In this case, let us assume that the reported fault with the vehicle is overheating. As it's quite common in many workshop situations, this is all the information we have to start with. Go through the six-stage process.
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The three Cs, as concern, cause, and correction are sometimes described, is another reminder that following a process for automotive repairs and diagnostics is essential. It's in a way a simplified version of our six-stage process. So, while the concern, cause, correction sequence is quite simple, it's very effective as a means of communication as well as a diagnosis and repair process.
A. Customer Concern: Battery seems to be discharged and will sometimes not start the car. It seems to be worse when the headlights are used. This should set you thinking that the cause is probably a faulty battery, a charging system fault, a parasitic discharge or a starter motor problem (the symptoms would suggest a charging fault is most likely but keep an open mind).
B. Cause: Alternator not producing correct voltage. An auto electrician may be able to repair the alternator but for warranty reasons a new or reconditioned one is often best (particularly at this mileage).
C. Correction: Reconditioned alternator and new drive belt fitted and checked – charging now OK at 14 V. By using this process, the problem was almost diagnosed before doing any tests. Also, remember that following this process will make you confident that you've carried out the correct repair the first time.
The phrase Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is used to describe a range of problem solving methods aimed at identifying the root causes of problems or events. It helps to reinforce the importance of keeping an open mind when diagnosing faults, and stresses the need to work in a logical and structured way. The root cause of a problem is not always obvious. Here is an example:
Let us assume the symptom was that one rear light on a car didn't work. Using the six-stage process, a connector block was replaced as it had an open circuit fault. The light now works ok but what was missed was that a small leak from the rear screen washer pipe dripped on the connector when the washer was operated. This was the root cause. The practice of RCA is based on the belief that problems are best solved by attempting to address, correct or eliminate the root causes, as opposed to just addressing the faults causing observable symptoms. By dealing with root causes, it is more likely that problems will not reoccur. RCA is best considered to be an iterative process because complete prevention of recurrence by one corrective action is not always realistic.
The following list is a simplified representation of a failure-based RCA process. Note that the key steps are numbers 3 and 4. This is because they direct the corrective action at the true root cause of the problem.
RCA is usually used as a reactive method of identifying causes, revealing problems and solving them and it's done after an event has occurred. However, RCA can be a useful proactive technique because, in some situations, it can be used to forecast or predict probable events.
RCA is not a single defined methodology. There are a number of different ways of doing the analysis. However, several very broadly defined methods can be identified:
A: The brake/stop lights are reported as not operating. On checking it is confirmed that neither of the two bulbs or the row of high-mounted LEDs are operating as the pedal is pressed. All other systems work correctly.
B: An engine fitted with full management system tends to stall when running slowly. It runs well under all other conditions and the reported symptom is found to be intermittent.
C: The off side dip beam headlight not operating. This is confirmed on examination and also noted that the off side tail lights do not work.
Sometimes, it helps to just push ahead and take a leap of faith! Learn more about our OBD2 scanners and how it can help diagnose the hidden issues with your vehicle.Get Started
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