Explaining Intermittent Problem Diagnosis
Repairing Intermittent Problems
When a vehicle has a problem that occurs
unpredictably it is called an intermittent problem. An intermittent
problem may not occur while operating the system or even during a test
drive. This presents a diagnostic problem of a very difficult nature.
Fortunately, you have chosen a repair shop
equipped with the latest repair information, technical service bulletins,
and recall information. If your vehicle has a system or component with
an inherent safety, emissions, or reliability problem and there is a
factory fix available for it, we will be able to make you aware of it
and repair the problem for you.
Regardless of the type of problem or the
system at fault, certain aspects of diagnosis remain the same. You see,
in order to accurately diagnose the cause of any problem the technician
needs the problem to (predictably) occur twice. This is because a first
observation provides the technician with some insight needed to plan
a focused testing strategy. A focused testing strategy saves diagnostic
time and dollars. The problem must occur a second time, while the technician
has his test equipment hooked-up monitoring the system or components
that may be involved. Although the technician is prepared to attempt
to recreate whatever operating conditions are necessary to make the
problem occur, if the problem does not surface, a focused strategy cannot
This means testing all systems with the ability
to cause the symptom until a defect is found. This all-inclusive systematic
method takes more time and dollars, and there is no guarantee that the
correction of a defect discovered this way will resolve the problem.
This is because there is no proof a defect
discovered during this systematic testing is the real cause of the problem.
Another strategy to fix an intermittent problem is to perform a repair
based on an educated guess of what is causing the problem. This can
be risky because, in most cases, the part cannot be returned and the
labor for the installation is non-refundable. However, when the symptom
can not be observed or testing does not disclose the defect, it can
be the only choice left.
Diagnosing intermittent problems can be very
time consuming and requires your patience and cooperation for us to
be successful fixing the problem. It may require more diagnostic time
then originally estimated to recreate or find the cause of the symptom.
It may be necessary to leave the vehicle for several days, or return
several times, so we may observe the symptom or judge the results of
diagnosis and/or repair to insure the problem is corrected.
The service writer will give you an initial
estimate for diagnosis. This estimate is an educated guess of how long
it may take to discover the cause of your problem. This initial estimate
does not guarantee a discovery of the cause of the symptom or include
the cost of repair. The repair cannot be estimated until after the diagnosis
is completed. During the course of the diagnosis we will keep you informed
of our progress. If additional diagnostic time is required to discover
the cause of the problem, we will ask for your authorization of the
cost before proceeding. After diagnosis we will ask for your authorization
of the repair cost before proceeding.
Now that you are aware of some things that can come up
when trying to fix an intermittent problem, it is time to talk to the
service writer about the specifics of your situation.