Diagnosing your vehicle

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With cars nowadays having computers to help manage and diagnose the engine, potential problems are supposed make life easier for the car owner and the mechanic’s. But there are times that doesn’t happen… I came across a thread concerning a 2000 plus model Pajero. The owner mentioned that his ride was running a bit sluggish. He had the engine de carbonized, cleaned the EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valve and had the ECU (engine control unit) scanned. According to the scan, a fault in the transmission was detected. So a rebuild was in order. But when it was mounted and tested, the symptoms were still there. Now, as of this writing, the problem has not been solved. The owner was asking for guidance to help solve his Pajero’s problem. Now, looking at the bigger picture… how could have the scanner or the one using the scanner have misdiagnosed the problem? Was the owner scammed about the rebuild of the transmission? It’s hard to say. When they opened up the transmission, there were signs of wear on the plates. Mileage of the sport utility vehicle was about 79,000 kilometers. I honestly find that still young but we do not know the full history of the vehicle or how it was used.

So, what went wrong? Usually, when a vehicle is brought in to a shop, the mechanic or service advisor should know all the details of the problem from the owner. If possible, a test drive is needed to see if the description of the owner about the problem is correct. If a scanner is to be used and a fault is uncovered, the service technician should conduct a series of tests to confirm if the particular fault code is correct. A fault code just tells you what might possibly be the problem. A well-seasoned technician should be able do this. And if he is familiar with that particular vehicle, he would know its common faults.

As a guide, you don’t condemn an automatic transmission just like that. You would have to make sure that your engine is in good working condition, unless it stops shifting or completely stops. If ever you do run into a problem with your car, make sure you get a second opinion. And ask around from other owners with same make and model if they have the same problem. It’s an added bonus if you are familiar with your car. It would be easier to diagnose a problem later on.

On another note, I installed a set of Denso TT Spark Plugs on my ride. The engine is on its last leg. Two cylinders are not working properly. I changed only four spark plugs. The engine is a 1G-FE. Before changing, I was using Petron Blaze to give the car a little extra push. After installing the new plugs, I am now using Petron XCS. It pulls a bit better. That’s a good sign. The cheaper XCS didn’t work well before. I would say that the TT spark plugs work. It’s been more than three weeks since I installed them and even in the morning warm up, it runs better. The others guys who are using it on their old Corollas say the same thing. Better start ups and smoother running engine. It’s interesting to note that the set I am using replaces at least six types of spark plugs. It’s kind of a one-size-fits-most. He, he, he…


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