There are few shortcuts when it comes to car repair, and if you ever find a major fix to be just too quick and simple, go on alert. Here’s Logan McCombs with tips on getting the job done right in this week’s “Your Drive.”
LOGAN MCCOMBS: One common car care mistake that car owners and sloppy technicians make is what I call the bandage fix. That means you treat the symptoms of a problem without looking further, finding the cause, and making a proper repair.
For instance, if you find yourself stranded with a dead battery, don’t just replace the battery and move on down the road. You should have the battery tested to make sure that it is indeed bad. You should also test your car’s alternator and charging system to see what caused the battery to discharge.
If your car’s air conditioning starts blowing lukewarm or hot air, simply adding more refrigerant isn’t the answer. It is very likely that the system had a leak and sooner or later you’ll be hot under the collar again, finding yourself repeating the same repair cycle.
For electrical problems, sensors, computer issues and such, a lot of people like to use a scan tool, get a trouble code, and replace whatever part the code refers to. Again, this may not solve the problem, and if it does, then you just got lucky.
The way a scan tool works is you plug it into the OBD, or your onboard diagnostics port. this is usually found under the dash of the car, in the driver’s footwell. Your OBD manual will specify the order, but typically you’ll start the car with the OBD and you’ll navigate the menus and find the scan option; the tool will scan the computer and—boom—you’ll have your code or codes, and all you have to do is reference the supplied book, and it’ll give you a starting point for where to start testing and find the actual solution.
Now, certain codes you may feel comfortable tackling yourself— like checking the mass airflow sensors. You never know— you may just need to confirm that the connection is clean and secure, or that the airbox is sealed.
But, no matter what the code is: know what you don’t know. There’s no shame in taking your ride to a reputable shop to get things sorted. They’ll be better equipped to troubleshoot your problem based on the code and provide the proper solution. Do it right, and you’ll have car on the road and out of the shop in no time.
And if you have any questions or comments, reach out to us right here at MotorWeek!