How Can You Test What You Can’t See?

Life as a business owner can often be as challenging as it is rewarding, in fact overcoming these challenges is half of the reward for many, especially when it comes to accurately diagnosing the undiagnosable.

Many businesses build a reputation on the local knowledge that they’re able to find faults that others can’t, this acts as a point of differentiation for your business, which is great. Developing this reputation in your locale can pays dividends, as customers become less price focused when they know why you’re different to your competition.

What a great place to be. Your customers love you because you’re effective in your diagnosis and you get paid well for doing this. What’s not to like about that? Not a lot!

Sounds Great But…..

If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Easy? Definitely not, but then anything worth achieving never is. Here’s the deal though…. It’s not difficult either, although it does take some deliberate thought on the part of the business owner. The kind of technical success that’s required for a reputation like this is within the grasp of all garage owners; it just takes the commitment to change and a willingness to plan for the change required.

The owner is clearly responsible for the health and continuing success of their business, but with so much demand on their time creating a technical team to differentiate your business from your competition is not always at the forefront of their mind.

The Best Time to Plant a Tree

Was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. As proverbs go that one hits the mark when it comes to developing anyone within your business. The question is, where to start?

Skills analysis is a good a place as any. What skills do your technical team currently possess? Do you have a team of technical superhero’s today and just need to turn on the marketing tap to increase your bottom line numbers? Or do you have a hero in the making and need to take a look at the training required before you buy them a cape? If you’ve a hero in the making then that’s great! There’s nothing more satisfying for a technician and the business owner when they embark together on a symbiotic journey of development. The technician will feel invested in and the owner will have a stronger team and be able to promote their newfound skills increasing efficiency and profit. A win win for everyone!

One Eye on The Horizon

So you’ve got your training plan in place and the technical skills of your team are moving in the right direction. Time to put your feet back up on the desk? Not quite. Continued success means that not only do you need to be able to efficiently repair what’s in your workshop today, but see what’s coming over the hill and ensure you have the skills and equipment for tomorrow’s car park.

I’m sure you’ve heard Diesel fuel being called into question as a long term option for powering our vehicles and that we’ll all be driving dodgems (or some other electric vehicle) as the future of motoring. But is there an alternative that has both a foot in today and an eye on tomorrow? Oh yes, I’d almost forgotten… It’s petrol. More specifically Gasoline Direct Injection.

The ‘New Old’ Technology

GDi has been with us for some time and in reasonable quantities since the early noughties. This means there are bucket loads of these vehicles in your workshops daily. Not only that but manufacturers are looking at the benefits of taking rail pressure in excess of 500 bar and how this may help in the emission reduction. What does this mean for you? Well. If your not sure how to effectively diagnose these vehicles then there’s not better time to learn. Plus it’s probably here for some time to come. With that in mind it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my technical article this month is a 2 Ltr GDi Audi A3.

No Time To Hesitate

The customer complaint on this vehicle was a rough idle and hesitant pick up on light throttle. Following my own mantra I started Johnny’s 15-step diagnostic process with a thorough questioning of the client whilst experiencing the issue with them. It was indeed ‘stumbly’ (believe it or not that is a technical term. Well it is in my world) and followed this with a look at fault codes and inspected serial data. There was nothing to write home about here, neither was there with the tests for mechanical integrity or ignition diagnosis. So where does that leave us? Just fuelling.

Under Pressure

With just fuelling left as the option for our hesitation low and high-pressure systems were evaluated and again no fault found, that just left injection quality or quantity.

GDi Injectors differ from manifold injectors not only in their position (GDi injecting straight into the cylinder) but also in their electrical characteristics. The high current driver (10 Amps, see image) enables fast multiple injections not dissimilar to that of solenoid diesel injectors. All injectors were inspected electrically and again no fault found. We were fast running out of test options for fuelling. What to do?

How Can You Test What You Can’t See?

It’s not like we’d not seen similar issues before and figured I’d try and identify a dribbly (there I go getting all technical again) injector prior to it’s removal from the cylinder. We ran the engine and stopped it, isolated the breather system and removed a spark plug, then tested for HC’s in each cylinder waiting for a drip and a rise in HC’s. What did we find? Nada, Zilch, Nothing! There was nothing for it the injectors would have to come out and be tested.

It just so happens were fortunate enough to have a Carbon Zapp test bench in the training centre. This gives us the capability to test GDi injectors at high pressure. It’s a cool piece of tech that runs the injector through an automated test plan, giving a pass/fail report on the injection characteristics. After testing each injector I was delighted to find one of these was defective and the fault found.

Continuous Development

So there we go another car fixed, and I’m sure this happens in your workshop on a daily basis. But here’s a question for you…

Do you have a program of technical development to help your team work efficiently? And can you differentiate your business from those around you? If it’s a yes to both then brilliant, you’re set for the future!