Previously we talked about what a diagnostic is and what it is not. Remember that diagnose is a verb, meaning that it is an action. Therefore a diagnostic means a set of procedures needed to come to a conclusion resulting in the remedy of a certain symptom. Huh? It is the WAY we find out what it is that you are complaining about.
For any given problem there is a set of things you look at begining at the most simple and in-expensive, to the more complex and time consuming. Time is money! So if you have a mechanic who begins at the begining, you are more likely to have a good basis for a proper diagnosis. What is the proper begining to a good diagnosis? Is it a super computer, know it all, scope? Is it a tool you do not have that enables just about anyone to do what you need done? Is it a trick that only an expert on your vehicle would know? Is it the experience of a seasoned mechanic who will know what is wrong by just a listen? No. It is you!!! Yes YOU!!!
Many people think that they are so ignorant that their input is un-important at best. I tell you that the customer has the best information to start on a diagnosis. The job of the mechanic is to interpret what you describe as the problem and proceed with an orderly and structured diagnostic procedure. When you describe a symptom and pay attention to details, you are contributing to a good auto repair diagnosis.
The sounds and characteristics of your vehicle are more familiar to you, the customer, than to the service writer or mechanic. Descriptions of noises and experiences you have as the driver of the vehicle are what good communication is about. You have to assert yourself to help the repair facility to avoid side-tracking and mis-diagnosis. You have to be a good customer! A good customer?! I pay my bill. Isn't that enough. Most of the time it is enough, but you are my student and I want you to have success all of the time. We will explore the good customer latter on.
After you have described, in detail, the problem with your vehicle, make sure your desciptions are on the work order. Ask what the first thoughts are of the person taking your order. If this person has no experience with automobiles you may want to talk to a mechanic and go over the symptoms with him or her. Make sure that before you leave you have communicated, as accurately as you can, what you expect to have fixed. Take your written estimate and look at it. Double check that your requests are clear and are those concerns that you wish to have repaired.
Good diagnositic work requires orderly procedures and a step by step attitude. Patience is demanded by the mechanic and sometimes by you the customer. This becomes very important when confronting an intermittant problem. To fix a vehicle it has to be broken. To solve a problem you have to experience it.JM