Diagnosing intermittent faults is a straightforward process – unless it has been to other garages.
Everything then needs double checking and when you look at the paperwork the customer has kept you start to wonder why the other garages renewed the components they did.
At Worcester’s Mobile Mechanic we get authorised per hour and usually we can tell the customer after an hour how much time we need to diagnose the fault.
In this instance, in 20 months the vehicle had an awful amount of money on components - a new turbo, exhaust, chains (twice), a service and various sensors.
The problem was the engine management light came on sporadically and the customer then took the car to various garages, who did some work, turned the light off and let the customer drove away.
Eventually the car reached the end of the road at Worcester’s Mobile Mechanic. The engine light was on indicating an emission related fault. The diagnostic code pointed to the chain / oxygen sensor or other components.
As we subscribe to a professional technical helpline - and do not mind getting other people’s opinions – we called them and explained what we had checked. They tentatively suggested that maybe the chain had “jumped”. We said we would speak to the customer and get more historical information.
Speaking to the customer, we found out this problem was historic and that everything had been renewed over the preceding 20 months. We asked to keep the car overnight to check how it started especially as the exhaust was the incorrect colour i.e. very black and “oily”.
At the same time as starting the car we had the diagnostic tool “hooked” up to read the live data and discovered that an injector did not work when the engine first started.
This threw up more discussion with the customer. The car in the morning was a little smoky and when we revved the engine clouds of blue smoke were emitted. The documents showed that 18 months previously when the turbo was fitted the repair garage wrote on the invoice “smoke under acceleration”.
We believe at this point the car probably did not need a turbo. I also think that two months previously to this, it did not need a new chain. Our opinion is that 20 months ago the car had the same fault as when we got involved. I think the piston rings on one cylinder were suspect and at this stage a replacement engine would have saved the car.
The customer confirmed that she always had to top the engine up with oil, and yet there was no leak. In our opinion, the problem was misdiagnosed 20 months ago and got progressively worse. By the time it came to us, it was two years older, beyond economical repair and dangerous to drive.
Even though the customer did everything correctly and reacted when the light illuminated, our industry missed the fault and the car ended up being sold for spares or repair.
Remember a poorly maintained vehicle is a breakdown waiting to happen, come to the experts at Worcester’s Mobile Mechanic.