Gonzo's Toolbox: 'Wanna Be' Technicians

Gonzo’s Toolbox: ‘Wanna Be’ Technicians

There's one situation every professional automotive technician has had to deal with from time to time, and it involves the home-grown garage guy who just so happens to own a couple of ratchets, a repair manual and a broken-down car. In a recent case, the car in question wouldn't start, and a neighborhood mechanic did his best to read and understand what was on the diagnostic pages of the manual, but he couldn't make any sense of the wiring diagram for the fuel pump circuit. His final verdict, "It's not getting any voltage to the fuel pump."

Technician training

There’s one situation every professional automotive technician has had to deal with from time to time, and it involves the home-grown garage guy who just so happens to own a couple of ratchets, a repair manual and a broken-down car.

Some of these connoisseurs of the all-knowing repair manual skim through sections without truly comprehending them. Many just assume they already know how a certain system works based on previously having some luck on another system. And, after they’ve turned a few screws, glanced at a few more pages, and found their problem isn’t solved, then, and only then, do they head to a real repair shop. Of course, their repair manual is always laying on the passenger seat with the important pages carefully marked for the shop tech to examine.

In a recent case, the car in question wouldn’t start, and a neighborhood mechanic did his best to read and understand what was on the diagnostic pages of the manual, but he couldn’t make any sense of the wiring diagram for the fuel pump circuit. His final verdict, “It’s not getting any voltage to the fuel pump.”

This was one of those cars where the fuel pump doesn’t turn on until after the first spin of the crankshaft. In a lot of systems, especially older ones, turning the key on would at least let the fuel pump relay run for a few seconds, but not on this car.

I checked the signal according to the manufacturer specifications and, sure enough, the voltage (and ground signal) was at the fuel pump. All it needed was a new pump.

Now, the other half of dealing with the weekend mechanic is explaining the diagnostic results at the service counter. As usual, there’s a bit of distrust and an attitude accompanied with his response.

So, while still trying to be a professional in my latest run-in, and at this point somewhat of a teacher too, I answered his remarks with my own sarcastic response, “This vehicle doesn’t turn on the fuel pump relay until it knows you’re going to start it. Meaning, until the engine spins and sends a cam/crank impulse to the PCM, the fuel pump relay isn’t energized.

“The fuel pump fuse is activated after the relay, and since the relay isn’t on, there won’t be any voltage at the fuel pump fuse. But, I’m sure you knew all of that, because you had the page marked for me in your repair manual. In fact, you had it highlighted, too.” The expression on his face was priceless.

I know he’ll be back in about a year or so. How do I know? Because he did the very same thing with the very same car last year, and it had the very same problem. Of course, just like last time, he’ll run down to the same cheap-o parts store and buy the same bargain-basement fuel pump that might last another year or so, if he’s lucky.

You May Also Like

Do You Want The Bad News Or Good?

There are many ways you can help play the long game, and TechForce has free resources to help inspire and promote the profession. 

Let’s start  with the bad news – get right into it, Band-Aid style.

There is likely to be a shortfall of more than 800,000 techs to serve the motoring public over the next five years.

Of course, that not really “news,” at least not of the breaking variety. We’ve been wrestling with numbers like these for decades – the information that fewer students are coming out of school trained to be or at least excited about being part of this industry has been on a lot of minds for a very long time.

Keep On Rockin’ Into The New Year

We are still accepting nominations at VehicleCareRockStars.com.

EV Charging

Charging will get better as technology improves and drivers change their behaviors.

Being Happy Gets In The Way of Being Successful

Bryce Kenny says his greatest satisfaction comes from helping others to find the courage to chase their dreams. 

Quality Triumphs!

New technologies have changed how we interact with our cars. Now, replacement parts quality matters more than ever.

Other Posts

Brake Problems

Reducing brake drag on late-model vehicles is not accomplished by a single component; it takes a system.

Live Axle Wheel Bearing Service

Replacing rear wheel bearings on a live axle rear suspension requires a few extra steps when compared to a unitized bearing.

Brake Boosters and Start/Stop Vehicles

For a vacuum brake booster to work, it needs a source of vacuum.

Transmission Valve Body Service

Four basic items are necessary to start your own reprogramming ventures.