What Does “Diagnostic” Mean?

We have found most of our customers don’t really understand what is involved in diagnosing a problem with a car. One of the questions we hear a lot is, “Can’t you just hook the computer up and it tells you what’s wrong?” The answer to that is, “Not exactly.” Diagnosing car problems is not entirely unlike what a doctor goes through diagnosing a health problem. There are steps we need to take in order to get it right.

Diagnostic computers are the number one misunderstood tool by people not familiar with using them in detail. A diagnostic computer does not tell us what is wrong with the car. Instead, the diagnostic computer gives us a voice to tell us about the problem and help us learn what the cause is.

When your check engine light comes on, we get one or more diagnostic codes. These are 5 digit codes that basically describe a symptom or problem the car is having. These are a starting point, much like telling a doctor “My knee hurts.” The car equivalent may be “Misfire Cylinder 3.” We know what the car is experiencing, but not what the cause is.

The next thing the computer tells us is what we call “freeze frame data.” This is a snapshot of all the sensor and everything that was going on at the time the code was set. Back to our knee example, this answers the question, “What were you doing when the pain started?” Our experienced technicians can use this data to help figure out what may have happened to cause the problem.

Our high-end computer equipment will allow us to have tools sort of like an EKG, CAT-Scan, and other tools that doctors have. We can monitor live data from every sensor on the car and watch for anything out of the ordinary. We can also test individual components and run various tests by making a change and watching the computer data to see the result. All of these can help us narrow down the source of the problem.

Sometimes, the computer tools can get us right to the exact problem. Sometimes, we need a little more hands-on when the computer can’t give us enough information. Like a doctor, we can do a visual inspection to look for anything abnormal or obvious damage. We may have to take things apart and inspect and test individual components like a doctor would do during exploratory surgery. Just like a doctor may not have to send every cough to get an MRI, we don’t necessarily need to spend 15 hours of in-depth diagnostic time to get to the bottom of the issue. Most of the time, we can get enough information to find the problem with just a few steps.

As you can imagine, sometimes we need to spend a significant amount of time with your vehicle. We may need to subject it to various different conditions, such as driving cold, driving hot, highway and in-town driving, etc. in order to gather the information we need. You can help us by giving as many details as you can about what you are experiencing, when and how it happened, and what we can do to duplicate the issue. This will help us make sure we are testing just what we need to.

How to Avoid Buying Flood Cars

Our country just got hit by two devastating hurricanes, one in Texas and then in Florida.  Estimates put the number of damaged and totaled cars near a million.  A significant number of those cars will be sold with no documentation of the damage.  In northern states like here in Ohio, used cars often have rust, damage from heavy rains, and other things that make a flood vehicle blend in.  Here are some tips to avoid getting scammed into buying a flood vehicle. Continue reading “How to Avoid Buying Flood Cars”

What am I actually paying for?

When you come into our shop, we give you an itemized invoice when you pay for your repair. It lists labor rate and labor hours, parts, and maybe a few other things you may not be sure what exactly they are. We try to make our invoices easy to read, unlike doctor bills, but still, some things may need a bit of explaining, or you might want to know what all goes into our “labor rate” or what a “sublet” is. Let us help you out with reading and understanding your invoice, and what you actually get. Continue reading “What am I actually paying for?”

The Answers to the 10 Things Mechanics Don’t Want You to Know

I had a different article written for this week, but then I came across an article called “10 Things Mechanics Don’t Want You to Know.” This article was clickbait garbage, and tried to say that sleazeball scammers were the norm in auto repair shops. While shady repair shops do exist, the vast majority of shops are honest and have good intentions. The crooks are usually pretty easy to spot and avoid. To prove them wrong, here are the answers to their 10 things that “We Don’t Want You to Know.” Continue reading “The Answers to the 10 Things Mechanics Don’t Want You to Know”

While We’re In There

You may have heard it from us or another shop when you’ve had your car in for repair. You have the car in for a transmission repair, and we recommend another service “while we’re in there.” That isn’t our way of selling more work. In fact, we do it to SAVE you money, and possibly save a life. I know, additional work sounds like it couldn’t possibly save money, but let us explain why it does. Continue reading “While We’re In There”

Why We Can’t Use Your Parts

We, along with the vast majority of auto repair facilities, do not allow customers to bring in their own parts. Some customers want to bring in their own parts for one of a couple reasons. The first is the thought that it will save them money; and the second is that they bought the parts to make the repair themselves, and for some reason decided not to do it on their own. Unfortunately, we cannot install these parts, and here’s why: Continue reading “Why We Can’t Use Your Parts”

10 Things We Wish ALL Customers Did

You don’t need to know the water pump from the ignition coil in order to help us out.  Here are a few things we wish every customer did.

car garbage thumbClean out your car.

We could write a book about things we have seen, smelled, and found in customers’ vehicles. Anyone who has worked in the auto industry for more than a day can tell you a few stories. Continue reading “10 Things We Wish ALL Customers Did”

Fall Car Care Month

When you think of autumn, I’m sure the things that come to mind are colorful leaves, sweaters, crisp, cool mornings, football, Halloween, Thanksgiving, pumpkins, and hay-rides. You are leaving out a big one, though. Car Maintenance. Yes, just like sweaters and pumpkin pie, car maintenance is an important part of autumn.  In fact, October is Fall Car Care month. Continue reading “Fall Car Care Month”

Lamping Family Awarded

Cincinnati Transmission Specialists, Inc. President, Rick Lamping, and his family were recently honored by being placed on the Wall of Fame at the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities. This organization serves a vital role in our community, servicing community members with developmental disabilities and their families with everything from daily care to finding jobs for developmentally disabled individuals and helping to build the skills to become self sufficient. Because of the scope of work the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities does, they rely extensively on the generosity of volunteers, and they are very appreciative of them. Continue reading “Lamping Family Awarded”

Your Transmission Repair Options

Transmission repair is one of the biggest fears many motorists have. They fear cost, vehicle down time, and worry about finding a shop they can trust to fix it. Many full-service repair shops do not have the expertise to accurately diagnose and repair transmission problems, and dealers will simply replace the transmission with a high-cost OEM unit at staggering prices. This is where we come in. Here at Cincinnati Transmission Specialists, Inc., we have the expertise to take the fear out of transmissions, and several options to minimize cost and get you back on the road quickly. In addition, our warranty far exceeds any other shop in the area, so you know you are getting a quality repair that you can count on. Continue reading “Your Transmission Repair Options”