Believe it or not, an auto repair diagnostic sheet can be one of the most important tools your auto mechanic has in his toolbox. Why? Well, a good auto repair diagnostic sheet is designed to provide information that can be used by your auto technician to quickly gather relevant information from industry internet data bases. Checking these databases is important because it can save your mechanic a lot of time, resulting in a speedier, less costly diagnosis. Additionally, the information can serve as a supplement to the computer diagnostic info.
At our auto repair facility, we use six different diagnostic sheets. That’s because the technician will need different types of information depending on the nature of the problem. Having fewer questions to answer makes it a lot easier to get to the most important information quickly.
If you are unsure as to which category your problem fits into, just take a look at the questions on the sheet, and see if they ask about the type of problem you are experiencing. All of the sheets separate the questions into two categories: 1)This is the problem and 2) It occurs as follows. This way you end up providing information to help explain not only the type of problem, but under what conditions it is occurring.
The six diagnostic sheets we use are:
- Noise, Vibration and Harshness – This is an easy category for customers to identify, because most of us know when a car is shaking or making some type of noise that’s out of the ordinary. Rather than just telling your auto mechanic that the car is making a noise, the form helps to further specify the type of noise, (e.g. rattling or squeaking) and when you hear it. For example, you may only hear the noise when the car is going at a certain speed or when the air conditioner is on.
- Heating and Air Conditioning System – Again, although it may be easy to identify when you are having a problem with the heat or the air conditioning, you may be less likely to pay attention to some of the details of the problem. This diagnostic forms helps guide you through the problem by asking questions about airflow, area of the car where the problem is occurring, whether or not you are getting any cooling effect and other similar items that will help your auto mechanic get to the root of the problem.
- Drivability – This is the form to choose when you are having concerns about whether the engine is idling high or low, stalling, hesitating, or skipping.
- Electrical – This diagnostic sheet includes things you may not expect like whether or not the car has recently been in an accident, or whether you had a battery, fuses or accessories replaced. This type of information can help a technician get to the cause of an electrical problem.
- Cooling and Overheating – This sheet helps diagnose problems related to engine performance versus the heating or cooling of the passenger compartment. Here you will want to take note of things like whether or not the check engine light comes on, what speeds or outside temperature the problem occurs at, whether there is steam coming from under the hood, whether the AC or heater were off – things like that.
- Automatic Transmission – Lastly, this diagnostic sheet is geared at understanding what types of problems you are experiencing when upshifting or downshifting. It asks you to provide information like mileage when the problem occurred, frequency of the problem, and driving conditions when the problem occurred.
In addition to providing your auto repair shop with a diagnostic form, it’s important not to jump to conclusions about what’s causing the problem. You’ll want to avoid giving the shop a list of potential problems you found on the internet or a list provided from a friend. It’s true that your actual problem might be on that list – but which one? This places the auto shop in the awkward position of having to address everything on your list in order to avoid you saying “I told you so.” This can lead to the shop spending more time on diagnosis — exactly the opposite of what you were aiming for by completing a diagnostic sheet. That’s why it’s best to use diagnostic forms to clearly communicate the observed problem and to build a working partnership with your auto service provider.