Testing & Evaluation
It’s our goal to provide the right solution the first time and propose a thorough plan for a lasting solution.
When you have a problem or concern with your vehicle, you should be able to rely on us for an accurate answer the first time. Rather than hearing “this will probably fix it” or “that’s what usually goes wrong,” you should hear “Here’s what we found that’s wrong, and here’s what will fix it.”
That accurate answer should be accompanied by a reliable estimate – a budget which we will not exceed, even by a penny. There should be no question of risking your money with guesses or issues that will bring you back to have the same problem re-addressed.
In some cases the accurate answer will be “here is a good next step that makes your vehicle better,” or “here is a confirmed problem with your vehicle that readily explains the symptoms. Let’s start there and only go farther if necessary.” For example, if your vehicle is misfiring and you are overdue for spark plugs, replacing the plugs on a maintenance basis is a legitimate service and good first step. If the misfire is still present, then we can look into it further.
How long does it take?
Most of the time we are able to find the problem on the day your vehicle is signed in. Occasionally, if it’s an intermittent or complex issue, it will take longer (the amount of time varies case to case), but regular communication and approval for all testing is important to us for every client.
What is the difference between “diagnostic” and “testing and evaluation”?
Testing and evaluation refers to a process in which tests are done to find which components are working properly or improperly, then evaluating the results in pursuit of a reliable and appropriate solution.
The term “diagnostic” tends to be applied to a quick code scan. There can be a misperception that we can just hook up a computer and have it tell us what’s wrong. Code scans are a useful step in the diagnostic or evaluation process, but they only give us a general idea of what’s wrong.
For example, a P0171 trouble code tells us that the engine might be running lean. This leaves the question of why? A bad airflow sensor, oxygen sensor, intake gasket, exhaust rupture “messing” with the oxygen sensor, degraded fuel, or fuel pump trouble are all possible sources, and there are still more!
Testing and evaluation can tell you exactly what’s wrong. On the other hand, pulling codes and guessing, or even a more informed guess (with the help of reported repairs) can help sift the above possibilities into more and less likely options.
This then offers the choice: do you go with an informed guess, or do you rely on a skilled technician to consider those possibilities and get to the root of the issue? It’s one thing to risk $100 on an easily replaced common failure item. A $1,000 repair is another story of its own.
What tools, techniques, and resources do you use?
We believe in being results-focused with an ethical foundation. We’ll use anything that gets the job done provided that the results are reliable, the method is safe, and that we get to the root cause. Tools used can be as simple as a hammer to “tap at just the right place” and as sophisticated as a Picoscope that can graph electrical data with incredible detail.
We don’t test just for the sake of testing or start with the most expensive or time-consuming equipment. We simply seek to deliver reliable results: the right answer, the first time, every time.
Good tools and equipment are essential, but they are not a substitute for knowledge, information, and continuing education.
We value access to multiple systems, both informational and functional:
- Identifix (This one includes a lot of manufacturer-supplied information).
- iATN (International Automotive Technician’s Network)
- Diagnostic Network (diag.net)
- Honda HDS (module programming and scanning access)
- Toyota Techstream (module programming and scanning access)
- GM GDS (Global Diagnostic System, module programming and scanning access)
Our goal is always to get you a confirmed answer to your vehicle’s problem with a reliable repair budget.
What does testing and evaluation cost?
Time based costs or testing and evaluation vary depending on the nature of the symptom(s) being investigated. Some problems can be evaluated within 15-30 minutes, many take an hour or two, some could take several hours. For longer evaluation procedures, it is common to see overlap with the required repair work. (Overlap refers to labor that is applicable to more than one procedure; this can save you money!)
We have no interest in billing excessively for testing. While a sure conclusion may cost more than an informed guess, we want you to be able to be confident that you won’t need to return with the same problem. This commitment to reliable results also helps us be a resource to you. No matter what problem, there IS a path to finding the problem, and we have experience in seeing things through to the end.
With a combination of time needed for testing & evaluation, reliable results from that evaluation, and quality parts and labor, we want to offer you the best value possible. We care about you and believe that it’s cheaper to spend a little bit more once than to spend a little bit less twice over.
To us, value is represented by cost over time and the results you receive for that cost.
We aren’t to be the most expensive shop in town, but we’re not the cheapest either because we want to be the most accurate shop in town. Paying for a confident repair now can save you more in parts and labor costs for a “guess” repair that may not be the right repair in the long run.