Many of the technicians I come across are afraid of failures. So they try to stay clear of problematic vehicles. “I am not trained on this ” “I have never worked on this model”… these are all excuses. The reality is that they don’t want to fail. Failure will come only if one tries. So better not to try. Pass on the problem to the next level.

There are some others, very few in numbers, if you ask them “Space Shuttle Discovery  is down with a problem, can you try to fix it?”, will respond “can I have the manuals?”. Not that they all are extremely good engineers or technicians. It is that they are not afraid of failures and won’t give up easily.

This week I had with me one such technician working on a new model at a branch 250 km away.

MIL [malfunction indication lamp] stays on.

It was quarter past nine in when I reached there.

The technician was hundred percent on the mark. He had done everything that has to be done.

No diagnostic trouble codes related to engine or transmission control systems. Some network communication related trouble codes that appeared, stayed for a while, and then disappeared. No problem at all in the wiring, including the CAN [controller area network] wiring.

The CAN network in this vehicle consisted of twelve control modules and all of them were active in the network and were performing 100%.

Sometimes it will be BCM [Body Control Module] not communicating , then ECM [Engine Control Module] not communicating , then DSC [Dynamic Stability Control] module, and so on.

Prolonged road tests could not provide any hints. There was a CAN problem. But where? In one of the modules? Or, in the wiring?

It was almost five in the evening.

I decided to check the CAN lines once more. It was the third time we were checking it. I had been in similar situations before. Most of the technicians I know would start showing signs of displeasure at this stage. “checked twice already”, “why again”, “just now I checked that”, “tomorrow”… But not this guy. He took the manual and multimeter and joined me as if we were doing it for the first time. 12 modules and 18 connectors…

It was 6.25 pm when we finished checking. Everything was fine.

But the trouble codes kept on coming and the MIL stayed ON.

I was about to ask him to pack up when he suggested one more road test with the scan tool hooked.

He drove the car while I continuosly monitored the trouble codes. Half an hour into the road test we had some luck. We could view one trouble code that was different from all other codes we were getting earlier. “CAN hardware error” in DSC control module. It was different from the “no communication” codes we were getting till then.

Though like the other codes, this also disappeared immediately without leaving any trace, we felt this could be the root cause as it was the first code, we could view, indicating a fault in a module hardware.

And it was!

I have no illusions that this is an exemplary example of  diagnosis where a technician demonstrated his knowledge and skills.

At the end of the day it was just his attitude… it was just perseverence that paid off.

Problems are like this. If you stay out, assessing the complexities, you never solve them. Instead, if you enter them you will find roads to solutions opening up.