Diagnostic Strategies For Intermittent Engine Problems

Some of the worst engine problems are those that only appear intermittently. You notice a problem, but it disappears before you even take your car to the mechanics. The following tips should help you diagnose such problems.

Establish a Pattern

The best thing you can do for the diagnosis is to establish a pattern for the problems. How long does it take before the problem reoccurs? What is the weather like when the problem occurs? Which time of the day does the problem mostly occur? These are some of the questions whose answers will help you establish a pattern. Maybe the windows rattle, the lights flicker, or the brakes squeal when the engine problem starts. An experienced auto mechanic can then use the patterns to diagnose the problem.

Consult Technical Service Bulletins

Another tip is to consult technical service bulletins (TSB), which contain recommended procedures for dealing with specific problems. Auto manufacturers release TSBs when they receive too many complaints of the same problem or when an unexpected problem arises in several of their vehicles. TBS is different from a recall since a recall involves a safety issue that requires an immediate solution by the manufacturer. The TSB only involve issues that don't deal with your car's safety.

Use a Scanning Diagnostic Tool

Contemporary cars contain multiple electrical and electronics parts. The main one is the onboard computer that controls most functions of the car. There are diagnostic tools that you can use to diagnose problems with almost any part of the car that is electronically controlled. The tools scan the car for problems that it outputs as error codes that you can interpret with accompanying charts.

Check Battery Voltage

As mentioned above, most functions of the car are electronically controlled, and most of the functions are controlled from the mainboard computer. The power that runs these electronic controls comes from the battery. Therefore, the mainboard computer and associated parts can easily act up if they are not getting adequate power. Therefore, you should check your car's battery to confirm that it is charging and outputting adequate power.

Install a Flight Recorder

Another strategy is to install an event data recorder. Such a device, which you can compare to the flight recorders used in aircraft, will log all events that occur, including events around the engine malfunction. That way, your auto mechanic can get the patterns and commonalities of the intermittent engine problems.

Do your best to describe such problems as thoroughly as possible. Your mechanic may also come up with other tips for diagnosing such problems.

For more information, contact a local automotive repair service.