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Diagnostic tools and top-tips

By autotech-nath on October 14, 2023

Renowned technical trainer, Andy Crook, unveils his top five tips for technicians, who are keen to enhance their first-time diagnostic success rate:

Andy Crook of GotBoost


“Have a logical fault-finding procedure in place and stick to it. Time is best spent diagnosing and identifying the faulty part rather than replacing components blindly.”


“Most technicians are too eager to get the bonnet up. Spend time with the customer, first. Ask open-ended questions, so they can elaborate and allow you to build a picture of the fault’s nature, such as ‘What?’, ‘When?’, ‘How?'”


“Take time to experience the fault for yourself. This may include even taking a test drive, or riding shotgun, to see if the fault can be replicated with you on board.


“Take a step back to study the system on which you are working. This may involve looking at the manufacturer’s layouts, wiring diagrams, or communication diagrams. This will allow you to view the entire situation, before you zoom in on potential causes.”


“While we do not insist you don a crumpled raincoat and drive an ancient Peugeot, adopt a mantra of the famous ’70s detective, who would state ‘One more thing’ just before he delivered his damning evidence. Even if you are certain that a part is to blame, ask yourself what ‘one more thing’ might be responsible if that part were replaced. You might be surprised.”

Built-in Repair guides…

The new Zeus+ from Snap-on Diagnostics is designed to avoid unnecessary steps being taken when faced with a fault. Fast-Track Intelligent Diagnostics includes SureTrack, which features commonly replaced parts and real fixes for specific vehicles and DTCs. Its Smart Data automatically configures the display to show vehicle data parameters relevant to the fault code and a Troubleshooter database includes vehicle- specific tips and tests.

The tool can be used to decipher intermittent faults, driveability issues, scope sensors, perform maintenance resets, relearns and more.

What tools suit your needs?

MD Dave Richards of Launch Tech UK says that workshop owners should look for diagnostic tools to suit their specific needs – by researching a tool’s software update frequency and cost, its technical and warranty support and ask whether a remote service offering is insured and accountable.

Its latest tool, the X-PROG3, is a vehicle programming tool providing anti-theft system coverage and engine and gearbox reprogramming, covering the Volkswagen Group, BMW and Mercedes-Benz immobilisers and more. It also supports engine ECU replacement or cloning, reading engine data from the key, for VW, Audi and Mercedes MQB platform ECUs and can also backup and restore programming data for Bosch and Siemens ECUs.

Affordable, online learning…

Last month, Maverick Diagnostics unveiled its online training platform to help technicians keep up to date with intricate vehicle systems.

The Automotive Training Academy includes 32 in-depth topics, covering mechanics, electricity and electronics, engine management, air conditioning, diagnostics, hybrid and electric technology.

The portal allows learners to progress at their own pace and revisit topics when needed and is regularly updated to include the latest trends and techniques. A 12-month subscription costs £199, providing unlimited access to all modules.

Visit the Maverick Diagnostics Automotive Training Academy website to learn more:

Reduce repair times with remote diagnostics…

TopDon’s range of diagnostic tools provide varying levels of functions, ranging from the Phoenix Lite 2 entry tool – useful when servicing to free up the main diagnostic tool – the Phoenix Elite, which includes ADAS capabilities and enables online coding and programming for six manufacturers, up to the top of the range Phoenix Smart and Phoenix Max – its two most popular tools.

Its latest tool, Phoenix Remote, is a new take on all-make vehicle diagnostic tools and has a vehicle database of over 200 vehicle brands for local diagnostics
and offers a Remote diagnostics Pay-by-session platform – allowing workshops to reduce vehicle key-to-key repair times and the amount of work that is subcontracted to local specialists or dealerships.

A useful comparison tool highlights the capabilities of its diagnostic tools:

Support the battery when troubleshooting…

The risk of losing data when replacing a battery is well known but Ecobat Battery reminds us that
it is also necessary to use battery support when carrying out prolonged diagnostics and lengthy software updates. Maintaining the correct voltage helps you find the underlying fault – the engine is switched off, but power is still drawn from the battery. The vehicle control units and other electrics can discharge the battery to such an extent that the on-board system voltage falls below the permissible limit, and a corresponding entry is made in the fault memory, and data can be lost (steering angle sensor, end positions of the electric window lifters etc).

Reduce the possibility of battery failure by following best practice and preserve your reputation!



About Autotechnician
Autotechnician is a magazine published nine times a year, delivering essential information to independent garage owners and technicians in the UK. Delivered both digitally and in print, autotechnician provides readers with technical, training, business advice, product and news, allowing our readers to keep up to date with information they need to run and work within a modern workshop.
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