Taking parts swapping to task
Plain, Wash.—When a realistic view of the all-important underhood service is needed, going to a technician who has expansive knowledge provides insights that can be helpful to shop owners, service advisers, and techs alike.
Albin Moore, AAM, is a resource that Parts & People has used in the past because of his expertise as a shop owner, mobile service operator, trainer, and iATN activist.
He is an ASE-certified Master Automobile L1 Technician and holds a master certification for medium/heavy-duty trucks.
After a long aftermarket career, including operating a shop with wife Alice in Dryden, Wash., for 23 years, Moore now operates a three-bay Big Wrench shop in his “retirement” on the couple’s property outside of Plain; continues his mobile diagnostic service with a loaded van of tooling to collision repair shops, dealerships, fleets, and independent repair facilities throughout the greater Leavenworth and Wenatchee area; and devotes time developing new training programs that he instructs throughout the nation. He has been a trainer at such events as Hi-Tech Vision in Kansas City and ATE in Seattle.
With a plethora of diagnostic tools, the keen desire to understand vehicle systems and diagnostics, and the desire to teach others, Moore presented his first class at Wenatchee Valley College in 2002 (where he serves on the automotive technology advisory board) and also presented courses at NAIT, the predecessor to ATE, the same year.
Currently, Moore is developing a new class that involves fuel trim, what he refers to as the basis for any driveability diagnostic procedures. “I am also working on a class for NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness), as well as a new class on electrical system diagnostics.” He just presented a training class in Seattle, “Electrical Circuit Analysis Dot to Dot,” for ASA Northwest.
‘Parts swapping’still always an issue
“There is an ever-growing need for today’s technicians to be fluent in the art of locating and fixing problems, which is too often tried by the use of silver bullets,” he said. “The need for technicians to understand the theory of operation of vehicle systems and how to use service information gets more important every day.”
Moore works on numerous diesel pickups that have been at other facilities to repair driveability problems, many that had parts replaced without repairing the problem, he said.
What Moore sees as a failure of some shops in providing proper underhood service is “the lack of system knowledge and critical thinking that hampers today’s technicians. Business owners need to step up to the plate and provide the much needed training and tooling for the technicians who are working in their bays and producing the funds that make their businesses profitable.”
As a trainer who interfaces with hundreds of technicians, Moore said there is a sign that needs to be noted. “Since everything on a vehicle is either driven by electricity, or controlled by electricity, I feel the most basic need is the understanding of electrical current, resistance, and how the two play together. Without this knowledge and the critical thinking skills needed for this kind of work, any tools (multimeters, scopes, or scan tools) cannot be put to good use. The tooling is only as good as the technician using it.”
Tooling customized for shop needs
When asked what tooling is necessary for today’s repair shops, Moore said it depends on the direction of shop and the services they offer. “If a shop wants to be a one-stop repair facility that includes such services as brakes, driveability, emissions, etc., the tooling need is huge. If you are doing engine repair the special tools required can be endless. Trying to set up overhead camshafts without proper tooling can be both time and money wasters.”
Moore currently has six or seven OE scan tools along with four aftermarket scanners. “Each of them have their strengths and weaknesses, and I don’t use the same scope for everything. Since most interesting diagnostic jobs turn into case studies for training, it is important for me to have tools that will not only record data, but also make it easy to understand and save it in a format that is easy to understand. Having a great scan tool that will capture the data, display that data in easy-to-read graphs, and store it for future use is very necessary.”
While tooling is vital, Moore said that the No. 1 tool is an excellent information system. “Without good technical data, technicians can stumble around in the dark with no direction.”
In reviewing tooling, Moore said the “best bang for the buck” for aftermarket tools is a Snap-on scanner. “I say that because they have the best graphing and saving capabilities of any tool I have ever used, even better than most OE tooling. When it comes to service information in the bay, I use a laptop on my roll-around cart, but I also like to have wiring diagrams printed out and on a clipboard where I can make notes and draw pictures. Using an iPad is also a great way to get service information in the hands of the person dong the work. Having a tool that can access the repair order, service information, and other needed resources is a vital part of getting the job done quickly and correctly.”