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Proper diagnostic equipment

October 17th, 2013

Andy Marcer

Although the equipment does not make the technician, even a top-notch technician needs the right equipment to diagnose problems on the modern motorcycle and ATV. Let’s face it, many dealerships may have the factory-mandated diagnostic equipment, but their service staff skills may be lacking. On the other hand, you may like the idea of an independent shop who does not have to protect the manufacturer; but so few will commit to purchase and learn the equipment needed to properly diagnose and repair your machine.

At Metric Motorcycles and ATVs, we have top-of-the-line diagnostic equipment, a machine shop, and a development dyne. The dyno room even has its own dedicated air conditioning system to eliminate the chance of overheating your expensive motor without having to shut down in mid-run.

We rely on the TEXA diagnostic computer and system. Its software is up-to-date and interfaces with American, European, and Japanese machines. Here’s a real story to illustrate how we work a complex problem to resolution; and how even the factory diagnostic equipment won’t overcome poor technician skills.

A Ducati was brought in with issues of running rough, eats batteries, and lack of power. Our customer had brought this machine to dealers several times over a significant time span. Every time, he was charged for service, with either a promise of the problem found and fixed or with the explanation that the dealer found no problem.

However, we found 3 key unresolved problems. First, the temperature sensor fault which our TEXA picked up was being cleared by the dealers’ technicians when they viewed the temperature gage on the rider’s console as within the normal range. However, there is a second sensor in the rear cylinder which tells the fuel injection system to richen the fuel-air mixture for a cold start. This sensor was driving the fault code. The engine had been running rough because the mixture was being varied from lean to rich, depending on what signal the faulty sensor sent to the injection system.

Second, after replacing the rear cylinder sensor and during our normal post-repair testing on the development dyno, we found that the engine was now running very lean. This engine had been running so poorly for so long, that the intake manifold tubes had warped, thus allowing air in at the cylinder head. Having our own machine shop allowed us to machine the surfaces for a perfect fit, thus eliminating leaks. Now this engine was running as the Ducati factory intended. Sweet!!

The electrical issue (the third problem) was exposed by our diagnostic equipment while we had the machine on the dyno for the second post-repair run. By keeping the TEXA plugged into the Ducati during our dyno test runs, we found that although the voltage of the charging system was within the manufacturer’s stated tolerance when the engine was cool; after getting the engine up to full temperature, voltage began to waver well outside anyone’s tolerance for a 12-volt system.

Upon further investigation, we found defects in the alternator’s insulation which was revealed only after it was up to full running temperature. The dealers’ technicians had simply put a voltmeter to the motorcycle’s electrical charging system, read 13.5 volts, concluded that the battery or owner (infrequent use) was to blame and cleared the stored faults. A new alternator from the dealer came with a stunning price tag. After conferring with our customer, we sent the alternator to one of our reputable vendors for a rebuild at fraction of the cost.

For the first time in years, our customer has his wonderful Ducati running perfectly and his restored confidence allows him to take it on trips with the knowledge that it will get him home again.

Our independence puts our loyalty with our customer, not the manufacturer. Our investment in state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, machine shop, and dyno room; as well as the experience and knowledge to use them properly; gives you a shop which can find and repair any problem you bring to us.

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