Once again, we are providing a review of recent articles related to diagnosing and repairing problem electrical systems. This is a topic that seemingly never gets old, as ongoing changes to system design keep shops and technicians in an ever-learning race to keep up. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to keep the aftermarket up to speed. So, let’s get right to it.
A Holistic Approach Helps Avoid Throwing Parts at the Problem
Gary Goms is a resource we have referenced many times on the topic of electrical system troubleshooting. In this in-depth article, Gary uses the example of replacing the alternator on the same vehicle multiple times until the jobber refuses to honor warranty any longer. From there, he breaks down all components of the charging system to provide a step-by-step checklist for diagnostic success, with an emphasis on system issues that can overly tax the alternator, causing premature failure. Click on the preview below to read the entire article.
Soft Reboot – A Useful Tactic for Diagnosing Module Problems
In this detailed article, Craig Trulia points out the utility of a soft reboot on problem modules, offering alternatives to accomplish the task as well as a few case studies where this tactic was the remedy to intermittent module failure. One example he uses was on a 2005 Toyota Matrix with a P0171B DTC. He outlines how he ruled out a number of possible sources of the problem and then diagnosed a poor connection and performed a soft reboot to resolve the issue and confirm his success. Click on the preview below to read the entire article:
The Trouble with Smart Keys
In this article, which is part diagnostic overview and part TSB reference to specific OE smart key issues, Mike Mavrigan details the various potential issues stemming from smart key failures, incompatibilities and user errors. One example he cites is the Chrysler FOBIK (fob integrated key), identifying the various functions performed by this component and outlining the steps the vehicle takes to perform those functions. As he points out, while these systems enhance user convenience, they also add complication to diagnostic efforts when addressing electrical system issues. Click on the preview below to read the entire article.
We thought we’d wrap up with several recent TSBs related to the above diagnostic areas. There seems to be an endless stream of TSBs addressing various electronic issues within OE starting and charging systems, including smart keys and remote starting systems.
As noted above, smart keys can be the source of numerous problems. This TSB addresses a B2190 DTC on Nissan vehicles equipped with a Key-Slot for an Intelligent Key. It identifies the causes for this error and outlines the procedure to resolve the issue. Click on the preview below to view the entire article.
Another smart starting system issue, this time not related to a smart key. This TSB addresses a Honda B12D1 (power control unit IG1B circuit error) DTC that results in an intermittent smart start warning light illuminating. The TSB identifies a faulty under-dash relay box and identifies the steps needed to replace the faulty component. Click on the preview below to view the entire article.
Finally, a good old jump starting error, but one stemming from charging system issues on certain late model Hondas. This TSB addresses the potential for a charging system setting error resulting in an undercharged battery, causing repeated jump starts to be needed. But, what we love the most is the following line: “Aside from the obvious concerns regarding battery age, vehicle storage period, faulty alternator, sulfated battery, parasitic draw or loose battery cables, a probable cause is the PCM not selecting the correct charge mode.” Click on the preview below to view the entire article.
We couldn’t really say it any better than how it was stated in the above TSB and it really bears repeating: “Aside from the obvious concerns regarding battery age, vehicle storage period, faulty alternator, sulfated battery, parasitic draw or loose battery cables, a probable cause is …” This is what you’re up against, and you can add to that list the remote key, the keyless entry system as a whole, the need to occasionally perform a soft reboot on a specific module and more. Diagnosing electrical system issues is difficult business. The common theme throughout all of the knowledge articles we have read on the topic is to have a plan, arm yourself with the relevant schematics and work your plan consistently to tackle these diagnostic challenges in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Good luck.