Unlock your box, start YOUR scope Part 3
Unlock your box, start YOUR scope Part 3
Written by Aaron Marion

If you’ve made it this far with us, thanks.  Mechanic Alliance is excited to be bringing a brand new Lab Scope Class to everyone.  So, for the final part of the three part series, I simply wanted to discuss some quick things that your scope can do for you.  We’re not talking about the deep functions or using custom match channels or decoding CAN Bus.  Just day to day techniques that, once learned, will speed up your diagnosis, increase your value, and expose you to how useful your scope can be.  I’m sure I’ll miss a few but just to get everyone started:

  • Battery and Charging System Tests:  Doesn’t take any longer to set up your scope than it does to find the shops midtronics or VAT or whatever you guys are using.  The benefit of using a scope is more accurate results and a better visual representation of what’s happening.  
  • Relative Compression.  My go-to first test if I have any sort of valvetrain noise, misfires, rough running.  Gives you a quick mechanical snapshot of the engine.  No disassembly required. With two channels, you can see which cylinder is compromised.  
  • Communication Layer.  Ports 6 and 14 of a normal CAN Bus.  Ever had a scan tool not communicate and wonder if it’s your tool and not the car? Quick check of the communication layer and you’ll know where to move next.  Barely takes longer than plugging in your scan tool.  
  • Amp Ramp.  If it has a fuse and it uses current, you can watch it on your scope.  A fuse loop and an amp clamp, and just like that you can watch your circuit work in real time.  
  • Secondary Ignition.  This can be a deep subject, but if you need to know if a coil and plug are firing and you have a scope, you have the ability to get a lot more insight without taking anything apart that you do by pulling random plugs.  
  • DOCUMENTATION.  I said it loud for the people in the back.  Possibly I’ve just been lucky lately, when dealing with a fleet company, warranty company, or insurance company, and I attach pdf or .jpeg files of my testing, I seem to get approvals faster.  Whenever a third party of any sorts is approving or not approving repairs, they want to see something.  Do they know what they’re looking at? I doubt it.  Does it matter? Nope.  They see a relative compression waveform and a short explanation and your Ram Camshafts are approved.  They see a wild CAN BUS waveform, maybe in comparison to a known good, your 4 hours of diag work just got approved.  It shows them that you’re actually doing something.  The value of your time is increased and that is truly why Mechanic Alliance is here.  To help the world understand the true value of what we do.  
A lot of you great techs are doing this stuff every day and have likely forgotten about life before you knew these techniques. It becomes second nature. For a lot however, this is a totally new concept. Or they have heard, or watched but not really gotten in there. I want to encourage everyone who hasn’t developed their scope skills as far as they want that this is something truly valuable. That feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing, or you’re scared to look like a fool with your fancy tool, it’s normal.  People are going to question you.  You will get better, the value of what you’re doing will be obvious when you can explain it. It takes time, but honestly you’re never going to “feel” like a scope master. It’s a constant learning curve. Our entire industry is like this, tool use is no exception. The best place to start is right where you are, the best tool to use is the one between your ears, and the one you have access to.  If you need some training, get on board! Join the Movement! Mechanic Alliance wants to see you succeed and we have the training and resources to do so. Go take a look at the training resources that are available and you can see for yourself how the proper training can better your career.  


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