Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

What is a Short?

What is a short?

This term is used almost universally when describing an electrical problem; and nine out of ten times it is used incorrectly. Before we discover exactly what a short is, let’s take a look at how electrical circuits work using a simple lighting circuit as an example.

In your car, power flows out of the battery’s negative terminal, through a wire to the light bulb, out another wire to the switch, and via another wire, completes the circuit to the battery’s positive terminal. As you can see, the circuit has a certain ‘length’ and several components.

A short circuit means that power flows back to the battery before it runs the full length of the circuit. Usual causes are bare wires rubbing together or a failure inside a component (in our example it would be the bulb).

When a short occurs, nasty things such as melted wiring can be the result. Fortunately, most circuits are protected with fuses; so should a short occur, the fuse will blow, and break the circuit to protect wires and components.

Although shorts do occur, what more frequently happens is an open circuit. This is when a connection breaks and a circuit cannot be completed. Usual causes are broken wires, broken connectors, defective switches or failure inside a component. The result is often the same as a short (the light does not come on) but the cause is different.

So when one of your electrical devices doesn’t work, it could just as easily be an open rather than a short. And that’s the long and short of it.

The Myth of Car Computer Diagnosis

The “just plug in my car for diagnosis” folk tale

This myth has grown for many years. While connecting a diagnostic computer to your vehicle’s computer(s) is a crucial part of many diagnostic procedures, doing this will not tell the technician what is wrong; it only points to the area of the problem.

“Just hook my car up to the computer” myth I suspect, came from car manufacturers and salesmen who wanted to brag about their technology and how it makes their cars easy to fix. Diagnostic information accessed from your vehicle’s computer is often vital to solve driveability concerns but additional tests are required to confirm which component of the system is actually faulty.

For example, when your check engine lamp comes on, the trouble codes generated and the data available on the scan tool/diagnostic computer, is the information that the vehicle’s computer generates based on the information that it receives from numerous sensors.

Let’s say the code is for an oxygen sensor defect; the vehicle’s computer has no way of knowing if the sensor is reading correctly, a wire to the sensor has broken or the computer itself has an internal defect. From the information gathered on the diagnostic computer very specific tests must be conducted and this is where a technician’s skill, resources and other diagnostic equipment come into play to find the real problem.

So forget the “plug it in for diagnosis” myth; more thorough tests are always required to be certain to find the real cause of the concern.

Breakdowns vs. Regular Maintenance

The Difference Between a Breakdown Shop and a Maintenance Shop

A breakdown shop is a shop that sees their customer when:

• The customer feels it is time for an oil change on their vehicle.
• Their vehicle breaks
• A breakdown shop’s goal is to get their customers vehicle in and out of their shop as quickly as possible.

A maintenance shop is a shop that:

• Tracks and schedules their clients’ vehicle maintenance
• Educates and consults with their clients about all maintenance and repairs to be performed
• Performs inspections on their client’s vehicle every time it is in
• Provides advance knowledge about up coming maintenance and repairs on their customers vehicle
• Provides advance estimates for up coming maintenance and repairs so their customer can budget
• Spends time with their customer to build a long-term relationship

A maintenance shops goal is to:

• Build trust with their clients
• Save their clients’ money be helping to prevent costly and stressful breakdowns
• To make their clients’ motoring life as simple and easy as possible
• To take the responsibility for their clients’ vehicle maintenance

If these points appeal to you, then Pawlik Automotive is your best choice for vehicle service

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