The value of a good troubleshooter.

1989 Plymouth/AAA Troubleshooting Contest

I was fortunate to participate in the Plymouth / AAA Troubleshooting Contest when I was a high school senior.  This now defunct contest pitted hundreds of high school auto shop student against each other troubleshooting identically bugged brand new cars.  We placed very well and were the fastest to troubleshoot all problems successfully.

When I was young and I took my first job as mechanic, I thought I would be shadowed by the exemplary troubleshooting skills of my elders.  What I found is that I was in the midst of a turbulent time in the industry.  Cars were now computer controlled and many of the journeymen level mechanics were not prepared for this since it was not a mechanical system.  Diagnostics, or ‘troubleshooting’, is the most difficult part of auto repair.  I quickly became the top troubleshooter in the company and hopped around from location to location diagnosing cars others could not.  Eventually, I was hired at Dinan Engineering to fly around the country diagnosing problems with our products in the field.  It ended up much of the problems could be resolved over the phone.

Many restored cars have myriad troubles which require troubleshooting.  That is why we only hire the best troubleshooters and one of the reason we are superior to other shops.  The ability to get an old car driving correctly is a coveted skill these days.  Many of the classic cars I’ve driven are just plain uncomfortable to drive.  Many people consider old cars to just be ‘quirky’ but I assure you when they were new they drove well and can be returned to that condition with proper troubleshooting.

Restoring an old car is much more than just assembling nuts and bolts.  It is the art of getting all the mechanical systems humming and the car driving beautifully.

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