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— Diagnosing a Bad Coolant Temperature Sensor

A large part of automotive repair is first diagnosing a problem. Fortunately, today’s technological advancements offer faster, easier, and more efficient ways to do this. In this Google Glass video, through application, board demonstration, and visual aids, Keith Littleton shows you how to diagnose a bad coolant temperature sensor.

The first step is to place the wireless interface inside the car. This allows Keith to communicate with his scan tool (although you can opt for a phone or tablet instead) by sending a wireless signal to it. Once in position, the scan tool pulls the diagnostic trouble code P0118 indicating the issue lies with the engine coolant temperature sensor. Now that he knows what area is affected, Keith can limit his focus in order to quickly address the problem. For clarity’s sake, he also uses a visual aid of the components related to this code (powertrain control module, wiring, and sensor) by placing them on a nearby table.

Keith’s process is fairly simple. He uses his scan tool to pull data from the car and determine the engine’s current temperature. He then uses the changes in temperature to gain insight into which components are working. For example, when he disconnects the engine coolant temperature sensor (creating an open circuit), the temperature changes to -40 degrees. And when he uses a jumper to jump the circuit, it reads 284 degrees.

Gadgets and computers are handy, but sometimes their main function simply serves to aid in the good old-fashioned process of elimination. By changing the resistance in order to gauge the temperature, Keith determines that the wiring, computer, and cooling system are all functioning properly. Therefore, he quickly comes to the conclusion that a defective coolant temperature sensor must be causing that diagnostic code.

For added emphasis and visual effect, he also draws a diagram. Through the use of his wireless interface, scan tool, and tablet, Keith is able to swiftly diagnose the malfunctioning component so that he can move on to problem-solving and repairs.

The blending of innovative tools, high-tech instruments, and logical thinking has taken the world of automotive repair to a new level. While the technology is impressive and beneficial, it’s no substitute for skilled technicians.

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