Strategies for Finding Intermittent Faults

Unraveling the Mystery: Diagnosing Intermittent Issues in RVs and Fleet Vehicles

As the owner of an RV and fleet vehicle repair company in Orange County, California, I’ve seen my fair share of perplexing problems. But the ones that really keep me on my toes are the dreaded intermittent faults – those elusive issues that seem to come and go like a magician’s trick. It’s like trying to catch a cloud with your bare hands.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Intermittent faults? That sounds like a nightmare!” And you’d be absolutely right. These tricky little gremlins can be the bane of any mechanic’s existence. One minute, the vehicle is running like a dream, and the next, it’s throwing up error codes faster than a Vegas slot machine. It’s enough to make you pull your hair out (or at least consider a career change).

But fear not, my fellow automotive enthusiasts! I’m here to share some hard-earned strategies and techniques that can help you navigate the treacherous waters of intermittent faults. So, buckle up and get ready to don your Sherlock Holmes cap, because we’re about to embark on a thrilling journey of diagnosis and discovery.

Understanding the Nature of Intermittent Faults

The first step in tackling intermittent faults is to understand what they are and why they’re so darn tricky to diagnose. An intermittent fault is essentially a problem that doesn’t manifest consistently. It might show up for a few minutes, then disappear for hours or days, only to reappear without warning.

Now, you might be wondering, “Why do these faults behave so erratically?” Well, it all comes down to the complex nature of modern vehicle electronics and the multitude of factors that can influence their performance. Something as simple as a loose connection, a faulty sensor, or a fluctuating power supply can create an intermittent issue that seems to have a mind of its own.

Imagine trying to catch a mouse in your kitchen – you might see it scurry across the floor one moment, only to have it vanish into a crack in the wall the next. That’s kind of what it’s like trying to diagnose an intermittent fault. The problem is there, but it’s incredibly elusive and difficult to reproduce.

Strategies for Identifying Intermittent Faults

Okay, now that we’ve got a handle on what we’re dealing with, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of actually finding and fixing those pesky intermittent faults. Here are some key strategies I’ve learned over the years:

1. Gather as Much Information as Possible

The first step in any diagnostic process is to gather as much information as possible about the problem. I always start by asking my customers a ton of questions – when does the issue occur? What’s the vehicle doing (or not doing) when it happens? Are there any specific conditions that seem to trigger the fault? The more details I can gather, the better I’ll be able to narrow down the potential root causes.

2. Reproduce the Fault

Once I’ve got a good understanding of the problem, the next step is to try and reproduce the fault. This can be tricky with intermittent issues, but it’s essential if you want to have a chance of diagnosing the problem. I might take the vehicle out for a test drive, put it on a dynamometer, or even create simulated conditions in the shop to try and trigger the fault.

3. Use Advanced Diagnostic Tools

When dealing with complex electronic systems, a good set of diagnostic tools is key. I’m talking about stuff like scan tools, oscilloscopes, and even thermal imaging cameras. These tools can help me pinpoint the specific component or circuit that’s causing the problem, even if it’s not readily apparent.

4. Methodically Eliminate Possibilities

With an intermittent fault, it’s easy to get bogged down in the “what-ifs” and endless troubleshooting. That’s why I like to take a methodical, step-by-step approach to the diagnosis. I start by checking the obvious things, like wiring, connections, and power supplies, and then gradually work my way through more complex systems and components.

5. Get Creative with Testing

Sometimes, the traditional diagnostic approach just doesn’t cut it when you’re dealing with an intermittent fault. That’s when I have to get a little creative with my testing methods. I might try things like provoking the fault by applying vibration, heat, or even electrical interference to the vehicle. Anything that can help me recreate the problem and isolate the root cause.

Real-World Examples and Case Studies

Now, I know all of this probably sounds like a lot of work, and you might be wondering if it’s really worth the effort. But trust me, when you finally track down the source of an intermittent fault, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.

Take, for example, the case of a customer who brought in their RV with an intermittent issue where the lights would randomly shut off while driving. After extensive testing and troubleshooting, I discovered that the problem was caused by a faulty ground connection in the electrical system. It was a small thing, but it was enough to create an intermittent fault that was driving the customer crazy.

Or how about the time I had a fleet vehicle come in with an engine that would randomly stall out? After hooking it up to my diagnostic tools, I was able to identify a faulty crankshaft position sensor as the culprit. It was a tricky one to track down, but once I replaced the sensor, the problem was resolved, and the vehicle was back on the road.

These are just a couple of examples, but I could go on and on. The point is, with the right strategies and a bit of perseverance, even the most elusive intermittent faults can be conquered. It’s all about being a detective, thinking outside the box, and never giving up.

The Importance of Ongoing Training and Education

Of course, becoming a master at diagnosing intermittent faults doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a skill that requires constant learning and refinement. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for new training opportunities, industry events, and technical resources to expand my knowledge and stay ahead of the curve.

After all, the world of automotive technology is constantly evolving, and the challenges we face as mechanics are only going to become more complex. But that’s what makes this job so darn interesting, isn’t it? It’s like a never-ending puzzle, with new pieces being added all the time.

So, if you’re a fellow RV or fleet vehicle enthusiast, I encourage you to keep learning, keep experimenting, and never stop honing your diagnostic skills. Who knows – you might just become the next intermittent fault-slaying superhero in your neck of the woods.

And if you ever find yourself in Orange County, California, feel free to swing by our shop at We’d be more than happy to share our tips and tricks, and maybe even help you tackle that pesky intermittent fault that’s been driving you crazy. After all, we’re in this together, and there’s nothing more satisfying than a job well done.