Oscilloscope

I admit up until very recently, I had never heard of an oscilloscope. Apparently this is an indispensable tool to many different professions, but I have only an automotive appreciation of them. Just in case you didn’t know, an oscilloscope draws a graph of electrical signals – in the world of cars, it measures the vibrations of an engine.
How fantastic. Even more fantastic is the fact that this little thing which I imagine looks like one of those tin-foiled boxes mad scientists always display in thier labs, didn’t fix my car. Why, if it had nothing to do with the fixing of my car, am I bringing it up? Quite simply because it’s a cool word and I was impressed when I found out that the wonderful people at Downtown Seattle Nissan Service Center had used one to try and diagnose my car’s problem. You notice that I have described the people who had my car very differently from my last entry. That is because my car is fixed. After 3 days, they finally figured out that the problem was with my Mass Air Flow Sensor. I’m very happy to have my car back in my possession, and even more happy to have my car running properly. I’m willing to accept that my initial impression of these folks was wrong. I still don’t think the guy who doesn’t know the difference between a Sentra and a Maxima is a very good image for their business. But he’s not a mechanic so I guess it’s ok. I’m also very impressed with the reciept they gave me. When I’ve taken my car to other places my reciept always looks like a mess of indecipherable codes. Codes that give me no inidcation of what actually went on with my car or what exactly I paid for. Not so with the reciept sitting in front of me now. This one has info – informative info even. I’ll transcribe a portion.

    LABOR…………………………………………………………446.75
    Customer states it has no power. Ck for restricted exhaust or possible trans.
    Road tested and verified customers concern.
    Hooked up to the scanner and ckd for codes. None.
    Put the fuel pressure guage on it and was ok.
    Drove with guage on to see if the pressure would go down. Was ok.
    Put a vacuum guage on it and drove it to see if the vac would drop. Was ok.
    Put the scanner on again and ckd the MAF sensor and got a good reading.
    Called the Techline and they recommended a new MAF sensor anyway.
    Took a used MAF off of a used car and tried it. Ran fine.
    Ordered a new MAF and installed.
    Test drove.
    ALL OK NOW.

Isn’t that beautiful? Especially the last line. ALL OK NOW.
I wish that they had used the word “oscilloscope” instead of “scanner” in their detailed log, but I guess one can’t have everything.



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