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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

'98 Ford Contour, ABS Warning Light and Diagnostic Fees

Q: I have owned a '98 Ford Contour for 1 year. The ABS light has been on since I first drove it home and the dealership guarantees me that nothing is wrong with the brakes. Just a light problem. I took it back last Saturday for a check engine light that is on, the temperature arm does not work, the clock does not light up and there is as recall on the heater. I received a call today that I needed to approve $149 for diagnostics, at $70 per hour. Is that not excessive? I thought diagnostics only took about 30 minutes. I purchased insurance coverage on the auto and I am only suppose to pay a $100 deductible. Is this not part of my deductible? What is normal for diagnostic charge and time? Thank you for your information.

- Margaret

A: First, you should read the fine print of your insurance policy. Most of those policies clearly state they do not cover diagnosis. I'll tell you right-up front, I'm not a big fan of these insurance/extended warranty type deals. It's a good profit center for the seller and a pain for the consumer when the time comes to use it. With that out of the way, let's talk about that ABS light. First, your brakes are not operating as designed if the ABS warning light is on!!! I'm sure if the owner of the dealership got wind of his/her service people telling a customer that there is not a brake problem with a vehicle with an ABS warning light blaring, some cow patties would hit the fan. In the event of an accident, if this is a documented statement, the lawyers would have a bidding war to have you as a client! As for diagnostic time, I wish for the day that diagnosis would only take 30 minutes. I love it when I can nail down a problem in less than 30. I don't know of many techs that would not agree with me! We like fixing vehicles and moving to the next problem. Not getting headaches and gray hair trying to figure out some twisted electrons. Example, I had a vehicle with an ABS problem that made it's way to our shop. The computer was insisting there was a failed electrical component! It sure was a failed component, the problem was the computer! But the computer was insisting that there was nothing wrong with it and it was something else. Even the diagnostic flow charts in the repair manual teamed up with the computer stating replace the other part. Allowing 2 to even 3 hours for diagnostic time is real on today's computerized vehicles. In the end, yes your ABS brakes are broken, the policy probably doesn't cover diagnostics and the check engine light is another problem. Yeah, it was rough at work this week..

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