Boy, I can see we're going to become friends in a hurry. The points you made are the same points about newer vehicles that have me keeping my old rusty trusty '88 Grand Caravan on the road. I have a friend with a body shop who specializes in rebuilding smashed one and two-year-old Dodge trucks. He doesn't actually buy them. He has people in the area who call him with what they want, he finds them, fixes them, gets them inspected, then charges just for going to other states to get them and for repairing them. He has been threatening to build me a newer Caravan for years because the carpet is the only thing holding the front to the rear of my van, but I don't want anything to do with all the unnecessary, unreliable, expensive computers that I have to go to the dealer for. If you think the information for your Horizon is top secret, you should try working on GM products! They have some of the poorest customer business practices. According to a national-level trainer, Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler are the top three in the world for putting a customer's best interest ahead of short-term profits.
Now, for your car, understand that nothing on it is top secret. It's just that it isn't common knowledge. The fact that you already understand basic electrical theory puts you way ahead of most of the people I work with here. It is also the hardest thing for students to learn because the type of person who likes working on mechanical things learns best by observing how parts interact, and manipulating them in various ways. You can't do that with electricity, therefore, it's a mystery and scary. In my classroom, I compared everything electrical to water flowing in pipes and rivers, and I had real good success. Only one student had trouble, so we spent from 5:00 p.M. To 11:00 p.M. One night in the classroom until he "got it". Now he works for one of the premier auto electrical shops in my city.
I rolled my eyes when I read your comment about testing parts. We don't do that or have the time to do that. In fact, I saw a coworker get fired for doing that AFTER the problem was diagnosed and repaired. The other instructor I used to work with taught how to test parts because he never actually was a mechanic or learned how to efficiently diagnose problems. He taught strictly by the textbook, which no other instructor does.
In your case I'll let you test a part AFTER you've diagnosed it as defective and you simply want to double-check yourself or understand how the part failed and why it caused the symptoms it did. As far as testing every part, one-at-a-time, that would take you hours on your car, and it would take weeks on newer models. For now, you let the Engine Computer do its self-tests. It will tell you not which part to replace, as too many uninformed people think. It will tell you which circuit needs to be looked at. When a part is referenced in a fault code, that part is actually the cause of that code only about half of the time. This is where people say, "gee, the computer said to replace that part. I replaced it three times and the code keeps on setting". That's when they get me involved.
There are a lot of articles on this site that explain how sensors and some circuits work. Later I'll send you a private message with the name of my web site for basic electrical. Right now I'm still working on basic sensors and how the circuits work. You might also visit a nearby community college with an Automotive program. They will have older copies of their text books in their libraries. The information is totally relevant. We just get new versions every few years with the old information rearranged because for program certification, one of the requirements is our text books can't be more than five years old.
The other problem with producing a book like you're looking for is they can't possibly cover all the variations of things that can go wrong. If you look at your Honda book, there might be a dozen things listed for a specific complaint. What do you do when you go through the entire list and you haven't solved the problem? This would be like asking for written directions to follow a route to a city in a different state, then you find out the main route and the two alternatives are all closed for road construction, or none of those roads take you past the attraction the kids want to see. You need a road map so you can pick the best route AFTER you know where you want to end up.
A text book will tell you how the various circuits work, but again, if they tell you what to expect for a sensor voltage, you're going to find something different on an engine that's running perfectly fine. You have to take in the theory, which you can get from the Chrysler service manual, then use that knowledge to do your own diagnosis and evaluation of the test readings.
By the way, I never allowed my students to use those troubleshooting charts where you answer "yes" or "no" to a question, then follow the flow chart. Those are for people who don't have any idea what they're doing, and that ain't us. I had a dozen "bugged" cars for them to diagnose, and I proved to them in every case that once they diagnosed two causes of a dead charging system on a car, for example, they didn't even need the diagram to troubleshoot the third and fourth problems. This is where the "on-the-job-experience" pays off.
The systems on your car are real basic and easy to understand, but it still gets complicated when there's more than a failed part to consider, like on newer cars. You have to think about wires chewed up by mice, corroded connector terminals, wires rubbed through the insulation, things that were modified by previous owners, etc. Dealership mechanics don't run into those types of things very often.
I'm going to try to find some student workbooks at home that might help you. I had a house fire last year and moved all that stuff into my shop, so it's buried somewhere. Remember though, they deal with fault codes and the tests to solve them. If you don't have any codes, we'll have to go by symptoms and some tests I would do if I was working on it.
Finally, you might also ask an instructor if they have any older reference material that you can have. My office was always piled high with stacks of stuff I couldn't bring myself to throw out, but I would gladly give them to members of the community. After all, it was their property taxes that were paying my wages. We also had real high-level classes put on once per month by Carquest and their trainer who came from another state. Those were REAL expensive and were mainly meant for mechanics from independent shops who didn't get the manufacturer's training. Our instructor owns a shop in Illinois that specializes in the one car out of a hundred that everyone else has given up on. He networks with a lot of manufacturer's trainers, and together, they solve those elusive problems, then he designs a class to cover that car brand or system. A lot of that was so far over my head, but thanks to those books he put together, I can use them for reference now that those cars have been around for a few years and we've seen a few of them. He used to give me boxes of his leftover books to give away to students after he was no longer teaching that class. The problem is a lot of his information involved reading gas analyzers and seeing how the exhaust responds to things he forces to change. That usually caused my eyes to glaze over. He was covering stuff so far beyond what is covered in any community college program.
By the way, as a final parting comment, I thought I had reached the pinnacle of success when I was hired as the suspension and alignment specialist at a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership, but it became obvious real quickly that the real experts were at the independent shops. I had the luxury of factory-sponsored training and a help hotline to call, but I was limited to repair procedures that were approved by Chrysler. That's fine if you have to replace a thousand-dollar wiring harness that's under warranty, but if the customer is paying the bill, you'll want to simply repair the broken wire. The independent guys had all the more cost-effective solutions and access to aftermarket parts. I also saw the same models over and over so I became real familiar with them, but the other guys couldn't say the same thing when they had to work on trade-in cars of a different brand. That's where my previous seven years experience at an independent shop payed off.
Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 AT 10:10 PM