Diagnose squeaks, clunks, and rattles electronically
People write to me all the time asking for help finding the cause of squeaks, clunks, and rattles. Unfortunately, this is almost always AFTER they’ve taken it to a shop and the techs have guessed at the problem and replaced hundreds of dollars worth of parts. That’s really a shame and it’s NOT the way a pro should approach the diagnosis.
If you are dealing with a noise problem, here’s how to be PROACTIVE with your mechanic. Ask the shop if they own a tool called a Chassis Ears. The tool is made by Steelman. They make two versions—wired and wireless. The kit has clip on microphones that the technician attaches to the most likely causes of the noise. The wired kit has 6 microphones, the wireless kit has 4. After attaching the microphones, the tech drives the car and listens to each microphone from inside the vehicle. He simply switches from one to the next. This test NAILS the problem without any guessing.
Do it yourself noise diagnostics
Steelman makes two versions of their Chassis Ears product; the wired version and the wireless model. The wired version is far less costly and works just as well. However, it takes a bit longer to install. The wired version costs around $110 and is worth every penny since it pinpoints the exact cause of the noise so you don’t replace perfectly good parts.
It’ll pay for itself even if you only use it once. If you want to recoup some of your investment, sell it on ebay when you’re done with it.
I’ve used this tool several times and each time I have been surprised by my findings. It’s RARELY the part you think it is. In one case I found a cracked spring that wasn’t even visible when I first inspected it. But once the microphone was attached, it was a dead giveaway.
This tool kit is a MUST for any professional shop that wants to do noise diagnostics. That’s why you should ask upfront if they own one. If they don’t, FIND ANOTHER SHOP!
You can usually find both the wired version (model #06600) and the wireless version (model #97202). You may even save some cash by buying a used one and trying it yourself BEFORE you take it to a shop.
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© 2012 Rick Muscoplat