Mastering Diagnostics #12: Mechanical Engine-uity

April 18, 2024
In this video, join Brandon Steckler as he leverages the power of the relative compression test to streamline the diagnostic process.

Motor Age Technical Editor, Brandon Steckler is Back again! And this time with his third video in the series of “Learning how to learn.” His approach this time is to create an engine mechanical fault and use the relative compression test to discover which of the six cylinders is faulted.

Once again, the Pico 4-trace labs scope and High current amp probe will be used to capture a relative compression trace. A second channel of the scope will be used to capture an ignition sync waveform from one of the cylinders. This data is acquired using a secondary ignition capacity probe around one of the spark plug cables.

Stick with Brandon as he first studies the vehicle’s configuration, just like he does when he is facing a challenge in the shop. Pay attention as he walks you through (in real-time) the setup and operation of the lab scope. Witness Brandon capture the effect of cylinder compression on the starter motor and how it is reflected in the “Relative Compression” waveform.

After capturing the data from the engine when it is healthy, Brandon removes a spark plug and re-captures the same data. This is what experimentation is all about! This is the stuff Brandon used to get “GOOD”! Grab a chair and watch how easy it is to begin your journey to being a more efficient, knowledgeable, and confident diagnostician.

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About the Author

Brandon Steckler | Motor Age Technical Editor

Brandon began his career in Northampton County Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he was a student of GM’s Automotive Service Educational program. In 2001, he graduated top of his class and earned the GM Leadership award for his efforts. He later began working as a technician at a Saturn dealership in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he quickly attained Master Technician status. He later transitioned to working with Hondas, where he aggressively worked to attain another Master Technician status.

Always having a passion for a full understanding of system/component functionality, he rapidly earned a reputation for deciphering strange failures at an efficient pace and became known as an information specialist among the staff and peers at the dealership. In search of new challenges, he transitioned away from the dealership and to the independent world, where he specialized in diagnostics and driveability. 

Today, he is an instructor with both Carquest Technical Institute and Worldpac Training Institute. Along with beta testing for Automotive Test Solutions, he develops curriculum/submits case studies for educational purposes. Through Steckler Automotive Technical Services, LLC., Brandon also provides telephone and live technical support, as well as private training, for technicians all across the world.

Brandon holds ASE certifications A1-A9 as well as C1 (Service Consultant). He is certified as an Advanced Level Specialist in L1 (Advanced Engine Performance), L2 (Advanced Diesel Engine Performance), L3 (Hybrid/EV Specialist), L4 (ADAS) and xEV-Level 2 (Technician electrical safety).

He contributes weekly to Facebook automotive chat groups, has authored several books and classes, and truly enjoys traveling across the globe to help other technicians attain a level of understanding that will serve them well throughout their careers.