Diagnostic Pathways vs. Silver Bullets [RR 544]

Scott Shotton has over 25 years of technical experience in automotive repair shops. As the owner of The Driveability Guys, Scott performs mobile diagnostics and reprogramming for local repair shops in the DeKalb Illinois area as well as industry training around the United States and Canada. He was also one of the four trainers for the Illinois EPA’s vehicle emissions testing program.

Scott has been an automotive instructor at Kishwaukee College since 2009. Prior to Kishwaukee College, Scott was adjunct faculty at the College of DuPage for 7 years. He has a degree in Automotive Service Technology as well as many hours of training by manufacturers and independent training entities.

Scott is also recognized as an Illinois state emissions repair technician. He was also a technical trainer during his 8 year Army career. Scott has written many technical articles for Motor Age and Gears magazines. Scott became an ASE Subject Matter Expert (SME) in 2017.

Scott currently maintains 21 ASE certifications including Master Automotive Technician, Master Truck Technician, A9, L1, L2, L3, Alternate Fuels and more. Scott’s previous episodes HERE.

Matt Fanslow is the diagnostic tech/shop manager at Riverside Automotive in Red Wing, MN. His primary responsibilities are to diagnose driveability and electrical/electronic issues, and perform most all programming, coding, initializing, adoptions, etc. Basically, if it needs to be figured out or has wires, it goes to Matt. He’s been a tech since 1996.

Matt is also a subject matter expert for ASE and has instructed at Vision Hi-Tech Training and Expo.

Matt has participated on 18 ASE technical committees for the ASE Practice Test, A6, A7, A8, and L1 tests. He’s also done case studies for Standard Motor Products.

Fanslow’s goal is to do everything in his power to improve the overall level of professionalism within the automotive and light truck repair trade and also raise the level of its public image. Matt Fanslow’s Previous Episodes HERE.

Key Talking Points:

  • Podcast episode RR 513 with Scott Shotton on Silver bullets
  • In general, Silver Bullets don’t sit well with Matt
  • Matt believes there is a loss in ‘pathing’ in diagnosing todaySilver Bullets should be a piece of your discover processes
  • He believes they should be at the end of discover
  • Pattern failures allow you to hit a high percentage
  • You must learn how to process data you received by a scan tool data stream, scopes etcData to lead you to a root cause
  • Training and networking will help you without going to a data base (resource)
  • Scott: “If you know how it (supposed to) works, you can fix it”He believes you need to do your research early in the process with the data bases
  • Matt, much learning occurred late at night on forum chatYou can get to reliant on the bullets
  • When things don’t’ go your way where do you go, what do you fall back on?Likened to GPS and follow the instructions and it takes you there.
  • If you lose signal or road construction you need to rely on instincts, topography to get to the destination
  • Matt realizes that a blended approach to pathing, inherent knowledge, and data research is what he uses every day
  • Data banks or silver bullets are an approach says, ScottPlug in a scan tool, record the data and use it as another tool for your research
  • Matt says if you use a bullet, ask how you could have gotten there on your own
  • The longer Scott does this the less he relies on TSBs and Data Bases because he has developed a skill set to diag the car
  • Some solutions don’t tell you why
  • There are some vehicles that you are not going to fix
  • Research and learn and make it part of your diagnostic process
  • Solutions can come from your network
  • When you look at the top 3 solutions. Consider how you could have come up with them
  • It is training, networking and bullets
  • Make yourself a list and go through a process of elimination
  • Grab as much data as possible without getting dirtyMake a list of possible problems to solve the problem code
  • Start eliminating using the data
  • Training, TSB’s networking and data resources


  • Thanks to Matt Fanslow and Scott Shotton for their contribution to the aftermarket’s premier podcast.
  • Link to the ‘BOOKS‘ page highlighting all books discussed in the podcast library HERE. Leaders are readers.
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This episode is brought to you by AAPEX, the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo. AAPEX represents the $740 billion global automotive aftermarket industry and has everything you need to stay ahead of the curve. With 2,500 exhibiting companies, you’ll see the latest products, parts, and technologies for your business. As a result, the event also offers advanced training for shop owners, technicians, warehouse distributors (WDs) and auto parts retailers, as well as networking opportunities to grow your business. AAPEX 2020 will take place Tuesday, Nov. 3 through Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. Therefore, more than 48,000 targeted buyers are expected to attend, and approximately 162,000 automotive aftermarket professionals. They will be from 135 countries which are projected to be in Las Vegas during AAPEX 2020. For information, visit aapexshow.com

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About the author, Carm Capriotto, AAP

Carm is the founder and host of the Remarkable Results Radio Podcast and the pioneer of automotive aftermarket podcasts. Carm calls on his years of experience in the aftermarket to bring engaging stories from his guests.

Listen to raw, unfiltered, honest, and sincere stories that include insights, trends, best practices, and expertise. Each interview brings an opportunity to learn one new thing through the stories of personal achievement. Many podcast guests tell their story of transformation from working in their business to working on it.

As host of over 1,000 episodes, Carm uses his enthusiasm and passion for the aftermarket especially the service sector to take his listeners on a journey showcasing successful service professionals’ paths to Remarkable Results. He also enjoys interviews with aftermarket industry thought leaders who bring their industry perspectives to his listener.

Follow the podcast on your favorite podcast listening app and always listen to learn just one thing!