Diagnosing mechanical or electrical problems is relatively simple if you use orderly procedures and keep a few basic principles in mind.
The first step in any troubleshooting procedure is to define the symptoms as closely as possible and then localize the problem. Subsequent steps involve testing and analyzing those areas which could cause the symptoms.
A haphazard approach may eventually solve the problem, but it can be very costly in terms of wasted time and unnecessary parts replacement.
Proper lubrication, maintenance and periodic tune-ups as described in Chapter Three will reduce the necessity for troubleshooting. Even with the best of care, however, all vehicles are prone to problems which will require troubleshooting.
Never assume anything and do not overlook the obvious. If you are riding along and the engine suddenly quits, check the easiest, most accessible areas first. Has the spark plug wire fallen off? Is there fuel in the tank? Is the fuel shut-off valve turned ON?
If nothing obvious turns up in a quick check, look a little further. Learning to recognize and describe symptoms will make repairs easier for you or a mechanic at the shop.
Describe the problems accurately and fully. Did the engine lose power gradually and miss before stopping or did it stop suddenly with a bang? What color smoke (if any) came from the exhaust, and so on.
After the symptoms are defined, areas which could cause problems can be tested and analyzed.
Guessing at the cause of a problem may provide the solution, but it usually leads to frustration, wasted time and a series of expensive, unnecessary parts replacements.