An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

Vehicle maintainers 'compute' solutions with new technology

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  Staff Sgt. Jason Walters and Airman 1st Class Michael Birmingham, vehicle mechanics with the 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron, use a scan tool to find mechanical problems on a type-three fire engine Jan. 13. The 30th LRS combines planning, supply and transportation skills into one organization with all resources to keep pace with the swift demands of deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Jason Walters and Airman 1st Class Michael Birmingham, vehicle mechanics with the 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron, use a diagnostic scan tool to find mechanical problems on a type-three fire engine Jan. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- What could you do with two extra years?

The 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron's vehicle maintenance flight has saved that much time and more through the purchase of a new diagnostic tool recently.

Today's vehicles are more high-tech than yesteryear's models; computers and sensors run the show. So, while years ago mechanics had to look, listen and feel their way to a solution, a diagnostic scan tool can "communicate" with the car's computers, pinpointing the problem.

"The new vehicles have so many new sensors and computers that you can't even repair it unless you have that equipment," said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Diaz, the 30th LRS vehicle maintenance flight NCO in charge of technical support. "You can sit there and just start replacing every sensor and everything one-by-one, or use the proper equipment and find out what's wrong with it right off the bat."

In order to find out the problem with a vehicle, the mechanics hook up the diagnostic scan tool to the vehicle's computer. The diagnostic tool then coverts the 0s and 1s into an alpha-numeric code.

"The old ones would just give you a code like 'P0065,'" Sergeant Diaz said. "Then you had to go to the code book and find what it meant. (The book) would say, 'Oxygen Sensor Bank 1,' and you'd go fix it."

Going even further, the new diagnostic tool gives the alpha-numeric code, spells out the problem right on the screen and even gives step-by-step instructions on how to fix the problem.

In a recent example, the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron had a dump truck with anti-lock brake system problems. Vehicle maintenance members tried to fix it, but couldn't find the problem. The truck was sent to Santa Maria, then to Bakersfield. The problem, though, was never fixed.

"It had problems for years, at least two," said Staff Sgt. Gabriel Louie, a 30th LRS vehicle maintenance NCO. "Then (Staff Sgt. Deliezer Arreola) hooks up the scan tool and took two and a half hours to figure it out. It turned a two-year project into a two-hour project."

What did the computer find that no one else could? Right before the problems began, the truck was sent off-base for minor repairs. The mechanic who made those repairs never updated the Electronic Control Unit, or brain, of the truck to recognize the new parts.

"We went back in there and made them hold hands," Sergeant Louie said.

While the diagnostic scan tool cost approximately $1,500, it has saved man-hours and labor for the 30th LRS and vehicle downtime for the rest of Team V.

What is the vehicle maintenance flight going to do with all that saved time?

"(The vehicles) will keep rolling in," Sergeant Louie said.