Kia Sportage Hard Engagement

Scanner Data Helps Diagnose a Kia

A technician utilizes his scan tool to diagnose a hard engagement complaint.

By Austin Brown, contributing writer

It may seem like common knowledge to check fuses and lights to ensure everything operates properly, although it is sometimes the most overlooked basic check in the automotive repair field. I have made this same mistake in my personal experience, potentially costing me a lot of time diagnosing technical issues. In one such case, I was working on a 2009 Kia Sportage with the customer complaint of very hard engagement when shifted into drive or reverse. First, I confirmed the complaint and that the unit was commanded into failsafe mode. High line pressure was a result of this and causing the harsh engagement. I had scanned for codes coming up with P0707 (transmission range sensor circuit low).

Many different failures can cause this code; the switch itself can be malfunctioning, the power or ground circuits can be compromised, etc. I then started doing a little more investigating into my scanner data and found the transmission range sensor was not changing position on the scanner while going through the gears. See Figure 1.
Just to be sure, I tried clearing the code to see if it would start to work, but the code had come back instantly. To ensure that the data I saw was correct, I decided to check it with a different scan tool. The results were identical. I was going through a mental checklist of the information I had gathered. I completed an entire check of the wiring and everything visible, making sure the switch was plugged in and in good condition.


“It may seem like common knowledge to check fuses and lights to ensure everything operates properly, although it is sometimes the most overlooked basic check in the automotive repair field.”


Figure 1

After completing all the checks, I determined that I would need to check the transmission and range sensor’s internal condition. I then got to work on this job, first checking the fluid, which was old and dark red, but still nothing to tell me the transmission was in bad mechanical condition. I started working on the range sensor, double-checking it and all the connectors and wiring to see if I could locate a point of failure. I got everything back together after verifying that there was nothing obviously broken or damaged.

I grabbed my scan tool, cleared the codes, then started the vehicle. I went from Park to Reverse, and it clunked really hard again, and the same thing going into Drive. I then rescanned the car and found no codes were reset. At this point, I was confused, trying to come up with a solution to where I had gone wrong or missed something. I tried doing more research on Identifix for an answer but could not come up with anything. I then started with another mental checklist and realized I hadn’t checked the fuses. I thought there is no way a fuse might cause this issue; it was likely a bad switch. I figured just to amuse myself, I would go ahead and check the fuses, so I printed off the diagrams.

Looking the diagrams over, I found the fuses I was going after. See Figure 2. I went to the vehicle and found the fuse boxes. After looking at the diagrams, I determined that the fuse box I needed to look into was the one on the side of the instrument panel. I pulled the cover off and started looking it all over, and found what I thought was a missing B/UP (backup/reverse light) fuse. I grabbed a 10-amp fuse, put it where it needed to be and retested it. I cleared the code and moved the shifter from Park to Reverse, and no hard engagement. I went through the gears several times to ensure that it was fixed, and sure enough, it was. See Figure 3. I felt very relieved that I finally had figured it out, and we did not have any other bad parts.

Figure 2
Figure 3

I removed the fuse again with the vehicle off, put it into Reverse, and had no reverse lights. I replaced the fuse and put it back into reverse with the key, and we had reverse lights. Had I checked the lights before, I would have realized that I had no reverse lights, and that may have led me into the fuse box a lot sooner.

The next question in my mind was why the B/UP fuse had been removed in the first place. My first inclination was that the fuse had blown at some point, and the vehicle owner removed it with the intent to replace it later but never did. After driving and testing, the fuse did not blow again, so at this point, we will have to wait and see what happens down the road. If the vehicle should come back to us with the same symptoms, I know what I’ll be checking first.


“The automotive field is always about learning from your mistakes.”



Whether this should be chalked up as a rookie mistake or not is up to you to determine. The automotive field is always about learning from your mistakes. Since I have only been in the automotive field for approximately six years, I still have a lot of learning to do, and I’m sure a lot more mistakes like this one. I have always been told, in this job, you will never stop learning. There is still a lesson to be taught, whether from a more experienced technician or learning from your own experiences. Hopefully, this article will help a technician save some time and keep them from having to waste time on an easy fix. I have taken away from this experience to make sure that checking the lights and fuses should always be a part of my diagnostic checklist. TS

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Scan Tool Tech

While systems can and will differ, here’s a look at common ADAS features, their general configurations and calibration requirements.

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Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) require the use of a scan tool for diagnostics, and the majority of the time, it’s required for post-repair calibration. ADAS, like any other system, requires a diagnostic routine, which begins with a base knowledge of the system. Knowing ADAS will help understand fault symptoms and scan tool data for the most efficient diagnosis.While systems can and will differ, here’s a look at common ADAS features, their general configurations and calibration requirements.Parking assist sensors, of which there can be more than one, are generally located in the front and rear bumpers. They are the inputs that affect active parking assist and parking collision warnings. Any time they are disturbed in any manner, a static calibration must be performed with a scan tool.Side object sensors, sometimes called collision avoidance sensors, are commonly located in the rear bumper. These sensors provide input for blind spot warnings, lane change alerts and rear cross traffic warnings. Static calibration with a scan tool is required when these are removed or replaced.Rear vision cameras will be located in the rear decklid, liftgate or tailgate, and act as either a backup camera alone, or part of a surround view system if the vehicle is so equipped. These cameras generally require a dynamic calibration, and no scan tool is required.A forward-looking camera is sometimes located behind the grille, and usually part of a surround view system. These too do not require a scan tool, but a dynamic calibration must be performed when they are removed or replaced.Different ADAS features may have dedicated control modules which can be located in various areas, often behind interior panels. As with most control modules, these require scan tool programming when replaced and, depending on the system, both static and dynamic calibrations may be required.The Haptic Seat Motor creates the vibration to provide a safety alert for blind spot, forward collision, lane departure, lane keep assist, parking collision and rear cross traffic warnings. These motors, sometimes called seat warning actuators, generally require no type of calibration.Cameras located in a sideview mirror are part of surround view systems. These require calibration when removed or replaced, but most of them dynamic, and no scan tool is required.The steering angle sensor located in the steering column is an input for lane keep assistance, and a static calibration is required with a scan tool any time it is removed or replaced, or any time a wheel alignment is performed.Last, but not least, is the front view, or forward-looking camera located in the windshield area. This camera is a vital part of adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beam headlights, forward collision and lane departure warnings, and lane keeping assistance. A scan tool and static and dynamic calibration are required after removal and replacement, but also after windshield removal or replacement, or any service that affects the ride height of the vehicle. TS

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