Lesson Learned: Applying a Testing Rule to a Car Scenario

Throughout my Testing career one of the things I’ve learned (and learned early on in my career) was to never report or identify possible causes of a problem without proper knowledge based on investigation and facts to back up my claim.  This “rule” can be based on a “finding” during testing or discovering a defect during testing.  Part of my job (and approach to testing) is to explore, discover, learn about the application I’m testing and investigate it – this includes investigating behaviours and defects I come across so that I can provide knowledgable information about what I’m reporting. I’d never identify a defect and then list possible causes with uneducated guesses – without any investigation, or facts of some kind to explain why I believe something would be the cause of the problem.

While I’d never do this during any type of testing – this is exactly what I did in a scenario involving my car recently.  About a week ago I had identified a burning smell coming from my car after I had driven it.  I’ve had a few cars and encountered my fair share of different problems with them but I had never encountered this type of burning smell before.  I had just changed my wheels and tires but I knew this wasn’t the issue behind the problem – the tires were the correct size and the rims weren’t rubbing against the shocks nor the callipers in the front or back.  The days went by and the burning smell was still present.  For some reason I was convinced that the burning smell was a result of either: 1 – oil burning somewhere in the engine or 2 – an electrical wire burning somewhere.

I’m not sure what I based the possible causes on – I don’t have a mechanical lift or any other type of equipment to diagnose the cause of such problems.  My reasons were based on uneducated guesses. I decided to visit a buddy of mines who’s a mechanic with his own shop and told him the problem and what I believed the causes to be.  We took a road test, came back to the garage and he smelled the burning smell and decided to put the car onto the lift right away.  Took him less than 30 seconds to identify the cause of the issue (burning smell) – there was a plastic bag or some type of plastic that had gotten stuck under the car and melted onto the exhaust pipe towards the front of the car.

So much for what I thought and was almost sure the causes of the burning smell were. It was a good reminder for me to perhaps apply what I apply in my testing to other parts of life.

Lesson learned.

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