Keeping Up With Technology: Getting Your Shop Service Ready
By Leona Dalavai Scott
Ways you can stay on top of technology so that your shop is service ready.
As a shop owner, how do you keep up with vehicle technology when it is changing so rapidly and new makes and models are finding their way into your bays?
For answers, we turn to a variety of industry insiders. Keeping in mind that the “technology” playing field can encompass a wide span of territory, for purposes of this article, we are looking at technology in three areas: ongoing education, diagnostics, and using telematics technology to create opportunities and profitability for shops.
Chris Chesney, an instructor with CARQUEST, often shares the following scenario with attendees in his classes: “A customer brings in her 2012 Kia Sedona with the MIL on and a complaint of low idle and no power. Would your team be able to handle the issue or would they have to go to service information school first? … Fast forward at the dealership … the dealer tech, who is service ready, drives the vehicle and because of his training recognizes the engine is in a de-rate strategy where the PCM has commanded the throttle actuator closed because of a possible problem with the TPS, the actuator or anything else that might cause ultimate damage to the engine such as low oil pressure or overheating. He looks under the hood and finds a low-quality oil filter. The filter is changed, and the oil pressure is restored, the need for the PCM to protect the engine by limiting throttle performance.” Who is service ready? The independent shop technician or the dealer tech? The dealer tech, of course.
Vehicle technologies changing
Chesney’s example underscores the need for shops to be service ready. He said it’s important for shops to recognize that there are three driving forces behind the technology changes that determine what OEMs will build: fuel economy, emissions and safety. Consider these somber statistics:
Better education leads to better diagnostics
So, how can you be prepared to service these vehicles with growing sophisticated technologies?
Educate, educate and educate.
Brian Manley, an applied technology instructor of automotive technology in the Cherry Creek School District in the greater Denver area, and AutoInc. contributor (see page 6), relies on professional organization training as well as OEM-specific training to teach and prepare students to work on new vehicle technologies. In addition, he follows forums on iATN to stay current on what scan tools work in what situations. “This is a terrific way to not waste money on a tool that you may perceive to be amazing but turns out to be mediocre,” he says.
As Manley relates, there are a multitude of sources for training and education in the automotive service industry. The Internet, parts suppliers, OEMS and industry organizations like the Automotive Service Association and its many affiliates provide regional and national training opportunities. ASA sponsors its biggest training event each year at Automotive Service and Repair Week (ASRW), which will be held Oct. 16-18 this year at the Mandalay Bay & Convention Center in Las Vegas. Past attendees rely on ASRW – made up of the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) and the Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) – to provide key technical training for their staffs.
In addition, industry training partners such as CARQUEST are providing numerous opportunities to broaden knowledge. Chesney offers a popular presentation titled “Service Bay of Tomorrow,” which provides a picture of the servicing landscape for shops as vehicle technologies evolve and grow. His bottom-line question to repairers: Is your shop service ready?
Chesney likes to quote his friend, Mark Saxonburg of Toyota, on what being “service ready” means: “Service readiness is the act of having received the service training, information, tools and parts necessary to perform any diagnosis, repair and/or adjustment that might be required to support a product, in advance of product arrival for repair. Service readiness is one of the most important functions performed by service technology groups at automakers and preparations for retail sale of a new product begins more than a year in advance of the day of the first sale. When the first vehicle rolls off the dealer’s lot, technicians must be equipped with the knowledge, information, software and tools to perform any action that might be required to repair the vehicle.”
“To be prepared for tomorrow’s service challenges, you must be able to effectively repair today’s technologies,” says Chesney. “Vehicles on the road are equipped with gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines and automated manual transmissions (AMTs) that require specific fluids that if serviced incorrectly will reduce the life of the vehicle, void the warranty and add tremendous cost to your customer. All of the information available through training will help your technicians perform accurate diagnostics to preserve the life of the vehicle.”
Another up and coming vehicle technology relates to telematics. Telematics is the science of measuring, sending, receiving and storing information via telecommunication devices. Applied to the automotive service industry, it is the ability to establish a two-way connection with a moving vehicle.
Last year, Delphi introduced its connected car care solution, which offers motorists the feature and benefits of a connected-car experience without the need to buy a new vehicle to obtain OE-embedded telematics technology.
“Telematics not only helps improve vehicle performance and safety, but can contribute in driving the parts business,” said Lúcia Veiga Moretti, president, Delphi Product & Service Solutions (PSS). “Telematics connects car owners to repair shops, distributors, manufacturers, fleet customers and other industries – increasing business loyalty and shop profitability. It’s an evolution of the aftermarket business model.”
For shop owners, telematics creates opportunities for remote diagnostics, which can change how shops maintain their customer’s vehicles. Delphi’s connected car care solution is powered by a suite of software solutions and accesses electronically catalogued OEM-recommended maintenance schedules. This enables shops to integrate mileage and other data delivered from the vehicle, and automatically generates maintenance schedules and alerts, tracks appointments, and creates complete, transferable vehicle history reports. The system allows the vehicles to “sell” maintenance and repair work for the shop.
The system can be configured to automatically send a notification (email or text) directly to the car owner, or allow you to send a personalized message from your shop, informing the driver of the code, the likely cause ramifications and the necessary actions or recommended maintenance. The Delphi device is compatible with all major makes and models for 1996 or newer vehicles.
Keeping up with technology can be a challenging endeavor for service professionals. However, being engaged and taking advantage of the variety of resources available through training and education, shops can stay on top of the technology they need to be prepared and service ready.
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Delphi for providing telematics information through its white paper, “Connected Car Care Solution for Independent Service Network and Traditional Part Distribution Channels.”
Copyright 1996-2012. Automotive Service Association. All rights reserved.
Anti-spam form protection provided by SnapHost.com