Training, Tooling, Information

Learn three factors to help your shop be as efficient as possible in diagnostics.

We expect to complete testing inside of an hour in most cases in my shop. Even for the hard jobs, it is our rule of thumb. I get asked all the time how it is that a small shop can be so efficient and accurate at diagnostics. There is no single answer, but there is a general philosophy of service readiness that will give any shop a pretty good chance of getting cars diagnosed accurately and efficiently. Accuracy and efficiency are the two areas of any business where the most revenue is generated or lost.

There are three main ingredients that go into fixing a car accurately and efficiently: training, tooling and information. While a car may still get fixed if one or more ingredients is missing, you can bet that when a car does not get fixed, one or more of these ingredients is always missing. These ingredients are the backbone of any service readiness philosophy.


Information is simply that. It comes in the form of the popular information systems such as
Alldata, Mitchell1, Identifix and others. It is also gleaned from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) directly in some cases and even found online using search engines. From information systems, we get everything from service intervals and torque specs, to data BUS wiring diagrams, component locations and, most importantly, theory of operation. Of the three ingredients, information is generally the cheapest to acquire.


Training is the accumulation of a technician’s experiences and what they learned either through schooling, reading or life experiences. While it is not as easy to gauge training levels as it is to identify information preparedness, training is usually the largest variable in a car getting fixed efficiently and accurately. When shop owners want to improve their bottom line through efficiency and accuracy, sending their team to the right training is a great start point.


And finally shop tooling. This consists of everything from screwdrivers and wrenches to scan tools and scopes. Most technicians wouldn’t dare attempt to work on a modern car without a set of metric wrenches. Can you imagine a tech who showed up the first day for work and had just a pair of pliers, an adjustable wrench and a multi-bit screw driver? Nobody would take him (or her) seriously because they obviously weren’t prepared to work on cars at a professional level. Like the metric wrenches sitting in the toolbox, having the right scan tool is just as important if you are working on modern cars and want to be accurate and efficient.

For complete competency with a scan tool, a shop needs to consider the value that factory diagnostic capability brings to the bay. OEMs mandate their dealers to have a certain scan tool that communicates completely with the vehicle they are working on. The OEMs know that accuracy in vehicle communication lowers the chances that a diagnostic session is going to go awry, which saves them greatly in warranty claims. Because of this, each OEM mandates that their dealers own a factory-type scan tool. It is very logical to think that independent repair shops would benefit from these just as much as the manufacturer’s shops for the same reasons: accuracy and efficacy.

The problem for the independent repair shop is we often do not know what we need in regard to scan tools. Over the next 12 months we will discuss most of the manufacturers, specifically explaining what scan tools you need to be competent on that brand.

Next month: Let’s talk about GM.