Keeping up with the pace of technology


The pace of technology in the automotive field is undeniably moving very quickly. It recently crossed my mind that maybe I am no longer keeping up with the technology. I am possibly only reacting to it. Am I too old for this game? I used to know how everything automotive worked. At least I thought I used to know. Maybe old age has brought on a little more humility.

Fortunately, fast moving technology has also provided me with fast information and tool access. Faced with a fault in an unknown technology the information and tools to correct that fault can be gathered up expeditiously provided the financial resources required to solve a particular problem are within reason and hopefully even palatable to the customer.

Faced with a problem to fix the automotive mechanical repair industry does generally follow a similar procedure to get to the fix. Some just stop or skip some steps in the process. Skipping steps can work. Luck of the draw, and playing the odds can be successful for some. Stopping and sending the vehicle away not fixed to the next shop down the street can work for others. They might be busy enough now to give up those jobs. But what about the future?

Most diagnosis and repair goes like this. Verify the problem. Can’t fix it if it ain’t broke. Look for the obvious. Fix the obvious. Verify the repair. That is what we do at the shop day in day out. If it is that easy and that common how come it costs so much to get my car fixed? Well, obvious to me is obviously not as obvious to the general public. Those obvious repairs required specialty diagnostic tools, special knowledge, special hand and power tools, and probably a whole lot of time to get that broken part out and replaced with a new part.

Fortunately for vehicle owners the obvious problems are fewer and fewer. Yes, automobiles are much more reliable than they ever have been. Unfortunately for mechanics the obvious problems are fewer and fewer. Day in day out we are more likely faced with less than common problems.

We still verify the problem. We still look for the obvious. Nothing obvious? Time to hit the new technology books. Google Assistant? Siri? Youtube? Yes, those are probably first for many of us but I find not necessarily the best approach. I would be happier if most of us mechanic types dove into the manufacturer's information on how the system we are trying to fix works. When you know how something works it is much easier to dismiss a lot of the misinformation bandied about all over the internet. Magic is science not magic.

The manufacturer's information will generally include a diagnostic process for the system. When a system's exact operation is unknown, for example the ‘blind spot monitoring’ system that warns you to not change lanes into another person, it is best to follow a diagnostic process that was developed by someone who understood the system.

Shortcuts and solutions come faster with a more complete understanding. I haven’t fixed a blind spot monitoring system yet but that is the way I will approach it the first time.

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