Inspections: Keeping Up With Technology

Inspections: Keeping Up With Technology
Emily is a wife and mother of two, the owner of AutoNiche (a family friendly repair shop in Markham), a licenced technician, certified child car seat technician, and automotive writer with Driving.ca.

What was traditionally a maintenance service may now be an integral part of ensuring that a vehicle’s safety system is working properly.

If you speak to vehicle OEMs, many will tell you that one of the consumer’s pressing concerns is connectivity. When you browse through new vehicle websites, you’ll see statistics and beautiful images of the car’s infotainment system before any mention of its horsepower or engine size—unless you’re in the market for a performance car. Vehicle technology has come a long way. We now have front collision sensors, blind spot monitoring systems, lane departure technology, and the list goes on. Yet it seems that drivers aren’t as knowledgeable about these systems and their implications

Vehicle technology has come a long way. We now have front collision sensors, blind spot monitoring systems, lane departure technology, and the list goes on. Yet it seems that drivers aren’t as knowledgeable about these systems and their implications on auto maintenance and repairs.

Not your grandpa’s wheel alignment
One of the most overlooked maintenance services is the wheel alignment. Many drivers know they’ll need one with new tires or with steering/suspension component replacement. However, this service has gone beyond just turning a couple of tie rods (a.k.a. “set the toe and let it go”) as some newer vehicles require steering angle sensor reset during an alignment. Your wheel alignment isn’t just about keeping the car driving straight on the road any more. We, as auto technicians, know that modern safety systems rely on multiple inputs, but do your clients know how these systems relate to each other? Alignment = brake wear At the end of the day, it’s our job to educate our clients. We know that the salesperson isn’t going to tell them all they need to know about maintaining the vehicle; in fact, many are motivated to position the vehicle as needing very little maintenance!

Alignment = brake wear
At the end of the day, it’s our job to educate our clients. We know that the salesperson isn’t going to tell them all they need to know about maintaining the vehicle; in fact, many are motivated to position the vehicle as needing very little maintenance!

We’ve had our share of clients deferring an alignment because the vehicle drifts. Some even tell us it doesn’t bother them and they’re fine to manually compensate. Consider this: a vehicle with lane-keep assist that continually drifts left because of poor alignment may apply brake pressure to keep the vehicle in its lane. If our client has that type of system, are we explaining that a wheel alignment could help prevent premature brake wear?

Time is money
In our geographic location, alignment prices vary widely and we are not the cheapest one in town. We want to provide our clients with value and we justify our time. Our pricing reflects the amount of time we take to ensure accuracy in the alignment. We also give clients documentation of the alignment and explain to them that their vehicle is back within specification, or we explain why we couldn’t bring it within specification (e.g. adjustments not available on a fixed axle). One thing that I appreciate about our equipment provider is that their wheel alignment equipment offers a printout confirmation that the steering angle sensor was properly reset. Now, I’m not here to say one provider is better than another—I just like it when companies help us provide value to our clients!

As more technology comes in, drivers may not be aware of how these systems rely on each other. Take the opportunity to position your shop as the expert in auto repair and maintenance.

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