A fundamental grasp of what’s involved in modern vehicle repairs is critical for shops to survive in today’s operating environment.
When you think Diagnostics in the Automotive Industry, most people would agree that the average person thinks you plug a scan tool into the vehicle, read the trouble codes and the scan tool tells you what to repair.
A major leap
Twenty years ago, most scan tools in the Automotive Aftermarket were code readers with very little bi-directional diagnostic capabilities. On many vehicles from the 1980s and 1990s, emission related components were about the only computer-controlled features, while the other systems on the vehicle like the HVAC system were still manually operated.
The Automotive industry was still in a transition period where in the past, there was very little diagnostics required to repair the vehicle.
As technology drastically changes how a vehicle operates, so do the procedures and the tools required to efficiently diagnose and repair the vehicles in our service bays today. Something simple in the past such as the heater controls in a late ’80’s HVAC system has become a complex computer controlled system in a network of computers that continually communicate on high speed bus lines.
The Industry is seeing fewer and fewer vehicles that don’t require some level of diagnostics with expensive tools daily.
Having the ability to control systems on the vehicle with a scan tool or scanning modules like the HVAC system to retrieve trouble codes is a common occurrence. Without skilled, knowledgeable technicians with current and (for the most part) expensive equipment, it is getting harder to repair a vehicle right the first time in an efficient manner.
How do we afford the technicians’ wages, the expensive diagnostic equipment, subscriptions to information, and access to OEM websites?
Simple. We need to charge for our services. We need to understand and identify where the diagnostic procedure starts and stops and charge for that service. Understanding that a highly skilled Automotive Technician is required to efficiently diagnose complex problems—one with training and access to state-of-the-art equipment and tools—is valuable to the customer and needs to be billed accordingly.
We also need to fundamentally understand the service we provide, the cost to provide that service, and the responsibility to maintain profitability not only to the staff and the company, but also to our customers and the community we service vehicles in!