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Gonzo

Article: Tell a mechanic to Telematics ---- Communication from customer, car, and mechanic is about to change

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Tell a Mechanic to Telematic

         Telematics, the latest in automotive communication.  Not a communication between systems and scanners, but a communication between the car and mechanics. All without driver intervention.

For generations, when you have a problem with your car, you’d tell a mechanic.  That’s all about to change as we head into the future with global positioning, drive by wire, and even more computer control in the modern car. Instead, your car will talk directly to the service center.

The mechanics will know when the car needs serviced long before the owner decides whether or not it really needs to go to the shop. With telematics, a mechanic can even watch the car’s condition in real time, which could make the search for intermittent problems a thing of the past.  Of course you could call it another form of “Big Brother” watching your every move, but it’s all in the name of creating a safer and more efficient vehicle for the consumer.

 The transition to a telematics system is inevitable. Change is part of progress, as they say. These new and ever changing technologies are what dictates the cars of the future. We might be driving a hybrid model, or a full electric, or perhaps a hydrogen vehicle by the time telematics is common place. 

         But, for me, the mechanic who services these technical wonders, it’s going to change things in a way nobody ever expected.  And that’s in the initial diagnostic work. There will be a lot less effort spent on trying to sort out the problem with the car when the mechanic asks, “So, what’s wrong with your car?” Think about it, we have such a sophisticated piece of machinery operated by the average consumer who has little to no knowledge of how it actually works. When a problem arises the only indication is this little yellow light on the dash.      

      Then, with some sort of symptom in hand they’ll head to the repair shop. Their answers to the question of what’s wrong with their car can be far from being technically correct or even in the same ball park sometimes, which makes the mechanic’s job that much harder. The car and telematics, on the other hand, both speak “mechanic”.

For example, take these encounters at the counter, and imagine how simplified it would be by telematics telling the mechanic, instead of the driver telling the mechanic.

         A lady called to tell me her computer was flashing. She told me that it would disappear and then reappear.  I asked, “I’m sure you’re not talking about the little box mounted under the hood or under the dash disappearing and reappearing, are you?”  Obviously not, she was talking about a light on her dash for the traction control.  Rather than telling me it was the traction control light going on and off she kept insisting that it was the computer that was disappearing.

 Last week it was an intermittent problem. A repair shop tried the same part three times and it still didn’t fix it.  The owner of the car was wondering if I thought it could be something else. 

Or, the guy who ran his truck out of gas and the repair shop told him the new pump they put in just a few months ago burnt up because he ran the tank dry. I told him that it’s virtually impossible to burn up an electric fuel pump by running the car out of gas, and that he must have a problem elsewhere. Turns out his truck has a dual tank setup and the transfer pump was faulty, but the repair shop only replaced the fuel pump, and filled the empty tank.  (I seriously doubt they even know how to diagnose it.)

         So where does this all lead too?  Simply put, less second hand information, and less likely to have parts-swapper repair shops slapping unneeded components on a customer’s car without properly testing.   

Half the battle of getting to the root of car problems is sorting through all the hearsay and gossip about what could be wrong from untrained and unskilled people, or people with a vague idea of how things work, who then mislead the consumer with some half-wit idea. Now everybody has an opinion about what’s wrong, but nobody knows how to fix it. Chances are even those free code checks at the parts stores will be a thing of the past, because the code, or problem, will have already been sent to the agency, repair shop, or dealership long before the owner has a chance to make that drive to the parts store.

         If there was ever anything, that changes the automotive repair industry in a big way, for both the independent and dealership repair facilities, it’s definitely a working telematics network of professional shops across the country.  I know I need to keep in mind there are still a lot of mechanics and repair shops that won’t agree. Some shops are stuck in the 20th century and see cars as mechanical machines with a few wires and a couple of computers. I’m sure there will be these type of shops around for years to come that will still fix cars with a timing lights and dwell meters. True, but as I see things shaping up, more and more mechanics are likely to be using a scanner or scope to diagnose and repair a car rather than a socket and ratchet.  Let’s face it, times are changing, and so will the type of work the mechanic will be doing in the future.

         Obviously, wearable items such as brake pads, timing chains, oil changes, and electrical components will all need to be serviced as they age, the big difference is how the mechanic finds out about those failures.  The modern car can go a lot farther between scheduled maintenance than cars from just a decade ago, but very few people bring their cars in for periodic maintenance, and far fewer follow the recommended intervals for regular service.  Telematics, will take care of that. It won’t be left up to the consumer or to a book crammed in the back of the glove box or that occasional email from the repair shop; the car will tell you when it needs to go in for service. It might even send you a text or email too!   

         Chances are you’ll show up at the repair shop with not much more than a vague idea of why you’re there, but the car has already talked to the mechanic. No need trying to explain things, he already knows. All you have to do is deliver it to the shop.  Of course, if we’re talking about a time far into the future and you own an automatous car, the car might take care of that all by itself, too. Just think, you won’t have to try and explain things to the mechanic by reenacting the sound and motion the car made just before it acted up, or how you watched a YouTube video that you’re certain is the solution to the problem. Don’t worry technology has taken care of it all. Telematics, will tell the mechanic.

        


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