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


Gonzo

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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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telematics, might help getting your car repaired as you will know something is wrong, but you still have to get the car to a repair facility or have someone come out and fix it. What about cost of repair, is it really going to make it more economical? Don't think so!

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Kenk, economical? is that even a thing anymore? or just a word used to describe higher gas mileages ? As Gonzo said in the article mechanics will be using scopes, scanner, DVOMs etc.. to diagnose a car. That has something that has already started. I would much prefer hooking up a scanner and doing diagnostic work than doing a brake job or some gravy work like that. I think that as telematics evolves it is going to help the industry, it will start to weed out the shops and hacks out there. I give support weather advice or taking on the cars for a few shops in the area, I find it easy to just get them to bring me the car since once you start to tell them how to check things you might as well be talking to the car itself . I think true mechanics are far and in between now a days and it is just going to become more and more apparent as technology takes hold. My hat is off to all the good ones out there, the problem is going to be how do you entice the younger generation to get involved and learn this trade when it is so smeared by the public and pay isn't that great for what we do? Heck grade school teachers are passing the mechanics pay scale now. It is an industry I have been a part of for many years and seen thrive, peak, and go down hill, ever changing in so many different ways and levels. 

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         0 comments
      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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