At auto repair facilities there’s a guy in the back that knows just about everything about cars. He rarely gets sick, needs very little time off and, in fact, the only problem is trying to accommodate all the other personnel who want to pick his brain.
No the HR department has not scored the ultimate hire, this productive auto repair tool is the shop’s ability to access information. As much as it may surprise you, your technician does not know everything about your car.
Let’s take the building block of auto repair – the oil change. You just rolled in with a 2011 Ford Fiesta. There is no way that the lube tech is going to know the crankcase capacity, oil specifications nor how to reset the oil change reminder light without the help of that fictional guy in the back.
So you can see when things really get dicey in the case of a drivability problem or the fix for an intermittent no start situation, there has got to be some looking on the other guy’s test paper going on. So if the guy in the back doesn’t exist, what does the shop staff do beyond scratching their heads?
The answer is a number of different platforms for accessing auto repair information. One that receives a lot of attention because of its ownership by AutoZone is ALLDATA which boasts 75,000 subscribing shops. Their main competitor is Mitchell On-Demand which provides similar information and has a business relationship with NAPA.
These information services can provide an inquiring shop information as technical as a wiring diagram for the rear window defogger to the latest recall information and everything in between. Since the car makers are providing more sophisticated systems like ESC and Blind Spot Avoidance, the ability of even the most committed auto service professional to stay abreast of the latest developments is limited at best.
If the information available on systems like ALLDATA and Mitchell On-Demand don’t lead to a fix, repairers have the ability to dial or click for help. Companies offer help for specific hard to find fixes on a variety of makes and models by maintaining a database of inquiries and confirmed repairs. Their staffs are made up of certified technicians and inquiries are handled on a subscription or by the call basis. Identifix is a company that has provided this service to shops since the late 1980s.While there will never be anyone like the know-it-all in the back of the shop, information technology is available to the auto repair industry that can shorten repair time and facilitate accuracy.