When Technology Overwhelms

Recently I was involved in two hearings concerning repair information availability in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts. Unlike many who comment on this topic, I am going to let you know where I sit, before I tell you where I stand.I firmly believe – because I practice it every day – that if you use the information that is available, you’ll be successful repairing cars. I also believe that if more people in our industry took the time to strike compromises and learn from one another, the entire industry would be better served.Typical of these types of hearings, there were many presenters, many problems – some perceived, some real. Bottom line: Perception is reality if you cannot fix a car. Because I was presenting against legislation, I was not presenting problems. So don’t take anything I am about to say as being in support of adding more laws to an already confusing situation. I simply don’t endorse that approach.

But if you have a solution, I would be delighted to discuss it.I explained in the hearings that I have been a party to those high-level, top-secret meetings that occurred between representatives for the car companies. Some people are not going to like what they were talking about, but I would hope that you will. The central topic of conversation was, “How can we help these guys to fix our cars so that our customers will buy from us again?” My answer to them: “You can’t unless they want to be helped.”When I demonstrated the use of a scan tool and software refiashing of a powertrain control module to a representative of the New Jersey legislature, I was surprised by the young man’s knowledge of computer systems.

The reflash took some time, so he and I got to chat a bit.It occurred to me that computers are, for lack of a better word, “organic” to his existence. Performing basic maintenance such as refiashing BIOS and upgrading RAM and hard drives is as second nature to him as performing basic car maintenance is to baby boomers.This young man was able to get his head around methods of finding information and using a computer to talk to another computer very quickly.

I don’t think that either he or I had any doubt that the reflash that I was doing would be successful. However, most of the people surrounding us were older and represented the carmakers. I am almost sure that I heard them all breathe a collective sigh of relief when the vehicle started up after I was done.

It’s clear to me that our industry is caught in a paradox. Younger generations have an inherent belief in a computer’s ability to enhance productivity, but older generations still have doubts about integrating technology into their businesses. Engineering types are still not convinced that technicians possess the skills to effectively use the tools they create, yet if one takes the time to teach others something one knows, everyone gets better.

Technology has overwhelmed many of our peers, who truly believe that they are being passed over by “them” or “those who are not ‘me.'” As only one person, I am willing to commit my time to help anybody who is willing to be helped to embrace technology and creative solutions to make our jobs easier and more efficient.

I will also leverage my relationship with manufacturers to help others understand why they do what they do, so that I can help you do what you need to do.In return, I would ask you to pass it on. Find a willing technician or shop owner and help them to not be overwhelmed by technology.