Even the most experienced technicians don’t hesitate to check out various platforms where they can benefit from the experience of other mechanical professionals.
Internet is full of communities of mechanics who share their experiences and offer solutions to their colleagues in order to repair the vehicles in their shops. However, as with all advice on the web, there is the best and the worst.
“I like the principle of information-sharing communities,” says Philippe Bussières, a training consultant for the CPCPA. “Unfortunately, too many mechanics go directly to these sources instead of making a proper diagnosis. I see these communities as a tool that can be useful from time to time to validate an approach, but you always have to validate this information before taking any action or ordering a part.”
Steve Oborne, a columnist for Autosphere and a leading expert on electronic diagnostics in his shop, has the same warning. “You have to understand the systems first,” he says. “And that’s done by following the workshop manual and its diagnostic procedures. Reading the manufacturer’s procedures will explain why you need to replace a part, for example. Sometimes there are gaps, but consulting with online communities is a last resort.”
The large diagnostic platforms that present the repair processes and also include important service bulletins that are constantly updated, also include access to expert communities. In this case, the big difference with information-sharing communities is the validation of the information.
“Technicians need to be wary of what they find on the Internet,” warns Paul Ayoub, regional sales manager for ALLDATA. “With our platform, by entering the vehicle’s serial number or its brand, model and year of construction, the technician has access to all the manufacturer’s information. He can also consult our community, whose access is free with the subscription to our platform”.
Where access to this community becomes particularly interesting is that it is supervised by ALLDATA. Technicians who want to contribute must register and their comments and advice will be validated by the ALLDATA technical team. This is done quickly, as is the response to questions delivered on this forum.
“This information is often a very good second opinion for experienced technicians and a thought-provoking way to develop the understanding of beginners,” Ayoub says. “For us, it was important to make this professionally supervised forum available, because the technicians from the 115,000 or so shops using our diagnostic platform like to share their solutions, which enrich the entire community. And for many, identifying a possible solution path in a complex diagnosis can save a lot of time.”
Enriching the bank of solutions
Mitchell 1 offers access to the SureTrack community through its ProDemand diagnostic platform. As Abby Lucero, director of product marketing for ProDemand, explains, the SureTrack community taps into the advice of thousands of professional technicians across the continent.
“Technicians can not only get help when faced with a problem vehicle, but can contribute to the community by answering questions from colleagues and sharing tips for diagnosis and repair,” Lucero says. Again, the information is validated by community members to ensure that answers are shared quickly.
If a technician applies one of the solutions recommended on the forum and succeeds in solving his problem, SureTrack will invite him to close his question which will then be added, along with the solution, to the huge database. “This way, technicians who are faced with the same problem later on will have quick access to the solution validated by others.” It’s worth mentioning that Mitchell 1 also offers the ShopConnection Blog where technicians share their tips and solutions.
A discussion with Mathieu Brunel from GEM-CAR tells us that his team is building a platform for sharing tips for car mechanics professionals. “Especially with new technologies and the advent of electric vehicles, our technicians know a lot, often beyond the manufacturers’ processes,” he says. “With 70% of our management solutions used in French-speaking markets this forum could be bilingual, which would set us apart.”
Follow the steps
Michel Julien of MJ Consultech is a master in the art of electronic diagnosis. He gets back to the basics, when it is found that nearly one-third of mechanical shops would simply not have access to a digital diagnostic and repair process platform. “Follow the procedure chart without skipping steps,” he insists. I’m wary of forums that aren’t linked to manufacturers’ procedures. You have to make sure that the information is valid, because sometimes the solutions that come from California, for example, do not necessarily apply here where the conditions are particular. You also have to be careful that consulting the forums doesn’t become a waste of time when you’re trying to save time.”