The Future of Automotive Technicians ~ Episode 35

The Future of Automotive Technicians ~ Episode 35


hey everybody Charles for humble mechanic calm this is episode 35 of the humble mechanic podcast as you can probably already guess you got me in the car today I am actually on my way home from work after a long day off that I spent as a day on but you know just typical typical deal the beauty of a four-day work week is it gives me the opportunity to go in on my day off and get some business handled if I need to what I want to talk to you guys about today is something that I actually think a lot about because it directly affects me in the industry and that’s sort of where the future of what us technicians do is going to look like I’ve been in the industry for about 12 years which is a long time but it’s not a long time and I’ve seen a fair amount of things change but I don’t really think it’s changed at the rate that we’re about to see over the next five to seven years with improvements in technology and the way vehicles are moving I think we’re gonna see a lot of different things I think it’s gonna really change the way we have to think as technicians and really our responsibility as technicians to as always this comes from a standpoint of a Volkswagen technician so I know some other manufacturers are already doing these things now but you’re gonna see these these type of behaviors trickle down into you know every level of vehicle whether it’s the most Highline Range Rover or you know the the humble Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla so I think the best place to start is really talking about the diagnostic end and I think we’re gonna start to see a lot more guided diagnostics now with Volkswagen we have our system in our scan tool it’s called guided fault-finding and basically we scan the entire vehicle and any faults that present themselves the scan tool populates test plans for so let’s say there’s a fault for the coolant temperature sensor the scan tool automatic we populated tests for the technician to run on the coolant temp sensor and a couple of other things but I think we’re gonna see that at a level totally totally different than we are now we’re gonna see it for everything and you’re gonna see where technician hooks up the scan tool runs all the faults and it’s not just that the scan tool populates the test it pushes them through every single step of what they want to be done so basically the technician even more so than it already exists now is sort of going to become the the servant to the scan tool basically just be a pair of hands to actually put test leads on stuff and enter values into the scan tool and then the scan tool is gonna decide from there what is gonna happen now I know you guys are saying Charles this is already going on I know but it’s gonna look a lot different it’s gonna pull the technicians brain out of the equation and force the technician to only do what the scan tool says and luckily the scan tools are gonna be getting better and better at this you know when I first started 2004 was the first year that we had to use this guided fault-finding system for warranty for Volkswagen and it was terrible it was god-awful it took forever test planes wouldn’t load information wasn’t there we still fight a lot of that today but it’s gotten so much better over the last 10 years that it’s it’s crazy how much better it is so we’re gonna see improvements in that we’re gonna see more virtual type repairs where we hold a camera up to the car and there’s someone at you know a technical service line hot line or something like that looking at the vehicle live rather than us snapping pictures and emailing it to them which you know at this point time so primitive it seems but like a lot of car manufacturers they’re ahead of their game on a lot of ends but they’re so far behind with processes and new technology that it’s it’s really kind of sad I had a conversation with one of the boys in the shop the other day you know us creating these repair tickets these help tickets for when we have a problem and how much of a hassle it is and why we can’t just do it all on mobile I mean we’re submitting pictures I’m taking the pictures obviously with my phone I’m not about to get a digital camera for this we’re submitting video online so you have to email it to the work computer and then upload it through through Internet Explorer because that’s the only one that works you know why aren’t we dealing with mobile apps at this point in time but you know we’ll get there but there’s gonna be more of that there’s gonna be more of the forced guidance through the scan tool and through the vehicle not just you know the way it is now where we plug it in answer a couple of questions and you know it says put put an ECM in it which is generally what it says it’s gonna be significantly more guided and forced guided with more direct input even direct live input from like a helpline Volkswagen of America or whatever manufacturer it might be manufacturers are also getting better at catching problems earlier I can tell you that today Volkswagen of America is probably a million times better at catching problems early than they were in 2005-2006 that’s why at the dealership level we have so many new car updates they’re sending out you know the regional managers to go and check cars and find problems and at a rate they never did in the past ten years so we’re gonna see more of that we’re gonna see you know that first time you bring your car in for service it’s gonna have a lot more updates than then a vehicle traditionally had and I think that’s a good thing I don’t think that’s something to be scared of you can only do so much field testing from a manufacturer standpoint because no one’s gonna put their car through through what you know some of your average drivers are gonna put their car through so we’ll see those increase even more than they have so you’re going to see more technical service bulletins more required vehicle updates more of that kind of thing and that like I said I think that is a good thing well actually going to see probably more over-the-air updates as time goes on so let’s say there’s an update for your radio rather than you having to bring your vehicle to the dealership us you know plug the scan tool in or load a disk in these radios are gonna start updating automatically or scanning for an update and updating every three months sort of like your computer at home does when Windows needs an update it tells you when your cellphone has an update it tells you vehicles are already coming with their own IP addresses and are basically mobile hotspots and I think as that technology becomes more common in vehicles we’re gonna just start we’re not even gonna have to have the car at the dealership for these updates to occur that’s a good and bad thing it’s a great thing as long as it doesn’t fail but you know a glitch or a weirdness or change in voltage can definitely cause some big-time Oh problems you know smoking ECMs or radios or whatever modules trying to update because you drive through a tunnel and it cuts out halfway or whatever volkswagen is actually getting a lot better about their updates it’s no longer downloaded over the over the scan tool straight into the car it’s loaded on the scan tool and then load it into the car so we’re able to actually have a lot better success with trying to update a second time rather than you know rolling the dice and having an update fail and then you just paid for a module so the over-the-air updates are actually already exist Volkswagen came out with car net which I have a lot of mixed feelings about it’s basically the OnStar of 2014 I don’t know how many people are paying for the subscription of it but we actually get a report of vehicle errors something as simple as a tire pressure monitor light coming on our service manager can see the report and see how many vehicles in the area have had a tire pressure monitor light come on so you’ll see more things like that I have a lot of mixed feelings about that you know there’s a there’s a big big time Big Brother factor to what that’s gonna look like that scares me a little bit but it’s coming the government’s gonna mandate it I’m sure and in the name of cleaner cars and you know safer cars they’re gonna mandate all these things be downloaded directly to the dealership and we’ll see how it works you know it just like any system that gets mandated the the early ones are gonna have hiccups but they’ll get better and better and better I think tire pressure monitors are a really good example of that early on in Oh for when they came out with the tour in the Touareg it was a nightmare system the Phaeton to nightmare system now it’s actually pretty good and for the most part I would say 99% of the time the issues that we have with tire pressure monitors are either broken monitors because someone got new tires or their tire pressures just low and most of the time it’s just tire pressures being low I also think and this is the one that sort of scares me the most professionally is I think we’re gonna start to see more of a split in technicians so right now we have ABC basically ABC technicians a technicians are your top level guys B technicians are your guys that can do almost everything but sort of get hung on some of the higher level advanced diagnostics your c-level guys are your parts changers brakes tires that kind of thing and then you have the service Express which is you know just below that not below that in you know any sense but skill level or experience I think we’re gonna really see a split I think the a-level technician number is gonna go down and I think the need for the a-level technician number is going to go down to again like I mentioned before you’re gonna see the manufacturer really taking hold a lot more than they do and forcing technicians to do it in a more guided way than we already have so that means the need for someone like an aide level technician that can really think outside the box and analyze a vehicle’s problem and come to a diagnosis on their own that’s going to be less and less and less with every new generation of car that comes out your be level technicians are going to be decreased immensely probably more than any other field you know any other level of technician because there’s going to be so much less of a need for someone that doesn’t have the advanced diagnostic skills that can do some diagnostic they’re gonna get moved down to more of a c-level technician and remember that at each of these levels the pay is different so an a-level technician let’s say makes 30 bucks an hour a b-level technician say 25 bucks an hour and a c-level technician is a $15.00 an hour max guy you’re gonna see these these positions slide backwards so the majority of the a technicians are gonna slide into a B or C type role and the B technicians are gonna slide to a C technician and the C technicians gonna the number of them is gonna be higher the need is gonna be more so you’ll you’ll keep those guys and then the service Express or quick lube I’ll be what it is you know fast fast service quick oil change quick tire rotation and all that and that that’ll probably just stay where it is the problem is that the a-level technicians because only the top level is gonna stay there they’re gonna start needing to be paid more their value is going to go up and that’s good if you’re a really good a level technician that’s bad if you’re a low-level a technician or a bee technician so you’re gonna see this split where the really high level guys are probably gonna start moving more towards the manufacturer side they’re gonna go work for Mercedes they’re gonna go work for Volkswagen they’re gonna work for Ford and Chevy and the low level a technicians are gonna be pushed into the B or C level because essentially we’re going to move more and more and more towards a technician just being a parts replacer and it’s gonna be forced even more than it already is through the manufacturer the good thing for the a level technicians is the need in you the aftermarket is gonna go up I think I think having highly experienced technicians in the aftermarket is going to be more important as manufacturers push this you know manufacturer repair only type mindset even more than it already is so I think the dealerships are gonna suffer a lot because of that but you know that’s not a bad thing I think that the the automotive industry has been stuck in this 1960s protocol for so long that it may take a while until on the interim so you know we’ll see what we’ll see what happens with it but I don’t know it’s an interesting it’s an interesting mental exercise for me part of it’s really exciting part of it’s pretty scary part of it makes me concern for a lot of my peers and and what it’s going to look like for them I think you’re gonna see automotive software engineers the demand for the those guys skyrocket as as we load modules down and update them over-the-air there’s gonna be a lot of demand for someone to engineer software for these these modules and these over-the-air type things I got to tell you if you’re a technician out there now and you are a B level technician it’s time to up your game guys you really need to work on your diagnostic skills and get good with diagnosing computers the the old-timers that don’t want to do it anymore there’s a place for you in the aftermarket but even that’s gonna be going away because the aftermarket is gonna change too as the dealership level changes the aftermarket has to change so it’ll be an interesting thing I think the next five years are gonna be kind of painful for for technicians in the automotive world now don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be attack or you know if you’re going to school for it don’t let that discourage you cars are always gonna be broken and it’s just gonna evolve and change in the way that we we repair them so I don’t know it’s gonna be an interesting ride and I don’t know what it’s gonna look like for sure but I can tell you it’ll be interesting anyway guys I’m gonna wrap it up there this is one that I again I love to hear your thoughts on I think I think you guys got some really cool interpretation especially you aftermarket guys I’d love to know where you’re at on this this topic but as always plus your comments in the comments section below you can also follow me on Facebook Twitter YouTube and Instagram if you liked the video throw it a thumbs up don’t forget you can also share it which I always appreciate that anyway guys thanks for watching and I will see you next time


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