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Do Dealers Need Electronics Technicians?

jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
edited March 2014 in Audi
... technicians to be employed by dealerships? As more and more sophisticated data busses and processors are added to motor vehicles, the mechanical technician is having to rely on factory support on electrical problems. Do you think it is time for the dealerships to employ a "specialist" for these systems much the same way that an automatic tranny guy is used, or a major engine repairman? Your thoughts, please
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Comments

  • vidtechvidtech Posts: 212
    top notch "auto technicians" currently have training in electronics.that's what separates the technicians from the grease monkeys.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think you can only specialize so much in car repair. An electronics "specialist" also has to know how to take off door panels, disassemble dashboards and dig into engines.

    So I think the guys/gals on the "front line" of a dealership will always be majoring in auto repair and some might "minor" in electronics.

    Besides that issue, there is the problem of the electronics systems changing all the time. In a sense, there is no sense in becoming so masterful in one system only to have the 2003 cars come out with a different system. Better if you have a good overview and let the really tought and weird problems go to the factory techs I think. Also, these new online databases will help the tech.

    A good tech doesn't have to know everything. A good tech only has to know where to look for answers.

    So I'd spend more time improving the information databases, not training the techs to perfection.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    I have said it before, a mechanic (sorry, hate the word tech) is only as good as his sources.
    That means information, parts, training and etc.

    The days of mechanics who "guess" are just about to the point where the ones who guess may be finding jobs at one of the chain shops for $9.00/hr.
    There are still some of those shops out there who hire "parts replacers", but the trend is going toward mechanics who can figure out the problems. With the advent of the 42 volt system, it will become even more evident, because it will be new territory and the mechanics who can't figure things out, will be heading down the road.

    Just my opinion.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think mechanics, at least the real pros, have a very difficult and demanding job and deserve a rate of pay equivalent to any other highly trained specialist. I'd rather pay some brainiac $100/hr to fix my car than some bumbler $15 per hour, because the $100/hr will be cheaper.

    I can tell which one I've got about ten minutes after he/she has touched my car.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    After talking with the service manager and lead shop foreman at a HUGE dealership chain, I am convinced that before the factories give the needed information and tools to repair the electronics on these new vehicles, the factories will have the shops plugging a cable into the dataport and will diagnose problems long distance. The GM SI2000 is the first step in this direction.

    Jim
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    That is all. How a mechanic uses it, is a different story.
    But, there is more mechanics using tech hotlines than ever before.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    But according to the mechies, wiring diagrams and harness routing are no longer offered in the manuals. Most repairs call for testing with "A known good part." Many times a part will be pulled from a vehicle in stock to see if the diagnostics gave the correct determination. I guess the factories feel this is cheaper and easier than teaching electronics.

    Either way, I stand by my earlier statement that troubleshooting will be done via modem within a very few years.

    Jim
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    It's already here. I took a tour of a technical school Toronto a while ago. Toyota is one of their sponsors, and they had installed a chassis dynamometer which is linked directly to their engineering department in Japan. Allows their engineers to troubleshoot problem child drivability concerns, etc, in real time.
  • brucer2brucer2 Posts: 157
    Delaerships will not employ electronic technicians. The automotive systems do not lend themselves to low level diagnostics and makers do not provide the information needed to do it. Most electronic "technicians" don't have the skills to do low level trouble shooting anyway. (When was the last time you saw a computer tech use a logic analyzer, scope, DVM, or any instrument for that matter?) Dealer techs will depend on diagnostic readouts and the built in self test modes designed into the systems.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Any piece of equipment is only as good as the person reading it.

    I'd certainly hope for a continuing trend toward remote diagnostics, and training the mechanics to know how to access this information properly. Technology is simply moving too fast for one person to keep up on his own.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Any piece of equipment is only as good as the person reading it.

    I'd certainly hope for a continuing trend toward remote diagnostics, and training the mechanics to know how to access this information properly. Technology is simply moving too fast for one person to keep up on his own.

    Another problem is that so much of automotive engineering is not standardized. Not only is it different make to make, but often model to model and year to year.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    a "computer technician" with a trained electronics technician. One does diagnostics using a keyboard, the other can diagnose and fix the keyboard. :-)
  • where I work, so we don't fix them. It is cheaper to replace them.

    Usually the problem is the loose nut behind the key board. Usually can't replace those 8^)

    TB
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    How do you verify wheel speed sensor outputs without scoping the signal line?
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    But according to the mechies, wiring diagrams and harness routing are no longer offered in the manuals. Most repairs call for testing with "A known good part." Many times a part will be pulled from a vehicle in stock to see if the diagnostics gave the correct determination. I guess the factories feel this is cheaper and easier than teaching electronics.
    What mechies? Certainly not this one and I am certain not Alcan either.
    The information I use has wiring diagrams and harness routing.
    And ALL the testing flowcharts I use, NONE of them suggest replacing with a good known part. NOT ONE.
    See, that is the problem I see in a trend for new mechanics, they aren't mechanics or even techs, they are parts replacers. That is not fixing cars.
    Testing the part and knowing how to test it, then replacing it when you know it is bad, is THE ONLY WAY.
  • brucer2brucer2 Posts: 157
    Yes, you can use a scope (so long as you don't need AC for it, or have a long extension cord). However, because I was curious, I checked the FSMs for the Mercury Mystique ('96) and Nissan Maxima ('91) to see what "the" proceedure was for checking wheel speed sensors. Ford calls for, "Rotunda New Star Generaton Star (NGS) Tester 007-00500", and Nissan has the, "Nissan ABS-Checker KV999P1000". Niether one calls for a scope, or gives the specs on the "expected" wave form. About the only general purpose electrical instrument I see called for in manuals is a VOM.
    In reality, I don't think anyone (mfg's/dealers/drivers) wants to pay for someone to diagnose electronic problems, because it takes to long and costs too much. Just think about what some dealers charge to "pull" an OBD II code. We have parts changes, becuase that's what's become most cost effective.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    To me, verifying a clean wss AC sine wave is basic and fundamental to ABS/TCS diagnosis. Since most speed sensors (wheel speed, trans input & output, vss) are simple AC pulse generators, they can easily be tested with a scope. A portable scope such as a Snap-on Vantage set to waveform viewer takes the guesswork out of verifying intermittent faults such as a dirty signal induced from sensor shock (EMI from mechanical vibration in the vicinity of the sensor). Also handy for viewing PCM sensor inputs when chasing down intermittent driveability problems. As far as paying for diagnosis vs replacing parts, most later model GM cars as an example use integral front wss/wheel bearings at about $300 a pop. Replacing them without verifying the fault gets expensive fast.
  • brucer2brucer2 Posts: 157
    I never said a scope wasn't useful. It's very good for all the things you mention, and many more. The problem is I don't think many automotive techs know how to use one, or that many shops even have them.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    I think more mechanics than you think know how to use them. Most of the shops I know have them.
    The problem I see, is that dealerships emphasize speed and replacing parts, especially when the vehicle is under warranty. The customers are starting to squawk about these jokers replacing parts until they find the right part.
    They talk about losing time and all. But if you stop and think about it, if you take the time to do the diagnostics, usually it is quicker in the long run to diagnose properly and replace the correct part. That time is chargeable and the customer is happy, cause you haven't replace 10 parts on their car to fix the problem.
    Personally, I don't see where the problem is, with the correct information, the diagnostics is easy. Gravy work. You test with a flowchart and diagrams and replace the correct part the first.
  • I was on another site a while back and there was this article about a tech that diagnosed transmission solenoid problems with a scope. He said he looked for gull wings. Now I'm an electronics designer and it even took me a while to figure out what he was talking about (no pictures). A solenoid has an inductance value which is different when it is in from when it is out. If you remember from physics, the inductance of the coil resists the flow and current builds up slowly. Fast for us, but a scope can see this current rise easily. When the solenoid core pulls in the slope of this current also changes. If you see that the slope changes, you know that the solenoid is not stuck. The tech better know how to trigger a scope! I also use this method when I need to know the actual operating speed of electro mechanical devices. So did any of you understood this. If so I will tell you more stories. Still, maybe replacement is easier if it isn't a home job.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    The term used around my neck of the woods is current ramping.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    You don't even need a scope to do that trick. Take one old fashioned analog multimeter and set it to its lowest ohms range - 200 ohms will do but you can experiment with other ranges. It all depends on how good your multimeter is. Take a known good solenoid. With the core out, dab the meter probes onto the terminals of the coil and note how far the meter kicks up. Push the core in and do the same all the while noting how far the meter kicks up.

    Now do the same to the suspect solenoid and compare readings. Of course you can only compare like with like but it beats having to take out a solenoid and finding out there is nothing wrong with it. A bit of experimentation with known good solenoids will allow you to build up a data base for all the solenoids you are likely to encounter.
  • And so are those solenoids your testing. I haven't seen a solenoid with that much inductance in a long time and where are you going to find an analog meter. The trend is going toward more PWM (pulse width) with low inductance coils that you can drive hard and fast, like fuel injectors. I've designed high speed solenoid drivers and in these solenoids there is almost no inductance change. I was squirting glue at .002 sec on and .002 sec off with 45V on a 3V coil. Ford's IAC valve is PWM with an internal kickback diode. I wonder what would happen if that internal diode failed. Sure it is probably redundant in the computer but not able to handle the current over a long period. We actually built a device for a company that made clutches for AC. They had an internal diode that needed to checked for proper electrical crimp. We pulsed the coil and measured the voltage kickback.

    Back to technicians. I have interviewed many electrical techs with "experience" and found most that lacked even basic electronic knowledge. I used to give a short 20 question multiple choice (4) test on actual real world problems. I mean this test was stupid with no hidden meanings. Simple ohms law stuff. 35% was a good score. Some even ran out of the building. I had to reduce it to four questions to get people to finish it in a half hour. These are the people that you are going to get at the car dealerships. I'm sorry, but give me a cheap part puller.
  • q45manq45man Posts: 416
    When working on fuel injectors, fuel pumps, fan motors even checking starters [measure the compression of each cylinder], alternators, looking/[storing] at the current waveform is an art in itself.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Yeah, where am I going to find an analog meter that will do that? When I think of those meters I'm thinking Simpson and AVO. Something in the range of 50k ohm per volt. Not these little "pocket" analog meters. The right meter will do the job I'm talking about. If anybody has a Simpson or AVO just cherish it. An analog meter is still tops for nulling or peaking a circuit. I suppose I am a dying breed. My handle is 7937 and that is my birthdate. I was born in 1937 you see. As I said, a 12 volt dc solenoid has enough inductance to kick a good analog meter. I certainly wasn't thinking of pulse width solenoids.
  • I love it but sorry, I'm digital. I've dumped those meters and never looked back. OK, I do have an original Weston vtvm with the one cent warrantee card. Like newton said - If you can't express something in numbers, you know very little about it.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Analog is great. Give me an analog watch over a digital one any day. It's tough to admit but our perceptions (hearing, sight) are all analog. I'm all human. Next thing you'll be telling me computers and digital robots can think better than humans. Hey man, us analog creatures created them.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    An afterthought - did you also dump your scope? It is after all an analog measuring device.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    Simple ohms law stuff.
    Were you looking for a mechanic or a college grad??
    Don't get me wrong, but I have seen mechanics who were some of the best electrical guys around, who could NEVER pass a test on electrical theory.
    Why? Because they never had the schooling on it or couldn't understand the gibberish in the schooling. Give them the system and diagram and they can tell you how it works, what it does and how to test/fix it.
    That is the "new generation" frame of mind, only digital will work. LOL!
    If only that were true, I could dump half the tools. LOL!
  • of some American cowboy who spits on an electrical connection and makes it work in time to save us from some terrorist. There is a difference between a basic electrician and an electronic tech. I know TV repairmen that can fix a TV but they have no idea how they work. They were told when you see this, you replace that. They don't have the ability to analyze a new problem and work a solution. And yes I have still hired these people and they don't have the slightest idea of how to fix anything. These people went to school and couldn't figure out ohm's law. I was repairing electronic organs when I was just 15. I learned everything at that age by just reading books. So, none of this crap about them "good ole boys." The thread was, do dealerships need to hire electronic techs. My experience is that you couldn't afford to hire the ones that could actually solve complex problems.
This discussion has been closed.