By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor
You will probably agree that computers and the internet have had a huge impact on the way we work when it comes to vehicle repair. I know for myself and the shops I’ve worked in, that for several years now, we’ve gone to a computer the first time we need to look up some spec, find some wiring diagram, or nowadays even when we need to order parts. The days of running to the shop library are pretty much gone, and quickly fading are the days of calling your parts guy to get pricing and availability. All one needs now is a laptop and an internet connection, and you can find pretty much anything.
A few years ago I was working at a small shop. You know the kind: a family-run shop that’s been there for ages, a place where everyone in the community knows the proprietors on a first name basis and vice versa. They did have a computer, but no one there knew how to use it, and of course they didn’t have an internet connection. Customer invoices were still being written up by hand on those small “service tickets,” and payment was only accepted by personal check from very well-known customers; all others pay cash (no credit cards). There was actually a pretty big collection of those large, five-inch-bound service books, but the most recent ones had “1994 Edition” stamped on the sides. Needless to say, when I needed to find information about a vehicle I was working on, I had relatively few choices close at hand. I could ask someone else in the shop and hope they knew, or maybe call up my parts guy and see if they had the specs readily available and would take the time out to help. Otherwise, I would keep a daily list of the things I needed to look up, and take it home to check online at night. I would sometimes spend several hours researching repair information at home, printing out diagrams, instructions, and wiring schematics that might be helpful. Sometimes I hit the nail on the head, went in to work the next day, and was able to repair the vehicle quickly and correctly. Other times, though, I would find that the configuration was actually “that other type” I didn’t count on. It was frustrating to say the least, but the worst part was that it really slowed down my productivity because if I couldn’t find something out right away, I had to put the vehicle back together, off the lift, and back outside until I could figure it out. I could move on to another vehicle, but there was a lot of lost time going through the motions.
In the summer of 2011 I bought my first android phone, but didn’t consider it an information tool until one day when I needed the oil viscosity for some import car. No one in the shop was exactly sure, the books we had were way outdated. So, I thought I would try using the Google search function on my phone. Sure enough, there were several hits, and while not all were correct, figuring on the average and adding my experience I found the right one.
If you subscribe to the MACS Motor online A/C & Cooling System Specs Library, you can use your android phone to access the data. MACS members can purchase a one-year subscription for $30 and non-members will pay $50; hey, why aren’t you a MACS member? You’ll have to zoom in if it’s a small screen, but it’s quick, easy to find, and most important, ACCURATE! You can find it right on our homepage at www.macsw.org
Author’s Note: What creative methods do you use to find the service information you need? Drop me a line and let me know!