Automobiles are now becoming attractive to us "electronic types" with all
the computers, networks, and sensors they now have. But there are some
serious problems which would keep the best electronic technicians from ever
working in the automotive repair field...
First, it seems to me the automotive repair industry is in bad need of
automotive technicians who can troubleshoot complex electronic problems...
Each dealer or regional area should have a skilled electronic technician
available to troubleshoot problems the other technicians can't fix.
This person should be paid by the hour and have free reign to take as long
as is necessary to find the problem. (Called in for those tough electrical
This person should only be required to work on electrical, electronic, and
computer problems. Mechanical repairs and things like changing the oil are
"boring" to these people. Ask them to do these things and they will go
Then there is a BIG problem with little or no documentation on the
specifications for parts. The automotive business just gives a part
description and part number. Little or no other information. Electronic
technicians are used to extremely detailed specification information for
Like this for a relay...
Auto parts version...
Or for a microcontroller (tons of documentation)...
The automotive version (not much)...
So that is a BIG turn-off to highly skilled technicians. They want to
understand how things work. If something is acting weird in a circuit or
there is a strange intermittent problem, they want to read about the
components involved and see it there is a certain "mode" or situation which
could cause the problem. Or place a system into a certain "mode" for
And if electronic circuit boards have different revision levels, they want
to be able to research this and see what the different revisions are for.
What problems these revisions solve. Same with software revisions. What
problem did that newer software release fix?
Skilled technicians are accustomed to access to all this information!
But it seems that the automotive industry thinks the techs don't need to
know this stuff, so it is not provided.
And I'm talking about some simple stuff. Like a "coolant temperature sensor"
for an engine computer. What resistance should that sensor be at different
temperatures? That basic information is not provided in some factory service
manuals I have seen. Or very difficult to find. It may be in the "dumbed
down" troubleshooting instructions if you spend 15 minutes looking.
Better would be a specifications book. Look up the part number, then it
gives you the specification of the part. Or a web site with this
information. Look up that part number, then you can quickly see it is so
many ohms at certain temperatures.
Then advanced electronic testing tools should be provided. Intermittent
electrical problems can be caught with a multiple input data recorder.
Connect these to various points on a circuit, then send the car back out to
the customer. When the problem happens again, bring it back in and look at
the data. See where the problem is coming from.
I'm reading a lot on the internet where vehicles are taken to a dealer with
an electronic problem... again and again and again. They can't find the
problem! The customer is ticked! NOTHING is done...
The techs seem to be paid by the problem (not hour) and it is to their
advantage to get it out the door.
In the rest of the electronic world, they "escalate" these problems.
1st repair visit - regular technician.
2nd repair visit - regular technician again.
3rd repair visit, goes to top repair technician at dealer.
4th repair visit, regional expert called in.
5th visit, expert from the factory called in.
(And as the problem is escalated, more advanced testing equipment and access
to technical documentation is of course available to the people in these