Every technician working in the field today has to ask themself, “Do I flash, or do I pass?”
These days, nearly every car on the road has multiple on-board computers. They often need to have their software updated or be reflashed because a component has been changed or upgraded.
So, which type of repair shop are you? Are you the shop that will do the mechanical work, but leave those electronic issues to someone else? It’s something every shop owner and technician needs to think about. Of course, when it comes to tools and training, the investment can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there is a way to do the mechanical work and still service your customers’ electrical and software needs without breaking the bank. The mobile diagnostic technician is the answer.
I never dreamed there would come a day I would be saying this, but the mobile tech is a viable source of revenue for shops that don’t want to tackle this work. Now, I’m not talking about those fly-by-night boys with a box of tools. I’m referring to the diagnostic scanner mobile tech who has experience dealing with websites and programming issues and has the up-to-date information needed to perform such jobs as reflashing, key programming and reloading of new software.
What’s happening now in the automotive electronics world reminds me of how things were when manufacturers switched from points and condensers to electronic ignition systems. A lot of guys refused to learn the new systems and soon found themselves working only on older models, which eventually faded away.
Somewhere along the way with electronic ignition systems, parts swapping became the norm for some techs. Instead of testing or diagnosing a problem, it was a lot easier for some techs to keep the various types of ignition modules in their tool box. When a “no-start” came in, it took only a few minutes to swap the ignition module with the test piece. It did save diagnostic time, and it did get results, but things have changed with new technology.
The old-school ways of parts swapping have just about become obsolete. Now, swapping components can lead to an even bigger problem than what the car originally came in for. On the other hand, those techs who pick up the pieces after one of these “parts changers” gets done working on a vehicle should be commended. The aftermath of installing a processor without knowing the eventual outcome can be a brutal blow to the pocketbook.
Radar systems, infrared and optical systems, cameras and proximity sensors aren’t the kind of components that can be easily rebuilt, if at all. But, there’s a good chance you can reprogram most of them if you know what you’re doing. Flashing modules and loading computer software updates are just a part of the business now, whether we like it or not.
Programming isn’t for everyone, and some shops and techs can get by without ever dealing with it. But when it’s needed, utilize the expertise that is available to you. Learn how to flash by attending a couple of classes or find someone who can do it for you. Help your customer help you increase your bottom line — don’t pass on the flash.