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The Key To Your Success Is The Right Information!

There’s a saying that resonates throughout our industry.

“When you don’t know that you don’t know, is very different than, when you do know that you don’t know”. That saying has never been more true when it comes to vehicle diagnosis.

If you’re familiar with my articles then you’ll understand that I’m a MASSIVE fan of process which is why I developed our 15 step diagnostic circle of love. But even if you were armed with this, our training, the latest serial tools and your oscilloscope of choice, your diagnostic life would be frustrating. Why? Quite simply you’d be missing the link that ties all these critical elements together. The right information for the vehicle!

What Is The Best Information For a Diagnostic Technician?

If you asked that question of a dozen technicians, you could well receive as many different answers and to be fair they could all be correct. Your source of information really does depend on the repair that you’re faced with; it’s also not uncommon for a technician to gravitate towards a source that they are familiar with, regardless of how comprehensive it may be. How do I know this? It’s exactly what I used to do until I discovered the grail of tech info…… Manufacturer Information!

A Lucky Find

Many years ago I’d frequent main agent insolvency auctions. I’d travel the length and breadth of the UK hunting for a bargain that I could put to good use in our workshop. One one occasion I’d travelled North to buy a compressor, but as usual I a lways returned with some goodies I’d never intended to buy. Anyway…. on this occasion it was to be a turning point in my career.

I’d intended to buy a compressor but couldn’t help also buy a box of odds ‘n sods. The box contained, a Ford 3 Digit Star Tester (state of the art in it’s day), a multimeter, and a plethora of technical information. I bought the box for the diagnostic tooling but little did I know that wasn’t where the value was.

Having been reared in an independent workshop I’d never been exposed to the treasure that lay inside a franchised workshop. Whilst I wasn’t dissatisfied with our independent information (Autodata at the time) it’s coverage couldn’t compete with manufacturer information. From that day forward I decided that it was OE info all the way where possible.

When I was a lad…

There was a challenge though. That was well over two decades ago and sourcing manufacturer information was next to impossible. The only saving grace being that vehicles had fewer systems than we’ve seen in the last few years.

So… Fast forward to today and what does the landscape look like for an indie garage like yours? Well, you’re now faced with a diagnostic challenge that far surpasses bygone days. You have to do battle daily with with dozens of control units, incomprehensible system strategy and miles of cable cocooned in a body of plastic and steel. The future could seem quite dim was it not for one fact, and that’s there has never been a better time to access manufacturer information.

So Why Am I So Excited?

Apart from being the excitable type, access to this information changed my technical career. It’s just so much easier to fix a car when you know how it works and you have all the information to hand. The good news is that the information has never been more accessible!

So what type of information is available? How about:

  1. Complete vehicle wiring diagrams often with hyperlinks to component locations
  2. Component explanations and operational characteristics
  3. Component test strategies
  4. Workshop repair manuals
  5. Repair procedures usually with step by step picture and sometimes video
  6. Technical specifications
  7. Required special tolling where needed
  8. Exploded parts diagrams
  9. Technical service bulletins and more known faults than you could shake a stick at
  10. Technical training information in some instances

Once you’ve discovered this you’ll wonder how you ever fixed a car without it!

I know what you’re thinking though, so let’s address the elephant in the room. What does it cost?


That might be a little bit of an exaggeration (I am excitable after all) but it’s not as expensive as you think.

Take the VAG diagnostic system ELSA erWin and ODIS for example. For €25 a day (per brand) you have access to ODIS (the manufacturer diagnostic tool) with access to wiring diagrams, workshop manual and Technical Product Information (TPi’s = invaluable silver bullets), fault codes, serial data, guided diagnosis, coding, programming and a whole host of other diagnostic goodness. Pretty much everything you could wish for to get a VAG vehicle repaired in a timely manner.

ODIS wiring diagram     ODIS workshop manual

If you don’t need access to ODIS then technical information can be purchased for €7 an hour. The question here is “Have you ever spent longer than an hour to find the information you need hunting around the internet on your favourite search engine?” If you’re anything like I was as a younger man, then the answer will be a resounding yes!

Next question.. “What’s your labour rate, and at what point does it pay to go straight to the manufacturer resource to obtain it?” Well, if your labour rate is £55 an hour then searching for more than 8 minutes on that free resource means it’s costing your business money! All of a sudden €7 for an hour on ELSA doesn’t seem so expensive.

You may well have joined the dots as well and applied this to your favourite VAG diagnostic tool. At only €25 a day for ODIS, it may benefit you to have the power of the manufacturer tool in your workshop, rather than hoping that your generic tool of choice will complete the task in a timely manner.

So perhaps I was right after all. It’s a bargain?? Only you can decide.

One thing’s for sure though, and I’m immovable on this one, having the right information is a must if you are to repair vehicles efficiently and profit from diagnosis. I just happen to have the benefit of being infinitely more enjoyable with the right information!

So what are you waiting for? Get over to those manufacturer websites, get registered and start enjoying all that diagnostic goodness. Not sure where the sites are?

We have a lot of technicians attend our manufacturer specific diagnostic system training courses at the Auto iQ training centre in Northampton. If you’d like to benefit from learning how VAG ODIS or indeed any other system could benefit your business then call Auto iQ

01604 328500Find out more about Manufacturer training