An auto mechanic today spends nearly as much time at a computer screen as working on a vehicle. With the increasing complexity of vehicle systems and huge volume of diagnostic and service information, almost every vehicle repair begins at the technician’s computer. As a result, computer skills are becoming as important for the auto mechanic as the basic manual skills of automotive repair.
For years, repair manuals were stored and accessed via a series of books on a shelf that were printed by the vehicle manufacturers or aftermarket companies. Over time, that information moved from books to floppy disks, floppy disks to DVDs, and today, it’s almost entirely web-based. Instead of maintaining a library of paper manuals, every repair shop needs computers for technicians to access the information needed to perform their job on a daily basis.
For the repair shop or individual certified auto mechanic, websites like iatn.net and identifix.com offer subscription services that include access to archives of vehicle repair histories. They also provide communities of mechanics that’ll help you solve problems that cannot be solved by archive search alone. With rapidly advancing vehicle technologies, using these sites as a reference can be a critical first step in solving a complicated or unusual problem. Some of them even include online or telephone support from top-skilled auto technicians.
Auto techs often network with peers for help or support on a troublesome repair problem. We all have friends or other mechanics that we’ve met who may specialize in a particular make of car or aspect of repair work. While we may have at one time made a phone call or driven across town to get some advice, now we are just as likely to send an email or look for support online.
As we spend more and more time on the computer, either for vehicle repair or running our business, online networking becomes increasingly a part of the standard toolset a technician is required to have. Having an online presence and interacting with other technicians has become as common as as loosening and tightening bolts.