Dealer Diagnostics May Be The New MIG Welder.

The growth in electronic systems, and their integration into the vehicle is causing just as many problems on 5 to 15 year old vehicles just as the dreaded ‘tin-worm’ of yesteryear did. Whereas the MIG welder, some steel plate and a liberal dose of Schultz rust protector used to be used to help the aged, the new-age old aged require scrap prevention therapy of a very different type.

The issues.

It comes to something when a ‘stereo head unit’ or an instrument cluster can write-off, due to the uneconomic nature of the repair, a perfectly good vehicle, but that is the story which is unfolding in many independent garages across the country.

Part of the problem is that the modern equivalent of the stereo head, the infotainment (information and entertainment) master, controls and is linked to so many systems; air conditioning; navigation; warning and control messages; radio/stereo/media; seat heating; car configuration.

All of these systems run through it, therefore, the failure of this single unit renders much of the comfort systems useless. The cost to replace this, in parts alone, can run into thousands of pounds.

Replacement Parts – problem.

However, buying the new part is only the end of the beginning. The replacement unit will require some form of encoding, anti-theft measure disablement or programming as nearly all major control units are coded to the original vehicle (via vin encoding).

If you have embarked down the budget conscious, dark, rocky perilous road of a used unit, you’ll be running the risk that the replacement may also have the same fault as the unit to be replaced.

In any case, new or used, you’ll face the question of how you’re going to code the replacement unit to the vehicle. In nearly all cases, you’ll need access to a dealer tool, or be faced with having to take the vehicle someone who has one. So why not just get some dealer tools yourself?

Dealer Tools – now available at a very low cost.

In the recent past, owning and running a dealer tool could run to tens of thousands or pounds, but recently the purchase price has dropped significantly.

Many brands interfaces can be purchased for less than £1000. For instance, the PSA Evolution XS (For Peugeot Citroen and New Vauxhall) costs £750, VW Group VAS 6154A (VW, Audi, Seat & Skoda) costs £850, BMW ICOM Next costs around £300.

Mate these interfaces to a decent quality laptop and you have dealer level diagnostic systems.

Euro 5 regulations meant that the vehicle manufacturer have an obligation to supply independent garages with these tools and the accompanying information. It is those regulations which have led, in part, to the cost reduction as well as improved availability.

Aftermarket sellers profiteering on packages?

Be aware of some people offering dealer tool bundled with a laptop. These packages are ‘on the market’ for around £2500 to £4000. We should, consider the economics of these packages.

For instance, PSA selling for between £2500 and £3900; if you were to buy the parts separately yourself, the cost is £1150 (£750 for the interface direct from PSA, laptop £400, diag software – free).

Incidentally, access to vehicle diagnostic and information services are PAYG in all cases (both the profiteering packages and the DIY option). It becomes apparent that, ‘package suppliers’ are making between £1350 and £2150 for the privilege of bundling a laptop and an interface and installing a basic software package.

We must be fair to say that some of the better seller offer limited up-and-running remote get-you-going dial ins, and a casual, time limited, ‘catch me if you can’ text/messaging support. One seller offers premium priced IT support, but has very limited car technical support.

We’ve seen many people who’ve bought such packages attend our Dealer Diagnostic Training Courses. Technicians and garages feel quite let down, when others on the course, who have bought laptops themselves and bought interfaces direct from the OEM, declare the true cost.

All of a sudden, these made-up package deals look very expensive indeed.

Training is the key.

No matter how you choose to get into ‘doing it like the dealer’, proper, professional workshop based technical training is critical to your success.

The reduced cost and improved availability of dealer diagnostics has led to the growth to our own dealer tool diagnostic training. We offer 2 day training on some of the common brands (VW Group, PSA and BMW) with more to follow.

Whilst providing training and post training support, it has become apparent that garages who have access to formal ongoing technical support and training can really improve their fix rates and significantly enhance their Dealer Diagnostics profitability.

Dealer Tool Support – your ongoing profitability.

Based on the direct feedback from existing dealer tool users, this has led to us launching our first ‘Full Stack’ Dealer Diagnostics technical support (for BMW ) in the new year (2021).  

We have expanded the TTHQ team to include ex-BMW Dealer technical expertise. We are just completing the beta testing of the service and are on-plan to be running it from early 2021. This service will ensure hassle free Dealer Diagnostics whilst maintaining your ongoing BMW Dealer Diagnostics services profitability.  

Our ‘Full Stack’ BMW technical support will include how to purchase the interface from the dealer, network setup, software installation on your own laptop, setting up of accounts with BMW, installing keyreaders, online ‘up-and-running’ training, face-to-face training, remote technical support, and importantly car-fix , programming and coding support.

We have ambitious plans to support independent garages with their dealer diagnostics, and are aiming to see the Dealer Diagnostic support service expand to cover VW and PSA during 2021.

Please get in touch via our support portal support.techtopics.co.uk and let us know which vehicle manufacturers you’d like to see us offer full stack technical support for.