Regarding diagnostics, we’re often asked which is the ‘best’ diagnostic scan tool. The answer always begins with ‘It depends’, because the answer, it depends, does so on several factors. What has become more obvious in recent months, is that the ‘dealer diagnostic tool’ is required more and more often for more and more operations. In the olden days, only a few short years ago, the dealer tool was used for primarily for some special functions in terms of coding and programming. Perhaps replacement parts required programming and then encoding new things after a repair.

More recently, performing software updates has become and important part of the diagnostic process, probably even pre-diagnosis. Many customer reported symptoms can be cured, or at least have an attempt made as a first line corrective action, with the ‘binary screwdriver’ that are software updates. The software update can prevent many wasted labour hours chasing a fault that is a software or a calibration anomaly. Software updates can also prevent unnecessary parts replacement. More recently still, some service update functions (updating the vehicles on-board service record) have to be carried out online, using the dealer tool.

Software updates are usually linked to the customer reported symptom, via a technical service bulletin (or whatever name that the particular vehicle manufacturer refers to them as). Therefore, access to information plays an equally large part of the overall technical solution. The linking of symptom, advice, and corrective action is something that differentiates the dealer tool from the traditional aftermarket tools.

In one sense, a garage who is using a genuine dealer tool (and information subscription) really does have a better ‘scanner’ than their competitors, who are using traditional aftermarket tools. However, more than just a better ‘scanner’, the garage using a genuine dealer tool has access to almost the full suite of help, support, guidance, pattern and known faults, component form, function and location as well as formal structured and heuristic diagnosis processes. All of which the vehicle manufacturer spends a lot of time and money collating to fast-track problem solving.

So, if the dealer diagnostic way is so much better, why doesn’t every garage go this way? Primarily, it’s because the process to enrol, set-up and manage dealer diagnostics isn’t as easy as hopping on the tool van with a fist-full of dollars. The garages intellect and IT savvy has to be moderate. The garage has to take responsibility for owning, maintaining and updating their system and for solving the cars problem. The dealer diagnostic ethos has to be integrated into the technical team. Traditional general repair garages, who’s scan tool ‘told them to replace’ the part, just can’t, don’t and won’t seem to get doing ‘it’ the dealer way. This is despite, realistically, the dealer diagnostic was is the only realistic way to work with modern motor vehicles.

The barrier to entry for effective dealer diagnostics in the independent workshop is more intangible. Garages can quite easily buy the dealer tool, but without actually ‘buying’ into the ethos of using the dealer systems, it is a futile investment. Training should be a consideration, as none of the mainstream vehicle manufacturers provide a specific training course for independent garages using dealer diagnostic solutions.

There are limited independent training organisations offering this training, as expertise to deliver training and the actual course development costs are high. The primary options for garages is to factor this training into their dealer diagnostic implementation plan. Otherwise they need to plan to spend a lot of time struggling their way through the maze of install, updates, operation and usage.Technical Topics dealer training programmes are designed to fill this gap.

Our of the training (link Dealer Diagnostics Training Courses) is designed to help implement the dealer solution into independent businesses. We take the dealer tool, information and portals and break them down in an easy to understand way so that the independent workshop can prosper from their investment in dealer tooling. We do this with the aide of experienced dealer technicians and master technicians. Our courses then show garages the best ways to use the dealer solution to achieve their aims of dealer solutions the independent workshop.