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A passion for fixing cars brings mobile techs to Automechanika Chicago

Mobile diagnostic technicians refuse to be beaten.
Monday, February 9, 2015 - 09:00
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Nearly every technician who has taken the plunge into the relatively young mobile diagnostics business shares common attributes. One, of course, is their desire to work for themselves, chart their own course. Another is a passion for fixing cars right the first time, every time, and their success in this niche market is dependent on that skill. After all, that’s what they are called in to do – fix the problem no one else in the shop has had success with.

But what might surprise you is that most report that the majority of the problems they are paid handsomely to pinpoint (most do not actually make the repair, they just direct the client as to what repair to make) could have been solved without their help had the tech(s) followed a logical process, spent some time investing in their own education and avoided the temptation of relying on “silver bullet” fixes. In other words, master the basics and get trained.

Mobile technicians from around the country are converging on Chicago to get the training they know they need to stay current.

Jamey Quincel of JCJ Mobile Diagnostics in Canal Winchester, Ohio, shared his thoughts on training. “I spend three weeks a year going out of state for training. I’ve been to all the local training but in my opinion it always seems to be the same stuff. If there is a class I think I need to stay current, I don’t mind traveling to get it.”

John Anello, owner of Auto Tech On Wheels in Montclair, N.J. and one of first techs to take his diagnostic skills on the road says, “We’re the guys who are constantly learning. We’re the guys investing in the equipment.” He goes on to explain that most of the shops he’s called in to help often have the resources they need to fix the problems themselves, they just don’t use them or know how to use them. “I try to educate the shops while I’m there … to make their lives a little easier. It helps me form a relationship with that garage.”

Michael Burmester of Advanced Mobile Diagnostics in Holbrook, N.Y., and a newcomer to the world of mobile diagnostics echoes Anello’s view. “Most of the time I let the shop techs follow along with me. What might take them a few days to find, I might find in 15 minutes. And it’s not me, necessarily, but that I’ve taken the time to understand the system and how it’s supposed to work.”

And it isn’t just mechanical shops that call them for help. Nearly half of mobile diagnosticians’ business comes from collision repair shops. “Most of the collision shops are tooled inadequately for diagnosis and repair. They may own a $100 code reader and with the integration of modern electrical systems they can’t accurately diagnose problems when they appear. I get called in to do something like reset the airbag light and it turns out that I need to recalibrate an Occupancy Sensor Module or find a circuit issue with a pretensioner, something like that,” Burmester shares.

“Body shops don’t have (diagnostic) technicians … they can’t afford technicians,” adds Anello. But with the ever complicated electrical platforms collision repairers are facing, is it only a matter of time before they add this capability to keep those dollars in house?

All of these men are driven by the satisfaction they get when a diagnosis is successful. And all will tell you the same thing. It’s not that they are smarter, more experienced or a better tech than their peers. They have pride in what they do, and a desire to reason out a problem rather than rely on how many Google “hits” they can find. And that drives their commitment to training and continuing education.

Ed Hazzard, owner of Automotive Tech Systems in Newburgh, N.Y., adds, “(Training) is one of those tools that nobody can take away and you can use it anywhere. It helps you become more proficient and a better tech, and if you’re a better tech you’ll make more money. Other than having a passion to fix cars, we’re all in this business to make money.” 

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