With the onslaught of new technologies impacting the automotive aftermarket, it is important as industry professionals for us to get our tool box in order so that we are successful in servicing these new systems. Advanced Driver Assist Systems, or ADAS, are a series of advanced technologies that not only provide incredible levels of protection for motorists, but also challenge us as shop owners and technicians in a way that hasn’t been seen since OBD (on-board diagnostics) was introduced in the mid 1990s.
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When OBD was first applied in 1996 to newer gas-powered vehicles, there was anxiety around how these systems worked, as well as how to go about diagnosing and repairing them. For those of us that were training or working on these early systems, it became apparent that each manufacturer took a different approach to the application of the OBD standard. I started my training company during those times and remember emphasizing the need to read service information in a way that most had not done in the past. Code set criteria and blocking conditions were two elements that needed to be understood in order to successfully solve many of these system’s issues. It was not difficult to find the information, even in those days prior to NASTF and OE service information access. Yet, I would receive call after call [we didn’t text or had very little email back then] asking about how this system worked or where to go with that vehicle. I the back of my head I was always thinking to myself ‘can you read?’
Since that time the modern automobile has become ever more complex, and the need to read has remained. But during that time society changed in the way we communicate with the introduction of cell phones, texting, email, smart phones and social media. Today we get information via small bite sized communications, and many times by emojis or acronyms that have eroded our ability to read and comprehend effectively. Couple this degradation of our reading skills with the rapid advancement of technology that requires us to fully understand before we can be successful and you can quickly see the cause of some of our failings in our goals of diagnosing and repairing these complex machines. So many technicians gravitated toward experienced-based information systems that could provide a quick fix without having to invest as much time in reading. We got by, and we continue to seek that path.