I have a theory about auto repair. Up until now, I pretty much bought in to the idea that cars (engines, mostly) have gotten so complex and so computerized that there isn’t much a mechanic can do, other than rely on the computer diagnostic codes and replace expensive modules.
I have my car in the shop right now because I had an episode a few days ago where the engine slipped into a lurching idle and then was weak and lumpy at speed (like one cylinder wasn’t up to snuff). After talking to one of the guys at the shop (I don’t even know what he does, I think he is probably more a salesperson than a mechanic) about what they are going to do to it, I had an epiphany.
I don’t really buy their rationale about what they have to replace. It boils down to “thats what the computer says is wrong ( a faulty idle speed motor ), and besides your explanation of the symptoms reinforces that, even though I didn’t understand all the symptoms before reaching this conclusion. But, if that doesn’t do it, I am sure this other part will complete the repair (a neutral safety switch, which sounds totally unrelated ).”
Unfortunately, the problem has proven to be intermittant, so I’m not sure what options I have.
But, here is my epiphany:
The real “problem” with auto repair today is the result of a gradual cycle of evolution dominated by two interrelated factors.
1. Computer Diagnostics have made some diagnoses easier to make.
2. The diagnostic skill of mechanics has dropped.
It doesn’t hurt that both the auto industry and the auto repair industry have a vested interest in this state of affairs since it:
1. Decreaces labor costs by reducing the skill level required of mechanics.
2. Increaces the average cost of repairs, thereby increacing revenue.