The conventional methods and technologies for car repair are not yet fully behind us, but futuristic technologies are on their way. Older cars, though, will still need the good old car mechanics and service stations to take care of their problems. But the new, swanky and high-tech cars that are today rolling off production lines will be repaired at modern garages. There will be less grease around, and technicians’ benches will have tablet computers to guide them in their work.
Even though new technology in auto-repair will make the diagnosis and repair faster and more accurate, it does not necessarily mean that it will come cheap for car owners. Repair shops have to invest heavily in state of the art tools to update technologies, and this cost will be passed on to the consumers.
What does all this mean for the average car-owner? Here are some tools and techniques that have already taken their first hesitant steps in the auto-repair sector.
New Auto-body repair techniques
The auto body construction is evolving very fast, and it is natural that auto-body repair workshops have to keep pace with it. One specific area that is in focus is the increased use of aluminium in body construction. This metal was once the exclusive privilege of classy high-end cars but is today becoming the standard body metal. It is lightweight and strong and helps cars meet fuel stringent fuel consumption and safety norms.
Experienced mechanics that are used to working on steel body vehicles have to adopt whole new repair strategies. Aluminium body panels cannot be brought back into shape like their steel counterparts and hence, have to be replaced. Consequently, new aluminium-specific riveting tools and welding equipment is required, and this will increase the cost of auto-body repairs. The upside is that with stronger bodies, collision warning systems and other safety features crashes should become less frequent and serious.
Cars of today are a mass of complex electronic and hybrid drive-trains, computerised components and a maze of sensors that control almost everything in the vehicle. These expensive components are changing the face of auto-body repairs. Soon augmented reality might see technicians sporting Google Glass headsets that will feed visual data of a car to a computer which will guide them through the repair and maintenance process. An app program will also help them visualise areas that are out of reach both visually and physically.
Volkswagen has already introduced MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) that help technicians save valuable time in understanding the workings of unusual or newly launched models. Even though the change is gradual, top certified and accredited service stations like Western Auto have already implemented the latest diagnostic service and repair techniques in their workshops.
Auto service centres are increasingly making use of 3-D printing technology to create an all-new object of the required design. This will be especially useful to repair very old cars and classic and vintage cars with non-existing spare parts inventory. All that the mechanic has to do is to take out the spare part that is broke, scan it and have a replica made-to-order. However, high-quality 3-D systems are very expensive and tricky to use.
These are some of the latest techniques and innovations in the auto-repair industry today.