Vehicles have grown more sophisticated over the past two decades. The wonderful options and systems we love — electronic seats, climate control, anti-lock braking systems — require computer processing. New vehicles have the computing power sufficient to fly a 747 airplane.
An advantage to this new technology and engineering is that many of the maintenance and repair intervals have been extended. However, exceeding these intervals can result in premature failure and damage to very expensive parts.
The old-fashioned diagnosis techniques are now supplemented by computer reports that alert the technician to trouble codes stored in the vehicle's computer memory. Replacing parts is now more complex and time consuming.
So, how can you manage the costs and care for your rolling computer? With all of this high-tech equipment under the hood, make sure you're working with a certified technician who is trained for today's vehicles. Know the habits of your vehicle. Before you get to the repair facility, jot down everything you can think of to help the technician solve the problem. You may not think a small detail is relevant, but it could shave an hour off of the diagnosis time.
Ask for an estimate. You'll also see some new charges, such as a computer diagnostic fee or a hazardous materials charge. Discuss any questions you may have with your technician for a better understanding.