The 8 Best Auto Repair Apps and Websites for the Service Drive
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Increase your service business by using these automotive repair apps and websites to educate yourself, and your customers.
An endless array of information is available at our fingertips via smartphones and computers. One way you can stay ahead of the competition is to leverage this technology in the service drive.
There are plenty of auto repair websites and apps that can make your life easier – and your business more profitable.
Digital tricks of the trade
The number of websites and apps geared towards auto repair businesses is staggering. How do you know which ones are worth your time? The auto repair apps and website found on this list are an excellent place to start. Each entry has been tested and approved by automotive service professionals, just like you.
Automotive repair apps:
1. Repair Pal
Sometimes it’s difficult to convince a vehicle owner that a “simple” timing belt job costs $1,000 (it’s just a belt, after all). If you find yourself having to defend your prices, whip out the Repair Pal app. It shows customers what they can expect to pay for a specific repair in your area.
All you have to do is input the vehicle information. Also, Repair Pal has a website if you’re working from a desktop. Repair Pal is an excellent and extremely credible closing tool for your Service Advisors.
While this may seem like an obvious choice, many automotive professionals scoff at using YouTube for advice. Sure, there are a lot of hacks cobbling videos together, but there’s also plenty of useful information. Especially if you’re a pro who can cut through the clutter. On the service drive, YouTube can be used to locate and identify parts. It can also be used to educate customers on vehicle repair.
3. BlueFire OTG
No, it’s not as good as a high-end borescope from Snap-On or Matco. But the BlueFire OTG Endoscope is an inexpensive (about $20), and entertaining tool. Simply download the app and then plug the borescope into your smartphones charging port.
The device’s tip-mounted camera can be slipped into almost anyplace for a decent view. For example, it can be used to look down spark plug holes to check for engine damage. Inviting your customer for a peek will help educate them on needed repairs.
Automotive repair websites:
4. Identifix Direct-Hit
If you have to choose just one repair database, go with Identifix ( identifix.com ). Not only does it have the factory repair information (and labor times), like ALLDATA or Mitchell, but also a tech hotline with confirmed fixes. So you can see what others have done to remedy specific vehicle problems. You can even use this handy feature to improve customer communication.
Just show the vehicle owner the hotline archives related to your diagnosis. One thing to mention, however, is that Identifix isn’t cheap. It’s around $150 a month, which is about the same as its competitors.
5. Decode This online VIN decoder
Online VIN decoders have been around for awhile, but many shops don’t make use of them. Websites, like Decode This (decodethis.com) are a quick and easy way to get a vehicle’s specs. Just type in the VIN, hit decode and voilà! You’ve got the engine size, drivetrain layout, transmission type, and so much more. Decode This is an invaluable tool.
Many entry-level code readers don’t supply definitions for DTCs. Fortunately, OBD-Codes (obd-codes.com) does. Just type a code into the website, and you’ll be presented with a definition and repair information. The site isn’t all inclusive, but it does have a large collection of data.
So, before a customer pulls into the shop for extensive diagnostic work, you can pull the code yourself. Then enter it into OBD-Codes.com to see if it’s something that needs to be looked at, or if it’s just a loose gas cap.
If your shop works on a lot of Chrysler vehicles, you’ll want to check out allpar (allpar.com). On this site, you’ll find an endless collection of Mopar repair information, including an informative tech help section. If you’re looking to help educate your customer – or you want to learn more yourself – this is the site to visit.
AA1Car (aa1car.com) has been around for a long time, and with good reason. It has easy-to-read information on almost any automotive repair subject you can think of. It’s an excellent website for learning and problem-solving. It’s also a good one to share with customers looking to educate themselves.
These are some of the best websites and apps right now, but technology changes at a rapid pace.
Don’t just stick with this list – keep up to date by reading trade publications and blogs. Staying educated will help keep you at the top of your game.
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