For Your Information
by Pat Goss
Back in the day, you didn’t need a whole lot of information to repair cars, and what you did need was easy to come by. But that has changed dramatically over the years with the complexity of modern cars. And here to explain some of that to us is Jeff Lagges. Jeff is the general manager of ALLDATA. Jeff, what are we seeing here?
Jeff: Well, with the proliferation of onboard computers on newer vehicles, information becomes even more vital. Similar to software updates you would get with your computer, cars have updates as well, and you need real time access to information. Cars that were built in this day required very little information. Most of the content was contained in one book and a lot of the information was memorized by the technician.
Goss: All right. How many pages are we looking at in today’s world?
Jeff: When ALLDATA first started back in the late ‘80s, we dealt with about 200,000 pages a year. Today that number is nearly one million annually.
Goss: You’re not going to get that in a book, for sure.
Jeff: No you’re not. These books would be through the roof.
Goss: All right. Now, should a driver be looking for a shop that has an information system like ALLDATA?
Jeff: Well, we think part of our solution is to look at efficiencies for the shop. There’s an estimate in a study that there’s $60 billion of undone maintenance on the streets today, which means that the shops have to become more efficient in order to meet the consumers’ demands. So we think it’s important for consumers to seek out shops that have access to this information.
Goss: All right. Now, in reality, without information today, if you can repair the car at all, you’re not going to do it effectively and inexpensively, right?
Jeff: Right. You’re going to lose a lot of efficiency just by looking for information and not finding the right stuff, having the car come back on several occasions because the information wasn’t accurate.
Goss: How does ALLDATA supply this information to the repair shop?
Jeff: We have two ways of doing that. We have a disk product which is on DVD and CD, and then we also have an online product which is available on alldata.com.
Goss: What about the do-it-yourselfer? Can they get this information?
Jeff: Also on alldata.com we have access to two ways. One is we have free information that you can get, which is basically a technical service bulletin title. But you can also buy an annual subscription that gives you the full content of the technical service bulletin plus the diagnostic and repair information.
Goss: And this is actually the same information that the repair shop would use.
Jeff: Right. It’s available for your single car, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Goss: Great. Thank you, Jeff. If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.