Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
Outside the bag the box came in.

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



In-Car Repair Tutorials

another use for your stock navigation system
  (+17, -1)(+17, -1)
(+17, -1)
  [vote for,

With new cars being produced with the processing power of supercomputers, and along with the huge amount of sensors being built into the systems, why should I have to take my car into a dealership evertime something goes wrong? I'd fix it myself if I knew how to. Granted, I do know how, but there are millions of people who don't. So how about car companies providing step-by-step, model specific instructions integrated into the navigation/entertainment system?

Imagine, Mr. Joe NeverOpenedACarHoodBefore overheats his engine on the freeway. Like any decent driver he pulls over to the shoulder, turns off the engine, and pops the hood. Looking under the hood for the first time, he understands nothing, calls for roadside assistance, and begins hour-long wait for them to arrive, all while dreading to find out how much it's going to cost.


After pulling over onto the shoulder, Joe selects the alert notice on his navigation system which promptly advises him that his car has over-heated, tells him to wait for it to cool down, and proceedes to provide step-by-step, illustrated instructions for his specific model of car on how to add water to the radiator or whatever else the manufacturer would advise. Thirty minutes later, Joe is back on the road while keeping an eye on his temp gauge. All-in-all, he's out half an hour and a few bottles of water.

This system could also provide instructions for simple routine maintenance or small repairs. Of course for any major problems a refferal would appear on the screen along with the possibility to make a call from the car (a-la OnStar or something similar) to wherever along with sending a sensory readout to whomever answers the call so that they know exactly what's happened, saving even more time by allowing the mechanics to know exactly what needs to be done when the car arrives for repair.

Dealerships save money on their free mainanence deal and the customer saves some time and learns a bit about their car. Because God forbid that people should know anything about the two-ton hunks of steel powered by millions of "controlled" explosions they pilot around each day :-)

raize221, Sep 06 2006

"You are experiencing an accident" http://broadband.fo...anaccident%5Flo.wmv
...with annoying voice over. [DrCurry, Sep 10 2006]

Internet diagnostic system patent http://www.freepate...light=egr%20pressur
[Ling, Sep 10 2006]


       It's a great idea [raize] but firmly against the way the big manufacturers have been trying to push it for a while now - pricey official dealers, non-user serviceable components, engines shrouded in plastic, esoteric fasteners etc etc. [+] anyway for a good idea.
DocBrown, Sep 06 2006

       Lovely idea- I think the bit about the car that tells the roadside rescue guys what's wrong with it before they set out is more or less baked.   

       Problem is that new cars offer virtually no owner access to the mechanical parts (one of the reasons why I don't like them). I understand Audi only put any kind of bonnet/hood on the A2 because the focus groups told 'em they'd put off buyers if they didn't...
Azazello, Sep 06 2006

       As long as they give advice like the guy at my garage does.   

       Strange rattling and grinding sounds? - Ignore 'em, it's nothing bad.
Door locks frozen? - Whack 'em with a hammer on a magic spot.
Cooler-fan not working? - Wire it directly to the battery.

       I somehow don't think they would though. The tips would probably be along the lines of:   

       <sucks in breath over teeth> Boyoboy. Proceed directly to the nearest authorised Opel/Ford/Renault garage and give them a big wad of cash.
squeak, Sep 06 2006

       Does the system ask you to enter your credit card number to pay for each additional step?   

       Otherwise I see no advantage for the auto manufacturer.
Galbinus_Caeli, Sep 06 2006

       Most people are quite careless. Aside from the fact that they don't have the skill to remove a bolt without damaging it, it would be quite dangerous to trust the reassembly of any component to them.   

       I think this is part of the reason why car manufacturs do not make it easy for owners to work on cars.   

       Modern cars can still be worked on quite well, but the more features your car has, the more likely the engine bay is packed tightly.   

       (beep) Your Subaru's engine has overheated because you neglected to look at the coolant level in the last three years. Most likely the cylinder head has warped, possibly cracked and the engine may have seized and ate the rings and now the pistons and cylinder walls are scored. Just add some water and you'll be good to go!
jmvw, Sep 06 2006

       I would love it if they would do this, but unfortunately, they won't. They haven't designed cars to be allow the owner to work on them in years.   

       Something that they might consider is just having the specific manual loaded on the onboard computer, accesible only by a trained dealer service department with specialized equipment, of course. This would make it that much harder for one of the many idiots that work at those to screw up your car by not having accurate model specific information. (I'm not saying that all dealer service technicians are idiots, just that, as in any line of work, there are some out there.) After a short time, the aftermarket would devise a way to crack the code and for those few who actually want to work on their car, the complete model specific service manual would be available.
Hunter79764, Sep 06 2006

       didn't [letsbuildafort] have some amazing solutions to this?
po, Sep 06 2006

       I give you a bun for anything that encourages people to take an interest in what they are driving and how it works. The car companies would never go for it though, just because of liability issues - Joe Braindead puts lots of plain water in the radiator and then sues when the block freezes and cracks that evening.
+mw+, Sep 07 2006

       Please restart your engine in safe mode...
Actually, a few days ago, I was thinking it might be handy if a service station could connect remotely: my nearest service station is about 100kms away, and from time to time I would like to call them to connect the 'puter and check what has gone wrong, and give me some preliminary diagnosis over the phone.
Ling, Sep 07 2006

       [Ling] U're closer to the truth than u realise- most cars with computerised engine management have a 'limp home mode' which restricts the performance of the engine to minimise any potential damage when it detects a fault. I think they can only detect and cope with failures of the electronic componenets of the engine rather than the mechanical ones e.g. a failed injector or spark plug rather than a stuck valve.   

       I don't know about the fiddly stuff, but it could certainly tell u how to do all the stuff that's already in the owner's manual but with more illuminating animations instead of rubbish drawings, that's pretty insurance-safe. It'd also be feasible for it to tell u what fault code the ECU had set (or better still, what the fault code actually means) which could enable (depending on the repair required) the roadside rescue people to bring the appropriate part.   

       Honda have a new system that calculates the remaining useful life of ur engine oil based on how much u cane the car and tells u when it needs changing. It's quite possible for the system to suggest when u should perform maintenance on something as well as telling u how.
squigbobble, Sep 07 2006

       Sp: you, you're.
Texticle, Sep 08 2006

       Maybe it would be more meaningful if there was a big Ka-Ching sound, and the display indicated the cost of the repair you are now expected to pay.
Wasn't there a car, once, that had only a few warning lamps? One of which was "Big Money", or something like that?
Ling, Sep 08 2006

       This idea sounds idealistic. Even our million-dollar photocopier at work fails to accurately identify paper jams. The copier only has about 10 user-accessible parts, but its instructions and pictures don't quite seem to help you locate problems. A whole car would be well-nigh impossible to create dynamic instructions for.
phundug, Sep 08 2006

       <pedant alert> /or distributor. (and yes, distributer is spelt like that for a reason)/   

       Maybe because that is the only correct spelling of distributor? </pa>
david_scothern, Sep 09 2006

       In spite of everything that I see wrong with this idea (many of which has been already mentioned) I still bun it on the fact that it would be a great gimmick to sell on new cars or even as an aftermarket device.   

       Prissy nitwit guys who thought they were too smart to take shop class or thought that they were above getting their hands dirty can now have a false sense of control over the situation. It would make a bad situation seem not so bad when the car breaks down because it gives Mr. "High and Mighty" something to talk about. They will still have to call roadside assistance or "limp" the car home but at least they have enough false confidence to tell the repair shop what they think is exactly wrong and exactly what they think that the shop should do about it.. "What's that Mr. Cartwright? The system said low tire pressure? Sure, we will be glad to install a new set of tires."
Jscotty, Sep 10 2006

       Most folk don't have the proper tools to be able to repair their cars, especially the specialized ones, and nobody pays enough attention to the proper torques. Without them you can really louse up your car in a hurry. Example: most people don't know that to install a clutch correctly, you must use a centering tool, torque each bolt in a star pattern, each bolt only a quarter turn at a time, starting with the aligning holes, or you will end up with some very bad chatter and a clutch disc that doesn't last long.   

       In the case of your transmission, a bearing few microns one direction or another out of alignment can mean a few thousand bucks in a new transmission. Joe do-it-yourselfer can't fix it.   

       With as many demands as are placed on today's automobiles, we're lucky enough to be able to design them to take them apart at all, let alone without thousands of dollars of precision equipment, support dollies, emergency room x-ray tables, etc. Few other products do people ever expect to be able to repair themselves at all anymore.   

       Check out GM's efforts at having the car email you its diagnostic status these days. Largely baked there.
RayfordSteele, Sep 10 2006

Ling, Sep 10 2006


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle