Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2011   by Tom Venetis, Editor

Taking Training Online

Scan tool makers offer a growing library of technical and training courses online

Scan tools are now as common and used as often as a torque wrench or screw driver inside today’s service bays. Once they were considered tools only to be used by the most experienced of technicians because of their complexity and the systems they were meant to diagnose. Today, scan tools have become not only more complex, but surprisingly simpler to use, designed to walk even novice technicians through a diagnostic procedure. It would seem, then, that there is very little need for training on the tools.
The reality is that while the tools have become easier to use, there is now a greater need for training than ever before.
Tool makers taking the lead in training – both online and in class
But why is training now needed more than ever if the tool are becoming easier to use?
The simple answer is that today’s vehicles are more complex than ever before, with an increasing number of modules and control systems operating a wider range of vehicle operations.
It may be an easy thing now to pull a trouble code; the challenge is to know how to track that trouble code back to the specific fault and then knowing how to fix the problem, which all too often not an easy thing to do.
“Tools have certainly have become more intuitive,” said Pat Pierce, director, product development and marketing, professional diagnostics, with SPX Service Solutions. “What people often misunderstand about (scan) tools is that it is becoming less about how to navigate the tools, to push the buttons, than it is more about the diagnostic process content – what it is that you are navigating towards and what it is that you need to understand about the diagnostic process that you are in.”
John Mills, national technical trainer for Canada with SPX Service Solutions, added that for SPX scan tool training involves a coordinated approach with technicians learning from instructors about the tool through the use of real-world diagnoses examples.
For example, J2534 reflashing sounds relatively easy. However, it would be a mistake to assume that just knowing how to use the scan tool to identify the issue is enough.
“A technician needs to know how to relate that information to finding workable fixes for the vehicle in a timely manner, which “is a lot more than just telling a technician what button to push.”
SPX Service Solutions has also moved aggressively to offer its Canadian and American users of its diagnostic tools Web-based training covering specific categories and repairs, and technical issues. Mills points to the Pegisys training. The scan tool course involves training technician on on menu navigation, tool setup, scan tool updating and data stream analysis, and reading codes and testing procedures. At the same time, SPX make available a range of online resources as well for the Pegisys tool, with information on YouTube and the OTC Web site (, as well as through and CARS OnDemand (
“There are several reasons why Web-based training is a good thing,” Mills added. “For one, it can be done on a technician’s own time and he or she can review the material as many times as they wish. With on-site training, perhaps 80 per cent of the people attending the classroom training may grasp the information fully the first time around.
“Having the information and training on the Internet allows a person to review the material and better grasp what was discussed and thereby reinforces the (classroom) training.”
SPX Service Solutions plans to continue to rollout more Internet-based training programs around new features in the company’s roster of diagnostic tools and new diagnostic processes.
Pat Staarmann, sales director for training program with Delphi Product and Service Solutions said Delphi now has a team of ten trainers across North America leading a range of training courses that focus how to use a scan tool’s features to more quickly diagnose and fix problems.
“What our trainers do is go through real-world examples,” said Staarmann. “They have a scan tool in the class and they will go through several examples of reading specific codes and troubleshooting issues. We have eight courses that are specifically geared to the ODB II scan tool and getting the most value out of that scan tool, and using the codes to really pin-point the failure. One of the most advanced courses offered is the Mode 6 Data and Drive Cycle diagnostics. This course helps the technician take advantage of the more advanced diagnostic trouble codes that can be accessed (through the tool) and allows the technician to really dive deeper into troubleshooting and diagnosing what exactly where the failure is, either a sensor or software issue.”
Delphi also offers courses “that takes the technician through the various subject matters and at the end of the modules there is a quiz where the technician will have to pass in order to move onto the next module,” said Staarmann.
“Shops can use this to make sure their technicians are trained and up-to-date on the latest technologies to diagnose and repair vehicles.”
Specialized scan tool makers take to offering training
Bruce Ruhf, director of operations and marketing with Ross-Tech, a maker of scan tools for Volkswagen and Audi has recently started to offer training for its scan tools, partnering with the San Diego, CA-based Automotive Training Group (ATG). “Our market is very specific to VW/Audi and VW/Audi does not permit aftermarket repair technicians to attend their schools.”
“(ATG) seems to offer one of the better classes out there and we decided since we have so many people are buying our product and want training on the product, we had to partner with someone.”
The course covers one of the most critical issues on servicing VW/Audi vehicles, mastering ‘Current Track’ Wiring diagrams, module coding, measuring blocks and throttle adaptation.
“The hands-on portion (done by Ross-Tech) reinforces the topics covered,” added Ruhf. “We will outline a problem and we will relate it back to the wiring diagrams. You work with the instructors to learn how to read those diagrams, find the problem and then fix the problem quickly and correctly.”

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