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Message from ETI's President

G. Alan Tecmire

I remember when…

  • 'mechanics’ were compensated at 50/50 the going flat rate of $16.00 hour; mechanics got $8.00
  • diagnostic systems cost as much as $50,000, could fill half a car bay, and the brands were Sun Interrogator and Allen SmartScope
  • tool boxes stood up to 5 feet tall, 3 feet wide, and cost $800
  • using a 1lb can of R12 refrigerant to chill a choke coil was standard procedure
  • new car warranty was 90 days or 3000 miles, whichever came first
  • the VW Rabbit Diesel got 54MPG
  • AMC stood for ‘Always Making Changes’
  • all nuts and bolts were SAE fractional, 1/4”, 5/16, 3/8”, 7/16”, 1/2”, 9/16”, etc.
  • Volt-OHM-Tach-Dwell meter was the favorite handheld diagnostic tool
  • your welding choices were arc or gas
  • Tune-ups were as common as oil changes; lube, oil, filter, points, plugs
  • Ford’s SBDS from H-P cost dealers $45,000 each
  • Japan sold AM transistor radios in the USA, not cars
  • I owned an Oldsmobile, Eagle, Plymouth, American Motors, and a Nash (yes, I had a Rambler once)

My how things have changed! The automotive service business has evolved so significantly, many readers won’t recognize some of my remembrances. With both the expansion of regulation and the perpetual introduction of technological advances into both the vehicle and service bay, I can only imagine what the next 20 years will bring. My grandfather owned and operated a body shop for some 45 years and has been retired now about 25, he’s alive at 95 (I hope I have his genes). I can’t imagine the amount of vehicle technology evolution he has seen in his lifetime, from ‘hand crank’ to Hybrid-electric, from a draft-tube to a sealed evaporative system.

The cost of today’s diagnostics tools and systems, while more diverse, are really a bargain compared to the behemoths of 1970s, ‘80s and early 90’s! A diagnostic system from Bear or Allen, or Sun Electric was a mere $35,000. In today’s dollars that is $95,544.48 per the government’s CPI data released 1/19/2012. Today $95,000 can buy a whole lot of laptops, vehicle communication modules, even training. Sort of makes me wonder what all that noise from Massachusetts is really all about.

Currently, we’re discussing ‘Right-to-Repair’, ‘texting’ while driving, hands-free calling laws, automatic self-parking, night-vision, adaptive cruise-control and lane-departure technology, to name just a few. Servicing vehicles, keeping up with new technology, meeting environmental regulations and service requirements is driving ETI work and planning, and it is now more important than ever we tighten relationships with our OEM partners. This year’s upcoming ToolTech 2012 on the 17th through 19th of April, at The Riviera, Palm Springs, CA has as its primary objective, to add value to our OEM partners and thus back to our membership. This is your opportunity to collaborate and openly discuss how we are going to keep up with change. The “Vehicles of Tomorrow” are here, where are you?

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