6 steps to writing a complete vehicle repair story

This article was originally published HERE

Joe McCue describes Pencilwrench as a point-and-click solution that’s integrated into an automotive technician’s desktop dashboard. The system prompts users to answer a series of questions to quickly generate a thorough report, identifying the problem and remedy.

The software is customized — Pencilwrench has 26 brand-specific solutions — to include particular vehicle features and the necessary information required by different manufacturers to get paid for warranty work. Technicians are encouraged to suggest improvements, which Pencilwrench can often make within a few hours for dealers to download.

The basic six-step process includes menus to identify and select the:

  1. Affected component
  2. Diagnostics performed
  3. General problem
  4. Specific failure(s)
  5. Repairs made
  6. Final verification of repairs.

As the user checks the appropriate boxes on the left side of the screen, the service story begins to generate on the right. In some cases, technicians are asked to enter specific information, such as an odometer reading, repair validation code or relevant technical service bulletin. The steps are the same across all brands, but the choices and verbiage differ as needed.

For example, let’s say a technician replaced a vehicle’s high-pressure fuel pump. They would start by verifying the customer’s concern that the vehicle wasn’t starting. If the vehicle had to be towed in, that can be noted as well. There also is a box for the technician to indicate outstanding items, such as a recall or service bulletin.

On the next screen are possible diagnostics the technician could have performed, such as a scan, a visual inspection or a search for software updates. If the technician removed the fuel quantity solenoid and found metal contaminants, for example, that would be noted.

The next screen gives users a list of possible failures, such as “broken,” “cracked” or “oil leak.” In this case, the technician checked the “binding internally” and “foreign contaminants” boxes.

Possible repairs are listed on the next screen. One box lets technicians list the components removed to access the fuel pump, such as the engine cover. If the fuel pump was replaced, other related items, such as the fuel injector or transfer pump, are listed so the technician can indicate whether those also were replaced.

At the bottom of the page is a warning in red for technicians to check the policy for possible warranty coverage. They must confirm they read that message before moving to the next screen.

A list of “final actions” then appears on the screen, such as “cleared all diagnostic trouble codes,” “road tested the vehicle to verify repairs” and “system now operating as designed.” Once the technician clicks the “next” button, a final report, in complete sentences using proper grammar and with no misspellings, is presented to them.

There are similar menus for three other types of service — “Maintenance,” “Recalls” and “No Problem Found.” A separate “Labor Operations” tab covers software updates and other jobs that don’t involve replacing a physical component.

It takes about an hour of online training to teach technicians to use the system, according to McCue. This is followed by a short test they must pass to be certified to use Pencilwrench.