Since the early 1990s, as integrated circuits and onboard diagnostics became standard on most cars, service shops have used computerized scan tools that help diagnose repair problems.

But while computer technology has become part of the repair process, the role of the Internet in shop operations has lagged behind, says a TLG Research Inc. survey based on nearly 800 interviews with owners, managers, technicians and office personnel at shops nationwide.

“We interviewed repair shop personnel at every level of shop operation to determine who has Internet access, who doesn’t; how they’re using it; what they buy, and how they can enhance their capabilities,” says Alberto L. Peinado, TLG’s vice president and general manager.

Key findings indicate:

  • More than one-third of shops surveyed choose not to use the Internet in shop operations.
  • Although most shops with Internet have applications that allow them to purchase parts from multiple suppliers, less than half of these access for parts catalogs, repair information and training online.
  • Most shops with Internet access handle system maintenance on their own.

“Understanding how the Internet can be used effectively in the vehicle-repair industry is critical to the bottom line of every service repair facility,” Peinado says.