The two main types of car repair software are used for diagnostics or for managing the front office. Diagnostic car repair software can contain a wealth of knowledge, including repair procedures, troubleshooting instructions, known good values for sensors, and other invaluable information. This software is often available in separate foreign and domestic editions, and can also cover specific vehicle makes. Specialized car repair software is also available for advanced diagnostic tools, some of which can be fairly sophisticated computing devices. Front end software can include estimators, schedulers, and work order generators.
Mechanics historically obtained the majority of their information from repair manuals and experience. A handful of different publishers generated useful information and provided it in book form. Two main types of these books were diagnostic manuals and flat rate guides. Diagnostic manuals contained specifications and repair procedures, and flat rate guides had estimates of how long each specific job should take. With the widespread use of personal computers in the workplace, this type of information was translated into car repair software.
Most modern car repair facilities have some type of computerized information system to assist in diagnostics and repairs. The simplest form of this is a single computer terminal with a set of compact discs (CDs) or digital versatile discs (DVDs) that contain repair procedures, specifications, and other information. A technician can input the year, make, and model of a vehicle into this type of system in order to look up specific information. Some of these software programs also include a variety of schematic, wiring, and exploded view diagrams.
There are a few variants of this basic type of car repair software. Some service providers offer all of this information through an Internet connection. This way the technician or shop pays a monthly fee in order to access information that is always up to date. Similar services offer critical bulletins and repair procedures that have been compiled by real technicians in the field. Software is also typically available for dedicated scanner and diagnostic equipment, and some programs can even turn a laptop into a scan tool.
The other main type of car repair software is typically used in the front office. Flat rate estimating is one of the most important functions of this software. This kind of software allows a tech or service writer to input a year, make, and model of a vehicle to see how long any given repair should take. These flat rate numbers can then be combined with the price of parts to create an estimate. This type of software may also offer scheduling functionality, generate work orders, and keep track of sales.