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Getting your car serviced may be about to get easier


Cars will soon have technology that will notify the dealer when something is wrong, and then check itself in to get fixed.

Car companies are in a technology race to take the grime and uncertainty out of vehicle servicing -- and lure customers back to dealerships.
 
Ford has begun distributing more than 1000 iPads across its network of 200 dealers nationally, to streamline the service check-in process by emailing owners a fixed quote before they hand over the keys.
 
But Chrysler-Jeep plans to take the process one step further, and have the car diagnose itself and make an appointment on your behalf.
 
The company already has more than 1 million cars on US roads that self-diagnose any problems and alert the driver that a service is required.
 
More than a simple service reminder, or an engine warning light, the system operates over a built-in wifi network that communicates between the vehicle and the dealership.
 
Chrysler-Jeep says in the near future its cars will automatically know what’s wrong with them and when it’s time for a repair beyond a routine service.
 
A unique telematics system means mechanics won't even need to plug a device into the car to find out what’s wrong: simply drive into the service centre driveway and the car will “dock” into the local wifi network and tell the dealer what needs attention on the car. All before the driver has unclipped their seatbelt or handed over the keys. 
 
“When you show up at a service lane in the very near future we’ll be able to, on an iPad device, determine (who) just showed up, the vehicle history, what service it’s ready for, or if it has any fault codes,” says Patrick Dougherty, the newly-appointed boss of Fiat Chrysler Australia.
 
He said the technology was ready in the US today, on vehicles such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300, and will be in Australia within a few years.
 
Two years ago Toyota’s luxury division Lexus introduced a similar wifi system at dealerships in the US; it identifies the car and the owner and helps the service check-in process but doesn’t yet diagnose the car.
 
The technology push comes as the industry review continues into how much repair data car makers are prepared to share with independent mechanics.
 
Meanwhile, for those concerned about the protection of their privacy, given that the technology on this and other brands of cars can track where and how the vehicle was driven, much like an aircraft “black box” data recorder, Chrysler-Jeep says “we don’t share the data with anyone else”.