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The growing pains of advancing technology

Having spent my first few weeks with AM writing features on servicing and repairs, it amazes me just how diverse and challenging modern cars have become to work on.

New materials, an ever-increasing mass of wiring and technology and wilder designs with lots of glass present all sorts of challenges for garages to contend with. Even 10 years ago most small cars would be fairly basic by today’s standards; no air conditioning in most, and fairly common repair methods all round.

These days any small car worth its salt has air conditioning, and it’s rare to find one without electric windows and suchlike, even when you’re looking at the cheaper end of the market.

More equipment means more potential for problems as the car ages and things wear out. If you’re savvy enough to spot what is likely to do so, this can be a lucrative market to get into. Take, for example, the garages who have invested in servicing air conditioning.

Seven years from the market swell for this technology, and the earliest systems are beginning to show their age.

Routine servicing aside, have a bump in a small car these days and, once you’ve factored in the cost of all the gadgets now crammed under the bonnet, not to mention new materials, paint finishes and moving undamaged systems out of the way, repairs can get costly.

So technology can offer great opportunities for profit, if you’re willing to invest. But can the low-tech independent garages keep up with all that extra wiring, or will we end up with cars so complicated that only marque-specific outlets will be able to deal with them? Only time will tell.

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