Here’s a pub-quiz fact for you: around 80 per cent of all the jobs undertaken by the average RAC technician require nothing more than a laptop.
How do I know this? Because at the weekend our long-term Morgan Plus 8 developed a fault, causing its engine warning light to turn on.
The RAC was dutifully called and I was surprised to see their man, Phil, grab his laptop first. He was plugged into the Morgan’s On-Board Diagnostics socket within seconds – and the laptop’s diagnostics program then set about identifying the car.
As it turns out, it couldn’t. While the program lists plenty of other niche car manufacturers there was no mention of any Morgan of any kind.
Still, Phil was still able to access the car’s memory function to see what fault code had prompted the warning light. Turns out the V8 engine has been running a bit lean.
A few minutes of button-pressing and the fault code, and the warning light, were both gone.
Talking to Phil it seems that most of his job these days involves plugging in the laptop and deleting old fault codes. His van is stocked to the rafters with oil, spanners and tools of all kinds, but his laptop is the tool that sees most of the action.
That’s interesting from two angles. First, it shows just how advanced modern cars have become that the first stage of fault diagnosis is effectively done in-vehicle. And second, it shows just how difficult it is to have a proper breakdown.
I’ll give you another example. A few years ago I broke down in my Ford Focus with the words “engine systems fault” displayed on the dashboard. In my mind, this was pretty catastrophic but in reality the car went into its limp-home mode and I was able to crawl into a side street. Again, all it took was a quick call to a man with a laptop to come and clear the code, and I was on my way.
I wonder what your breakdown experiences have been, and whether they too have been fixed by a man with a laptop? Let me know below.