In-car tech got you overwhelmed? Just read the manual

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Service advisors see this many times every day – a customer comes in with a vehicle complaint and seems resigned to the worst-case scenario, even before describing the problem and having an inspection and diagnosis completed.

It can often ruin a service experience even before it starts, leading to poor customer satisfaction. Most service counter consultants put this down to technology fatigue, a condition created by the increasing gap between all those electronic features automakers jam into their products, and our understanding/knowledge of them. But rather than ditch a new ride in favour of a 15-year-old beater with an AM radio and no AC, there are a few ways to narrow the knowledge gap and keep our relationship with our service providers in the pink.

It’s probably the most boring read in the glove-box, but take the time to scroll through your vehicle’s owner’s manual. The best place and time? Shortly after you get your new chariot home and while sitting in the driver’s seat. You’d be surprised at how many phone calls and emails, and how much frustration you can avoid by spending 30 minutes going over this handy reference feature.

And don’t forget money. When your oil change tech is trying to up-sell you to synthetic oil or multiple flushes and you know the manual recommends none of this for your ride – because you’ve read the manual – well, you’ve saved enough money for a great date night.

One of the biggest complaints consumers have about new vehicle technology is related to phone connectivity and music playlists. When it comes to your infotainment system dropping your phone, just like the majority of home and business IT failures, turning it off and on again can solve a lot of problems.

But with phone connectivity, it’s a matter of deleting your device from your vehicle’s system and then re-pairing it. And to avoid the inevitable blown mental fuse when your car’s audio system inexplicably drops your 150-song mix, keep it on a separate USB thumb drive for sanity’s sake.

All automakers realize that many of their consumers may suffer from a technology disconnect from time to time, and many offer FAQ sections on their websites. Take advantage of these when electronics go wonky. As well, the internet is full of enthusiasts sites and forums, and chances are, there will be a few dedicated to your vehicle. Almost all of these sites offer free access to discussions where you’ll learn you’re not alone when it comes to not understanding new technology.

One helpful tip on these sites is to utilize their archived-topics search features. You’ll often find that your question has been asked many times before, and you can get instant answers in these databases, rather than start a new conversation and risk snarky comments and responses.

Your dealership can also be a wealth of info when technology goes awry and you can avoid frustrations and get better results if you consider when and how you communicate with them. Avoid calling during their peak hours, which are usually from opening to 9:00 a.m., and between 4:00 p.m. and closing.

Most dealerships have email connections to their service department, which can be great for non-critical issues. Don’t forget to include your VIN, as this will permit service consultants to check if any software updates are available for your ride.

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