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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

No strings attached

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Michelle Felter, Staff Josh Thacker, a technician at Autry Morlan's service center in Sikeston, looks at a view of a car he is servicing on the computer. The new system uses digital cameras instead of strings. The cameras stream through a computer system and point out any specifics that are off to the mechanics.
SIKESTON -- New technology at Autry Morlan's service center are making check-ups using the front-end machine more accurate and quicker.

"We've got the latest, most updated front-end machine," said General Sales and Service Manager Jeff Williams. He noted the service center has used the machine -- out on the market for under two years -- for the past seven or so months. "The system knows what to be looking at and what the specs should be."

The machine boasts "picture-perfect alignment" and the four digital cameras provide continuous alignment measurements with no moving parts.

"It looks at those targets," said Service Manager Gary Christian.

Thacker positions the camera on a tire. The new system used at Autry Morlan makes alignments more accurate -- and is a good diagnostic tool.
The two called the old machine used -- which required using strings that had to be adjusted and reset -- a "dinosaur" compared to what is used now. No calibration, electronics, cables or batteries are required.

"Now, we can do a lot more in a day," said Williams. While it previously would have taken 30 minutes to an hour to perform an alignment or whatever service the customer wants, it now takes about 15 minutes, said Christian.

The technician working on a vehicle simply has to program the model of vehicle worked on -- and the cameras and equipment help diagnose problems. "They can't tell you what is wrong, but they can tell you where to start looking," said Williams. "The computer system goes through and tells you what to do."

Williams also pointed out that the computer has the information on all models of vehicles -- not just GM products. It can even service ambulances.

Christian said with the new machine, all someone needs to do is follow directions. "It's set up so good that all the mechanic has to do is what this thing tells you," he said.

For instance, Williams said, the computer system will tell the technician if a nut or bolt needs to be turned -- and how many turns. And if the mechanic turns it too much, the computer system picks up on that, too.

"It's a pretty good diagnostic tool, too," said Williams. The computer has a search engine, he continued, where the mechanic can insert a phrase with the problem a customer has, which is a good place to start when looking for a problem.

Christian said those alignments are typically recommended every 30,000 or so miles. "That keeps your tires from wearing out too soon," said Williams.

Other indicators it's time for one are if a vehicle is veering to the side or making odd noises when turning.

"And all this is for better fuel mileage," said Williams. "It's preventative maintenance."

Other services advised are an antifreeze flush, fuel system flush and transmission flush.

Williams said the machine reflects Autry Morlan's goal to provide the best service possible. "We are always on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to service," he said.

Williams also pointed out all of the service technicians are highly qualified and have received GM and Automatic Service Excellence qualifications. "And these guys are always going to school or taking classes," he said.

Autry Morlan's service center is located at 2505 East Malone in Sikeston. The phone number is 573-471-1475 or toll free at 1-800-278-1273; hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Williams said the service center has some loaner cars and a shuttle system, so customers can drop off their car and not have to sit around waiting.