SAN FRANCISCO—Ford Motor Co. has debuted a sophisticated new diagnostic tool it plans to have in use in virtually every Ford brand dealership around the world by the middle of 2000. ``Ford brand'' includes Mazda, Jaguar and Aston Martin. Ford showed its Worldwide Diagnostic System at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention Feb. 6 in San Francisco.
The portable unit weighs 11 pounds, is operated with a touch-screen and has significantly more diagnostic capability than its predecessors, said Mike Meade, global manager of diagnostic service planning at Ford Customer Service Division.
Mr. Meade said the tool is part of Ford 2000, the company's plan to unify its global business. The consolidation of vehicle platforms around the world calls for a single diagnostic process.
``We went to a single global diagnostic process for efficiency and for accuracy,'' Mr. Meade said. ``You couldn't have the same processes without having the same tool.''
Mr. Meade said the tool works on all Ford brand vehicles, 1996 and later.
It is used in some British Ford dealerships, and Ford will continue a staggered rollout of the tool in Europe. The Worldwide Diagnostic System will be introduced in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealerships in North America, South America and Japan in August; it will be available in Australia by the end of this year.
The tool will be launched in Mazda dealerships in January 2000 and in Jaguar and Aston Martin service departments in May 2000.
Among the features of the Worldwide Diagnostic System that are not available on its predecessors is a dual channel oscilloscope to analyze electronic signal information such as ignition wave form.
With the new tool, technicians can suspend up to 10 in-process work sessions without having to restart the diagnostic routine from the beginning.
The system offers guided diagnostics for every system on the vehicle—body, chassis, electrical and powertrain—with step-by-step procedures that guide the technician to the root cause of the problem.
Ford can update the new tool system remotely and download information from dealership units.
Currently, Ford dealerships around the world use different diagnostic tools to access trouble codes and monitor the operation of sensors to make vehicle repairs, Mr. Meade said.
For instance, North American dealers use the cart-based Service Bay Diagnostic System that was introduced in 1991 and the hand-held New Generation Star Tester that was initiated in 1992.
European dealerships use the Ford Diagnostic System 2000; Jaguar and Aston Martin use derivations of that tool.
The Worldwide Diagnostic System will replace those tools, Mr. Meade said. It costs $9,475, including warranty and software updates. That compares to about $40,000 for the Service Bay Diagnostic System.
The Worldwide Diagnostic System is programmed to work in 20 languages.
Because of changing technology, the system will not have an indefinite life, Mr. Meade said. Dealers should expect to replace it sometime after 2004.