Streetside Ideas: Wrenchtracker

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Joe LoCicero is probably the most famous man to be driving a Honda Accord.  You may have heard of him, because he’s driven his 1990 Accord for over one million miles, and Honda made a commercial about him and threw him a parade and gave him a car and stuff.  Well…I want a parade and a car and stuff.  In fact, I used to own a 1990 Accord, and I ruined it with rushed and improper maintenance.  Here’s an idea I had last night, while reading a book about something completely different, that might have scored me a parade:

See, Joe just followed the schedule.  Whenever Honda said something needed to be replaced, he would replace it.  Now, this is easy stuff when you let the dealership take care of everything.  You can buy a new car, take it in every 5,000 miles for an oil change, and they’ll be quite happy to keep you well apprised of every maintenance marker throughout the life of the car.

But Joe did the greater part of the work himself, and we can do the same thing.  We’re busy people, however, and while we trust ourselves to do our own wrenching, we can’t really be trusted to keep track of it.  I propose, ladies and gentlemen of the board, that there’s an app for that.

I call it Wrenchtracker, the ultimate car maintenance record keeper.  When you get Wrenchtracker, you enter your year, make, model, trim level, engine size, transmission choice, and so on, until the software has a good idea of what you drive.

Then you plug in your odometer reading.  If it’s a brand new car, you can start at mile zero.  If it’s used, type in 523,954, or whatever those little scrolly bits on your dash say, and Wrenchtracker will automatically pull up a list of the maintenance items that should have already been performed.

If they have been (or so that guy on Craigslist told you when you bought the car), you can simply dismiss them, with the mileage at which they were performed, and Wrenchtracker will reset the timer for the next time they should be done, at the proper interval.  If they haven’t been done, then you’ll know it’s time to flush your radiator or have a look at those CV boots.

Every month, or two weeks, or week, depending on owner preference, Wrenchtracker will ask you politely to update your mileage digits, then immediately check the number against a built-in database for when the next maintenance should take place.  You can set it to warn you several months ahead of time that you’re due, or just surprise you, if you’re into that kind of thing.

You can also enter jobs that weren’t scheduled, such as replacing that busted out headlight or that weird looking IACV gasket that started spraying coolant into your manifold.  Each job has an individual file, so you can enter notes on the brands of products and parts used and the difficulties you want to remember to avoid next time.  Here you can even enter pictures you took during the job for future forum thread fame.

Speaking of forum threads, each scheduled job would also include a crowd-sourced listing of links to threads, Youtube videos, and the like, which will help you get the job done right.  Or completely screw it up, depending on the HMBR (Hold My Beer Ratio) of the Youtube presenters.  A higher level of membership could integrate with All Data Pro.

But then, sometimes you just don’t want to do the job at all.  That’s why scheduled jobs would also include links to area dealerships who would be thrilled to replace your alternator (an alternator?  Really, man?  You can’t do that one yourself?  Come on!)

Why not also list local shops who would charge many thousands of dollars less than the dealerships?  Because dealership links are the bargaining chip with the manufacturers.  Say, there, Herr VW, sir, would you care to give me a bunch of conveniently organized data for maintenance schedules on every car you’ve made since the Fuhrer?  Nein?  What if I trade you for advertising on every gearhead’s smart phone in America?  Ja?  Only slightly evil, I guess.

If we wanted to avoid all evil entirely, we could just crowdsource the maintenance schedules, like the thread links.  I mean, people edit Wikipedia.  So if you’re the first one to own a 2015 Mustang, and you want your fellow Stangers to enjoy their ponies for as long as you do, you can look up and enter the maintenance schedule into the Wrenchtracker database.  Since Wrenchtracker could be profitable, we could eventually hire some staffers to research and verify this information.

Legal disclaimers would, of course, abound.

If you don’t want to drive your car for a million miles for fear of what the seat fabric will smell like, you will instead put it up for sale.  At this point you can include a link in your online ad (you’re a do-it-yourself person, after all), to a rundown of your car’s maintenance history, courtesy Wrenchtracker’s website.  It’s like Runkeeper with internal combustion.

See, with millennials, it’s not that we’re bad at keeping track of things.  We just want someone else to do it for us.  So…maybe…yeah, we’re pretty bad.  But this could help us take care of our cars, and the used market would be better for it.

Well…any of you app development brainos want to have a look at this?  I mean, I’m just the idea guy.  What about your own ideas?  What would you add to Wrenchkeeper?  Is there an app out there like this already about which I’ve been completely oblivious since I only read car blogs?

Author: Andy Sheehan

Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car. Find me on G+

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