Butt Kickin' Bodyshop
The other day one of the many body shops I do work for came by with a little problem on a 98' Honda. Doug (the owner of the body shop) wanted to make sure I knew how much he appreciated everything that I have done for him over the years. He was making a big deal out of it. I'm not sure whether he was bragging on me, or just being complementary. For all I know he was trying soften me up, before I gave him the bill.
"You're the first person I call," he proudly tells me.
"Well, thanks Doug, I appreciate that," I told him.
"You know, we (the bodyshop) don't know a whole lot about this electrical stuff. That's what we've got you for. You always bail us out."
When he finally finished his "Thank You's", he headed back to the bodyshop, and left the little Honda for me to look at. By that afternoon I was on the phone to let him know it was a simple problem with the hazard switch, and he could pick up the car to finish the bodywork.
The next day my daughter, Katie (my office manager) got a call from him. They ran into a little trouble with another car. An 08' Toyota Camry. Seems the battery was dead, and somehow while charging the battery they touched the positive and negative leads together from the jumper cables while they were still hooked to the car. Now, the car would only idle, nothing more. Katie came out to the shop to ask me what I thought might be the problem. I was busy on another job, stuck under a dash looking at a fuse box.
"Sounds like he blew a fuse," I told Katie while sticking my head out from under the corner of the dash.
"That's it?" she asked.
"Sounds like it to me. Oh, and tell him once he changes the fuse, go find the guy that did it, and kick his butt for me," I told her with a grin on my face.
She walked back to the phone shaking her head and smiling.
"That's it? I hope so," Doug tells her, "because, if we had to drive it across town for him to check it out we could only idle it the whole way. We'd look pretty foolish if we did that, and it turned out only to be a fuse."
Laughing now, Katie tells him, "Yeah, that would be pretty bad. He did have more information for you though. His professional diagnostics also included that you kick the guy's butt who did it."
"Well, alrighty then, I'll take care of that personally. Tell your dad thanks again. One fuse, one butt kickin… got it," Doug tells her with a chuckle.
The next day here comes the boys from the bodyshop driving the Camry very slowly, and followed closely by another slow moving car with its hazards on as well. I was not a bit surprised.
"Here's the car that we called you about yesterday," the driver tells Katie.
"You mean the one with the blown fuse?" she asked.
"We looked, it's more serious than that," he says.
"OK, I'll tell Gonzo," Katie said trying to hide her snickering smile.
She came out to the shop and told me about it. I had to laugh. Even though I had no clue what was really wrong with it, I was pretty sure it was a fuse, well, at least it sounded like a fuse to me.
It idled its way around the front of the shop and into a service bay, while I passed the time watching the dash gauges, playing with radio, seat heaters and just about anything else I could think of. The service light was on; I could see that from the start of my slow journey. But I couldn't go get the scanner right at the moment. I was busy creeping around the building at a snail's pace.
The code was for the TCS (throttle control system), and the diagnostic tree was extremely long. Sometimes I wonder who writes these things. You know it would be a lot easier if it would start with the basics, like grounds, powers and resistance levels. But no… not a chance. They have to go thru a series of steps that all pertain to the system, but not even getting close to the cause of the problem. The test started out with an explanation of the code; low voltage has been detected by the PCM for the TCS. Great, that's sounding like a fuse to me. I could have stopped there, but I decided to keep reading. Then it wanted to know the scope readings and then continuity between each wire. Finally around steps 10 or 12 the test got to the good part… "Check the fuse". How about instead of going all the way thru pages of diagnostic tree mumbo-jumbo you start the friggin procedure at step one with ---- "CHECK THE FUSE" --- geez!
I finally got the answer I was looking for. Well, what do ya know, the fuse is blown. I changed the fuse and cleared the code… all is well with the little Camry.
Katie called Doug to let him know it was ready. Since it was for Doug and all… I couldn't resist having some fun with his misfortune. I wrote the invoice up with a few "special" informative automotive terms.
She started to read what I wrote on the invoice to him, "The PCM has found a low voltage signal present at the TCS. Further diagnostics was needed to confirm a loss of signal voltage was present. The FCA (Fuse control assembly) (made that up on the spot!) had an open protective devise to the TCS, the PCM was not receiving an input signal that would allow the TCS to respond. Reconfiguring of the FCA was needed to initiate electro-balance of the current draw to the PCM. (Man, sometimes I can come up with some wild stuff to write on an invoice.)
Doug was getting a little nervous, "OMG, can he fix it… aw, geez, this is bad isn't it? Awe, man, this is going to cost me a bundle."
Katie, being Katie, put the screws to him. Played it up for awhile, and then let him off the hook, "Well, Doug, I could leave out all that technical stuff, and try to give you an answer that would be easier to understand?"
"Sure, hit me with the bad news. I can take it."
"The fuse was blown."
Doug holds the phone up against his chest so Kate can't hear what he yells back to one of his guys in the shop.
"Dang it, I thought you said you checked all the fuses?"
Then turning back to Katie, "Aw geez, why me? Ok, we'll be over to pick it up. The butt kickin will commence in just a second."
Ah, yes, another day at the shop, and another butt kickin' in progress. I hope the rest of Doug's day goes better. As for me, I'm sure glad I was right about this one… wouldn't be much of a story if it was something besides a fuse.
I would have loved to have had a camera mounted on the car to watch the embarrassment of idling a car across town thru the intersections and all the usual traffic. And then one on Doug, just to see his face when he found out it was only a fuse. Yea, I think a butt kickin is in order on this one. Ya made my day Dougie… you and your guys may not know electrical, but you do know body work. Some of the best in town… you're one butt kickin bodyshop!
These stories are here before publication or final editing. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of it. Visit my website for even more stories and automotive trivia. www.gonzostoolbox.com