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Gonzo
Gonzo

Dealing with DIY'rs

Dealing with the DIY’r

I find it harder and harder to deal with some of these DIY’rs anymore. It’s not that there are more of them or that I’m getting older and find I have less tolerance of their half-wit ideas, it’s more of the way they go about things these days. I still get calls from somebody wanting me to test some component off the car, but with the ever changing technology there are very few parts that can be tested that way anymore.

 

It used to be nothing to take your ignition module or alternator down to the local parts store and have it tested although, that’s not the case these days. I don’t know of any parts store still testing ECM’s or doing in house programming either. But, there are a lot of DIY’rs under the impression that swapping parts is the best method of repair. The time when there were only a few parts controlling various systems and they weren’t very expensive has faded into the history books.

 

Although, I can sympathize with the DIY’rs plight as far as trying to save a buck on car repairs, the level of expertise in doing so has changed dramatically. I’ve heard comments from a few, that the “Cash for Clunkers” program caused some issues in the repair business. As far as I see it, yes it did, and as for the DIY’r it most certainly did too. Most of these home garage tinkerers learn through experience and since many of that era’s cars have already gone to the scrap yard there’s less chance of understanding the complexity of the next generation of cars. It’s like a complete decade of technology was skipped over. Now, the advancement in technology is light years ahead of them, but their repair procedures are still (for the most part) a few decades behind.

 

I had a call just the other day from a guy who asked if I could check his coil off the car because he didn’t want to buy a new one and then find out it wasn’t the problem. He definitely was your typical, “Swap parts until I get it” kind of guy. However, some of these newer coils can run well over a hundred dollars for a replacement and merely swapping one out isn’t as easy as it used to be. I tried my best to get him to bring the car in but, he wasn’t going to pay somebody to tell him what was wrong with the car because he was capable of fixing it himself. He was determined to fix it even though his only options were to change parts he was familiar with from years of tinkering under the hood. (Not a good diagnostic strategy at all.)

 

Then there are the “macho” DIY phone calls that refuse to talk to a girl. Now really, in this day and age? Talking to a girl about car stuff upsets you? I for one, know a lot of gals out there that could wipe you off the map with the knowledge and expertise they have about cars. My daughter for example, she has worked around the shop for so many years that she can diagnose most problems just by what the customer is telling her. The other day she had one of those typical, “I want to talk to a mechanic” calls. She answered with her usual response, “Yes, and what can I do for you?”

 

Of course, the caller kept insisting on talking to a “mechanic”, but we all know what he really wanted was to talk to a man and not some girl on the phone. My daughter, (A chip off the same stubborn block) kept up her side of the conversation with, “Yes you are, and so what do ya need bud?” Finally, out of frustration he relented and spilled his dilemma to a girl. It went something like this. “I was changing out my blower motor because it didn’t work. You know what a blower motor is right?”

 

“Yes,” she answered sarcastically.

 

“Well, I changed it and it still doesn’t work. I think I dropped a dowel pin through my schematic and that’s why it doesn’t work. Can you fix that?” (I am not kidding… that’s what he said.)

 

I don’t care if you’re a guy or a gal, but if you have any common sense at all you’d know something wasn’t right with this phone call. My daughter did her best to keep her composer and told the guy his best bet of getting things solved was to bring the car in. Which, of course, he wasn’t about to do, because he could fix it his macho self.

 

But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg as to what some these DIY’rs will ask. A lot of times they will call and tell you that they have already done all the research and know it’s “just a wire” or “it’s just a ground problem” and then ask how much to fix it. As if anyone could give an estimate for “just a wire” without knowing the where or what the problem is or if their research is even correct. But, it happens every day. If they do show up, you’ll know which ones they are. There the ones that leave their wiring diagram or manual on the passenger seat opened to the appropriate page, or they already have the car torn apart for you. You know, so it’s “easier” for the mechanic.

 

A little advice to the DIY’rs… don’t help, and when the service writer asks you, “What’s wrong with the car?” don’t answer with “Well, I changed this, and changed that”… etc. etc. You’re lucky the service writer doesn’t come back with a sarcastic reply like; “So, you’re telling me that what is wrong with the car is that… you worked on it?!” Seriously, just tell them what’s wrong, not what you’ve done. If they ask you, “Did you do anything?” That’s when you can tell them all about your weekend adventures back and forth to the parts store.

It’s a fact of life that we all tend to try and repair things ourselves. The DIY’rs that are successful, I tip my hat to you. But the ones that fails miserably, and says, “Since I can’t fix it, it’s beyond fixing by anybody. I’m just better off to selling the car.” They are the ones that twist my wrenches. Today’s cars are not the kind of commodity that can be just randomly torn apart in the home garage anymore. It really has become a professional field that should be left to the professionals.

 

 

DIY’rs, ya gotta love em’. They’re the best and worst customer’s for the professional mechanic.

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Great article Gonzo! The DIY crowd can be a challenge. When they finally call a shop they are frustrated and usually emotionally and financially invested in a "repair" that has not repaired anything at all. This is a bad starting point to say the least. Open ended questions are a good strategy to get some actual facts. Its always like an interrogation with these guys!

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Great article Gonzo! The DIY crowd can be a challenge. When they finally call a shop they are frustrated and usually emotionally and financially invested in a "repair" that has not repaired anything at all. This is a bad starting point to say the least. Open ended questions are a good strategy to get some actual facts. Its always like an interrogation with these guys!

What I find even more of a pain in the arse, is when they try to sound like they have all the knowledge in the world about their problem, but can't seem to figure out the cause. Just the other day I had a guy in with a Dodge van that had the O2 sensor connector laying against the exhaust manifold (I found it... he didn't) this guy changed out the coil, the plugs, the fuel pump...etc..... but couldn't find out why the main fuse was blowing. It was the wires to the sensor. They were so bad that the only way I got it started was to cut the leads off. I gave him an estimate on repairing it and his answer, "I'm just going to change the harness." What a dweeb......

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From my experience, there are very few DIY'rs that can really do what we do. You cannot be a weekend warrior and expect to be at the same level that someone who does it everyday, commits to on-going training and is surrounded by a team of other techs, with the right tools and information.

 

BUT, the one phrase that I cannot stand from a DIY'rr is when they say, "I do all my own work". That's when I have a little fun. I reply with, "Oh, really. What type of alignment machine do you have in your garage, and what brand tire changer to do have, and what make tire balancer do you own". They usually mumble a few words and leave.

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We have some DIY'rr's in electronics repair. The worse ones try to strip down some piece of equipment and do what I call is an "autopsy" of the thing and just send back the parts, when they give up! They are looking for something they just can't find!

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Just wait until a female customer wants to argue because you just told her she has "x" wrong with her car, but she insists that " y" is the problem because her brother ( or boyfriend , husband, whatever) is a mechanic and he has already diagnosed the problem, but he doesn't have time to fix it because he works so much overtime at the furniture factory warehouse!

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What about the parts store diagnostics? I get these guys in my shop that'll say something like "Autozone diagnosed my car and said I need an O2 sensor, they sold me the part can you put it in for me?" Customer will insist the diag is correct and just wants the part installed.

 

Had a lady insist she needed new front struts on her Honda Accord. When I asked why she said because it's clunking and the parts store told her she needed struts. It was upper ball joints.

 

Had one in this week, Advance had told him he needed a new brake booster, his pedal was randomly sinking to the floor. I asked him how they knew it was the brake booster, he said 2 of them looked at it, one pushed the brakes while the other listened and heard the booster leaking - it wasn't, it was the master cylinder of course.

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ScottyP's "Autozone" reference is spot on. They call it a diagnosis! My answer is , " so if we install the ------------------- , and it some how does not fix the problem, You are going to be fine with me, and go see the guy at Autozone with the situation for him to diagnose, right?" We have to explain a good and proper diagnosis is the most cost effective solution. Its a challenge at the very least.

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We have a banner that we put out below our Shop sign that says "We repair what your husband fixed." The DIYer do more damage than good and the banner points this out to them. Get lots of comments from this banner.

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We get the calls or drop ins that just want us to diagnose the problem so they can fix it. Or they ask us how to fix it so they can go home and do it themselves. REALLY? You want us to give our experience/knowledge away for free?

Edited by PAPShop
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