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    • Restoration for the Mechanic Electrical issues on today’s cars have certainly taken  center stage.  Mechanical issues are still there too, but  it’s not uncommon to have a mechanical problem be  diagnosed, monitored, or calibrated by some electronic  means.  You just can’t get away from the electrical  if you’re in the automotive repair business these days.   It’s taken over just about every facet of the automobile.         Today’s mechanics have become something entirely  different from the stereotypical mechanic from just a  few decades ago.  It’s not that long ago when the  electrical section of the repair manuals were just a  chapter or two, today… its volumes and volumes of  schematics and diagnostic procedures.  I’m old enough  to remember when points and condensers were still  the norm, and I’ve watched the industry go from  electronic ignition to today’s electronic jungle of wires  and processors. We’ve definitely come a long way with  the technology.   Even though I work on all these newfangled electrical wizardry systems on the modern car, deep down I’m still the kid who got a kick out of tearing down an old junker and putting it back together.  Now, I’m surrounded by modules, proximity keys, and sensors.  Occasionally it’s kind of nice just to step away from the computer and just turn a wrench or two. I look forward to those simpler kinds of jobs, the ones that need a craftsman’s touch and not a box of transistors and capacitors to figure out what to do.  Back to a time when a driver was more mechanical involved in the process of operating the vehicle.   Heating vents with levers and cables, or a hand choke that needed just the right touch to get it started.  No electronics, no service light, just the essentials.  (For you younger techs, I’m referring to the days when you actually had to unlock a door with a key.)     I still marvel at the ingenuity and engineering of those times. I guess it’s one of the reasons why I like going to old car and steam engine shows so much.  It’s all about the mechanics for me.  Electronics are great, but to see the early mechanical devices that were commonplace a century ago still amazes me.  How they figured it out, and how they made it work is shear brilliance.  (If you ever get a chance to study some of those early mechanical systems, you might be surprised how things were accomplished prior to the computer age. It’s quite fascinating… well at least to me it is.)      It’s great to be able to step back once in a while and just be a mechanic.  Back when things were rebuilt and not just replaced with new. There’s a certain satisfaction in taking a broken mechanical device and making it functional again.  It’s those jobs that after you’ve wrestled the components into place, and everything is finished you realize that you’re covered in grease, but for some reason you’ve got this big smile on your face. It’s the look of accomplishment, a smile of pride in a job well done.  And while you’re cleaning up the tools, you look over at the finished project still smiling, knowing you’re done and can move onto the next project.  It just doesn’t compare to finishing up on a modern car when the last thing to do is watch that blue line steadily move across the computer screen, waiting for it to say “Task completed”.   Not that I’m putting down the modern car, no far from it.  It’s just nice to take a break once in a while from the technical mumbo-jumbo and just be a mechanic for a change.  Even though it’s pretty awesome to solve a difficult electrical issue, it’s hard to beat a good old fashion mechanical repair.  For me, when a restoration project shows up at the shop I get a chance to turn off the laptop and open the toolbox.   These restoration jobs are just as much for the customer as they are for me.  It’s a restoration of some of my old almost forgotten mechanical abilities. (Yea, I still got it…)     We put a lot of trust in the modern electronics, something the engineers and designers of those automobiles from a few decades ago never even though of.  Their own ingenuity and craftsmanship kept them going.  Components were built to be repaired not replaced.  I think it’s safe to say that a car from 50 years ago is more likely to start and run in another 50 years but I seriously doubt a car from today would have the same luck. There again, it might be something a technician/mechanic of that era might figure out how to do by then.  Me I’ll still stick with being a mechanic/technician … I still like the physical repair aspect of the job.     The future of electronics in today’s cars is constantly changing; sometimes we notice the changes while other times you can’t physically see them.  Sometimes all it takes is a little R&R on an old jalopy just to make me remember how far we’ve come.  In the meantime, the latest restoration job is done so it’s time to go for a test drive.    I’ll get back to the laptop and the modern car world just as soon as I get all the tools cleaned up… it might take a bit though … I’m still admiring the restoration job and I’ve got some more smilin’ to do.  
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    • I'm selling Interstate right now, on consignment, and I've had no issues with warranty returns.   I wonder if the warranty issues noted above are from Distributors instead of Interstate directly.  Clearly, some of you have had warranty rejections whereas, I've had none. Our warranty process:  We test the batteries and if they fail, the test results are attached, but many times they get destroyed by the acid and are unreadable.  The route drivers do not read the test results, nor do they retest the batteries when they pick them up.   They are placed on the truck in a compartment with all other battery cores from other retailers, so there's no distinguishing who's core is who's at the factory for later testing.   The warranty claim is processed on site by the driver.     Maybe they have different warranty solutions in different regions.    Can anyone comment on how their Interstate warranties are being processed? My challenge with Interstate has been with stocking levels and their inability to hot-shot batteries in <24 hours.  If I don't have it in stock, then we source an AC Delco from a different supplier.   I've recently upped my inventory to solve my own shortages problem.   Currently, AC Delco is significantly higher, about $20 each, than it's Interstate peer (similar or (mostly) less warranty levels) and NAPA is about $25 each higher.     Yesterday, I invited both AC Delco (distributor) and NAPA to pitch their battery programs again.  
    • I'm just about to settle on a software package to run my shop. I've found looking at a number of them that there are a few that don't seem to tick the basic boxes in information gathering that we as registered repair shops are required by law to do. I'm wondering if this is a New York specific issue or if this issue happens everywhere. Would you guys comment on your state requirements.  I'd like to pass some more information to the software company I'm working with in hopes that they motivate to make some improvements to satisfy these requirements. Example, in NYS we are required to capture a signature or document approval with the customer complaint to begin work on the vehicle before we touch it. We must record mileage when the vehicle enters the shop and when it is finished. We must state the warranty for each item and the terms and time limit for any guarantee on repair work. We have to collect a non taxable $2.50 waste tire management fee for every new tire sold. We have a state safety and emissions inspection that is varies in fee and is non taxable.
    • Damn I really did it. After 39 years [this November] I just sold my business. Life is gonna be different.
    • Have used the Delco brand batteries for the last 8 years. Very little problems with them and warranted well by my local vender Dust and Sons and Stonewheel. I have had nothing but problems with Interstate batteries and will NEVER install another one. I even used to stock them. Biggest pieces of crap sold and their warranty is junk. Have never been able to get them to warranty any of them even when they load test at 3 volts. Really suggest you check out the Delco. Several different lines with different warranties so you can tailor the battery to the car and the customer. They do 18, 24, 36 month warranties that are full replacement not pro rated.
    • We use NAPA Legend batteries (75 month). They did the consignment deal when we started with them. 99% of their batteries are under $100.


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    • You are getting some great information. Start encouraging online reviews. Even referral customers check your online reviews. In CA it's Yelp, which is free. I say, "Hey, if you liked my service, please go online and leave me a review." I'd heard that the simply satisfied customer doesn't refer you. it's after you do something special for them. Victor
    • I would like to resurrect this topic as I am wanting to stock batteries. So far interstate has their value line that is 62.50 across the board most batteries and more for the oddball stuff. I don't like the fact that they don't have any roadside assistance. Advance auto parts is too pricey. Worldpac and Cold Air Distributors have ACDelco and are very reasonable in their pricing and have roadside assistance but it is not a consignment program. You buy their batteries that you want to stock.  What programs do you have regarding pricing, consignment, etc. What battery tester so you have that's cost effective. I'm thinking a Midtronics MDX-300 or whatever. Also I think sometimes a vendor will include a battery tester with a printer.


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