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A/C Systems Diagnosis


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The other day I listened to a fellow service writer talking to a customer about the A/C inspections we did for him. He explained the process of evacuating and recharging and that we injected dye into the system. The system held vacuum and we didn't find a leak that day. He then told the customer to make an appointment for us to take a second look at the A/C system, to find the leak. However he told the customer to make that appointment after the system goes warm.

 

After the customer left I asked him why he made the "When the system goes warm" recommendation because, I have always recommended that the customer returned in 3-4 weeks for the UV dye inspection. He told me that the owner of our shop said that it was stupid, to have the customer come back if they were not experiencing a problem, hence when the system becomes warm again.

 

What is the process at your shop?

 

 

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We tell them to come back if the system fails. I don't want/need to look at it if it's working OK. As a side note, our techs are required to soap test the ports after servicing. It's amazing how often you create a leak just by putting your hoses on the ports.

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I soap test after installing anything under pressure. That includes any hydraulic lines. (just picky I guess) But, any and every A/C job has a disclaimer on it. Which states "To avoid loss of excessive amounts of refrigerant we recommend returning in two weeks (or if it stops cooling within the two weeks) for a FREE leak check. Any problems found at that time (as far as leaks) can be diagnosed and estimated for further repair."

 

Found lots and lots of leaks that way, but... I wouldn't wait for it to stop cooling, unless it is within the two weeks. Besides, as most people do, they'll put things off until it's "convenient" by then the oil/dye has dried up and it makes it harder to spot the leak.

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Having freon levels drop over several years is normal and doesnt mean there is anything wrong, it will permeate thru the seals and is nothing to worry about. Add dye, top it off and, come back if it gets warm again, that way, you will know its something more.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I recommend 2-4 weeks. It's a quick check and if dye shows up, you have a potential sell. If you tell them to wait it may be a slow leak, leaks over winter when they don't know and comes back in the spring and you have to recharge and dye it again, will the customer be happy?

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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