Quantcast
Jump to content


Gonzo

Article: Hazards of the Road - Potholes and varmints.

Recommended Posts

Hazards of the Road
Pot holes, rough railroad crossings, and uneven pavement are just a few of the hazards of the road that can send you to the repair shop. They can tear up the undercarriage, bend suspension parts, and ruin components. Not to mention the damage to the rims and tires or the front end alignment. We all know how it happens, those things just seem to dart out in front of you with no warning. There you are zooming down the road sipping your morning coffee when all of a sudden you hit one of those car-swallowing pot holes. The coffee flies everywhere, and then your steering wheel starts shaking back and forth. It’s time to make a call to the repair shop.
Undercarriage and suspension damage from pot holes is fairly common. But, there are those occasions when an unwanted passenger hitches a ride underneath the car, too. Ah yes, those bits and pieces of a darting squirrel or road debris that get lodged in the under carriage from time to time. Sometimes you swerve or slam on the brakes, or you might try honking the horn or flash your brights at it. But, due to road conditions, visibility, speed, the weather, or that extra sip of coffee while changing the radio station makes hitting it unavoidable, and now you’ve acquired a new passenger under your car. And, who gets to remove what’s left? Your local mechanic, that’s who.
The diversity in these sudden hitchhikers are endless. I’ve seen everything from an aluminum ladder to road kill. Plastic bags and construction debris are probably the most common stuff I run across. In fact, a few years ago a Jeep rolled in with a differential leak that turned out to be a large garbage bag wedged into the rear seal. It was so impacted in there it actually popped the seal out of the housing. It must have made one heck of a noise as it wrapped tighter and tighter around the drive shaft.
I’m sure a lot of mechanics have seen worse than I have, especially the body shop techs. But I don’t recall any mechanics or body shop tech classes ever going over road debris or squirrel removal. Even if it was a class I missed, I don’t think you could explain the diagnostics to a customer as to how a spare tire flying out of a pickup had just the right angle, and just the right momentum to crack the crank sensor in two pieces, but didn’t do any other damage under the their truck. (Trying to involve their insurance company on that one.) Yeah, it really did happen to an old Ford truck that came in my shop.
I’m not immune to road debris either. I’ve collected my fair share of screws, glass, cardboard boxes, and hitchhiking varmints. The most memorable one was back when my wife and I first got married. We made the long trip to her home town in Nebraska in the middle of one of the worst winters in memory. One morning we decided to drive around town and see what had changed since the last time we were up there. It’s a really small town set amidst miles of corn fields, no grocery store, one gas station, two churches, and three bars. (Priorities ya know) The big excitement in town this winter was the stock pile of corn that was at the Co-op at the train depot. For one reason or another they couldn’t load the grain into the silos. Maybe the conveyor was frozen or the silos were full. I never asked why, besides it was 35 below zero out there, and I wasn’t about to get out of the warm car and ask.
Since there wasn’t anywhere else to put all this corn, they just piled it up right there in the middle of the street. It stretched from side walk to side walk and was higher than the telephone poles. We couldn’t turn around, or back up because there were even more gawkers checking out this huge pile of corn behind us. Instead, we followed the tracks on the edge of the pile from the previous car. As we carefully negotiated over part of the curb and part of the mound of corn (as gingerly as possible) the icy crust of snow on this massive pile of corn gave way and shifted the whole thing just as we went through.
A day or so later, we both caught a whiff a foul odor emanating from the bottom our car. It had the unmistakable smell of burnt corn bread. It seems we didn’t clear that pile of corn all that well, because the catalytic converter shield scooped up a bunch of the corn and some of the snow and turned the converter shield into a mini skillet. It took me hours of lying under the car (in the freezing cold) with what tools I had to clean most of it off. Then I took our family corn machine to the nearest town that still had a car wash open, trying to wash out the kernels faster than the water spray could froze. The smell of the burnt corn lingered for weeks afterwards despite several car washes.
Cooked corn, yea that was a mess but, it doesn’t compare to some of the other things I’ve removed. Such as mangled deer, mice, rabbits, or worse yet… a skunk. I’m not real squeamish when it comes to the blood and guts part of it but, the stench… oh the smell. Years ago after one of my “de-skunking” episodes my uniform guy told me he would rather I just throw those shop rags away instead of turning them back in.
Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to a customer’s car which has just hit a pot hole or ran over something and their car needs my attention. Anymore, I don’t get all that excited when I find something like a sneaker jammed inside the right front tire rim and it has somehow ripped the ABS sensor wires completely off. I just smile, change out the sensor, and remove the shoe. I’ll add it to the pile of stuff I show the customer after the repair is completed. Needless to say, ya do get a few quirky looks at the counter from time to time. Often times they can’t remember running over something.

But, it is what it is… just another day at the shop dealing with hazards of the road.

 

http://www.autoshopowner.com/article/automotive/gonzos-tool-box/hazards-of-the-road-potholes-and-varmints-r320

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites



  • Similar Forum Topics

    • Broken Parts

      Are you guys charging your techs for parts they break? In the past we have never made our techs pay for something they broke, the shop did and talked to the tech about what they need to do to prevent this in the future. It's getting old though. 2 weeks ago one young tech back a mirror into a pole so we bought a new mirror. This week, a different tech while removing a fuel tank, didn't discount the fuel lines on top first and ended up dropping the tank too fast and broke the fuel sending unit. On this truck that is a $300+ part that we are now eating on a $500 ticket. I want to tell the tech he is responsible, and will have to pay the shop back for the part. What say you? 

      By ADP, in General Automotive Discussion

      • 6 replies
      • 185 views
    • Shop Warranty policy

      Hi all, I was wondering where do you typically display your shop warranty policies? Sign posted in office, at the bottom of the invoice, bottom of signed work order, on your website?   What do you recommend?   Thanks,   Nick 

      By CAautogroup, in General Automotive Discussion

        
      • 8 replies
      • 734 views
    • Customer's buying their own parts

      Hey guys. I'm new to the forum and was looking for this subject but couldn't find it. Sorry If I'm posted something that's already been discussed. I own a brake shop in Austin, TX. We do anywhere from 10-20 brake jobs a day. We only do brakes so I don't know how much full service auto shops deal with this problem but... Customers are constantly calling in claiming they've bought the best parts or they want to provide their own parts because they've done research and know what is best. This drives me crazy. First of all they don't know whats best. Then after being told no they get offended and act like tons of shops allow this. What is the best way to handle these customers? Just send them away? I'll quote them a price using our parts and they act as though its a rip off. What shops are doing this for their customers? I feel like I'm letting jobs get away from me. Any experience with this?

      By Jonathan Ganther, in General Automotive Discussion

      • 49 replies
      • 3,053 views
    • Increase auto repair sales by adding to the cart

      Retail stores have known for a long time that adding or increasing the size of shopping carts also increases sales. Consumers may go to the store with a list, but as they pass through the aisles, having a cart makes it easy to add to that list.  While your repair shop does not use shopping cart, the same strategy can used. Every customer that books an appointment as done so with some sort of list; an oil change service, a brake issue, tire rotation, etc.  Through an effective multipoint inspection and looking at service schedules, you can make suggestions to your customers that can add to their cart; essentially increasing sales per vehicle. One last thing: Always make service and repair suggestions to the customer that is in their best interest and have value, and you can’t go wrong.  It’s actually great customer service. 

      By Joe Marconi, in Joe’s Business Tips For Shop Owners

        
      • 0 replies
      • 170 views
    • Post your shop's website!

      We've created this section here for you to post your shop website. This is a great way to get some feedback and suggestions from your peers.

      Please post relevant automotive shop websites only. Any posts including non automotive shop websites will be moderated and removed.

      Thank you.

      By Alex, in Management Software, Web Sites & Internet

        
      • 210 replies
      • 23,303 views
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors



×