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Article: Mechanically Confidential - Nobody knows it all

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Mechanically Confidential

Are there things mechanics keep to themselves and not let other mechanics know about them? I hope not, but I’m sure even doctors and lawyers have a few secrets they’re not sharing with each other. The big secret is there really are no secrets. What it really comes down to is knowledge. Every good mechanic has a few things they won’t forget about for a certain car or procedure. Especially one of those problems where the amount of time spent on the job far exceeds what the boss is willing to collect on it. But, by far there are more things you’ve completely forgotten about, because you don’t see that type of engine anymore, or it’s something you’ve never encountered before.

 

That’s where a bit of extra help from a fellow mechanic comes in handy. I have a lot of friends in the business who call me, or I call them when I’m stuck on some weird problem. Sometimes, neither one of us can actually help each other out, but we may in fact trigger a thought or memory that will.

Sadly however, it never fails somewhere in this crazy world of auto repair there are those who feel it is necessary to slam the next guy for not knowing something, call the other technician an idiot in front of the customer, and so on. These few are the type who won’t help their fellow mechanic in any shape or form. Whether or not it’s a guy in the next bay, or from another shop. I’m not sure if it’s because of an ego thing, or self-preservation in fear the competition is getting the next job.

 

It’s a poor practice at any rate, and I’ve witnessed firsthand egotistical mechanics more than once. Let’s face it, nobody knows it all and I’m the first one to admit it. That’s why I reach out and find help from another tech. Sometimes it’s because you just can’t make out the diagnostics, or it could be you don’t have the right tool for the job. Whatever the reason, there’s no harm in finding a source for that knowledge you don’t have.

 

This time around it was a 25+ year old Beemer with a battery drain that I reluctantly took on. European cars are not my specialty, but I managed to chase down the problem to the central module. To my surprise the dealership still carried the replacement part. Now all I had to do was install it, but plugging it in was only half the battle. It needs to be coded. That’s something my scanners wouldn’t accomplish. It’s time to make that phone call to my buddy in the European repair biz.

 

Now, Jack is a really sharp BMW tech at a very well-known independent European repair shop in town. Jack doesn’t warm up to just anybody. He’s been around as long as I have, and he’s seen the “wanna-be” techs and the slap it together shops come and go just like I have. To say the least, he’s a bit picky as to who he’ll help out. Ya can’t blame the guy, I know exactly how he feels. I called him up and asked if he could slip me in and code this car for me. “Not a problem,” he said, “Just pull up to the service bay and honk the horn.”

 

Of course, in his shop he’s the king, and I’m just the lowly delivery boy bringing the car into the service bay. Naturally, I had to endure the “Wrath of Jack” as he coded the module for me. Today’s lecture was about coding. “Now coding isn’t programming, and coding isn’t flashing, it’s coding. You understand?” Jake tells me in his usual stern manner. I nodded my head in agreement as he went on to tell me why BMW uses a coding system for their various modules as well as programming. I sort of already knew all that, because I read it in the repair manual when I was researching the repair procedure, but you’re in his shop. Let him tell you anyway; it’s best to listen intently and look interested.

 

Before long the car was ready for me to head back to my little shop and finish up the job. Jack’s a great guy, and any time I can help him out I certainly will. Of course, he’ll have to sit through the “Wrath of Gonzo” when he comes to my shop. (Gotta return the favor, ya know) Thanks for your help Jack, it's my turn next.

Working together to solve an issue and sharing information is important for not only the customer, but for both technicians as well as both businesses. This is an information world we live in these days, and sharing that information is all part of it. Some will say, “Don’t tell the DIY’r how to do it!” I say, tell him! If that person is capable of handling the repair, so be it! I’m no carpenter or plumber, but I’m sure going to give it a try if it’s something I feel confident enough to tackle myself. Hey, if I mess it up I’m sure the “Wrath of the Plumber” will be the next information highway I’ll be on. But, we all know, there are some things you can explain, read about, or watch on YouTube that even though it seems fairly easy, it turns out to be a whole lot harder when you try it yourself.

 

Whether it’s through training classes, videos, books, schools, or another mechanic, knowing something new starts with learning something new. I learn something new practically every day, and I feel it’s all part of doing a job to help the other guy. There’s always more to learn, more to share, and more than enough to do. It’s no secret that it takes more than a box of tools to fix today’s cars. It takes friends in the right places. Make some new friends and spread the knowledge around. Automotive knowledge was never meant to be … “mechanically confidential”.

 

 

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Gonzo, in my experience, there are more mechanics willing to help a fellow tech, than those who will not. It's amazing how techs my complain about long work days or any hardships while getting "paid", but will help a fellow tech the entire weekend on a project car and work for FREE!

 

The truth is, no one knows it all and everyone needs help from time to time. It's comforting to know that we can always reach out for help, and in turn, we are willing to help others.

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Yes, as I seeks some advice on a car dumped in my lap with not much time to work on it LOL. In my case I may be looking too deep , the car came from another shop and I assumed they had some idea what they were doing when checking it. Possibly not, but any way I have also noticed that sometimes we forget about the basics with all the technical stuff now a days. Sometimes we all need a little help to get us back on the right path. Yes some have seen problems over and over where we are seeing it for the first time we all need a helping hand at times. What we know about one car may not necessarily be exactly the same on a different manufacturer . So extend a helping hand receive a helping hand .

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Jack read the article... says that I'm a bigger Ahole than he is. LOL... I told him, "Takes one to know one!" He agreed. ROFL

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In my experience, the smartest guys that have the most experience have been really humble and did not mind sharing their knowledge. It has been the guys that are in the business just to make money that have been one's that hoard the information to make an even greater profit. Nothing wrong with that I guess.

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I'm all for helping out, but lately I've become a real jerk. I have other shop owners calling me for diag help on every code because they don't think identifix or Mitchell or alldata subs are worth paying for. So I was spending two hours a day, every day, as a free hotline for every self proclaimed expert around. These people are not my friends. Now it's a 10 second answer "send your customer here with $85 I'll diagnose it for you" Guess who's the (insert derogatory racist sexist homophobic term here) now? Yup that's me.

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Same here. had a kid call me and ask if I could tell him how to line up the timing chain on his 22R. I told him he could buy the book at a-z and it probably would have pictures. He asked if I might have the info and if I could "give" it to him. Nope system lease is 300 a month. If ya want prints it's 5 bucks a sheet. He was still talking about mother somethings when I hung up on him.

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I'm all for helping out, but lately I've become a real jerk. I have other shop owners calling me for diag help on every code because they don't think identifix or Mitchell or alldata subs are worth paying for. So I was spending two hours a day, every day, as a free hotline for every self proclaimed expert around. These people are not my friends. Now it's a 10 second answer "send your customer here with $85 I'll diagnose it for you" Guess who's the (insert derogatory racist sexist homophobic term here) now? Yup that's me.

 

Subscription are the cost of doing business, if they can't afford to subscribe they have no business being in business. I will not subsidize them to put me out of business.

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Subscription are the cost of doing business, if they can't afford to subscribe they have no business being in business. I will not subsidize them to put me out of business.

Handing out copies of wiring diagrams that I have to pay for through subscriptions is like lending tools..... I don't lend tools, I'll lend a hand, but I'm not about cut it off to help someone out.

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I whole-heartedly agree with Gonzo, Joe, and AlfredAuto! You guys are right. I get people bugging me all the time with questions about how-to's on their BMWs. I don't mind helping out other people, whether they are DIY guys or techs. I even collaborate from time to time with other shop owners on problems we face, and the partnership helps us all win. Sharing information is something that I enjoy doing, because I feel like all of us are an ambassador for the business. But when it comes to people taking advantage or not spending their own money on Alldata or Mitchell 1, I have the same opinion that if you want the info bad enough, you should be willing to pay for it! I most certainly am, which is why I have Mitchell 1. You gotta pay to play.

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