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Breaker, Breaker… In my many years of repairing cars I’ve helped out a countless number of other shops with their electrical problems. Some shops I would see a few times a month, and others only once in awhile. This was years before the internet was around, and cell phones were only a fad and way to expensive to have. So, most everything was done by a land line or over the CB radio. Back in the mid 80’s and 90’s I had one shop that I talked with nearly every day. Great guys, but not so great as mechanics. The owners name was Joe. His shop was small and seemed to be a place for wayward towed vehicles and obscure customers looking for dirt cheap repairs. His main business was his tow service, and the repair shop seemed to be there just to fill in the gaps on those slow days. One afternoon I got a call from Joe about a car his crew had given up on. They threw the parts cannon at it, but couldn’t get this car to come back to life. Joe was with tows, and needed the mechanics he had to drive the other tow trucks. This particular car had been in his shop for quite some time and I don't think the customer was too happy about it. So, to speed things up a bit, he dropped it off at my shop. “I’ll be on the road all day. I've got to get back out there. I've got tows lined up all day. If you get it going, could ya run it back to my shop,” Joe said, as he made a dash for his tow truck. “No problem Joe, I’ll get right on it,” I said, just as he drove off. The car was an 80’s GM. I could see all kinds of shiny new components under the hood, and could tell they put a lot of effort into swapping parts to find out what was going on. The symptom was; if you flipped the key to the crank position it would immediately start, but die just as quickly. The parts they changed were the predictable parts cannon fodder that the typical parts slapper would try. Tune-up parts, an IAC, TPS, MAP, ECM, etc… etc… all of which might, could, should’ve, probably, maybe, and of course, eventually with enough darts thrown at it, could have hit the target and fixed it. But it didn’t. I wasn’t about to go that route. Time for some real diagnostics and not just shoot from the hip. Why not start with the basics- fuel, air, and fire. Spark was good, timing looked good, and the intake had a good air pull. I gave it a shot of carb. cleaner, and as long as I kept spraying… it kept running. Ok, time to check the fuel pressure. Interesting... there was pressure. Hmmm, now what to do? The next obvious thing (to me) was to check fuel volume. I disconnected a fuel line and gave the key a flick into start. The fuel shot out into the drainage bucket, but then trickled to a stop. I did it a second time. Not as much fuel made it out this time, but the scenario was basically the same. It was always a quick burst followed by a trickle. Maybe I should look at that gas gauge. Well, wouldn’t ya know it, the gauge is ready E. It had just enough in the tank to pressurize the fuel lines but not enough to keep it going. Might as well grab a gas can, and put some in the tank. I’ll try it again… vroom, vroom, vroom, alright! It’s running great! Looks to me as if the entire problem was that it was out of gas. However, with all the new parts they installed, I couldn’t be sure if this was the 'only' problem or an after affect of having the car in the shop so long while trying to solve another problem. It could have been any one of the other components (within reason) they changed that really 'did' need to be changed. Later that day I drove the car back to Joe’s shop. He wasn’t there, but his dispatcher was in the office sorting out tow tickets and monitoring the CB with the volume up full blast. In the background you could hear the CB chatter from all the area’s tow companies. About then I heard Joe’s voice over the CB, “Did Gonzo call yet? Need to check in on him, we need to get that car back to the owner.” “He just walked in Joe, over,” the dispatcher told him. “So what was wrong with it,” Joe asked between the squelch of the CB radio and all the other chatter from the other tow companies. The dispatcher turned to me and pointed at the mic. So, I told him . The dispatcher, with a stunned look on his face, said, “I can’t tell him that. He is going to be so pissed.” “I don’t think you should either. At least not until he gets back,” I said, while breaking into an ear to ear smile. The CB comes back to life with Joe’s voice again; “So what did he find out, over,” Joe's frustration was showing through as his voice barked out of the CB speaker. The dispatcher said to me, " Old Joe sounds pretty pissed." I don’t know whether it was the way his day was going or how much time and money he's spent on this car. Either way, he’s not going to like this answer. “Go ahead… tell him,” I said to the dispatcher, still sitting there hold the mic button, “He wants the answer, so let him have it.” “Alright, Joe, are ya ready for this, over?" the dispatcher said, then waited for a response from Joe. "Yea, go ahead, over." "It was out of gas.” A dead silence came over the CB. No chatter, nothing, not another sound for what seemed to be an eternity. Then, all hell broke loose. Tow drivers from all over the city were razing poor Joe. The CB was full of laughter and goof ball comments, but not a word from Joe. Poor Joe, you asked for it, and now you got it. “Tell Joe to stop by the shop, he can settle up with me then,” I said, while trying to hold back the laughter. As I walked out the door, the CB chatter could be heard all the way to the parking lot, and the comments were still flying. It was one of the funniest moments I’ve ever had for doing nothing more than putting gas in a car. When Joe came up to pay the bill I told him I had a little something for him. I handed him a little tiny gas can on a key chain. I figured it might be a good reminder for him to always check the basics before loading up the parts cannon again. After all these years I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten about it, and I’ll bet he doesn’t tell too many people where he got that little gas can key chain from… but now, it wouldn't be so much on the CB, but over the internet.
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I am writing this on my last day of vacation in California, spending time with family. It took me a few days to totally relax, but made it a point to not look at emails or call the office. We all need downtime. I know there will be a ton of work to be done when I return, but I also know that the time away has recharged my batteries and I will be more productive. Being away from business and spending time with family puts things into proper perspective. You realize that a lot of the things you stress over, are really not as important as you think. Take time to enjoy life. We all know how quickly time passes us by. And remember, no one on their death bed ever said they wished they spent more time at work.
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After looking at the ICCU shop in Mumbai India, it made me wonder how the Indians deal with Indian negotiation tactics? I need a good strategy. My shop is among a large Indian population and it seems that they all want to negotiate pricing. So much so that if one doesn't try to negotiate, it throws us off our game! There are few ways to deal with this: 1) Stand firm, 2) Have a pre-made coupon that we can use to move the price a fixed amount, 3) Negotiate, 4) Prepare for the negotiation with inflated pricing, then negotiate and settle on a job price (that is often more than the non-negotiated price). We do #2 and #4 regularly, with a little #1 and no unprepared negotiations (#3). When we are negotiating, it's always out on the shop floor so that it can be a private conversation. They always seem to feel better when they "get a deal"! Any better methods or practices?
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The following are posts I made on the AOCA website outlining an issue(potential nightmare) we had on 2017 Chevrolet Colorado: Randy_Lucyk
Joined: Dec 21, 2011
Total Posts: 83 Feb 8, 2018 3:03 PM Unfortunately, I believe this is exactly what this may turn into for shops and consumers. We recently had a report of an oil filter failure on a 2017 Chevrolet Colorado with 13304 miles on the truck and the issue occurred 400 miles after our oil change. Customer had a check engine light come on so he headed right off to the dealer to have it checked under warranty. It had a VVT code stored and the dealer started looking into the issue. They found the filter failure and sent a picture of the image off to the customer. We used a Performax P0171 filter. The customer sent me the attached image of the obviously failed filter. I am immediately highly concerned, but the dealer is being unusually understanding of the failure. We spend some time with the service manager and find out that their appears to be an issue starting to show up on these vehicles, where the stand pipe in the filter housing is coming off with the old filter and being disposed of without the techs knowledge. We had great video of the oil change and their was nothing visible with the old filter as it was removed. The premises is that without the standpipes restricting/diverting functionality in place, full oil flow is blowing out the filter and the everything flows right down the filter housing port into the cylinder heads and remainder of the motor and plugs up components and passages. We asked for a picture of the filter housing and received image 2 attached. This appears that it may be a problem starting in 17 model year, but i can't be sure of that yet. I am digging for additional info now and will update as more information becomes available. Randy_Lucyk
Joined: Dec 21, 2011
Total Posts: 83 Feb 9, 2018 7:59 AM This appears to be both a GM issue and a in-shop issue.
Now that I see the notification GM released last week, i believe this issue occurred at the original oil change prior to the one we did. As I said, we had great video of the open end of the old filter as we removed it from the vehicle and I don't believe this stand pipe could have possibly been inside. Their is also no evidence of the tech struggling with anything "down in there" other then the normal A/C line interference issue. .
Looking at the design and the A/C line interference, I suspect that the stand pipe is being knocked loose as the filter is being "angled" around the A/C lines to get the old one out. I suspect the oring on the stand pipe is the only thing holding it in the oil filter housing. Once the standpipe is disposed of, the housing has to be replaced, as the stand pipe is not available separately. The housings are in short supply with only three left in the country on dealers shelves and none in Gm distribution centers. Their is a new part number for the housing and those are not available yet. Original pt# 12675707 and new pt# 12682014.
Looking at the attached illustrations and notice, it would not be easy to completely miss the fact that a problem was evident. The stand pipe looks too big to me to be easily missed. I suspect it is plastic and the words "housing cracked" was mentioned in the conversation with the service manager. I wonder if the stand pipe is actually cracking during removal of the filter, making it difficult/impossible to reinstall. If we did not do it, then why the old filter had not failed yet ours did, comes into question. Cold weather "full oil flow" was also mentioned in the conversation with the service manager, and those were the conditions at the time of the failure.
The images also create some questions for me. The new housing does not appear to be identical to the OE installed housing, so is it an already redesigned housing? The filter bulletin in the Napa/Wix box talks about an update to the filter to include a check valve in the top of the filter. Our old filter does not appear to have this check valve, the Napa/Wix does and our new stock P0171 filters also have it. Looking at the design of the stand pipe in the new housing, it would almost appear that the small nipple on the end of the stand pipe might make more sense if it fit into the open hole of the old filter. The stand pipe design almost seems wrong for the filter with the check valve, unless it is shorter than it looks and never reaches the upper end of the filter. Would be great if the next shop to have one of these off would post some additional pics to try and help reduce confusion.
Based on the notice from Gm, this does indeed look like it could get ugly. Although, this dealer covered all the extensive engine repairs under warranty(heads pulled, all new timing components, cleaning passages), i am not convinced all dealers will take that approach. In my case, it was nice(incredible?) to see GM step up and take responsibility. It helped that my customer (owner of the Colorado) retired from a GM primary supplier dealing with issues exactly like this for the later half of his career. He knew the right people to call to get the info needed to drill down to the root cause.
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Article: Some Days You're The Oil, Some Days You're The Filter - - - just another day at the old repair shopSome Days You’re The Oil, Some Days You’re The Filter In the auto repair business hardly a day goes by that something doesn’t try to upset the apple cart. It might be the new lube guy who spilled 30 gallons of oil on the floor, or that lost set of customer keys. No matter what it is, something or someone is bound and determined to make your day different than the next. From time to time it helps to go with the flow. You know, just let things slip on by and not take things so seriously, because no matter what, there’s always another hectic situation just around the corner to test your stress level. Think of it this way, you could be the oil or you could be the filter. You either let things slide through the day, or you’re trapped with the rest of the grit and grime. Speaking of oil, take the day of the oil SNAFU. I have several customers who have their own preferences as to which brand of oil they would like to have in their car. Now, of course, I strictly adhere to the appropriate type and weight, but as far as brands of oils I’m up for any name on the bottle. (Although I do have a few brands I consider taboo.) Funny thing is, I never seem to get through to some of these folks the importance of a quality oil filter. I believe this should be a higher concern than the brand of oil. This particular day was a rather chaotic day with more than one issue on the rise. Being the well-seasoned shop owner, I was more than up for the task of getting each and every job in and out the door with the skill of a professional. In comes two of my old time regulars with their precious chosen brand of oil they have hand picked off the shelf. Oh yes, I mean hand-picked. These guys remind of the careful shopper at the grocery store who goes through the produce isle finding that perfect melon or apple. I can picture these two guys at the parts store picking up each bottle and examining it in detail before selecting that very bottle for their car. A bit eccentric, yes, but at their age it’s something technology hasn’t taken away from them. It still allows them to feel they can contribute to their car’s well-being, even though they can’t physically work on their own cars anymore. Needless to say these cherished oil cans are treated like gold when they enter the realm of the service bay… or at least that’s the normal way we handled it for our golden years customers. Today, well, it was a bit different. We have our new lube tech, Clifford in charge of the oil service bay. He’s doing a great job, and even managed to up-sell a few seriously overlooked problems on a few customer cars. I have high hopes for this youngster, and encourage him to study for his ASE tests and further his education in the automotive field. This afternoon we already had 4 oil changes lined up for him. Two were the normal, ‘getrdone’ oil changes and two were our regular old timers with their hand selected oil. Clifford has these oil change scenarios down pat. Everything from looking up the actual amount and type of oil required, to verifying what oil they brought, if there is an adequate amount, as well as saving the empties to show the customer when all was said and done. As the cars were shuffled in and out of the service bay, somehow between the front office, the service bay, and back to the front lobby, the wrong box of oil was sent with the wrong car, or at least it was assumed. (No one knows for sure) Luckily, the oil weight, amount, and type were exactly the same from car to car. The only thing that was different was the one thing the owners of these cars had the most pride and input about, and that was the ‘brand’ of oil. Mind you, for some of these regulars who bring their hand-picked-hand-selected oil, they’re quite serious about it. You just don’t calm the situation down by telling them you’ll replace the oil with the brand they originally wanted. Oh heavens no! That’s sacrilegious! That would mean a complete engine tear down (while they watched over you like a hawk) with the interior of the motor completely hand wiped to remove any traces of this foreign oil. I wouldn’t doubt it if they would have gone as far as having the molecular structure of the oil checked and verified that none of the competitor’s brand of oil was left to contaminate their engine. By now, our new lube tech, Clifford has been dragged from the service bay and was about to receive a third degree interrogation while trying to explain his side of this debacle to the older gentlemen. I took it upon myself to advert the possible cardiac arrest in the front lobby and save Clifford from a fate worse than a stuck on oil filter. As usual, there is one thing that separates the counter guy, the lube rack guy, and the owner… the person who makes the final decision on how to dissolve a situation, that’s me, the owner. At the front counter the two old gentlemen were busy sorting through the bottles in each box while holding each of them up to the light for a closer inspection. The conversation went from who did what, to who didn’t do what, and why their brand was better than the other guys brand. Each of them now were trying to play “oil detective” and locate the slippery individual who screwed this all up. As things go with this typical bunch of grandpas, they were soon talking about vacations and grandkids. In fact the two old guys were starting to wonder which oil was theirs in first place. I stepped in between my two elderly customers and their precious boxes of empty oil bottles. Without saying a word I ever so graciously reached for the oil bottles that each of them were holding and placed them back into their respective boxes. Then, with the moves of a Las Vegas magician, I switched box A with customer B and box B with customer A. Then cheerfully said, “There ya go, just a little mix up. It’s all good, you’re all set.” and walked away without another word. I just looked at my counter guy and gave him a wink. He knew what to do, as I guided the bewildered lube tech back to the service bay. I don’t think I’ll ever find out who mixed up what oil with what car, or if there ever was a mix up at all, but you can be sure Clifford won’t forget about this. One minute he’s changing oil, the next he’s got two old guys shaking empty oil bottles at him. Sure made for an interesting day. Sometimes, ya just never know what’s going to happen when ya unscrew that drain plug… some days you’re the oil, some days you’re the filter.
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