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Had a fun one today!

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I had a 93 lexus ls400 come in been at another shop for a while now, they could not fix the problem. The car would run and drive fine if you were very easy on the gas. If you gave it a good load it would buck and go crazy. Would set a code 41 tps circuit. Of course obd1 not so much in the way of data stream etc.. manually checked tps sensor passed no problem , checked the continuity back to the computer no problem. Found leaking capacitors in the computer.

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    • Article: Full Moon - - - Is it just me, or does the moon make the crazy's come out??

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    • Article: Growing Up With Wrenches - - fixing the qualified mechanic problem

      Growing Up With Wrenches

      Unlike kids of today, my childhood was long before video games and color TV. Most of my free time was spent climbing trees, playing in the crick (creek, to you city folk), riding my bike, and tinkering with anything that had a motor. Wrenches, sockets, and screwdrivers were just part of growing up. I would tear apart an old mower just to see what was inside. Most of the time it would end up in a pile of parts. But, by the time my dad came to see what I was doing, he would stand there in disbelief and just shake his head. Then dive in and show me how to put it all back together. Good times for sure. There was no You Tube, no on-line help. Just dad and son, and I’m sure it’s the same way my dad learned his tinkering abilities too.

      These days it’s all about the computer with their programs and the internet with its billions of websites. There aren’t as many kids that I know about who spend their summer vacations building tree houses or turning an old horizontal lawn mower engine into a homemade go-kart like I used to do. Times have changed, but the need for those wrenches are still as important as it was back in my youth. However, now a lot of those early learned skills have to be developed through a trade schools or at a high school shop class. That is if the economy hasn’t budgeted the shop class out of existence.
      Growing up with wrenches was just something I did. Which is probably what led me to enter the automotive field as a career. It’s a good living, and you get to meet a whole lot of wonderful people every day.

      But, as it has been for decades, there’s still a big shortage of mechanics out there. As I see it, the big problem isn’t so much a people shortage, but a shortage in “qualified” mechanics. I look at it this way. Back in the day of carburetors and vacuum modulated transmissions a lot of guys and gals didn’t go to any school to learn the trade. Most picked up bits and pieces of how things worked through on the job training. The older mechanics would teach the younger ones and so on and so on. But, all of a sudden the average age of the “qualified” and “experienced” mechanic is well over 50 years old. Somewhere along the line less and less of the younger generations wanted to pursue a career in the automotive field.

      What happened? From my point of view, I see a few things that might have been the cause. First off, the computer age. Cars went from points and condensers to electronic ignition, then onto the full blown electrical nightmare we have today. The older generation of mechanics all had a similar background working with hand tools and could understand the basic principles of an automobile. But, as the industry changed to more and more electrical systems their knowledge base dwindled.

      The smart guy who wanted to stay up with all of these changes did what was needed, and that’s study as much as possible. While the other guy who was still stuck with the learn as you go method would just slap part after part on until they got it right, and yes, there are a lot of “guessers” still in the business today. Now, the car wasn’t as simple as it was before, and the average dad wasn’t able to tinker on his family car as past generations could. But, the change to the computer age isn’t the only reason that caused this shortage of qualified mechanics. Ultimately it comes down to the amount of time and effort to learn these new systems, the amount of investment one has to put into it all and most importantly their overall income.

      The average professional mechanic has well over $100,000.00 invested in personal hand tools, tool boxes, and testing equipment over the course of their career. But, the pay varies as much as the diagnostic fee does from shop to shop. So, maybe part of the problem for the new techs coming into the business is NOT making the decision to start a career in the automotive repair trade but, making the investment in the tools when the pay isn’t all that great.

      So, where does all this low wage, high investment come from? The investment into tools is an easy one to figure out. But, the wage side of it is a bit more complicated. Let’s face it, all those shops that feel the best way to keep work in the shop is by having the lowest hourly rate is the real problem. Nearly all consumers make the general assumption that all mechanics are the same and that price is their only factor to be concerned with.

      In my opinion, right there is the real problem. Instead of shouting about a shortage of mechanics, which by “body count” their certainly isn’t a shortage we should be talking about doing something for the consumer. By starting at the bottom with those low rate/low skill shops and pulling them up to a more qualified level of expertise.

      Look at the attendees of any one of the trade schools or college based courses and you’ll see that there is a turnaround in the quality of the mechanic field just waiting to happen. But, nothing like growing up with wrenches. It’s the tech schools and the attrition of the parts swapper shops that’s going to make the changes. The tech schools allow an individual not only to learn those same skills I learned growing up with wrenches but an even more importantly the skill needed to be a qualified mechanic and whether or not this trade is right for you.

      It not going to be easy to make sense of all the information and skills that the future mechanics will need to know. They’ve got to be a whole lot more aware of so many different systems than what a few hand tools can help with. But, there’s still a place for the right person with the right kind of natural mechanical ability especially if they have those growing up with wrenches skills. There still out there, but some of them don’t know they have those gifted skills because they didn’t have the opportunity to experience any of it in their youth. Then again, the trade schools have their hands full teaching the basic hand to eye coordination, as well as bringing the students up to speed with the latest greatest electronics, so someone with that natural talent will likely shine through.

      Eventually, all those shops and mechanics that try to undercut their prices will fade off into the distance. Fewer parts changers and guess-until-ya-get-it shops, because the cars are getting smarter every year and the mechanic will have to do the same. Maybe, the days of growing up with wrenches is a thing of the past. Now we need more and more trade schools, conventions, seminars, and podcasts to keep upgrading our skill levels. Hopefully, in time, the trade will have the respect and salary to go along with the advanced diverse knowledge the modern mechanic needs to have. Even if they didn’t grow up with wrenches.

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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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    • Article: Going On A Diet - Diet or not, seems truck manufacturers have the same problem I do.

      Going on a Diet “I’ll have two Fords, a Dodge, and one Toyota please. Oh, and I could go for a Cadillac later on.” The more trucks I repair, the more I’m apt to want to do more. One of these days I might have to seriously think about going on a diet. Too much to know, too much to do, and I’m not getting any younger. I’m not sure what they say about old dogs and new tricks is true, but they forgot to mention about adding on pounds slows ya down. However, with cars and trucks, the size changes, the horse power level changes, fuel economy, and luxury items all go through improvements each year. Nothing slows down the advancement of technology, not even a few extra pounds.   In the automotive world, technical and mechanical changes are a constant thing. For me keeping up with those changes is like going to the gym. It’s a constant physical, as well as mental effort that can wear a guy down with all the new stuff he needs to know, the systems variations, and the amount of work needed to get to certain components.   I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve put on a few pounds over the past 3 decades. I started out as a skinny kid and now, well… ain’t no kid anymore, and I sure ain’t skinny either. But have ya noticed the shape and size of the cars over the years seems to gain weight too? Then, a few years later they’re back on some sort of diet? Model T’s were small compared to the modern car. But, by the time the 40’s and 50’s came along the size of the car had increased. The model T was squarer and boxy looking compared to the more rounded body lines of the cars from the 40’s and 50’s. Well… except for those tail fins, but that’s a whole different story.   The look of the car changed again in the 60’s too! The styles seemed to reflect both rounded and straight designs, and the weight of the average car was a lot less than the older models. Then, by the late 70’s and 80’s car styling was back to the sharp edged crisp body lines, and the cars seemed to be on a different type of diet; this one was more of a fuel economy and emission diet. Of course, I don’t know for sure but, whatever the reason you could certainly tell the difference. Do you remember the Mustang Ghia II? Was that even fair to call it a Mustang? That was one car that wasn’t so much on a diet but more of an anemic excuse for a car.   Seems every decade or so designers and engineers go on some sort of diet and scale back cars to smaller and smaller models, but later on the size and shapes grow again. Along with the size changes, seems nobody can settle on what is a standard, economy, or compact size. What was once a compact size turns into the standard size and the economy car becomes more of a compact. I’ll never figure it all out myself. But, somewhere along the way they give up on the diet and all the designs fatten up again. Just look at the standard pickup over the last few decades.   I used to be able to see over the hoods of most of the standard pickups, heck some of the compacts I could even see over the roof lines too! But now, even what used to be just a small import truck has reached enormous mammoth proportions. Look at the Toyota pickup, it’s twice the size it was just 10 years earlier.   As far as working on trucks, the 60’s through the 80’s models for the most part, I could lean over the fenders and change the plugs or even a belt without having to resort to standing on the upside down milk carton. After putting on a few pounds I find it a bit harder to lean over those fenders, and standing on that shaking milk carton is making me think of going back on my diet again. With some of these bigger and better models, I should think about installing a scaffold and safety harnesses just to get to the air filters.   Some of the truck models have gone from what I would regard as a regular size to a XXXL in size. Then add the big fat tires, jacked up bodies, and you’ve got yourself a street legal monster truck. But jump up there and look under the hood. There’s no room for anything else, it’s jammed packed! If you’ve got anything substantial to do under the hood, such as a headgasket you’re better off just taking the entire cab off and hang it from the lift. Now you’re talking some real “under the hood work”! So what’s next? Are the engineers going to go back on that diet and start coming up with skinnier, sleeker designs? Or, are they going to keep adding more and more to them until they’re all so huge that the salesman has to bring out a step ladder just so you can go on a test drive? Where’s it all end? All this getting bigger and better has led to some changes at the repair shop, too. Some shops aren’t equipped to remove the cab of a truck to do some of the service work. It’s kind of a forced diet in a way. But, there are several other reasons shops today have gone to this regimented diet, and it’s not all because of the size either. One reason for this self-imposed diet is the cost of the various scanning equipment to properly repair these over inflated computers on wheels. Not only are the prices varied, but the monthly/yearly fees to keep that tool up to date is another issue, and as technology advances so does your scanner inventory. Even though the scanner you have now is in perfect working order, the cars that it was designed to service have started to dwindle from the highways. Technology doesn’t just bring changes for the consumer, but for the mechanic as well. New systems, new ways of doing old things, and new equipment are just a small part of the changes that occur. 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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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      • 681 views
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