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Man o man I know it is Christmas but where the heck is everyone. I can even give away repairs. I do not recall seeing it this slow in recent years. I am throwing everything out there and not seeing any response. Just paid over $200 to text blast an oil change special and have only gotten 2 responses for unrelated items. This is scary.

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    • Article: 12 Days of Christmas

      12 Days of Christmas        at an Automotive Repair Shop   You know the song, so just sing along with me in the holiday spirit.   On the 1st day of Christmas  a customer sent to me: A cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 2nd day Christmas a customer sent to me: 2 Latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 3rd day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 3 Wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.    On the 4th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 4 Wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 5th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 5 Piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 6th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 6 Brand new sockets, 5 piston rings,  4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 7th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 7 Dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings,  4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 8th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 8 Engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 9th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 9 Coils a-sparking, 8 engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 10th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 10 Headlights blinking, 9 coils a-sparking, 8 engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 11th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 11 Gears a-grinding, 10 headlights blinking, 9 coils a-sparking, 8 engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   On the 12th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 12 Trannys slipping, 11 gears a-grinding, 10 headlights blinking, 9 coils a-sparking, 8 engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings,  4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun.   Speaking on behalf of the entire automotive repair industry, Thank you to all our customers for their patronage.  We appreciate it. Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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    • Article: Restoration for the Mechanic - modern repairs, old mechanic

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We’ve definitely come a long way with  the technology.   Even though I work on all these newfangled electrical wizardry systems on the modern car, deep down I’m still the kid who got a kick out of tearing down an old junker and putting it back together.  Now, I’m surrounded by modules, proximity keys, and sensors.  Occasionally it’s kind of nice just to step away from the computer and just turn a wrench or two. I look forward to those simpler kinds of jobs, the ones that need a craftsman’s touch and not a box of transistors and capacitors to figure out what to do.  Back to a time when a driver was more mechanical involved in the process of operating the vehicle.   Heating vents with levers and cables, or a hand choke that needed just the right touch to get it started.  No electronics, no service light, just the essentials.  (For you younger techs, I’m referring to the days when you actually had to unlock a door with a key.)     I still marvel at the ingenuity and engineering of those times. I guess it’s one of the reasons why I like going to old car and steam engine shows so much.  It’s all about the mechanics for me.  Electronics are great, but to see the early mechanical devices that were commonplace a century ago still amazes me.  How they figured it out, and how they made it work is shear brilliance.  (If you ever get a chance to study some of those early mechanical systems, you might be surprised how things were accomplished prior to the computer age. It’s quite fascinating… well at least to me it is.)      It’s great to be able to step back once in a while and just be a mechanic.  Back when things were rebuilt and not just replaced with new. There’s a certain satisfaction in taking a broken mechanical device and making it functional again.  It’s those jobs that after you’ve wrestled the components into place, and everything is finished you realize that you’re covered in grease, but for some reason you’ve got this big smile on your face. It’s the look of accomplishment, a smile of pride in a job well done.  And while you’re cleaning up the tools, you look over at the finished project still smiling, knowing you’re done and can move onto the next project.  It just doesn’t compare to finishing up on a modern car when the last thing to do is watch that blue line steadily move across the computer screen, waiting for it to say “Task completed”.   Not that I’m putting down the modern car, no far from it.  It’s just nice to take a break once in a while from the technical mumbo-jumbo and just be a mechanic for a change.  Even though it’s pretty awesome to solve a difficult electrical issue, it’s hard to beat a good old fashion mechanical repair.  For me, when a restoration project shows up at the shop I get a chance to turn off the laptop and open the toolbox.   These restoration jobs are just as much for the customer as they are for me.  It’s a restoration of some of my old almost forgotten mechanical abilities. (Yea, I still got it…)     We put a lot of trust in the modern electronics, something the engineers and designers of those automobiles from a few decades ago never even though of.  Their own ingenuity and craftsmanship kept them going.  Components were built to be repaired not replaced.  I think it’s safe to say that a car from 50 years ago is more likely to start and run in another 50 years but I seriously doubt a car from today would have the same luck. 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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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    • Article: Picture This - - Hard to believe I wrote this 20 years ago.

      Picture This   Years ago my younger brother came to work for me. He didn’t know a thing about cars, but was willing to learn all he could. Teaching new techs is an art that most shop owners have to learn to do, but teaching your little brother can be a chore and can test your patience. I muddled thru it all and taught him what I could. I was sure at some point in time the two of us would butt heads like brothers will do, and he would take his new found skills and move up in the rank and files of the automotive technical world, but in the meantime it was his turn to learn from his older brother.   When he first started I would walk him through each step of how to diagnose a certain system in a car. A lot of times he would have questions, and I’d do my best to answer them. He learned quickly and was really sharp at picking up some of those little details that are harder to teach. 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Are there more problems?   “Crawl under there, and check to be sure the wire color is correct,” I yelled from the cab to him.   “Yep, it’s the right wire on the tank.”   “Well, we might have to pull the tank; it’s not changing the gauge readings up here.”   “Before we do that let’s add some more gas, maybe we didn’t add enough,” Junior tells me.   I thought I better go back and help hold the funnel, while he poured the gas in the tank. Unknowing to me, all this time my wife (who was the office manager) was listening in on the whole thing. She likes to keep tabs on me, and make sure I’m not going into one of my usual rants or having a fit because I had to explain something over and over again to little brother. 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    • Repairs on your own vehicles

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    • Article: Clamps and Batteries - The repairs vary as much as the styles of batteries do.

      Clamps and Batteries (Some of the ways I've seen battery clamps installed on  cars over the years...  there are some positive and some negative aspects to them... )                The first time I saw a hose clamp holding the  positive cable onto the battery I just couldn’t believe it.   Nobody prepared me for things like this.  It’s not  the kind of thing covered in tech schools, or in one  of those “how-to-fix-your-car” manuals.  It’s something  that will surprise you the first time you see it… but  then it happens again.             A few months later, I open the hood on another car,  and low and behold… it’s a pair of grip pliers attached the terminal. This time I took the pliers up to the customer and told him what I found.  He didn’t want the pliers back… OK, then… I’ll clean them up, and put them in my tool box.             Now I’ve got a collection of these crazy battery clamp contraptions.  They’ve kept showing up over the years without fail; from screws and nails tightening a worn out clamp to some foreign object taking the place of the original clamps.  Ya just never know.       I think the grip pliers are probably the most popular form of substitution.  Not much use as pliers anymore, the teeth are usually worn or something else is wrong with them.  But, I don’t want to just throw them away… I always think I’ll find some use for them later… never do of course.       Wouldn’t it make more sense to replace the clamp when it’s time with an appropriate type of replacement clamp?  And, it’s not like some of these “wiz-bang” contraptions were just put on yesterday, oh no… some of these creations have huge amounts of corrosion and “fuzz” built up on the terminals.        There must be a misconception about how a battery clamp does its job?  Has to be, why else would I see this so often, and it’s not always on the good old hunting truck or the farm truck that hardly ever makes it out of the fields.  It’s the everyday soccer mom’s car or the exotic odd-shape-battery-style cars, either.             Something else to think about… some thought has gone into these “home engineered” clamps.  It took a lot of time and effort to accomplish these inventive forms of electrical fasteners.  I’ve even had a car that someone had taken strips of a soda can and used them as spacers between the clamp and the post.  This wasn’t just a quick little effort mind you.  Somebody had to think about it, conjure up a plan… get a pair of tin snips, cut out strips from a soda can at just the right height to match the clamp and then carefully place a few of them into the gap.             Before ya knew it, the clamp was tight again… a genius at work I tell you…a genius!… maybe not MENSA material, but a genius for sure.        One time I had a car in where somebody used a high voltage connector for a battery clamp.  The kind you would find on high voltage overhead electrical lines.  It was a splice clamp used to hold two lines together.  Apparently it was the only thing handy, and it did work; in fact must have worked for quite some time… I couldn’t tell what it was until I removed the almost two inches of corrosion build up.  I don’t know what kind of material this clamp was made out of, but battery acid sure liked it a lot.      Then there was this rocket scientist attempt at improving on the old battery clamp… he used a hacksaw blade and cut the post down the middle.  Then put the clamp back on with a small steel wedge down into the crack he made with the hacksaw.  From the pounding the top of the battery had taken it looked like the guy used a sledge hammer to knock the little wedge in place. Of course, it wasn’t long before the battery started to leak acid out of the post.  What a mess…       A real favorite of mine are the ones that tighten, and tighten, and tighten the bolt clamp until that little bolt won’t go one thread tighter.  Then bring the car in thinking they have a major electrical problem, because at times the starter will click, or they’ll lose all power to the vehicle.  The place I’ll always look at first are the clamps. 99% of time it’s a simple clamp problem, especially when I can remove the battery clamp off the post without turning the bolt.  (Yo’ dude… that clamp is made of lead… it will stretch and deform out of shape.  You can tighten all you want but it ain’t going to get any better.)        Now let’s talk battery size… really… is this all that hard to figure out? If the battery in the car had the positive post on the right, and you put a battery in that had the positive post on the left… uhmmm… do ya think ya might have a problem?  Ya gotta put the right size back in… just ‘cause it fit… doesn’t mean it “fits”.              The old air cooled VW is one that comes to mind.  I’ve lost count of how many of those I’ve rewired after a too tall battery was installed and burnt the whole back end of the car.    It never ceases to amaze me how a simple thing like a battery or a clamp can become such a traumatic fiasco in a car.  Just boggles the mind at all the variations of craziness I’ve seen over the years with battery installations and repairs.              Many years ago a customer brought in a 75’ MBenz that his grandson had put the battery in backwards.  The car was ruined, but not completely… it could be rewired and repaired, but the cost was more than he wanted to deal with.  I bought the car off of him as is, and tore it down and rewired it. I drove it for several years, and then later gave it to my daughter to use.               Battery replacement should be a basic simple repair; however, after seeing some of the creative ways people create their own connections or how they install them, looks like a complete loss of common sense to me.  I’d like to think simple is the word to explain it, but simple doesn’t even begin to describe it all.   These days I just laugh at the marvels of these back yard engineering feats.  It’s hard to keep a straight face when you get back to the front counter to explain to the customer that a paperclip and two bread twist ties aren’t strong enough to keep the cable attached to the battery.        It’s some of the best entertainment at the shop.  Gotta love em’. Just to let ya know, I’ve already got enough grip pliers, old hose clamps, coat hangers, screws, wire nuts, small bench vices, ratcheting wood clamps, fence pliers, clothes pins, meat skewers, and c-clamps to last me a lifetime, so if you would please, come up with a few new ones for me…  I’ve got room in my collection for more…Oh, and I could use a few more laughs too.     
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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      • 212 views
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