By [email protected]
There are days I want to set the place on fire (sometimes just customers cars) ok just kidding. I seem to be getting a streak of problematic parts lately. I am so tired of reps telling me about quality, oem specs, warranty blah blah. My main supplier is AAP. Here are some examples below.
- 2000 wrangler needing rear axles due to bearing failure. Ordered Dorman axles and both had fitment issues where once installed the differential pin wouldn't fit in due to improper clearances on the axle. Ordered another brand online Yukon Axles.
- 1995 Lexus SC300 (mint cond, low miles) Felpro valve cover gasket was manufactured too thick and didn't fit in the groove on the valve cover. Ordered from Lexus and fit fine.
- Forgot the year (Chrysler van) water pump with a pulley that wobbled and even the online reviews had the same issue.
- 1993 Wrangler water pump machined incorrectly where once bolted to the block, the ears of the pump where the ps pump bracket bolts to was not machined correctly and if you tried to bolt it on it would bend the water pump. Ordered AC Delco (i think) from Cold air distributors and worked fine.
- 1999 Lexus ES300 front left brake hose manufactured incorrectly. Ordered another brand, probably Raybestos from Cold Air Distributors, and all is well.
- 2003 Taurus 3.0 OHV timing cover from Dorman 635-117. Online reviews had some issues but the oem unit was expensive. I ordered 3 before I found one that was machined good enough then installed. Came back a while later leaking. I ordered a replacement under warranty and the quality control was horrible. Just ended up getting the ford one and looked and seemed to work great. Time will tell
- 2005 Honda Element Monroe struts all the way around (these are the ones) in the front like the civics where the strut has the bracket where the tie rod bolts to. Left front was fine. Right front couldn't get aligned properly as the bracket for the tie rod was welded on at the wrong angle. Went through a couple from the local parts store then I think Monroe sent me a strut that was tested to be ok on their manufacturing/ quality control/ measurement jig and it still failed. They paid to have the old Honda part sent back for inspection. I think i ordered KYB for the front and all was well.
I use the AAP Wearever Platinum which have been great brake pad material and braking, but lately they don't fit properly and I have taken video to show the reps and I believe when the backing plate is cut, there are imperfections where it wont fit into the caliper bracket without me grinding the backing plate on the edges. The actual manufacturing company for them sent a rep to a local AAP BBQ event and I talked to him and he is very aware and they supposedly changed the manufacturing process to address this issue but recently I did a brake job and had the same issue then installed Akebono and all was well. I am considering switching to the Wagner TQ which they stock as well. They give me an across the board pricing on the Platinum pads of $34.99 on most vehicles. Has anybody got a good pricing structure on the Wagners?
AAP gives a 3 month parts and labor warranty on pretty much everything they sell. The labor is reimbursed on my parts account at 1/2 my shop labor rate times the book time. The problem is I still have to write up an invoice showing that I replaced the part and didn't charge the customer, and spend time calling their hotline and explain what happened, then fax or scan and email the original invoice, warranty invoice, original parts invoice with the claim numbers and I still have to call and check in to make sure the claims have been processed and paid out. This takes time and is not very encouraging. Otherwise the parts themselves have the standard warranties, 2 year, 3 year, lifetime, etc. though this still requires me to redo the repair that should have been successful the first time.
I am the owner and mechanic and I waste so much time in the office dealing with parts, Calling manufacturers tech support lines, taking measurements, sending pictures of parts problems. Then if I cannot get it resolved having to research another part. The Dorman timing covers were terrible. the metal was porous and i sent them a screenshot of their website talking about "High quality plastic or metal construction resists warping, cracking and porousness". I am surprised that these companies don't look at the reviews of their own products and correct the issues. I do need another technician so I don't have to wear so many hats but in the meantime how do you folks deal with these types of issues.
The other issue is because I am not a high volume purchaser, although it is getting better as I grow, I have to purchase the majority of my parts from AAP to keep myself on a reasonable tier level. If I spread my purchases around then I can fall off the tier level in a short time. I like AAP and they have a warehouse near me and have a vast inventory available locally as opposed to other suppliers. Most of the stuff I get is name brand stuff to avoid junk parts. I like Moog, National, Motorcraft, Delco, Etc so its not like I am trying to be cheap on everything, I just seem to get burned a lot. When the commercial reps come by, it is usually to check up on business and try to sell me something or a service or a package deal, however when I show them the issues I am having, they really don't or cannot do anything other than listen and tell me about their "quality parts". I ask for the numbers to the engineering departments to try and at least get some of these issues resolved and I cannot get through.
How do ya'll deal with these situations?
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
If you want to build a more profitable, successful auto repair business, you’ll need to make sure that every single employee has a clearly defined, written job description. If you’re a shop owner who has a manager in place, then here’s a list of things you will need to include in their job description.
1. They must know the goals of the company, as well as all of the relative Key Performance indicators. For example, when it comes to the company goals, they’ll need to know the long-term goals, as well as the annual, quarterly, weekly and daily goals. They will also need to know the goals for car count, sales, ARO, customer retention and satisfaction, gross profit, technician productivity and efficiency, and taxable income.
2. All shop managers must embrace the mission and culture of the company. The mission is why you do what you do, and the culture is the glue that holds your team together. For example, the mission may be to be to better your community, and the culture of your company may be defined by your shop’s ethics.
3. Shop managers need to ensure that they have a team of superstars, and they need to know how to keep their employees operating at peak performance. This means they’ll need to know the minimum levels of acceptable performance for each position, and all company policies. They will also need to know how to hold effective team meetings and perform reviews, and how to deal with every type of employee issue.
4. Shop managers need to know how to effectively manage customer concerns, and have a firm grasp of the situations that warrant contacting the shop owner, or their designated superior.
5. Shop managers must know how to properly secure the facility, vehicles, cash, checks, credit card information, all customer information and all employee records they have access to.
6. All shop managers must be able to properly maintain equipment, and process both customers and vehicles in a safe and efficient manner. This includes managing the shop’s labor inventory and expenses, properly assigning and dispatching work, and complying with all governmental requirements.
7. All shop managers need to know how to report to the shop owner, or their designated superior. We understand that every shop owner will have different reporting requirements, but at a minimum the manager should be required to provide a daily report on all relative KPI’s, violations of company policies, and customer concerns. This reporting must also include scheduled meetings with the owner (or their superior) to discuss the performance of the business and their recommendations for improvement.
8. At Elite we realize that there will be limitations on the control and authority assigned to the manager, but regardless, they must be held accountable for the overall success of the business. If the manager feels there is something that is holding the company back, or causing harm to the brand in any way, they have an ethical responsibility to advise the owner or their superior immediately.
9. All shop managers must effectively manage their time and tasks. They need to ensure they have a daily plan in place that allows them to remain focused on their goals, roles and responsibilities.
10. Shop managers must accept the fact that it is their responsibility to provide leadership to all the employees. They can fulfill this requirement by remaining focused on the goals of the company, fulfilling the requirements of their job description, treating all others in a professional way, and behaving in a manner that reflects that they will never compromise their ethics, show preferential treatment, or put money ahead of people.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com, or calling 800-204-3548.
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So I started a new venture and I need some new shop management software. I have a new venture where I have moved to a lower volume, high margin operation where we offer primarily concierge service to high end customers with high end vehicles. As such my current needs are very mobile, I've been doing some research, but I though I'd post up here for some additional input. What I need is an entirely mobile platform. This sticks me with SAAS based products which is fine. Finally mobile data is plentiful in all the areas I operate in. Many of the web based services out there are still designed for desktop use, and although they are mobile in a sense, they are not truly do business anywhere solutions. I need to be able to book appointments, see service history, attachments to ROs (like photos), check recommendations, start new ROs with customer complaints, accept signatures all from a mobile phone. I could live with an iPad if needed, but the phone is most ideal.
The software must have what are now a days standard features (or should be)
Scheduling app with integration to previous recommendations/estimates in the booking interface This should also have some CRM features such as customer reminder notifications, would be great to have multiple contacts notified as often there is a groundskeeper or administrative assistant that we are dealing with as well RO management that includes technician notes, photos attachments, service recommendations and job status (linked to procurement management when parts need ordering) Ability to link service recommendations to estimates and easily turn them into new ROs Inventory management, supply chain integration is nice, procurement management for tracking when and where all the parts are coming from VIN or Plate scanning via mobile camera to start new ROs or estimates with your now common carfax VIN lookup and service history Basically I need all the points of interaction with the customer to be completely mobile, they will not happen in the shop (usually), the RO processing itself can/will happen on a larger device such as desktop or tablet in the shop.
Is anyone working with a company that has this level of mobility yet? My research shows that many of the companies that have long been players in this industry are very slow to adopt this new way of thinking, there are a lot of new names out there though!
While I'm thinking about next level software, the software companies that know how be be ahead of the curve will soon start integrating calibration data VIA J2534 attached to the vehicle record and cross link to manufacturer databases for recommended updates. This will become increasingly important as more and more vehicles integrate complex self driving, in car entertainment and safety features that will require updating. Automatically notify technician of TSBs related to a vehicle and include other data integration features like this.
Article: Bugs In The Rugs - - - What have you encountered from the insect world while working on a car?By Gonzo
Bugs In The Rugs
Ants, moths, bees, flies, wasps, spiders, scorpions, roaches, yellow jackets, fireflies, centipedes, silver fish, lady bugs, katydids, mosquitos, termites, fleas, mites, and fly larvae (maggots).
No, that’s not a list of insects on the back of a can of insecticide. That’s just about every type of creepy, crawly nasty little bug I have encountered in a car at one time or another. It’s enough to make your skin crawl.
Sometimes it’s not so much what you run into, but where. For instance, I was working on a little foreign car, checking out a faulty turn signal. I diagnosed a bad lead on the front turn signal socket, and had already pulled the lens off and supplied a ground to the bulb, so I knew what I needed to do. Just sling under the car and reattach the ground lead that was hanging there. The car was low to the ground, but I managed to wedge myself under there just enough to make the repair. As I managed to turn my head to see the turn signal housing, there… just a ¼” from my nose was a large nest of red wasps. They were all darting around working on their nest totally oblivious to me. I didn’t stick around long enough to introduce myself.
Something I’ve learned after being at this for a few years: If you get one of those carpet cleaning trucks in the shop for repair, make sure you have plenty of roach spray handy. It’s not uncommon to pop the lid off of the fuse box to find hundreds of those nasty little critters trying to find a new hiding place. I’ve even seen a few behind the lens of the instrument cluster just minding their own business as they walked over the gauge needles. They tend to eat wires, leave their acidic droppings on circuit boards, and their dead relatives laying in the vents. Nothings worse than getting “bug sprayed”… with bugs when you turn on the blower motor.
Now when you’re trying to find an odor, or some reeking smell that has literally chased the owners out of their car, don’t be surprised if you’ll eventually find a dead mouse or some other strange varmint carcass in the duct work, trunk, or under the carpet. The worst is when the flies have found it and started laying eggs on it. For the investigative type mechanic, the fly larvae is a good way to determine how long whatever it was has been decomposing in the customer’s car. You see, a fly can lay more than 100 eggs on a warm moist body and in 8 to 24 hours the larvae will begin to hatch. Those wormy, wriggly, crawly little ugly, nasty things stick around for about 5 days and then start to pupate into an adult fly. A capital “G” for gross. Knowing all of that will allow you to inform your customer when their little friend became post mortem in their cabin filter or wherever it was you found it, although at this point they’re too grossed out to really care about your CSI skills!
Spiders can bring out the heebeegeebees in the biggest, baddest mechanic on the planet. I once worked with a guy who was completely petrified of spiders. We were tearing down an old car that was in for restoration when he removed the door panel and a large tarantula came crawling out from the bottom corner of this old rusted door. Honestly, I’ve never seen or heard such a big fella scream like a little girl. He not only came up with his own high pitched language that only he could understand, but managed to dart across the shop and up onto the top of his tool box so fast he didn’t have time to let go of the door panel. He stayed up there perched on his tool box talking some sort of gibberish only he could understand, as he was kicking tools out of the open drawers. The tarantula had to go, or he wasn’t coming down. I got elected to shoo the little critter out the door. We literally had to pry the door panel out of his hands and coax him down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. His tool box needed a bit of straightening after all was said and done.
Ants for the most part are pretty harmless. I’ve never ran across fire ants in a car, but I can only imagine what that would have been like. The ones I’ve run across are just the busy little ant type doing busy little ant things. Sometimes the hardest part is finding where they’re coming from. Half the time you’ll see these little guys marching along one after another in single file heading to another part of the car. If it’s a car that’s been sitting in one spot for a long time chances are they’ve built an elaborate home somewhere in the car and it’s your job to find out where. Good luck with that.
Sometimes you wonder how some of these insects find their way into a car in the first place. Like pulling a spare tire out of an old car and find a scorpion staring at you. Or mud dauber wasp nests all over the engine compartment. They sure do find some of the oddest places to build their little nests. One time I’ve even found them on the carburetor choke plate on a car that was only sitting for a few days. The owner tried to start it, but had no luck with it. He then had it dragged into the shop to have the no start problem checked out. After a bit of carburetor spray to dissolve the mud it started right up.
The owner being the kind of a jokester he was, now had a new story to tell about his old car. He started his little tale with, “Guess wasp up with my car?”
Whether it is a family of arachnids or any other family of insects invading your car, somewhere some mechanic has probably already experienced it. As they say, “There are more bugs in the world than there are people.” So there’s a good chance you’ll run across a bug in a rug or one in the trunk of that very car you’re working on. Just work on some fast reflexes, a few nerves of steel, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep a can of bug spray handy either.
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Article: You Want Fries With That? - - This hurry up pace, get it done now, then ask for more world we live inBy Gonzo
I often wonder if some people think car repair is like a fast food drive up restaurant. They must be thinking it is, because it’s the only way to explain their actions and questions at the front desk. I’ve even had people pull in front of the shop or right in front of a bay door (blocking any progress I was making) and expect me to do whatever it is right then and there. Where in the history of auto repair did this ever get started? Some of these “hurry-up-get-done-now” people just don’t get it. They seriously think there is a magical scanner that will not only diagnose, but also repair their car in 15 minutes or less. Now, I pride myself on diagnosing most problems within a given time period, usually 10 minutes or less, to no more than 45 minutes for some stubborn type problems. If it takes longer than 45 minutes just to diagnose it, I’m either doing it wrong, skipped a procedure, or I’ve finally met my match, and it’s time to go flip hamburgers for a living. But if we are talking about the actual repair … that can take a lot of time. But as far as what it means to a service tech when somebody wants to wait while hovering over them like a vulture… well, it usually means (to me), they don’t trust the technician. Maybe they just want to learn something… Really?… Learn what? How to fix their car so they don’t have to bring it into the repair shop next time...? I guess that would speed things up a bit. But I’m not there to teach, I’m there to fix the car. I’d like to tell them they should go stand over the cooks and watch how they’re making their next burger … yea; I can see that going over real well at the restaurant. There is also another type of person out there that not only has a great deal of miss-trust for service people, but their personal lives are so hectic they can’t slow down to watch a sunset. They expect everything in their life to snap to attention when they say go, and nobody better slow them down. They’ll wait in the lobby or waiting room for only so long, and then they’ll start to pace around like a thoroughbred race horse anxious to get out of the starting blocks. First in the waiting room, then into the front of the office, finally their pacing reaches out into the parking lot, and up and down in front of the service bay doors… usually with their cell phone stuck to their head, trying to find another repair shop in the area that can “get-to-it” quicker than I can. By the time the pacing has reached the service bay level, the waiting is usually over, and they’ll come up with some excuse like, “I just need to check on a few things across town. I’ll be back in an hour or so” or “I forgot something at home, I’ll be right back. Save me a spot OK?” Sure … you forgot something … Oh don’t worry, I’ve saved a special spot just for you. Now really, do ya think I just fell of the proverbial turnip truck just yesterday? I guess you think you’ve come up with this grandiose idea of how to graciously back out of waiting all by yourself, and nobody has ever tried that line on me before. Right, you keep thinking that… … and of course, they never make it back… they’re gone… gone for good. My wife will always tell me, “One car at a time, honey.” I know, I know… it still bugs me that people can’t be patient. I guess I’ll never understand. Maybe what I should do is buy an old fast food restaurant with a drive up window, and set up a menu board with a selection of different types of auto repairs on it with prices clearly marked. Forget diagnosing cars, forget verifying complaints, and just fix whatever they order through that scratchy sounding intercom. I’d do all the money transactions at the first window, and then motion them onto the next window where a team of techs would jump out with little paper hats on and go at it with the speed of a pit crew. Wrenches flying, impacts at the ready, timing belts flying through the air and landing in the engine with every tooth precisely in place, and… before you know it… the car is back on the road. Wow, what an idea… Rush, rush, rush, rush… hurry, hurry, hurry… that’s what it’s really all about. I’m rushed enough anymore, I don’t need any help from a cell phone carrying customer pacing in front of my service bays. It should be pretty simple to understand if all the bays are full and people are busy it’s more than likely you’re going to have to wait. You know, we all can’t be first in line… quit shoving; you’ll get your turn. What’s really funny, well sort of funny… is the car in question isn’t even in the service bay yet. We haven’t even begun to see the fun we’ll be having with Mr. or Mrs. Hurryup especially when you finally get it diagnosed and you tell them it’s going to take a few hours to fix their car. I’d like to think I can help anyone who comes to my door, but you know, I’ve been at this a long time. I know better. Trying to please everyone is never going to be possible. I’m better off standing at the front desk and taking down their information and when they tell me… “I need this done right now!” I’m going to answer them with; “You want fries with that?” and see what kind of response I get then.
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