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Techs and Specialty Tools


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On going battle between my Manager and Tech staff. They like to look up about everything online before doing the work. When a RO says 'Specialty Tool' they think they need the tool to complete the work. For example, a recent 2009 Lincoln MKX had a RF axle seal leak. Pretty common problem. Tech doesn't want to do it without the tool kit. Took kit would cost more than the job. 

We all have seen mechanics who can fix and think their way around an obstacle. I've got a shop full of parts hangers. Perhaps the Lincoln is better suited for a drive line shop or dealer but I figure we can figure it out and get it done like we've usually done. I've had Techs make their own tools and solutions and lately the younger guys just give up if they don't have YouTube instructions and specialty tools. 

Thoughts? 

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Definitely irritating, I've tried my luck lately with Indeed.com but unfortunately I keep getting guys that want to look up customer complaints and possible causes.  What happened to the real old school guys that automatically know what's going on with a vehicle from the symptoms described 

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I have a very good relationship with the local Dealerships. And on the rare occasion that I need a specialty tool, I am able to borrow one. If I need it again I get my own. This may not motivate your tech but it is nice to know you can complete a job with out going in debt to do so. It seems a generic seal driver kit would be OK for your axle seal. And something your tech should own.

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On 10/10/2017 at 2:55 PM, 3PuttFever said:

On going battle between my Manager and Tech staff. They like to look up about everything online before doing the work. When a RO says 'Specialty Tool' they think they need the tool to complete the work. For example, a recent 2009 Lincoln MKX had a RF axle seal leak. Pretty common problem. Tech doesn't want to do it without the tool kit. Took kit would cost more than the job. 

We all have seen mechanics who can fix and think their way around an obstacle. I've got a shop full of parts hangers. Perhaps the Lincoln is better suited for a drive line shop or dealer but I figure we can figure it out and get it done like we've usually done. I've had Techs make their own tools and solutions and lately the younger guys just give up if they don't have YouTube instructions and specialty tools. 

Thoughts? 

ugggg !  Yes here and there you will need a specialty tool, but that is after all other attempts have been made and you chalk it up as a lesson learned. I do have a "FEW" specialty tools, and you know what they get used less and less as time goes by.  Usually it all ends up being if there is a will there is a way.. Now some cars are coming back with stretch belts.. You don't need all the special tools for them sure I came across a BMW that yes it was needed, but if you have a pulley in the set up with holes in it a couple of zip ties work awesome and cost a fraction of what the tool would. Dive in give it a try if all else fails either buy the specialty tool if not to costly and may get used more than once every 6 months, or explain to the customer after all else failed that you don't have the correct tool and not worth buying it for the amount of that type of work you see, and say sorry but we look forward to helping you with any other needs you have in the future. 

if you look everything up you will find that just about every job has a specialty tool, and all nuts and bolts have torque specs.. can you imagine how long a job would take if you torqued every bolt to oe specs. when was the last time you torqued battery cables , or hold downs, or steering column covers LOL you would work on one car a week.. Common sense , experience and a feel for what you are doing in "MOST" cases is all you need.

You mention Parts hangers, well that is the breed of today by the looks of it, I don't know if it is due to the lack of education, laziness, or pay maybe all of the above. You get young guys or gals just out of school that think they should be paid what the well seasoned guy gets, they don't seem to understand you have to work you way up pay your dues, and that is a very long road with a steep learning curve. 

Now the "INFORMATION AGE" is to blame for this as well .. Especially the younger ones think you can find anything on the internet. Well youtube being the most popular , but you take two people with the identical limp examine them you may find one has a ingrown toenail the other has an artificial hip , same limp two very different reasons for the limp.. Now it isn't all just the internet stuff we are also being pushed down the road of parts hangers by programs some may use, which I won't and actually hate.. Ones like identifix, pathfinder, etc... what are they doing but teaching a tech to be lazy and not learn things. Just pull up a common code like p0171 (lean bank 1) now an educated person would automatically start going through their head what may cause this and start testing and eliminating things until we find the problem, others that use these programs will.. see that out of say 200 techs 83 replaced "x part", 17 replaced "xx part", 10 replaced "xxx part", and so on and so on, so what do they do well most replaced  "x part" so they try that part if that doesn't do it the move down the list.. uggggg ! So the programs and in some cases scanners are to blame as well.. If that is going to be the case we might as well save our money get rid of our scanners and just send our customers down to the local major parts store that does the free "diagnostics" and let them bring the parts to us and have us install them till the problem is hopefully fixed if it is not a wiring or programming problem. We can just work of off what the parts store generated for them what I have dubbed the "BUY and TRY" list.  There is a lot that needs to be fixed in this industry to make it a viable industry that excites people to be in, but that will take a long time if it even ever happens till then try keep your head up and keep pluggin away. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

 This is a perfect example of why you need to specialize. 

 

Yeah it sucks having to buy a tool to do what you think is easy. 

 

How much time is wasted when you don't have that seal installer. What's your hourly rate? How much would that tool of costed after you factor in the come back cost, the loss of credibility with the client, and the frustration of the tech. 

 

The days of working on everything that rolls  through the shop are/ have been over. Oon your case, there's a TSB, that means there's a problem. 

 

If you can't afford to purchase the tools you need to do the job correctly, raise your labor rate, or don't work on the car to start with. 

Edited by SMMotors
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I have kits with axle bearing pullers, seal drivers, race drivers, and a couple size slide hammers and a few various pullers. My ball joint kit cost $1200. It has so many adapters that can be used "off label".  Buy them individually or set up a shop cabinet with these tools and the need for special tools goes way down. 

Expecting a tech to do a job without the proper tool is going to make everyone unhappy. 

Techs should understand how machines work and fit together. Skill is the most important tool. 

If anyone thinks a $20 stretch belt tool is too expensive wait until you rip a belt or spend 45 minutes on a 10 minute job. 

Fwiw my Otc ball joint master set doubles as a master bushing driver set with the addition of a basic bushing press tool (threaded rod) 

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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