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K-I-S-S method


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The K-I-S-S Method

An older gentleman came to the shop with a wiper problem. His problem was simple, the wipers wouldn’t turn off. Well, that’s not unusual, this sort of thing happens a lot, it’s just the kind of repairs I like to do. Except for the fact that this guy was insistent that it had to be a serious malfunction. This made me think there was something seriously wrong with the car, he sounded so sure of himself. And if it was going to be a huge expense he wasn’t going to have it fixed, instead, he would return the car back to the lot that he just bought it from.

My job was clear, find the problem, find the solution, and make the repair. Not hard, no big deal, piece a cake…!

I drove the car into the shop with the wipers on full blast, wiping away on the now very dry windshield. Screech, screech, went the wiper blades. Just before I turned the key off I gave it a shot of windshield cleaner … damn… empty, the old guy has already went through the supply of fluid in the bottle. Oh well, shut the car off and check this thing out, I’ll take care of the fluid later.

Now the nice thing about the newer cars is the factory scanners have the individual systems on the screen so you can check them without tearing anything apart or grabbing a test light. You can read the system on the screen and determine the fault without even getting dirty, pretty cool if you ask me.

I grabbed my NGS scanner and plugged all the car info into it. Make, model, engine, etc… Found the menu for sub-systems, and what do ya know; there it is… wiper diagnostics… cool… I’ll run it through the tests.

Ah, let’s see … switch override, aha, and …main relay on… hmmm, good. Low speed, ah, yep, there’s the high speed control.. awesome … washer pump control… crap… gotta go fill the reservoir up with washer fluid so I can check it. Ok, that’s done, … let’s see, washer pump activation, press 1 on the scanner… yep… washer pump works great too. Ok, now what’s the problem…?

Reading the scanner is one thing, understanding what you’re looking at is another. Here I am with the scanner … watching the command signals on the scanner telling me that the wipers are ON, and not once looking to see what position the wiper switch was in.

All the guys in the shop are watching me standing behind the driver’s door holding onto the scanner, and dodging the windshield fluid spray as if it was incoming fire from an enemy sniper. As always there is plenty of sarcastic remarks from the crew, and few choice words from me when I would get caught with the spray.

Let’s see; I filled out an invoice, brought the car in the shop, got the scanner hooked up, played around with the scanner, and… never checked the basics. My bad…

I’m feeling a little dumb at this point, the boss isn’t suppose to do stupid things like “not checking the switch” that’s what the junior mechanic is suppose to get caught doing… not the old man himself. I was hoping nobody noticed the sly little movement of my left hand twisting the wiper switch to the, OFF position. A quick glance at the scanner’s information;……Now how about that… the scanner shows “commanded signal – OFF” and so are the wipers. It’s A miracle!

No don’t tell me… oh no, he didn’t, did he?… yep, he did. The old guy drove his car all the way to the shop with the wiper switch in the ON position… and, the dumb ass tech went straight for the scanner without looking at the car first. Ya’d think I would at least have looked at the position of the wiper switch before I did anything. It could have save a lot of time; it could have been a quick thank you from the customer, but, noooo…

Nope, just had to do it, just had to go get the scanner, after I just got done telling all the guys in the shop how we needed to simplify or diagnostic procedures and pay closer attention to the information that the customer was telling us. Which information was that??.....He just bought the car, should have been a dead giveaway. My bad…again.

I took the car around front and gave the keys back to the proud owner. He was busy telling another customer about myself, and how he knew I could fix “anything” on a car, and how I was always honest and up front with all my services. When I told him “no charge” he turned to the lady and said, “See, I told ya.”

Now with his new found information that seemingly incredible problem was nothing to worry about at all, and there was no need of going back to the car lot where he just bought it at.

Down the road went my happy, non-wiper turning off customer. I was actually happier for myself than for the customer... Why you ask? Because I didn’t have to explain to anyone in the shop … how the boss couldn’t figure out the wiper switch was left on without consulting a scanner. You know this new technology is great and these new scanners are wonderful….. But I have to remind myself from time to time….. <KISS >…….Keep-It-Simple-Stupid….

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It is good to be able to laugh at yourself and to admit your screw ups. I haven't done anything like that at least I don't think I did anything today. :lol:

 

One of the funnest things I ever saw was the tech who was doing an oil change and while he was doing it he was talking about how he was the only one in the shop who hadn't screwed up an oil change (we had been through a rash of wrong filters, double gasketed, loose drain plug, etc.). This was early in my business and the crew I had hired then in my ignorance almost put me out of business. Well he says he is the only one who hasn't screwed up. Then let the car down and proceeded to pump five quarts of oil into the car while we all watched it run out the drain plug he had forget to put in while he was congratulating himself. What a mess and what a laugh! :D

 

Now that's funny... I had a tech do about the same thing... except he was a proud to show off that he was a ASE certified tech... and he kept on bragging that because he was ASE he knew more and could avoid making stupid mistakes.... he didn't last long.. LOL

 

But you know there's a Forest Gump around every corner... they can surprise you sometimes.

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I hate to admit it, BUT, years back I had a no start on a car which I isolated to a problem with fuel delivery after checking for spark and yes, I too had to reach for my trusty scanner. To make a long story short, the car was out of gas and I a few seconds away from condeming the fuel pump.

 

It's good to laugh at yourself from time to time.

 

That's a good one Joe, I read your post to my wife, she had a laugh too. Then she remind me of another situation I got myself into. It was on a dual tank truck and I was trying to explain the workings of the electrical wiring to my new tech who had never worked one before. With so much effort put forth to explain how it worked I over looked on thing... he was putting gas in the wrong tank. I was looking at the front tank gauge and he was putting gas in the back... I had already found the problem and all I was trying to do was verify that the gauge moved. I was about to give up when I notice he was putting the gas in the wrong tank... my wife was close by the whole time, listening in on the "shop talk", when she heard... "Geez, we've been putting the gas in the wrong tank"... she grabbed a camera... now she has a picture of the two knuckle heads putting gas into the "correct" tank just to prove her hubby ain't allows the sharpest tack in the box. (BTW, the rear tank was full by the time I spotted the "oops") Gotta love'm ...

 

These posts remind me that work, and the shop, is still a lot of fun even after all these years. Ah, what memories....

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Well, as long as we are in the confessing mode…here’s one: About 8 years my top tech and I were looking over a wiring diagram trying to locate a particular relay we needed to test. My tech and I are the same age and 8 years ago we were both resisting wearing reading glasses (a big mistake). Anyway, we located the relay on the diagram and saw that the location for the relay said: “WP”, which we assumed meant, “Water Pump”. My tech and I were looking in the engine compartment very confused and I said, "why in the world would they put a relay near the water pump"? One of my lube techs walked over and looked at the diagram and said, “Hey grandpa, that’s not WP, it’s I / P… Instrument Panel. Talk about an embarrassing moment!

 

Maybe we should have a contest: Your most embarrassing moment

I'm glad my stories spark a memory or two... this is the best part about writing them down... You guys make my day... and I'm proud to call each and everyone a friend for life... This is a great tribute to our industry... how guys from different parts of the country can see the humor in this crazy mixed up industry.

I take a bow to all.... thanks for the memories...

 

Oh, and Joe... the contest idea is a super one... I think we all could "one-up" each other for years and years... and just to let you know... reading glasses are important... I where bifocal saftey glasses (they don't fall off)

 

Thumbs UP all around... great stories guys.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had one, a 2005 Subaru Legacy. Customer came in stating the lights wouldn't turn off. Walking out to the car sure enough the parking lights were on, I try the switch and go from off to on and off again a couple times to confirm they weren't turning off. Open up the hood check the relay, not the problem. At this point it was late in the day so I pull the fuse and leave it for the next day. Customer finds a ride and goes home. The next day I pull up the wiring diagram to get a better idea where to start diagnosing this thing just to be sure before saying it's a bad switch. As I'm sitting in the car looking at the diagram with tools in hand ready to start pulling the cover off the steering column to gain access to the wires I notice the lights are off. Now I'm puzzled because it's all working normal... but in the back of my mind I sorta remembered bumping into a rocker switch on top of the steering column where you would usually find the hazard button. Turns out Subaru puts a switch there that operates the parking lights. My customer who has owned the car for a few years now never knew what it did or that it was even there.

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I had one, a 2005 Subaru Legacy. Customer came in stating the lights wouldn't turn off. Walking out to the car sure enough the parking lights were on, I try the switch and go from off to on and off again a couple times to confirm they weren't turning off. Open up the hood check the relay, not the problem. At this point it was late in the day so I pull the fuse and leave it for the next day. Customer finds a ride and goes home. The next day I pull up the wiring diagram to get a better idea where to start diagnosing this thing just to be sure before saying it's a bad switch. As I'm sitting in the car looking at the diagram with tools in hand ready to start pulling the cover off the steering column to gain access to the wires I notice the lights are off. Now I'm puzzled because it's all working normal... but in the back of my mind I sorta remembered bumping into a rocker switch on top of the steering column where you would usually find the hazard button. Turns out Subaru puts a switch there that operates the parking lights. My customer who has owned the car for a few years now never knew what it did or that it was even there.

Never figured out why that switch is there on those cars. But I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that takes the simple to difficult approach. Thanx for the post.

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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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