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Mr. Gorillilla

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Mr. Gorillalilla


With all the talk about the cars with push button starting systems and the runaway acceleration problems it made me think of all the ways everyone has been talking about as far as what is the best method to safely stop the vehicle in these instances.


Most everyone will agree that turning off the ignition is NOT the best solution, however, not everyone can agree on whether or not a driver in a panic situation will remember to put the car in neutral instead of reaching for the key or that they shouldn't turn the key back to the "steering" lock position. And for those vehicles with push to start that an operator would remember that you have to hold the "start" button down for several seconds before the car will shut off unless it's in park position.


So a lot of the conversations I'm involved in end up back at the steering lock mechanism, which, in a panic situation is the deadly "lose control" factor. Not to forget the fact that during this so called emergency situation you might be driving at close to 100 miles, which could be scary enough without having to worry about shutting the car off. The conversations I get involved in end up with the controversy over whether or not the "general public" will remember and follow the procedures each and every time they are in an emergency situation.


This made me think of a situation I had with a customer a few years ago. Let's call him "Mr. Gorillalilla"… nice guy and all, but he was a huge muscular dude and as strong as an ox. His mid 80's Jeep CJ was equipped with a key and lock setup that allowed you to turn the key off without it going all the way to steering lock position. There was a lever that had to be pushed down in order to rotate the key back to the off position and remove the key from the ignition lock.


Mr. Gorillalilla had brought his CJ in because he couldn't get the key out of the ignition lock. Examining the problem led to the linkage arms inside the steering column that had been bent and allowed the key and tumbler to rotate around the lock-out mechanism. No parts were really needed; I just had to take it apart and straighten the bent section of the mechanism and reinstall everything. He was relieved that the problem was nothing major and was soon off on his way.


The very next day he was back, but this time he wasn't a very happy rock crawler like he was the first time.


"It's doing the same thing," he angrily yelled back to me.


"Hmm, I wonder how that could be," I said, curious as to how it left in perfect working order but now it's back they way it was.


"Let me get it into the shop and check it out."


Once I had pulled the steering column back down to where I was the day before I noticed the same parts were bent in the same manner as they were when I first seen them. Now how can that be? Not knowing the whole story I went ahead and put everything back to working order again.


"Here ya go, I haven't a clue how in the world that happened sir, sorry about that," I said.


Mr. Gorillalilla thanked me for my time and proceeded to leave. Before he left the parking lot he tried it several times to make sure it was working. It wasn't long before he was back through the door screaming at me again.


"What do I have to do to get you guys to fix this right," he shouted at me.


I went out to the parking lot and looked at his problem again. This time he followed me out to his car. I was totally taken by surprise. Just a few minutes ago I personally saw the switch move just like it was suppose to and I tried it myself several times.


This time, I'm not moving the car. I went back into the shop and grabbed my tools. Right there in the parking lot I pulled it down as he watched me perform the operation on his steering column. I tried it several times myself before I let him try it. As soon as this big brute got behind the wheel I knew right there and then where the problem was. He wasn't using the lever to release the key… he somehow, someway was strong enough to rotate the key over the lever mechanism and that was what was causing all the problems.


The astonishing thing was he could not see that he was the cause of the problem and insisted that it was a defect in the column. After all the debating I told him that I could remove the "safety" and then he could turn the key off without using the lever anymore. That was fine with him. I tore into the column for a fourth time and removed the latching arm that was attached to the outside release lever.


Now I want to complain, but complaining about it doesn't do any good. This big brute had such strong hands he could pull the tumbler back across the stops. The whole thing could have been avoided if the vehicle operator was more aware of how to operate his vehicle correctly. It seems no matter how many times I run across a problem like this I'm the one that ends up putting the labor hours in even though the whole time the problem wasn't my workmanship but this Gorilla's brute strength.


My point about this whole affair?


This was a perfect example of a safety system that failed because the owner wouldn't follow the procedures, and this wasn't even a panic situation. I'm glad I'm not the engineer, because I don't know how I would solve these issues we are having with these latest designs and technologies (drive by wire). But, I will say this, when it comes to adding or changing the systems in the cars to alleviate problems from the driver's seat… I hope they try making the designs and procedures "Gorilla" proof.





Edited by Gonzo
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Great story Gonzo! I really like this one! biggrin.gif



Glad ya liked this one. It was a result of several conversations with vendors, customers, and other shop owners. As usual, every time a few of us get together the "dog stories" start coming out. Which reminded me of this big brute of a fella. Thought it tied the begining of the story to what I wanted to mention in the ending paragraph. Worked well I think.


Plenty more stories, plenty more subjects.


Thanx for the comments. Gonz

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Great story. LOL I knew as soon as you mentioned he was a strong man what he was doing to the ignition. I hate to admit it but I have done this type of thing before. Having stronger than normal hands helps in some areas and can get you in trouble at other times.

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Great story. LOL I knew as soon as you mentioned he was a strong man what he was doing to the ignition. I hate to admit it but I have done this type of thing before. Having stronger than normal hands helps in some areas and can get you in trouble at other times.



You Gorilla You.... LOL now thats funny...

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I don't get called for the heavy lifting for nothing. The problem is I forgot to listen to my Dad's advice growing up to use my brain instead of my brawn. Now I tend to have to use my brain because my brawn hurts. LOL

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I don't get called for the heavy lifting for nothing. The problem is I forgot to listen to my Dad's advice growing up to use my brain instead of my brawn. Now I tend to have to use my brain because my brawn hurts. LOL



There's a story in my published book that you would get a kick out of. Talk about a big brute story... this guy was the king of big guys.

the story is called "Honk for Jesus" if you don't have a copy of my book...yet... ya need too... I'll post that story one of these days if you like. It's another good one. (You know after all these years I pretty much have a story about any subject... LOL)

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
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      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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