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It Runs In The Family

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It Runs in the Family


There’s an old saying; “The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.” How true… how true, it also applies to how people act at repair shops or other public business areas, such as restaurants or grocery stores. The other day a young driver, probably his first car, came in and asked; “I’m here to get my car diagnosed.” He didn’t even give his name, he didn’t even say hello, he was right to the point, and then some…


Mandy was behind the counter, “Well, Hello, thanks for coming in. What can I do for ya.”


“My dad and I already know it’s not the battery, and we already know which fuse it is. If you pull the radio fuse the battery won’t go dead.”


“So you have a radio problem?”


“No, just diagnose why the battery goes dead,” he said in a demanding tone.


Ok then, Mandy wrote up the invoice and I pulled the car in. A couple of quick checks on my part led to the obvious result that the radio the problem. Even with the car off this aftermarket radio remained on. Lit up like a Christmas tree, with every display and button on.


One look under the dash told a lot of the story… the radio was so cobbled up under the dash you could have pulled out enough wire to put in several other radios. With my luck, if I reached under there and grabbed a couple of these radio wires I probably wouldn’t be able to get it back the way it was. I didn’t have a diagram for the aftermarket radio and the stock wiring from the factory radio was buried up behind the dash somewhere.


Besides, it wasn’t one of those quick pull out radio installs either. This was one of those cars that the entire dash had to be removed before getting to the radio itself. Seemed to me the best course of action was to let the boy and his good old dad pull the radio out. It would save them some money and perhaps be the end of their problem without spending anymore with me. But my main reason for avoiding taking out the radio was the way it was installed. This thing was hog tied, lashed, and counter screwed in there with enough brackets and pieces of foam the likes of which… I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Without even knowing for sure… I’ll bet dad and son put this stereophonic-road noise cancelling-head banging-bass thumpin’-piece of modern music listening device into the car…


I’ve been repairing cars for a long time and when it comes to these “home installed” radios my best advice… for me… is to steer clear of them. There’s no doubt that it will be a complete disaster if as a professional tech tries to remove it with all the half-taped up wiring and the cluster of hap-hazard brackets people will put in to hold in their precious noise manipulator. You can’t duplicate the mess… and when you try to correct the install with proper brackets and good connections… the time, the labor, and the effort usual are higher than what they expect to spend.


I’ve seen everything from toilet tissue rolls to blocks of wood holding up a stereo. Wads of wiring crushed behind the units to chains and plastic bits and pieces screwed into anything they could find.


With that said… which by the way… I thought I was doing them a favor and letting them take their radio out. Wasn’t the real issue here… It was dad… he had a problem with the whole thing.


The dad calls his son’s cell phone, hands the phone to me and starts screaming in my ear, “I’ve already pulled the fuse to the radio… so I know that’s not the problem.”


The dad went on yelling… at this point I’m holding the phone as far away from my ear as I can.


“I’m a mechanic too, and you don’t need you to tell me how to check for a draw on a car… I know how to do that. You’re looking in the wrong place.” (the typical answer … didn’t you know… EveryOne is a mechanic…)


I told him, “Sir, I never asked you to pull the fuse… I said I wanted the entire radio to be disconnected so that I can be sure that there is no feedback from other sources. The radio fuse you referred to is only the key-on voltage not the entire voltage that would go to the radio, and right now the radio stays on with the key off. I certainly can’t trace for any other draws until this is disconnected.”


Still screaming in my ear the dad went on to tell me, “That radio is a real pain to take out… why it took my son and I all day to put it in.” (At least my hunch was right….)


“Sir, that’s why I offered you the choice for you to pull it out instead of me.”


“I already pulled the fuse… so what’s the problem?”


“Sir, as I said before… I didn’t ask for the fuse to be pulled… I need the entire radio disconnected… am I being perfectly clear…?”


(Still screaming in my ear) “You don’t have to be rude mister.” (Where’s my chance to say something like… quit yelling butt head! I can hear ya without all that shouting! But, you know… professionalism… not stupidism)


With all the screaming in my ear I thought I did a pretty good job of making my point. I thought “being perfectly clear” was a good way to get my point across without being interrupted for the umpteenth time. It’s simply amazing that a direct question... “Disconnect the entire radio system” is turned around to “I took the fuse out, and you don’t have to be rude.” It’s not like I said, “disconnect the right speaker or only disconnect the ground wire”. Merely disconnect the whole thing. It wasn’t that difficult to comprehend. I’m sure it’s the same thing any other trade goes thru… For me, I’ve had enough with this guy yelling in my ear, “Sir, just do me a favor, take the car home and pull the radio out, I’m certain your battery drain will disappear.”


With that the young lad grabbed his keys off the counter, ripped his cell phone from my hand and was out the door.


An hour or so later the phone rang. It was the mother. Mandy answered the phone, the angry voice on the other ended shouted, “You can tell Gonzo that somebody needs to come down there and smack the sh$t out of him.” CLICK…….. Mandy didn’t get another word in.


Boy, I made some new friends there, didn’t I? Sometimes it isn’t a matter of repeat business, sometimes it’s just a matter of maintaining your sanity while dealing with the irate customer. I don’t run across this type of customer often but when I do it’s a memorable occasion.


At least one thing is still true, that acorn didn’t fall far from that tree. But, I’ll add one more line to that … “It must run in the family too”. Because it sure did in this one.





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