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Etched Corvette


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Corvette etched glass


A mid 90’s Corvette with a couple of problems to take care of came in the shop some time ago. The first problem was an intermittent start and the other problem was the suspension warning light stayed on all the time. The first problem had been looked at many times by a dealer in Florida where the owner had a second home and where he stored the car for those times he would be there. The car sat around a lot and the owner was getting very upset that it wouldn’t start when he would show up at his vacation place to drive his car around.


Apparently not much was solved but like most other electrical problems if it’s intermittent and you can’t duplicate, read a history code or at least see the problem… most anything you do is just a guess. The lucky guy to actually see the problem looks like the genius and in the customers mind all others that have tried have reached some level of stupidity… or worse. Someone tried a new starter, another battery, a little of this and some of that. None of which fixed the problem. Luckily for me, the Vette went through its death rolls right there in the shop for me. It turned out that the thin wires that make up the security system which are attached to the ignition switch tumbler had broken. As you turn the ignition switch the wires must twist with the switch and like anything else that moves, it will wear out. --- it did… Replaced the unit and all is well. The second problem required a little more effort and a whole lot of waiting. The driver side shock had gone bad. On top of the shock is a electronic sensor that had broken its little gear and the shock had “locked-up” which is probably why the sensor failed. But, the only place that still had parts for it was in Florida. Imagine that… drive the car halfway across the country to Oklahoma, to my shop and find out the only replacement parts are right where you were to start with… go figure. It was about a week or more before the replacement parts showed up.


The car was finished and sent home with the owner. All parties are paid up, car is starting with no problem, and the suspension is working as it should… what could be wrong. A few days later the phone rang, my daughter Mandy, was working the office that day, she took the call, “Yes, huh, uh, I remember the car…. really? I wonder how that happened….. Are you sure about that…. Hmmm, well I’ll check with the shop and see what they say…. I can’t think of any way that could happen… ok, I’ll call you back when I know something, thanks for letting me know, Good-bye”


I was standing nearby a little puzzled as to who was on the phone or for that matter what the call was about. Mandy turned to me, “Dad, you’re not going to believe this. That Vette you just finished the other day…. The guys’ wife insists that there is human hand print in the windshield…and I don’t mean on the windshield… she says it’s permanently “etched” into the glass.”


“You’re kidding”, I answered.


“Nope, she’s dead serious. She even told me that she took the car to a glass shop and they couldn’t get it out. They tried all kinds of chemical cleaners and its there as plain as day,” Mandy went on to tell me.


“Oh come on, this is ridiculous…. How in the world would I have done that? Anything that would carve a hand in a windshield would have carved whosever hand that did it… I think I would have known about that, because let me guess, it’s my hand print right? …. And if I could leave a permanent “etched” imprint in the windshield how come I haven’t left a mark on myself,” I said in a fit of confusing reactions.


“Have her bring the car back and let me take a look at it,” I told Mandy.


“Ok, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, they’re pretty upset with you.”


Upset or not, to me there is only one way to resolve things like this. “Bring the car back to the shop that has done the work so they can see what’s going on, or I’m coming up to see it.” But, do you think that happened… nooooo. Not a chance.


A few weeks later I ran into the husband at a meeting I was attending. It’s a meeting of some of the top businesses in town, not only are they some of the largest but mostly they are some of the best. I wouldn’t think there was anybody in this room that would have any misunderstandings about any service work done for them since we all are basically in private business and deal with people, parts and things like this each and every day. I asked him why he didn’t bring the car back to me to have it looked at. There again, I was surprised at the answer.


“You obviously have no idea of the concern that my wife is having over this issue. The trauma caused her to go to a rehab in Denver for a nervous condition. I had to take the car into a glass shop and have the windshield replaced with a new one. That finally made things right with my wife. So I don’t think I’ll be bringing anymore work to you. She’s still very upset but, she is on medication for it now.”


In all my years of working with the general public, nothing surprises me anymore. You think you’ve seen it all then some cracked pot, off the wall lady like this comes along. I’m not the type of person who wants to think that I’ve done something wrong and caused someone to have to go to rehab… but then I’m thinking… You’ve got the time and money to go to rehab over a friggin’ windshield… boy you’ve got a real problem lady… and it ain’t windshield. I believe that people and their emotional states can be the hardest automotive diagnostics you’ll ever run across.


If you could leave the person out of the equation things would go a lot smoother at the repair shop. You know, there’s one thing I can say about cars that I can’t say about their owners. Cars are never crazy, wacky, or just plain nuts in the need of counseling…. They’re just a car.


People on the other hand… well I’d like to leave this story with a professional opinion of them but, I’m no shrink… I’m only the mechanic. I’ll leave the emotional evaluations to a doctor.



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Yea, it happens to me Frank... but I'm going to tell all these "Loose Nuts" to head in your direction...


But, you know I'll have another story about another nut next week... LOL



If it can happen to anybody it can happen to Gonzo.

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That's what a typically call a "WALK AROUND" ... tha's when a customer takes his first good detail look at their ride. Not knowing whether it was like that before you worked on it is what brings on your (and mine) doubt whether it was done at the shop.


I see people do this all the time, they come in for an oil change and when they go to leave they walk "around" the car checking for damage... No while in HELL don't ya do that before you bring your car in the shop PEOPLE! ! LOL


If you notice a bodyshop will always do a walk around when taking a car in ... they deal with sort of thing all the time... repair shops on the other hand, tend to fix whats broke and go on... customers, well,

they are not that trusting........ ya trusted me enough to make the repairs... but I guess I'm to stupid to notice some flecks on your drivers window.... ah yes, another day....




the Service Writer and he tried to take a razor blade, but the etchings are still there. What could do this? I haven't seen it yet. The only thing I can think of is we sublet it out for a rebuild transmission work. They may have had a bead blaster or welder, we do not. I have to see it 1st. If it was a welder, it should have done something to the door paint also. There is always a first for everything.

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To funny, I had one many, many years ago... a guy comes in (could have been Sum Guy) for an oil change... pulled the car out and this fool was pissed because his valve stems front and rear no longer lined up with each other... he wanted me to turn the valve stems so that all 4 tires were at 12:00 .... what an idiot.... I laughed, and walked away...


Customers can be really weird. We had a woman accuse us of replacing one of her tires with a different tire. Now this wasn't a deal where we blew a tire out and replaced it on the side with a used one we had. I was here the whole time and we did nothing to her tires other than take them off and put them back on. It was to do brake work or something. I never did figure out what that was about. The tires she had on it were nothing special.

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  • 4 years later...

Best one I had was a customer came in complaining of an intermittent noise. We go for a test drive, he starts holding his ears and grimacing. "Do you hear it?" I asked? NO! But its almost doing it I can almost hear it. How can I fix a noise that is almost about to happen?? Huh.

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Must be Corvette owners. We had an 80's Vette in here to remove the old mufflers and replace with new from muffler to exhaust tip. Simple, all work done on a lift, under the car.


Apparently, according to this Lumber Jack, gravity and welding works differently in our building. He claimed that we got welding slag on his windshield, his buddy that has been a welder for over 30 years told him it was welding slag burns on his windshield and we did it.


The shop owner came up front and asked a couple questions....


1. If you are welding under a car, how can welding slag get on the windshield?

2. If you are TIG welding, how can there be welding slag in the first place? (His buddy choked and walked out.)


It still did not finish well, but we have heard thru the grapevine that he has been asked to not come back to a few other places. With some people you just can't win.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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