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got a true nightmare. Replaced 2 broken timing chain guides in a 2010 Hyundai sonata with a 2.4. Now it wont start and im getting error codes p0340 & 365 and have no spark. My last tech walked off with my lab scope so finding waveforms is not happening. Car ran fine when arrived(other than noisy). Anyone ever come across this
2010 Ford Edge, came in for fans inop. Replace cooling fans assembly and they worked fine. Customer returned a few days later with complaint of fans now not shutting off. According to the wiring diagram the only pieces in the fan system are the coolant temp sensor, PCM and cooling fan module on the fan assembly. I replaced the fan assembly again hoping that would fix it but they still stay on. Replaced the ECT sensor, still staying on. Anyone ever come across a bad PCM keeping the fans on?
FREE THE ECM’S
Sometimes, I’ll find faults with the so called “experts” advice or information. Not that I think I’m smarter than the engineers… no, not that at all. But if something strikes me as not being completely correct I might want to question what is on that diagnostic tree. Mind you, my entire day is filled with meeting the expectations of my customers. I have to be dead on with my repairs and diagnostics. Not some of the time, no, ALL the time. And, I expect the same from the people that provide the information and parts. The way I look at it, you’re only as good as the information provided.
Where does that leave me when the directions or diagnostic tree doesn’t lead to an answer? Usually frustrated, and disgusted. But what happens when you follow the diagnostic tree to the letter and something is still very, very wrong.
Several years ago, back in the 80’s or so, back before we had computer based information, email, and the internet we used big thick books to find our diagnostic information. You’ve all seen them, they’re somewhere in a back room of the repair shop these days gathering dust, next to that dwell meter and carburetor adjustment tools. All my big diagnostic books are on a shelf, standing like old soldiers of days gone by, proudly showing their age. Each of them has grease marks, scratches on the covers and worn edges on every page from years of service.
Back when the books were in their heyday I had a couple of interesting issues that a guy like me just couldn’t leave alone. I find something not right; I’d like to find out how to make it right. Even if the book is wrong, I’d like to know why the book is wrong.
There was this mid 80’s GM with a service light on. I broke out my overly large books of knowledge and started to follow the diagnostic tree to find the solution to the problem. As I went thru each step I would note the results of the test and then continue onto the next step.
When I came to the very bottom of the diagnostic tree, there on the final line of the final test was this statement: “If the answer to the last question was “yes” - release the ECM”. Now what it in the world are they talking about now? I’m 99.9% sure they actually meant “replace” ECM (Electronic Control Module), but that’s not what it said. It clearly said “release”
I’m wondering if they know there’s a typo in their book… I think I’ll call them… you know, just for a laugh. Not that it’s all that important, but what the heck… let’s have some fun with this.
I called, as seemed to be the norm back then it took a few phone transfers to get to the correct department, and as each operator put me in touch with the next operator I started to put together a story.
When I finally reached the engineering department, I had to play it up…
“Can I help you with a diagnostic problem?” he said, sounding all official and all.
(Like he had a clue what was going to happen next)… I let him have it with my own version of stupidity.
“Yes, I’m following this diagnostic tree and trying to come to the possible results, but I’m having some problems with it. Now, I’m not one to think there’s a problem with the diagnostics but this one, well, I’m a little concerned… it said, very clearly “release ECM”.
“Hmm, so what did you do?” he asked. (He’s not getting it.)
Let’s see if this guy can follow along with my idiotic logic, or see if I lose him in the translation.
“I disconnected the ECM, set it outside the shop, gave it a little pat on its PROM and said to the little aluminum computer box… “YOU’RE FREE! GO-BUDDY-GO, LEAVE, YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN, HIT THE ROAD! YOU’RE RELEASED!!” and you know what… it just sat there. It never moved… now I’m wondering, I followed the diagnostics correctly. The car is still in the shop and it still won’t start. And this dang computer doesn’t want to be released…. Ya got any suggestions? Because the test ended with “release ECM”… there were no more steps in the test so I did what it said… I released it -- what now?” I told him.
There was a dead silence on the phone. I’m guessing, this guy doesn’t get the joke, or he’s really thinking that little ECM should have taken its chance and run for the hills before this wack-o mechanic comes up with something else.
He cautiously answered, “Can I call you back on this? I’ll have to consult with the engineering department on this one.”
Is this guy serious? Really, fella, can you not see this is just a joke? I would have thought most intelligent people would see right through my little story… not this guy, he was dead pan serious. He took down the page number and said he would get back to me later that day. Now I’m waiting for “Mr. Engineer” to get back to me.
A few hours later he did call back and informed me that it was a misprint and it really should have said “replace”.
“I know,” I said, “I just thought you guys would like a little joke. I thought you’d like to know that there was a mistake in the books, that’s all.”
“Thanks for telling us, we all got a pretty good laugh over it,” he answered, “We like to think we have the best books in the industry and we pride ourselves on giving you guys the most precise information possible.”
We ended the phone call with both of us laughing about the whole thing. Little did he know, he would get another phone call. A few days later I had another problem to deal with. It was a knock sensor code and the test procedure said; “Take a 4 oz. hammer and tap next to the sensor while observing the scope reading”.
You know, I couldn’t leave this alone. After getting this uptight engineer to loosen up on that last phone call, I just had to call him again.
“OK, what is it this time?” he asked.
“I don’t have a 4 oz. hammer to do this test. You know, you told me you have the most precise information… and I don’t want to deviate from the book without knowing I’m on the right track.”
“Ah……., I’ll have to get back to you,” he told me.
Seriously? I’ll bet this guy never gets the punch line of a joke. Several hours later he called me back, and said that it wasn’t a misprint this time, and that any small hammer would do. This might be one reason why I never became an engineer. These guys are way too serious for me. Lighten up dudes… geez.
“If you find any other mistakes in our books, would you send what you find to us in writing for evaluation. We are working hard to keep these problems from arising… so it would be very helpful if you could do that for us. Thanks for your cooperation,” he said.
Do ya get the feeling this guy doesn’t want me to call them anymore… hmmm, I wonder why? Maybe I’ve given them a little more incentive to recheck their work a little more. These days, I haven’t seen as many mistakes. I suppose with spell check and a few careful proof reads it’s less likely to have these kinds of mistakes again.
I guess in some respects, it’s a good way of avoiding phone calls from smart ass mechanics like myself.
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By Joe Marconi
According to the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association report (AASA) for 2012, underperformed vehicle maintenance grew from $54 Billion in 2009 to $62 billion in 2010, a clear indicator that the economy had a definite negative impact on the motoring public and their ability or willingness to perform routine maintenance.
From my personal experience, it has been tougher to sell preventive maintenance the past few years. We have seen an uptick on major breakdowns, but it’s hard to sell a preventive major service on a 1998 F150 with 220,000 miles on the clock, especially when they come in on the hook for a failed fuel pump.
There may be an untapped market out there, but consumer’s confidence level is low. I am not a supporter of new car dealers, but fresh new vehicles entering the market place should help us down the road. This aging vehicle fleet that was promised to us as our economic savior did not pan out.
That’s my opinion, agree or disagree?
By Joe Marconi
[Article written earlier than posted time, link at the bottom to original source]
If youre reading this article that means that you are still in business and have weathered the economic storms of 2009. While we are not out of the woods yet, things are definitely looking better than a year ago. 2010 will continue to bring us challenges and obstacles, but we all know that whatever doesnt kill you will only make you stronger.
Independent shop owners across this nation have proven their resolve and refused to participate in the recent recession. When thousands of dealers shut their doors and unemployment tipped 10%, automotive shops found a way to survive. I am not saying it was easy. I have heard from many frustrated shop owners this past year that questioned whether they should go on. Some did give up, but most did not. The fight goes on and 2010 will once again test your resilience.
Many of your customers are still out of work and many small local businesses and local contractors are suffering. Both business and personal bankruptcy is still rising. These issues will no doubt continue to impact your day to day operations. We have already seen taxes go up in many areas and who knows what the health care calamity will bring us. The government will continue to spend like a drunken sailor on shore leave, which will have deep, long lasting affects on our economy for generations. The housing market had a few up ticks in 2009, but is still a long way from a recovery. Too many years of unrealistic growth combined with too much subprime mortgage lending nearly killed a once-touted safe haven for your money…real estate. Also, lets not forget the war on terror, the global warming issue, the green movement, the volatile stock market or emerging Chinese dominance.
Ok… I got the bad news out of the way. Now, heres the good news. When the dust settles, who do you think will be there as a shining star? You will. Because the success and survival of your business rests totally on the person you look at each day in the mirror….You! You have no bail out. You rely on your own resources to make things work. You are tested each day and somehow get things done. That makes you strong. We are all sitting on a gold mine of opportunity. It may be hard to see, but its real. However, its an opportunity, not a gift. You will need to prepare for it and act swiftly. Those of us that plan now will reap the benefits later.
There has never been a better time in history for the automotive service and repair industry. The motoring public is confused. They have lost faith in the American car companies. The government bail out to GM and Chrysler has made them look weak in the eyes of the consumer. Ford stands alone, not accepting a bail out. This may prove to be their silver lining. New car sales in 2009 were dismal for most car companies, including Toyota and Honda. Empty new car dealerships sent consumers scrambling for alternatives.
We need to take advantage of what is happening in the economy and use it to our benefit. We need to show strength. Our day-to-day attitude must be positive toward customers and with our employees. Take a look at your operation, everything from the exterior facility appearance, waiting room, bathrooms, shop appearance, uniforms and everything else about your business. Make sure that your shop looks top-notch. I know its hard, but spend the money and make improvements to your operation. This will help boost your image and help increase confidence from your customers and the potential customers in you market area.
Review your advertising and marketing strategy. Be consistent with your advertising. While others are pulling back on advertising, you need to keep forging ahead and stay in the consumers eye. Provide the very best in customer service. This is an area where you must not fail in. People will judge you more on how they are treated at the front counter than what brand of parts you install or what type of equipment you use. Trust me on this one. Customer service will make or break your business. Listen to your customer, they will tell you in which direction you will need to go. Your success in the coming years will be directly related to the level of customer service you provide. Make sure you have the right people at the front counter and answering the phone.
Lastly, work on your leadership skills. As the business owner, you are the companys leader. This puts you in a tough position where hard choices and decisions will have to be made. Make those decisions with the best of your abilities and dont second guess yourself. You cant be right all the time and being too fearful of making a mistake can cause indecisiveness, which will hold you back from achieving your goals. The good thing about making a mistake is the knowledge you gain from it. Be supportive of the people who work for you. Encourage them to be the best they can be. Promote the good things they do, rather than focusing only on what goes wrong. People want to be appreciated and recognized for the work they do. Remember, happy employees boost morale, which increases productivity and creates happy customers.
Being in business is not easy, if it were, everyone would be in it. Being an auto shop owner in todays economy is extremely difficult, but this career was our choice. The reward for being in business is making your enterprise your personal success story. Dont worry about the size of someone elses business. Its not about building an empire like Disney World or McDonalds; its more about you and building your empire. That is the true measure of an entrepreneur.
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