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Found it On The Internet ---- Information sources, can they all be trusted

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Found It On The Internet

A customer comes into the office the other day with a hand full of papers about his car. Each page was full of information and diagrams pertaining to a repair he wanted done. He was extremely proud of himself, and proceeded to tell me how he found this wealth of knowledge on the internet.


You know, I think the internet is great, super in fact. (Imagine what it will be like in the future.) I use the internet all the time myself. I attend automotive classes, buy things, watch videos, chat with friends, emails, etc… It's endless what you can find or do on the net. But, I draw the line at some of the sites that give out information to the unsuspecting public, and inform them they have found some miracle cure for a certain aliment on their car.


Perhaps, some of it is useful. Perhaps, some of it is better information than I gather from all my technical resources and the manufacturers, but I'd rather check the source before calling something I found on the net as the all knowing, never to be doubted information for automotive repair. Let's just say, I'm more than a little skeptical.


Needless to say this guy was insistent I take a look at his information, and read up on what I was to do. Turns out, what he was looking at was some sort of way to correct a faulty dash circuit in a Lexus. All the pages were of photographic quality and very detailed in the descriptions on how the repair was to be made. From the few quick skims I took of the information, it appeared to be a bypass to the dash circuit by soldering a wire from one part to another.


The one thing I thought was a little quirky was the solder gun the demonstrator was holding in the photos. It was an old Weller soldering gun, the kind with the little light bulb sticking out below the soldering tip. I haven't used one of those in years. Oh come on, you're going to solder a little circuit lead with the bulbous end of one of these relics?


These days I've got everything from desk top, high powered dental tip soldering guns that will get hot in about 3 or 4 seconds to the butane portable units that have several different tips. Those old Weller's were great for putting together your electric erector set motor leads, but I certainly wouldn't use one on a tiny solder joint on a modern circuit board.


I pointed it out to my all-so-proud/all-knowing customer, but he didn't see it as a problem. He was more interested in the results that were on the last page of his internet find. I, on the other hand, wanted to know what information other than these few pieces of paper he had that could back up his claim that this was going to fix his problem. Furthermore, was his problem even in the dash to begin with?


"Sir, I really think I should test your car, before I take the dash out," I told him.


"No, I've already had it checked out at the dealership. They want to sell me a new dash, and I'm not doing that. It's way too expensive. That's why my friend and I found this on the internet. I'm absolutely sure this will fix it."


I read the material he brought a little more carefully, and I'll have to admit it did sound convincing, but I still had my doubts. I've run across these "wonder-cures" on the net before. Quite frankly, I don't think I want to try them on a customer's car. They're more of a curiosity to me. I do believe there are smarter people out there who can surpass the design ideas of the car manufacturers, but I don't think these people are dumb enough to give away their "great-idea" to the mass market for free.


"I'll even take the dash out and bring it to you," my proud customer went on to tell me.


Now, there's a kick in the old tool box for ya. He's going to help me out, and bring me the dash. Well, well, well… the one thing that is probably the "most likely not" to get screwed up in this whole ordeal is the one part he wants to help me with.


"Sir, if you've got the dash out, and you have these drawings and directions, why don't you get a soldering gun and make the repair yourself. You don't need me for any of this; you've got all the directions right here to do it, and they seem easy to follow. All you need is one of these old Weller soldering guns, and you could copy the procedure exactly," I said while pointing at the smoke coming off of the solder gun in the photos.


"No, I'd rather have a professional do it."


I guess that means me. Now I've exchanged a lot of dashes in my time, and I've even soldered a few joints back together. I've also swapped a few stepper motors for gauges and things like that. But to take advice from an internet source that I know nothing about… hmmm… I think not. I can't imagine what "professional" would take on a project based on the information I had in front of me.


Let's think about this for a minute. There is some sort of odd ball directions found on the internet by a customer, who is offering to remove the dash and bring it to you…BUT, he wants you as the "professional" to solder the wires onto his expensive dash. Really? I think I can guess the eventual outcome of all this. I'll bet he wants the "professional" to take the blame and responsibility if it doesn't work the way he expects it to after the Weller soldering job is done. Even if he says, "I'll take the responsibility." Believe me, if it doesn't work… it's your smoking solder gun he's going to point the blame at.


"Sorry sir, that's not going to happen, I would rather diagnose it, repair it, or replace the dash according to the information I have. I can't take the word of some website this is going to work. The responsibility is not theirs to make sure this is fixed correctly--it's mine. You're just assuming this information you found on the internet is correct. I can't take the chance, even if you tell me that you wouldn't hold me responsible if it didn't work. I'm still not going to do it, sorry."


With that my proud customer gave me the stare of shame. Oh you know the stare… that glare from across the room, the mumbling under their breath and the snarling Elvis lip quiver. Yea, I've seen it before; sorry it still isn't going to make me try some internet voodoo on your car, buddy.


After the usual "customary-length" stare and glare were over, he gathered up his paper work and headed out to his car without another word.


I don't know what he ever did, for all I know he found somebody else to do it. At least it wasn't me. Maybe if I do some checking myself I might find out this guy was right and it really did work.


At least then I could say… "I found it on the internet."






Thanks for reading my stories, your comments are more than appreciated. In fact, it's how I decide which ones will go on to the editors for publication. So definetly leave a comment. Don't forget to stop by my website for more stories, information and wacky car photos. www.gonzostoolbox.com

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All the time ... all the time... An even better situation is the customer who buys a car over the internet because it's such a great deal. Then when they get my estimate their friendly little story about such a good deal becomes, "You've got to be kidding me! I think you're just trying to rip me off!" Just like the guy in this story, good things don't come cheap, and the internet doesn't guarantee you'll get what ya paid for. LOL





Gonzo have you ever had people come in an tell you what they think is wrong with their car because they read it on the internet. When it is all said and done you find out that the problem was nothing closed to what they were talking about. Those are some of the worst customers of all.

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You guys know exactly what I was getting at with this story. I'll have to admit, the direction I took with this guy did not end up with a paycheck, however, I didn't need to worry about a repair that I was not comfortable with. These so called experts and internet wanna-be's really get my blood to boil too Joe. I think the research and information on the net is super.... IF.... taken in the right context.


We all want to make sure we are not getting screwed over, but for heavens sake.... verify your information.

I'm a car doctor, sure, but I'm not the "All-Mighty-Know-Everything-About-Cars" guy. I make mistakes too. The problem I see is that I know I'm capable of mistakes, I know I can get something diagnosed wrong.... AND... when someone comes in and tells me that their thermostat is going to fix their problem... the mistake has already been made for me. Now...I'm just a stupid idiot that couldn't get a job doing something else ... or as they may think... THAT'S why I WILL NOT DO these type of jobs.


Don't make me look stupid... I'm perfectly capable of doing that myself.


It is not only from the internet but we get it all the time from so and so told me. 90% of the people calling to our shop for a price on a thermostat to fix an overheating problem do not have a thermostat problem. Some will listen to us when we talk to them but some are convinced that all we are trying to do is sell them repairs they don't have to have. The truth is we are wanting to help them fix the problem and if we replace the thermostat first they may not have enough money left to do the needed repair.


It often goes like this, my brother-in-law who works at Toyota told me. Then you find out that the brother-in-law does cleanup and detailing or he is a salesman.

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Thats part of the reason why I feel we need some sort of regulation were we have to be licesened or certified or at least insured. That way the shade tree or crap shops will get fined or punished for doing the crappy work i see and refuse to fix.

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Nice thought Brian, probably will never happen. As long as there is a place to buy parts and a place to buy tools... people will be "shade-treeing" their cars.


Imagine it this way... hundreds of years from now. A guy is standing in front of an Autozone, with a lazer wrench installing a phase shifter, while using the on-board GPS to locate the nearest solar flare to generate the sub-partical fusion reactor. All this to avoid dealing with the dealership or independent repair shop. Because he is either trying to save a buck, or wants to do the repairs himself. So it really doesn't matter if it's a phase shifter,a starter, or some obscure dash problem on a Lexus. People will try to fix it themselves. Always have, always will.


LOL... as long as there are people and personal transportation.... somebody out there will think they can do it smarter and better than you or me... It's just a part of the business.


Thats part of the reason why I feel we need some sort of regulation were we have to be licesened or certified or at least insured. That way the shade tree or crap shops will get fined or punished for doing the crappy work i see and refuse to fix.

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Yes, I believe that's the law, also, in Florida they are trying to pass a state law making in "unlawful" to repair cars in front of your house or in the driveway. All work must be done inside a home garage or at a approved facility (such as a regulated repair shop/ garage) The garage has to meet certian criteria to qualify or they are subject to fines until such time as they bring up their standards. These standards also apply to your home garage not just professional garages. Things like safety equipment, proper waste disposal, etc...


I'm watching the Florida law closely and see if it passes, or gets cut up into something else. Gonz


Someone told me in canada u have to be licensed and insured or its against the law. That would be nice if enforced.

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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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