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Parts Changers I'll bet you've run across these type of customers before.


Gonzo

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Parts Changers

 

 

 

Never a day goes by that somebody doesn't email me, calls, or is standing in the lobby with the same type of ridiculous idea about automotive repair. For some reason, (Why, I don't know) certain people think the way to fix a car is simply to change a part. I guess that's how they think a repair shop does it. Or maybe that's the way they were taught to repair a car. Then there are a few of these screw driver twisting, bolt stripping, car jockeys who take parts changing to a whole new level.

 

 

 

They generally start out something like this: "My car won't start, so I changed the fuel pump, the starter, injectors, battery, and ignition switch. When that didn't work I put in a new MAP sensor, crank sensor, coolant sensor, and a water pump… but it's still not working. What do you think the problem is?" Oh, I already know what the second problem is. You worked on it first! The first problem is now secondary to you working on the car. It's pretty typical, ask them what's wrong with the car, and instead of telling you "what's wrong" they'll tell you "what they've done". The first thing should have been to tell me about the car… the second thing should have been what you did to it first.

 

 

 

Sometimes the real funny part is when they tell me the car won't start, but don't give any important information like: it won't crank, it only turns over, it spits and sputters but never runs…etc. Instead they'll tell me something like, "I know what it is, I just haven't found it yet." Seriously dude, I think your dipstick is leaking… I can tell … there's oil dripping off of it. It might do you some good to put your tool box out at the next garage sale. You could save a lot of money on your next car repair that way.

 

 

 

Here's one phone call I'll never forget. An older gentleman called and said he has been working on cars for nearly 30 years, but this one car was getting the best of him. He has already changed every part he could think of, and it was absolutely no help. After asking around town at several other repair shops, my name kept coming up as the person to diagnose his car. He went on to tell me about some sort of connector under the hood with nothing connected to it. He was certain it must be for a sensor, and the missing sensor was the cause of his entire problem. Not only did he not know what sensor it was, but he couldn't tell where the sensor would go if he had the part to change.

 

 

 

"Sir, there are lot of connectors on different cars that go nowhere under the hood. It's probably something that this car doesn't use. Bring it in, and I'll diagnose the problem for you," I told him, being as helpful as I could.

 

 

 

"Yea, that's just what you want me to do. So you can charge me to read the codes like the rest of those moron mechanics out there," he answered.

 

 

 

I took that as an insult. I said I'll diagnose the problem. I never said anything about reading codes. If there is a code stored I certainly would check into the diagnostic procedures pertaining to that code, and see if it has anything to do with his problem. But I'm not code chasing, I'm car fixing.

 

 

 

"Sir, if all you want is a code read then why don't you go down to one of those parts stores that will read the code for free. Codes don't fix cars! I told you I would diagnose the problem!" I blasted back at him now that he's got me riled up. (I'll bet I didn't sound as friendly as I did when I first picked up the phone.)

 

 

 

Apparently, after 30 years of fixing cars this guy never diagnosed a problem. His entire career was based on changing parts until it fixed the car. What was the problem with this car?? …… He ran out of parts to change!

 

 

 

"I can fix it if you could tell me what part needs replaced, so don't give me any of that high tech answer stuff. Just tell me what part to change," he answers back.

 

 

 

You can just about guess what happened next; he wasn't about to pay for any of my services. Ok fella, your time is up! Go ask another one of your friends where you should go. Since you were kind enough to classify me and my trade as a moron, I know where I'm going to tell you to go… hope ya like hot places.

 

 

 

Then there was this naïve used car salesmen who thought he could buy a used scanner that would have the complete dictionary of auto parts by code stored in it. With that he could change parts and fix the cars, all without consulting a technician or pay a diagnostic fee.

 

 

 

"You'll need to diagnose the code results not just change the parts pertaining to the code. A scanner is NOT a mechanic in a box, as you seem to think it is," I told him.

 

 

 

Nope, no dice, his mind was made up. He knew there was a scanner that would do just what he thought it would, and I was only keeping it a big secret. As he put it, "I'm no dummy; I know how to fix cars." Hmmm, are ya sure about that? Why don't you just stick to selling them, because your "mechanically inclined" part is broke, and I'm not qualified to fix things like that… even with a scanner.

 

 

 

Parts changers, ah yes… what would a day be like at the shop without one. So many places to buy parts, so many tools and so many backyard garages.

 

 

 

I'd like to tell all the parts changers out there: "When you're all done playing mechanic come see the guys at your local repair shop. Pay them for taking care of your problem. It will be a change from buying parts, and when the tech is done with the repair the only thing you'll have to do is … "Part with your change."

 

 

 

 

 

 


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There has been and will always be part changers. Now, with companies like AutoZone and Advance, that are dedicated in "helping" the DIY market, it will perhaps get worse.

 

There are a great many people who have this notion that the answer is just right there, simple and easy. Much like when someone goes to the doctor about feeling run down and tired, and the doctor says; "loose weight and eat right", the person says, "really,you can't just give me a pill"?

 

I can deal with the public, it's the pros that I am concerned about. Most techs want to diagnose the problem properly, the issue is most either don't get paid for it or don't know how to get paid for diag. This is a topic for a different discussion, right?

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It's great subject for discussion. More and more I find people don't want to pay for diagnostic time, however, they'll pay somebody to swap a part... then... be all pissy because it didn't take care of the problem. With cars even more technical than the year before I can't see how places like Autozone are going to be able to maintain a profit level if all the parts they sell can't be just "swapped" because of programming or expensive tools. The day is coming... but, like ya said. They'll always be those parts changers no matter how sophisticated the car becomes.

 

 

There has been and will always be part changers. Now, with companies like AutoZone and Advance, that are dedicated in "helping" the DIY market, it will perhaps get worse.

 

There are a great many people who have this notion that the answer is just right there, simple and easy. Much like when someone goes to the doctor about feeling run down and tired, and the doctor says; "loose weight and eat right", the person says, "really,you can't just give me a pill"?

 

I can deal with the public, it's the pros that I am concerned about. Most techs want to diagnose the problem properly, the issue is most either don't get paid for it or don't know how to get paid for diag. This is a topic for a different discussion, right?

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Being in the electrical side of the business I see the situation your talking about more than I care to mention. Most of the time I get into an argument with the customer, "I've already changed that part!" you know the rest of that situation.

Anymore, I try to have the argument before I get it the car in the shop. If it's one of those parts changers that think they are the know it all and I'm just some dumb idiot with a tool box I'll pass them up and tell them to take it somewhere else. What's more surprising to me, is the look on their face. They look as if I can't do that... that I can't throw them out of my shop... THE HELL I CAN'T!!! and I have several times over the years.

 

You want professional results... pay for it buddy... IF you want crap from autozone... your choice, not mine.

 

Seen it, been there, wrote the book actually... LOL I hope in some small way I can show the attitudes of some of these people in my stories. Treat me as a professional and I'll treat you like a customer. Act like a jerk and I'll show you a side of smart ass you've never experienced. LOL Takes years to know how to handle them. Hopefully reading a few of my stories will help the younger techs be more prepared for it than I ever was.

 

Thanx for the comments Frank... U da Best!

 

I wrote an entire post that ain't there?????????????????? What happened?????????????? Here is what I tried to say:

 

We have one of those vehicles at our shop right now. He owner had a friend parts changer throw parts at it to fix a running problem. What we did was replace a cheap Autozone distributor cap with an AC Delco cap. It seems to have fixed the problem but we are going to hang on to the vehicle until it rains to be certain because that is the only time that it acts up. That is another weakness of parts changers. If they get a bad new part they do not have the expertise to diagnose the vehicle and they will keep throwing parts at them. They have a high potential for bad electrical parts if they are buying the cheaper lines at Auto Zone or Advance.

 

Sometime back we had a guy with a Ford truck who had finally given up. When he tolded us everything he had changed I totalled up about $450 worth of parts, not counting all of the gas he burned running to the parts store, and that is putting no value on his time. He was running to Auto Zone and they were scanning codes and selling him parts. He finally gave up and came to us. Within 5 minutes we knew what was wrong and fixed his truckl for $50.00. I never saw a man more stunned in my life.

 

If these parts changers would figure the cost of parts installed that they didn't need, the gasoline they burn, and the hours spent they would find out that they don't save a thing over professional repairs.

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