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Up The East River at 1500'

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    • Article: Bugs In The Rugs - - - What have you encountered from the insect world while working on a car?

      Bugs In The Rugs          Ants, moths, bees, flies, wasps, spiders, scorpions, roaches, yellow jackets, fireflies, centipedes, silver fish, lady bugs, katydids, mosquitos, termites, fleas, mites, and fly larvae (maggots).          No, that’s not a list of insects on the back of a can of insecticide.  That’s just about every type of creepy, crawly nasty little bug I have encountered in a car at one time or another.  It’s enough to make your skin crawl.           Sometimes it’s not so much what you run into, but where.  For instance, I was working on a little foreign car, checking out a faulty turn signal.  I diagnosed a bad lead on the front turn signal socket, and had already pulled the lens off and supplied a ground to the bulb, so I knew what I needed to do.  Just sling under the car and reattach the ground lead that was hanging there.  The car was low to the ground, but I managed to wedge myself under there just enough to make the repair.  As I managed to turn my head to see the turn signal housing, there… just a ¼” from my nose was a large nest of red wasps.  They were all darting around working on their nest totally oblivious to me.  I didn’t stick around long enough to introduce myself.           Something I’ve learned after being at this for a few years: If you get one of those carpet cleaning trucks in the shop for repair, make sure you have plenty of roach spray handy.  It’s not uncommon to pop the lid off of the fuse box to find hundreds of those nasty little critters trying to find a new hiding place. I’ve even seen a few behind the lens of the instrument cluster just minding their own business as they walked over the gauge needles. They tend to eat wires, leave their acidic droppings on circuit boards, and their dead relatives laying in the vents. Nothings worse than getting “bug sprayed”… with bugs when you turn on the blower motor.            Now when you’re trying to find an odor, or some reeking smell that has literally chased the owners out of their car, don’t be surprised if you’ll eventually find a dead mouse or some other strange varmint carcass in the duct work, trunk, or under the carpet.  The worst is when the flies have found it and started laying eggs on it.  For the investigative type mechanic, the fly larvae is a good way to determine how long whatever it was has been decomposing in the customer’s car.  You see, a fly can lay more than 100 eggs on a warm moist body and in 8 to 24 hours the larvae will begin to hatch. Those wormy, wriggly, crawly little ugly, nasty things stick around for about 5 days and then start to pupate into an adult fly.  A capital “G” for gross.  Knowing all of that will allow you to inform your customer when their little friend became post mortem in their cabin filter or wherever it was you found it, although at this point they’re too grossed out to really care about your CSI skills!          Spiders can bring out the heebeegeebees in the biggest, baddest mechanic on the planet.  I once worked with a guy who was completely petrified of spiders.  We were tearing down an old car that was in for restoration when he removed the door panel and a large tarantula came crawling out from the bottom corner of this old rusted door.  Honestly, I’ve never seen or heard such a big fella scream like a little girl.  He not only came up with his own high pitched language that only he could understand, but managed to dart across the shop and up onto the top of his tool box so fast he didn’t have time to let go of the door panel. He stayed up there perched on his tool box talking some sort of gibberish only he could understand, as he was kicking tools out of the open drawers.  The tarantula had to go, or he wasn’t coming down.  I got elected to shoo the little critter out the door. We literally had to pry the door panel out of his hands and coax him down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. His tool box needed a bit of straightening after all was said and done.          Ants for the most part are pretty harmless. I’ve never ran across fire ants in a car, but I can only imagine what that would have been like.  The ones I’ve run across are just the busy little ant type doing busy little ant things. Sometimes the hardest part is finding where they’re coming from.  Half the time you’ll see these little guys marching along one after another in single file heading to another part of the car.  If it’s a car that’s been sitting in one spot for a long time chances are they’ve built an elaborate home somewhere in the car and it’s your job to find out where.  Good luck with that.          Sometimes you wonder how some of these insects find their way into a car in the first place.  Like pulling a spare tire out of an old car and find a scorpion staring at you.  Or mud dauber wasp nests all over the engine compartment.  They sure do find some of the oddest places to build their little nests.  One time I’ve even found them on the carburetor choke plate on a car that was only sitting for a few days.  The owner tried to start it, but had no luck with it.  He then had it dragged into the shop to have the no start problem checked out.  After a bit of carburetor spray to dissolve the mud it started right up. The owner being the kind of a jokester he was, now had a new story to tell about his old car.  He started his little tale with, “Guess wasp up with my car?”           Whether it is a family of arachnids or any other family of insects invading your car, somewhere some mechanic has probably already experienced it.  As they say, “There are more bugs in the world than there are people.” So there’s a good chance you’ll run across a bug in a rug or one in the trunk of that very car you’re working on.  Just work on some fast reflexes, a few nerves of steel, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep a can of bug spray handy either.            
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 6 replies
    • Article: Down and Out in the Service Bay - Some cars don't just come to the repair shop to get fixed... some come to commit suicide. 

      Down and Out in the Service Bay          A big portion of a mechanic’s job is to deal with troubles. From trouble shooting, trouble codes, trouble with tools, diagnostic troubles, and then some parts that can be nothing but trouble. Trouble seems to go with the job description, but what’s most troubling is a customer’s car that decides to end it all in the service bay without any prior warning or inclination that something dreadful is about to happen.  Take this next story:          A car comes in for a routine brake job.  Nothing special, just the typical front pad replacement and rotor resurfacing.  The job is going well, no trouble to speak of until the mechanic attempts to restart the car and check the brakes.  Just as it starts a low grinding noise is heard from the engine, and within a split second the noise goes from a soft metal grind to an all-out attack on your ear drums.  The engine starts to lope in cadence with the metal-slapping-metal sound.  The noise is deafening; mechanics in the other service bays have stopped what they’re doing to find out where the noise is coming from.  To the mechanic’s ear, this rattling, bone jarring clanking sound can only mean one thing… a connection rod has just snapped.          As quickly as possible the key is shoved into the off position.  The mechanic races to look under the hood, only to find oil has sprayed all over the engine bay.  That clanking rod, well… it blasted a hole the size of the Grand Canyon into the side of the block.  Oil is still oozing out of the now dysfunctional engine as the service manager and a whole squad of front office people make their way to the scene.          The question on everyone’s mind is, “Who’s going to tell the customer?” and “How did this happen?” The car had no signs of a pending failure as it was checked in at the service desk, the porter who drives them into the service bay didn’t have anything to add, and the mechanic who did the brake job was dumbfounded that such thing could ever have happened in the first place.          Well, it did happen, and yes, it’s not the first time and certainly not the last.  Whether it’s a truck frame that was so rusted out that once it was put on a lift it literally split in two, or that old customer who came by to have the trunk light bulb replaced and left his car running just outside the service bay. As you’re fiddling with the bulb, the fan belt shredded and lodged itself behind the water pump pulley so tight that you had to replace the water pump.  There seems to be no end to the way some cars want to commit suicide while they’re near the service bay. I’ve had similar issues over the years myself.  Timing belts that spit teeth off on a test drives, CV shafts that snap as the mechanic turned the corner to align it up with the shop door, to countless electrical components that suddenly and mysteriously failed at the moment I got near them.  One time I had an regular customer who stopped by just to visit.  Not for any service work, just to say Hi and see what I was up to. When he went to leave, the front pump in the transmission decided this was the right time to call it quits. Right there in front of the shop! Which of course led to me dropping what I was doing and perform an impromptu and hasty on the spot unscheduled diagnosis.  Neither one of us had any clue as to why this car decided this was the appropriate time and place to end it all.  At least it was already lined up for the service bay!   Talk about being down and out in the service bay.  Like there’s not enough trouble to deal with, then things like this happen. Some of it is so strange that you’d swear somebody made it all up, but it’s all true. Some have an explanation, others are a complete mystery, but it does happen. Most of the time there is a bit of information that’s been left out of the scenario. Usually the guilty party won’t confess right off the bat, but sooner or later the truth does come out. Although, the car can’t talk, the remaining shrapnel and other broken parts will leave plenty of clues as to what was the origin of this latest suicidal attempt. I’d like to say, “I’ve seen it all.” But who am I kidding? There’s always something else that will surprise me in the future, and I’m sure every mechanic has their own down and out story they’d like to tell.  Misery loves company… so what’s your down and out story?                        
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 9 replies
    • Is My Advertising Working?

      Was wondering if anyone tracks how much it cost per lead. I started to track this myself and I have found over the last 8 weeks I have had exactly 200 leads and have spent $6480 to acquire those leads thus costing me $32.40 per lead. I was wondering if anyone else has tracked there cost per lead and see how it stacks up to my $32.40. I question whether my advertising is effective based on my numbers.   Thanks

      By insomniac, in Marketing, Advertising, & Promoting

      • 7 replies
    • "But it was working before"

      We all heard the "But it was working before" even when its a blower not turning on and the only thing you touched was a transmission flush LOL.   Lets hear the stories and also your best responses! I am always dumbfounded when people tell me this and I am quick to go into defense mode. Whats the best way to diffuse this type of situation.     BTW I have tried explaining that we have not even been anywhere that part of the car or that system, many times I get blank stares or "Yeah right buddy" type of looks.      

      By mspecperformance, in The Customer Experience

      • 5 replies
    • Not fixed...after repairs..

      Not being a mechanic I need some help. What happened when you fix a problem but it doesn't fix the customers concern?   Had a friends truck in wih blown head gasket and was ran till it stopped. We quoted him on head gasket and resurface heads and possibly replace heads if cracked. It's all. Back together but really idling rough....   I'm kind of lost with what to do between keep throwing parts or back track.

      By mccannable, in Auto Repair Shop Management Help? Post Here!

      • 19 replies
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