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Telematics for the aftermarket

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    • By [email protected]
      There are days I want to set the place on fire (sometimes just customers cars) ok just kidding. I seem to be getting a streak of problematic parts lately. I am so tired of reps telling me about quality, oem specs, warranty blah blah. My main supplier is AAP. Here are some examples below.
      - 2000 wrangler needing rear axles due to bearing failure. Ordered Dorman axles and both had fitment issues where once installed the differential pin wouldn't fit in due to improper clearances on the axle. Ordered another brand online Yukon Axles.
      - 1995 Lexus SC300 (mint cond, low miles) Felpro valve cover gasket was manufactured too thick and didn't fit in the groove on the valve cover. Ordered from Lexus and fit fine.
      - Forgot the year (Chrysler van) water pump with a pulley that wobbled and even the online reviews had the same issue. 
      - 1993 Wrangler water pump machined incorrectly where once bolted to the block, the ears of the pump where the ps pump bracket bolts to was not machined correctly and if you tried to bolt it on it would bend the water pump. Ordered AC Delco (i think) from Cold air distributors and worked fine.
      - 1999 Lexus ES300 front left brake hose manufactured incorrectly. Ordered another brand, probably Raybestos from Cold Air Distributors, and all is well.
      - 2003 Taurus 3.0 OHV timing cover from Dorman 635-117. Online reviews had some issues but the oem unit was expensive. I ordered 3 before I found one that was machined good enough then installed. Came back a while later leaking. I ordered a replacement under warranty and the quality control was horrible. Just ended up getting the ford one and looked and seemed to work great. Time will tell
      - 2005 Honda Element Monroe struts all the way around (these are the ones) in the front like the civics where the strut has the bracket where the tie rod bolts to. Left front was fine. Right front couldn't get aligned properly as the bracket for the tie rod was welded on at the wrong angle. Went through a couple from the local parts store then I think Monroe sent me a strut that was tested to be ok on their manufacturing/ quality control/ measurement jig and it still failed. They paid to have the old Honda part sent back for inspection. I think i ordered KYB for the front and all was well. 
      I use the AAP Wearever Platinum which have been great brake pad material and braking, but lately they don't fit properly and I have taken video to show the reps and I believe when the backing plate is cut, there are imperfections where it wont fit into the caliper bracket without me grinding the backing plate on the edges. The actual manufacturing company for them sent a rep to a local AAP BBQ event and I talked to him and he is very aware and they supposedly changed the manufacturing process to address this issue but recently I did a brake job and had the same issue then installed Akebono and all was well. I am considering switching to the Wagner TQ which they stock as well. They give me an across the board pricing on the Platinum pads of $34.99 on most vehicles. Has anybody got a good pricing structure on the Wagners?
      AAP gives a 3 month parts and labor warranty on pretty much everything they sell. The labor is reimbursed on my parts account at 1/2 my shop labor rate times the book time. The problem is I still have to write up an invoice showing that I replaced the part and didn't charge the customer, and spend time calling their hotline and explain what happened, then fax or scan and email the original invoice, warranty invoice, original parts invoice with the claim numbers and I still have to call and check in to make sure the claims have been processed and paid out. This takes time and is not very encouraging. Otherwise the parts themselves have the standard warranties, 2 year, 3 year, lifetime, etc. though this still requires me to redo the repair that should have been successful the first time.
      I am the owner and mechanic and I waste so much time in the office dealing with parts, Calling manufacturers tech support lines, taking measurements, sending pictures of parts problems. Then if I cannot get it resolved having to research another part. The Dorman timing covers were terrible. the metal was porous and i sent them a screenshot of their website talking about "High quality plastic or metal construction resists warping, cracking and porousness". I am surprised that these companies don't look at the reviews of their own products and correct the issues. I do need another technician so I don't have to wear so many hats but in the meantime how do you folks deal with these types of issues. 
      The other issue is because I am not a high volume purchaser, although it is getting better as I grow, I have to purchase the majority of my parts from AAP to keep myself on a reasonable tier level. If I spread my purchases around then I can fall off the tier level in a short time. I like AAP and they have a warehouse near me and have a vast inventory available locally as opposed to other suppliers. Most of the stuff I get is name brand stuff to avoid junk parts. I like Moog, National, Motorcraft, Delco, Etc so its not like I am trying to be cheap on everything, I just seem to get burned a lot. When the commercial reps come by, it is usually to check up on business and try to sell me something or a service or a package deal, however when I show them the issues I am having, they really don't or cannot do anything other than listen and tell me about their "quality parts". I ask for the numbers to the engineering departments to try and at least get some of these issues resolved and I cannot get through.
      How do ya'll deal with these situations?
    • By Gonzo
      Tell a Mechanic to Telematic
               Telematics, the latest in automotive communication.  Not a communication between systems and scanners, but a communication between the car and mechanics. All without driver intervention.
      For generations, when you have a problem with your car, you’d tell a mechanic.  That’s all about to change as we head into the future with global positioning, drive by wire, and even more computer control in the modern car. Instead, your car will talk directly to the service center.
      The mechanics will know when the car needs serviced long before the owner decides whether or not it really needs to go to the shop. With telematics, a mechanic can even watch the car’s condition in real time, which could make the search for intermittent problems a thing of the past.  Of course you could call it another form of “Big Brother” watching your every move, but it’s all in the name of creating a safer and more efficient vehicle for the consumer.
       The transition to a telematics system is inevitable. Change is part of progress, as they say. These new and ever changing technologies are what dictates the cars of the future. We might be driving a hybrid model, or a full electric, or perhaps a hydrogen vehicle by the time telematics is common place. 
               But, for me, the mechanic who services these technical wonders, it’s going to change things in a way nobody ever expected.  And that’s in the initial diagnostic work. There will be a lot less effort spent on trying to sort out the problem with the car when the mechanic asks, “So, what’s wrong with your car?” Think about it, we have such a sophisticated piece of machinery operated by the average consumer who has little to no knowledge of how it actually works. When a problem arises the only indication is this little yellow light on the dash.      
            Then, with some sort of symptom in hand they’ll head to the repair shop. Their answers to the question of what’s wrong with their car can be far from being technically correct or even in the same ball park sometimes, which makes the mechanic’s job that much harder. The car and telematics, on the other hand, both speak “mechanic”.
      For example, take these encounters at the counter, and imagine how simplified it would be by telematics telling the mechanic, instead of the driver telling the mechanic.
               A lady called to tell me her computer was flashing. She told me that it would disappear and then reappear.  I asked, “I’m sure you’re not talking about the little box mounted under the hood or under the dash disappearing and reappearing, are you?”  Obviously not, she was talking about a light on her dash for the traction control.  Rather than telling me it was the traction control light going on and off she kept insisting that it was the computer that was disappearing.
       Last week it was an intermittent problem. A repair shop tried the same part three times and it still didn’t fix it.  The owner of the car was wondering if I thought it could be something else. 
      Or, the guy who ran his truck out of gas and the repair shop told him the new pump they put in just a few months ago burnt up because he ran the tank dry. I told him that it’s virtually impossible to burn up an electric fuel pump by running the car out of gas, and that he must have a problem elsewhere. Turns out his truck has a dual tank setup and the transfer pump was faulty, but the repair shop only replaced the fuel pump, and filled the empty tank.  (I seriously doubt they even know how to diagnose it.)
               So where does this all lead too?  Simply put, less second hand information, and less likely to have parts-swapper repair shops slapping unneeded components on a customer’s car without properly testing.   
      Half the battle of getting to the root of car problems is sorting through all the hearsay and gossip about what could be wrong from untrained and unskilled people, or people with a vague idea of how things work, who then mislead the consumer with some half-wit idea. Now everybody has an opinion about what’s wrong, but nobody knows how to fix it. Chances are even those free code checks at the parts stores will be a thing of the past, because the code, or problem, will have already been sent to the agency, repair shop, or dealership long before the owner has a chance to make that drive to the parts store.
               If there was ever anything, that changes the automotive repair industry in a big way, for both the independent and dealership repair facilities, it’s definitely a working telematics network of professional shops across the country.  I know I need to keep in mind there are still a lot of mechanics and repair shops that won’t agree. Some shops are stuck in the 20th century and see cars as mechanical machines with a few wires and a couple of computers. I’m sure there will be these type of shops around for years to come that will still fix cars with a timing lights and dwell meters. True, but as I see things shaping up, more and more mechanics are likely to be using a scanner or scope to diagnose and repair a car rather than a socket and ratchet.  Let’s face it, times are changing, and so will the type of work the mechanic will be doing in the future.
               Obviously, wearable items such as brake pads, timing chains, oil changes, and electrical components will all need to be serviced as they age, the big difference is how the mechanic finds out about those failures.  The modern car can go a lot farther between scheduled maintenance than cars from just a decade ago, but very few people bring their cars in for periodic maintenance, and far fewer follow the recommended intervals for regular service.  Telematics, will take care of that. It won’t be left up to the consumer or to a book crammed in the back of the glove box or that occasional email from the repair shop; the car will tell you when it needs to go in for service. It might even send you a text or email too!   
               Chances are you’ll show up at the repair shop with not much more than a vague idea of why you’re there, but the car has already talked to the mechanic. No need trying to explain things, he already knows. All you have to do is deliver it to the shop.  Of course, if we’re talking about a time far into the future and you own an automatous car, the car might take care of that all by itself, too. Just think, you won’t have to try and explain things to the mechanic by reenacting the sound and motion the car made just before it acted up, or how you watched a YouTube video that you’re certain is the solution to the problem. Don’t worry technology has taken care of it all. Telematics, will tell the mechanic.
              

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    • By ncautoshop
      Any input on aftermarket vs oem converters. Just got bit for the first time. Wondering if anyone has any experiences. What's bad in this case is - although it was disclaimed that using aftermarket a code could reappear, I feel responsible. She asked what I would use - I said aftermarket. I've never had issues.
      Secondly the converter we sold her was in the $590 range OEM is over $1,000. Only lasted about 1,000 miles.
       
      Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk
    • By Joe Marconi
      At a TECH NET meeting this past March in Westchester County New York, a heated discussion erupted over the acquisition of CARQUEST by Advance. And the comments by the shop owners was not good. We decided to list all our concerns and present these concerns to our sales rep. To be honest, we all felt that this list would fall on the deaf ears of a corporate giant.
       
      I drafted a letter and sent it on its way. The letter spread through the company and it was only a few days later when my phone was ringing. Advance got the message and wanted to talk. After a few informal meetings with people from the Advance Auto and reps who were formally from CARQUEST, we all agreed that we need to break bread at a round table discussion and air out these concerns.
       
      The TECH NET shops, along with people from Advance met in the same room last Thursday in Westchester to discuss the concerns we had listed in March’s meeting.
       
      The meeting started with a detailed presentation on all the programs Advance has for the independent TECH NET shops and the things that Advance are working on. Programs all designed to help Repair shops become more successful. Then we engaged in an open and honest (and sometimes heated) discussion. We discussed everything from our concerns that Advance was too aligned with the DIYer to the issue that shops felt that our cultures are not aligned as they once were with CARQUEST.
       
      Well, we may have entered that meeting with guns drawn and cocked, but the words and actions from the Advance reps resonated to all of us that Advance is a company that recognizes that the future of Advance and the future of the Independent Auto Repair shops is dependent on the relationship we create. One by one the people from Advance spoke to us, asked questions, answered questions and at the end we witnessed a different side of a company we once thought as Too Big to listen.
       
      More importantly, this meeting set into motion and new-found relationship between the professional automotive repair shops and Advance. Our future looks a little brighter.
    • By thetireshop
      Anyone able to share some insight as to why I can't seem to find anything other than brake pads/rotors or light bulbs for Hyundai cars in the aftermarket? My local dealer is the only game in town, and has stopped delivering parts to independent shops. None of my vendors seem to keep much of anything in stock. Frustrating.
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