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I’m just curious what people are paying for insurance to cover the repair plate ? I’m in ma. And my insurance company is charging me 5k for the year to have insurance on the plate. My regular shop coverage doesn’t cover it.
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Article: Battin a Thousand - - Mechanics have to step up to bat and hit it out of the park every timeBattin' a Thousand The batter steps up to the plate, takes a hand full of dirt and rubs his hands and the bat. He takes a few scrapes with his feet from the batter’s box while digging in with his cleats. He then gives the pitcher the evil eye and sets his bat ready to take whatever the pitcher is going to throw at him. The catcher gives the signs, the pitcher nods his head. He takes a quick look to first base makes his wind up and then lets the ball fly to home plate. The batter takes a swing... “Pop” the ball is in the catcher’s glove. “Steee---rike!!!” yells the umpire. Somewhere there is an announcer telling the crowd the count while a statistician is writing down the results of the pitch, and calculating the batter's average. With baseball if you can manage to get a hit 5 out of 10 times you’re up to bat… you’re doing outstanding. Achieving a perfect hitting record on the other hand, may never happen in baseball, but in the auto repair business (and most every other field of play) batting a thousand is not a goal it's a requirement. Every job that comes into the service bay is another attempt at keeping that perfect score. Come-backs, bad diagnosis, faulty parts and the like are not what any service person wants to deal with. To keep that perfect score going you have to overcome those obstacles and get the job done right before sending the customer’s car around the bases. Unlike the highly paid professional ball player who is never going to achieve that perfect score the highly trained mechanic has to knock it out of the park each and every time. There's a lot of talk in the industry about how some service advisers/writers and shop owners want a quick “off the cuff” diagnosis and repair rather than waiting for the results of a lengthy-time consuming diagnostic procedure. A mechanic may have a general idea of what is wrong but it still takes proper testing to determine the correct course of action to make the repair. I don't know where this idea came from that every mechanic has the correct answer to ever problem simply by listening to the description given to them by the customer or service writer. It's not like we (mechanics) know what kind of pitch is being hurled at us each and every time. I'm sure the pro ball player could “up” his stats if he knew exactly what kind of pitch was coming across the plate. As it is, he has to make a quick decision, make the right swing, and make contact. In the repair world, analyzing the pitch is the key to a successful outcome. Diagnostics is what makes the difference. Especially on today's vehicles with their interconnected systems, multi-layered computer controls, and the occasional “oops” from a previous botched repair, these all have to be sorted out before the repair is made. This takes time, diagnostics takes time, and time is money. When I hear that a shop isn't charging for diagnostic time it tells me they are either under estimating the value of proper diagnostics or believe they are good enough to read the catcher’s signals and in some way already know what pitch is being thrown. Taking a couple of swings at a repair and not diagnosing anything is like standing in the batter’s box blindfolded. I'd call that a foul ball waiting to happen for sure. It’s important to examine a problem, diagnose as needed and not swing at every pitch that you’re given. In the long run, from the consumers standpoint, a shop that takes the time to diagnose a vehicle correctly may sound more expensive at first when you walk up to the service counter, but chances are you won’t be picked off at 2nd base because you have to spend more cash, buy even more parts that you probably didn’t need, while trying to solve the problem at those shops that don’t see a need in proper diagnostic time. A new player entered the field; it was a job from one of the body shops I do business with. This 2013 Ford Escape was almost ready to go home, however the air bag light wouldn't go off. That's when I was called to plate. “We can sell this job today if you can get this taken care of. We’ve struck out so far,” the owner of the body shop told me. “I’ll see what I can do,” I told him. The first thing I did was check out what codes were in the system. There was only one code. B0095-11 (Right front impact sensor fault – sub code “shorted to ground”). Since it was in a front collision I took my first swing up to bat by checking to see if the wires were smashed or cut. Strike one... the wires are fine, wrong colors though, need to check that a little further. OK, let's try something else... is the connector damaged or the sensor itself in anyway a problem. Strike two... now this is getting serious. Did the module fail? Is there more to this story? Where's the next pitch coming from? A little more snooping around and a bit more in-depth studying of the wiring diagram I think I've got the answer. Very close to the impact sensor is another sensor with the exact same type of connector. The real tell-tale was the wire colors. It looks like when they put the car back together they inadvertently switched the two connectors. (Pretty dumb to have the same type of connectors so close together under the hood... but it ain't the first time I've seen a curve ball like this.) I switched the leads and then went back into the system to clear the code. (With most of these newer systems you not only have to clear the code but you also have to “reboot” the computer by turning the key off before attempting the next “at-bat”.) Well, this batter is ready, the catcher has thrown down the sign, the computers and connections on the playing field are ready to go. All that's left is the pitch. I turned the key and the pitch is on its way. The warning lights come on, the air bag light stayed on for its required amount of time and then.... went off. No codes present and the rest of the systems checked out fine. Yep, I took my swing, and it’s a long, long high flyer… it looks like…yes… yes it is… it’s a “HOME RUN!” Here's a perfect example of the diagnostics taking longer than the actual repair. The way I see it, diagnostic is the mechanics swing at bat, and it's just as important as the actual repair. After spending the time to research a problem only to find out that it was a simple connector doesn’t diminish the time already spent to find out it was just a connector. Mechanics get paid to fix a car, that’s what we do, diagnosing a problem is part of it, and good diagnostic work will keep ya battin’ a thousand.
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Article: Electronically Handicapped - Electronics are great, but sometimes we forget about the old fashion "hands-on" methodsElectronically Handicapped
Are we so inundated with electrical devices we’ve forgotten how to do certain tasks without them? I believe the time has come when common sense values and electronics have crossed paths to change the way some people assume things are done. Yes, we’ve become electronically handicapped by the very means that are supposed to make things better.
Expecting those electronic wonders to always be in working order is one thing, but not knowing what to do when those devices fail and having to resort to good old fashion “hands on” is where the problems and frustrations begin.
Case in point: a guy calls and asks if I can fix his speedometer. He explains he wouldn’t be able to drive the car to the shop, because he has no idea how fast he’s going. I suggested he just stay up with traffic or download one of the many apps displaying mph. This led to even more hysteria because he was afraid of an electronic bug affecting his phone. Instead, all he wanted was one of those “I ain’t holding ya to it” estimates. Not knowing the reason why his speedometer wasn’t working, I gave him a rough guess on the cost of the various components related to a speedometer problem.
He then tells me, “Let me know when the part shows up.” I asked, “What part?” Now I’m confused. Finally, it came down to one question. “Sir, even if I knew exactly what component or problem you’re having, how are you going to get the car here? Tow truck, or do you want me to come and get it?” I asked. Absolutely no tow trucks, and he didn’t want anyone else to drive his car. Instead, he was going to check “YouTube” for a video on how to fix it.
At the top of the list of people who have become electronically handicapped would be this lady: She called to tell me her door locks stopped working, and how she was trapped in her car for several hours until her husband showed up. (He unlocked the door with the key from the outside.) I asked her, “Why didn’t you just unlock the door from the inside?” Her answer, “Sir, I pushed the button several times but it never would unlock the door.” I calmly asked (although I was secretly bursting with laughter), “Why didn’t you use the mechanical lock knob or push the manual lock lever in the opposite direction?”
The tone of her voice was enough to tell you she was more than a little shaken up over the whole door lock ordeal. Thinking I could ease her obvious tension, I suggested that she could have rolled the window down, but that just spurred her anxiety even more. She couldn’t understand why I would suggest such a thing; she would have had to start the car in order to do that. Since the windows were up, the fear of carbon monoxide poisoning was an even bigger concern.
Pretty soon, there will be a generation that won’t understand or even care to know anything about some of the old technologies. That is until they’re face-to-face with a situation calling for some nostalgic common sense and mechanical know-how. We’ve modernized the family car into a nightmarish electronic wonder, which has caused a lot of people to lose touch with the basic fundamentals of its operation. Not only is it more complicated electronically, but it’s also becoming more reliant on GPS and computers. Take for instance the autonomous car or the lane check systems.
Here’s something else that I don’t understand: We still call a manual shift transmission a standard transmission. There’s nothing “standard” about it anymore. It was the standard for decades, but not anymore. Now it’s rather rare for new drivers to even know how to operate a stick shift.
We’ve all become so complacent with our modern electronic conveniences that opening a garage door by hand seems barbaric in some way. I know I’m guilty of it myself.
One time after a rather long and frustrating day at the shop, I came down my driveway tapping my finger on the garage door remote button. The door refused to move. Not to be outwitted by a garage door remote, I sat out there bashing the button and cussing at the door… determined to get that blasted thing to raise one more time. Eventually, the wife comes out and opens the door from the inside button, standing there with that typical wife look of disbelief, staring at her goof ball husband having a heart-to-heart talk with a dead garage door remote. Her response was priceless, “The battery is probably dead in the remote dummy! Just get out of the truck and open the door!”
Even now, you see people who don’t have a clue how to use their turn signals. I doubt they know the proper hand signals. Of course, that would mean rolling down the electric window, which probably doesn't work either. What about the tire monitor systems on cars these days? How many people know how to properly use a tire pressure gauge? Then again, why? We’ve got electronics to take care of that stuff.
A vehicle operator seems to require less common sense these days as the electronic world has already accomplished these tasks with minimal to no effort with things like voice activated entertainment to navigation controls. Why, we even have crash avoidance systems and air bags to keep us safe. More to the point… less personal responsibility for your actions; make it the car’s responsibility.
I grew up in the time when road maps were in every glove box. Folding one back up from the passenger seat while giving directions could be a contest of wit and skill to say the least. You paid attention to the road signs and observed the different land features as well as points of interest that were pointed out in the map details. These days, you listen to this voice on the navigation system that says, “Turn right in 500 feet onto exit 227.” Why, I’ll bet you didn’t even notice you passed the world’s largest ball of string a mile back. It seems the navigation voice failed to mention anything about all those roadside features the folding map could tell you about. Just goes to show how much we have become dependent on these electronic devices.
So, you say, “Yea well, I might be a little electronically handicapped, but I’m not as bad as ya think. I could handle living like they did a hundred years ago. No battery needed to start a horse.” Oh, really? A century ago anyone over 10 years old could hitch up a two horse team to a buggy for an afternoon trip to town and knew how to deal with their horses’ temperament. Can you? Back then, that knowledge was passed down from father to son. These days, well, you’re more likely to Google the answer than ask Grandpa.
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Manual Reading Manual Labor Reading and interpreting a service manual is part of a typical day at the repair shop. Probably not the most glamorous part of it, but then what is? Of course, after all the book work youre still not done. Now you have to take that information and turn it into a working repair and not just words on a page. Obviously, understanding what youve read is just as important as doing the actual work, and a great deal of the mechanics time is spent just researching a lot of todays automotive problems, even though labor guides (which are just a guide by the way) dont include any manual reading or research time as part of the final labor costs. (They should!) Todays mechanic is more involved in computer systems and multiplexed data lines than most average consumers realize. The grease and grime is still part of the job, but you can spend just as much time chasing some electrical gremlin or interpreting a scope reading, as well as changing a water pump these days if not more. It comes down to the amount of research time, as well as the actual physical labor time you need to make repairs. It still surprises me how often someone will call and ask, How much? to do a certain job on a certain car and expect an exact quote. Regardless of the hundreds and hundreds of possibilities that could detour the repair. Sometimes its not a matter of how much but how long long as in how long its going to take to do the book work, reading the manual, and figuring out what the best course of action there is to take. (Thats not in any labor guide either.) Theres a real difference between reading a manual, understanding what youve read, and doing the actual manual labor. Some people can read something and retain that information forever. They can ace any test on any subject as long as they read up on it previously. Then there are people who go to the other extremes. Theyre the type of people who have trouble taking a written test, but excel at hands on applications. Todays modern mechanics needs to be proficient at both. Me, I dont do as well as Id like to do in the retaining side of things, never did in school either, but I do have enough of it stuck back in that old noggin of mine to know where to find that written info the next time I need it. I know I dont have one of those photographic memories, and Im pretty sure theres no need in trying to stuff any more film up there aint no camera to put it in. Ive already got too much stuff to try and remember. Now some guys I know, they can remember the firing order on a 327 or the exact oil filter number for a given car. Meno way, Ive gotta look it up every time. I see a variety of manual reading/manual labor related problems when a DIYr brings their car into the repair shop. You can tell when theyve glanced over the manual a few times, but couldnt put the information to good use. Most of the time, youll find their manual on the passenger seat with the pages marked. It probably has more to do with watching one of those weekend automotive shows or a You Tube video about how to make a certain repair. It all looks easy on TV. But when it comes time to applying that information to the tips of the fingers it just aint happenin. Oh, theyll put a gallant try to it, maybe mess it up worse than it was before they started but try they will. One fella brought his truck in after replacing the front calipers at home. As he told me, It sounded easy to do in the manual. You know, remove a couple of bolts, install the new one, and bleed the brakes. Super easy. Even though he had read all the description pages and detailed instructions in the manual, somehow it just didnt work out. And, as usual, his repair manual was on the passenger seat. I made the repairs and even circled the photo in his manual so he could see where he went wrong. (On some cars there is a right and left caliper. If you put them on the wrong side the bleeder screws will be on the bottom instead of the top.) I figure its something like thisanyone can turn a couple of bolts and slap on a few parts on, but theres a very special ability that cant be found in the manual. Thats mechanical aptitude. Its not about reading manuals or being able to turn those bolts. It has a lot more to do with understanding mechanical things. And, these days that includes electronics too. Its what separates average wrench turners and the true professional in the trade. Oh sure, if you spend enough time at anything youll get the hang of it, but sooner or later that lack of one or more of those qualities that separates good mechanics from the average ones will sneak up on ya. Cars have changed tremendously from those early days of the first electronically driven engines. Today, a repair manual, common sense, and a whole lot of that mechanical ability needs to be applied to most any type of repair. Ok, I know what youre thinking, Well, there are some things my cousin Ernie can do and hes never opened a repair manual. True, but how far can he go before getting over his head? My guess is when something looks simple and then turns into something thats not is when cousin Ernie gets in trouble. From past experiences with these cousin Ernies anything is possible. There are repair manuals out there that are strictly written for the DIYrs and other manuals meant for the professional. Those DIY manuals are great for basic repairs that arent explained in the owners manual. Certainly, most DIYrs would like to accomplish every conceivable problem on their own, but with todays cars they are far more sophisticated and require a higher degree of understanding and equipment than most DIYrs are willing to invest in. I do believe that everyone who owns a car should have some basic working knowledge of how their car operates. Reading a manual is probably one of the best ways to do that, however thats not to say you need to fix it. Maybe reading the manual will give you a better idea of what to expect at the professional shop. Maybe it would be a good way to gauge whether or not youve chosen a true professional repair shop vs. some hack shop. If, after some in-depth manual reading the problem looks to be too involved for you to tackle the manual labor part of the repair, then it might be time to take your car to the pros. Youll know who they are, and theyll know if youve read the manual or not because they have too. Click here to view the article
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I want to know if any shops use license plates frames as a marketing tool, and if you do, do you any special slogan or saying?
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