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How can it be true that an independent auto repair shop almost doubles the price of their oil change service without raising their shop rates, parts pricing or adding any more costs? I know, sounds crazy, but we've done it. I am releasing the information shortly - but this short video explains it all.
There isn't anything to buy - no sneaky sales pitch - nothing. It's just about how we used a new tactic to present our oil change prices. All the details are being released next week - so you'll want to subscribe (that's FREE TOO!) so you won't miss a thing!
Hope this helps!
"The Car Count Fixer"
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Zombie Cars “Brains, Brains, we need Brains!” Zombie cars? What’s a zombie car? Way back, when we used points and condensers and later the basic electronic ignition systems, cars didn’t need brains (ECM – Electronic Control Module), but that all changed in the mid 70’s on some imports and pretty much on everything else by the time the 80’s came around. Some of these brains were only cursory, and didn’t actually control the car, but merely watched for emission issues, while others played a major role in the actual ignition spark or fuel delivery systems. Most of the engines in those early years, still used the same basic type of distributor setups (with a few exceptions) as their earlier counterparts that used the old tried and true points and condenser type of ignition systems. During those cross-over years it was rather easy to slap a different distributor in it, or change the existing points distributor over to electronic ignition (which worked quite well by the way). These days...it’s not that easy. These computer systems have become so entangled into the engine functions and nearly every other system that it’s impossible to bypass the fuel or ignition systems as we did years ago. However, there are still a lot of people out there that have hung onto some of the cars from that era. Most likely they've been kept parked alongside the garage as a future project or hung onto for some sentimental reason. Some (very few) are in great shape, others… well, they look like zombies already. What makes them zombies? The brain… the brain… they need brains! Just this past week I had several of these faded paint monstrosities lined up in the parking lot. (They never come alone… always in a pack.) For starters an old dilapidated 1986 Dodge pickup with a slant six. This old rusted, tilting to one side relic had been at another shop for a tune-up, but as the story was told to me by the owner, the other shop tried to start it when a fuel line ruptured and caught the old truck on fire. Luckily, they managed to get it out, but the damage was already done. The main harness from the firewall to the distributor, coil, charging system, blower motor, oil sending unit, temp. sender, and the starter wiring were completely melted into an unrecognizable mass of plastic and copper. It was my job to bring this dilapidated hulk back to life. However, the original spark control computer had melted as well, and was unusable. Worse yet, the brain was discontinued eons ago with no replacement parts anywhere to be found. This zombie needs a brain, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get one. At this point the only solution was to do away with the electronic brain and try to refit the old slant six with a much simpler ignition system from a decade earlier if at all possible. A lobotomy if you will. (Dr. Frankenstein would be envious.) Then there was this 2002 Mustang that moaned and groaned while dragging one foot into the shop. It needed a new BCM (Body Control Module). Call the dealer, call the parts warehouse, call everybody! Anybody! Is there a brain for this car? Nope, discontinued. Seems this particular BCM was a rather rare brain out there in zombie land, and at the time, nobody was setup to rebuild them. It seemed this car was destined to wander the city streets with the rest of the zombie mobiles. At the same time this was going on, in comes a 1982 Ford Bronco with the original Variable Venture carburetor still on it. Ok, not a brain, but just as bad. It qualifies as a zombie for sure. Trying to find a suitable replacement these days is a challenge. Ten or twenty years ago this would have been no problem to find a carb. kit (if you dared) or the Holley conversion kit for it, but not today. This trend of bringing back the dead looks like it’s only going to turn into the next zombie apocalypses. As these electronic systems get more and more complex the likely hood of your family truckster turning into a zombie is just a matter of time as each new model comes out. In some ways, I believe the manufacturers have thought this out long before there was a potential of these cars becoming zombies. In my youth it was nothing for me and a few friends to grab an old car out of a junk yard and raise it from the dead. Ya just had to throw a few shots of gas down the carburetor, add a few wires and a fresh battery and fire it up. The rust would fly, the engine would clatter, the smoke would billow out from under the hood, as the exhaust roared out of every crack in the manifold. Those days are long gone now. They may have engineered a longer lasting engine, better paint, and for the part, the interior can hold up to the ravages of time, however, the electronics, are their weakness. Although, these zombie mobiles seem to be coming out of hiding more often than ever before. Reviving some of these early electronic zombies may happen, but on the other hand, it may be a futile effort. The truth of the matter is… these resurrections are not as easy to do as it was so many years ago. There are countless problems that have to be overcome to bring some of these rusted heaps back among the living, especially if you’re in an area that requires emission testing. Just trying to bypass some of those early electronic brains when a replacement part can’t be found can be a real challenge. The good news is that there are a lot of guys out there tearing these brains apart and rebuilding them. But even then, there are some zombie cars that will never make it and eventually die from the lack of a brain, while others wander aimlessly from shop to shop still searching for their elusive electronic gray matter. Even after you manage to find a brain for these living dead vehicles it’s likely something else is going to go wrong. After all, being cast aside for so long, all the hoses, belts, and gaskets have dried up. Something will more likely fall off just like you would expect from any other zombie wandering around. And, you know, just as soon as the latest zombie joins the living something will undoubtedly come tumbling to the shop floor. Whether it’s coolant, oil, a belt, or perhaps no#2 connecting rod, something is not going to stay in place. Just like in every zombie movie I’ve ever watched,.one of them will always have an arm or leg falling off. It sure seems that these zombie cars follow right along with that same affliction. It’s safe to say, these relics of the early electronic era of the automotive world are in some respects the car equivalent of a zombie: half dead, half alive…and in search of a brain they may never find. So don’t be surprised if you’re at the next traffic light when an old faded-rusty-dented car with a shattered windshield, screeching brakes, with plumes of dense low hanging smoke creeping along with it, don't be alarmed, it’s just another car beginning its transformation into a "ZOMBIE CAR".
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Semper Fi Bob was well into his late 80’s when I met him. He’s quite the talker, and he’ll never run out of things to tell you. I like old Bob. We have a few things in common, not much because of the years between us, but just enough that we can relate on quite a few subjects. We both served in the USMC. Of course, the years we served were decades apart, but even with the differences in time served, we still could “talk-the-talk” like two old veterans who just got their discharge papers. Bob had a problem with the horn buttons on his ‘92 Buick. It was the kind of horn that has its buttons and the air bag all built as one piece. He didn’t have the money to replace the entire airbag, but he did want to get that horn working somehow. I thought I could get it to work even if I had to “rig” something up, but that was OK with him. With his advancing years catching up with him, his hands weren’t the best. Most of his strength had faded with time, and so did the ability to straighten his fingers all the way out. I had to come up with a way that he could hit the horn button with the palm of his hand, rather than with a finger tip or thumb. Not a big deal, actually if he didn’t mind the look of an old style horn button attached to the edge of the air bag (so it didn’t interfere with the air bag operation) it could work just fine. Now Bob, being Bob, talking was his gift, and finding somebody with a little military background, and stuck in the driver’s seat of his car was all he needed to tell one of his stories. Bob hopped in the back seat and leaned over to watch what I was doing. As I worked on his new horn button, he told me all about his time in the Marine Corps. Fascinating story; I could have listened for hours. In fact, I made sure I took long enough for him to tell his story in full and without any interruptions. He told me about his time in Korea, in Inchon actually. It was a cold winter when he was there. A bitter cold wind and heavy snow was only part of the horrific condition he had to deal with. He went on in great detail how he was just a young kid who didn’t know a thing, and how you would be talking to someone one minute and the next minute the fellow Marine sitting right next to him froze to death. When he told me that part of his story I had to stop and turn to him to ask, “That really happened, just like that, Bob?” With a stone cold look on his face he said, “As sure as I’m sitting here talking to you, my friend.” I don’t think he was kidding. He was dead serious, but it was as if he was telling me a story from a distance, but at the same time, a story where he was actually there in the mountains of Inchon still fighting the bitter cold. I think it’s a way for time and age to allow a person like Bob to separate themselves from what was probably a terrible event in their life. I certainly have never experienced some of the things he was telling me about, like the chow, the hours of watching for the enemy, or how his boots didn’t have much in the way of insulation, so you put on as many socks as you could along with any straw or grass you could find. Bob made a point to tell me that if you needed to run to the “head” (bathroom for all you none GI type) … well, you tried to wait as long as you could, because exposing yourself in that kind of cold could be the end of you… and I don’t mean just “your” end that’s exposed. I finished up my little project and gave it a try. It worked just fine. “Hop up here Bob, and see if you can make it work like this,” I told him. Bob made his way into the driver’s seat and gave his new horn button a try. A gleam came over his face, beaming from ear to ear. He had to try it a few more times, and each time the smile kept getting bigger and bigger. “Don’t you know I needed that horn! Mercy, there’s some little kids in my neighborhood who get out in the street to play, and I just want to toot my horn to let them know I’m coming. Thanks partner, ya done me right.” The old Marine got out of his car and opened his wallet, “How much do I owe ya?” “Bob, it was an honor to do this job for you. I can’t take a thing.” “You most certainly are, Marine!” he said to me as he palms a twenty in my hand. “Thanks Bob, I appreciate that, but I really appreciate the stories. You know I write a column for a magazine, and I think I’d like to tell your story if that’s OK.” “Sure, not a problem. Go right ahead. I think I’d like that.” You don’t shake hands with Bob, because of his crippled hands; his way of shaking hands is to “bump” knuckles. Good enough for me. It’s the thought that counts. Then Bob turns to the car sitting in the bay just in front of his car. With whatever strength he had, he did his best to straighten one finger and point at the car in front. “I’ll never get over seeing this,” he said. It was a Kia Sportage in for a no start condition. I made the assumption it was because it’s a Korean car, and I thought it must be bringing back some of those painful memories he had as a young man. “I understand where you’re coming from Bob, it’s a Korean car. I understand completely; it’s something your generation had to deal with on the battlefield where your friends had died. I’m sorry it brings up some bad memories for you.” “That ain’t it,” he said as he walked closer to the car, and pointed directly at the name branded on the back door, “Killed – In – Action.” I think my knees buckled a bit when he said that. I didn’t know what to say next. Bob waved good-bye, and pulled his car out of the shop, and tooted his horn as he made his way down the street. I see old Bob once in awhile, still driving the same car, still tootin’ his horn. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his story of how he served our country. He’s one of the last of that generation, a much simpler time, before computers, before cell phones, and when KIA stood for only one thing. I’m proud to have served my country, I’m even more proud to have met a great man like Bob. We should all be as lucky, and we should all remember what his generation and many others have done to keep this country free. So the next time you see a Kia, think of it as something other than a car, think about my friend Bob. Then, say this to yourself: Semper Fi Bob, Semper Fi.
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Old Sarge I met this great man through his son, who happened to be the driver of that Chevy van from the furniture store that was my very first customer. Sarge isn’t his real name, but that’s what I called him. He was a retired Marine Corps cook. I met him one day when he came in with a sick Cadillac. The old Cadillac hardly had any power at all; just as slow and lazy as a snail. I was only in business for a few months, and didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have any work to speak of, so even though it wasn’t an electrical problem (as he originally thought), I jumped right in and found the problem. It was a clogged catalytic converter. Unbelievably, it wasn’t even welded in place. I could take off the clamps, and remove it without much hassle. Back then I didn’t have a lift to put the car in the air, so I had to do the whole job on the ground. Well, old Sarge just sat there and watched me do the whole thing. I think he was a little suspicious of this skinny little white kid who was hacking away at his car, but he patiently waited, being the good man he was. We got to talking about things, and it wasn’t long before he found out that I was also in Marine Corps. Now we had some common ground. We were buds for life, always cutting up with each other. One hot August afternoon Sarge brought in one of his other cars to get some work done. I had the back door to the shop open, and Sarge steps outside for a little fresh air. I thought I could hear the guy crying or mumbling something, couldn’t tell which it was. I stuck my head around the corner, “Sarge, ah …. you ok, buddy?” I asked. He proceeded to tell me how the house he grew up in was close by, before it became a shopping center. He talked about his dad and family, and how he hunted rabbits right where we were standing. It was during the Depression. Hard times, and things were scarce in those days. How his dad hid a pig in a pit, not too far from here. Where they kept the corn mash for making moon shine. I sat and listened to this hardened Marine tell me his life’s story that day, from his first car to how he ended up in the Corps. I didn’t answer the phone, or go up front to see if anyone came in. I just sat out there in that August heat, drenched in sweat, listening to this fella tell me his life story. I’ll never forget that afternoon. I’ll also never forget how every time he came to my shop over the next 25 years he would sneak up on me, and yell in a drill instructor voice, “TEN HUT!” I would snap to attention just like a good Marine should. Sometimes, just to get a rise out of Sarge I would purposely hit my head on the hood of the car I was working on. He got a kick out of it every time. Sarge passed away a couple years back. I still think about him now and then. I hope he’s up there hunting rabbits, or something. Maybe he’s guarding the gates like every Marine hopes to be doing when their time comes. Or, he could be just waiting there to try and surprise me with one more “TEN HUT” when I show up. Sarge, I miss having you around the shop. Semper Fi
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OHS – Open Heart Surgery – My story
“Being a mechanic, shop owner, writer, lecturer, and teacher I tend to ‘think’ I’m capable of answering any question, take on any challenge, and solve any problem that comes my way. This… is one time, I wasn’t able to do so.” Gonzo
How it all started
Leading up to my zipper (which is slang for open heart surgery) I thought I was just getting old and tired. For two years or so, I had a very slight off and on chest pain that didn’t last longer than a few minutes. It hurt, but I wasn’t concerned. As soon as the pain dissipated I forgot all about it. Most of the time I would have months between incidences, but that gradually changed to an all-out crushing pressure that lingered longer and longer between no pain and intense pain. The increasing occurrences went from once in a while, to once a month, to too often to consider it something other than what it was… a heart attack.
Things that I used to do in a few minutes seemed to take hours. I’ve always been a hands on and very physical type of guy. Never one to pass on heavy lifting or something that was physically demanding, but this “slowing down” stuff was just the something that you couldn’t ignore. It was time to see a doctor. An appointment was made, but as usual the pain subsided and I was busy at the shop, so on I went back at it as hard as I normally went at it. Thinking as usual, that I was as tough as a grizzly and could solve this like any other problem I’ve encountered.
There were a lot of signs leading up to my eventual heart attacks, (yes plural…as in several), but as with most boldly-go-where-no-man-has-gone-pig headed “A” personality-types with the personal drive of a MAC truck, and someone who still thinks he can keep up with the twenty something crowd (speaking of myself, of course) – and one who doesn’t listen to their own body or loved ones about your own demise, I ignored the signs. You fall into the trap of misdiagnosing yourself and possibly ending your career and family life all in one fatal swoop. If that’s you, then you’re bound to end up on the floor in the fetal position clutching your chest in extreme agony. (Been there…done that).
So, it’s no surprise I ended up in the ER with my son trying to carry his old man through the doors, while my wife is frantically making hand gestures seeking help from the nursing staff. It wasn’t long before I was zipped (Gotta love that word, ya know) off into an awaiting curtained off room. A few quick tests confirmed that this old guy wasn’t heading home any time soon. Even the doctor who first examined me was in shock. He said, “Most everyone I see this bad off are downstairs … with the sheet over their face … if ya get my drift.” He went as far as pulling up the blanket and resting his arm alongside of my leg to show the color differences. Wow, now I’m shocked.
All of this led to more tests, and more tests. By now all of my kids have flown into town to be at my side. Stents were tried, but that didn’t work. All that did was give me a few jolts with the paddles and a few burn marks to show for their efforts. (Nice mementos don’t ya think.) Anyway, this all led to even more tests and a trip to another hospital to be put on the schedule for my eventual zipper club initiation ceremony. In other words, an open heart surgery.
The first encounter with reality
After my ride in the ambulance on my first day at the “new” hospital I was sitting there in my room, in between one monitoring device and another with my two grown daughters holding each hand, I started to feel something wasn’t right. I’m still a bit groggy from the stent debacle from the last hospital, but I could tell the medication was wearing off. Just then, another massive heart attack decided to invite itself. My only thought was… “Don’t you die with both your daughters holding your hands, ya old fart… pull yourself together!” The wife was already out of the room looking for the nurse. The nurse, quite calmly hit the code button, and methodically, as to not bring on any more chaos from the scene which was already happening, carried in a nitro pill for me. In just a few seconds the pill dissolved under my tongue and I could feel the pain and pressure lifting away.
Waiting on surgery day
A few days passed, I’ve been poked and prodded, medicated and subdued by so many different IV’s and pills that I’m feeling like a new guy already. Even though the actual surgery is still days away. Friends and family called or stopped by on a regular basis. Physically, you can deal with this, emotionally, I don’t know how to put it all into words. At best, all I can say is that nearly everything you do, hear, or read about has a higher emotional connotation than ever before. You’ll have no idea how much your emotional state is brought to the surface while going through all of this. I’ve never been one to cry at the drop of a tissue, but I found myself in these uncontrollable moments over some of the silliest things. I was later told it’s the medication, then I was told… it’s your heart speaking out, I’m not sure what it is… but it certainly is a change from the norm. (For anyone who has been through this you know exactly what I mean)
The night before the actual operation my usual nursing staff was in for a bit of a change. The typical female nurse was replaced with BIG John. Oh yes, I mean big too. 6’5” and towering over everyone and anything. His job was to get me prepped for the operation. Now, I’m not a little guy myself. I’m no 6’5” but I’m not a frail little guy by any means. Big John comes into my room carrying several items. First there was the bacterial wash. “Use this entire bottle and don’t miss a spot,” John tells me. Then, there were these two pill cups. John presses the cups in my direction. “OK, these you take orally, and this one goes knuckle deep, and I’ve got to make sure you’ve done both.” The realization of why “Big John” was here on this special occasion has become apparent. If I don’t get this done myself… I’m pretty sure he will. Obviously, modesty has left the building quite some time ago, so it wasn’t a stretch to be in the same room with this mammoth individual while I made the knuckle deep insertion. Although, he wasn’t present for the eventual outcome he was well aware of the results. I don’t know what they put in those, but a toilet seat belt and ceiling padding would have been appropriate.
The surgery itself (as I was told, because even though I was there…what the heck could I tell you about it) had a few difficulties, but as if it’s not noticeable by now I made it through with my heart beat intact. The surgeon performs an operation called a CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft). Mine was a double, meaning two grafts were made. One graft was taken from the left side of the chest and one was taken from behind the left knee. A heart pump is used during the operation to ensure a steady flow while the heart is being worked on. Believe me, you (the patient) have no idea what is going on until you’re told later on. Hopefully, when the medication wears off and you’re coherent. For me, the wife had to retell and retell the whole thing to me, because I wasn’t comprehending much of anything for quite some time.
The ICU (Intensive care unit) is a whole new experience. The first thing is the introduction prior to the surgery. I was wheeled into the adjacent room to the operating room where I would be monitored and was told what to expect when I first woke up from the surgery. The big thing the nurse kept stressing was that I would feel some discomfort from the breathing tube and not to make any attempts to pull it out. Besides I would be strapped down to the table for my own safety. I remember waking up and hearing the nurses talking to each other, “He’s coming to, be ready.” “OK sir, don’t pull it out…Don’t pull it out!” I realized where and what was going on and understood her commands. To me it was just seconds ago that she had told me to not try to pull out the breathing tube, but in reality it was about five or six hours later. However, the “minor discomfort” was over shadowed by the fact you’re trying to breathe through a drinking straw. That I wasn’t expecting at all. Yea, Uhm Ms. Nurse… you forgot to mention that part.
My night nurse for ICU was the most anal retentive-OCD person I’ve ever met. The guy spent every waking hour neatly aligning all of the monitors, bottles, tubes, and me over and over again as if we were about to have the commanding general stop by for an inspection. Although, when the day came for me to be wheeled back into a regular room a new nurse was assigned the task. My OCD nurse was sent off to another patients ICU room to straighten up their hoses and IV units. The new nurse on the other hand, starting grabbing monitors, IV’s and whatever else needed to go, or that was still attached, and flung them on or around me while I was seated in an oversized recliner. At one point she said to me as monitors were being tossed about, “Hold this…and this… and this.” and before long I’m being wheeled down the hallway at record setting speeds, as if it’s the Indy 500, only slowing down to make the corners or to change elevators. The overhead florescent lights were moving by so fast I thought they were camera flashes. I’m not sure the reason for the mad dash down the hallways, but it sure was the quickest sprint I’ve ever been on in a recliner race.
Sleeping in at the hospital
Not that I hate hospitals, OK… I’m not their no#1 fan, but a hospital is not the place to get any sleep. It seemed at exactly 5 minutes past the hour-every hour-day or night somebody was going to come into the room. 7 o’clock was the worst. That was shift change and it never failed that somebody didn’t tell somebody about what somebody was to do or not do, which meant even more trips in and out of the room. I learned very quickly that the best way to avoid the ever present knock on the door was to just leave the door open….at least that way they didn’t knock, and if you were just about to doze off you might actually catch a bit of shut eye before the next round of visitors, and if you’re really lucky you could avoid the guy coming in to check the serial number on the IV for the UPTEENTH time.
It was always the same guy at least twice a day from the inventory department. I told him, “Dude, look around, I’m stuck in this room with this IV monitor and I assure you if anybody comes in here and steals it, replaces it with one that looks just like it, I guarantee I’ll call you and let you know. With all these interruptions I’m awake 24-7 which means me and this IV have become the best of friends. I’m dammed sure this is the same IV unit that was here yesterday! So why in the world do you need to come in and scan the serial number twice a day?!” I don’t think I came off as his next best pal by a long shot.
Eventually, the day came to get out of the hospital. One the happiest days of my new life. Me and my IV had to part ways, and no, I didn’t tell the inventory guy.
Home at last
When you finally get to be home, start your rehab schedule, and try to reassemble your now broken apart life, you begin to reevaluate what is most important for your future. Walking is your foremost concern. I had a routine I would do and set a goal each day a bit farther than the previous day. Oh, I’d push it too far, and the wife or my son would have to come haul the emotionally incoherent old guy off of our hilly driveway more than once. It does get better, but it does take time.
You soon learn new routines, things like coughing and sneezing should only be done if your heart pillow or Teddy bear are close by. Squeezing the pillow (or bear) against your chest prevents you from popping your sternum open. You also learn how to stand up and roll over without using your upper body as much as you previously did. Sleeping in a bed is out, at least for a month or so (if not longer) you’ll have to learn how to be comfortable in a recliner 24-7. Breathing, talking, walking, and bathing, etc… all their problems that you’ll need to overcome. And, probably the most important thing or the most annoying... (Your interpretation may vary) is the now-and-for-ever-more medications you’ll be on.
Family and friends take precedence over work and bills. The realization that life is all about a beginning and an end and that you’ve been given a chance to change your life’s conclusion differently than what it could have been. Not that you need a lightning bolt to drop out of the sky to tell you to change your life…but a heart attack and open heart surgery is close enough to the same thing. So heed the warning, do yourself a favor. Except it for what it is, and discover what is more important. Not a lot of people get this second chance. For some, it’s as sudden and as unexpected as a car crash. I feel there’s reason for every action and reaction. It’s how you cope and/or do with those actions and reactions that make a difference.
Putting it all into perspective
Life is what you make of it. There is no perfect solution, there is no golden key, it’s up to you to make it a difference. It’s not money or fame… just you. As we’ve all heard before, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have much at all.” True to some extent, but not always true and not always is your health something that you can have the way you’d like it to be. What is possible is living life to the fullest no matter what the odds. I for one, love to hear stories of people who have found out they have some sort of rare disease and decided to fill their bucket list of personal accomplishments until their time has expired. I commend them and hope I can do the same.
So even though my stamina and strength may not be equal to what it was of years past, I’m still able to experience all there is out there. For me, I’d like to think I still can try. Maybe it’s not all about the challenges, maybe it’s not all about solutions, perhaps it’s just about the adventure. Becoming a member of the Zipper Club isn’t the end… it’s a new beginning.
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