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Mechanic One-Car Zero --- --- It's a game played everyday.


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Mechanic one – Car zero


There’s a game played nearly every day that doesn’t have a lot of fans filling the stadiums or bleachers. It’s a battle between the machines and the humans. The combatants are a car, any car, and a mechanic, any mechanic. The playing field can be any place from a far off farm field to a one stall garage at the edge of town. The goal is to diagnose and repair said car, while keeping your wits, sanity and all your appendages intact. Each game has some time limits already established by a ruling guide for labor hours, but this is only a guide, and not the actual time. Additional time maybe added if it is deemed necessary for extended play.


Scraped knuckles and other small injuries are considered a normal occurrence. No time outs are allowed, unless said injuries requires medical attention. In the event of a medical emergency, an alternate mechanic can step in and continue play, if the original mechanic has to forfeit his/her position. Otherwise, they just suck it up and move on. Delay of game can come from all sorts of directions. Parts may need special ordered, a bolt might be frozen in place, or the customer has to think about the whole repair before the game commences. Who’s going to win, the car or the mechanic? It’s a daily battle of wits, determination, and perseverance at the repair shop.

The rules of this game change with every new model introduced. Newer and more sophisticated systems that are developed change the play book all the time. Each of these new systems is another challenge for the technician to learn the new play, understand it, and make the repairs. The game doesn’t get any easier the longer you play. What was a good offensive call last time may end up in lost yardage this time around. Computer systems change, procedures change, and the car changes, but that game goes on. The car, the customer, the parts, and the shop, all play a part in making this game either easier or tougher than it was before.

It all starts with a good defense. Researching the information about the new plays and procedures is the first line of defense. Good, solid information about your opponent (the car) is the foundation for any successful game. There’s always some interception thrown or returned kick that makes it tougher to play the game. One tid-bit of information that is omitted in transcribing the information from the manufacturer’s pages, or poor descriptions and procedures given to the second string information outfits is just one more chance for the mechanic to fumble. They don’t want to punt it, they don’t want to lose yardage, it’s all about a win or nothing else.

Offensively, the customer has the edge. They bring the problem to the mechanic and start the play. Most of the time the customer starts their first play with an audible call that is usually scrambled up with a few facts and a whole lot of garbled unintelligible information. They will begin their play by explaining what’s wrong with the car. Sometimes the banter begins with, “I want my brake fluid changed, and I want the brake pads looked at because the pedal feels spongy.” Typically, self-diagnostics leads to broken plays or far worse… a full on blitz. It’s now second and long, and the mechanic has the ball. The mechanic asks, “Is the fluid black, or contaminated in some way that you know of?” Oh, oh, no yardage gained here; the customer was sneaking in an illegal play. It’s the old “Bad information from the internet” play. That’ll be a 15 yard penalty, loss of downs, and a full diagnostics charge now.

The mechanic goes on the offensive and diagnosis the problem. It’s just worn pads and soft front brake line hoses. Now all that’s left is to run the play past the customer and let them make the call.

The call is made, there’s a slight hesitation, but… we have a first down! The job is sold. Now to do the actual work.

All the preliminary tests are completed, the parts have been ordered, and the half time show is underway. The third quarter starts with the mechanic waiting for the parts. While they are being delivered the tear down can commence. As the players on the field scramble for positon, pulling the parts from the shelves, and making the delivery, several yards are gained and end zone is in sight.

We’re down to the last quarter of this game. Can the mechanic pull this one off? Will the delivered pads be the correct ones, will the lines fit correctly, and did he make the right call? The play is made, the components have been installed. All the procedures have been checked and rechecked again. It’s all up to this next play… the drive test.


The test drive was a success. Move the chains! It’s 1st and goal. The mechanic proceeds to the service desk with the completed paper work. The service writer checks the signs, gives a nod to the tech, makes a motion for the customer from the side lines, and the final play of the game is at hand. The transaction has been made, the customer is happy with the results, the service writer is smiling, and the mechanic makes the run for the end zone. SCORE! It’s mechanic one, car zero. The winner and still champion, the mechanic.


The customer shakes hands at the end of the game with the mechanic and service writer. It was a great game, well done everyone. No time to waste. All the players have to get ready for the next game. It will be another battle, and another challenge to take on.

In the game of auto mechanics the challenge and changes are all part of the game we play. Nobody knows all the plays. It’s something you have to go back to the locker room and study time and time again. But with the proper calls, good plays, and a whole lot of effort, mechanics across the country can tackle it.

If the game didn’t have so many option plays with all the various changes in today’s cars, the game would be a lot easier for both the defense and the offensive sides. But we all know that the changes are part of the game and will always be. It’s a lot tougher game to play at home these days. I’m still surprised how many arm chair quarterbacks are out there still trying to play the game in their home garage. Playing the game is one thing, but knowing how to play the game correctly is what every mechanic does when they step up to the scrimmage line. Mechanics play to win and yes, we do keep score.



thanks for reading - hope you enjoyed it.


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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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