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Opinion on today's situation


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Today we saw a 2000 jeep grand Cherokee in for a overheat. Back story is the customer came in last year (end of last or beginning of this) for a low oil pressure concern. After looking at the vehicle it was found the cooling system was completely chocked full of rust/contamination. Customer states vehicle was low on oil causing low oil pressure, we drained approximately 18 qts of engine oil from the vehicle, the engine oil was actually over the cam. (No oil/water contamination. The vehicle also fails a block test so the head is removed and a blown head gasket is found (visibly blown). we flush the cooling system with vc9 a Ford flush solvent and then follow up with subsequent flushes using bg products. The system had been neglected for a long time and even after the head had been hot dipped and radiator replaced we still had contaminates present but it was much less severe than initially seen. The customer was under time constraints and demanded to complete the flush himself.

Skip forward to last month and the vehicle comes in for a boil overflow. Over flow hose chopped over the fan (looking back I probably wouldn't have accepted a decline on the fan shroud), cooling system and system contaminated again. My first though is blown head gasket or cracked head. Test for combustion gas in cooling system with none present, run vehicle to operating Temps and test drive, return to the shop and no combustion gas in coolant. Cooling system slightly pressurized after test drive but not extreme. However when engine was shut off coolant rushed out into the overflow. Cooling system pressure was watched and operated within range. flushed again and replaced the cap. Fixed all the other small issues and gave it back. Comes back today with combustion gas in coolant and violent expulsion of coolant. Thinking now we've got a cracked head which isn't all that uncommon.

As I mentioned above the head was checked by a machine shop and they were aware of all symptoms present. I was billed for pressure testing, magnaflux and surfacing.

Now I'm prepared to accept partial liability to save face, and looking back I likely would have handled the first job differently. I'm thinking of covering labor (parts store is covering the gasket set) and letting the customer find and pay for the head, or we'll sell a reman with markup. This won't be painful as the job is fairly easy and straight forward and we do quite a few. Honestly the customer (and family) are a little sketchy and the can become verbally agressive and even when given a typical quote are know to go off. They'll accuse you of damaging their vehicle and driving all the gas out, go shop to shop cussing about the last.

 

My questions are A: how do I word this to the customer to save face and avoid. I'm currently thinking about pointing out the huge discount directly after mentioning the head purchase.

B: should the customer cover coolant and fluid expenses?

C: is it truly a fair deal for the customer that we're paying labor and parts with the exception of the head?

D: cylinder 6 was scored last head removal, should I push for a whole engine job to cover my but and avoid being married to this thing forever?

 

I've considered the fact that we're not truly to blame here, and that the machine shop missed a crack, or it just occurred, and the warranty is nearly expired. But no more of an issue is it will be for us to handle it I don't see why not help a customer out.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. I've never had any professional service writer training so this forum is extremely valuable!

 

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Unfortunately, the "you touched it, you own it" principle applies here. If you are dealing with a reasonable customer, you should be able to work out a compromise, but it doesn't sound like you are in that situation. Do you want to keep this customer? Will they trash your reputation if they aren't happy with your solution? Most shop owners have had to bite the bullet on similar situations just to make them go away. The problem is knowing when to back away from an ugly vehicle that may have multiple problems, but nothing offends a customer more than telling them you don't want to work on their car. There is no correct answer here. You have to cut your losses and move on to profitable work.

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I would install an engine (probably used). You may pour money into a head job again and have similar issues a month later. Install an engine with supplier parts and labor warranty and move on.

 

This is the reason I try to stay away from head jobs, trans repairs etc...

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I just verified it is in fact out of warranty. But I still think I'll cover it. My thought is showing a large discount for labor and the head gasket set, and mention this. Also disclaim that the work is being done outside the warranty period and that the repair was done in good faith and did not offer an additional warranty unless said warranty is offered on cylinder head. I could offer them a credit for the labor and head gasket for labor of the engine replacement. From a customer standpoint how does that sound? My shop is offering my roughly $1000.00 in labor credit, or should I chop it to $500? I'm not so caught up on keeping the customer but I'm pretty caught up on doing the right thing. Pretty rough day, couple warranty jobs that we had no part in the failure lol

 

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Umm why are you offering to pay the labor? They had major issues/neglect when they brought in the first place. It shouldn't have been flushed that much, it should have been replace. Who knows what the block looks like if you had to flush the radiator that much.

 

Simply tell customer that this is an issue cause by having 18qts installed, a horrible maint schedule, and it sucks, but the correct way to fix it is a remained motor which will be $xxxx.

 

No reason to bow down and take it in the wallet. These ppl seem to bitch about all their past mechanics, so let them bitch about and and more on to more profitable work.

 

It should have been a motor from the start with over oiling and rust issues like that. Learn from it. Good luck!

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Umm why are you offering to pay the labor? They had major issues/neglect when they brought in the first place. It shouldn't have been flushed that much, it should have been replace. Who knows what the block looks like if you had to flush the radiator that much.

 

Simply tell customer that this is an issue cause by having 18qts installed, a horrible maint schedule, and it sucks, but the correct way to fix it is a remained motor which will be $xxxx.

 

No reason to bow down and take it in the wallet. These ppl seem to bitch about all their past mechanics, so let them bitch about and and more on to more profitable work.

 

It should have been a motor from the start with over oiling and rust issues like that. Learn from it. Good luck!

Then they definitely wouldn't have done the work and gone crying to everyone in town lol

Were paying labor because it's a pie job I can knock out in short order and won't even feel it.

 

 

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Recap   Customer neglects engine and blows head gasket.

              Customer refuses to let you finish flush.

              Customer returns past warranty with possible head damage.

              Now you want to warranty the work?

Well since you put it like that lol

Point taken.

 

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I am learning that discount is a dirty word (LOL). I think back to all the times ive caved and offered a discount. I don't want to build a culture of discounts at my shop. We are honest, do great work, and care about our customers. On top of that we spend tons more on training and specialty tools than almost all the shops in the area. I am sure you have the same ethos otherwise you wouldn't be offering a discount however you deserve to be successful and make a good living. Giving into customers that don't do the right thing and put their problems in our laps is not the right way to go about things. Believe me I've had years of experience doing the wrong things!

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
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      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
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