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Strange Requests - Some people are a few bricks shy a full load out there.


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Strange Request


Not to say some people have a hard time dealing with reality, but there are a few, a small portion that is, whose elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor. For those select few, I often wondered what would happen if they would stop and think through what they’re asking, before they asked these strange requests.


As an automotive professional, I have to maintain a certain level of self-control while answering their questions. Even though what they’re asking is beyond the scope of rational intelligence. I still have to keep both oars in the water, regardless if they are a few crayons short of a full box.


Here are a few examples of the things I’ve been asked over the years that have left me standing there without a clue as to what just happened. I still don’t have any explanation as to why or how to answer them.


The Harness Caper


“Hello, may I help you?” I asked the voice on the phone.


“Yes, how much would you charge to rewire my car?” the caller asked, “It’s got some electrical problems and I can’t find it, or do think you can repair it?”


Now there’s a bit of unexpected news. Rewire or repair? How in the world am I going to estimate that? I had no intention of giving this guy some sort of dollar amount on something that vague. So I went with the basic diagnostic fee as a starting point, and how a total rewire was probably not necessary. The caller eventually settled on the repair rather than the rewire. Then, he hit me with the next bomb shell of unexpected news.


“OK, I’ll bring the harness in so you can diagnose it. I already have it out of the car.”


Now, I’ve taken a lot of harnesses out of cars in the past, and I don’t remember any of them that came out all that easily. I’m picturing this guy’s car in a million pieces scattered in his driveway, or worse yet, a harness that is chopped up into little sections so he could remove it without tearing the rest of the car apart. Either way, it’s starting to sound a lot like a minor electrical issue that is now a complete disaster.


You took it out of the car already?” I asked shockingly, “I can’t diagnose an electrical problem in your car with it removed.”


“Obviously, you don’t know what you’re doing then. I’m taking my car somewhere else,” he bantered back.


“The car is what I need, not just the harness,” I said, getting a little peeved at his comments by now.


“I can’t bring the car, it won’t run. What kind of idiot are you?”


(Now I’m really hacked!) “Taking the harness out of the car before having it diagnosed is like tearing down a house just to check the light bulbs,” I said, already committed to the fact that this guy isn’t coming in.


“Just never mind then,” he said, “I’ll fix it myself.”


(And a fine job you’ll do too!)


Blinker Fluid


“I noticed a strange fluid filling up my tail light lens,” the caller says, “I’ve done some research on the internet and I have found out it’s the blinker fluid leaking. Can you put it back?”


“Ah, no,” I said, trying to hold back the snickering, “There’s no such thing as blinker fluid. What you’re seeing is water in the lens.”


“No, you’re wrong, sir!” the caller sternly said, “I found a bottle of blinker fluid for sale on ebay. Obviously, you’re not a very good mechanic, or you’re just trying to rip me off! I’ll take my car somewhere else!” “CLICK”


(I wonder if that’s the good blinker fluid or the cheap stuff?)


Cruise Control Dilemma


After repairing a cruise control for a customer the day before, she called me up the next day and starting complaining. “I tried the cruise control and it doesn’t work!”


I know I checked it out before giving it back to the customer, which made me rather curious as to how it could have gone out in such a short time. After talking to the customer for quite some time, it was very apparent that she didn’t know how to use the cruise control, or was misinformed as to how it operated.


“As the light turns green,” she began to tell me, “I hit the “ON” button but the car doesn’t go as fast as I want to go. Even when I take my foot off of the gas and hit the “RESUME” button, it won’t go either.”


“Ma’am, you have to get the car up to the desired speed and then hit the “SET” button,” I told her.


“Now why would I need to do that? I’m not sitting! (Setting, sitting… apples oranges…) It should know how fast I want to go! The speed limit sign is right there!”


(Yep, it’s official; this one ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.)


Telepathic Diagnostics


“Hello sir, I’d like to get a part for my car,” the caller asked.


“What kind of car is it and what kind of part do you need?” I cheerfully asked.


“I don’t know what part, you’re the expert, you should already know.”


“Well, let’s start with what kind of car it is.”


“I don’t know that either, you should know.”


I’m a bit frustrated at this point, so I thought I’d break things down a bit further. “OK, what color is it?”


“Sir, if I have to tell you what color my car is or what part is broken then you must not be a very good mechanic... good day!” “CLICK”


(Obviously, our cosmic streams are not communicating.)


It’s Free


Another shop referred a customer over to me for some work they didn’t do at their shop. The customer walks up to the counter, explains things in detail and lays their keys on the counter.


“Not a problem, I’ll get it diagnosed and give you an estimate once I have figured out the exact problem,” I told him.


“Oh no, no, no, no... You don’t understand. They told me it wasn’t going to cost me anything,” the now upset customer told me.


“I’m sure “they" didn’t tell you the repair is going to be free here sir. I don’t work for free, in the same way, I’m sure you don’t work for free either. I get paid to diagnose and repair cars just like the shop you came from,” I said.


He grabbed the keys off the counter and stormed out the door saying, “They said it was free, and that’s what it should be. I guess you don’t want my business then!”


Ah, you’re right. Especially at the price you’re suggesting.


(Definitely, this guy is one taco shy a combo platter.)


How some of these folks make it through the day without falling off the edge of the planet is beyond me. It still leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. You’d think I’ve heard every kind of strange request after the time I’ve spent behind the service counter…nope, I seriously doubt it.


There’s more, there’s always more.

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Funny you should mention "blinker fluid" as I heard that mentioned too today on the Texascardoctorshow on the radio. The old guys used to make fun of the younger one's by telling them to go get some, where almost out of it! Glad you showed the picture of it, so I know what it looks like in a bottle! LOL

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Is that like a canuter valve or a muffler for a henway?


You say what is a canuter valve? The canuter valve is a part of the exhaust regeneration assembly on new diesel engines. The canuter valve usually fails due to overheating of the exhaust bearings. Over use of this valve is caused by faulty friggate switch wiring. When this happens, the muffler bearings become hot and can seize. Eventually, the catalytic converter fluid will become tainted with halogen bulb fluid due to canuter valve blow-by. At this point, it's best to scrap the vehicle.

I heard when they scrap them out, they squeeze it like a lemon and resell the fluid.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
      The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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