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Poking it with a Sharp Stick It's not so much that I work with the general public in my daily business, it's more of what kind of 'public' gives me the business. I'm not talking about people who can think and reason like most educated, knowledgeable people. It's that ever present cave man mentality. You know the type, the guy who's elevator doesn't go to the top floor, or the couple who can't seem to keep both oars in the water. The all seem to lack one simple characteristic, common sense. The very quality that every halfwit adventure I've either seen, (or been a part of) have in common. (I can't leave myself out of this one... guilty as charged) It stands to reason if some of these mental giants were among the intrepid pioneers who crossed the great divide in a Conestoga wagon, they probably would be the ones that never made it. But, with so many modern conveniences like diet, clean water, and modern medical care, these half-wit trail blazers roam freely throughout every part of the countryside. There was a comedian some years ago who told a story about his ancestors from the Stone Age. He commented on how some people felt it necessary to leave the safety of the cave to take on some huge beast with nothing more than a sharpened stick, only to be trampled to death by the same prehistoric behemoth. He went on to say, “My relatives were the ones who stayed in the cave... how else can explain my being here?! If my ancestors were the ones who got killed off, how would it be possible for me to be standing here telling you all about them? My relatives had the good sense to stay out of harm’s way. Were my ancestors brave? Sure they’re brave, they’re just not stupid.” “Oh look, large man eating beast outside the cave, I’ll stay here… you can go out there. I’ve gotta sharpen my stick, and while you’re gone I'll paint your picture on these cave walls. Our ancestors will think you’re great hunters that way.” (“Right, when in fact they’re running for your lives…!”) Funny, yes, true... I guess so, and in similar ways, it’s how some people tackle car repair. In most states there’s no regulation to keep someone from poking their pointed stick under the hood of their car, or hanging a shingle on a shop door and call themselves a “mechanic”. The unsuspecting consumer is at the mercy of the phone book (and other sources) to find a shop that can actually make the appropriate repairs on their car. It's like the car has turned into a huge mammoth, and the person attempting the repair is just taking stabs at it with a sharp stick. No training, no experience, and more than likely no clue what they are doing. This is but one of the many reasons why the automotive field gets such low marks in the consumers’ eyes. As one of my customers told me, “It's getting harder and harder to find a good mechanic these days”. And, from what I can tell, it hasn’t been much better in previous decades either. A typical example of this was last week. An older gentleman came into the shop with an air conditioning problem on his 1967 Thunderbird. Sweet ride, entirely original... just the way he liked it. He had been to several shops trying to get the air conditioning working. This car was factory equipped with the old style compressor and A/C lines that didn't use a Schrader valve, but instead had the hand shut off valves that you moved (in the correct direction) to recharge or change the compressor. The owner’s story was that every place he went to, no one knew how to use the hand valves correctly to refill the system. They were all good at replacing parts, but had no clue as to how the system worked. I'm old enough to have worked on these when they were very common. All the previous shops could have figured out how they operated, if they would have just put down their pointy stick, and did a little research. (FYI - There's only 3 positions to be concerned about: Front seated blocks off the compressor, Mid-position is used to allow flow between entire system, compressor, and the gauge port, and the most important one, back seated, which allows the entire system to work normally.) Turned into an easy job for me; all in all, the A/C system was blowing cold air in no time. All it took was a little basic knowledge rather than guessing at it. (No telling what parts actually needed replaced, by the time I saw the car everything was new, oiled, and mounted correctly.) Too bad for the owner though, he paid each and every one of them to do what I just did... make cold air. The T-bird owner was overjoyed to finally have his air conditioning back in working order. (He did tell me he wasn't about to use those other guys ever again.) I guess after so many pokes with that sharp stick the T-Bird owner had had enough. Then there’s the DIY'r trying to repair the car in the family cave. First it’s a jab with the pointed end of their stick, then two, then another, until they either figure it out, or they find the information they need to make the repairs. There's been a lot of talk lately about the factory information not being available... really?? What Neanderthal told you that? I've been working professionally in the car repair business for a long time and I've never had any problem obtaining factory information. The hard part is getting the right scanners (at reasonable prices) and education these days. It's out there; it just may take a little poking around to find it. (Pun intended) The big thing is, it’s not free, never has been. Poking the sharp end of your stick at the manufacturer and expecting him to roll over like a wounded mammoth and hand you the information for free … just ain't happening… ever. I have this mental image of a DIY'r and their protégé the “untrained mechanic” as the cave men portrayed in the painting with the great mammoth in center. The cave men are throwing their spears into the beast, but the huge behemoth of prehistoric times still isn't quite finished off. It's not a futile effort, if they keep stabbing at it they’ll eventually get the job done. Gee, doesn’t that sound just like a couple of guys trying to figure out what’s wrong with the car by throwing part after part at it? It does to me. Poking around with that Stone Age sharpened stick method of diagnostics is a slow and unproductive way of making any kind of automotive repair. But, I still see the same kind of poor workmanship even today. Working on modern cars, and even one from a few decades ago requires the right tools, the right information, and some good old fashion common sense. If you’ve got all that, you’ve got half the battle won. That common sense and good repair practices goes a long way. One thing’s for sure… it beats poking it with a sharp stick.
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I would like to know if any other shops out there using Autologic have run into programming issues. I was informed last week that they have stopped doing any coding as of January 2017. This was the first I have heard of it. Any other users out there being told the same thing? If so what did you do to solve your problem? (New equipment or buy the pass thru equipment through them?)
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AutoShopOwner is now available via the Tapatalk application on your mobile phone. Tapatalk is a forum app on the iPhone, Android, webOS, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry and Nokia. Tapatalk Forum App provides super fast on-the-go forum access to majority of the discussion forums that have activated the Tapatalk plugin. We have activated the plugin as of today. Please post any issues in this topic.
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Detective On Duty
It’s pouring down, the tow driver is dropping off a car alongside the shop. Carrying the keys into the office completely drenched from head to toe.
“Here ya go, have fun with this one,” he said, as he headed back out into the rain.
No one ever called to tell me about this car, and the tow driver only had a last name and nothing more.
What to do now? I guess the only thing to do is to see if the tow company had a phone number
to go along with the name. I tried the phone number several times, but never got an answer. For now, I'll just let it sit outside in the rain maybe the owner will call.
Several days went by, the rain had stopped and still no phone call. I tried the number again but this time the number was no longer in service. Now I’m at a total loss as to what to do. The shop was caught up that afternoon, so I thought I’d check out this little truck and see what was going on. Maybe there's a name in the glove box.
The truck was spotless, there wasn’t anything in the glovebox except for the owner’s manual. No name, no insurance card, not even a scrap of paper anywhere in it. Well, I tried at least, I might as well open the hood and check things out.
Was I in for a surprise, no wonder the tow driver told me “Have fun with this one.” Under the hood was not a 1989 2.3 liter… more like a 95 2.3 Liter engine. Somebody dropped a new motor in and didn't realize the wiring is completely different.
No more foolin' around. Time to put my detective hat on and see how much information I can dig up about this little truck. I called the tow company that dropped it off to ask them where they picked it up and see if I could track the owner down that way. They knew exactly where it came from. It was from a salvage yard.
Ok, time for another phone call. “Oh that truck, yeah I remember that one," the fella at the salvage yard told me, "the guy who owns it dropped it off for us to put an engine in it that he bought from us. We told him we didn’t think it was going to work, even though the original engine was the same size." The guy at the salvage yard didn’t have much more information on the owner than what I already had. But, they said they would keep an eye out for the guy if he showed up.
A few more phone calls thru the DMV and I had the name of the last insurance agent who had a policy on this truck. He told me, the truck was sold at an auction. The original motor was blown after a long high speed chase by the police. The driver/owner was arrested on drug charges and the car was confiscated (as is their usual policy).
Another phone call led me to the auction house (with a lot of searching) they came up with the name of a used car lot who bought the truck. Which led to another phone call, and after talking to them I finally had a first name to put with the last name the tow driver originally provided, and of course, another phone number.
I gave the number a try. It rang and rang, I was getting worried that all this phone work I’ve done is going to end up as another dead end. Then a voice came on the phone.
“Hey, yea, ah, ... Hello?”
“Hi ya doin’ is your name Jake? Do you own a Ford Ranger that had a motor put into it over at a salvage yard?”
“Ah… yeah, Ah, wow, like dude… that’s my truck, who’s this?”
I gave him all my information and explained to him how I tracked him down. He didn’t seem too impressed, (I thought I did an OUTSTANDING job of tracking this guy down).
When “Jake” finally showed up at the shop, I told him what would have to be done to get the truck running. He was under the impression that you just hook up a couple of wires and it would take off and run like new. Not quite the case there Jake, it’s going to take a lot more work than what it took for me to find this guy.
I gave him the options on what could be done with what he had to work with. The big issue was now the cost… (Of course $$) and young Jake didn’t have a dime to spend on it. He was out of a job, and didn’t have any way of paying for repairs. Luckily, the tow bill was paid by the salvage yard (I think they just wanted it out of there)
Jake had to go home and think about it. Well, I know what “think about it” really means… it means “I can’t afford it, so I’ll have to think of some other way of taking care of it.”
Monday morning the car was still sitting in the lot. By that afternoon a guy came by snooping around the little Ranger. He said he was going to buy the truck, and asked me what was wrong with it.
Later that day Jake called and told me he was selling the truck. What could I say, “OK?” or “hey dude… I just played “Private Eye” to track you down. At least have the courtesy to ask the age old question, “Do I owe you anything?” So I can at least say; “Nay, no problem, that’s OK thanks for asking… hope you get on your feet soon.” But no, all he said was; “I think he’ll pick it up sometime this week.” Click…
Another week went by and no one showed up to look at the truck. Then, the next Monday morning when I made my way into to the shop the truck was gone. Not that I was surprised, I called Jake to see if he knew his truck was on the move again, this time I got his answering machine,
“Ah, like, ah… I ain’t here… leave a message.” BEEP
“Hey, Jake your truck is gone. I guess your buddy picked it up. Come down
sometime, and I’ll give you the keys.”
Funny. how All the effort I put into finding this guy, ALL the time I spent writing down phone
numbers, contacting people, gathering information and compiling the history on this
truck that ALL I have to show for it is this story and a set of keys.
I guess I should stick to mechanic work. Seems detective work doesn't pay as well.
That was nearly a year ago and I still have the keys. I guess Jake’s buddy doesn’t need the keys either, and I'm not about to go through all that detective work to find the new owner. I'm over all that detective on duty stuff. Maybe I'll just put an ad in the paper under the lost and found section:
“Did you find a Ford Ranger that used to belong to Jake? If you so ... I’ve got the keys.”
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I'm looking into which machine I should buy just curious if anyone has bought one yet and what there opinion is on the one they have. Thanks !
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