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  • General Discussion

    • The other shoe [or tire] has dropped
      Well the other shoe has dropped in the ATD / Tire Hub saga. Bridgestone has announced they are following Goodyear in pulling their Brands from ATD. This one hurts as I have been a loyal Bridgestone dealer for decades. Looks like I have 3 options, none good. Continue with ATD but buy my Bridgestone products from Tire Hub. Continue with ATD and drop my Bridgestone products probably increasing my Continental purchases. Find a whole new distributor to buy all my products from. The thing that really sucks is ATD, Bridgestone, and Tire pros all announced new loyalty programs this year which collectively could have amounted to 18k more in back end $$s. Most of that is probably gone now.
    • ATI Repair Shop Mastery
      Good morning, I received a call from a lady contacting me about a school in my area. I have never been to one of there training schools although I have heard of the company ATI.  I am always open to anything that helps me increase my knowledge of our profession. The school is called  ATI Shop Mastery, it looks new and there is not much info on the web about it. The price she offered me was net zero at the end of the day. Any info would surely be appreciated. David
    • Article: Rocky Mountain Oysters - Do you have the …
      Rocky Mountain Oysters                                                   Gonzo Jan 2010             At my shop I tend to do more electrical repairs  than anything else.  It’s what I’m known for, and  sometimes I get my share of odd ball electrical  problems.  Sometimes it’s a factory defect where  a harness has rubbed into a bracket behind the  dash and shorted things out.  But, a lot of  times it’s some add-on that causes the problems.   Usually some sort of flashy-testosterone filled  bling that the owner is using to show off his macho  self to all who pass by.               Seldom do I see these “manly” things on a  girl’s car… it’s mostly the guy’s… sorry dudes… it’s true.   You guys can’t leave them alone.   Ya gotta show your manhood somewhere on that Detroit steel.                        I had this cowboy’s truck in the shop; it’s was a late 80’s Chevy pickup, jacked up to the sky and loud.  His only problem was his parking lights would blow a fuse.  My usual first question is, “When did ya put in the stereo?”  (Over the years I would say it’s probably the no#1 problem I find in the park light systems on these GM cars and trucks of that era.)   It never fails; some goof ball is going to use the gray wire as the radio ground.  I can usually tell these types of guys because they’ll “always” tell me how they used an ohm meter to check the wiring. (More testosterone showing... gotta make like they've got some "cojones"... at least, more than the mechanic who's going to fix the mess they created, you know.)             The gray wire will show continuity to ground because the dash light filaments will send the meter signal to the next bulb and the next until it reaches another ground source.  It’s really not a ground at all; it’s actually the positive voltage lead for the dash light circuit that is part of the factory radio.  However when you turn the park lights on (Which they won’t check until the next time they drive at night.) the fuse to the park lights will blow. Happens all the time.             This hombre was safe… it wasn’t the radio.  Now I have to look elsewhere.  One of my many “tricks” to test a short circuit on these older trucks is with 2 fuses.  First stick one in the fuse box and turn on the park lights. (It came in blown, and I doubt you’re going to make it any worse) … Keep your eye on the fuse, did it blow quickly? … Or did it take a bit? When I say a bit… I don’t mean like… a second….I mean not immediately, let’s just call it a quick blink.  If the fuse takes a bit to blow that tells me the short is farther away from the fuse box than closer.   (Learning the difference may take some practice.)              In this case this saddle sore owner’s problem was not immediate, but an ever slight delay.  I’m going to look around the outside of the vehicle and see if it reveals any clues.  It could be in the back or the front of this herd chasing cattleman’s Cadillac.  I climbed out of the cab and headed to the south end of this northbound rig to check for any trailer wiring.  (It’s my 2nd usual place to look for faulty wiring on this type of truck.)   Any time you get the handy-dandy farmhand with his fence pliers working his magic on the horse trailer wiring, you’re bound to have problems.              Well, how about that… it was professionally done… and in fact the wiring looked great!  But there was this other foreign object dangling on the receiver hitch. Oh man … is this necessary? Bull testicles?  There’s a pair of fake plastic bovine male parts rocking back and forth with every sway of this pasture cavorting vehicle.  Now, I don’t know who this cowboy is trying to impress… ‘cause if I was a cow… I’d think there something wrong with this bull. And, if I was some gal in a car behind this boot wearin’, skoal chewin’, cattle jockey… I don’t think I’d be impressed either… or at all.            But then something else caught my eye… and it wasn’t the swinging genitals. There’s a small wire connected to them, and the wire is connected to the brown wire of the trailer connector… which, is the park light wiring. OMG… no way…these rocky mountain oysters light up and glow with the evening sky.  I don’t remember animal husbandry being a part of my job requirements.  And I don’t think glow in the dark dangling beef ta-tas was covered in any of my training classes.              You mean to tell me, if I disconnect the wire from this cowboy’s dangling plastic bull parts that the park lights might work?  This is nuts!  I can’t believe this … … this is definitely not going well today.  Well, I’ve gotta try, it could be the end of my search of why the park lights are blowing the fuse … here goes… … with one hand, I grabbed this pasture-prowlers-artificial-cattle-creators and held on with an almighty firm grip.  With the other hand, I took steady aim with my trusty cutters--- “Snip” ---the deed is done.              Back to the fuse box and change the fuse, and then flip on the park lights. Well what do ya know, we have lights!  Tell all the Angus and Holsteins on the farm – the park lights are working perfectly! !   Ya Hoo!       I’ll have to admit, it’s the first time I have ever had to castrate a truck to get the park lights to work…  Well, I guess, there’s a first time for everything… might as well start up my new career…   You’ll find me on one of those late night infomercials or in the business yellow pages under; --- “Bull Castrator/Mechanic”--- . 
      View full article
  • Regional Automotive Shop Management Discussions

    • ASTE
      As new members of IGONC (independent garage owners association of NC) we have found so many useful benefits and positives of being involved with such a great organizations. One of them being the ASTE event in Cary,NC! The training and expo has been a great resource for us. We learned so much last year, it has literally transformed our business. I just wanted to make sure the members here knew about the event and had the opportunity to research/plan to attend the event!   http://asteshow.com/ https://www.facebook.com/ASTENC/   Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk    
    • Vision KC
      Anyone going to vision KC?   Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk    
    • Virginia Shops - PLEASE HELP!
      The Virginia Automotive Association lobbies the Virginia legislature continuously in defense of our industry. They are the ONLY organization that does so. They are able to do this only through the participation and membership of shops like yours statewide. The group's current initiative is to obtain a long overdue increase in the state inspection fee. Your help is needed on this and other issues that come up before the politicians in Richmond.   VAA has been supporting Virginia independent shops behind the scenes for 50 years. Today they need your support in return. You can sit around and grumble about only getting $15 to do a 30 minute inspection or you can work to change it.   I urge you to visit the Association website and learn more, then go to the membership page and sign up! The membership benefits alone more than cover the membership fee and think about how an inspection fee increase could impact your bottom line.   If you would like to actively participate in this effort, call or e-mail the association's Executive Director, Steve Akridge and volunteer or just join!   Thanks, Mark Anderton
  • Automotive Repair Shop Management

    • Aftermarket Parts Issues Driving Me Up A Wall!!!
      There are days I want to set the place on fire (sometimes just customers cars) ok just kidding. I seem to be getting a streak of problematic parts lately. I am so tired of reps telling me about quality, oem specs, warranty blah blah. My main supplier is AAP. Here are some examples below. - 2000 wrangler needing rear axles due to bearing failure. Ordered Dorman axles and both had fitment issues where once installed the differential pin wouldn't fit in due to improper clearances on the axle. Ordered another brand online Yukon Axles. - 1995 Lexus SC300 (mint cond, low miles) Felpro valve cover gasket was manufactured too thick and didn't fit in the groove on the valve cover. Ordered from Lexus and fit fine. - Forgot the year (Chrysler van) water pump with a pulley that wobbled and even the online reviews had the same issue.  - 1993 Wrangler water pump machined incorrectly where once bolted to the block, the ears of the pump where the ps pump bracket bolts to was not machined correctly and if you tried to bolt it on it would bend the water pump. Ordered AC Delco (i think) from Cold air distributors and worked fine. - 1999 Lexus ES300 front left brake hose manufactured incorrectly. Ordered another brand, probably Raybestos from Cold Air Distributors, and all is well. - 2003 Taurus 3.0 OHV timing cover from Dorman 635-117. Online reviews had some issues but the oem unit was expensive. I ordered 3 before I found one that was machined good enough then installed. Came back a while later leaking. I ordered a replacement under warranty and the quality control was horrible. Just ended up getting the ford one and looked and seemed to work great. Time will tell - 2005 Honda Element Monroe struts all the way around (these are the ones) in the front like the civics where the strut has the bracket where the tie rod bolts to. Left front was fine. Right front couldn't get aligned properly as the bracket for the tie rod was welded on at the wrong angle. Went through a couple from the local parts store then I think Monroe sent me a strut that was tested to be ok on their manufacturing/ quality control/ measurement jig and it still failed. They paid to have the old Honda part sent back for inspection. I think i ordered KYB for the front and all was well.  I use the AAP Wearever Platinum which have been great brake pad material and braking, but lately they don't fit properly and I have taken video to show the reps and I believe when the backing plate is cut, there are imperfections where it wont fit into the caliper bracket without me grinding the backing plate on the edges. The actual manufacturing company for them sent a rep to a local AAP BBQ event and I talked to him and he is very aware and they supposedly changed the manufacturing process to address this issue but recently I did a brake job and had the same issue then installed Akebono and all was well. I am considering switching to the Wagner TQ which they stock as well. They give me an across the board pricing on the Platinum pads of $34.99 on most vehicles. Has anybody got a good pricing structure on the Wagners? AAP gives a 3 month parts and labor warranty on pretty much everything they sell. The labor is reimbursed on my parts account at 1/2 my shop labor rate times the book time. The problem is I still have to write up an invoice showing that I replaced the part and didn't charge the customer, and spend time calling their hotline and explain what happened, then fax or scan and email the original invoice, warranty invoice, original parts invoice with the claim numbers and I still have to call and check in to make sure the claims have been processed and paid out. This takes time and is not very encouraging. Otherwise the parts themselves have the standard warranties, 2 year, 3 year, lifetime, etc. though this still requires me to redo the repair that should have been successful the first time. I am the owner and mechanic and I waste so much time in the office dealing with parts, Calling manufacturers tech support lines, taking measurements, sending pictures of parts problems. Then if I cannot get it resolved having to research another part. The Dorman timing covers were terrible. the metal was porous and i sent them a screenshot of their website talking about "High quality plastic or metal construction resists warping, cracking and porousness". I am surprised that these companies don't look at the reviews of their own products and correct the issues. I do need another technician so I don't have to wear so many hats but in the meantime how do you folks deal with these types of issues.  The other issue is because I am not a high volume purchaser, although it is getting better as I grow, I have to purchase the majority of my parts from AAP to keep myself on a reasonable tier level. If I spread my purchases around then I can fall off the tier level in a short time. I like AAP and they have a warehouse near me and have a vast inventory available locally as opposed to other suppliers. Most of the stuff I get is name brand stuff to avoid junk parts. I like Moog, National, Motorcraft, Delco, Etc so its not like I am trying to be cheap on everything, I just seem to get burned a lot. When the commercial reps come by, it is usually to check up on business and try to sell me something or a service or a package deal, however when I show them the issues I am having, they really don't or cannot do anything other than listen and tell me about their "quality parts". I ask for the numbers to the engineering departments to try and at least get some of these issues resolved and I cannot get through. How do ya'll deal with these situations?
    • Where to find mid-level techs?
      I'm trying to hire, and literally cannot find anybody. Ideally I'm looking for a full time parts hanger. Somebody that has little or no diag experience or isn't comfortable with electrical work, but can do the basics on their own. Where do I even try to look?  I've tried CL and Facebook to no avail. I've called both of the local community colleges with automotive programs, and it's just crickets. I don't even want to pay them flat rate, I'll more than happily pay them hourly.    And PLEASE, for the love of god, I don't want to hear the lecture on 'you need to hire nothing but master techs'. That doesn't help me, nor fix my current problems. I know what I need. I just need help trying to figure out how to find it. Nobody becomes a mastertech without doing basics first anyways.
    • Getting More (And Better) Online Reviews
      I'm going to go out here on a limb here and tell you -
      YOUR ONLINE REVIEWS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ATTRACTING MORE CAR COUNT! Lemme 'splain... First of all, the reviews given by your customers reveal the health of your business. If your customers aren't saying good things about you, that's a warning sign that you better get your act together right now and start providing a better experience for your customers. Also, if you only have a few handfuls out of all the hundreds or thousands of customers you've worked saying good things - that's not a healthy sign either. They may like, or even love, doing business with you, but if they aren't telling the world (aka writing an online review), their little secret is hurting your chances to attract more car count. You see, studies show that 92% of folks will read reviews before making a buying decision, and if you don't have a stellar reputation (4.7 or higher), they'll move on to the next shop. In fact, I advise that you completely stay away from any form of online advertising for new customers unless your score is at least a 4.7 out of 5.0. Why? Because your prospective new customer will easily be able to compare you with everyone else and will more than likely choose the shop with the better reputation - negating all the time, money, and effort you've put into your advertising efforts. Look, you can argue with me all you want, but we're talking human nature here. Most will always go with the higher recommended shop. Why not? If you don't have a great reputation score, all you're really doing is advertising for your competitors that do. But your score isn't the only factor being looked at. There are actually three factors that are important about your reviews. 1. Quality (4.7 or higher overall score is needed)
      2. Quantity (These days, a minimum of 75 reviews are needed, but in highly competitive areas, 150+ is needed)
      3. Recency (You must be getting 1 or 2 new reviews every single week) === So you say you do a great job, your customers love you, but they just aren't writing those positive reviews that you need in order to let the rest of the world know how awesome you are, right? Here are three ways to get more reviews: 1. Ask. (Duh!)
      2. Bribe. This has been very effective for a lot of my clients in the past, however it's also considered a no-no by the review sites and may get your account shut down if they find out.
      3. Use an automated service like Soapboxx to do it for you that will email or text your customers after their service, ask if they were happy, and then send them directly to Google, Facebook, YP, or wherever you wish so they can write a quick word about their experience. Soapboxx is the only automated review-boosting service created specifically for the auto repair industry and the beta-testing of the software has just been completed. (See just a few of the remarks from the users below) Go to www.Soapboxx.io for more details. Check out what some of the members of the new Soapboxx platform are saying... Whatever you choose to do, ask, bribe, or automate the whole thing - put getting more 4-5 star reviews at the top of your to-do list. It's simply the best thing you can do to help attract more car count to your shop!
  • Automotive Repair & Technical Discussions

    • Autel MaxiSys and MaxiSys mini, thoughts?
      Just wondering if anyone on here has good experience with these units. We have manufacturer specific scan tools however we like to have a few general all purpose scanners available. We currently have the older Autel DS708 which is decent but rather slow. I also have a Launch GDS still in box brand new that I got for a pretty good price but I have yet to use it. One of my techs had experience using one and said in his words, "feels like a toy and crashes a lot." The new MaxiSys looks fast and capable. Anyone own one? Thoughts?
    • Corghi Artiglo Master 26
      Does anyone here have a Corghi Master 26? I had to take mine apart to repair it and I should have taken a photo of the air hose routing for the dismount arm. Somehow I can't figure out how the hoses wrap around when it spins without kinking. If you have one think you could snap me a few photos??   Thanks!  
    • Lift for low cars
      In the market for a new lift. Looking for something that will work well for low vehicles but can still handle light trucks. 2 post, clear floor 10k lbs capacity range. I see a lot of manufacturers offer a bi-symmetrical lifts now. I've never used one. Thoughts? What do you have and like? I had mohawk's for the last 20 years, exploring other brands. Not going to get full time shop usage. Looking for the best bang for the buck but not anything that isn't ALI certified. What do you have that you like and can easily get sports cars on (a problem for my asymmetrical mohawk without blocks of wood to drive on)


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