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  1. 2 points
    If you want to build a more profitable, successful auto repair business, you’ll need to make sure that every single employee has a clearly defined, written job description. If you’re a shop owner who has a manager in place, then here’s a list of things you will need to include in their job description. 1. They must know the goals of the company, as well as all of the relative Key Performance indicators. For example, when it comes to the company goals, they’ll need to know the long-term goals, as well as the annual, quarterly, weekly and daily goals. They will also need to know the goals for car count, sales, ARO, customer retention and satisfaction, gross profit, technician productivity and efficiency, and taxable income. 2. All shop managers must embrace the mission and culture of the company. The mission is why you do what you do, and the culture is the glue that holds your team together. For example, the mission may be to be to better your community, and the culture of your company may be defined by your shop’s ethics. 3. Shop managers need to ensure that they have a team of superstars, and they need to know how to keep their employees operating at peak performance. This means they’ll need to know the minimum levels of acceptable performance for each position, and all company policies. They will also need to know how to hold effective team meetings and perform reviews, and how to deal with every type of employee issue. 4. Shop managers need to know how to effectively manage customer concerns, and have a firm grasp of the situations that warrant contacting the shop owner, or their designated superior. 5. Shop managers must know how to properly secure the facility, vehicles, cash, checks, credit card information, all customer information and all employee records they have access to. 6. All shop managers must be able to properly maintain equipment, and process both customers and vehicles in a safe and efficient manner. This includes managing the shop’s labor inventory and expenses, properly assigning and dispatching work, and complying with all governmental requirements. 7. All shop managers need to know how to report to the shop owner, or their designated superior. We understand that every shop owner will have different reporting requirements, but at a minimum the manager should be required to provide a daily report on all relative KPI’s, violations of company policies, and customer concerns. This reporting must also include scheduled meetings with the owner (or their superior) to discuss the performance of the business and their recommendations for improvement. 8. At Elite we realize that there will be limitations on the control and authority assigned to the manager, but regardless, they must be held accountable for the overall success of the business. If the manager feels there is something that is holding the company back, or causing harm to the brand in any way, they have an ethical responsibility to advise the owner or their superior immediately. 9. All shop managers must effectively manage their time and tasks. They need to ensure they have a daily plan in place that allows them to remain focused on their goals, roles and responsibilities. 10. Shop managers must accept the fact that it is their responsibility to provide leadership to all the employees. They can fulfill this requirement by remaining focused on the goals of the company, fulfilling the requirements of their job description, treating all others in a professional way, and behaving in a manner that reflects that they will never compromise their ethics, show preferential treatment, or put money ahead of people. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com, or calling 800-204-3548.
  2. 2 points
    180 room is actually part of Joe's KC BBQ. It's their side room for groups. I-35 and 119th Street.
  3. 2 points
    We're having a dinner tomorrow night at the 180 room - 7pm if you'd like to join I think there's some openings left Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
  4. 2 points
    I have purchased Red Kap brand from these people. https://www.automotiveworkwear.com/Uniforms/Automotive-Uniforms.html
  5. 2 points
    In the end we got the car assembled and running, and made money, worked out well in the end.
  6. 1 point
    What ever happened to just plain old siphoning gasoline out of the gas tank, so you don't have to pay for it? At least no damage is done to the gas tank or vehicle!
  7. 1 point
    If we use a service like Identifix for technical help we charge a computer access fee of 69.95. I have never had anyone complain about this charge once it's explained to them that without the technical help the time to diagnose there problem would have taken a lot long and cost them more money in the long run. I also let them know that we as tech's can't know everything about every vehicle out there and anyone that thinks they do run from them. Even doctors get outside help from other doctors on some problems with there patients.
  8. 1 point
    I just took a class from Jeremy O'neal that addressed this exact issue. Rather than raising your shop supplies fee, you can add it as another, separate fee on any diagnostic line. Label it 'additional resource fee'. I haven't started this yet, but he says that he hasn't had a single customer question it. I imagine that if you have clear a detailed explanation of the testing a diagnostic process you went through to figure an issue out, they won't think twice about 'additional resources' needed.
  9. 1 point
  10. 1 point
    Sounds like you've got a fantastic operation going for you! Your operation is something most shop owners can only dream about, great job! And those are great questions to ask, and those same questions should be revisited on probably a yearly basis. More people = more headaches usually, with conflicting ideas & personalities etc. On the other hand, you always should strive to be better, maybe not bigger but better in general.
  11. 1 point
    Looking forward and thinking about business goals for the future, I'm wondering if there is such a thing as a sales volume, personnel, or facility sweet spot for profitability. I'm in a semi-retirement mode already, so having profits to spend is a priority over simply growing the business for growths sake. I really enjoy being in business and planning and reaching for goals, but wondering about what those goals for the business should be. I've reviewed some industry financial data without any clear conclusions, but I'm wondering what folks here think or have seen or experienced. A little about where I'm at currently. I started this business from scratch 7 years ago. We currently have 8 employees and did 1.3 in 2017. Any wisdom from you who have been doing this longer?
  12. 1 point
    I have it all too. It is good stuff but expensive like all Snap-On products.
  13. 1 point
    Ok, should be easy to find.
  14. 1 point
    Gonzo, another good story. Well, perhaps you raised a good point for having autonomous cars. Let the car do everything for you! No need to know about how it works. Also it still helps to think "outside the box" and solve some of those perplexing problems.
  15. 1 point
    Electronically Handicapped Are we so inundated with electrical devices we’ve forgotten how to do certain tasks without them? I believe the time has come when common sense values and electronics have crossed paths to change the way some people assume things are done. Yes, we’ve become electronically handicapped by the very means that are supposed to make things better. Expecting those electronic wonders to always be in working order is one thing, but not knowing what to do when those devices fail and having to resort to good old fashion “hands on” is where the problems and frustrations begin. Case in point: a guy calls and asks if I can fix his speedometer. He explains he wouldn’t be able to drive the car to the shop, because he has no idea how fast he’s going. I suggested he just stay up with traffic or download one of the many apps displaying mph. This led to even more hysteria because he was afraid of an electronic bug affecting his phone. Instead, all he wanted was one of those “I ain’t holding ya to it” estimates. Not knowing the reason why his speedometer wasn’t working, I gave him a rough guess on the cost of the various components related to a speedometer problem. He then tells me, “Let me know when the part shows up.” I asked, “What part?” Now I’m confused. Finally, it came down to one question. “Sir, even if I knew exactly what component or problem you’re having, how are you going to get the car here? Tow truck, or do you want me to come and get it?” I asked. Absolutely no tow trucks, and he didn’t want anyone else to drive his car. Instead, he was going to check “YouTube” for a video on how to fix it. Then, there are those individuals that common sense has entirely left them. A lady called to tell me her door locks stopped working, and how she was trapped in her car for several hours until her husband showed up. (He unlocked the door with the key from the outside.) I asked her, “Why didn’t you just unlock the door from the inside?” Her answer, “Sir, I pushed the button several times but it never would unlock the door.” I calmly asked (although I was secretly bursting with laughter), “Why didn’t you use the mechanical lock knob or push the manual lock lever in the opposite direction?” The tone of her voice was enough to tell you she was more than a little shaken up over the whole door lock ordeal. Thinking I could ease her obvious tension, I suggested that she could have rolled the window down, but that just spurred her anxiety even more. She couldn’t understand why I would suggest such a thing; she would have had to start the car in order to do that. Since the windows were up, the fear of carbon monoxide poisoning was an even bigger concern. Now with back up cameras, lane departure systems, auto parking, active cruise control, and perimeter warning systems some of these folks that barely understand how to turn on a light switch are going to be even more lost when these systems in their cars fail. I'm convinced by the actions of some people that it's already happening. Like the time my wife's rear view camera was covered in mud, she stopped the car, calls me and says, "The camera isn't working, is it safe to back the car up?" What's the world coming too? Pretty soon, there will be a generation that won’t understand or even care to know anything about some of the old technologies. That is until they’re face-to-face with a situation calling for some nostalgic common sense and a bit of mechanical know-how. We’ve modernized the family car into a nightmarish electronic wonder, which has caused a lot of people to lose touch with the basic fundamentals of its operation. Not only is it more complicated electronically, but it’s also becoming more reliant on GPS and computers. Here’s something else that I don’t understand: We still call a manual shift transmission a standard transmission. There’s nothing “standard” about it anymore. It was the standard for decades, but not anymore. Now it’s rather rare for new drivers to even know how to operate a stick shift. Even now, you see people who don’t have a clue how to use their turn signals. I doubt they know the proper hand signals or for that matter how to stick their arm out the window. Of course, that would mean rolling down the electric window, which probably doesn't work either. What about the tire monitor systems on cars these days? How many people know how to properly use a tire pressure gauge? Then again, why? We’ve got electronics to take care of that stuff. A vehicle operator seems to require less common sense these days as the electronic world has already accomplished these tasks with minimal to no effort with things like voice activated entertainment to navigation controls. Why, we even have crash avoidance systems and air bags to keep us safe. More to the point… less personal responsibility for your actions; make it the car’s responsibility. I grew up in the time when road maps were in every glove box. Folding one back up from the passenger seat while giving directions could be a contest of wit and skill to say the least. You paid attention to the road signs and observed the different land features as well as points of interest that were pointed out in the map details. These days, you listen to this voice on the navigation system that says, “Turn right in 500 feet onto exit 227.” Why, I’ll bet you didn’t even notice you passed the world’s largest ball of string a mile back. It seems the navigation voice failed to mention anything about all those roadside features the folding map could tell you about. Just goes to show how much we have become dependent on these electronic devices. We’ve all become so complacent with our modern electronic conveniences that opening a garage door by hand seems barbaric in some way. I know I’m guilty of it myself. One time after a rather long and frustrating day at the shop, I came down my driveway tapping my finger on the garage door remote button. The door refused to move. Not to be outwitted by a garage door remote, I sat out there bashing the button and cussing at the door… determined to get that blasted thing to raise one more time. Eventually, the wife comes out and opens the door from the inside button. She was standing there with that typical wife look of disbelief, staring at her goof ball husband having a four letter word conversation with a dead garage door remote. Her response was priceless, “The battery is probably dead in the remote dummy! Just get out of the truck and open the door!” So, you say, “Yea well, I might be a little electronically handicapped, but I’m not as bad as ya think. I could handle living like they did a hundred years ago. No battery needed to start a horse.” Oh, really? A century ago anyone over 10 years old could hitch up a two horse team to a buggy for an afternoon trip to town and knew how to deal with their horses’ temperament. Can you? Back then, that knowledge was passed down from father to son. These days, well, you’re more likely to Google the answer than ask Grandpa. View full article
  16. 1 point
    https://www.swampscottautoservice.com Please feel free to give some feedback
  17. 1 point
    Good...I will have to raise shop supplies up some to cover it...Thanks
  18. 1 point
    I am looking for these hard answers. I would love advice on how to write an ad. As I am a tech myself I am starting to think I should focus on looking for someone who will work flat rate that can part swap on European vehicles and some minor diagnostic work. How do I attract this person.
  19. 1 point
    What were you thinking... willing to pay people to work. I have the same problem. All I get is Truck drivers tired of driving who worked at a Walmart Tire center in High School and think they are technicians. BTW, I think your ad is very well written. It just goes to prove Allot of folks dont want a job, they want a check. Dont let that moron bother you
  20. 1 point
    Guys you better check state laws because most states will require you to pay them an hourly wage for attending classes, it can get really ugly if the state gets involved
  21. 1 point
    I would have to have been VERY hungry to have tackled that one.
  22. 1 point
    I sell parts at cost to my guys, or if they need to pay by card plus 5%.
  23. 1 point
    Well, I'd take some good notes and document what happened. Send the customer and email and leave a voicemail explaining that the initial evaluation is complete and estimate reassembling the car, and completing the no start evaluation once it's reassembled. Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
  24. 1 point
    What I have heard from a local owner is that if you can do 650 with 3 people your not going to necessarily get 1.3 by adding 3 more. I think I would add a second shop before I made a shop bigger. Easier for one person to manage two techs then one person to manage two service writers and 5 production staff.
  25. 1 point
    I don't agree with those numbers. Most shops I know doing 1.0M to 1.5M have at least 8 employees. We hit close to 1.5M a few years ago with 8 employess. Myself, 2 advisors, 3 techs, and 2 tire changers. Since the 5 car dealerships opened across the street we have declined to 1.1M with 7 employees when my first tech hired in '79 retired in '16. When we were doing the 1.5M my techs were billing over 95% of their hours so there wasn't much more capacity to gain. However, we have since raise our parts matrix and hourly rate but even with that our sales would only increase to 1.7M if we were still billing the hours we used to. When I read shop profiles in the trade mags it appears that any shop doing over 2M has 10-12+ employees. 4M would need at least 15- 20+.
  26. 1 point
    Focus on efficiency. Do 1.3 with 4 employees, then do it with 2 employees. 8 employees should produce 4m+
  27. 1 point
    Well after a few days of testing I've ruled out a few and started with a few more. HerbC is right, Shop boss is not ready for production. Lots of things in that software that just don't work right. Its mobile capable but not a well laid out design. The jury is still out on shop-ware. The workflow is very different, I'm not sure if I like it, it works mobile but doesn't display on a phone great. I've started looking at a few new platforms, some of which look promising. For those who are following this thread I'll post a list of what I've looked at. Shop-ware - Odd workflow haven't ruled it out yet Shop-Boss - Software is buggy, doesn't display well on all devices. Schedule doesn't really work. Not ready for production environment. If they keep developing it this might be worth a look later on. Profitboost - I originally kind of liked this software, pretty well laid out, lots of functionality but missing some key features like inventory tracking. Rep told me no shop keeps inventory anymore 🙄 also no real way to track recommendations, which is really where the value comes in up-selling your services. Autorepaircloud - The jury is out here still but this is a very promising piece of software. Its missing some key features but the development team is very open to suggestions and update often. With some good input from guys like us I think this could be the winner but its just not there yet. Probably months out, maybe more but its got real promise. The inspection program they have is pretty great, although it could be a little better. Lots of data integration although all of it doesn't always work. Again, its promising Omnique - Just getting my feet wet with this one, will report back shortly, I know a few people on this forum use it, maybe they can chime in as well. workshop shoftware - Australian based company and as such the integrations are built for the AU market. Doesn't really work in the US, software looks decent though although I didn't get to far with it due to the obvious incompatibilities ShiftMobility Shoplite - Haven't started testing this one yet, will do soon though
  28. 1 point
    From what I see and have heard finding the right people is becoming harder and harder.. Why is this? Is there a true shortage of good people, is there an over saturation of shops, are there programs out there creating "lazy mechanics ie parts throwers" ? Is it just decades of schooling pushing people to go to college and become a doctor, dentist, lawyer, or accountant and not enough put on the trade industry? Is it the cost of tools and schooling that does not appeal to the younger generation? It seems building that family for a successful business is getting as hard as diagnosing today's cars..
  29. 1 point
    Great to hear. Sounds like you're getting things rolling. Google reviews are a lot easier than we make them out to be in our heads. Kind of reminds me of a Jr high dance. There's always a girl you wanted to talk to, but were afraid of being rejected. The truth is that she wanted to talk to you too. Your customers are no different. We feel funny asking someone to say nice things about us, but our customers are already thinking nice things, they just need a little help knowing where to write them down. The more you ask, the easier it gets. Be sure you know exactly how to leave a google review, on both Android and Apple phones. Most people will need a little instruction. You don't necessarily need to keep "unprofitable" jobs out, just price them differently. I look at it this way: I can say no to a job, and not get the job. Or, I can price the job so it's profitable, and either not get the job (same outcome as saying no) or get the job at a profitable price. Granted, there are jobs that are just a "no win" but I think most loser jobs simply need to be priced correctly to turn them into money makers.
  30. 1 point
    I have heard decent things about the Rav stuff BUT it is a camera system. Hunter is by far the fastest to set up and break down. If you are looking to maximize profit from alignments then go Hunter. You can quickcheck cars very fast too. If you have the proper system in place you'll sell a lot of alignments. I have experience with camera based aligners and unless are only doing a handful of alignments a week, go hunter.
  31. 1 point
    1.44% on all cards seems to good to be true. Many types of cards charge more than that. There are set interchange rates charged by the card companies (visa, mc, etc...) and for many types of cards it is higher than 1.44% (rewards cards, fleet cards, Amex, Disc), some are lower (debit cards and some others). Not sure how anyone could charge 1.44% all in for everything unless you are doing a whole lot more debit cards. We are doing over 10 million a year in credit cards and I have shopped many times over the last 30+ years and never seen anything that is one fixed flat rate. I have seen cost (interchange) plus plans and tiered rate plans (usually with 3-4 different rates on different types of cards). Would be interesting to see how this works.
  32. 1 point
    I type the plate # into Mitchell when they pull into the driveway, the customers name pops on the screen if the car has been in before. Hi Mrs Wilson... They can't believe my memory is so good. Hehe I cheat
  33. 1 point
    One of the lessons I remember from my father. He would always tell me if you ever lend out money to someone, don't expect it back.
  34. 1 point
    How you address a customer depends on how they introduce themselves. When I meet someone for the first time and they tell me, "My name is Tom Smith", I will use Tom. If the person tells me "My name is Mr. Smith", then I will use Mr. If the person is significantly old than me, I will always use Mr, Mrs, etc. If I know someone is a doctor I will always refer to them as doctor. When I am not sure I may use Mr or Mrs, but it depends on the customer. I prefer to be on a first name basis if i can, and I don't think it's too casual. I think the more you can establish a friendly relationship, the better. Hope this helps.
  35. 1 point
    It’s early Monday morning and you watch as a customer rolls into your driveway with the tail pipe hanging and dragging along the ground. The repair? Obvious. Based on years of experience, you or your service advisor begins the mental process of generating an estimate and repair remedy even before the vehicle stops moving. As the customer walks through the door there is an almost mutual agreement that the exhaust needs to be repaired or replaced and that money will exchange hands. After a price is agreed upon, the repair is done and the customer is back on the road. The beauty of this type of repair is that it is tangible and mechanical in nature. Something is broke and the customer can clearly see that. Selling this type of repair is relatively easy. But what happens when a customer arrives and says, “ My check engine light has been on for a few days, but the car runs great.” How do you or how should you proceed? Unlike the dragging tail pipe, this repair is intangible. Your customer may have a tough time understanding that a problem actually exists. This is where many service advisors and shop owners struggle. Unlike the exhaust problem, selling diagnostic testing is not something that is easily accepted by customers when no apparent problems are occurring. Trouble shooting check engine lights can be an unprofitable nightmare if you’re not charging correctly. It is crucial not to give away diagnostic labor. The costs related to solving complicated on-board computer problems are just too high. But in order to sell diagnostic labor you need to understand human emotions. The one emotion you have on your side is that sense of the unknown. The feeling that although nothing is evident, there still may be problem. And even for the untrained eye, the check engine warning light has to mean something. You need to act on this emotion. This is where you knowledge of the on board computer system comes into play. At this point you need to explain in detail the purpose of the check engine light and why the computer system turns on the light to alert the driver. You also need to explain the series of tests that will be performed in order to pinpoint the reason why the computer turned on the check engine light. It’s equally important to inform the customer that even though there may be no noticeable perfromace issues, a problem still exists. Now comes the key part of the process. Sell the diagnostic labor before the car is taken into the bay. After explaining in detail the process from analysis to repair, inform the customer the charge for the diagnostic testing. You need to separate the analysis from the actual repair. Trying to sell the diagnostic charges with the repair after the car has been analyzed will back fire. Be up front with the customer. I have found that a full explanation of the testing process reducing problems later. It also pre-qualifies the customer. If the customer objects paying for diagnostic labor he will also have a hard time accepting paying for the repair. By the way, don’t bother telling the customer what it costs for overhead, technician salary, equipment, tools, rags, information and training. The customer has no interest in what it cost YOU to be in business and cannot relate to this. Their concern is their car; this is where your focus needs to be. Keep the customer in the loop. Inform the customer that after the tests are completed, you will review the test results and be in a better position to explain what repair is needed. Also, if needed you will call first to explain any additional tests and any costs. I am not suggesting that this process will solve all the problems when selling diagnostic labor. It takes well-trained technicians following a comprehensive outline of tests. Plus there are other factors involved; intermittent problems, lack of information, not having the correct scan tool program update, etc. The important thing to remember is that you need to have a plan. Review you current procedure and insure that both you and customer are both being compensated fairly.
  36. 0 points
    STUDENT SPOTLIGHT … Contributed by Scott “Gonzo” Weaver Flash or Pass? Students … Here’s what you need to know A few decades ago cars were just . . . well, cars. They had an engine, transmission, a starter, a heater, maybe an air conditioner, and all the usual accouterments that made them a car. Mechanics toiled away at replacing engines, rebuilding master cylinders, and fixing transmissions. Almost every component on the car was reworked to a like new condition and some parts may even have been rebuilt several times, before they were too worn out to go around the horn one more time. Labor rates rose and fell with the economy, while parts suppliers kept up the demand for rebuild kits as a normal over-the-counter parts inventory. Then Somewhere Along the Way Something Changed The era of the microchip followed right along with the era of plastics. Things were built not to “rebuild”, but to toss. Thin plastic housings with hundreds and hundreds of microcircuits all wired into a microchip made up circuits that allowed the impossible to become the possible. Some tasks became obsolete, like the telephone switchboard operator, even bank tellers nearly went extinct when the ATM machine was developed. The world would never be the same with the microchip in every facet of modern life. Machining tools could now process and manufacturer automotive parts to such close tolerances that less material was needed per component. The prices for some of these components fell to less than or equivalent to the rebuild kits. Rebuilding an automotive component was soon a thing of past generations. The skills of the mechanic were now overshadowed by the microchip’s ability to manufacture a part better and cheaper than he could repair the old one. Soon, all this “toss-when-worn-out” reached the microchip itself. Computer software started finding itself in the very same throwaway society. Maybe not in the sense that we actually threw it away, but a new set of instructions or a software update may be needed and flashed into a replacement processor. This brings up a whole new problem for the mechanic. Now those skills he developed in rebuilding a master cylinder have next to nothing to do with reprogramming an anti-lock brake module, and if he wants to stay in the business of repairing today’s cars he’s going to need to know how to program, or at least understand the need for and/or the process, rather than knowing the old school way of rebuilding a master cylinder. As aspiring technicians today, students have to ask themselves: “Do I flash, or do I pass?” Passing on the flash may mean you might not get this type of work in the shop you’re hired at after graduation. Luckily, There is a Way Around That Problem These days nearly every car on the road has more than one type of computer device in the car, and there’s a very good chance that at some point something will need a software update or be re-flashed because a component has been changed or upgraded. In a way re-flashing, programming, coding, or the other various software issues there are in the modern car are somewhat of today’s version of rebuilding that master cylinder to a like new condition. Cars these days are lasting longer, running longer, and have different types of break downs than models from those early days. That’s doesn’t mean changing brake pads or installing a remanufactured transmission isn’t done on a daily basis, they most certainly are. It’s the other side of the repair business, the computer updating and re-flashing that’s an even bigger part of regular maintenance than ever before. So, which type of technician will you be? Will you be the technician who will do the mechanical work, but leave electronic issues to someone else? Or will you be the technician who embraces, engages and invests in training, grows competencies and adapts to change? It’s something every technician, as well as employers, need to think about. Fortunately, there is a way for some to do the mechanical stuff and be a proficient technician, without breaking the bank, and still service shop customers’ electrical and software needs. For instance, the answer for some is using an expert mobile diagnostic technician. Seriously, I never dreamed there would come a day I would be saying this, but an expert mobile diagnostician can be a viable source of revenue and a vital source of technical skills that shops or technicians lacking those skills for certain vehicles can utilize. Now, I’m not talking about those fly by night boys with a box of tools. Rather, I’m referring to the diagnostic scanner mobile expert, who is properly tooled, current with automaker-specific information and training, and experienced in dealing with all the service information websites, service procedures and programming issues, such as re-flashing, key programming, and uploading new software. More recently, remote diagnostic services have emerged. In contrast to an individual mobile diagnostician, remote services feature a team of brand-specific, tooled and factory trained diagnostic experts. Of note, remote services are becoming an effective and economical alternative. Don’t Get Stuck in the Past What’s happening in the automotive electronic world reminds me of how things were when manufacturers switched from points and condensers to electronic ignition systems. A lot of guys refused to learn the new systems and soon found themselves only working on older models, which eventually faded away. When electronic ignition systems took hold, parts-swapping became the norm. Instead of testing or diagnosing a problem it was a lot easier to keep the various types of ignition modules in your toolbox, and when a “no-start” came into a shop, it only took a few minutes to swap the ignition module with your test piece. It did save diagnostic time and it did get results, but the microchip and new technology has struck back again. The old school ways of parts-swapping vs. in depth diagnostic with scopes and scanners has just about run its course. In addition, now swapping components can lead to an even bigger problem than what the car originally came in for. Be aware the general public is having a hard time comprehending the reason for these diagnostic costs. It used to be that they would bring the car to the shop, the mechanic would do some fiddle greasy job that involved rebuilding some part or swapping the old ignition module, without charging a diagnostic fee. If a part was suspected as bad, it could usually be swapped out without any worries. That’s just not car repair anymore. Now swapping components with integrated modules can lead a disaster. On the other hand, those techs who pick up the pieces after one of these parts changers finish slapping on parts should be commended. The aftermath of installing a processor without knowing the eventual outcome can also be a brutal blow to a shop’s pocketbook. Radar systems, infrared and optical systems, cameras and proximity sensors aren’t the kind of components easily rebuilt, if at all. But, there’s a good chance you can reprogram most of it. Yes, we still have engines that need rebuilds and gears that need changing, but there clearly is a lot more to mechanical service and repair that involves electronics. To be one of today’s top mechanical repair shops that can get the job done, a lot more emphasis has to be put on that little microchip than on a rebuild kit. Flashing modules and loading computer software updates are just a part of everyday business now. While programming isn’t for everyone, technicians and shops cannot avoid dealing with it. Developing this expertise matters, but recognize some vehicles may be outside your wheelhouse and utilize the expertise that is available to you. You can learn how to flash by attending a few classes and find an expert to service vehicle models you’re not yet familiar with. Just don’t pass on the flash. View full article
  37. 0 points
    Down the Hatch The crazy stuff I’ve found in a gas tank. Never fails, boyfriend dumps girlfriend, girlfriend pours sugar in boyfriend’s gas tank. Girlfriend dumps boyfriend, time for more sugar in the boyfriend’s fuel tank. The actual “who” that does the pouring is up for grabs. Sometimes it’s the boyfriend, sometimes it’s the girlfriend, sometimes it’s that crazy co-worker you worked with, or some wacky protester who just hates gasoline for some reason. Ya just never know, but you can be sure of one thing, somebody, somewhere, is going to pour something into somebody’s fuel tank. Sugar is the ‘go to’ item in most cases. Can’t find the sugar, then find a good substitute. You’re not much on improvising while you’re stressed out about the latest fling who let you down? Not to worry, as long as it’s something that will fit down the filler neck … it’s fair game. Honestly, after all the crazy stuff I’ve found stuffed down the old petrol pipe, I feel like I’m a regular expert on the subject. On occasion, it’s plain dirt that finds its way to the bottom of the fuel tank, but chocolate bars, rice, and flour are all common substitutes when the sugar is running low in the cupboard. The last chocolate bar incident was rather unusual, though. They didn’t bother to take the wrappers off the bars. Nice try. Effective yes, and it did get the car sent to the repair shop, but the repair was minor compared to the sticky mess that it could have been. Maybe next time go for the small bars you get around Halloween, they’ll fit down the filler neck a bit better. Chocolate is always a favorite, especially after Valentine’s Day. You get all those bite size pieces with their gooey centers slowly oozing their way into the fuel tank. Those cherry centers ones, eww… they’re extra messy. Rice on the other hand, well that’s a bit more devious than the traditional sugar stuff-o-matic method. The rice doesn’t really swell in gasoline, it tends to harden like little concrete torpedoes. Flour tends to float, clumps up like badly shaped dough balls, and makes an even bigger mess if it gets into the fuel pump. But, let’s not dwell on just kitchen condiments and baking supplies as the only source for self-satisfaction after a bad relationship or a bit of self-retribution and redemption. Shampoo, liquid soap, shaving cream, and other hygiene products from the bano have made their way to the fuel tank on a few occasions, too. Now, there was this one diesel truck I’d like to mention with a rather gravely problem. It still ran and drove into the shop, but the fuel gauge wasn’t working. However, when the tank wouldn’t hold as much as it used to the owner began to wonder if something was a bit more seriously wrong. There was something wrong all right, the tank was about half full of gravel! It weighed a ton! Dropping the tank was a lesson in dealing with a ‘live’ load and how to balance a fuel tank that couldn’t be completely drained on a precarious tranny jack. Imagine my surprise when I finally got a chance to look inside the tank and saw this guy’s driveway soaking in diesel fuel. The owner thinks it was his grandkids helping him out. Nice try kids. Any other truck would have had a screen in the filler neck or some sort of check ball, but not this one. Now with these DEF systems there’s a whole new problem to deal with. Put the wrong fluid down the wrong filler neck and you could be in for a huge repair bill. Generally these types of problems aren’t from your old girlfriend or boyfriend, but they could be. Maybe, they’re just trying to be helpful. Then, you find out they’re color blind, and they can’t tell the difference between the green and blue labels. Uhm, my bad. (Yea, likely story) Now, if it’s on one of those newer Dodge trucks… there’s no colored coded fuel cap anyway. To make matters worse, the urea mix is acidic and isn’t all that friendly to the paint. How wonderful is that!? Sticks, plastic straws, wire, and the occasional siphon hose have all been a source of amusement at the repair shop when it comes to what you can find at the bottom of a fuel tank. You’d think that little baffle and the check ball would stop most of these intrusions. Actually, I think they just create a new spot for things to get stuck and plug up the entire works. Occasionally these types of fuel tanks end up at the shop anyway, regardless of some foreign object being inserted in the filler neck, or not. They have a tendency of leaving their owners standing at the pump holding the fuel nozzle on the first click, because if they tried any faster the pump would just shut off. You’d think in this advanced electronic age, somebody would invent an anti-ex-boyfriend/girlfriend fuel tank early warning system because the locked gas cap just ain’t doing the trick. Oh it will stop a few, but the true sabotage master will find a way to pry that door open or rip it off the hinges. Locking gas caps are only there to urge on the saboteur. Nothing will stop them when revenge is at the helm; they’ll do whatever it takes to get the dastardly dead done. If nothing else, how about a sugar detector checker. Something that would verify the quality of the fuel before you take off for work in the morning. Or how about some sort of electronic system that would sense any foreign material slipped into the fuel tank, and send whatever it is into a separate holding tank. Then when you get home you could unload the unwanted intruder, identify it, maybe even determine who the culprit is, and take care of business without a trip to the repair shop. Wishful thinking I’m sure. Well, there is one alternative to all of this. If you’re in a relationship with a seemingly psychotic person, you have a grumpy neighbor who’s been eyeballing the fuel door on your car, or you’re the type of person who generally pisses people off for no apparent reason and you live extremely close to a sugar factory … well then…by all means… do yourself a favor… buy an electric car instead.