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Gonzo

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  1. Battin' a Thousand The batter steps up to the plate, takes a hand full of dirt and rubs his hands and the bat. He takes a few scrapes with his feet from the batter’s box while digging in with his cleats. He then gives the pitcher the evil eye and sets his bat ready to take whatever the pitcher is going to throw at him. The catcher gives the signs, the pitcher nods his head. He takes a quick look to first base makes his wind up and then lets the ball fly to home plate. The batter takes a swing... “Pop” the ball is in the catcher’s glove. “Steee---rike!!!” yells the umpire. Somewhere there is an announcer telling the crowd the count while a statistician is writing down the results of the pitch, and calculating the batter's average. With baseball if you can manage to get a hit 5 out of 10 times you’re up to bat… you’re doing outstanding. Achieving a perfect hitting record on the other hand, may never happen in baseball, but in the auto repair business (and most every other field of play) batting a thousand is not a goal it's a requirement. Every job that comes into the service bay is another attempt at keeping that perfect score. Come-backs, bad diagnosis, faulty parts and the like are not what any service person wants to deal with. To keep that perfect score going you have to overcome those obstacles and get the job done right before sending the customer’s car around the bases. Unlike the highly paid professional ball player who is never going to achieve that perfect score the highly trained mechanic has to knock it out of the park each and every time. There's a lot of talk in the industry about how some service advisers/writers and shop owners want a quick “off the cuff” diagnosis and repair rather than waiting for the results of a lengthy-time consuming diagnostic procedure. A mechanic may have a general idea of what is wrong but it still takes proper testing to determine the correct course of action to make the repair. I don't know where this idea came from that every mechanic has the correct answer to ever problem simply by listening to the description given to them by the customer or service writer. It's not like we (mechanics) know what kind of pitch is being hurled at us each and every time. I'm sure the pro ball player could “up” his stats if he knew exactly what kind of pitch was coming across the plate. As it is, he has to make a quick decision, make the right swing, and make contact. In the repair world, analyzing the pitch is the key to a successful outcome. Diagnostics is what makes the difference. Especially on today's vehicles with their interconnected systems, multi-layered computer controls, and the occasional “oops” from a previous botched repair, these all have to be sorted out before the repair is made. This takes time, diagnostics takes time, and time is money. When I hear that a shop isn't charging for diagnostic time it tells me they are either under estimating the value of proper diagnostics or believe they are good enough to read the catcher’s signals and in some way already know what pitch is being thrown. Taking a couple of swings at a repair and not diagnosing anything is like standing in the batter’s box blindfolded. I'd call that a foul ball waiting to happen for sure. It’s important to examine a problem, diagnose as needed and not swing at every pitch that you’re given. In the long run, from the consumers standpoint, a shop that takes the time to diagnose a vehicle correctly may sound more expensive at first when you walk up to the service counter, but chances are you won’t be picked off at 2nd base because you have to spend more cash, buy even more parts that you probably didn’t need, while trying to solve the problem at those shops that don’t see a need in proper diagnostic time. A new player entered the field; it was a job from one of the body shops I do business with. This 2013 Ford Escape was almost ready to go home, however the air bag light wouldn't go off. That's when I was called to plate. “We can sell this job today if you can get this taken care of. We’ve struck out so far,” the owner of the body shop told me. “I’ll see what I can do,” I told him. The first thing I did was check out what codes were in the system. There was only one code. B0095-11 (Right front impact sensor fault – sub code “shorted to ground”). Since it was in a front collision I took my first swing up to bat by checking to see if the wires were smashed or cut. Strike one... the wires are fine, wrong colors though, need to check that a little further. OK, let's try something else... is the connector damaged or the sensor itself in anyway a problem. Strike two... now this is getting serious. Did the module fail? Is there more to this story? Where's the next pitch coming from? A little more snooping around and a bit more in-depth studying of the wiring diagram I think I've got the answer. Very close to the impact sensor is another sensor with the exact same type of connector. The real tell-tale was the wire colors. It looks like when they put the car back together they inadvertently switched the two connectors. (Pretty dumb to have the same type of connectors so close together under the hood... but it ain't the first time I've seen a curve ball like this.) I switched the leads and then went back into the system to clear the code. (With most of these newer systems you not only have to clear the code but you also have to “reboot” the computer by turning the key off before attempting the next “at-bat”.) Well, this batter is ready, the catcher has thrown down the sign, the computers and connections on the playing field are ready to go. All that's left is the pitch. I turned the key and the pitch is on its way. The warning lights come on, the air bag light stayed on for its required amount of time and then.... went off. No codes present and the rest of the systems checked out fine. Yep, I took my swing, and it’s a long, long high flyer… it looks like…yes… yes it is… it’s a “HOME RUN!” Here's a perfect example of the diagnostics taking longer than the actual repair. The way I see it, diagnostic is the mechanics swing at bat, and it's just as important as the actual repair. After spending the time to research a problem only to find out that it was a simple connector doesn’t diminish the time already spent to find out it was just a connector. Mechanics get paid to fix a car, that’s what we do, diagnosing a problem is part of it, and good diagnostic work will keep ya battin’ a thousand. View full article
  2. Battin' a Thousand The batter steps up to the plate, takes a hand full of dirt and rubs his hands and the bat. He takes a few scrapes with his feet from the batter’s box while digging in with his cleats. He then gives the pitcher the evil eye and sets his bat ready to take whatever the pitcher is going to throw at him. The catcher gives the signs, the pitcher nods his head. He takes a quick look to first base makes his wind up and then lets the ball fly to home plate. The batter takes a swing... “Pop” the ball is in the catcher’s glove. “Steee---rike!!!” yells the umpire. Somewhere there is an announcer telling the crowd the count while a statistician is writing down the results of the pitch, and calculating the batter's average. With baseball if you can manage to get a hit 5 out of 10 times you’re up to bat… you’re doing outstanding. Achieving a perfect hitting record on the other hand, may never happen in baseball, but in the auto repair business (and most every other field of play) batting a thousand is not a goal it's a requirement. Every job that comes into the service bay is another attempt at keeping that perfect score. Come-backs, bad diagnosis, faulty parts and the like are not what any service person wants to deal with. To keep that perfect score going you have to overcome those obstacles and get the job done right before sending the customer’s car around the bases. Unlike the highly paid professional ball player who is never going to achieve that perfect score the highly trained mechanic has to knock it out of the park each and every time. There's a lot of talk in the industry about how some service advisers/writers and shop owners want a quick “off the cuff” diagnosis and repair rather than waiting for the results of a lengthy-time consuming diagnostic procedure. A mechanic may have a general idea of what is wrong but it still takes proper testing to determine the correct course of action to make the repair. I don't know where this idea came from that every mechanic has the correct answer to ever problem simply by listening to the description given to them by the customer or service writer. It's not like we (mechanics) know what kind of pitch is being hurled at us each and every time. I'm sure the pro ball player could “up” his stats if he knew exactly what kind of pitch was coming across the plate. As it is, he has to make a quick decision, make the right swing, and make contact. In the repair world, analyzing the pitch is the key to a successful outcome. Diagnostics is what makes the difference. Especially on today's vehicles with their interconnected systems, multi-layered computer controls, and the occasional “oops” from a previous botched repair, these all have to be sorted out before the repair is made. This takes time, diagnostics takes time, and time is money. When I hear that a shop isn't charging for diagnostic time it tells me they are either under estimating the value of proper diagnostics or believe they are good enough to read the catcher’s signals and in some way already know what pitch is being thrown. Taking a couple of swings at a repair and not diagnosing anything is like standing in the batter’s box blindfolded. I'd call that a foul ball waiting to happen for sure. It’s important to examine a problem, diagnose as needed and not swing at every pitch that you’re given. In the long run, from the consumers standpoint, a shop that takes the time to diagnose a vehicle correctly may sound more expensive at first when you walk up to the service counter, but chances are you won’t be picked off at 2nd base because you have to spend more cash, buy even more parts that you probably didn’t need, while trying to solve the problem at those shops that don’t see a need in proper diagnostic time. A new player entered the field; it was a job from one of the body shops I do business with. This 2013 Ford Escape was almost ready to go home, however the air bag light wouldn't go off. That's when I was called to plate. “We can sell this job today if you can get this taken care of. We’ve struck out so far,” the owner of the body shop told me. “I’ll see what I can do,” I told him. The first thing I did was check out what codes were in the system. There was only one code. B0095-11 (Right front impact sensor fault – sub code “shorted to ground”). Since it was in a front collision I took my first swing up to bat by checking to see if the wires were smashed or cut. Strike one... the wires are fine, wrong colors though, need to check that a little further. OK, let's try something else... is the connector damaged or the sensor itself in anyway a problem. Strike two... now this is getting serious. Did the module fail? Is there more to this story? Where's the next pitch coming from? A little more snooping around and a bit more in-depth studying of the wiring diagram I think I've got the answer. Very close to the impact sensor is another sensor with the exact same type of connector. The real tell-tale was the wire colors. It looks like when they put the car back together they inadvertently switched the two connectors. (Pretty dumb to have the same type of connectors so close together under the hood... but it ain't the first time I've seen a curve ball like this.) I switched the leads and then went back into the system to clear the code. (With most of these newer systems you not only have to clear the code but you also have to “reboot” the computer by turning the key off before attempting the next “at-bat”.) Well, this batter is ready, the catcher has thrown down the sign, the computers and connections on the playing field are ready to go. All that's left is the pitch. I turned the key and the pitch is on its way. The warning lights come on, the air bag light stayed on for its required amount of time and then.... went off. No codes present and the rest of the systems checked out fine. Yep, I took my swing, and it’s a long, long high flyer… it looks like…yes… yes it is… it’s a “HOME RUN!” Here's a perfect example of the diagnostics taking longer than the actual repair. The way I see it, diagnostic is the mechanics swing at bat, and it's just as important as the actual repair. After spending the time to research a problem only to find out that it was a simple connector doesn’t diminish the time already spent to find out it was just a connector. Mechanics get paid to fix a car, that’s what we do, diagnosing a problem is part of it, and good diagnostic work will keep ya battin’ a thousand.
  3. HOME Hood Props and Latches Just as soon as the manufacturers got away from using heavy springs to hold the hood up they went to these tiny hydraulic hood shocks. But, since these shocks don’t hold up all that well over years of use, coming up with a way to “hold up” the hood can turn into its own form of backyard engineering. So what do you do? Some of these car hood crafter's find the proverbial discarded broom stick or something of adequate length to prop the bonnet up for them. It works; hey… it held the hoodup right? When the job under the hood is done you’ll tuck it away in the garage, or find an appropriate spot under the hood where you can leave it for future use. Once the hood is closed what was once a problem is now not a problem; out of sight – out of mind. Needless to say, replacing the hood shocks isn’t high on the maintenance priority list. I make it a habit to re-purpose old broom sticks myself. If I need a more unobstructed access under the hood, or those old hood shocks have the “dropsies” (Yea, tell me you’ve never had that happen before.) I’ll reach for a pair of vice-grips to clamp onto the shock rod instead of propping it up with the broom stick. Of course there are those cars out there that don’t use hydraulic shocks at all. A lot of manufacturers have gone with using a permanent hood “holder-upper” rod permanently mounted in the engine bay. What baffles me about them is the countless times I’ve opened a hood and the rod has vanished. Now I’m back to finding that broom stick of mine, or look around for the owner’s creative “holder-upper” tool they so carefully stashed somewhere under the hood. What I’d like to know is, “Where do these hood props go?” They’re attached. I mean seriously, how do ya lose a hood prop? I just don’t get it. I can see somebody misplacing the jack because they changed a tire in their garage and didn’t put it back, but the hood prop? It’s mounted in there so you can’t misplace it. It has one function in life, that’s to hold up the hood. What? Did somebody find a better use for one? I’d like know! Once these props and shocks have become non-functioning the quick thinking car owner comes up with a solution. Some are feats of real engineering while others just grabbed whatever was handy. I’ve found everything from a shortened 2X4 stud, re-bar, tree limbs, PVC pipe, yard sticks, walking canes, pool cues, batons, pieces from a swing set, axe handles, large monkey wrenches, metal chair legs, and even a full size crutch stuck under the hood. I’ve got to admit, some of these creations are quite unique. Some of them might be worthy of a patent. Heck, why not… someone is always building a better mouse trap you know. All this talk of propping the hood up gets me to thinking about the other ingenious home repairs people have come up with regarding the hood, and that’s how do ya get the thing open when it won’t open. These days every car manufacturer I know of has gone with an inside release rather than the main latch release out under the front grill or bumper. The real surprise about the hood release snafu is when someone drops a car off for repair and neglects to tell the mechanic that they “rigged” the hood release. If the inside release isn’t where it’s supposed to be… well then…the search is on…. (Usually with a spattering of inappropriate comments to go along with it.) Once you find the remnants of the cable or handle then it’s a question of whether or not to pull the cable, wiggle it, or yank it for all its worth. (More “words” will commence in just a few seconds.) Oh, I’ve spent my fair share of time groping around looking for the working end of the release cables before. And, of course there’s always the one with the cable broken off. (Grrrr…!) That’s about the time I’ll look at the repair order to see what I’m really supposed to be doing. As usual, nowhere on the RO does it say, “Good luck finding the hood release cable!” or “You might want to fix the hood cable before you change that water pump.” Nope, not a chance… seems everyone including the owner has forgotten all about the hood being an issue. Leave it up to the mechanic to find out all about it, aye? It’s a thrill a minute around here folks! (Start the chant; “I love my job, I love my job. Repeat as necessary.) It just keeps getting better… how about those mystery hoods? The ones that give you no signs that the main latch has released. You pull the lever and nothing happens. On some cars you grab that sucker and pull so hard you think you’re going to jerk the cable clean into the trunk, while others you can feel the latch releasing with a baby soft tug, but the hood doesn’t budge. It’s still even with the rest of the body panels. That’s when you have to go out and use the old “Fonzie bump on the jute box” trick to get it to pop open. Some pop right up, but eventually you’ll run across a stubborn one, usually with the telltale signs of a screwdriver being used to pry it up high enough to get your fingers to the secondary safety latch. (Grumbling and cussing has erupted again.) Needless to say, the objective of the day was to get into the engine bay for whatever repairs you needed to make. Not make a chore out of just getting the blasted hood open. But it happens… happens a lot. Once in a while the owner will politely tell me that the hood doesn’t open up very well. I appreciate that. At least now, I’m aware of the problem and not confronted with the unexpected dilemma of an uncooperative hood. Sometimes I do have to ask the customer, “Say, how do ya get your hood open?”, even though I feel like an idiot doing so. Wasn’t I supposed to be the expert here? I thought it was my job to tackle car related problems and make the necessary repairs? Honestly, what kind of impression are you making with that new customer who’s at the shop for the first time, and you have to go up front just to ask them how to open the hood of their car?! Needless to say, you’ve probably already spent way too much time trying to figure it out on your own… before you swallowed your pride and went up to ask. (Been there…done that.) Well, the next job is coming in, and I can already see the hood cable dangling from under the front bumper on this one. Oh joy, another day in the shop… great, just great… I best go find that broom stick… I’m going to need it. View full article
  4. HOME Hood Props and Latches Just as soon as the manufacturers got away from using heavy springs to hold the hood up they went to these tiny hydraulic hood shocks. But, since these shocks don’t hold up all that well over years of use, coming up with a way to “hold up” the hood can turn into its own form of backyard engineering. So what do you do? Some of these car hood crafter's find the proverbial discarded broom stick or something of adequate length to prop the bonnet up for them. It works; hey… it held the hoodup right? When the job under the hood is done you’ll tuck it away in the garage, or find an appropriate spot under the hood where you can leave it for future use. Once the hood is closed what was once a problem is now not a problem; out of sight – out of mind. Needless to say, replacing the hood shocks isn’t high on the maintenance priority list. I make it a habit to re-purpose old broom sticks myself. If I need a more unobstructed access under the hood, or those old hood shocks have the “dropsies” (Yea, tell me you’ve never had that happen before.) I’ll reach for a pair of vice-grips to clamp onto the shock rod instead of propping it up with the broom stick. Of course there are those cars out there that don’t use hydraulic shocks at all. A lot of manufacturers have gone with using a permanent hood “holder-upper” rod permanently mounted in the engine bay. What baffles me about them is the countless times I’ve opened a hood and the rod has vanished. Now I’m back to finding that broom stick of mine, or look around for the owner’s creative “holder-upper” tool they so carefully stashed somewhere under the hood. What I’d like to know is, “Where do these hood props go?” They’re attached. I mean seriously, how do ya lose a hood prop? I just don’t get it. I can see somebody misplacing the jack because they changed a tire in their garage and didn’t put it back, but the hood prop? It’s mounted in there so you can’t misplace it. It has one function in life, that’s to hold up the hood. What? Did somebody find a better use for one? I’d like know! Once these props and shocks have become non-functioning the quick thinking car owner comes up with a solution. Some are feats of real engineering while others just grabbed whatever was handy. I’ve found everything from a shortened 2X4 stud, re-bar, tree limbs, PVC pipe, yard sticks, walking canes, pool cues, batons, pieces from a swing set, axe handles, large monkey wrenches, metal chair legs, and even a full size crutch stuck under the hood. I’ve got to admit, some of these creations are quite unique. Some of them might be worthy of a patent. Heck, why not… someone is always building a better mouse trap you know. All this talk of propping the hood up gets me to thinking about the other ingenious home repairs people have come up with regarding the hood, and that’s how do ya get the thing open when it won’t open. These days every car manufacturer I know of has gone with an inside release rather than the main latch release out under the front grill or bumper. The real surprise about the hood release snafu is when someone drops a car off for repair and neglects to tell the mechanic that they “rigged” the hood release. If the inside release isn’t where it’s supposed to be… well then…the search is on…. (Usually with a spattering of inappropriate comments to go along with it.) Once you find the remnants of the cable or handle then it’s a question of whether or not to pull the cable, wiggle it, or yank it for all its worth. (More “words” will commence in just a few seconds.) Oh, I’ve spent my fair share of time groping around looking for the working end of the release cables before. And, of course there’s always the one with the cable broken off. (Grrrr…!) That’s about the time I’ll look at the repair order to see what I’m really supposed to be doing. As usual, nowhere on the RO does it say, “Good luck finding the hood release cable!” or “You might want to fix the hood cable before you change that water pump.” Nope, not a chance… seems everyone including the owner has forgotten all about the hood being an issue. Leave it up to the mechanic to find out all about it, aye? It’s a thrill a minute around here folks! (Start the chant; “I love my job, I love my job. Repeat as necessary.) It just keeps getting better… how about those mystery hoods? The ones that give you no signs that the main latch has released. You pull the lever and nothing happens. On some cars you grab that sucker and pull so hard you think you’re going to jerk the cable clean into the trunk, while others you can feel the latch releasing with a baby soft tug, but the hood doesn’t budge. It’s still even with the rest of the body panels. That’s when you have to go out and use the old “Fonzie bump on the jute box” trick to get it to pop open. Some pop right up, but eventually you’ll run across a stubborn one, usually with the telltale signs of a screwdriver being used to pry it up high enough to get your fingers to the secondary safety latch. (Grumbling and cussing has erupted again.) Needless to say, the objective of the day was to get into the engine bay for whatever repairs you needed to make. Not make a chore out of just getting the blasted hood open. But it happens… happens a lot. Once in a while the owner will politely tell me that the hood doesn’t open up very well. I appreciate that. At least now, I’m aware of the problem and not confronted with the unexpected dilemma of an uncooperative hood. Sometimes I do have to ask the customer, “Say, how do ya get your hood open?”, even though I feel like an idiot doing so. Wasn’t I supposed to be the expert here? I thought it was my job to tackle car related problems and make the necessary repairs? Honestly, what kind of impression are you making with that new customer who’s at the shop for the first time, and you have to go up front just to ask them how to open the hood of their car?! Needless to say, you’ve probably already spent way too much time trying to figure it out on your own… before you swallowed your pride and went up to ask. (Been there…done that.) Well, the next job is coming in, and I can already see the hood cable dangling from under the front bumper on this one. Oh joy, another day in the shop… great, just great… I best go find that broom stick… I’m going to need it.
  5. Some Days You’re The Oil, Some Days You’re The Filter In the auto repair business hardly a day goes by that something doesn’t try to upset the apple cart. It might be the new lube guy who spilled 30 gallons of oil on the floor, or that lost set of customer keys. No matter what it is, something or someone is bound and determined to make your day different than the next. From time to time it helps to go with the flow. You know, just let things slip on by and not take things so seriously, because no matter what, there’s always another hectic situation just around the corner to test your stress level. Think of it this way, you could be the oil or you could be the filter. You either let things slide through the day, or you’re trapped with the rest of the grit and grime. Speaking of oil, take the day of the oil SNAFU. I have several customers who have their own preferences as to which brand of oil they would like to have in their car. Now, of course, I strictly adhere to the appropriate type and weight, but as far as brands of oils I’m up for any name on the bottle. (Although I do have a few brands I consider taboo.) Funny thing is, I never seem to get through to some of these folks the importance of a quality oil filter. I believe this should be a higher concern than the brand of oil. This particular day was a rather chaotic day with more than one issue on the rise. Being the well-seasoned shop owner, I was more than up for the task of getting each and every job in and out the door with the skill of a professional. In comes two of my old time regulars with their precious chosen brand of oil they have hand picked off the shelf. Oh yes, I mean hand-picked. These guys remind of the careful shopper at the grocery store who goes through the produce isle finding that perfect melon or apple. I can picture these two guys at the parts store picking up each bottle and examining it in detail before selecting that very bottle for their car. A bit eccentric, yes, but at their age it’s something technology hasn’t taken away from them. It still allows them to feel they can contribute to their car’s well-being, even though they can’t physically work on their own cars anymore. Needless to say these cherished oil cans are treated like gold when they enter the realm of the service bay… or at least that’s the normal way we handled it for our golden years customers. Today, well, it was a bit different. We have our new lube tech, Clifford in charge of the oil service bay. He’s doing a great job, and even managed to up-sell a few seriously overlooked problems on a few customer cars. I have high hopes for this youngster, and encourage him to study for his ASE tests and further his education in the automotive field. This afternoon we already had 4 oil changes lined up for him. Two were the normal, ‘getrdone’ oil changes and two were our regular old timers with their hand selected oil. Clifford has these oil change scenarios down pat. Everything from looking up the actual amount and type of oil required, to verifying what oil they brought, if there is an adequate amount, as well as saving the empties to show the customer when all was said and done. As the cars were shuffled in and out of the service bay, somehow between the front office, the service bay, and back to the front lobby, the wrong box of oil was sent with the wrong car, or at least it was assumed. (No one knows for sure) Luckily, the oil weight, amount, and type were exactly the same from car to car. The only thing that was different was the one thing the owners of these cars had the most pride and input about, and that was the ‘brand’ of oil. Mind you, for some of these regulars who bring their hand-picked-hand-selected oil, they’re quite serious about it. You just don’t calm the situation down by telling them you’ll replace the oil with the brand they originally wanted. Oh heavens no! That’s sacrilegious! That would mean a complete engine tear down (while they watched over you like a hawk) with the interior of the motor completely hand wiped to remove any traces of this foreign oil. I wouldn’t doubt it if they would have gone as far as having the molecular structure of the oil checked and verified that none of the competitor’s brand of oil was left to contaminate their engine. By now, our new lube tech, Clifford has been dragged from the service bay and was about to receive a third degree interrogation while trying to explain his side of this debacle to the older gentlemen. I took it upon myself to advert the possible cardiac arrest in the front lobby and save Clifford from a fate worse than a stuck on oil filter. As usual, there is one thing that separates the counter guy, the lube rack guy, and the owner… the person who makes the final decision on how to dissolve a situation, that’s me, the owner. At the front counter the two old gentlemen were busy sorting through the bottles in each box while holding each of them up to the light for a closer inspection. The conversation went from who did what, to who didn’t do what, and why their brand was better than the other guys brand. Each of them now were trying to play “oil detective” and locate the slippery individual who screwed this all up. As things go with this typical bunch of grandpas, they were soon talking about vacations and grandkids. In fact the two old guys were starting to wonder which oil was theirs in first place. I stepped in between my two elderly customers and their precious boxes of empty oil bottles. Without saying a word I ever so graciously reached for the oil bottles that each of them were holding and placed them back into their respective boxes. Then, with the moves of a Las Vegas magician, I switched box A with customer B and box B with customer A. Then cheerfully said, “There ya go, just a little mix up. It’s all good, you’re all set.” and walked away without another word. I just looked at my counter guy and gave him a wink. He knew what to do, as I guided the bewildered lube tech back to the service bay. I don’t think I’ll ever find out who mixed up what oil with what car, or if there ever was a mix up at all, but you can be sure Clifford won’t forget about this. One minute he’s changing oil, the next he’s got two old guys shaking empty oil bottles at him. Sure made for an interesting day. Sometimes, ya just never know what’s going to happen when ya unscrew that drain plug… some days you’re the oil, some days you’re the filter. View full article
  6. Some Days You’re The Oil, Some Days You’re The Filter In the auto repair business hardly a day goes by that something doesn’t try to upset the apple cart. It might be the new lube guy who spilled 30 gallons of oil on the floor, or that lost set of customer keys. No matter what it is, something or someone is bound and determined to make your day different than the next. From time to time it helps to go with the flow. You know, just let things slip on by and not take things so seriously, because no matter what, there’s always another hectic situation just around the corner to test your stress level. Think of it this way, you could be the oil or you could be the filter. You either let things slide through the day, or you’re trapped with the rest of the grit and grime. Speaking of oil, take the day of the oil SNAFU. I have several customers who have their own preferences as to which brand of oil they would like to have in their car. Now, of course, I strictly adhere to the appropriate type and weight, but as far as brands of oils I’m up for any name on the bottle. (Although I do have a few brands I consider taboo.) Funny thing is, I never seem to get through to some of these folks the importance of a quality oil filter. I believe this should be a higher concern than the brand of oil. This particular day was a rather chaotic day with more than one issue on the rise. Being the well-seasoned shop owner, I was more than up for the task of getting each and every job in and out the door with the skill of a professional. In comes two of my old time regulars with their precious chosen brand of oil they have hand picked off the shelf. Oh yes, I mean hand-picked. These guys remind of the careful shopper at the grocery store who goes through the produce isle finding that perfect melon or apple. I can picture these two guys at the parts store picking up each bottle and examining it in detail before selecting that very bottle for their car. A bit eccentric, yes, but at their age it’s something technology hasn’t taken away from them. It still allows them to feel they can contribute to their car’s well-being, even though they can’t physically work on their own cars anymore. Needless to say these cherished oil cans are treated like gold when they enter the realm of the service bay… or at least that’s the normal way we handled it for our golden years customers. Today, well, it was a bit different. We have our new lube tech, Clifford in charge of the oil service bay. He’s doing a great job, and even managed to up-sell a few seriously overlooked problems on a few customer cars. I have high hopes for this youngster, and encourage him to study for his ASE tests and further his education in the automotive field. This afternoon we already had 4 oil changes lined up for him. Two were the normal, ‘getrdone’ oil changes and two were our regular old timers with their hand selected oil. Clifford has these oil change scenarios down pat. Everything from looking up the actual amount and type of oil required, to verifying what oil they brought, if there is an adequate amount, as well as saving the empties to show the customer when all was said and done. As the cars were shuffled in and out of the service bay, somehow between the front office, the service bay, and back to the front lobby, the wrong box of oil was sent with the wrong car, or at least it was assumed. (No one knows for sure) Luckily, the oil weight, amount, and type were exactly the same from car to car. The only thing that was different was the one thing the owners of these cars had the most pride and input about, and that was the ‘brand’ of oil. Mind you, for some of these regulars who bring their hand-picked-hand-selected oil, they’re quite serious about it. You just don’t calm the situation down by telling them you’ll replace the oil with the brand they originally wanted. Oh heavens no! That’s sacrilegious! That would mean a complete engine tear down (while they watched over you like a hawk) with the interior of the motor completely hand wiped to remove any traces of this foreign oil. I wouldn’t doubt it if they would have gone as far as having the molecular structure of the oil checked and verified that none of the competitor’s brand of oil was left to contaminate their engine. By now, our new lube tech, Clifford has been dragged from the service bay and was about to receive a third degree interrogation while trying to explain his side of this debacle to the older gentlemen. I took it upon myself to advert the possible cardiac arrest in the front lobby and save Clifford from a fate worse than a stuck on oil filter. As usual, there is one thing that separates the counter guy, the lube rack guy, and the owner… the person who makes the final decision on how to dissolve a situation, that’s me, the owner. At the front counter the two old gentlemen were busy sorting through the bottles in each box while holding each of them up to the light for a closer inspection. The conversation went from who did what, to who didn’t do what, and why their brand was better than the other guys brand. Each of them now were trying to play “oil detective” and locate the slippery individual who screwed this all up. As things go with this typical bunch of grandpas, they were soon talking about vacations and grandkids. In fact the two old guys were starting to wonder which oil was theirs in first place. I stepped in between my two elderly customers and their precious boxes of empty oil bottles. Without saying a word I ever so graciously reached for the oil bottles that each of them were holding and placed them back into their respective boxes. Then, with the moves of a Las Vegas magician, I switched box A with customer B and box B with customer A. Then cheerfully said, “There ya go, just a little mix up. It’s all good, you’re all set.” and walked away without another word. I just looked at my counter guy and gave him a wink. He knew what to do, as I guided the bewildered lube tech back to the service bay. I don’t think I’ll ever find out who mixed up what oil with what car, or if there ever was a mix up at all, but you can be sure Clifford won’t forget about this. One minute he’s changing oil, the next he’s got two old guys shaking empty oil bottles at him. Sure made for an interesting day. Sometimes, ya just never know what’s going to happen when ya unscrew that drain plug… some days you’re the oil, some days you’re the filter.
  7. Where’s my 10mm Socket Deep or shallow, impact or chrome, 12 point or six point, ¼” or ½” drive, it really doesn’t matter, those 10 mm sockets have the ability to grow legs. Out of all the hundreds of sockets in the drawer, only the 10mm seems to be the one that disappears without a trace. Sure, it’s used a lot, and yes, it does seem to be on every car and in every form and fashion you can think of, but why is this most useful socket also the one with the escape artistry of Steve McQueen in the movie “The Great Escape”? They can vanish without a trace, leave without warning, or fall into an engine bay never to see the light of day again. One time I actually caught a glimpse of one on a mad dash for freedom. I was working under a car installing a few brackets with my trusty (trustee) 10mm socket attached to my ¼” air ratchet when the socket spun off the ratchet. It traveled along the top edge of the crossmember spinning like mad when it came upon a small hole in the center. It hopped straight up, still spinning, did a perfect pirouette and slipped right down the hole. It was like watching a cartoon character sticking their head out of the hole just long enough to say, “See ya!” and disappear out of sight. I never managed to fish the socket out of there, either. The hole was too small for anything but the socket and the ends of the crossmember were welded shut. That one got away, but I saw the whole thing myself. They really do try to escape. It’s like spotting Big Foot. I mean, who would believe ya when you tell them you just saw your 10mm socket make a break for it and escape down some rabbit hole in a crossmember? Ya might as well call one of those tabloid magazines and tell them. At least they might believe your story. I think the tabloids would put it all down as some sort of conspiracy anyway. It’s the only way to explain it. When I lose a socket the tool truck always has a replacement. For all I know, those fiendish little sockets are sneaking back on the truck, while I’m purchasing one of their buddies. Maybe they’re all out to prove something, or they’re all working with the tool trucks for a cut in the profits. We should start a 10 mm support group for all those socket sets and mechanics who are missing one. I can just hear it now. “I’m here to tell my story about my 10 mm socket. We were good friends, we did a lot together, but now he’s gone and I’m all alone.” The group could all get a T shirt that says, “I lost my 10mm socket. Can you help me?”, but knowing my luck, I’d probably lose the shir, too. Maybe I’ll just paint them all bright yellow, or buy them in bulk and keep so many around that I can’t possibly ever not have one handy. But, knowing those 10mm sockets the way I do, I’d bet they’d find a way to have a mass escape when I’m not looking. The next thing ya know, I’ll start a chain gang of 10mm escapees and have them all work on the worst slimy, greasy, dirty, nastiest part of the car I can find. Here’s the thing I don’t understand. Why doesn’t the 7 and 8mm socket make a break for it? They’re out and about just as much as the 10? As a matter of fact, why not use the 9mm socket or the 11mm a bit more often and give that 10mm guy a bit of break. Maybe then the 10mm won’t feel so over worked and have the tendency to walk off the job. Way back when everything was SAE instead of metric, I don’t recall having to put posters on the neighborhood telephone poles, “Have you seen this ¼” socket?” Most of the time it was right where I left it, and eventually I would wear it out to the point it couldn’t grip a bolt or nut anymore. But would I replace it? No, of course not. I’d put it back in the rack with all of the other sockets, only to remember how worn out it was the next time I needed it. But, that 10 mm, haven’t worn one out yet, because that guy will use any excuse to leave before it gets that old. I’m not saying all the other metric wrenches and sockets are exempt from trying to flee the tool box. Heck no. I’m pretty sure I stumbled onto one of their mass escape plans before. I came into work one day and somebody had moved my tool box. When I opened the drawer all the sockets were haphazardly scattered everywhere you looked. I’ll bet that 10mm socket dude got the other sockets all riled up and would have made good on their escape if it wasn’t for the tool box being locked. Then, there are those two sockets that rest on either side of the 10mm. They don’t seem to do much, they hardly get out of the drawer, and apparently don't take after that 10mm guy at all. You know these two, they're the 9 and 11mm sockets. Every now and then you'll find that one or two odd ball nuts or bolts that are specifically made for a 9 or 11mm socket. They seem to be content living in the tool box with this empty gap between them and they never seem to get lost or go AWOL. In fact, I somehow have a large collection of 9 and 11mm sockets that I don’t even remember buying. But that 10mm socket, that guy hardly ever ends up back in the box and is a bad influence on the rest of them. It’s out all night, can’t find its way home, rolls up under a cabinet and hides, or its favorite trick, finds the one spot in the very center underneath the car that you can’t possibly reach. It's also been known to take the suicide approach of avoiding going back in the tool box. It will take a dive off the edge of a fender and fall into a narrow crevice from which you’ll never retrieve it again. I’m starting to believe those 10mm sockets got it in for us mechanics. They’ll hide in plain sight or sit there shining up at us from some unreachable spot in the corner of the engine bay. I’m pretty sure I saw one scoot across the floor and under a bench once. Never did find him again, either. Maybe we should get Sherlock Holmes on the case. Maybe he could find the whereabouts of these elusive 10 mm runaway sockets. In the mean time I’ve got another problem to take care of. My new pocket screwdriver I just got off the tool truck has disappeared. Seems it’s been hanging around those 10mm sockets way too long, and has gotten ambitious about going over the wall on its own. Or maybe he’s stuck on the edge of the driver’s door again, but that’s another story entirely. View full article
  8. This was a fun one to write... hopefully it goes out on my column soon.
  9. Where’s my 10mm Socket Deep or shallow, impact or chrome, 12 point or six point, ¼” or ½” drive, it really doesn’t matter, those 10 mm sockets have the ability to grow legs. Out of all the hundreds of sockets in the drawer, only the 10mm seems to be the one that disappears without a trace. Sure, it’s used a lot, and yes, it does seem to be on every car and in every form and fashion you can think of, but why is this most useful socket also the one with the escape artistry of Steve McQueen in the movie “The Great Escape”? They can vanish without a trace, leave without warning, or fall into an engine bay never to see the light of day again. One time I actually caught a glimpse of one on a mad dash for freedom. I was working under a car installing a few brackets with my trusty (trustee) 10mm socket attached to my ¼” air ratchet when the socket spun off the ratchet. It traveled along the top edge of the crossmember spinning like mad when it came upon a small hole in the center. It hopped straight up, still spinning, did a perfect pirouette and slipped right down the hole. It was like watching a cartoon character sticking their head out of the hole just long enough to say, “See ya!” and disappear out of sight. I never managed to fish the socket out of there, either. The hole was too small for anything but the socket and the ends of the crossmember were welded shut. That one got away, but I saw the whole thing myself. They really do try to escape. It’s like spotting Big Foot. I mean, who would believe ya when you tell them you just saw your 10mm socket make a break for it and escape down some rabbit hole in a crossmember? Ya might as well call one of those tabloid magazines and tell them. At least they might believe your story. I think the tabloids would put it all down as some sort of conspiracy anyway. It’s the only way to explain it. When I lose a socket the tool truck always has a replacement. For all I know, those fiendish little sockets are sneaking back on the truck, while I’m purchasing one of their buddies. Maybe they’re all out to prove something, or they’re all working with the tool trucks for a cut in the profits. We should start a 10 mm support group for all those socket sets and mechanics who are missing one. I can just hear it now. “I’m here to tell my story about my 10 mm socket. We were good friends, we did a lot together, but now he’s gone and I’m all alone.” The group could all get a T shirt that says, “I lost my 10mm socket. Can you help me?”, but knowing my luck, I’d probably lose the shir, too. Maybe I’ll just paint them all bright yellow, or buy them in bulk and keep so many around that I can’t possibly ever not have one handy. But, knowing those 10mm sockets the way I do, I’d bet they’d find a way to have a mass escape when I’m not looking. The next thing ya know, I’ll start a chain gang of 10mm escapees and have them all work on the worst slimy, greasy, dirty, nastiest part of the car I can find. Here’s the thing I don’t understand. Why doesn’t the 7 and 8mm socket make a break for it? They’re out and about just as much as the 10? As a matter of fact, why not use the 9mm socket or the 11mm a bit more often and give that 10mm guy a bit of break. Maybe then the 10mm won’t feel so over worked and have the tendency to walk off the job. Way back when everything was SAE instead of metric, I don’t recall having to put posters on the neighborhood telephone poles, “Have you seen this ¼” socket?” Most of the time it was right where I left it, and eventually I would wear it out to the point it couldn’t grip a bolt or nut anymore. But would I replace it? No, of course not. I’d put it back in the rack with all of the other sockets, only to remember how worn out it was the next time I needed it. But, that 10 mm, haven’t worn one out yet, because that guy will use any excuse to leave before it gets that old. I’m not saying all the other metric wrenches and sockets are exempt from trying to flee the tool box. Heck no. I’m pretty sure I stumbled onto one of their mass escape plans before. I came into work one day and somebody had moved my tool box. When I opened the drawer all the sockets were haphazardly scattered everywhere you looked. I’ll bet that 10mm socket dude got the other sockets all riled up and would have made good on their escape if it wasn’t for the tool box being locked. Then, there are those two sockets that rest on either side of the 10mm. They don’t seem to do much, they hardly get out of the drawer, and apparently don't take after that 10mm guy at all. You know these two, they're the 9 and 11mm sockets. Every now and then you'll find that one or two odd ball nuts or bolts that are specifically made for a 9 or 11mm socket. They seem to be content living in the tool box with this empty gap between them and they never seem to get lost or go AWOL. In fact, I somehow have a large collection of 9 and 11mm sockets that I don’t even remember buying. But that 10mm socket, that guy hardly ever ends up back in the box and is a bad influence on the rest of them. It’s out all night, can’t find its way home, rolls up under a cabinet and hides, or its favorite trick, finds the one spot in the very center underneath the car that you can’t possibly reach. It's also been known to take the suicide approach of avoiding going back in the tool box. It will take a dive off the edge of a fender and fall into a narrow crevice from which you’ll never retrieve it again. I’m starting to believe those 10mm sockets got it in for us mechanics. They’ll hide in plain sight or sit there shining up at us from some unreachable spot in the corner of the engine bay. I’m pretty sure I saw one scoot across the floor and under a bench once. Never did find him again, either. Maybe we should get Sherlock Holmes on the case. Maybe he could find the whereabouts of these elusive 10 mm runaway sockets. In the mean time I’ve got another problem to take care of. My new pocket screwdriver I just got off the tool truck has disappeared. Seems it’s been hanging around those 10mm sockets way too long, and has gotten ambitious about going over the wall on its own. Or maybe he’s stuck on the edge of the driver’s door again, but that’s another story entirely.
  10. When you say, 'I own a shop' is quite different than saying, 'I run a shop'. They are two different things entirely. It's when you (the shop owner/mechanic) realize the difference and work towards making your 'shop' into a business.
  11. I guess the next generation of mechanics will be the guys and gals that fix the machines that fix the machines then. LOL
  12. Diversity in Mechanics The days when nearly every driver was aware of what was going on under the hood of their car has faded into the history books. Not only has the driver lost touch with the inner workings of their automobile, the car itself has become more “user-friendly”. There’s no hand crank to twist, no choke lever to pull out, no manual brakes, and anymore, hardly no one rolls a window down by hand or uses a clutch to shift the transmission. Less and less effort is required by the driver to operate the vehicle. What was once a series of steps you had to accomplish to start a car has now become automated to the point all you have to do is push a button and the car starts. Gone are the cold morning starts where you had to pump the gas pedal, crank the engine, then listen to the motor to see if the fast idle had set or not. But, you always had to be careful that you didn’t flood the cold engine, and if you did… that brought on a whole other set of tasks the driver had to accomplish correctly. It’s not just starting the vehicle that needs less driver influence, even parallel parking has become a hands free procedure. Now, with all the cameras and radar systems attached to the car there’s hardly anything to do except be a passenger. Even then, you’re basked in a climate controlled cocoon with atmospheric controls such as lighting, massage chairs, heated seats, and soothing background music all the while computers and sensors are controlling every movement. Growing up around car repair shops might have made a difference as to how I look at these complicated thing-a-ma-jigs they refer to as the modern car. They’re not just a ‘car’ anymore. In my youth it was nothing to see a gang of dads leaning over a hood when something went wrong. Today, there’s not a whole lot to see. It’s all plastic covers with various caps and knobs for adding fluids and if you’re lucky there might even still be a dipstick under there too. Diagnosing and repairing the modern car isn’t quite the same as it was back in the day all the dad’s would gather around the fenders. Even though the operation of the vehicle has been somewhat automated the repair side of things has gone other way. Parts swapping, guess until ya get it, and the old ask your uncle Bob what’s wrong with your car is as out of date as the crank start. But, I still find it rather amazing how the engineers and designers managed to “dummy-down” all the possible problems that possibly could happen to a little check engine light on the dash. Can you imagine what it would be like if they didn’t? Service lights, warning indicators, and digital messages inform the driver of the severity or condition of the vehicle. Although, most of the information that appears on the digital screen is more of a generic message or sometimes even displayed as a short message telling the driver of the condition of the vehicle without actually telling them precisely what’s wrong. Even if it did, who would understand it? Surely not the driver (in most cases), that’s left up to the service technician. You know ‘that’ guy. The one that overcharges you for those repairs you don’t understand or even care to know because you’re far above the educational requirements of a certified mechanic. Of course, anyone who’s been around the business for any length of time will tell you that the days of the grease jockey recharging your air conditioner by slappin’ a can of Freon in your car so you can whiz off to work are about as far gone as 2 ply tires. That’s where diversity between mechanics and the technical advances start to show through. The technical training for a good mechanic with advanced skill levels can exceed the requirements of most 4 year college degrees. The big difference between the academic degree and the technical school degree is still greatly debated. To me, the requirements of the educational programs differ only in the fact that in an academic setting you’re required a certain level of English, math, and the other various ‘general’ skills for graduation. The trade schools generally don’t have those academic requirements for graduation. The big problem is the non-car aficionados (general public) don’t want to admit that the family car requires a college degree to keep them in tip top shape. So why would the guy changing the oil need to have a degree? There’s a very good possibility that a shortage of technicians qualified to work on the modern car is drastically going to increase in the next decade or so. Of course, ask anyone in the business now and they’ll tell you the average age of the professional mechanic has slowly been increasing to well over 50 years of age. That might have a lot do with the startup requirements put on the new technicians coming into the field. To many times a young mechanic gets into the business with those wild eyed ideas that they can fix anything that rolls into their service bay, only to find out their skills sets lack a lot of the required knowledge in understanding the complexities of the modern types of problems their facing. That brings us back to that college grad again. They’ve spent a ton of money on their education, and some may never pay those loans off for years, if not decades. Technical college fees remain low in comparison, and with luck, the average educated technician will have their tuition fees taken care of long before the college grad has theirs paid off. Here’s something else to think about, while a lot of college grads take on temporary jobs like a waiter while their waiting for their big break into that six figure job they’ve been trained for, most grads of the tech schools are out working in the very field they’ve been trained for. They might be the college grad on the lube rack, but he’s there, in his field of choice getting his hands dirty and working towards his ultimate goals. Chances are, the mechanic will be at that very restaurant having lunch while wearing their rental uniform covered in the days grease and grime and the waiter…. well, they’re still working for tips. The real issue for the mechanic’s world is the acceptance of the educational level required and the respect that the mechanic deserves as well as being compensated for said education and skills needed. I do believe, in time, the shortage of trained-qualified technicians will turn into an increase in wages across the board. Which is just what the industry needs to draw in those new faces to the service bays. All this can start back in high school. Somebody needs to tell the school guidance counselors that being an automotive mechanic is a trade with high expectations and compensation, not a last resort job for those undesirable individuals that didn’t pass their SAT’s. View full article
  13. Diversity in Mechanics The days when nearly every driver was aware of what was going on under the hood of their car has faded into the history books. Not only has the driver lost touch with the inner workings of their automobile, the car itself has become more “user-friendly”. There’s no hand crank to twist, no choke lever to pull out, no manual brakes, and anymore, hardly no one rolls a window down by hand or uses a clutch to shift the transmission. Less and less effort is required by the driver to operate the vehicle. What was once a series of steps you hand to accomplish to start a car has now become automated to the point all you have to do is push a button and the car starts. Gone are the cold morning starts where you had to pump the gas pedal, crank the engine, then listen to the motor to see if the fast idle had set or not. But, you always had to be careful that you didn’t flood the cold engine, and if you did… that brought on a whole other set of tasks the driver had to accomplish correctly. It’s not just starting the vehicle that needs less driver influence, even parallel parking has become a hands free procedure. Now, with all the cameras and radar systems attached to the car there’s hardly anything to do except be a passenger. Even then, you’re basked in a climate controlled cocoon with atmospheric controls such as lighting, massage chairs, heated seats, and soothing background music all the while computers and sensors are controlling every movement. Growing up around car repair shops might have made a difference as to how I look at these complicated thing-a-ma-jigs they refer to as the modern car. They’re not just a ‘car’ anymore. In my youth it was nothing to see a gang of dads leaning over a hood when something went wrong. Today, there’s not a whole lot to see. It’s all plastic covers with various caps and knobs for adding fluids and if you’re lucky there might even still be a dipstick under there too. Diagnosing and repairing the modern car isn’t quite the same as it was back in the day all the dad’s would gather around the fenders. Even though the operation of the vehicle has been somewhat automated the repair side of things has gone other way. Parts swapping, guess until ya get it, and the old ask your uncle Bob what’s wrong with your car is as out of date as the crank start. But, I still find it rather amazing how the engineers and designers managed to “dummy-down” all the possible problems that possibly could happen to a little check engine light on the dash. Can you imagine what it would be like if they didn’t? Service lights, warning indicators, and digital messages inform the driver of the severity or condition of the vehicle. Although, most of the information that appears on the digital screen is more of a generic message or sometimes even displayed as a short message telling the driver of the condition of the vehicle without actually telling them precisely what’s wrong. Even if it did, who would understand it? Surely not the driver (in most cases), that’s left up to the service technician. You know ‘that’ guy. The one that overcharges you for those repairs you don’t understand or even care to know because you’re far above the educational requirements of a certified mechanic. Of course, anyone who’s been around the business for any length of time will tell you that the days of the grease jockey recharging your air conditioner by slappin’ a can of Freon in your car so you can whiz off to work are about as far gone as 2 ply tires. That’s where diversity between mechanics and the technical advances start to show through. The technical training for a good mechanic with advanced skill levels can exceed the requirements of most 4 year college degrees. The big difference between the academic degree and the technical school degree is still greatly debated. To me, the requirements of the educational programs differ only in the fact that in an academic setting you’re required a certain level of English, math, and the other various ‘general’ skills for graduation. The trade schools generally don’t have those academic requirements for graduation. The big problem is the non-car aficionados (general public) don’t want to admit that the family car requires a college degree to keep them in tip top shape. So why would the guy changing the oil need to have a degree? There’s a very good possibility that a shortage of technicians qualified to work on the modern car is drastically going to increase in the next decade or so. Of course, ask anyone in the business now and they’ll tell you the average age of the professional mechanic has slowly been increasing to well over 50 years of age. That might have a lot do with the startup requirements put on the new technicians coming into the field. To many times a young mechanic gets into the business with those wild eyed ideas that they can fix anything that rolls into their service bay, only to find out their skills sets lack a lot of the required knowledge in understanding the complexities of the modern types of problems their facing. That brings us back to that college grad again. They’ve spent a ton of money on their education, and some may never pay those loans off for years, if not decades. Technical college fees remain low in comparison, and with luck, the average educated technician will have their tuition fees taken care long before the college grad has theirs paid off. Here’s something else to think about, while a lot of college grads take on temporary jobs like a waiter while their waiting for their big break into that six figure job they’ve been trained for, most grads of the tech schools are out working in the very field they’ve been trained for. They might be the college grad on the lube rack, but he’s there, in his field of choice getting his hands dirty and working towards his ultimate goals. Chances are, the mechanic will be at that very restaurant having lunch while wearing their rental uniform covered in the days grease and grime and the waiter…. well, they’re still working for tips. The real issue for the mechanic’s world is the acceptance of the educational level required and the respect that the mechanic deserves as well as being compensated for said education and skills needed. I do believe, in time, the shortage of trained-qualified technicians will turn into an increase in wages across the board. Which is just what the industry needs to draw in those new faces to the service bays. All this can start back in high school. Somebody needs to tell the school guidance counselors that being an automotive mechanic is a trade with high expectations and compensation, not a last resort job for those undesirable individuals that didn’t pass their SAT’s.
  14. Joke of the Day

    New Thoughts of the day... Now that I'm older and slowing down a bit. I changed my car horn to gunshot sounds. People get out of the way much faster now. Gone are the days when girls used to cook like their mothers. Now they drink like their fathers. You know that tingly little feeling you get when you really like someone? That's common sense leaving your body. I didn't make it to the gym today. That makes five years in a row. I decided to change calling the bathroom the John and renamed it the Jim. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning. Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven't met yet. Old age is coming at a really bad time. When I was a child I thought “Nap Time” was a punishment. Now, as a grownup, it feels like a small vacation. The biggest lie I tell myself is, "I don't need to write that down, I'll remember it." I don't have gray hair; I have "wisdom highlights." I'm just very wise. Teach your daughter how to shoot, because a restraining order is just a piece of paper. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would've put them on my knees. Why do I have to press one for English when you're just going to transfer me to someone I can't understand anyway? Of course I talk to myself; sometimes I need expert advice. At my age "Getting lucky" means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.
  15. Twas the Night before Christmas (Mechanic style) Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the service bay, Not an engine was stirring, just old Santa’s sleigh. All the air hoses were hung, by the compressor with care, The mechanics had the day off, I’m the only one there. I was just an apprentice, but wanted to show St. Nick just what I knew, My boss was all for it, said it was OK if I turned a few screws. With visions of being a full time mechanic, dancing in my head I was going to give it my best shot; I’ll fix this old sled. I gave the key a twist,and listened in dismay, That little red hot rod needed service, in such a bad way Then from under the hood there arose such a clatter, That even St. Nick had to ask, “So, what’s the matter?” I flew from the driver’s seat and raised the hood in a flash, Nearly stumbling off my feet, from my quick little dash. The under hood light, glimmered onto the engine below, The fan belt had broken, and a spark plug blew out a hole. It’s something I can handle; I learned this stuff in school, I’ll have this fixed up in no time; it only takes a few tools, I started it up and all eight cylinders were firing away Just a few minor adjustments and he could be on his way That’s when I noticed, his sled was packed full of all sorts of toys… He hadn’t finished his deliveries, to all the girls… and boys. He was dressed all in red, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot Anxious he was, to finish his trip as soon as he could, With my wrenches a flyin’, he knew that he would. It was up to me, to get it fixed this very night, He still had a long way to go, before it was daylight. His eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples, how merry His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. I knew it was Christmas Eve, so I couldn’t say no, He had a broad face and a round little belly That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. His sled was like new, after the job was all done, Now that it’s fixed, he could get back to his run. He reached into his huge bag, and pulled a box out with a jerk, Said he knew just how to thank me, for all of my hard work, I ripped open the present, and Oh, what a sight! Snap On wrenches and sockets! Boy was he right! As he pulled from the parking lot, he held the throttle to the floor, Just to show off, he passed by the shop, once more, This guy Santa, he’s a little strange, at any rate, He had a name for every cylinder, in his little V8. I could hear him shout, so loud and clear, Naming off each cylinder, as if they could hear. "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! I heard the tires screech, as he caught second gear, Off to deliver those presents, some far, some near. Then, I heard him exclaim, just before he drove out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” View full article
  16. Twas the Night before Christmas (Mechanic style) Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the service bay, Not an engine was stirring, just old Santa’s sleigh. All the air hoses were hung, by the compressor with care, The mechanics had the day off, I’m the only one there. I was just an apprentice, but wanted to show St. Nick just what I knew, My boss was all for it, said it was OK if I turned a few screws. With visions of being a full time mechanic, dancing in my head I was going to give it my best shot; I’ll fix this old sled. I gave the key a twist,and listened in dismay, That little red hot rod needed service, in such a bad way Then from under the hood there arose such a clatter, That even St. Nick had to ask, “So, what’s the matter?” I flew from the driver’s seat and raised the hood in a flash, Nearly stumbling off my feet, from my quick little dash. The under hood light, glimmered onto the engine below, The fan belt had broken, and a spark plug blew out a hole. It’s something I can handle; I learned this stuff in school, I’ll have this fixed up in no time; it only takes a few tools, I started it up and all eight cylinders were firing away Just a few minor adjustments and he could be on his way That’s when I noticed, his sled was packed full of all sorts of toys… He hadn’t finished his deliveries, to all the girls… and boys. He was dressed all in red, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot Anxious he was, to finish his trip as soon as he could, With my wrenches a flyin’, he knew that he would. It was up to me, to get it fixed this very night, He still had a long way to go, before it was daylight. His eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples, how merry His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. I knew it was Christmas Eve, so I couldn’t say no, He had a broad face and a round little belly That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. His sled was like new, after the job was all done, Now that it’s fixed, he could get back to his run. He reached into his huge bag, and pulled a box out with a jerk, Said he knew just how to thank me, for all of my hard work, I ripped open the present, and Oh, what a sight! Snap On wrenches and sockets! Boy was he right! As he pulled from the parking lot, he held the throttle to the floor, Just to show off, he passed by the shop, once more, This guy Santa, he’s a little strange, at any rate, He had a name for every cylinder, in his little V8. I could hear him shout, so loud and clear, Naming off each cylinder, as if they could hear. "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! I heard the tires screech, as he caught second gear, Off to deliver those presents, some far, some near. Then, I heard him exclaim, just before he drove out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
  17. I recently sold my business, but ive been trying to sell it for about 2 years. Circumstances meant that I had to figure out how to sell it now, and still turn a profit...without having to resort to the dreaded auction scenario. The solution for me, sell the shop in two steps. I offered the main shop equipment and the client base at one price, then offered the remaining equipment as a separate sale. In other words, this way I could attract potential buyers who were looking to buy cheaper, only to find out they really needed to step up and buy everything else. It worked for me.
  18. Vision KC

    Only in my own feeble mind. LOL
  19. Vision KC

    I've got two invites to Vision this year. The usual from the magazine company, which I'll be hanging around the booth a lot (that's where you're most likely to find me) and the tech college I've been teaching at. They're new at this "convention" stuff and the college is very small, but their trying to make it work. I'm going to introduce them around and see if I can get them up to speed on today's technology and bring in some better testing equipment such as Consulab trainers and stuff like that. Should be a hoot. OH, and the magazine company is working really hard to get rooms at the convention center this year so we don't have to drive all over town like we have in the past. LOL Looking forward to meeting everyone. Some of the places you'll find me: In the convention center at the Babcox magazine booth, the AVI booth, MotorAge and the ASE booth (if they are going to be there. ASE got a bit pissy the last year or two because Vision wasn't going to give them a free booth anymore) and at the Bar area. (that's where everybody hangs out)
  20. Ode to Santa and the Economy There goes Santa, running for his sleigh; He’s gotta run fast, to get away. You see, the economy has struck the North Pole as well; The elves are on strike, and his wife is givin' em' hell. These days when Santa appears at the local department store; It’s not just for fun or photos, but for gifts he needs to score. He'll check the store layout and make a quick dash; Why even Santa max'd out his credit card and is low on cash. So off he goes, into the night; To find those gifts, and get out of sight. Now, he’s not going to make a whole lot of stops; ‘Cause look out Santa… here comes the cops. Santa leaps to his sleigh and flys far into the night; Carrying all those gifts, on his yearly flight. Way into the morning, the police search high and low; Only to find a few tracks left in the snow. You'll hear all the alarms blaring, late into the night; But old Saint Nick will be long gone, and clean out of sight. Santa has to be quick, to have it done by Christmas Eve; So many gifts, and so many places to be… The presents will be wrapped, and the tags will be off; Cause old Santa is very careful, not to get caught. So check your presents, early on Christmas day; (Keep it hush-hush if they're from Santa, OK...?) Now, I don’t know if Old Saint Nick, stopped at your house or not; But If he did … … … … … .....THOSE GIFTS ARE . . . HOT ! ! PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO ALL MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! ! ! View full article
  21. Ode to Santa and the Economy There goes Santa, running for his sleigh; He’s gotta run fast, to get away. You see, the economy has struck the North Pole as well; The elves are on strike, and his wife is givin' em' hell. These days when Santa appears at the local department store; It’s not just for fun or photos, but for gifts he needs to score. He'll check the store layout and make a quick dash; Why even Santa max'd out his credit card and is low on cash. So off he goes, into the night; To find those gifts, and get out of sight. Now, he’s not going to make a whole lot of stops; ‘Cause look out Santa… here comes the cops. Santa leaps to his sleigh and flys far into the night; Carrying all those gifts, on his yearly flight. Way into the morning, the police search high and low; Only to find a few tracks left in the snow. You'll hear all the alarms blaring, late into the night; But old Saint Nick will be long gone, and clean out of sight. Santa has to be quick, to have it done by Christmas Eve; So many gifts, and so many places to be… The presents will be wrapped, and the tags will be off; Cause old Santa is very careful, not to get caught. So check your presents, early on Christmas day; (Keep it hush-hush if they're from Santa, OK...?) Now, I don’t know if Old Saint Nick, stopped at your house or not; But If he did … … … … … .....THOSE GIFTS ARE . . . HOT ! ! PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO ALL MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! ! !
  22. Checkin In

    Well, I think thats great. Sorry I influenced your decision, or maybe I should say, your welcome. Lol


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