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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    It's not as dangerous as hauling nets on a fishing boat, but it's no walk in the park. You gotta pay attention all the time.

    Injuries are simply part pf the job. As far as just how dangerous it is you also need to factor in road tests, and roadside assistance risks. On a dangerous stretch of interstate near here if I get a call under specific hours I'll leave with my car to get the people off of the highway, and then go back out with my truck to recover their car. That way I'm the only person at risk.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    That's what a customer said to me when I advised her that she needed tires for inspection. She wanted to know if I could match that price. My cost for her metric tires is just over seventy each, so no playing her price matching game was out of the question. Everything that her car needed was met with a comment about how that's so expensive, and isn't there anything that we can do about the price? I considered writing down each time she tried to be deceptive here but lets just say that there isn't enough time to do so. At every turn we had to address another distortion of the facts about her car or deal with a fabrication from her imagination. She ultimately left only paying for both inspections, but not the state sticker.

    Two days later she called to say that she wanted the work done but didn't have the money and wouldn't have it until today the third. I advised her to plan to drop the car off at her convenience and we would complete the repairs so she could pick it up completed. It didn't show up. Then she called again and it was the same conversation only this time I had to schedule her for Friday. Today she calls and say's that she went somewhere else and got all of the work done and she wants to come in and get the sticker. It doesn't work that way. Pa regulations require the vehicle to be completely re-inspected if it leaves the premises. The regulations are very clear, it isn't free to have the vehicle re-inspected when required. Shops however can choose to do so for a customer as the inspection price is not regulated and market forces are allowed to set the pricing.

    Having listened to her intentionally be dishonest more times in a few minutes worth of conversations than I care to count and having her also make a false claim that my wife told her that what she decided to do (go elsewhere for the work ) was OK I decided enough is enough. I asked her why wasn't the person who did all of the work inspecting the car? Her answer was because she would have to pay him to do so. I explained to her that she would have to pay us too, because I have to not only re-inspect her car I have to be sure that the repairs were done correctly.

    That concept was very difficult for her to grasp. After numerous attempts by her to still manipulate a bargain I finally told her that as far as I am concerned she is his customer for now on. That was the first time that I think she genuinly heard and understood exactly what I said in any of our conversations. For several moments I heard silence on her end of the phone. Your serious about that she asked? Yes I am I replied.

    If she is lucky her car will never have a failure that they cannot fix. If her car ever does have a problem that they can't handle, they won't get to sublet it to me like they usually do. My Choice.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,956
    Always been curious how many cars get "red-tagged" for serious safety violations in the few states that require such inspections. I know the state Commonwealth of PA claims that it's a great saver of body work and medical bills but I wonder if the cost benefit ratio really pans out. What's your opinion "from the ground"?
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,585
    I have been accused on occasion of being "frugal", but man, if I had someone like you local that I knew I could trust, I would be so happy to possibly pay a few extra $ for quality and peace of mind.

    I actually have a local guy that I like and have used over the last couple decades. Far as I can tell, they are sharp and on the up and up. Really only had them do 1 out of the ordinary repair (evap canister on my Accord), and while it might have been close to the dealer cost, they did go above and beyond to address an issue. So maybe a crapshoot at times what is cheaper.

    I just don't use them for under warranty stuff. Including the oil changes at the dealer. Same cost (if not cheaper at the dealer), plus I want them to have the records if I have an issue and need a good will!

    on an older car if I get one? They can do the PPI and the basic repairs.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,585
    Steve, I know that in my neck of the woods (close to Philly) that if you really "need" a sticker, you could get one. Dredge a wreck out of a lake, and for the right price, a sticker is yours.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,956
    Heh, that'll be the Cardoc's wannabe client's next stop.
  • I wouldn't let a chain store lay a finger on my car.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,956
    I had real good luck with Midas in Anchorage. Some of it depends on the people running the particular franchise.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Nothing get's "red tagged". If the car fails inspection it simply does not get a new sticker. The customer is basically free to do whatever he/she wants with it. However get caught driving it on the road and the ticket runs almost a couple hundred bucks.

    Tell me something, when is the last time you noticed a car sitting alongside the road with one of the front tires sitting at an odd angle because of a sperated tie rod end or ball joint? That's a very rare occurance around home because we find the joints that are failing and replace them before it happens. Drive into Ohio right next door to us and it's rare to not see one. I just taught a class in Indianna, I was amazed to see the trash that was still running around on then road there. The stories from the techs about suspension parts tied back together with bailing wire, and in one case a T-shirt were enough to make me happy when we got back home and off of their roads.

    My shop is one that doesn't make a living doing the state inspections, I spend almost all of my time diagnosing and repairing electronics on the cars. There are many shops that if the state inspection program was shut down it would really hurt their businesses. We of course have a number of consumer types. Ms discount tire is an exception to the rule and not a typical customer for me. My regular customers would bring their cars in to be checked and repaired even without an inspection program. Anyway back to this lady. I still cannot get over how she kept trying to feed us one line of BS after another as if we aren't supposed to be smart enough to know better. She came to us because someone else had reccomended us. (Not sure if I should thank that person or not, VBG) Cars I can fix, people I cannot so in the end she really needed to move on down the road. My customers need to be able to trust me, and I them. Nobody would put up with us being as dishonest like she was nor should they. That's a two way street whether she understands it or not. People like her ultimately cause a shop to suffer a financial loss that get's passed onto the rest of the shops customers as part of the cost of doing business.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,956
    when is the last time you noticed a car sitting alongside the road with one of the front tires sitting at an odd angle because of a sperated tie rod end or ball joint?

    Well, maybe once or twice. In the last ~40 years. Must be some strong t-shirts out there. :surprise:

    If the car is unsafe but the owner can still (illegally) drive it, then the inspection program doesn't seem to have much teeth. Wondering why bother.

    One of my first jobs was a (mercifully) short stint in retail. You learn pretty fast that people either don't know what they are talking about or they lie. So do clerks, who will push one product over another for the extra commission. Not that I ever did that. :shades:
  • That's true...management can control the quality of a chain store, to a point--but a good manager can't make the mechanics any better trained than they are the day they work on my car. It's hard to screw up shocks on a Chevy pickup, but I would cringe to have them change the oil on a Mini Cooper or a Subaru (oh, sorry, we drained your transmission by mistake!).
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,956
    At least the chain stores often have deeper pockets and better insurance coverage when you sue them. :P
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 16,892
    i went to a jiffy lube once with a subaru about 10 years ago. I told them very specifically that the car takes 4.5 quarts, so don't just pump in 5. Sure enuf, I was draining off the excess half quart that afternoon. I've never been to a chain joint since.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '08 Town&Country

  • It's like going to Las Vegas---don't gamble more than you can afford to lose.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    I cringe at the thought of a chain place dealing with the ~8 quarts needed by the E55, or the fintail's cartridge/element style filter.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    My Cadillac DTS with the Northstar also takes 8 qts. I take it to the Cadillac dealer. I'm not reckless and self-destructive enough to risk taking it to Jiffy Lube!
  • I'd go to a chain store if they would let me instruct them on how to do it--but they won't, so I don't. I also have a cartridge filter, and it requires a new gasket, and it's touchy, and I don't want oil all over my exhaust header.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    It's hard to screw up shocks on a Chevy pickup, but I would cringe to have them change the oil on a Mini Cooper or a Subaru (oh, sorry, we drained your transmission by mistake!).

    So you apparently have never made such a mistake, is that a function of your superior technical talents, or is it simply that you haven't had enough chances to have fate catch up with you?

    No major league pitcher ever managed to strike me out. That's a fact that is based along a similar vein as your (or anyone else's) having never drained the wrong fluid, or misconnected battery cables. Given enough chances it would eventually happen.

    Frankly as I read the last several responses I asked myself if any of you were qualified to perform those tasks unsupervised in a chain store, or my shop. I think it's safe to say it would be a regrettable decision (for the shop) to try and find out.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,448
    edited October 2012
    I think you are being a bit harsh on Shifty.
    Check out his posts in some other forums and you will see he pretty savvy mechanically and in appraisals.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    edited October 2012
    I'm not paid to be qualified. But I wouldn't trust someone with modest skill and credentials who spends most of the day changing oil on Camrys and the like to have perfect luck with my higher maintenance and extremely uncommon vehicles. And it is a good thing for those mechanics who can specialize - the indy MB shop who I patronize does a huge volume.
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