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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525
    Doc, maybe your shoes are too tight...this can lead to dizziness, loss of appetite overwork :)

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    OK, let me make sure I understand the rules, you can write anything you want to, but if I respond to something like that, I'm the one that is wrong.

    Anyway, it doesn't matter what anyone on the outside thinks. The latest idea of how to run a dealership has them deducting two hours a day from the productivity of the junior technicians, in order to pay senior techs that they are assigning to only do the diagnostics.

    Just in case someone doesn't understand what that means, lets say the junior tech produces eight hours of work in an eight hour day. He/she will get paid six hours so that those dollars can be put towards paying a senior technician for only doing the more difficult diagnostic work.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525
    edited November 2013
    Your objection presumes of course that those 8 eight hours the jr. tech put in were 8 profitable hours. As you probably know from running a shop, if you hire a newbie they basically aren't making much if any money for you for the first 3 months.

    I'm not defending this idea, just wondering if we know all the ins and outs of it.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited November 2013
    No presumption about it. Every tech in the shop who isn't one of the diagnostic techs surrenders two profitable hours a day to "the system."
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525
    that doesn't even sound legal. Besides who would even take such a job?

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    that doesn't even sound legal. Besides who would even take such a job?

    Maybe someone who is good at Steve's video game.......

    Seriously, why should anyone come into this trade until serious changes are made from top to bottom? In short they shouldn't. That's why I highlighted the part that I did off of Steve's link. They are probably going to use the game to paint pretty pictures of the job, but the reality is garbage pay plan ideas like that. The only thing they have to do is pay minimum wage and as long as they meet that, they are free to do whatever they want. The best part is if it fails, they just blame the techs.......

    When I heard about it, I advised the techs to seek new employment immediately. Its on my blog but I'll paste it here.

    ---------------------------------------------------


    Another technician wrote a post about a dealership who has restructured their service department so that they have some techs who only do diagnostics, and then they pass the cars onto other techs to do the actual repair. The real kicker is that they take two productive hours off of the regular techs each day to make a pool from which to pay the diagnostic techs. I can only wonder how people who know so little about being a technician get into a management position over them where they get to make these kinds of decisions.

    I could see myself as potentially one of the diagnostic guys. What I can't see is handing the work off to someone else once the diagnostics are completed. Fixing the car means also doing the actual repair because that serves to reinforce the intuitive side of a technicians knowledge and experience. As one of the other posters noted anytime the process doesn't work and a car isn't repaired, who do you point the finger at? IMO, the moment you have to start pointing fingers you have all the proof that you needed to prove that this wasn't a good idea to start with.

    Getting good at diagnostics requires just plain getting good at fixing cars, plus a whole lot of hard work on top of that studying and developing as Jim Garrido says a good game plan. I think most of the top techs will agree with me that there were a lot of mistakes on the way to figuring out their game plans, and most of the lessons taught by those mistakes were (and occasionally still are) learned the hard way. One of the toughest hurdles was to learn to take a patient disciplined approach, especially when the store only wants to pay pennies no matter how much time needed to be spent doing diagnostics. I have 1999 Jaguar XK8 in the shop right now that makes for a good analog.

    A week ago a shop sent it to me for a P1646 which his information showed to be fuel pump #2 relay control circuit issue. Except that the #2 pump is only used on the super charged cars, so right away he had no idea what was going on with this car. It took some researching and it turned out that P1646 is for the heater circuit upstream sensor bank A. But instead of having me go through the steps to prove what the failure was and complete the repair the shop stopped the diagnostics and took it back to their place to just throw a sensor in it. In the process of doing that they bought a "very inexpensive one" compared to the O.E. that I would have recommended and to install it they had to splice the connector from the original sensor. Two key starts later, the light was back on and the code had reset, so now they wanted it tested completely.

    If you are able to look at that paragraph and see quite a few miss-steps, from not fully diagnosing the problem at any time, to them having inadequate service information, and then using questionable parts and repair habits you see how a lot of shops run. By the numbers, however 95% of the time they were going to get the final outcome correct by just slamming that sensor if they had only used a quality part so one can argue there is a potential reward for that approach. However instead of fixing the car, they added yet another variable to the problem and that has both of us further away from fixing the car than they were a week ago. At least they broke tradition at this point and are going to let me prove what is going on before they just slam another O2 sensor even if it is the correct part this time.

    The real problem isn't whether what that dealer is trying to do is legal or not, it's how many things will go wrong with it because management hasn't thought it out completely.

    The above scenario where some techs are doing the diagnostics and while others are replacing the parts are going to create a lot of Jaguars, and when they slam the parts and get it right they will turn around and feel that the lower level tech was all they needed. While if they still rush it at all they will defeat the whole idea of having the diagnostic techs in the first place and that's when the finger pointing will start. One of the worst parts of this is they have just added a glass ceiling to the career path for the next generation of techs who should be learning to be their diagnostic techs of the future, and they are taking two hours off of them each day to pay for all of this. To me that shows that they don't care about technician retention nor does the management understand the long term technician career path.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,129
    Lots of shops have "leads" who parcel out the work to every tech in the shop. Presumably this is to make sure everyone keeps busy and jobs are finished in a timely manner. The lead is paid a bit extra for doing this, but it doesn't come out of anyone else's pocket.

    Seems fairer if you are going to have someone diagnose problems to pay them more since those techs would be more knowledgeable. For entry level techs, you just pay at an entry level rate.

    It would be a logical transition just to make the diagnostic person the lead.

    And if the "junior" tech figures out that it's a different problem, they could get a bonus - out of the lead's pay, lol.

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  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,261
    Doc, if you don't get any respect in this discussion, why do you continue to post. I say that with all do respect your way for having the talent and instinct to solve the problems others can't. Why not spend the time you spend here on something enjoyable with family or friends. On the other hand, maybe you just like to mix it up a bit --- that makes sense I suppose.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited November 2013
    f you are able to look at that paragraph and see quite a few miss-steps, from not fully diagnosing the problem at any time, to them having inadequate service information, and then using questionable parts and repair habits you see how a lot of shops run. By the numbers, however 95% of the time they were going to get the final outcome correct by just slamming that sensor if they had only used a quality part so one can argue there is a potential reward for that approach.

    And unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), the fact that 95% of the time the problem gets fixed by replacing that sensor illustrates what Doc's up against.

    Back to our favorite P0440 code for a moment. What to do - replace or reseat the gas cap, or pay for a more expensive diagnostic procedure to really verify what the problem is?

    And it's not just the car repair industry that faces this dichotomy. When problems show up with a system I'm working on, program managers generally want a couple of options to weigh. One might be:

    -pull in all the heavy guns (the experts), instrument the heck out of the system, run some tests, see what they tell you, and $20,000 later, you have a pretty good idea, say 98% accurate, as to what is wrong.

    Another - ask those same experts what their best guess is as to the cause of the problem and follow their recommendation, for a cost of say $2000. They tell you doing so has an 80% chance of solving the problem.

    What does a program manager do? Go with the sure-fire approach for $20K, or go with the lower cost $2K solution, knowing that if the cheaper (and quicker) approach fails to solve the problem, they have to use the more expensive one anyway. But the cheaper solution usually works.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525
    There is no technician on earth that can claim 100% assurance with their diagnosis, so "guessing", while too flippant a term for what a trained tech is doing, can still be operative--it's precisely calculated guessing, but every now and then it's the best one can do.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    it's precisely calculated guessing, but every now and then it's the best one can do.

    Until experience, proper training and a disciplined approach lead to a better way.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525
    As Lee Iacocca used to say: "By the time you have gathered up 100 % of the facts, the train has left the station".

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Lee Iacocca also invented Fords seat belt interlock system......
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525
    and the Mustang.

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  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,129
    Best of all, the flat floored FWD minivan.

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  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,749
    My BIL has a 2008 Chev Impala, that he doesn't really like. It has less than 22K miles -it is used for 5 months in the winter in Florida.

    Lately he has a noise from the air conditioner fan. It doesn't come on when the car is running but it comes on and makes noises when the engine is turned off.

    GM won't help, the car is way past warranty period, even though it only has less than 22K miles on it. The dealer said they would do a free diagnosis test but that the instrument panel would probably have to come out to fix it. My BIL has considered taking it to an independent garage as they would probably do a free diagnosis anyway, and the actual repair may cost less.

    Anyone got any ideas?

    Happy Thanksgiving to all........................

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,749
    Oh yeh, I forgot to mention the dealer thinks it is the a/c adtuator.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    Are you talking about the fan under the hood?

    Or the fan in the interior that circulates air inside the car?
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,749
    Or the fan in the interior that circulates air inside the car?

    The fan inside the cars. I wrote to my BIL to get more details. I recall him saying it was quiet when the car is driven, but the fan continues to turn and there is a lot of noise coming from the fan - when the engine is turned off.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    Ok, I know some cars can be set to do what is called an 'afterblow'. This basically runs the AC/Heat fan after the car is turned off. And, I would guess this runs at the max fan speed, which is probably pretty loud. This is done mainly in humid locations and it dries out the condenser (evaporator? I never know which is which) that is inside the car. This helps to keep mold and other smelly things from growing in there.

    This is usually not done in a car, but I know that 'tuners' or the dealer service people with their tech tools can set some cars so they do this. It's usually done after an owner complains about smells when starting up their car.
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,749
    And, I would guess this runs at the max fan speed, which is probably pretty loud.

    Interesting answer. I learned something....I wondered why fans keep running when I turn my car off. I don't know if that is the problem though since it is a 2008 model, and this problem just started.

    The dealers first response was that it was an actuator problem...whatever that is!

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Which he changed into a Pinto....
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,064
    >I wondered why fans keep running when I turn my car off.

    I believe your car has so much restriction on the room under the hood that there is a small computer that receives input from things besides the coolant temperature and can turn on the engine cooling fans if the temperature under the hood is too high without regard to the coolant temperature.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525
    take it to heart, Doc...pride cometh before a fall.

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  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,749
    Thanks for the possible suggestions guys. My BIL had a chance to take the car in today so he got it fixed. It was an air conditioner actuator that had to be replaced - cost $180.

    Here is the technical aspect of what an actuator does and how it works - far to technical for me;
    http://www.motor.com/article.asp?article_ID=294

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525
    Wonder what would have caused the blend door actuator to remain on after the key was off? I'd be interested to hear feedback if this replacement actually solves the problem.

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  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,749
    Wonder what would have caused the blend door actuator to remain on after the key was off?

    I can't answer that question, but I do know replacing the actuator has solved the problem....no more clunking noise when the engine is turned off. Cost was $180 and they didn't remove the instrument panel, they got to the actuator through the glov e box.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • Some of these return to a neutral or default position at power down to ensure the position encoder has a known starting point. That's why it appeared at power off. It's a common problem.
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,749
    edited December 2013
    That's why it appeared at power off.

    Thanks rustywer.......I learned something interesting today.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,525

    Now here's an interesting question: I've never heard of THIS before: (any ideas anyone?)

    (RE: a 2000 Trooper automatic) "When I proceed onto road after 100 yds it acts as if I am in neutral drive 3&2 do nothing but will drive in 1st gear.. now the crazy part is my father has a large feild and I can literally drive truck all day as long as bouncing around and all gears work and doesn't matter whether in 4 wheel drive or not

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