Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!





A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

1222223225227228242

Comments

  • ohenryxohenryx Posts: 285
    Which is exactly why the Belchfire dealer, and Belchfire corporate, have a vested interest in seeing that your Belchfire 6000 SUX is fixed, and fixed correctly.

    We all know that not all dealers seem to understand this basic principal, but there are those who do.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    I totally agree.

    However... It seems pretty obvious that not all attendees here have a good grasp on a workable business model, as it relates to the automotive sales and service industry.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    "Are there some dealers who are raising the bar? Probably but the moment they do you see it also reflected in the prices they charge for the cars they sell and they get duly punished for that. Wait, maybe I do see the irony...."

    Really... How effective do you think it is for a dealer to tell his customer "Well, we can't fix your 2008 model, but I suggest you trade it in on a new one (with a clear implication that, if/when the new one has issues, it won't be repairable by the dealership, either)?

    A $30 K (average new car selling price today, IIRC) product is not a "throw away" product like a $200 32" LCD TV.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    edited October 2013
    One reason for offering oil change specials is to get people to the dealer. Sometimes the upsell is for flushes, but you'll find plenty of consumer reviews where someone went to the dealer for some service work, wind up cruising the showroom, and boom - they're in a new car.

    So, the dealer response should not be "we can't fix your car" but "we have to do some more research and contact the manufacturer, and the diagnostics will run a few hundred bucks and if it's the ECU that we think it is, figure another $1,000 plus labor."

    Lots of people will run, and a few will run to the showroom. Some will run to Doc, some will run to AutoZone.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    OMG... We agree on something..... ;)

    One reason for offering oil change specials is to get people to the dealer. Sometimes the upsell is for flushes, but you'll find plenty of consumer reviews where someone went to the dealer for some service work, wind up cruising the showroom, and boom - they're in a new car.

    I hope no-one thinks that's an accident....

    So, the dealer response should not be "we can't fix your car" but "we have to do some more research and contact the manufacturer, and the diagnostics will run a few hundred bucks and if it's the ECU that we think it is, figure another $1,000 plus labor."

    Lots of people will run, and a few will run to the showroom.


    Yep, right on the money there. (pardon the pun)
    I can't tell you how many times I diagnosed a problem on a given car when I worked at the dealer only to see the customer a few minutes later under a comforting salesmans arm walking down through the middle of the shop. Then about 1/2 an hour later I'd be asked to pull the plate off...

    Some will run to Doc,

    With that 2008 T&C, yea just another day in the office with that one, but make it a 2011 or newer and I'm no longer a player in the game.
    That's a line in the sand that there isn't a justifiable reason to cross.

    some will run to AutoZone. Not with that T&C they won't. (And many other failures like that one)
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    And sometimes it would be better if the dealer did tell the customer "we can't fix your car".

    jackcx9, "Mazda CX-9 Problems" #544, 2 Oct 2013 9:12 am

    (Short version is that the dealer put the wrong transmission fluid in causing drivability issues and an indy mechanic figured it out).
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    "(Short version is that the dealer put the wrong transmission fluid in causing drivability issues and an indy mechanic figured it out)."

    That's why, I suspect, so many fluid-filled components on new vehicles now come with the "lifetime fill" designation, just to keep extra fingers out of the pie.

    The odds of failure during the product's average lifetime with no "intervention" are probably less than the odds of failure if the unit gets "serviced".
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    edited October 2013
    'So, the dealer response should not be "we can't fix your car" but "we have to do some more research and contact the manufacturer, and the diagnostics will run a few hundred bucks and if it's the ECU that we think it is, figure another $1,000 plus labor." '

    Actually, I can recall an instance where "we can't fix your car" was a reality, and a widespread one. The Chevy Vega. And, that's exactly what Vega owners were told...

    Of the many owners that ended up with 2-year old oil-burning rusted out vehicles, I doubt many felt like rushing in and buying a new Chevy any time soon, especially when the trade-in value on their clunker was non-existent.

    I always thought GM shot itself in both feet with that car, first by the incredibly poor quality of the vehicle, and secondly, by introducing really small cars to a market that had previously only bought larger domestic made cars (with the buyers finding they liked the smaller car size)... and thereby pushing them towards the foreign competition, which at the time, primarily sold smaller cars.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,556
    all these discussions really make it seem to me that the manufacturers may have created a nightmare scenario with all this electronic tech now. Fun when it works, and a way to meet some of the ever more severe gov't requirements, but man, when it fails, look at.

    super specific oils for what seems like a .1% improvement in something (mpg?) is another. Talk about making life difficult for the consumer.

    but what I really take out of this (and Doc alludes to it at times) is that supporting modern cars requires a different business model. Small, "mom and pop" shops (like his) have to be a dying breed, because they just can't support the tools and equipment (and knowledge) to handle all this diagnostics. So small operations either have to just deal with the basics, or go out of business.

    at the same time, it seems like the ever involving technology should support a new model. Something like techs on the ground being supported by the real techies in some central location (reading scans, giving instructions, etc.). Either that, or centralizing the stuff that Doc inherits, so more of a 2-tier model.

    Short of that, mega dealers that have access to the company engineers and all the corporate equipment (and with the economies of scale needed) are going to take over.

    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!)

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    super specific oils for what seems like a .1% improvement in something (mpg?) is another.

    The oils have to improve fuel economy, tolerate extended oil drain reccomendations., protect the engine, and above all protect the emissions system.

    Talk about making life difficult for the consumer

    Top shops and techs are doing everything we can to make it easier for you, the consumer. Does it seem strange that others who claim to be on your side go out of their way to make it harder for you?

    but what I really take out of this (and Doc alludes to it at times) is that supporting modern cars requires a different business model.

    We have desperately been in need of a new business model for a long time (some twenty years) but few have embraced the changes and to a point even profited by holding the old line. They are going out of business now as life does what it does and their business plan didn't allow for the next generation to be financially capable of filling their shoes. In many cases they have been relying on worn out and outdated equipment and that in turns makes their businesses worth a fraction of what they think they should be.

    Small, "mom and pop" shops (like his) have to be a dying breed, because they just can't support the tools and equipment (and knowledge) to handle all this diagnostics.

    The whole picture is all over the place. A small shop like mine should never have been able to afford what we have invested given the pricing pressure on the street. Only by working much harder, and even subsidizing the shop with writing and teaching have we gotten to where we are today. But its not sustainable, it isn't even close top be sustainable. That's why you won't see my buy a WiTech for Chryslers. The only way for us to "survive" is so specialize even more and limit the manufacturers that we have come in the door. The catch here is as soon as we stop investing, then we simply contribute to the problem just like all the rest have been doing.

    So small operations either have to just deal with the basics, or go out of business.

    Shops that make that choice are likely to fail even sooner, there are too many players in that market already and they all use price as a weapon in the marketplace. That serves to drive prices down and that means reduced gross profits (GP). When you drop GP you have to cut expenses and the first things to go are the more experienced techs who typically have families and have a greater need for benefits that the shops just trying to do the basics can't afford. (That's one of the driving forces in the race to the bottom now)

    Either that, or centralizing the stuff that Doc inherits, so more of a 2-tier model.

    That's essentially where we are now, but media types don't understand and respect it. The trade has been getting stratified for the last fifteen years, in fact that's where all of the R2R stuff actually comes from. Every bit of pressure that tries to say "But I'm just trying to save myself some money" works to further erode an already crumbling business.

    Short of that, mega dealers that have access to the company engineers and all the corporate equipment (and with the economies of scale needed) are going to take over.

    No argument here. You'll still have chains like quick lubes, and tire centers and a few independents but the writing is on the wall. Just about anyone on this board should be able to see that in their own town there are fewer independents now than there was ten, and especially twenty years ago. The next five to ten will see a significant reduction in those numbers on a scale of for every three that go under, one might re-open and there will be no guarantee they will succeed, especially if they don't have good management skills and deep pockets to get started. If they try to open the doors and use cheap prices to get a foot hold, not only are they more likely to fail, they will probably take someone else with them.
  • Cardoc3, I absolutely agree with you about the new trannys, that kind of thing ('lifetime' :rolleyes:) is a disgrace. If a dealer service garage told me that I'd be on the phone to the manufacturer immediately. Ach that gets me going.

    As far as guessing parts I wish I had the experience, I often guess wrong. Since I usually drive old cars I rarely see it as a waste though.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,556
    forgot to add, I assume the indys that survive and thrive will be ones that specialize on a certain brand or country. Some of the Volvo and BMW shops (both of which there are close to me) come to mind. At least that way, you only have to invest on training and equipment for one brand. And of course, develop a deep understanding of the nuances of those cars.

    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!)

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    From an independent shop's POV, I really don't see any alternative to the one you described.

    As Doc has made it crystal clear, the ability of an independent shop to service all makes is rapidly disappearing (maybe its already gone and we're just starting to realize it).

    It's the evolution of the automotive business model in action, but it's hardly a trailblazer in that regard. TVs, radios and appliances have gone through a similar evolution, as it relates to repair/maintenance, as an example...

    Whether the market moves significantly more towards "throw away/recycle-able" vehicles or decides to redefine its service model is still up in the air.
  • I think we are heading towards "recycle-able" cars---when's the last time you saw a TV repair shop?

    Perhaps there could be a middle ground, where cars are flat-bedded, or driven by the customer, to regional repair centers and an exchange car is provided to you for the duration of the repair. All this of course being built into the purchase price.

    so-called 'repair shops' will just do routine maintenance and most components of the car will be non-serviceable.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    I think there are reasonable service models that would work AND be economically viable, but the problem is getting all the groups with a vested interest in keeping it as it is today to agree on giving something up so that they might gain something down the road a bit...

    Much like how our national government seems to be running nowadays.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    but the problem is getting all the groups with a vested interest in keeping it as it is today to agree on giving something up so that they might gain something down the road a bit...


    I had this disscusion with another local shop owner yesterday. He's 65 and wants to retire in five years and has already been trying to find someone to buy him out. (He's one of three in the same boat ) He doesn't want to spend anymore money trying to stay up to date (even though he's already a decade or more behind). He has no reason to move his prices so he's busy and profitable right where he's at but when he calls it a career the only person who is going to be interested is the auctioneer.

    The trade is doing nothing to grow the next generation of techs and shop owners and hasn't been for years.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    The automotive maintenance/repair business has had 100+ years to get set in its ways.

    I'm guessing any change is going to come with a whole lot of kicking, screaming and crying from just about every faction involved...
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    I'm guessing any change is going to come with a whole lot of kicking, screaming and crying from just about every faction involved...

    It's barely a whisper right now....
  • or the changing marketplace will make the changes for you...remember when there were "machine shops" everywhere? Or "Auto Electric" shops?
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,556
    right next to the TV repairman and the vac and sew place.

    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!)

Sign In or Register to comment.