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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,648
    edited July 2013
    http://www.edmunds.com/auto-warranty/third-party-extended-warranty-scams.html

    The extended warranty programs can be so difficult to work with that our routine is to do the repair and the customer pays for it, while we do everything we can to meet the warranty insurnace companies requirements. What-ever they decide to pay then gets sent directly to the customer. At that point anything is better than nothing and the companies often help pay for the repair, but don't ever think that they will pay the whole bill, most of them go out of their way to make the transaction as unpleasant as it can possibly be.

    The worst part about dealing with them is we don't sell their policies, so it's not like we made anything up-front with them to help compensate us for having to deal with all of the nonsense that they put us through.

    My advice, buy CD with the money that would be spent on the policy. if something goes wrong and the car needs repaired, cash in the CD and that will either pay for the repair or at least help. If the car doesn't need a major repair, then after a few years, take your money and do what ever you want to with it.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    My advice, buy CD with the money that would be spent on the policy. if something goes wrong and the car needs repaired, cash in the CD and that will either pay for the repair or at least help. If the car doesn't need a major repair, then after a few years, take your money and do what ever you want to with it.

    That's really good advice, on average.

    After all, you're buying an insurance policy called a warranty plan, and the actuaries are quite good at identifying the odds of repairs.

    Unless you're jinxed, the average owner will come out ahead by investing the $$$ rather than buying the "extended warranty".
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    It's a bet. The underwriter is betting your car doesn't break, and you're betting it does.

    Only problem is, on cars that seem like a "good bet" for you, the pile of chips you have to push into the center of the table could be quite tall.

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    It's a bet. The underwriter is betting your car doesn't break, and you're betting it does.

    Only problem is, on cars that seem like a "good bet" for you, the pile of chips you have to push into the center of the table could be quite tall.


    IMO, the main difference is that actuaries are very good at separating fact from emotion. The average car buyer, at some level, has some emotional attachment to the vehicle he buys, or wants to buy.

    A little bit like a player betting in LV that gets hooked in the game, just knowing the next pull of the handle is gonna pay off. The professional gambler doesn't think that way at all... Much more like the insurance actuary evaluates the situation.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    After all, you're buying an insurance policy called a warranty plan, and the actuaries are quite good at identifying the odds of repairs.

    Exactly. And extended warranty/insurance policies are big money makers for those who sell them. That must tell something - that they must pay out significantly less than they take in.

    It's a lot like going to a casino. Most/all of the games are set up to favor the house. Extended warranties are set up to favor the underwriter.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,648
    But they can't find enough qualified people to fill them.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/business/ford-hiring-has-trouble-filling-white-collar-job- s-6C10722340

    On top of that the people that they do attract don't have first hand experience looking at cars from the service and repair perspective. That's always been a problem and Shifty's description of what it took to address his Mini's AC problem is a good example of what happens when that aspect isn't considered throughout the design and engineering phases.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    But they can't find enough qualified people to fill them

    And that should surprise no one.

    1. The automakers took advantage of the fact that their white collar workers (including engineers) were not covered by a contract, and so were able to unilaterally reduce wages and cut benefits to those white collar workers. People have long memories (or they should).

    2. Most companies, not just auto makers (despite all the rhetoric that comes our of the the HR departments about how how "our people are our most valuable resource"), consider engineers and other professionals to be a fungible resource - one that can be let go and replaced on a moment's notice with no impact to the company. Who wants to go work for a company like that?

    3. Along with item 1, many companies view their engineering and design departments as cost centers first, and (maybe), secondarily, as the future source of of profits from new products sometime way off in the future. As a cost center, the short-sighted view is to squeeze.

    4. I considered taking my electrical engineering skills to Detroit back in the late 70's/early 80's. This was back when when Detroit was just starting to ramp up the electronic content in their vehicles. But I would have had to take a salary cut to do so, so that was a non starter. The article thecarddoc3 referenced to alluded to that.

    5. Finally, and the article also addressed this, Detroit has a lousy reputation (deservedly so) as a place to live and raise a family. Detroit's bankruptcy filing and the possibility that the state of Michigan may be on the hook for the pension and health care coats of Detroit's retirees leads people to think "even though I may not live in Detroit, my taxes will go up to cover all those unfunded pension liabilities". No thanks.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,338
    Sometimes a "lack of qualified people" also means the employer is looking to receive something for nothing, such as demanding an arcane skill set or similar that was not previously required - and not willing to train a potential employee in that skill. Often the HR manager or similar who is publicly lamenting this lack of applicants doesn't have to maintain skills. No doubt moving to Michigan doesn't appeal to all, either.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    On top of that the people that they do attract don't have first hand experience looking at cars from the service and repair perspective.

    On the other hand, just how much (engineering or otherwise) foresight is required to design an A/C compressor that can have its clutch serviced...or at least replaced?
    Unless it was done deliberately. And that is my suspicion. Like...what did they save in length...maybe 1.5 mm? And with proper execution, there really doesn't need to be a space penalty of any dimension creating a serviceable component like an A/C compressor, as opposed to Bic-Lightering the thing when it screws up..

    It is this very example that makes it so hard to believe that RB has had such good luck with his BMW's per dollar spent. Aside from reputation I have read about over the years, we've had a 3 series in the family, and in my opinion, they (BMW) are 100k mile cars. Tops. Unless you don't count a con$tant healthy degree of input buck$ thereafter.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited July 2013
    On top of that the people that they do attract don't have first hand experience looking at cars from the service and repair perspective

    I'll give you ten to one odds that serviceability is not very high on the design engineer's priority list. With all the other things he has to consider (functionality, size, weight, cost/producibility), it's no wonder repair considerations ten years down the road are not on his radar screen.

    In that sense, it's a failure of management to give proper weight to repaireability in the design phase.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,648
    On the other hand, just how much (engineering or otherwise) foresight is required to design an A/C compressor that can have its clutch serviced...or at least replaced?

    More than is typically applied.

    Like...what did they save in length...maybe 1.5 mm?

    What they saved is production cost.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited July 2013
    No doubt instruction is handed down from the top, but management should be concerned with measures they sign off on which can taint their brand's reputation when the consumer is considering their next replacement vehicle.

    I'm in an odd position in that I could buy a GLK250 (mainly for the engine being a not just a diesel, but an unusually powerful and economical one) and its 4x4 and towing ability and the fact that no other more affordable brand is offering that combo. But I am drawn to a lowly little name plate, Kia, and even their entry level model, even tho it is not a diesel and worse, not 2WD, and will be noticeably noisier to ride in on the highway even if the ride and handling are not that bad for a cheap car. Why? Well...in some respects it is the simplicity of the car. I can still get rear drum brakes. And astonishingly I can replace a bulb if need be with my already good supply of 1157 bulbs. In a 2013 car! This might be a stand alone anomaly, I don't know but plan to check into things like this further. If I were to extrapolate on just that one example of Kia not abandoning things like 1157 bulbs just for the sake of change, which always translates to greater consumer costs down the road, then a person could ponder how great it would be to have maybe one of the last relatively simple cars to work on compared to what is left out there.

    I'm not oblivious to appreciating engineering styles, feats and/or recognizing shortcuts, but I feel compelled to give credit where it's due, and to some personalities out there..even including some of the more idiosyncratic ones (me at times) a manufacture's decision to retain the use of old but proven competent parts like the use of 1157 bulbs which worked just fine for decades, and the prospect that maybe there are many other components of this entry level car that may also fall under the simplicity class of an 1157 bulb, start to take on a potential worth, greater than the sum of their parts. Factor in other important aspects like seat comfort and quality feeling switch gear (the signal lever spring resistance before slipping past the point of lane-change to locked switch position had a more tactile feel and resistance than a near 40k $ Subaru, and you have to recognize the value of a little car priced at 17k vs a near 50k MB. And remember, this consumer can buy either with cash.

    So, the odds of me ending up in that MB with its complexity and change for the sake of change, and quite possibly also donning a non-serviceable A/C compressor, are probably pretty slim...but hey..now if I discover it has a few 1157 bulbs on board, well...ya just never know...but I ain't holdin' my breath on that one..
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited July 2013
    What they saved is production cost.

    Well of course...that is a given..
    The arrogance and greed irritates me. It's already a frig $35k car!...that really has no more to offer than a 23-25k car and only that much cuz of the supercharger urge it has. And the name...ugh..

    When you spend this much of a premium for a car of this category, you darn well shouldn't be expected to endure insult to injury from this type of cost cutting to the point that you have to replace the A/C compressor as an entire unit.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    I would tend to agree...a BMW product is in my experience a car that starts to open its mouth real wide at 80K---100K, and you'd better punch out as soon as the clock turns to 99,000.

    Similar issue with the sunroof on the MINI---if the rear glass panel breaks, (the stationary piece) can you replace just the glass? No, you replace the entire 'cassette'--that means the entire frame + pre-installed rear glass, and you remove the headliner, too, which you CAN'T very easily do without removing the seats! Welcome to a $2,800 repair for a piece of broken glass!

    As these punishing repair costs continue to add up on new cars (and it'll only get worse), I can see the day when cars will be recycled by the factory at a set mileage---then perhaps "refurbished" like they do with computers on Amazon, and re-sold again at a discount.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,648
    Progress is made one step at a time.

    http://www.metnews.com/articles/2013/conf071913.htm

    I'm waiting for the OK to repost something from a GM technician from Florida. It will shed some more light on this topic.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited July 2013
    Similar issue with the sunroof on the MINI---if the rear glass panel breaks, (the stationary piece) can you replace just the glass? No, you replace the entire 'cassette'--that means the entire frame + pre-installed rear glass, and you remove the headliner, too, which you CAN'T very easily do without removing the seats! Welcome to a $2,800 repair for a piece of broken glass!

    FWIW, I had a 2005 Chevy Aveo with moonroof. After 2+ years and about 30K miles, the mechanism began to start making a binding noise, and the only option was total cassette replacement. No provisions for lubrication (lifetime fill, once again).

    A $1200 job, but fortunately for me, it was covered under warranty. The vehicle's cost was right at $15 K new.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,974
    So, in three months I can hang up a shingle and start fixing Malibus? Cool.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    you can hang your shingle now. All you need is a work space and a business license.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong here, but it is my understanding that a high school kid with no training on cars whatsoever, could open up a Brake Repair shop in just about any state of the union.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,974
    edited July 2013
    I need the validation. Certified GM tech has a nice ring to it. :shades:

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  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    edited July 2013
    that a high school kid with no training on cars whatsoever, could open up a Brake Repair shop in just about any state of the union.

    So along with Bozo' s Automotive Repair, we could have Jipster' s Brake Service and Shifty' s Mini A/C Repair? With professional sounding names like those, we'd make a fortune! :sick:
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,974
    We could hire on with Fairly Reliable Bob's used cars in Boise.

    That dealer actually enjoys a good reputation - plus you gotta love truth in advertising.

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  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Nah, ya gotta have the word "certified" in there someplace.

    So that would become Jipster' s Certified Brake Service and Shifty' s Certified Mini A/C Repair.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    I'll take door #2 instead of Mini AC repair...crawling through shards of broken glass 8 hours a day would be nice :P

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,648
    So, in three months I can hang up a shingle and start fixing Malibus? Cool.

    No, not exactly. You would however get to be a dealership technician and be expected to be productive on flat rate and meet or beat the following labor times.....

    From James.

    For example, let's look at a common G.M. car, the 2012 and
    2013 Malibu. That's basically the same car with few changes.
    There is no reason for the repair times to be different.

    2012 Malibu - replace ECM and program - .9 and .3 diagnostic
    time.

    2013 Malibu - replace ECM and program - .4 and .3 Diagnostic
    time

    2012 Malibu - replace electric steering column - 1.3 and .3
    diag and .3 if adj. pedals

    2013 Malibu - replace electric steering column - 1.3 no diag
    or pedal allowance

    2012 Malibu - replace and program SDM - 1.2 and .3 diag time

    2013 Malibu - replace and program SDM - .9 and .3 diag time

    2012 Malibu - reprogram ECM, SDM, HVAC or EBCM - .4 - no
    diagnostic allowance

    2013 Malibu - reprogram ECM, SDM, HVAC or EBCM - .3 - no
    diagnostic allowance
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    and Shifty' s Mini A/C Repair

    Lol, I'm not too sure about that one, jipster...just cuz Bozo seems to be getting away with it, doesn't mean other consumers are gonna trust a shop named "Shifty". haha..Of course they never knew that Shifty's full name (before the Edmund's mod name-chop last month) was in context with enjoying shifting a stick tranny..

    Not even sure if having "Certified" in there would help much...maybe a hair.. lol
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,974
    "Programming" and flashing chips isn't geek Greek to me so I'd probably do okay with that (so long as that was my assignment - forget the diagnosing part).

    I'd be sure to break any clips on the trim around the steering column first thing. :shades:

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    I'd probably destroy quite a few customers' cars but you know, in time I'd get better. In the meantime, I'll use the standard excuses:

    "oh, they all do that"

    "it's a factory defect"

    "could not duplicate"

    "oh, you wanted brakes on BOTH front wheels..."

    "no codes detected"

    "it's your brother-in-law's fault"

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  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,676
    well, he might make a killing with the British car crowd (they always need mechanics!) if he called it "Sir Nigel's auto service" instead.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (daughters college car)

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,648
    I'd probably destroy quite a few customers' cars but you know, in time I'd get better

    So no comment on the labor times listed, for the same jobs? Flat rate is supposed to be piece work that pays the tech a fair amount for a given job and through experience and attention to detail the tech should get rewarded by improving his/her efficiency. The times listed for the 2012 models aren't routinely achievable, the 2013's are the very same jobs and are now about 50% of what a good tech can expect to achieve without breaking stuff.

    GM is looking for more techs through that school, they know they have a technician retention issue and yet are turning right around and ensuring the next group can't possibly thrive, unless they sell un-needed services that is. How about the media start concentrating on the real problem instead of only focusing attention on one of the final outcomes?

    The times listed are simply impossible to meet and should be at least double across the board. There are technical writers looking for something to do, lets get them help to do legitimate time studies and prove how long it really takes to do some of this work. What you'll find is they won't even have the failed PCM diagnosed before the time to replace and program it expires.

    BTW GM isn't alone with warranty times like these. I should look up the warranty times to diagnose and repair your Mini, its probably half of what you said that it took.
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