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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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Comments

  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    edited July 16
    After analysis the mechanic suspects a slipped timing chain. [Update: I picked up the car and he said also it could be the variable valve timing mechanism.] He does have to formulate a plan and dive in to inspect the internals. A chain replacement involves concentration and he is packed and dealing with the customers (he said "giving bad news about repair costs") so he will not do it now with such distractions. Perhaps he will take it on appointment in a week. He estimates the job will be around $1,000. Engine has 110,000 miles at 19 years old.

    I told him that from day one this engine went down on power when the weather got hot. He suspects the timing could have been off from day one but is exhibiting worse symptoms due to chain stretch.

    I understand that Yamaha build the top end of this engine. I am not happy! I drove this car in a reasonable manner and did not abuse it.

    I have to decide between continue to drive it as is, get it fixed, or get rid of it. The frequency of repairs is the biggest problem, as my wife is busy but has to provide me a ride.
  • andres3andres3 Southern CAPosts: 11,107
    edited July 16
    A guy with an old 125,000 mile Audi says his bad mechanic promised he'd get "4 or 5 more good years" out of his car if he let him fix all the CEL codes lighting up. He ended up getting 4 weeks before the engine seized after paying the bum $3,200 in what can only be described as ill-advised repairs at this point.

    Granted, he should have got "4 or 5 more good years" in writing, with a warranty of some kind, but still, I can understand his frustration.

    That mechanic should learn not to say such things if he doesn't want pissed off customers.
    '16 Audi TTS quattro 2.0T, '15 Audi A4 quattro 2.0T, '19 VW Tiguan SEL 4-Motion AWD
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    andres3 said:


    A guy with an old 125,000 mile Audi says his bad mechanic promised he'd get "4 or 5 more good years" out of his car if he let him fix all the CEL codes lighting up. He ended up getting 4 weeks before the engine seized after paying the bum $3,200 in what can only be described as ill-advised repairs at this point.

    How many times have I preached against guesses? That's all that prediction was is a guess and what we don't know right now is how was that really arrived at in the conversation did the mechanic really specifically say the engine would last that long or was he referring to the car in general and now that is just being inferred?
    andres3 said:


    Granted, he should have got "4 or 5 more good years" in writing, with a warranty of some kind, but still, I can understand his frustration.

    That mechanic should learn not to say such things if he doesn't want pissed off customers.

    What exactly was done to the tune of $3200? Was some of it internal engine?

    I do agree that promises like that shouldn't be made but do you know how some vehicle owners react when they are not? That is often treated as being wrong too. But I do have to laugh at the idea because usually when we think a car is really on its last legs there are times we still see it limping around several years later and then the opposite can often be true. There may be no signs of trouble obvious today and tomorrow it just dies. That's just cars doing what they do, break when ever they darn well want to.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited July 17
    guitarzan said:

    My car is (still!) a 2000 Celica.

    After analysis the mechanic suspects a slipped timing chain. [Update: I picked up the car and he said also it could be the variable valve timing mechanism.



    Is it setting either a P1346 or P1349? My first expectation was that this would have a "target" VVT system, but after checking it should be capable of coding if the camshaft timing isn't in sync with the crankshaft or cannot be commanded to the desired position.
    guitarzan said:


    He does have to formulate a plan and dive in to inspect the internals. A chain replacement involves concentration and he is packed and dealing with the customers (he said "giving bad news about repair costs") so he will not do it now with such distractions. Perhaps he will take it on appointment in a week. He estimates the job will be around $1,000. Engine has 110,000 miles at 19 years old.



    We have Andres' scenario here, you really cannot guess if this will survive the proceedure or not. Whether or not it is worth trying to do is completely subjective. You can't replace it for what it would cost to fix it, but whether it really lasts or not there is just no way to know.
    guitarzan said:


    I told him that from day one this engine went down on power when the weather got hot. He suspects the timing could have been off from day one but is exhibiting worse symptoms due to chain stretch.



    Plausible, but not known for sure.
    guitarzan said:


    I understand that Yamaha build the top end of this engine. I am not happy! I drove this car in a reasonable manner and did not abuse it.

    I have to decide between continue to drive it as is, get it fixed, or get rid of it. The frequency of repairs is the biggest problem, as my wife is busy but has to provide me a ride.



    A 2000 model car the life expectancy is 12 to 15 years under all but the best care, at 19 years it's really not all that bad. A timing chain on one of these is about a 3 in difficulty on a 1 to 10 scale, so that's not a big deal. Pricing it out $1000 would be plenty to include the intake cam VVT actuator and the solenoid if required.

  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    edited July 17
    Thanks Doc.

    No codes are set! The tech/owner made a comment that the newer cars would report something, but this one is not reporting anything.

    Could it be just the VVT actuator? I'm guessing that would be a great find...?

    I think I will fix it, keep it as a backup, and on the wish list is a Subaru (Outback or Forester) which my one mechanic seems to love the most today. In Dave Ramsey fashion I have avoided such a transaction for as long as possible. Not good to have cash tied up in a car, BAH!

    I can say that I have given vendors all the work / boat payments they could possibly want. The TCO for all these years has still been far lower than a new car! Huzzah for the techs!
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    edited July 21

    guitarzan said:

    I have a guitar amplifier from about 1950, a simple circuit, that I need repaired.

    If you can get it to me it should be easy.

    Doc thanks! Update: We moved this year and I pulled the amp out of the box thinking I would ship it to you. I did some due diligence and played with the controls and inspected the underside of the circuit. Boy when you're right, you're right, and the issues are in fact easy.

    1) The loud humming sound goes completely away when I turn the tone knob below 7 or 8. YES! Bad pot, but still usable.
    2) I inspected underneath the circuit. The guitar connections are merely open dipoles, and input #2, the spring-loaded pole that presses on the guitar chord's 1/4" jack was bent from movement and being mounted too close to the base. I bent it back.
    3) The speaker, oh the speaker. Parts of the cone are actually flapping in the wind, dry-rotted. Now don't get me wrong, "You Really Got Me" sounds just like the amp that Dave Davies used where he cut his cone up with a razer blade LOL. But most other music is a problem.

    So I was originally going to repair it but with a speaker change it seems a bit counter-productive to make changes that will change the original sound and hardware. So I guess I will accept this as a collector's item, just play the Kinks on it when friends are over, and appreciate what I get from fans of old stuff like my guitar buddy who spotted it and exclaimed how supremely cool it is.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818

    But I do have to laugh at the idea because usually when we think a car is really on its last legs there are times we still see it limping around several years later and then the opposite can often be true. There may be no signs of trouble obvious today and tomorrow it just dies. That's just cars doing what they do, break when ever they darn well want to.

    Update: Purchased a new vehicle. The wife did not consider the Celica safe anymore based on the repairs (I was okay with it.) We defied all of the Dave Ramsey advice and bought a new Outback. Now we have to decide on the potential $1000 VVT-L repair to the Celica. The wife says dump the car, the insurance, all of it. She is usually right...
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    I put a sales ad up for the Celica. Just as the ad went live, I came home to discover...a gasoline leak! It was dripping from the tank. I contacted all of the local junkyards. One of the oldest local businesses replied that they are only taking newer vehicles. LOL. Imagine that. A junkyard will not take my car. So they referred me to the next business down the line who promptly came to get the car and hand my wife a $200 check.

    And thus ends the 19 year history. Wow, that was a long time. I was downsized a week after buying that car. It was well worth it to keep it so long. It did prepare us well financially, despite the yearly repairs!

    I apologize that we will never know the extend of the engine problem!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,253
    It's off your hands and the company got a heck of a deal on it. Win-win!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,253
    Amazing stuff. You pay people to add value and be competent, increase their expectations and satisfaction, and they stay longer with better results.

    Is this some sort of witchcraft?!

    I do find it interesting how the owner admits that flat rate acts as "an invisible manager." At the same time, he also recognizes that "fast" is not "better."
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited August 20
    New hires, and they need about five years to get through an apprenticeship, in a trade that doesn't actually have one and then it's another fifteen years for an intelligent hard working individual to master.

    https://www.autonews.com/best-practices/amid-technician-shortage-group-hiring-now

    A shortage of service technicians is among the top concerns at dealerships across the country, and one is taking a unique approach to solve the problem.
    Warren Henry Auto Group, headquartered in Miami, last month began holding job fairs promising to hire qualified technicians on the spot.
    Instead of following the usual protocol that would take weeks to pick someone for a sorely needed job, the company brought its dealer principal, service director and human resources staff to the fair at Florida International University. It essentially amounted to a professional game of speed dating among dozens of candidates.
    By the end of the day, the company had made verbal offers to five candidates, most of whom will start this week.
    "We're trying everything," Barbara Exposito, Warren Henry's human resources director, told Automotive News. "We have to make decisions pretty quickly, especially because of the need in the business."

    ‘Dangerous shortage'
    According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the industry is facing a shortage of 76,000 technicians each year through 2026. In addition, 30,000 per year will be retiring.
    NADA Chairman Charlie Gilchrist addressed the issue at his inaugural address in January, saying the "dangerous shortage" threatens dealer profitability. The NADA Foundation launched a work force initiative this year to connect prospective technicians with open jobs.
    "This is not an issue we can afford to kick down the road," Gilchrist said.
    Exposito said the Warren Henry group, which operates 13 franchises at six locations in Florida, thought a hire-on-the-spot event would stand out and draw attention to its needs. Many dealerships have offered on-the-spot gimmicks for trade-ins or buyback programs.
    "We felt confident our service director would be able to meet with all of the candidates," she said. "It worked out well."
    READY TO GO

    Warren Henry Auto Group is holding job fairs for service technicians where it makes on-the-spot offers in respone to a shortage of qualified candidates.
    New HQ
    Aside from the industrywide tech shortage, the Warren Henry group has another incentive to hire as quickly as possible: It's set to open an 800,000-square-foot headquarters in North Miami this fall.
    The site, which will feature 82 service bays in a climate-controlled shop, will allow the company to double in size and hire 150 to 200 workers, about 40 of which will be service technicians.
    As part of the interview process, prospective employees got to tour the construction site. The seven-story building will sell Jaguar, Land Rover, Infiniti and Koenigsegg vehicles out of a glass-paneled showroom. Officials say it will include the nation's largest electric vehicle charging facility.
    It also will have a cafe, rooftop event space, gym for employees and other amenities.
    The Warren Henry group, which has had stores on Automotive News' list of the Best Dealerships To Work For in each of the past five years, sold more than 4,300 new and used vehicles last year.
    The company plans to host another hire-on-the-spot job fair at the end of August, Exposito said. The group also is attempting to recruit techs at colleges and universities.
    It offers relocation assistance and housing opportunities for out-of-state workers. It's also attempting to raise the profile of its service technicians, occasionally allowing individual workers to "take over" its social media channels for a day.
    "We like to think of recruiting as more of a guerrilla marketing approach," Exposito said. "If everyone's talking about what we're doing, there's more buzz around it."

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    I should probably give this its own thread. If you like to read, enjoy it. If you want to jump to one of the main highlights, concentrate on pages 40-42. https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/KILL SWITCH 7-29-19.pdf
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,363
    It's already happened...

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    LOL. Lots of things have happened in movies.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,253
    Intriguing article. While a kill switch would create all sorts of problems of its own (mostly due to the loose nuts behind the wheel), it would certainly allow for a level of "peace of mind" that might be a boon for the technology in the long run.

    Frankly, I think the idea of having "safety critical systems" completely isolated from the IoT functions is a non-starter (mostly due to the efficiency of over-the-air updates, of which the intent of many is to modify the software functions in such systems), it makes so much sense to offer fail safes.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited December 3
    From Auto News. Fixed OPs Journal Forum.

    The issues often surrounding dealer service are well documented. Dealers get credit for having technicians specialize not just in a limited number of makes and models, but often work only with specific systems such as a transmission technician, an electronics specialist etc. They also get plenty of bad press for the tendency to "wallet flush" which when called on it typically try and place all of the blame the technicians and service advisers and pretend to be victims.

    Here are a couple quotes from the Forum.
    BTW. There are no quotes from any technicians in this forum. Accident?

    https://www.autonews.com/fixed-ops-journal/automotive-news-fixed-ops-journal-forum-improving-returns

    Mark Hargreaves, service manager, Gator Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge
    "Why is it important to train technicians to properly write an estimate? An organized estimate will increase the adviser's close ratio. It will decrease the time it takes to get authorization. And it will increase your hours per repair order — it's going to make it easy for the writer to sell the job; the customer's going to buy more."

    Tully Williams, fixed operations director, Niello Co.
    "Do we sell dollars? Not really. We sell hours, and I want to track hours through my store. We look at three key performance indicators.
    "First, how are my hours being tracked — by writer, by technician, by store? Next, how do we get more hours? Are our techs doing the great-quality recommendations that we would sell to our family members?
    "Last but not least, are we selling these recommendations to all of our customers?"

    Lee Harkins, owner, M5 Management Services
    "Take a look at why I should go to work for you. That should be the point that you advertise in your ads. Not what you want. But, what does a technician want?"

    Max Lowenbaum, vice president of sales, Hireology
    "There are people in the market. The issue is that those people are not considering retail automotive, or being a technician, as the place that they would consider working."

  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 818
    "Or, on our service drive, do we just say: 'We have one offering. One alternator. You want it or not?' You are not going to sell too many of those."

    L O L

    "An organized estimate will increase the adviser's close ratio. It will decrease the time it takes to get authorization. "

    That required repairs, written by someone who is supposed to understand the vehicle, need some business guy to approve them, that says a whole lot about the people involved and the system.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,160
    edited December 4
    guitarzan said:

    "That required repairs, written by someone who is supposed to understand the vehicle, need some business guy to approve them, that says a whole lot about the people involved and the system.

    I struggle to call what they are doing "a system". Meanwhile warranty labor times have continued to be stripped to an impossible level where only someone who has years of experience, a fortune in his/her own hand tools and works like they are running a 100 yard dashes all day long can achieve them. Which leads back to why they have to sell maintanence items in order to "be productive". I don't think that the absence of people who can actually do the work not being represented in their forum was an accident.
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