Are you an EV owner who has received a shockingly high quote for repairs? A reporter would like to speak with you; please reach out to [email protected] by Friday, May 26 for more details.

A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

24567179

Comments

  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,205
    edited June 2012
    I BELIEVE I heard once that the additional cost of an employee is 50% gross pay. I'd have to imagine that varies, though. I mean, a place that offers 401k contributions, ample PTO, and health benefits is WAY higher than those that don't.

    Fairly steady: '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '21 WRX, '20 S90 T6, '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel, '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP / Rotating stock, but currently: '92 325i, '97 Alto Works, '96 Pajero Mini, '11 Mini Cooper S

  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,348
    That's probably not a bad average, Q. At my organization, the gross cost is nearly double the employees' salary, depending somewhat on the employee type, and we have a pretty decent benefit package.

    A worker with no benefits will be approximately 10% more, so average it out and it is going to come in somewhere around 50%.

    --

    I have respect for all the local shops (independent) I have used for repairs. I know enough about the cars that I can talk to them about what's going on, and they are always direct and professional. There has been a time or two when the techs mess something up, like the time they forgot to tighten the lug nuts on a wheel, but we're all human. I know, accept, and can forgive that. ;)
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    have you ever done piece work

    Sort of - bid an individual job, do the work and then get stiffed by the client. Happened a few times. And lots of time I've had to do way more work on a job than I could justify billing for. Kind of goes with the territory in lots of jobs, in spite of your best efforts.

    That really stinks when that happens to you when you are running your own business, but imagine being the employee and when it happens you get to bear the loss.

    a great mechanic..... older shop owner...... three decades ago ..... My old wagon wasn't shifting higher than 2nd gear..... His tech told me the transmission was shot but his boss could look at it the next day........

    Back then, straight mechanical controls were all you found. Depending on what you were driving, you may not of even had a torque convertor clutch. Now not getting out of second gear does of course suggest either the transmission governor pressure isn't raising to the level needed to shift, or the throttle valve (vacuum modulator on some) is signaling a wide throttle opening or heavy engine load and the governer pressure shouldn't be able to cause the transmission to shift. Both of which leave you in a lower gear until your going fast enough for the governer pressure to overcome TV pressure.

    The shop owner looked at our car that evening and slept on it. The next day he figured out that the engine compression was so low that there wasn't enough vacuum being created to shift the transmission. (Something like that - details are getting fuzzy). Anyway, he did something simple like advance the timing and we got the last 600 miles home fine.

    Then what was done? Was the timing chain stretching and need replaced? Did you just dump the car, simply go get another one and never did fix it?

    All that and the bill, including the motel, was less than $150. Between fiddling around and a couple of road tests, I'm sure the mechanic spent 3 hours dinking with it.

    Seriously, if I would have been working with that and not known what was wrong with that right from the first road test I could just hear the "You don't know what you're doing comments" I doubt that "repair" would have gotten me paid much more than one hour in 1980-1984 and as the employee that worked out to somewhere between $6.00 to $8.50 which was what I was making per hour back then. If I had spent three hours on it, I would have only made the one hour billed. Their logic was "We can't charge the customer for you to be learning on their car". We were litterally expected to just know what what wrong each and every time.

    Come to think of it, that perception really hasn't changed even though the cars and what it takes to diagnose and repair them has. What are the oddds if he was still in business, and working as a technician that you would still think he was great when faced with a similar problem on one of today's cars? (Be careful about assuming that he would have tried to keep up with training and equipment for the electronics on the cars today)
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    It was, iirc, an old Datsun wagon. We drove it around town for a while longer and sold it to a mechanically inclined friend who fixed it up for his kid and got a few more years out of it.

    The mechanic advanced the timing and that let the engine build enough compression to generate enough vacuum. (Like I said, memory is fuzzy - this was the last clunker I owned before buying the '82 Tercel that only stranded me once in 17 years).

    If the guy was still in business, I suspect the hotel room would still cost less than $50, but I'd hate to think what the hourly mechanic rate would be. I worked retail for a short while, so I know the flies and honey approach pretty good and haven't had many jerky mechanics. This guy did have certificates on the wall - seems like he even had something from the Canadian government.

    Reading Edmunds Answers, I still see people talking about taking their car to the shop and happening on the one guy who knows exactly what the problem is just from a brief desciption. Those are fun.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 48,433
    the knowing an obscure answer is a benefit of the internet. Between marque specific sites, and specialist shops, some things are easy to armchair diagnose.'

    Plenty of common maladies on say an E46 3 series that if I described a symptom to roadburner, he would probably know immediately, sight unseen, what the problem is.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD, 2023 Maverick hybrid Lariat luxury package.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    The mechanic advanced the timing and that let the engine build enough compression to generate enough vacuum. (Like I said, memory is fuzzy - this was the last clunker I owned before buying the '82 Tercel that only stranded me once in 17 years).

    There is knowing, and there is everything else. I'm not really trying to pick on you here, but I'm going to challenge exactly what that paragraph states.

    Please explain compression, how an engine produces it and what issues can cause a loss of compression. Now explain ignition timing and how it is controlled. Third, explain how an engine produces vacuum. What happens to intake manifold vacuum when a gasoline engine has to overcome a greater load?

    Now the tricky part. Explain how changing the timing had an impact on the engines compression. Explain how changing the timing had an impact on the vacuum the engine was producing for a given engine load.

    Get help if you need it, finally explain how/why altering the base ignition timing allowed the transmission to shift to drive and not stay in second.

    Reading Edmunds Answers, I still see people talking about taking their car to the shop and happening on the one guy who knows exactly what the problem is just from a brief desciption. Those are fun.

    They are also the exception, and not the rule. Readers Digest ran around the country about twenty years ago doing a sting operation. They would unplug the MAF sensor and roll into a shop to see what they would do. Many of the old mechanics started trying to fix the car based solely on the description of the symptom and by when they drove it they could feel the engine starving for fuel under a load. So they replaced the fuel filter. Needless to say, they got it wrong and were portraited as crooks.

    Given more than one chance at any of these miracle fixes any of the hero's would quickly get to be zero's unless they really learn how to diagnose and repair cars.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Good people are leaving the trade and a lot of these guys will go to great lengths to talk others out of becoming auto techs.

    I don't see this situation improving and shops are having trouble finding and retaining quality people.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    I can't wait to see what happens when Shell Corporation opens the cracking plant that they are going to build because of all of the marcellis shale gas they are drilling for in this area. They will suck up all of the potential younger technicians that we have (and really there aren't that many to begin with) and create an even bigger vacuum for talent. Sadly my age is going to work against me directly benefitting, but it will make working right up to my last day be a guarantee. (Notice that does not say anything about retiring, that's not in the cards for me.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well that brings up the moral dilemma---when can you legitimately and fairly call a repair shop "crooked"?

    Think about the actual possibilities when a "sting" operation trumpets its success:

    1. The mechanic wasn't crooked, just incompetent. Chalk that up to poor training.

    2. The mechanic was honest but the shop owner was crooked. We've all seen this.

    3. The mechanic was neither crooked nor incompetent--he was working on a very complex problem and took his best shot. Even NASA engineers guess wrong.

    4. The mechanic was both highly competent and crooked, making him an even better thief. (I know one shop like this. He is very very clever, and oversells beautifully. He is a virtual Hollywood movie with high production values).

    I don't think 'sting' operations differentiate among all these possibilities. A "sting" is often a sucker punch, in the same way commentators make hay (and lots of money) reducing complex political issues to simple jingo-ism.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    Now add some consumer pricing pressure on top of all of that and tell me why anyone should be surprised by our difficulty with retaining the talented people that we need.

    Comparing the sting operation to a sucker punch is as accurate as anything I've ever seen. The shot gunned answers that the law of averages allows to happen to be right once in a while is simply another sucker punch that there is no answer for.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited June 2012
    I'm not really trying to pick on you here

    Then give it a rest. That was ~31 years ago and that's my recollection. But I'm not sure what I had for breakfast two days ago. Plus I'm on vacation for a couple of days sitting in the middle of a campground enjoying the sunshine and the only compression I'm worried about is the de-compressing kind.

    The point was the newby told me I needed a new transmission and the old pro fixed me up for cheap. There wasn't anything "wrong" with the transmission.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    For the newbee, that was how they (we) learned. Even for the old pro, there was always something new to be discovered.

    Basically changing the timing had no impact on the engines compression. But it could easily have made an impact on the amount of power the engine was producing at a given throttle opening. That would allow you to close the throttle some, and that in turn allowed for an increase in engine vacuum, and ultimately an earlier shift point.

    Now for the timing to be that far off, plus we have to include the possibly that something also was having an impact on compression it screams that the timing belt (or chain but not likely) had jumped a tooth. That would in fact give you low power, and very late or no upshifts.

    Anyway enjoy your vacation. Sorry for trying to make you have to think under such a condition. :shades:
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cY1YndLmbXQ

    Mechanic in a can, just pour it in and the car is magically fixed.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Actually I bet you could sell that for real on eBay :)
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    While the owner was here he mentioned that for the last three weeks he has been running ads and actively searching for a certified mechanic. He's looking for someone with five years or more experience, state inspection and emissions licenses, and at least a couple of ASE certifications.

    He got no responses at all. He didn't even get any responses from people who aren't qualified to fill the position he has open. Unemployment is still running around 10% in this area but people who are looking for jobs don't even think about this trade as a career choice.

    Care to try and list the reasons why?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    What's his shop like? What's the community like? Sometimes highly qualified mechanics are fussy about things like that.

    Actually, 3 weeks might not be enough time. Good people ARE hard to find but that's always been true. It is odd, though, that he didn't even get unqualified candidates. This suggests to me that he might not be placing his ads in the right places.

    My friend's Porsche/Audi shop took months to find the right guy and he came all the way cross country. Worked out great so far, however, so maybe patience is the key here.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    Today, with my wife's surgery tomorrow I got a phone call from a prospective customer. We are in the hosptial with her preparing for the first of at least two surgeries, (Aug 29th 6:15 am) to try and stop her epileptic seizures.

    The story went something like this. 2001 Ford Explorer was taken to a shop for a misfire/driveability issue. It got the plugs and wires replaced and then when it still had problems with misfires the cataytic convertors were replaced. The engine still was presenting the same symptoms, and after several additional attempts (O2 sensors, different plugs, cleaning the injectors) the owner took the car to a second shop. Two visits later and more parts replaced they gave up and then the car went to a third shop who's diagnosis was that this is an intake manifold gasket failure. Replacing that gasket failed to fix the car as well and they then decided it would need an engine to solve the problem. Now the car went to an auto wrecker (of all places because they would put an engine in cheap @ $1300) who installed a used engine. Still the vehicle ran every bit as bad as it has for the last several weeks.

    It's only now after some $3000 has been spent did the owner call my shop! The odds are very high that all of the failed attempts to repair this have in fact added problems on top of whatever the original failure was or still is (especially the used engine install). But the best part of this story is with my wife in the hospital, and my teaching schedule I just don't see how I can justify taking this car in. I'll need every second that I can spend in the shop for my regular customers and abortions like this usually take a signifcant amount of time that nobody ever wants to pay for. If we really would charge the time these require we get called every thing in the book from incompetent to rip-offs so what actually happens is we usually lose three to five hours of productive time to them as we solve the vehicles collection of problems.

    Traditional lines of thought are that we accomplish these difficult tasks and the reward should be that we earn another full time customer which makes the investment of the time lost being the hero a reasonable trade off. But experience has proven that when we fix this nightmare, at a loss to us, we will never see them again unless they someday get trapped by another nightmare. Then they look for us only to be the hero again.

    So here is where this stands for the moment. I'll be in the shop thursday when this potential customer is supposed to call back. I've already told him that figuring out what is wrong really won't be a problem, (I teach continuing educational classes for professional technicians that concentrate on the skills required to solve just such puzzles) however repairing it might be. Anything heavy mechanical I simply won't have enough time to do. For me to even consider looking at this he will have to authorize a minimum of two hours diagnostic time up front. From that point I can tell him what I know, and what may still need to be tested/confirmed. It's likely some repairs will need performed in order to cut down some of the trees to see the forrest on this one because of the prior repair attempts.

    The sad part is he apparently has been told about my shop, by each of the other shops after each failed attempt, but he kept choosing to go elsewhere. He sounded upset at the prospect that I might not fix this for him, almost more upset over that than he seemed to be over spending 3K without a solution. This however is a real glimpse of the future because there is no way to earn a living fixing these kinds of problems. In fact taking over and fixing these allows those who haven't made the investment in the training and schools to cut my throat on pricing for the easy stuff while they dump their failures on us. Soon they won't be able to do that anymore because we won't be there to bail them out like we used to be. I may not be there for this customer right now.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,348
    Wow. Yeah, I can definitely see where this is a Catch-22 for you. I can't believe that anyone would throw that many possibilities at the problem without getting a demonstrable rationale for why the repair will fix the problem.

    Hell; I can guess like that at home! :surprise:

    Best wishes to you and your wife as she undergoes her surgery.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • obyoneobyone Member Posts: 7,841
    Wow you are way to considerate. I wouldn't blink in communicating to this potential customer that I don't work on vehicles that have multiple attempts at repairing. Reason being it's difficult enough to diagnose a problem without the complication of multiple hands replacing parts masking the original problem even further. If the potential customer can't understand that, I wouldn't want him as a client anyway.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 48,433
    well, in this case, other than the cats it sounds like all the parts he had replaced were junked when the used engine went in.

    and the wrecking yard guy is probably super happy. He just might have gotten an engine back that was better than the one he sold!

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD, 2023 Maverick hybrid Lariat luxury package.

  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    Steer clear - I smell a potential lawsuit in the making if you get involved and something then happens. Lawyers will go after anyone that has money and even just slightly touches the item. The more people sued the greater the potential win and earnings!
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    Thank-you. We will be doing updates on her progress through my facebook page.

    http://www.facebook.com/john.gillespie.127648
  • lovemygrandamlovemygrandam Member Posts: 330
    Fuel,
    Compression,
    Ignition,
    Timing.

    I would tell them to get their original engine back. Geez, how could a competent mechanic advise someone to replace an engine without exhausting the possibilities that one of the four basics are missing.

    I'm with obyone and berri. Keep your hands off this mess.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    It all sounds so simple doesn't it. Time and again it usually is. Then along comes a situation that just doesn't play by all the normal rules. Several of the shops that this thing has beat are recognized as very good ones, of course some of the rest are not but that doesn't mean that they cannot fix anything, they have all simply been out classed by the complexity that this one must be presenting. Given enough chances we all run into a situations that all of our knowledge and training don't have us ready for. It's likely that no-one has the kind of experience that would be required for dealing with this car exactly as it would present right now. The discovery, research and testing phases are easily a once in a career event, never to be exactly repeated.

    That's as good of a picture for what we do today as I could ever attempt to portrait. The shops that are on the lowest levels of capability are there in part because they responded to consumer price pressure and have kept their prices too low to have invested in the tools and schools so that they are prepared to try and effectively solve these kinds of problems. Shops like mine get called all manner of evil things because we cannot work under the kind of pricing scale that they do, but on the first effort this would likely not have been a notable repair event. FWIW, there is nothing that this can present that from the technical perspective that we can't solve. We just can't get a fair return on the investment that we have made and earn a living by doing it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Replacing an egine to cure a miss is...well....absurd under any circumstance unless you could someone prove a cracked cylinder wall.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    Replacing an egine to cure a miss is...well....absurd under any circumstance unless you could someone prove a cracked cylinder wall.

    I wish that was true.

    Used engine installed regardless of the reason $1300.
    Repair that same engine for a timing chain that jumped on one head and resulted in a few bent valves costs about $2000 to do correctly.
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 16,532
    edited August 2012
    Deservedly or not, in the offices where I work I'm regarded as the "car guy" that everyone goes to with their questions about their vehicle issues. I can't tell you how many times I have heard about a dealer or indie shop that has thrown thousands of dollars worth of parts at a problem with little or no success.
    Fortunately, when I'm not in DIY mode I have two good dealer service departments and two sharp indie shops that I can fall back on. As a matter of fact, I'm now extremely reluctant to change vehicle brands if only because I don't want to have the potential hassle of dealing with an inept dealer...

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2020 C43; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i; 2018 330i xDrive

  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,205
    That's where I'm lost. I don't understand how anyone could do that with a straight face, professional or not.

    What's more ... its an '01 Exploder!! They've already spent the car's value, IMHO. :sick:

    Fairly steady: '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '21 WRX, '20 S90 T6, '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel, '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP / Rotating stock, but currently: '92 325i, '97 Alto Works, '96 Pajero Mini, '11 Mini Cooper S

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I don't get it either. I was having trouble with my AC on my Mini Cooper with automatic climate control. I brought it to "my shop" at 8:30 and at 9 AM they handed me a TYPED OUT diagnosis that included leak and pressure test (ok) but alas, an open coil on the magnetic clutch of the AC compressor...ergo, problem solved in 1/2 hour.

    (Well problem solved if you want to pay for a new compressor---"clutch not serviceable"---thanks MINI! )

    Is this shop expensive? Yes. Is it more expensive than a "bargain" shop that doesn't know what they're doing? No.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    its an '01 Exploder!! They've already spent the car's value, IMHO

    That's what you hear from people who make their living by selling cars. To them repairing the existing car means they can't make money off of the consumer today by selling him/her another one. JMHO.

    As far as the "they" goes, there are a few DIY'ers involved in this and most of the shops only did several hundred dollars worth of attempts before the owner pulled the plug with them and then he moved on down the line. The junkyard oops I mean auto recycling facility has spent the greatest amount of the owners money, by doing exactly what the owner asked them to do and then they found themselves married to this nightmare just like everyone before them.

    This thread is about our triumphs and also the challenges that we often face and the perception and attitude of this response goes a long way towards showing just how unfair shops can be treated. Now did they succeed in making the symptom go away, no it doesn't seem as if they did. However nobody has any idea exactly what, or why any of the individual steps was performed and whether they or anybody they normally work with would have done anything any different.

    I can't speak for the abilities of anyone else that has been involved in this thread, but I can state with no reservation that even if a dozen issues have been added to the original problem, I can definately figure out and solve this customers vehicle problem. But just like in this thread already someone would try and represent the effort as anything other than just a mechanic fixing a broken car! That's some kind of thanks isn't it. :sick:
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    In the wrong business?

    "”I can do a tattoo in three hours and make $300,” explains Hernandez, who says he isn’t tattooed himself. ”Tattoo money is a little easier.”

    The real need will be for more highly trained technicians.

    It’s those at the top of the profession that the industry is most concerned about losing, the master mechanics who don’t just read troubleshooting data off a computer screen, but rather put their education and experience to use to interpret clues and pinpoint a problem."

    Mechanic supply running on E (Detroit Free Press)
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    The one failing of the article, beyond which leaves me to find the rest of it to be quite accurate is the references to financial rewards for people who choose to enter the trade. Is 60K possible for a technician? Yes it is, after twenty to thirty years in the trade,"IF" they work and study hard all of the time.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited August 2012
    An old friend of mine has a nephew who went through factory training and became a BMW mechanic at a dealer down in Georgia about, oh, 8 years ago. He was supposedly making $60 plus benefits after a year; managed to buy a house and get married. Got his dad a "pro" deal on a 7 Series too.

    After about 4 years he quit and became a manufacturer's rep, running the company his grandfather had started.

    Think that's atypical eh?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    The story? No, there have been a number of stories where someone was supposed to be a phenom right out of school and in one case (this one I believe) he was supposed to be making 100K and telling everyone else what to do.

    The reality is that story was widely promoted for one purpose, to attempt to attract people to a for profit auto mechanics school, without regard for their true potential as technicians in the trade. The false promise that the trade would give the prospective students 100K careers got a lot of attention. Unfortunately many of the kids who went to that school ended up with some tools, an expensive education to pay for, and jobs that would pay them slightly more than they could have been making at McDonalds. Few if any remain in the trade long enough to get past their apprentice phase which isn't formally recognized but averages five to eight years. At four years he would have had some skills within one manufacturer so long as he specialized. Becoming a manufactures rep has more to do with people skills than technical ones. The fact that he is completely out of the trade in such a short time says more than anything, and it really doesn't matter why or what he left for.

    Funny thing about this trade, just about anybody who hasn't truly earned his/her stripes, changes a flat tire and they write about and tell all the world how easy this career is and they suddenly have people laying palms at their feet. Real techs who discuss the complex nature of the work are considered full of themselves if they successfully diagnose and replace a light bulb.

    On another note:

    A Buick Rendevous is sitting outside the shop. It has codes setting according to the note in front of me of P0131 B1S1 low voltage, and a P0446. The note explains "Parts on seat if needed".

    "IF" I install their parts and it fixes the car there isn't enough gross profit in labor alone to generate any income, in fact other work in the shop woud have to subsidize the basic overhead for that period of time. In short if they don't want me to be in business, then they should simply have gone elsewhere because I'll go broke just as fast doing nothing as to doing work for next to nothing.

    "If" I install their parts and they don't fix the problem, who's at fault? (ret)
    Why of course I am. I can't charge to take the time to diagnose this after all they believe they have pulled the codes and that means these parts are what are supposed to be replaced. So then I'll get to diagnose the problem for free and I'll be worse off for even trying.

    If I install their parts and they are defective who holds the warranty? (ret again). Why me again, the typical response to that situation is we must have ruined it when we replaced it. Now they will not only want the job done over (didn't make enough the first time, and now not making anything the second time) but it has happened where a shop has to turn around and install a quality part at a loss just to get rid of the situation.

    Every "expert" who-ever suggested it was OK for a customer to carry in their own parts is partly responsible for some of the real problems in the trade when it comes to the lack of quality personell as that is ultimately reflected in the wages and benefit packages that the technicians receive. It also has been reflected in the continuing education and tools that the shops provided their employees. We shouldn't have to apologize for needing to earn a living and this Rendevous has been presented with no other option to me.

    BTW, My wife had four seizures during the night so I got to watch them gather a lot more information. I spent the night in the hospital in part because of how familliar I am with her different spells and can relate to them if they are in fact seeing a typical event, or one that could possibly be caused by the withdrawl from her medications. Two of them were typical for her to have and two of them were not.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited August 2012
    Let's take my local guy. Don't know him real well but he's got a good reputation (and I live in a small town where everybody knows everybody). He's not cheap but he knows his stuff. I had trouble figuring out who he was at first because he doesn't even have a sign on his shop. I don't know how he learned the business.

    The part that gets me is that he can't fix my mother-in-law's Buick because he doesn't have the scan tool to reset the BCM. Neither do the guys at the two other shops in town. It's not a question of skill, it's back to trying to make a living in a small town where many of his customers can't really afford to pay him what he's worth. So he doesn't invest in the scan tools.

    So you either drive an hour one way to a dealer or you drive around with the engine lights on. Like my mother-in-law, and like my neighbor who has no working gauges on her Ford.

    Seems to me that resetting a control module shouldn't be any harder or more expensive than reflashing a CPU on your computer. I'm no whiz and even I've done a few of those without frying the motherboard. I'd love to be able to pay the local guy $120 (plus parts) to hook up the replacement BCM and code it for her particular car instead of having to drive an hour to have an "official" Buick dealer do it. That's half a day shot plus gas isn't getting any cheaper.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    The part that gets me is that he can't fix my mother-in-law's Buick because he doesn't have the scan tool to reset the BCM. Neither do the guys at the two other shops in town. It's not a question of skill, it's back to trying to make a living in a small town where many of his customers can't really afford to pay him what he's worth. So he doesn't invest in the scan tools.

    Imagine dropping me and my shop into your little town, which I doubt is much different than the little town I am in, with four shops around me that have been dragging their feet when it comes to keeping pace with technology and turning around and playing cut-throat pricing games with the easier work.

    I have the scan tool and software licensing to deal with your mother-in-laws Buick. On top of that I have attended, and also provide real training and have first hand experience in performing the set-up of a new BCM which has it's own traps that techs need to be aware of before they just up and try to do the first one. One of the biggest traps is the new BCM will latch its set-up after several starts and then can never be programmed for all of the accessories if it wasn't done correctly the first time. The only fix if that happens is another new BCM!

    I have the scan tool and software license for the Ford instrument cluster issue. I also have Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and Mazda vehicles fully supported. The investment that I have made is what everyone should have been making if they were truly living up to the promise that is essentially being made to the customers when it comes to being "Service Ready"

    Now when you look at your town watch me be labeled as a rip-off for no other reason than my pricing has to reflect the cost for all of those tools and schools, and it's because this is how the job should really be approached today, and not what anyone in your town is doing.

    BTW, It is in fact partly a skill issue as much as an investment issue. With no capability to do the work because they don't have the tools there is no way that they have the required additional skills. You have shops in your town that can't fix today's cars completely. Considering them to be "good" is a problem, today! Heck, for that matter that Buick is actually yesterday's car, what are they going to do when you or your neighbors show up at their doors with one of today's cars?

    Right now it's likely they might not even know what oil a car really calls for and that is because of a lack of training, no matter how good they are at anything else.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    This area is more depressed than the remaining Appalachian hollers and not many people are buying new cars. It's not about mechanics trying to rip people off, it's about people trying to survive on unemployment or social security, and business people only charging what people can afford to pay. Otherwise they'd have no customers.

    There's a risk of ruining a CPU when you reflash one, but that's an engineering issue and one of these days the engineers (and GM) will figure out how to reset one without permanently damaging it.

    My point is that it really shouldn't take a lot of skill or special equipment to reset a car computer. In fact it really should be something GM could do remotely via OnStar.

    You know it's coming, and with the dearth of new mechanics getting trained, it'll have to get more common or we'll all be stuck on the side of the road.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,348
    edited August 2012
    I have, on occasion, given my own parts to a shop for install (usually due to something unforeseen like a nut disintegrated on me and there's not the clearance to get any tool I own on it to remove and replace). Each and every time, once they get over their reluctance, they are very clear that there is no warranty on the work unless the install itself is faulty. They are a "NAPA Service Center," which probably costs a mint by itself, but generally that means all (most?) work comes with a 12K/12mo warranty.

    So far, the added cost of fixing the blunder (such as extraction of the bolt) often offsets the profit they likely would have seen on the part itself, plus I am thrilled that they helped me out of a jam! I may be the atypical customer, though, because a few years later that same shop accidentally forgot to torque (or even tighten) the lug nuts on a tire they were inspecting.

    I picked it up, drove home (12 miles), and started hearing/feeling an oddness about a half-mile before arriving home. In the driveway, I inspected the wheel... it was about a half-turn from falling off the car! I tightened it up and called the shop the next morning to inform them. They were horrified and extremely apologetic, offering me all sorts of promises (free this, discounted that). I assured them that it worked out okay - everyone makes mistakes - I just wanted them to know about it and reiterate to the employees to double-check their work.

    Then again, I could have just as easily took advantage of them and taken them up on all their offers even though there was no harm/no foul, and they did me a favor in the first place by even looking at the car when they did (which cost me nothing)! Of course, it could have turned out much worse, but my point is that it didn't and education was a much more valuable tool in that scenario than punishment. At the end of the day, I was still grateful to them for their fantastic customer service and have used that shop again since then.

    --

    Doc - I'm sorry that the seizures continue for your wife. It sounds like she has the best possible partner at her side.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    My point is that it really shouldn't take a lot of skill or special equipment to reset a car computer. In fact it really should be something GM could do remotely via OnStar.


    But Ford doesn't have or use OnStar, and neither does any other manufacturer. Heck not even every GM vehicle produced has it and of the ones that do how many owners actually renew the subscription?

    Such a simple solution, wasn't it? ;)

    Actually did you ever hear of OBDIII? Those cars are expected to be able to accept remote downloads, but they also:

    Were/are proposed to have to upload their failure data live, and potentially not just emissions failures but any system, and then the owner would get the nice letter in the mail for certain failures that would require them to be repaired or else they would not be able to renew their licesnse plate. If the vehicle broke traffic laws, the time place etc would all already be known, the letter (with associated price tag for it) would just go to the vehicle owner in the mail. Oh, and the cars already have cameras inside to know for certain who was driving, etc.etc.

    Be careful what you wish for.......
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    But Ford doesn't have or use OnStar

    Sync, Ford My Touch. It's coming.

    ever hear of OBDIII?

    Sure.

    Only had safety inspections briefly when I lived in Chattanooga in the 70s. It was pretty lame. PA seems to make a big deal out of them. Not sure if I believe all their studies showing how much safer their cars are because of the required inspections but there sure are a lot of idiot drivers out there with bad brakes or worse.

    You forgot the part about basing road taxes on actual miles driven. :)

    (And ditto what XWes said - hopefully we're providing a little distraction for you as well) .
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    I just talked to Beth on the phone. The doctor was in to report to her on their progress. All of her seizures have definately started in one very specific spot in her right temporal lobe. She wasn't able to give me more details other than to say the doctor called her a poster child for the surgery and they have upgraded her chance for being seizure free with the next proceedure. That will be Tuesday Sept 4th.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,348
    Great news, and Tuesday is just around the bend! :shades:
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 16,532
    Agreed!

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2020 C43; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i; 2018 330i xDrive

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Ugh, Facebook comments? That's another pain point to navigate.

    With all the emphasis on "world" cars, how do the automakers think their cars are going to get serviced in places without trained mechanics? Ford needs to set up a Barefoot College and shift engineering emphasis from speed of assembly at the factory to ease of repair in the shop. Lots of people can fix stuff without having literacy, much less certificates on the wall.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    Lots of people can fix simple stuff without having literacy

    Fixed it for you. Cars are never going to be simple ever again. Fuel economy requirements, saftey features, and many other overlapping technologies are all driving the complexity of the machines that we know as "a car".
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    http://www.drmarymeadows.com/

    Her other interests included a site called H2 pure power, one of those water for fuel scams...
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    They're still made up of systems. If the brake light goes on you've likely narrowed the issue down to one system right there. Then you figure out what sensor is setting off the light. Then you address the problem that triggered the sensor. The computers will soon enough narrow that down so finely that it'll tell you whether there's a broken wire at the left rear tire or if the fluid level is low. If that stuff is built in, then you can avoid a lot of expensive proprietary systems and leave the tough stuff to the real mechanics (yeah, I know - bleeding into that "other" discussion).

    It's kind of nuts to think that a new BCM costs $200 - $300 plus the programming. You could get a Galaxy Tab or Nexus 7 or iPad for the same money, hang it off the dash and replace every computer on the vehicle with it.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,630
    As long as the denial stays as deeply rooted as what you just wrote we will be wrong if we don't invest and move forward with trying to keep pace with the technology in the cars and we will be wrong if we do because by doing so we simply can't be cheap enough for you. The problem right now is we can't wait for maybe someday, we either have to make the investment and be able to do the work today or we will be letting our customers down, today.

    Now would you care to try and explain why the article needed to be written in the first place?

    If they ever manage to make us totally irrelevant then so be it. You can just spend $40,000 for your next car and simply plan to throw it away and then five years later spend $50,000 for your next one..... TJTWISI
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited September 2012
    Not me, I drive them forever. They don't need much service these days (at least I've been mostly lucky with my '97 and my '99).

    What I got from the article is that auto mechanics isn't a field that pays enough and a kid is more likely to get good prep for doing the job nowadays from building his computer instead of wrenching on a hot rod out in his back yard.
Sign In or Register to comment.