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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,404
    I wish I lived a bit further south, but even here you rarely see vehicles under 10 years old with any significant rust.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    Guess that's why they call us the rust belt.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 761
    We have tons of road salt. The bottom of the 2000 Celica doors are like new. Good quality metal, and folding & welding process. (I do not wash my car at all.)

    The quarters rusted from the inside-out due to the adhesive used to press panels together absorbing water. That's a big duh.

    All of these car makers still treat us buyers like dolts. Perhaps we are, for not demanding change.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,404
    My 1999 Wrangler had a spot of rust on each front fender due to a built-in rust trap. My shop removed the trap and repaired the rust- so far no further issues. The fenders simply bolt on, so if it returns I'll have another option.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    My 94 Ranger was fully rust proofed and undercoated when it was purchased new and doesn't have any of the issues that my 2010 Escape is showing in regards to corrosion.

    My daughters 2004 Rav4 is fine body wise but shows some growing concerns under the car. I had to replace the fuel tank straps two years ago.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,858
    I think it depends on how the rust develops. If it is inside a seamed fender, (between layers of metal) that's bad. But if it's just in some cubbyhole that traps road moisture, it could be curtailed for a long time.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,668
    A few years ago we had relatives visiting from Minnesota. They couldn't believe all of the "old" cars on the road that weren't rust buckets!
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,638
    Oregon is slowly trying to make the transition to salt.
    Mostly using de-icer in Oregon, but they are pushing for salt, cause it costs less, according to the bean counters.
    The problem is, they aren't the ones who work on it, so they don't see the damage.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    Your bean counters should see what it does to the vehicles, roads, and especially the bridges.

    A number of years ago a shop owner in the town where my shop used to be got a visit from a guy who worked for the DEP. They had been testing a small run that goes through town and detected high levels of salt. This guy had papers written up and was accusing George of dumping salt into the run to which George responded to by walking out in front of his building and asked the guy to look to the right. "Tusca" road climbs about a three hundred feet in under half a mile and informed the DEP guy that the only people using any salt in that area was the state when they clear that hill during the winter.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    Back to the rust. Here are pictures after the arresting product sat overnight.



    This is just one of the products out there that all do the same thing.
    https://www.amazon.com/Permatex-81849-Treatment-10-25-Aerosol/dp/B000BKC25K/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8


  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    Looks good! Hopefully it will hold for you through its useful life.

    Our state guys started using salting products here a few years ago for our transitional seasons. They used to only use gravel because it was generally too cold for de-icing to be effective. However, we get a lot more periods of relatively warm weather (within 10-20 degrees of freezing, sometimes above freezing) during the winter half of the year now than we once did. Apparently, they would rather cater to incompetent drivers than to those who prefer rust-free cars.

    I didn't think to wash my steel cargo tray (hitch mounted) from last spring's run home in the Q7. I got home, unloaded it, and hung it up on the side of the shed. It was brand new at the start of that trip, so I basically used it for a week and then put it away. Last week, I walked by and noticed that it is terribly corroded.... just from whatever Canadian crud was caked on it imbibing moisture from the air and attacking the metal. I haven't looked too closely yet, but I may have to just throw it away. :@

    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • andres3andres3 Southern CAPosts: 9,260

    But sometimes, if applied in a slapdash fashion, undercoating can plug vital drain holes and cause worse problems. I've also read where warranties might be in jeopardy due to aftermarket rustproofing applications.

    Last time I checked, nothing is perfect. Yes drains can get clogged if the product is used too heavily, but that's a minor issue.

    It's almost funny to think that the threat of voiding a rust through warranty might be in play. From my experience, the rust through warranty isn't worth the paper it's printed on. When my Escape was four years old and still under 100K I took it to the selling dealer with this rusting already evident on one of the rear doors and the lift gate. They told me then that this wasn't a warranty issue and blamed it on road salts and tried to say that I didn't wash the car often enough. Well, it should be pretty obvious how well the exterior is maintained from the photo's at 8yrs, and now almost 230K.....

    Rust like this can be significantly retarded with aftermarket products, at least to the point that I wouldn't be dealing with it like I am right now. My out of pocket cost is about $100 for the materials to address this and from there it's just my time. That's pretty cheap compared to the price of just one door (or skin).

    Yeah, I'll keep Ford off my potential buy list. I've heard way too many, and I mean way too many stories like yours where the warranty is worthless. No company should make arguments to void a warranty without evidence of what they are claiming.
    Toy '16 Audi TTS quattro AWD, Commuter '16 Kia Optima LX 1.6 Turbo FWD, Wife's '17 VW Golf All-Track SE 4-Motion AWD
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    xwesx said:

    Looks good! Hopefully it will hold for you through its useful life.

    If you look at the pics just after the product was applied, you can see that it overlaps the painted sections that were not stripped. The pics from the next day show that only the exposed metal sections, especially where the corrosion was turned black. The chemicals in the product cause a reaction with the metal that arrests the corrosion process and it will, provided that the corrosion is isn't very thick penetrate surface rust and stop it from proceeding. That chemical reaction didn't occur where the product overlapped the painted surfaces. What's really interesting about it is that it is easy to sand or scrape off in it's present condition but once primer and paint are applied the bond increases and becomes very durable.
    xwesx said:


    Last week, I walked by and noticed that it is terribly corroded.... just from whatever Canadian crud was caked on it imbibing moisture from the air and attacking the metal. I haven't looked too closely yet, but I may have to just throw it away.

    You could use a product like this if the corrosion hasn't progressed too far yet. It will work better if you can remove the corrosion but will still have an impact if you don't.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    I didn't see where you mentioned the name of the product, but it is this something I can pick up at a local auto parts store (NAPA, etc.)?
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    Yes, parts stores that also carry body work supplies will usually have theseen products on hand. The one I use in an aerosol made by Permatex 
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    An update from Automotive News.

    http://www.autonews.com/article/20171023/RETAIL05/171029996/1434

    For seven weeks over the summer, 2,000 service technicians went on strike at 129 new-vehicle dealerships in the Chicago area, seeking better pay and working conditions.
    One dealer estimates the walkout cost his store hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost service revenue. Another calls the strike "unnecessary ... devastating" and says it left him "bitter."
    Yet the terms of the strike's settlement deserve attention because they address challenges that confront all dealership service departments — not just unionized shops in one city — as they seek to recruit and retain productive technicians.
    The stakes are higher than ever for dealerships in the competition for techs. As new-vehicle sales cool, fixed operations will account for a greater share of dealership profits in coming years. The chronic shortage of technicians will grow more acute as those now on the job retire.
    And as the cars and trucks coming into the shop become ever more complex, the training and skills required of techs will have to be more sophisticated as well. So the status of service technicians becomes increasingly critical.

    Tech portrait
    The typical service technician at a new-vehicle dealership
    Is a 40-year-old man

    Has 19 years of tech experience, mostly at dealerships

    Earned nearly $59,000 in 2015

    Has been in his job for 3.6 years and expects to stay at his dealership for at least 3 more

    Has a scheduled workweek of more than 42 hours

    Spends most of his work time on diagnostics, vehicle maintenance and light repairs

    Attended college and/or technical training

    Would not recommend his career to a friend

    Source: Carlisle & Co., National Automobile Dealers Association

    Continued...
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    Cont:

    A face of the Chicago strike is Richard Madonia, a 23-year-old lube technician at Community Honda of Orland Park. He has held his entry-level job for nine months and expects to spend about two more years in a tech-training program sponsored by his union. Madonia notes that many fast-food workers in Chicago are paid better than he is. Still, he says he enjoys his work and wants to keep doing it — at least for now.

    The strike settlement aims to enable dealerships to retain younger service workers such as Madonia by boosting the hourly pay of beginning lube techs from $9 to $11 and of semiskilled technicians from $11 to $13.
    In the longer term, the contract includes a formal performance review after 24 months for semiskilled techs who seek apprenticeships — a vital next step on the technician career path. That's important, Madonia says.

    "It's kind of hard to get locked into an apprenticeship because [the dealership is] going to have to guarantee you a position as a journeyman," he told Fixed Ops Journal. "So if the shop has a lot of journeymen, they're not really looking to hire apprentices."

    The Chicago tech strike and its aftermath come at a time of turmoil for service technicians and the dealerships that employ them. The National Automobile Dealers Association's 2016 Dealership Workforce Study reported that one-fourth of techs leave their jobs each year.

    The median job tenure for techs was 3.6 years, according to the NADA study. Only 1 percent of service techs were women.
    Separately, a survey last year by the automotive consulting firm Carlisle & Co. asked more than 20,000 service technicians in the United States and Canada whether they would recommend their career to others. Their overall response: an emphatic no.
    The greatest sources of job dissatisfaction identified by the survey respondents: their compensation (flat-rate pay plans were especially reviled) and a feeling that the dealership and automaker they work for don't properly value what they do.
    "People are leaving in herds," says Dan Costley, a journeyman technician at Garber Fox Lake Toyota who took part in the Chicago strike. "The younger guys are seeing the career is not what it's cut out to be.
    "I've got two friends who left in the past year and went back to college," he says. "Both are smart as whips, but they're done."
    John Thompson is chairman of the automotive technology department at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, which offers one of the nation's top academic programs for training dealership service employees. He calls the employment climate for service techs "a disaster waiting to happen."
    "We have an aging work force, and young men and women aren't trained and ready yet," Thompson says. "You're seeing it slowly unfold, but it will quickly unfold when more and more people retire."
    Not all bad

    The situation for techs is not utterly bleak. The NADA workforce study reported that the average dealership service technician earned nearly $59,000 in 2015 — a solid middle-class income. The most skilled and experienced techs command six-figure pay.
    According to the Carlisle study, the average service tech is about 40 years old and has 19 years of shop experience. Despite their complaints, 70 percent of the technicians in the survey said they expected to work at their current dealership for at least the next three years.
    Tim Richards, a 21-year-old apprentice tech at Elgin Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, is the type of young worker the industry says it wants to nurture. He says being a service technician is the career for him.
    "I've always worked on cars, and I'd build and race cars," he says. "Automotive is my niche. Why not make a career at something I'm good at?"
    During and after the strike, Richards says he maintained his confidence that he will become a master technician someday.
    "I didn't feel worried," he says, "because with my training and ability, I would have been able to progress faster."
    The new contract in Chicago aims to respond to the concerns of veteran technicians as well as those of 18- to 34-year-old workers, who NADA says represent two-thirds of newly hired techs.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    And Cont:


    But officials of Automobile Mechanics Local 701, the union that represents the striking service techs, concede they didn't get everything they wanted.

    Cicinelli: "Not as good" for techs
    Sam Cicinelli, the local's directing business representative, says the contract will guarantee technicians as much as 36 paid weekly hours of work, up from 34 — but the union wanted 40.
    Cicinelli says most veteran technicians represented by the local work as much as 50 hours a week. But they often earn less because of the flat-rate system they work under, which pays experienced techs primarily by the repair job rather than the hour.
    Contract provisions lengthening the guaranteed workweek and offering other incentives only partially relieve that disparity, Cicinelli says.
    Technician Costley calls flat-rate pay "a prehistoric, barbaric way of paying. They should be paying at an hourly base," he says.
    Pay gap
    Richards, the youngest tech in his shop, says Chicago-area dealers have exploited poorly paid techs in the semiskilled category, which he argues should be eliminated.
    "Would you rather pay the semiskilled worker $15 an hour or pay the journeyman $35 an hour for that brake flush?" Richards says.
    He notes that the new contract reduces apprenticeships from 10 to five years. But service departments need to pay more attention to the quality of apprentice training, he says.
    Apprentices should be formally partnered with journeymen, he suggests, "instead of being thrown into the industry as an apprentice and learning to do everything yourself."
    Otherwise, the union's Cicinelli says, the contract makes gains for younger techs, "but it's still not as good compared to other trades and other jobs."
    "Electricians make $18 to $20 an hour at the entry level," he says. "A plumber has a little bucket of wrenches to invest in, and we have a toolbox the size of a condominium."
    Harold Santamaria, an instructor in the automotive technology program at Truman College in Chicago, says many of his tech students who "graduated and got a job said it wasn't as rewarding as they thought it could be."
    Some talented students have worked as lube techs for four years without the prospect of advancement "because they did the job too well," he says.
    Dealers speak
    The Chicago dealers whose techs went on strike have complaints of their own. Greg Webb, a partner at Packey Webb Ford in Downers Grove, says the strike "cost the mechanics and us a lot of money, and neither of us is getting it back."
    "The dealerships that weren't on strike had so much [service] business, they were turning it away," Webb says. "If some of my customers went to another Ford store and got taken care of properly, there's a real possibility they may not come back here."
    Richard Fisher's seven dealerships in the Autobarn group endured the strike. He says the cost of the new contract will make it even harder for his company to stay competitive.
    "The [pay] rates of all of our mechanics have gone up sharply," Fisher says. "Inevitably, the things we care about — giving great service to our customers and attracting young people to the business — will be stymied if our costs continue to climb."
    Fisher and some other dealers worked to dissociate themselves from the dealership bargaining committee and cut their own deals with their striking techs. "We felt they were our guys first and union guys second, and we wanted to get them back to work," he says. "I felt bitter in the overall way [the strike] was managed by both sides. I feel, ultimately, the strike was unnecessary."
    Even after the strike, industry observers say dealerships in Chicago and elsewhere aren't properly preparing their service departments and training their shop employees for innovations such as emerging electric and autonomous vehicles.
    Steve Tomory, who teaches automotive technology at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, Calif., predicts service technician training will need to become based more heavily on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) topics. A tech's job, he says, "may become more of a salary-based position."
    In Chicago and everywhere else, says Thompson of Pittsburg State, the primary responsibility for redefining the role of service technicians to accommodate a changing industry rests with dealers and automakers.
    "The manufacturers will have to partner up with the dealers and say, 'How do we grow this work force?'" Thompson says.
    Rob Gehring, a fixed operations consultant in Huron, Ohio, agrees.
    "I have said technician is a good career many times," Gehring says. "But the attitude needs to change at the dealership and manufacturer level."
    He adds: "I wouldn't be a technician."
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,638
    I was once asked when I knew I wanted to be a mechanic.
    My reply was, "Make no mistake, I never wanted to be a mechanic.It was something that came natural and I was good at and I made way more money than a lot of college graduates."

    My family ran fishing boats out of Alaska and it was cheaper for me to fix everything, than it was to fly a mechanic in and have it done, so really I learned out of necessity.

    I had short stints at European import shop and a dealer and would never go back to automotive retail.
    I'll agree that automotive retail techs are severely underpaid.
    The problem I see now, is that there is problems all over retail work.
    Training is severely lacking, costs of tooling is almost out of reach for a younger tech just getting into the industry and the starting pay is barely above McDonald's.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    0patience said:

    I was once asked when I knew I wanted to be a mechanic.
    My reply was, "Make no mistake, I never wanted to be a mechanic.It was something that came natural and I was good at and I made way more money than a lot of college graduates."

    I agree with every bit of that except for the last part. Today I do just fine but in the early days that was absolutely not the case and there was no shortage of oppressions that served to make any young technician start questioning their own self worth. What I really should have done back then was hit the road and leave the career behind, but the stubborn side of me wouldn't let me quit and provided the incentive to study and learn everything that I possibly could in order to show the nay-sayers that they were wrong.
    0patience said:


    I had short stints at European import shop and a dealer and would never go back to automotive retail.

    I could go back full time tomorrow if I had to. I still work the weekends but primarily handle the stuff that is beyond the average shop.
    0patience said:


    I'll agree that automotive retail techs are severely underpaid.
    The problem I see now, is that there is problems all over retail work.
    Training is severely lacking, costs of tooling is almost out of reach for a younger tech just getting into the industry and the starting pay is barely above McDonald's.

    The training is out there if the techs are willing to make the investment. The real problem was all of the airtime given towards calling diagnostic fees rip-offs and every suggestion that someone could just tell anyone what was wrong with a given car right off the top of their head. That constant pressure to devalue the knowledge and training that the technicians had to acquire had very personal impacts on the techs who were committed to and trying to do the job the right way. It was that kind of behavior here in these very forums that I set out to address when I came here for the first time.

    When I read that article that is linked and reposted above I see them finally starting to openly address issues that have been around for my entire forty year career as a technician. To get techs to attend training and improve themselves there has to be a tangible reward and that still isn't there except for about 1% of the people in the trade. Even then to really "make-it" one has to stop being a technician so everyone should wonder, why even bother starting out as one?
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,638


    The training is out there if the techs are willing to make the investment. The real problem was all of the airtime given towards calling diagnostic fees rip-offs and every suggestion that someone could just tell anyone what was wrong with a given car right off the top of their head. That constant pressure to devalue the knowledge and training that the technicians had to acquire had very personal impacts on the techs who were committed to and trying to do the job the right way. It was that kind of behavior here in these very forums that I set out to address when I came here for the first time.

    When I read that article that is linked and reposted above I see them finally starting to openly address issues that have been around for my entire forty year career as a technician. To get techs to attend training and improve themselves there has to be a tangible reward and that still isn't there except for about 1% of the people in the trade. Even then to really "make-it" one has to stop being a technician so everyone should wonder, why even bother starting out as one?

    The training part was one reason I didn't stay in automotive.
    Most fleets pay for the training, while the retail shops I worked left it to the techs to find and pay for.
    My opinion of that was, if I'm making money for you and investing $50k in tools, then the company should be footing the bill for training.

    While I do find a lot of training myself and still pay for some, it is because I want that specific training and it wasn't expensive and spending the time trying to justify it to bean counters wasn't worth the effort.

    First the techs have to want to put out the effort to do the training and next, the company has to be willing to foot the bill and allow the time. Until both things happen, it's gonna be a dead end road.

    I once sent in a vehicle to a shop to have some work done, automotive vehicles, while still my responsibility, are not my priority, so often get sent to shops.
    The tech and I went over the symptoms and when we got done, he asked me what I thought.
    I told him that what I think is irrelevant. He's the tech. I'm not gonna put that on him, cause one, I know he knows what he's doing and two, I could be totally wrong in what I think. Until the testing is done, my thought is only a guess.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    edited October 26
    Some of the most difficult work that I take on is also often the most rewarding these days. I went to a shop in Springfield Mass because they had a VW that would barely run. It only took twenty minutes to walk the tech through the routine and then using the scope and pressure transducer proved beyond any doubt that the thing had jumped time. Then we went to a second vehicle and confirmed that it had not jumped time and the failure on that car was actually caused by the installation of an inferior part.

    BTW you might wonder what I was doing in Springfield Mass. I travel around the country providing the training classes that techs need to attend and while I am out on the road I do mobile diagnostics with the goal of both solving the nightmare for the tech and shop while at the same time provide one on one hands on training. Sometimes it takes less than twenty minutes to guide the tech to the answers that were alluding them, sometimes it can take a lot longer......
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    This should be interesting.
    http://www.autonews.com/article/20171016/WEBINAR03/310169938/overcoming-your-technician-crisis

    Webinar Summary
    The technician shortage for automotive dealerships is real. For the industry, the crisis is bound to get worse. But there are steps you can take to solve the problem at your shop. 

    This webinar will cover the reasons for the shortage and spell out how dealerships can combat it. 

    The customer is the reason your service department exists. You’re wrong if you believe you can allow your
    customers to wait several weeks for service because you don’t have enough technicians. If your customer has  to wait more than a few days for service, you have a technician shortage.

    Attend this webinar to:

    • Get a checklist to evaluate your operation and determine ways you can improve efficiency.
    • Learn a new, surgical approach to overcome your technician shortage immediately.
    • Develop a Technician Bill of Rights that will help you attract and retain technicians.
    • Create a culture of communication and ongoing training that will include your advisers, technicians and parts department. 

    Presenter
    Rob Gehring
    President
    Fixed Performance Inc.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,858
    Are you going it listen in on it?

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321
    I might get to, not sure how busy I will be. 
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,321

    Are you going it listen in on it?

    I didn't get to listen to it live, but finally got to this morning from the archive. It was refreshing when one of the listeners asked if they (management) are actually the problem to which the short and sweet answer was yes.

    The featured speaker talked about doing things like additional compensation for hours that are spent doing warranty work to try and make up for the lost wages due to how little time is getting paid on warranty jobs as compared to the same job at customer pay rates. End of year bonuses, vacation time, tool expenses, and an entire list of things that make being a technician a less than desirable career choice. For the tech who is playing beat the clock every second of the day to be surrounded by people who are supposed to be supporting them that how long it takes them to do something isn't a factor the aggravation and stress often becomes too much to cope with for what works out to be pedestrian wages at the end of the day.

    They left a lot of issues undiscussed, but it did get them started on a decent path towards maybe making some progress. The strike in Chicago featured significantly at several points including establishing a forty hour guarantee each week. (techs are still usually clocked in for fifty or more but again that's a start)
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,638

    Are you going it listen in on it?

    End of year bonuses, vacation time, tool expenses, and an entire list of things that make being a technician a less than desirable career choice.

    The strike in Chicago featured significantly at several points including establishing a forty hour guarantee each week. (techs are still usually clocked in for fifty or more but again that's a start)
    Again, these are things that are glaringly different between heavy duty and automotive.
    Most heavy duty techs receive most of what you listed, with exception of the yearly bonuses.
    And that mostly depends on the company. I worked at one place that did give bonuses and most others didn't.

    How automotive techs can keep ahead of the game on a constant basis is beyond me.
    I've never been a fan of flat rate.
    If you are in a shop that doesn't have a good support system (parts, cleaning, service writer, etc), the tech loses.




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