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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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Comments

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197
    Not techs, but most do wrench on their own cars.

    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: 5,054


    I think part of the problem is that service advisers don't operate at a very high skill level themselves.

    That's what I find encouraging about the SAs that I worked with at my BMW dealer; they know as much if not more than the techs with respect to diagnosis and foibles of a specific engine or drivetrain.
    We see that misconception all the time. If they aren't actively performing diagnostic routines by themselves along the lines of the video I made above, then at best they are guessing based off of the pattern failures that often occur. "Wrenching on their own cars" doesn't mean that much either, that suggests they might have the talent to become an apprentice but would likely fail if they suddenly had to become a line technician.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I guess being a competent DIY is a higher skill level than most SAs, many of whom I know don't even do that---so RB has a point. However, I think Doc also has a point in that the technology is advancing so rapidly that someone wrenching on his 2016 BMW might not have a clue about some systems on a 2019 BMW.

    It would be great if all master techs who are starting to age out could graduate to a more prestigious SA position that pays very well. He would be like the first mate on a ship, appointed due to vast experience to supervise the crew.

    I think that "flat rate" is totally obsolete in this New Age. A modern tech has way too many hallways to walk down to estimate when he's going to get where he's going.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197


    I think part of the problem is that service advisers don't operate at a very high skill level themselves.

    That's what I find encouraging about the SAs that I worked with at my BMW dealer; they know as much if not more than the techs with respect to diagnosis and foibles of a specific engine or drivetrain.
    We see that misconception all the time. If they aren't actively performing diagnostic routines by themselves along the lines of the video I made above, then at best they are guessing based off of the pattern failures that often occur. "Wrenching on their own cars" doesn't mean that much either, that suggests they might have the talent to become an apprentice but would likely fail if they suddenly had to become a line technician.
    I guess I'll have to find a truly competent shop.
    Woe is me!

    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: 5,054
    edited January 4
    Being a competent shop is about having the different people skilled in their own areas and all of them working together. Service advisors aren't techs and don't spend enough time studying let alone physically applying the knowledge like the techs have to in order to maintain a viable level of proficiency. Take the best tech out of the bays and make him/her a service advisor or anything else and the "tech skills" immediately begin to erode while he/she learns new ones. It's the old line, "If you don't use it you lose it" at play.

    When it comes to DIY level, that can truly be anywhere on the scale, but to be eye level with the techs would demand much more time studying than the techs need to invest since the DIY'er wouldn't be spending forty to fifty hours each week applying the information. Top techs today need to study fifteen to twenty hours a week to just try to keep pace with all of the changes. Younger techs need to study even more than that because they don't have that lifetime of working and studying behind them.

    To try and put a scale to this just look at evaporative emissions systems. The training, skills and education required to get someone competent to efficiently solve any problem with just that one system on any vehicle is more than anyone who isn't a technician generally ever acquires in their lifetime. You can watch the video and see just how many different little details were involved and what it took to prove without any guessing as to what was going on. Techs have had to learn how to work the way I demonstrated while everyone around them still thinks that all that ever needs to be done for an evaporative emissions problem is throw a gas cap at the car, or at the most do a smoke test.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,054
    Belong to Linked-In? https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/actual-reasons-why-your-automotive-technicians-you-period-vigneault/

    The Actual Reasons Why Your Automotive Technicians Are Leaving You. Period.

    There is one line in it that really sums it up.

    Benefits - They are terrible and expensive. I remember having a friend in 08/09 who had a wife and 2 kids, all under the dealership health insurance plan. He got his paycheck (flat rate, with no work coming in the shop), and he OWED money for his paycheck.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124

    Belong to Linked-In? https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/actual-reasons-why-your-automotive-technicians-you-period-vigneault/

    The Actual Reasons Why Your Automotive Technicians Are Leaving You. Period.

    There is one line in it that really sums it up.

    Benefits - They are terrible and expensive. I remember having a friend in 08/09 who had a wife and 2 kids, all under the dealership health insurance plan. He got his paycheck (flat rate, with no work coming in the shop), and he OWED money for his paycheck.

    Not surprising. We pay for our insurance out of pocket and it's $2250/mo for three people (medical, dental, vision).

    Some people underestimate the value of employer provided insurance. When I was last employed in 2016, the total cost was $200/mo, and that was pre-tax.

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    Edmunds Moderator

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I doubt it'll ever get straightened out as long as healthcare remains a for-profit business.
  • henrynhenryn Houston, TXPosts: 2,575
    This is my third year on Medicare. It works. It beats the h_ell out of private insurance.

    'Nuff said.
    2018 Ford F150 XLT Crew Cab, 2016 Chrysler Town & Country Touring
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    henryn said:

    This is my third year on Medicare. It works. It beats the h_ell out of private insurance.

    'Nuff said.

    It's funny... when I was mother's guardian, and friends would express their disdain for the Medicare program, I told them it was the best deal going. Of course, we were all working for major corporations, and our healthcare was cheap, and they told me I was wrong.

    Now, people can't wait to get on Medicare. My wife has three years to go, and I have 4.5 years. Other than actually being that much older, I wish it was tomorrow.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,054
    Our insurance has gone up every year and we had to increase the deductible to try and keep the payment manageable. For $1407 a month we now have insurance (medical only) that we can't afford to have to use with the $5000 deductible. What's really tough is when I am out traveling it will only pay 50% should something happen. I keep hoping that we can get the wife on disability, but so far no luck.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    Yeah, it's tough no matter how you go.

    Our insurance is pretty decent, other than the premiums and the high deductibles ($2700 per person) ;)

    Fortunately, we have a premium reimbursement benefit that was part of our retirement benefits that covers almost half of the premium. That's still over $1100/mo out of pocket.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    3 out of 5 bankruptcy filings in America are due to medical bills.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124

    3 out of 5 bankruptcy filings in America are due to medical bills.

    Most medical bills are total fiction.

    If you have insurance, the medical provider writes off 80% of the bill, and then you pay 30% of what's left over. But, if you don't have insurance, you get charged the full amount. Medical billing is a racket. I have no ill will to those that stiff medical billers by filing bankruptcy.

    I could list half a dozen stories about it, but that doesn't really fit the discussion.

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    Edmunds Moderator

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197
    edited January 19
    As of today I have put over 300 miles on my "test subject" since I performed the scheduled maintenance in late December. The car has been my daily commuter to my new job- which is a 25 mile round trip. It's also seen speeds of upwards of 80 mph on a short interstate jaunt. After 500 miles/one month I'll declare the issue resolved.

    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: 5,054
    Translation. You performed some basic maintenance and that corrected an issue that the vehicle had and now you know everything about every make and model ever produced. No doubt you even know exactly what happened here and even repair it instead of replacing it.….

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,963
    Translation. You performed some basic maintenance and that corrected an issue that the vehicle had and now you know everything about every make and model ever produced. No doubt you even know exactly what happened here and even repair it instead of replacing it.….
    Obviously your problem is all those loose bolts rolling around in there. ;b

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197


    Translation. You performed some basic maintenance and that corrected an issue that the vehicle had and now you know everything about every make and model ever produced. No doubt you even know exactly what happened here and even repair it instead of replacing it.….

    Why does the fact that some people successfully maintain and repair their own cars bother you so much? I realize that I stole food from a poor tech's mouth by doing it myself, but the simple fact is that I enjoy working on my cars- as well as saving money where I can.

    As I've said before, It's too bad that you can't enjoy your life without letting everyone know that you are the greatest mechanic that ever spun a ratchet- all the while demeaning anyone who has the temerity to touch anything under the hood of their personal vehicle. I'd hate being so miserable.

    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: 5,054


    Why does the fact that some people successfully maintain and repair their own cars bother you so much?

    That doesn't bother me in the least, it's not like you have even helped a fraction of the people that I have here.
    If there was any truth to what you just said I would never have given anybody any information/assistance.


    As I've said before, It's too bad that you can't enjoy your life without letting everyone know that you are the greatest mechanic.

    No, I have never claimed to be a great mechanic/technician. I do know people who are truely great in this field, I could only dream of being like them. I have to work hard all the time, study constantly, and not be afraid to take on new challenges and get to learn something new, even if that means getting beat up from time to time along the way. I know and accept that the next lesson this career is going to teach could be in the next car, that's just how difficult this work really is.


    that ever spun a ratchet- all the while demeaning anyone who has the temerity to touch anything under the hood of their personal vehicle. I'd hate being so miserable.

    Demeaning? Nobody deserves that title as much as you do.

    Someone had to step up and start putting a stop to the kinds of abuse that people who choose this career have had to deal with. You obviously aren't ready to walk away from that and want to keep bullying, no different than the very first post I ever noted from you some seven plus years ago.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,054
    qbrozen said:


    Obviously your problem is all those loose bolts rolling around in there. ;b

    LOL.

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197


    Demeaning? Nobody deserves that title as much as you do.

    Someone had to step up and start putting a stop to the kinds of abuse that people who choose this career have had to deal with. You obviously aren't ready to walk away from that and want to keep bullying, no different than the very first post I ever noted from you some seven plus years ago.

    Bullying? For pointing out that some shops/techs have made inexplicably boneheaded mistakes? As usual, the term is being thrown around to label someone who expresses an opinion you don't want to hear.For your information, last year two shops I use DID make mistakes- but they were quickly rectified when I politely brought them to their attention. Further, I still continue to patronize AND recommend both shops.

    "Step up" all you want, but I will continue to call out shops and techs who have no business working on a tricycle-never mind a modern vehicle-whether they have opposable thumbs or not. Defending incompetent and/or lazy techs does nothing to improve the reputation of your profession.

    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: 5,054


    You obviously aren't ready to walk away from that and want to keep bullying, no different than the very first post I ever noted from you some seven plus years ago.

    Bullying?
    Yeah Bullying. I'm not surprised that you aren't able to accept that is all that you are really doing.


    For pointing out that some shops/techs have made inexplicably boneheaded mistakes? As usual, the term is being thrown around to label someone who expresses an opinion you don't want to hear.For your information, last year two shops I use DID make mistakes- but they were quickly rectified when I politely brought them to their attention. Further, I still continue to patronize AND recommend both shops.

    Let's start with your word "inexplicably". You're so smart but you can't understand how well trained and intelligent people can still make simple mistakes. What's worse is instead of making it a learning experience you can only see fit to have it result in a chance to be insulting and demeaning. That's bullying plain and simple and you deserve no less than to have someone give it right back to you.

    When the abusers like you finally go away and we get to help the younger techs learn from the mistakes that they are going to make, then maybe we will get to keep them in the trade long enough to learn to be good at it. That will get you and every other consumer a better chance to have qualified techs who make fewer mistakes servicing their cars. It won't happen as long as there are people like you who continue to try and make the career not worth the effort it demands.


    "Step up" all you want, but I will continue to call out shops and techs who have no business working on a tricycle-never mind a modern vehicle-whether they have opposable thumbs or not. Defending incompetent and/or lazy techs does nothing to improve the reputation of your profession.

    More of the same BS. You want to pat yourself on the on back with a few obscure posts about doing some basic maintenance on a car that allegedly resulted in an improvement, you are free to do that. But don't try and suggest that reflects even the slightest talent towards the work because in a real shop you would quickly be the incompetent hack in someone else's story that the shop would have to be apologizing for. Then you would have to hope you would have someone who could explain to you what happened and why so that you could learn from it and grow.

  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoPosts: 118,206
    While its ok to have a difference of opinion, we do need to remember to keep things civil. If you can't, we mods will step in.

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and let us know! Post a pic of your new purchase or lease!


    MODERATOR

    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R / 2014 MINI Countryman S ALL4

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197
    If relating stories of inept maintenance and repair attempts makes me an abusive bully I will wear the title with pride. Of course I do realize that this whole exchange could have been avoided had I simply taken my car to a “professional” and paid 2-3 times what I actually spent in order to achieve the same result.
    If I found myself constantly complaining about how terrible it is to be a member of my chosen profession I would simply have to find another line of work. Life is too short. 

    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: 5,054
    edited January 20

    I would simply have to find another line of work. Life is too short.

    And that's one of the reasons why its difficult to find great technicians, far too many quit. I'll never get you to understand, but maybe others will. You dont solve any of the problems doing what you do, you only make them worse.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 817
    edited January 20


    If I found myself constantly complaining about how terrible it is to be a member of my chosen profession I would simply have to find another line of work. Life is too short. 

    I have worked in science and IT. The environments I have worked in and managers that I have reported to have been about a 50/50 split of toxic versus decent. The odds are so bad in business today between all of these factors, toxic management, toxic customers, and to your points, being surrounded by buffoons. Unfortunately, in our current environment there is no other "line of work." If one does not join the park service and hang out at the river doing environmental studies, then chances are they are dealing with a whole lot of negatives at work. Since this is our reality, the only thing one can do is what Doc is doing, educating and fighting it with words.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,054
    One of the young guns that we are helping grow.

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197
    edited January 20
    guitarzan said:

    Unfortunately, in our current environment there is no other "line of work." If one does not join the park service and hang out at the river doing environmental studies, then chances are they are dealing with a whole lot of negatives at work. Since this is our reality, the only thing one can do is what Doc is doing, educating and fighting it with words.

    I've been very fortunate; since 1986 I've never been in a job I truly hated. I spent 32 years in the legal profession and then retired. I next spent a bit of time in the car business(a LOT of fun, but I hated working weekends and holidays). I ended up being coerced back into the legal field, where at least-in my current position, anyway-the buffoons are(mostly) on the other side.

    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

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197
    edited January 20
    Profiles in tech education; no comment necessary.

    1. This week the owner of a well-regarded indie BMW shop posted this picture on his local chapter's FB page:

    And this wasn't the only unforced error, the large o-ring that seals the cap/canister was also improperly installed with the result that the cap was barely hand-tight.

    The only surprise was the lack of Channellock gouges on the cap. A cautionary tale for anyone tempted to take their car to Billy Bob's Hi-Teck Auto Repair.

    2. A member of my local chapter advised that his new car's low coolant light illuminates every six weeks like clockwork, so he brought it to the dealer(not my old store, BTW). According to the tech, the coolant loss is due to the owner using the car's heater a lot. Not to worry, the tech refilled the expansion tank- after unscrewing the cap and allowing hot coolant to spray all over the engine compartment.

    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: 5,054
    guitarzan said:


    I have worked in science and IT. The environments I have worked in and managers that I have reported to have been about a 50/50 split of toxic versus decent. The odds are so bad in business today between all of these factors, toxic management, toxic customers, SNIP Since this is our reality, the only thing one can do is what Doc is doing, educating and fighting it with words.

    And not until that toxic enviroment is muted will we ever see fewer incidents like the photo's above.

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