Car Stuff+(Kids-Attentive Parents)= DANGER!

May 18, 2008

Many times when we have things to do we bring our little ones with us, not only because we have to but because daily interactions in the real world are good times to teach them lessons.  I too have a little one and I have found that she has learned a lot about paying for things, food items, different jobs people have and so on.  So I don’t think twice when someone shows up at the desk with children in tow.

Last year a lady brought her young son in with her to get new tires.  When I noticed he was climbing up the shelves on the front of my dask I asked her to get him off because he would most likely hurt himself if he fell.  She looked annoyed at me but got him down.  After we went to her car to gather information we returned to the desk to put in the work order and again he began to climb up the shelves.  I again asked her to get him down.  Then he went over to my tire displays.  First he was just looking at them and touching them.  Then he proceeded to scale the set of mud tires that were stacked up.  Just as I began to warn her that she needed to get him, the stack of tires fell over.  Luckily he stumbled back before they fell on top of him.  I politely asked her to keep him next to her and told her that there was a children’s area in the waiting room, whereupon she informed me that it was dangerous to have stacks of tires “just sitting around” because children could get hurt. 

Today, a lady came in with a little boy and she needed the battery on her truck tested.  I told her to pull up in front of the bay doors and I’d get it tested for her right away.  As I turned to go into the shop I saw him climbing on a set of tires.  I asked him to get off the tires because if they fell he might get hurt.  After he got down, I walked into the shop to let my tech know that this vehicle would be coming around for a battery test.  When I walked back inside this woman’s whole demeanor had changed.

Her: “You know, you need to tell me if he needs to do something.  That’s my child and you scared him.”

Me: “Ma’am, the last time I told the parent that thier child was doing something dangerous it was too late and he fell.  I needed him off the tires.”

Her: “Well, I didn’t see him or I would have told him to get down.  It’s not right for you to tell someone else’s child what to do.  He’s only five years old.”

Me: “When something like this is happening, I need to get to the source and stop it.  Had he hurt himself, you would want to sue us, even though like you said, you weren’t watching him.”

With that she turned around and walked off, got her car and got the battery tested then left.

Now was I out of line?  I don’t think so.  Had she been watching him, he probably wouldn’t have gotten on the tires.  I feel that when you are in an automotive environment with a child it is your responsibility to keep your children with you because of the possibility of them getting into something.  When i bring my daughter with me to pick up my check, I hold her hand because I don’t want anything to happen to her.  I’ve also made sure to teach her that when we are out shopping she shouldn’t touch anything unless she asks.  These things are not hers (or mine) until they are paid for and you shouldn’t mess with other people’s things.

Granted, I did talk to my boss after that to let him know that it probably would be a good idea to change the way the displays are set up to help prevent the unwatched from hurting themselves and he agreed that something should be done and when he comes back on Monday he’ll look for another way. 

The moral of my story is this:  If you don’t feel like it is important to watch your child when they are with you, then don’t act outrageous when someone tells them not to do something that will get them hurt.  That may be the person that saves you a trip to the ER.



October 4, 2007

I try not to bring gender to my job, but sometimes it has a way of making itself known.  I do not use my gender at work to get people to do things for me and I do just as much work as the men in my position.

I admit, I enjoy getting my nails done.  Every couple weeks I journey to the salon because it makes me feel good.  My hands are very visible to the public and it’s important to me for them to look nice.  Now, I do kinda take it to the extreme and my nails sometimes are quite long, but it’s ok with my boss because it doesn’t impede my job.

With these nails I can still mount and balance tires faster than most and that’s the benchmark I use for nail length.  Many people comment on my nails.  Some people say they like them, some people ask how I can work in them, and some tell me that it’s pretty but unprofessional.  I poo-poo the haters and go on with my life.

But from there, it gets weirder.  I was working one day and one of out customers was talking to another writer when I passed by them to go into the shop.  A few miniutes later I passed them again, then again on my way back into the shop.  This guy stopped me and in his creepiest voice leaned over and said, “You smell purty.”

Horrified, I thanked him and hid in the shop until he left.  Then, this guy calls and I answer the phone.

Man: “Are you that girl who smells good?”

I quickly put him on hold and got the other writer to take his call.

I’ve had other comments similar to this.

-I could stand here and smell you all day.

-Can you walk by again, you smell so good.

-You smell like my ex.

I appreciate that others can enjoy my perfume, but where I come from it’s taboo to comment on the scent of people you don’t know, especially if you do it in your best stalker voice.

For these reasons, I try not to make myself up for work because I don’t like to draw more attention to my femininity.  But just the other day I was feeling a little down, so I did my hair.  I usually wear it in a bun but I straightened it out and curled the ends, and people couldn’t stop commenting on it.  Not two hours into my shift I answered our ringing phone.

Man: “Shelly?”

Me: “Yes?”

Man: “I was just in there and I had to tell you that you’re gorgeous and I can’t wait to see you again.  That’s all, good-bye!”


Look, I realize that it’s not very common to see women in the automotive field (although many women are starting to get involved), and we don’t want to be seen as anything other than the role we’re playing at work.  I don’t say creepy things to my waiter or the guy that cleans the carpet because he’s there to do a job.  Just because he works out and takes care of his appearance I’m not going to gawk at him or make annonymous phone calls.  I’ve worked hard to gain the knowledge and respect from my peers.  The very fact that I hold my position with accomplishments and awards means that I’m here with a purpose. 

I feel insulted when someone will question my knowledge of cars then ask me for my phone number. 

One guy came up to me and actually said, “What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?  You’d make more money dancing.”

“I’ve spent the past 6 years in the automotive industry and although I’m sure my parents would be proud of me no matter what I do, I don’t think I’d be able to deal with all the creeps I’d come across such as yourself,” I replied.

He got mad and told me that I was rude and that he didn’t want to do business with me.  He then told my boss that I was rude to him and it might prevent him from coming back to do business with us.  When asked what I said, he said I called him a creep.  After I chimed in that he said I should be a dancer, he didn’t have to stop doing business with us, he was cut off. 

If you men out there can learn one thing from this I hope it’s that I don’t give a crap about what you think of me.  My looks are none of your concern if you’re trusting me with your $30,000 car.  I can’t do a good job if I constantly have to look out for creepy people (creeple) who want to smell me and make mysterious phone calls.  I want to care for your car with no strings attatched.  I know I’m not crazy because this doesn’t happen to the men I work with, and they notice the attention I get.  I’m sure there are other women out there who are going through the same thing and I know how horrible it is to not be recognized as a professional in this field.  Give us a break, we have plenty of time after work to turn down your lame pick-ups.

Obsessive or Indifferent?

October 4, 2007

It wass that time of year in Vegas when outside temperatures soar over 100 degrees.  It just so happens that the heat seems to make people quite irritable.  So, when the AC in someone’s car goes out they tend to be difficult to deal with.  I try to understand where these people are coming from, but the way they act is totally unreasonable. 

One lady brought her Expedition in because the air wasn’t blowing out cold enough.  We measured it at 40 degrees.  She said that sure it was cold in the morning, but when she got out of work at four it was hot although eventually it did get cold if she drove long enough.

She has a black truck, parked outside in the sun for eight hours in 110 degree heat and has no tint on her windows.  REALLY?!  It’s hot outside!  That means it can be over 130 degrees in your car.  The air is going to blow out hot.  My mom has a spankin new car and after sitting in the sun all day it blows out hot air.  It sometimes takes a few minutes for the air to get chilly. 

She was still unhappy with how her AC worked.  She brought it back and we measured the air at the vent at 42 degrees.  Now it’s a week later, five degrees hotter outside, and this woman is distressed about how long it takes for her air to get cold.

She said it doesn’t get cold by the time she gets home from work now.  I asked how far her house was from her job. 5 miles.  We let it sit in the sun for a few hours and still got the same result after about 6 minutes at idle outside of the shop. 

She picked it up the next day and I can’t say I was sad to see her go.  Here’s a person who doesn’t even have a problem and is upset about something outside of the control of man. 

I understand that anytime someone comes into the shop to get repairs they feel they have a valid problem.  Again if we compare this to the medical field, there is a phrase they use for such people…”hypochondriac”.  I propose we call this brand of people who have this problem with cars “hypocardriacs”. 

There is also a brand of people who are on the opposite end of the spectrum.  A man came in with an ’89 Olds Cutlass.  Says he can start the car, but the key won’t move back into the off position to turn it off, and now when it does run, it won’t idle for more than a few seconds befor it cuts out.

I asked him what he’s been doing to shut the car off.

Man: “Wel, I tried umplugging the battery, but the thing still ran.  So I pulled off the first spark plug wire on the passenger side, then the first on on the driver side.  Finally, I grabbed one of the wires that went to the rear of the engine and it cut off.”

Me: “You know you could just unplug the alternator right?”

Man: “I figure that the plugs would do the same thing.”

Me: “Well, it probably idles poorly not because even though you disconnect the plug, fuel is still being delivered to the cylinder, so it just builds up, fouls out the plug and keeps the car from running properly.”

He left his car, we changed the lock cylinder and the plugs and we blew the engine out.  Still we had fluctuation in the RPMs and it would hesitate and dies sometimes.

I called this guy back to let him know what was up and see if he wanted to look into it further.

Man: “No, that’s always how it acts.  I can deal with it stalling as long as it restarts.  I’ll be there to pick it up in an hour.

Now for him, malfunction is the norm.  Nothing will change that.  There can be a million things wrong with the car, but he swears that makes the car even better.

Both of these people are extreme.  Your car should work properly and you’re an ass if you expect better than what the manufacturer provides and an idiot if you settle for less.


October 4, 2007

Have you ever gone to the eye doctor and gotten glasses only to be struck the next day with a bum knee?  Did you go back to the optometrist and demand that he also fix your knee since it happened right after you left his office?

This happens more than you might think in the shop.  I had a customer come in with an ’05 Altima a few nights ago to get a headlight replaced.  She came in at 2pm the next day complaining that we broke her car alarm. 

Lady: “Ever since you replaced the bulb, the alarm isn’t working at all.  The doors still unlock, but the horn doesn’t sound and the lights don’t flash.”

Me: “Well, I can’t see how the light would affect the security system, but we’ll check it out.”

So, I go out to the car with her and I use the remote to lock and unlock the door…multiple times.  I asked her to explain the problem again.

Lady: “It wasn’t working at all.  I don’t know why it worked for you.”

Me: “Well, it’s long been theorized that vehicle will exhibit problems until they are in the care of someone who can fix them.  Tragically, your car is doing this very thing because the alarm is working.  But, if you do have any more problems, please let me know and I’ll straighten it out for you.”

So she leaves, only to come back a few hours later to tell me that the headlight we installed went out.  I replaced the bulb at no charge to her and told her to keep an eye on it because she may have some other issue going on.

We had a lady (using the term loosely with an ’07 Edge come in to get an oil change and a tire rotation.  She came back a week later on my shift telling me how her tire pressure light was on.

“Lady” : “I got my oil changed and my tires done and my tire pressure light came on.  You guys were supposed to fix the car and now this light is on.  You better fix it because that’s what I paid for.”

Me: “Did we put new tires on it?”

“Lady”: “No, they did something to them.  How am I supposed to know, ya’ll are the mechanics.”

So, I took her keys and gave them to a tech to check the pressure and reset the TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system).  While he pulling the car around to the shop, I noticed this “lady” reading to her daughter in the waiting room (surely reading her a pamphlet on how to be rude AND ignorant while still looking like a contributing member of society). 

Now, three of her tires were low on air.  When I suggested that she get a tire pressure gauge, she looked at me like I had three eyes.  I was only trying to tell her that these systems are sensitive usually to with 2-3 psi, and that keeping the proper pressure will prevent that light from coming on.

“Lady”: “Well, if it comes on again then you’ll have to fix it again.  It’s not MY job to do that.”

Me: “Well, if it comes on again, you’ll have to take it to the dealer because it may mean you have a problem.  Have a nice day.”

I left it at that…

Then, we had a lady come in today with a RAV4.  She got tires put on, only to return a few hours later with an unidentified liquid coming from the vehicle.

We look at the car, walk around it, scratch our chins, and finally one of us bends down and touches the liquid.

It was water.

Me: “Ma’am, you have condensation from the AC system dripping onto the ground.  Its just water.”

Lady: “You broke my AC?!  But it’s working right now.”

Me: “No, it’s a natural occurance since the temperature outside and that of the system are so different.  Just like when you have a glass of icewater outside on a hot day, sweat forms on the glass due to the difference between the liquid in the glass and the ambient temperature.”

Lady: “Well, I’ve had this car for several years and I’ve never seen such a thing.”

Me: “Well, if you drive a band new car off the lot and run the AC, the same thing will happen.  On older cars it does the same thing.  I’m sure you have’t noticed it because a lot of the moisture drips onto the road while you’re driving and when you stop the vehicle to go to work or to the store, by the time you return the water has evaporated because of our dry climate.  Sadly, as lng as you run the AC you will experience the condensation drips from the system…but that also means it’s doin it’s job.”

Still suspicious of me, she claims that this only started happening after we did her tires and if it keeps up, she’s going to have to get it fixed.


Last week, this guy came in with a ’99 Deville.  He complained that it wouldn’t start and he wanted to replace the starter.  Now, we’ve seen this problem before with this model car, so I suggested a diag.

Man: “I know my car.  If it won’t start then you know it’s the starter.”

Clearly he knew more than I did and he declined the diag.  So, I got a starter, priced the labor and got it put in.

When the work was all done I called him.

Me: “Sir, I have some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that the started is installed and tested.”

Man: “So what’s the bad news?”

Me: “We’re gonna have to push it out of the shop because it doesn’t start.  My mechanic says it probably has something to do with the ignition wires.  They tend to get crushed by the steering wheels when they tilt.  It’s a design flaw.  He’s recommended replacing the lock cylinder.”

Man: “Well, I’m gonna pick up they key and take it to the dealer to get it checked.”

Me: “OK.”

He picks up the key and calls me while he’s at the dealer.

Man: “They said the key is ok, but that the ignition wires were probably crushed.  That might be what’s causing the car to not start.”


Me: “Well, I talked to our locksmith and he said it will be about $450 to replace the cylinder and reprogram the pass-key system.  Let me know.”

Men: “I’ll be right up there with the key.”

He never showed up that night, and the next day a lady came in to pay for the vehicle.  She explaine to me that they lost the ONLY key somewhere between the dealer and home and that they had already called another locksmith to get them going.

So, five hundred dollars and half an hour later, the locksmith shows up.  We jacked up the front end and rolled it out of the shop for them. 

They sat in our parking lot for FOUR HOURS while thier car was re-keyed.  I asked the locksmith how much he was charging them, over $600!  That’s over $1100 in one day for this car that had he just let us diag it, he would have saved a few hundred.


I can’t save the world, or even convince it to save itself.  But I can say that it wouldn’t be so bad if people used common sense.

Chances are if you get a break job, it’s not going to affect your fuel pressure, if you get wipers, it’s not going to make your brakes go out and if you put on a new set of tires, you aren’t going to fail smog.  I know that many people don’t know much about cars, but remember this, just as your eyes work independantly of your knees (and in some cases of each other) your car can have multiple prblems and chances are, it’s just a coincidence.


September 8, 2007

Now that the vacation is over, it’s back to work with the cars and the problems and such.  The first problem I encounter?  A lady who called and told me that her vehicle was being towed in.  A green, 2000 Ford Escort eventually rolled off the flatbed and onto our lot.

At first it didn’t seem too bad, usually these things can be solved with a new battery or starter, but this wasn’t a simple thing.  So we got into testing this car.  It had power, it would crank, it would run for a couple seconds then shut off.  The fuel pump was functional, the filter was not clogged, we got good pressure up to the injectors. 

The mechanic bled off some of the fuel in the fuel rail and let it spill onto the floor.  Now, in Vegas, it’s hot and it takes no time at all for gasoline to evaporate.  In ten minutes, all that remained was oil on the ground. 


It all made sense.  The mechanic had thought this might be the cause, but he could only smell the gasoline so he ruled it out.  I happen to have a really good sense of smell, and after smelling the residue from the fuel, i knew what had happened.

I called the customer up and questioned her about her activities before her car quit running.  She told me that she gt off of work, went to the store, got gas, then went home.  When her ca wouldn’t start again before work the next day, she called he tow truck. 

I asked her abut the as that she got, it if had a green handle.  She said that it did have a green handle and it was difficult to get the nozzle into the filler neck of the car, but it cost less than the other gas did.

After telling her what we found with her car I explained that we had to change the fuel filter, change the spark plugs, drain the fuel tank, clean the fuel rail and injectors, put new gas into the vehicle and properly test the fuel pump for damage she was floored.

“It was just $15 worth of gas,” she lamented.

“No, it was $15 worth of diesel,” I said.

She was unhappy with the $480 bill, which if you factor in that about $150 was towing and diagnostic wasn’t so bad.  She told me that she was more unhappy with herself because really she didn’t end up saving anything at all.

I don’t even think I have to say what the moral of this story is.

What the lug?

August 30, 2007

In the world of service, we see some of the craziest things that make us wonder about the world around us. 

A lot of oddities come in the form of tires.

There’s the somewhat common “tumor” that turns your tire into a freak of nature.  It can pop up on the tread from separation or on the sidewall from curb checks, but I tend to think a lot of it is actually from manufacturing defects. 

We had one customer who came in and told us that he was driving on the freeway when he heard a noise that turned into clanking and the he realized the tire blew out.  When we saw the hole in the sidewall we thought it was just another blow out.  When we took the wheel off the car, we heard a noise in the tire.  But when we took the tire off the rim, we were surprised to see a small wrench laying inside.  We gave it to the customer although we wanted to keep it for a trophy.

A lady in a CR-V came in asking for a new set of tires because hers had nails in them.  We asked what happened and she told is that she had gotten a nail in her tire so she put the spare on.  But she’s a real estate agent and she goes to a lot of the new communities sprouting up in the valley.  When she left one community she noticed that her tires were all low.  After the tow truck dropped her Honda, we put it on the rack and found fourteen nails in her tires.

One guy brought in a set of giant rotors from a truck to be turned.  While measuring the second, we found a small mouse lodged between the two surfaces against the fins.  We were grossed out but we did our job and sent them on their way with the rotors.

This group of guys pulled up in a late 90’s civic wondering why the car is overheating.  I went out to look at the car, opened the hood and asked them if they thought the duct tape on the radiator might have something to do with it.  One guy told me that he lost the cap but figured as long as the hole was covered the car would be fine.  I told him to go buy a radiator cap, they’re like $5 in most cases, and some coolant.

Then there was this guy who came in with a 2004 Yukon Denali that had been stolen, stipped of it’s 24’s and dumped.  Fortunatly, they were nice enough to put tires back onto the vehicle.  Unfortunatly, they did not all match and the wheel they put on the driver front didn’t even fit right.  So what did they do?  They bent the studs to get the wheel on, then, bent them over like cotter pins to keep it on.  This guy ws alright though, he saved the stock rims.  Six studs and lugs later, he was on his way.

A gentleman in a ’99 Cougar was complaining that upon acceleration the charging light would come on.  When we opened the hood we were blown away by the fishy, sulfer smell that his battery was emitting.  While testing the charging system, we were shocked by the acid squirting from the vent tube of the battery.  The owner was sure that a new alternator would solve his problem even though we bench tested the one frm the vehicle and it tested normal.  The alternator was covered under warranty and he didn’t want to pay for any further diagnosis.  When told that the alternator tested fine and would not be warrantied out he took his keys and left…

A lady with a 1992 Ford Thunderbird heard a noise coming from the engine compartment.  She took it to another mechanic and he told her that the alternator was going bad.  She brought it to us and asked us to change her alternator and pulley.  She declined our diag saying that she didn’t need two people to tell her what was wrong.  We installed the alternator as a customer request even though it was functional.  When she came to pick it up, the noise was just the same as when she left it.  She asked why we didn’t find out what was making the noise.  I told her that she didn’t need two mechanics to tell her what was wrong with her car.  She asked if she really needed to replace her alternator, I told her probably not, that’s why we like to test them first.

ALSO: If you are driving down the street at night and everyone keeps flashing their lights at you, it’s because you need to turn them on. 

Wheels not included…

August 9, 2007

The other day I observed one of my co-workers writing up a tire sale and I almost DIED laughing. 

Man: “Hi.  I had a blow-out on the freeway and I need to get another tire, I have a Cavalier.”

Service Writer: “What year?”

Man: “1996.”

SW: “Do you know the tire size?”

Man: “No.  The car is still on the tow truck, but I can get it.”

SW: “It’s ok, I’ll get it.”

So, he goes out back through the shop door and returns a few minutes later, types some stuff in, and starts going over tire brands and prices with the customer.  After some time, the customer chooses his tires and they move ahead with the work order.

SW: “So, you have the blown out tire on right now, or a spare?”

Man: “I have the spare on, but it blew out too so I had to tow it.”

SW: “And, the matching rim is in the trunk?”

Man: “No.”

SW: “But, it’s in the car right?

Man: “No.  The tire was blown out, it was no use to me anymore.”

SW: “We don’t have anything to mount the tire on?”

Man: “Well, I want you to mount it on the car.”

SW: “We mount the tire on a rim, then mount that rim with tire onto the car.  We need a rim.”

Man: “Don’t the tires come with rims?”

SW: “No.  We can get rims for you but it’s kinda late in the day, I wouldn’t get a rim in today.  Was the rim damaged?”

Man: “No, just the tire.  I figured you replaced the whole thing.”

SW: “So, where is the rim now?”

Man: “On I-15.  I should go see if it’s still there.”

SW: “Good idea.  Then, just bring it back and we’ll get you going.”

This guy left, and returned later just red faced.  He said he was happy that no one had taken his tire, but that it was finally here so we could put a new tire on.  Good for him.

It took like 15 minutes to mount his tire, get it on the car, check the other tires, and fill out paperwork.  It took him almost 2 hours to retrieve his tire in freeway traffic.   At least he had a sense of humor about it…’cause we sure did


Five minute fix…

July 27, 2007

Why is it that sometimes you tell people things, then they forget everything that you told them?

This lady came in about a week ago with an ’02 PT Cruiser that was overheating.  I recommended a diagnostic, but her son told her that she needed a new thermostat.  So, she said she didn’t need us to look at the car because her son knew what he was talking about (apparently so much so that he sent his mother to get the work done instead of doing it himself).

So, we put a new thermostat and gasket in the vehicle and filled it up with coolant, bled the system and let it go.  She came in today, and we had a little talk…

Lady: “You put a thermostat in my car last week and it’s still overheating.”

Me: “Hmmm, did we diagnose it?”

Lady: “You didn’t have to, I already knew what was wrong with it.”

Me: “But it’s still overheating?”

Lady: “Yeah, and I’m afraid to drive it home.”

So, I pull up her previous invoice and print it out so we can go over it.

Me: “See, it says here that you declined diagnosis.  Maybe that was never the problem.”

Lady: “Well, maybe you put the wrong thermostat in the vehicle.  I want you to take it out and check it for me.”

Me: “Well, if I do that, you going to pay to have us remove it, and it’s gonna be pretty difficult to check without a thermometer and a pot of water.”

Lady: “Well, how do you know you put the right on in the car?”

Me: “Well, first the computer cross references the parts for us.  Then, when the mechanic removes the old part from the vehicle we visually match them up to be sure that they are the same.  Finally, when the part is installed into the vehicle, it usually has such close tolerances that the wrong part won’t fit. (At this point I checked the computer again to show her that the part number was correct for her vehicle.)  Ma’am we put the right part in your car.”

Lady: “Well, my son said that the thermostat makes the vehicle overheat.”

Me: “It sure can, but that’s certainly not the only component of your cooling system that can fail.”

Lady: “Well, what else can cause that?”

Me: “A clogged radiator, a bad radiator cap, a bad waterpump, a broken belt if the waterpump runs off a serpentine, any type of coolant leak, a blown head gasket, if too may fins on the radiator are bent over so you get poor or no air over the radiator, a bad fan or fan clutch-”

Lady: “I see.  But I thought the thermostat controlled the temperature of the water.”

Me: “No.  It controls when the fluid is going to circulate around the engine block.  At a certain temperature, the thermostat opens to let cooler coolant flow around the block to cool it off, when it has cooled enough, the thermostat closes to allow the engine to remain at operating temperature.”

Lady: “So, it doesn’t set the temperature?”

Me: “Like the one in your house?”

Lady: “Yeah.”

Me: “No.  But, if yu have some time, I can still do a diag on your vehicle and let you know what’s wrong with it.”

Lady: “Let me go call my son.”

This woman leaves talking on the phone, and in a way, I wonder why people have to know so damn much.  See, When my parents have a problem with thier cars, they call me.  And if i diagnose thier problem, I’ll fix it.  IF I CHOOSE NOT TO FIX THIER CARS MYSELF or I don’t know what i’m dealing with, I will take thier car to the shop, pay to have it diagnosed, then pay to have the work done under warranty with the shop’s diag.  Seriously people, if you aren’t going to fix it, don’t diag it.

Anywho, she comes back about twenty minutes later and purchases another thermostat and a radiator cap through us.  Turns out, while her son was rechecking the car becuase it was still overheating, he lost the radiator cap…but he’s still sure that the problem is the thermostat.  This time he’s going to install it.  Good for him.  A shame she didn’t buy a new gasket.  He told her she didn’t need it.  I hope she doesn’t…but if I changed my thermostat every month, I’d still buy a new gasket each time.

I know people think that every mechanic is trying to rip them off, but in the end, that’s not true.  I won’t sell anyone anything unless they ask for it or unless the mechanic notes why things need to be replaced.  I’ll save parts, show my customers what’s wrong, whatever it takes so they know that I’m being honest with them.  But when people ask us to do things and refuse to let us determine the problem, they usually end up paying for something they don’t need, then they get mad when it doesn’t fix thier problem. 

To you people I say POO!  Work on your own car if you know what’s wrong with it.  Why am I thinking so hard about this?  Because, I had a girl come in asking about the thermostat on an ’01 Galant.

I told her how much the labor was to replace it (like $68) and she said that she shouldn’t have to pay that much because “It only takes like, five minutes to change it”.  I told her that I can get her a thermostat for it and I’d pay her that money if she could change it in that time.

Girl: “Oh, well, I meant that someone who knew what they were doing could change it in five minutes.”

Me: “Well, you sound like you must know how to, I’ll even let you use our tools.”

Girl: “Well, I don’t know how to change it.”

Me: “Trust me, if you did, it’d still take you more than five mintes.”

 We helped her get what she needed, and she was on her way, but I’m 99% sure that he boyfriend told her what was wrong with the car and she listened to him.  He’s probably not a mechanic.”

Oh well, in the end, my car runs, and, my thermostat works.  HAHAHAHA

Durango to Hell!

July 26, 2007

So, this guy brings his 2006 Durango in because it had an unfortunate meeting with the curb.  He drops the car off Friday.  We put it on the rack and not only has he taken an eight inch chunk off the edge of the passenger front rim, he hit it hard enough to bend the torsion bar.  Now, the bar was special order but we got it overnighted for him and we got the new rim from dodge. 

I signed for these parts late Saturday afternoon and the mechanic got to work removing the old bar from the truck.  We sit these bas down next to each other and we’re all scratching our heads because they don’t match.  Well, it’s 5:30 on a Saturday in Vegas and the dealer has closed.  This is when the fun began.

I talked to the customer (I’ll call him AH):

Me: “I’m sorry to tell you, but your truck isn’t going to be ready tonight beca-”

AH: “What the F*CK do you mean it isn’t going to be finished tonight?  My truck has been there two days now!  What kind of incompetent @ssh*les are you guys?  Oh, my truck is going to be finished tonight, I don’t care who finishes it!  You can take your @$$ out there and do it yourself and I’m not gonna pay for it!”

Me: “Yeah, so if you want anything done to this vehicle, you’re gonna talk to me like you’re a grownup.  You aren’t gonna talk to me like I’m your child, that’s not how you get things done.”

AH: “I have this f*cking rental car and I’m not trying to keep paying for it while you guys scratch your asses.  I want my truck back!”

Me: “Like I said, you yelling at me isn’t going to accomplish anything.  I’m driving my car home tonight so you aren’t hurting me with all this nonsense.  We didn’t expect the vehicle to be done until Monday and that still stands because the mechanic is off on Sunday anyway.”

Wrong thing to say…

AH: “I want to talk to the f*cking manager now!”

Me: “Let me get him.”

I got my manager and he picked up the phone.  I assume he was still foul mouthed because my manager told him that he could talk to the Service manager on Monday and he wasn’t going to listen to him anymore and he hung up the phone.

Nothing got accomplished on Sunday because the car dealerships are closed on Sunday. (This did not help the customer’s foul attitude.)

Monday, we call Dodge and they let us know that they sent us the left torsion bar and not the right according to the part number on the bar.  We ordered the correct part and got it overnighted.

Tragically, Tuesday Dodge called us to let us know that the part is on national backorder and it may be a few weeks before we see it.  We call the customer to let him know.  Again, my manager handled this call and the customer let him know he’d come later to kick our asses, he told him to bring it.

He came in and let loose.  We’re all incompetentwe shouldn’t be let loose around cars and he wants his truck fixed NOW!  About halfway through his rant, my manager relaxed and got a smile on his face.  This might have been because the customer was questioning whose fault it was that his truck wasn’t finished.  We didn’t tell him that it was probably his fault for hitting the curb in a 2006 model vehicle. When the tirade was over, he told AH that if he wanted his truck back tonight, he could have it. 

He went in the shop, got the old torsion bar and put it back into the truck, put the broken rim on it and had the guys push it out of the shop.  He walked back up front and handed the keys to this guy and told him he could have it.

Now, most people don’t come to the shop because they’re looking to drop a few hundred dollars.  Of course we realize that our customers have lives and that they need thier cars, but we don’t always have control over parts, especially on new cars.  We’re even willing to help eat the cost of repairs if something goes wrong and the customer ends up not having thier car for a few days.  We’ll try to help with rental cars, taxis, rides home, soda, whatever.  However, when your anger takes control and you can’t help but call us names, we aren’t so willing to do anything for you.  Even if that means we’re going to lose money or a customer.  Now, had this guy been nice, he pobably could have gotten his labor for free, instead, he ended up paying to get his truck towed. 

We’ve all been on the other side of the counter and we’ve all been screwed, but I can say I’ve never cussed out my service writer because I knew that everything isn’t thier fault.  So, a note to the public, be nice through your anger, or at least civil and most people will bend over backwards to please you, but too many names will get you nowhere (because your car won’t get fixed).

Another topic I’d like to touch on is engine oil.  Believe it or not people, you car/truck/van can only take so much oil before it starts to have problems.  This guy came in with a 2000 Sebring.  He left the car with his ex-wife for a few days and when he brought it home and the next day there was oil on his driveway.

Oh yeah, we brought this into the shop and it was horrible.  It was about two quarts overfull, and she blew the front main seal, the oil pan gasket was leaking the plugs were soaked, just problems.  We imagine that it had to have a few more quarts in it because he didnt add any oil and it was leaking like nobody’s business.  Apparently, on this model vehicle, the crankshaft has to come out partially to replace the front seal and it calls for like 9 hours of labor. 

Strangely, the same day, this woman brings her mom’s 98 Escort in because it also seems to have too much oil.  I asked the lady how she knew, she said the dipstick had no oil on it so she added a quart, then another.  Finally, she bought the gallon size oil and added it.  I went to her car to assess the situation.  Well, the dipstick read full…like, 3/4 of the way up the dipstick full.  She didn’t seem to have any other issues, so we hooked her up, fixed her oil problem and advised her to take the car to get serviced regularly (after we showed her how to read the dipstick).

The Sebing, well, we fixed the oil level, but he declined further repairs.  We released the car to him (after we advised him to keep his car away from the ex).

In the end, this is all I have to say: 

1. Don’t be an AH

2. Ex + car = thousands (duh!)

3. If mom’s oil is low, get an oil change.

Illegal use of jargon will result in harassment and laughter…

June 24, 2007

People sometimes have this problem where they say things that they think sound smart and knowledgeable, but little do they know that improper use of jargon is going to make you sound like a tard.

One guy came in to get an oil change on his Altima.  I asked him if he knew which engine it had in it…

Man: “Yeah, it’s got a V4.”

It wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t sounded all serious like a car-head when he said it.  So, I couldn’t help myself.

Me: “Hmmm, the V4?  I head that’s a rare engine, must have been a great that you had that option.  Unfortunatly, my computer does not list a V4 engine. I’ll have to find a way to get your vehicle info in.”

Man: “You mean you don’t list the four cylider?”

Me: “I have a listing for the in-line four, but the V4 might take a different amount of oil due to the configuration of the block.  I’ll have to see this one when it comes into the shop.”

Man: “That’s weird, everywhere else I’ve been I haven’t had any problems like this.  Are you sure you don’t have a listing?”

Me: (giggling) “Sir, to my knowledge, there is no V4 engine in any vehicle sold in the U.S. or elsewhere.  Our four cylider vehicles are in-line.”

The shades of red this man turned.  Apparently, the cute blond looking at the tires next to him was with him and found it funny that he didn’t know and well, that I played him.  He took it well, he was just embarrassed and when we were done with the paper work he asked me what the V meant…

I explained to him that it simply mimicked the shape created when two rows of cylinders are placed across from each other at an angle.  On an in-line four, they just go across…in a line. 

I like to think that he is going to stay within his own realm of expertise and find some other way to catch girls…cause I was totally not impressed.