Monthly Car Care Blog

January 12, 2019

Bad repair? How to talk to your mechanic

So you took your vehicle in to have something repaired; it works for a while but then it starts doing the same thing again.  Or maybe you had the water pump replaced and the pump gasket starts leaking.  How about those hated words, "Ever since you worked on my car......."

We've all been there with something, whether it be a car, or a clothes washer, or a roof repair.  It has happened to us all.  It just goes to show that all of us are fallible.

However, more times than not, when it comes to a mechanic, "That guy messed up my car.  I'm not taking it back to him."  I did that before I was a full time auto mechanic.  Now that I do my own work, I'm stuck.  And, I've ate my own words.

Most of us who are professional mechanics want to do a good job that stays fixed and satisfies the customer.  We want to do a good job every time, all the time. We respect ourselves and we respect you.  Now think about that. That means that most of us operate from respect, not greed, or being a know-it-all.  We are not going to tell you, "You're just hearing things.  Keep driving, it will be okay."  No. We want your car fixed right because we respect you, and we will go the extra mile to see that it gets done right. 

So the repair went wrong.  Stop.  Think the best of your mechanic.  Remember that most mechanics want to do a good job for you. Respect him. Tell him what is happening without getting on his case or getting emotional.  Tell him how badly you need your car and what your time-frame is.  With this information he can tell you what he can do for you and together you can work something out to get your vehicle back running the way it is supposed to in a reasonable amount of time.

In other words, don't treat your mechanic like you treat people on social media.  Treat him like you want to be treated if you made a mistake.

Maybe next time that I have time....I will share some thoughts about social media.  Believe it or not, social media has extended it's influence into the automotive repair industry.  We have our own, mechanic's space, so-to-speak.

October 15, 2018

A side road for the moment

Let's take a divergence from our current discussion, because of what has happened in our nation as a result of the Supreme Court hearings, is so applicable to automotive diagnostic repair.

A married couple comes into the office.  He says one thing, she says another.  He says there is nothing wrong with the car, she says she can hear something.  He says he can't hear anything, she blames him for causing the problem with the car because he didn't take it in when she first started to notice the problem.

He said, she said.  Now what do I do?

They brought it to me to solve the problem with the vehicle.  He want's to show her that nothing is wrong. But remember what we have been talking about, she wants "piece-of-mind".  He is not giving that to her so she has convinced him to come to the "marriage" counselor to settle it.

She drives the car the most so she knows something is not quite as it used to be.  I ask her the questions first.  I know that women operate on intuition.  I listen carefully to her about what she is experiencing and write it all down.  If you want to understand what is going on with the vehicle, listen to the person who drives the vehicle the most. e.i. Listen to Dr. Ford's testimony first.  She knows what is going on in her life more than anyone else.  At this point in the procedure, she might be right, she might be wrong.

Then I ask him what he thinks.  Men operate on logical facts. He also tells me things that are very important to finding the solution because he has already heard her story many times and he has checked into things for himself.  I write it all down.  He lives with her.  He knows her.  He is frustrated because she keeps coming to him with the problem and he can't find one. e.i. Justice Kavanaugh kept a meticulous record of his life and he has examined these accusations with meticulous logic going over the records of his past life.  At this point in the procedure, he might be right, he might be wrong.

Now.  I've taken my statements from the accuser, and the accused.  Time to find some witnesses.
I take them both out to the car and I look at "witnesses" what both of them talked about.  I also find "witnesses" they had not even considered.  Because both of their stories trigger things that only a mechanic who has been in the business 30 years will understand.  That was the role of the prosecutor.  She was asking questions that were getting to the root of the problem.  She had the expertise.  She had the experience for this particular problem.  I recognized that right off the bat.  Why?  Because day after day I work with the same diagnostic method.

What is that method?  Hear what both have to say.  Look at the facts regarding those statements.  Then, look at things both of them never thought of(from our experience).  Then do the proper diagnostic test.  Then do it again.  Then.....do it again.  And if you are still not confident with the results...... do it again.

Another name for the method is, cross examination of the witnesses.

In my case, it could be cross examination of the electrical circuits related to the ground connections for the car's computer.  If it is worked at long enough, and hard enough, the problem eventually is found.  However, if they just come into the office and tell me their stories, then maybe let me hook up a computer monitor and see what it says, but don't let me actually work on the vehicle, no one will really ever know what really is going on. I just get a snapshot, and make a quick diagnoses for them to think about.

That is what happened in the hearings.  We all heard their stories, we got, one, brief cross examination, then an initial FBI investigation, but none of us, or them, or anyone else in the country, were satisfied with "piece-of-mind" because the diagnostic process was not allowed to complete itself.  There was no cross examination of the witnesses.

Remember this next time you take your vehicle to your mechanic and ask him to hook up his monitor to tell you what is wrong with it.  The computer monitor won't tell him for sure.  You have to let him cross examine the "witnesses", "under-the-hood", and that costs you money, and him, time.

The Supreme Court hearings were not a venue for complete diagnosis of the problem.  There were a hearing to see if someone was qualified to a position.  The accuser's statements had brief diagnostic procedure applied to them to see if they were worth looking into.

I will do the same for you(have an automotive hearing). If you want a brief diagnostic procedure applied to your vehicle, I will do it.  I can tell you if you need to pursue it, or if it can wait to be repaired.  But remember, at that point in the diagnostic process it is my professional opinion.  It is not a for-sure diagnosis.   The man might get "piece-of-mind" with this quick method, but I think the woman never does.  It's always there.  Her car is speaking to her.

So it seems to be with this hearing business with those I've talked to. Those siding with now Justice Kavanaugh are "somewhat" satisfied with the brief diagnostic procedure applied.  Those siding with Dr. Ford appear to be left without their piece-of-mind.

What are the results I have found over the years with this type of situation?  50/50.  Sometimes he is right, sometimes she is right, but I honor both of them because I know that both of them cannot be right. I just do not know which one. You see, God created men and women equal.  They have different roles, jobs, strengths, weaknesses.  They compliment each other if they so choose to work as equals, created differently to help each other.

I respect and honor Dr. Ford for telling a very difficult story in such a public setting.  A story that many women wish they could tell.  And there is much injustice with this story that stirs emotions from both men and women.  For there to be closure here, it will have to be found out, who is was, that did this horrible deed to her.  It is to her honor that she was brave enough to tell this story.

I respect and honor Justice Kavanaugh for treating Dr. Ford with kindness and gentleness, and not disputing her story of hardship.  He could have filed for slander, or liable, but he did not.  He had every right to do so, but instead he took the high road and did not return her accusations with a law suit.  That was honorable of him.(be kind to your wife)

If you come into my shop and if you allow me to complete the diagnostic repair and fix the problem, and if one of you says to your spouse, "See, I told you so."  I will deflect that comment, and interject that what your spouse said is valid as well.  Because a lot of things can happen under that hood, and sometimes they are not so easily found out.  Keep talking to, and respecting, what your spouse says about the car.  It is good for your marriage.  Neither of you can be right all the time.  You need each other to solve life's complex problems.