June 14, 2016

Recent conversations across the counter

These posts are all conversations that happen across my sales counter.  I hope you are finding them interesting.

Here is one that is happening about 2 times a day now for the past two weeks.  I am seeing a lot of electrical problems, and some mechanical issues that were engineered wrong, to start-off-with, at the factory.

Repairing used vehicles is quite different than it was 20 years ago.  The sophistication of integrated electronics and computer systems has caught up to us in a rude way.  The extra complications that come with a "digital" vehicle, add to the cost of repairs, and to the cost a shop spends on labor to find, locate, and repair spurious electrical problems that arise because of the complex nature of the vehicle.

The next five years is going to be interesting as shops learn to adjust their labor rates and charges, in response to electrical/mechanical sophistication that was only meant to last 10 years on the obsolescence time table.

Already we are starting to see commissions of diagnostics techs drop, because an electronic trouble just will not reveal itself.  And the amount of interment electronic/electrical troubles are increasing rapidly.

Here is a good story to illustrate the point.

When the steam engine had reached it's peak mechanical efficiency in the 1920's, the engineers pushed past the envelope and developed a steam-electric locomotive.  It no longer had huge cranks on the sides turning the drive wheels, but instead a steam turbine generated electricity for electric motors that turned the drive wheels.  This was much like the diesel-electric locomotives we have today.

With the old locomotives, it usually took 3 minutes to find a problem and 3 days to repair it; making new casting, machining them, and fitting them to the engine.  With the steam-electric, it took 3 days to find the problem, and 3 minutes to repair it; usually an electrical connection that corroded, or burnt, but had to be hunted down.

So it goes with advancement.  One thinks it is not advancement.

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