Wednesday, November 19, 2008

passing giants

in this everchanging world, at this point in time, it appears we are the cusp of a new beginning, akin to what the british automotive world went thru in the 1960's (remember them?). it appears, we maybe faced with a few less key players on the automotive marketplace, and that my friends, is hitting a bit way too close to home, more so then we can even imagine.
granted, in a free marketplace, the strong will survive; but in this case, there really are no strong, nor do the weak appear any stronger. i am blogging about the possible loss of the classic american automotive company, ie; GM, FORD and CHRYSLER. the death throes of Chrysler have been a long time coming, and in any moment, it is expected to just kneel over and die a miserable death. as for ford, or GM, it implications are much stronger and even government intervention, may not be enough. there are even appearant rumors of the chinese, buying GM of all things, but with a stock value floating around a buck or two, that isn't too far fetched; of course, then the government would prevent that, and we'd still have one big giant sess pool of waste on life support, a bigger drain on the american taxpayer than the actual government already is.
is there any real easy or painless answers for this; hell no, no matter what political party you belong to, or social status you lean towards, the huge sucking sound of the endless black hole, or money pit, we have social implications that will haunt us for many many years to come; if we socialise the company, with the government regulations the congress will require to hand over the few meger dollars they throw at the issues at hand, the regulations will choke the companies, and we will have a french socialist enviroment, rife for more corruption, and less effiency, and in the end we all lose; if we let them fail, the same will happen, millions lose their jobs and like the electronic industry, no american car companies will exist as we know it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


the latest volley of keeping the D.I.Y.'s from under the hood of their own cars has been fired and this time the population never knew what hit them; chances are they never will either, wearing green coloured glasses, the lemmons herded to the cliff sides, demanding so called "green" cars and trucks have fallen prey, with open arms to the manufactors in a war fought and won by the auto industry, in front of their very own eyes and wallets.
for years, the aftermarket companies, without alliances tied to the auto production companies, have lobbied and pushed, kicking and screaming, laws preventing the big and little three, from keeping information on the systems on their cars and trucks from the public domain, and filtering down to the back yard guys and girls, to be able to fix their own cars.
well, guess what happened along the way; in all the hoopla and media attention to the $4 a gallon and more price of fuel oils, public transits, high fuel mileage cars and trucks, the crowds have placed their bets (ie;money) on the very same people who have put us in the position we are already in, and are willing to accept any and all means of doing it as well, even at the cost of future loss of liberties and information that may come from it. what has the potential of happening here makes microsoft look like a girlscout compared to the locked down hoods we will be seeing in the near future, alas on our own respite and dime. how did we get here? just look at the ODBII systems we allowed the car companies to install on 1997 and up cars and trucks in our country; unless you have been driving 1965 ford falcons up to now, most DIYers already know, or have faced, the lack of any real help on understanding the matrix of the systems with out any "paid" factory help. no swapping parts until it fixes the problem here tricks, the software systems, with consent of the voting public (ie; congress) has taken higher mileage demands, and kept the software from the auto public's eyes and hands; and guess what? its goona get a whole lot worse and even goona be paid for by you whether you do so directly or indirectly, and thanks to our own best interests, the new technologies will even be harder to access let alone be able to repair by untrained, licensed techs.
the opening salvo was fired by the hybrids; those media darlings; so wonderful and good for us; sure, they still have a gas motor and brakes and tires and such, but you won't go buy a $29.95 battery at walmart to put in those cars and the $12.95 oil changes are over as well; low friction motors and higher underhood temps now require full synthetics as well...brakes, ha, don't get me started on those either...i doubt you'll find $12.00 rotors and $10.00 pads for them at autozone either....wait until the third or fourth generation owners drive these cars and trucks..then we'll see the fireworks, people unhappy with dealer only technologies and for a 8-12 year old car...
i can remember 30years ago hearing about cars who's complete driveline power pack when faulty, would be take out from underneath the body and replaced by a remanufactured unit already to go, at the dealership, whether it was gas or electric, i am not sure, but i do know, the pudnicks were screaming monopolies at the mere thought and quietly, these ideas went away...or did they?
well, while the chickens were yelling about the sky is falling and we need electric or higher mileage cars, the manufactures have been saddling their selves up with the devil(big brother) and in our own best interests, have made these new cars a tantalizing reality on the horizon; but at a future cost. do you think the first or second owners of these cars will care? no, but like i said before, by time the 3 owner gets to them, BAM, locked out of the hood or driveline as a whole.folks, this future isn't bright and shiny, looks and smelly fishy to me and i don't even fish.
we need to imbrace our futures, not sell them out just to provide the means to better ourselves for a brief period of time. ensure the future of our industry and your local mechanics as well, demand open protocal and systems, for all of our sakes.

Friday, February 15, 2008


as a part of my continual rant and rave, a apparent oversite came to me in a indirect manner; of course i have been spouting off about retailers doing illegal repair and diagonstics on customers cars, and the legal implications of their actions.
i had a customer come to our store, recommended by a repair shop, to have us sell and install wiperblades on a late model chevy venture mini van. as my assistant quickly rose to the needs of the nice old church lady,(which she was the wife of the local preacher) i queried why she was sent here, rather than the shop installing the blades; of course, the idea if paying to have the wipers installed was the key to this operation as it unfolded. of course, unknown to us as well, here at the part store, that the wiper arm itself, was stripped on the transome mount, and when my eager to please helper placed the wiper on the arm, and the blades were test run, of course, when the wiper arms crossed over each others path, of course, the blades caught and twisted.
now, how was we to know the wiper arm was stripped? i suppose the fact a repair shop passing on the "should be free" installation, should have clued us in on a potential problem, but like stevie wonder driving on a freeway, we didn't know what we were getting into. my only recourse, was since we didn't have arms available for this model, was to replace the blades for free and have the honest church lady return to the dealership for a arm replacement on m y dime. ouch, there when t all my profits on those blades for the next month or so.
the issue at hand here, is the fact that people have gotten so used to the retailers offering so many so-called free services, that it forces us, the jobbers to respond likewise, and either do the same job, or rsik losing a customer for a $10 sale since we don't want to do it.
of course, as cars have become more complicated, a simple light bulb change or battery installation isn't an easy operation as it was in the 70'S....even repair stations charge for these complicated repairs now, hence customers flocking to the big boxes for the free installations.
this also slaps the reapir trade in the face, making what should be a simple, reasonable fee repair, is now replaced by low paid hacks, who botch the repairs, or since they are the last ones who touched my car, and it wasn'tthat way when i got there, pass the buck type customers, where in our wonderful, land of the free and litigation for all, makes business insurance rates skyrocket; ask your agent what is your deductable for helping customers and doing simple repairs, and if your people make a mistake, who pays and how much; we maybe locking the help to the counter and forbiding any or all simple repairs, no matter how much it hurts sales or customer relations.
the key issue here is the legality of the repairs; even nice little old church ladies can have some killer legal savy and make you think twice about being the nice guy or girl next time.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


today's rant, as always, goes out to the fine boys and girls, who happen to work at the major big box stores. unknown to most of them, since the basis of most of their cliential is DIY's(dummies, idiots, yahoo's), the buy it 'cause i may need it, runs amock in our industry.
we are not car insurance companies; i did not go to school to sell policies to people to proctect them from theirselves; granted, it seems like it at times, when people, just like NASA, bid their parts out to the lowest bidder, i have to question having $12.99 brakes on a $40,000, my favorite pet peeves are the unsure ones who saunder into my store, no idea of what it is they want or need, and because of the retail giants, who will taake back anything, no questions asked, i have to bite my lip, and watch my parts go out the door and within one to two days, watch them come back, unused and unwanted. chances are, if you are a busy jobber store, you'll not catch the items on your order trigger and of course, since we are keeping lean inventories, they get re-ordered, and now our dollars are tied up by having two sets of what ever it was they bought.
true, a little forsight and query might(MIGHT) prevent alot of these transactions from even taking place, but there always be the ones that do and as well, there are folks who are steadfast determined to buy the product, look you in the eye and tell you these will come back, i am just hedging my bets.....some times, like the whack-a-mole game at Chuckie-cheez's, i want to take a big hammer and Whack the above said idiot...what even hurts worse and rubs the salt in deeper, is when they like clockwork, walk in all smiles the next day, triumphat, returning the said items, gloating how right they were...sure, we can hit them with a re-stocking fee; but in these tight times, continue a risk of sending them further into the trenches of the enemy?
hell, maybe it is time to get my insurance license afterall.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


consider the lowly "TORX" brand fastners; you really don't think much of them, until a customer comes in wanting a socket to remove one. in their design feature, much to most mechanic's dismay,their one most pressing feature is the one they do best; resist stripping out.
most tech's and counter people will agree that in the conditions they are used, they work extremely well, by avoiding the rounding off of the shoulders of the bolt. in theory, by placing the stress on the inside of the fastner, in a tool that places the torque in multiple points, makes for a better fastner all around. and since the bolt(nut) is generally hardened, it resists stripping out even further. what drives most back yard and entry level counter people out of their minds is the simple fact the tool that is designed to remove these bolts is made of a "soft", mangable metal, which is designed, to break or shear off if over stressed in usage. how many times have you been asked if you had any 1/2 drive torx sockets? if you need a 1/2 drive or an impact resistant type socket for these, "you" are going about this the wrong way. how many times a day do you get some one returning a "warranty" socket, with of course, the head sheared off, or twisted? when you try to explain to "johnny backyard" that the tool is only warranted for structual defects, not due to mis-use of the tool as for it's design intent? i have had on many occasions, so called mechanics, telling me that so and so retail store warranties the sockets all day long, i send them on their way, to those places; ask any Snap-on tool rep, sure, for 25.00 a socket, i'll warranty the damn thing, but at $2.79, the first time i try and warranty it, i am told to toss it and eat the cost; after two or three of those so-called freebies, now i am at a losing point; any tool salesman worth his or hers salt(or 10w30) will tell you the tool is designed to fail, shear or break off, so that you, the smuck taking off the bolt, doesn't do any further damage and strip out the fastner and make the task even harder. for god's sake, lube or heat the damn thing and you'll find, 90% of the bolts come easily out; sure, many safety hardware, like seat belts, the bolts are not designed to be removed and are bastards to remove( look under the car, cut of the fastning plate, the bolt comes out real easy) so a little patience or fore thought will aid in using the right tools for the job, including the tool that is in your head; you'll find those little "star" bolts aren't so bad and just another bolt in your life.