Saturday, July 27, 2013

Techs Veiw into Smells

  As a Tech we get asked by our customers to sometimes to perform tasks most people would not think would be in our job description.  One of these things, is a complaint that might start off like " there is a weird smell in vehicle".  Well people we HATE smells. To start off  I would think 75% of the vehicles we work on never get cleaned or vacuumed. So lets start there. If the car is cleaned and the vehicle still smells bring it in to get looked at. Another thing if you see signs of mice  don't ever I repeat EVER use poison in or around the vehicle. Mice will sometimes find a home in your vehicle, eat the poison go to there home and die.  Now we have a really nasty smell, and can get very expensive. If the critter died some where in the heater vents it can cost over $1,000 dollars to find and clean these things out. Use traps. You are able to get the problem under control before its costs big bucks.
Simple things to do to save money. Clean and vacuum the vehicle. Sometimes its the left over fast food back tucked under the seat. Changed the cabin Air filter if equipped. Cabin air filter, filters the air when the heater or a/c is turned on to fresh air. Clean underneath the cowl, leaves and debris get under there and rot. The fresh air vent pulls the smell through and into the vehicle. Check to make sure the A/C evaporator drain is not plugged. Water builds up on the condenser has no where to drain so it gets musky and stinks up the vehicle. Easy way to do this is check under the vehicle after a nice drive with the A/C on if you see water dripping its most likely not plugged

  If you find yourself in position were a nasty smell is inside the vehicle. Check the things in the above paragraph before taking it to a shop could save you money.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What Repair Shops Do Not Want You To Know

         So I have been working at a dealer ship in the service department for the last 4 years.  Both as a service adviser and a tech.  Figured its time to give a inside view of what some dealerships or local repair shops want from you the customers.
      Well you guessed it, they want your hard earned dollar.  Lets say you have a check engine light on. Most people get scared and think there vehicle is going to leave them stranded and very well could. So they rush into the local dealership to get it looked at.  First things first, the service adviser greets you and seems very concern for your problem and may seem over friendly. The adviser will get some information from you, address, phone number, and email. Now that you have given your email and home address and phone number you can expect not only contact when the repair is done, but may get coupons, fliers, up in coming new cars sales, maybe even parts sales. 
       Next he will go over the cost just to look at the check engine concern. The average shop rate where I live is $100 per hr for gas engine diesel is more. So the adviser will tell you to diagnose the check engine light we will "start" at $100. We will not go over that amount unless we talk to you first. Or something similar. Next most repair shops offer a free inspection on your vehicle. With this free inspection the tech is supposed to check all fluids, brakes, lights, belts, and all steering suspension. Not a bad deal for free.  
        Now to the technical side.  The tech gets a repair order for your vehicle.  Pulls it into his stall hooks up a scan tool pulls your check engine light code. In this case we will say miss fire cylinder 2.
In most the tech is familiar with your vehicle and just by the code, can know what the problem is. Most new vehicles, just with the scan tool, a tech can determine the cause for the check engine light. The average diagnoses time were I work is .5 hr. Majority of techs are flat rate meaning they get paid by the job so...if it takes a tech spent .5 hr on your vehicle to find the cause for check engine light, he still gets paid 1 hr, you still pay $l00. We will say the cause of failure is failed coil on cylinder 2. Now a repair will be built. 1hr diag, .7 for repair plus part $150 plus shop supplies and any other hidden fees. So to get your check engine light off it will be around $400. Total time in shop probably 1 hr.
    Now back to that free inspection. The tech recommends, brake flush, power steering fluid flush
and a transmission flush. Maybe the tech really did inspect the vehicle or not, but its the service advisers job to sell you these services regardless. So not only now are your being told to fix your miss fire will be $400 it will be an additional $600 in maintenance repairs.  When it comes to maintenance items as long as you stick to the recommended service that is in your owners manual and done on time you should be fine.  Also most common recommendation from most techs is a brake flush even though most manufactures do not have a scheduled maintenance.
   The reason in my opinion most techs recommend items and services may not necessarily be to actual need for the vehicle but due to increased flagged hrs for the tech and more money for the company.  These free inspections are a great tool for the customers or just another way to rip them off if abused.  My recommendation is get a second opinion.  Maybe from a friend, another shop or check your owners manual.  Remember that email address you gave that adviser if the recommendations are declined you can expect multiple emails from the company to try and convince you.
   To save money in this type of situation. Most part stores like autozone offer a free code pull. At this point you can check forums or google the code to give you a idea for the repair. Or if that is not a option and the vehicle is taken into a shop. Provide your own parts and in some instances a used part could work.  Most dealers have a 60% mark up on all parts.  Ask how the tech is paid is he hourly or flat rate.  If a tech is hourly the repair (in most cases) is done more efficiently and is not being rushed through as a flat rate tech trying to get to the next job.  Most companies have tech clock onto a job to monitor how long it takes.  Ask to see how long it really took. Finally haggle. Do not settle for the asking price. The adviser in most cases can take off money.  If you want a loaded gun. Dealership service advisers get their pay from a percentage of the gross income from that individual. That percentage is based on surveys that vehicles manufacture will send a customer. Worse the survey the less the pay for that adviser. One bad survey will cut the pay of a adviser for at least three months.
   In closing things happen to our vehicles. They are machines they brake and happen at the worst time. Keeping a cool head and playing smart can save money and heart ache.