By on November 11, 2012

 

Since my last entry involved Crooked Customer behavior, I think its only fair that I give equal time to that of the Shady Shop. Rather than merely relating what have most certainly become cliché’—and I’ve pretty much heard them all—I’m going to relate a few accounts in which I personally have been on the receiving end, as either a consumer or a shop owner.

They really stand out due to a few factors, not the least of which is the absolute unflinching nerve, if not downright out-and-out hubris on the part of the perpetrators.
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By on November 4, 2012

“You can’t cheat an honest man”, a quote I understand to have originated from none other than W.C. Fields turned out to be even more profound than I originally surmised.

I mean, I had for some time figured that being as straight as possible with myself, or anybody else—including, and maybe even especially customers, when I finally got into that arena—was the best way to go.

Of course there were real tests, trials, and defining moments along the way, but it always seemed to be a road worth staying on. Read More >

By on October 19, 2012

“Have it Your Way” was a popular TV ad campaign some years ago. While it seemed to work for the world of fast-food burgers, it certainly wasn’t universally applicable in others.

Like in the world of Auto Repair, for instance. Read More >

By on October 8, 2012

For the most part, I’m trying to avoid the whys and wherefores behind the topics I write about in this column. I’d just as soon hear from readers as to their opinions about the reasons behind. But there are going to be exceptions to that rule, as far as my postulating about motives.

This entry (as with Part One) is one of the exceptions. I still wouldn’t mind “hearing” your thoughts, though

Once upon a time, when my little repair shop microcosm was a much safer and secure place to tread, I would rarely get a customer request for a repair procedure that was unlawful, unsafe, unprofitable, unfair, or just downright unrecommendable. And if their request was any of these, it would take very little effort on my part to dissuade them from their skewed request and get them to embrace my recommendation for properly solving their problem.

Or, did I DREAM that? Read More >

By on September 29, 2012

For the most part, I’m trying to avoid the whys and wherefores behind the topics I write about in this column. I’d just as soon hear from readers as to their opinions about the reasons behind. But there are going to be exceptions to that rule, as far as my postulating about motives.

This entry is one of the exceptions.

I still wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts, though

As I stated in my last entry, in the final analysis—in spite of the opinions voiced on the nature of their vehicles problem—the customer generally sincerely just wanted the problem remedied. There were no ulterior motives I could detect in their erroneous observations; I just appreciated that their scope of experience was limited in comparison to mine, and I took what usefulness I could out of their efforts to help.

But then, there were those occasions when I highly doubted the sincerity of the customer’s statements. In this entry, I’m going to relate a couple of those occasions to you. Read More >

By on September 19, 2012

If I had a dime for every time a customer said that to me while in the process of Repair Order composition… I would have made a lot less money off the ensuing job!

I mean, the whole idea of the pre-repair consultation—at least from my point of view—was and is to get as good an idea as possible about the nature of the vehicle’s problem, so a proper repair can be performed in an expedient, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Read More >

By on September 6, 2012


The next stories I’m going to relate weren’t actually borne from performance-oriented driving impressions I might have otherwise gathered and formulated based on my British Car wheel time. Therefore,  I couldn’t rightly include them in my last entry. Worthy of recall they are, nevertheless—especially because they are firsts that I haven’t since repeated, fortunately. Read More >

By on August 27, 2012

In my last entry, I tried to convey the wonderfulness that was, and is part and parcel to the British Car driving experience, which I was able to enjoy through my “wrenching connections”. For me, if I had to describe this experience in one word, it would have to be “unique”; and when it comes to motorized transport, unique is ALWAYS worth doing at least once.

The experiences I related in the last entry, as far as I’m concerned, are worth doing often and on as regular a basis as possible. In this entry, on the other hand, I’m going to relate some British Car driving experiences that define the darker side of the term. Read More >

By on August 19, 2012


 

One would think that with all the head scratching, added expense and needless difficulty involved, anyone who persisted in their own repair and maintenance efforts (professional or otherwise) on such flawed contraptions —which I will continue to document in this series on my experiences with automobiles British— must be running as low on vital fluids as the vehicles themselves typically were!

But we’re not talking about the repeating of the same procedure and expecting a different result, in this case. The experienced British Car  mechanic understood that the oil leaks would persist, the electrics would continue to be perform intermittently and the driveability would literally change with the weather. To expect otherwise WOULD have been a sign of insanity! Read More >

By on August 11, 2012

“We don’t need mechanics…we need MAGICIANS!”

In a heavy accent loaded with London grit, that was the response of the proprietor of the local—and at that point in time, quite vital—independent British Car garage, when I approached him to inquire as to whether he was in the market for hired help.

Not even twenty years of age, with a whopping one-year’s worth of experience servicing used cars for a BMC/Jaguar/Toyota dealership, just up the Pacific Coast Highway, I was still in the process of formulating an opinion as to what it took to make a success of wrenching (or should I call that “spannering?”) on things British. Read More >

By on August 4, 2012

Although I hadn’t originally intended to tackle this topic in two parts, it seems that the responses received fairly demanded it. In all fairness, I do agree that the text didn’t support the title theme to the extent necessary. So without any further ado, on to Part Two!

There are those times when some truths seem so apparent, one would think they would be that apparent to others. Of course, that isn’t always the case; which is why historical eyewitness reporting often results in a very different accounting of events. That isn’t to say that every report is necessarily “the truth”, even if there is that conviction on the individual reporter’s part.

Since this is an editorial column, I really can freely spout off opinions on any subject without ANY level of objectivity, if I’m so inclined. But that’s not the way I roll, which is why I think this site is a very appropriate place for my postings.

That being said, I’m going to provide some additional evidence to support my statements in (what can now be considered) Part One. Read More >

By on August 1, 2012

 

This entry could very well have been included in the last series of articles (“Phil’s Podium of the Automotive Pure”), but for one important consideration: the technology involved is no longer being widely used in the automotive field. Otherwise, it solidly qualifies for “The Podium” in every other important aspect. The truth is, this technology is greatly significant in the history of the automobile—even surpassing many of the technologies listed.

Back in the early days of emissions control here in the U.S.A., in the wake of the first so-called “Energy Crisis”, which left motorists calling for more fuel economy in their automobiles due to the increased cost of fuel (if we only knew where all of THAT mess was headed!), I’d almost call it “amusing” witnessing all of the different ways manufacturers were addressing the issues.

The U.S. group, which seemed to be relying on input from “bean counters” and marketing strategists, was trying to make the old inefficient designs passable through use of a cheap and spindly patchwork of detuning modifications, add-on systems, and gargantuan catalytic converters. Read More >

By on July 14, 2012

This is the final part of this series of articles, the ground rules and definitions of which you can find in the introductory comments from Parts One and Two.  Without detour, TO THE PODIUM for the final time!

Electronic Fuel Injection:

My attitude toward this technology went from “why bother”, in its infant days, to “why use anything else”, when it hit its stride near the end of the ‘80’s.

It all sure looked complicated when I was first getting acquainted with the Bosch systems on the VW Fast and Squareback models from the early ‘70’s. If I only knew it would get SO complicated that comprehensive on-board diagnostic systems would be required in order to properly diagnose and repair them… and I wouldn’t mind, because these systems work so well, it’s actually WORTH the extra complexity! As it has turned out, my choice of careers has proven in many ways to be an interesting road to self-discovery, but that, as I say, will be revealed in many other stories. Read More >

By on July 8, 2012

This article is the second in a series wherein—after thrashing manufacturers for doing their worst—I do a quasi de facto “equal time” summary of ten automotive mechanical technologies I believe are their best efforts, to date.

To review the guidelines I’m holding to in assembling this list: these are technologies that are pretty well universally accepted and are currently being used by the majority of auto manufacturers. They also have been popularized and proliferated during my automotive repair career. I’m covering them more-or-less in the order that they have achieved that status.

IT’S NOW BIN TIME! Read More >

By on June 30, 2012

Now that I’ve gotten the memory-bile of “Notorious Technologies”— implemented during my ever-progressing automotive maintenance and repair career — somewhat further out of my system, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on some of the technological “bright spots” I’ve come to be acquainted with and appreciate during that same period. Some of these highlights were coming into widespread acceptance way back in the early days of my High School Auto Shop training, while others came considerably later.

In any event, these technologies not only gained widespread acceptance among auto manufacturers then, but they are all still being used by these manufacturers today, a couple of them in a considerably evolved format.

I’ll be listing them in their order of appearance on the scene. Read More >

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