Monday, December 10, 2018

Catalytic converter price quote II

Catalytic converter price quote II

This is a companion piece to my blog from 11/16/2018 An epilog since all the work has been completed.

The client with a Hyundai Genesis had been quoted (by the local dealer) for the replacement of the catalytic converters and oxygen sensors a price of around $4500.00
All this based solely on the guess that codes P0420 and P0430 point towards the catalytic converter circuit.
In the end, one of the four converters did have to be replaced and the bill came to $1580.00 and not the originally quoted large sum of $4500.00
In a nutshell, the industry is filled with assumptions or calculated guesses. But in most cases this occurs due to the fact people still believe that true diagnosis is not worth the asking price. They want to be told what is wrong with their car for free. Also, that any one mechanic or any repair shop can do proper diagnosis correctly. Wrong!

In this instance, the client agreed to pay for proper testing and was rewarded with the answer,

Friday, November 16, 2018

Catalytic converter price quote

How much to replace the catalytic converter on a Hyundai Genesis?
Hi! How much to replace the catalytic converter on my Hyundai Genesis?
The caller had the vehicle at another repair shop and he’d been told he needed the catalytic converters.

I asked him if he trusted the diagnosis to blindly invest the huge sum of money I was about to quote. Did they do any testing or just guessed based on the code?
 “No! they pulled codes P0420 and P0430 and told me I needed the catalytic converter” Then they send me on my way since their scanner was not working properly and they needed to send it out for repair.

Honestly! I wonder how I’m still sane after all this time. It drives me nuts to think people still believe all you need to diagnose a complex problem like a failing catalytic converter, is a scanner.

I own a stethoscope, but would you trust me to tell you what your ailment is?

People! The tool does not make the professional. Of all the shops I know, only a handful have someone qualified to properly do automotive testing and diagnosis. It takes a great deal of training and schooling to get to that top spot in a shop. Few have what it takes, and rarely you will find it in a mass merchandising shop whose model is low fee to the clients and low pay to the techs.

I thought that quoting for the converters was premature. So I quoted instead for the necessary testing to really find what is wrong with the pesky check engine light. He made an appointment for the following day

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Best practices for your Toyota Camry

 Sooner better than later:

Time after time I get someone telling me they think auto repair shops just recommend work to try and pad their wallets. "My car didn't need any of those repairs" is what they say.

The victim today is a 1999 Toyota Camry with the V6 3.0 engine. You all know about the legendary problems Toyota has had with the V6 engine, don't you?
The owner is from LA driving through Ventura.

It’s here on the tow truck and the tow truck driver says the vehicle overheated badly. The owner said she had the radiator replaced a year ago.  To save money, I presume, they did not refill the radiator with coolant but used straight water instead. Both the upper radiator hose and the lower radiator hose were not replaced either. She was offered this items but thought the shop was merely being aggressive with their selling practices.

At the time when it was so much easier to have those cooling system hoses replaced, possibly at no additional labor cost, the client chose to think the repair shop she was working with tried to up-sell her something she didn't need. Well, she needs them today!
Unfortunately, what could have been another $40 to $50 back then, today is a blown head gasket on a Toyota V6 engine with 140+ K miles on it.

The repair is a complete engine replacement on a vehicle that is hardly worth $2000.00, and the cost of the engine replacement will surely exceed that worth. 
So, what do you say? What can you say that won’t add any more misery to this already bad situation?
A few facts from the trade:

If one ignition coil goes out, replace the rest, they are not that far behind and you are sure to have the “same problem again” if you don’t
If one cooling system hose goes out, guess what? Same thing - replace them all!
Best yet, find someone in the trade you trust, then don’t question their recommendations! 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Ever since,

Ever Since,

Pretty much everything here starts with a phone call. Sometimes we love them and sometimes we dread them, sometimes they start one way and end another.

Back in the first week of August, we had the privilege of working on a 2011 Chevy Tahoe with a Diesel engine.

It was towed here with a large coolant leak. We proceeded to diagnose it as a broken radiator and got the approval to continue with repairs. Along with all the repairs we do, we always suggest to the client that we perform an inspection of the vehicle as a courtesy. This client agreed, and we performed the inspection. Everything found was documented, the work was performed, and the vehicle left the shop.

Fast forward to this morning when we get a phone call from this client letting us know that “ever since you worked on my vehicle, the air conditioning system is not working, it was working fine prior to your work, so you must have done something to cause it’s failure”

Answering a hostile call is always tricky. You can’t admit responsibility as you don’t know the facts, and you do not want to come across as not caring. It’s a careful balancing act.

The client said he had a friend who had wanted to become an auto mechanic, so he knew what he was talking about. His friend had heard we replaced the radiator and surmised we must have caused the failure.

As we are talking to the client, we found the electronic copy of the repair order in our point of sale system. Under recommendations we had suggested for diagnostic work on the air conditioning system as it was not working well. When we asked him to look it up on his copy, his tone changed to less combative and he agreed to an appointment for diagnosis of the air conditioning system.

I do not think the client was being fraudulent, it’s just that people don’t pay that much attention to their cars, until after they have come back from the repair shop. Then they are very hypersensitive about everything automotive.

When he brings his vehicle for us to work on the air conditioning system, we’ll be sure to perform another courtesy inspection, just in case!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The High cost of a free recall

I thought a factory recall was free.   Technically, the cost is to be paid by the vehicle manufacturer that has issued that recall. However, the funds generated by the recall is at the “recall rate” – less for the technician in flat rate hours and less for the dealership in revenue.

But now your local automobile dealership has found a way to make the recall pay for itself.  The recall notice is one of the biggest ways the dealer can get you to come in to the dealership since only they are allowed contractually to perform the recall.  At that time, when you and your vehicle are a captive audience, they suggest all sorts of repairs (not related to the recall) and recoup some money.  

On an average, only around 15% of people who buy a car from a dealer end up going back to them for service. They usually already have an independent auto repair shop they trust and have a relationship with.

When you take your vehicle to the dealer for the recall, they don’t give you a choice for their vehicle inspection. They make it seem it’s a requirement for them to perform the recall.

So, you go in for what you know to be a free recall and then get a phone call about all sorts of unrelated problems, and in many cases,  they are asking you for thousands of dollars for additional repairs.

A great client of mine took her Lexus for the air bag recall to the dealer (her assistant took it). She is home nursing a broken shoulder and not very mobile.
When the dealer called her and  told her they needed to do more than $3700.00 worth of other work, unrelated to the free recall, she nearly fell on the floor and almost broke her good shoulder!

They said the car needed an air filter, wiper blades, a steering rack and pinion, an alignment, differential and power steering system fluid exchanges, fuel injection service and the spark plugs replaced. Bingo! $3700.00 plus tax.

She couldn’t understand how a vehicle that had just had been inspected 3 months before could now need such an astonishing amount of money to put it back together!

The answer is simple. In a dealership, the distance from you to your car, goes like this. Owner, general manager, service manager, dispatcher, service adviser, shop foreman, team leader and finally, the auto mechanic who worked on your vehicle. Who is she supposed to contact regarding these suggestions?

By contrast, at an independent repair shop, the owner is often the mechanic or service adviser working on your vehicle. The owner at an independent repair shop, cannot hide. They have a great deal of skin in the game. They must be as close to perfect as possible or else. A bad review, maybe a refund or the possible loss of trust from the client.

I bet that you will be hard pressed to come up with the name of the service manager at the dealership where you purchased your last car. But, I bet you to know the name of the owner of most of the independent repair shops you’ve been to. You would probably say you know most of their names, right?

So, consider this, if you take your vehicle to the repair dealer for a recall and get a call back from them asking for additional work to be performed, please check with your existing auto mechanic to see how much and or if any of it is really needed. Chances are you may not require as much in car repairs as the dealer suggests.

Remember, small business’s work very hard to earn your trust. And twice as hard to keep it.