Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lexus F 350 Sport problems

How much does it cost to re-flash my computer?
May I ask why do you think you need to have the computer on your vehicle re-flashed?
I have a 2002 Lexus and have already replaced (elsewhere) both catalytic converters, the oxygen sensor, the mass air flow sensor and the throttle position sensor. I had them put new spark plugs and did a fuel injection service. After all these parts replaced, my vehicle continues to fail the smog test. They tell me the monitors are not resetting and all I can think of is the computer needs to be re-flashed.
I’ll be glad to give you a quote to reflash the computer but, how about changing strategies and doing the right and logical thing instead.
What do you mean?
It seems to me that somewhere along the repair road, you took a wrong turn and just kept going (Yes, I love the line from a Bruce Springsteen song (Hungry Hearts)). He sure wasn’t happy when I told him “the most expensive repair, is the one you didn’t need”.
So! How about if we first diagnose why this Lexus is unable to reset the monitors and then we can offer you a quote to properly repair it.
Well! I’ve already spent over two thousand dollars to fix it and still have nothing to show for it. You must take care of me! I don’t have any more money to pay for on this vehicle.
I really wanted to tell him that I had nothing to do with the largely misguided expense on his vehicle. He had ill-spent the money elsewhere but, considering the nature of the complaint, I had to begin the quote between two to three hours to find the answer.
Oh no! You can’t charge me that much! I’ve already spent over $2,000.00 and I don’t want to spend any more on this,,,,, car!
The client left without any further ado as he felt we had the moral obligation to help him get his car to pass smog. He somehow couldn’t understand the immense effort required to train a technician to reach the level of professionalism required to diagnose complicated problems correctly and consistently. And he couldn’t understand that for us to be here to repair our client’s vehicles, we have to charge for our time, equipment use and knowledge.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Oil and water don't mix on a Toyota 4Runner

Hi Lee,

“Your team told me that my 4Runner's engine was entirely trashed and tried to convince me to turn the title over to you. I got a second opinion and they were able to repair the damage without needing a new engine, so I will not be taking my car in for service at your shop.”
Wait, Wait, Wait!

This email came to us 3 months ago.
First the facts we know.
The vehicle had 200 K miles and in serious need for some maintenance and lots of repairs.
This Toyota 4Runner came in for “White smoke is coming from the tailpipe on acceleration” This is what we found. TEST AND ADVISE. Found over heating condition codes are stored in computer memory.  P0115 engine coolant temp. P0171 system too lean, (bank 1 possible o2 sensor due to coolant contamination) water pump is leaking (customer has used a stop leak agent to try and minimize the leak) radiator cap is leaking too, there seem to be no records of a timing belt replace. Multiple and severe oil leaks found. Valve covers are leaking profusely onto the exhaust manifolds and oil and coolant have mixed in the engine crankcase.  Further testing should be done as we suspect a head gasket may have failed due to overheat. At this time and due to the age and mileage of the car and the engine, we strongly suggest a rebuilt engine since we don’t know the extent of the damage done by the mixing of the coolant and oil.
Answering to a hostile client can sometimes be a trigger to further aggravation. As such, we always meet and decide by committee what approach we should take. We decided on this one not to answer since this person a) wasn’t asking for anything specific and b) didn’t post anything negative online.
I remember at that time noticing that the vehicle in question was in such poor condition, it really wasn’t a good idea to keep investing money on it. If there was a time to let go, that was the time. She decided not to do anything on the car and ask us what could be done with it. To try to be a solution, we mentioned we could help her dispose of the vehicle. Bring us the pink slip and we’ll donate the vehicle in your name is what we said.
Judging by her statement (at the top of this page) she decided to have some work done but, not to the full extent of our suggestions.
I wish the story ended there as I don’t mind being wrong, and if I was, I would have apologized for our error.
I happened to go and visit one of my peers in the trade, while there I noticed the car in this discussion was in the shop with the hood open. I asked my friend what happened to this vehicle. “She had some work done at another shop and now the engine blew up when the oil and coolant mixed in the crankcase, you should see the rod sticking out from the block!”

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