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Human error compounds vehicle repairs

How much easier would it make our jobs if ignorance didn’t play such a major role?
Monday, July 28, 2014 - 07:00
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There seems to be a prevailing attitude among a growing number of people employed in the automotive repair industry who must believe all automotive engineers are idiots. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to when I see how some (I refrain from referring to them as “techs”) have attempted to resolve their customers’ complaints. What they do can’t be called fixing cars.  Some of the repairs I’ve witnessed have been attempted in the most interesting ways. I’ve been both entertained and disgusted by how some have re-engineered system designs, and I ponder the thought processes they must have gone through to develop their solutions.

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I’ve also been embarrassed by the blemish such non-professional practices place on the industry as a whole. I wonder if the vehicle owner was charged for such a horribly botched job (rhetorically stated, of course). I wonder how much time and materials, how much blood, sweat and tears, how much pain must have been suffered while doing the so-called “repair”.  Let’s define all that stuff by what it really is: waste. Have you seen examples of this too?

The current pattern taken on the cooling fan motor offered a potential cause for the intermittent overheat.

A Professional Approach
A professional repair is one that is done completely. Doing a repair completely means completely solving the problem, completely resolving the customer’s concern and completely preventing it from ever happening again, if possible. It’s the goal I strive for. I’ve found being a professional automotive technician to be rewarding in many ways including financially as well as emotionally, and don’t imagine a “hack” feels anything like rewarded.

Those who know me have most likely heard me say, “I’m one of the laziest people on Earth. I don’t want to work any harder than I absolutely have to.” I am proud of my ability to imagine ways to perform repairs faster, better or longer lasting, but in the end, I perform the repairs as they should be done and strive to not create other problems in the process. Of course, I use creative methods to diagnose the problems. After all, I want to get the most information in the shortest period of time possible.  But I don’t even consider re-engineering a system, bypassing functionality or safety features, in order to affect a fix. That’s not the kind of lazy.

When called to diagnose a vehicle, I start by playing 20 Questions, the same way you should ask your customers when they present a diagnostic situation to you. I use the answers I’m given to narrow down what might cause the complaint and eliminate what I don’t need to test. I mean why look at the whole car if only a small part of it’s affected? That’s my kind of lazy.

Is there a way I can be lazy when I’m called to a shop that is now the third one to attempt to address the customer’s concern of “intermittent overheating” or will I have to actually (sorry for using a four-letter word here) work? What questions might you ask of the technicians who have run out of ideas how to resolve that complaint on a simple, non-exotic vehicle?

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