Underhood - Service Repair

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Don't overlook the details of performing an oil change

Thursday, November 1, 2018 - 07:00
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An everyday occurrence in our shop and may be yours as well is routine service. The services that are performed most frequently at our shop are oil changes and tire related service. Many of the vehicles our customers come in with are late model vehicles that are driven a fair number of miles. With that being said, let’s take a look at the number one most common service, the oil change.

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Before we get to the bay

But before we get too deep into the service let me share with you what takes place first.

Everything starts at the front desk, the customer fills out the work order, followed by us writing down their requested service, and finally we have them sign the work order for approval. Many customers we encounter are either new to our shop or just purchased/leased a new vehicle and are in for a bit of a shock.

We find that many of them are not aware that this is “not their father’s Oldsmobile.” Their new driving machine is not only more sophisticated but is going to be more expensive to service. Many of them were using conventional oil in their old clunker or think the oil change is going to be one of those $19.95 specials, since they have seen an advertisement in the local paper or mailer. This brings us to the point where we have to explain that their motor has to use the proper rated synthetic motor oil. Many times, we must go into either ALLDATA or ProDemand to print out the specifications to justify the price. As we all know, today’s oils are expensive and must be used for proper engine operation, mileage and warranty.

Some customers have an issue with the price since they were accustomed to paying so much less compared to what they must spend now. Once the front desk process is complete we get a floor mat, take the keys and drive the vehicle to an open bay. We make sure we unlock the doors, have the driver or one window down and pop the hood. Our normal procedure for any service performed in our shop is to always check all the lights and take a look at the windshield wipers. There is nothing worse that receiving a call or visit from a customer with a vehicle that you just serviced having an issue with a burnt bulb or worn wiper that you did not make them aware of. Besides it’s a good way to make a few extra bucks and keep a customer satisfied.

After these checks are completed, we write down the mileage, inspection date, year, make, VIN number and last but not least the tire pressure specs, taken from the door pillar sticker. By recording all that information, we don’t have to go crazy later guessing what year the car is, what engine it has or what the tire pressure should be. The extra minute to record all the information saves time and allows us to look up the correct parts or information on the vehicle we are servicing. Once all the information is recorded in our shop management system it’s a breeze the next time the vehicle is in for service.

Under the hood, under the car

Figure 1

Next, we open the hood, give a good look see for worn belts or anything that may look abnormal along with checking the oil level and writing down if it is dirty, low or overfilled. The oil cap is removed and placed next to the hood latch so it is not forgotten as well as reinstalled. That is followed by checking the transmission, power steering, brake fluid, battery (we may perform a test using our Midtronic (Figure 1) or Associated tester (Figure 2), fill up the washer fluid bottle and any fluid that was not up to the specified level.

Now the vehicle goes for an upward ride where we take a look underneath and note any leaks. If the vehicle has an under pan cover it is removed, followed by removing the oil drain plug and oil filter. Note, if the engine has the oil filter on top of the engine, the filter would be removed first, so the oil can drain properly. While the oil is draining, the tire pressure is adjusted and possibily, depending on the service history of the vehicle and the condition of the tires, a rotation may be recommended or performed. The front and rear differentials as well as the transfer case (if equipped) are checked along with the condition of the fluid.

Figure 2

We will sometimes suggest replacement of the fluid per the OE service requirements or fluid condition. When those two procedures are finished the new filter will be installed making sure that the filter base is clean and does not have any gaskets left on it, the same would apply for a top engine mounted filter. If it’s a cartridge-type rather than a spin-on, we make sure that the oil ring gaskets are replaced and that the filter is torqued down to the proper specification using a torque wrench. The drain plug in some cases may need the plug washer replaced and if so, we would replace it. Many drain plugs need to be torqued to 25 Nm to prevent damage to both the drain plug and oil pan. To make matters worse, have you come across the special rubberized Audi/VW drain plug that you need a special removal tool for? It’s a good idea if you work on those vehicles to purchase the correct tool and at least a couple replacement drain plugs.

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