Tech Stuff

Where’s the Respect for ‘Parts Changers’?

The knowledge and skill of technicians who diagnose and service today’s vehicles is critical to the success of any shop. Whether the required component replacement or system assembly is performed by the same specialized technician who performed the diagnosis or by a general service tech, the proper installation of a part is far from simple. So when someone makes a comment such as “he’s just a parts changer,” it makes my blood boil.

Hey, when I was “diagnosed” a year ago that I needed a hip replacement, I certainly didn’t tell my doctor that he was a “parts changer” before he worked on me!

If any part is installed incorrectly, all of the advanced technology and expertise that went into diagnosing the concern will be for naught.

During removal, inspection and installation, specific procedures and often specialized tools or equipment are involved in order to successfully complete the job. The “parts changer” deals with disassembly and reassembly steps that must be performed in a very specific manner. The “parts changer” must determine the best way to access the part(s) involved, which often requires removal of non-related components and/or harnesses. The “parts changer” must be well versed in tool selection, removal and installation techniques, the use of torque wrenches, angle tightening methods, skill in using and reading calipers, micrometers and bore gauges, the knowledge required in reading and interpreting OE specifications, and much more.

Every aspect of service, no matter how “simple” it may seem, requires expert knowledge and skill. In this age of electronic system management, sometimes too little emphasis is placed on the critical role that “wrenching” plays in every aspect of service.

Once the sometimes difficult task of diagnosing an issue is determined, the job isn’t complete. It’s not a matter of, “Well, the hard part is done. Now just replace the part.”

Respect is earned, not given. All “parts changers” who perform any phase of service in the shop have earned the same level of respect.

Tool expo

I recently attended the annual Tool Dealer Expo in Kissimmee, Fla., about a 20-minute drive from the Orlando airport.

The show is very well organized by ISN (Integrated Supply Network). This was a real treat, with the show packed full of the latest automotive and heavy-duty tools and equipment — everything from work gloves to hand and power tools and the latest shop equipment and more (a total candy store of pro shop goodies).

Among the incredible wealth of offerings, I saw a clear and present push of the latest generation of cordless electric tools, including impact wrenches, cut-offs, drills, work lights and more, with substantial increases in terms of voltages, power and battery life plus improved  ergonomic features.

Corded and pneumatic tools are here to stay, but the advent of a new generation of advanced cordless tools was extremely evident.

If you ever have a chance to hit this show (held in June each year), it’s worth your time, providing you don’t mind the unavoidable Florida humidity. Many of the exhibitors offer very attractive show-special prices with the prospect of some great deals.   ■

Photo courtesy of Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp., and Fel-Pro.
<p>Photo courtesy of Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp., and Fel-Pro.</p>

Giving credit where credit is due

NOTE: In our June issue, the article that discussed engine gaskets featured a photo of a technician installing an MLS cylinder head gasket. That photo was supplied courtesy of the good folks at Fel-Pro. Well, we messed up and forgot to include a credit to Fel-Pro for use of the photo. So with our thanks, here’s the credit, in full. Photo courtesy of Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp., and Fel-Pro.

To read more Straight Talk columns, click:

Make Shop Safety a Top Priority

Rust Never Sleeps

Doing the Right Thing

Professionalism Trumps Stupid

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