Ah, the lowly fender cover. It was born with a single life mission: to protect the painted surface of a front fender from nicks and scratches while underhood work is being performed.
Vehicles enter the shop. Some customers require routine maintenance. Some customers complain about driveability issues. The brakes squeal. They hear a clicking noise on turns. The engine cranks but won’t start. The tires are wearing out fast. The car pulls to the left under braking. The engine is leaking oil. The list goes on.
Proper wheel alignment is obviously important in terms of preventing premature tire wear, and to maintain predictable and controllable handling and braking. But in winter weather, where the customer encounters slippery conditions, wheel angles become much more critical. The effect of improper toe, camber and/or caster angles becomes more pronounced and are compounded as the coefficient of friction between the tires and the road are reduced.
When I was a kid and obtained my first driving license, I realized that it was my responsibility to learn to operate a vehicle. The thought of punching in a street address and having the car deliver me there would never, ever cross my mind.
It should be standard practice to perform an overall inspection of every customer’s vehicle when it enters the shop, regardless of what specific repair prompted the visit. Inspections such as checking fluid levels, tire wear, belt condition, a visual inspection for leaks, loose or badly worn steering and suspension parts, a brake pad and rotor check, etc., should be included, as a pre-emptive strike to alert the customer to any issues that require immediate or not-too-distant attention.
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.
This is a tale of stupidity and frustration, followed by eventual success, thanks to a few heroes of the automotive service industry.
Your shop may service just about anything under the sun, or you may specialize in specific types of service or certain vehicle makes. Regardless of your shop’s capabilities, there may be times when you need to farm out work to an outside vendor. A good example is engine repair or rebuilding.
There has been quite a bit of discussion among both the public and within the industry regarding engine oil change intervals. My opinion is that any engine’s oil and oil filter should be changed at a frequency of about 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
One of the frustrating aspects of performing automotive service work is occasionally dealing with a faulty new part. Leading parts manufacturers have an excellent track record of quality control, but sometimes a bad part slips by and ends up in a box that’s sitting on your local supplier’s shelf.
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