After this crazy winter, there is an abundance of pot holes out there. Here in NYC it’s particularly bad but I’m going to guess that’s true in many locales. Last night while driving through Manhattan I noticed that cars are not rushing to get through those yellow lights like they normally do and that’s smart. I’m going to consider this post as just a public service reminder…DRIVE SLOW!
In the past couple of weeks we have changed numerous struts, strut mounts, axle shafts, tie rods, etc. I know it’s difficult to avoid some of these, I’ve rammed though many myself. Sometimes you don’t even notice them until you’re right on top of them, but this type of work can be quite costly so let me repeat….DRIVE SLOW!
Honestly, I think I’m just writing this to myself, my son is constantly telling me to, “Slow down, Jeff Gordon!”. So if you’d like to fork over some of your funds to me and my fellow repair shop owners then go for it but otherwise….DRIVE SLOW!
It’s winter, it’s cold and there are mounds of snow on the ground. I’m sitting here in my office (which btw, is cold, in this business we’re not like normal people with nice warm offices) and I’m listening to one of my suppliers talking to my partner. They’re discussing how slow it is because in NYC people don’t really need to move their cars when alternate side street parking has been suspended due to the snow on the ground. This particular vendor is telling him how certain shops are not as “slow” because almost every vehicle that comes in for a small problem are being sold many parts that they don’t need. Of course I find this surprising and shocking….HA! NOT IN THE LEAST!
Let me just keep this warning simple, if you go to a repair shop and are being told that you need an alternator, battery AND a starter, chances are you’re being taken. Will I say that this never happens, no, it can happen but it’s very rare. If that happens then do your due diligence, have them show you each item and have them explain how it’s failing. Of course an experienced BS’er will have an answer for everything, but the more you ask and the more knowledgeable you are the less you will be taken for a ride.
This works in every aspect of your life, be nice, be calm, but be very inquisitive and don’t be satisfied until it’s explained to your liking.
I’m a little outraged this morning by an email I just got. A consumer website that assists in auto repair was concerned that women were being unfairly treated in the business (duh). So they claim to have done a phone survey to see if the prices they got over the phone were gender biased. The brilliant deduction was that the shops they recommend (more on that in a minute) were NOT prejudiced against women but other shops were alarmingly so.
First off, give me a break…a phone survey?…I don’t even give prices out on the phone because it’s useless since most customers have no idea what they need.
Secondly, the problem isn’t in getting a price over the phone, the problem is in being ripped off, on many levels, during the entire experience.
Thirdly, how absolutely incredible that the shops they “certify” were so fair. Let’s discuss this certification. Can you afford to pay them their fee, claim to charge fair prices, been in business over 6 months, and offer a warranty? DONE, You’re in! This is no more than the Department of Motor Vehicles and Consumer Affairs demands in most states (except the fee part) so, pretty much any shop can be certified. I get that this website is just a business and it’s trying to make money, but it really gets the hair up on the back of my neck when they try to trade off fairness to women and don’t tell the whole truth.
Women are absolutely NOT treated fairly in this industry and I won’t sit by and listen to how they are.
How does anything ever change when nothing ever changes?
A customer’s car was hit by a vehicle. She did the right thing by calling in the claim, but one thing she did wrong was NOT to have the appraiser come here to my garage to have it appraised. Instead, she took it to one of their drive-in quickie appraisal shops. BIG MISTAKE. Later, she arrived here with the estimate in hand. When I perused it I couldn’t believe how small an amount it was written up for. I told her before we do anything she better call the insurance company and tell them she wanted it reappraised, or at the very least they should call me. This morning the actual appraiser himself called me. I told him there were numerous things missing from the appraisal and boy was I surprised when he was honest with me, uttering the words, “yeah I know, my boss likes me to write it up like that”. HUH? Your boss likes to write it up for way less then it should be to save money so it will cost the customer money out of her own pocket?
Usually the insurance companies are spot on with the assessments, even generous in some cases. I believe that’s because we are basically watching over them. Hopefully this isn’t a new trend and won’t be happening all the time, but make sure it doesn’t happen to you. Take your car to the mechanic/auto body shop you trust and have the appraiser go THERE. This is no different then anything else that needs an expert to oversee it. Don’t get shorted (or wrenched)!
While at her weekend home, a friend noticed both headlights went out on her vehicle and called me as she was at a local repair shop. They weren’t finding the problem right away and she was just calling to tell me what was happening. While we were on the phone I Googgled her problem and in 20 seconds found which fuse was out, which she then relayed on to the mechanic. She asked me how much I thought she should pay and I said “$1 for the fuse and tip the mechanic, is what I would charge”.
10 minutes later she called and said “How’s $75 sound?”. Since she is no shrinking violet she told them it was despicable to which he tried to claim that he had worked on the vehicle for ½ hour. Luckily she embarrassed him into agreeing that, “$1 for the fuse and tip the mechanic” was the way to go and she left. Of course she’ll never go back there again, so it’s stupid on his part but my biggest issue is that I bet if she were a man it wouldn’t have gone down like that. Makes me embarrassed yet again for my industry.
My car smells like gas and the mechanic can’t find the problem and told me not to worry about it. Does that sound correct?
NO, IT IS NOT CORRECT! There is no reason for there to be a gas smell (unless you have a classic car then all bets are off….and even then it shouldn’t be fresh gas). The leak could just be hiding somewhere and they can’t find it. It might be a vapor leak and not a fluid leak which could make it harder to find. Is there a check engine light on (this also depends on the age of the vehicle)? If one mechanic can’t find the leak then take it to another until someone finds it. I’ve had this issue here with my mechanics who can’t smell it so they put me on it with my supersonic nose. I usually track it down…yes kind of like a gas sniffing dog. The best thing to do, if you can, is try to locate the general area if possible and show them where it’s coming from. Don’t give up!
I’ve been seeing a large number of people buying cars online without looking at them first. I don’t think it’s a great idea because there are so many tiny things that seem innocuous but can add up to a very large headache. I have one in particular that is very disturbing. This guy bought an old Mustang that looked beautiful in the photos. He paid a lot of money for it, more than it was worth. In the listing online it did say that there were a few things that weren’t working like the wipers, the emergency brake and the speedometer to name a few. This didn’t seem insurmountable to be him so he purchased it anyway. When the car was delivered and came off the tow, he jumped in ready to go but his foot went to the floor because the brakes had issues as well. He brought the car to us and that ended up being the easiest issue to fix. It turns out that the reason some of the other things didn’t work was that when they rebuilt the vehicle they left off key components. A couple of thousand dollars later, some of the issues are still not fixed because they require welding and body work.
I’m not suggesting that you never buy a car you haven’t seen but not only should you ask a million questions about each and every item, have them send a video as well. I always say that if someone hasn’t fixed something “simple” before selling a vehicle then it clearly requires more than a simple fix. The biggest red flag is when the AC isn’t working and “only needs some freon or a valve”, if that’s all it needed then they should fix it before they sell it to you.
Buyer beware! Do your homework.