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  • Digital Update: March 2019
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  • Outsourcing - One man’s headache, another man’s joy
    We are all looking for ways to build our business. One sure way, I found, is to approach fleet managers and other non-competitive shops.
    All technicians have their most hated jobs and usually on a particular type vehicle. So, that is where you can become the “aspirin” for their headache jobs, but first you have to find out what that problem job is.
  • Muffler & Pipe Advice: Like a Glove!
    It was in the late ’90s that I had the experience of installing a set of Corvette headers manufactured by B&B (Billy Boat) Fabrication. I was doing work for a local Chevrolet dealership. It was the kind of dealership that was thinking outside the box. This dealership would customize your Corvette prior to you picking it up. One of the things they would do is have us install B&B headers.
  • 'Rebuilt' Salvage Yard Transmission, Hmmm...
    We had a local general repair shop bring us a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.6L V-6 engine equipped with a ZF 8-speed (845RE) transmission; they had just installed a “rebuilt” transmission that was sourced from a salvage yard. The customer’s stated concern was, “The place that built the transmission just said it needed to be programmed.” Needless to say, we knew that this was going to be an adventure.
  • Verify What the Scan Tool is Telling You
    Every now and then we run across a vehicle that has a concern we have seen many times before and we almost automatically try to diagnose it by memory; it's almost like a reflex we develop over time. Of course as we all know too well, this can lead you down the wrong path if you stray away from complete testing and verification.
  • Blame it on Missing Harness Retaining Clips
    The subject vehicle that was fitted with one of our remanufactured transmissions six months prior showed up at one of our repair locations recently, with the customer concern of an intermittent bumpy 1-2 shift, and a low-power lugging sensation along with a CEL on.
  • Use TSB’s in Your Diagnostic Routine
    When diagnosing today’s complex vehicles, we have a wealth of information at our disposal. How we use that information is crucial in making the correct diagnosis the first time, every time.
  • Aluminum Chassis Parts & Blown Tires
    Technical Editor Ron Henningsen explains the importance of checking aluminum chassis parts after a tire blow.
  • Some of The Forgotten Important People In Your Shop
    Everyone in your shop usually has a leader who is a master technician, seemingly a wizard at diagnosing very difficult vehicle problems and performing repairs on vehicles. His skill is indeed very desirable and very important, but there are others in your shop who don’t have such a glamorous job and perhaps are not as highly regarded as “important” as highly skilled lead techs, but they are there.
  • Profits in Professional Disc-Brake Conversions
    You may have customers who have old vehicles, including some muscle cars, originally manufactured with four-wheel drum brakes. Many of these customers now realize the benefits of having disc brakes, at least on the front of their vehicles, and wish for you to perform a conversion. This can come about in one of three ways. The least desirable is that the customer brings in a wide variety of used parts and asks you to install them on the car. This may turn out to be an adventure in beating your head against the wall, as the parts may not be right. The conversion pieces may not fit or it may just be something they heard about from a buddy. This is something that I would personally advise against, as it usually does not work out very successfully.
  • Tech-Training Clinics Are Alive & Well
    In the “old days,” evening tech-training clinics were common and they often were the way many technicians were updated or trained. In the internet/digital era we live in today, some folks have written off evening training clinics as being “dead,” but that’s not the case.
  • Quality Uptick Continues with Aftermarket Parts
    It appears over the past few years there has been a considerable uptick in quality when it comes to a variety of parts classifications in the aftermarket. It wasn’t long ago that the trend was “the cheaper the better.” In other words, the cheaper the parts were in cost, more were sold to shops.
  • Fixing Flats, Avoiding Lawsuits
    Customers today have become accustom to many repair procedures thanks to the professionalism of many shops throughout the country. They accept oil changes that may cost as much as $100 when they include full-synthetic oil. They accept diagnostic fees when a technician uses a scan tool to determine why the check-engine light is on, as well as many other procedures.
  • Should Your Shop Have a Master Brake Technician?
    Many shops have master drivability technicians who are diagnostic experts with an ability to understand and diagnose complex electrical issues. This is all well and good, but why not also have someone in your shop whose primary job is to know every bit of brake information that’s available in the marketplace and have the skill and expertise, along with the product knowledge, to solve complex problems?
  • Technically Speaking® - Know Your Engine Oil

    Editor’s note: First and foremost, technicians should always follow the auto manufacturer’s oil specifications to avoid voiding the engine’s warranty. The purpose of this Q&A is to answer some of the many questions that technicians have about the new oils being introduced.

    I recently had the opportunity to interview Janette Ramirez Baltazar on the changes in engine oil that have been rapidly evolving in what seems like every time a new model vehicle is released.

  • Scan Tools – How Many & Who Pays for Them
    In today’s multi-bay, multi-technician auto-service repair facilities it is not uncommon for the shop to have a multitude of scan tools, some possibly owned by technicians. The logic behind this is that some scan tools are more thorough and apply to a wider range of vehicles than others. Who should own these scan tools? Should it always be the shops? Should it always be the technicians or should it be a combination of both?
  • ‘It Was on the Internet So it Must Be True’

    Technical Editor Ron Henningsen discusses how to deal with customers who self-diagnose car problems over the internet.

    Many times when you quote a customer on a needed repair and he decides to not do it at the moment, or even if he does agree, he may turn around and access the internet to find out what should “really be done.” The internet is full of accurate and valid information, unfortunately it is also full of inaccurate and invalid information.

  • Technically Speaking: YouTube Videos for Training

     Are YouTube Videos a Valid Source of Training & Information?

    The answer to this question is, “It depends.” If you have one of the online shop digital-resource systems available, your first thought probably is, “No,” and there’s nothing that will ever convince me otherwise.

  • Technically Speaking: Brake-Lathe Maintenance
    Many shops today replace rotors and claim it is more economical to do so than it is to machine rotors, but the fact is that you’ll still get certain cars in for which new rotors are extremely costly or unavailable.
  • Technically Speaking®: Friction Concerns Answered
    There are many brake-service myths and beliefs in the automotive aftermarket. It seems that almost everyone has an opinion and believes that their opinion is the correct way to do things. In this Technically Speaking® I reached out to the experts who work in brake manufacturing technical centers.
Undercar Digest serves automotive-repair facilities involved in undercar services that include brake, exhaust and chassis diagnostics and repairs. It also covers a variety of other repairs including drivability. In addition to shops, our readers include manufacturers, warehouse distributors and parts stores that serve them.

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