I worked for an auto repair service center in Jersey that had a piece of equipment called the engine vac. This machine says it will clean fuel injectors plus remove carbon deposits from cylinders and valves.
The machine claims to restore power and fuel economy to your engine. The engine vac machine connected to the fuel system and pressurized cleaning solution was fed into the engine while it was running. The auto repair service sold for $110.00. The shop spent $2000.00 on the machine and the service was not selling well.
They put a poster up on the wall from engine vac that explained to the customer all the wonderful things the machine did. The service adviser would show the customer a poster and use it to help sell the service. Still the sales were low. So the dealership implemented a bonus plan to the mechanic.
For every engine vac service sold the mechanic and service writer would split a $20.00 under the table cash bonus. The dealer would take money out of petty cash and hand over the ten-dollar bills to the employee’s. The effect this had on the department personnel was nothing short of amazing.
Suddenly every car that came in needed a engine vac service. The evil part of this story is that the machine was very hard to hook up to the vehicle so the mechanics put a twist tie on the connection hose and would fake the whole service.
If the customer was watching they would see the connection hose attached to their vehicle and the automobile was running but it was not really connected it was an old fashioned slight of hand trick.
Although at this dealership the service was a complete scam, keep in mind that other service centers may actually perform the operation. But at this place $110.00 spent for no services rendered.
I would actually hook the machine up and perform the service as engine vac specified. I personally never felt any improvement in power nor found a customer that had increased mpg. Buyer beware of services that promise results not easily measured.
Auto Repair Service Scam
The oil change game. You may know that the most common service in the automotive service retail business is the simple oil change. I want you to learn how the repair facility views this common service so you can protect yourself.
There are many kinds of shops that perform this service. Dealerships, chain stores, quick lube centers, independent shops and mobile auto repair service. They all view the oil change as an opportunity to up sell you something else. The profit margin on an oil change service is very small.
The shop considers this an acceptable loss because it provides them an opportunity to look your vehicle over very carefully. The shop calls this an at bat. And sometimes they strike out but most of the time they hit a home run. Being under your vehicle and then in the engine compartment to refill the oil provides them the opportunity to work up a big list.
Even the quick lube centers that might not employ experienced or well qualified technicians are selling services like coolant flushes, transmission fluid changes, fuel injection cleaning and much more.
It cracked me up when they started selling windshield services where they would apply a rain shedding product and new wiper blades for about $75.00. Wiper blades are are cheap at big department stores and installation can be handled by most motorists including my 75 year old mother.
When I say that oil change and quick lube centers do not employee well qualified technicians I am being truthful. Most of the training is provided in house and may not be as in-depth as it should be in my opinion. It is not the fault of the technicians that work there.
It’s the reality that these auto repair service shops pay a very low hourly rate, and to find a certified technician to work for $7.00 – $9.00 an hour is difficult. This coupled with quotas and time requirements could spell trouble for some customers. An oil change is a simple operation but if done incorrectly or rushed major engine damage can result.
Its Just an Oil Change What Could Go Wrong
Quick story, I had a friend of the family go into a quick lube and they sold her an air filter. I do not usually perform oil changes for people because of the difficulty in getting rid of the used oil! When replacing the air filter the oil changer wiped out the air box and got distracted and left the rag in side and under the air filter.
When he started up the motor, yes the rag got sucked into the engine and bent an intake valve and cracked a piston. The shop did pay to have the engine fixed but the car never ran the same again. A flat rate mechanic at a dealership repaired the engine cutting corners due to the flat rate system.
The car had multiple problems after the engine service and it was never the same automobile as the one that went in for the botched maintenance. Most mechanics are not as good at putting engines together as the factory is. Even if they are not flat rate. It takes a lot of skill, knowledge and practice to perform engine work properly.
Oil Change and Quick Lube Up-sells
Lets hit a few more common up sells from the oil change service. The repair shops like to sell coolant flushes. This will be coming to an end or at least slowing down due to the now wide spread use of extended life coolants.
Starting in the late 90’s General motors starting using a new red coolant called dexcool. The recommended service interval is every 100,000 miles. Now all of the major manufacturers are using some kind of extended life coolant. So check your auto repair manual for service intervals. If you have a vehicle with the old green coolant it’s recommended to change your coolant every 30,000 miles.
Don’t approve the maintenance until you check your owner’s manual and find out what the true service interval is. Remember that in some cases the shop might recommend it for them, not for you. With that said, if you got the green stuff, do the flush. I’ve seen major problems from skipping it, because as standard ethylene glycol gets old it becomes acidic.
This can rot out heater cores and radiators as these contain thin metals. Next since they are under your vehicle they could not help but notice you need shocks or struts replaced. They love this repair, because it’s quick and easy with a high profit margin.
When shocks or struts are worn out the vehicle has a poor ride, as in it bounces up and down excessively. If shocks are bad you can get choppy wear on your tires and they start to look like stop signs. Shocks and struts are fluid or gas filled. If they leak it leaves a trail of oily film on the shock or strut body.
The standard shock and strut test is push down on the vehicle front and rear bumpers separately and hold it down and then release it. The vehicle should return smoothly to its original height. Not bounce up and down like a bobble head doll. Ask the auto service provider to do this test before approving it.
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