How to Fix the Apprenticeship System ALSO

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Canadian Mail Sales Product Agreement #40063170 Registration 10833. Return postage guaranteed. Newcom Business Media Inc., 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, ON M9W 5C4
How to Fix the
Apprenticeship
System
ALSO
■ The TMPS sensor debate
■ How to treat your
customers like kings
■ Mr. Goodwrench,
R.I.P. (sort of…)
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CTJan_Feb2011.qxp:untitled
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contents
Canadian Technician • February 2011 • Vol. 16 No. 1
FEATURES
The Customer:
Your Most Important Commodity .........................20
It’s true: the customer is king. But if you don’t treat customers
like royalty, they’ll go elsewhere. Consider these tips for keeping
your clients happy.
Apprenticeship Angst.............................................22
The apprenticeship system isn’t firing on all cylinders these days.
Here’s how to fix the problem.
COLUMNISTS
Management S.O.S.
By Kelly Bennett . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
DEPARTMENTS
Editorial ......................................................................5
Service Notes.............................................................7
30
Letters ........................................................................8
The Car Side
By Rick Cogbill
Reader Rides...........................................................10
Out & About .............................................................10
EyeSpy......................................................................11
Idea of the Month ...................................................13
From Our Forum ......................................................15
The Way We Were....................................................17
Have Your Say..........................................................26
Products...................................................................27
Auto Puzzle ..............................................................28
Our new
international
calling card.
by
www.bluestreak.ca
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
3
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Now, We Do It All!
Valvoline® now offers a full line of Valvoline Professional
Series automotive service chemicals. With Valvoline
Professional Series, you get a comprehensive line of
professional-grade products, services and solutions
all backed by industry leading marketing programs.
Valvoline Professional Series delivers maximum value
to consumers and helps grow your bottom line.
©, 2010, Ashland Canada Corp.
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EDITORIAL
Unsafe at any speed
Dealing with derelicts can make for risky business.
By David Menzies
T
he EyeSpy department found in the
Out & About section of this
magazine usually generates a
hearty chuckle. After all, some of the
knee-slappers that roll into shop bays
across the land on a daily basis can make
for awe-inducing stuff. Indeed, it’s
obvious to even a casual observer that
too many vehicles out there are being
extended well past their “bestbefore” dates thanks to
dubious repair jobs rendered
by self-proclaimed do-ityourself “experts.”
Over the years, we’ve seen it
all, thanks to your fantastic
submissions to EyeSpy: from a
hockey puck that was used to
reinforce a car’s rear springs to a
fuel tank secured in place with
a bungee cord. And good grief,
if you think Red Green is a
master when it comes to
finding novel uses for duct tape,
I can assure you he’s a mere
piker, based on the numerous
EyeSpy shots submitted in which the
duct tape quotient almost outweighed
the vehicle’s sheet metal.
But the other day, an EyeSpy shot
landed on my desk that was so far
beyond the pale there really wasn’t much
to laugh about.
Talk about a Kodak moment. As you
can see by the picture embedded in this
editorial, the vehicle’s steering wheel is
actually missing. One would think that
an absent steering wheel would be a
major impediment when it comes to
motoring. Alas, one would be wrong to
jump to such a conclusion, given that
this car wasn’t towed into the shop.
Amazingly, the motoring Mensa
member who owns this gem substituted
a pair of vice grips in place of a bona fide
steering wheel.
Hey, what could possibly go wrong?
Although this photo is equal parts
humourous and horrendous, it also
brings up the matter of liability. In
other words, when an accidentwaiting-to-happen rolls into your
shop – and the vehicle’s owner refuses
to carry out the necessary repairs –
what do you do?
Legally, you can’t impound the
vehicle. But that doesn’t mean you
should turn a blind eye, either.
Indeed, the issue of unsafe vehicles
was a hot topic for discussion on our
forum recently. And for what it’s worth, I
think the best response came from “Fat
Chuck” who noted:
“For whatever work that comes in
the door, I make a repair order. If I feel
the car is unsafe to be on the road
(after having the car on the lift so I
can visually examine it and not just
make an assumption), I list the safety
items. I refuse to perform any work on
the car in case of an accident. I will
not release the car without a signature
on the repair order so I have it in
writing and signed by the customer
that he has been advised he is driving
an unfit vehicle. Then I fax a copy to
the police department in my area with
a cover letter explaining what the
work order is about. Makes
for an unhappy customer but
this releases me from legal
responsibility.”
Chuck’s advice is prudent on
two fronts: For starters, emphasizing to the customer he’s
driving a potential deathtrap is
simply doing the right thing
from an ethical perspective.
Besides, as a shop owner, how
would you feel if you read the
next day that the unsafe vehicle
that had been in your shop ran
over the local paperboy?
Which brings me to point
number two: C.Y.A.
Like it or not, once that vehicle is
in your shop, you now potentially
have some skin in the game. In other
words, if in the course of an accident
investigation it’s learned that a dreadfully unsafe vehicle was in your shop
prior to the mishap, do you really
want to contend with the fallout –
which can potentially range from an
unfounded lawsuit to toxic (and
unfair) publicity?
In the meantime, please keep sending
your pictures along to EyeSpy. But if
you happen to spy a disaster-in-waiting
in your shop, please take the necessary
steps to protect the motoring public –
and yourself.
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
5
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SERVICE NOTES
VOLUME 16
Being findable
NUMBER 1
We’re never going to stop looking for new
customers… but increasingly our customers are
going to be looking for us.
451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ont. M9W 5C4
EDITOR
David Menzies
[email protected]
(416) 614-5824
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Allan Janssen
[email protected]
(416) 614-5814
PUBLISHER
Martyn Johns
[email protected]
(416) 614-5826
CIRCULATION MANAGER
Lilianna Kantor
[email protected]
(416) 614-5815
DESIGN & PRODUCTION
Tim Norton
[email protected]
(416) 614-5810
DIRECTOR, QUEBEC OPERATIONS
Joe Glionna
PRESIDENT
Jim Glionna
PUBLISHED BY
Newcom Business Media
451 Attwell Drive
Toronto, Ont. M9W 5C4
Canadian Technician is published monthly except for January and July by Newcom
Business Media, Inc., 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ont. M9W 5C4. The magazine serves the
Canadian automotive repair and service industry. Subscriptions are free to those who meet
the criteria. For others: single copy price: $5.30; one-year subscription in Canada: $42.00
($40.00 plus applicable taxes); one-year subscription in U.S.: US$60; one-year subscription
in all other countries: US$90. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of the publisher. The advertiser agrees to protect the publisher against legal action
based upon libelous or inaccurate statements, unauthorized use of photographs, or other
material in connection with advertisements placed in Canadian Technician. The publisher
reserves the right to refuse any advertising which in his opinion is misleading, scatological,
or in poor taste. Postmaster: Send address changes to Canadian Technician, 451 Attwell
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We acknowledge the financial support of the Government
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Award Winner
Member
Canadian Business Press
“The Apprentice”
by Wayne Moore
Phone (905) 632-8770
By Allan Janssen
W
hen a new customer walks
through your doors, it’s usually
just a happy accident. They
weren’t looking for you, per se.They just
needed a repair shop… and they
happened to find yours.
It was a lucky break.
But you can’t build a business on
happy accidents and lucky breaks.
Nervous about sitting back and
letting new customers find us, we tend
to spend a lot of time, energy, and money
finding them. Our marketing strategies
are designed to draw them to us like a
spotlight draws June bugs.
But in the Internet age, with the
increasing sophistication of search
engines and the growing interconnectedness of social networks, that might all
get flipped on its head. We may soon
find that consumers are targeting us.
We’re going to have to become adept at
being findable.
Certainly that was the thinking behind
a Zagat-like review site for repair shops
proposed several years ago at the Global
Automotive Aftermarket Symposium in
Chicago.
To my knowledge it hasn’t been built
yet, but I’m confident it will emerge, just
as other sites and apps are being
developed to help car owners connect
with car fixers.
Here’s one: Technician and trainer
John Kelly of Rochester, N.Y., has
launched AutoTechnician.org – a place for
advanced techs to test their skills, register
for an online directory, and promote
themselves to customers and potential
employers.
Kelly says the site, which has been up
since mid-December, has already
attracted a lot of attention in aftermarket
circles and is growing rapidly.
In addition to offering tech forums
and a number of repair-related blogs, the
site gives consumers and potential
employers a chance to find techs with
elevated diagnostic skills. He has devised
a multiple-choice test, similar to the ASE
L1 (which evaluates diagnostic abilities
on powertrain drivability problems and
emission failures on electronically
controlled systems) to weed out the
garden-variety technicians from the
more experienced professionals. Those
that make the grade have access to
sophisticated consumers and shop
owners who are looking for talented
technicians in their area.
“In this business you have to be a
pretty good thinker and have excellent
diagnostic skills,” he says. “It’s to their
advantage for techs like that to register.
One of the advantages is if they leave a
shop and go elsewhere, they take their
online portfolio with them.”
They’ll also take their customer reviews
and ratings. The comments posted are
monitored by site administrators and
there’s a protocol for removing explicit,
unfair, or disputed comments.
A less formal system involves the
“like” button on your Facebook page. I
spoke this week to an industry insider
who was contemplating the intrinsic
value of the recommendations our
friends and family might make online.
They’re absolute gold! It’s the digitization of word-of-mouth endorsements.
The question is how do we encourage
that kind of endorsement? How do we
capture positive feedback and turn it
into a beacon for new customers?
Gleaning a competitive advantage in
the Internet age is going to require some
innovative thinking and proactive efforts.
To ignore the evolving Internet is to
ignore the changing way that consumers
go to market.
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
7
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LETTERS
WINTER TIRE DEBATE
CONTINUES
Editor’s Note: In the November 2010 issue
of Canadian Technician, we printed a letter
from Elwood Schwanke of Fort
Saskatchewan, Alta., in response to a story
championing the merits of winter tires.
Elwood believes winter tires aren’t necessary
for safe winter driving and that to “mandate
winter tires only encourages faster driving by
poor drivers.”
The following two letters addresses the issue
of winter tires from two completely different
perspectives. In the meantime, where do you
weigh-in on the winter tire debate, readers?
Is winter rubber overrated or should winter
tires be mandated by law in all the provinces
as it is currently in Quebec?
WINTER TIRES SAVE LIVES
I am absolutely flabbergasted by the anti-winter tire
response to your article. This is exactly the reason why we
have people needlessly killed each year in Canada.This letter
writer needs to be re-educated on this subject.
I’ve had consultations with the Minister of Public Safety
in New Brunswick who also needs to be shown the light.
Millions of dollars have been spent around the world in
testing winter rubber and the end results have been that at
least 10 countries now have mandatory winter tire legislation plus Quebec.
The latest word in New Brunswick is that we will not get
this legislation because the minister doesn’t want to cause
“undue financial hardship” to New Brunswick drivers. He
ON THE OTHER HAND…
I have to say that I strongly disagree with editor David
Menzies on the merits of winter tires. If people would just
take some personal responsibility and slow down in bad
weather and if they would spend money on good all-season
tires instead of cheap no-name tires they could get where
they want to go.
We keep making vehicles safer and people keep driving
faster thinking they are indestructible. Look at the guy who
owns a SUV but used to drive a Dodge Omni. He drives 60
LAWNMOWER REPAIR 101
I am writing in response to your editorial in the November 2010
issue of Canadian Technician entitled “Big Box Buffoonery.”
I find it quite amusing the you have made every effort to not
mention the big box store involved or what repair depot was used.
But you had no trouble mentioning “the degenerate Deere”
The fact is that these challenges can and do happen to all
8
CANADIAN TECHNICIAN FEBRUARY 2011
would rather have blood splattered on the road.
Sweden has a large number of published reports available
online (for a price). An interesting fact: when Sweden
brought in their law this country already had an 80%
compliance rate. Sweden saw an immediate drop of 11-14%
in winter-related accidents. How would that compute here
with our 40% (at best) compliance rate?
No wonder there’s now talk of bringing in legislation in
Italy, Switzerland, France, the U.K., Ireland, and the
Netherlands. It just blows my mind that there could be such
a high level of ignorance re: winter tires.
Graham Neill
Fredericton, N.B.
km/h in bad weather with the Omni but does 120 km/h
with the SUV because it has 4WD. He thinks he won’t get
hurt because he has 4WD to keep him on the road and if he
starts to slide then the ABS will stop it (ha.) And if the ABS
doesn’t help, he has airbags to save himself.
We build safer vehicles today but people don’t think for
themselves anymore.
Peter Hamilton
No-B.S. Auto
Marmora, Ont.
brands of equipment no matter who makes or sells them.
All John Deere products sold by the big box stores, Home
Depot, Lowe’s and others are assembled and set up by John Deere
dealers.“Nothing runs like a Deere” when it’s properly maintained.
Let me possibly try to explain first what likely happened
to your mower.
It came out of the box and set up by a JD dealer (part of the
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sales agreement with John Deere). It was fuelled and fired up
by the technician that assembled it. How much fuel it had in it
when you got it is hard to tell. Maybe only enough to let you
run it “six times” then it quit.Then you grabbed a gas can from
your shed or garage which may or may not have had last year’s
gas in it. It wouldn’t go or start or possibly ran for a few
minutes and then quit on that fuel.
Most of us in the auto and machine industry know that
fuel quality has been a big challenge in the last 10 years. With
a shelf life at best of 30 days, engines just won’t run properly, if
at all, on this fuel. So let’s not blame the equipment for its
refusal to function.
As for the turnover time at the “repair depot.” It’s not
uncommon for us to get backed up on repairs – sometimes by
as much as two weeks. May, June and July are our busiest times
of the years.
Now, if you had bought your new John Deere mower at a
John Deere dealer, it would have been setup, fuelled up and
delivered for free. And possibly as a good customer, it might
have been fixed while you waited.
As for finding your mower when you went to pick it up,
sometimes it’s a challenge around here to find equipment
when there’s over 300 pieces to sort through.
I don’t think you would go out and purchase a new car
anywhere but at a new car dealer.Why would you do that with
any other major piece of equipment? Please let’s keep the facts
straight and support your local dealer.
ARE CAR MANUFACTURERS to blame for maintenance
synthetic oil.This will further reinforce the once-a-year oil change
mentality. I haven’t actually done the research to confirm this,
because like many others, we have a hard time fighting against the
growing free maintenance and oil change programs that many
dealers offer now when people are buying cars. It’s hard to pass up
free, no matter how loyal you are to a shop.
To a certain extent, the manufacturers are also compounding
this problem with the synthetic oils. I have a good friend who tells
me that the oil change is a “myth.”The reason? His BMW requires
synthetic oil, and he changes the oil every 30,000 km. And yet he
can’t fathom why every time he goes to the dealer his bill is
ridiculous because everything is broken and worn out.
I have a hard time suggesting a synthetic oil change and
promoting a longer interval to a customer who already believes that
they only need to change once a year because that may encourage
them to go even longer.They aren’t regular customers at that point
anymore – they might as well be new customers.
One of the things that we try hard to promote at our shop is
regular maintenance. It’s hard to be regular and maintain when
your customer is only in once or twice a year.
Personally, I think it becomes more difficult to get someone
back in when there isn’t a need to change the oil. If I’m trying to
sell a maintenance inspection every three to five months
without the need to change the oil, some people don’t see the
value in that. The usual answer when you do reminder calls is
that everything seems to be fine. But that’s just it, they don’t
really know. The reality of an oil service is that it is a loss leader,
even with an apprentice doing it.
misinformation?
I just finished reading the article on synthetic oil in the
November 2010 issue. A good article – and I agree that synthetic
oil offers many good benefits.
However, while I agree that one part of the problem in
getting people to choose synthetic oil is due to sticker shock, I
don’t believe that’s the prime reason for the sluggish growth of
the synthetic category. While it may have been in the past, I
think the pendulum is swinging the other way – that
consumers don’t believe that synthetic is necessary. I believe
the reason for this is so-called consumer education done by
the manufacturers. Check out GM’s website on the Saturn
Vue, http://www.gm.ca/media/owners/manuals/2007_Satur
n_Vue_Manual_en_CA.pdf: Page 319 lists the recommended
oil as 5w20. Page 432 simply says that the starburst symbol is
the only requirement, then refers you back to page 319. Here’s
the kicker on, page 420: “When the Change Engine Oil light
comes on, it means that service is required for your vehicle.
Have your vehicle serviced as soon as possible within the next
600 miles (1,000 km). It is possible that, if you are driving
under the best conditions, the engine oil life system may not
indicate that vehicle service is necessary for over a year.
However, the engine oil and filter must be changed at least
once a year and at this time the system must be reset.”
This is on regular motor oil.The problem that we encounter,
every day, is simply getting customers back in more than once a
year. I can’t tell you how many people read the above to mean
“change your oil once a year.”
The same thing happens with vehicles in heavy use that use
the oil indicator light. I’ve got one customer that drives a 2009
Savana G3500 who has it max loaded and is still only having the
indicator come on after about 8,000 km (once again, using
conventional 5w30 oil.)
As an aside, my local GM dealership where I buy my GM parts
let me know that all GMs, 2011 and forward, will only take a semi-
Moe Fretz
Service Manager, Elmira Farm Service
John Deere Dealer in Ospringe, Ont.
Editor’s Note:Thanks so much for your feedback, Moe. A quick clarification: the fuel used wasn’t stale but was purchased from a high volume
Shell gas station, so something else was to blame. In any event, the big
box store in question is Lowe’s. However, once senior Lowe’s people got
wind of the situation, they handled the problem with excellent customer
service, actually replacing the mower with an upgraded John Deere
model.We can hardly wait for the snow to melt so we can try it out.
Matt LeBaron
Service Advisor, CN Auto Repair
Stoney Creek, Ont.
How to reach us
We love to hear from our readers. Please send along your opinions to
editor David Menzies at [email protected]
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
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OUT & ABOUT
Oil changes: not all vehicles are created equal
The cars technicians love – and loathe – working on when it comes to the humble oil change.
Our friends at National Oil & Lube News
have an interesting cover story in a recent
issue. Namely, the U.S.-based magazine
presents a list of the various vehicles that
shop owners are happy to see in their bays
for an oil change. And then there are
other models that, well… they’d prefer if
the owner just kept on motoring down
the highway.
Indeed, as we all know, there are some
vehicles that are an absolute delight to
work on. This is primarily due to their
simplicity and ease of access; filters that
are located in easily accessible locations;
Easy to Service:
1. GM full-sized pickup trucks
(i.e., Chevrolet Silverado/GMC
Sierra and their Tahoe/Yukon/
Suburban mechanical siblings)
2. Chrysler PT Cruiser/Dodge Neon
3. Honda Accord
4. Honda Civic
5. Chevrolet Cobalt/Saturn Ion
and drain plugs that are spotted perfectly.
Then, notes National Oil & Lube News,
there are those nightmarish vehicles that
have “drain plugs only a wizard could
find. Filters wedged into places only a
scarecrow could be smart enough to get
to. And skid plates. Acres and acres of
plastic or metal underbody shielding
designed to smooth out air flow, protect
critical components from rocks and
stumps while off-roading, and above all,
prevent easy access to drain plugs and
filters, turning a 10-minute oil change
into an hour-long affair of busted
knuckles, burned forearms, and a choice
word or three muttered under one’s
breath.”
Without further ado, when it comes
to oil change service, here are the
vehicles that comprise The Good (“Easy
to Service”), The Bad (“Difficult to
Service”), and The Ugly (“Refuse to
Service” – yes, some shop owners
actually told National Oil & Lube News
that in regard to certain makes and
models, they’ll simply turn down the job
because working on such cars is just way
too problematic.)
Difficult to Service:
Not Going to Touch It:
1. Toyota Tundra
1. Mini Cooper
2. Volkswagen New Beetle
2. Volkswagens with the 1.8L
3.Volkswagen Passat
diesel engine
4. Hummer H3
3. Porsche 911
5. Suzuki Grand Vitara
Editor’s Note: How about it, readers? Do you have a personal favourite vehicle when
it comes to the oil change service? And conversely, are there some cars out there that
just make you cringe when it comes to performing an oil change?
Dog Gone Fast!
“I’ve owned this car for over 30 years and no, it isn’t a real GSX,”
writes Daniel Belliveau of Western Corvette Services in Calgary.
“I cloned it in the early ’90s, before it was fashionable to do so.
I think now they call them recreations or tributes, but if it walks
like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it’s still
a duck. I call it my Memorex. The car has a 455 ci, TH700R4,
3.23 gears, A/C, cruise, MSD, etc. I get around 23 mpg on the
highway and it still scares the bejesus out of me so I couldn't tell
you how fast it is with the new motor nor am I willing to try. I’ll
leave that to the new owner when I sell it in Spring. As much as
I hate to part with it, it’s time to say goodbye to an old friend.
By the way, the car doesn’t come with the dog included.”
READER
RIDES
You can see more Reader Rides on our website at www.canadiantechnician.ca. And if you have a photo of a hot or unusual ride,
feel free to send it in. We’ll publish it up for all to enjoy! Send a pic of your ride to [email protected]
10
CANADIAN TECHNICIAN FEBRUARY 2011
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SUPPLIER NEWS
Aftermarket associations unveil
Recycle Your Tools initiative
Too often young people find that the
cost of tools restricts them from entering
an apprenticeship and doing what
they love to do – namely, work
on cars.
Recognizing
the
need to address that
issue, the Ontario
Automotive Recyclers
Association (OARA),
has provided initial
funding for the
Recycle Your Tools
initiative. The goal, notes
OARA, is to remove barriers from
becoming a worker or apprentice in the
motive power trades.
The program, recommended by the
Hamilton District Autobody Repair
Association
(HARA)
and
the
Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of
Ontario (AARO), will involve a charitable tax receipt that is issued for hand
tools donated by retiring techs, closing
dealerships or shops.
When fully operational, students
enrolled in Ontario Youth Apprenticeship
Program (OYAP) or Specialist High Skills
Major (SHSM) courses will catalogue,
inventory and web place the tools and
make them available at no charge or
reduced costs to students entering apprenticeship or workplace environments.
There are also plans to
provide tools to employers
to be offered as retention
bonuses, in
which
apprentices could keep
their employer-donated
tools if they stayed at a
repair facility for a
specified time frame.
This
initiative
answers an industry
need identified in the
latest CARS Council report and aims to
help increase the number of young
people and apprentices entering the
automotive repair and automotive
recycling industries.
OARA is providing the funding to
the Industry Education Council of
Hamilton through the Retire Your
Ride vehicle retirement program.
Members donate a portion of the
proceeds from each vehicle to charity
with total charitable donations
exceeding $1 million in the final two
years of that program.
For more information, contact: Diane
Freeman, executive director, AARO,
www.aaro.ca or 1-800-268-5400.
Original Parts Warehouse inks
deal with Shell
The Original Parts Warehouse (OPW),
an independent distributor of parts and
lubricants to the heavy-duty and
automotive aftermarket, has signed a
three-year agreement with Shell
Canada Products and Pennzoil-Quaker
State Canada Incorporated to distribute
Shell and Pennzoil-Quaker State
products throughout Ontario.
Uni-Select acquires
FinishMaster
Uni-Select Inc. has acquired
FinishMaster, the largest independent
distributor of automotive paints,
coatings and related accessories in the
U.S. The agreement is based on a
purchase price of approximately
US$217 million.
New Canadian sales manager
for Delphi
Delphi recently announced Sandy
Kligman has been appointed regional
sales manager, Ontario and Atlantic
Canada, Canadian aftermarket, Delphi
Product & Service Solutions (DPSS). In
this role, Kligman will be specifically
responsible for the Ontario and Atlantic
Canada markets. Kligman was previously
with Tenneco, where he served as area
sales manager for Toronto.
New lift guide available
EYE Chain Reaction
SPY
Ray at Saulnier's Auto Body in Meteghan
Centre, Digby County, N.S. sent in this interesting photo of a makeshift repair job. “This
84-year-old man showed up at my shop and
his gas tank had dropped on the ground
while driving due to rusted gas tank straps
and a rusted cross-member to hold the
straps,” writes Ray. “He got it up and tied it
like this and drove it home, then drove it
here. I guess it was cheaper than a tow.”
Have an interesting picture to share? Please send it along to EyeSpy, c/o Canadian
Technician, 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ont. M9W 5C4.
Or email your high-resolution image to the editor: [email protected]
The Automotive Lift Institute, Inc. (ALI)
has announced the availability of the
2011 edition of ALI’s “Vehicle Lifting
Points for Frame Engaging Lifts.” This
updated guide is a quick-reference
single-source manual for lifting point
information as recommended by the
vehicle manufacturers. The 60-page
Lifting Point Guide for domestic and
imported cars and light trucks uses
more than 200 undercarriage images to
cover the most recent 20 model years.
The ALI notes many companies and
franchises now incorporate its guide
and other safety materials as an
integral component of their overall
employee safety and training programs.
To order a copy, visit www.autolift.org.
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
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© 2009, Ashland Canada Corp.
*Source: Thomas Penway Research Poll of ASE Mechanics in the United States
www.v a lv o li n e . c o m
Only one person works on his car.
And only one oil works in his engine.
More ASE-certified top mechanics use Valvoline in their own cars.*
<TRWP]XRbRP]dbTP]h^X[cWThfP]cCWThRW^^bTcWT^]TfXcWP_a^eT]
aT_dcPcX^]U^a`dP[Xch_a^cTRcX^]P]SPWXbc^ah^UX]]^ePcX^]EP[e^[X]T
100 YEARS UNDER THE HOOD.
TM
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OUT & ABOUT
Motive-Action celebrates
25 years of skills training
Calgary-based Motive-Action, an
organization that teaches unemployed
youth and adults the personal and
professional skills required to succeed in
the workplace, recently celebrated its 25
anniversary at a gala event. And there
was much to celebrate.
Indeed, the not-for-profit MotiveAction is a unique organization. Cofounded in 1985 by its executive
director, Karl Herzog, Herzog and his
brother, Michael, observed that
numerous young people wanted to
work in the automotive industry but
couldn’t get or keep a job. Thus, the
Brothers Herzog decided to set up a
skills-training program as a means of
rendering assistance.
Some 25years later, Motive-Action
continues to provide auto repair, auto
body and heavy-duty mechanical training
for youths and new Canadians who face
barriers to meaningful employment. In
addition to workplace automotive skills
training, clients receive upgrading in
language and interpersonal skills.
Instructor John Johnson notes that
more than 75% of students have
graduated from Motive-Action’s 24week pre-apprenticeship program. Since
the organization’s inception, more than
1,000 students have successfully
completed this program and have gone
on to become skilled labourers in the
automotive industry.
The success rate is thanks in part to
the efforts of the Calgary Motor Vehicle
Dealers
Association
(CMVDA).
Automotive dealers have played a key role
in sustaining the program given that many
dealerships take students for the practicum
portion of their programs. Students are
often hired when they graduate and many
then enter journeymen programs with
the dealers.
At the anniversary galas, a number of
alumni spoke about the dramatic impact
Motive-Action has had on their lives,
Mercedes A and B Service Explained
You needn’t tell George Sofos, owner of Universal
Auto Techs in Richmond Hill, Ont., that it pays to
advertise. Awhile back, in order to educate his customers, George erected a sign in his shop noting that
Universal performs Mercedes Service A and Service
B for $200 and $300 respectively (about half the
price a typical Mercedes dealership charges.)
Incidentally, notes George, a Mercedes Service A is a
fancy way of saying “an oil change and a visual
inspection.” Service B, meanwhile, usually includes a
brake fluid flush or a transmission fluid flush
depending on the car’s mileage. In fact, George says
he typically charges less than his posted rate if the
client doesn’t need the air filter or cabin filter
replaced, thereby making his service even more of a
bargain. And what do Mercedes owners say when
they see Universal’s discounted rates? “They freak,”
says George, noting that almost 70% of his clientele
is now comprised of Mercedes drivers.
Motive-Action student Michelle Karambowich
applies some finishing touches to a
motorcycle.
creating opportunities for them to be
employed in a field they cherish.
More information (as well as several
Motive-Action success stories) can be
accessed at the organization’s website,
www.motiveaction.com.
IDEA
OF THE
MONTH
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
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Join the
Discussion!
Want to voice your opinion about a particular automotive issue?
Looking for a solution to an unusual problem?
Need help finding a part or an employee?
The Canadian Technician Forum provides you with the opportunity to talk with
automotive repair professionals like yourself, whether it means sharing important information
or just chatting about being a Canadian technician.
Log on to www.canadiantechnician.ca,
follow the links to the forum and
Get Connected
CTJan_Feb2011.qxp:untitled
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Page 15
FROM OUR FORUM
Recent postings on www.canadiantechnician.ca/forum.
The Problem with TPMS Sensors
A Canadian Technician Forum member asked his fellow
members if shops are breaking any kind of law if the
TPMS sensors are not installed when customers get their
winter tires put on. Here’s how the discussion unfolded.
It's that time again, it finally
snowed in Calgary and everyone got
caught unaware that this was going to
happen. It's the middle of November
and everyone seemed surprised that it
snowed. The number of phone calls by
people trying to get their tires put on is
incredible.What I’m asking is the same
question asked every year, yet no true
answer has ever been found. If your
winter wheels do not have TPMS
sensors installed, are you breaking a
safety law? Or are most people just
mounting tires on the OE rims?
Posted by ALLNUTS^nobolts
I am not sure what the true
legals are about putting on a set
without sensors and sending the
customer out the door with a TPMS
light on. What I will do here is
mount the tires on the original
wheels or install sensors on the new
wheels. I will not set a light disabling
a system and send a customer out. As
far as I know if anything happened
we
could/would
be
held
accountable, even if a customer
signed the invoice stating it was their
request to not have sensors and the
light would be on. It would be nice
to see some clear legal answers to
some of these questions posed – I
think somebody stated before that
questions like this would be a great
topic for the magazine to investigate
and document the legislation from
the different provinces.
Posted by hoff
I just checked the government
inspection manual and it is not a fail
here in BC if the system is not
operating, it is simply an advise, so ???
the debate goes on. My point of view is
if the vehicle comes with it we need to
keep the system intact. Having said that,
I think that too much babysitting by
too many safety systems is removing
the responsibility of the vehicle owner
to maintain their vehicle. When I
learned to drive, you were told that you
needed to inspect certain things on a
regular basis and the general public has
gotten away from that and now wants
BIG BROTHER to hold their hand
and tell them if there is a problem but
then are shocked when we tell them
that there is a problem with those
warning systems and it is going to cost
real money to repair.
with the HVAC or the tune box then
we will have better success selling
these services. Just my 2 cents.
Posted by cooter
Hey, Scott, my ’03 Saturn has
neither ABS or Trac control. Snows
make all the difference in the world.
The sweetie prefers not to have ABS.
Posted by cooter
I don't know much about the
safety standards up there anymore but
I do know that up until the TPMS was
federally-mandated there are no laws
that say it has to work. Once it became
a fed mandate then that makes all the
difference.
Posted by msog
Posted by canuck623
We do not disable any safety
related system on a car, or most any
other system for that matter. Some
cars will disable other systems when
the TPMS light is on or has an error. I
believe Corvettes will limit power
output and that would likely have the
driver back at your door in minutes.
What if traction control or ABS are
disabled during the winter when you
need them most, what’s the point of
winter tires then?
Had this interesting conversation with my insurance agent about
a month back. Currently, his industry
doesn't void a driver's insurance for
knowingly driving a vehicle with a
deactivated TPMS. HOWEVER
should a SHOP deactivate the system
(install wheels without the sensors or
remove the existing sensors) and the
customer has an accident from a
blowout, the shop that did the work
would be legally liable, for knowingly
deactivating a safety system on a
vehicle. Needless to say he highly
recommended against deactivating the
system. As always, C.Y.A.
Posted by scottw
Most people just don't bother
getting them fixed. And 90% won’t
buy TPMS sensors.We try to sell them,
but if you want to sell tires, one can't
push the issue. They are selling a little
better this year, but not nearly 100%.
ABS lights, MIL, airbag warnings, etc.,
are mostly a nonstarter around here...
when they get these connected up
Posted by MaritimeStorm
Join the discussion! Log on to
www.canadiantechnician.ca/forum
and see what everyone’s talking about.
If you’ve got an opinion to share,
we want to hear it.
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
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THE WAY WE WERE
Mr. Goodwrench
R .I.P.
(… sort of)
Although Mr. Goodwrench will continue
to live on in Canada, in the U.S., GM has
decided to give its iconic mechanic a pink slip.
By David Menzies
fter almost four decades,
fellow sporting thick, black-rimmed
General Motors says it is
glasses. Indeed, if anything, Mr.
sending
its
iconic
Mr.
Goodwrench seemed to resemble a high
Goodwrench brand to the junkyard in
school science teacher more than an
the U.S. However, Mr. Goodwrench
automotive mechanic.
will continue to live on in the Canadian
Then again, the original branding
marketplace – evidently, the brand still
strategy behind Mr. Goodwrench in the
holds considerable cachet in these parts.
early ’70s was to use an image that
As for south of the border, The
would engender trust. Thus, Mr.
General plans to discontinue the longGoodwrench was made to resemble a
running Goodwrench campaign this
wise and reassuring father figure – the
month. It’s all part of a
kind of guy who would
strategy in which the
never dream of hoodDetroit-based automaker
winking a customer or
plans to de-emphasis GM
taking advantage of a
as a brand while placing a
woman. And it seemed to
greater emphasis on the
work:
the
campaign
so-called “New GM” –
surrounding Mr. Goodessentially, its pared-down
wrench gained significant
roster of brands including
awareness among consumers
Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet
throughout the decades.
and GMC.
In recent years, it would
As Brandweek magazine
appear
that
Mr.
notes, dating back to 1972,
Goodwrench has been in
the original concept
the gym more than the
behind Mr. Goodwrench
shop’s bays. And he seems
was to have a single Mr. Goodwrench “Classic.”
to have invested considcharacter embody a set of
erable coin in plastic
standards that all GM dealerships would
surgery procedures, morphing from dud
adhere to in terms of providing good
to stud. The current incarnation of Mr.
service with GM certified parts.
Goodwrench – which can be found on
The tactic was born out of an adverthe www.Goodwrench.com website – is
tising tradition by conveying a product
that of a buff-looking younger man,
or service attribute via a fictionalized
holding up a clipboard that displays
character. (Other examples: Mr. Clean,
completed service on a vehicle.
Aunt Jemima, and Uncle Ben.)
However, as Brandweek adroitly notes,
Of note, the original Mr. Goodwrench
“For reasons beyond knowing, Mr.
was a bald, somewhat nerdy-looking
Goodwrench is on his knees. He also has
A
“New” Mr. Goodwrench.
shockingly clean and manicured hands,
despite his profession.”
Then again, the image makeover
might explain why Mr. Goodwrench is
out of favour in the first place. After all,
there isn’t actually a lot of greasy wrenchwork going on under the hoods of new
vehicles these days. If something does go
wrong on a modern car, it is often the
onboard computer that needs fixing.
Thus, “Goodwrench” doesn’t exactly
reflect the technical sophistication of, say,
a modern, luxury-laden Cadillac.
(Perhaps “Mr. Goodchip” would make
for a more appropriate moniker?)
In any event, at least in the U.S., GM’s
brands will advertise their own branded
certified repair work with no
connection to General Motors. In fact,
de-emphasizing GM has been an
ongoing strategy embraced by The
General for the last few years. Small GM
badges on the outside of cars, inside cars,
on safety-belt buckles and keys have all
disappeared of late. This is perhaps due
to the fact that GM is something of a
tarnished brand due to the company’s
recent bankruptcy and the subsequent
taxpayer-funded bailout.
However, here in the Great White
North, Mr. Goodwrench will live on.
And one can only ponder what image
makeover awaits in the years to
come… perhaps a fully Canadianized
version of Mr. Goodwrench, complete
with toque and a cup of doubledouble Tim Hortons?
Stay tuned.
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
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MANAGEMENT S.O.S.
IN THIS SERIES OF FICTIONAL LETTERS FROM A NEW SHOP OWNER TO HIS FORMER BOSS,
MANAGEMENT TRAINER KELLY BENNETT DISCUSSES BASIC BUSINESS PRINCIPLES THAT
APPLY TO THE AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR INDUSTRY.
Telephone
Tutorial
By Kelly Bennett
DEAR KELLY:
Something has been happening lately that I
originally thought was a good thing, but now it
seems to be working against us. Namely, we’re
incredibly busy! We’ve established ourselves as
being the best shop in the city and we used to
pride ourselves on the fact that we have the longest waiting
list in the area. However, we’ve recently noticed that some of our best
and most loyal customers who have been with us for years have
stopped dropping by. The prevailing comment these days is, “you’re
the best shop in town but we can’t wait so long to get in and get our
vehicles serviced.” I’m not sure if this is a “good problem” to have or
if this is a big negative that doesn’t bode well for us in the future.
What are your thoughts, Kelly?
-Erol
DEAR EROL:
Great timing on this topic.The dilemma
you’re facing has become a huge topic
at out shop and in our management
group meetings.
In the last group meetings, we focused
on calling all of our member’s shops and
checking on how our telephone skills
are. In fact, we called your shop during
two of our meetings. Your telephone
skills were friendly and in both instances,
you asked all the right questions and told
18
CANADIAN TECHNICIAN FEBRUARY 2011
us that it would take 3.5 weeks to get an
appointment. I know you pride yourself
in being booked three to four weeks out,
Erol, however, in reality, you’re three to
four weeks behind! You just haven’t
figured it out yet.
We called a few dozen shops. The
idea was to see how the telephone skills
were at a broad spectrum of shops.
What we learned is that the overall
telephone skills at most shops was
lacking. Indeed, sometimes the person
answering the phone had manners that
were simply horrid.
What we personally found the most
revealing was the response we
received when we asked if we could
bring our vehicle into the shop. The
responses included:
• “Bring it now.”
• “First come, first served. We open at
8 a.m. – get here before then.”
• “The earliest we can see you is three
and a half weeks.”
We discussed which response was best.
Of course, it depends on the current
situation at the shop, but we felt there
was a better way to handle the situation.
For starters, we all ruled out the “first
come, first served” response. Life is way
too busy for that. My oldest son, Scott, is a
service advisor for a local repair shop.The
shop has a strict policy of,“first come, first
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Page 19
appointments are for maintenance type
work, not diagnosis. Several of our
members track how many hours are
available for each day (number of
technicians multiplied by the number of
hours each day) and only pre-book a
percentage of that time. We agreed that
Mondays and Fridays were days that
pretty much took care of themselves.We
also know that about 50% of our clients
are “oh, by the way customers” – in
other words, they list other issues they’d
like to see addressed with their vehicles
while their vehicles are in the shop.
A good rule of thumb is to have a set
amount of reserve time so you can
accommodate customers without
appointments. The highest priority
would be our premium/VIP customer
make the appointment, arrange to get in
somewhere else earlier, and then cancel
the appointments they made with us.
Ultimately, our favourite response was,
“bring it in right away (i.e., late today or
tomorrow).” Of course we need to be in
a position to get customers some answers,
even if those answers are preliminary.
We also determined that pre-booking
several appointments well in advance
gave us increased freedom and flexibility.
For the most part, the pre-booked
and other customers or new customers
who have “current concerns” with their
vehicles.
Most of our members find that 2025% reserve time for Tuesday through
Thursday and 30-40% for Mondays and
Fridays makes sense. Of course, the bulk
of that reserve time should be set aside for
your technicians with diagnostic abilities.
This allows you to devote extra time for
customers with breakdowns or more
serious issues. This sort of time
Larry Dickison
served.”You can’t get an appointment no
matter what. The best response you can
hope for is, “Get here as early as you can
and if there’s nobody here before you,
we’ll see what we can do.”
We don’t have an issue with the
“bring it in right away” response if in
fact we could actually get the vehicle
inspected or start diagnosis that day or
the next. Customers don’t appreciate
bringing their vehicle to us if we cannot
get to it for a few days or longer.
However, the “we can’t get you in for
two to three weeks” response was the
most frustrating answer.The shops in our
groups that were doing this found that
many customers would simply try other
shops. Plus the cancelation rate was
higher – would-be customers would
management increases our chances of
getting the vehicle diagnosed on the day
or day after they call. And a huge
advantage of embracing this system: prebooking numerous appointments did free
up more time for their diagnosticians.
We’ve always pointed out dentists
pre-book appointments. However, a
wise shop owner pointed out that it’s
actually the hygienists that pre-book.
Dentists are the ones that take care
of the diagnosis and repair. An
appointment with a dentist is
generally not booked well in
advance, and it tends to be the most
expensive visit. These visits are also
more likely to be from the folks who
skip the hygiene appointments (they
are the “fix it as it breaks” patients.)
The bottom line: pent up repairs are
more expensive (not to mention
more painful!)
The true test of how you’re doing in
this area is this: How many hours are
typically billed out each day? If you’re
billing out nine to 12 hours a day per
each eight hours per technician
(without encountering massive amounts
of stress) then your system is working.
For the most part, the “first come, first
served” shops typically billed out the
least amount of hours per technician per
day. It is impossible to know how each
day will unfold, and the type of work
tends to be of the grunt variety. We all
know this isn’t a perfect science;
however, it’s something to aim for.
Speaking of dental appointments, I
have one this afternoon with my
dentist to have new braces fitted.Yeah, I
know: I’m kind of old for braces, eh?
But then again, at least I’m too young
for false teeth!
As always, Erol, I’m only an email
away.
Kelly
Kelly Bennett is a
certified management
trainer and has been coaching
automotive repair shop
owners since 1990.
You can reach him at
[email protected]
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
19
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THE CUSTOMER
Your Most Important Commodity
T
It’s true: the customer is king.
But if you don’t treat customers like royalty, they’ll go elsewhere.
Consider these tips for keeping your clients happy.
By Mohammad (Shah) Shahzad S.A.E., D.M.P.
he customer entering your shop
is a peculiar guest. He’s full of
whims and fancies. He might be
harbouring numerous worries and fears
about his car (and for good reason: he’s
painfully ignorant of his car’s innards.)
Still, when it comes to your shop, the
customer is the bedrock of your business.
Granted, contrary to popular belief, the
customer is not always right. (But for
goodness sake, don’t argue this point
with him.) Put another way, you’d dearly
miss him if he didn’t drop by. After all, at
the end of the day, he’s the one signing
your paycheque.
Automotive service shops are
especially prone to harsh criticism from
their customers. The reason is apparent
when we examine what it is we sell:
service. Service is intangible.You can’t see
it.You can’t shove it in the glove box. It’s
something sold on the basis of trust alone.
A perfect example: selling brake pads
over the parts counter and servicing
brake pads in the shop. If a customer
isn’t satisfied with the pads, the parts
advisor can take the pads back. But
service performed on brake pads cannot
be returned; labour cannot be retrieved.
20
CANADIAN TECHNICIAN FEBRUARY 2011
The customer, lacking a true understanding of his car, realizes he’s at an
inherent disadvantage. And because of
his lack of insight, he’s understandably
suspicious. For example, you can tell him
you’ve tuned his engine. The problem is
you really can’t prove it; the customer
has to take you at your word. Therefore,
your main task as a service tech/advisor
is to satisfy the customer with the
integrity of your service shop.You want
him to feel confident that you know:
1. What’s wrong with his car;
2. What’s needed to correct the
problems;
3. How much the repairs will cost;
4. When the car will be ready.
Likewise, you want him to feel that
you’ve completed the repairs as promised.
When you’ve accomplished this task,
selling other services won’t
be as difficult.
Notice my emphasis on the word,
“feel.” The customer has no way of
knowing that you will (or are able to) fix
his car as promised. But if you’ve given
him the impression that you’re trustworthy, he likely won’t have any doubts.
In this regard, the customer formulates
his opinion of the shop through you.
Your understanding, your problem
resolution skills, the courtesy you display
and the confident tone of your voice…
these attributes go a long way toward
satisfying a customer. You want him to
have the feeling that your shop is a place
to do business and that he’ll
come back without secondguessing his decision.
CTJan_Feb2011.qxp:untitled
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LOOKING GOOD
The appearance of a business speaks
volumes, so sell yourself to customers by
maintaining a professional image. A tidy,
well-organized shop and a clean, welldressed service tech/advisor is your best
calling card. A clean shop conveys
professionalism; a dirty, disorganized
shop conveys desperation.
Likewise, a clean tech/advisor is an
ambassador for a careful shop; a dirty tech/
advisor suggests the shop cuts corners.
Indeed, many customers have been
known to hesitate when it comes to
leaving their cars at a shop that has a
stellar reputation for superb work
simply based on the shop’s appearance.
POSITIVE ATTITUDE
If the customer’s first impression is
formed by your appearance, it is either
destroyed or strengthened by your
attitude and manners.
All too frequently, a customer drives
into a shop to find no one is present to
greet him. He may sit in his car or he may
step out. But he waits! And as he waits, his
impatience mounts. When there’s
nothing to do, minutes tick by like hours.
When a tech/advisor finally comes
around, that customer isn’t in a good
frame of mind to discuss his car problems.
It’s even more irritating to a customer if
he’s brushed aside by a tech/advisor who
fails to acknowledge his presence. Or to
be met with the non-greeting, “I’m busy
now, back in a minute.”
If a condition exists in which a
customer cannot be dealt with immediately, he should at least be acknowledged – i.e., “I’ll be with you in just a
minute.” And say it with a smile. Polite
acknowledgement will completely
satisfy the customer – provided, that
is, you fulfill your promises. After
all, the biggest marketing sin is to
promise that which you cannot
deliver.
And the little things count. So,
offer a waiting customer a coffee
and some reading material
(preferably, periodicals that
weren’t published in the last
millennium.) By recognizing
him and providing a few
creature comforts, you’ve
indicated that you’re aware of his
presence and that you intend to
Page 21
help him. Note that studies indicate
about 70% of customers who “quit” a
business do so because of an attitude of
indifference by the company or a specific
individual.
Indeed, the greeting of the customer
is the most important sale of the day.
That greeting will determine whether
the customer feels that he was justified
in bringing his car to your shop in the
first place. If properly handled, the
Application Specific Sourcing
customer will feel both satisfied and
thankful. A friendly, positive attitude
inspires confidence – and confidence
sells bigger repair orders.
Finally, respect and treat your
customers as you’d like to be respected
and treated. In the final analysis, it’s
satisfied customers who collectively sign
your paycheque. Treat your customers
like royalty – even the difficult ones –
and you’ll retain them for life.
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FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
21
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Page 22
APPRENTICESHIP
Angst
The apprenticeship system
isn’t firing on all
cylinders these days.
Here’s how to fix
the problem.
By Rick Cogbill
E
ver get the feeling
something’s not quite right?
Bring up the subject of
automotive apprenticeships
and the lunchroom quickly
becomes a hotbed of heated opinion.
And the gripes come from all sides of the
workbench – apprentice, journeyman,
and shop owner alike.
In medieval Europe, an apprenticeship
started early. Young boys (and sometimes
girls) were sent off as young as 10 years
old to live with a master craftsman and his
family, where they’d spend the next seven
years learning a trade in exchange for
room and board. At the end of their
tenure, they were considered to be a
22
CANADIAN TECHNICIAN FEBRUARY 2011
journeyman (from the French word
journée, meaning someone who was paid
for providing a day’s work.)
The definition of apprenticeship is “a
system of training a new generation of
practitioners of a skill.” Yet, how are we
doing in Canada when it comes to
raising a new generation of skilled
automotive technicians savvy enough to
handle anything Detroit (or Japan or
Germany) throws at them?
“A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.” Whatever else
Confucius meant by these words, they
especially ring true when it comes to
learning a trade. Potential technicians
aren’t born ready to troubleshoot
drivability issues anymore than potential
doctors are born able to perform open
heart surgery (although as one
technician put it, doctors have it easy.
“Sure they have a lot to learn, but at
least God doesn’t keep moving the parts
around with each new model year.”)
We know apprentices have a tough
haul ahead of them; there’s lots to learn
and relatively little time to absorb it all.
Time is money in the shop
environment, and the pressure of
getting a job done and out the door is
rough when you aren’t sure what comes
next in the repair procedure.Those of us
with years of experience sometimes
forget we’ve “been there/done that”
CTJan_Feb2011.qxp:untitled
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10:12 AM
hundreds of times over. And it’s easy to
expect the apprentice with only a few
years of experience to “get it” in the
same manner we do.
Yet, instead of throwing a fit when
something seems to be taking too long,
we’d be better off walking the
apprentice properly through the
procedure in hopes that their times
will improve.
But what if it’s not working out?
What if you’ve already done the walkthrough a dozen times and young Harry
still doesn’t get it? Sometimes an
individual isn’t a good fit for the trade.
Sometimes we must break the news that
things just aren’t working out.
And yes, I speak from experience.
When I first opened my own shop, I
hired a young apprentice. He was everything an employer could ask for: honest,
loyal, and good with the customers.
But it didn’t take long before we
discovered that he had some learning
disabilities. Some things just didn’t make
sense to him, no matter how many times
we’d explain it. Eventually, it became
obvious that it was only going to get
worse for him as he got into more
technical areas. And although I hated to
do so, I finally advised him to seek out
another trade. (He started a gardening
business and became amazingly
successful almost overnight.)
But termination should be the
exception, not something you do just
because someone’s having a bad day.
THE SHOP’S PART
There are some attitudes and misconceptions that are damaging the apprenticeship system, and ultimately the
aftermarket auto repair industry as a
whole. For one thing, apprentices
should never be looked upon solely as
cheap labour.Yes, it makes sense to start
them off on oil changes and muffler
jobs. But there must come a time when
the employer purposefully moves the
apprentice on to more difficult and
challenging jobs. Survey any 3rd or 4th
year class in your local trade school and
you’ll find an unsettling number of
students still stuck on the lube rack
when they should be diving into
Page 23
drivability problems. The reason is
usually related to money – the shop has
no program in place to compensate the
journeyman technician for training the
apprentice, so it just doesn’t get done.
What makes the situation worse is
the flat rate system that most shops
embrace. Aside from its other evils, flat
rate provides no incentive to the
journeyman who even takes time out to
Donald Trump knows how to get results
from apprentices.
train a new person in the trade.
“I honestly think that the flat rate
system makes crooks out of otherwise
honest people,” says Todd Green, an
automotive instructor and former
technician from Calgary.
The harsh reality is it’s hard to give
away part of your paycheck.
“If a journeyman is assisting an
apprentice, some of the units for that
particular job should be credited to said
journeyman,” notes Garth Doupe, a
technician from Vegreville, Alta.
To their credit, some guys still do
help despite the hit to their timecards.
But it’s not fair to place the financial
burden on their shoulders. Shop
management needs to find a pay system
that works for everyone.
THE APPRENTICES’ PART
Shop owners have mixed opinions on
the subject of apprentices. Some say they
don’t like the attitude they’re seeing
nowadays, that first-year guys are walking
in the door demanding big money, all
kinds of benefits, and a flexible time
schedule that suits their own needs.
Some of this is partly due to a misunderstanding about some of the training
programs being offered. In Alberta, for
example, aside from the standard apprenticeship program, there’s also a course
called Automotive Service Technology, a
two-year program of straight schooling
that is often taken before the future
apprentice has even seen the inside of a
local shop. The graduate receives the
equivalent of 16 weeks of shop credit
and has to find a shop in which to finish
his time. The problem is that after being
in school for two straight years (and
carrying a debt load), the student feels
he’s ready to jump into the fray and make
big money fixing cars. But the reality is
he isn’t ready.
“I know that certainly with the…
two-year students, it’s pretty much black
and white for a lot of people,” says
automotive instructor Todd Green.
“They [either] like our automotive
technology students or they won’t have
anything to do with them. It’s very
polarized that way.”
Green says students need to realize
that shop time is just as important as
classroom time. “They still have to pay
their dues,” he says.
One way apprentices themselves can
raise the bar is by actually learning their
trade well, going beyond what’s offered
in the classroom. It’s been observed by
those in the industry that many new
young techs really don’t understand
basic systems, but rely instead on finding
quick fixes on forums or help lines.
Of note, Green says due to the
anemic economy, his students are more
dedicated to the business and are taking
their studies more seriously.
“I think we’re seeing a different
student now,” he says.
“I teach my students to think for
themselves,” notes Kevin Bell, a former
technician and professor in Ontario. “If
they’re armed with the basic physics of
automotive technology, and they know
how to apply it to a problem, then
they’re on their way to becoming a
skilled technician.”
Another issue that has plagued the
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
23
CTJan_Feb2011.qxp:untitled
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10:12 AM
Page 24
Order or renew your annual subscription to
Canadian Car Owner
Educate and build customer loyalty with a
fresh magazine for them to read and enjoy
For just 30¢ a copy you can give Canadian Car Owner to each
one of your customers.
■ Canadian Car Owner will educate your customers about the importance of regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance.
■ Your customers will learn that bringing their car back to your shop
before something goes wrong will result in a
smoother running, longer lasting vehicle.
Hand out or attach a copy of Canadian Car Owner
to every invoice. Your customers will thank you for
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Fax: (
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Email
Please invoice me $300.00 + tax for an annual subscription of Canadian Car Owner. I understand I will receive 1,000 copies of
Canadian Car Owner (250 per quarter) which will be mailed directly to my shop at no additional cost to me.
Need more copies? Please send me ___________ (@ 30¢ per copy) of Canadian Car Owner in four equal shipments.
I have enclosed my cheque for $___________ including tax
Signature:
To order by credit card call 416-614-2200
®
ACCEPTED
CTJan_Feb2011.qxp:untitled
1/24/11
10:12 AM
industry for years is the “grass is greener
on the other side” syndrome. Once the
apprentice gets his or her Red Seal
endorsement, they’ll often quit and go
looking for a better paying job at
another shop. But after they make the
move, reality sets in; it’s still a shop;
there’s still the same political issues.
Sometimes learning to appreciate the
place that trained and invested in you is
the best move you can make.
THE GOVERNMENT’S PART
There are provincial and federal
programs available in most provinces to
help shop owners and apprentices move
ahead – i.e., cash bonuses and grants for
third- and fourth-year apprentices who
finish their respective studies. There’s
also some tool incentives and tax
rebates. There are programs providing
scholarships for high school students
who do well in automotive classes and
who carry on into apprenticeship
programs after graduation.
For shop owners, many provinces offer
tax incentives to help cover the cost of
hiring an apprentice. However, we can’t
rely on the government to make our trade
strong; this has to come from within.
THE INDUSTRY’S PART
It might be time for the automotive
industry to reinvent itself.With all the new
technology coming down from the
vehicle manufacturers, some are
wondering where the automotive trade is
heading. Can one person really learn it all?
Says Chuck Armstrong, a shop owner
in St. Mary’s, Ont.:“Maybe we should not
even think of this as a ‘trade’ any more. I
think we may be moving way past this
being a trade, it is more like a profession.”
Armstrong sees a time when
automotive repair and maintenance
“will evolve into different specialties
like transmission systems, computers,
cooling systems.”
Instructor Green concurs. “My
thought is that you would have this
graduated system where you’d have
your first year guys, they’d do steering,
brakes, and suspension. They’d be
specialists [in those areas.] Your next
level would be, as it’s set up now,
engines, differentials, and some
electrical. And as you went through, you
could stop where you wanted to.”
Page 25
In Green’s vision, there will be some
who take on the entire training and
become journeymen technicians –
perhaps similar to a general practitioner
in the medical field. Others would find
an area that really appeals to them and
become a specialist.
THE FIX
So where do we go from here? The
issues are complex, but the bottom line
is that those running the repair shops
need new blood to replace those who
are retiring. As well, apprentices need
quality tradespeople to help them learn
this complicated trade, and at the end of
it all, our customers, our neighbours,
and family members who depend on
their vehicles to get them where they
need to go need us to make this work.
Apprentices need to improve their
image. Employers are looking for a good
work ethic, a sense of loyalty to the ones
who are investing time and money into
them, and for those who take pride in
their work and strive to be the best they
can be.
Journeyman technicians need to
remember that somebody took the time
to build into their own lives and careers,
and it’s time to give something back.
Shop owners and managers should
consider apprentices as long-term
investments and provide the best
training opportunities possible in their
given situation. More consideration
should be given to benefits and working
conditions – in essence, building good
relationships with staff members –
because poor working conditions, not
necessarily money, is the most common
reason people give for changing jobs.
Indeed, a shop in Cochrane,Alta., has a
unique way of inspiring its apprentices to
achieve their full potential.When it’s time
to go to trade school, the apprentice pays
his own tuition fees upfront (around
$900), but when he returns to the shop,
he is reimbursed by his employer
according to his final marks. If he does
90% on the final test, then hell get 90% of
his fees back from the boss.
In the final analysis, solutions are out
there. It’s time to move past the
complaining stage and find a system that
works best for everyone. After all, what’s
at stake here is the future and integrity
of our trade.
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FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
25
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10:13 AM
Page 26
GUEST COLUMN
Why regulated standards are needed
for end-of-life vehicles
By Usman Valiante
A
pproximatley1.5 million passenger vehicles either reach the
end of their useful lives or are
damaged in accidents beyond repair
(and subsequently “retired”) each year
in Canada.
Even so, these end-of-life vehicles
(ELV) have considerable economic
value. In particular, the metal
associated with vehicle construction
ensures that most ELVs are eventually
recycled as scrap metal. While there
are no comprehensive sources of data
related to the percentage of automobiles in Canada that are recovered and
processed, all indications are that more
than 90% of ELVs are processed to
various degrees.
While the base metal recycling rate
for automobiles is relatively high, not
all automobiles are processed properly
before being recycled for the metal
content. Vehicles are generally
compressed and shredded before they
are shipped to bulk metal recyclers –
often without the substances of
concern being removed beforehand.
This practice is prevalent because for
certain types of ELV processors, it’s
more profitable to avoid the additional
cost of removing harmful substances. In
these cases fluids are often absorbed into
vehicle shredder residue while other
toxic substances – including mercury,
lead and ozone-depleting gasses – are
released into the environment.
A number of automotive recyclers
that are primarily in the ELV processing
sector focus on vehicle dismantling and
“de-pollution” services. Many of these
ELV processors are members of the
Automotive Recyclers of Canada
(ARC). ARC members provide ELV
management
to
the
federal
government’s Retire Your Ride vehicle
scrappage incentive program, which
requires adherence to the National
Code of Practice for Automotive
26
CANADIAN TECHNICIAN FEBRUARY 2011
Recyclers Participating in the National
Vehicle Scrappage Program.
The National Code is implemented
in Ontario as the Certified Auto
Recycler (O-CAR) program. In
Ontario, every vehicle recycled by a
member of the Ontario Automotive
Recyclers Association
(OARA
is
the
provincial affiliate of
ARC) goes through a
methodical process to
maximize reclamation
of
environmentallysensitive materials in
order to minimize the
environmental impact.
Batteries – as well as
substances of concern
such
as
mercury
switches, motor oils,
windshield washer fluid,
coolants, brake fluids, gasoline, and
refrigerants – are all removed and
properly managed prior to forwarding
or processing the remaining vehicular
hulk for metal recycling.
While recycling ELV materials such
as aluminum and steel contributes to
lower greenhouse gas emissions and
pollution (in comparison to making
such metals from virgin materials),
reuse of vehicle parts generates significant
additional
environmental
benefits through reduced pollution
and material requirements associated
with the manufacture of new parts.
Reusing parts also has economic
benefits in terms of providing vehicle
owners with a cost-effective source of
replacement parts. Reuse of parts also
providers the aftermarket repair and
custom sector with a similar source of
parts while lowering insurance claim
costs as body shops and repair shops
are able to access refurbished parts
recovered from ELV vehicles.
Recognizing that Retire Your Ride
is set to expire in March, OARA has
been working with the Ontario
government to transform O-CAR
from a voluntary processing standard
to a regulated environmental standard.
If implemented, the standard will be
administered by an oversight body
that will ensure ELV
processors
operate
consistently to that
standard. Concurrently,
OARA is collaborating
with
environmental
groups and a number of
leading auto manufacturers that have recognized the need to
ensure
ELVs
are
properly processed at
the end of their
operating lives.
With about three of
every four cars in Canada not being
managed to any environmental
standard whatsoever, the opportunity
to go green and grow the ELV
processing and refurbished auto-parts
sector of the Canadian automotive
industry is enormous.
The goals of regulating ELV
processing are ambitious but readily
achievable: maximize reuse and
recycling, minimize waste and
pollution, drive
growth
and
investment in the ELV processing
sector, do not increase costs to
purchasers of new vehicles while
providing lower cost replacement
parts to insurers, vehicle owners and
customers
of
the
Canadian
automotive
aftermarket
repair
industry.
Usman Valiante is a principal of
Corporate Policy Group which
specializes in business and government policies and programs
for the environment.
CTJan_Feb2011.qxp:untitled
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10:13 AM
Page 27
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The light is
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FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
27
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10:13 AM
Page 28
WIN
ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A GOODYEAR PRIZE PACK.
Send your solved puzzle to Canadian Technician.
We’ll draw a winner on April 30, 2011.
Send to 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ont. M9W 5C4. Or fax to 416-614-8861
Name:
Workplace:
Work address:
Phone:
Email:
AUTO PUZZLE FEBRUARY 2011
1
2
3
4
5
6
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, residents of
Canada who have reached the age of majority
according to the law of the province in which they
reside, should complete official entry form and
post it to Canadian Technician Magazine, 451
Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ont., M9W 5C4. Or fax it
416-614-8861. Canadian Technician is the
Sponsor of the sweepstakes. Chances of winning
depend on total number of eligible entries
received. For this month’s drawing, entries must
be received no later than 8:00 pm EST on April
30, 2011. One entry per person per month.
Prize valued at approximately $100. Void where
prohibited. Subject to full, official rules and regulations. For full, official rules and regulations visit.
www.canadiantechnician.com
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Responsible choices
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Goodyear Engineered Products are manufactured and sourced
exclusively by Veyance Technologies, Inc. or its affiliates.
The Gatorback trademark is licensed to Veyance
Technologies, Inc. by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
©2010 Veyance Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
28
CANADIAN TECHNICIAN FEBRUARY 2011
Congratulations
23
to Dennis Fischer of
Neville Motors in
Petawawa, Ont. for solving
our October 2010 puzzle.
25
27
Across
1. Full-size '09 Chevy SUV
5. VW model for Tiger Woods
9. Big name in aftermarket shifters
10. '04-'07 Buick SUV
11. '09 Nissan SUV
12. Roadside guides
14. Colour of Duke boys' General Lee
16. Old-car sound, sometimes
19. Term for '02-'05 Thunderbird styling
21. Defunct UK motorcycle maker
24. '09 Dodge SUV
25. Outlaw motorcyclist
26. Auto-related urban-air issue
27. Flat-tire description
Down
1. Single-overhead-camshaft code (1,1,1,1)
2. '88-'96 Chevrolet two-door coupe
3. Palindromic disc-brake component
4. Item in steering-wheel hub
6. Circular-rubber sealing device (1,4)
7. '09 Subaru compact SUV
8. Late-'70s Ford subcompact import
13. Reckless drives in stolen wheels
15. Negative battery cable
17. Just-in-case items in trunk (4,3)
18. '80s Renault/AMC model, once again
20. Power-boosting engine adjunct
22. '70 AMC model with "The Machine" variant
23. Canine rider in "Smokey and the Bandit" big rig
OCTOBER 2010 AUTO PUZZLE
1
D
R
A
8
N
C
A
F
C
E
I
10
2
U
A
T
T
12
R
P
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C
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S
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K
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15
O
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18
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7
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QUESTION OF THE MONTH
What made your best
apprentice so good?
S
CTJan_Feb2011.qxp:untitled
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10:41 AM
Page 29
continued from page 30
ADVERTISER INDEX
Beanie barely heard him as he snuck a quick look at his hair in the
tiny mirror stuck to his toolbox lid.
“Uh… yeah, so…?”
Tooner glared at him.
“Pay attention, pretty boy. So, I’d be takin’ a look at them cats. For
example, what kind of readings have ya got on the O2 sensors?”
Beanie hadn’t checked the O2 sensors yet, so after carefully cleaning
the MAF sensor for good measure, he reinstalled it, cleared the codes,
and test-drove the truck. And yet, all the same trouble codes returned.
With the truck warm and running, he checked out the waveforms
on both the upstream and downstream oxygen sensors.
“Hey, Tooner – everything looks great here. Both sensors are
toggling nicely. In fact, they’re almost mirror copies of each other.”
“Yeah, you like you’re mirrors, don’t you?”
Tooner came over for a look.
“Only problem is that’s not what they’re supposed to be doin’.The
front O2 should be switchin’ all over the place, while the rear one
should be steady.That would mean the catcon is doin’ its job.”
He waved his hand at the scan tool.
“What I see here is a cold cat that’s dead in the water. Probably
plugged up and throwin’ off your MAF sensor.”
Properly chastened, Beanie got down to business and did a
backpressure check on the exhaust system. Sure enough, the converters
were partially plugged. Basil came by for his usual commentary.
“Seems to me I remember this truck from last year. Didn’t it come
in with an intake leak? If so, then it probably ran too rich for awhile
and sabotaged the converters. Actually, it’s very common for these
trucks to have this problem.”
“So, should I order up some new parts for the exhaust?” Beanie
sighed.
“Better check with the dealer first,” I said. “Catalytic converters
have a very long warranty period.”
Later, I found Beanie back in the lunchroom, once again staring at
the mirror over the sink.
“Sheesh, Bean. Are you playing with your hair again?”
He didn’t answer right away.Then he shook himself and sighed.
“Slim,” he said, “I used to think that what you saw in the mirror
was how things were. Like, when the two O2 sensors were copying
each other, I took that to mean everything was normal.”
Beanie held up a glob of his sticky hair.
“I’ve been looking in the mirror and thinking this looks cool.
Now I’m not so sure.”
He turned to me.
“What do you think – do I look normal to you?”
Now what do you say to that?
Rick Cogbill is a licensed technician and
former shop owner in Summerland, B.C. Special
thanks to Instructor Todd Green and the Third
Year Apprenticeship Class at the Southern
Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary,
Alberta for this months technical mystery.
To read more about Slim and the gang, order your copy of Rick’s
book, , A Fine Day for a Drive at www.thecarside.com.
Bars Products –Rislone ...27
www.rislone.ca
Beck/Arnley....................21
www.beckarnley.com
1-888-464-2325
Blue Streak-Hygrade .........3
www.bluestreak.ca
Goodyear........................28
www.goodyearep.com
888-275-4397
National Defence ............31
www.forces.ca
1-800-856-8488
Shell ..............................16
www.shell.ca
Snap-On Tools of Canada...2
www.snapon.com
1-800-734-2676
Valvoline.....................4, 12
www.valvoline.com
1-800-TEAM-VAL
Wrenchmasters
WORLDPAC
Wrenchmasters...............25
403-340-9500
WorldPac....................6, 32
www.worldpac.ca
800-463-8749
FEBRUARY 2011 CANADIAN TECHNICIAN
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The
Car Side
By Rick Cogbill
Reflections of One Cool Cat
Mirror, Mirror on the truck, can Beanie fix the sensor… or is he outta luck?
Vanity, vanity; all is vanity. Truer words were never spoken,
especially if The Preacher had been thinking about Beanie
Madison when he penned them 2,300 years ago in the book
of Ecclesiastes.
“Hey Bean, quit staring at that mirror – you’re gonna break
it an’ bring us all bad luck!”
“Very funny,Tooner.”
Our young – and very vain – apprentice pulled out a wellgreased comb and ran it through his thick locks one more time.
“Hmm, I think I need a little more mousse.”
“More?” I shook my head in disgust. “You’ve got more
grease up there than a Dana 60 front axle.”
“It keeps my hair in place,” said Beanie defensively. “You’re
just jealous because you don’t have a hairdo like mine.”
Tooner snorted. “Hairdo? Slim just wishes he had more hair
– period.” He swallowed some lukewarm shop coffee with a
grimace. “Kid, I ain’t see a ‘do like that since Elvis was a
teenager.”
“Well, Sam likes it,” retorted Beanie. “And that’s all that
matters.”
Basil looked up from his newspaper and raised both eyebrows.
“She actually told you that?”
Beanie’s cheeks turned red.
“Not is so many words… but at least she doesn’t laugh at
me like you guys do.”
Basil chuckled.
“Now there’s a girlfriend with restraint.”
I don’t know what brought it on, but lately Beanie’s been
more concerned with having every hair in place than about
honing his diagnostic skills – which was why I assigned him to
30
CANADIAN TECHNICIAN FEBRUARY 2011
his latest job. The 2003 Chevrolet Silverado parked in his bay
had a couple of trouble codes: P0101 for issues with the Mass
Air Flow sensor, and P0420 for catalytic converter efficiency. It
was time he learned that customers don’t pay us to look good,
but to think smart. Fashion models we’re not.
After coffee break, Beanie was back under the hood of the
Chevy, removing the Mass Air Flow meter for inspection and
cleaning. Once removed, he set it on his workbench and
reached for the choke cleaner and a stiff toothbrush.
“Hey, hold up there, Sunshine,” growled Tooner. “Don’t be
in such a hurry with that brush.You’re gonna break the sensor
wires if you’re not careful. A good blast of that choke cleaner
should be plenty.”
He thought for a moment.
“How come you’re startin’ at this end anyway?”
Beanie frowned.
“Well, that P0101 code is a performance-related code for
the MAF, right? I just figured it must be dirty.”
Tooner pulled a long face.
“Yeah, but you also got that cat code. Never seen a cat code
yet that weren’t a bad cat.”
Beanie swallowed hard.
“So where should I start?”
“Lemme think.”
Tooner removed his greasy cap and scratched his balding pate.
“If I remember rightly, the computer calculates the flow of
air through the MAF based on a number of things. And if you
got a restriction in the inlet or the outlet, or got a vacuum leak,
then it’ll throw the calculations off and set you’re MAF code.”
continued on page 29
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“I got to choose from several career options
when I joined. I’ve always loved working
with new technology so this job was a
natural fit. Here, there’s always something
new on the horizon.”
Leading Seaman PATTY LEE
«Quand je me suis enrôlée, j’ai eu à choisir
parmi plusieurs possibilités de carrière.
Comme j’ai toujours aimé travailler avec les
nouvelles technologies, la décision s’est
prise naturellement. Dans mon métier, il y a
toujours quelque chose de neuf à découvrir. »
Matelot de 1re classe PATTY LEE
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