Mechanics Need Not Apply

It shouldn’t be that hard to find a mechanic, why
everybody is a mechanic, don’t ya know. So, if there are
so many mechanics out there how come finding a good
one is such a challenge? Could it be that these so called
mechanics have been lying to us all this time?  I find it very
disconcerting that after 3 decades in the repair business
I haven’t ran into as many mechanics as they say are out
there.  There are shops and various companies out there
that hire people to fill these positions who they believe
they are mechanics.  But, they turn out to be your typical
person with a mechanical aptitude, but very little in the
way of training in the field.  However, they can bluff
their way through most common problems.

Sometime ago, a guy came in with a car that was extremely hard to start, especially after the engine was warmed up.  He took it to one shop who changed a part or two, but that didn’t fix his problem. Then he took it to another shop that stumbled around with it for a month.  A month mind you!  Their answer to the problem was that it must be a fuel pump.  How did they determine that?  Well, like any typical backyard mechanic would diagnose it.  They sprayed some fuel into the intake.  So, naturally it must be a fuel pump that’s gone bad.  No, they didn’t check to see if it had any fuel pressure; no, they didn’t bother to scan it; no, they didn’t check to see if it had any injector pulse or not… no, they didn’t do anything that would resemble a reasonable attempt at diagnosing it.

Needless to say, it was still extremely hard to start.  After a month of guesses the car owner’s patience’s was wearing thin.  Now the car was at my door. A faulty cam sensor and an overheated crank sensor was the culprit this time around.  All it took was a look on a scanner to see the various input and output controls that the computer was monitoring.  From there, check the leads for any damage, and scope the sensors (under the conditions of the failure).  Easy enough…didn’t take me a month though. With a little background in how each of these sensors played a part in the engine's operation you could have deduced what the problem was in less than a month… seriously people.  And, to this day, that shop is still in business, and has the gall to call themselves a mechanic shop.

There are a lot of parts chasers out there who shouldn’t even own a tool box as far as I’m concerned.  Am I ticked off?  You bet!  Granted, these Neanderthals with wrenches keep my shop full, but at what cost to the consumer? This is my point.  If you’re going to be in the business of repairing today’s cars, then by all means… fix them, or pass on the job (at a reasonable time level), and suggest to the customer the appropriate shop that can perform the work. 

It’s not just the mechanics either; it’s the shops and companies that allow such things.  Oh sure, if you talked to the higher ups in some of these large national franchised corporations they’ll tell you they have the best mechanics in the business.  Honestly, I doubt any one of those executives have a clue as to what’s really going on.  And, I seriously doubt any of those execs are driving around a late model car that has seen way too many miles and is barely keeping all four tires on the ground that they get serviced at one of their shops. I wonder if they’ve ever spent any time in the service bays to actually see what’s going on, or not.

Even though, most general repairs can be accomplished by anyone who calls themselves a mechanic, it’s the evaluation and diagnostic work that seems to be lacking.  But, people who are looking for bargains will still cater to the shops that don’t charge a diagnostic fee or has the cheapest rates in town.  Not to get a second rate repair on their car mind you, oh no, they are looking for the same kind of results that they would expect at a much more qualified (expensive) shop.  They are strictly after the cost savings and not poor workmanship.  They usually won’t see the difference in their decision until after they’ve picked their car up. 

Today’s cars are not the kind of thing to be left to some guy who has nothing more than a hammer and a screwdriver to test the car. But, for some reason, people will still go to that type of shop thinking they are going to get top notch service.  I see this every day, and every day I’m still shocked that these shops are still in business. 

So where are all these mechanics?  I still haven’t found them.  Most good mechanics know who the good mechanics are in their area.  Good shops and good mechanics don’t need to look for work. Those cars that need their expertise will find them eventually. Usually after the owner has ran the circuit of poor diagnostic results at those other shops. The problem is by the time some of these cars finally make it to the right mechanic their bank account is tapped out, and this usually ends with the same old scenario at the service counter.

You might say, “Well, I go to the dealership because those guys are the best trained guys out there.”  Not necessarily, most of your top notch independent shops have as much time in a classroom or in a book as most dealer mechanics do, if not more.  In fact, most independent shops have an exceptionally wider array of knowledge.  Different types of tools such as scopes, various scanners, and independent training companies that aren’t offered through the dealerships are sought after by top-notch independent mechanics.

This whole thing just irks me to no end.  If there are so many people out there who call themselves mechanics, then why is it so hard to find a good one?  I guess the next time I decide to hire some help I’m going to hang a sign out front that says, “Help Wanted - Mechanics need not apply – Unless you really are one.” 

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