The mere idea of an intermittent problem that can’t be reproduced is a
diagnostic situation that comes up way too often for mechanics. Another
is the car that comes in that has had absolutely no preventative
maintenance performed, and we all know how that’s going to end up.
After decades of being behind the service counter, as well as under
the hood, I do get a bit frustrated that people won’t do any preventive
maintenance, or neglect to tell me about an intermittent problem
they’ve had forever, because they feel it has obviously nothing to
do with the reason they’re here today.
I can only do so much, and without some prior history of any symptoms
or what work that has been done, it makes it rather difficult to do my job
as a mechanic to the best of my abilities. Information is the key when it
comes to just about any subject, and preventive maintenance can lead to
a lot of information, which is by far the cheapest and best way to prevent
even larger problems.
I found out the hard way a PM doesn’t just apply to the family car. Your internal engine needs some maintenance once in a while, too. Neglecting the early signs of an intermittent problem with a car may not have as devastating effect as neglecting your body’s own advanced warnings. Let’s face it, a car drops a valve or burns out a PCM, all your friends and family don’t send flowers or come visit you in the service bay. This is one of those times when the sure footed mechanic with all of his snarky comments about people who don’t listen to their car and won’t relay the pertinent information to their mechanic is now the patient, not the repair guy.
Hardly a car will make it for its entire life without clogging the EGR passages, blocking the VVT ports, or have the occasional reduced air flow from of a dirty air filter. It’s inevitable that some sort of maintenance procedure will need to be performed to maintain that “as new” drivability. Me, the mechanic, well… I don’t have a check engine light to forewarn my impending doom. If I’m feeling a bit down, maybe a bit slow, or a slight tightness in the chest I’m likely to shrug it off and get back to work. Until the pain literally throws me to the floor, while clenching my favorite ratchet to the chest, this stubborn old guy won’t realize I’m about to cash in on that life time warranty I thought I had. You know the type: the “A” personality, all knowing, self-assured, and can take care of any problem on my own mechanic guy.” Well, age and time, diet, stress, and my family medical history have done me in. You’ve met your match, Buster. You’re about to throw a rod.
The mechanic with “A” personality traits, and the “I’m the guy with the answers, and I’m right so often it’s a shock when I’m not”, as well as the, “Large and in charge” attitude usually means they’re (I’m talking about myself of course) not likely to listen to anyone else. They tell themselves those chest pains felt off and on are from some bad pastrami, but it’s a heart attack and it’s only going to get worse. And, it did. I can still hear all the times my wife and kids harped at me as I was being wheeled down the hospital hallways on the gurney, watching the neon lights zip by as I was rushed into Triage.
I hate to say it, but that’s me to a “T”. I often wondered why the surgeons were held to such high esteems, and why they all seemed to have an air of confidence about them. I believe it’s a result of the years of training, the years of answering questions, and the years of listening to halfwit, poorly conceived ideas of what ails a person from people who have no idea what they’re talking about. Which is not that different than what the trained mechanic goes through on a daily basis. People ask questions and expect educated answers.
Basically, if you’re one of those guys who pushes himself all day and night, works from sun up to sun down, or tells the wife that my job comes first and we’ll go on that big vacation when I retire, are fooling themselves and their families. Most of the time you’re so busy you forget to PM yourself. You overlook the obvious signs of an impending failure from those intermittent chest pains or backaches, etc. Life’s too short to say, “I’ll wait until later to get checked out.”
Imagine what the surgeon is thinking when he props your chest open, looks in there and sees obvious lack of PM. Don’t be the mechanic in every situation. Don’t assume that you can fix everything. There are other people out there who are just as professional in their field as you are in yours. Hopefully you’ll get a second chance as I’ve been given. Don’t waste it on working until you die. The customer cars will wait. Follow your body’s PM schedule, and you’ll get to live a little more. . . It's your choice.