Drivin’- Drinkin’ and Grandpa

     One of many slow days at the shop I had a small job come
in from one of the local tire shops.  This rather young girl brought
the car to me from the tire shops just a few blocks away.  She
told me she was the owner and that the tire shop was rude and
wouldn’t help her.  I told her I’ve never knew them to be that way,
but I occasional get like that depending on the reaction at the front
desk. (Trying to lighten up the tension at the counter).  She wasn’t
much for my kind of humor, so I called the tire shop to find out
what the deal was.
   Her problem was that it would occasionally not start, nothing
new, just another typical job. The tire shop didn’t want to get
involved with this because it had a breath analyzer attached to
the starting system.  For anyone out there that hasn’t a clue what
this is…, I’ll explain… drinking and driving should NEVER EVER mix,
get caught, you’re probably going to have to blow into this ridicules
thing to start your car. My opinion, if you get behind the wheel in a
condition that would require having to blowing into a plastic tube to
start your car, you are without a doubt the most
STUPID, inconsiderate person of all times.

                                      Don’t drink and drive!

   Personally, I would rather see the driver’s license revoked and give ya a bus ticket instead.  (Mandatory taxi/bus or signed sealed delivered notice that has to be approved by the court system from another driver any time you get into a car.  Make ya prove you’re not the person behind the wheel.)
     Beyond that, I need to find out why this car won’t start.  First thing I did was disconnect the breath machine to verify if the problem was “factory” or the analyzer.  Once the unit is disconnected from the car I have to call the 800 number on the device to let them know that it is an authorized disconnect and not the driver trying to bypass the system.  It’s quite an ordeal to go thru… not the physical disconnect of the unit… that’s easy…but, the information you have to know to prove that you are actually a repair shop when it comes to properly disconnecting the unit.  With that over with, I can get back to diagnosing the problem at hand. It turned out to be a bad starter motor.  I called the parts warehouse and got prices on a replacement starter for the owner.  Later that day the owner called back and said they had just put a starter on so I must be mistaken.  …..yea, they did, but it was one of those “discount” brands…..the type that offer a life time warranty…..life time warranty, right a lifetime of changing it.  (Note: cheap parts = cheap results) 
    Instead of getting a name brand part they wanted to replace the starter with another “cheap” brand. Ah yes, the cheapo repair part syndrome, repairing your car with your wallet not with wrenches... 
   She came for the old starter and sometime later showed up with the replacement starter.  I informed the owner that since you have decided on the quality of the part but the quality of my diagnostics hasn’t changed, however if it fails to start for any reason beyond the bolts falling out of the starter do to the fact that I forgot to tighten them up… it’s an all new diagnostic charge to rework the test… which I have no doubt it will end up back to this cheap starter.  It’s your choice, just warning you that I can’t trust these cheap parts to perform like good quality parts… “You get what you pay for,” I told her.
  It went in one ear and out the other.  She answer me, “Ok, can ya have it done today?”  Whatever, fine, I’ll put it on…. To my surprise……it worked.  The next thing was to rewire the breath machine back into the system.  No problems there, everything is in working order. 
       Enough said about the repair….the next thing was….. Close out the ticket in the front office.  That’s when old Grandpa showed up with one hell of a chip on his shoulder. (I think old Grandpa threw back a few before he showed up too.) 
   “You’re charges are higher than the tire shop,” he said angrily, “I don’t think I should have to pay that much for it if the other shop could have done it for less.”
     I informed him that my prices were discussed before the job was even done and the price was OK’d before we even started.  Besides, the tire shop may have a lower labor cost but, they also said they didn’t have the necessary skills to actually make the proper diagnosis and or the repair. 
   He rambled on about how he had fixed cars when he was younger and knew a lot about them   He would have fixed it himself if he knew what was wrong with it.    Aha!   The old “if I knew what was wrong with it” scheme.  Now we are on to something.  So it’s not so much…what I did or how I did it…. It was “knowing” how and what I did .  
  Seems I’m not doing my job right, maybe I should just start guessing at the repairs….  Maybe then I could lower the cost of the repairs then I could be like the tire shop…. Or maybe I should just  throw a dart at a bulletin board full of pictures of parts and where ever it hits that’s the part I change… or better yet,  I’ll send it to someone else who knows how fix it.  Oh, wait a minute ….that’s how I ended up with it.  Oh that’s right…..I’m the guy who is supposed to be the guy that supposed to fix it for the guy.  Guess that’s why I get paid the big bucks.    
  Sorry Grandpa, maybe I’m doing you a big favor… you spend a few bucks with me, that way you’ll be a few bucks shy of that next 6 pack.  That might keep you or your tube blowin’ granddaughter from getting behind the wheel drunk and I might actually be preventing a future fatal accident.   So do me a favor….   Save some of that hot air for the breath machine Mr., you’ll need it to start the car….

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