Intermittent failues are such a pain


That is the thing, for strictly mechanical items they are usually ok. Although we were bringing the big trucks there for PMs and they consistently overfilled the oil on the internationals, and one time left an air filter out of a truck.

That truck ran for a month with no air filter and a year later it needed a turbo. Not sure if it was directly responsible, but it sure didn’t help.

Walking into the shop is like walking 40 years back in time except for one guys fancy toolbox and the fact that the vehicles are newer.

The only way the shop is still open is they do a lot of towing locally and they rely on their good 'ol boy network as a customer base. I mean they don’t even have a scan tool last I knew. How can a shop stay in business in this day in age if they cannot diagnose a check engine light?

We use another shop now and he is ok, He at least has a bi-directional scan tool and knows how to use it. He can also carry on a conversation with you without every other word being vulgar.


The local politicans are always talking smack, trying to privatize our fleet

Some of the regulars on this website probably feel I’m an idiot, and it might be a good thing if I, along with my fellow fleet mechanics were out of a job. We’re incompetent, lazy, overpaid, anyways

So “they” say :smirk_cat:

I’ve got a pretty good idea just who among the regulars feels that way, but it would serve no purpose naming them


Ah yes, it will save them money short term and make them look like brilliant money saving heros, but in the end it might cost them. Maybe.

My father worked for a VA hospital in the laundry as a equipment mechanic for many years, they ended up shutting the laundry down and having the dirty laundry shipped out to a private company which gave them a great deal on a 2 year contract. Guess what happened to that great rate once the two years was up?

Hey to each his own. Your a smart guy, at least I think so. We may not always agree, but hey that’s life, I don’t take it personal when someone disagrees with me. After all, no one put me in charge of this crazy planet we live on. No one made me king.

I know we are blue collar and that can make some people feel that we are inferior to them, and in a way we are. But I will say I started from nothing and got where I am at with no help from anybody. I am a success story if you take my upbringing into account, an alarming number of people I went to school with died at a young age, sadly due to drugs and alcohol abuse, and a few are in jail.


I agree with you

People are . . . to a large degree . . . what they make of themselves

If I’d been lazy and/or complacent, I’d still be working at the dealership, getting the shaft every day, in so many different ways

Many of the guys there would have been great fleet mechanics. I always told them “Come take the test with me. Let’s get out of this place.”

For various reasons, most of them never even bothered to make any inquiries, let alone actually sit down for a test. Which pretty much any DECENT and experienced mechanic would have passed.

Some of them wanted to keep working on “high tech” cars, versus fleet vehicles. Some of them felt they would be taking a cut in pay. That is not so clear cut, IMO, when you start comparing benefits. Many of them liked the idea of a fleet job, but felt they were “entitled” to it, they felt they should just be handed the job, without testing for it.

I’ll say a few things, though. For your benefit, as well as anybody else who’s reading

Us fleet guys work hard, too, just like guys at dealerships and independents. But it’s a different kind of hard work. In many cases working with jacks and jackstands, versus a lift. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes just to set up a vehicle, so that it’s safe to crawl underneath. Working outside, versus inside. In many cases, no factory service manual AND no access to the manufacturers’s technical website. Sometimes not even a wiring diagram. Actually searching out the part numbers for the stuff you need, because the parts personnel aren’t that great. Maintaining the various shop tools and machines yourself, because there’s no shop foreman to do it. Deciding what parts to keep in stock. Improvising . . . “We don’t have the part you need, but we do have this in stock. Make it work. We need the truck.”

It definitely takes some adjusting. Every guy that comes straight from a dealership had some kind of transition period.


Years ago, I took my car to an independent mechanic that was really good at running down intermittent problems. His technique was to ask the owner of the car a series of questions about when the problem occurred, where the problem occurred and would write down the answers. This mechanic was as good at interviewing a customer about a problem with the customer’s car as Andy Sipowitz, the detective on NYPD BLUES was in interviewing suspects and witnesses in discerning who committed the crime. This mechanic worked in an little 2 bay service station and could talk to the customers. At.dealeeshipa today, I don’t know how difficult problems are solved when the customer tells the problem to a service writer who then relays the information to the mechanic who does the actual work. It would seem to me that a good diagnostic mechanic ought to be on a straight salary and handle the tough cases. The service writers can handle the oil change requests and other services that don’t require a diagnosis, but have a good mechanic with good communication skills to talk to the customer and pin down the problem.


I am a few pay grades below your level of knowledge and experience but familiar with military avionics. I spent my first 6 military years in an Army MICAS. Military Intelligence Company Aerial Surveillance as an Aerial Surveillance Specialist/Navigator. Yes. I was an ASS. Flying right seat in Grumman OV-1 Mohawks equipped with Inertial Navigation System INS, Tactical Aerial Navigation TACAN. Side Looking Airborne Radar SLAR, or Infrared, Optical cameras, and eyeballs. I used the system Self-Test during surveillance systems and navigation systems pre-flight which included running-up syncing and programing them. If the Self-Test showed a fault which was identified by system I would get the appropriate avionics tech. Many times it was as simple as a loose cable connection. Quickly repaired on the flight line. Other times it was a red X. Flight authorized with limitations. Other times it was a Circle Red X grounded. I lived 12 miles away from the National Guard unit. If I had wasted some time and had to go home disappointed it was not the end of the world. If it was part time National Guard pilots (some who lived thousands of miles away) logging time to meet their minimum flight hours we may have launched a non-grounded airplane converting fuel to noise but trying to accomplish whatever useful training we could. I could not believe I was doing something so educational, interesting, and fun while getting paid!


Most dealerships are EXTREMELY averse to paying a mechanic . . . ANY mechanic straight salary

The ones that ARE paid straight salary are usually the reps, who actually are employed by the manufacturer . . . a rather distinct difference

We’ve already talked about this many times, so I’m not going to mention the reasons which the dealership would state, for being against it

But I theoretically like your idea


My 1991 Mazda fuel pump failed. I went to a local recommended shop and told the owner I needed a fuel pump replaced in a 1991 Mazda RX-7. His reply “I don’t do rotaries”! I tried to explain it was a fuel pump and the rotary did not have to be touched and he screamed “I DON’T DO ROTARYS”!!! OK! He had been there for decades. 3 months later the shop was closed. Dementia is a cruel disease.


No shop foreman/supervisor? In a normal civil service shop you would have 3 or 4 and 2 mechanics.


Well FWIW I retired after 25+ years as a self employed mechanic. I was an ASE master until I retired and several local new car dealerships farmed out difficult diagnosis work to me including factory warranty work. I’m somewhat sure that my skills were above average. But over the years I have come to realize that it is much more important to make the customer happy than to be right just for the sake of being right.


Yes, we have a supervisor

But . . .

He’s not a WORKING shop foreman or anything that fits that description

He plays no part in the repair or diagnosis

So it’s up to the mechanic to diagnose and repair

Don’t expect the shop foreman to do that for you

The weaker mechanics walk into the shop foreman’s office and say “Boss, I think this is what’s going on.”

The stronger mechanics walk in there, with a parts requisition form already filled out and say “Boss, we need to order this” and then he hands the form to the boss. And the next thing he says is either “What’s next?” or “I’m going to start working on this other truck, because all my parts have shown up”

If you know what you’re doing and ARE confident, you’ll do fine

If you don’t know what you’re doing and are constantly second guessing yourself, the shop foreman will pick up on this and will NOT give you the difficult jobs. And he will not allow you to do the big “upsells” that you find during your regularly scheduled services. I put upsell in parentheses because I’m a public sector fleet mechanic, who no longer deals with “paying customers”

The weaker mechanics have often walked into the office saying “Boss, I think this truck needs an evaporator” and are shot down, because they clearly don’t show confidence. Hence, he doubts their diagnosis AND possibly their ability to actually do the job

And then I walk in not 5 minutes later with 2 . . . !!!. . . . parts requisition forms for the truck I was working on and say “We need to order this” and he signs it without saying a word and gives me my next job


I would in a heartbeat…had a sun room build this spring. After the framing was done they were going to start putting drywall up. The evening prior I measured the walls for plumb and square, just a gut feeling when I kept looking at it… Two opposite walls were out of plumb and square by over an inch. I pointed this out to the the guys the next day and was told they already knew it and were going to shimmy it up. Huh? I called the supervisor, who was not on site, and he appreciated me contacting him. Took another two days to take things apart again and frame it correctly. I build satellites for a living and two inches off takes ones out of this universe instead of to a planet within our solar system.


I’m not an idiot, either

Just because I wouldn’t say “You’re an idiot. I know a better way of doing it” does NOT mean I would accept a botched job

I had a kitchen remodeled several years ago

The installers botched the installation of the quartz countertop and the sink . . . BIG TIME

I sent a certified sign-on-delivery letter to the company headquarters. That got their attention. The shop foreman came out, with a BETTER group of installers. I made them do the ENTIRE job again, using ANOTHER countertop and sink


I have a good working relationship with my mechanic. He knows I do most of my own work and let him handle stuff beyond my skill and/or tool set, or when the weather is too bad for me to work outside on my vehicles. If I have a suggestion as to what I might be wrong, I will tactfully mention it as a possibility, along with what I’ve done to narrow things down. The key is tact and mutual trust. It helps that I’ve let him take his time working on my vehicles when he is busy.


You’re right . . . tact is extremely important

If somebody storms into the shop and says “All the mechanics I’ve ever dealt with are idiots. I think you’re an idiot, also, so I’ve already done the diagnosis for you. I’ve found the solution on the internet. This is what I want you to replace” . . . they should be shown the door, and don’t let it hit them on the way out

That’s happened before

Those are the guys that are considered “bad customers”

Sometimes it’s best to NOT work on somebody’s vehicle, if the mechanic’s gut feeling is this guy’s going to be trouble

Some business, you just don’t want

As you said, tact is important. The mechanic/shop should perhaps say something along the lines of “I’m sorry, sir, but we are declining to work on your vehicle.” And depending on how generous the mechanic is, he could say “If you like, I could give you the phone number of another shop, which MIGHT be willing to work on your vehicle.”


While regrettable to see that you hold me in such low regard, I will not suffer one bit of angst over it.

As to “guessing” at parts replacements I can only repeat an old adage which you may be familiar with.
“Once bitten, twice shy”.

Many of those same people who will eagerly say “Go ahead and replace X at X dollars” will be the same ones who will turn right around when that guess doesn’t pan out and raise all kinds of hxxx at the counter. Seen it; more than a few times.

In one case (a measly 25 bucks total) a gentleman decided 3 months later he was offended. This was followed by a uniformed OK County deputy sheriff walking into the dealer (cost extra for this…) and serving us with lawsuit papers for about a grand.
The car owner was a total moron and he lost the case in a heartbeat BUT both me and the service manager had to spend an entire afternoon sitting in court waiting our turn.
Even worse, I had to lay out factory manuals and try to put things into the simplest terms for a judge who could not differentiate between a spark plug and a container of motor oil. The judge was more clueless than the car owner…


What a colossal waste of time

I can’t imagine what it must be like trying to explain the situation to the judge

At least he had the common sense to side with you, who presented a strong case, versus the moron customer, who was presumably foaming at the mouth . . . ?!


he/she flipped a coin behind the bench.


The whole point of this posting was, I do have the expertise.


At least we understand each other. I put up with this ego problem in techs in my sections, for over 30 years.Very frustrating and those guys simply will not listen. “I gotta’ see it myself.” No! You! Don’t! You only gotta’ fix it using all available information, including from customers with expertise of their own. When your diagnostic decisions hinge around your personal ego, it is time to change careers.

No matter how many here agree with you, I have limited income and am not going to write a blank check for someone to spend lots of time on an intermittent, just because he wants to feel good about himself When I have the expertise to diagnose it myself. That would be insane on my part. "Yeah, I know what the problem is, but don’t want to offend a mechanic, so I’ll write a bunch of blank checks. +$400 NtF; +$400 Not verified; +$400 could not duplicate failure: +$400 NTF; ad infinitum ad nauseum ad bankruptcy. Hohohohahahaheeheehee.

Einstein reportedly said insanity is doing what was done before and never worked.

I know of no business model which says a customer is supposed to fork out money so a service person can feel good about himself. A customer has a car with a problem; the service person gets paid to fix it. His self-esteem is his problem.

And, let me say, yes, it was db who make the smart alecky remark years ago. I was not going to say, because I saw no point in it. But, he’s thrown enough rocks at me on this posting, I don’t care any more.

No one would ever force you to do work you don’t want to do, for any reason. I know what the problem is with my car, and you don’t want to do the work, I go elsewhere - after I talk to your boss and tell all my neighbors, of course.

As I said, it would be different if I were a beautician or accountant or ditch digger.

When doctors have this attitude, other doctors call it The God Complex.

The thing I like here is non-mechanics are going to read this exchange. Many of them will understand what I have said. This is not you guys finest hour.

Intermittents separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls. We had a lot more boys here than I thought.