Why couldn't shops figure out these problems?


My discomfort is kinda like TSM’s, but more from the perspective that a lot of mechanics coming out today have no diagnostic skills whatsoever. Back when my car was under warranty I’d take it to the dealership for repair because, hey, free parts. But if the computer wasn’t telling them what was wrong they were utterly lost. It took them about 6 visits to fix steering wheel shaking because it wasn’t warped rotors, and there aren’t any sensors on the hub to tell them when the bearing is bad. I finally told the SM that I’d buy him a case of beer if he checked the bearing and it wasn’t bad. I never had to give him that beer.

I’m just a shade-tree hack. I learn how to do jobs as the jobs come up, which means there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know how to do even though I’ve been fixing my own cars for 20 years.

Even a kid who just got out of tech school should be able to run circles around me fixing cars. It’s inexcusable that experienced dealership mechanics couldn’t have figured that out - hell, most places I know check for bearing play as a matter of course whenever a car is put on a lift - but such things are becoming more and more common.


Back in the late 1960s, I had a 1965 Rambler Classic 550 with the 199 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine. I bought the car from the Rambler dealer with 7000 miles on the odometer and I got the balance of the 24,000 warranty. The first time I had the Rambler tuned up at the dealer, it would stumble on acceleration. The dealer messed with it and it ran reasonably well until the next tuneup when the problem reoccurred. Again, I went through the ssme thing. After the car was off warranty, I took it to an independent shop with the same result. That shop sent me to a well known tune-up shop. That shop bored out the jets on the carburetor. That solved the acceleration issue, but the gas mileage dropped considerably and occasionally it would.foul a spark plug. The original independent shop then replaced the carburetor. It ran reasonably.well, but wasn’t perfect. I was.headed back for another round of graduate school and didn’t want to buy another car. I had a colleague in another department at my university who owned a gas station and was a real windbag. He was sounding off at lunch one day about what a great mechanic he had working at his station. I got tired of listening the guy, so I made a bet with him. I told him I had a problem car that no shop was able to fix. I said if his mechanic could.fix my car, I would buy him lunch for a.week. If not, my colleague had to buy me lunch for a week. The bet was on. I took the car to his mechanic. The engine got new distributor points and spark.plugs and.I got a.bill for.$15.46. That Rambler ran beautifully. I went back and talked to the mechanic. I told him that it had had new points and.plugs a half.dozen times and had never run this well. I asked him what secret thing he did to make it run so well. He said,.“Your timing marks were way off. I just timed it up by feel”. He also put a.mark.on the vibration damper.so anyone else would.know.where to.set the timing.


I still have an 82 dodge PU with a carb on it.But I agree they are a lost art as far as working on them.


Back in earlier days, we were told that carburetor was a French word that means leave alone. I had a 1950 Chevy pickup that I bought for $115. I was coming back from having purchased 50 bales of hay and the truck started running poorly. I was able to get home by pulling the choke out beyond the halfway point to keep the engine running. I decided.to rebuild the carburetor. I bought a kit for $2.95 and went to work. I spent the whole afternoon on that carburetor–simple one barrel with a manual choke. I had it off and back on twice before I had the truck running right. That was my first and last carburetor job.



I like the second one :thumbsup:


I agree with this. I haven’t seen a carb in person in probably 15 years. I’m not even sure if I could tune one properly anymore. :confused:


Good observations from everybody. If you have a chance, read the article, it’s pretty interesting to see how a highly trained expert mechanic is able to solve this kind of problem, as easy as slicing bread with the proper training and experience. I understand that most shop mechanics these days don’t run across carb’d engines. But I don’t see how that applies in this case. If a shop simply didn’t offer carb diagnostic & repair service, you’d think they have said so at the time the car was brought in, and suggested to take the car elsewhere. After all, it’s a 1960’s Chevelle, which doesn’t look at all like a 2005 Honda Odyssey, outside or inside. So if the shop accepted to work on this car, it seems like they’d at least have the ability to remove the air cleaner and see that the choke plate wasn’t opening fully as the engine warmed up. And that be able to look at the crank pulley with a timing light and notice the timing was too advanced at higher rpms, and that the advance wasn’t steady but drifting around due to a vacuum advance problem.


Whether we are discussing the carburetor equipped cars that I grew up with in the 50s and 60s or today’s computer controlled fuel injected cars that turn on “check engine” lights, the best diagnostic equipment is a.mechanic who thinks through the symptoms and makes a correct diagnosis and makes the repair. Back in the 50s as today, true mechanics who think through a problem are rare. Today, as in the old days, the Gus Wilson mechanics in the Model Garage of Popular Science magazine are invaluable.


As in gardening, where the saying goes “the best plant fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow” :wink:

The mechanics the magazine uses for these projects are probably among the best there are. Ed Rollins is one of them, his shop is the one they used for this job I think. Mark Sanchez another. These pro’s know more about automobiles and engines, how they work, and how to diagnose & fix them, more in their little finger than I’ll ever know. Both of those shops are in the LA area I think. They have another mechanic they often use too, forget his name, but his shop as I recall is in the Great Lakes area. I don’t see why we have a Miss Universe Contest, and not a “World’s Best Mechanic” equivalent. The latter should pay more to the winner of course.


They got part of the way there with a few TV shows on cable, but the idiot producers always concentrated more on getting people to have loud fights than getting them to show what they were doing to the cars.


That is the very reason I am disappointed the next season of Wheeler Dealers will not have Ed China. He and Mike seemed to actually like each other.


I think “crab” problems are treated by another profession. LOL


I have seen too many posts, no error code, I cannot fix it, yeah get into the older engines, what the heck is an error code. Yeha we had trial and error for fixes, but parts were cheap and things rebuildable, I think wheel bearings were less than $5, starter or alternator rebuild $20, paid well over $200 for my last starter moter I think, and $240 for a wheel bearing hub etc, assembly install.


LOL, Nice catch, sarge!
I’ll blame “spell check”. Yup, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll blame “spell check”! :blush:


If the shops felt a bit uneasy about messing with one of these they should have declined and never let it in the door.

If the shop is willing to have a go at it then someone there should be prepared to head to the old manuals or the internet and bone up on it before raising the hood.

JMHO, but a competent mechanic who has never touched a carb or distributor should be able to get a grasp on it by perusing some of the pages from the manual or internet.

Over the years I’ve gotten involved in things that I had never messed with previously. A few days of spare time reading and it becomes pretty clear.


I always blame spell check! I’m with you and think auto repair courses should start with the basics. Crank with no start? Check fuel, spark, and compression. Then move on to timing. I haven’t touched a carb in years but could still easily diagnose a stuck choke. Jeeze…


Someone posted a reply that said “I don’t miss repacking wheel bearings”. I would much rather repack them than replace them when their grease runs out. I also never had to replace a king pin or ball joint on my cars because I used to grease them regularly.


You are lucky . . .

I replace ball joints all the time at work, and they get greased regularly, and they STILL wear out

They do wear out, no matter how well you maintain them


I agree. But it’s the 21st century now. I guess I’ll have to learn to live with it!