Now and then, I’ll get a car in the shop where you can clearly tell some amateur was messing around under the hood. Things are out of place, harnesses and lines aren’t strapped down or there is some bizarre concoction that has been used to seal an oil leak. Nothing surprises me these days — especially after all the years I’ve been at this. Whether it’s a homemade battery clamp or gobs of pepper poured into the radiator to seal a leak, I’ve probably seen it before.
Once in a while, some of these in-the-ditch repairs truly are born out of a roadside emergency, but I tend to believe that even these quick fixes could be avoided with a little bit of proper maintenance know-how. The problem is that some people like to tackle repair work themselves regardless of their repair acumen.
Car repair can be expensive, especially considering the amount of training, tools and equipment needed to perform the various diagnostic work required today. Maybe because of this, there are still a number of people who think car repair and maintenance is something that can be taken care of with cheap offshore parts and a shade tree, no matter what the problem is. That is soon to change.
The number of sensors, cameras and computers found in the modern car nullifies a lot of the makeshift DIY fixes that used to suffice in a pinch. A consumer, or for that matter, a repair shop who is unaware of the complexities of these new systems and tries to penny-pinch a problem may inadvertently be putting the safety and security of the vehicle in jeopardy.
Jobs like replacing an outside mirror after Junior clobbers it backing out of the garage aren’t as simple as before. Now, the mirror needs to be professionally calibrated and realigned because of the camera and sensor technology. Even minor fender-benders can’t be taken as lightly as before. Sure, a few stray pieces of duct tape might hold a loose bumper on, but will they cover up a radar sensor in the process? This is why training the consumer is just as important as training the technicians in your shop nowadays.
In short, the modern mechanic has his hands full programming, calibrating and getting late-model cars back on the road. But that’s just the start. Today’s techs also need to be able to convey the importance of professional auto repair, even when it costs a pretty penny.
Saving money is a good thing most of the time, but not when it comes at the cost of cutting corners on vehicle repairs. Keeping these rolling computers in good working order isn’t going to get any cheaper, but it’s a safe bet that someday your customers will thank this technology for the difference it has made in their family’s safety, comfort and quality of life.