The 2nd Biggest Myth in Automotive Service

Our industry has a terrible reputation, and unfortunately, that’s not the myth, that’s a true statement.
Not too long ago, I was asked by a customer, one of our local news stations, to help do an expose’ on some of the “fast lube” shops around town. This put me in a terrible position for a few reasons. For one, I really didn’t want to help perpetuate a negative image of our industry. But on the other hand, people have a right to know so they can protect themselves. It really boiled down to two questions for me.

1. What is the harm in doing this? The harm was I was helping to reinforce the negative image our industry has brought on itself. Would people see this and think “Wow, what a really nice thing it was for them to shed some light on common practices utilized by a handful of auto repair shops in order to increase their profits?” Most likely not.

2. What is the benefit in doing this? Let’s face it – the fact that you ignore a problem doesn’t make it any less real. The reputation is what it is, and unless we start to recognize, isolate and eliminate it, it will keep growing and getting worse. When bad things are left unattended, they just get worse, and I have found that pretty much applies to everything in life.

In the end, we ran with the story, and quite a few of the local “fast lube” shops were not real happy with my decision, and they didn’t mind letting me know it. I guess accountability stings sometimes.
So what is the myth?

The myth is that all shops are out to take advantage of you. For my first example, one of the most misunderstood practices in our industry is the Free Safety Inspection, where a technician looks beyond the issue you brought your car in for, then provides you a list of “recommended items”. This sometimes is perceived as an attempt to sell you additional items that you may or may not need. How many reading this have been offered a “flush” that will help prolong the life of whatever system is being flushed, but you can’t find that service anywhere in your owner’s manual? Since you may not be familiar with what they are talking about, it is real easy to feel like you are being taken advantage of.

Let me give you my best advice on this – if it feels kind of sleazy to you, it probably is. Please don’t misunderstand what I am trying to say. A reputable shop is going to offer you the same Free Safety inspection, but with a few major differences.

The biggest difference is the motive behind doing it, and I just summarized the best way to tell in my previous statement – a reputable shop is going to OFFER you the same service. If you don’t want someone looking over your car from front to back, then you shouldn’t be forced to let them. A reputable shop will ask you if you would like for them to perform the service before they do it.

Automotive Service Bays – Staffing By the Numbers

It seems to be a universally asked question, whether you run the service department at a large dealership, or the local 4 bay repair shop. How do you know when you have just the right amount of technicians employed? Regardless of how you pay them, if you have too many, you have idle hands, otherwise known as the “devil’s playground”. If there are too few, your technicians are overworked, causing incomplete check outs and possible quality issues.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume all of your technicians are flat rate employees, which is basically a fancy way of saying they are paid for the work they do and not the hours they are present. Whatever labor guide you use gives you the billable hours for the repair you are going to perform. For example, your customer’s check engine light came on. Most shops charge a diagnostic fee, assuming, of course, that more than a simple computer scan is required. The labor guide calls for 1 hour.

The diagnostic routine shows that the engine is not reaching operating temperature, so it is determined that the thermostat is at fault. To replace the thermostat on this particular car calls for 1.0 hour of billable time, so the entire job pays 2.0 hours. Your more experienced technicians will typically beat this time, which is how they can turn more hours than they work. A rookie technician may take longer than two hours, though, which is how a customer is protected by the flat rate system. Otherwise, it would cost someone more to use inexperienced technicians than it would a professional!

Back to the subject at hand. In order to determine how many technicians you should employ, you will need to do some math. In most of my teaching, I always say to start with the end in mind, and then reverse engineer your way to the answer. In this particular case, let’s start by setting up the foundation of where you are currently.
1. Step one is to determine your productivity per billable hour. Basically, you take your total sales, including BOTH labor and parts, less tax, and divide that by the total number of billed hours. In the case of the thermostat above, let’s say the total repair cost is $300. Your billed hours were 2.0, so $300 divided by 2.0 is equal to your productivity of billable hours on this job, or $150. If you apply that logic to your whole operation for a full week, you will come up with a pretty reliable number to base the rest of your calculations on.

Automotive Service Technician Career Education Options

Automobiles break down often and the skills needed to fix them typically require knowledgeable professionals. Students can take their interest of cars and apply it to educational training. Several degree program options prepare students to become automotive service technicians.

Vocational schools across the country train students to understand the procedures and tools needed to fix automobiles. Education is crucial in order to gain the skills required to examine, manage, and fix automobiles and light trucks. Training typically integrates various types of vehicles that run on gasoline and electricity. Some programs also explore vehicles that run off of alternative fuel sources such as ethanol. Inside the profession technicians perform a variety of duties, which can include:

• Basic Maintenance Services
• Oil Changes
• Tire Rotations

Educational training is focused on developing a student’s knowledge to diagnose problems and plan vehicle repairs. The work conducted in today’s technologically advanced industry requires professionals to have formal training. Students can gain the knowledge needed to be successful inside the field by working through programs at the certificate and associate’s degree level. Certificate programs are short and typically last six to twelve months. Associates degree programs provide students with general education courses and more in depth technician courses. Programs at this level last two years and prepare students to enter the industry.

Training is a great way to gain a foundational understanding of the profession, which is used to gain practical on-the-job experience. Many colleges incorporate on-the-job training as part of their curriculum. New technicians work for two to five years before becoming fully qualified. This time allows technicians to practice and gain experience working with automobiles, which includes basic and complex repairs.

Students that pursue certification will be ready to apply the current operating practices needed to diagnose problems and fix automotive systems. Coursework develops the knowledge to service and fix automobiles by teaching students to understand test and repair procedures. Brake systems, safety inspection tests, hybrid vehicle practices, powertrain electronics, and air conditioning systems courses develop the skills needed to obtain entry-level careers. A hybrid course, for example, breaks down every part of hybrid cars. The storage factors, hybrid controls, combustion engine modifications, and fuel sources are all topics discussed in detail. Stepping into careers will have students immediately putting their skills to use.

What Does an Automotive Service Manager Do

The automotive service manager is the person that is responsible for the supervision of the service department for an auto dealer. They act as go-between for the customer, mechanic, and an auto dealer. The major part of their duties includes customer satisfaction and customer relations. They are ultimately the individual who is responsible for productivity and profitability of the service department. Part of this responsibility includes sales, and keeping all customer service records.

This individual is also in charge of supervising all elements of safety as they pertain to maintenance of customers’ autos. As part of their duty they supervise the complete mechanical process, assuring only the highest level quality service is provided. They are responsible for the inspection of every vehicle that has been repaired or worked on within the service department and are also responsible for selecting an individual who oversees this in their absence.

The automotive service manager must be an individual who is able to focus on several different things at the same time. This includes the supervision of all personnel, the service department, and hiring and supervising. They also must keep track of all service data files that documents any pertinent information retained to employees, including reviews and raises.

The service manager ensures the dealer at the service department obtains the goals of the dealership as they pertain to the budget. In many cases, they may be expected to create and monitor a marketing plan that involves the creation of current and recurring business. For many automotive dealers service, customers typically consist of individuals who have purchased cars in the dealer. You may also be required to generate this information from outside the current clientele.

New vehicles repairs are typically covered by warranties. It is the responsibility of the service department manager to understand the intricacies of all warranties and to inform the staff of this information. Service managers must also beware of any information obtained relative to recalls.

The Responsibilities of an Automotive Service Manager Job

Many dealerships regard the automotive service manager as an integral part of their business. They are the people responsible for acting as a go-between customers and service staff. They are also responsible for other duties within this department.

These managers hire for their department and must choose the most qualified person for the job. They are in charge of overseeing the employees to make sure they meet the dealership’s quality standards. They are directly responsible for teaching these to the employees. Evaluations of employees are also part of their job within their department.

They must set a into place and enforce the goals so they are met. This makes them accountable for the budgeting of the department in making sure the labor costs are kept in check, inventory balances, and they suffer no additional costs by retaining employees. This also covers a marketing campaign plan to gain new customers, as well as keep the old – through coupons, merchandising and staffing needs.

They must stay current with the changes in the industry by attending classes, seminars, and reading literature. This also includes understanding and implementing any policy changes within the dealership, and offering suggestions for change to make the department run smoother. They must also be able to schedule classes for other employees and themselves when such are offered through the car manufacturer so everyone gets the most current information.

It is also the automotive service manager’s responsibility to stay on top of warranties and recalls offered by the manufacture. They will be required to send the warranty work in for payment and will be held accountable for write-offs to the department for failure to comply with the information. They also are the link between the factory representative and the dealership, and may be required to attend meetings and conferences to further this relationship.

The main duty of a manager is to handle customer complaints quickly and efficiently and maintain customer service and the department. They must create and act upon a plan to keep the customers coming back and must have a way to compromise to ensure customer satisfaction. Bringing in new customers is also a job duty, and they must make sure that the service will turn them into repeat customers.

The education for this position requires a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a complimentary technical field. You must have at least five years experience working in the industry, and many companies require an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. Some will allow work experience to compensate for the college education, where the candidate has many years of experience performing the duties.

Residential, Commercial And Automotive Locksmith Services

You might be surprised to learn that there are different types of locksmiths around. This is essential especially for those who want a more specialized service. Residential, commercial, automotive and forensics are the types of locksmiths that are accessible although the forensic ones are rare as they usually work with investigative agencies or law enforcement agencies.


Residential locksmiths are experts when it comes to making the home safe and secure. As most homes have the regular locks installed near window frames, it might compromise the safety of the family. These experts can install a double cylinder lock that needs a key inside for the door to open to give extra security. Aside from this base-knowledge they can also re-key locks as well as have them replaced in such a way that these are not easily tampered. They can also do entry gates, screen doors, sliding as well as emergency services.


A commercial locksmith specializes in locks that are manufactured for business purposes. Examples would be installation of panic bars, replacing locks in file cabinets, installation of automatic door closer, safe/vault installation as well as installing a master-key system. Panic bars are especially important as they would provide workers a means to exit the building premises in case of emergencies.


Automotive locksmiths are the ones that you go to if you ever need a spare car key or want a replacement when you’ve lost the original car key. These experts can help automotive owners in choosing the right type of car keys that would best suit their needs. Most automotive locksmiths are familiar with transponder car keys and can also do re-programming at a lower price compared to the same service that car dealers offer. Aside from transponders, they can also unlock cars, change or replace ignition locks, provide laser cut keys and even offer lock services for high security vehicles.

Tools In An Automotive Service Technician Workshop

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of available tools for something as complex as automotive machinery. But much like any job, the trick is putting together an all-purpose base of tools which perform a wide range of applicable functions. At the very least, a base toolbox enables you to accomplish a substantial amount of work before you get to the parts requiring more specialized, obscure tools that might be used by people looking into auto careers.

Base Tools of the Trade

One of the more prominent tools you’ll see in the shop of an automotive service technician is the ratcheting box wrench. This indispensable tool is the crux of automotive technique, given that a car is put together with bolts to tighten almost every part. In the same vein, pliers pry bars, impact sockets and extensions are instrumental for the job of taking something apart and putting it back together. When you can invest in an upgrade, simplify the physically intensive task of forcing in bolts manually using an air ratchet to tighten them enough to ensure the structural integrity of the part in question – just take care not to over-tighten. Try on a pneumatic wrench for even more torque, with far less strain on your fingers and wrists.

Advanced Tools for the Automotive Technician

Depending on just how involved your workshop is when it comes to fixing, upgrading or taking apart automobiles, a plasma cutter might be in order for the heavy-duty tasks. The plasma torch is hotter than the surface temperature of the sun, and this tool cuts through metal like a hot knife through butter – leaving clean edges behind when in the hands of an experienced welder.

Before you get to cutting away, consider the importance of a voltmeter for diagnostic purposes. Given their ability to troubleshoot a limitless range of electrical problems with an automobile, you can never have too many models of this tool. The Infrared Thermometer is another diagnostic tool used by professionals and the serious handyman; it helps you keep track of issues with the powered components of your automobile. Malfunctioning fans, plugged radiators, problems with the cylinder exhaust – all of these require a non-contact IR Thermometer to troubleshoot.

5 Things to Master to Become an Automotive Service Technician

Long-term on the job training is a universal attribute of the auto mechanic lifestyle, and you should take care to master as many techniques as you can. It’ll open up jobs at highly-regarded garages in the center of your metropolis of choice, where there are endless lines of paying customers. As a start, consider these crucial skills that heighten your demand as an automotive service technician:
1. Few things prepare you better for an auto career than automotive engineering or other automotive technician coursework. On the job training is nice, but this can only come after you’ve mastered the prerequisites to an apprenticeship. A college degree isn’t required, as many trade schools, colleges and universities offer the coursework with just a high-school degree – or equivalent – to start. If nothing else, they will familiarize you with the many useful tools of the trade.

2. You would do well to learn how to use certain software programs. Much of the grunt work of the past is automated today, and requires computer-savvy overseers to make sure numbers, vehicle models and more are plugged in correctly before running diagnostic tests. Additionally, computers break down, and the intimate knowledge you gain will be of use in such cases, so that the business doesn’t come to a grinding halt.

3. Specialization is always a bonus, so if you can specialize in fixing specific models of cars, such as higher-end vehicles, transmissions on normal cars, brakes, etc, then you can virtually guarantee yourself a place in coveted garages. Much of this comes from on-the-job training, so it’s important to position yourself to be accepted into the garages that can supply this expertise. Your coursework, enthusiasm and effort goes a long way in determining acceptance.

4. Depending on what kind of garage you want to work in as the main focus of your career, you should familiarize yourself with industry-standard handbooks on small engine repair – for motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and ATVs – or the kind of Handbooks used by diesel service technicians and mechanics.

Hands On Automotive Service Careers

Automotive technicians and mechanics are often called service techs because they inspect, maintain, and work on mechanical engines and parts of light trucks and cars. This day and age, automotive technicians use a wide variety of diagnostic tools as well as power tools and hand tools to diagnose and repair an issue.

And because most newer auto models have electronic and computer systems for steering, braking and others, they must also be familiar with how those systems work as well.

Duties of automotive service technicians and mechanics typically include:
Perform tuneups that include lubricating engine components, performing oil changes, rotations and other basic maintenance tasks

Using computerized diagnostic equipment to test and diagnose certain issues
Articulating to customers what the problem is and what needed repairs need to be made
Replacing or repairing old and worn components such as wheel bearings, transmissions or brakes
Disassembling and reassembling specific parts and engine components

Service technicians know and utilize a wide variety of tools, including power tools such as lathes, jacks and hoists, pneumatic wrenches, welding torches, and computerized diagnostic tools, along with a variety of common hand tools such as wrenches, pliers, and the like.

Larger shops will hire an automotive technician who specialize in certain types of repairs. Many auto technicians are trained in a wide variety of skills and have certifications in one or more of these specialties:
Transmission technician’s work on transmission parts such as pumps, gear trains, and couplings.
Tune-up technicians utilize computerized testing devices to find and diagnose problems and adjust the car’s timing and valves, among other tasks.

The automotive air-conditioning repairer will install and repair air-conditioners and parts. There are federal and state regulations on handling and disposing of refrigerants that these workers receive training on.
Front-end mechanics work on wheels and steering mechanisms, aligning wheels, repairing and adjusting brakes, and other repairs.

6 Major Automotive Service Technician Tools Found In Every Garage

When embarking on an auto career, the first things you learn are the ins-and-outs of using the most popular industry-standard tools. In addition to these, however, there are other major tools not usually found in the garage of the hobbyist, but are absolute necessities for the automotive service technician. These tools are indispensable to building up your business from the ground-up, or becoming a valued member of a pre-existing team.

Tools You Can’t Do Without

  1. Early in your auto career, you’ll come across the full range of electrical issues with the parts of a vehicle. As such, a voltmeter is an essential piece of diagnostic equipment, which drastically cuts down the amount of time you would otherwise spend trying to find shorted wires and faulty connections. Often sold together, a multi-meter for the checking of amperages is just as important.


  1. Because a busy automotive service technician can easily encounter tens-of-thousands of bolts, screws and holes in a short period of time, you’ll find air-powered ratchets, ball drivers and power drills to be merciful instruments of construction and disassembly. They save your joints from inflammation and injury and allow you to easily tighten and loosen disagreeable bolts and screws.


  1. For big jobs that involve razing down the thick metal of a car, cutting and making adjustments are easily handled by this next popular tool of the automotive service technician: the plasma cutter. Reaching temperatures hot enough to ionize the surrounding air, this is essentially the perfect knife and slices through hardware like butter. The plasma cutter is an indispensable welding tool that will serve you well in your auto career.


  1. A work light is an absolute must. Even during the brightest day, there are nooks and crannies in the back of the garage where darkness dominates, and it is crucial that you see what you’re doing. Work lights come in super-bright halogens and low-energy LEDs, where the lack of an extension cord and power adapter proves handy.

ONLINE COLLEGES: The Best Online Colleges Are Accredited Colleges

Have you been considering attending an online school but don’t know how to pick the best one? Don’t worry you’re not alone. There are many students out there that are researching their options. Unfortunately, many of these students aren’t aware about the accreditation process or what it means for colleges and universities. If you are looking for a quality online college to invest in then keep this information in mind when you are searching. And don’t worry you will find the perfect school eventually!

In today’s world there are a lot of scams and diploma mills out there. Ever since the 1950′s when all the vets returned home from Vietnam and were going back to get an education there have been problems with phony educational programs. Fake schools and diploma mills will basically sell you a diploma, and this diploma means absolutely nothing. Luckily, scams like this are pretty easy to determine. If the establishment is trying to offer a diploma for sale, or is offering a diploma for little or no coursework, then you better be checking the school’s accreditation.

Or, you could take the safe route and by doing your research before you enroll with a scam. The best way to do this is to check the accreditation. There are several accreditation agencies in the US and most online colleges are accredited regionally. Regional accreditation is based on the area where the school is located. The accreditation agency is determined by the region.

So what is accreditation?

Accreditation is a process that a school goes through. Once the accreditation agency determines that the college fits the standards that it has set, then the online colleges receives accreditation status. Many benefits come with accreditation. If the school is accredited, there is no chance that it is a fake. If the school is accredited there is usually more funding provided for students. (Who doesn’t need financial aid these days right?) There are also many other benefits of accreditation.

Most online universities are accredited but it is good to do your research. When you are researching, make sure that it says that it is accredited and lists an accreditation agency. Some scams will still try to confuse students by saying “pending accreditation” or other things to get you to think that the school is accredited. Do your research and make sure the school you invest in is a quality one.

How To Hire the Right Limousine Service

Limousines are vehicles which are often regarded as a symbol of aristocracy. They are associated with luxury, comfort and style, and are used by celebrities, businessperson and politicians for transportation. Even ordinary people also love the idea of riding a limo. However, they cannot afford to purchase the vehicle on their own because of which they hire the services of those agencies which provide limousines for rent. Given the fact that there are way too many agencies providing this service, people may find it hard to select the right one. Hence, they need to consider a few things while hiring limousine service.

Here a few tips that will be helpful in this regard:

1. Opt for a reputed agency – a reputed agency will offer vehicles which are in good condition. Also, you can be assured that the vehicle will be provided to you on time. The drivers who work for such agencies will be polite, will have a good knowledge of city roads and traffic conditions, and will be able to drive you to comfortably to your destination. You can use the internet to locate limousine agencies which are highly reputed.

2. Consider the options provided – it is better to opt for a limousine service which can offer you with a wide range of luxury vehicles to choose from. Based on your requirement, such as comfort, style and space, you will be able to select a vehicle which will be ideal for your special occasion. This is why, you should always choose an agency which can offer you with many vehicles to choose from.

3. Ask your family and friends – you can easily find family members or friends who will be able to provide you with information about the right Limo service Cleveland OH. They can suggest a good agency based on your needs and also help you with choosing the right vehicle. Besides, they might even help you in getting a decent discount when hiring the vehicle for the first time.

4. Look for facilities – given the fact that you will be paying a substantial amount of money for hiring the vehicle, you should make sure that the service that you choose provides you with sufficient facilities. The limo should have very comfortable and luxurious seats, a good music system with speakers, and a mini refrigerator where you can store drinks (preferably offered by the agency itself). You can opt for a limousine service which can offer you with such facilities or more.