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Discussion Starter #1
This is just for info:

Too many times I see cars and their owners get screwed by misdiagnosis or misguided assistance. A few examples follow.

A first time customer to me spends $1500 at another shop in town because her car is running bad and has a P0420. The other shop installed a catalytic converter, 2 oxygen sensors (and they installed the universal ones), MAF, 4 ignition plugs, one coil, TPS and was supposed to do an injector cleaning. Every part replacement ended with the same results. No change in engine operation and a P0420. She came to me under the advise of one of my other customers. Found the problem in 2 minutes. I could hear it. The intake manifold gasket was leaking. This was a MAF sensor engine, so the air coming in on the backside of the sensor was throwing off the ECM's fuel map making the car run extremely lean. $210 repair and it ran like a bat outa ****.

Another customer comes to me at the advise of a longstanding customer. His dash lights, door locks, radio and AC start flickering on/off intermittently. 2 shops and a dealership visit later and no one can find a problem. I talked with him 5 minutes and checked the battery output, which was at 660 amps. I then checked the conductance to the block, 555 amps. a 105 amp drop. Not uncommon. When I checked conductance to the body of the truck, 70 amps. Drastic drop. All the cable from the battery to the engine block, starter, ground straps were in place without corrosion. Load tested the alternator and it works perfect. I added a 4 gauge cable from the battery negative to the body of the truck and retested conductance. Now the body shows 550. The BCM, as well as a majority of the electronics in the truck ground to the body of the truck. 70 amps is not enough for the BCM to operate properly, thus the flickering. Increase ground conductivity, problem solved. $45.

Another customer comes from a lube shop that also does state inspections where a tech school student doing the inspection relayed to him that he needed a catalytic converter since his car failed inspection for a P0420. He came to me. I replaced the stuck open thermostat, $105, problem solved.

Guy comes in after having his truck scanned at AutoZone. P0171/172, too lean bank 1 and 2. Auto Zone tried to sell him O2 sensors. Parts guys, really?? It was a Ford 5.4. Had a vacuum leak. An elbow that attaches to the rear of the intake for PCV had deteriorated and split open, sucking in air downstream of the MAF. One hose, $5.

I can go on and on and on. Don't fret that code with the word associated with an expensive repair. Don't take one man's word for gold. If you have doubt, get another opinion. Modern vehicles are manufactured and programmed in such a way to allow for long life. The downside is we are still operating under OBDII standards and have to look for the underlying problem causing our malfunctions. Most times, in my cases, its something simple and overlooked.

Don't chase it. Find it, capture it and put it to an end.

You know why the great techs drive Subarus? They don't break down. As long as you treat them right.

Coming soon: One 2001 Outback VDC H6 Blown with 45% plus gains in HP and Torque. Reprogramming the Denso is the last obstacle and we are working on it daily. Soooo Close. Fuel Mapping and an obstinate ECM.
 

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I second that, great stories. I have a P0420 and this has made me want to slow down, and really think of what might be causing the problem. Sometimes it's the simple stuff.

Mechanics that go by *exactly* what a code scanner tells them are very misguided.
 

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What do you think about installing the reman cv axles from Autozone?

Sounds like you have some experience with Subarus so I am interested in your opinion.

I have a long standing friendship/ relationship with the garage I have been using for over 20years and spoke with my buddy yesterday who is one of the mechanics at said garage. He said he has used the remans from Autozone for a long time and has never had one come back and yes even on Subarus. He also explained the procedure over the phone and he was right on for my specific model.

His opinion was not too waste money on the remans from Subaru and to just go with the Autozone remans.

I do trust and put stock in his opinion as he has been at this game for a long time.

Thoughts and opinions are welcome.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have never used a reman axle from Auto Zone. I have from other parts suppliers and have not had any problems.

What you need to understand about the parts business is that the parts companies buy products from manufacturers and sell them. Like a grocer. You find the same brand in all the stores, with slight difference in price or packaging. That house brand bread was actually made by Rainbow, just for example. Its the same blend, different package. The downside of Auto Zone is that they have a poor house brand across the board because the manufacturing specs are reduced in quality. Reduced quality equals reduced price. I do know that their electrical parts are poor.

Now, in comparison with OE parts: The auto manufacturers do not manufacture their parts. The engineers design the build for the part and contract it out to the actual manufacturer. Denso, Mitsubishi Electric, NGK, Bosch, Gates, to name a few, manufacture the parts then ship to the factory. Now, when you find that you can't get the part anywhere except the dealer, or get the one that actually works, it is because the Auto Manufacturer has locked up production and bought the rights to hold for a determined number of years, before that part can be offered in the aftermarket. That's why some aftermarket parts just don't work on a Subaru. They are not made to exact specification. Just close, not perfect. Until the production rights are released, the aftermarket can only make and sell inferior parts.

You ever get that part from the store down the street and the plug is slightly off? It wasn't an accident. That slight change allows them to sell it as a part that will fit, although incorrect. Same with the electronics, the resistance built within can be out by .001 and pass as a working part, but the PCM will see it different.
 

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I have never used a reman axle from Auto Zone. I have from other parts suppliers and have not had any problems.

What you need to understand about the parts business is that the parts companies buy products from manufacturers and sell them. Like a grocer. You find the same brand in all the stores, with slight difference in price or packaging. That house brand bread was actually made by Rainbow, just for example. Its the same blend, different package. The downside of Auto Zone is that they have a poor house brand across the board because the manufacturing specs are reduced in quality. Reduced quality equals reduced price. I do know that their electrical parts are poor.

Now, in comparison with OE parts: The auto manufacturers do not manufacture their parts. The engineers design the build for the part and contract it out to the actual manufacturer. Denso, Mitsubishi Electric, NGK, Bosch, Gates, to name a few, manufacture the parts then ship to the factory. Now, when you find that you can't get the part anywhere except the dealer, or get the one that actually works, it is because the Auto Manufacturer has locked up production and bought the rights to hold for a determined number of years, before that part can be offered in the aftermarket. That's why some aftermarket parts just don't work on a Subaru. They are not made to exact specification. Just close, not perfect. Until the production rights are released, the aftermarket can only make and sell inferior parts.

You ever get that part from the store down the street and the plug is slightly off? It wasn't an accident. That slight change allows them to sell it as a part that will fit, although incorrect. Same with the electronics, the resistance built within can be out by .001 and pass as a working part, but the PCM will see it different.
Very insightful post. I work for Napa Auto Parts and we see this kind of stuff every day. I am proud to work for a company that has just a little better quality control then some of the "other" after market suppliers. But I also agree with what you just said. Many times parts from other suppliers are the exact same part just re boxed and sold under their label. There are only so many manufacture's for a part and re boxing is how we get our share of the pie.

And the description about parts that are not exact matches is spot on. That's why an aftermarket thermostat is not exactly like OE (though our newer import brand is close to OE) And why my filter manufacture "Wix Filters" just released a new filter for our cars with the correct pressure by-pass valve. 23psi instead of 8-11 that they previously sold. There are a few others I'm forgetting, but luckily many aftermarket parts fit the 2nd gens pretty well.

Thanks for your OP and sharing your stories. I cant tell you how many times I get customers who come in buying up parts left and right trying to chase a problem. They end up spending way more money to throw parts at it then a simple diagnostic fee at a shop. I try to steer people away from that practice, but some people just have thick skulls or just are stuck in their ways.
 

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"Somewhere there is a person willing to make something a little worse and sell it for slightly less. Anyone who considers price ONLY, is this man's lawful prey."


one problem is, there are plenty of folks that will walk into a parts store and say; "I need the cheapest brake pads (or fan belt, or transmission fluid) you have." and if you don't have something to sell him, he'll go down the street and leave his money with your competitor.
 

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"Somewhere there is a person willing to make something a little worse and sell it for slightly less. Anyone who considers price ONLY, is this man's lawful prey."


one problem is, there are plenty of folks that will walk into a parts store and say; "I need the cheapest brake pads (or fan belt, or transmission fluid) you have." and if you don't have something to sell him, he'll go down the street and leave his money with your competitor.
That's okay. They won't be anyone's customers for long...
__________________________________

I carry a few ASE certs and friends and family call me from time to time. I always laugh at them when they find out that dealers can make mistakes.

My favorite example is what happened to my Friend. He took his van to the dealer for a recall and the conversation went like this:
Dealer: Ok, your car is done but we noticed your brakes are bad, they need to be changed asap.
Joe: Thanks for telling me, I don't have time now.
One week later at the tire shop to get studs on...
Joe: ...and while your doing the tires I need new brakes too.
Tech: sure no problem.
Minutes later...
Tech: We just checked your brakes and they are at 50%, no need to change them.
Joe, calls me: Why is the tire shop lying to me telling me I don't need brakes, I know I need them! The DEALER said so! :1pat:
 

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My local subie dealer buys axles from NAPA across the street...

I have a NAPA axle in mine, only had to try two before I found one where the roll pin would go in!

I tried the first one in both positions, roll pin hole was slightly off in both orientations. Second axle, no sweat.
 

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maybe we've gone a little off topic, but I just wanted to add, it isn't that I expect a dealer or anyone or any business to be perfect, but I expect to be treated fairly, no fraud or lies, and I expect any problem/mistake to be corrected fairly.

We make mistakes where i work, but we treat our customers with dignity. On rare occasions, they may be so p!55ed off at us that we just can;t repair the reltionship. But, a general rule of thumb in business is, costs 8 TIMES more to replace a customer than to keep one so - it's worth it to bend over backwards to please them.

my wife's father was in the restaurant biz for most of his life, VP of Pizza Inn, co-owner of a sub sandwich chain and other food ventures. His policy was, if someone had a problem at a restaurant - the evening's meal was free, they got desert to take home and coupons for a return visit to try to show they can do a good job. He constantly examined plates after customers left, why?, he said he wanted to see if recipes were bad or portion sizes too large. Some folks feel cheated if a portion size is too large cause they won't ask for a doggie bag in a fancy restaurant. And they may not complain if the broccoli is bad or the green beans limp cause they don't like confrontations.

I'm told in Japan, if a commuter train is more than 15 minutes late, everyone still rides - but they get the ticket price refunded. Think Amtrak would do that? Or a city bus service?

Sometimes businesses are unfairly criticized, but often, customers are mistreated as well. If I screw up a DIY project on my car, at least I don't have to force myself to complain or get up in someone else's face about it. I hate that stuff more than I hate myself for making a mistake I guess.

ugh - kinda rambled there a bit, OK end of rant lol!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
On points:

The dealership hires people out of tech schools. Its on the job training. I've had L1 techs working under me that couldn't spell ASE and couldn't do the job correct.

My shop: first full year in the shop had a 243% increase in repairs. Second year, 27%. This year, on track for 25%. Majority word of mouth referrals. My customers post their feelings on FaceBook about me. I know I'm doing my job.
 

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Another customer comes from a lube shop that also does state inspections where a tech school student doing the inspection relayed to him that he needed a catalytic converter since his car failed inspection for a P0420. He came to me. I replaced the stuck open thermostat, $105, problem solved.
I wish I had seen this before I took my son's 2002 in for a cat converter. I just got back with the car 10 minutes ago. It BETTER pass SI now that they did the work. They (Georgetown Subaru) told me it needed a few 20 mile cycles to reset the fault.
On the way home I realize he needs a new clutch and brake work.
Do you have your own shop? I'd like to contact you.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I wish I had seen this before I took my son's 2002 in for a cat converter. I just got back with the car 10 minutes ago. It BETTER pass SI now that they did the work. They (Georgetown Subaru) told me it needed a few 20 mile cycles to reset the fault.
On the way home I realize he needs a new clutch and brake work.
Do you have your own shop? I'd like to contact you.
Weren't you buy the shop for an oil change on a 13 OB? Came back because the oil level light came on then went off? Pflugerville?

If not, then someone I talked to last week has similar problems to yours.

Sent PM.
 

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Sadly where I live good diagnostic mechanics are rare. I plan to drive three or four hours South to find one as soon as I am done with the taxes. My local shop has done their best and they have at least kept it on the road so I can get it there.
 

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Cardoc is the man...so far so good on the motor swap and still doing well. I try to do what I can but he will be the only person I will be taking this car too. Fantastic technical service and advice. Thanks again.
 

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Cardoc, how good are you with GMs? I've got a PITA Pontiac that could use some attention... :p If you like to travel, that is.


Kidding, of course. If you were in the area though...
 

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You can get an economics lesson out of this thread...

Most Americans need cars in their lives. Cars need mechanics to keep them running. Mechanics need paychecks from shops to keep them running. Shops need to pay for all kinds of stuff on top of labor, as with most businesses.

The trouble is that many people can't afford to pay a shop enough money that the shop can still afford to pay a mechanic properly, so there's a chronic talent shortage.

Given the complexity of modern cars, good mechanics are needed. But if they can't get paid what they are worth, they'll be motivated to find something else to do for a paycheck. Supercars, race teams, or non-automotive stuff, for example.

So you wind up with a lot of mechanics who can't wrap their heads around basic troubleshooting, and a few who are very good working on high-end stuff that most of the public doesn't drive.

Cardoc seems to be one of the rare exceptions who actually bothers to use skills like logic to troubleshoot problems, and still works on whatever the public cares to roll into his shop.

I do hope his shop is paying him appropriately.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks Raster.

I earn enough for what I need and a little extra.

The thing is, people outside this trade don't know of the cost of this profession. Here's a list:

Tools: I own approximately $60k+ in tools including specialty tools for odd balls like V6 Audi's and Ford 4.0 SOHC. And tools break or stretch out with constant use, so they need replacement. Then there's the storage for everything.

Computer equipment: Between mine and the owner's stash, probably $10-15k. And that's not the shop's computer system to run the Lube Lanes and infrastructure. That's automotive diagnostic equipment and software and some need annual updates which average $750 a pop. Then there's the alignment equipment that require regular software updates and calibrations, not to mention electronics issues or the cost when a tech drops a $1700 alignment head on the concrete.

Education: Time and money both; LOTS and its continual.

I got my knick from a customer. He likened my skills to a doctor, only I have to know more. The human body is similar throughout. Automobiles are not. Think about how much information I have that covers every manufacturer over a large number of years, and its all stored in my mind.

I favor Subaru. I repair everything.

And I love my work.

SE95, send me a PM of your problem and I'll go from there. Its a GM. Can't be that difficult.


.
 

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One of the easiest jobs in the world to scam people out of money is car repair. Unless the customer knows their car well the mechanic has lots of wiggle room on just what they can say needs fixing and charge for.

I've caught very large dealers - very well known viewed as being good dealers charging for work they didn't do! Not talking little stuff either. Every time the response is the same BS they feed customers who they assume knows nothing about the vehicle. Every time I have told them to stop speaking and to listen carefully this is very hard for them to do but all of them have done it. I then tell them to pull out the parts break out and explain to them why I know they didn't do the job and that if I had the time I would not have paid them to do it I would have done it my self.

Large shops like dealers are far far easier to get them to step up and fix their mistake or lack of doing the job vs small shops. The Dealer has far more to loose if someone files a fraud BBB complaint against them vs the little guy who after X number of complaints - closes up shop then re opens under a different company name clean slate good to go. There was a tire shop in our local town that did this about every 4yrs everyone in town knew you never got any work at that place. Owned by a local family known for being a major pain in the ass. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Educate. Educate. Educate.

Owners need to understand something: When the automobile was created, it was up to the owner to maintain and repair. It has gradually gotten to the point that most owners only know how to put gas in and drive it. A lot aren't even good at driving.

I try to get the owners to learn about their cars. Listen to them. Talk to them if it makes you feel better. You spend hours a day in it. KNOW it.

In some of my post, I give short answers. On purpose. You need to think, deduce and learn from it. Remember it.

The best thing that has come out of the evolution of the automobile has been computer controls. Its not that difficult, really. If you can run a PC or laptop, you can communicate with your car. Just put the effort in to it. Learn the data and how to recognize an issue before it escalates. Don't be lazy and look for the quick fix. Its not there. If you put the same effort into reading your car as you did searching the internet for hours on end trying to find that $5 fix, you may have been able to save yourself a lot of time, trouble and expense. Not to mention energy.

With rising cost of everything, I understand wanting a low cost solution. Sometimes, its not there because when the issue was small and manageable, it was ignored, put off, waited on to see if it would go away. I've had customers say that, "I thought the noise would go away.". It did, when the engine quit. $3000, please. The oil change would have been $45. Or that $10 air filter. Stop and put air in the tires. Keep it clean so you know when there is a leak; you wash the outside, vacuum the inside, why not the engine?

Little things add up. Whether its the little things you do to maintain it or the little noises that creep up on you, you must pay attention.

And if that diagnostic seems a little on the screwy side, get a 2nd, or 3rd. I don't like giving away my money any more than the next person, so I know what your thinking, but shelling out money that doesn't repair the problem means shelling out even more.

A lastly, on this post anyway, I will say one thing about Subaru owners that makes them better than the owner of most other autos; they take care of them rather than run them in the ground. I've never heard a Subie owner say, "I'm not worried about that, I'll just drive it til it quits and get rid of it."
 
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