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Car Dealership Service Departments: The View From the Front Lines

by Chris Fairfield, Service Technician (Written before 2000)

I have a more than passing interest in Chrysler because I am
a dealer employed "A" technician with over 15 years experience. I am
also ASE certified in all eight auto categories as well as L1 (engine
performance specialist) and have a refrigerant recycling licence.

You
probably don't hear much from mechanics like me, because we're maxed out just trying to
keep up with the changing technology. There is a dire
shortage of qualified technicians to service today's complicated cars
and trucks. The training and schooling we go through nowadays is
intense, to say the least.

I am not condoning incompetence or lack of ethics. I
always do my best for my customers and know many other techs who
feel and do the same. Those professional men and women are the true
heroes of the service industry. Every single day they deal with:

  • the car that never acts up in the shop
  • normal quirks that customers don't want to hear about
  • management only interested in the bottom line
  • the intense heat from today's engine compartments and the cold slush, snow and ice of winter
  • less than perfect communication from everyone
  • manufacturers riding roughshod over us
  • typo-laden service manuals
  • and worst of all, the unforgiving time clock always breathing down our necks.

It makes you wonder why anyone in their right mind would voluntarily do this for a living. We do it for the simple thrill of getting the customer's car fixed
and back on the road where it belongs. We do it for the lady with four
kids and no child support who has enough money to fix the car or feed
her family but not both and is drowning in her own tears because she
can't decide what to do (true story and we charged her nothing).

We do
it for the retirees on Social Security who need their cars to get
around and rely on us to keep them going. We do it for the young
families just starting out in life who can't afford a better car just
yet. In short, we do it for the simple thank-yous and the heartfelt
appreciation of all our customers. Those are life's greatest rewards
and the best pay of all.

I believe the motoring public needs to know what
we go through today to keep them on the road, and that we
leave no stones unturned in fulfilling that goal.


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