Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016 - (Page 24)
FIXED OPS JOURNAL
"If a dealer were to lose a tool,
we have the ability to loan a tool to
a dealer on a temporary basis."
TIM TURVEY, General Motors
■ Please, don't discard those old tools and diagnostic gear
hen it comes to the vehicle
maintenance I can't do
myself, there's nothing
better than a pair of factorytrained hands. So, unlike many
Americans, I take my older cars back to
the dealer for service.
But that's exposed an interesting
problem: Service departments may no
longer have the tools and diagnostic
equipment to service older cars. Here are
two recent examples.
The vehicle I drive daily is a spotless,
Fixed Ops Journal
low-mileage 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Laredo, the perfect urban assault vehicle
for Detroit's gnarly, potholed roads. I recently took the Jeep to the
dealer for the trailer hitch recall, figuring while it was there, I would
get some regular maintenance items done. I ended up writing a
check for $1,000, mostly for preventive maintenance, but that still left
some items on the to-do list undone, notably automatic transmission
service, which includes changing the fluid and cleaning the filter.
The service manager at Suburban Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram of
Troy, in Michigan, told me the store no longer has the special tools to
open up the drain plugs in the transmission and torque converter
and completely flush out all the old fluid. That cost the dealer $99 in
Let's consider the economic implications of this lost opportunity.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ, which was produced from July 1998 to
May 2004, including my Laredo, was a monster hit for Chrysler, with
more than 1.4 million units sold. At the end of 2014, nearly a million
of these very durable Jeeps were still registered in the U.S. That's
potentially a lot of money for Jeep dealerships' service departments.
The Jeep isn't the only service department misfire I've experienced
lately. I always wanted to own a Ford Taurus SHO with the acclaimed
Yamaha V-6 engine. So, I scanned classified ads from all over the
country and found the nicest, cleanest example on the market: a dark
green 1995 model with fewer than 70,000 miles. Well, almost no car
you buy over the Internet arrives without a few surprises. The SHO
had oil leaks and a few other nagging issues.
The most bothersome was the always glowing, always annoying
ABS warning light on the dash. My local Ford dealer had no problem
replacing the leaky camshaft seals and doing a few other jobs to get
the car roadworthy. But the service department no longer had the
special Ford-issued diagnostic equipment to read the trouble codes
stored in the SHO's computer module.
There's no telling how much not being able to do that repair cost
the dealer in lost revenue.
In fact, no Ford dealership in the Detroit area had that tool. The
dealership I took my car to, Royal Oak Ford, just north of Detroit,
hadn't seen a 1995 SHO since 2005, the service manager told me. No
independent repair shops had the diagnostic equipment either. So
the light was still on when I sold the car.
Ford says it has no policy requiring dealers to maintain factoryissued repair tools and diagnostic equipment once vehicles are out of
production. The decision is up to each dealer. General Motors offers
dealers two ways to service older cars, says Tim Turvey, GM global
vice president for customer care and aftersales.
"We have a loan program. If a dealer were to lose a tool, we have the
ability to loan a tool to a dealer on a temporary basis. We've got
everyone covered from a GM owner's perspective," he says. GM also
keeps all its diagnostic information and processes accessible so that
technicians can go directly to GM for answers to technical issues for
vehicles that are long out of production.
As quality continues to improve and fewer components fail under
warranty, service department revenues could take a hit. Older used
vehicles, then, are a potential gold mine for service departments.
Ford, Toyota and Nissan recognize this and are supporting older
vehicles with a greater array of service parts.
Hopefully, dealers will retain or pool the needed special tools and
diagnostic equipment with other local dealers.
You may email Richard Truett at email@example.com.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016
Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016
90-second oil change
5 Minutes With
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Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016