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Finding the Right Answer


Sometimes all it takes is the right questions. Other times, though, you have to do a little field work.

Sure, I make enough of my own mistakes. No help needed there.

Well, I got burned the other day, again. Counter Pro blunder #24,357. It was a simple call: two front rotors for a 2004 Malibu. Wow, two choices, including a listing for a “Classic” Malibu. I don’t know about you, but no 2004 Malibu will ever be a “Classic.” A ’64 or ’65, but never an ’04. The customer had no additional info, so it was guessing time again.

Sure, I sent the wrong rotors, as expected. Sending the other set was only half an answer. What was the real info I needed to be correct the first time? I hit the “all lines” button on my trusty keyboard; maybe another manufacturer cataloged the part better. Looking at 15 different catalog listings made it worse. Classic? LT? Maxx? New body style? Old body style? The Malibu Barbie edition? This was no help at all.

I sneaked down to a local service provider and got into his service information web site. OK, now I see the difference. The Malibus with drum brakes use a 10.86 diameter front rotor, the ones with rear disc use an 11.653 diameter front rotor. So if we ask the correct question, either “4- wheel disc” or “ 10- or 11-inch diameter?” we will be able to send the

correct part. But even though the 4-wheel disc question is asked, some electronic catalog listings ignore the answer, listing both part numbers. Now you are waiting for me to jump all over the electronic catalog providers. Not today. Besides, that’s way too easy. Do I need to arm myself with service provider electronic information? Do I need to be able to tell the difference between J66/J67 and JL9 brakes on our suspect Malibu? Is there a paper catalog that explains the choices better? Maybe there is. But the real answer was located somewhere counter pros usually do not have the opportunity to explore.

Six days later, we got a call for a fuel filter for a 2002 Wrangler. If you do not have access to a diagram describing all of the different parts on the top of this fuel tank, you will spend the whole day sourcing stuff your customer doesn’t really need. Again, this requires a trip to the local shop to look at a diagram of the top of the tank.

I was out calling on shops discussing flashing PCMs when the tech working on an ’02 Monte Carlo asked if I use a Tech 2, the preferred GM tool. No, I don’t.

“Well, I purchased this PCM from another supplier, and my service information provider says I need to use a Tech 2 tool to do the key learn procedure,” said the tech.

I knew there was a different way, yet the instructions with the new PCM were worthless. And a counter pro never tries to “out tech” a tech. No guessing allowed, facts only.

I asked for the information that the tech had printed from his service web site. There it was, after six pages of Tech 2 instructions: a way to do the learn procedure with “no tools.” And the procedure was only five lines long! I saved my competitor a return, and I thought about how many other times this must have occurred. How many other PCMs were returned as new or defective because of poor or nonexistent installation and learn procedures? Wouldn’t it be great to send explicit instructions for the make, model and year with the PCM? Agreed, the majority of the shops have access to this type of information, but do they use the information? Every time?

Not convinced? Try to replace the power sunroof motor or window motors on a 2005 Ford 500. The tech needs to de-initialize the old motor and initialize the new motor? We are going to need a bigger back room unless we have a way of passing this information on to our customers. Will every manufacturer put the correct instructions in the box? Will anyone read them, the first time? Will anyone even believe the instructions? How many parts do we need to take back before we justify the cost of the information system?

I know what you are thinking; it must be the same thing I am thinking. Isn’t this something the manufacturers should already be providing, either in catalog or electronic form? I know counter pros will require more and more technical information, locators, diagrams, TSBs, install instructions and VIN decoders. Like our technician customers, we cannot ignore any source of needed information.

Hey, service information providers, how about some help? The distribution side of the aftermarket may provide the sales boost you are searching for next year. But as usual, we need a “deal.”

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