Article > Letters to the Editor

We Need Precise Information


Kelsey Tidwell had a good point, even if you missed it (In the letters section of the May 2009 issue, Tidwell takes issue with a February Tech Tip that says bearings demand grease with special characteristics. She felt the answer was too generic.)

Have you taken a look at the plethora of greases, oils, and/or fluids with OE specifications? When a customer comes in looking for a specific fluid based upon the OE specs, what are you going to sell him?

I defy you to find a comprehensive listing of equivalents. A customer being sold the wrong or non-compatible product may find himself on the wrong end of a warranty issue. And guess who he is going to come after? It’s the same with repair shops. Whether the customer is walk-in or wholesale—the counter professional is the expert and the one the customer is expecting correct answers. So, the generic answer is not the best education. Instead the counter professional (whether “seasoned”, or novice) needs better instruction as where to find the correct application grease, oil, fluid, or what-have-you.

Denny Mandeville
Canyon Automotive
Sedona, Ariz.
  Previous Comments
avatar   tiny   star   2/19/2010   5:22 PM

though i consider myself neither seasoned nor a novice in this business, i have seen a thing or two. my advice to every customer that graces me with a purchase is this: learn your car. please.

It is impossible for one counter person to know absolutely everything about everything, no matter who comes through the door. However, it is easy for one customer to know enough about his or her one or two cars to be able to make informed purchases regarding said cars.

if one approaches the customer with positive reinforcement regarding this, any and all additional education the counter person offers the customer will go very far in keeping the customer happy and returning to the store. it's worked every time for me so far.

avatar   Mike D   star   2/18/2010   8:26 PM

This is one issue that always comes up in my head. I work for the guys in red with the checkered collars and we carry the normal house brand, Peak, and Prestone. But what do I sell to the customer for antifreeze for their water pump job? Do I sell them name brand "all makes" antifreeze or tell them they have to drive a half hour into Worcester for "Volkswagen Specific Antifreeze"?

avatar   Chris   star   2/11/2010   2:18 PM

It's an easy point to make to the customer(in most cases) that putting the wrong antifreeze may not void their warranty, but it will definitely result in more work for them and a lot more money in the long run. $15 dollars for the antifreeze as opposed to $300+ for replacing the pump once again. Don't let your customers fool themselves into thinking that free replacement means free LABOR.

avatar   Tom   star   2/9/2010   3:37 PM

It just takes common sense.How about that universal antifreeze. Works in everything right! If you do some research on it Green Mafia in house brand. It is for topping off your system. Yet I see counter people sell it with a waterpump or radiator all day long. Everything is LIFETIME WARRANTIED so what's it matter.

avatar   Chris   star   1/23/2010   4:35 PM

For the really tough palates, there's the bottom-of-the-barrel house brand Type F. =D

avatar   Gabe   star   1/1/2010   3:22 PM

Green mafia! That's a good one! We have a valvoline oil book with all the recommended fluids. It is just hard looking something up to see it takes SLF then having to flip to the back to see what SLF is. So me personally I like to taste test each fluid. Swish it around, really get a feel for it's flavor. Then recommend the proper fluid.

avatar   dave elliott   star   10/29/2009   3:29 PM

Stephen, we may work for the same Green Mafia. I see that in the computer all the time. Dexron vi is a retrofit, and you are absolutely correct. You do need enough basic knowledge to know that Dexron Vi was not available on the 75 nova. It's just easier to put the Dexron VI on there as it will always be correct as an upgrade I did like this statement . "New recruits have a very difficult time learning what is needed untill they have worked in this field for a year or two."

avatar   Stephen   star   10/23/2009   1:59 PM

At some part stores we have a refrence guide in the computer that tells what is recommended. But it is just a refrence guide. For example looking for a 75 chevy it will tell us that it is dex vi trans fluid! So the counter person MUST have more than just basic knowledge to best serve the customer. New recruits have a very difficult time learning what is needed untill they have worked in this field for a year or two. It gets very frustrating trying to train fresh faces and keep with new "improvements" ath the same time.

avatar   Robert Davis   star   9/5/2009   12:16 PM

Here is my two cents on this topic about wanting precise information... I personally look into this topic in that i don't need for any of my customers to come back so i just go to the dealer and ask they what they recommend for any application i have several three ring notebooks full of information also with even dtc's and trouble code flow chart... If i help the customer to the fullest extent they will come back... isn't that what we want in the parts stores... all my co-workers look at me funny when i do this.

avatar   Jon   star   9/3/2009   7:07 PM

I have a book put out by pennzoil once per year that has all the information you need for pretty much any car. I use it religiously to stay out of warranty situations.

avatar   Dave Elliott   star   8/20/2009   9:00 AM

Tom, thanks for the information. I have a couple of local bulk oil companies, one in particular that is a customer of ours. I never thought about the Oil companies doing that but it makes sense.

avatar   Tom Dayton   star   6/23/2009   7:27 PM

This information IS out there, and oil companies publish it annually. I have a spiral-bound book from a competing oil company, detailing capacities and fluid recommendations up to the current model year. One of my best customers obtained it free of charge for me from their bulk oil distributor! It's not that difficult to consult "the book", and sometimes it makes the difference between keeping a customer in-store and recommending they "ask the dealer".

avatar   Dave Elliott   star   6/19/2009   9:55 AM

The good old days are gone. That's one thing we have to face. Things are more and more specialized, now you need as many types of ATF as you do brands of oil. Consumers are not aware that their vehicle takes anything special and most of the time won't know to ask. We have to be alert to what they are buying. And it IS our job to educate them. Someone needs to come up with a comprehensive recommendation list for greases and oils. (are you listening big oil companies? if you make it, you ought to know what it goes in. Help us out!) I don't have time to look up every car any more to see what it takes to do the job. E-Catalogs could help here, if they were more reliable. I had an instance yesterday where Mitchell on demand recommended one fluid, my e-cat recommended another, and the dealer recommended still a third. Confusing? You Bet! Sometimes it makes you want to pull your hair out, if you have any left.

avatar   Tom Pulley   star   6/10/2009   2:01 PM

What happened to the good old days of 80-90 or 85-140, or type d f or a. If they come out with 1 more kind of dexron i think we will have to add more shelving to the oil isle.I play it safe and call the oil manufacturer or the dealership.

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