Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2000 Buick Lesabre Part 2

You remember our last case study. Well, I am called back to this shop because the vehicle left running well then a week later it has issues and a MIL lamp on. At this point do we have another issue? I arrive and start the car which seems to run pretty decent but the MIL is on for sure. I retrieve a code P0102 (Mass Air Flow Sensor Circuit Low). Hmmmm. Well, I do my checks and guess what? The culprit is a bad remanufactured Mass Air Flow Sensor. This car left a week ago with 137,052 miles on it and here it is with 137,182 with a bad MAF.
This the point where I get on my soapbox about the automotive industry. Here goes my rant. About 10 years ago the automotive industry changed from a quality driven business to a price point business. Today, it is all about getting the cheapest part possible. This saturation of cheap parts has driven the quality of automotive parts into the toilet. Manufacturers really don't care because even though they have a 30% defect or return rate, they are still making 150% profit. The general public is really ill informed about this. All they know is that they can go online and get that part for $45.00, why are you charging me $125.00. The big box stores reap the benefits of this by buying these cheap parts even cheaper due to volume and can offer these parts at ridiculously low prices. The real loser is the shop owner. He or she is put in a difficult situation. Should we try this cheap part to remain competitive. Possibly, tarnishing our image if this part comes back defective or worse yet doesn't even work out of the box. Not to mention the time and money lost on having to do the job over again. Or, do we offer a quality part that in some cases is double the cheap part price. Now he has to "justify" and educate the consumer on why it is more money. It is a slippery slope. If the customer pulls the car and the guy goes down the street and that shop installs the cheap part and it works, the first shop owner looks like a crook. This is a real issue in our industry. It used to be primarily starters and alternators. Now it is rampant. With auto parts just like anything else-you get what you pay for! The thud you just heard was me getting off my soapbox.
So what do I do here? It is not my fault this part failed right away. Do I charge the shop owner again to diagnose? He is one of my best customers. I take one on the cuff and inform the shop owner to only use a quality MAF sensor. We both live to fight another day.