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Blog: Auto service discussion — just hot air, or some truth?

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Auto service discussion

AKRON (March 11, 2015) — I pushed open the door to the sauna at a health club I regularly visit to encounter a steamy-hot discussion of car repair and one man’s take on its apparent shortcomings.

For the sake of bloviation, we’ll call him Alpha Male or "AM."

As I took my seat on a well-worn wooden bench, wiping the beads of sweat from my brow, AM was holding court over two other guys who nodded periodically in agreement — the proverbial "captive audience." The one-sided conversation went something like this:

"So I had my car at the repair shop and asked the guy about my windshield wipers, and he gave me some kind of crap about how there was probably something wrong with the mechanism. That’s why it wasn’t really cleaning right," AM says with a snarl.

"I told the guy that I was a licensed mechanic myself and then he clams up and doesn’t say another word."

At this point the guy turning wrenches apparently turned 50 shades of gray and either got scared or embarrassed.

AM then told him, “Just change the damned wiper blades,” and the mechanic slinked away.

From that escapade he moved on to shops where the owners wear their religiosity on their sleeve, right above their ASE-certified patches.

“Man, I’m telling you, ya gotta watch out for those Bible thumpers who talk a good game about how their shop is a ‘Christian’ business or whatever religion.

“They’re waiting for the Second Coming but looking for the next way they can gouge or rip you off.

“I had an owner at a repair show talking with me with a Bible under his arm, but I knew he was lying outright. I just don’t trust them.”

AM’s audience had either had enough of his heated air or the sauna’s. They both made it out the door as he continued his diatribe against shops that seemingly base their treatment of customers on the tenets of the Bible.

Turning to me — all alone and sitting with my head lowered, avoiding eye contact — he then teed off on a local muffler shop that offers too-cheap-to-believe prices on exhaust systems.

“Yeah, they brag about their low prices,” he continued, “so I asked the guy how thick their mufflers are and he says one inch. I asked him if I could get a two, but he told me the shop doesn’t carry them that thick because ‘no one wants them.’

“Yeah, right — you think they’d want them if they knew the kind of crap they’re getting put on their cars?

“Then you’ll be going back to replace the system in 18 months because it’ll rust out. I tell ya, everybody’s out there trying to make a buck and rip you off.

“And that guy’s got a Bible on his counter, too, telling me about how he operates a good Christian-based business.”

I muttered something to AM about shops “practicing what they preach” as he bobbed his head in affirmation.

Gingerly getting up from the hot bench that felt like sitting on a griddle at a greasy spoon diner, I made my way toward the door, praying all the way that the heat in the sauna hadn’t made it stick shut, leaving me to withstand AM’s next onslaught.

I’d had enough hot air for one day.

Sig Mikolajczyk is Managing Editor of Tire Business and adheres to the adage that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the sauna. He can be reached at smikolajczyk@crain.com; 330-865-6130; Twitter: @SigMikolajczyk

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