Common sense prevents a prudent person from grabbing a red-hot poker with bare hands. Likewise, common automotive sense prevents proud professionals from hurling new parts at a vehicle that already runs well.
When all is said and done, recklessly throwing new parts at problems burns your business' reputation the way a hot poker sears human flesh.
The difference is that the poker's impact is immediate and unmistakable, whereas the negative effect of parts-changing often builds slowly but surely over time.
Eventually, then, the service bays are empty, and the boss wonders where the business went.
This come-uppance has occurred for as long as I have worked in and reported on the industry — it will continue unabated.
Some younger readers I meet are consumed with technology tips they've found on the Internet.
Long before today's lightning-fast communications, however, reckless repairs were coming back to haunt auto service facilities of all kinds. This should surprise no one.
Now, let's return to problems with vehicles that, by any professional's estimation, already run well.
The issues could be real or perceived; a conscientious professional should investigate them objectively and carefully communicate the results to the owner.
If you have spent any meaningful time at the service counter or out in the bays, you should realize that reasonable people may draw incorrect conclusions due to ignorance; they may jump to conclusions because they're not automotive experts.
What's more, readers should recognize some facts of life.
For one thing, duplicating some symptoms on certain vehicles is very challenging. But it's not your fault that some tasks demand patience and persistence.
For another thing, some motorists simply can't describe symptoms clearly because they don't express themselves very well. Plus, a combination of these factors may complicate an already tough diagnosis.
Experience also shows that when perceived problems occur on a vehicle, you should never assume the owner knows how to operate the car's controls correctly.
How many times have you had to open the owner's manual and walk the car owner through a procedure in order to resolve a perceived problem?
For example, suppose the car's windows are fogging up. This isn't occurring because your techs repaired its air conditioner several weeks ago.
Instead — almost unbelievably — the owner never learned how to operate the vehicle's HVAC (heating-ventilation-air conditioning) controls.
The fellow always relied on his wife to operate those controls for him. He loathed admitting that he needed a co-pilot for that purpose.
Last but not least, remain calm when an apparently legitimate problem has stymied your technicians. Do some additional homework before leaping to false conclusions.
For example, some techs have encountered Honda vehicles on which the check engine light is illuminated. The car's computer has stored misfire trouble codes despite the fact that the engine performs normally and smoothly.
First, service personnel fail to collect an accurate vehicle history. In particular, someone else already repaired the cause of misfires or perhaps replaced a crankshaft sensor.
Second, neither your techs nor those who performed the repairs had done the required homework: This vehicle requires a procedure called "crankshaft sensor re-learn."
A technician can perform this task with the appropriate scan tool or via a simple road test. Skipping this "re-learn" may spur the computer to store bogus misfire codes.
I have seen shops throw good money after bad at one of these smooth-running Hondas.
You can call it common sense, automotive sense or common automotive sense.
But whatever you call it, it's lacking when a doggone instrument panel light contradicts the vehicle's actual performance.
Take a deep breath and do some research. Otherwise, you may be grabbing that proverbial hot poker.