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  • When they just flat out mess up?

    Posted by George Smith on October 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    What do you do?  We have a system in the shop where as when a vehicle comes in and the oil is changed, a wheel is removed ect.. the technician doing the service must have the final checked off by another.  LOF for leaks, Rotations for loose lug nuts, tires balanced, ect…

    Well, it’s bound to happen and it did, I had one of my top lube techs perform a routine LOF and filled the vehicle, had it checked for leaks, sent it outand bam, the plug came out, got a motor.  I take it, he had hand tightened the bolt, on crank up it didn’t leak and they both signed off and let the car go.

    My question is, do you just write it down as “cost of doing business”?  Have the technicians pay for part of the repair? Terminate?  I just don’t know, lost on this one, need everyone’s help!

    Thanks in advance!

    deanh612 replied 8 years, 9 months ago 9 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
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  • fl-bill

    October 7, 2013 at 11:17 am

    That stinks!

    It happens. In 13 years in the same location it never happen to me, until recently. Had to pay for a valve job on a 2005 Marano. That is what Insurance is for.
    Cost of doing business. Live and, hopefully, your guys will learn.
    Good thing no one got hurt.
    FL Bill
  • bconnor

    October 7, 2013 at 11:19 am

    We would look for trail of oil to determine if plug fell out. If it came out when driving there should be long trail from what blew under the vehicle. I have head story’s of customers pulling plug and driving to lock up. I would hope that these are just stories. Some vehicle’s will also shut done under low oil pressure,6.0 Ford Power Stoke for example. We only have this happen once and it was turned over to insurance to let them work with the customer to determine fair result for all. Insurance allowed for used engine and customer paid difference for reman. then we performed repairs in the shop.

    As far as employees I believe if a employee has learned a lesson assuming they will not repeat the error they are of a higher value than trying on a new employee that may make the same mistake..



  • nctransmission

    October 7, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Why do you have the checks and balances if the employees don’t know the repercussions?

    Why is it YOUR responsibility to both pay the employee to perform the service correctly AND pay to repair what he didn’t perform correctly?  Why are YOU on the hook for financially fixing HIS mistake?
    Yes, I see it as a cost of business in this case, because you’ve not set the stage appropriately for the repercussions.  I have to do it from time to time, where if I can not afford to pay for a “fix” that they want to do, then it’s on them to do it, not me. But I have that conversation up front before something hits the fan.
  • jerseysure

    October 7, 2013 at 11:54 am

    The sign-offs are great in theory but I believe most techs pencil whip them and don’t actually double-check. I had a verbal drain plug check in place which I thought was very effective “drain plug tight” “OK” but found that when management wasn’t around they wouldn’t do it and just jot some initials down on the RO.

    Being a very high volume shop I have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with an oil filter coming off, a drain plug or 2, and more wheel-offs/loose wheels than I’d like to admit (mostly due to corrosion/not seating properly–not being left loose–but result is the same). 
    In every case, my employee was extremely upset at what happened. They didn’t immediately take the “I didn’t do it” course, you can tell right away they feel terrible and almost can’t believe it happened. They know not to get defensive, and many times have had to go help a customer on the road with their tail between their legs which is terrifying if you’re not used to dealing with the public every day face-to-face. 
    Everyone makes mistakes. I never minimilize it like that to the customer unless they are getting out of line. I tell them I’m sorry, it’s a terrible mistake to make, but it’s a mistake and we will make it right. I usually give myself time to calm down from the stress of the situation then talk to my employee the next day–usually taking the approach of “we all make mistakes, but we can’t make one of these again.. you work on XX amount of cars a day and have had thousands come and go without incident–so I’m sure this is a one-time event”. All of my employees have been here 10+ years.
    Every situation is different–you have to look at the employee’s value and history. I know at least in my area, good help in this business is REAL hard to find..

  • ceraaa42

    October 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I agree with what others have said mostly.

    1) In MOST states you can NOT charge the employee for the damages. At least legally. You can terminate, but he can collect unemployment for being discharged for an accident.

    2) It doesn’t mean it needs a complete new or used engine. We’ve had this happen twice. The engines lock up from a stuck rod bearing most of the time. We pulled the pan, polished the rod journals, installed new bearings and checked the oil clearance on all, including the mains. It was fine both times. These were also good customers so I was able to keep a long term eye on them.

    3) Accidents happen. It is careless, some discussion with the employee needs to happen.

  • Raymond Wittneben IV

    October 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Had it happen to me. We had an employee that accidentally grabbed the wrong filter, only different by one number & it looked exactly the same, have to say, when you looked at it quick it looked like the same number as needed.

    Needless to say the filter blew and destroyed the motor.

    We have business insurance for that, we had to pay a small deductable and my insurance company company paid for a new motor for the customers car & we got paid the labor which more than offset the deductable

    Chalk it up to the learning curve. I know the employee didn’t do it on purpose, of course he wouldn’t want that

    Now we have a part check system in place that will hopefully prevent this

    We also have a quality control training system for all employees

    Will this prevent accidents from happening again, more so than not, but when your in business long enough and work on enough cars, things happen

    FYI, we use a torque wrench to tighten all drain plugs and when the next tech is checking the work he or she just has to click the wrench to check the torque, if you torque all of em, no questions asked

    BTW, the employee that it happened too, ended up being my best employee



  • larrybloodworth

    October 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Your shop liability insurance should have a product liability clause in it. It covers loss of property or life if one of your techs messes up. Use it judiciously because your rates will go up when you make a claim.

    I’ve used it before and if the loss is $3K or lower I just eat it.

    J. Larry Bloodworth
    Certified Transmissions
    Draper, Utah

  • deanh612

    October 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I had several issues when working for a major auto retailer. Techs would leave plugs loose, not add oil, wheel lugs loose, you name it and it happened. I try to learn how and make a process change to address the issue. For example on an LOF service, Hood open and oil fill cap set on the latch to prevent closing the hood without a reminder to add oil. Another shop rule, oil drain plug in one hand and the wrench to tighten it in the other, always & every time. Wheel lugs tightened with a torque stick and a final check with a torque wrench when the car hits the ground. You know what happened now find out how and address the how. If he is a good employee then let everyone learn from it and get better. Right now blame will only produce a desire to hide mistakes and not learn from them.