Behind The Wrench, Auto Mechanic Interview with Jim W Chrysler Tech
Hey folks, It has been a long long long time since we have done an auto mechanic interview. That is 100% my fault. If you have sent your interview in, and it was not posted, I am truly sorry. Don’t worry we are back on track. Let’s get to it!
How long have you been in the Industry?
What is your current job title?
What were you doing for your first automotive job?
changing oil at a Toyota dealership
Do you currently work at a Dealer, or in an aftermarket shop, do you prefer one over the other?
Currently i am working at a Chrysler dealer, but i have worked in the aftermarket as well, including some time in management. I have to say i prefer dealerships over working in an aftermarket shop, the level of training and support available is a lot better in a dealer. Plus the level of technology involved these days is just mind blowing compared to just even a few years ago. Vehicles are so technology based now,i feel for the guys in the aftermarket that are faced with the challenge of trying to keep up with all the “latest and greatest”. Plus using factory parts and diagnostic equipment is another big plus,and the working hours are better.
Walk us through what you do on a daily basis.
Lots of coffee!!!! 🙂 Well,lots of coffee in the morning then switch to Gatorade. First stop,unlock the box,get a cup of coffee and head for dispatch,with fingers crossed that the first ticket isn’t a warranty job! 😉 I kinda dabble in a little bit of everything, so at 8am i might be doing a brake job, around lunch fixing an interior water leak, and at quitting time pulling a cylinder head off. And cant forget a couple smoke breaks in there too. I know its sounds crazy but i actually like doing trim work, i know I am nuts! But i do a good portion of the interior trim work in the shop, but I am not to terribly picky about whatever comes my way. We have a good dispatcher, that knows all of our strong points and does a great job of routing the work through the shop.Plus i work with a great bunch of guys,and that is huge in this business.
When you are not working on or with cars, what do you like to do?
Build model cars,trucks and helicopters,watch racing (go Junior!), Atlanta Braves baseball, read military history, listen to music, and give my beautiful wife a hard time 😉 That was a joke! She is great, she has put up with me for almost 5 years of marriage and we have know each other for 10 years almost now. And teach Sunday school, with the funniest bunch of kids ever!
What kind of car do you drive?
Lowered 2005 GMC Sierra crew cab
What was your first car?
What made you want to work on cars?
Needed a job! Seriously, i always loved cars,grew up reading about every car magazine and book i could get my hands on. And once i started in the dealer,i just got hooked. There is just something about it that once you are in,you cant seem to ever get out, people think they do,and once they get out, they end up coming back, its in out blood i guess.
What is the weirdest thing that you have found in a car, that should not have been there?
A baby copperhead,in a wheel cover,and he was still alive,and very,very angry!!!!!
Do you have much customer interaction?
Not as much anymore,i actually started at this dealer as a writer,and went back to the line last summer,but i still have a lot of customers that when i see them come in i will go and talk. Certainly not as much as during my time as a writer or manager though.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The challenge,and the satisfaction when you fix something that just had you completely puzzled,and you figure it out.Plus the guys i work with.
If giving the chance, what would you never do again at work?
Become a victim of tunnel vision.You know the saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees”? Sometimes we all get so caught up in the thinking that its got to be a huge complex problem,that we forget sometimes(i know i do),start with the basics,work the trouble trees,and most importantly,sometime you just got to walk away,go talk to a buddy in the shop about the race,or how his kid is doing,clear the mind,take a breath and fix the problem.
The auto industry has a really bad rap, what do you say to someone who thinks you are trying to take advantage of them?
The problem is,when people walk into a repair facility,dealer aftermarket,wherever,they throw a brick wall up.They are already thinking,”these guys are just gonna rip me off”. And i understand that.Yes,there are dishonest mechanics and technicians,just like there are dishonest police officers,doctors,lawyers,bankers,the list goes on. But for every one of these,there is many many times that number that are not.Dishonesty is in every line of work,not just the automotive business. And nowadays,it is so easy to find a review of a shop,online,social media,that the dishonest ones are going away quickly.And to someone that says,i don’t trust what you are saying about my car,all i can say is,you wont unless you allow me that opportunity to earn it.
Of all the maintenance that cars need, what is the ONE that will keep my car healthy the longest?
change the oil
How important is reading your vehicles owners manual?
If customers only knew how much time they would save by just sitting down and reading it and understanding their vehicle options and functions,and what is normal and what is not normal,they would be amazed. We have cars in on a daily basis,the customer thinks there is a problem,but nothing is wrong,they just are not using that function as it is designed. A customer comes in waits for an hour just to find out that they weren’t doing something right,and their car works as designed. Read the manual,you will find out lots of really cool stuff,you may not have known about your car.
Have you read the owners manual to your car?
cover to cover,twice
What tool in your tool box do you use the most?
Wow, tough question. My tools are my kids,i don’t want to pick a favorite!
Is there a brand of tool that you prefer?
I will be honest,i have a mix of the big three(Snap On, Matco,and Cornwell). Plus some Craftsman and Kobalt stuff too.I do like Snap On wrenches and sockets,but honestly as long as its a good tool that wont let me down when i need it,I am in.
If you could only use 3 tools from now on, what would they be( and why)?
Pocket screwdriver for sure,best tool ever!! A pair of the”Cobra” pliers from Knipex,cause they are just really cool,and my impact,just cause we have been together a long time,kinda like a part of the family now 🙂
If you were building a “James Bond” car, what is the one thing you would add it?
A hover conversion like the cars in Back to the Future 2 had
You are sending your kid off to college, what car would you buy for them?
What is the one thing that you want folks to know about your job that they might not know?
That we are just a bunch of guys trying to make an honest living doing a very physically and more than that now mentally demanding job
Thanks for the great interview Jim. It is always great to hear from fellow techs out there. I think that most of us VW techs will be happy to sublet our Routan work to ya LOL.
If you want to be on Behind the Wrench, please contact me. Also, if you know someone that is thinking about becoming an auto mechanic or technician, send them this interview. It may be the motivation they are looking for.