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Behind The Wrench with Joel A, Lamborghini Technician

Published on March 1, 2012 under Behind The Wrench

NAME:

Joel C Armstrong

How long have you been in the Industry?

Since 2005

What is your current job title?

Currently Unemployed

What were you doing for your first automotive job?

I worked at Manhattan Motorcars Inc. In New York City. It’s a luxury/high end dealership that specializes in Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Lotus sales and service. I was a Porsche and Lamborghini Technician. We have a certified Pre-Owned/ used car department that sell other high end brands such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz/ Maybach etc.

Do you currently work at a Dealer, or in an aftermarket shop, do you prefer one over the other?

No, after Manhattan Motorcars I went to work at Mercedes-Benz. I honestly prefer to work at a dealership because of certain benefits but you have more of a family oriented feeling at an aftermarket shop because it’s smaller. There’s less politics to deal with.

When you are not working on or with cars, what do you like to do?

Everyday i get up at about 5:59 (because 6:00 is just clichéd), I take my mom to work, come home and take care of what I’m doing for school because I plan on going back to Law School.

What kind of car do you drive?

2004 Ford Expedition. I also have a 2006 Yamaha R6 Anniversary Edition.

What was your first car?

1990 Ford Taurus. It was a free gift from one of my teachers when I went to school.

What made you want to work on cars?

I always loved cars. I had several subscriptions to automotive magazines like Road & Track, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Automobile, and Euro Tuner. Naturally, I was attracted to the higher end performance vehicles and wanted to work closely to them. I wanted to see what it felt like to be able to do 150+MPH, just because the car has the ability to do so. The mechanics and engineering that was put into creating such cars captivated my interest while reading about them in said magazine subscriptions.

What is the weirdest thing that you have found in a car, that should not have been there?

I was once removing a headliner on a Cayenne Turbo and while doing the R&R on the driver side visor, a bunch of Polaroids fell in my lap. Upon further investigation, they happened to be naked pictures of the customer’s girlfriend(s) lol they were at least 3 different girls. Weird.

Do you have much customer interaction?

Yes, for the most part I do. well, when I did work on their vehicles.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The Road test. Definitely.

If giving the chance, what would you never do again at work?

It’s sad to say but I would never trust people so easily. You’re of the mind that everyone is on the same team, but I realized it’s never like that.

The auto industry has a really bad rap, what do you say to someone who thinks you are trying to take advantage of them?

Depending on the situation, I would try to find out what the problem was and then explain to them what we would’ve done or what we usually do in our situation/shop. Most of the time a lot of women think they’re being given the “Shaft” because they’re usually ignorant of most automotive problems, but I explain to them how things work as far as let’s say: why your car takes so long to get an oil change. or why does it cost so much to change a tire or repair a transmission. etc I let them know about labor times, over head, flat rate, parts, tax, test and asses and making sure your problem is fixed when you walk out our door. Things like that take time. So i explain that to them.

Of all the maintenance that cars need, what is the ONE that will keep my car healthy the longest?

I would have to say get regular oil/filter services. That goes a long way. Trust me, I’ve seen what NOT changing your oil EVER would do to an engine. This one customer hadn’t changed her oil in her Boxster since she had gotten the car. She came in complaining about her engine pinging. We first off opened the drain plug and what looked like black jelly dropped out in globs. The whole engine was filled with the stuff.

How important is reading your vehicles owners manual?

It’s really important because it answers mostly all the questions you may have, from what kind of gas your car needs, tire pressure numbers, how often you should change fluids in your car etc.

Have you read the owners manual to your car?

Yes. I’m proud to say that i have!

What tool in your tool box do you use the most?

It’s either a toss up between my Makita Drill (set) and my Snap On 3/8″ flex head ratchet with the soft grip and smooth ratcheting action.

Is there a brand of tool that you prefer?

Snap-On. Not trying to sound like an advertisement, but it really does make a difference!

If you could only use 3 tools from now on, what would they be( and why)?

A light for dark places, my drill with bits/ sockets and flat head screwdriver for prying. I think those are the most universal tools of all. The bottom of the drill would also act like a hammer indifferent applications and the screw driver for leverage.

If you were building a “James Bond” car, what is the one thing you would add it?

A HUGE pair of hands to toss these Sunday drivers/ NYC yellow cabs out of the way when I’m going somewhere and running a little late. lol

You are sending your kid off to college, what car would you buy for them?

Maybe a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord. Those are good reliable cars and pretty OK on gas.

What is the one thing that you want folks to know about your job that they might not know?

It’s actually EASIER to get a job there than you may think. Go in and apply, but be prepared to work, though. Any sign of slacking and you’re outta there faster than you can read this sentence!

 

GREAT interview Joel! I am totally cracking up about the pics of the customers girl friends!!! I am also pretty sure that if I was a Lamborghini tech, test drives would be my favorite part if the job! If you guys have any other questions for Joel, post them up in the comments.If we can get him to post in the comments, I would like to ask him how hard working on such high line cars~ How cool!

 

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34 Comments

  1. Mustang

    Letting customers know about taxes, overhead, flat rate is a good idea. But what do we teach them about ‘asses’ that they don’t already know. Many of them are perfect ones!;-)

  2. Matt

    Do Lamborghinis need servicing more often than other types of cars or are they just as reliable? Do you ever see an old one with over 100000 miles or do people just keep them in garages all year round?

    1. Charles

      Matt,
      From what I understand, Lambo service is actually less often in most cases. Since the majority of high line cars like that are not daily drivers. One of the sales managers at my dealer has a 1982 Ferrari 308. I think that he gets it serviced about 1 time a year. He probably puts 2000 miles a year on it.

      I do know that it cost a fortune (in my mind) to get it serviced. I will email Joel and see if he can come back and tell you exactly how it works. That is a really good question.

  3. Joel C Armstrong

    Matt, to answer your question:
    No, they don’t require as much service as other cars simply because they’re not used as often. (as Charles has stated). Most of the Lamborghini customers have either an Bentley or Porsche as their daily drivers, however we had one customer that had a Gallardo as his daily driver. It had about 23,000 miles on the odometer. That’s extremely high mileage for such an exotic car, and I do remember servicing it about twice in one year. Most of the time any service that’s done is a tune up here and there. The good folks at Sant’agata Bolognese have however provided us with many campaigns that keep the cars as reliable as other vehicles ex. as you may all know based on the pictures posted on wrecked exotics, a lot of the Gallardos and Murciélagos’ engine bays catch fire. This is because the main hydraulic line that leads from the reservoir to the transmission was too close to the exhaust manifold, this subsequently wares away on the material until a leak is sprung. Hydraulic oil + hot exhaust manifold = smoke, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire. We were responsible for re routing the line to a more safe location underneath the body panel using 3 or so zip ties. Yes, few $0.25 pieces of plastic can prevent $10,000s in repair or possibly a total loss. Thanks for reading and I hope I answered every thing. Any more questions, let me know. I also did Porsche etc.

  4. Austen Garcia

    I had some questions for Joel I am currently in a mechanics school and will be graduating in the summer of 2013. I would really like to pursue a career working on exotics such as Lamborghini. But I am having trouble finding information on how to acquire a job as a tech for these companies. If you have any answers for me that would be awesome.
    Thank you

    1. Joel C Armstrong

      Austen,

      The best advice I can give you is do research on where/what type of shop you want to go work on. Is it aftermarket or the dealership you want to get into. When you have that figured out, GOOGLE it. Find out everything there is to know about it. If there’s a website, look at it. Go visit the place if that’s where you’re interested in. For example, I knew I was going back to NYC, so I researched the Porsche dealership that was there (it just so happened that they did all the other stuff there, too), I went in and Filled out the application…TWICE on separate occasions. It’s always good to have a confident attitude when you go there as well. Act like you want to be there, to learn and that you don’t know anything. Trust me when I say this, no one likes a know it all..You grades/appearance would get you in the door, but it’s your attitude that would keep you there. I hope that answers your question.

      1. Charles

        Austen,
        I don’t work for an exotic car line, but the story is the same. Joel is 100% dead on when it comes to attitude.

        Something that I don’t mention on the site very much is, I am my dealers trainer. I have spent the last years training the new techs that we hire. We have hired most of them from UTI’s VS program.

        Here is the TRUTH. Your resume, grades, attendance are the same as most everyone coming from that school. As someone that has hired people for a lot of years, I care very little about your grades, and attendance. I will do little more than glance at them.

        I want to know about YOU! What makes you better than the 15 other guys that want the job. What will you bring me that no one else will? Saying things like “I am a go getter” are meaningless. I want to SEE what makes you better.

        Is it that you build gas powered RC cars on your time off? Have you been rebuilding a hotrod car in your free time?

        Can you sell me on you? THAT will make me hire you over anyone else.

        1. Joel C Armstrong

          Charles is right.
          I went to UTI in Glendale Heights, IL and graduated 4.0, SOC, ABK blah blah blah no one cares… I wanted to do PTAP in Atlanta, GA, I had the grades, attendance, but according to the coordinator of the interviews I didn’t have any “in-field experience.”

          This crushed me because I worked so hard to keep my grades/attendance to where it was at. That didn’t deter me, though. I figured if I went into the dealership and SOLD them on why they needed to hire me, I wouldn’t need PTAP or any other program.

          Ironically, after I got hired LITERALLY one week after I graduated, the head Lamborghini Tech told me that that dealership doesn’t hire any PTAP students because they feel that they know everything. LOL that was kinda funny cause I was trying so hard to get in when I didn’t REALLY NEED it.

          Bottom line, you go in with the willingness to learn and you’ll be fine. A sapling is easier to bend than a tree. i.e it is easier to mold a young, fresh mind than to force someone to “unlearn” an attitude.

          Good luck, Austen. Keep working hard and don’t lose focus. It’s easier than you think.

    1. Charles

      Hey Tre,
      I think that Joel went to UTI. They have manufacturer programs that train techs on a specific car line.

      I don’t think they have a Lamborghini program, but it is a great place to get your foot in the door with brands like Porsche and MB

  5. Joel C Armstrong

    Sorry for the late response, Tre. Charles is right I did go to UTI’s Chicago campus.they do have manufacture specific advance training (MSAT) programs & I was going to apply for Porsche PTAP in Atlanta util I was told I couldn’t get in because I didn’t have a job in the field. I’m sure you’re better off just directly applying to the dealership. Any more questions I’ll gladly answer you.

  6. Cyan P.

    Hello Joel,

    I am a young fan of the brand Lamborghini for some time. I’m currently looking for a technical school or equivalent during my time in high school. I’m just wondering, what is like working with the raging bulls cars? I’m interested for working for the company, But may I ask: Have you worked on the Countach before?

  7. Henry

    Hello Joel,

    I recently started the autotech AOS degree at a local community college and would like to advance my education and be able to work on European cars. One of my concerns is my age, I am 37 years old and would like to know if dealerships hire people my age? Or would the advance training be pointless? Thank you!

  8. Joel C Armstrong

    Hey Cyan,

    To answer your question, it was great working on Lambos. The test drive is my favorite part, (of course) 😉 always drive responsibly, though.

    I’ve never worked on a Countach before simply because they older and I worked on the newer models; Diablo, Murcielago, Gallardo. The older tech worked on those. Go for it, they send you to Sant’agata Bolognese for school, too.

    Henry, there’s never an age that I would say is “too old”, the only thing is, if you’re doing it- see it to the end and make absolutely sure that you want that as your career because if you decide it’s not for you, then it’s like you wasted your time doing this to begin with. Anything else you want to know, just send me an email. Thanks

    Joel

    1. Charles

      Hey Richard, thanks for the question.

      I would recommend finding an automotive school and check it out.

      I will say that only the best, of the best, of the best get to that level. It will be more work than you can wrap your mind around. I say go get it man! Please let me know if I can help you out at all
      Charles

  9. Joel C Armstrong

    Richard

    Again, sorry for the late response but Charles is right. Work hard, get good grades, stay on top of your game and have a good attitude because trust me, there are a few thousand guys out there that want the same thing. What are you going to bring to the table that’s any different? Ask yourself that, when you get that answer..point and pull the trigger-give it it your best shot because it’ll be worth it in the end. Feel free to ask any more questions I’ll be happy to answer them.

    Joel.

  10. ricardo gudino

    currently a UTI student, shooting for porsche program myself..except i took it upon myself to make an appointment with a person in employment services…then found out that i needed a 3.8 minimum gpa,100% attendance, 1 year field experience, and 5 ase certifications. do that and you’re pretty much in. they want you packaged and ready for them out the door (the day you graduate)…thats why not many people get in…they dont take the time to the proper research for what is needed.

  11. Joel C Armstrong

    When I was at UTI Glendale Heights, 5 ASEs weren’t necessary. The others are always main stay, however. You’re absolutely right in saying that people don’t research enough to find out what is necessary to even have a shot at PTAP. In interested in knowing how that works out for you, Ricardo. Good luck.

  12. Charles

    I don’t remember ASEs being part of the programs when I was there either. Things change all the time.

    Here is the thing about landing a job after any of the manufacturer programs. It is just like finishing UTI. Remember that class where they “teach” you how to write a Resume’? Well, think about the 20 other guys in that class the have the exact same Resume(beyond the fact that the Resume` is dead).

    You need to be the one that stands out. The fact you took the initiative to even find the info you need says a lot.

    When I talk to guys from UTI, I ask them all this,
    “I know how UTI teaches you to write a Resume`. Since I know that, how are you different? What can you do for me that the 15 other guys I have a Resume` for can’t?”

    There has yet to be one person give me a worth a damn answer. It is either “I don’t know” or “I can work hard”.

    I don’t think it will come as a surprise that is a BS answer.

    So how do you stand out? What makes you different?

    The programs have standards. You have to meet that. Then you have to keep doing the things you are. It is 100% about attitude!

  13. Jerrad J. Barski

    Hello Joel,
    I am currently accepted to UNOH but looking in to UTI. I was going into the diesel tech program and UNOH and currently take a diesel class at my local career center. I am interested in the Porsche class at UTI, is that sepret from your base course? I would like to go into to auto/diesel, or diesel, but switched my class selection to automotive for the purpose taking the Porsche class.
    My question is, Is the Porsche class a sepret thing? Somthing you take AFTER your base class? If so is it better to take the standered automotive class vs. Diesel or high performance?

    Thank you so much!
    Love and Rockets -Jerrad

  14. Allen Boss

    Hello Joel,
    I am currently working to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from ONU, and I was wondering if any of the shops that you worked in employed any mechanical engineers? Or is there mostly just techs from automotive schools?

  15. Joel C.Armstrong

    Hey Allen,

    That’s great that you’re getting your degree in Mech. Engineering. I haven’t worked in any shops that hired engineers–only techs for the most part–of varying levels.What do you plan on doing with your degree, if you don’t mind me asking?

    1. Joel C Armstrong

      I don’t see why not. Thing is Nick, if you want to work for Lamborghini, just apply. It’s always a learning experience, and with knowledge on BMW (or ANY automotive experience), that’s always a good look. Thanks for your question and good luck!

  16. Alan

    Hey Joel,

    I am looking to get into the BMW dealership and be a technician for them. Then i was thinking of going up the ladder into and getting into a Lamborghini dealership and being a technician for them. Cars are my passion and it does not matter to me how much money I will be making, but i would like to know what the annual salary was for being a technician for Lamborghini?

  17. Joel C Armstrong

    Hey Alan,
    BMW is a good company to work for. As far as Lamborghini is concerned, Lamborghini technicians make somewhere between 40,000 to over 100k depending on the dealership and naturally depending on the level. C to A/Master tech. of course an apprentice would make less than that. good luck in your endeavors.

    Joel

  18. Jason

    I know this thread is years old but is there any chance Joel and/or Charles are still replying to questions? It would be extremely helpful if I could get some insight into my current situation.

    Thanks,
    Jason

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