There Is No Such Thing As A Perfect Mechanic

Mechanic Scratched a Wheel

Happy Tuesday everyone. I hope that your wallets are recovering from the weekend of shopping. I didn’t partake in any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. It is just not my thing. Today I want to talk a little about being an auto mechanic. This actually goes far beyond just fixing cars. It applies to almost any job, in any field.

Mechanic Scratched a Wheel

Here is the wheel I damaged

Yesterday I was pulling a car into the shop. It was a 2011 Jetta Sport Wagon with about 20,000 miles on it. As I pulled into my bay, I nicked the rim on the edge of my lift. As I am sitting in the car I kept thinking, “It will be fine, it will be fine, it will be fine”. I got out and checked the rim. It was not fine. I gouged the crap out of it. The feeling of messing up a customer’s car is not a good one.

I called the service manager over to check it out. He looked at the wheel, looked and me then said “I am guessing that just happened? Well, you know what you need to do”. I got with my service advisor and let her know what I did. She gave the customer another car to drive so that we could fix his wheel. Thankfully the customer was pretty cool about it. I don’t think he was thrilled, but he understood.

Why did I just tell you all this story? I told you this for a few reasons.

  • We ALL make mistakes
    It does not matter if you are the best or the worst at your job. Everyone makes mistakes, messes up, and does things wrong. You are not perfect, none of us are. The best of the best have off games.
  • Accountability mean everything
    I could have easily sent that car out the door with the rim scratched. Maybe the customer would have never seen it. But think of how mad he would be when he noticed it. It’s like when you were a kid. Your parents asked you a question that they knew the answer to, and you lied to them. Then they ask you if you are SURE, that was the truth. I would rather just admit to the mistake. It may hurt, but at least that customer know I would not lie to them.
  • I want that to be normal
    I want there to be no question on what is right. I am not a hero or anything because I fessed up to a mistake. That is just the right thing to do. I want the guys that I work with to have the same attitude. Mechanics(and everyone else) need to take accountability for themselves, and the work they do. If we all did that, there would be much less negative stereotyping in every industry

I hope that we can all learn something from this. I learned that I need to pull my head out of my butt and pay closer attention to things. Luckily that is easy to do. I hope that you all take to heart what I have said today. Don’t make excuses about why a mistake is not your fault. Own it, then do what you need to do, and make it right!

One last thing. There will be a special volume of Shop Shots tomorrow. It will be volume 40. For that I will be doing some fun stuff. Be sure to stay tuned. The best way to do that is to subscribe for email updates. It is the best way to be sure you never miss out on what is going on here!

8 replies
  1. Brett Donadeo
    Brett Donadeo says:

    I feel really strongly that we should always own up to our mistakes. If we don’t, there’s no incentive to improve and we just keep screwing up the same stuff. And, like you said, honesty is just important in its own right. Great post, Charles!

  2. Pat ~ The Muscle Car Guy
    Pat ~ The Muscle Car Guy says:

    You are right, it does apply to anything. I work in IT, and we all make mistakes. The more you know, the bigger the mistake. The best thing is to let the right people know and get them fixed right away. The longer you let it go, the worse it will be.
    Plus then you don’t have a guilty conscience to deal with.

  3. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    This is an awesome post and really applies to all industries and life in general. Everybody does make mistakes and owning up to them is just the right thing to do.

    I’m a new follower of yours (found you through EricTheCarGuy) and I really like the stuff that you post, you seem like a nice guy who is really passionate and knows his stuff. I’m a big fan so far, keep it up.

    • Charles
      Charles says:

      Welcome! It is always great to welcome new folks. I think Eric is one of best in the biz, I am a huge fan of his.

      Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate ya.

  4. Randall Lamp
    Randall Lamp says:

    I had something similar happen to me. I took my car in to have my head unit replaced under warranty because the soft touch paint peeled off the buttons. After the head unit was replaced, I noticed that there were scratches, and nicks on my climate controls. By the time I noticed it, I was already down the freeway, and on my way home. I called my service adviser the next day, and told him about it. The told me to bring it back so they could have a look at it. They agreed that it shouldn’t have happened. First they thought the facade could be replaced, but went ahead and ordered a new control unit. At first, they offered to give me some services in trade. But I specified that I wanted to have the climate control replaced. They said that was OK with them because they wanted me to be happy. Had it replaced in a week, and I was happy again. But I believe that whoever installed the head unit saw what he had done, and decided to cover it up, by not saying anything to the service manager. It is important for service techs to be honest when they make a mistake, and damage a customer’s car. Not just an embarrassment for the service tech, but also an embarrassment for the dealership. I’m sure your honesty was appreciated.


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