I was reading an article in another magazine that noted that in spite of cars being built safer than ever, fatal accidents have increased. Some have theorized the increase in fatalities is caused by customers putting off repairs. Others have asserted that the advent of "texting and driving" and other distractions are not the cause, because car accidents were up all around regardless of age.
Let me offer my perspective as a shop owner:
Most customers, when given the option to spend a little more for the better part, will spend the money. Usually, I tell them that the part is made in a "better" country, will last longer and that its better construction increases safety.
Yet, my shop is off the main drag, so maybe I am more apt to get the customer looking for the "good guy" who's worth all the trouble to go to. What does the average shop experience? Cheapos, probably.
Well, being that a lot of shops advertise "specials" (funny, doctors don't do that), they undercut each other getting work. So, being that the shop owner isn't interested in undercutting his profit margins, that means such shops will be using cheap parts and shoddy labor.
Hence, I see full grown men doing brake jobs without not only sanding down the hubs, but also not doing service critical for safety, like cleaning and lubricating the guide pins and shims. Some really cheap brake pads simply don't "fit" when you try to install them, so mechanics with a cheap boss breathing down their neck will simply hammer in the pads, or grind down sections of them so they are force to fit. Doesn't sound very safe to the customer, right?
However, I don't think shops are to blame as much as Do It Yourselfers (DIYs). I was born in 1985, so everyone in the Baby Boomer generation knew how to do simple stuff on cars and everyone in my generation is spoiled and only knows how to use Facebook and text messaging. As time has passed, the Baby Boomer generation has started collecting social security and my generation has been doing "not much," so to say. Yet, with this decreasing technical expertise nationwide comes an increase with DIY parts stores that target consumers that don't want to pay the shop. AutoMD.com did a poll that confirms this assertion has been statistically proven.
Texting while driving isn't to blame for increasing fatalities; likely DIYs are! So, why are we enabling this dangerous practice?
These DIY parts stores lend out tools and have kids, who in their other part-time job are flipping burgers, installing batteries and headlight bulbs. Now Jiffy-Lube is getting into doing brakes! The lack of experts doing more and more critical repairs because of increased "price consiousness" is causing more people to pay the ultimate price: their lives.
So, just like my previous blog that discussed the irony of stylists needing licensing and mechanics not, I think what we are seeing here is the human toll of having people that have no clue what they're doing fixing cars. In my opinion, to even buy automotive parts, someone should have a license.
If you need a license to even drive, why isn't it in the public interest to require a license to work on the vehicles that people need licenses for?
The longer we ignore simple logic, the longer all of us will pay the penalty.