By Jim Taylor, Editor, MACS ACTION Magazine
It’s the curse of success. You run a business, and all businesses exist to sell something—either a tangible hard product or the more intangible “knowledge and service.” Your customers want a good product, they want it to last, and they certainly don’t want to come back to you when they don’t have to. You do your best to provide them with what they want.
Can you be so successful that you put yourself out of business? Can you provide a product or service so perfectly made that the customer only needs one of it forever? Should you?
Cars are plainly getting better, and the OEMs are going out of their way to build in the reliability that customers demand. One root of the problem was summed up by GM executive Bob Lutz, describing the company’s attitude in the 1970s and ‘80s: “Hey, let’s just make these cars. Nobody cares about them. Nobody cares whether they are bad or good. It’s for the people who can’t afford anything better, and price is the only thing that counts.” It wasn’t just GM, and many other companies suffered when their customers went elsewhere. Quality costs money – how good would you like to be?
Forty years ago getting a car past the magic 100,000-mile mark was cause for a family celebration, frequently marked by piling into the car to watch the zeroes roll over. The same achievement today is likely to be cause for the car’s first tune-up, and not much else. A recent news release noted a 1998 New Beetle that has just passed 400,000 miles.
Known-wear parts like brake pads and tires are lasting far beyond previous expectations, and improvements in raw materials, bearings and lubricants are turning compressors, water pumps, alternators and other items into almost life-of-the-car components.
Component sizes and weights are down, efficiency and longevity are up, and re-building a worn component has been overtaken by replacing it with a newer and better version.
Some shops and distributors have been noting a subtle annual decrease in sales of hard parts, and that trend is likely to continue as more newer cars hit the road. Stuff just isn’t going to break like it used to. Great for customers, not so great for anybody selling parts or repairs.
Cars have become a commodity, bought and sold easily and without much thought. Very few owners have any clue about what goes on under the hood or under the dash and frankly, they don’t care—they just want the thing to start, run and allow them to get on with their life. “Maintenance? Oh, yeah, that’s important. Can I do it later? I have to get little Trevor to karate class tonight.” Months later, the car is still running in spite of their worst efforts at car care. They eventually express surprise that simple ignition parts were the cause of having to tow the car in.
For sure, a small percentage of components will fail from sheer perversity, and drivers will continue to crash into fixed objects or each other with some reliability. As always, some owners will tell you they are only going to keep the car another year so please use the cheapest parts, then three years later they’ll stop in to tell you the part you “just installed” quit working. Sigh.
You’ll always have something to fix, but expect scheduled maintenance, electrical diagnosis, and safety inspections to take a larger role in paying the bills. They ain’t building ‘em like they used to, and that’s no bad thing.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, click here for more information.
You can E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://bit.ly/cf7az8 to find a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Visit http://bit.ly/9FxwTh to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.
The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.