The value of Experience

This past week, I had a real world situation occur that really drove home to me the true value of experience in a profession. I was heading to a Saturday performance when the “check engine” light came on in my van. fortunately, it was a local show, so I got my brother in law to take my van down to the local tire and service shop to have it checked out. I had used this shop for service and maintenance on
the past 3 vehicles I have owned.

The shop manager called me and said that I had multiple cylinder misfires, and that I should probably have the spark plugs replaced. The van had 73,000 mile on it and it was about time to have that done anyway. I agreed. Of course, my particular engine has to have the intake manifold taken off just to get to the spark plugs. So it is a $500.00 repair. But i had to get my van back into service so I had it done. And of course, it took special spark plugs that had to be gotten from the dealer. So, a couple of days later, I go in, pay for the repair, and go merrily on my way. About 30 minutes later, the “check engine” light comes back on. So I head back to the shop. The same issue is still coming up on their computer. they are not sure what is going on. they figure that there is carbon in the fuel system that could be fouling the injectors. So they recommend a fuel system cleaning.

Let me cut to the chase. After a week of trying different remedies, they still could not identify the cause. After a compression test, they said it looked like a head gasket needed to be replaced. this would cost around $2500.00. I thought it was time to get a second opinion. Obviously, this issue was beyond their experience level. So I went to the Dealer to have the problem diagnosed. I sat in the waiting room sweating bullets for 2 hours. The technician came in and told me that one of the heads on my engine would need to be replaced, but that I shouldn’t worry. It would be covered under the Manufacturers power train warranty. I almost fainted.

Moral of the story? The local shop tried. I can’t fault them for that. And they do a fine job with tires and basic maintenance. But even though they had the equipment to diagnose the problem, they did not have the experience to accurately solve the issue. And it cost me almost $600.00 to find that out.
There is definitely value in experience.