Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Making of a Rolls-Royce, circa 1972

While sifting through records on a snowy afternoon I found this paper trail for a 1972 Rolls-Royce.

It begins with the order for the car, which was initiated by Rolls-Royce of America.  They ordered this two-tone green long wheelbase sedan "for stock," meaning there was no customer for it when the order was placed.

As was the case with most "for stock: cars, no options were specified.  Rolls-Royce was unique at that time in that they sold their cars fully equipped, at one price.  They did not have a base model car and pile on options like Cadillac or Lincoln.  When a customer ordered a Rolls-Royce (as opposed to buying from stock) he might request things like cocktail glasses and decanters built into a door panel, or custom coloring to match a favorite piece of clothing.  Other than that, they were built the way Rolls-Royce designed them, which still varied quite a bit from car to car as the manufacturer substituted wood veneers, headliners, switches, etc.  There was no such thing as a "production line Rolls."  Every motorcar was unique, even if nothing special was specified on the order.

I've looked at cars that went down the production line right after each other and seen subtle differences in what should be two identical cars.  One will have a vinyl headliner, while another car has wool - little changes like that set the cars apart from each other.  These long wheelbase cars were "more full" of little differences and eccentricities than their standard brothers.  The dash of a standard Rolls was framed in steel, but these long cars were custom so the dash frame was cut by hand from wood.  That extra hand work alone ensured these cars would be unique.

The door panels, window trim, and rear carpets were also special. Interior sets on these cars tended to be made up in a different area of the factory from the short wheelbase cars.  The interior parts would be produced in batches, and the long wheelbase ones were always different.

Rolls-Royce Motors accepted the order for this car May 15, 1972.  The car was given the chassis number LRA-14159, and was identified as the 133rd long wheelbase car to be ordered that year.  Long wheelbase Shadows are fairly rare, with only 2,780 examples built between 1969 and 1976.   For comparison, in that same time period Roll-Royce produced some 17,000 standard wheelbase sedans.

Rolls Royce was always a small volume carmaker.  That year they would build 2,473 cars, of which 629 were bound for the United States.  Perhaps 75 of them were long wheelbase sedans.  That made these cars about as rare as convertibles, and they are actually rarer today as fewer sedans survive whereas almost all convertibles have been preserved.

Most Rolls Royce dealers sold cars from the catalog, as opposed to selling them off a lot like ordinary cars.  This particular car was purchased by a Connecticut businessman in early September, shortly before it was completed.  This Telex shows the status of several cars, and identifies 14159 as "no longer available for sale."

Back then cars were typically secured with a 5-10% down payment with the balance to be paid when the car arrived.  Few Rolls-Royce dealers offered financing, so the deals were almost all cash.   Leasing of luxury cars was still quite a long way into the future.

A few days later the car was invoiced out by the factory.  You'll note the invoice was in British pounds, which at the time were each worth 2.45 US dollars.  At the September 1972 exchange rate, Rolls-Royce America paid the parent company $17,762 for the car.

This next paper shows that the car was consigned to Claridge Holt, Ltd for shipping to America.  They put it in a container and loaded the car on a Seatrain container ship bound for the Port of Newark.  The car left for America in late October.

Those of you who are interested in ships will note this car probably rode to America aboard Seatrain Euroliner, a nearly new (launched 1971) high speed gas turbine container ship.  Euroliner was one of the first large purpose-built container ships.  She carried almost 900 full sized containers at full capacity, and was just under 800 feet in length.  Her two turbines drove her at 26 knots - a brisk pace now or then.  In fact, for many years, Euroliner held the cross-Atlantic speed record for a freighter at 31+ knots.

For purposes of comparison, the cruise speed of Euroliner was the same as the cruise speed of Queen Mary 2 today.

At the time, these ships were  acclaimed as revolutionary but they always operated at a loss.  Modern large container ships have roughly three times the capacity, and somewhat less horsepower and a lower cruise speed from a single diesel engine.  Air freight has taken the place of fast ocean freight, and bulk capacity has replaced speed as a top design goal.

When it arrived there was some slight damage . . . oil spots on a fender and damage beside the trunk. That was fixed in New Jersey.

Shipping and preparation took a bit more than a month.  On November 27, Rolls-Royce of America shipped the car to their dealer, Hoffman Motors of Hartford, Connecticut; invoicing them for $23,255.  Looking close, you'll see that the payment terms are "sight draft."  This was a common method of paying for vehicles in the pre-Internet era.  A sight draft looked like a check, but it was only cashable once the maker had notified the bank that certain conditions had been met.

In this case, the draft would have been cashable once the car and certificate of origin were delivered intact to Hoffman.  The sight draft number is shown on the invoice, and it was probably deposited a few days after the invoice was written.  Today, carmakers simply charge the bank accounts of their dealers through the Federal Reserve clearing system but that provision didn't exist in 1972.

The car had a suggested list price of $28,715, but Rolls-Royce did not believe in windows stickers.  This was the retail price sheet for the car, which was kept in the vehicle's file at the dealership and possibly given to the buyer:

Hoffman's Rolls-Royce operation is long gone, though they remain in business at the same location in East Hartford with a Porsche-Audi dealership.

In any case, no window sticker was needed as the car was (like most others of its kind) presold.  This vehicle was destined for Matthew Saczawa of Wethersfield, Connecticut.  He received the vehicle in early 1973, and registered the car at his winter home in Boca Raton, Florida.

Looking at the timetable you can see that 8 months passed between acceptance of the order and delivery of the car to its new owner.  Where most car companies changed model years in September, Rolls-Royce often continued their model years till the following spring!

That was a result of the long time it took them to build the cars.  They accepted orders for the current model year right into summer, which meant the last of the 72s were not delivered till the spring of '73, under the best of circumstances.

Mr. Saczawa - the car's first owner - owned the Atlantic Machine Tool Works in Newington, Connecticut.  He was 52 years old when he bought this car.  He kept the car for 25 years, only selling it in 1997 because he was too infirm to drive.  During that time, the car covered 36,000 miles.  That seems like a low number but these cars are often driven sparingly, especially when they are bought by older people who tend to keep them as pets.

The second owner kept the car on Cape Cod for 12 years, at which time it was purchased by the present owner.  Here's the car as it appears today, still remarkably clean and original:

Reading through this paper trail, I am reminded that we are not just owners of these vehicles; we are caretakers - keepers for whomever will follow us.  Ordinary cars are driven for 15 years and scrapped.  Nicer cars - Mercedes, BMW, or Jaguar - have longer lives but they are still finite.  Rolls-Royce cars, in contrast, are seldom ever scrapped.  More than 70% of all Rolls-Royce motorcars ever built are still roadworthy today.  That's a remarkable thing, but you can see why looking at this example.

The Silver Shadow series was the most maintenance intensive Rolls ever made.  At the same time, it is one of the least valuable in the used car market because it is the most common.  The result is that many of these fine cars are neglected and abused, and quite a few will be broken up for parts.

I hope the surviving examples get better care as they become rarer, because they are really quite nice to drive.  One day, we'll look back and wonder where all the Shadows went.  When that happens, I've no doubt this one will be a survivor.

John Elder Robison

John is the owner of J E Robison Service, Rolls-Royce and Bentley service specialists in Springfield, Massachusetts.  John is a technical consultant for the Rolls-Royce Owner's Club on Silver Shadow and other modern cars.  He's been around Rolls-Royce motorcars since the vehicle in this story was new.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Should you warm up your engine before you drive?

Should you warm up your car's engine?

Warmup is part of the ritual of driving any antique, and wise owners follow it faithfully.  Few question the wisdom of bringing an old engine up to temperature before putting it under load.  Yet many of those same people hop into modern cars and zoom out of the driveway without a moment’s preparation.  Is that wise?

Most carmakers say warmup is unnecessary, but they are under pressure from government agencies to keep fuel economy up, and warmup burns gas.  And they are in the business of selling parts . . . cars that don’t break don’t make them any money.  So I don’t know if I’d follow their advice blindly, in this area and some others . . .

When I think about the problems people have with high-end cars, oil leaks and head gasket failures are high on the list for any brand.  When we disassemble engines for oil leakage we often find gaskets cracked, which means they were not strong enough to hold against the applied fluid pressure.

It’s easy to assume they didn’t hold because they just weren’t good enough, but that’s not always the only explanation.  In fact, when an engine is cold the metal parts have contracted so the fit between two pieces of engine is fractionally looser than five minutes after start, when everything is warm

As the engine parts heat and expand, the bolts tend to expand less, so they become more tightly clamped.  Why?  Because the engines in modern cars are aluminum or some other lightweight alloy, and the bolts are almost always steel.  Steels expands less.

At the same time, when an engine is cold, the oil is thick.  Thicker oil = higher oil pressure as the pump works harder to force it through the passages of the motor.  An engine that has 15 pounds pressure at 800 rpm hot might have 50 pounds when cold, and pressure could soar to 100psi or more if the motor is raced.

Looser clearances between big engine parts + higher oil pressures in warm-up = much greater chance of blowout failures in the engine’s oil system.

At the same time, stepping on the gas with a cold motor means high combustion chamber pressures.  Mix that with those loose clamping forces on the cold head gasket and you have a formula for head gasket blowout.

Manufacturers can say what they will . . . the logic and engineering sense of the points above will stand.  They may have engineered in enough strength to protect against the failures I describe, but then again, maybe they didn’t.  After all, if they did, we’d never see those failures in the shop!

The simple takeaway – five minutes of warm-up will keep your motor alive longer, with fewer leaks and less risk of failure.  And when you do drive . . . go light on the throttle until everything is up to temperature!

Happy New Year
John Elder Robison

Friday, December 21, 2012

Some Words for the Ones We Leave Behind

With all the talk of Christmas, and the holiday weekend, precious little is said about the machines we leave behind.  What about the cars that languish in our service department, partially eviscerated, sick, or wounded?  What about the ones that are cured, waiting for their owners to return?  What about the others, the ones who slumber in storage, waiting for spring?

I thought we might take a moment to reflect on those machines in this time of commercial frenzy

Some say every car contains within it the seeds of its own destruction.  That was certainly true in the case of this 2002 BMW, which went home yesterday, leaving these gnawed and eaten bits behind.

Then there's the Lexus, yearning for service, sitting hood agape.

In the next bay a Porsche hangs on the lift, bereft of engine and interior, as we search out and fix the devastation wrought by rampaging rodent invaders.

A Jaguar XKE hangs next to it, with the body stripped for paint repair and the engine removed for overhaul.   It will be transformed for spring, but that's still some months away . . . .

In the Land Rover shop an engine sits dismantled as Paul assembles a chassis for one of out winter Defender restorations.  This one will head for Nantucket, and a life on the beach.

 A Rolls Royce convertible sits quietly, waiting for its seats to return from the upholstery shop.  As the TV ads used to say, "A car without seats is like a day without sunshine," and I believe that is still true.

Over in the engine shop a Jaguar motor awaits repair.  Meanwhile, it sits safe, among more of its kind, Jags and Rovers and a couple Rolls Royces.

A few cars sit outside excited, waiting for owners to drive them home:

 This Rover's owner is headed here on the train, at this very moment.  By the time you read this, they'll be headed for home.

This one's going west, to the Hudson River country of New York.  The journey will be easier, with the new stereo we fitted.

There are many more the pictures don't show . . . The Willys waiting on its door latches, and the Three Black Bentleys.  They come from different cities but they've become fast friends and can often be seen pushing lesser cars out of the way when the gas guy comes round.

There's the Lincoln, and the Cadillac, and the Triumph out front.  There's the Harley, and the Jeep, and the ancient Ferrari.  The six Rolls-Royce sedans and the Mercedes 600.  The old 6.3 and the nice 3.5.  All waiting.

While you are out celebrating, raise a glass to the cars left behind.  Be considerate when you return, and remember machines may have feelings too.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

To Maintain or Not to Maintain, that is the question . . .

Lexus service. © copyright JE Robison

“All I’ve done is change the oil, and do whatever service my local garage told me about."  That’s what the owner of a ten-year-old 150,000 mile Lexus told me yesterday.   So what should I do now?

We looked at the receipts and she was right.  A bunch of oil changes, a few sets of tires, a few sets of brakes, and a battery had taken her all that distance.  It hadn’t been very expensive, especially compared to what the dealer wanted when they quoted the recommended services.

Now the car had an engine misfire.  That had caused catalytic converter failure, and a check engine light.  The owner knew the car wouldn’t pass inspection that way, and the corner garage didn’t do work like that.  So . . . the car ended up at our shop.

What does a responsible shop owner do, when someone like that comes in?  It’s like when the CPA has a new client walk in the door and say “I haven’t filed any tax returns since 2003, and now I’ve got this letter.  What do you suggest?”  What indeed.

I have seen some very high mileage Lexus cars in my day.  We had one fellow put 420,000 miles on a 1999 LS400 without a single major failure.  But he did his maintenance.  This car was a bit different.  It was fifty thousand miles past the timing belt change interval, and a hundred thousand past the transmission service date . . . . this car was living on borrowed time.

As I explained to the owner, it costs less than $1,600 to change a timing belt, water pump, and all the stuff in front of the engine.  If the belt breaks the bill is going to be at least $5,000, maybe considerably more.   It’s an all or nothing thing.   Every day you drive without belt breakage, you win.  The day it breaks, you lose big.  No belt lasts forever. 

She decided to change the belt.

We moved on to the other items on the service schedule.  Spark plugs were next.  Why?  Because the car had an intermittent skip.  Ignition failure is the most common cause of misfire faults.  What happens is that the plugs get old.  As they age, it takes more and more voltage to fire them.  That extra voltage puts stress on the wires, connectors and coils, and eventually something fails.  For that reason, whenever you have an ignition miss, step one is spark plug replacement. 

You may still need other parts but you certainly need new plugs if the old ones have been in the car 150,000 miles.

She decided to change the plugs

Now we get to the “other” fluids – brake fluid, transmission fluid, rear axle lube, coolant and power steering fluid.  Some people say, “I went this long without changing them, best leave it alone so I don’t stir things up and cause a problem.”  While many people use that line as a rationalization for doing nothing, it ensures the eventual failure of the system.   Lubricants, like belts and plugs, have a finite lifespan.

Brake fluid absorbs water, and it will rust your brake system from the inside.  Coolant becomes acidic, and dissolves your radiator and engine from within.  Transmission, steering, and axle lubes all pick up tiny metal particles.  Left in the old oil, they will grind away at the bearings till something fails.  At the same time, oil gradually loses its film strength, which is what keeps the gears from galling against each other under load.  

She decided to change the fluids.

In the end, after going through the list line by line, we agreed to do all the deferred service on the car.  It cost a hefty sum, to be sure, but it’s still less than she would have spent had she done it all on time, because some of the things we are doing would have been done several times already.

Which begs the question . . . .

Was the original maintenance schedule too conservative?  If so, she saved quite a bit of money with little or no consequence.  Or will she pay a higher price down the road, as the un-maintained parts and systems fail before their time?

I wish I knew.  I’m sure some carmakers are conservative and others are not.  I’m also sure some drivers are hard on their cars, while others are gentle.

In the past five years I have lost count of the engines I have changed in Mercedes, BMW and other cars because the owners failed to change their oil. I used to ask how they could be so dumb, but after the tenth or twentieth car came in the door I knew the answer.  Cars don’t talk back.  So when money is tight, the car gets neglected.  Most live, but some die.

When I point that fact out, the owners get mad at me.  Fine, I tell them.  I’m not the one making loan payments on two tons of scrap iron because I failed to protect my investment.  That’s the thing about being autistic.   When people act dumb, and machinery suffers, I may take the side of the car and not the human.  Vets feel the same about people who abuse cats and dogs.

The lesson to take away from all this:  You can probably push the maintenance schedules a bit if you drive gently.  But when you do, you take a big risk.  Deferring a $1,000 service won’t be so smart, if it costs you a $7,500 engine.   Carmakers make maintenance schedules for a reason.

Most of the time, when we suggest altering a factory schedule, it is to do something more often, not less.  The carmaker, after all, wants a schedule that keeps the car alive long enough to give them happy owners and a good reputation, but not so long that the car never wears out.  We, as repair people, expect to care for things and have them last almost forever.

So I guess you pick your philosophy, and with it, your repair shop.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Philosophy of Car Restoration

Yesterday I posted some pictures of newly painted parts that are part of a Land Rover restoration we’re doing.  I captioned them “better than new,” and one of my readers asked if that was really the right goal of restoration.  Shouldn’t we follow the vision of the designers, he asked?

When we tackle a rusty old Land Rover Defender or Series truck, we are working with something that was originally a roughly finished utility vehicle made to a low standard of finish for use by military forces, farmers, and rural residents.

Today those vehicles are valuable, and often owned by very affluent people who are demographically very far removed from Land Rover’s original target market.  Land Rovers were built to be working off-road vehicles that would wear out in time, and be scrapped.  Today’s collectors have a very different expectation.  They don’t usually “work” their Rovers though they may attend club events.  Rather than expecting them to wear out and be scrapped, many collectors expect a level of quality they can cherish for a lifetime.

Where the original buyers bought for function and value, collectors buy for sentiment and sometimes-potential financial gain.  Most of the people who are drawn to Land Rovers discovered them years ago, perhaps on a farm, or at a camp in the wilderness.  Others – like me - saw Land Rovers in Wild Kingdom or National Geographic and dreamed.

When I grew up one of the things I became was an automobile service manager.  I watched people use Land Rovers to work power line projects and go where no other car could, and we fixed them when they sustained damage.   I saw the compromises Land Rover chose to make the vehicles affordable, and I saw how they subsequently fell apart in the field.  I learned how engineering oversights and errors could leave a person stranded, alone in the middle of nowhere.  I saw how New England winters turned bare metal undercarriages to cheesecake, and I wondered what might be done about that.

When I began overseeing restoration work I saw how cars are put together, and I began to understand the tradeoffs designers and engineers had to make to deliver a combination of cost, performance and durability.  One of the first things I learned was that cost is one of the most important design goals of every car engineer.  If a dollar could be saved by leaving a hidden metal part unpainted, Land Rover was very likely to do it.

Other carmakers – like Rolls-Royce – had bigger budgets and made fewer of those compromises.  They had their own issues, to be sure, but initial finish was not usually among them.

People would say thing like, “I want my Rover to look just as it did when new,” and at first I took them literally.  However, when we saw the results it became clear my clients did not really want the rough fit and finish of the original, even though it was true to their words and the way Rover had done it.  When they said, “like when it was new,” they were actually envisioning an idealized “new” where it was hand built, hand fitted, and near perfect.  That is quite far from what the factory did.

The more of these jobs I did the more I realized that our clients put a lot more emphasis on finish quality than any factory ever had.  That meant all parts needed to be painted or finished even if they never had been before.  

As we acquired more experience our philosophy of restoration diverged farther and farther from the manufacturer’s philosophy of car building.    Every step down that road made our clients happier.  We acquired the ability to restore cars so that they looked great and drove better than they did when new.

We built a reputation as a shop that built vehicles to perform, as well as look great.  Too many restorers see their job as cosmetics-only, and we could never agree with that point of view.  If I had a choice I’d take a fine running car that had some cosmetic imperfections over a beautiful trailer queen any day.

When we do cosmetic work, we always consider how it will perform in addition to how it will look.  If we weld up a custom bumper, we ask if it will hold the weight of the car on a floor jack.  When we paint something we ask if the finish will hold up when our clients use the vehicle.  Often that leads us to use more rugged techniques like powder coating.

When someone comes to us and says, "I want to drive my Land Rover on the beach," we think long and hard about how we can minimize corrosion in that hostile environment.  Every part we successfully protect today is a part that won’t have to be chiseled off, ten years down the road.

Here's one of our projects, from beneath.  It's not the perspective most people see, but it looks good and more important it will be durable.

Then there’s the matter of customization.  As much as some people like originality, I like tasteful custom work because it’s an opportunity to express our creative skills.  We love building custom bumpers, hidden winch mounts, or special racks and carriers.  Those things are like custom cabinets in a fine home – you can look at them forever and know they were made just for you, and not bought from a parts catalog.

Obviously the word customization can mean many things, all the way to the Batmobile or the George Barris custom rods of the sixties.    If you have something far out in mind, make sure the restorers share your vision.  Otherwise you run the risk of being like that sailor who passed out in the tattoo parlor . . .

We’ve also learned how much time quality work takes.  We know a full restoration can easily consume a thousand of hours of labor.  Some complex cars can take far more.  Jobs like these can take a year, maybe more to complete.  But the results will be worth the wait.

If you’re thinking of restoring a car – Land Rover or otherwise, I urge you to talk to the shop.  Learn their philosophy and make sure it’s in line with what you want.  Remember attitudes can vary with car lines.  I’d approach a 1954 Rolls Royce with a very different mindset than the one I’d apply to a 1978 Land Rover pickup.  Some people want to work on one line only but I’m happy to take a variety.  There’s room in the restoration world for all of us.

One final piece of advice – pay attention to how the shop manager communicates with you.  Ask whomever you will be dealing with to explain some aspect of their trade and listen close.  Do you get the sense they really understand the theory behind what’s proposed to do?  If you have doubts – watch out!  Some of the biggest mistakes I see come from well intentioned ignorance.  Another thing to watch for is specialized knowledge.  If you care about originality the shop should know what is and isn’t correct for your year and model.

Ask how they will update you on progress.  We send updates with images and text every week.  People may roll their eyes at endless images of wheel bearings and pistons but they sure know what we are doing, every step of the way.  We may send a client a thousand images in the course of a job.  We want our clients to be fully informed so there are no surprises when they see their finished car.

Best wishes for the holidays
John Elder Robison

JE Robison Service
Springfield, MA, USA

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Intermittent Problems That Can't Be Fixed

AUDI service. © copyright JE Robison

I receive a surprising number of messages from motorists who are unhappy with dealer service departments.  Who can repair my BMW right?  Where do I find a competent shop to work on Mercedes?  Who repairs Land Rovers?  One of the biggest sources of distress comes from intermittent problems with certified used cars that are out of new car warranty, but still covered by certified warranty.  This recent missive typifies what I hear:

For the past few months I've had both the check engine light and tire pressure monitoring system warning lights come on and off.   I check the gas cap and the engine runs fine.  My tires pressures seem ok, too.  I've taken my Mercedes to a dealer three times for these warning lights, and every time they've returned the vehicle saying it's fixed. After driving the car again for a few hours, or a day, the lights come back on. The dealer said that as long as the check engine light is not flashing, it's not a critical problem.   I'm just tired of dealing with this dealer's service department.

Why does this happen?  Is the dealer incompetent, or the problem so intractable?  In most cases, the answer is neither.  Much of the time, the answer can be boiled down to four words:

No pay = no work.

Rolls-Royce service. © copyright JE Robison

To explain what this means in the context of car repair I need to start by explaining some things about warranty and service.   When a car is new, it is backed by a warranty from the manufacturer.  With rare exceptions, there is no limit to that warranty, and the dealer is not responsible except as the service agent.  The manufacturer cannot say, “we’ve done all the warranty repair we are going to do,” and abandon you.

If a new car has a really intractable problem the manufacturer will usually offer a replacement vehicle or in some cases a refund or lease cancellation.  Carmakers go to great lengths to satisfy customers.

They also expect a lot of their dealers.  One thing they expect is that the dealer will do something in response to customer complaints.  If a car comes in with an intermittent fault the dealer will often change the most likely parts even if the fault is not present at that moment, because that gives the best chance of cure, and the manufacturer stands behind them and pays the bill.  If a subsequent repair is needed, they generally stand behind that too.

If a lot of time is needed to diagnose a difficult problem the manufacturers have a policy of paying the technician as needed.  Knowing that, they usually get the job done.  Problems can still happen but the vast majority of new cars get fixed successfully.

Cars covered by certified programs are a whole different story.  Once the new car warranty expires the manufacturers unlimited obligation comes to an end.  The certified program is often administered by a third party company who didn’t make the car and has strict limits on their responsibility for it.

In most cases, there is no longer provision for paying to diagnose difficult problems.  Indeed, many used car warranties – technically called service contracts because they are not actual manufacturer warranties – don’t pay for diagnosis at all.  Those that do often pay a fraction of the real time taken.

Yet customers don’t know the difference. They just expect their problems to be solved.  But that can’t happen when no one is willing to spend money to find a problem.  It’s not the dealer’s car – so he’s not writing a blank check if the trouble can’t be found in 15 minutes.  The car’s owner thinks warranty covers everything and the dealer must be trying to cheat him if they ask for any money.  The result – the dealer says “no problem was found” and boots the car out the door. One day, they figure, it will come back with a visible failure and they can fix it then. 

The focus of carmakers is to make money by keeping customers happy so they buy more cars.  Good service on new cars is part of that.  The dynamic for a third party administrator is totally different.  They make money from finance, by collecting fees for service contracts and paying out as little as possible.   

Once those folks manage the car’s service, everything changes.

Yet the motoring public knows nothing of this.  Everyone tries to hide this ugly truth.  Many dealers are told they cannot charge customers extra for so-called certified repairs.  That is presumably meant to prevent gouging, but in practice it ensures no dealer technician will waste a single unpaid minute chasing a difficult intermittent problem. 

The system works for most people, most of the time, because most problems are not intermittent and motorists learn to ignore the rest.

For the rest of you . . . .

We’re here in Springfield, Massachusetts, and we’ll diagnose and fix anything at our regular shop rate.  If an extended warranty pays us, great.  If not, the owner can pay.  From the shop perspective that’s the only fair way to do this.  We get our clients everything we can from their service contracts and they pay the balance.  We charge for actual time worked, and WE WILL solve the problem. 

J E Robison Service Co, Inc
Springfield, MA, USA
Bosch Authorized Car Service
Specialists in Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, Porsche, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley