Episode 152: Bargain

On this week’s episode of Grease the Wheels, Uncle Jimmy falls asleep on the couch and wakes up at 4AM to record a podcast. Most technicians are a straight up bargain. From the amount of things that we have to know to what the shops that employ us charge, we know that there is a real disconnect between the rate at which we receive raises to the rate at which our jobs get more difficult. As a result many shops are stacked up with work weeks in advance, and they are constrained by the ability to get technicians.

All technicians are bargains right out of tech school, they have bills to pay so they often take the first livable offer that they get. Oftentimes this leads to a high level of attrition among new technicians. However, shops that offer a clear path of advancement and opportunity to get more training often see a higher level of retention and technician advancement. They pay needs to keep up though, otherwise that development will go to profit someone else. We also talk about a day where all of the technicians of the world take a day off, because they definitely cant fire us all. Even if they do, there’s still a tech shortage.

Also Uncle Jimmy explains tax and fiscal policy in the most Grease the Wheels way humanly possible.

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 151: Don’t be a Dick!

On this week’s Grease the Wheels, we see how many times Uncle Jimmy can say the phrase, “don’t be a dick!” This is another one of those infamous, extra-spicy, “weekday night” episodes compounded with the fact that he is fresh off vacation. So When Uncle Jimmy gets back to the shop and it is a s***show, he goes off a bit and threatens corporal punishment for people who leave wheel machines looking like a war-zone! In a solid rant about shop cleanliness, we talk about how the trick to finding a lost tool is to actually be looking for something else. On the “don’t be a dick” hierarchy, few moves are more treacherous than breaking tools and not owning up to it, or even worse, trying to hide it!

Speaking of breaking stuff, we also talk about how not to be a dick in a pick and pull, because that part that you just destroyed might have come in handy in the future. We even go into some semiotic analysis of the language you use causing people to think you’re a dick even if you’re not. Unless of course you’re a serial complainer in which case you probably are in fact a dick. The moral of the episode is, pretty obviously at this point, “don’t be a dick”, help people out when they need it because sometimes an extra set of hands makes a huge difference. So being willing and able to help is a major thing that will make people think that you are not a dick, even if you are to an extent.

Also Uncle Jimmy talks hazmat cocktails and still being salty about the February Ice Storm. Also we ask the really important question: How great would it be if you could tell customers to not be a dick?

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 150: The Kids Are Alright

On this week’s Grease the Wheels we talk about the new guys that are attempting to put a dent in the 650,000 mechanic and technician job vacancies nationwide. We all have a million “new guy stories”, and let’s be clear we want to hear every single one of them! Obviously they are not set to replace us right now, but given time and space to develop some of these new guys are going to make very good technicians, if they don’t use their brains and GTFO of the industry! Realistically though in a macro view of the industry as a whole, we should be fostering the ones who have chosen this profession just so they can replace us when we want to retire! We don’t mind when they ask questions that will genuinely help them out seeking an intelligent answer, especially when the lights are on when you give them your response. We’re also not going to fault them for asking us for fasteners or extra parts that we might have lying around.

Odds are if you take a proactive approach with your younger technicians, they will be better in the long run. One rare occasions, they show promise right out of the box and these are the techs that you need to keep and develop if you want your shop to continue to be successful. Of course however there are the ones who just don’t get it, and sometimes no amount of tutoring is going to help them get it! So overall the kids are alright, but shops need to recognize the talent they are developing in house and aim to keep it!

Also Uncle Jimmy gives his dystopian opinion on cell phones all while sounding like the worlds most insane Zoom Call!

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 149: Won’t Get Fooled Again

On this week’s episode of Grease the Wheels we give you some of the right tools for, well, greasing the wheels! Right now people are looking for jobs in tons of different industries, but in our case the tables are tilted a bit more in our favor because of the technician shortage. No employer is going to advertise the things about their shop that sucks, so it is up to you to find it out. Sometimes you get to find it out the easy way by looking around at a shop full of broken equipment that is half falling down and the techs are pushing cars into the shop by hand.

Sometimes it is a bit harder to spot, but rest assured every shop has things that make it an awesome place to work too. Traditionally interviews are mostly the person doing the hiring asking the questions of the people being hired, however the crippling technician shortage has actually made it so that technicians can be a bit pickier about where they are going to work. The goal at the end of the day is to work somewhere where you can be fulfilled, deal with the least amount of headaches.

So listen to your Uncle Jimmy and don’t get fooled again. Ask the right questions, take a good look at the shop, and read the reviews of your potential future service department on google and you will be all right. Do not settle for less pay, and make sure that they have a schedule to regularly review raises. We also talk about using your sick time, because this is a very physical job, and sometimes you really need to just take an extra day to heal up.

Also Uncle Jimmy retells a story about a tech who greased the wheels in epic fashion for a very good reason! What are some of your employment red flags that you won’t get fooled again on?

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 148: Happy Jack

On this week’s completely off-the-rails episode of Grease the Wheels, Uncle Jimmy gives a literal voice to some of the tools and equipment in your shop. What would happen if tools could talk? What if your wheel balancer, alignment machine, and tire machine could scream at you with the voice of your good old Uncle Jimmy when they’re being operated improperly? Odds are that it would keep them working longer! We also discuss the phenomenon of “warranty-itis” where a car will have all sorts of phantom problems coincidentally right before it is no longer under the manufacturer’s warranty.

We also do a serious dive on the topic of welding, welders, and how your welder (if it gained sentience) would turn into Gordon Ramsay; while coming up with the brand “Practice Welders”. Either way our jobs could theoretically be a lot easier if every socket you dropped could play Marco Polo with you until you find them, or if cars could tell you what was wrong with them in plain english. Also Uncle Jimmy assumes that torches would have a harsh German accent, which is fitting considering they invented the flamethrower. This episode is complete insanity, but you should probably expect that by now! Let us know what your tools would say, or if you talk to your tools while you’re using them?

Also Uncle Jimmy absolutely massacres a Sean Connery impression and asks the pointed question, “would your car think you’re an asshole?”

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 147: I Can’t Explain

On this week’s episode of Grease the Wheels, we are talking about a bunch of things that Uncle Jimmy can’t explain about the automotive industry. We go in depth into things that we can’t explain as technicians in regards to some of the higher up’s not having a good grasp on what is going on in their own shops and the industry in general.

We also go into some of the bigger questions that we can’t explain, like why fixing cars for people in a pinch always feels just a little bit better. We also don’t really understand why there needs to be chaos in the shop. It seems like chaos makes itself at home in the form of customers in most cases, because realistically you have no idea what people are going to drag in that day.

Speaking of chaos, Uncle Jimmy works a Saturday and gets cornered by one of the worst customer ever, who also happens to be one of the luckiest human beings on earth by finding the one guy who actually had spare parts that fixed his car well over two hours after closing. We also don’t understand service advisors, because it is one of the most horrendous jobs in the automotive industry, but the good ones are so effective they make it look simple. However, despite this, we don’t understand how getting all of the relevant information from customers and selling the work that the technicians suggest is such a big ask; especially when it is in their job description. What can’t you explain about the automotive industry?

Also Uncle Jimmy succinctly and correctly defines “Karen’s” within a broader set of ungrateful and combative customers.

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 146: Any Way, Any Where, Any How

On this week’s episode of Grease the Wheels we talk about indies, mobile techs, and “rogue techs” who are working out of their home garages. Because we work in a dealership, this podcast often revolves around working for a dealership as a mechanic, but there are many modern alternatives that have been gaining traction as the business has evolved. Indie shops are truly a mixed bag: with some of them being well run, mom and pop shops where the staff genuinely feels like a family and others that are basically chop shops. Either way, do your homework on any shop that you are looking to bring your talents as a mechanic too, because it is your reputation on the line in some cases.

A shop’s bad reputation can follow you even if you are only in a shop-of-ill-repute for a short period of time. Mobile mechanics have seen an interesting rise with the internet and people being less and less able to fix things on their own cars. The Rogues though truly have it figured out, being able to work on their own time, in their own space, and having the choice of what they actually have to work on. No matter where you are in the indie-tech spectrum, be prepared to have to fix whatever rolls, drives, or gets dragged through the door- because you have no idea what they might be bringing in. Either way the indie scene is booming as dealerships struggle to fill their ranks, and there are forthcoming developments from us that will make that whole “rogue tech” thing a lot easier!

Also Uncle Jimmy describes the post-Corona labor market and teases WWIII.

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 145: My Generation

On this week’s Memorial Day episode of Grease the Wheels, we talk about the generations in regard to the conflicts they fought and the cars they had to fix. Fittingly omitting “The Lost Generation”, we examine the incredibly simple nature of early mass produced automobiles when they were being driven by “The Greatest Generation”. This is the generation who honed their skills by keeping things running through a Global Depression leading up to fighting Nazi’s and the Imperial Japanese. “The Silent Generation” that had to fight the Korean War had slightly more complex automobiles with more safety features, more creature comforts, and a lot more power; but they earned it because they were born either shortly before or during the Great Depression. “The Baby Boomers” who fought the Vietnam War were all about horsepower when they first started driving, and that didn’t really tail off until the government started strangling cars in stock form.

With “Gen X”, cars got computers to make them run cleaner and more efficiently, and with the Millennials and “Gen Z” things have become electrified and the amount of things that can go wrong in these cars have increased exponentially. However, the number of people entering the field has decreased exponentially, and as another generation marches towards retirement the ranks are not being reinforced. We think the technician shortage is because of the increasing complexity of the cars with the complete stagnation of wages, but what do we know? The generational composition of every shop is different, so take a look around and maybe figure out what generations are best represented and how well they fit the stereotypes that Uncle Jimmy heaps on them.

Also Uncle Jimmy and I would like to give a very sincere, “thank you” to all of the service members who laid down their lives so we could have the freedom of speech to do this podcast!

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 144: In High Demand

On this week’s episode of Grease the Wheels we are exploring a favorite topic of ours and giving some real world potential fixes for the problem. The problem for this week’s episode is the technician shortage, with new facts and figures indicating that the industry could have up to half a million unfilled job openings in the not-so-distant future of 2024. Again, these suits with business degrees like to point out the lack of shop classes, while failing to account for the working conditions and wage stagnation that have driven people out of the industry and deeply dampened the enthusiasm for the trade. This isn’t even accounting for the absolutely blistering pace of change with the vehicles that we work on, and the rate of technological innovation that aims to make our job more difficult with each passing day.

However, as Machiavelli said, “entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity, and are able to turn both to their advantage.” Meaning: the good technicians out there, with a lot of knowledge and certifications, who are able to work on the hybrid and EV stuff will basically get to name their price. Because we solve problems we would fix the technician shortage with a farm system for people who want to get into the trade to get the fundamentals down and learn the business the way their employer wants them to. This coupled with a clear path of advancement and regular pay increases for regular increases in training and production would keep people in your building and happy for possibly their entire careers. This is a topic we will be exploring more in the future, so let us know how you would fix the technician shortage?

Also Uncle Jimmy goes over what Socrates, Plato, Da Vinci and Michelangelo would drive.

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!

Episode 143: Magic Bus

On this week’s episode of Grease the Wheels, we talk about the bus! The bus we are referring to in this case is the metaphysical bus of the blame game, often between irate customers and uncaring management. We’ve all been hit with it in our careers as mechanics or just people who fix things for a living, and more often than not it is undeserved. When auto repairs do not go as planned or customers have nefarious motives, the first person in the crosshairs to blame is always going to be the mechanic. After being a mechanic for some time, you will be able to see them coming and be able to better sidestep the incoming blame for recurring issues by better documenting your repairs and making sure to thoroughly diagnose the issue.

Folks, there’s really no two ways about it: when customers car’s don’t work the way they are supposed to, they go looking for someone to blame when in most cases they can accomplish this by looking in a mirror. “I didn’t hit anything!” “Yea, I just got a new ______ it can’t be that!” These simple statements are often rendered completely null by the bent rims and split water pump impellers that we then see. Additionally, we go over some of the key words and phrases to look out for when looking for a used BMW. This is a jam packed episode, let us know what you think with a review over on iTunes!

Also Uncle Jimmy does his own version of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” except with stuff that is his fault culminating in the incredibly awesome destruction of a Volkswagen Beetle.

This episode is distributed by The Wrenching Network. Whether you’re a technician, a mechanic, or someone who just loves the car scene, The Wrenching Network is a place that you have to check out. They have all sorts of great content, gear, and snacks to keep you turning wrenches in whatever capacity you do it. Also if you see us over there, make sure you say hi and leave a comment with what you think about the episode!