Why is it difficult to-Service a Vehicle Perfectly?
A few months back I was going on a long drive in a premium SUV. As the manufacture was aware of this, before they sent the SUV to me it went for a full checkup and service to their dealers authorized workshop. And when the dealer representative delivered it, I was informed that the SUV had undergone a complete check and was fully ready.
Now that is what you call a labour of love. Something that in my view is endangered in our country.
As old habits die hard, a day after I got it, I checked the engine oil level. And to my surprise found it was low! The windscreen washer fluid had also not been topped up. And as it was a BS6 certified diesel that used Adblue or urea, or Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) to limit emissions, I also checked the DEF level display on the dash, and that also disclosed that the AdBlue tank was three-quarters empty! That is not all. The tyre pressure monitoring (TPM) display on the dash showed two tyres had low air pressure! The engine compartment was also dirty and had oil and grease stains in couple of places.
Mechanics who pursue perfection are becoming increasingly rare.
As I was to drive out the next day, I immediately called the authorized workshop. They told me, "The DEF level, air pressure and windscreen washer fluid could be low as we had not checked that. But the engine oil cannot be less, because as per our records it's been topped up"! It's only when I said I had checked when the engine was cold, which is how oil level needs to be checked, that the service guy started taking me a bit seriously. Then I sent him a photo of the dipstick showing oil was less after which he instantly dispatched a service team to my place.
Anyone can use a screwdriver or spanner. What's important is to skillfully wield them and that doesn't happen too often. Photo by Christian Buehner on Unsplash.
The service guy confirmed that the engine needed about 1 litre of oil and that the DEF level was low too. He topped up both, but before leaving he did say something very interesting. "Nowadays we don't come across many car users like you. Forget checking the oil, most of our customers don't even know how to open the bonnet. And it's not even monsoon season, so I don't understand why you checked the windscreen washer fluid level".
There is a tool for every task. But where is the perfect mechanic?
Later I took the SUV out for a test drive and found that at around 90 kph there was a slight wobble in the steering wheel due to out of balance wheels. I decided not to call the authorized workshop again and instead went to my regular tyre chap where I had the tyres balanced and rotated. He also told me, "Few customers nowadays bother with balancing wheels and as for tyre rotation; we ourselves have done it after a really long time."
Even pouring oil without spilling is a skill. But you will find most mechanics letting it drop and then cleaning it with a dirty rag.
There was also some other minor issues like the windscreen having oily thumb and palm prints on the inner side and I used a glass cleaner and nice scrubbing with a newspaper to get rid of them. Some of the drivers in my apartment building were highly amused by this, and I overhead one of them say, "This chap seems to have some screws loose. Who scrutinizes windscreens so closely and cleans them like that? And what is the need"? I agree, I am crazy about making sure a car is in the best possible shape, particularly if I am going in it for a long drive. And I simply hate smudgy windscreens because I will be looking through it constantly, so I can't stand any kind of dirt on it. But most people never even notice these things. And I can't remember when I last got into a car that did not have some muck on the windscreen, especially on the inside, where few bother cleaning.
Send your car for servicing and it's likely you will get a spanner in the works. Photo by Dmitriy Demidov on Unsplash.
While I sorted out these basic things before my road trip, what upsets me is the attitude of the authorized service center guys. How could they declare the vehicle fit for a long drive without even checking something as important as the engine oil level? Especially when the vehicle had been sent to them for servicing by the manufacturer they represent. They were also aware that the SUV will be driven by a person from the automotive media whose job it is to review and road test cars. But still they were careless and lackadaisical about it. So I can very well imagine how they must be dealing with regular customers.
For every good mechanic there are nine mediocre ones. Photo by Kate Ibragimova on Unsplash.
And this is not the first time I have experienced something like this. It happens all the time. Hardly anybody now believes in servicing or repairing a vehicle to perfection. Rare is the mechanic or workshop that you can trust to deliver excellent and flawless work. And it's not just in the automotive sphere. Look at the guys who service our home air conditioners, or repair our electronic appliances or service our computers. Almost all of them are shoddy at their job and if they have touched your AC, you can be sure of dirty hand prints or even scratches on the paint or paneling around it.
Tools waiting to be used correctly.
The plumber, electrician, carpenter, mason, and so on, almost everyone's work is substandard. They just want to quickly finish the job, grab your money and go to the next customer. There is no pride or perfection in what they do. At a friend's place I saw a carpenter drilling holes for fitting brackets of a shelf. He did not even bother to measure and mark the drilling points accurately. He just switched on the drill machine and went straight into the wall. The next hole was drilled about a foot away with approximation, but no measurement. When I asked him about this, he said, "Who has the time to do all those measurements. And where is the need. I will fit the shelf, which is all that should matter to you".
Application of mind and sincerity to your work, are hallmarks of a fine technician. Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash.
But to someone like me who is fussy about the finish, distance, accuracy and aesthetics of every hole drilled, and every bolt or bracket fitted, the way he did it is a crime. An offence against skillful and meticulous work, which I am sorry to say, is becoming increasingly rare in our country. Look at our some of our old temples, forts, palaces, monuments, carvings, paintings and what have you. We were once a nation of highly accomplished craftsmen who excelled at their work. Sadly now we are a country where mediocrity rules and the "Sab Chalta Hai and Kaun Karega" attitude prevails. In fact, in my view it is now a crime to expect excellence. Because if like me you are one of the eccentric ones who do, then you are bound to be disappointed. Yes, sadly now the desire for perfection, can only give you pain.