Our flatbed fix-it gave us dead wrong diesel diagnostic codes, a hellish 130-mile road test and a shocking twist that no one saw coming.
By Dave Bloom
This Breakdown Breakthrough series covers crisis conflict cases where customer repair issues ultimately get resolved satisfactorily.
I opened Pine Aire Truck Service in Bay Shore, New York, in 1986, which means I’ve owned the business for more than 30 years. Our slogan is “Service Beyond Expectation,” and make no bones about it, not a day goes by without our team trying to invent better ways of operating the shop more efficiently.
A few months ago, we had a wiring issue with an International 7400 flatbed truck, and it soon turned into a frightmare. Despite our best efforts and thorough diesel diagnostic procedures, the complication could not be located or solved — it refused to rest in peace. To make matters worse, the problem wouldn’t act up while the vehicle was at our facility.
The customer became upset with us because the truck would die without warning. Plus, the difficulty could occur anytime between a few hours to days of being driven.
We checked all the basics and maintenance items, and the computer showed several active and history codes. So, we ran a few more diesel diagnostic procedures, replaced a failed sensor that could’ve been the source of the problem, reset the hardware and took the possessed flatbed for a ride. It drove perfectly — in fact, it purred like a black cat on Halloween. We then went for a spin one last time to exorcise any remaining demons, and all was good (no codes returned).
However, after our buyer picked up the vehicle, he experienced the same terrifying trouble while driving it around for half a day. Needless to say, when we towed the truck back to our location, it started right up and ran fine. In addition, nothing hair-raising happened during our extended road tests.
We were having a devil of a time pinpointing the source of the disturbance. It was as if someone had cast a spell on the vehicle. So, we ran more tests and checked out the engine electrical circuit, since we received different diesel diagnostic codes this time around. We reviewed every connection we could find in the wiring harness but didn’t see any complications.
Pine Aire Truck Service
- Location: 180 Corbin Avenue, Bay Shore, New York
- Shop size: 7,500 square feet
- Number of bays: 10
- Number of staff members: 10
- Average monthly truck count: Approximately 130
- Average monthly revenue: $150,000
- Average repair order: $1,200
Again, we put the truck back together and returned it to the customer, who’s been relying on us for 25 years. When you have a patron for that long, they become like family — and this ordeal placed a dark shadow on the relationship. Although we conducted a lot of research, and the company knows the quality of our repair work, our buyer started stirring up a cauldron of irritated emotions. The truck would break down every couple days, but Frankenstein’s monster never came to life while it was at our facility.
The next time the vehicle dropped dead on the road, we towed it back to our shop. At this point, it was literally driving us batty. The crew wanted to scream bloody murder. Instead, we concentrated on fixing the transport and lost track of the time spent on it. We were in deep with this project — we’re talkin’ 6-feet-under deep — racking up more than 15 hours, maybe even 20!
We wouldn’t let this grave situation spook us, so we pushed forward like sleepless zombies in the night. We decided the evil force was lurking somewhere in the engine harness, based upon erratic diesel diagnostic results from a variety of sensors and controls. We all held our breath and crossed our fingers, hoping that the dreadful difficulty would disappear as quickly as a startled witch on a broomstick.
Luckily, a complete set of harness and connectors were in stock at our local dealer (I guess we’re not the only ones who encountered this paranormal activity). We installed the components, and the complication seemed to vanish like a ghost into thin air [for more truck part fix-it tips, read Turn DPFs Into Your BFFs]. But, we wanted to make sure, so we kept the old girl for another day.
To prove we got the ghastly goblin, I road tested the vehicle to hell and back for 130 miles — doubling our old shop record.
Unfortunately, it was the final nail in the coffin for the customer. He questioned our actions, as he couldn’t risk another day of non-production. Plus, he had a driver who was refusing to take the truck out again. I explained that it was not only interfering with his schedule but killing ours as well. We had both reached our boiling point!
To prove we got the ghastly goblin, I road tested the vehicle to hell and back for 130 miles — doubling our old shop record — after replacing the engine harness. We wanted to show him we did everything possible to guarantee his ride was fixed properly and he wouldn’t be haunted by any other problems.
Although we gave him many assurances that the truck was repaired, the buyer lost confidence in it and ordered another one. He took it back while waiting for the new purchase and enjoyed 4,000 scary good miles. When the fresh flatbed arrived, we bought the old terror for trade-in value. I had to make back the loss somehow, and it was running well.
As soon as some cosmetic issues get resolved, it will be marketed for sale. So, if you’re looking for a reliable, ghoul-free flatbed with a new engine harness, give me a call. I’ll give you a deal to die for!
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