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Old 08-26-2002, 09:27 PM
R Easley
Posts: n/a
420 benz wrote:

But there comes a time when some repairs should be left
to the experts.
I completely agree.

Many of us on these various forums thoroughly enjoy the satisfaction gained from doing DIY work on our own vehicles. But we should correspondingly gain satisfaction from knowing that sometimes, we need a professional, with proper tools, to do the job right.

I could probably compute an analysis-of-variance with an abacus if pressed instead of my computer, but why would I want to do that? Similarly, I have arguably purchased the best-engineered car in the world, so why wouldn't I want corresponding service/measurement quality?

Most if not all contemporary MB alignments are an iterative process -- meaning that each adjustment can -- and usually does -- affect the readings of another desired parameter which requires repeated adjustments of the variables. Even assuming that I could gauge accurate readings with an abacus-like device, I certainly wouldn't want to do it.

Does the above imply that a professional that is not experienced in MBs shouldn't do alignments? Not at all. There is no mystery in MB alignments when one is aware that:

1) there is a purpose for spreading the front wheels when checking measurements on MBs -- even though a tech may have never even heard of a spreader bar

2) due to the design of the steering/suspension system on most contemporary MBs, alignment adjustments are an iterative process

3) some well-known aftermarket specifications are, at times, flat-out wrong. Consequently, the tech should either have access to MB specs or you should provide them to the non-MB tech from your own MB technical data.

The above assumes that one should have a tech that is receptive (i.e., not defensive) about an enthusiast wanting to work with them to better care for their car. This relationship is particularly important in smaller communities where an MB specialist may be a great distance from that community.

I was in the automotive industry in a past life and, too many times, technicians automatically assume that a DIYer is there to try to extract as much info as possible from the tech as cheaply as possible. Of course, that is sometimes true (doesn't make it right, though), but astute techs should realize that DIYers can be cultivated to be a powerful word-of-mouth asset for an independent shop. After all, by definition, DIYers are highly motivated about their marque which means that they not only love to talk about the marque but, more importantly, others will seek them out for recommmendations. A short-term-oriented professional will run off a DIYer and maybe send thousands of dollars of referred business to a shop that is willing to assist a DIYer with some expertise from time-to-time.

I know in my little town, I regularly refer lots of business to a tech that I use on occasion and I refer to him because I know -- through experience with him -- that he is meticulous, eager to add to his body of accumulated knowledge, and is open-minded enough to know that others may have information that can help him, too. As a result, he does very good work, he is fair, and I trust him (and trust others with him). Reciprocally, he knows that I don't make recommendations lightly and he knows that my name is on the line if he doesn't treat my friends and acquaintances well on repairs and service . . .

Sorry for the length of this post but something in the thread reminded me that the relationship between shop owners/professionals and DIYers like us needed to be discussed.

There is a powerfully mutually-beneficial exchange here between the two that is, unfortunately, not cultivated as often as it should because many shop owners/professionals have (erroneously and prejudiciously) labeled all DIYers as "moochers" and, correspondingly, many DIYers do not understand how to develop a relationship with their local professional(s).

Richard Easley
Waco, Texas
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