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Mobil 1 motor oil, “Intel Inside,” “Die-Hard car batteries,” “The man from Orkin….” What do these have in common?

Triumph of prolonged consistent marketing has convinced the public these names signify top tier quality and value and products superior to others that are not as well known.  But do they?  The failure rate of Intel PC processors in miniscule.  The failure rate of PC processors made by AMD is equally miniscule and they cost less.  Is there any objective reason to trust the “Man from Orkin” more than any other exterminator?  A friend of mine was incredulous when I told him it sounded like the battery in his car had failed.  “It can’t be the battery!  It’s a Die-hard!  That’s supposed to be a good battery!”  There are only two automotive battery manufacturers of any significance in the United States.  Globe-Union and Johnson Controls make batteries for Sears, Interstate, and most everybody else.  Some batteries come from overseas.  Don’s Automotive buys batteries from a distributor who does not deal in sufficient volume to have a trade name like “Die-Hard” molded into the case.  You need the volume of somebody like Sears for that.  “Die-Hard” and Interstate “Mega-tron” batteries fail young in Texas heat just like any other.

Mobil 1 is a high quality motor oil that is 100% synthetic and is certified to meet the newest and most rigorous American Petroleum Institute standards and those of ILSAC: The International Lubricant Standardization and Advisory Committee.   So are many other brands of motor oil, many of which you have never heard of.

If you have a headache will it be reduced sooner with Bayer aspirin as opposed to HEB house brand aspirin at 25% the cost?

It pays to be cynical when it comes to massive advertising campaigns.

Don’s Automotive keeps Mobil 1 engine oil for those that request it.  We don’t consider it a great value and use full synthetic oil of other brands in our own cars.  I recently went online and verified that “Pureguard” motor oil is certified to meet the most rigorous API and ILSAC standards.

If the rack & pinion steering gear in your Camry starts to leak we could replace it with a genuine Toyota branded “remanufactured” part.  Or we could use a Maval “remanufactured” steering gear with a two year warranty — Toyota’s warranty is one year — for a lower cost.  Guess who supp[lies Toyota and Lexus with “remanufactured” steering gears?

 

Groupons, loss-leaders, etc. = BAD NEWS!

Recently a friend of mine who is not at all impoverished was seduced by a Groupon deal for a silly cheap oil change.  He was 50 miles out of town going to a hiking trip when the oil pan drain plug fell out and he had to have the car towed back to Austin.  He was at highway speed so by the time he pulled over the perfectly good engine in his Toyota Matrix was destroyed by running with no oil.  For reasons that I will never understand, he agreed to pay $750 for the junkyard motor the shop installed at no labor charge.  I later informed him that any legitimate shop carries a “garageman’s liability” insurance policy that should have provided him with a replacement engine of equal or better value installed at no cost to him whatsoever and the use of a rental car until repairs were complete.

Several years ago, being an avid cyclist, I foolishly used a Groupon deal for a cycling fitness evaluation.  The means of evaluating VO2 Max, overall fitness etc., were obviously based on very unsound methods and of no scientific credibility at all.  At least no harm was done and when I raised objections the two “Bike gurus” gave me a full refund cheerfully.

My wife and I would like to forget a gruesome meal we had at a new restaurant with the Groupon deal she found.

I am far more comfortable paying a fair, not exorbitant, of course, price for all goods and services I receive.

A viable business will not be so desperate as to offer services way below cost just to get bodies in the door.

In the automotive field there is a far too prevalent practice of pricing oil and filter changes at far less than they can be carefully and ethically performed for.  Of course, this means they will be performed by a person of minimal skill and ethics and accompanied with high pressure attempts to “upsell” totally unneeded services.

“Free towing when we do the work,” “free diagnosis” in this age of electronic controls where proper diagnosis can require considerable skill, equipment and time typically end up being quite costly.

Don’s Automotive and Don personally want no part of this.

 

 

 

Better Late Than Never

Such a long time with no update!

I offer the excuse that, after all, I did suffer sudden cardiac arrest on Oct. 23, 2014. Happy to report that not only was I one of the 6% or less who survives this — sudden cardiac arrest is MUCH WORSE than a “heart attack” — but I am back to almost pre-event strength thanks to those present at the time and excellent Travis County/Austin EMS. Back on the bike rides and doing my best to stay fit. Tony took over the shop for a month and did an excellent job. We are now partners in the no longer a sole-proprietorship Don’s Automotive which became Don’s Automotive LLC. I am now “semi-retired,” meaning I am normally only at the shop Mon-Wed, although those are long days. Thursday and Friday the shop is in excellent hands with Tony at the desk and Brandon and James in the shop. We are all flexible and capable of multiple hats with the exception that I leave the hands-on to the young folks these days .