Can You Reduce Automotive Comebacks To Just 1%?

Image result for angry customer automotive

Does your shop have too many comebacks? 


Common reasons for comebacks 

All auto shops have had exceptions to the rule, but generally comebacks can fall into one of three categories.

  1.  Miscommunication between Techs, Service Advisors and Customers
  2.  Inadequate quality control system in place
  3.  Improper tools or parts


Get communication right!  Make sure to communicate the system you want to use in the shop with clarity.  The expectations should be clear.  The right system will have technicians and managers communicating as frequently as possible. Most successful shops use an inspection checklist on paper or electronic form.

Image result for automotive shop meetings

Try this.  Chances are there is a training problem that, if solved, will reduce comebacks.  As a team,  you can implement a new comeback prevention system or improve your current one. If you want to make this transition smoother try creating a small survey asking the shop team who the responsibility of comebacks should fall on, what could be done to reduce comebacks and how to effectively work through them. The accountability will be much clearer and help slow down the diagnosis process to make sure things get done right the first time.  After collecting information from your survey help guide your team toward an efficient comeback prevention system. Training could take place with a team meeting and followed up with an improved inspection checklist.

Some ideas include:

  • Calculate comeback rate.  For comeback rate you can divide the customers that came back by the total number of customers.
  • After every vehicle is completed a manager or someone who didn’t perform the work can inspect the work.
  • The hours lost for the mistake could be deducted from the employee responsible for the comeback.
  • Make sure the right tools and parts are used for the job. E.g. BrakeStrips are proven to reduce comebacks significantly by providing a visual aid for the customer.  Learn more here.        
  • Religiously keep track of where and with which services the comebacks are occurring.  Consider discontinuing a service that often results in a comeback. 

Are you selling a “Phony Flush?”

Are you selling a “Phony Flush?”

Are you selling a “Phony Flush?”

Changing Brake Fluid is an important service for the safety and longevity of our vehicles. However, it can be difficult to determine when the right time is to change the fluid. Many service centers offer a “Phony Flush” by recommending an un-needed service.  Or they send customers home without properly diagnosing worn out brake fluid which does need to be changed.

Common unethical methods used to validate a need for changing brake fluid:

Looks Dirty

Rubber brake lines and fittings will often discolor brake fluid in a brand new vehicle. Changing brake fluid based upon color is too subjective and unethical. This includes using bottles, trays and paper to show the color of the brake fluid.

Smells Bad

I don’t believe many of us know what brake fluid should or should’nt smell like. The smell is surely not a good reason to change brake fluid.

Has Moisture

Moisture does not equal boiling point. Most brake fluid with up to 3% moisture will Not fail a boiling point test. There is No standard for changing brake fluid based upon moisture content. Moisture pens are known to fail brand new brake fluid.

Because I Say So

We realize there are master mechanics with an unlimited amount of knowledge, however science can now take the subjectivity out of a recommendation. It is time to get up to speed with today’s testing technology and make a proper recommendation.

Valid and ethical reasons to change brake fluid:


Different vehicle manufacturers have different intervals for changing brake fluid. Most Ford, Chrysler and GM models have No interval for brake fluid, while most European and many Asian manufacturers have an interval of somewhere between 15K to 24K miles. Making a recommendation to change brake fluid based upon an OEM service interval is a valid reason for service.

Boiling Point

Moisture does not equal boiling point. The best method for testing the boiling point of brake fluid is to use a boiling point analyzer. The DOT FMVSS standards state that DOT 3 brake fluid should not boil below 284° F. On average less than 4 % of vehicles on the road will have a boiling point below 284° F.

Copper Testing

Using copper testing technology to determine when to change brake fluid has become the most used and recognized standard to determine when to change brake fluid. Up to 50% of vehicles on the road today have enough copper corrosion in their brake fluid to keep them from passing the DOT FMVSS corrosion test. Testing brake fluid copper levels is part of the AMRA EUICS standards and helps a shop comply with the Automotive Repair Act of California. Copper testing brake fluid is also part of the inspection process for Firestone, GoodYear, Monro, Tire Kingdom, Jiffy Lube, Pep Boys, AAA and many other service centers.

Recommending a brake fluid service based upon copper content in brake fluid will:

 #1 Deliver the most ethical and legal method to determine when to change brake fluid.

#2 Provide a much greater level of opportunity than any other test.

#3 Give a better experience for the customer to see and understand why they should change their brake fluid.

Click Here to learn more about copper testing brake fluid.
How to build a Motorized Drift Trike

How to build a Motorized Drift Trike

Drift Trike Build

If you haven’t ridden a drift trike, then you’re missing out. With a few modifications and a $100 motor from Harbor Freight we have an almost too fast drift trike. “We are still trying to figure out the best option for front brakes.”

When considering this build we looked at multiple custom frames and considered building our own until we came across a post by HotRod magazine where they used a Razor Trike frame and added on to provide room for an axle and motor. With a little engineering of our own and some help from BMI Karts we managed to build a solid drifting trike.

Below you will find some images and a list of parts we used to make this build.

Razor Drift Trike

We purchased this Razor drift trike from Amazon. $119-$139

212cc Predator Motor

We purchased our predator motor from Harbor Freight. With a coupon you can usually get this motor for $100

#40 Roller Chain

We purchased our chain from Amazon. $13.58

Axle, Wheels, Sprocket, Clutch and Bearings

We purchased the majority of our parts from BMI Karts. We found their site to be the most comprehensive and their prices to be the best.

Below is a screenshot of what we ordered from BMI. We got an extra wheel hub to see if it could be used to mount an axle brake. We will update this post when our brake shows up in the mail.

Miscellaneous Items

Some additional items we needed were a twist throttle, a 100″ throttle cable, metal for the motor and axle mount and PVC pipe to put over the tires.

Motor and Axle Frame

We used the existing Razor frame and welded on foot rests, metal pipe and flat steel for the motor mount.

PVC Tire Sleeves

Sleeves can get a little pricy. Luckily we have a great plumbing supply neighbor next to our warehouse who gave us some unusable 10″ water pipe. The 10″ fits great over the 10″ tire, however one of the tires must have been a little smaller because it slid out of the PVC. We remedied the problem by applying 3M rubber adhesive to the tire and it no longer slides off.

In the future we are considering going to a larger tire and 12″ PVC to get a little more ground clearance.


Overall this was a fun build. If we build another we will definitely get our parts from BMI Karts, but would most likely opt to build our own custom frame and use a fat bicycle tire in the front with disc brakes.


BMI Karts

Harbor Freight


ABS Safety Precautions

ABS Safety Precautions

Problem: Potential safety risk and possible component damage

Cause: Not adhering to proper safety precautions when servicing ABS equipped



• NEVER open a bleeder valve or loosen a hydraulic line while ABS is pressurized. The accumulator must be depressurized in accordance with individual manufacturer’s repair instructions.

• NEVER disconnect or reconnect any electrical connectors while ignition is on. Damage to ABS control unit may result.

• ONLY use specially designed brake hoses/lines on ABS equipped vehicles.

• DO NOT tap on speed sensor components (sensor, sensor rings). Speed rings must be pressed onto hubs, NOT hammered onto hubs. Striking these components can cause demagnetization or polarization, affecting accuracy of speed signal returning to ABS control unit.

• DO NOT mix tire sizes. Increasing the width, as long as tires remain close to the original diameter, is acceptable. Rolling diameter must be identical for all 4 tires. Some manufacturers recommend tires of the same brand, style and type. Failure to follow this precaution may cause inaccurate wheel speed readings.

• DO NOT over tighten wheel lug nuts. Bent rotor or brake drum may occur, which can lead to inaccurate wheel speed readings.

• DO NOT contaminate speed sensor components with grease. Only use recommended coating when system calls for an anticorrosion coating.

• When speed sensor components have been removed, ALWAYS check sensor-to-ring air gaps when applicable. These specifications can be found in each appropriate article.

• ONLY use recommended brake fluids. DO NOT use silicone brake fluids in an ABS equipped vehicle.

• When installing transmitting devices (CB’s, bluetooth, etc.) on ABS equipped vehicles, DO NOT locate the antenna near the ABS control unit (or any control unit).

• Disconnect all on-board computers when using electric welding equipment. Alternate method: Place welding clamp as close to work as possible.

• DO NOT expose the ABS control unit to prolonged periods of high heat (185‘F/85‘C for 2 hours is generally considered a maximum limit).

• Do not disconnect the battery to clear codes. This only works on a small number of vehicles.

• Do not overfill the brake fluid reservoir. Follow manufacturers instructions.

Vacuum Booster – Partial Brake Assist Diagnostic Tip

Vacuum Booster – Partial Brake Assist Diagnostic Tip

Problem: Poor brake assist – lack of stopping power or having to depress the brake pedal harder than usual to stop.

Solution: If you suspect the brake vacuum booster of providing only partial assist use the following steps to determine if it is a vacuum supply problem or a booster problem.


  1. Pull another vehicle of similar engine size next to the vehicle in question and connect that vehicle’s vacuum source to the suspect booster. I usually use an old piece of air line for this purpose.
  2. With the new source vehicle running apply the brake pedal in the suspect vehicle and check for a change in brake assist. If no change is felt then the booster is likely the culprit. If there is a change in the assist (pedal feels normal) then the vacuum plumbing is likely the problem.
  3. If the vacuum plumbing is the problem then closely inspect the components between the booster and the vacuum source to locate the problem.

More info: The vacuum booster has proven to be one of the most reliable parts in the brake system. This reliability has caused many technicians to overlook the booster as a potential source of brake problems. The booster is also high on the list of unpleasant parts to install. With this in mind it is a good idea to make sure the booster is the source of the problem before installing another unit.

Unfortunately this article does not allow a full explanation of the inner workings of a booster but you do need a basic idea of what is going on inside to allow accurate diagnosis. The main components inside a booster that control the assist function are the air and vacuum valves. The position of the valves determine what stage the booster is in. There are three stages of booster operation – unapplied pedal (no assist), applied pedal (assist) and hold (isolate assist). When a vehicle is running and the brake pedal is not applied the booster is in a suspended state. The vacuum valve is open and the air valve is closed causing the diaphragm to be “suspended”. When the brake is applied the vacuum valve closes and the air valve opens. Closing the vacuum valve isolates the boost chamber from the vacuum chamber. Opening the air valve allows atmospheric air to enter the boost chamber. The difference in pressures on either side of the diaphragm is what produces the assist. When the driver is at a stop light the pedal pressure is usually reduced causing the booster to go into the hold mode. During the hold mode the air valve closes and the vacuum valve remains closed. This isolates the air in the boost chamber until the driver releases the brake pedal.

Pressure Testing Brake Hydraulic System Tips

Pressure Testing Brake Hydraulic System Tips

To properly use the results of a pressure test it is best to first understand the pressures generated during different types of braking and the function of the different brake valves used in the system.

You will need to obtain a brake hydraulic pressure test kit similar to the image above

Because most manufacturers do not publish pressure specifications it is often necessary to use generic values. Typically the hydraulic pressure generated during light to normal braking will be from 300psi to 500psi. Panic braking is generally considered to start at about 600psi. The proportioning valve will start to limit pressure to the rear brakes at this time. If a full panic stop is taking place the proportioning valve will limit the rear brake pressure to about 800psi while the front brakes will climb to between 1500psi to 2000psi. The psi numbers presented here are averages based on many tests performed on different vehicles.

Two types of pressure testing are common, checking the front to rear brake pressures and checking an axleʼs side to side pressures. The uses of each of the tests is explained below:

Front to Rear pressure for a properly operating system

Checking front to rear pressure:

Performing a front to rear pressure test can be done to help diagnose the following conditions:

  • Proportioning valve malfunction – Diagnose the cause of rear wheel lockup during panic braking or possibly a proportioning valve causing a restriction (wonʼt reopen after release).
  • Premature front brake pad wear – Pressure tests are used to determine if a lack of rear braking is related to the cause of front pad wear.
  • Height sensitive control valve diagnosis or adjustment – These valves usually incorporate pressure tests in the adjustment procedure and can be diagnosed using pressure gauges.

Side to Side pressure for a malfunctioning system

Checking side to side pressure:

Performing a side to side pressure test can be done to help diagnose the following conditions:

  • Brake pull – different hydraulic pressures results in different clamping forces and can result in a pull
  • Side to side pad wear differences – if the pads on one side of an axle are wearing faster than the pads on the opposite side

Performing a Front to Rear Pressure Test

  1. Connect the gauges using the manufacturerʼs instructions. Most pressure gauges connect to the caliper or wheel cylinderʼs bleeder screw hole (See Figure 85.4). Make sure to properly bleed each gauge hose.
  2. Place the gaugeʼs memory needles on zero.
  3. Start the vehicle. Apply the brake first using light to moderate force as if making a normal stop. Note the pressure readings, under this pedal force the front pressures should not be over 500psi in most vehicles. Compare the front and rear pressure readings. At this pedal force they should be equal or near equal. If equal continue to next step. If there is a large difference with the rears being substantially lower than the fronts there is a potential problem. The list of possible causes will depend on the system configuration. The list will include:
  • Restricted proportioning valve
  • Restricted brake hose to the wheel or axle
  • Restricted steel brake line
  • Out of adjustment or restricted height sensitive control valve
  • Restriction in ABS modulator


Brake Job Done Well

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