Tuesday, August 20, 2019


When I go shopping I don’t normally let price dominate my decisions on what I'm going to buy.
Of coarse price factors into my decision, it but it’s not the main reason I base the decisions.
I buy quality, I buy what I want, and I buy what is going to last a long time, I’m always
thinking long term. Unfortunately, I recently made a purchase based solely on price, and
wow did it end up costing me. I enjoy scuba diving as a hobby, I’ve been diving for years
and finally decided to go for my certification. I purchased all the necessary gear and I did
so based on quality, comfort, longevity, and function. I’m extremely happy with my
purchase. I already owned a wetsuit so didn’t buy one at the time. When it came
time to make my open water dives, I was told the water was cold and it would be best if
I wore an extra thick wetsuit. I don’t own one and didn’t really want to spend the money
on one as they can be expensive. So i was going to be smart and buy one online, based on
the price of coarse. All my other gear I purchased from a dive shop and relied on their expertise,
and like I said I’m extremely happy with all of it. It came time to make my dive. I put on
my new wetsuit and wow was it tight, difficult to put on and very uncomfortable. When
I had someone zip up the back I immediately had them unzip, I couldn’t hardly breath in it. I
bought the correct size but the suit had no give to it. I thought once in the water it would
loosen up. Wrong, I felt like a mummy. 10 minutes underwater and I couldn’t take it anymore,
I just couldn’t breathe in that suit. I surfaced, went in and had to call it a day. I had
my whole Saturday and Sunday planned around those certification dives. Needless to say, I
couldn’t dive at all. That $129 wetsuit ended up costing me so much, in traveling, what I paid
to dive, what I paid the instructor, and so on. Monday morning I went to the dive shop and tried
on a wetsuit with flex and stretch, the same size as the one I bought online. That wetsuit
felt so comfortable, it was easy to put on, and wasn’t restrictive at all. So I bought it. It was $300
plus tax, that’s over twice as much as the first one. Even though I received some credit for
what I already paid I had to pay more to reschedule the dives. In the end, the $171 I thought
I was saving ended up costing me over $600 extra. The lesson is you can never go wrong
with buying quality, buy from an expert, and buying exactly what you need because you get
what you pay for. That lesson should be applied to when you take care of your car as well.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The scene of an accident is no time to figure out CPR

This might sound funny but, the scene of an accident is no time to figure out CPR. It’s kinda like that with your car, not so much the accident part, but when you have a car problem is no time to start looking for a repair shop. You're most likely and hopefully, never have to perform CPR in your life but if you own a car there is about a 100% chance you’re going to have a car problem at some point. So what do you do if you have a car problem and don’t have a shop you’re already a customer to bring it. That’s not a great situation to be in, you panic. The next step is you ask for a recommendation on Facebook, and that is a bad idea. I see this happen often, when you ask for a recommendation on facebook you find that everyone and their second cousin has an opinion, seems everyone has a need to participate. that scary. Half of them recommend someone that works out of their garage, in their alley at night or on weekends. Like it’s their side hustle. Could you imagine choosing a doctor or lawyer who just does it for a side hustle? I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Just about everything!! Or even worse, instead someone tries diagnosing your problem over social media. Oh yeah, they'll tell you what’s wrong with your car, never mind that they aren't a mechanic or know nothing about cars while basing their guess on a need to participate. Heck, they’ll even tell you that you can fix it yourself, what part you’ll need and how much that part costs ALL THROUGH COMMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA. That’s not going to end pretty. 

Let’s say you’re wise enough not to use Facebook to find a shop. The next step people try is calling shops direct and asking for a quote over the phone on what the problem might or most likely, not be. This is actually worse than using facebook because you are going to end up choosing the most unethical shop you call, it happens every time. Let me explain. You pick a part to be replaced, such as a starter or alternator of the fuel pump or whatever. As a side note, for the life of me, I have no idea how callers come to the conclusion that is the problem with their car, but that subject is a whole other blog. A good shop will talk with you, ask you questions to get a general idea of what is going on. Even come up with a list of possible corrections to your car problem, then have you bring the car in for a proper diagnosis. Some shops will give you the price of what you are asking for (this is a huge disservice to you, it’s leading you to believe that your guess is accurate without any proper diagnosis so that you make a decision on false information) but then there is the most unethical shop, the one you’re going to pick. That shop will give you a ridiculously low price, far below in comparison to any other price you were given. You get that warm fuzzy feeling like you just found the right shop for you. Understand that the service adviser is experienced at recognizing price shoppers of the phone, know that the price he or she is giving is irrelevant because it’s most likely not what the car needs. In the very few cases where it is, that shop won’t honor that price given because of some fake variable that it found once the car arrives at the shop. Example, “you didn’t tell me over the phone that your car had the series 3 traction and handling package, that changes the price on everything.” 

So how do you choose the right repair shop? Do your homework.

 Ask for a recommendation of a friend that keeps very good care of their car. Do not ask just any friend, ask the one that you would like to own their car. Next, look at that shop online, read their reviews, look at their social media, look at their website. look at all their PR work, do they get involved with causes or in the community? Next call the shop on the phone, do they sound professional? Schedule a visit to take a tour of the shop, is it clean, organized and professional? Schedule a service such as an oil change. What was your experience like? Let them know your expectations for your car such as you need to keep it running for the next ten years or maybe you’re planning to upgrade cars this year. Good shops work with you. In the end, you’ll find just choose Ek Automotive and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Buying the right map to go on a trip.

Years ago when I was a kid my parents had a stack of maps in the glovebox of our 1967 Buick. They had maps of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Chicago and vicinity, Ohio and Pennsylvania. I’m not sure why they owned so may maps, it wasn’t like we went anywhere but Milwaukee or the Wagon Wheel in Rockford, and they already knew the way. I used to unfold the maps and spread them out just to think of all the place we could go. It was like a flow chart figuring out what highway to take to what town where we could switch to a different highway and so on and so on. Turns out it was exactly like a flow chart just like the ones we use to diagnose computer problems with cars. The same as starting a trip using a map, we need to find the starting point. In automotive diagnostics that would be considered ‘reading the code.’ when your service engine light, check engine light, or any of those other funny little amber lights pops on I think what some people misunderstand is that the code number doesn’t tell us what is wrong, it tells us what direction to start. From there we have turns, bends and curves just like you following a map to get to your destination. You wouldn’t guess how to get somewhere and hope for the best when traveling and we don’t do that here. Someone that just reads a code and guesses what your problem is the same as someone starting randomly driving in any direction in hopes they will arrive at their final destination, that’s just crazy. As you want to take the correct route to arrive at your destination at the exact spot in a timely manner, we too want to arrive at the exact proper diagnoses of your car in a timely manner as well. Although our diagnostic equipment is getting more technically advanced (and extremely expensive as well) there is no equipment, computer, machine or tool that can just be plugged in and comes up with an instant diagnostic.

     In an earlier post I wrote about the ‘Parts cannon’, people who try to take short cuts are people who shoot those cannons.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Shooting The Parts Cannon Is A Bad Idea

Imagine going to the doctor and saying “Doc, I have diagnosed myself and determined I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis and all I want you to do is give me a prescription for it, no need doing any tests or running any diagnostic procedures.” The doctor would treat you alright…..for a mental disorder because you would have to be crazy to do that. The internet is a wonderful thing, for leading people in the wrong direction. People use it to get a little information about something, choose what they want to believe, convert that to instant knowledge and in a few key strokes become experts on the subject. Unfortunately, I see this occur too often when it comes to some car owners.

The automotive parts industry is projected to sell $148 billion in 2019. That’s $148,000,000,000 and does not include labor. it’s suspected that up to 25% of that will be parts sold based on miss diagnostics. Either Google told the car owner what was wrong or the parts store read the check engine light code and guessed at the cause. That’s $29.6 billion (it looks like this $29,600,000,000). I’m not a big fan of wasting money and I hate to see people throw their money down the drain. The simplest, and easiest way to avoid this waste is to have any problem with your car properly diagnosed first. Diagnostics at my shop is often less than an hour of labor.

“Shooting the parts cannon” is a phrase used when people or bad shops keeping installing parts and hoping for luck. I think it should just be called the money wasting cannon. Be the wise consumer, have any issues with your car properly diagnosed and repaired, don’t shoot the cannon.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Reboot of Ek Automotive
1) To start anew, with fresh ideas in a way that is consistent with the principals of the original, but not unnecessarily constrained by what has taken place before.
Sometime about the middle of last yearI sat down with my crew and told them that my vision for the shop went beyond being the ideal automotive repair shop. My vision was that the shop becomes a model business. I want to go so far beyond the standard blueprint. I   wanted to create the kind of place that other businesses from other industries would come to study and model themselves after. “What if Apple were an automotive repair shop? What would it look like? Or Google, Tesla, Amazon, Facebook, or even Monster Beverage?” I asked my crew. What would it to customers? What would it be to the crew? How is that atmosphere created? How can we achieve this and still keep our current vibe? Truth is I already knew some of the answers. I was waiting to hear what they had to say their input is invaluable.   Mike asked me what the budget was for such a huge undertaking, I told him the budget was ‘cool, don’t worry about it’

We went to work creating brand new positions and bringing on more employees. We shifted gears in our approach to production and efficiency. We implemented a team system that has everyone working together.  A system like this is not commonly practiced in the automotive industry. The technicians asked if they could have air conditioning through the production area (bays. Of course the answer was a resounding yes. In fact, we had a new state of the art HVAC systems installed through both buildings completely. There was so much more to this but in the end, it was all to benefit our customers and our crew. Then came the facilities itself. Being an artist and dabbling in interior design, I took the lead on this. My shop has always been an extension of myself, and that wasn’t going to change. However, at the same time, I had to think about our customers and crew. It had to be the perfect combination of, Urban Industrial/ Form fitting function/ Customer appeal/ and the WOW factor, along with a blend of automotive meets art.   We nailed it!!!      The feedback has been incredible, so positive, you’ll have to stop in and see for yourself.

Look for the announcement of our Reboot gala celebration this spring,promise it will be quite the event.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Spring is a wonderful time of year.......except for Chicago drivers, get ready for suspension repair and electrical repair

There is nothing more refreshing then the thought of Spring finally arriving. It’s been a long Winter and we are ready to put the cold and snow behind us. As much as we northerners love the thought of Spring and all it has to offer, our cars, if they could, would cringe at that thought. What? You would think cars would love when the air temperature is not too hot of not too cold. They do, but that isn’t the problem. The problem for Chicago drivers is the rain, and the damp wet weather. Moisture, rain, and damp wet weather wreaks havoc on the electronics of a car. I’m not sure if you know this but there are more electronics on a car then there were on the early space shuttles. Moisture can find its way into the smallest openings in the electronics, kind of like a Lego on the floor can find the bottom of your foot in the dark. We have noticed that some cars are more prone to electrical issues than other but that no car is immune to it. The best way to combat this is like combating the flu season, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The ounce of prevention would be a complete vehicle inspection (catching potential problems) and routine maintenance, a pound of cure would be a electrical repair along with the bill.

Then there are those pesky things that pop up every spring…….POTHOLES. You can’t avoid them no matter how hard you try. When they’re filled with water you can’t even see them. When they fill with water I’m pretty sure you can go fishing in them they become so large. Potholes can take a slightly worn suspension part and break it. They eat up shocks and struts all day. Since they are too difficult to avoid your best defense is making sure your car is in proper working order. What does that mean? It’s simple, A worn suspension part will break, a suspension part that is not worn will not break. Does it get any simpler than that? When you see a car on the side of the road with the wheel hanging off,  it’s had a worn suspension part that the owner either didn’t know about or knew but didn’t have the suspension repair done, that finally broke. Having a complete comprehensive inspection will reveal worn parts and a good service adviser will work with you so that you can make good decisions when it comes to repairing your car.

I know just the shop for you