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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lexus Recall Notice - Broken Valve Spring

One of my customers drove in with her 2006 Lexus LS350. It’s a really nice looking car. She likes me to do her maintenance work because I’ve known her for a very long time so after the initial freebies at the dealer are over she brings her vehicles into me for service. Whenever I get a customer returning to me with their new vehicles for service I always keep track of recalls and tech service bulletins for them. Because of that, this particular visit didn’t catch me by surprise, but it was a little embarrassing. Ms. LS got out of her Lexus with panic on her face. The car was running rough and making metallic noises in the engine.

Because Recalls are something the car makers send notices out on, every owner gets one. I had run across the recall for broken valve springs on the 2006 – 2008 Lexus only a few months back, although it had been issued in July of 2010. With recalls such as this, I normally work it into a conversation with the customer after a service, asking them if they’d gotten their recall notice for whatever recall I’ve become aware of. With Tech Service Bulletins, the vehicle has to actually be exhibiting the problem. This was a recall that they would have done without the problem being in evidence.

“Bernie! Listen to this!”

I’m already waving my hands in a calming motion as I walk over to her driver’s side door and reach in to shut off the car. “Did you get a letter in the mail from Toyota about your Lexus? There’s a recall on the valve springs breaking on-”

“Shit!” Ms. LS dives in to retrieve an unopened envelope from her glove box. She pops back out with it in hand. She hands it to me for opening. It’s the recall notice. “I forgot all about it. I knew I should have opened it, but I was on my way out the door when the mail was delivered so I stuck it in here. Is that what the letter’s about?”

I’m reading it over quickly and nodding my head. “Yeah, it is. Come in the office. We’ll get the dealer on the line and see if they can get you in today.”

Yes, I’m being helpful because I probably should have sent her a notice myself and not assume she got one from Toyota or read it. I was worried her next question would be-

She read my mind as we’re walking in the office. “I wish you would have reminded me when you heard about the recall, Bernie.”

“Yeah, me too, Ms. LS. I’m sorry.” No, I’m not ignoring the fact she received the notice and inadvertently ignored it. I’m apologetic because if she were having her Lexus serviced at the dealer they would have noticed she was supposed to have the recall addressed when she brought it to them for any service. They were luckily able to take her in right away for the recall service. I promised to keep her updated on anything I found out on her Lexus, even if it was only a rumor. What can I say… my bad.

Remember, my novel COLD BLOODED is on sale in case I need another career sooner than expected. :)

and my 99 cent novels MONSTER, ARCHANGEL, and STORM  


Rick said...

Hey, what's a broken spring valve among friends?

BernardL said...

They're just four wheeled monsters with an attitude, Rick. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm not imagining I'll be owning a Lexus any time soon. Not unless my books start doing a lot better!

BernardL said...

This recall may hurt them for a while, Charles, so you'll have time to get the books moving. :) Seriously, broken valve springs is a rough item to recall, especially with it affecting 140,000 vehicles. Man, that is one expensive mistake.

raine said...

You're a good businessman, Bernard.

BernardL said...

Thanks Raine, but I think I'd better slow down on my frantic querying for a while and maybe pay a little closer attention to the career that pays the bills. :)

Sofia Harper said...

Don't feel bad. I am one of those owners. I bring my car in limping on a wing and a prayer. You, the mechanic are kind of surprised my car hasn't imploded by the way I treated it.

She sounds like one of those types too. Well, the average car owner.

Anyway, if it helps maybe you can use the writerly you with the mechanic you. Create a newsletter of the recalls you've received(rumors but that's dicey) or the common issues that are easily fixed by going to your local (you) mechanic.

BernardL said...

She takes very good care of her car, Sofia. It's tricky about how much or how little to say or send out in this business. I do send out maintenance notices. The newsletters like the ones I get from everyone under the sun seem mildly interesting at first, and then progress to annoying in short order. :)

Sofia Harper said...

"She takes very good care of her car, Sofia."

I assumed. So I'll take the first three letters of that word and call it a day. :)

whydibuy said...

More typical babysitter whining.

I guess as an adult you are excused from any personal responsibility for your life. Has American education really dumbed down people to that level of childlike behavior?

I have a friend who is a DDS. I hear stories all the time about whiny patients who complain about missed appointments saying he didn't inform them as he should have.
HHMMMMM. He has a policy of sending out notices 2 weeks before the appointment and a phone call a few days before, which usually goes on the person's answering machine.

But its his fault. He didn't properly inform them, or should I say, be a better babysitter for them.

BernardL said...

I agree with your take on it to a point, Whydibuy. In the auto repair business though, the advent of technology has set the stage if an indy repair shop wants to compete with the dealers. We have to work harder to stay ahead of tech bulletins and recalls. Luckily, something like the Lexus valve spring problem only crops up once in a while where it has serious implications.

The appointment quandary really screws up any service business. You're right about people expecting service providers to practically come to their door with a reminder and an escort. It's one of those negative aspects that doesn't have a real solution.