To cap it all…
We had a phone call from a very disappointed customer. Six weeks previously we had repaired the coolant system on her camper van, and now she had broken down. In her opinion it was clearly because we had not repaired the system correctly.
The breakdown: With this vehicle (an import) there is a low coolant alarm fitted and this had activated. She had stopped, topped the system up and then driven to a place of safety – and the alarm had been activated again, which meant that she had lost coolant again within half a mile. She then called her recovery company who checked the vehicle out and stated that the coolant system was recirculating. She was advised not to start the vehicle. She had to have the vehicle recovered home which was it where it was now.
I attend a great networking meeting – Warriors Bni, and from this I have learnt “a customer who is complaining is giving you a chance to put something right, and then keep the customer”.
I calmed the lady down and explained that if we had not repaired the vehicle correctly it would have broken down earlier, especially as she had been up and down the motorway. I also explained that if it was due to something we had not done correctly then we certainly would put it right at no cost to herself.
The customer agreed to allow the vehicle to be picked up by the recovery company we use. When the vehicle arrived we checked the coolant level – there was none in the header tank. We topped the tank up and noted we only had to put in a litre. We then pressure tested the system. Surprisingly there was no drop in pressure. This meant there were no obvious leaks and certainly not enough of a leak to be easily seen.
I called the customer who again told me what had occurred, and that she also had a loss of power. I explained that I could not see any leaks whatsoever, and if there was a leak it would be from the water pump – but to check this with 100% accuracy it would entail 3 hours of work. I suggested we ran the engine to find the leak. I was told to check the water pump and report back. At Worcester’s Mobile Mechanic we listen to our customers and do what they instruct us to do.
We did as requested and found there were no leaks. We then ran the vehicle to bleed the coolant system and the vehicle bled perfectly. This meant that there was no major problem with the vehicle. We then took the vehicle for a road test and there was also no lack of power. But on the road test I noticed steam from the nearside, which was where the header tank is. Strange, but really very simple, the radiator cap was not holding pressure and thus the coolant was “boiling” and being vented through the over flow pipe.
The customer’s recovery company had clearly seen this, and stated the system was recirculating. I suspect that the recovery person was not fully conversant with this particular vehicle and opted for the “safe” option.
I allowed the vehicle to cool down and then drove back to the garage, renewed the radiator cap and then road tested again. I called the customer to discuss the repair, and also the “lack of power”.
This was not a lack of power, but a fluctuating “rev” counter at tick over, this we had adjusted prior to road test.
The customer was happy and sad when told the vehicle was ready for collection, unfortunately we had to charge for the full investigation to get to the fault.
Remember… A badly maintained vehicle is a breakdown waiting to happen!