Don’t skip steps when you’re in a rush.
Back in the day when I had 50 cars in the book, the first thing I’d do was bring the team in and over coffee, talk about how the motive of the day was to slow down.
That’s because if you speed up and go faster than normal, you’re going to make mistakes. That’s particularly true when you’re doing undercar service. There are ways of working, having the right procedures in place and following them to the letter.
For example, make sure you’re wearing your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like steel-toed shoes, hearing protection, safety glasses, face shields (especially if using grinding tools), impact gloves, and knee pads. Gloves are so important— we’ve had a 17% increase in hand injuries in automotive in North America.
Take care of yourself
It’s been a long winter, with low income, so when cars come in for spring changeover, now is the time to make up for that. You’re trying to put a lot into one day, and customers will wait until the last minute. But you’ve got to watch the shortcuts, stick to your procedures, stick to your safety standards. Stick to taking care of yourself.
When you’re using lifts, always use mechanical locks. Remember to inspect lifts on a monthly basis. When you’re inflating tires, use a safety remote air device with a lock-on air chock. That’s an Occupational Health and Safety standard—when you’re inflating a tire, you must use a remote device that locks on to the valve. You’re able to remotely inflate the tire without being in the trajectory zone, so you’re blowing up the tire without being in front of it.
That’s the rule. But some people just want to get it done quickly, so they stand over top of the tire and blow it up. And that’s when things can go wrong. One of our biggest fatalities is due to inflation when the tire comes off and blows up in someone’s face. The other rule to remember is if the bead doesn’t seat after 40 psi, the tire has to be put into a safety cage. That’s on all tire machines and recommended by the Tire Industry Association (TIA).
Use cleaning brush
Everyone knows about “RIST”—Remove foreign debris; Inspect all wheel and rim components; Snug all wheel fasteners, and Torque fasteners to manufacturer specifications. Many people are tempted to skip cleaning, but if you don’t clean, you can’t inspect it properly, and the wheel can come off.
I would even say that cleaning is the most important part of putting a wheel back on. The foreign debris can loosen up, which can cause the wheel to lose clamping force, and the wheel can come off. You may think it doesn’t look that bad, so you don’t bother, because it could save you five minutes. But at the same time, if the wheel comes off, or something gets damaged, it can cause an accident.
You have to physically use the cleaning brush and clean up the mating surfaces that attach to the car. That’s where you’re likely to find rust that’s accumulated over the winter, plus other road dirt. So cleaning all the components, make sure that the lug nuts are done and that they weren’t stripped. Also, make sure that the wheel fastener components are correctly installed. That’s a big part of it.
Bad things happen when you’re working too fast. It’s a tough industry, so take care of yourself.