Shop Press

Shop Press is the news and idea hub for everything related to working on cars and trucks, focusing on repair, technology, and wrenching lifestyle.

From the creative minds at:


Hot Off the Press

Brake booster valve – ASE practice questions (VIDEO)

Description A customer states the brake pedal falls slightly when the brakes are applied while starting the engine. Technician A says that a faulty brake booster check valve may be to blame. Technician B says this can be caused by a leaking brake booster diaphragm....

The final days (and cars) of AMC

In the last days of AMC, two employees brought a video camera into the Kenosha, Wisconsin plant to document the end of an era. Billy and Danny take a thorough tour of the old AMC buildings and production line, which was producing its last L-body Plymouth Horizons and...

What is a core charge?

The article title is a question I asked when I was a young counterman, and most of you oldtimer mechanics and parts people of course know the story: the core charge is a way to be sure the smoked part makes its way back to the parts counter. A core charge is a deposit...

How do you inspect a serpentine belt for wear?

Performing a visual inspection of a car part is usually the first step in assessing its condition. In the case of the serpentine belt, any sign of physical damage to the belt means the belt should be replaced, and may indicate the need to more closely inspect the...

The importance of testing engine coolant (VIDEO)

How to test for blown fuses in a car or truck | Fast and easy methodDescription Dorman Training Center instructor Pete Meier explains why you should be testing engine coolant on vehicles in your bay. With a simple test strip, you can quickly check the coolant's health...

How to use a refractometer

I used to feel real dumb when I didn’t know what a tool was. After fixing things for a bit, I have come to learn that there are a lot of specialized tools and the only dumb thing is not learning about them. So when Dorman Trainer Pete Meier showed up recently with a...

Transfer cases: Married vs. divorced FAQ (VIDEO)

There is a paucity of divorced transfer cases fitted to vehicles traversing the roadways in 2024. In fact, some technicians—especially younger ones—aren’t even aware a setup beyond the married arrangement exists. If you’re unfamiliar with them, our own Technical...

Ew, gross: are there cars you won’t service?

by | May 31, 2022

“Just blow into the tube and it will start right up.”

The owner’s car was fitted with an ignition interlock, a machine that would analyze one’s breath for alcohol prior to allowing the vehicle to start. It was a common court order for DUI offenders in that state.


“Huh? What do you mean, no?”

“I mean if you want me to work on this, you’re going to have to come down here and get this car started so I can pull it into my bay. I don’t really want to play a song on your carflute.”

Ignition interlock installed on a vehicle

Maybe I’m being a baby, but I’ve never been real keen on the idea of applying my face to one of these just to get a car to start. Photo by Telford Auto Repair.

The customer was expectedly angry. My shop foreman was also angry with me and so was my writer, but when I suggested they pull the car in, the anger dissipated because it seemed all three of us made the same decision. Since I didn’t feel great relying on the owner of this vehicle to have made good choices, therefore making sure nothing unsavory happens to me, I am not going to put my mouth on that machine.

Filthy car interior

This isn’t too bad, though I don’t think I’d ever let my own car get this dirty. Photo by backyard_mechanic509.

This little vignette is not exclusive to me; every mechanic has the story. Pet fur everywhere. Dirty diapers. Loads of fast food remnants. This raises questions. What is reasonable? What do we owe the motorists? What do they owe us?

I knew a fella who worked on trash trucks. He got gross garbage juice and insect larvae on him regularly. I can deal with that stuff, I guess, but it does seem like the potential for health hazards goes up a bit for that, right? Another time, I can recall getting into an F-150 that had a bench seat in it, and everything starboard of the middle of the cupholder was butts, ashes, or cigarette boxes. I mean a pile… just a mound. You coulda filled a wheelbarrow with all the ash. I worked on it (and test-drove a few miles to verify the repair). Yuck.

I don’t often have someone else service my cars these days, but when I do, I normally bring in vehicles that are pretty tidy. That’s mostly selfish; I just don’t care to be in a disgusting vehicle if I don’t have to. I’ve never been told my car was unpleasant. I recall using floormats and seat covers in my time as a wrench; I never wanted to get anyone’s car goopy since I am perpetually filthy. However, there were a few times I was glad to have a plastic seat cover because I was certain I was getting a case of hooptie-cooties from some of the wrecks that rolled in.

So what about you? Do you work on anything that comes in, or do you draw a line? Where is that line? Has it impacted your shop’s profitability?

The articles and other content contained on this site may contain links to third party websites. By clicking them, you consent to Dorman’s Website Use Agreement.

Related Articles

Shop Press Comment Policy

Participation in this forum is subject to Dorman’s Website Terms & Conditions. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline feedback
View all comments

Get Articles In Your Inbox

Subscribe to receive a monthly email summary of our latest Shop Press stories.

Shop Press

I agree to the above privacy statement and T&Cs

Thanks! You're now subscribed.