11 May 2013
Clueless Interview: River Road Automotive
River Road Automotive buzzes on a warm, sunny afternoon. The shop sits right on the edge of River Road in a dark red shed resembling a barn.
Classical rock music blasts through the shed doors as two of three working technicians sit inside the hood of a car with their feet resting in the space where an engine used to be.
Although they are shielded from the sun, sweat pours from their grubby foreheads while they take turns rigorously working on four different cars.
Inside, shop owner Wade Simmons greets customers enthusiastically. River Road automotive assists customers in almost any repair or service one could imagine: anything from engine replacements to oil changes. On this day, a silver four-door Kia is elevated about eight feet above the garage providing a rare view of the underside of the car. It has a bad transmission, which means it can no longer go in reverse. Simmons explains the required process in the simplest of terms.
“It’s all about access,” he said. “You can’t see it, you can’t take it out.”
The first order of business is to take out the faulty transmission. But before this can be done, they need to gain access. The technicians remove the car battery. Once the repair is finished, the existing battery will go back in the car because as long as this piece of the automobile is still working, there is no need for a replacement. There are bolts inside the transmission that mount to the engine, so those must be removed as well before any other progress can be made. Next, hoses located underneath the battery are taken out in order for technicians to see what exactly needs to be done.
Finally, a new transmission comprised of steel and cast aluminum is installed. This allows the car to once again shift gears and safely move either forward or in reverse.
According to Simmons, one of the biggest challenges of this operation is getting familiar with the automobile. No two cars are alike and each manufacturer builds their cars differently. Therefore, figuring out how to dismantle the vehicle takes much time and deliberation before even considering how to approach the repair.
While this is not a repair that many people would be able to do on their own, Simmons points out that it is important to know what is going on when dropping off a car for any type of service. The majority of customers lack knowledge when it comes to their automobiles and as a result can be taken advantage of by technicians.
Simmons says it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion because unnecessary charges or service suggestions can run up the bill extremely quickly.
One final piece of advice Simmons gives to car owners is to pay attention to their vehicles. “When your car talks to you, listen to it,” he said.
Squeaky breaks, rusty engines and roaring exhausts are a few signs that it’s time for a check-up. So while many may not understand the vocabulary of automotive technicians, there is a universal language of cars that everyone can understand.