Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability
diagnostics at his family business,
Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New
Mark, who has been with the business for
over 20 years, is an ASE Master Technician and Parts Specialist.
He also holds the ASE L1 certification, and has an
associates degree in business management.
Mark is also a writer for Motor Age Magazine and is the past secretary
of the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals, (AASP).
Half A Tune Up
(Printed in the Journal of The Alliance
of Automotive Service Providers, AASP)
(I wish to again thank all the customers that have expressed
appreciation for my recent articles. It has proven to be a conduit
for me to voice and share my personal thoughts on automotive and other issues).
Recently, one of our Vocational students was assisting a technician
performing a tune-up on a customer's late 80's GM car. The student was comparing
the three spark plugs that came out of the front three cylinders to the
three spark plugs that came out of the back three cylinders. The student
found it strange that the electrodes on the three rear spark plugs had worn
clean off, yet the front three plugs still had some visible electrode remaining.
In addition, the rear plugs seemed older than the plugs in the front. Our
technician knew the cause since he had seen it before. It was one of those
unfortunate things about this industry that you have to explain from time
to time. The customer had another shop, or person, tune the car up in the
past. But what they didn't know was that they actually got ½ a tune
up. The rear spark plugs on this type of front wheel drive vehicle are extremely
difficult to change. Since the car is front wheel drive, the engine is mounted
transversely instead of front to back. The front plugs are facing the radiator.
The rear plugs face up against the firewall. You literally have to contort
your arm and hand into painful positions to access those rear plugs. Think
we're kidding? Ask anyone that has done them, they will show you the scar
tissue. Even though the customer had paid for a tune-up in the past, the
rear plugs were never changed. We'd like to see the old invoices on some
of these blundered jobs. Bet there are six plugs billed out on the slip!
Since the rear plugs had not been changed in more than 70,000 miles, the
electrodes were worn off. Not only is this a shoddy tune-up job, it also
has the potential to be very costly to the owner. This can cause premature
ignition coil and module failure. Since the spark has to bridge such a large
gap, the vehicle's ignition coil and module have to work at constant full
output. This is not something they are designed to do. Some of these coil/module
combos are more than $500.00. It is cheap insurance to replace spark plugs
at the proper intervals and make sure the person doing the job can be trusted
to do it correctly.