Finding a motorcycle mechanic who actually knows what he's talking about - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
General V-Strom Discussion Talk about all things V-Strom not limited to just one of the above models

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post #1 of 37 Old 07-06-2017, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Finding a motorcycle mechanic who actually knows what he's talking about

I took my '07 DL1000 in to a local independent shop for a valve clearance check this week. Sure, I *could* do it myself, I just didn't want to. The good news is, they're almost done, and it will be ready for pickup tomorrow.

The bad news is this: they just called about coolant, and are trying to feed me nonsense.

See, a few months ago, I did a complete coolant flush and replacement. I cleaned out some unidentified green stuff, which may have been pretty old and likely contained silicates, since it had left some sludge in the reservoir. That was in the bike when I bought it used, last October.

What did I replace it with, you ask? Zerex Asian 50/50 premix.

Why that particular coolant? Well, all available info indicated it would be a perfectly fine - possibly even superior - replacement for OEM type coolant. You may know that Zerex Asian is a HOAT formulation, containing no silicates, so you get no silicate deposits. It's an extended life coolant, able to last up to 5 years, supposedly. No problem, right?

You would think so, but no. The shop's owner just tried to tell me that Zerex Asian was an "automotive" coolant and would "degrade" my engine if I kept using it. Not only that, but his mechanic refused to replace any coolant lost in the valve check process (since you have to move the radiator etc.) with the Zerex, because it's not a "motorcycle coolant."

I didn't even argue. I'm tired of arguing with ignorant people. I just don't have the energy any more. When I go to pick up the bike, I'll just smile and nod and get out of there as quickly as possible. And not come back.

But this is ridiculous. This is the second time they've tried to feed me a maintenance myth (the other one was the "jumpstarting from a car battery will blow up your electrical system." Which it didn't, of course). As many of you know, something like Zerex Asian is 100% fine for a Vstrom. There's absolutely nothing special or different about "motorcycle" coolant except that it maybe says "Suzuki" or "motorcycle" on the bottle. It's not like engine oil, where the car stuff won't do due to the friction modifiers.

The exception may be the "Engine Ice" type stuff. I'm not the least bit interested in that stuff though. Sure, it does in fact cool somewhat better, but it's not worth the extra cost, to me.

These guys should know better. I'm fed up with them. They may mean well, but I'm tired of being told bad info. It makes me wonder what other mistaken ideas they're operating under.

I'll be finding a new shop for any future work that I don't feel OK doing myself. Maybe I'll even go to the local Suzuki dealer.

Got any stories of your own, of motorcycle shops pushing myths?

PS: Also feel free to tell me I'm full of crap and that the shop owner is right. I want details though. I did a lot of reading and thinking before I chose Zerex Asian, and I'd really like to know the "secret," if there is one.
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Last edited by DesertBike; 07-06-2017 at 08:18 PM.
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post #2 of 37 Old 07-06-2017, 08:20 PM
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When you are unhappy with the service - vote with your feet. And yes, I may not be the font of all human knowledge but I also occasionally find myself doubting the knowledge across the counter.
Perhaps that's why some dealers keep their mechanics a long way from their customers.

2010 Weestrom; 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X300; 1988 Suzuki GSXR1100
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post #3 of 37 Old 07-06-2017, 08:43 PM
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old guys

I try to do most all my work but sure not the best wrench by a long shot.Way back when drag racing shop owner friend did the motor for free and ran his name on side panels.Worked a few hours at the shop.Mostly just new bike put together. Did learn the owners were really a honest bunch.How ever having a good size more than one brand shop you hire more people.You sort them as good as you can but like any where a few not that good may spend some time at the shop. It may be your bike they work on. At now$105 a hour! at that shop and new owner I really try to fix them myself.They seem ok but guess that at 71 that just seems so high!!!Tight has a lot to do with it if honest.I have for years now used plain old Rotella 15-40 in all my bikes and old 37 truck.Change all my stuff and others half car my self.
She yells at me every time I am on the house or barn roof"You are too old to be doing that!!I do tie a rope around me the last six months when real high. Not smoke high as stopped that in 1993 when did the smoke out day and started having drug test at new job.Do not miss it as much as I thought but do drink a little more Ky. Whiskey.
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post #4 of 37 Old 07-06-2017, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brockie View Post
When you are unhappy with the service - vote with your feet.
and tell others about your experience using the name of the shop

'08 DR650, '07 DL1000
"And anyways, if they don't have motorcycles in heaven, I'd rather go to hell. I'm pretty sure they will have loads of them there." (deelip, 2016)
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post #5 of 37 Old 07-06-2017, 10:44 PM
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Fair play

Do the same when you find a good and honest shop. My good friend and shop owner for 40 years sold out because of health reasons. He started it with only Suzuki but Yamaha soon then Kaw about the last 20 years.He still had many times repeat customers.New and used bikes and repair work so many he was only place they would take a bike.. A good name is not as easy as some think.A few bad customers that will bad mouth everything any where they go.
One I recall was a new bike and next day after a long ride the day before he called.Real mad .His bike had died as he was pulling out of a big station and would not restart. He drove the 20 miles and when he took off cap the smell was diesel ! Owner got mad and said no way! Drain and fill with gas and plug clean and was ok. No charge but he still would bad mouth dealer any time he could.
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post #6 of 37 Old 07-06-2017, 10:52 PM
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Pick your battles. I only use Honda green or Toyota red, non silicate antifreeze in everything at home. I would tell you to do the same. If I repaired your bike, I would just tell you that and if you want brand ____X___, top it off yourself. Mechanics have magic talismans we like to use. Another one for me is Mobil 1 synthetic oil products, not interested in even trying anything else.

We have a local indy mechanic that does our work trucks. He is very honest and his prices are fair. He is a member of our lease plan authorized mechanics. I am assigned a Ford Explorer by my employer, which I drive 25,000 miles a year on average. When I have him change the oil I ask for Ford Motorcraft synthetic oil, which he happily does, then sticks a 3,000 mile oil change notice on my windshield. I got in a polite discussion with him about syn versus dino oil intervals and he refuses to mark the window sticker with 10,000 miles. I smile, pick my SUV up, and use a Sharpie to write down the next 10,000 mile service. He does great work.

If your valves are fine, why bother over the coolant

"If its not broke yet, it can still be fixed"

Last edited by STCorndog; 07-06-2017 at 10:54 PM.
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post #7 of 37 Old 07-06-2017, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertBike View Post
I took my '07 DL1000 in to a local independent shop for a valve clearance check this week. Sure, I *could* do it myself, I just didn't want to. The good news is, they're almost done, and it will be ready for pickup tomorrow.

The bad news is this: they just called about coolant, and are trying to feed me nonsense.

See, a few months ago, I did a complete coolant flush and replacement. I cleaned out some unidentified green stuff, which may have been pretty old and likely contained silicates, since it had left some sludge in the reservoir. That was in the bike when I bought it used, last October.

What did I replace it with, you ask? Zerex Asian 50/50 premix.

Why that particular coolant? Well, all available info indicated it would be a perfectly fine - possibly even superior - replacement for OEM type coolant. You may know that Zerex Asian is a HOAT formulation, containing no silicates, so you get no silicate deposits. It's an extended life coolant, able to last up to 5 years, supposedly. No problem, right?

You would think so, but no. The shop's owner just tried to tell me that Zerex Asian was an "automotive" coolant and would "degrade" my engine if I kept using it. Not only that, but his mechanic refused to replace any coolant lost in the valve check process (since you have to move the radiator etc.) with the Zerex, because it's not a "motorcycle coolant."

I didn't even argue. I'm tired of arguing with ignorant people. I just don't have the energy any more. When I go to pick up the bike, I'll just smile and nod and get out of there as quickly as possible. And not come back.

But this is ridiculous. This is the second time they've tried to feed me a maintenance myth (the other one was the "jumpstarting from a car battery will blow up your electrical system." Which it didn't, of course). As many of you know, something like Zerex Asian is 100% fine for a Vstrom. There's absolutely nothing special or different about "motorcycle" coolant except that it maybe says "Suzuki" or "motorcycle" on the bottle. It's not like engine oil, where the car stuff won't do due to the friction modifiers.

The exception may be the "Engine Ice" type stuff. I'm not the least bit interested in that stuff though. Sure, it does in fact cool somewhat better, but it's not worth the extra cost, to me.

These guys should know better. I'm fed up with them. They may mean well, but I'm tired of being told bad info. It makes me wonder what other mistaken ideas they're operating under.

I'll be finding a new shop for any future work that I don't feel OK doing myself. Maybe I'll even go to the local Suzuki dealer.

Got any stories of your own, of motorcycle shops pushing myths?

PS: Also feel free to tell me I'm full of crap and that the shop owner is right. I want details though. I did a lot of reading and thinking before I chose Zerex Asian, and I'd really like to know the "secret," if there is one.
Mechanics can be just as prone to being out of touch with current knowledge as doctors can. If it was the 80s or 90s the mechanic would have been right about using a motorcycle specific antifreeze, and I'm sure the mechanics who were wrenching during that era handed down that "no automotive antifreeze" mantra to younger mechanics. Even my old man, who was a mechanic by trade, had some weird ideas about cars ("don't set a battery down on concrete or it'll lose its charge" is one that comes to mind). The local Toyota garage that used to service my Camry insisted that it needed an oil change every 3000 miles, in spite of what the owner's manual said, and would set the service engine soon light for 3000 miles no matter how often I told them not to. Eventually I stopped going to them.

Forums are full of stories about mechanics telling people flat out bullshit, either deliberately in an attempt to cheat them or because their knowledge is out of date. As far as things like coolant goes, I'm sure a shop would much rather sell you a "motorcycle specific" coolant that costs 4 times what you'd pay for a gallon jug of Prestone 50/50 from the local O'Reilly Auto Parts. One of my favorites is when a shop tries to make you think that, if you don't get your bike serviced by them at the suggested maintenance intervals, it'll void your warranty. Jeebus only knows how many people have been suckered by that one.

I've used regular 10W-40 oil in my last three bikes for a total of about 100,000 miles with absolutely no issues.. There are certain kinds of oil you can't use because it contains additives that mess up the clutch, but those oils are marked "energy conserving". And no, I'm not turning this into an oil thread, and I won't mention anything about oil beyond what I just said.
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Last edited by RCinNC; 07-06-2017 at 11:47 PM.
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post #8 of 37 Old 07-06-2017, 11:43 PM
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I understand how coolant formulas vary. And I understand how the various metals and alloys in contact with a cooling system vary. In many systems the one correct coolant is indeed very important.

Over the years I have not seen one posting about a Vstrom cooling system problem that relates to the choice of coolant. No corrosion. No plugging. Nothing. I've used the Zerex Asian coolant for years. Works great. So do many other coolants. Take the coolant of your choice to that shop, tell them to use it, and tell them to write on the work order that the owner-provided coolant was used.
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post #9 of 37 Old 07-07-2017, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RCinNC View Post
Mechanics can be just as prone to being out of touch with current knowledge as doctors can....Forums are full of stories about mechanics telling people flat out bullshit, either deliberately in an attempt to cheat them or because their knowledge is out of date.
It's common too, that as soon as the mechanic's or service writer's ear hears you utter the phrase, "on the forum," they'll immediately mock your intelligence for suggesting a forum could possibly know (collectively) something they don't. The mechanic or shop feels like they are the experts; otherwise, why are you coming to them if you don't need them? All good if their service is knowledgeable and helpful. Forums can have bad advice too, but mechanics usually don't have much tolerance for the self-informed it seems.

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post #10 of 37 Old 07-07-2017, 12:24 AM
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A motorcycle shop is only going to use motorcycle specific fluids.

Same way an auto shop won't use motorcycle products.

It wasn't realistic to expect that the shop would go out and purchase a specific coolant especially an auto coolant. They are a motorcycle shop they want to sell you their products.

They probably should have charged for a coolant change (and used motorcycle coolant) if they lost a significant amount.

As far as them trying to tell you that an auto coolant would damage your bike well yea that was over the top. Like it or not though they are professionals and as such their opinion carries more weight than yours. They are not obligated to take your word for it or do their own research especially when they have coolant on their shelves.

Bottom line is that you should do your own maintenance if you want it done the way you want.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13

Last edited by Spec; 07-07-2017 at 12:40 AM.
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