Previous sessions covered the difficult situations of the emergency lockout business, where this session covers the easy day to day call. Build good habits at the job site and the easy calls won’t turn into problem calls.
Upon Arrival at Job Site
It’s a good idea to grab two wedges and the assigned tool while leaving all other items in your vehicle. If later you need to go to a second method assigned, return to the carry case to make the swap. Doing this will help prevent the loss of tooling which often you won’t miss until the next job assigns that lost equipment.
Discovering the loss of equipment at the next job site can cause you to lose a job you have already traveled to thus wasting your time and the customers, who waited for you in their time of trauma. They then have to call around in hopes there is another lockout technician available, only to wait once again.
Inventory your kit from time to time, you would be surprised how many lost tool orders we ship every day. If the lost item happens to be a Z-Tool or an Inverted Z-Tool, our customers often request next day air delivery due to the high volume of vehicles these tools open.
As you learned from lesson #3, first do your precheck walk around, follow your manual and execute the opening method(s) as assigned.
After the Door is Opened
First open the door and sit in the seat, as you must claim the keys. I say claim the keys because you need them to complete the job before turning them over to your customer. With keys in hand, remove any tooling or accessories used and put the tools back in the carry case, or you may later find they drove down the road atop the roof or still in the door cavity.
It is easier to remove most any lockout tool from a door cavity by rolling the window down 3-4 inches. Doing so relieves the pressure between the glass and the weatherstripping due to the bow in the glass. This is an especially useful hint when there is a steel or plastic anti-theft guard attached to the window glass bottom. By the way, the factory engineers would not call those strips anti-theft guards, but to us, they are an obstruction we must work around every time they are present.
With all equipment stowed the keys are now used to show the customer and yourself all is operating properly. Reach over and unlock the other door before beginning the following tests.
Problems to look for are: No linkages have been knocked off or a linkage shortened by bending it during the opening procedure. Most manufactures install high quality hardened steel for linkages, although there are many with the inferior soft type which unavoidably become bent from time to time. Do not close the door until the lock system is confirmed in working order.
Confirm a shorten linkage by observing the manual lock button throw. If it does not make a full normal travel to its locked and unlocked positions, then it was shortened. If you are not sure the linkage is shorten, watch the travel of the opposite door. The lock system will often have trouble locking and unlocking. It is easy to fix without removing the door panel. Simply reinsert a Z-Tool or Inverted Z-Tool to lift up from under the linkage, or to push down on top of the linkage to restore it’s original shape and length.
Cycle the electric lock system a few times. Now, manually lock and close the door. Use the key to unlock and relock the door while it is open. Finish by closing the door, locking it, and once again opening with the key one last time. Encourage the customer to observe the test process.
There is one inspection that needs to be done, but cannot be tested. That is checking for cracked linkage clips. Plastic linkage clips become brittle with age after years of being in the weathered hot and cold door cavities. Days or months after the opening was completed, sometimes the repeated closing of the door causes the linkage to fall off due to a broken or cracked clip. The customer may or may not remember you as the cause when it happens, either way, they still have a trip for repairs.
The primary reason a clip becomes cracked or broken is due to direct contact with the clip or excessive up or down pressure applied during the opening.
Be careful not to push down to hard on the target mechanism unless instructed to do so, especially when working with older vehicles. This situation is avoidable when using the Z-Tool and its sister, Inverted Z-Tool. They both have the patented mini box hook which requires no heavy pressure in order to lock onto the targets.
Excessive pressure can cause another problem that spoils many openings which otherwise would have been an easy opening. Commonly, bell cranks are shaped as a cam. When at the step in the instructions where asked to move the linkage to its opened position, the technician pushes down hard so to help lock onto the linkage while moving the linkage to it’s opened position. Often, the linkage is connected to a bell crank which must travel slightly up hill to the top of the cam before it’s free to continue full travel to the opened position. That slight uphill travel and use of down pressure will stop the normal throw needed to allow the lock system to move to its opened position.
A perfect example is working with the Chevrolet Astro and it’s sister GMC Safari. These popular vans were first introduced in 1985, and are still produced. That is over 16 years in production and you can expect to be up against them more than once. I would say half who open these vehicles and run into trouble is for this very reason. Simply to much pressure. Again, the sister Z-Tools do not require down or upwards pressure to lock onto the targets. Therefore, learn to use as little pressure as possible. Keep it simple, simply twist to bind onto linkage and move it to it’s opened position.
Side Air Bags should also be tested in front of the customer.
Most every model has the side air bags installed in the seats, which is away from the work area. For those few models with the air bag installed in the door cavity, there is a clear comment in the manual’s index concerning that model. The problem is the power harness, and/or its end clip, which may be exposed to contact. Most vehicles now have the harness routed within the rocker panel and enclosed body skin. There has never been a side air bag incident called into our technical support line.
To fire an air bag in the first place, you would have to strip insulation off the fire wire, and/or the second wire with voltage, and then touch the two together. There are no sharp edged tools in this kit that could skin a wire. Therefore, we have little to no concern about side air bags in the emergency auto lockout industry. The fabricated hype will continue to come from those companies who produced products starting back in 1986, when it was first thought there would be a problem. Ignore the continued hype from advertisers as best as you can until they stop the scare tactic sales. The truth will eventually put those products out of business.
After the vehicle is opened, start the vehicle and note the air bag system ready light to ensure system is functioning properly. Why test the A.B.S. if they are not a problem? So to prevent being accused later in the event of deployment failure and to avoid having to educate some lawyer on the side air bag misunderstandings. Again folks, the side air bags are in the seat backs, away from the area we are working.
A.B.S. TEST PROCEDURE: Soon after starting the vehicle the ready light should appear and then go out, if the light does not appear or stays on longer than a few seconds, the system may not be operating properly. Test the air bag every time and have the customer observe the ready light. Most cars only need the ignitiion turned to the accessory position for this test.
When the air bag ready light is confirmed operative, you only need to be paid. That is when you turn over the keys to your relieved and thankful customer who is now out of this stranded situation and back on the road again, only a little behind in their plans for that day.
With this fourth session completed, you should now be armed with plenty of knowledge to keep from having to learn this business the hard way. Again, the manual, (researched and written by us), will guide you on each vehicle you come up against. It works wonders and works every day for 10’s of thousands of users. The #1 advice we preach over and over, is to simply look up the vehicle each and every time, even if you think you opened the identical vehicle that very morning.
Thank you for joining our free online seminars, as it has been our pleasure making the information available to your company. We learn something new most every day involving this vast industry and hope to provide additional class material in the future.
The Slide Lock Tools Team
Start Session 5