Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability
diagnostics at his family
business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service,
Inc. in New Bedford,
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
"Other than replacing six to seven headlamps
per year, it's a nice car"
(Printed in the Journal
of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP)
That's an interesting statement. It was actually the answer to a question
I had asked one of my customers. I happened to ask a customer how her 2000
Volvo S40 was doing. I should have known better. My memory must be starting
to slip as I don't know how I could have possibly forgotten that car. From
day one in service, this Volvo had been a headlamp nightmare. This car was
burning out headlamp bulbs about every other month. Sometimes it was the right
side. Sometimes it was the left side. Knowing that Volvo had a headlamp recall
on the V70 model, we had the dealer run this car's serial number on several
different occasions. The car never came up in the Volvo computer as ever
having a headlamp recall. Now, my father had noticed another invoice for
a "free" headlamp. He asked me a good question but I did not have a good answer.
He wanted to know why we were replacing so many headlamps in this car and
why we replacing them for free. Then, he asked me to do some further research
in an effort to possibly solve the problem. This was not only to save the
customer future inconvenience but to also save us from the cost of continued
free replacements. I can remember looking up the recalls on this car in the
past and I was sure I had seen one for headlamps on an S40 model. Now, I
decided to look up all the recalls and technical service bulletins again.
I also called my service contact at a Volvo dealership. Again, I had him
run the serial number to determine if this car was covered by any sort of
headlamp recall. Unfortunately, the car was not involved in any recalls. Then
he mentioned something that got my attention. He said that he was sure that
the S40 model was never involved in a headlamp recall and that only the V70
model was recalled. I told him that I knew I had seen past service information
on this problem on an S40 model. Turns out we were both right. After I rechecked
all the recalls and service bulletins in our Alldata database, I finally
found something conclusive. The dealer was right in telling me that S40's
were never recalled. However, I came across a Volvo Technical Service Bulletin,
(TSB), not a recall, that mentioned a headlamp problem on the V40. Volvo
service bulletin #3-37-0008 states that an additional auxiliary wiring harness
(part number 30621291) can be purchased and installed in both S40 and V40
models that are exhibiting "short low-beam life span." This is probably one
of those cases that should have been a recall. I guess Volvo somehow
skirted around the issue by addressing this in a bulletin and therefore generating
the sale of some parts. I like to call that automotive manufacturer policy
"C-PAC" or "Customer-Pay, Post Assembly, Correction." That's what it
is in reality anyway. The customer is paying to repair an item designed in
error during the vehicle's assembly. Then again, I'm not being politically
correct here. The factory still likes to call it a Technical Service Bulletin.
Kind of scary when you think about it. It's easy to find anywhere from 80-200
service bulletins on the average car today. That's a lot of C-PAC's and a
lot of parts sales.
Another interesting subject came up regarding the headlamp bulbs. That
subject is the repair shop's policy on replacing light bulbs under warranty.
When I was talking to the Volvo service representative, he questioned me
as to why we were replacing the bulbs for free. I told him that, like many
shops, we warranty our parts and labor for 12 months / 12,000 miles.
He disagreed with me on the light bulbs having that same warranty. I asked
him how long he warranties the light bulbs he installs. He had an interesting
reply: "Only as long as the time it takes for the car to leave my sight as
it drives down the street." Wow, I thought! That's a short warranty. Somehow
I can't see my customers going along with that policy. Well, I suppose every
shop has its own policies and rules. Something to think about.
By the way, what's the warranty on your light bulbs?