Giammalvo Files
Mark Giammalvo

Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.   

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).

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 "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?

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