Ever wonder what happens to your new car when you take it in for its first trip to the service department?  You’re not alone, we were wondering the same thing.

So my friend Ruben Serna, the head of Rock Honda’s parts and service department, invited me over for a step-by-step rundown of the process.

Click play below and scroll through the pictures to see what happens to your new car’s first visit to the service department.  We’re calling it “Behind the Wrench” with Rock Honda’s Ruben Serna – kinda of catchy, don’t you think? 🙂

Service Director, Ruben Serna helps a Rock Honda Customer as part of iDriveSoCal Podcast banner 159


Recorded @ Rock Honda in Fontana, CA

New Vehicle’s First Service

Ruben Serna: Usually Maintenance Minder is going to come on between four and seven thousand miles. The light will come on and it’s actually going to have an oil life, so when you get down about 15%.

We perform a multi-point inspection with a two-man team, they will inspect everything from top to bottom.

It’s kind of a parallel process to save time. We know our guests here want to get their car in and out.

“Maintenance Minder is going to come on between four and seven thousand miles.”

Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California. Tom Smith here and I am joined by my good buddy Ruben Serna out at Rock Honda in the Los Angeles suburb of Fontana, California. And we’re at Rock Honda right now.

Ruben Serna: Yes, we are. Thank you for having me.

Tom Smith: Thank you.

Ruben Serna: Excited to be here.

Ruben Serna directing Service

Ruben Serna directing Service

Tom Smith: Thank you as always for joining the podcast. Love you guys out here at Rock, your fantastic partners of the show.

We love working with you. I love the name that you gave today’s podcast, Behind the Wrench.

Ruben Serna: Behind the Wrench, yeah.

Tom Smith: Behind the Wrench. That was Ruben’s brainchild.

The premise of this podcast is that, you know hey our cars are really smart these days and we’ve done a couple of podcasts already as far as winterizing your car and summer-izing your car-

Ruben Serna: Sure.

Tom Smith: And while there’s certain things that you can do to winterize or summer-ize your car.

The cars are so smart these days if you point it out numerous times, they’re going to tell you what they need and when they need it.

Ruben Serna: Correct.

Tom Smith: And those are called Maintenance Minders.

Behind the Wrench

Ruben Serna: Yes, the Maintenance Minder.

Tom Smith: So, you know, the Maintenance Minder comes on.

My car is new, I bought my Rock Honda and we’ve already gone through this process with taking some pictures.

Type R Enters Service Bay

Type R Enters Service Bay

And for those of you that are automotive enthusiasts, you’re going to want to check out these pictures because we did the pictures with a, it was either 2018 or 2019 Honda Type R.

Ruben Serna: Yes.

Tom Smith: The Civic Type R which is a little Honda race car that’s in such hot demand.

But, so we want to go through the steps of what happens to the car when you bring it in for that first service. Right?

I bought my Rock Honda, in this case it was a Civic Type R and you know hey that’s a high-performance vehicle.

Ruben Serna: Sure is.

Tom Smith: Is that… is the maintenance my first maintenance. This Behind the Wrench is going to be our first maintenance.

Ruben Serna: Sure.

Tom Smith: Is my Civic Type R going to be different from the Honda Odyssey?

Ruben Serna: No.

Tom Smith: For a first maintenance?

“Maintenance Minder will come on and it’ll have a letter or a number. Typically your first service is going to be in the A1’s service.”

Ruben Serna: No, not at all. The Maintenance Minder will come on and it’ll have a letter or a number. Typically your first service is going to be in the A1’s service.

Tom Smith: A1.

Ruben Serna: Which we call a minor service, so, the A stands for the oil change and the 1 is tire rotation.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Ruben Serna: And that’s all it is.

Typically will come on, depending on the driving if you drive through the city, stop and go traffic, usually Maintenance Minder is going to come on between four and seven thousand miles.

Rock’s Immaculate Service Department 

If you’re doing a lot of freeway driving, it’s probably going to last between five and ten thousand miles. The light will come on and it’s actually going to have an oil life, so when you get down about 15% that’s when the lights will come back on.

Tom Smith: 15% of-

Ruben Serna: Oil life remaining.

Ruben's ever-present watchful eye

Ruben’s ever-present watchful eye

Tom Smith: Okay.

Ruben Serna: So, basically 85% of the oils been consumed or at least used, not completely but yeah.

Tom Smith: And that percentage refers to the viscosity, right?

Ruben Serna: Correct, yeah.

Tom Smith: Which is basically to dumb it way down is the thickness of the oil.

Ruben Serna: Yes. Yeah and basically saying that 15% of your oil is still good.

Tom Smith: Right but it’s time because you don’t want to be hovering around 15%.

Ruben Serna: Correct.

“It’s a fine-tuned machine. We run a tight ship.”

Tom Smith: It’s not going back up until you get it into the-

Ruben Serna: Yeah and some cars it’ll come on at 30%, so just kind of give you a forewarning, “Hey look you got to… lights are one, your car needs service.”

Cause we have busy lives, right?

Tom Smith: Yup.

Ruben Serna: Especially right now during the holiday season-

Tom Smith: Sure.

Ruben Serna: You know we’ve got better things to do than bring our car in for service but luckily here at Rock Honda we have one of the best express departments in the world, I like to say.

Tom Smith: I got to tell you, again, for this behind the scenes, A.K.A.

Behind the Wrench, I went back there and it is… I mean it’s a very neat, tidy, industrial workspace that reminded me of a very clean factory. Like an assembly line.

Ruben Serna: It’s a fine-tuned machine. We run a tight ship.

A1 [Honda] Maintenance Minder

So we like to think of it as the process that we put in place or also our tidiness. We got to make sure that the area’s clean. We work in a great environment, both emotionally and culturally.

Tom Smith: Personally, I need a tidy desk. So I get it.

I get it. But no and me as a consumer too, I pull up and I see I can’t go back there as a consumer, as a general consumer, but I can see through the windows and if it looks like a wreck back there, well I’m going to think twice.

Rock Honda's Two-Man Express Team

Rock Honda’s Two-Man Express Team

Ruben Serna: Yeah, if we’re going to treat our own home badly, imagine what we’re going to do with our guests.

Tom Smith: Right. So, Ruben runs a tight ship here at Rock Honda and definitely want to bring your Honda here for service.

So that first Maintenance Minder that comes up is more than likely 99% chance going to be an A1.

Ruben Serna: Correct.

Tom Smith: And that means oil change and tire rotation.

Ruben Serna: And that’s all it means because the two is a cabin filter and air filter. That usually comes on about 15,000.

Tom Smith: Okay. The interesting thing though is that the cars, it used to be okay at 3,000 miles is when I change my oil or maybe a certain number of months.

“…basically saying that 15% of your oil is still good.”

And then I had somebody that would do it at like 1,500 miles because they were just like ridiculously overcompensating for their car taking the best care of it. Which is fine.

But now, the cars are so smart it’s not even a standard 5,000 or 10,000. It’s hey it’s going to come on between this and this based on your driving.

Ruben Serna: Correct.

Two-Man Express Team

Tom Smith: And that’s a really cool thing not only because it represents the technology that we’re driving around in which are really the cars are really computers these days.

But also, the cost savings and efficiency of maintaining your vehicle. So we went back there and we did it.

Working so fast they blurred this pic!

Working so fast they blurred this pic!

We already staged this with pictures and the pictures are going to be on iDriveSoCal.com on this post page. But we get the car back, the hood comes up.

Does anything happen before the car gets lifted in the air?

Ruben Serna: Well we perform a multi-point inspection and we do, we have a two-man team in the express department and they will inspect everything from top to bottom.

From the belts, the battery, the air filter, everything on top of the engine.

Of course the engine oil level. Hoses and belts. So the tires. That all happens. And cabin filter which is inside the car.

“…come experience the Rock Honda difference.”

Tom Smith: Although the cabin filter you said it’s not.

Ruben Serna: No.

Tom Smith: But you’re just checking it.

Ruben Serna: We check it because sometimes some people live in the mountains. The light might not come on, but if we inspect it and say hey look this is pretty dirty.

“…We know our guests here want to get their car in and out.”

And we’ll give our guest the choice. This is what a new one looks like. This is what yours looks like. And let them obviously let them make the decision whether or not they want to do the repair.

Then that gets done before the car gets lifted. So, part of the multi-point inspection, it’s about 27-point-inspection that we do, we’ll get everything on the exterior we’ll get done.

And then it goes up in the air.

Tom Smith: Okay. And when it goes up in the air what happens?

Multi-point Inspection

Ruben Serna: So then basically our team moves down into the engine compartment underneath the vehicle, the brakes, the tires, we’re going to rotate them.

Tom Smith: Continue the inspection and then rotate the tires.

Ruben Serna: And that’s where we’re checking for leaks, any nails in the tires.

Prepping for lift

Honda Type R prepping for lift

We also, one of the things that’s really common is a lot of times when you take your car into a dealership some of our cars if not most of our cars that we sell come with wheel locks.

So, it’s a factory Honda wheel lock, we have our own master set. We never go in to take our guests’ wheel lock key to take the key to rotate the tires.

We have our own master set that we use. So that way we don’t get blamed for.

Tom Smith: Right, when I’m on the side of the road and I need to change a tire and my wheel locks MIA.

Ruben Serna: Chances are somebody else got your key and it wasn’t us. But regardless of the fact that we definitely have our own master set.

Tom Smith: Got it. So, one of the interesting things as I was back there observing the process and again we were using a Civic Type R which is basically a race car.

Type R goes airborne

[Rock] Honda Type R goes airborne

I don’t know if you were aware of this, but motor trend actually named the Civic Type R as one of its finalists for ‘Driver of the Year.’

Ruben Serna: No, I didn’t know that.

Tom Smith: So, the driver of the year is like no category, just any car that their highly qualified guys say hey this is a car that I want to just drive.

Honda Aerodynamics and Protection

And I mean some of the other finalists were like Lambos and stuff like that. So I mean it was in some rarefied air. And the Civic Type R was up there.

Ruben Serna: Wow. So when you say Drivers of the Year I’m thinking my wife. She’s the driver. Hope she doesn’t hear this.

Honda Type R under-carriage shield

Undercarriage and shield

Tom Smith: Right. You’re going to play this for her.

Ruben Serna: Yeah exactly.

Tom Smith: See baby.

Ruben Serna: Put you in there.

Tom Smith: No same thing for my wife too.

Under-carriage shield removed

Undercarriage shield removed

But yeah, so what was interesting is that when the Civic Type R got up in the air I’m looking underneath and again, that’s a high-performance vehicle and underneath of the Civic Type R is very enclosed.

It’s very aerodynamic looking. And I questioned if that was the case because it was a Civic Type R or if that’s really how cars are these days.

Ruben Serna: It’s kind of a rule of thumb. You’ve got undercarriage. You’ve got… underneath that make it aerodynamic.

Tom Smith: And that’s what surprised me because your service technician that was showing me around pointed to the Honda Accord that was up in the air right next to it and it looked very similar.

Ruben Serna: Sure.

Multi-point Inspection

Multi-point Inspection

Tom Smith: I was like wow.

Ruben Serna: And a lot of that stuff underneath is also there for a reason.

It’s got bits of function. And so some of that undercarriage, the splash shields and under trays will also protect the bottom part of the radiator, the hoses, radiator hoses, so I keep seeing stuff coming up inside there.

Undercarriage shield re-installed

Undercarriage shield re-installed

So, they’re not all exposed like they used to be. That’s a little difficult sometimes because you’ve got to take all that stuff off just to do an oil change.

Rock Honda Express Service

But we’re still pretty good at it.

Tom Smith: Which is why it can be a pricey proposition to have your car worked on especially if it’s a big job. Okay, so then when the car’s up in the air I believe we… I didn’t do anything.

Type R coming down to earth

Type R coming down to earth

Ruben Serna: Sounds good though.

Tom Smith: Yeah. A shield of some sort was removed in order to get to the oil.

Ruben Serna: It’s the splash shield.

Tom Smith: The splash shield okay. So that was removed. The changing of the oil then and then the splash shield was replaced and what’s next. Are we pretty much done at that point?

Ruben Serna: So, we’re also simultaneously rotating the tires.

Tom Smith: Right.

Ruben Serna: To make sure that we got a guy draining the oil. Got someone else rotating the tires. It’s kind of a parallel process to save time. We know our guests here want to get their car in and out.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Ruben Serna: Because like I said before we’ve got busy lives so want to make sure the process is very efficient.

Happy [Rock] Honda road ready again

Happy [Rock] Honda road ready again

We don’t waste not only our technicians time but especially the most important our guests time.

Yeah, I mean the multi-point inspection is at that point completely filled out in which we will print it out and share with the guest at the time or share with the advisor and they can share with the guest.

And we make it part of our process so that way they understand that hey not only am I getting an oil change. I’m going to get a free multi-point inspection.

Focus on Safety

Our job is to make sure your car is put back safely on the road. So and that’s our main focus. Safety. I mean people want to make sure that… I get it their cars are new but these roads out there today, they don’t care how new your car is.

Tom Smith: No.

Ruben Serna: They don’t discriminate.

Now that is one sweet ride!

Now that is one sweet ride!

Tom Smith: And the other drivers that see me they don’t… a lot of other drivers out there that I experience it seems like they missed some school somewhere along the way.

Ruben Serna: Missing classes.

Tom Smith: Yeah.

“Our job is to make sure your car is put back safely on the road.”

Ruben Serna: Driver’s ed class.

Tom Smith: All right. Well, fantastic. Ruben, thank you as always. Is there anything before we wrap this one up? Is there anything else that you want to point out about that first maintenance after your car is new after you buy a new Rock Honda from Rock Honda in Fontana?

The Rock Honda Difference

Ruben Serna: Pretty simple process.

Tom Smith: And you come back and you get that first service and that’s it. It’s just that simple.

Ruben Serna: That’s it. The only thing I say is come experience the Rock Honda difference.

Tom Smith: Come experience it.

Ruben Serna: Yeah.

Ruben helping his next guest

Ruben helps his next guest – notice the Service award banner!

Tom Smith: Ruben, I’ve seen him in work. I’ve seen him at work with customers and you do a great job, man.

Ruben Serna: Thanks.

Tom Smith: You guys have a huge operation here.

Ruben Serna: We have a great culture here.

Tom Smith: As well. For sure. For sure.

“If you’re not tap dancing out of bed to get to work, then go do something else. I love what I do.”

Ruben Serna: If you’re not tap dancing out of bed to get to work, then go do something else. I love what I do.

Tom Smith: And it shows. And it shows. All right. Ruben Serna. Service director. Parts and service director for Rock Honda.

Ruben Serna: Thank you.

Tom Smith: The giant Rock Honda out in the Los Angeles suburb of Fontana, California. Thank you guys as always.

Ruben waves goodbye - until next time.

Ruben waves goodbye – until next time.

Thank you for joining me for the podcast yet again. Thank you guys for being fantastic partners. We absolutely love you. I absolutely love you guys.

Ruben Serna: Feelings are mutual. Thank you, Tom.

Tom Smith: Thank you. All right. For iDriveSoCal, I am Tom Smith. Thank you as always for tuning in.