I just finished some training in anticipation of the eventual release of Tier IV diesel engines, the EPA-mandated diesel engines that are supposed to have exhaust gases out of the exhaust stack as clean as the air over Los Angeles on a smoggy day. One of the things that stuck in my mind from the training is the term, "Non-Serviceable Component".
There are a lot of non-serviceable components on some of the pending Tier IV engines. The training showed us the inner workings of EGR valves, Variable-Vane Turbochargers, and all sorts of other high-tech gadgets that help clean up diesel exhaust enough to meet the EPA's deadline in 2015. But even though they showed us the inner workings of the gadgets, those gadgets were often listed as non-serviceable components (NSC). In other words, if some small spring or valve or doo-hicky fails inside an NSC, the only "fix" is to replace the entire component. Even if the broken spring costs 5 cents, but the entire component costs $500.
I've blogged about how mechanics nowadays often "replace" rather than "fix" because the labor to fix things is often more than the cost of the new component. There are definitely times when it is better to replace than fix. But I like being able to offer customers the option of fixing rather than replacing because sometimes I can save them money if I know shortcuts or tricks to keep my labor charges lower than the cost of a new component.
Looks like we're going to lose that option more often in the future. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.