Quick Lubes of the Future

by Hunter HowardFuture-Car

Autonomous cars could have a huge impact on the future and be here quicker than you think. In fact, the more features manufacturers add the more apparent it becomes — other than actually steering — cars are basically autonomous already. Most experts seem to think fully autonomous cars could hit the road by the year 2020. Volvo has already planned a test fleet to hit the roads in 2017.

Cars equipped with certain features are already able to tell you and your customer’s things about a vehicle’s tire pressure and oil life. Semi- and fully- autonomous cars won’t replace humans but they will be more than an engine on wheels, they’ll be high tech computers on wheels.

With new inventions and innovations appearing almost every day it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the automotive industry is headed without a crystal ball but CAFE standards give us a good idea. Right now, CAFE standards are pointing towards fuel efficiency. This means not only are the standards for regular maintenance changing so are the ways vehicles are engineered. This is expected to only increase as cars become more self-reliant.

So what will shops that service autonomous cars look like? I highly doubt anyone will be flying up from the pit with a jet pack on but the onset of autonomous cars will surely bring a few major changes, along with a few hurdles, for the shops of the future.

Let’s start with the latter, more than likely, the first autonomous cars to hit the road only be semi-autonomous, such as GM’s 2017 Cadillac CTS which will be equipped with Super Cruise technology and will utilize features already available such as collision avoidance and blind-spot monitors as well as auto-braking and Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) technology. The primary goals of autonomous cars is to maximize road safety and minimize pollution, both of which are helped by taking humans almost completely out of the equation.

Even now, if there is a problem, more than likely the vehicle knows before anyone else. With OB2 readers now able to send codes directly to your shop and the codes themselves being so specific, there is hardly any trial and error left with replacing malfunctioning parts. That’s why focus in recent years has shifted from the mechanical to the technological side of things, for example, reading codes.

Of course, no one knows exactly what quick lubes of the future will look like but we do know they’ll feature more technology than ever before. There could be machines or technicians whose sole purposes are to fix the GPS add-on systems allowing cars to navigate themselves. Another job could be to correct the lane centering and blind spot sensors as well as the sensors measuring all around the vehicle. As far as what new problems will arise and what tools will be constructed to fix them, we’ll have to wait and see. The future of the automotive industry is exciting to think about. What do you see happening in the next 10 years?

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Once Common Things No Longer Found In Cars

by Hunter Howard

We know you’ve seen cool, strange and classic cars roll through your bays but have you noticed less of them rolling in with these six things?

  1. Vent Windows

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Vent windows were all the rage in the pre-air conditioning days of vehicle manufacturing. Once the only way to stay cool is now a thing of the past as A/C reigns supreme. Vent windows were simply too costly to add in with the new addition of A/C and were eventually phased out.

  1. Bench Seats

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Gone are the days of sitting next to that special someone in the front seat of your vehicle. Here are the days of storage space in wonderful little things we call center consoles. Although you can still find bench seats in the backseat of many vehicles and the front seat of some pick-up trucks, it seems as if the days of no bench seats are nearly upon us.

  1. Tailfins

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Harley Earl, General Motors design chief in the late 40s, is credited with the public embrace of tailfins. He said he took inspiration from a WWII aircraft. The tailfins were first introduced on the 1948 Cadillac, giving the car a more futuristic look. The tailfins quickly gained popularity and were featured on many cars in the 50s and 60s.

  1. Suicide Doors

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Suicide doors were aptly named because if the rear doors were not shut completely, the doors were likely to catch wind, whip open, and fling its passengers out on to the pavement. Maybe that’s why they’ve become a thing of the past.

  1. Crank Windows

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Kids may not believe you if you tell them windows were once controlled with a crank and that you even had to turn it by hand! With the invention of motorized windows, youngsters will not understand why we say, “Roll up that window.” Joking aside, this feature is still found in some new cars and trucks but is seen less every year.

  1. CD and Cassette Players

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Music. Everyone loves it in one-way or another. Whatever your genre, you probably had a collection of your favorite bands and artists on cassettes or CDs. You might have even had your favorite songs from multiple artists on a mix tape. If you want to reminisce and listen to those old tracks, you might have to buy a special after market system to help you as they’re being replaced with AUX ports and Bluetooth.

All of these features once iconic to the automobile industry are being replaced by new inventions and technology. What will be iconic for the next generation? What will be missed once everything has changed? Who knows! As for the most common thing found in vehicles today, bet you’ll never guess — a French fry!

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The Right Shop For You

by Lauren HendersontechwithgirlIf you own a car, more than likely you rely on someone else to service it. Trust us, we know that can be scary. We hear the rumors that tend to circle around the quick lube industry and it infuriates us because the majority of owner/operators are car loving professionals who take care of their customers’ cars just like they would their own.

We want to help you pick a shop that you can build a long standing relationship with so we thought long and hard about how to pick the right shop for you. Here’s what we came up with:

  1. Call ahead. If you’re considering taking your car in to a shop you haven’t visited before, it’s always a good idea to call the shop so you can tell them about your car and your needs. Since the nature of the quick lube business is all about customer service, most fast lubes will be more than happy to answer your questions.
  2. Keep in mind — not always, but typically — a fast lube does the most business on Friday afternoons and before major holidays. If you’re trying to get your car serviced during those times, prepare to wait. If you want to beat the crowds, ask if there is a slower time you can stop by.
  3. Let’s face it there are far more exciting things you’d rather be doing then taking your car to get an oil change. Think about the things that would make your life easier while still getting your car the proper maintenance it needs. Tell your shop what those things are. You never know, they might just say yes!
  4. Ask lots of questions. The only bad question is the one left unanswered and most shop guys will be happy to answer them for you. Any excuse to “talk shop” right?!
  5. Engage. Many shops offer additional information and ways to stay connected with them between visits.

We believe in the fast lube industry and their standard of fast, reliable and quality service. A good shop can be invaluable to the life of your car so choose wisely.

If you have any stories of shop experiences you’d like to share or other things you want your customer’s to know, we’d love to hear from you. Comment below or email us at info@noln.net

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Make Sure You Master This Skill

by Lauren Henderson

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You may be a master tech, master of sales or master service writer but have you mastered the art of making your customer feel like you genuinely care?

The relationship you build with your customers is one of the defining factors setting you apart from the competition. Hopefully, it’s setting you apart in a good way. It’s important you do a good job under the hood but remember who’s handing over the payment.

Try changing your daily customer dialogue to balance technical questions with observant ones. It naturally encourages conversation and will leave customers feeling good about the job you did. Here’s an example dialogue:

1.   Anything new you’ve noticed about the way your car is driving?

2. Have any exciting plans for the rest of the day?

3. What’s your daily commute like?

4. So you must be a fan of XYZ TEAM? What did you think about their last game?

5. We’ve got you all set. Have any questions? Bring your car back in XYZ months/miles and please don’t hesitate to call us for anything you need in the meantime.

A balanced conversation leaves the customer feeling like you took care of them and genuinely cared about them. Chances are they won’t think twice about where they take their car for its next oil change.

Have any tips for building customer relationships and keeping returning customers in your bays? Comment below.

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The Ingredients Behind Fuel System Maintenance Fluids

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More than likely you’ve had a conversation with a customer about fuel system maintenance, fuel additives or the importance of using the right fuel for his car. You’ve probably been asked how you know what a particular car needs and if fuel additives are effective. In short, the answer is, it depends on what’s in them.

Even high-quality fuel creates and leaves behind carbon deposits during combustion. Over time, those deposits can build up on engine parts and lower a vehicle’s overall performance and fuel economy. The only way to restore performance is to remove the deposits.

Not every fuel additive is the same; however, they all use cleaning agents. The most commonly used detergents are, polyisobutene (PIB), polyisobutylene amine (PIBA) and polyetheramine (PEA).

PIB is typically used in gas treatments and fuel injector/carb cleaners. If used in high enough doses, it can prevent new carbon deposits from forming, but it’s not powerful enough to remove existing deposits.

PIBA is usually used in fuel injector cleaners. Unlike PIB, PIBA can remove some existing deposits and has a longer interval between applications. It isn’t durable enough to survive in the combustion chamber.

PEA is stable enough to be able to remove carbon deposits in the high heat, making it a good choice for cleaning cylinder heads or direct injectors.

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Want to learn more about the science behind the ingredients of quality fuel system maintenance fluids? Visit: www.gumout.com/science

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Four Things We Can Learn From World Cup Champions

by Lauren Henderson

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  1. Perfect your craft

If you don’t know who Abby Wambach is, where have you been? She’s a forward and team captain on the Women’s National Team and while a natural born athlete, Wambach says she’s had to push herself to the level she’s at. She didn’t win the world eating junk food and sitting on the couch. You won’t have increased sales without improving your skills under the hood. Want to be elite in this business? Train hard.

  1. No excuses

Christie Rampone is 40 years old, a mom of two and just won a World Cup for the U.S. Put your excuses away. You’re never too old, too busy or too tired for things you really want to do.

  1. Teamwork wins championships

Carli Lloyd’s hat trick in the first-half of the history making game on Sunday evening was no doubt a showstopper but there was a defender out on the field doing her part too. St. Louis, Missouri native and defender, Becky Sauerbrunn has been called one of the most underrated players on the team but against Japan she played a full 90 minutes and won a World Cup. That’s not underrated, that’s teamwork and teamwork will get you on top and keep you there — in sports and business.

  1. Respect your opponent

Right after their 5-2 win against Japan, midfielder, Megan Rapinoe said, “[It feels] so good. To be honest I think it’s less about beating them — they’re such a class side. I spoke with a few of them I played with after and they’re nothing but gracious — and more about achieving our own goal.” Learn from your competition, see what they do well, what they don’t, network and achieve your own goals!

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What Coffee Teaches Us About Service

by Lauren Henderson

image1[1]I intentionally skipped a step getting ready this morning. Don’t worry it wasn’t anything critical like deodorant or brushing my teeth, I just left my hair a little undone. Why did I sacrifice beauty for an extra five minutes? That’s easy, an extra five meant I would have time to stop by my favorite local coffee stand on the way to work.

Now, this coffee shop’s service is a little slower than your average Starbucks drive-thru and their prices are considerably higher than McDonalds and my local Chism Travel Center but their service and their coffee — oh their coffee — is markedly better than both.

As I pulled behind three other vehicles, I sorted through emails, watched the clock and got my cash ready. A few minutes later, I inched forward, rolled down my window and hastily responded to the employee waiting at the window, “One venti, nonfat latte, one pump vanilla, please,” I said. The employee grabbed an oversized cup — required by only the most committed coffee drinkers — and artfully started making my morning brew.

While waiting, I thought to myself, “Isn’t it funny how even when not at Starbucks their cup sizes are still the standard?” I had ordered a “venti” drink and even though this coffee stand’s cups were clearly marked “small, medium and large” on the menu, the employee knew what I meant. Without hesitation, he’d grabbed the right cup. Somewhere along the lines, whether they were my favorite coffee shop or not, Starbucks had set the standard.

Who is setting the service standards in the quick lube industry? Is it you? Even if you’re not the biggest chain, look and see what others are getting right, what they can improve on and then do it better! That’s what coffee can teach us about oil changes. Now to make my way through this giant cup of joe! (Just kidding, I already finished it!)

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Oil Change Veterans Finish Day Three Strong in Amarillo, Texas

by Lauren Henderson

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Joe Perkins and Larry Read cross the finish line for day three in Read’s 1939 Buick.

Larry Read, Joe Perkins and Scotti Lee know their way around cars. Yesterday in Amarillo, Texas they proved it again as “Blue 92” crossed the finish line and completed day three of The Great Race in position No. 43 out of 109 teams.

The third leg of The Great Race began in Oklahoma City where teams spent the night after finishing day two. They continued to follow historic Route 66 west to Elk City, Oklahoma where they stopped for lunch before heading into the farm country of Texas. Racers report the lonely farm roads offered great rallying conditions but were a challenge.

Read spent the day navigating, Perkins drove and Lee pulled into Amarillo with the parts truck, having already coordinated a place for the team to be able to lift the 1939 Buick and change the fluids.

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Scotti Lee, Joe Perkins and Larry Read (left to right) in Amarillo, Texas after day three on their Great Race adventure.

Today, the team will stop in Tucumcari, New Mexico for lunch before heading to Santa Fe, New Mexico to finish day four. If you can catch The Great Race on their way to the finish line in Santa Monica, California I highly suggest doing so. They’ll also be making stops in Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico,  Winslow, Flagstaff, Kingman and Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Twentynine Palms and San Bernadino, California.

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Read’s 1939 Buick cruises down historic Route 66.

The cars are incredible and you may never get a chance to see automotive history this way again. Goodluck and safe travels Team No. 92! Here are some more moments from day three:150622_GR_0300150622_GR_0335150622_GR_0417IMG_4279IMG_4282IMG_4285IMG_4299

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10 Reasons We Love the Automotive Maintenance Business

by Lauren HendersonDSC01758We get it, customers can be rude, competition is brutal and automotive technology is becoming increasingly complicated. Even still, gear heads like us can’t walk away from the service bays because the satisfaction and reward we find in our jobs far outweigh a grouchy customer here and there. Here are our top 10 reasons why the fast lube industry makes our hearts race:

1. Every customer is a new opportunity to “hit it out of the park.”

2. Working on cars is a lost art and we’re experts on it!

3. We get cars, cars get us.

4. Getting dirty is more fun than staying clean.

5. We like a challenge, especially one we have to solve FAST!

6. We can still get more customers in, professionally serviced and on their way faster than the dealerships.

7. What’s more fun than hearing an engine roar? Starting one that wasn’t purring before we fixed it.

8. Have a question? Bet we can find somebody with the answer.

9. We get to make a lot of customers’ days — everyday.

10. We can grow with our careers.

Why do you love your job in the automotive maintenance industry?

Interested in finding an automotive service job? Check out our classifieds for regularly updated employment opportunities.

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Industry Pioneers Race From Kirkwood, Missouri to Santa Monica, California in a 1939 Buick

by Lauren Hendersongreat_race_2015

Industry pioneers and NOLN contributors, Larry Read and Scotti Lee are going on a new kind of adventure in exactly 11 days. The duo along with Read’s buddy, Joe Perkins who restores cars and is also a mechanic and 130 other antique car teams will trek along old Route 66 in a 1939 Buick from Kirkwood, Missouri to Santa Monica, California. The nine-day road rally is called The Great Race and tests driver/navigator teams’ ability to follow instructions and the car and teams’ ability to make it on a cross-country trip.

Read's 1939 Buick that will be making the trek on old Route 66. The team has nicknamed it

Read’s 1939 Buick that will be making the trek on old Route 66. The team has nicknamed it “Blue 92.”

Read, Lee and Perkins will go through all kinds of terrain and make drastic altitude drops along the way. Perkins is the driver, and Read is the navigator. The rules state they can’t have access to cellular or GPS devices so they’ll be relying on Read’s map skills.

Lee is in charge of driving the chase vehicle. He will follow a different route than Read and Perkins. The chase vehicle will carry extra parts and supplies should the 1939 Buick break down along the way.

“It’s a process called ride, repair, repeat,” Read said. “The chase vehicle can only meet up with us at night where we spend the night. If we break down before we get there, there’s a sweep vehicle that will pick us up and take us in. Once we arrive at the rest spot, we start working on the car all night to get ready to go in the morning. We will also be counting on our connections in the quick lube industry. If our car needs something we plan on calling on our quick lube friends in the towns along the route.”

We plan on checking in with Team “Blue92” (the name of the Buick they’re driving) throughout the race and will be reporting how they fair. Read said out of the 130 cars that start the race, only 90-95 will finish.

To read more about The Great Race including specific rules, sponsors, checkpoints and prizes visit their website: www.greatrace.com

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