Being Thankful

by Hunter Howard

Today, Thanksgiving, is all about stepping back away from all the hassle and realize what in your life means the most to you and what you are truly thankful for. Being thankful is something that we all show a little differently but the feelings of love, companionship and gratitude are the same.

We at National Oil & Lube News, have so much to be thankful for. Our upcoming 30 year milestone is one but we wouldn’t have been able to reach without loyal readers, vendors and industry experts alike. You’ve helped us keep the fast lube industry informed. In fact, if you’re reading this, you’re still part of our journey, thank you. We’re thankful for year 30 (and hopefully, 30 more).

Earlier in the week, we decided to do some strenuous training for the big day today. So, naturally, we had our own NOLN Thanksgiving lunch. Everyone on the team brought a dish and we ate, and ate, and ate.

See here’s proof:


All that food was so good and we’re not sure how we made it through the rest of the work day without some serious food comas but it wouldn’t be a true Thanksgiving if we didn’t share what we’re thankful for. Here’s what some of our employees are thankful for — other than working with some of the best people on the planet, obviously:

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to work part-time so I can spend time with, and look after, my grandfather.” — Tiffany Winters

“This year I’m thankful for having such a strong, loving family. We’ve made it through some very rough times together, leaning on each other for strength to endure hardship and loss. I’m blessed to have such a great support system of family and friends.” — Carrie Przeslak

“I’m thankful for my morning devotional paired with a cup of joe; both get me through the day. In fact, I’m savoring my cup of coffee right now while I write what I was thankful for.” — Geri Jones

“I’m thankful for my family and friends.” — Eric Cisneros

“New beginnings! That saying about God closing one door so He can open another rings so true in my life! Thanks to the wonderful group of people known as family and extended family that have been with me through good and bad times. I’m on a new path at this point. It wasn’t my decision to close that door but it’s a decision that I’ve been able to embrace with their love and support.” — Nikki Held

“I’m thankful for being able to spend time with my friends and family as much as possible. They make every all-nighter study session worth it. I’m here to make all of them proud and I’m thankful that they support me on whatever path life takes me on.” — Hunter Howard

“Family — and friends that might as well be family — top my list of things I’m thankful for. I’m thankful that I serve a gracious and loving God who always provides for my family and I and who has my best interest at heart even when I think I know what’s best for my life. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store!” — Lauren Henderson

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Increasing Your Bottom Line by Addressing Costs

As the saying goes, there are only two ways to make more money: sell more products or reduce your costs.

In our industry where customer expectations are higher than ever and customers who are being more mindful than ever of every dollar spent, maybe it is time to consider the overhead cost. In particular, those “shop supplies” we try to bill for, but we also know we never fully account for all these different supplies we need to service a car. Another thing to think about is the increased labor cost because a job that should of taken 30 minutes takes an hour.


For years, the full-line mechanical shops have been taking advantage of using a quality parts cleaner and degreaser. On the surface, these cleaners seem like a luxury that those of us in our industry couldn’t justify. In reality, by using a quality cleaner you can reduce cost by allowing for a simpler and faster removal and installation of hard parts like a sticky idle control or a stubborn brake caliper. Removal of carbon on engine parts also reduces the risk of breakage, and we all know who has to pay for broken parts! Obviously, if the part is easier to remove and the area is clean, replacing the part goes smoothly and the amount of time on the job will be reduced. This means you can perform more services in the same amount of time.

It is important with today’s vehicles and the multiple uses of different materials in places — where all-steel components were used before — you use a product that can be used on unpainted metal parts, carburetors, air intakes and throttle bodies. For those servicing brakes, you know a quality brake cleaner is a must. The Regane Parts Cleaner and Degreaser will safely clean all these parts so the need for multiple cleaners and wasting valuable training time instructing technicians which cleaner to use when is no longer needed. Reduce your cost, and the savings will go to your bottom line.

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What Are You Doing After Hours?

compare_all2What is it you really want to be doing when you’re at work? We want to know! The New Year is approaching quickly and we’re excited  to continue to bring you old favorites like the 2016 Vertical Outlook, the Fast Lube Operator Survey, Operator of the Year and all the other features our readers have come to love and rely on. However, we also have some knew surprises up our sleeves for 2016, articles we hope you’ll enjoy just as much.

One new feature we’re excited to add to our editorial lineup is a reoccurring profile piece we’re calling, After Hours. After Hours profiles will feature a new quick lube or industry professional every month and will highlight their hobbies and interests outside the shop. This is where your stories and connections play a huge role.

We’re relying on you to tell us about yourself, your friends, family, co workers or anybody you know working in the quick lube or maintenance industry that enjoys a hobby that you think would make a good story. Maybe you rally race, enjoy cooking, run triathlons or enjoy camping with your grandkids (or maybe your friends do) tell us about it!

To tell us about an After Hours story you think we should feature in a 2016 issue of NOLN click here or send an email to

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A Side of Vegas You May Not Have Seen

by Hunter Howard
635687198997697489457475472_002_LasVegasIf you’re making the trip to Las Vegas for Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW), we want you to have the best trip possible. Of course, your primary goal for this trip is business, at least that’s our goal, but don’t forget to take some time off and enjoy the City of Lights while you’re there. If you want to get the lowdown on AAIW specifically check out this. If you want some ideas on things to do that are completely unrelated to the automotive aftermarket or work then keep reading.

After the show floor closes, before you make a beeline to the blackjack table, think about doing something a little unconventional. Deciding what to do with what precious time you do have can be overwhelming in Vegas but here are some of our favorite — and slightly unconventional — things to do.

 Visit the Neon Museum

The Neon Museum is a history lesson from Las Vegas’ past. The vintage signs take up close to six acres of space.

Swim with the Sharks

The Shark Reef is a full-sized aquarium that bills itself as “North America’s only predator-based aquarium. It features rare killers including crocodiles, moray eels, jellyfish, piranhas and over 15 species of sharks. You have to be a certified diver to take a dip, but you can watch someone else risk life and limb.

BBQ at Ellis Island

A small little casino, not far from the strip, offers some of the best BBQ Las Vegas has to offer. Beer is also brewed on site is claimed to be a sweet ambrosia the will make you want to stay.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

A visit to the Zombie Apocalypse is a no-brainer. This little store contains everything you need to protect yourself from those walkers. It also has some novelty items for the non-diehards.

High Roller Ferris Wheel

This ferris wheel is the tallest observation wheel in the world. From a romantic date to an incredible view, it will not disappoint.

Buffet at the M Resort

You’re going to buffet while you’re in Vegas, just accept that as fact. Here’s the one you have to try: Studio B Buffet at M Resort. Sure, it’s a little out of the way but it’s so good, you won’t mind much.

See the MGM Lions

After you enjoy the M Resort’s buffet, make sure to visit the Lion Habitat Ranch about a minute away. This is where all those MGM Grand lions go when they retire

We’d love to see what you get up to while you’re at #AAPEX15 and #SEMA2015. We can’t believe it’s less than four days away! Share your photos with us using the hashtag: #NOLNinVegas15

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Volvo’s Autonomous Guarantee

by Hunter Howardvolvo-self-driving-autonomous-car-t-on-sale-in-2017-660x330In a futuristic world full of self-driving cars — even if the cars and sensors are guaranteed to be 99.999 percent effective — there will still be accidents here and there. Car manufacturers are trying to get this percentage down as much as possible — one of the main reasons autonomous cars aren’t everywhere already.

If neither driver involved in an accident are operating their vehicles, who will be to blame if there is an accident? Volvo answered that question early on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 when the company announced they would take responsibility for all accidents in which one of their autonomous vehicles is involved.

When asked about accidents not involving another vehicle, such as, “What if the lane markings are messed up? Will my car run off the road?” Volvo president and CEO, Håkan Samuelsson and his team responded when test-driving, Nevada had lane markings with shorter dots and in other places, painted stripes were almost washed out. The vehicle’s vision systems were calibrated to avoid any mistakes.

Autonomous technology appears to be years on the horizon, but with each breakthrough and power-move like Volvo’s, we are approaching that horizon with great speed.

Volvo’s actions show a lot of confidence and trust in their product and engineering which makes me feel slightly better about letting my vehicle’s computer take over the steering wheel.

Although Volvo only represents a small portion of the vehicle market in the U.S., I expect this move will play a huge role in how other companies make their next move when it comes to regulation and policy concerning autonomous technology.

What are your thoughts on Volvo’s statement and the regulation of autonomous cars in the future? I’d love to hear them, comment below.

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Shocks and Awe: When To Consider Servicing a Vehicle’s Suspension System

by Hunter HowardScreen Shot 2015-10-13 at 9.25.02 AM

Shock absorbers aren’t something the average driver thinks about on a daily basis. As a result, shocks can easily be put on the back burner, especially when you think about every other thing that can need replacement on a vehicle. A vehicle’s suspension can affect how smooth the ride is and how long it takes you to stop. In fact, bad suspension can increase stopping time by up to 20 percent. Here are a few things to look for when considering whether or not to replace shocks.

  1. Nose Dives

As suspension starts to fail, you’ll notice the vehicle will gradually dip farther and farther past parallel when it comes to a stop.

  1. Rough Riding

When every bump in the road causes the vehicle to bounce, poor suspension is often to blame.

  1. Damaged Shocks

This is a fairly obvious reason to replace shocks. If you see shock absorbers leaking fluid or notice any damage such as holes of dents, it can be worthwhile to check them out.

  1. The Bounce Test

If you suspect the vehicle’s suspension is going bad, perform the bounce test. With the car in park, press down on the front and rear end of the car with all your weight. If the vehicle appears to bounce more than a few times the suspension is probably wearing out.

If the vehicle has these symptoms look into replacing the shocks and for more check out this video from ChrisFix, a popular YouTuber who posts informative videos twice a week  about how to make repairs on vehicles. In this video, ChrisFix shows exactly how shocks affect a vehicle’s ride with a helpful before and after layout.

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Castrol Reinvents the Oil Change with Nexcel

by Tammy Neal

Castrol recently launched Nexcel, a revolutionary technology that marks the most significant oil change innovation in automotive history.

The system offers manufacturers and motorists three primary benefits in performance, servicing and sustainability:

  • Castrol has demonstrated Nexcel delivers a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions on modern engines. Moreover, the technology paves the way for a new generation of precision-engineered oils delivering further engine performance and CO2 benefits.
  • Nexcel makes the oil change super quick and clean for service centers, allowing them to offer more flexible and convenient service options to customers.
  • Oil cells are collected after use, avoiding wastage of used oil. This oil can then be re-refined back into high-quality lubricants. If Nexcel were fitted onto every car in the world today, it would save more than 200,000 road tankers of virgin oil from being produced, every year.

Nexcel in car

Nexcel In Car 2

The Nexcel system has been tested on a range of engines, from very small city cars to cutting-edge high-powered racing engines in the most extreme of conditions. The system oil flow has been tested up to 600 liters a minute — 10-20 times greater than seen in a conventional passenger car engine.

The system will be fitted as standard in the new Aston Martin Vulcan track-only supercar. Road cars fitted with Nexcel are expected to go into production within five years.

Testing and installing Nexcel on a low-volume car like the Vulcan allowed the oil cell’s development to be accelerated, meaning it will be ready for mass market production much sooner. Castrol is currently in discussions with several other vehicle manufacturers.

Editor’s note: Be looking for a more in-depth article about Nexcel technology and what it will mean for the U.S. auto service industry in our December issue.

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Tire Talk

by Hunter HowardTire_tread

When you notice your customers’ tire tread wearing thin offer them some helpful information about why it’s a good idea to get them changed sooner rather than later.

The tread on a tire is used for more than just grip on the road. The depth of your tread determines how fast your tires will vacate water to keep in constant contact with the road. Research shows, when your customers are out on the prowl looking for tires, their primary considerations are price, availability and treadwear. Prices can be easy to find, but the others have been harder to measure, until now.

Consumer Reports show almost half of the 47 all-season and performance all-season tires could last at least 65,000 miles, some reaching up to 85,000, but here’s the twist — tires with the longest life don’t always cost the most.

When offering your customers advice, recommend they stay with the size and speed rating of their car’s original tires. Next, look at the treadwear grade of the tire. A grade of 300 means the tire will wear three times as well as a tire with a grade of 100. These grades are given to the tires by the manufacturer, not a third party, so watch out!

My father used to say to me, “Invest wisely in the things that separate you from the ground.” Among mattresses and shoes lies tires. So help your customers choose wisely so they can drive safe!

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VW Bugs in the System

by Hunter Howardvolkswagon emissions testingDid your mom ever tell you, “If you aren’t going to do something right, don’t do it at all?”  If she didn’t, learn from Volkswagen’s major screw-up this past week. If you’ve spent the last week or two on a deserted island, Volkswagen was recently caught in a scandal dealing with cheating on their emissions tests.

The beginning of the downfall started with a simple road trip. Researchers based out of West Virginia were evaluating emissions from diesel cars made by overseas manufacturers for American consumers, a new region of study. The West Virginia team, which included two professors and two students, was excited to be pioneers and decided to push the limits of these cars. They took long road trips, putting more than 2,000 miles on one of the test subjects. This test revealed one of the cars was putting out more than 20 times the listed baseline emissions. Further tests on other vehicles revealed those numbers reached almost 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides.

So, how exactly did the vehicles pass the tests in the first place? Well, Volkswagen thought it would be a good idea to make the car run low emissions only when it was having tests performed on it by the EPA. After it passed and was disconnected from the emission reading machines, the test mode shut off resulting in better gas mileage, more torque and more emissions.

The Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has apologized for the lies and promised to enact an external investigation. Although Winterkorn claims he had no direct relation to the incident, he understood someone must take responsibility and on September 23, he chose to be that man and resigned.

The question remains, how will Volkswagen make it through this? Let’s look at the financial aspect first. Volkswagen is facing fines of up to $18 billion in the United States alone. The company has also set aside $7.3 billion dollars to cover the costs of recalls and damage control. This doesn’t include the fact that their sales could plummet which brings us to loss of trust. Volkswagen has a PR hill to climb mending the broken trust of its loyal customers.

What does all this mean for the owners of the affected vehicles? Well, there is going to be a recall for a fix. This can go one of a few ways. The first solution is to run it in the test mode. This would drastically reduce emissions at the cost of lower MPG and a drop in torque both of which would result in unhappy drivers. VW would have to make a settlement with owners, because at the time of purchase, they were promised something different. The second way would be to attach a urea tank to each and every vehicle affected. This system can eliminate 70 to 90 percent of emissions but must be constantly refilled with the urea solution to keep your car running. Each one of these systems would cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 a piece.

So, what if VW owners don’t want to do either of these? Could they just ignore the letter? Possibly. A report from the Government Accountability Office states that only 65 percent of recalled cars are ever repaired because no one can force a driver to repair their vehicle. But with an issue of this magnitude — because it is an issue of public safety — will that change? What will happen to the vehicles and to Volkswagen? Only time will tell.

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From Distracted Dads to Know-It-Alls Here’s the Scoop on Three Common Customers

by Lauren Henderson

The Distracted Dad:

We know him, we’ve been him, we love him, distracted dad. Distracted dad dropped his kids off at school and jumped on a impromptu conference call all before 9 a.m. On his way into work, he noticed you didn’t have line outside your bays so he stopped in to get his oil changed.

Don’t get annoyed if distracted dad seems frazzled. Take the opportunity to think for him and suggest services that will benefit his car and hectic schedule.

Entice distracted dads and moms alike by making their time waiting in their car — or your waiting room — a convenient place to get work done or slow down from their hectic day. Offer WiFi and water and oh yeah, distracted dad says free coffee and donuts are always a good idea morning, noon or night.

The Know-It-All:

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.02.05 PM

Customers who feel like they need to answer their own questions or take the opportunity to give you a pop quiz on your knowledge and then correct you are frustrating to say the least. However, they are still paying and valuable customers who can choose to say nice things or not-so-nice things about you in the community so you’ll want to handle them as professionally and delicately as possible.

The best approach with a a know-it-all customer is to cross all your t’s, dot your i’s and answer their questions before they have them. Stay above reproach by carefully documenting the service process and then going over what you did with the customer line by line. Before you know it (pun intended) you’ll establish a relationship with the know-it-all and they’ll become a repeat customer who respects your skill and knowledge.

The Pet Parent:

Pet Lover

Where are my pet parents at? I am a proud dog mom of a 100-pound Mastador who thinks she’s a Weenie dog. If you’re an animal lover you know how much it means when a drive-thru attendant offers your dog a treat through the window (Chick-Fil-A and drive-thru banks are the best at this).

So take a page from their books and leave a lasting, positive impression on your customer the next time you see their pet in the car. Of course make sure you ask before you pet or feed. However, most people are thrilled at the chance to show off their best friend.

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