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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Rally Racing 101: How to Start

by Hunter HowardunnamedGetting into rally racing is simpler than it may seem. You don’t have to go through a long, tedious process to get out on the course and put the pedal to the metal. Let us help you by pointing you in the right direction to start your rally racing hobby. Just don’t forget about us when you’re a champion driver.

Being a driver is going to require three things. The first is time. To be a great driver, you’re going to have to put in real man hours on the track, which brings us to the second requirement — hard work. Being out on the track or in your shop for hours at a time means nothing if you aren’t working on your turns or on your car. The last and probably the biggest barrier to entry is money. Rally racing, like all other hobbies, is going to cost you money.

The difference between other hobbies and rally racing is a scrapbook costs $40 and a rally car costs $40,000. Of course, that is if you decide to own your own car. Some closed tracks allow you to rent cars at a hefty price, but these are not sanctioned races and if damage the car or the track in any way, it is going to cost you a pretty penny.

The next step is getting familiar with the rules, regulations and the overall atmosphere. What you’re going to want to do is go to a race, either as a volunteer or as a spectator. (I would go as a volunteer because not only do you usually get in for little to no cost, you’ll be up close and personal with the teams, drivers and officials. You’re then going to want to review the rulebook here.

Rally America recommends purchasing a car that is already built and log booked for competition. The term log booked is a certification allowing the car to be raced. Building your own rally car is also an option, but is not recommended for beginners because it is more expensive and exponentially raises the risk for error — although you do have an upper hand if you work on cars for a living.

While buying or building your car, look over the necessary safety equipment and pick that up while you’re out and about.

After you feel you are ready, get your competitors license and enter a Rally America Racing event.

One of the best sources for information on rally racing is Rally America’s website, which can be found here.

Now get out there and get ready to rally!

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Profit Opportunity: Wiper Blades

by Hunter Howard

It is so easy to forget about reminding your customers to change their wiper blades but it is one of the easiest and fastest ways you can make more money on a ticket. I suppose it’s easy to forget because customers should know when they need new blades and ask you for them right? Not always.

Changing wiper blades will constantly be shrugged off when customers think about their car because unlike something like tires, they aren’t always in use. Drivers usually realize their blades need replacement when it starts to rain heavily or a wave of bugs barrages their windshield.

shutterstock_295703246A simple way to remember when to check your customers’ wiper blades is to change them when the time changes. When you set your shop’s clock an hour forward or an hour backward, it’s a good time to start checking wiper blades again. Transitioning from a harsh weather season like summer is a good way to remember too. When winterizing vehicles, go ahead and remind customers about their wiper blades. After hot summer months, wiper blades can become riddled with cracks that will cause the blade to lose good contact with the windshield.

Wiper blades are one of the most helpful pieces of equipment on a vehicle. They are also one of the least appreciated in comparison to what they do. Take the time to remind your customers about wiper blades.

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Let’s Rally

by Hunter Howard


Rally racing is the start of all major forms of automotive racing.

One of the best things about most people in the quick lube industry is their jobs incorporate something they truly have a passion for — motors that roar. When the bay doors are rolled down the fun doesn’t stop, things are just getting started.

Our readers often go home to tinker on their own projects and fuel their own passions. One fun automotive hobby to get into is rally racing. Being the motor mouths we are naturally, we wanted to know more.

Rally racing is the lifeblood that created all other major forms of racing. This style of racing started back in the late 1800s-early 1900s when the wealthy had access to vehicles and wanted to see who was better at controlling their newfangled machines. More often than not, owners would set a destination — normally a brew house — and see who would arrive first after traversing wooded trails. Pedestrians readily took interest, thus the onset of circuits for viewing and the birth of road racing.

Early days of rally racing.

Early days of rally racing.

The term rally racing was coined back in early 1911 at the Monte Carlo Rally. Twenty-three cars set out from 11 different locations on a convergence race to Monte Carlo. During the Great War (you know it as World War I) rally racing fell into a lull and was not revived until 1924. Since then, apart from a few years during and after World War II, the Monte Carlo Rally has been held every year and remains a premiere European attraction today.

The most recent rally league in the US got its start in 2005 with the invention of the Rally America National Championship; a string of events allows competitors to race and gain points for the title of champion at the end of the season. These races are sponsored by Rally America.

One of the most popular cars used for rally racing the Subaru Impreza.

One of the most popular cars used for rally racing the Subaru Impreza.

Since the inaugural season, there have been 10 champions named. Among these champions is one of most famous rally racers, Travis Pastrana, who was named champion for four years running in 2006-2008. When asked what he though about rally racing, Pastrana said, “I think rally car racing is pretty much the most crazy form of off-road car racing.”

In the next few weeks, we’ll be delving more into rally racing and talking about the cars used, different races, common maintenance and how you can get involved.

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Best of Jay Leno’s Garage

by Hunter HowardScreen Shot 2015-09-14 at 1.03.08 PMMany of you get to see interesting cars roll through your bays every day. (If we’re lucky you send them to us to publish in the Customer Rides portion of our magazine.)  But possibly none are more unique than some of the cars featured on the Youtube channel, Jay Leno’s Garage. Here’s our top five must watch videos.

1. Batman’s Tumbler

This vehicle makes the top of the list for being one of the most badass vehicles ever driven. Straight from the movie, “The Dark Knight,” this beast of a machine was custom made for the movie. Everything from the chassis to the brakes is an original design.

2. Blastolene’s Piss’d Off Pete

What would a Peterbilt truck look like if you squeezed it into the size of an SUV? It’d look like Blastolene’s Piss’d Off Pete.

3. 1913 Mercer Raceabout

You could drive this car off the lot, take off the headlights and go racing. Being a high-end car, there were few of these sold, leaving about 25 of them float around to date. It’s a very aesthetically pleasing, especially with the monocle windshield.

4. Lenco BearCat

With 3-inch bulletproof windows and 3/8 inch armored plate covering the entirety of the vehicle this hunk will keep you protected no matter the situation. And don’t worry, this vehicle is available for pedestrian purchase at the low price of $3000,000!

5. Custom Decoliner

This machine is beautifully built way to travel. The option to drive from on top or inside of the cab makes this vehicle look like a lot of fun.

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The Comeback ‘Vette

by Lauren Henderson2015-One-Millionth-Chevrolet-Corvette-Restored-2-627x418

On the heels of the August 2015, Corvette issue of National Oil & Lube News and more than a year after taking a nose dive into a sinkhole under the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky, General Motors unveiled the restored, millionth Corvette manufactured.

The restoration of the white 1992 convertible took more than four months and 1,200 hours,  GM reported. The hood, front fascia and lower panels between the front wheels and doors were replaced in addition to some parts under the hood. GM was careful to preserve the integrity of the vehicle throughout the process, using replacement parts from a Corvette of the same color and time period.

Click here to read the full article from The Detroit News.






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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


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


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


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


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


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


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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