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Mandy Reviews Calendar Apps ● Enter Guess The Car For A Chance To Win $100

February 2014

Plus, We Look At: ●

Catalytic Converters ● Electronic Control Modules ● Valve Train Timing Sales ● Cabin Air Filters ● Chassis Parts


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INSIDE

February Volume 32, No. 2

features Tech Features By Larry Carley

Don’t overlook replacement belt opportunities. ............................................................

34 Cabin air: The “hidden” filter. ..........................36 Wear will eventually takes its toll on chassis parts. ......................................................

38

34

Modern vehicles are filled with electronic control modules (ECM) ..................

43

40

Mechanic Connection By Gary Goms

Understanding and selling catalytic converters. ..................................................................

43 The valve train timing market. ........................44

44

columns Editor’s Ink By

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Mark Phillips ....................................................................

It’s the details that matter.

Keeping It Simple

48

By Gerald Wheelus ........................................

A reader asks, how do you manage phone calls, in-store customers?

From The Publisher

52

By S. Scott Shriber ......................................

Do you have one of these?

Counter-tech

54

By Mandy Aguilar........................................................

Mandy looks at calendar apps.

Allen & Allan

56

By Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber........................

Do you work for a “go-to” store?

COUNTERMAN (ISSN 0739-3695) (February 2014 Volume 32, Number 2): Copyright 2014 Babcox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved: Published monthly by Babcox, 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333 U.S.A. Phone (330) 670-1234, Fax (330) 670-0874. Periodical postage paid at Akron, OH 44333 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to COUNTERMAN, 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333-8318. A limited number of complimentary subscriptions are available to individuals who meet the qualification requirements. Call (330) 670-1234, Ext. 275, to speak to a subscription services representative or FAX us at (330) 670-5335. Paid Subscriptions are available for non-qualified subscribers at the following rates: U.S.: $69. Samples and back issues - Domestic - $10, International/via air mail $15. Canada: $89 for one year, $149 for two years. Canadian rates include GST. Ohio residents add 5.75% sales tax. Other foreign rates/via air mail: $129 for one year. Payable in advance in U.S. funds. Mail payment to COUNTERMAN, P.O. Box 75692, Cleveland, OH 44101-4755. Visa, MasterCard or American Express accepted.

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February 2014 | Counterman


Subscribe Subscribe to the Counterman eNewsletter, the industry's freshest twice-weekly, 100 percent free, mobile-device-friendly eNewsletter. Developed specifically for the auto parts distribution channel, the Counterman eNewsletter delivers timely news, new products, promotions and other special features needed to gain an edge in the marketplace. Subscribe at Counterman.com to receive the Counterman eNewsletter two times per week — every Tuesday and Thursday — in your inbox! Sign up now and receive a free Counterman travel tumbler! Just visit Counterman.com and click on “Subscribe.”


departments Aftermarket News

10

....................................................................................

Aftermarket News presents news, views and analysis of current trends and events in aftermarket distribution

22,23

MarketPlace ......................................................................................

Every month, MarketPlace showcases the newest automotive product and service innovations your customers are asking about!

32

News extra........................................................................................................ An interview with Henry Hippert of Eastern Catalytic.

50 NASCAR Performance............................................................................51 Classifieds ........................................................................................................

This monthly special section takes you behind the scenes of this fast-growing sport.

PUBLISHER

S. Scott Shriber 330-670-1234, ext. 229 sshriber@babcox.com EDITORIAL

Mark Phillips, Editor 330-670-1234, Ext. 299 mphillips@babcox.com Amy Antenora, Editor, aftermarketNews Managing Editor, Counterman 330-670-1234, Ext. 220 aantenora@babcox.com Larry Carley, Technical Editor lcarley@babcox.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Mandy Aguilar, Columnist Gary Goms, Commercial Accounts Gerald Wheelus, Columnist Allen Markowitz, Columnist Allan Gerber, Columnist Jerry King, Cartoonist GRAPHIC DESIGN

Lisa DiPaolo, Graphic Designer 330-670-1234 , Ext. 281 ldipaolo@babcox.com ADVERTISING SERVICES

Tina Purnell Advertising Services Manager 330-670-1234 , Ext. 243 tpurnell@babcox.com CIRCULATION SERVICES Pat Robinson, Circulation Manager 330-670-1234, Ext. 276 probinson@babcox.com

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Ellen Mays, Circulation Specialist 330-670-1234, Ext. 275 emays@babcox.com DIRECTOR OF eMEDIA & AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT Brad Mitchell 330-670-1234 , Ext. 277 bmitchell@babcox.com CORPORATE Bill Babcox, President Greg Cira, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Stankard, Vice President Beth Scheetz, Controller

ADVERTISING SALES REPRESENTATIVES HOME OFFICE: 3550 Embassy Parkway Akron, OH 44333-8318 330-670-1234 FAX 330-670-0874 Bill Babcox bbabcox@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 217

PUBLISHER: S. Scott Shriber sshriber@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 229 SALES REPRESENTATIVES: Dean Martin dmartin@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 225

Jim Merle jmerle@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 280

Sean Donohue sdonohue@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 206

Edward S. Babcox (1885-1970) Founder Tom B. Babcox (1919-1995) Chairman

Roberto Almenar ralmenar@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 233

John Zick jzick@babcox.com 949-756-8835

Founded 1983. Copyright 2014 Babcox Media, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Glenn Warner gwarner@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 212

CLASSIFIED SALES: Tom Staab tstaab@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 224

COUNTERMAN (ISSN-0739-3695) is published monthly by Babcox Media, 3550 Embassy Pkwy., Akron, OH 44333. Periodical postage paid at Akron, OH and additional mailing offices. Member, BPA International

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E

DITOR’S INK By Mark Phillips

It’s The Details That Matter hate snow on the carpet in my house, the kind tracked in on shoes and boots. I can’t help it. It’s a huge pet-peeve for me. Why does it bother me? There’s something about walking around the house in winter in my socks, only to step in a frozen or wet mess. Off go the socks. Be forewarned, that before coming over, you’ll need to remove your boots at the door. This is a no-exceptions rule except in the event there’s a repair person coming over. I give them a little slack, mostly because if it’s winter and I’ve called them out, they’re out in the cold to come help me out of a bind. Recently, it was the cable company. I braced myself for this by putting an extra throw rug in front of the door that leads to the garage. I figured that way, I could minimize the wet, sloppy damage. So when the woman from the cable company walked in the door, after having forcefully kicked snow off her boots outside, she did the unbelievable: She grabbed a pair of waterproof boot footies from her equipment belt and promptly placed them over the soles of her boots. Voila! Iceon-carpet scare averted. I was shocked. I even remarked to her how great it was. You might

I Are you asking customers what you could do better?

think this is a little thing. And you’d be right. But isn’t it the little things that really matter, those little details? If the cable woman had just carelessly walked through my house, spreading snow and ice up and down the steps and all over my carpets, I would have thought to myself, “Typical. Exactly what I expected. Another reason to hate the cable company.” But here I am, writing about it. Writing about someone putting little waterproof footies on their boots. Believe it or not, before she even performed the work she was there to do, my impression of the cable company had improved. Then, she explained in detail the work she was going to do and within 30 minutes, had drastically improved the Internet service coming into my home. Talk about turning what could have been a routine service visit into a shining example of how customer service should be. After all, there are a number of ways I could get Internet service into my house these days. You can use a satellite dish; cable company; phone company; my own wireless device; an iPad with service. So I have options. But this most recent experience has left me with a much improved impression of the company I do business with. So what about you? Do you have customers that one day, you just never hear from again? Are you asking customers what you could do better? Are you making the extra effort to go to any length to find a difficult-to-find part? Maybe it’s time to find your version of waterproof footies. CM

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For more information: www.counterman.com Twitter: @CountermanMag


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AFTERMARKET NEWS

CBK International Joins The Network As Auto Pride Member GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – CBK International Inc., a warehouse distributor based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, has joined the Automotive Distribution Network as an Auto Pride member, according to Mike Lambert, Network president. “CBK International is a fast-rising company that will be an excellent representative of the Auto Pride brand as the Network continues to extend its footprint into Canada,” Lambert said. “I’m confident this new partnership will be mutually beneficial, enabling CBK to utilize the Network’s purchasing power, IT initiatives and marketing support to continue to expand their customer base.” Operating out of its 42,000square-foot main warehouse in Mississauga, CBK International currently serves approximately 100 jobber stores in Ontario and Que-

bec. CBK also has four co-operated jobber stores, along with 10 associate jobber locations. According to Roy Shen, vice president of CBK, the timing was right for CBK to join the Network as the company increases its number of product lines and continues its steady growth. “As a member of

the Network, CBK will add several product lines so we can serve as a better supply chain to support our customers,” Shen said. “CBK’s affiliation with the Network and the Auto Pride brand will not only strengthen confidence with our current jobbers but also enable us to grow our customer base.”

Johnson Controls Sells Automotive Electronics Business To Visteon MILWAUKEE – Johnson Controls has signed a definitive agreement to sell its automotive electronics business to Visteon Corp. for $265 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Visteon will acquire Johnson Controls' instrument cluster, infotainment, display and body electronics products. The company previously sold the HomeLink product portion of its electronics portfolio to Gentex Corp. in September 2013. “Visteon is a good strategic fit for the business and will provide the right level of commitment and the best long-term value for our customers and employees,” said Alex Molinaroli, chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls.

Guess the Car / Win $100! This Month’s Puzzle

Last Month’s Correct Answer:

#73

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February 2014 | Counterman

What vehicle does this picture represent? If you think you know the answer, go to www.counterman.com and click “Guess the Car” on the nav bar. Submit your answer and contact information. A winner will be randomly selected by the Counterman staff from all correct answers. The deadline to enter is March 6. The winner’s name will appear in the next issue. Stay tuned!

#72 Caprice (Chevrolet) Congrats to Randy Eckert, Conroe, Texas


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AFTERMARKET NEWS

The Network Signs Two Parts Plus Mexico Members GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – As part of its launch of the Parts Plus Mexico program, the Automotive Distribution Network recently signed into membership two new members in Mexico: Grupo Esquivel Autopartes S.A. de C.V., based in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, Mexico, and Mayoreo Automotriz Franco S.A. de C.V. (MAFRA). “After much preparation tailoring a Parts Plus program specifically for markets in Mexico with the help of our manufacturer partners, we are proud to officially announce the addition of Grupo Esquivel Autopartes S.A. de C.V. into membership,” said Mike Lambert, president of the Automotive Distribution Network. “Parts Plus Mexico will not only greatly expand the Network’s footprint but also enable warehouses and their independent jobber customers in the country to have better purchasing power, enhanced best practices, greater computer technology and professional marketing programs that will enable them to more effectively compete against the big-box retailers and other competitors.” A traditional three-step warehouse, Grupo Esquivel

Autopartes S.A. de C.V. operates 10 locations in major cities throughout Mexico: Aguascalientes, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Queretaro, Pachuca, Morelia, San Luis Potosi, Leon, Celaya and Irapuato. “With several new competitors opening in Mexico, the timing was right to join Parts Plus Mexico to provide our customers with the tools they need to continue to succeed,” said Jorge Esquivel, a third-generation business owner who serves as president and CEO of Grupo Esquivel Autopartes S.A. de C.V. “We’re pleased that MAFRA will now be flying the Parts Plus banner in Mexico,” said Lambert. “Formerly a successful member of our CMB division, MAFRA is yet another example of a business continuing to grow and expand under the Network umbrella.” Based in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, MAFRA is a third-generation business serving the traditional three-step market throughout the area. Owned and operated by brothers Jose Manuel Franco, president, and Ricardo Franco, vice president of operations, MAFRA will utilize the Parts Plus Mexico program to more effectively compete with big box retailers and other program groups entering the country.

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Over the Counter By Jerry King

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AFTERMARKET NEWS

VIP Tires and Service donates $22,604 to Make-A-Wish after holding its sixth annual fundraising campaign for the nonprofit organization. Left to right: Adam Dunbar, member of Make-A-Wish Board; Tim Winkeler, COO; John Quirk, President & CEO; Rebecca Leaming, Development Manager of Make-A-Wish Maine; Mary Daigle, Office Support Manager; and Tom Peaco, Executive Director of Make-A-Wish Maine.---

VIP Tires & Service Raises More Than $22,000 For Make-A-Wish

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PORTLAND, Maine – During this past holiday season, VIP Tires & Service successfully completed its sixth annual fundraising campaign for Make-A- Wish. This year’s campaign came with a special surprise – John Quirk, president and CEO, committed to match what was raised by the stores. Every VIP store participated in this seasonal program promoting donations to Make-A-Wish and, along with the match, VIP’s employees raised $22,604 through customer donations. VIP Tires and Service donates $22,604 to Make-A-Wish after holding its sixth annual fundraising campaign for the non-profit organization. Pictured here from left to right: Adam Dunbar, member of Make-A-Wish board of directors; Tim Winkeler, chief operating officer; John Quirk, president and CEO; Rebecca Leaming, development manager of Make-A-Wish Maine; Mary Daigle, office support manager; and Tom Peaco, executive director of Make-A-Wish Maine. By giving stars to customers who made donations to Make-A-Wish, VIP raised not only critical funds, but also awareness of the tremendous work being done by this organization. “Each branch collected donations for their local Make-A-Wish chapter,” said Tom Peaco, executive director of Make-A-Wish Maine. “In Maine, we grant a wish every five days and the average cost is $6,000. Partnering with VIP gives everyone the chance to donate as little or as much as they can to help a child living in their own state.” Wishes range from trips to Walt Disney World to computer gaming systems, playhouses, dinosaur digs and more. Support for these wishes help Make-AWish fulfill their mission – to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. counterman.com 13


AFTERMARKET NEWS

The Alliance Announces ‘Drive To Daytona’ Sweepstakes Trip Winners

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance has announced the winners in its Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper parts stores’ “Drive To Daytona” promotion – one of the largest sweepstakes of its kind in aftermarket history. Each month from September through November 2013, eight qualifying technicians were chosen to win an all-inclusive trip for two to a full weekend of racing action at Daytona International Speedway for the Budweiser SPEEDWEEK 2014 event. Three of the 24 lucky trip winners will receive a key at DAYTONA that gives them a chance to win a 2014 Corvette Stingray. In addition to the eight trips per month, 50 participating technicians each month received a variety of consumer electronic prizes including 55-inch LED televisions, iPads, Digital SLR cameras and Bluetooth sound systems. Also, each month one lucky winner received a Mustang GT as a part of the sweepstakes package. The Daytona trip winners are: (Shop, Location, WD) ● Akeley Auto Center, Akeley, Minn., Auto Parts HQ ● Antigo Auto Center, Antigo, Wis., Auto-Wares ● Berrydale Certigard, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Piston Ring ● Bill’s Quality Auto, Tulsa, Okla., Parts Warehouse Inc. ● Cindora Auto Sales, Caledonia, Ontario, Vast Auto ● Downtown Shell, Palm Springs, Calif., Metro ● Expert Auto Electric, Tyler, Texas, ABC Auto Parts 14

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● Farmer’s Cooperative, Plymouth, Neb., Merrill Co. ● Frye’s Automotive, Margate City, N.J., Eastern Auto Parts Warehouse ● Gendron/Fisher, Alstead, N.H., Bond Auto Parts ● Integrity Tire, San Bernardino, Calif., Metro ● Leimberger’s Auto Repair, Chester, Va., Hahn Automotive ● MainStreet, Grand Rapids, Mich., Auto-Wares ● Cruisin Auto, Red Deer, Alberta, Central Auto Parts ● Pike’s Tire and Service, Searcy, Ariz., Parts Warehouse Inc. ● Right Way Automotive, Sudbury, Ontario, Maslack Supply ● Seeger Repair, Creve Coeur, Mo., All Car ● Seever Repair, Pleasanton, Calif., Trimon ● Shields Service, Louisville, Ky., Moog Louisville ● Spec Performance, Kankakee, Ill., Lang Distributing ● Big B’s Automotive, Cambridge Springs, Pa., Hahn Automotive ● Superior Auto Repair, Salt Lake City, Utah., Henderson Automotive ● Tires Unlimited, San Jose, Calif., NPW ● Yosemite Smog and Electric, Oakhurst, Calif., Smith Auto Parts “The Drive to Daytona sweepstakes has proven to be a huge success for our Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper parts stores and distributors,” said Dan Williford, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance marketing director. “With a variety of outstanding prize packages and 59 chances to win each month, we were really able to move the sales needle in a significant way. We can’t wait to host the winners at the Daytona International Speedway next month!”


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AFTERMARKET NEWS

ShowMeTheParts Enters Strategic Partnership With Web 2 Market ALSIP, Ill. — Web 2 Market, a Web development firm in the Chicago area, announces the general availability of integration between ShowMeTheParts and the Magento e-commerce solution. Manufactur-

ers, wholesalers and resellers can now easily and quickly open a Web storefront or catalog to become online merchants. The store can be integrated with data from the ShowMeTheParts

database of more than 250 manufacturers, 1 million products and 100 million application data records. By integrating the ShowMeTheParts data, visitors to the merchant’s site will be able to search for the part by year/make/model data, VIN, SKU and/or cross reference number. The search results will include any product in the merchant’s catalog. The product’s detail page includes product name, description, image, application data and technical documents, all populated from the ShowMeTheParts database, automatically. The merchant can control price, name and other attributes, if desired.

CARQUEST Auto Parts Announces ‘Ten To Win’ Sweepstakes Grand Prize Winner

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RALEIGH , N.C. – Sammy Guinn of Guinn’s Tire & Auto in Marietta, Ga., is the 2013 CARQUEST “Ten To Win” sweepstakes grand prize winner. Guinn is the winner of a fully restored 1965 Ford Mustang, which he took delivery of Jan. 18 at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. The CARQUEST “Ten to Win” Sweepstakes was a 10month contest, held from February through November 2013, exclusively for professional customers of CARQUEST Auto Parts stores. Grand prize winner Guinn is owner of Guinn’s Tire & Auto, a family owned and operated business in the Marietta, Ga., area for more than 35 years. His business also is a proud member of TECH-NET Professional Auto Service (www.techauto.com). 16

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AFTERMARKET NEWS

Keith Bauer Of Arnold Motor Supply Urbandale Recognized As A Top Performer For 2013 SPENCER, Iowa – Arnold Motor Supply, headquartered in Spencer, Iowa, has recognized its top performers for the Retail Store Division of The Arnold Group of Companies for 2013. The winners were honored

at the company’s manager’s meeting, held Jan. 14 in Ankeny, Iowa. Keith Bauer, manager of the Arnold Motor Supply in Urbandale, Iowa, received the company’s “Service is the Difference” Award,

Bauer, right, with AMS’ Dennis Spooner.

Troy Tullis received the Store Manager of the Year Award.

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for his exemplary effort going above and beyond the norm in customer service and satisfaction. Bauer’s store reached a milestone in sales in 2013. Also at the meeting, Troy Tullis, manager of the Arnold Motor Supply automotive parts store in Ames, Iowa, received the Store Manager of the Year Award. This award was created to recognize the individual who best exemplifies outstanding leadership in the pursuit of performance excellence, and who has done the most to further store performance in the Arnold Group of Companies. Arnold Motor Supply also recognized the top performers in the Retail Store Division of The Arnold Group of Companies for 2013. The Top 5 Awards recognize the top producers companywide in both sales and the percentage increase of sales. Industrial Paint Solutions (IPS) in Spencer, Iowa, received the Division Leader award in the category of Top Sales. Terry Hammer is the manager of the IPS Division. The Auto Refinish Solutions (ARS), also in Spencer, received the Division Leader award in the category of Top Sales Increase. Brad Edwardson is the manager of the ARS Division. 18

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AFTERMARKET NEWS

Epicor Launches Payment Exchange Credit Card Processing Solution

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DUBLIN, Calif. – Epicor Software Corp. has announced that the Epicor Payment Exchange credit card processing solution is now available to automotive aftermarket parts distributors, jobbers and retailers that want to simplify payment processing and reduce the costs associated with many thirdparty providers. “Many third-party credit card processors cater to the interests of national big-box retailers, which can lead to higher rates and reduced convenience for smaller, specialized businesses,” said Steve Bieszczat, senior vice president, automotive and marketing, retail distribution solutions for Epicor. “Epicor Payment Exchange puts the power back into the hands of Epicor customers

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February 2014 | Counterman

with significant savings in many cases and a full range of services that help save time, reduce hassle and improve the consumer’s buying experience.” According to the company, Epicor Payment Exchange is a convenient, secure service that handles each step in credit card transactions, including authorization, settlement and reporting. More than 1,000 merchants use the solution, whose businesses are powered by the Epicor Eagle business management solution. This scale enables Epicor Payment Exchange users to benefit from volume discounts that often are not passed along to store operators by some other processing firms, according to Epicor.

APA Plans 2015, 2016 Annual Conferences LENEXA, Kan. – Automotive Parts Associates (APA) has established plans for its 2015 and 2016 Annual Conferences. The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, Calif., will host the 34th Annual Conference March 18-20, 2015. The group’s 35th annual conference will be held March 9-11, 2016, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in Orlando, Fla. Beginning in 2015, attendees can expect a revised weekly schedule. Most notably will be the pattern changing to a Wednesday through Friday schedule, and the golf tournament shifting to the end of the program.


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MARKETPLACE › visit www.counterman.com/ASAP for reader service Fight Back Against Winter With PlastiKote Undercoat Harsh winter weather across the country has been not been kind to vehicles. Plastikote Undercoat can help protect the underside of vehicles against the ravages of winter. Available in both professional (273) and rubberized (272) undercoating, PlastiKote Undercoat provides durable protection against rust, corrosion, moisture, fumes, dust, heat and cold. PlastiKote rubberized undercoating offers a flexible, non-asphaltic coating that contains no asbestos fiber, while professional undercoating delivers an effective sound barrier to reduce road noise.

Coming Soon: The New ATEQ VT56 TPMS Tool Technicians looking for a multi-function TPMS tool that helps them balance the important aspects of their work will soon have a new option. Beginning in the spring of 2014, ATEQ will launch the ATEQ VT56 with an optional wireless printer and docking station. The ATEQ VT56 is the first TPMS tool to offer a powerful and unique new TPMS relearn experience. It’s the fastest and most advanced ATEQ TPMS tool yet, and is designed to continuously adapt to a technician’s needs. The ATEQ VT56 features an ergonomic keypad and provides a modern and easy sensor triggering and programming experience. The VT56 also features a high-resolution 4.3-inch color display. The VT56 will be the first ATEQ TPMS tool to print wirelessly with an optional docking station integrated printer. You will no longer require a computer to print detailed TPMS information for your customer.

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Arnott Releases New Air Suspension Compressor For Bentley Continental GT, Flying Spur Arnott Inc. has announced the release of a new, heavyduty air suspension compressor for the 2003-2012 Bentley Continental GT, and the 2006-2012 Bentley Flying Spur (OE part No. 3D0616005K). Arnott’s air compressor for the Bentley is new – not remanufactured – and made by WABCO, the OE manufacturer. The compressor ships complete with new air fittings, a thermal sensor and intake hose assembly. The Bentley compressor is completely assembled, tested and includes an easyto-follow installation manual with detailed instructions on reusing the Bentley mounting bracket. Arnott’s Bentley air compressor, part No. P-2740, retails for $1,093.75. Arnott backs each new Bentley compressor with an unlimited mileage/two-year warranty.

Wagner Lighting Introduces Advanced LED Sealed Beam Headlamps For Commercial Applications Federal-Mogul’s Wagner Lighting brand, “The Automotive Lighting Experts,” has introduced LED sealed beam replacement headlamps for commercial applications and some passenger vehicles. The new LED lamps, available through any Wagner Lighting distributor or retailer, help dramatically improve driving visibility in a full range of operating conditions. The new lamps’ bulb-free LED design virtually eliminates damage caused by road shock and vibration while projecting a brighter, whiter and crisper light that extends the driver’s field of vision as compared to standard halogen headlamps. Each new lamp is compliant with U.S. DOT requirements.


MARKETPLACE › visit www.counterman.com/ASAP for reader service Delphi Launches Five New Accessories For Diagnostic Scan Tools Delphi Product & Service Solutions (DPSS) has announced five new accessories for its diagnostics scan tools. Delphi’s Diagnostic Scan Tool and Flash Programmer are complete diagnostic solutions for vehicle service and repair. Operating on a PC-based platform, technicians connect the tool to the OBDII connector under the instrument panel to determine trouble codes and are guided to the suspect area. Technicians can use the tool, which has access to the latest OE data and software, to get current service repair information (with subscriptions after the first six months) and dedicated tech support.

EnerSys Introduces Group 65 Battery To ODYSSEY Performance Series Product Line EnerSys has expanded its ODYSSEY Performance Series battery product offering to include the Group 65 battery designed specifically for consumer applications. The ODYSSEY Performance Series 65-760 battery features 762 cold cranking amps (CCA), 129 reserve capacity (RC) minutes and deep cycle capability up to 400 cycles at 80 percent depth of discharge. Engineered with Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) technology, ODYSSEY Performance Series batteries feature rugged construction, high reliability and deep cycling capabilities to deliver more overall power and longer service life than conventional batteries. The battery features a three- to 10year service life and two-year storage life at 77 degrees fahrenheit (25 degrees celsius). It is vibration-resistant, classified as “non-spillable” by the U.S. Department of Transportation and includes a limited four-year full replacement warranty. It also corresponds to Battery Council International (BCI) Group 65.

DENSO Develops Highly Standardized Automotive Climate Control Unit

TechSmart Releases New Import Solutions Tech Session Videos

Global automotive supplier DENSO has developed a new automotive climate control unit that can be used for a wide variety of vehicles ranging from compact to luxury cars. This new standardized automotive climate control unit, which is smaller and lighter while realizing higher performance, is the world’s first of its kind. The new smaller, lighter climate control unit also can be used in eco-friendly cars. For instance, for stop/start systems, the evaporator in the unit can be replaced with a cold storage evaporator; and for hybrid and electric vehicles, the heater core can be replaced with a heat pump air conditioning system. Also, by changing the blower fan to two-layer structure, to take in external air and circulate internal air simultaneously, the air conditioning system could be used for vehicles with limited heat sources. DENSO’s new climate control unit was released last December.

Standard Motor Products Inc. has released a TechSmart Tech Session video featuring TechSmart import solutions. Highlighting the Tech Sessions are TechSmart’s all-new, not remanufactured, electronic throttle bodies for Nissan and Infiniti, and TechSmart VVT chain tensioner kits for VW and Audi. These VVT kits include every necessary component to get the job done right. Also featured are power distribution centers for VW and Audi, an ignition coil harness repair kit, expansion tank service kits for BMW and more. The Tech Session video series is available for viewing on the TechSmart YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/TechSmartParts, as well as on www.facebook.com/TechSmartParts, by clicking on the video channel button.

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AFTERMARKET NEWS

Tri-State Enterprises Chooses MAM Software’s Autopart Business Management Software ALLENTOWN, Pa. – MAM Software has announced Tri-State Enterprises, a truck accessories wholesale distributor and member of The Network, will install Autopart business management software at its locations in Fort Smith and Little Rock, Ark. Tri-State Enterprises started in 1974 as a Ford Authorized Distributor, offering Motorcraft with a line of aftermarket truck and SUV accessories. Nearly 40 years later in 2012, Tri-State’s management team decided it was time to take the business in a new direction and began executing plans to expand its offering to include aftermarket replacement parts. “The replacement parts initiative strained our existing business management software,” said Tristan Taylor, general operations manager. “We needed aftermarket-specific functionality, including parts lookup, better inventory management and a system that allowed for product scanning in and out. We

also needed the ability to handle EDI to speed up receiving. Without those enhancements, we knew our initiative wouldn’t succeed as well as we had envisioned. It quickly became clear that we needed the best tool set available if we wanted to become a competitive force within the replacement parts sector of the aftermarket.” According to MAM, Autopart is a versatile business-management solution that fuses sales, stock management, accounting and reporting processes that will supply Tri-State Enterprises with: ● Rapid parts lookup for phone room sales staff and customers in the field ● Inventory speedily received into their system ● Better inventory forecasting – product on the shelf when it is needed and returned when overstocked ● A faster e-commerce fulfillment process

Centric Parts Adds 100,000 Square Feet Of Additional Warehouse Space INDUSTRY, Calif. – Centric Parts, leading manufacturer and supplier of aftermarket brake components and systems under the Centric, Posi Quiet, C-TEK and StopTech labels among others, has announced the addition of 100,000 square feet of new warehouse and office space adjacent to its existing City of Industry, Calif., facility. This brings Centric’s total square footage in Industry to 470,000, and to a combined 650,000 square feet between the company’s three Southern California facilities. “As our product range continues to grow and we continue to add new applications for every product line we offer, we have decided to add another building to our City of Industry facility,” said Dan Lelchuk, president of Centric Parts. “This new warehouse allows us to house an even larger inventory of parts so we may continue providing the highest fill rate in the industry – and it provides the additional space required for our upcoming product line expansion.” 24

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Permatex Unveils New Corporate Logo HARTFORD, Conn. – Permatex, a leading innovator in chemical technology for automotive maintenance and repair, has just developed and launched a new logo for its Permatex brand. The new design will be used as both a graphic for its corporate identity as well as a logo mark for its product packaging and marketing communications. The announcement was made by Sean Lyon, director of marketing and product management for Permatex, who noted, “Our primary objective in developing a new logo was to create a clean, modern and uniform look for the Permatex brand. We had been using the familiar blue and orange box design on all of our packaging since 1970, and in early 2000, we introduced a separate Permatex corporate logo for internal use and marketing. Over the years, we felt that the use of two logos did not work to our advantage in maintaining a strong Permatex brand mark and contributed to some confusion among consumers.” According to the company, the new logo update continues to use the same well-known corporate colors of blue and orange, the ubiquitous Permatex swirl and a font that is somewhat similar but a refresh to the current typography. Lyon further explains, “The end result of our efforts is a crisper and cleaner, more modern appearance, which we believe will create a stronger symbol to which all of our consumers can relate. The new logo is the first element of a new package design that Permatex plans to launch in 2014.”


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AFTERMARKET NEWS

Triangle Auto Supply Goes Live With Fuse5 YAKIMA, Wash. – Fuse5, a leading automotive aftermarket cloud platform, announced that its product has been launched by Triangle Auto Supply Company in Yakima, Wash. Triangle Auto Supply is Yakima’s oldest family owned and operated parts store. The company has been serving Eastern Washington since 1921. In business for more than 90 years, Triangle Auto Supply is a third-generation, family owned business. “Fuse5 certainly takes us into the next century,” said Todd Degrasse, owner of Triangle Auto Supply. “From stem to stern, Fuse5 is a seamless process. We needed to transition to a new system in a very limited time frame and I’m certain no other software company could have made it happen so fast.” The creators of Fuse5 say they continually work to improve their

solutions to meet the demand for independent businesses striving to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive environment. “We are excited to have Triangle Auto join the Fuse5 family,” said Gabe Davis, CEO of Fuse5 Inc. “As an ADN partner, we’re grateful for the opportunity to bring true cloud software into a market that’s eager for change.” According to the company, the Fuse5 cloud platform offers customers reduced monthly costs with the ability to pair their software to their business processes. “Everyone on the Fuse5 team is very helpful and does a great job thinking outside of the box when they need to,” said Degrasse. “They really have a personal touch and truly take the time to know their customers. The Fuse5 team is second-to-none.”

Catalog Managers Conference Registration Opens

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BETHESDA, Md. – The National Catalog Managers Association (NCMA) announced that registration is now open for the 41st annual Knowledge Exchange Conference, May 4-7. The event will be attended by nearly 300 content professionals and hosted at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass resort in Chandler, Ariz The Knowledge Exchange Conference agenda features presentations from Mark Seng, vice president, aftermarket and commercial vehicle, IHS Automotive; Tim Folks, senior director, enterprise architecture and content services, CARQUEST; and Brent Windom, president and COO, U.S., UniSelect. Breakouts and panels will address topics ranging from the ACES and PIES industry standards to telematics and digital asset management. NCMA is the only organization devoted to the education, networking and career development needs of automotive content and product management professionals. The annual conference features keynote speakers, technical training breakouts, panel discussions and a vendor partner trade show. NCMA members benefit from networking with hundreds of others who share a common profession, as well as with the solution and technology vendors on which they rely. Registration for the conference is $495 for members and $695 for non-members. A group rate of $189 is available at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass until April 4. The venue is 15 minutes from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Ariz. To register, visit www.aftermarket.org and click “Meetings/Events.” 26

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TECH TIPS

Taking A Look At O2 Sensors xygen sensors have been used for more than a quarter of a century, dating back to 1980 when the first computerized engine control systems appeared. The oxygen (O2) sensor is part of the fuel management system. It monitors unburned oxygen in the exhaust. The powertrain control module (PCM) uses this information to determine if the fuel mixture is rich (too much fuel) or lean (not enough fuel). To provide the best performance, fuel economy and emissions, the PCM has to constantly readjust the fuel mixture while the engine is running. It does this by looking at the signal from the O2 sensor(s), and then increasing or decreasing the on-time (dwell) of the fuel injectors to control fuel delivery.

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Internal Heaters Oxygen sensors don’t produce a signal until they are hot, so the O2 sensors in most late-model vehicles have an internal heater that starts heating up the sensor as soon as the engine starts. Older, first-generation O2 sensors lacked this feature and took much longer to reach operating temperature, which increased cold start emissions. Once the sensor is hot, a zirconiatype O2 sensor will generate a voltage signal that can range from a few tenths of a volt up to almost a full volt. When there is little unburned oxygen in the exhaust, the sensor usually generates 0.8 to 0.9 volts. The PCM reads this as a “rich” sig-

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nal, shortens the duration of the fuel injector pulses to reduce fuel delivery, and leans out the fuel mixture. When there is a lot of unburned oxygen in the exhaust — which may be from a lean fuel mixture, or if the engine has a misfire or compression leak — the O2 sensor will produce a lowvoltage signal (0.3 volts or less). The PCM reads this as a “lean” signal, increases the duration of the injector pulses, and adds fuel to enrich the fuel mixture. A slightly different variation on this is the titania-type O2 sensor. Used in some older Nissan and Jeep applications, this type of sensor changes resistance rather than producing a voltage signal. In recent years, the design of O2 sensors has changed. The ceramic thimble-shaped element in zirconia-type O2 sensors has been replaced by a flat strip ceramic “planar” style sensor element. The basic operating principle is still the same (the output voltage changes as O2 levels in the exhaust change), but the new design is smaller, much more robust and faster to reach operating temperature. You can’t see the difference from the outside because the tip of the sensor is covered with a vented metal shroud, but many O2 sensors from 1997 and up use the planar design. Another change has been the introduction of “wideband” O2 sensors, which are also called “Air/Fuel” or A/F sensors. This type of O2 sensor also uses a flat

strip ceramic element inside, but it has extra internal circuitry that allows the sensor to measure the exhaust air/fuel ratio with a much higher degree of precision. It can tell the PCM the exact air/fuel ratio, not just a gross rich or lean indication as other O2 sensors do. Sensing A Problem? Many late-model engines can have as many as four or more oxygen sensors, so it’s important to know which sensor is having a problem if there is an O2 sensor fault code. The code will usually identify the problem sensor by its number and bank. However, this can be rather confusing unless you know how the sensors are numbered, and which cylinder bank is which. On engines with multiple oxygen sensors, the sensors will be numbered 1, 2, etc. They will also be identified on V6, V8 and V10 engines by the cylinder bank they read (Bank 1 or Bank 2). Sensor 1 is always an upstream sensor in the exhaust manifold. Sensor 2 is usually a downstream sensor behind the converter — unless the engine is an inline four or six with two upstream sensors. Sensor 3 or 4 would always be a downstream sensor. Bank 1 is the side that includes cylinder number one in the engine’s firing order. Bank 2 is the opposite side. If you don’t know which cylinder bank is which, look up the engine’s firing order diagram. On most General Motors V6 and V8 engines, Bank 1 is the left cylinder bank as the engine is viewed from above or from the driver’s seat. On Ford V6, V8 and V10 engines, it’s just the opposite. CM


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AFTERMARKET NEWS

Federal-Mogul To Purchase Affinia Chassis Components Business

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — FederalMogul announced in late January that it has entered into a definitive asset purchase agreement to acquire Affinia’s chassis components business. The Affinia business serves leading U.S. aftermarket customers with branded and private label chassis product lines. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. “I believe there continue to be attractive opportunities for growth in the global automotive aftermarket,” stated Carl C. Icahn, chairman of the board of Federal-Mogul. “The board of Federal-Mogul remains committed to pursuing initiatives, like the Affinia chassis transaction and the recently announced Honeywell friction acquisition, to broaden the company’s product offering, provide operational synergies and better serve customers globally. Our objective is simple: we want to make Federal-Mogul products the preferred choice of automotive service providers in every product category and every segment we serve.” When fully integrated, FederalMogul’s chassis business will include a wider range of wheel-end and steering products, including tie rods, ball joints, suspension and steering linkages and alignment products; covering a greater portion of the U.S. car and pickup truck population, including foreign nameplates and heavy-duty applications. Federal-Mogul will continue to offer products through its widely recognized MOOG chassis components brand and also will serve U.S. automotive aftermarket distributors and retailers with private label branded components. The company also announced the appointment of Daniel A. Ninivaggi as co-CEO of the company and 30

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CEO of its Vehicle Component Solutions (VCS) group. Ninivaggi previously served as president and CEO of Icahn Enterprises L.P., the company’s majority-shareholder, where he continues to serve as a director of its general partner. Prior to joining Icahn Enterprises, he served in a variety of executive positions at Lear Corp., a leading Tier I automotive supplier, most recently as executive vice president and chief administrative officer. Ninivaggi will report to the company’s board of directors and will remain a member of the board on which he has served since 2010. He is replacing Kevin Freeland, who is leaving the company for personal reasons. “I am delighted to have Dan serve as the CEO of the VCS group and believe he will be able to utilize his significant automotive industry experience to drive synergies and profitable growth within this segment of the business,” Icahn said. “The board of Federal-Mogul has a strong focus in this segment, as noted by the recent transactions with Honeywell and Affinia; and Dan was a strong supporter of each of these opportunities.” “I have had the pleasure of working with Dan for years in his capacity as a director of Federal-Mogul and welcome him as co-CEO and CEO of the VCS segment,” stated Rainer Jueckstock, Federal-Mogul co-CEO and CEO of the company’s Powertrain segment. “Dan’s knowledge of the company, its management team, mergers and acquisitions, and the automotive sector in general will be invaluable in facilitating a solid working relationship between the Powertrain and VCS segments, and I look forward to having him join our management team.”


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NEWS EXTRA

An Interview With

Henry Hippert Of Eastern Catalytic Counterman recently asked Henry Hippert, executive sales director of Eastern Catalytic, to bring readers up to speed on rules and regulations regarding catalytic converters. What does the New York mandate for catalytic converters mean? The change in the aftermarket emission laws for New York will ultimately mean that New York residents will be able to enjoy cleaner air because these regulations require the use of an improved aftermarket catalytic converter designed to meet the tighter standards set by the California Air Resource Board (CARB). While cleaner air is obviously a good thing, the path to achieve this does come at the expense of some parameters the industry was used to. To meet these new CARB regulations, a substantial investment is being made in testing and development, as well as the additional precious metals required by the new catalytic converters to meet the standard. Both of these factors are raising the cost of the catalytic converters substantially. Guidelines of the law also limit the vehicle model years for which a manufacturer can legally make replacement converters. As a result, consumers with vehicles that are less than four years old may only be able to purchase an OEM replacement converter from their car dealer. What is the penalty for failure to comply? For the parts store vs. the shop (technician?) As of today, violations are subject to minimum penalty of $500 for a first violation and up to

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$26,000 for each subsequent violation. A violation would be issued for each non-compliant converter sold and/or installed. Failure to maintain complete records or submit reports may also result in a violation. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Air Resources Bureau of Mobile Sources, which is responsible for administering and enforcing these new reg-

ulations, will periodically conduct audits at facilities to ensure compliance with the requirements. How can you tell whether a vehicle has a Federal or CARB emissions system? The best way to tell whether a vehicle complies with Federal or California emissions is to look in the engine compartment. Vehicle emissions labels are typically found on the front radiator support, the strut tower plate or under the hood. Continued on page 42

Emissions label locations California system label

Federal system label


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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Don’t Overlook Replacement Belt Sales Opportunities erpentine belts, V-belts and timing belts are all automotive components that have a limited service life. New belts should always be recommended when a customer is buying a water pump, alternator, A/C compressor or power steering pump. A new timing belt should also be installed when replacing a cylinder head or camshaft on an overhead cam (OHC) engine with a belt cam drive. Most new car warranties will cover the timing belt for the specified period (if it breaks), but usually exclude any other drive belts because they are considered wear items. Vehicle manufacturer recommended replacement intervals for timing belts vary, but are typically 60,000 miles for older (1990s and earlier) OHC engine applications, and up to 100,000 miles or more for newer models. But for serpentine belts, there are usually no replacement recommendations. They may suggest inspecting the belt at every oil change, once a year or every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. The need for belt replacement is usually based on the belt’s condition. Many consumers have no idea how to inspect the belts on their vehicles or how to determine if they need a new belt. Obviously, if a belt has snapped, it’s history, and your customer needs a new one. A belt that is frayed, full of cracks or has missing chunks of rubber is also a bad belt that should be changed as soon as possible But what about a high-mileage belt that still looks like new? Late-model serpentine belts made of EPDM rubber retain their like-new appearance for many, many miles. Same for EPDM timing belts. Unlike older rubber belts that typically crack with age, serpentine belts and timing belts made of EPDM resist cracking. But that doesn’t mean they last forever. Wear is still an issue that may cause the belt to lose its grip. With serpentine belts, wear occurs in the Vgrooves on the underside of the belt. Eventually, the grooves become worn and lose their

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grip on the matching pulley grooves, allowing the belt to slip. Slippage often produces noise (belt squeal) but also can cause additional problems such as reduced power steering assist on vehicles with hydraulic power steering, reduced charging system output under load (slipping alternator), reduced A/C cooling (slipping A/C compressor) and/or engine overheating (slipping water pump). The only way to accurately determine wear on a flat serpentine belt is to use a belt wear gauge to check the depth of the V-grooves on the underside of the belt. If the depth of the grooves is greater than the thickness of the plastic gauge, the belt is okay. However, if the depth of the grooves is equal to or less than the thickness of the gauge, the belt is worn out and needs to be replaced with a new one. With timing belts, the wear occurs on the teeth or cogs on the underside of the belt. Over time, the edges may wear down or the teeth or cogs may crack or separate from the belt. This may cause the belt to jump time or fail. If the application is an “interference engine” (one where the pistons will hit the valves if the timing belt fails or jumps time), the consequences of not replacing a worn high-mileage timing belt can be very expensive (bent valves at the very least, and possibly cylinder head and/or piston damage). Because of this, customers should be advised to follow the OEM-recommended replacement intervals for their timing belt. Oil or grease contamination also can be grounds for replacing a belt. Lubricants reduce friction and can allow a serpentine belt or V-belt to slip. The chemicals in oil or grease also can damage the rubber or synthetic rubber in the belt, too. Belt slippage can also be caused by loss of tension due to misadjustment, or by a weak or broken automatic tensioner (serpentine belts and some timing belts). Belt flutter when the engine is revved is a clue that belt tension may be inadequate. CM


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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Cabin Air: The ‘Hidden’ Filter abin air filters have been included in many vehicles since the mid-1980s, and are used in more than 90 percent of newer cars and trucks. Yet many motorists are unaware their vehicle has a cabin air filter, much less where the filter is or how to replace it. One of the reasons for this lack of knowledge is that cabin air filters are hidden behind the glove box or under the base of the windshield. They are out of sight — and usually hard to find unless you know exactly where to look. Some hybrid vehicles even have a separate cabin air filter for the hybrid battery cooling system in the back of the passenger compartment. The filter’s location, replacement procedure and recommended service interval can usually be found in most vehicle owner’s manuals. But many motorists never open the pages of their owner’s manuals so they remain unaware of these filters. The cabin air filter’s job is to keep dust, pollen and even many pollutants out of the passenger compartment. There are two types: dust and dust and odor. The dust type cabin air filters can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns, which include things like pollen, bacteria, mold spores, even exhaust soot and smoke. Most dust filters will stop 100 percent of all particles that are 3 microns or larger in size, and

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95 to 99 percent of particles 1 to 3 microns in size. The combination dust and odor filters have a layer of activated charcoal or baking soda to absorb odors and air pollutants. Some of these filters may even be lightly scented to enhance the driving experience. The recommended replacement

interval is typically every 15,000 to 30,000 miles for dust-type filters, or once a year for combination dust and odor cabin air filters. What happens if the filter is neglected? With dust/odor filters, the ability to absorb odors quickly diminishes after a year of service. With dust-only filters, the filter media will eventually become clogged causing a restriction in airflow that may adversely affect the operation of the heater, defrosters and air conditioner. Worse yet, a dirty cabin air filter may become a breeding ground for mold or bacteria in a dark, moist environment. This may create an unhealthy situation for the vehicle’s occupants as well as an odor problem. The service life of a cabin air fil-

ter will vary depending on operating conditions. Driving on dusty, rural gravel roads will obviously clog a filter much faster than driving in a relatively clean suburban environment. Counter displays can help educate customers about cabin air filters as can signage that promotes filter replacement. You should always recommend a cabin air filter as a related sales item when a customer is buying other maintenance items such as motor oil, an engine air filter, spark plugs or even an interior air freshener. Ask them when they last changed their cabin air filter. Chances are they may have never replaced it. You can then look up the application to see if it has a cabin air filter, and which filter fits their vehicle. Price can sometimes be a stumbling block to making the sale. Many of these filters are more expensive than an engine air filter, and dust and odor filters cost even more. Even so, if you can convince your customer of the importance of changing this filter, you should be able to make the sale. On most vehicles, a cabin air filter can be replaced in 10 minutes or less. Some disassembly may be required to change the filter, such as removing the glovebox liner or an access panel in the cowl area at the base of the windshield. On a few cars, the filter folds or comes out in two pieces. CM


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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Wear Will Eventually Take Its Toll On Chassis Parts hassis parts such as ball joints, control arm bushings, tie rod ends and even springs all have a limited service life. They can last for years and many thousands of miles, but eventually, friction and wear take their toll. One of the first signs of worn chassis parts is usually a tire wear problem — uneven wear (such as shoulder wear or diagonal wear) or accelerated wear. The vehicle also may exhibit a steering, handling or ride problem such as leading or pulling to one side when driving straight, a change in ride height or maybe some knocking or squeaking sounds when traveling over bumps and rough roads. Any of these conditions should prompt the vehicle owner to have his alignment checked and the steering and suspension thoroughly inspected for worn or damaged chassis parts. Unfortunately, many motorists ignore such warning signs and keep driving until something breaks. A ball joint or tie rod end failure can be very dangerous because it results in a loss of steering control. Additional damage may be caused if the suspension collapses as a result of a ball joint separating from its control arm or the steering knuckle. Worn or loose steering linkage and suspension components cannot maintain proper wheel alignment, so any worn, loose or damaged chassis parts must be replaced prior to realigning a vehicle. Likewise, replacing any steering or chassis parts usually requires realigning the wheels after the new parts have been installed. If the wheels are not

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aligned, uneven/rapid tire wear may result as well as steering and handling problems. Ball joints, tie rod ends and other chassis parts need to be replaced when play or movement exceeds specifications. With springs, ride height is the critical dimension. If ride height is less than specifications front and rear, and side to side, the vehicle needs new springs. Ball joints and tie rod ends are often replaced in pairs because both sides accumulate the same mileage. Piecemeal repairs may seem like a cost savings in the short run, but sooner or later, the worn companion on the opposite side will also have to be replaced. Better to replace both sides at the same time to prevent the need for future repairs down the road. On many vehicles, the ball joint is part of a “unitized” control arm assembly so the entire control arm must be replaced as an assembly. On others, it may be possible to replace the ball joint without having to replace the control arm if such a part is available. Some examples include the unitized upper control arms on 2005 to 2007 Cadillac STS, 2004 to 2007 Cadillac SRX models, and late-model Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass models. For these applications, aftermarket replacement joints are available as a costsaving repair option. Another replacement option are “loaded” control arm assemblies for applications that normally require a separate control arm, ball joint and bushings. These preassembled parts are ready-to-inContinued on page 46


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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Modern Vehicles Are Filled With

Electronic Control Modules he average late-model vehicle today contains dozens of electronic control modules, with some having up to 80 or more modules throughout the vehicle. These include: ● Powertrain Control Module (PCM) — Manages engine functions such as spark timing, fuel mixture, throttle position, variable valve timing, engine cooling, charging system output, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and other emission functions, also onboard diagnostic (OBD II) fault detection. ● Transmission Control Module (TCM) — If not integrated into the

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PCM, it controls the operation of the automatic transmission. ● Body Control Module (BCM) — Handles climate control functions, onboard communications, entertainment and navigation systems, and often serves as the gateway to the controller area network (CAN) communications bus that links all of the other modules together. ● Antilock Brake/Stability Control module (ABS) — Oversees the operation of the antilock brakes, traction control and stability control systems. ● Airbag control module — Monitors the crash sensors and deploys the air bags in the event of a collision.

● Electronic steering control module — Operates the power steering system on vehicles with electronic steering. ● General Electronic Module (GEM) — Functions may include interior lighting, door/seat belt warning lights, horn, etc. ● Front and rear lighting modules — Operates the headlights, tail lights, turn signals, backup lights, marker lights and flashers. ● Instrument cluster module — Controls the instrument cluster gauges and dash warning lights. ● Fuel pump control module — Turns the fuel pump on and off, and provides variable speed operation in some applications. ● Keyless entry module — Detects signals from a keyless entry fob to unlock doors and/or a smart key to make the engine ready for starting (or remote starting). May also communicate with the Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS) module to relay tire pressure information from the individual tire pressure sensors to the TPMS module. ● Tire Pressure Monitor Module (TPMS) — Detects low tire pressure and alerts driver when tire pressure drops suddenly or below minimum acceptable pressure. ● Power seat, power window, power lock, power door/liftgate modules — Control their respective system functions. Electronic modules have no moving parts, but they do age over time and may fail at any time for a variety of reasons. Heat, vibration, moisture contamination, corrosion and voltage overloads can all cause module failures. Flood-damaged vehicles usually are totaled by insurance companies because they know what water damage can do to electronics and wiring connections.


PCMs are covered by an 8year/80,000-mile federal emissions warranty, but most other modules are only covered under a new vehicle’s basic warranty (typically 3 years/36,000 miles). Once a vehicle is out of warranty most modules are not covered. The aftermarket has expanded its module coverage significantly in recent years to keep pace with the proliferation of modules. Still, some modules may only be avail-

able from a new car dealer. But if an aftermarket replacement module is available for a customer’s application, there’s no need to send them back to the dealer. What’s more, most “remanufactured” modules cost much less than a new module. Some modules require reprogramming when they are installed, or must undergo a special relearn procedure before they will function normally. CM

Tech Tip

Delphi Product & Service Solutions Provides Four-Hour Training Course Includes Use Of Delphi Diagnostics Scan Tool During Training

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he average $24,000 vehicle today contains $8,000 worth of electronics, wiring, connectors and software. That’s one-third of the vehicle’s value! How important is electronic module reprogramming in today’s independent auto repair business? Just think of how many times you update various programs on your home or shop computer. The same thought process applies to the vehicles of today. Studies estimate indicate that 10 to 40 percent of all vehicles on the road today have at least one software update available to address a service issue. Today, module reprogramming addresses a wide array of service issues ranging from no code drivability problems to eliminating smelly A/C evaporator odors! Some vehicles with certain service issues simply cannot be repaired by any other method than module reprogramming. What investment is required to get into the programming? Education and a surprisingly modest tool investment will allow you to reprogram a very large percentage of modules found on vehicles today. Only a few years ago, tool technology limitations allowed mainly OEM dealers to reprogram electronic module software on vehicles. Delphi offers a course that examines the opportunity and return on investment for J2534 universal reprogramming equipment that will bring your shop into the profitable field of electronic module reprogramming. We cover the different types of programming, various standards of SAE J2534 equipment, demonstrate how to determine if a module is a candidate for updated software, how and where to obtain OEM software calibrations along with step-by-step instructions to help bring successful module reprograming into a reality for your shop. Don’t be caught sending your customers down the road to someone else’s business for this growing repair opportunity. Don’t be left behind in the automotive cyber world of ‘1’s and ‘0’s. Educate and equip your business with the tools needed to repair today’s vehicles. Call 877-550-TECH (8324).

For more information, visit delphi.com/am. counterman.com 41


NEWS EXTRA

Hippert continued from page 32 What application advice is available for counter people to learn more and share with their shop customers? Since the rules for installing a California-approved converter vs. a Federal aftermarket converters are slightly different in New York than California, I suggest that counter people start by asking three basic questions to help determine the correct and legal part for the customer: 1. Does the vehicle’s emission label state that it meets or complies to Federal EPA emission standards? If yes, then the customer is legally allowed to install a federal aftermarket catalytic converter that meets EPA guidelines, regardless of the vehicle’s year/make/model. If the label states that the vehicle is California emission compliant or 50 state legal, then the counter person needs to ask question No. 2. 2. What model year is the vehicle? If the customer has a California/50-state emission vehicle from model year 1975 to 1992 or 1995, they can legally install a Federal aftermarket catalytic converter that meets EPA guidelines. If they have a California/50-state emission system for model years 1993, 1994 or 1996-newer, then they will need to 42

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go to question No. 3 to get additional information in order to determine the correct and legal converter. 3. What is the Engine Family Number or Test Group number, and what is the Emission Type of the vehicle? This information can be found on the emission label located in the engine compartment. It must match the manufacturer’s catalog information for the part number available for that vehicle. What can parts professionals do if they believe they’ve found a phony converter? All legal aftermarket catalytic converters will have certification markings on the heat shield or body of the converter.

Federal/EPA-approved converters will have the manufacturers ID along with the series number and date of manufacture. California legal converters will have the manufacturer’s Executive Order Number, the part number, date of manufacture and exhaust flow direction arrow. Parts professionals with questions about the legality of a product or who have discovered a phony converter should contact: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Air Resources Bureau of Mobile Sources 625 Broadway Albany, NY 12233-3255 Tel: (518) 402-8292 Email: DARWeb@gw.dec.state.ny.us

Henry Hippert is the executive sales director at Eastern Catalytic. He joined the company in 2003 and has been a major contributor to the dramatic and consistent growth Eastern Catalytic has demonstrated over the past several years and continues to enjoy today. As executive sales director, Hippert is responsible for managing all sales, marketing and customer service activities for both its domestic and export businesses. Prior to his appointment with Eastern Catalytic, Hippert served as account manager for Johnson Matthey Catalytic Systems Division, where he was in charge of the aftermarket and Japanese OEM accounts. Hippert holds a BS in Business from Villanova University.


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ECHANIC CONNECTION By Gary Goms, commercial accounts editor

Understanding And Selling Catalytic Converters hen selling to the professional or retail markets, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how catalytic converters are sold and serviced. To begin, an internal combustion engine creates heat energy by igniting a mixture of gasoline and atmospheric oxygen with a high-voltage spark. Unfortunately, a residual quantity of hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen oxides (NOX) are left over after combustion. Consequently, a catalytic converter uses precious metals like platinum as a catalyst to convert harmful pollutants like HC, CO and NOX into harmless gases like oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). Since a catalyst will accelerate a chemical reaction without being consumed by the process itself, the catalytic converter will theoretically last forever. In reality, catalytic converters eventually succumb to heat stress and contaminants from coolant and engine oil additives.

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Converter types “Direct-fit” catalytic converters are of three basic types: two-way, threeway and three-way plus oxidation converters. Two-way “oxidation” converters are used up to 1980 and are designed to eliminate hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO). Three-way converters are designed to eliminate nitrogen oxides (NOX) as well as HC and CO. A Three-way plus or “dual-bed” converter allows atmospheric air to be injected between the three-way catalyst and an extra oxidation bed to

further clean the engine exhaust. The precious metals used as catalysts are distributed in molecular form over a rough-surfaced ceramic wash coat covering the metallic honeycomb substrate. The effectiveness of the converter is basically determined by the amount of precious metals present on the honeycomb substrate. Consequently, it’s very important for supplier

This honeycomb substrate has broken up and clogged the catalytic converter outlet.

and technician alike to meet EPA requirements by selecting the correct catalytic converter for the application. The catalyst monitor The catalyst monitor or self-test runs only once after the engine is started and driven. Basically, the engine control module (ECM) uses a mathematical algorithm programmed into the ECM software to compare the electrical activity of the upstream oxygen sensor (before the converter) with that of the downstream oxygen sensor. When the electrical activity of the upstream and downstream oxygen sensors doesn’t meet programmed parameters, a diagnostic trouble

code (DTC) P0420 and/or P0430 is stored in the ECM’s diagnostic memory and the orange “Check Engine” warning light is illuminated. Because the catalyst monitor is mathematically-based, attempting to diagnose a converter by comparing inlet and outlet temperatures or by using an exhaust gas analyzer will not yield valid test results. When a P420/430 diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is present, the professional technician should check for related ECM calibration update bulletins before replacing a catalytic converter. In many cases, reprogramming the PCM might solve a stubborn P420/430 DTC issue. Causes of catalyst failure An ignition system misfire is the most common cause of catastrophic converter failure. When a misfire occurs, the catalytic converter overheats because combustion takes place in the converter rather than the engine. When the converter exceeds an operating temperature of about 1,300 degrees F, the converter substrate begins to melt and cause exhaust restriction. Common failures also include a catalyst suffering from an external impact or being contaminated by coolant from leaking cylinder head gaskets. When to sell catalytic converters The auto manufacturer ‘s original equipment (OE) catalytic converters are initially covered by an EPAmandated 8-year, 80,000-mile warranty. A new aftermarket catalytic converter can be installed only if the original is missing, fails Continued on page 46 counterman.com 43


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ECHANIC CONNECTION By Gary Goms, commercial accounts editor

The Valve Train Timing Market ecause valve train timing repairs are becoming a primary part of your professional technician’s engine service market, it’s important to understand the basics of valve train timing. To illustrate, the camshaft controls the opening and closing events of the intake and exhaust valves in most four-cycle gasoline engines. The camshaft drive sprocket contains twice as many teeth as the crankshaft sprocket, which allows the camshaft to rotate at one-half crankshaft speed. This gearing ratio allows the intake and compression strokes to occur on the first crankshaft rotation and the power and exhaust strokes to occur on the second rotation. A balance shaft might also be included in the valve train timing assembly to dampen engine vibration or an auxiliary shaft to drive the oil pump and distributor. Since the intake or exhaust valves can collide with the pistons when a timing belt or chain fails, it’s important to ensure a professional repair by selling timing gears, chains, or belts as complete replacement sets.

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Push-rod engines Because of their extreme reliability, meshed timing gears are generally used on push rod-type industrial and truck engine applications. Matching timing marks indicate when the crankshaft and camshaft gears are timed correctly. Some camshaft gears are made of a fibrous composite material designed to reduce gear noise. Many replacement gears are made of aluminum alloy, which normally produces a mild gear whine at idle speeds. Most domestic push-rod V8 engines manufactured through the 1980s use a short timing chain to 44

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The timing chain at the top center of this photo is typical of many V-block, chaindriven double overhead-camshaft engines. Note the timing mark on the right-hand gear.

couple the camshaft and crankshaft sprockets and the service life on most is approximately 100,000 miles. Timing marks drilled or embossed on the gears allow the camshaft and crankshaft sprockets to be aligned along a vertical line drawn through the camshaft and crankshaft centers. As an exception, some older engines are timed by counting the number of timing chain pins between the timing marks embossed on the two sprockets. Overhead camshaft engines With advent of mass-produced overhead camshaft (OHC) engines during the 1970s, longer timing chains are now used to couple the camshafts with the crankshaft. Some engines use a primary timing chain to drive an intermediate shaft located just above the crankshaft. The intermediate shaft then drives a secondary timing chain attached to the driver’s side camshaft and a rear chain attached to the passenger side camshaft. Many OHC engines use timing chain guides to align the timing chain (or chains) with the camshaft Continued on page 46


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MECHANIC CONNECTION Catalytic continued from 43 a state or local emissions inspection program or is plugged, leaking, or has sustained physical damage. Most vehicles require catalytic converter replacements when an illuminated “Check Engine” warning light indicates a converter failure or if the engine itself has failed an exhaust emissions test. To pass an exhaust emissions test, the converter must meet the exact configuration and capacity as specified by the original equipment

(OE) manufacturer. Due to adopting more stringent emissions standards, many other states are now requiring catalytic converters that meet California specifications. When selling any catalytic converter, remind your professional customer to fill out the paperwork as required by state and local agencies. (Additional information on selling aftermarket catalytic converters can be obtained at www.epa.gov/otaq/cert/factshts/ catcvrts.pdf) CM

Valve Train continued from 44 and crankshaft sprockets. A spring or hydraulically loaded tensioner compensates for normal wear in the timing chain links. A hydraulic tensioner uses engine oil pressure to tension the timing chain. In most OHC applications, the first components to fail are the timing chain guides. In any case, the chains, guides, tensioners and sprockets must be replaced as a complete set to ensure maximum reliability. Due to the reduced emissions-related maintenance that’s being mandated in some states, timing chains are once again becoming the preferred method of synchronizing the engine’s crankshaft with its camshafts and balance shafts.

nated the valve train timing market since they were popularly introduced on domestic vehicles in the 1980s. Due to the use of modern, crack-resistant EPDM rubber, visual inspections aren’t indicative of imminent failure. To ensure reliability, timing belts should be replaced according to the automaker’s recommended service intervals. While recommended replacement intervals on older applications often begin at 60,000 miles, that interval has generally been increased to 100,000 miles unless otherwise stated in the owner’s manual or professional service literature. To increase reliability, timing and balance shaft belts are generally sold as sets, complete with idler pulleys, and (if driven by the timing belt) a new water pump as well. CM

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Timing belts Rubber timing belts have domi-

TECH FEATURE Chassis continued from 38 stall, which saves time and trouble. Some of these also feature re-engineered components for improved durability over the original parts. A related item not to overlook is the need to replace certain chassis fasteners when parts are replaced. Many late-model vehicles use 46

February 2014 | Counterman

Torque-To-Yield (TTY) fasteners to attach ball joints and other components. TTY fasteners stretch when tightened and are designed to be used only once. Reusing a TTY fastener increases the risk of the fastener coming loose or breaking, so always recommend new fasteners for any application that uses TTY bolts. CM


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EEPING IT SIMPLE By Gerald Wheelus

A Reader Asks,

How Do You Manage Phone Calls, In-Store Customers? Most customers who frequent our parts stores understand that we have both on-phone and in-store demands from customers.

Question: How do you manage phone calls while waiting on a walk-in customer in front of you? What are some good techniques I can use? Gerald: This is a great question! There are many ways to deal with the phone call, however, each scenario is different. In our stores, we’re trained to answer the phone by the third ring and most times, we do. But this is where the quandary begins, I am sure. Is it about the customer in front of you? Or the one on the phone? It’s both. You have to read the customer in front of you and see if that person is in a hurry. It’s imperative that you take care of that customer as they are captive in your store and ready to spend money, so you can ill afford for them to walk away. However, over the years, many companies have put heavy emphasis on the

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Gerald Wheelus is general manager of Edgewood Auto Parts, Edgewood, Texas.

For this month’s column, Gerald answers a question from a reader on phone etiquette that was posed at Counterman’s Ask The CounterPro feature on the website (http://www.counterman.com/CounterPro).

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phone-in customer. I’m sure your company has a but, in reality, that policy is just a suggestion, right? Here’s the answer as I see it: Politely ask the in-store customer to excuse you while you answer the phone. The customer on the phone should be informed you are with another customer and you will be back with them shortly. If you are going to be delayed and there is no one else to assist them, you might ask for a number to call them back. Most customers who frequent our parts stores understand that we have both on-phone and in-store demands from customers. If a customer agrees to be placed on hold, be sure and go back about every 45 seconds or so and let them know you have not forgotten about them. We also play favorites as well. A customer who spends $2,500 a month with us will get top billing and get helped before the customer at the counter. Hope I helped with the quandary. Thanks for the question. CM


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Track Talk NASCAR Adopts Knockout Qualifying For 2014 Season So long, single-car qualifying. In 2014, NASCAR is ramping up the pre-race excitement level with a new knockout Coors Light Pole Award qualifying format for its three national series — a move designed to make qualifying more compelling and more like actual on-track competition. “We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series,” said Robin Pemberton,

v i c e president for competition and racing development. “This style of group qualifying has all the makings of being highly competitive and more engaging to our fans in the stands and those watching on television and online.” The new qualifying format will not apply to the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race of the season – the Feb. 23 Daytona 500 – which features single-car runs and two qualifying races to set the lineup for The Great American

Race. Heat races to determine the lineup for the July 23 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mudsummer Classic race at Eldora Speedway will still be used as well. At racetracks less than 1.25 Overhauling the Coors Light Pole Award qualifymiles, the Coors ing format, NASCAR says, underlines the sport's Light Pole Award ongoing commitment to innovation. new qualifying procedure will be as follows: draw and may exit pit road at The first qualifying session any time while the green flag will be 30 minutes long is displayed. Each driver may and include all cars complete as few or as many entered in the race. The laps as he or she chooses dur12 cars that post the ing the allotted time period fastest single lap time in for each segment. Pit road this session will advance speeds will be enforced durto the second and final ing each session. round. The remaining Drivers will be allotted just a cars will be sorted based single set of tires during qualifyon their times posted in ing, which means fans will see a the first round of qualify- lot of different strategies. ing in descending order. “For the drivers and teams, There will be a 10- we believe this new qualifyminute break between ing will fuel even greater the two qualifying competition leading into the rounds. events,” said Pemberton. The second and final “Additionally, it provides our qualifying round will last tracks, broadcasters and other 10 minutes, with the key partners with a greater fastest single lap time opportunity to develop more posted by each car setting entertaining content for our the top 12 spots on the race weekends." grid. NASCAR previewed the At racetracks longer concept of group qualifying than 1.25 miles, there will with its national series teams be three Coors Light Pole late last fall and expects the new Award qualifying rounds. format will be a well-received Before the start of improvement by its fans, comqualifying, cars or trucks petitors, tracks, sponsors and will be lined up on pit media partners. road based on a random

Follow NASCAR Performance on Twitter and Facebook www.twitter.com/NASCARauto ■ www.facebook.com/NASCARPerformance


F

ROM THE PUBLISHER By S. Scott Shriber

Do You Have One Of These?

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All this allows the operator to literally drive into the water at speed and motor off to water ski, tube or wake board for the day.

thought this month I would share with you something very interesting in the car world that I ran across. In the mid1960s, I had and have continued to have a strong interest in a vehicle called the Amphi-car. It was a very stylish little car with a convertible top and seating for four. It had a Triumph power plant and came in cool bright colors. But if that was all, the car would not be very remarkable. What is remarkable are the two propellers sticking out of the rear valence. You could actually drive the car into the water and motor around. It was very innovative but the vehicle was hindered by technology of the day and was prone to

leaks. It rusted quickly and would only go about 6 mph in the water. Still today, you can see incredible restored versions of them at car shows. Dave March from Fountain Valley Bodyworks shared that same interest with me. Dave owns the very successful repair facility in Fountain Valley, Calif. He’d done several restorations on the originals and knew there had to be a better way. Having the resources of the state-of-the-art repair facility, Dave embarked on an almost 20-year journey to create the ultimate car/boat. Hence, the Water-Car was born. It is the world’s fastest and most versatile land amphibious vehicle in production. It uses state-of–the-art materials and the latest technology. All this allows the operator to literally drive into the water at speed and motor off to water ski, tube or wake board for the day. The vehicle is capable of speeds in excess of 40 mph on the water and can be enjoyed all day out there. It recently completed a trip from the mainland to Catalina Island in the Pacific. Dave’s fascination and drive to create this vehicle is an example of what makes our industry so interesting and exciting to work in — constant innovation and thought continues to push the aftermarket to new heights. CM

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For more information: www.counterman.com

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OUNTER-TECH By Mandy Aguilar

Calendar App To-Dos These days, I keep several calendars, not only to track down my work commitments, but for all events related to family and friends.

Mandy Aguilar is a regional vice president for Jacksonville, Fla.-based The Parts House.

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elcome to 2014! Brand new year, brand new calendar. Time to wipe clean the proverbial slate and overcommit and under-deliver on all those resolutions we seem to pile on as the year turns. There was a time when I did not care about calendars. Early in my career, I was able to simply commit to memory every appointment, deadline and reminder that came my way. I never, ever used a calendar or agenda. I recall that everyone else who I engaged in business with carried an agenda, but never me. Those were the glorious days of full memory recall — nothing escaped my neurons. But, Father Time kept on ticking, and my grey matter slowly let many appointments, deadlines and important dates slip through, like grains of sands in an hourglass. This story is one where technology may have actually pushed me into forgetfulness. You see, for many years I had the hypotheses that as long as I never wrote down any appointments on a calendar, I was always going to be able to remember them; and I did! Then I had to go and buy my first PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). The early versions of what we now call smartphones were called PDAs, and the Palm Pilots made by Palm quickly ruled the techie world in the mid-1990s. I was an early adopter and have been holding a mobile computer in my hand ever since. These PDAs were very limited in the number of apps they ran, but calendar apps were the anchor feature they offered from day one. Soon, I changed my ways and decided to log my appointments, reminders and to-dos on my Palm Pilot. To my utter surprise, my memory started to give way, and no sooner than me jotting down an appointment would I erase it from my memory. It was a dramatic

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change, and one to this that day I still struggle with. Did I lose my ability to remember all my appointments from memory because I actually wrote them down, or did I just grow older? Not sure I’ll ever find out, but one thing is for sure — I have been a digital calendar junkie ever since. These days I keep several calendars, not only to track down my work commitments, but for all events related to family and friends. Now friends don’t call me if they want to go out for a beer — they send me a calendar invite instead. My kids’ social calendar is oh-so-busy (I don’t ever recall being that busy at their age); they, too, send me invites to their parties and sports events, just so that I remember they need me that day (or more so, they need me to give them a ride to their event!) Not sure I could keep up with their social calendar without having the ability to share their events digitally on my smartphone. What amazes even a techie guy like me is how well digital calendars interact and sync with each other. I have become so addicted to calendars and the ease by which they connect to each other that I now use several calendar apps to manage my dayto-day flow; but, my go-to apps currently are Google Calendar on the Web and Fantastical on my smartphone. Google Calendar This is my central depository for all appointments and reminders. I love the way you can parse an appointment on Google Calendar by simply entering phrases like “dinner with vendor tomorrow 6pm.” Google will turn that into the proper calendar entry, on the correct day and the right time. Google further manages time zones for me; this is great, for I live in the little-known Atlantic Time Zone, but often engage with folks on the Eastern


seaboard. Invites also flow flawlessly to and from Google Calendar, making it an essential tool for managing our hectic schedules, especially when collaborating with others. Fantastical 2 The original Fantastical mobile app for iOS was the first app that allowed you to parse calendar events in straight, naturally-written language like Google did on the Web. This was a killer feature for a calendar app on an iPhone. Now updated to version 2, the app is currently my favorite calendar app. The interface is clean, and the ability to parse events in natural language is awesome (especially when combined with iOS

Siri dictation). It seamlessly integrates your iOS reminders into the right dates. Events can be viewed in daily, weekly or monthly formats, or they can be viewed as a list in chronological order (my favorite way to see what’s next in a quick glimpse). Easeof-use has made this app a staple on my ever-changing home screen. Gone are the days of committing everything to memory. Time seems to move faster in business and life today; thankfully we can all carry personal digital assistants in our hands to remind us of what’s next. Managing time is key, and just like the famed Pink Floyd song says, “The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say.” CM

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Visit Mandy’s blog: www.mandyaguilar.com

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LLEN & ALLAN By Allen Markowitz & Allan Gerber

Are You The ‘Go-To’ Store? s we start working our way into 2014, a few things come to mind that deserve mention. The first involves our inventory levels. You know, those thousands of part numbers we have on the shelf? We always believed in the philosophy that you could not sell from an empty shelf. However, it is challenging to think that our professional customer generally expects us to have every part in stock (on the shelf) even though they do not yet know whether or not they need it. Today, with the continued growth of new car models and technology, parts proliferation has become not only a bigger challenge, but also a good deal more expensive. Fortunately, today’s computer programs fairly accurately dissect and direct us toward those new parts that will have the quickest failure rates and thus become our first sales for the newer cars. While we may hesitate to invest our inventory dollars in parts that are for the current model year, let’s not forget that the filters, new-style lighting and brakes are usually the first to go. Having these late-model items in stock contributes toward making you the go-to store in your neighborhood. Internet buying, as popular as it is, will not replace the value of a local jobber who has the part on the shelf and is immediately available for a technician who has a car on the lift. Even in the retail arena, while the Internet is playing a bigger part, have you ever had to return a starter purchased online? Not as easy as going to the local parts store and simply getting the right part the first time.

A It is challenging to think that our professional customer generally expects us to have every part in stock (on the shelf) even though they do not yet know whether or not they need it.

Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber operate Auto Biz Solutions, which provides training, marketing, management and business consulting services to both the automotive jobber and independent repair shop.

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Another thought on making your store that “go-to store.” I ran into an interesting situation the other day involving a jobber counterman who told one of his professional customers that they did not have the part needed in stock. The technician then called a second jobber who, while they did not have the part either, looked up the part number in the first jobber’s brand and gave it to the technician. The technician then recalled the first jobber, gave the part number and guess what? They had the parts in stock all along. The technician actually told the first jobber he should hire the second parts pro. Now, we all know how difficult it is to find competent technical counter professionals. By that, I mean those counter professionals who care about what they do, believe in the product and actually use the products they sell. Put yourself in your customers’ place. Has your company ever put you on hold? Building and sustaining a viable business sometimes requires waiting on many customers at the same time, while making them think they are the only one. Knowledge is a powerful tool as long as you know what to do with it. The only answer is that as a counter professional you have to know your stuff. Training is as important for counter professionals as it is for techs — updates on methods to speak to women, phone etiquette, better ways to place customers on hold and on and on. It takes all of this for your store to become that, “go-to store.” You know the one that is referred to as, “go there they will know what you need”? CM

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For more information, go to: www.autobizsolutionsllc.com or e-mail amarkowitz@autobizsolutionsllc.com.


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Counterman, February 2014