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November 2013

Selling Premium Filters >

TOP ADD-ONS For Charging System Maintenance

> O2 Sensor >


MAINTENANCE CHRONICLE: West Coast Shop Tunes Into Preventive Maintenance

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01 Contents MM 11.13 10/31/13 12:47 PM Page 1


November 2013


[ Charging System Maintenance ]

Top Add-Ons For Charging System Maintenance [page 2] Don’t leave money on the table when you’re faced with solving a no-start complaint. In this article, we provide eight tips to help you improve your bottom line.

[ Wiper Sales ]


Don’t Forget Your Customers’ Vehicle Visibility Needs [page 6] Get your customers in the mindset of timing wiper blade replacement to coincide with LOF services and tire rotations.

[ Maintenance Chronicle ]

Documenting Two Weeks of Maintenance Services


Grass Valley, CA [page 14] We’ve documented the maintenance service workflow at an independent repair shop to showcase the sales and profit potential in vehicle maintenance services, and provide useful advice to help you sell preventive maintenance to your customers.

[ Plus ]

Filter Sales [page 8] O2 Sensor Selling Strategies [page 12]

8 Cover image courtesy of American Honda Motor Co.

Maintenance Matters November 2013, Volume 2, Number 2: Published by Babcox Media, Inc. 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333 U.S.A. Phone (330) 670-1234, FAX (330) 670-0874. © 2013 by Babcox Media, Inc. Publisher, Jim Merle, ext. 280; Editors, Mary DellaValle, ext. 221; Andrew Markel, ext. 296. Share your thoughts and comments about the content of this publication. E-mail us at

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[ Charging System Maintenance ] By Andrew Markel, editor, Underhood Service magazine

Top Add-Ons For Charging System Maintenance Go Above And Beyond The Usual Battery Swap There is a distinct advantage your shop has over the chain store or mass merchandiser when it comes to solving no-start conditions. The advantage is that independent repair specialists can return a starting and charging system to “like-new” condition. But many shops leave money on the table when it comes to solving a no-start complaint. Here are eight items to help improve your bottom line.

• Battery Cables: If battery cables have too much resistance or are damaged internally, the battery cannot send power to the starter or be charged by the alternator. The damage may be inside the cable and may be caused by corrosion that’s wicking into the cable. But also ask yourself why a cable failed in the first place. Oftentimes, worn or soft motor mounts cause fatigue and damage to the cable. If left unchecked, the replacement cable could fail sooner than expected, which will not reflect well on your shop when the customer returns with the same problem.

• Replace, Reset, Retrain, Reflash: What sets your shop apart from the store down the street offering free installation for a battery is complete service with the right tools and proper service information. Back in the good old days, if a battery were replaced, the worst thing to happen was the radio presets were lost. Now, if the battery is replaced a lot more than that can be lost.


November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

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[ Charging System Maintenance ]

On most late-model vehicles, if the transmission control module loses power, the shift points and wear information must be relearned by either following a precise drive cycle or using a scan tool. If left undone, the customer might notice the transmission is not shifting the same as before, and they may start blaming you. Some vehicles require the battery parameters in the ECM to be reset. If this is not performed, the vehicle will overcharge the new battery, causing it to fail prematurely due to the electrolytes being boiled off. Can you charge for these types of services? YES. Any repairs that require a scan tool or service information need to be captured for the estimate or repair order. Don’t offer your expert services for free.

• Vents and Drains: Some batteries include a standard drain and vent kit, but some applications require application-specific parts so gases and liquids are vented properly. Not replacing the vent can lead to problems like corrosion of the battery tray. The aftermarket offers many alternatives for the replacement of these vents. • OAD and OAP Pulleys: Almost every recent car is equipped with an overrunning alternator pulley called an OAD or OAP pulley. These pulleys can wear internally over time and can cause a nocharge/no-start condition. Under normal


November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

driving conditions, the original pulley will require replacement in approximately 45,000-75,000 miles, according to one manufacturer. Overrunning pulleys can be purchased separately from the alternator. Inspection of a pulley can be performed on the vehicle.

• Diagnostic Charges: A car doesn’t just need a new battery. If you can’t pinpoint the reason why the battery failed, then you are not doing the customer any favors by selling them a new battery. A diagnostic test should include a test of the battery, charging system and visual inspection of the overall system. If you can’t conclude why the battery failed, then your customer will be back before you know it.

• Belts: As a belt ages, it loses its ability to grip and drive the pulleys. Time and

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[ Charging System Maintenance]

miles remove material and physically change the belt material. Over its normal life, a belt can lose up to 10% of its rib material. While this may not seem like a lot, the consequences can be significant in how the belt interacts with the pulleys. If a battery is losing its ability to hold a charge, the alternator has to work harder and so does the belt. By the time the battery dies, the belt has been put through its paces and may also require replacement.

• Battery Upgrades: With consumers keeping their cars longer, it’s logical to offer them a battery that can last longer and take more abuse. For example, absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries are better equipped to handle higher electrical loads. They can offer an extra layer of confidence when it comes to extreme weather conditions. Selling these batteries is a slam-dunk when they’re presented to the customer as a valuable alternative.

• Battery Hold-Downs: One of the most neglected items can be the hardware that holds the battery down. Battery hold-downs prevent movement that can put stress on the battery cables. They can also prevent vibrations from damaging the plates inside the battery. Repairing the hold-downs can help the battery last longer and prevent having to use the prorated warranty down the road. MM

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[ Wiper Blade Replacement ] By Larry Carley, technical editor

Don’t Forget About Your Customers’ Visibility Needs Time Wiper Blade Replacement To Coincide With LOF Services, Tire Rotation Replacing your customers’ wiper blades once a year has always been good advice, but some blades last longer and others may need to be replaced more often, depending on use and environmental exposure. Wipers that are seldom used and are on a vehicle that is parked indoors can last years. By comparison, blades that are used frequently in dusty, dirty environments experience more wear factors so their service life will be shorter. Likewise, wipers on vehicles that are parked outdoors yearround in hot climates can deteriorate rather quickly and may need to be replaced every six months. A recent Car Care Council survey found that 16% of vehicles inspected had worn, damaged or missing wiper blades, and 23% (almost one out of four!) had little or no windshield washer fluid in their reservoirs. A good time to check your customers’ wiper blades and windshield washer fluid is when their vehicle is in for an oil change or tire rotation. If the wipers are chattering, streaking, wiping poorly or are damaged, it’s time for a new set. The wiping


November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

edge of the blade must be perfectly smooth, flat and clean. Dirt and debris on the windshield has an abrasive effect on the wiping edge during normal use, and once the edge becomes pitted, torn or ragged, the blade will streak and smear. Weak wiper arms also can prevent an otherwise good set of wiper blades from wiping cleanly. New blades may also be needed for the back glass or tailgate on a minivan, sport utility vehicle, station wagon or hatchback. Rear wipers are often more neglected than the ones up front because they’re not in the driver’s direct line of sight. Even so, good rearward visibility is necessary for driving awareness, backing up and parallel parking. MM

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[ Premium Filters ]

Selling Premium Filters On The Benefits They Provide Customer Education Eases Sales Process In most health food commercials, the overriding pitch is how a certain product will help you live longer by keeping cancer and/or heart disease at bay. These advertisements may show a hiker on a mountain, children playing in a field or people working out. The visual message is about the immediate quality of life improvement you could have by eating the product at your next meal. The advertisements never show a picture of an old person with a caption explaining how many years they lived because they ate the product. So, why do some service advisors stop short when they’re selling filters? Oftentimes, an extended interval or premium filter is sold merely on how many miles it could last. Some service advisors never mention the protection provided when the filter is installed, or the immediate value to customers when they pull out of


November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

your lot. Not discussing these benefits makes it that much easier for the customer to say, “No, I don’t I need that.”

What Is Premium? The job of any filter is to capture and hold small and large particles that could damage the vehicle systems they are designed to protect. How much and how small determines how long a filter can remain on a vehicle. If capacity is maxed out, the filter will become a restriction to the system, so instead of protecting the system, it will now harm it. If an oil filter is restricted, it will cause the oil pressure to drop. When the pressure drops, the amount of oil supplied to the engine’s bearings is reduced. Beyond that, the oil pump has to work harder to push oil through the filter. Premium or extended-interval filters last

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[ Premium Filters ] longer and have higher performance because of their filter media, pleat design and other attributes that allow it to operate longer, while capturing more contaminates without causing a restriction.

Filter Media Better filter media can hold more contaminants before the filter becomes restricted. Premium filter media is engineered in layers, the top layer of which can catch larger particles. Smaller particles will flow through this top layer, which will be caught by the successive layers. This allows the media to retain more contaminants. To explain filter media to your customers, you can tell them the layers are like screens on windows. A screen will keep out bugs and leaves, but it will not keep out pollen or dust. If the screen were to be replaced with a paper towel, it would capture the pollen and dust. But, the paper towel would be soon blocked by bugs and leaves. If you layered the screen with the paper towel, the screen could filter out the big stuff so the paper towel would have to only filter the finer particles. Combined, the two layers could hold more contaminants than working alone, similar to how premium filter media works.


November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

Pleats And Surface Area A premium or extended-life filter is not physically larger than a non-premium filter, so why is it that a premium filter can catch more contaminants? A premium filter gets its increased capacity thanks to the pleating of the specially engineered filter media that can give a filter more surface area to capture more contaminants. Other components in a premium filter can help it perform better from day one. It could be as simple as a foam seal on the lip of an air filter, to a better bypass valve design inside an oil filter. These often-unseen features can help prevent contaminants from entering into the engine. Helping your customer understand these various filter features could help you sell more filters. Like in the health food example, consumers want the long-term benefit, but they also want a reward now for making a smart choice. This instant gratification drives a lot of consumer activity. People want to see a positive impact when they buy a filter, rather than wait 5,000 to 7,000 miles to see the benefit. So, if you’re able to offer them a product that provides a superior benefit as soon as they drive away, the sale will be an easy one. MM

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[ O2 Sensors ]

Speaking Maintenance: Communicating To Customers About Oxygen Sensors One of the toughest components to sell as a maintenance item, or even a replacement item, is an oxygen sensor. Here are some examples of how you can filter through the technical mumbo-jumbo regarding how sensors work to arrive at an explanation that your How does a downstream oxygen sensor customers can better understand. monitor converter efficiency? What is an Why is my Check Engine Light on? Technician: If the signal from the downstream oxygen sensor starts to mirror that from the upstream oxygen sensor(s), it means converter efficiency has dropped off and the converter isn’t cleaning up the pollutants in the exhaust. The threshold for setting a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) and turning on the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) is when emissions are estimated to exceed federal limits by 1.5 times. Customer Translation: If the oxygen sensor at the rear of the converter sees an increase in emissions that exceeds a preset limit, it will turn on your Check Engine Light.


November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

oxygen sensor and what does it have to do with my catalytic converter? Technician: The OBD II system monitors converter efficiency by comparing the upstream and downstream oxygen sensor signals. If the converter is doing its job and is reducing the pollutants in the exhaust, the downstream oxygen sensor should show little activity (few lean-to-rich transitions, which are also called “crosscounts”). The sensor’s voltage reading should also be fairly steady (not changing up or down), and average 0.45 volts or higher. Customer Translation: Oxygen sensors are placed before and after the converter to measure how the converter is changing exhaust gases, as well as how the engine is performing. One sensor measures what goes in and the other measures what comes out of the converter. MM

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[ Maintenance Chronicle ] By Mary DellaValle, editor, ImportCar magazine

West Coast Shop Tunes Into Preventive Maintenance Marketing Campaign Augments Customer Education Efforts If you want your customers to have a maintenance mindset, get yourself into gear. It should be top of mind with every vehicle that enters your bays. After all, vehicles in top-running condition ensure customer satisfaction in vehicle performance, safety and longevity. And, thorough vehicle inspections, complemented by customer education on the merits of proper vehicle care, can yield unperformed maintenance dollars for your shop. So, for you and your customers, maintenance really does matter. In this Maintenance Chronicle, we are featuring a six-bay shop located in Grass Valley, CA, that employs four techs and has been in operation for 31 years. With the average age of the vehicles serviced at the shop being six


November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

to eight years, there should be plenty of preventive maintenance work available on a customer vehicle fleet that’s viewed as a viable form of transportation for many years to come. That is, if it’s properly maintained and serviced. That’s where you come in. We’ve documented the shop’s maintenance service workflow over a twoweek process, as a means to showcase the sales and profit potential in vehicle maintenance services. Preventive maintenance checks and thorough inspections by shop owners

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[ Maintenance Chronicle ]

Shop Vitals Bays: 6 s: 4 Technician : Car Count Two-week les 150 veh ic s 22 veh icle Peak Day: d 5 days, an n e p O : k e Work We iday noon on Fr t a s e s lo c shop ary), baru (prim u S : In s e z Speciali cura xus and A e L , a d n o Toyota, H

and technicians can drive the purchase and installation of many maintenance items including air, cabin air, oil and fuel filters, wiper blades, spark plugs, lighting, oil, chemicals & additives, brakes, batteries, belts and hose, O2 sensors and more!

Customer Education Is Key Our featured shop is tuned into maintenance, promoting good vehicle care through service reminders and outlining “next” necessary services to customers, “so that they

Maintenance Sales at a Glance Sept. 16-27, 2013 Jobs Performed LOF Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90



Ignition Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

Air Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

Hoses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Fuel Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Belts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

Cabin Air Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

Coolant Flush & Fill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

Transmission Flush/Filter . . . . . . . . . .11

Wiper Blades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Battery Replacement . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Maintenance Matters


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[ Maintenance Chronicle ]

70% 20%

of LOFs were sold based on service reminders.

were the result of new customers making an appointment or returning customers who came back for service.

10 %


were sold when the vehicle was in for other services.

November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

are more prepared for the upcoming maintenance costs,” explains the owner’s son and service manager, John Jr. “But, we feel we have a lot of room for improvement in this area, so we are currently setting up e-mail marketing to be able to follow up on services, and offer specials on unperformed maintenance and seasonal promotions,” he continued. The shop also offers pretrip and pre-purchase safety inspections, and often sells unperformed maintenance after the inspection process, including 30,000-, 60,000- and 90,000-mile services, timing belt replacements, valve adjustments and the like, explained John Jr. “Not only do we identify unperformed maintenance, we inform the customer about upcoming repairs and/or maintenance, especially on pre-purchase inspections, so they can make an informed purchase.” This shop’s LOF workflow confirms that engine lubrication is a solid category

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[ Maintenance Chronicle ]


vice Jo Ser

November 2013 | Maintenance Matters



intervals on newer model Top Service Jobs . . . . .Week 1 . .Week 2 vehicles that use synthetic oil, even though the manuLOF Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 . . . . . . .43 facturers are recommending longer intervals,” continued Air Filter Replacement . . . . . .21 . . . . . . . .15 John Jr. “We are seeing many of these newer vehiBattery Replacement . . . . . . . .11 . . . . . . . . .10 cles with oil consumption problems when following Wiper Blade Replacement . . .10 . . . . . . . .7 the manufacturer-recommended intervals.” Bulb Replacement . . . . . . . . . . .8 . . . . . . . . .6 Hand-in-hand with LOF services are air filter replacements, with techs at this for preventive mainteshop inspecting the air filter nance. Performing a at each oil change. While whopping 90 oil changes techs “occasionally” notice over the two-week perithat their customers’ vehicles od, for an average of 18 have gone beyond the air a day (the shop is open filter mileage replacement interonly five days a week and val, installing 36 over the two-week only a half a day on Friday), this timeframe, they could also benefit if shop is serious about keeping its they were to check the vehicle’s cabin customers’ engines in top-running air filter at each LOF service. While condition. checks in this area are typically reserved John Jr. said that 70% of the shop’s for larger-scheduled services, explained LOF services were the result of service John Jr., the shop, nonetheless, sold 10 reminders, 20% were the result of new over the two-week timeframe. customers making an appointment or returning customers who came back for service, and 10% were sold on vehicles that were in for other services. The shop Wipers currently does not advertise LOF servicSixteen sets of wiper blades were sold es via coupons, but imagine if it did? over the two-week period, resulting “We recommend 3,500-mile intervals from recommending seasonal replaceon cars using conventional oil. We are ment and coinciding with National Car also strongly recommending 5,000-mile Care Month activities. And, the shop’s

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[ Maintenance Chronicle ] techs also take the time to inspect rear wiper blades, if the vehicle is so equipped.

Batteries & Other Underhood Essentials Another solid service category for our featured shop is battery system checks, with 16 replacements done over the two-week timeframe. Tests are accomplished with a carbon pile tester, which “ensures a customer’s battery holds 9.6 volts with a 200-amp load. Any spec under that and we recommend replacement,” said John Jr. Keeping with other underhood components, the shop sold 12 sets of spark


November 2013 | Maintenance Matters

plugs/wires, two hoses and 11 belts. None of the serpentine belts were replaced as a result of belt failure, as the shop’s techs regularly inspect belts and recommend replacement at the first signs of wear. Impressively, the shop sold 18 lighting/bulb replacements over the twoweek period, a mix of headlights, taillights and turn signals. When asked why the shop sold so many in such a short timeframe, John Jr. explained, “We sell so many because we check all the lights on every car no matter the job.” A majority of the shop’s eight cooling system services (75%) were the result of regularly scheduled maintenance, versus the customer having a cooling system/overheating problem. (See page 15 for other maintenance services performed by this shop.) Hopefully, by getting an inside look at this shop’s vehicle maintenance numbers, you’ll begin thinking about new ways to effectively promote preventive maintenance to your customers, for their benefit as well as yours. Maintenance really does matter — on every job, every day. MM

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Maintenance Matters, November 2013