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    • By Counterman
      Meet “the Marble family.” Mrs. Marble drives a two-year-old BMW, which she takes to the dealership for all maintenance and repairs. Since the pandemic hit, she’s been working from home entirely, saving her vehicle from the wear and tear of a 30-mile daily commute.
      Traditionally, Mrs. Marble hasn’t supported the independent automotive aftermarket at all. But, she picked up a new hobby during the pandemic: car detailing. And her husband, who drives a 10-year-old Ford F-150, has decided not to purchase a new truck due to inventory shortages and skyrocketing prices on the showroom floor. Instead, Mr. Marble has been tackling delayed maintenance needs such as new brakes and a coolant flush. On top of that, the Marble family bought a new camper, which they’ve taken on 20 road trips since the pandemic started.
      Then there’s “Hailey.” Although she’s been working from home and driving less during the pandemic, the extra time at home inspired her to restore her 1966 Mustang that’s been sitting in the garage. Meanwhile, “Charles,” who lives in New York City (and previously didn’t own a vehicle), bought a car during the pandemic, because he can’t stand the prospect of using mass transit due to fears of being exposed to COVID.
      Nathan Shipley, executive director, industry analyst, for The NPD Group, used these fictional but “very real” examples to show how the pandemic has spurred major changes in consumer behavior – many of which have benefited the automotive aftermarket in a big way. During a presentation at AAPEX 2021 in Las Vegas, Shipley shared NPD Group data showing that the automotive aftermarket gained nearly 4 million new retail buyers in 2020.
      “That’s a big number,” Shipley said. “Those are folks who had not bought anything on the DIY side of the aftermarket prior to 2020, and all of a sudden magically appeared and were engaged with us as an industry.”
      Looking back, the whys behind the boom in DIY sales have become crystal clear: more time at home; a windfall of discretionary cash from stimulus checks, child-tax credits and (for some) extended unemployment benefits; an aversion to airplanes and public transportation; and cabin fever, which drove sales of RVs and boats to record levels.
      As Shipley discussed The NPD Group’s 2022 outlook for front-room retail sales in the automotive aftermarket, he noted a number of “mixed signals” on the horizon. On the positive side, the job market remains strong in the aftermath of the 2020 recession; COVID-inspired activities such as camping, boating and road trips are showing no signs of slowing down; and the new- and used-car marketplace is pushing consumers to keep their older vehicles on the road longer than planned.
      “There are more cars on the road now than ever,” Shipley added. “Scrappage rates are down. VIO is up. The average [vehicle] age is trending older because of what’s happening with new cars. Those are all nice tailwinds for the aftermarket.”
      However, there are a number of pandemic-era tailwinds that could become headwinds for the aftermarket in 2022 – notably the absence of stimulus payments and the expiration of the eviction moratorium, expanded unemployment benefits and student-loan forbearance. Shipley believes that many consumers likely will be surprised by a smaller-than-usual tax refund, because “they just don’t understand the mechanics” of the child-tax-credit payments that showed up in consumers’ bank accounts in 2021.
      And, while Shipley said he expects miles driven to return to 2019 levels this year, rising gasoline prices remain the ultimate wild card. At press time (Jan. 7), the average price of gasoline was $3.303 per gallon nationwide, according to AAA.
      “We can go back years … and there’s a direct correlation between gasoline prices and miles driven, notably when we get to gasoline-price thresholds of $3.50 a gallon, $4 a gallon,” Shipley added. “That’s when we start to really see – at least historically – major behavior changes as it relates to driving. So this has crept back into the conversation.”
      NPD’s data modeling for 2022 calls for U.S. aftermarket retail sales to pull back 5.7% from 2021 – a year in which sales were up nearly 8% compared to 2020. However, the 2022 forecast anticipates that aftermarket retail sales will be 8.5% higher this year than they were in 2019.
      “This is a bullish forecast,” Shipley said. “This is suggesting that 2021 was the peak, and things are going to keep trucking right along,” assuming there are no new sales-triggering events such as additional stimulus packages. 
      He added: “I think the big takeaway is that the fundamentals of this industry are very, very strong. We should feel very, very good about where we’re at as an industry. But, overall, we expect things to settle in just below where they were in 2021.”
      The post NPD Group Bullish On Retail Aftermarket For 2022 appeared first on Counterman Magazine.
      View the full article
    • By Counterman
      AMN/Counterman and Babcox Media are thrilled to kick off the nomination process for our third-annual “Women at the Wheel” celebration!
      For our May 2022 cover story, Women at the Wheel, we will be profiling some of today’s top female professionals leading the charge in the automotive aftermarket. 
      We are looking for candidates from the executive level to the counter pro to the shop owner who make a difference through innovation, business acumen or serving as a role model in the automotive aftermarket. 
      Click here to nominate a woman in your professional community who creates that spark. We can’t wait to share your stories. 
      The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, Feb. 4, 2022.
      The post Nominations Now Open For 2022 ‘Women At The Wheel’ appeared first on Counterman Magazine.
      View the full article
    • By Auto News
      SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 03, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- O’Reilly Automotive, Inc. (the “Company” or “O’Reilly”) (Nasdaq: ORLY), a leading retailer in the automotive aftermarket industry, announces the release date for its fourth quarter and full-year 2021 results as Wednesday, February 9, 2022, with a conference call to follow on Thursday, February 10, 2022.
      View the full article
    • By Counterman
      NRS Brakes recently launched new galvanized brake pads designed exclusively for late-model Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
      The galvanized brake pads are for the following makes and models: 2017-2020 Ford Fusion; 2015-2020 Ford Edge; 2017-2019 Ford Escape; 2017-2019 Lincoln Continental; 2016-2018 Lincoln MKX; 2018-2020 Lincoln MKZ; and the 2019-2020 Lincoln Nautilus.
      NRS Brakes is globally recognized for its premium, fully galvanized brake pads.
      “Like all brake pads from NRS Brakes, this new release features unparalleled semi-met friction, patented mechanical-attachment technology and fully galvanized-steel backing plates,” the company said in a news release. “The galvanized steel withstands rust and corrosion, meaning NRS brake pads require significantly fewer replacements than other aftermarket pads, making them the most affordable option based on total cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle.”
      The brake pads for all of the Ford and Lincoln models have undergone rigorous testing in one of the world’s most advanced brake-testing labs to ensure quality, efficiency and performance, according to the company.  
      To view a complete listing of NRS galvanized brake pads and vehicle compatibility, visit https://nrsbrakes.com/.
      The post NRS Launches Galvanized Brake Pads For Ford, Lincoln Models appeared first on Counterman Magazine.
      View the full article
    • Shop AutoPartsToys.com for all Your Car, Truck and SUV Accessories at Direct Factory Warehouse Pricing
    • By Counterman
      We deal with a LOT of electrical components on a daily basis, but equally important is the wiring that connects these components to the rest of their circuits. Sensors, switches, solenoids and actuators require electrical power to do their jobs. Quite often, though, our customers condemn the part we just sold them as “defective” when it doesn’t fix their issue.
      Considering the thousands of feet of wire in today’s automobiles, along with dozens of quick connectors and repair pigtails, sometimes it’s just a matter of bad wiring that causes our quality parts to look bad. Repairing these wires and connections requires only a handful of basic tools and some universal supplies, many of which we sell and stock every day.
      Electrical troubleshooting can be intimidating to the novice, and sometimes frustrating even for the professional. At its most basic level, all we really need is power at the correct voltage, and a ground to complete the circuit. Diagnostic tools of all kinds use basic electrical principles to help us find and isolate the problem. From the most advanced digital volt ohm meter (DVOM), right down to a homemade continuity tester made from wires and a light bulb, you’re looking for the potential to pass electricity through a circuit.
      The DVOM, also known as a “multimeter,” combines many of these tests into one handheld unit. It can test for continuity, resistance, voltage and amperage, giving the user the ability to diagnose issues in powered or ­­
      un-powered circuits. Specialized attachments can test spark plug wires, fuse blocks and even probe temperatures.
      The simple “ice-pick” continuity tester is sort of a “go/no-go” gauge to show if there is a break in a powered circuit. If a completed circuit is ON, it lights up. No lights? No power! The self-powered test light is similar to the continuity tester, but has its own power source, so it can be used on components that are disconnected from their circuit. These can be used to actuate solenoids and switches, and power other circuits for component testing.
      Once the problem in the circuit has been diagnosed, we must repair the fault in the circuit. If a standalone component is bad, we simply replace it with the appropriate cataloged part. If the fault is in the wiring or a connector, other tools and supplies will be required. For connector failures, technicians often simply connect a new pigtail to the existing wire ends, taking note of the position of each wire and its color coding. For wire failures, the technician would repair or replace the damaged section of wire.
      These wiring repairs can be done in many different ways, with varying results and quality.
      The most common type of wire repair is a “crimp” connection. A repair terminal or connector is attached to the wire end by stripping away approximately a half-inch of insulation, sliding the terminal over the bared wire and crimping it into place with a plier-type crimping tool. This is only a mechanical connection, and aside from twisting wires together by hand (NOT recommended, by the way!), this is the weakest and least effective type of wiring repair.
      The best method of inline wire repair is to twist the wires together and solder the joint, creating a conductive and solid connection that lasts much longer than crimp-type connections. This method requires additional tools and supplies: a soldering iron, rosin-core solder and heat-shrink tubing to insulate the soldered joint. An “in-between” alternative is the heat-shrink crimp connector, which is crimped in place, then heated to create a weather-resistant seal. A quality electrical tape can be used to protect crimped or soldered repairs, but heat-shrink provides better protection. Heat-shrinking can be achieved with a heat gun, or (carefully) with a disposable lighter or mini-torch.
      In addition to the most common diagnostic and hand tools, there are a wide array of specialty tools available for various wiring-repair tasks. Some of these are gimmicky, single-purpose tools, but others can be incredibly handy, like terminal-release tools. These special probes are used to release individual wire terminals from their connector housings, although small picks or screwdrivers can work in a pinch. These tools also are helpful for separating connectors from their mating components. Test leads, with pins or alligator clips, also are handy additions to the electrical toolkit, as well as a good variety of repair terminals, wire, tape and fuses.
      Most of these tools and supplies fall into the category of “non-catalog” ­parts, although pigtail connectors usually are found alongside the components to which they connect. Depending on the skill level of the individual
      customer, you may find yourself recommending one or more of these tools and repair supplies. Knowing these best practices, as well as what tools and supplies are necessary for a particular repair, allows us to recommend the most appropriate solutions, even if it isn’t the component your customer came in for originally!
      The post Selling Tools For Electrical Repairs appeared first on Counterman Magazine.
      View the full article
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