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How To: Prepare a Vehicle for Winter (Winterize Car, Truck, or SUV)


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    • By Counterman
      Counterman’s “
      link hidden, please login to view” contest challenges our readers to solve an automotive riddle, for a chance to win $100. And each month, we receive hundreds of responses from aftermarket professionals trying to guess the model of the vehicle depicted. The correct answer for the August/September contest is the Honda Clarity. The winner is Don Maloney, store manager at Carquest in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
      Now, let’s get to know the “Guess the Car” champion.
      CM: How long have you been working in the auto parts business?
      DM: About 15 years or so.
      CM: What do you like most about your job?
      DM: Talking to people about vehicles and helping them solve their problems – that’s usually the most fun. And you get to meet some very interesting people and hear some interesting analysis.
      CM: What’s the strangest question a customer has asked you?
      DM: What I like is the customer who comes in and buys oil and an oil filter and says, “OK, where do I pull the car around to get this done?” That’s probably the best question we get asked. We even get that question with belts and alternators and starters.
      CM: What’s the coolest car you’ve ever owned or worked on?
      DM: The coolest car I ever owned was a 1986 Mercedes 190E Cosworth. It was a four-door sedan with a Cosworth-built engine. It came standard with Recaro seats and a dogleg five-speed transmission. It was what they call a homologation car, which means that Mercedes had to build a certain number of these cars [for street use] and put them on the market for sale to qualify for a race series.
      CM: Do you have any interesting hobbies? What do you do for fun?
      DM:  When you have seven grandkids, you pretty much have your days off occupied. That is my hobby, pretty much.
      CM: What’s your dream car?
      DM: My dream car would be a Mercedes 190E Evolution. There may be a few floating around the United States, but way beyond anything I could ever afford.
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    • By Counterman
      In spite of the skyrocketing cost of fuel, I’m still looking forward to a couple of summer road trips. While there’s nothing we can do about the prices at the pump, keeping our vehicles properly maintained can help those gallons go further.
      Getting ready for a long trip is the perfect excuse (not that you really need one) for your customers to check off a number of maintenance items that can help make their time behind the wheel more enjoyable. It also can make it a little less expensive!
      Many people wait until the last moment to do a “pre-trip inspection.” How many times have you had a customer tell you that they need a laundry list of items “immediately” because they’re planning on leaving for a long trip “tomorrow?”
      Sometimes these requests are easy to fulfill, especially if they’re simple maintenance items. Other times, the customer really should have addressed the issue long before now! Either way, we can help in a number of ways to get them on their way safely and efficiently.
      While the traditional “tune-up” is fast becoming obsolete, one of the essential items from this service is still a common sale.
      Changing the engine air filter is a quick and easy way to ensure proper airflow into the engine, and that filter also is the first line of defense against dirt and other contaminants. A clogged, dirty or damaged filter also can expose the MAF sensor to contaminants that alter its signal to the PCM, which can lead to a rich condition, wasting fuel. Examination of the filter also can indicate if there are worn piston rings or a fault in the PCV system. While examining the air intake, also look for cracks or gaps in the tube between the airbox and the throttle body, which can allow unmetered air into the engine, skewing sensor readings and altering fuel efficiency.
      Changing the cabin air filter not only will make the trip more comfortable, but it also can potentially lessen the strain on the HVAC system. Turning up the A/C to compensate for a clogged cabin filter can increase the load on the belt-driven compressor and therefore the engine. While you’re at it, have a look at the belt(s) too. Worn, glazed or slipping belts can cause noise, friction and even cooling-system or charging-system issues – which may leave you on the roadside rather than at your destination.
      Battery condition and state-of-charge should be tested periodically, and a pre-trip inspection is a great time to offer this service to your customers. No-start conditions are inconvenient at any time, but can cause much more anxiety when you’re miles away from familiar territory or service providers.
      Breakdowns become more inconvenient and time-consuming if you’re travelling to your destination on a tight schedule, or if you’ve drawn the “late-night” driving shift. If you do break down after dark, having functioning lights (especially your four-way flashers) makes you more visible to passing motorists, as well as emergency service providers like police or roadside assistance.
      Lighting and visibility checks also should include topping off the washer solvent, making sure your washer nozzles and pump are functioning correctly and changing wiper blades as needed, including the rear blade (if equipped).
      Fluids, filters, belts, wipers and electrical items all are tangible products, but one of the most important road-trip essentials is actually invisible … AIR! Properly inflated tires can have positive effects on fuel mileage, handling, braking and even passenger ride quality. Most of the vehicles on the road today have TPMS sensors to keep tabs on the tires, but it’s not a bad idea to get out the old-fashioned tire gauge now and then to double-check their calibration. On most vehicles, the spare tire is not TPMS-equipped, and should be checked manually for proper inflation.
      If a vehicle is not equipped with a spare, verify that the on-board compressor or emergency fix-a flat is accounted for!
      Speaking of inflation, the cost of the old “penny test” for tread depth has gone up to 25 cents. The old rule of thumb was that if you placed a penny into your tire tread, the top of Lincoln’s head should NOT be visible on a good tire. The distance from the edge of a penny to the top of Abe’s head equates to a tread depth of 2/32 of an inch, which is the DOT minimum before recommended replacement.
      Many tire manufacturers now recommend the use of a quarter for this “test.” The top of George’s head is 4/32 from the edge of a quarter, which gives consumers a little more warning before needing to discard their current tires. I still prefer to use an actual tread-depth gauge, but pocket change still works in a pinch. Wherever the destination this summer, your customers can save money, save fuel and save time by spending a little on preventative maintenance before they pack the car and pull out of the driveway!
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    • By Counterman
      I swore for years that I would never buy a brand-new car. I didn’t even want to make a car payment. You see, I’ve always owned cheap (read “broken”) cars. The way I see it, you either make a monthly payment to the bank, or to the parts store. Since I’ve been working on cars for most of my adult life, it made more sense to keep driving cheap cars and doing the work myself.
      That all changed when my 2003 Nissan Altima left me stranded on the side of the highway on my way to pick up my daughter from daycare. I was so thankful she wasn’t in the car with me yet; it was icy, snowy and just downright dangerous.
      I started looking for a new (to me) car that night. I couldn’t justify driving half-busted cars any longer, and I certainly didn’t want to put my then-3-year-old daughter in danger.
      Thanks, COVID …
      Fast forward a month or two, and it’s March 2020. Ohio shuts down, and there’s a lot of uncertainty. I was still searching for a newer car to buy at this point, and I was leaning toward a gently used VW Golf Alltrack. Then, in April 2020, VW offered 0% financing on its new cars.
      When I did the math, the payment on a new one was the same as the payment on a used one. So, I hurried up and scooped up a brand-new 2019 Alltrack, and it’s been my primary vehicle ever since. Mind you, this is the first nice car I’ve ever owned, and I was pretty excited to drive something that was still covered under warranty. But my inner car guy has a lot of influence, and before long I started to make some upgrades.
      Upgrades
      It started out slow. First, a set of WeatherTech floor mats. Then, I picked up some protective film for the headlights, taillights and fog lights. Next, I bought an auto-dimming rearview mirror with built-in HomeLink garage-door-opener functionality. I bought an entire arsenal of car-cleaning products, from microfiber towels to a DIY ceramic coating kit. This was the first nice vehicle I’d ever owned, and I wanted to protect my investment!
      Then the “real” upgrades started. Bigger front and rear sway bars helped to keep the body roll in check, and completely transformed the way the car drove around a corner. Aluminum skid plates underneath for added protection from whatever the roads in Ohio could throw at me. A set of projector headlights with HID lighting gave me unparalleled nighttime visibility. Then, I got the opportunity to test out a prototype 1.25-inch lift kit. Sure, it’s not much, but a touch of added ground clearance is always nice. It also brings the car up to the height that it should have been from the factory, in my opinion at least.
      The truth is, I simply can’t leave a vehicle alone. I have to make it my own, one way or another. But I enjoy the process, and it’s satisfying to watch it slowly evolve into exactly what I want it to be. I share this to help you get inside the minds of some of your more passionate DIY customers.
      Growing Opportunity
      I can’t help but look for things to change, upgrade or improve whenever I buy a vehicle. Doing this might not make sense to everyone, but it’s how I make my vehicles better for me. However, I suspect that I’m not alone in this mindset.
      With new-vehicle prices skyrocketing, it makes sense that someone might choose to repair or upgrade their current vehicle instead of trading it in for something else. And that’s a huge opportunity for the automotive aftermarket.
      According to the 2022 SEMA Market Report, U.S. consumers spent a whopping $50.9 billion on accessorizing and modifying their vehicles last year – an all-time high for specialty-equipment sales. Trucks are a major driving force behind this sales trend, accounting for nearly one-third of those sales.
      Considering that the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for many years – and the top three best-selling vehicles in 2021 were pickup trucks – this should come as no surprise. According to the SEMA report, sales of “utility accessories” such as truck bedliners, truck caps, racks, truck-bed covers and trailer and towing products are expected to grow from $3.79 billion in 2021 to $3.87 billion this year. If you’re not stocking truck accessories, you might want to give this category another look.
      Here’s the bottom line: Every time somebody buys a new or used vehicle, there’s an opportunity for us as counter pros to help them find the accessories they need. The question is, what are you doing to capitalize on this exciting category?
      The post
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    • By Counterman
      Well this is a first.
      Apparently, after months of easy puzzles, the August/September “Guess the Car” contest has stumped our readers.
      So far, Counterman hasn’t received any correct answers. However, we’ve seen some excellent guesses, and we can tell you this: Some of you are on the right track.
      The woman in the picture is having an “aha moment.” That much is obvious. But how does that translate into the name of a vehicle model?
      Here are a few answers that are close but not correct:
      Fiat Idea GM Bright Idea Honda Insight If we don’t receive any correct answers in the next week or two, we’ll provide more clues to help you gain some clarity on the current puzzle.
      The post
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    • DIY like a pro! Shop from over 1,000,000 Repair Manuals at eManualOnline.com! As low as $14.99 per manual. Shop now.


      DIY like a pro! Shop from over 1,000,000 Repair Manuals at eManualOnline.com! As low as $14.99 per manual. Shop now.


      DIY like a pro! Shop from over 1,000,000 Repair Manuals at eManualOnline.com! As low as $14.99 per manual. Shop now.

    • By OReilly Auto Parts
      How To: Choose the Best Car Battery
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