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How To: Prepare Your Diesel For Winter (Winterize)


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    • By Counterman
      When I hear the term diesel, the first thing I always picture in my mind is an 18-wheeler. Then my thoughts drift to gleaming chrome stacks, tons of load-hauling torque and the sounds of a semi-truck. The next thing you know I’m kicking back to watch the greatest trucking movie of all time, “Convoy,” for what’s probably the 10th time.
      I’m sure it’s generational, because growing up, diesel engines were only popular in heavy-duty trucks. Whether the big rigs defined the persona of a diesel engine or vise-versa I’m not sure, but to me the term “diesel” always has been synonymous with power and strength. So, what’s a light diesel? It seems like a contradiction of terms to me.
      A light diesel in the simplest way of thinking is anything diesel-powered that resides in someone’s driveway as daily transportation, including everything from cars to pickup trucks. The true definition gets a little muddy at a certain point because the federal standards have different weight cut-offs for their light-truck classifications.
      Using these standards, most full-size pickup trucks are all considered light-duty, even when they’re equipped with torque-monster diesel engines. But, if it’s a dually crew-cab 1-ton, it just might make it into the heavy-duty classification. Either way, it really doesn’t matter. Parts are parts, and if they’re driving it and fixing it, they’ll look to you – the counter professional – for what they need.
      Diesel Drill-Down
      As with any subject, knowledge gives you the power to sell, so I’ll start with what’s different about a diesel. There are three things that diesels are typically known for: fuel economy; lots of power; and long life.
      Why does a diesel engine get better fuel economy? Diesel fuel has a higher energy density than gasoline. This means that it takes less of it to produce the same amount of power resulting from combustion. Diesel engines also have much higher compression ratios than gasoline because the fuel is ignited by the heat of compression, and higher compression ratios in general lead to increased combustion efficiency.
      Why do they produce more power? Although modern diesel engines have the ability to produce incredibly high horsepower numbers, the “power” normally associated with a diesel engine is actually high torque. Torque is low rpm power for pulling, and horsepower is the high rpm power for acceleration. Diesel trucks are designed for pulling, which is why torque is so important.
      When the air/fuel mixture burns in a gasoline engine, it burns quickly, and the force of the expanding gasses drives the piston down in the cylinder. This creates power. However, once the air/fuel mixture has burned and the piston is traveling downward, the further down it goes, the less force is exerted upon it.
      Diesel fuel burns slowly. When the combustion process begins, the force of the expanding gasses pushes the piston downwards, but the air/fuel mixture continues to burn as the piston travels downward, exerting continuous force on the piston until it nears the bottom of the stroke. This continuous force on the piston is why diesel engines produce so much torque. Modern electronic control of diesel-fuel systems has allowed them to precisely control fuel-injection time to maximize this effect.
      Do they really last longer? As long as they’re properly maintained, yes – and here’s why. Gasoline is a harsh solvent with no lubricity. It wreaks havoc on everything it comes into contact with, including the inside of the cylinders in an engine. Diesel fuel, on the other hand, has a high level of lubricity, drastically reducing cylinder wear.
      Another reason for increased longevity also has to do with the slower speed in which the diesel fuel burns. The combustion of gasoline is a violent process that applies incredible stresses on the rotating assembly, whereas the diesel-fuel combustion process is less violent, applying a steady, continuous downward force on the piston.
      Then there’s temperature. Diesel fuel ignites at a lower temperature than gasoline, so combustion temperatures, as well as exhaust temperatures, are lower. And finally, there’s construction. Because of the higher compression ratios, diesel engines are built stronger and sturdier from the block and heads to the rotating assembly, often with increased oil capacity and improved oiling systems.
      Sales Opportunities
      In recent years, there’s been turmoil and scandal related to diesel-powered vehicles, and now there’s plenty of speculation that the end of the diesel isn’t too far off. But diesel owners aren’t ready to give up – meaning parts opportunities abound. With fewer diesel vehicles available, there will be a stronger push to keep the current ones on the road.
      Some areas of repair – such as timing belts, water pumps and hoses – ultimately don’t differ from a gasoline vehicle. However, an area where you can capitalize is maintenance. Diesel engines can last a long time, and that longer service life extends the opportunity to sell maintenance items.
      Fuel Treatment
      An immediate area to take advantage of is fuel treatment. The fuel system is the heart of a diesel. Fuel quantity controls engine speed. There’s no ignition system, and there’s no air-volume control or throttle plates like those on a gasoline vehicle. (In case a customer decides to call you out, there are some diesels with throttle plates, but they don’t have anything to do with controlling engine speed – they only smooth out engine shutdown and increase exhaust-gas recirculation.)
      Diesels have complex and expensive injection pumps and injectors. Not only does diesel fuel extend cylinder life with its lubricity, but it also preserves the life of the fuel system itself.
      The problem is that in order to reduce air pollution, ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel was introduced in 2006. By losing the sulfur, diesel fuel also lost the majority of its lubricity. This can be, will be and has been a big problem. Diesel-fuel treatments add back this lubricity, and while they may seem expensive to a customer, a small bottle treats many gallons, and if it’s properly measured, it ultimately only results in a minor fuel-cost increase.
      Cold-weather performance is another problem. Diesel fuel has always had a tendency to gel in extremely cold temperatures, and the loss of sulfur has made it worse. Diesel-fuel additives will combat this problem as well. Additives also battle cylinder deposits, and on a diesel engine these deposits soak up diesel fuel and effect fuel economy. Fuel additives should be recommended for continuous use.
      Filters
      Next on the easy-sell list is filters. Air filters fall under standard replacement guidelines that you’re used to, but fuel filters are an area to concentrate on. Contaminants can be very damaging to diesel-fuel pumps and injectors, and water accumulation in diesel fuel is a common problem. Diesel fuel often is stored for longer periods of time than gasoline, and the water accumulation is a result of condensation from temperature change.
      For this reason, almost every piece of heavy equipment has an individual water separator, and even many small diesel cars have water-drain valves in the bottom of their fuel filters. Generally, water accumulation isn’t a problem at larger-volume gas stations, but there’s no way of knowing for sure, so it’s better to err on the side of caution. Diesel-fuel filters should be replaced at least once a year.
      Performance
      Performance upgrades are common among diesel enthusiasts – especially intake and exhaust systems – but it can be a difficult market to get into since there are so many different options and applications. The best opportunities lie with accessories and upgrades that fit all models, such as gauges, lighting and interior accessories.
      Oil Changes
      When diesel fuel burns, it leaves behind black soot. This soot finds its way past the piston rings into the crankcase and turns the engine oil black. Even when changing the oil, there’s almost always enough residual oil in the pan and throughout the engine that the new oil is black almost immediately. The soot doesn’t harm the properties and performance of the oil, but think of it like any dirt particles: If there’s too much of it, the oil performance will degrade.
      It’s easy to see oil condition on the dipstick of a gasoline engine, but on a diesel there’s no way of telling. It’s critical for vehicle owners to document oil-change mileage so they don’t go over. It’s best to follow manufacturer recommendations for oil type, and it’s a good idea to recommend a high-quality oil filter. While diesel-powered cars typically have standard oil capacities, many pickup trucks have much higher capacities – sometimes 10 quarts or more. If your customer isn’t sure, take the extra step of looking it up so they don’t get home and end up short.
      Cleanup
      If your customer is doing an oil change, this is the perfect time to sell latex gloves, disposable rags and other cleaning supplies. Diesel oil will stain your hands for an entire day, and it doesn’t help the look of your garage floor either. We always should wear gloves to protect our skin during an oil change, but admittedly I don’t always do that on a gasoline vehicle. Diesel is a different story.
      Diesel Exhaust Fluid
      For the 2010 model year, the EPA mandated that diesel engines reduce the production of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which is linked to the formation of acid rain and smog. Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is what allowed manufacturers to meet these requirements. DEF is a solution of urea and deionized water that’s injected into the exhaust system before the catalytic converter. The chemical reaction forms ammonia, which then works in conjunction with the catalyst to convert NOx into nitrogen and water.
      It’s ultimately a simple solution, but diesel owners need to keep the DEF reservoirs full. If the DEF runs out, the vehicle will not start. If they’re running, they won’t quit, but often go into a low-power mode.
      Block Heaters
      Historically, diesel engines were known for difficult cold-weather starting, since the heat of compression ignites the fuel. Modern combustion-chamber design and technology have greatly improved this problem, but in the far northern regions of the United States and in Canada, diesel owners often don’t have a choice but to install a block heater. Even in areas where starting isn’t a problem, block heaters are popular in the winter since diesel engines take a long time to warm up.
      There are two different types of heaters. Most factory-style heaters are designed to fit directly into the engine block in place of a casting plug, which places a heating element directly into the engine coolant. This is generally the preferred method, as it’s the most effective.
      The second type of block heater is designed to mount flat on the bottom of an oil pan. The heat travels up through the pan and warms the engine oil. These are effective, but only given that they fit the pan properly and are out of harm’s way. Some factory applications are designed like this, but aftermarket designs are intended to be “universal,” and they don’t always work as well. Familiarize yourself with the heaters you have in stock, and what they fit, or where you can locate an application chart. Most people shopping for a block heater will know they want one – it’ll be an easy sale – but getting the correct one for the application is the hardest part.
      Tips for Your Customers
      The best advice you can give your customers is explaining the importance of diesel maintenance. A critical tip, however, involves replacement of a diesel-fuel filter. When a diesel runs out of fuel, air is drawn into the lines, and they simply won’t start until the air is bled out. Cranking the engine won’t do anything except overheat the starter.
      Some diesel trucks and heavy equipment are equipped with primers, such as those you may be familiar with on small engines. They’re designed to draw fuel from the tank and fill the filter and pump. Some newer vehicles have electronic primers that do this when the key is cycled on, but many diesel-powered cars don’t have either of these features. When the fuel filter is replaced, it needs to be filled with diesel fuel before connecting the lines. It often requires a small funnel, and it can take a few minutes to get it done, but it’s mandatory.
      Seasoned diesel owners should be familiar with fuel-filter replacement, but it never hurts to ask and make sure they are. You can save your customer a lot of trouble.
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    • By Counterman
      The University of the Aftermarket Foundation (UAF) has introduced a new corporate-support aspect to its popular UAF Coffee Club recurring-donor program.
      Called the BARISTA level, the new donor program provides organizations with a pathway to join individual donors in “pouring it forward” to benefit of the automotive aftermarket through education.
      “We are excited to offer this unique new program to give aftermarket organizations a chance to ‘expresso’ their support and help provide scholarships and educational opportunities for the next generation of industry professionals,” said Mike Buzzard, UAF trustee and chairman of the UAF Coffee Club sub-committee.
      Organizations that donate a minimum of $3,600 to the UAF that is earmarked for the Coffee Club campaign will be recognized as BARISTA at the UAF Coffee Club event during AAPEX on signage, the UAF Website, UAF newsletter and other UAF communications. BARISTA donations apply toward Lifetime Trustee status.
      “BARISTA donors will join UAF Coffee Club members at a special networking event at AAPEX which has proven to provide a valuable venue and professional connection springboard for those new to aftermarket careers to interact with industry veterans,” said Buzzard.
      To learn more and become a BARISTA, contact UAF Executive Director Jennifer Tio at [email protected] For more information about the University of the Aftermarket Foundation and its available scholarships, or to make a donation, visit
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    • By Counterman
      The process of cooling the inside of a vehicle is the same process that’s used to cool your home, and they both include the same basic elements: a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator and a system of hoses or tubes. In both situations, the A/C system isn’t producing fresh cold air. Instead, the system is taking existing hot air, removing the heat and moisture, and recirculating it as cold air. 
      While all of the components play an important role, the process wouldn’t be possible without refrigerant. The reason the system uses refrigerant instead of say, water, is because refrigerant has a very low boiling point. So, it’s easy to boil the refrigerant into a vapor – which enables it to quickly remove heat from the air – and to repeat this process over and over.
      Up until the mid-1990s, the most widely used refrigerant was CFC-12, which most people refer to as R-12. The EPA considers R-12 an ozone-depleting chemical and a potent greenhouse gas.
      In the United States, R-12 has been banned for use in newly manufactured vehicles since 1994, but you might come across some pre-1994 cars and trucks that still use it if they haven’t been retrofitted to a non-ozone-depleting refrigerant. And if they haven’t, you might want to recommend a retrofit parts kit if your store carries them.
      Vehicles produced after 1994 use HFC-134a, more commonly known as R-134a. While R-134a isn’t considered an ozone-depleting refrigerant, it is a hydrofluorocarbon, which is a group that generally poses a very high potential to contribute to climate change, according to the EPA. This is commonly referred to as GWP, or global-warming potential. Automakers began transitioning to R-134a with 1992 model-year vehicles, and by the 1995 model year, all new vehicles sold with air conditioners in the United States used R-134a.
      Starting in 2012, the automakers began shifting to HFO-1234yf, more commonly known as R-1234yf. This is a far more environmentally friendly alternative to the aforementioned refrigerants. While R-1234yf is mildly flammable, it isn’t considered an ozone-depleting refrigerant. According to the EPA website, R-1234yf has a GWP of 4, compared to 1,430 for R-134a.
      The Chemours Company, which manufacturers Opteon YF refrigerant for automotive A/C systems, estimates that more than 80 million light-duty vehicles on the road today in the United States were factory-filled with R-1234yf refrigerant. That number will continue to grow, as Chemours estimates that 95% of vehicles manufactured for sale in 2022 will use R-1234yf as part of their original-equipment design.
      “The advantage with R-1234yf is that it has a zero ozone-depletion potential, and it has an exceptionally low global-warming potential,” says Christina Spalding, business development manager, thermal & specialized solutions, at Chemours. “This is why we’ve seen a significant number of U.S. car manufacturers converge on R-1234yf, even though fundamentally there’s no mandate requiring them to do so.”
      Chrysler was an early adopter of R-1234yf, going all the way back to the 2014 model year. The list of automakers using R-1234yf in vehicle models in the United States today includes Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and others.
      It’s just a matter of time before R-1234yf is found in the majority of vehicles in the overall U.S. fleet, explains Constantine Giannaris, North American mobile marketing consultant for thermal & specialized solutions at Chemours.
      “We encourage retail stores and shop owners to make the investment [in R-1234yf supplies] sooner rather than later to begin reaping the benefits now and into the future,” he adds.
      Aftermarket Opportunities
      While working on R-1234yf systems isn’t much different from R-134a systems in terms of operation or theory, identifying the refrigerant and recharging the system have some new twists.
      To determine if a vehicle was factory-filled with R-1234yf, there’s a label under the hood that indicates the type of refrigerant that the vehicle uses. (This information also is available in the owner’s manual.) This is an important point, because it’s illegal to use R-134a in vehicle that was factory-filled with R-1234yf.
      If your store isn’t seeing a lot of demand for R-1234yf yet, an easy to way to dip your toe in the water is to stock R-1234yf cans. Chemours offers its Opteon YF automotive refrigerant in self-sealing 12-ounce and 28-ounce cans. Purchasing R-1234yf in a can doesn’t require EPA 609 Technician Training and Certification, which means anyone can purchase them. However, DIY demand for R-1234yf is small compared to the more mature R-134a DIY market.
      Even so, you might have some DIY customers who want to “top off” their R-1234yf systems. In these situations, make sure your customers know that they won’t be able to use an R-134a charging hose to connect to the service port on an R-1234yf vehicle. While R-134a and R-1234yf air-conditioning systems are very similar in terms of their overall design, the respective service ports are different, to prevent the refrigerants from being mixed. To recharge an R-1234yf system, your DIY customers will need a gauge-and-hose set with hose couplers that fit an R-1234yf service port – another potential sales opportunity for your store. 
      That said, you also might want to tell your customers that simply topping off the refrigerant might not solve the problem if the air conditioning isn’t working. It could be a mechanical or electrical issue, or a refrigerant leak (the most common cause of cooling problems). If a refrigerant leak is suspected, you can recommend an ultraviolet leak-detection dye or an electronic leak-detector tool. There are some kits out there that include the dye, the injection gun, UV glasses and even a fluorescent light to help them find the leak.
      On the DIFM side, your professional customers will need a new recover/recycle/recharge (RRR) machine to service R-1234yf vehicles, although there are some machines on the market that can service R-134a and R-1234yf vehicles.
      Chemours Opteon YF offers 10-pound and 25-pound cylinders for use with RRR machines. The cylinders are for professional technicians, as they need EPA Section 609 certification to purchase them. The 10-pound cylinders by far are the most popular, according to Giannaris.
      With approximately 15 million R-1234yf passenger vehicles coming out of their factory warranty each year, aftermarket demand for R-1234yf refills and service is growing steadily. For parts stores that haven’t started stocking R-1234yf cylinders yet, Spalding recommends “planting the seeds” with their DIFM customers.
      “If you’re selling cylinders of R-134a, those are potential customers for cylinders of R-1234yf,” Spalding says. “Ask your customers if they are seeing the increase in vehicles containing yf at their shops. I think there is a lot that a retailer can bring to their customers in terms of educating them about how the market is changing and how the fleet is changing. If you recognize a customer has been purchasing R-134a from you for quite some time, asking them how you can help them transition to R-1234yf can go a long way.”
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    • By Counterman
      Advance Auto Parts is celebrating 90 years of helping motorists advance on the road by inviting consumers to share their most memorable moments behind the wheel.
      In celebration of its “Advanceiversary,” the brand is curating consumers’ most memorable moments on the road for the chance to win a year’s worth of free gasoline and possibly have their road trip recreated. Additionally, Advance is offering quadruple gas rewards now through July 20.
      Through July 31, Advance’s “Drive of Your Life” campaign invites motorists to share their most memorable drives – from cross-country vacations with family or friends … to riding in the homecoming court … to traveling to your team’s bitter rival (and winning!) … to pulling in the driveway of your first home for the first time … to just putting the top down and feeling the breeze when you needed it most.
      To submit the Drive of Your Life, motorists should visit
      link hidden, please login to view or post on Twitter or Instagram, using #DriveOfYourLifeContest and tagging @advanceauto or @advanceautoparts respectively, now through July 31. From those who post, Advance will select and announce each day beginning July 14 one consumer who will receive free Shell gasoline for a year. After the contest ends, Advance will hit the road to recreate select motorists’ drives of their lives.
      “When we reflect on 90 years of commitment to customer care and confidence, we think about our journey behind the many miles we’ve helped motorists advance – both on the road and in their lives,” said Jason McDonell, Advance’s executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and e-commerce. “But even more so, we think about the inspiring, personal stories of those drives. We all have that one drive we’ll never forget – the ‘Drive of Your Life.’ To celebrate our last 90 years and inspire our next 90, we want to hear yours.”
      Advance founder Arthur Taubman was a pioneer in curbside service, beginning the practice by installing tires upon purchase outside the store he worked. This is the root of inspiration for many of the services Advance offers today, including free battery and wiper-blade checks and installation, along with a leading parts selection that caters to motorists’ many needs, the company noted.
      With the price of gasoline hovering around a record national average and the average vehicle age rising, Advance’s celebration comes at a time when motorists face challenges to create new memories on the road after two summers of uncertainty.
      To further help motorists save this summer, all existing and new Advance Speed Perks Gas Rewards members will earn 20 cents off each gallon of gas for a single fill-up at participating Shell stations for every $50 spent at Advance stores across the country between July 13 and 20.

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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.

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