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Which Wiper Blades Are Right For My Vehicle?


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    • By Counterman
      It pains me to admit it, but snowy weather is just around the corner. And with that winter weather comes seasonal challenges – as well as sales opportunities.
      In all my years behind the parts counter, there were two types of days that I would dread: heavy snowfall and heavy rainfall. Why? Because in either case, I knew that the store was going to be chock full of customers who have been putting off buying new wiper blades.
      I also knew that since my store offered free wiper installation – like most stores do these days – I would end up soaking wet from the rain, or frozen stiff from the snow and ice while I worked on the vehicle in the parking lot outside.
      I don’t know about you, but I found that upselling a customer in this position was exceedingly difficult. They’re usually in a rush, and are more likely to say, “Just give me the cheap ones,” or, “I’ll get the better wipers next time.” We’ve all heard those objections before. How do we overcome them?
      Don’t Wait, Ask!
      I would talk about wiper blades at every opportunity with customers. It was sort of my own way to kill time while I was waiting for the computer to open up the catalog. I would ask, “So, how are your wipers holding up? Did they keep the windshield clear when it rained last week?” Doing this would help to jog their memory, reminding them that their wipers were streaking, chattering or just simply failing to clear the windshield. They might not have walked into the store expecting to buy wipers, but they were more receptive to the idea once I helped them to remember that they needed them.
      This scenario happened day in and day out, and best of all I was able to upsell a number of those customers into a nicer set of beam-style wipers or convince them to pick up a gallon of washer fluid as well. These may seem like small victories, but they add up to a healthier profit margin for the entire store. I remember that our margin would dip on those really snowy or rainy days, mostly due to the smaller margin we made on the wiper blades by themselves.
      Installation Tips
      I installed a lot of wiper blades in my years behind the counter. Customers often would comment on how quickly I’d get it done, but it became more muscle memory than a conscious effort over time. We all know that wipers are easy to install, but customers don’t always know how to do it. If we can step in and install them – and get the customers on their way quickly – that’s a win-win for everyone.
      When it comes to installing wipers, there are a few things I’ve learned. First, most wiper blades will come with a small alcohol wipe inside the packaging. Don’t throw it away! Use it to wipe off any dirt or debris from the windshield where the wiper blades park. This part only takes a second or two, but it goes a long way toward ensuring that those new wiper blades won’t smear tree sap, dirt, mud or whatever else may be on the glass all over your customer’s field of vision.
      Second, when you lift the wiper arm up to access the blade, note any resistance or corrosion along the hinges. If those hinges start to bind up, it may not be able to apply adequate pressure to press the blade against the windshield.
      Finally, don’t forget about the rear wiper! SUVs, wagons and hatchbacks probably will have a small wiper for the rear glass, and these can easily be forgotten by the customer. As a matter of fact, I had a number of customers who didn’t know how to turn the rear wiper on in their vehicle, and they’d owned it for years! They really appreciated it when I took a moment to show them how to use it, and I hope they remembered what I’d said the next time it rained!
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    • By Counterman
      The stage is set for a unique initiative from Babcox Media, in partnership with AAPEX, to shine a spotlight on today’s most dynamic performers across the vehicle care industry – individuals who, to put it simply, rock!
      That’s the premise behind Vehicle Care RockStars, a brand dedicated to celebrating the vehicle care industry and the array of channels it serves. Babcox Media unveiled the platform with a special announcement and video during the keynote session of the 2022 Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas.
      Vehicle Care RockStars promises to honor today’s vehicle care professionals held in the highest esteem for their accomplishments, leadership, innovations – and other intangibles that distinguish their work in specific industry categories. They’re visionaries and influencers in all of the following markets:
      Aftermarket Distribution & Repair Tire Dealers & Distributors Transmission Collision Repair Heavy Duty New Car Dealers Powersports, Performance Car Wash Tools & Equipment The inaugural class of RockStars will be featured throughout 2023. Honorees will be celebrated, recognized and profiled in all of Babcox Media’s brands and channels, including websites, e-newsletters, webinars, podcasts, videocasts, social media platforms and magazines.
      “Let’s bring to center stage the incredible individuals of today who rock their respective vehicle care categories,” said Bill Babcox, CEO of Babcox Media. “We’re excited to debut the Vehicle Care RockStars brand that acknowledges these industry superstars –and allows them to take the bow they so richly deserve.”
      Nominations officially opened Nov. 1 for the Class of 2023 Vehicle Care RockStars. The Selection Committee will be led by industry veteran Jay Burkhart and supported by the Babcox Media content team. Burkhart said, “We are excited to recognize RockStars who are moving the needle in today’s marketplace.”
      To nominate a Vehicle Care RockStar, or for additional information, visit:
      link hidden, please login to view. For those about to rock … Babcox Media salutes you!
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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
      In November 2020, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved an update to the state’s landmark Right to Repair law, requiring automakers to provide a platform that enables motorists to access and control their vehicles’ telematics data.
      While the passage of Ballot Question 1 was a huge win for the automotive aftermarket, it’s unclear when the provisions of the legislation will see the light of day.
      After voters approved the ballot measure by a 75% to 25% margin, a coalition of automakers – the Alliance for Automotive Innovation – filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ballot question based on a litany of allegations, including cybersecurity concerns; insufficient time to comply with the new data-access requirements; and their contention that the ballot initiative is preempted by federal law.
      Over the past two years, the automakers have managed to keep the case tied up in court. Attorney General Maura Healey has idled the legislation until the lawsuit is resolved.
      Recently, it was reported that the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and the state attorney general’s office have submitted scheduling proposals for further proceedings in the litigation.
      In its proposal, the
      link hidden, please login to view states: “While it remains the plaintiff’s position that the OEMs cannot comply with the plain language of the Data Access Law without violating their safety obligations under the Vehicle Safety Act, plaintiff understood the court to request a more robust discussion of the statutory interpretation issues that hopefully could narrow areas of disagreement. We are not off to an encouraging start. Worse, the attorney general couples her reiterated interpretations with an accelerated schedule that will ensure this endeavor fails. The attorney general’s proposed schedule simply does not allow time for a deeper dive on these interpretation questions.” The alliance proposed being given until Sept. 22 to review and reply to the AG’s proposal with the hopes of conferring and submitting a single clarified document on or before Oct. 14.
      “It’s been nearly two years since the people of Massachusetts voiced their strong desire for more choice and competition when it comes to auto repairs,” Justin Rzepka, executive director of the CAR Coalition, said in response to the latest activity in the case. “As this case continues to drag on, Congress cannot wait – it must act on federal Right to Repair solutions, like the REPAIR and SMART Acts, to restore choice and empower businesses to service car owners that want options.”
      Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Underserved, Agricultural, and Rural Business Development will hold a 
      link hidden, please login to view on Right to Repair at 10 a.m. EST on Wed., Sept. 14. Witnesses include the executive director of the Repair Association, which  link hidden, please login to view, along with representatives from a New Hampshire-based tech shop and Maine family farm. 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 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?
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