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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 October/November contest is the AMC Javelin. The winner is George Widmer IV, an ASE P2-certified parts pro at Parts Authority in Norcross, Georgia.
      Now, let’s get to know the “Guess the Car” champion.
      CM: How long have you been working in the auto parts business?
      GW: Since 2001. I started off as a stock clerk my junior year of high school and I worked my way up from there.
      CM: What do you like most about your job?
      GW: The interaction with customers. Building a relationship with our regular customers and dealing with the general public.
      CM: What’s the strangest question a customer has asked you?
      GW: I had a customer asking for the Firebird emblem for a ‘77 Trans Am. He was restoring it, and [the emblem] was old and it was peeling off. He just happened to call us up. I told him we didn’t have anything like that here, but I’ll see if I can get one. I outsourced one and got it for him. He’s been a customer ever since for the last three years.
      CM: What’s the coolest car you’ve ever owned or worked on?
      GW: My dad was a technician for a Pontiac dealer for 30 years. I would say the coolest car I’ve ever owned was my first vehicle, which was a 1986 Chevy S-10 pickup that we customized. We lowered it, painted it, put 18-inch wheels on it, added a custom stereo, and it was all done by me and him. It was a father-son bonding kind of thing that was really special.
      CM: Do you have any interesting hobbies? What do you do for fun?
      GW: I’m a big video gamer, and I collect model cars and model trains. I’m a devoted fan of NHRA; I’ve been to eight different tracks and I’m looking forward to attending a ninth track in 2023. I’m also a world history and football/soccer reader.
      CM: What’s your dream car?
      GW: We’ll go with my top two. The first one would be a 1971 Pontiac Trans Am in cameo white. The second one would be a 1956 Porsche Speedster in polyantha red; that’s an extremely rare color. The Pontiac was because my dad worked at a Pontiac dealership, and I’ve always had an interest in air-cooled Porches and Volkswagens.
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    • By APF
      link hidden, please login to view Source: 
      link hidden, please login to view Activist investors targeting auto-parts retailers are taking hits to their investments, and Amazon isn’t helping.
      When hedge fund Starboard Value LP disclosed a stake in Advance Auto Parts Inc. in 2015, it said the stock, then at $171, could more than double. The retailer’s shares have instead nearly halved since then, after warning weak sales will continue for an industry that’s also drawn interest from billionaire Carl Icahn. Advance Auto’s peers O’Reilly Automotive Inc. and AutoZone Inc. also have also plunged this year amid disappointing demand.
      SOURCE: BARCHART
      Perhaps the biggest bogeyman weighing on the shares is Amazon.com Inc., which sent shockwaves across the retail industry in June with its $13.7-billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. The online juggernaut has also been making inroads with autos, launching a car-research site and a parts marketplace last year. While car-part distributors -- with their technical expertise, trove of components and ability to quickly deliver to mechanics -- are more insulated from e-commerce than other retailers, though they’re not invincible.
      “We fear an increased level of price transparency -- these companies either more aggressively price or promote their products to drive the same level of sales growth,” Seth Basham, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said of the auto-parts retailers. “I don’t think it’s a primary driver of what’s been hurting same-store sales in the industry this year, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a bigger impact going forward.”
      Investor Interest
      The more immediate challenges dragging on the industry include economic uncertainty for low-income customers, higher gas prices and warmer weather that has eased the wear and tear on consumers’ cars, Advance Auto Chief Executive Officer Tom Greco said Tuesday.
      Starboard’s view is that Amazon is a mild headwind -- at most -- to the industry, a person familiar with its strategy said. The New York-based hedge fund is pleased with Advance Auto’s efforts to cut costs and bolster its online presence and sees earnings improving early next year, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.
      Further encroachment by online rivals could pose a threat to industry profit margins that are in excess of 20 per cent -- part of what initially drew investors like Starboard and Icahn to the aftermarket parts business.
      With the average age of vehicles on American roads approaching 12 years, investors also are betting an older vehicle fleet will mean more repairs and parts replacement. To capture that expected growth, Icahn has strung together several companies that deal in automotive parts, including service and retail chain Pep Boys, Auto Plus and parts supplier Federal-Mogul.
      For now, e-commerce represents a sliver of the $277-billion aftermarket parts business, according to estimates from Wedbush and the Auto Care Association, an industry trade group. Online sales were about $11-billion last year, with EBay Inc.’s roughly 40-per-cent share being the largest, Wedbush estimates. Amazon had about a 25-per-cent share, though it’s growing at a rapid clip, Mr. Basham said.
      Amazon Encroaches
      Amazon launched the Amazon Automotive store in 2006 and has been expanding its inventory since then. It’s added a parts-finder filter that lets shoppers enter the make and model of their cars to find the correct parts.
      “We’re continually expanding our selection and improving the customer experience with things like our Part Finder, Amazon Garage and, most recently, Amazon Vehicles,” a company spokeswoman said in an email.
      Icahn Automotive, which owns Pep Boys and Auto Plus, and Starboard declined to comment. Spokespersons for O’Reilly, AutoZone and Advance Auto also declined to comment.
      In trying to assess the potential threat from Amazon and other online parts sellers like RockAuto and EBay, analysts are honing in on retailers’ exposure to the consumer-facing “do-it-yourself” market, as opposed to the “do it for me” approach in which retailers sell to professional mechanics. The do-it-yourself market could be more vulnerable because consumers who aren’t in a hurry to buy a new wiper blade or spark plug may go online to find the cheapest price.
      DIY Slowdown
      The do-it-yourself segment already is lagging, according to the Auto Care Association, which estimates sales will grow at a compound annual rate of 3.8 per cent in the five years ending in 2017, compared with a 4.4-per-cent increase for the do-it-for-me market.
      The slower growth also is a reflection of cars getting increasing complex and loaded with technology, which contributes to more repairs necessitating technicians, said Behzad Rassuli, senior vice president of strategic development at the Auto Care Association. Some bumpers, for instance, now are built with embedded sensors that need to be properly calibrated.
      “The opportunity for the consumer to repair their own vehicle has been dwindling,” Mr. Rassuli said.
      Mr. Icahn said as much when speaking about his acquisition of Precision Auto Care Inc. in June, the latest addition to his chain of auto-repair shops. He’s also planning to take advantage of higher utilization of cars driven by the growth of ride-hailing businesses, he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview at the time.
      Greg Henslee, O’Reilly’s CEO, has said the impact of companies like Amazon will be limited because they will struggle to sell component to consumers who don’t know what’s wrong with their car. Online retailers “will continue to take a little bit of market share here and there,” Mr. Henslee said on an earnings call in February. “I don’t see them nearly as one of our most prominent competitors.”
      Digital Experience
      Even if their expertise diagnosing car troubles offers some protection, traditional parts retailers still are under pressure to improve their digital experience, especially since a buyer will often go online to ensure a part is in stock before picking it up at a store.
      Advance Auto is investing heavily in technology to ensure a “consistent experience every time, both in-store and online,” Mr. Greco said on the company’s earnings call Tuesday. He told analysts consumers will have a “faster and more frictionless experience” online.
      If you’re a parts retailer, “you’re definitely concerned,” Wedbush’s Basham said. “You’re thinking about ways to defend your turf and to capitalize on the way consumers are changing their behaviour.”
    • 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
      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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