‘Check Engine Light’ Related Repair Costs Rose 10% In 2012, According To CarMD
Drivers in New Jersey pay the most in the United States to have a “check engine light” situation diagnosed and repaired, according to CarMD.com Corp. In New Jersey, the average cost of these repairs came in at $392.99. This comes from an analysis of more than 160,000 repairs made on vehicles with check engine light (CEL) problems in 2012.
Year-over-year, vehicle owners in New Jersey saw a 20.7-percent increase in labor rates and an 8.2-percent increase in parts costs. New Jersey drivers also paid more than the U.S. average for many repairs, including catalytic converter replacement at $1,112.48 per transaction. Hurricane Sandy-related flood damage was a factor here.
Rounding out the five most expensive U.S. states/districts for auto repair were: No. 2, the District of Columbia; No. 3, California; No. 4, North Carolina; and No. 5, Maryland. Click here to view a chart from CarMD showing where each state ranked.
The average cost for CEL-related repairs in the United States in 2012 came in at $367.84. That’s up 10 percent from 2011. The Northeast experienced the largest percent increase (11.56 percent). The West, historically known for having some of the highest car repair costs, saw only a 6.53-percent increase in costs. California was the only western state among the top five this year.
For comparison sake, all five states with the highest repair costs in 2011 were from the West.
The states with the lowest car repair costs were: No. 47, Iowa; No. 48, Delaware; No. 49, South Dakota; No. 50, West Virginia; and No. 51, Vermont (with an average total of $314.77).
A majority of states and districts experienced an increase in repair costs in 2012, with the exceptions being Delaware, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The District of Columbia had the largest increase in repair costs — up 20 percent to $391.62. This was partially attributed to the type of repairs being made, as time-consuming repairs that cost more than $1,000 accounted for nearly 10 percent of D.C. repairs in 2012, as compared with 7 percent in 2011.
Wyoming saw the biggest drop with a nearly 17-percent dip in average repair costs to $324.31.
Drivers in Vermont paid the least in labor at $115.90. While still low, this was up from Vermont’s labor rate of $90.85 in 2011. For the second consecutive year, Colorado was the state with the highest labor charge at $150.75 on average.
Drivers in Vermont also paid the least for parts at an average of $153.82, with those in New Jersey paying the most at $256.28.
Line-X Bringing Truck Accessories Into Its Franchise Network
Line-X Protective Coatings (Huntsville, AL), a Graham Partners portfolio company, has acquired the American Aftermarket Group. AAG operates a web-based, members-only accessories product fulfillment portal and factory-direct distribution system. This transaction allows Line-X’s more than 400 franchise locations across North America to become truck accessory customization centers in addition to their existing bedliner and protective coatings operations.
Line-X purchased AAG with support from Graham Partners. Line-X has been one of Graham Partners’ portfolio companies for the past eight years.
STS Tire & Auto Adding 25 Locations
Somerset Tire Service/STS Tire & Auto Centers, which bills itself as the largest independent tire and auto service company in the Northeast, plans to open 25 new full-service retail locations during the second and third quarters. New Jersey will see an increase of 15 locations, while New York and Pennsylvania will both see five additional locations.
Bound Brook, NJ-based STS operates roughly 150 shops across the three-state region.
AAA Expects Slight July 4 Auto Travel Decline
AAA Travel projects that 40.80 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from their homes during the Independence Day holiday, which is defined as Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7. That’s a 0.8-percent decrease from a year ago.
AAA pegs the anticipated decline in holiday travel to a shorter holiday period. With the Fourth of July landing on a Thursday this year, the holiday period has returned to the standard five-day holiday, compared to the six-day period in 2012 when the holiday fell on a Wednesday.
Approximately 34.40 million people (or 84 percent of all holiday travelers) plan to drive to their destination — a decrease of 0.7 percent from the 34.70 million who drove last year, according to AAA research.
AAA says gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor in travel decisions this holiday. As of mid-June, prices were on average up 2 percent when compared to the same time in 2012. Despite the slight increase compared to last year, prices remain below their highs of earlier this year.
However, gas prices remain at a level most Americans consider too high. Half of U.S. adults consider gas prices to be “too high” when it reaches $3.44 per gallon, according to AAA research.
Epicor Parts Portal Certified By ADP
ADP Dealer Services, a provider of dealer management systems (DMS), has certified Epicor Parts Portal (EPP) to link vehicle dealerships with aftermarket distributors that use the Epicor Internet AutoParts (IAP) e-commerce software.
As an ADP-approved interface, EPP allows distributors to extend parts information, pricing, and electronic ordering capability to vehicle dealership parts and service operations. This information can then be integrated back into the dealer’s DMS. The technology also lets users look up, order, and sell a variety of aftermarket accessories and other products.
Epicor says that its IAP software serves roughly 23,000 parts distribution locations and nearly 168,000 registered automotive service locations.
ASE Launches Maintenance & Light Repair Certification
The Auto Maintenance & Light Repair (G1) test is now available as part of the ASE certification program. This new test was developed in response to industry requests for a certification category aimed at technicians performing scheduled maintenance and common bumper-to-bumper repairs. Registration for the G1 certification test is now available, with testing in July and August.
Myers Tire Supply Enters Into Aftermarket JV In India
Akron, OH-based Myers Tire Supply International is expanding is decade-long relationship with India’s TVS Automobile Solutions Ltd. (TVS ASL). They have formed a joint-venture company, called Myers Tyre Supply India Limited, to distribute tools, supplies and equipment into the Indian automotive aftermarket.
“The global presence of Myers Tire Supply, which excels in providing tools and consumables to independent tire dealers and tire retreaders, complements TVS’ strength in equipment sales to automobile dealers in India,” explained John Orr, president and CEO of parent company Myers Industries.
For TVS ASL, this deal equips it to be a stronger player to the tools and consumables market.
Mudlick Mail Launches Analytics Tool
Acworth, GA-based Mudlick Mail has developed an analytics tool to help repair shop owners better evaluate their direct mail campaigns. The Mudlick Analytics Program tracks the entire process of a campaign, from mailing to customer conversion.
Mudlick Analytics ties into a shop owner’s point-of-sale (POS) system and generates reports on such information as customer repair orders and the average spent per visit. The tool can then cross-reference that data to determine whether those customers came from areas where direct mail campaigns were conducted.
The information can help clients discover what percentage of its customers came from which ZIP codes, allowing them to make adjustments if certain ZIP codes or neighborhoods aren’t producing a strong response rate. The program also can offer operators insight into their retention rates by examining the frequency of customer visits.
Mudlick Mail is offering the tool as a supplement to its existing services at no additional charge.
Denso Introduces ‘My Denso Rewards’ Program
Denso Products & Services Americas has launched a sales incentive program for WD counterpeople and salespeople, as well as shop owners and their technicians. The My Denso Rewards program runs through Nov. 30, with participants earning rewards points when they sell or install First Time Fit cabin air filters or wiper blades. The program is for participants in the United States and Canada. Enrollment and additional details are at www.MyDENSOrewards.com.
AVI, Advance Auto Parts Offer Online Training For Shops
Advance Auto Parts (Roanoke, VA) has partnered with AVI to provide repair shops with online automotive training courses. The program, called Advance Shop eLearning powered by AVI, features online video content covering a range topics from basic automotive concepts to advanced diagnostic training.
All content is available through the purchase of training bundles that can be tailored to meet a shop’s specific needs, such as basic automotive systems for new technicians, management courses for shop owners and ASE test preparation.
Additionally, a Learning Management System allows shop owners and managers to view and track their staff’s progress through the eLearning courses, and includes access to pre- and post-training tests.
Speedemissions Eyes Shops In Retail Centers
Speedemissions Inc. has announced the signing of a letter of intent (LOI) with First United Equity to open vehicle emission-testing facilities in major retailer parking lots. The management of Atlanta-based Speedemissions calls the pact a major expansion in its business model.
Plans call for the opening of as many as 24 emission-testing facilities over the next two years. This would be accomplished in three phases, with the first eight to 10 stores opening in early 2014 and continuing through 2015.
These facilities are designed to provide an easy, convenient way for shoppers to get their vehicle-emission testing done while patronizing the retailers in a given center. In addition, these facilities will sell a variety of related automotive merchandise.
Rich Parlontieri, president and CEO of Speedemissions, said First United Equity has a successful track record in joint ventures such as this with large retail chains. “Now that we’ve agreed to move forward with this LOI, we are very enthused about this new venture and the opportunity we have to carve out a special niche in the test-only market,” Parlontieri explained. “Coupled with our recent commitment to the SpeedEmissions Car Care Stores, we’re encouraged that the company will remain a leader in the vehicle emission testing marketplace.”
Governor Signs Texas Auto Repair Tax Fix
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law a bill including the Texas Franchise Tax legislation supported by ASA and ASA-Texas. The measure addresses a previous inequality in how automotive service and collision repair businesses were taxed in the state.
According to ASA, service and collision repair shops owned and operated by new or used car dealerships have been taxed at half the rate used to tax independent auto repair facilities doing the same work. That’s because the tax code in Texas classified dealership sales as “retail” and allowed their service and repair businesses to be included under that banner. Independent auto repairers did not had the same opportunity.
The Texas Franchise Tax legislation, which was included in Substitute H.B. 500, classified all of these auto service and collision repair businesses as retail, thereby addressing the inequity.
Carfax Unveils Car Care App
Carfax has introduced a free service, called MyCarfax, to help vehicle owners track their service history. Users receive information about safety recalls, as well as service alerts based on recommended maintenance schedules and specific mileage intervals. MyCarfax also includes a find-a-shop tool.
Vehicle owners can create their free MyCarfax account via mobile apps for iPhones and Android devices, as well as online at www.mycarfax.com.
Schrader Debuts EZ-Choice.com, TPMS Road Show
Schrader has launched a multi-faceted campaign titled “Make the EZ-Choice” to raise awareness and convey best practices for tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) technology. The campaign is designed to engage all aftermarket channels on such topics as diagnostics, operational best practices and customer communications.
With this campaign, Schrader has launched the website EZ-Choice.com, as well as a road show tour delivering hands-on training in key U.S. and Canadian markets.
Quest Specialty Chemicals Buys U.S. Chemicals & Plastics
Charleston, SC-based Quest Specialty Chemicals has acquired U.S. Chemical & Plastics (USC). Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. U.S. Chemical & Plastics of Massillon, OH specializes in automotive refinishing products, including paints and coatings, plastic fillers, putties, and other accessories used in the collision repair industry.
QSC plans to position the USC product line within its wholly owned Quest Automotive Products division. This would join USC with Matrix System Automotive Finishes, which offers a complementary line of intermix basecoats and is known for its color-matching capabilities and clearcoat products.
Quest Automotive Products will operate manufacturing facilities in Walled Lake, MI; Massillon, OH; Canton, OH; and Biggleswade, United Kingdom.
Half Off Lift Inspector Certification Program Fee Expires Sept. 30
The half-price discount on registration for the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) Lift Inspection Certification Program — which reduces the price from $2,000 to $1,000 — expires Sept. 30. The fee covers a single candidate’s program application, printed course material and attendance for one company representative at a scheduled participant orientation workshop. All participating organizations with at least one certified inspector on staff also receive associate class membership in ALI for the remaining calendar year, starting at the time of certification completion of the first candidate.
Once a candidate registers and pays the non-refundable fee, he or she must work through a series of steps before achieving certification. Candidates must attend a participant’s orientation, pass both the pre-course exam and course exam, and then conduct 12 practical experience inspections of vehicle lifts.
For more information or to register and take advantage of the discount, visit ALI Store.
The ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program was created to provide third-party qualification of vehicle lift inspectors and to certify those who demonstrate that they are capable of properly inspecting vehicle lifts in accordance with the ANSI standard and in support of OSHA’s General Duty Clause, as well as provincial requirements in Canada.
AAIA Taking Impact Award Nominations
Nominations are now being accepted for the AAIA Impact Awards competition, which honors four aftermarket professionals, age 40 or younger, who have made remarkable contributions within the industry. The program is open to anyone age 40 or younger, with relevant professional work experience, of which a minimum of two years must be in the automotive aftermarket.
Nominations are due by Aug. 23. Honorees will be notified in October. Winners will be selected by the AAIA Marketing & Member Relations Committee and recognized during the AAIA Town Hall Breakfast on Nov. 5 at AAPEX in Las Vegas.
Ashland Names Valvoline Product Distributors For Wisconsin
Ashland Consumer Markets has named the Perkins Oil Co. and Badger Lubrication Technologies as authorized distributors for the complete line of Valvoline lubricants, automotive chemicals, coolants and additional items, including filters and wiper blades. Perkins Oil and Badger Lubrication will primarily distribute these products throughout Wisconsin.
In addition to supplying quick lubes, automotive service centers and car dealerships serving the passenger car market, Perkins Oil and Badger Lubrication also will market and sell the full line of Valvoline lubricants, coolants and chemicals to the commercial and heavy-duty market, including truck and bus fleets and government agencies.
Q1 Parts & Service Results For Major Auto Dealer Networks
All of the publicly traded dealership groups that we track posted higher year-over-year parts and service sales in the first quarter of 2013. The highest percentage increase came from Group 1 Automotive, where revenue was up 11.5 percent. The largest company that we track in this area, AutoNation Inc., reported a 6.1-percent increase in service, parts and collision revenue.
Click here to view our chart.
GM Introduces New Maintenance Plan
Customers who purchase or lease an eligible new 2014 Chevrolet, Buick or GMC car, truck, or crossover in the United States will be covered by a new maintenance program that includes certain scheduled services for two years or 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
Under the program, dealers will complete an oil and filter change, four-wheel tire rotation, and conduct a 27-point vehicle inspection based on what’s called for in the vehicle owner’s manual maintenance schedule and oil life monitoring system.
Cadillac vehicles beginning with the 2011 model year are already covered by the Cadillac Premium Care Maintenance Program, which covers scheduled maintenance services, including oil changes, tire rotations, air filter replacements and an inspection for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
New VP Of Operations At Brake Check
San Antonio-based Brake Check has promoted Allen Hakes to vice president of operations. Hakes, who started with the company as a manager in training in 2011, most recently was director of operations. Before moving to Texas and working for Brake Check, Hakes owned and operated his own dry-cleaning business in Utah.
The company also has promoted Armando Flores to director of operations for the San Antonio and Austin markets. Flores has been with Brake Check for 16 years.
Brake Check is a family-owned and -operated brake service and general auto repair company with 40 retail locations across central and south Texas.
The Alliance Announces New Service Dealer Advisory Council Members
The Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance (San Antonio, TX) is adding five new members to its 10-member National Service Dealer Advisory Council. They will fill seats being vacated by current members whose terms have expired. The new members are:
• Steve Ammazzalorso of Sunny Sunoco in Margate City, NJ;
• Kent Atkins of The Grease Pig in Fayetteville, AK;
• Lee Lizarraga of ABC Auto Care in Ventura, CA;
• Steve Morton of Morton’s Auto & Truck Repair in New Albany, IN; and
• Al Sutherland of Al’s Certified Auto Repair in Augusta, ME.
The council works to refine The Alliance’s Certified Service Center programs, code of ethics and compliance guidelines. In addition, it helps research new programs and acts as a sounding board for program improvements and recommendations.
The Alliance is an auto parts distribution and marketing organization with more than 2,200 parts stores and 3,000-plus Certified Service Centers throughout North America.
ASA Automotive Systems Adds Customer Services Director
ASA Automotive Systems has hired Mike Provencher as its director of customer services, a new post for the Merrimack, NH-based software company. Provencher directs and manages ASA’s customer service organization, including the installation and training group, documentation group, and software support group.
Oregon Students Win Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition
Logan Boyle and Cody Collins from Vale High School in Vale, OR won the 2013 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition held this month in at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, MI. Their instructor was Drew Barnes.
In a timed competition, two-member teams from all 50 states worked to diagnose and repair a number of purposefully placed “bugs” on their vehicles. In earning the national title, the Vale High School team turned in a “perfect car” score by flawlessly repairing all the “bugs” without any demerits. Combined with the results of a written exam taken the day prior, their score allowed them to hoist the trophy as national champions.
Samuel Eleazer and Matthew Jacobs of Fauquier High School in Warrenton, VA came in second place, while Anthony Critcher and Brik Wisniewski from Eastern Technical High School in Essex, MD were third.
Denise Caspersen Joins National Autobody Parts Warehouse
Former ASA collision division manager Denise Caspersen has joined National Autobody Parts Warehouse (Grand Prairie, TX). Her focus is on industry relations, project management and strategic planning. Caspersen had been with ASA from 1997 until May 2013.
News Briefs 6/26/13
• AAA expects to aid more than 8 million motorists this summer.
• Epicor Software Corp. says that its Integrated Service Estimator (ISE) system for auto service businesses generates more than 350,000 completed job estimates per month — a nearly 150-percent increase since 2012.
• Jay Sevigny, a former Gaylord Opryland executive, has reportedly signed a multi-unit development agreement with Express Oil Change for the Nashville, TN market. The Nashville Post reports that Sevigny plans to open five Express Oil Change & Service Centers over the next three to five years.
• Tuffy Tire & Auto Service locations are adding digital menu boards from AutoNetTV as a part of Tuffy’s nationwide renovation initiative.
• The Tire Choice & Total Car Care has launched an application for iPhones, allowing users to shop for tires and schedule service appointments. The Tire Choice has roughly 35 locations in central and south Florida.
• ASA and Autoshop Solutions Inc. have launched the first phase of the redesigned asashop.org, including a new “Find an ASA Shop” locator.
• Saab Automobile Parts North America now offers limited warranty coverage on labor costs for a term of 24 months/24,000 miles. This added coverage complements the existing 24-month/24,000-mile coverage that’s standard on all OE Saab Genuine Parts & Accessories the company sells.
• RNR Custom Wheel & Tire Express has opened its 10th corporate location on South Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, FL. It is the company’s second location in the city. RNR sells custom wheels and tires on weekly, bi-weekly or monthly installment payments, as well as cash.
• Weston, FL-based Tint World has added HID conversion kits and spray guard liners to its private-labeled automotive accessories program.
• GM has selected Allstate Roadside Services as its new roadside assistance provider. This pact covers all eligible GM vehicles in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
• 50 Below, an ARI Network Services company, has updated its website platform for tire and wheel dealers. This includes mobile shopping and purchasing upgrades, streamlined quote and service requests, and new tire and wheel comparison shopping and packaging.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 6/26/13
• Ford will be exhibiting at Automotive Service & Repair Week this year. ASRW will take place Oct. 16-18 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.
• The ASA Affiliate Executive Director Leadership Forum will be held Wednesday, Oct. 16 in Las Vegas, in conjunction with ASRW. The event provides an opportunity for affiliate staffers and ASA board members to share best practices and concerns, as well as plan for the coming year.
• The agenda for the NASTF Fall General Meeting — to be held Nov. 6 in Las Vegas during AAPEX — will include discussion of counterfeit service tools, as well as collision industry gaps in service information, tools and education. The meeting is free, and no pre-registration is required.