Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) projects 2018 total U.S. tire shipments to have increased 2.7 percent to 325.20 million units. Replacement passenger tire shipments are expected to have grown 2.5 percent to 209.70 million units, while replacement light-truck tire shipments are projected to have increased 0.2 percent to 31.30 million units.
• Outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed legislation into law that prohibits the installation of unsafe used tires. The new law, which takes effect July 1, imposes a fine on any business that installs tires that exhibit any one of several unsafe conditions, including worn-out tread, visible damage or improper repairs.
• Continental has reached a deal to acquire Reifen John, a tire and auto service chain with 32 locations in Austria and Germany. The move is seen as complementary to Continental’s existing operations in the region. The transaction is subject to antitrust approval.
• For 2019, Carstar forecasts adding 120 locations to its network, with a majority of this growth occurring in key U.S. markets.
TechForce Says Shortage Of Vehicle Technicians Has Worsened
The TechForce Foundation has released a Transportation Technician Supply & Demand Report indicating that the transportation technician shortage has worsened. The new report supplements the foundation’s previous reporting, adjusting prior projections to reflect new research from the National Center for Education Statistics and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Citing both increasing demand for professional techs and a declining supply of new techs entering the industry, the update concludes that the technician shortage is increasing in severity despite a slight uptick in new post-secondary degrees and certificates for future diesel technicians.
CarMD: Toyota Most Reliable, Mazda Most Affordable To Repair In 2018
Toyota was the brand least likely to need “Check Engine” repairs over the past year, according to the CarMD Vehicle Health Index, besting Acura and Hyundai, which came in at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.
Irvine, CA-based CarMD Corp. studied data from more than 5.60 million vehicles from a variety of sources to identify the makes least likely to need “Check Engine” repairs. To rank these makes, the company used a formula to account for those with the lowest percentage of repair incidents per percentage of the vehicle population. Based on this data, an index frequency score was assigned. The lower the score, the higher the vehicle make ranking.
CarMD found the following brands were the least likely to need a “Check Engine” repair over the past year …
The following vehicle makes had the lowest average “Check Engine” light-related repair costs in 2018 …
1. Mazda – $286
2. Kia – $320
3. Dodge – $326
4. Hyundai – $328
5. Chrysler – $329
6. Jeep – $339
7. Chevrolet – $341
8. Volkswagen – $358
9. Honda – $427
10. Toyota – $462
The following vehicles had the lowest “Check Engine” light-related repair frequency this past year …
1. 2016 Audi Q5
2. 2017 Honda Civic
3. 2017 Subaru Crosstrek
4. 2017 Honda CR-V
5. 2017 Honda HR-V
6. 2017 GMC Acadia
7. 2015 Subaru Forester
8. 2016 Honda CR-V
9. 2016 Honda Civic
10. 2016 Volvo XC-90
The following vehicles had the lowest average repair cost this past year …
1. 2017 Hyundai Tucson – $67
2. 2017 Hyundai Accent – $69
3. 2016 Kia Rio – $70
4. 2014 Toyota Prius C – $83
5. 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage – $84
6. 2017 Kia Soul – $88
7. 2016 Kia Forte – $90
8. 2016 Hyundai Tucson – $91
9. 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport – $92
10. 2017 Toyota 4Runner – $107
The most common and affordable repair on nine out of 10 of the most affordable vehicles was to inspect or replace a loose, damaged or missing gas cap. The exception was the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage, which was most frequently diagnosed with a faulty or incorrectly installed vacuum hose.
Details on the most common repair for each of these vehicles — as well as the best vehicles in each category and the vehicles with the most frequent/most expensive repairs — are available in the full 2018 report.
According to CarMD, it analyzed data from over 5.60 million in-use vehicles, model years 1996 to 2018, between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2018.
AAA: Deteriorated Headlights Produce 80% Less Light
New research from AAA shows that clouded or yellowed headlights generate only 20 percent of the amount of light that new headlights do. According to AAA, most headlights are made of plastic, and exposure to sunlight breaks down the plastic coating, causing discoloration that obscures the amount of light produced. Depending on where and how the vehicle is used, headlights can begin showing signs of deterioration as early as three years to five years, the association reports.
Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, said headlights on U.S. vehicles — even when new — don’t produce a sufficient amount of lighting, “so any reduction in performance is a real safety issue.”
The headlight assemblies used in AAA’s testing were for the driver’s side of the vehicle. According to the association, it contracted an accredited testing laboratory with expertise in automotive headlights and conducted testing according to industry standards.
AAA reports that headlights were tested according to FMVSS-108 standards with no modifications to the headlight assemblies under test or to the test procedures. The headlights were from two popular sedans, approximately 11 years in age. And, results from the degraded headlights were measured against new headlights to quantify the amount of light produced for each.
AAA also examined the effects that replacing or restoring a headlight can have on improving the amount of light produced. Replacing headlights with OE parts was the most effective method to restore light output back to 100 percent, according to the association.
Aftermarket parts also performed well, AAA reports, restoring light output between 83 percent and 90 percent. However, the organization indicates that these did fail to meet certain requirements for light intensity and were found to be more likely to produce glare for oncoming traffic.
Restoring headlights, while the most cost-effective option, offered less of an improvement in light output than replacement, according to AAA. Professional and DIY restoration returned light output back to approximately 70 percent, the association reports; however, both restoration methods produced more glare than is acceptable according DOT criteria.
The professional headlight restoration systems in AAA’s research used a power sanding technique to remove the original protective film from the headlight lens. The resulting scratched surface of the polycarbonate was then polished using increasingly finer grades of sanding discs, and a protectant film was applied to the entire surface of the headlight lens.
AAA’s full methodology is available in the research report found here.
Compounding the problem of driving with deteriorated headlights, AAA contends, is that U.S. headlights have shortcomings. Previous association research indicated that halogen headlights fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph, while high beam settings offer only marginal improvements. According to AAA, even the most advanced headlights tested illuminated just 40 percent of the sight distances that the full light of day provides.
Brannon said: “Driving at night with headlights that produce only 20 percent of the light they did when new, which is already subpar, is a risk drivers shouldn’t take — especially when there are convenient and inexpensive solutions that can dramatically improve lighting performance.”
AAA recommends that drivers check their headlights for changes in appearance, such as yellowing or clouding. And, if the bulb is difficult to see, it’s time to have the lenses replaced or restored, according to the association.
Icahn Automotive Buys 10-Shop Chain In Northeast Florida
The Icahn Automotive Group has acquired RPM Automotive of Jacksonville, FL — a move that adds 10 shops and more than 100 service bays across northeastern Florida. Icahn Automotive CEO Dan Ninivaggi said RPM complements Icahn Automotive’s existing footprint in the region, adding that the acquisition “will accelerate our growth in an important market for us.” Icahn Automotive — the parent company to Pep Boys, AAMCO and Precision Tune Auto Care — has more than 2,000 owned and franchised service locations throughout the United States and parts of Canada.
Valvoline Franchisee Purchases 31 Southern California Quick Lubes
Henley Pacific LA LLC — a subsidiary of Newton, MA-based Henley Enterprises Inc., the largest franchisee of Valvoline Instant Oil Change (VIOC) shops — has acquired Synfast Oil Change, a 31-unit quick-lube chain in southern California, ranging in location from Bakersfield to San Diego. The shops are now operating as VIOC service centers.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. It marks Henley’s largest acquisition in southern California since it acquired 71 EZ Lube shops in 2012.
“Growth is a major part of our culture here at Henley,” said CEO Don Smith. “This acquisition gives us over 100 stores in southern California and makes us the dominant player in this huge market.”
The move gives Henley more than 200 service centers across 10 states: California, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Oil Changers Expands Via Acquisition
Oil Changers Inc. (Pleasanton, CA), a portfolio company of Brick Investment Partners, has acquired Royal Car Care Inc. of Hanford, CA, which operates two service centers with onsite touchless car washes in addition to a standalone quick-lube shop in Kings County. The move gives Oil Changers a total of 34 facilities in the San Francisco, San Diego and Fresno regions. Generational Equity, a mergers and acquisitions advisor, represented Royal Car Care in the deal.
ASA Taps Ray Fisher As Executive Director
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has its new leader: Ray Fisher, who has been the executive director of ASA’s Michigan affiliate. Fisher took over as the executive director and president of ASA National on Jan. 2. He replaces Dan Risley, who left in July.
Beth Risch has served as ASA’s interim chief operating officer while the association’s board of directors conducted its search. Risch will continue in a consulting capacity.
Fisher has been the president and executive director of ASA-Michigan since 2010. His background also includes more than 20 years as a body shop manager.
About his appointment, Fisher said: “We are at a critical time in our industry, where involvement plays an important role. Education and training are no longer an elective but required. Trade schools were forgotten, technology can be overwhelming, and we have an aging work force that is faced with some difficult decisions. ASA can help lead the industry in addressing those challenges.”
TechForce Foundation Announces Techs Rock Award Winners
The TechForce Foundation has announced the winners of its inaugural Techs Rock Awards, which recognize working technicians who are striving to mentor and inspire the next generation of techs, bring excellence to their workplaces and communities, and demonstrate passion and commitment to the profession.
According to the foundation, more than 250 techs were nominated in one of five categories. Each winner will receive a $1,000 tool voucher sponsored by Snap-on. The winners are …
• “Pay it Forward,” Michael Cole of Kunes Country Ford (Delavan, WI).
• “Rookie of the Year,” Andrew Fields of Rob Sight Ford (Kansas City, MO).
• “Die Hard Tech,” Erik Craddock of Firestone Complete Auto Care (Appleton, WI).
• “Outstanding Mentor,” Shane Conley of Suzuki Motors of America (Brea, CA).
• “Barrier Buster,” Wayne Quiggins of Southern Cycles (Apopka, FL).
The five winners proceeded on to an online “People’s Choice” competition in which more than 30,000 votes were cast. The one-week, public vote resulted in Cole becoming the grand-prize winner. He will receive airfare and hotel accommodations to attend the TechForce Foundation Summit at Auto Week 2019 in Scottsdale, AZ.
Bosch Adds Repair-Source Database To Software Version 3.5 For ADS
Bosch Automotive Aftermarket has added Repair-Source, a library of OEM service and repair information, to its ADS series professional diagnostic scan tools. Repair-Source is included in Bosch’s annual diagnostic subscription at no extra charge. Technicians using a Bosch ADS tool will see the Repair-Source service information database on-screen after downloading and installing software version 3.5. Repair-Source provides OEM service procedures, DTC troubleshooting, torque specifications, wiring diagrams, TSBs, maintenance schedules, fluid recommendations and more.
Mitchell 1 Launches Mobile Vehicle Inspection App
Mitchell 1 has introduced ProSpect, a mobile vehicle inspection and check-in app that’s integrated with its Manager SE shop management software.
ProSpect is accessible via mobile phone or tablet. It’s designed to streamline the customer greeting and vehicle inspection processes by allowing service writers to decode VINs (or license plates to VINs), conduct multi-point inspections, and write estimates or repair orders before customers step into the shop.
Users can record before and after tire pressure, and, when the tread depth is entered, the system will determine the health of the tire based on rules the shop can set. Service writers also can look up appointments, apply canned jobs related to vehicle issues found, document the vehicle diagnosis with photos, and write an estimate or repair order at the vehicle.
Inspections made are available on the Manager SE work order screen in the office.
ACR Develops New Shop Management Tool
Applied Computer Resources (ACR) has developed a new, cloud-based shop management tool called Bay-masteR Tech. The tool offers workload scheduling, preventive maintenance schedules, service ticket creation and more.
ACR has licensed Motor’s light-duty service and repair data with an eye toward offering expanded data and reaching a wider clientele.
In addition to its shop management tool, Bay-masteR Tech offers a suite of technical data powered by Motor. The company is expanding its customer base to include the light-duty market, with a growing line of service and repair information.
ATD Emerges From Chapter 11
American Tire Distributors (ATD) announced Dec. 21 that it has successfully completed its financial recapitalization and emerged from Chapter 11 having reduced its debt by approximately $1.10 billion.
The Huntersville, NC-based company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in October, is in the process of issuing payment for all pre-petition obligations currently due.
The recapitalization was consensual and supported by all key financial stakeholders, as well as vendors and customers, according to ATD. The company is now moving forward with more than $1 billion of committed exit financing arranged by Wells Fargo Capital Finance to support operations and future growth initiatives.
Looking ahead, ATD plans to continue a transformation plan that emphasizes digital tools powered by advanced analytics. Its selection includes 50,000 SKUs and a variety of marketing support programs.
“Today marks a new beginning for ATD. We are a stronger company with the financial flexibility to build on an 80-year history of leadership and innovation,” CEO Stuart Schuette said. “We are laser-focused on delivering greater value for our customers and manufacturer partners, with differentiated capabilities based on advanced analytics.”
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware closed affiliate cases including debtors Accelerate Holding Corp., Rubbr Automotive Services, The Hercules Tire & Rubber Co., Terry’s Tire Town Holdings, Tire Pros Francorp and Hercules Asia Pacific LLC. The lead case remains open for claims objections.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal counsel to ATD, AlixPartners LLP as its operational advisor and Moelis & Co. LLC as financial advisor.
ZAFCO Hires East VP Of Sales – N.A.
Miami-based ZAFCO International — a manufacturer and distributor of automotive tires serving wholesalers and retailers across the Americas — has added industry veteran Chris Tolbert as vice president of sales for the east zone in North America. As such, Tolbert works to build the Armstrong brand, as well as grow the Accelera, Forceum and Zeetex brands, in the United States and Canada. Tolbert has more than 30 years of tire industry experience, most recently as director of business development – automotive at American Kenda Rubber.
Goodyear Makes Senior Leadership Appointments
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Akron, OH) has announced two senior leadership appointments, effective Jan. 1. Jon Bellissimo is now senior vice president of global operations and technology, responsible for leading the company’s global engineering; quality; procurement; manufacturing and environmental, health, safety and sustainability; sales and operations planning; and project management functions.
Bellissimo succeeds Joe Zekoski, who is retiring after nearly 40 years at Goodyear.
Laura Duda is now senior vice president of global communications and chief communications officer, leading all aspects of the company’s global communications, including media relations, associate communications, corporate reputation, philanthropy, community relations and Goodyear’s airship fleet.
Duda succeeds Paul Fitzhenry, who will remain with Goodyear through the first quarter of 2019 to aid in the transition.
Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists Buys AWRS Midwest
Norcross, GA-based Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists (AWRS) has acquired AWRS Midwest, which services the following cities, areas and regions …
• St. Louis
• Kansas City
• Oklahoma City
• Northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville and Ft. Smith)
• Central Arkansas (Little Rock)
• Northern Louisiana (Shreveport and Bossier)
• East Texas (Tyler, Longview and Nacogdoches).
Mike Riley, the current chief operating officer of AWRS Midwest, will continue to oversee daily operations.
Deal In Place To Merge Caliber Collision With Abra Auto Body Repair
OMERS Private Equity has signed an agreement to sell a majority interest in Caliber Collision Centers to funds affiliated with Hellman & Friedman (H&F). Caliber would then be merged with Abra Auto Body Repair of America, an H&F portfolio company, to form a collision repair network with more than 1,000 shops across 37 states and the District of Columbia.
Management plans to maintain all existing shops from both companies, as well as all employees in the field at both Caliber and Abra collision centers. Caliber CEO Steve Grimshaw will lead the combined company.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close early in 2019.
OMERS will retain an undisclosed “significant” minority investment in the combined company. OMERS has had a stake in Caliber since 2013, seeing the chain grow from 157 collision centers across five states to more than 630 shops in 19 states.
Leonard Green & Partners ( LGP), which owns a minority stake in Caliber, also will get an undisclosed “significant” minority stake in the combined company.
Jefferies LLC is financial advisor to both OMERS and LGP. BofA Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Securities are financial advisors to H&F.
Ford Launches New Collision Network
The Ford Motor Co. has replaced its National Body Shop Network (NBSN) with a new national initiative called the Ford Certified Collision Network (FCCN). Ford will begin accepting applications for certification this month.
“Ford is dedicated to delivering collision repair solutions that meet vehicle complexity needs, which have evolved since the original network was launched, and ensures our owners have access to a network of shops that demonstrate commitment to providing quality repairs to Ford and Lincoln vehicles,” according to a company statement.
The new network aims to support repair shops with increased access to OE repair procedures and parts and a more direct connection to Ford.
New program features include performance metrics, proper repair verification and access to a technical hotline. Enhanced certification options include specialization in advanced driver assistance systems and electric vehicles.
Subaru Opening Collision Network To Independent Shops
Subaru of America has opened enrollment in its new Subaru Certified Collision Network (SCCN) to independent collision centers across the country following a pilot program last year.
“By adding more collision centers outside of the retailer network, Subaru will grow its footprint in the collision industry and better serve its owners by providing safe and proper repairs in more locations,” according to a company statement.
Subaru has partnered with Wadsworth International to help administer the initiative. Each collision center must pass an audit and meet various criteria, including I-CAR Gold Class certification, proper tools specifications, outstanding customer service, accurate documentation procedures and the use of Genuine Subaru Collision Parts.
All certified collision centers also must participate in at least one volunteer event per year with a local 501(c)3 non-profit of their choice.
Tint World Names Marketing Director, Operations Manager
Tint World Automotive Styling Centers (Boca Raton, FL), an auto accessory and window tinting franchise, has named Jacob Eisenberg as its director of marketing, tasked with providing marketing and advertising support to the company’s global franchise locations. Eisenberg brings more than 15 years of marketing experience to Tint World, most recently as the president of Reco Advertising, which he founded.
The company also has added Jeremy Doran as an operations manager, responsible for daily support of Tint World’s franchise locations, including sales training. Doran has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive accessories aftermarket, including time as a technical support specialist and integration marketing manager for AAMP Global and a 12-volt specialist with Dow Electronics.
A well respected leading automotive aftermarket manufacturer of Brake products is seeking a Catalog Manager to become a member of our Marketing team. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
Kalamazoo College Adds One-Year Auto Service Certification
Beginning this semester, Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan is offering a one-year certificate program in General Automotive Service (GAS). Full implementation of the new program starts in fall 2019.
“This was driven by our local employers and advisory committee who are desperate for technicians at any skill level,” Kalamazoo Valley’s Automotive Department chair Doug Martin said. “It has led to a few agreements of understanding with employers who want to see their technicians progress and become more skilled.”
Employers are looking at sending new hires or perspective employees through the program so they don’t have to do the training in-house, Martin said.
The certificate program is designed to provide a rapid path to entry-level technician skills. Students may enroll in the program independently or through employers.
Students will be prepared to take state certification exams in engines, brakes, steering and suspension, and air conditioning, as well as Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) certification for refrigerant handling.
The program also provides the option of becoming ASE General Service Technician certified. And, for students wishing to continue their education, requirements for this certificate fulfill the first two semesters of the school’s automotive drivability systems AAS and automotive undercar systems AAS programs.
It also can be used as the first step toward a B.S. in automotive with an emphasis on management skills.
“We have employers considering using this option for training service writers, clerical, management and other positions,” Martin said. “This industry is just changing so fast. We will strive to use the resources we have to do everything we can to keep up with employer demand.”
News Briefs 1/8/19
• Mitchell 1 has introduced text-messaging features in its Manager SE Truck Edition shop management system for Class 4 to Class 8 trucks. The latest release of Manager SE Truck Edition includes a Message Center option with integrated two-way texting. Shops have the choice of building their own text templates for orders, appointments and revisions, or writing “on-the-fly” text messages to customers when needed.
• According to MAM Software, the company has deployed its VAST point-of-sale product at 156 new dealer locations over the last 18 months.
• Road Warrior Tires, a division of TRU Development Inc., has begun shipping from a new warehouse in Los Angeles.
• Hunter Engineering has launched a new merchandise site at hunter.com.
• Line-X is celebrating its 25th anniversary.