Directions: Greetings on the New Year
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Directions: Greetings on the New Year

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With a new year comes new challenges. The staff here at Underhood Service takes a look at some of the issues that we feel will have an impact on your shop in 2007. Many of these issues will be addressed in management or technical articles throughout this year.

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Although these issues are not ranked by order of importance, they can be a guide to what one can expect in the relationship between the auto manufacturing industry and the automotive aftermarket.

Increasing emphasis on alternative fuel vehicles. What this means to you: More Flex Fuel vehicles from the automakers (which allow such vehicles to operate with E-85 [ethanol] fuels) means a broader understanding of new automotive components and manufacturing materials. A fuel pump used in a gasoline engine vehicle may not be used as a replacement on a flex fuel vehicle. Also, with more biodiesel fuels on the market, look for diagnosing problems such as oil filtration and cold biodiesel-related no-start issues.

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More hybrids coming out of the OE lineups. What this means to you: Look to have on staff trained and skilled technicians to service these vehicles.

More imports on the roads. It’s been written that the domestic automakers are struggling to hold on to 50% of the new vehicle market. What this means to you: More training will be required for your technicians to handle multiple vehicle types.

Increase in parts proliferation. What this means to you: More part numbers means greater chances of ordering the wrong part or component. This places a greater emphasis on your technicians and staff to correctly order parts and try to keep unnecessary returns down.

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More competition from dealerships for service. New vehicle sales are slowing and dealerships need to make money elsewhere — and they are looking toward the service sector. What this means to you: Growth in dealerships looking to acquire more service customers could mean cutting into your shop’s bottom line.

Car leasing on the rise again. According to Edmunds.com, new vehicle leasing is up 21% over the previous year due to higher vehicle interest rates. What this means to you: More new vehicles will be returning to the dealerships for routine maintenance, making it harder for you to grab on to some of that service work, forcing your shop’s staff to work harder at maintaining your current customer base.

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More states looking to adopt stricter Clean Air Programs. So far, 11 states have adopted programs similar to California’s strict air quality legislation, which could lead to the adoption of “OE Super Warranties.” What this means to you: We could see 15-year/150,000-mile emission system warranties on new vehicles, resulting in service to this system being steered back to the dealerships and away from your shop.

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