BendPak Blog

Two-Post Lift Safety: Lifting Points, Adapters and Common Sense

August 16th, 2016

red lightIf you were out driving your car and came to a red light, it would be pretty ridiculous if you pulled out into the middle of the intersection and parked, right? That’s common sense. We know that safe driving means stopping before the thick white lines, staying in your lane, using turn signals, etc. Likewise, certain common principles of safe usage apply to the operation of two-post lifts: engage the correct lifting points of the vehicle; use appropriate adapters when lifting trucks and SUVs; always balance the vehicle’s center of gravity. When cars fall off two-post lifts, 99% of the time the cause is preventable. (To be politically correct, we won’t say, “100% of the time,” but in our many years of experience, cars don’t slip when they’re properly set on top of lifts.)

Vehicles topple or slide off lifts when users don’t adhere to one or more of the following crucial procedures: setting the vehicle at the proper lifting points; installing the wrong lift adapters; using adjustable adapters in the wrong fashion; neglecting to account for the vehicle’s center of gravity; and so on and so forth.

Car lifts are objectively dangerous tools when used by inexperienced or misguided technicians. When you even hear the words “car lift,” your brain should automatically register the fact that lifting a vehicle is a serious endeavor with life-threatening risks if mandatory lifting precautions are ignored or for whatever reason forgotten.

Before You Use or Buy a Car Lift
To begin with, you should never even consider a two-post lift that is not certified according to ANSI/ALI ALCTV-2011 or ANSI/UL 201. There are, unfortunately, companies that make grand claims without providing evidence of certification. You’ve seen those Carfax commercials? “Show me the Carfax,” is their catchy slogan, and the company provides car shoppers a set of important safety standards that apply to used cars. The same concept of high standards should apply every time you’re looking at a two-post lift. “Show me your ANSI certification,” isn’t as catchy, but it’s important. One more thing: never, ever buy a used car lift. It’s not a “good deal.” It’s a toe-tag.

Lift Points and Center of Gravity
Vehicle lift points are located at different places, depending on the make and model of the vehicle being lifted. You probably know this, but it only takes one mistake to ruin your day (or your life). Because the center of gravity is not necessarily located at the “true center” of any given vehicle, using the right lifting points is crucial during every lift.

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A vehicle’s center of gravity is usually not the “center” of the vehicle

Why some people consistently neglect to do this, mechanics included, is beyond our ability to reason. Failure to place the lift pads at the correct lifting points results in an imbalanced sitting on the lift arms, which overloads the arms and leads to cars sliding off their intended placements. If for some reason you cannot find the lifting points on your vehicle by using your eyes, the Internet or calling the vehicle’s customer service line, you can still measure for the center of gravity and determine where those lifting points can be found.

Using Adapter Sets
Clearly labeled on your car lift manual, you will always find instructions for using lift adapters. Adapters, sometimes sold separately from the lift(s) they accompany, are meant to be used on trucks, SUVs and other vehicles with recessed lifting points that require a little “boost” to be reached. In the picture below, you can see a vehicle that was not properly set on a lift; as a result, the vehicle slide off the lift pads and onto the arms.

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Operator should not have stacked two small adapters or used flat pads

Two critical errors are at play here, so it’s no wonder something went wrong. For one, note the far-left pad adapter in the distance. The lifting points for this particular vehicle require a 6″ adapter and frame cradle pad. The image, however, shows that two, 3″ adapters were stacked together, a complete violation of common sense and factory-recommended protocol. Additionally, flat pads were utilized instead of recommended frame cradle pads that are required on a vehicle of this size. Frame cradle pads prevent adapters from slipping off heavier vehicle frames. This information is all part of the basic operations guide that accompanies every two-post car lift, regardless of the manufacturer.

If you consider yourself a responsible mechanic, technician or DIYer, you know the scene pictured above is an embarrassing and haphazard setup that’s also a recipe for disaster. We’re happy to report, however, that no one was hurt as a result of negligence in this case. To reiterate, two small adapters do not replace a single large one; and as mentioned, one should never skip out on using frame cradle pads (pictured below) when they’re recommended for the vehicle one needs lifted.

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Frame cradle pad for two-post lifts

By the way, the phrase “factory-recommended” is not a mere take-it-or-leave-it suggestion. Any time a manufacturer “recommends” a procedure, they are legally releasing their liability for product performance in cases of user error, negligence and/or misinterpretation of the instruction.

It goes without saying that all instruction manuals should be read front-to-back by lift operators. To speak as broad of a truth as we can, no company/manufacturer on the planet will hold themselves liable for an operator’s unsafe operation of a car lift. If you’d like to see learn more about two-post lift safety, a more technical safety guide can be found here.

Complacency, or When Common Sense becomes Uncommon*

dilbert

lol

We—as a society—rarely hear people admit to their lack of common sense, but we’ve all said at one point or another something along the lines of, “He’s a nice guy… poor fella just doesn’t have any common sense.”

We’re going to diagnose this “common sense problem” as a complacency problem. Complacency, as one business journalist for the Washington Post writes, “occurs when employees feel really comfortable with the way things are or have always been.” The worst thing that can happen to an auto mechanic is for complacency to set in around what is arguably the most dangerous and routine part of the job: lifting and lowering vehicles. There are people—having never experienced a vehicle slipping off its lift points—who will try to save a few minutes by setting vehicles by memory or feel; in other words, there are people who take (or ignore) serious risks in the name of better efficiency. The photo below shows another angle of the “double small adapter” scenario we discussed earlier; it’s the result of doing things “in the name of better efficiency.”

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Even your experienced 10-year veteran mechanic can get so used to lifting and lowering vehicles a certain way that he/she skips steps in the process. Lifting vehicles by feel, trusting in one’s own experience and intuition, using eye tests and quick taps to assert safe lift pad placement, etc. are all shortcuts that result from being overly complacent in the workplace. To avoid scenes like the one above, use the factory-recommended lift points at all times and know how to properly utilize adapter sets. In other words, use your common sense.

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Correctly positioned frame cradle pads

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Side view of correctly position frame cradle pad

*When this final section was being written, the author, who had grown complacent (a.ka. cutting corners), had solely drafted work on a cloud-based server, did not reserve a backup copy of the draft and lost a significant portion of text when the browser demanded an unexpected log-in because “the session expired.” Wisdom à la Alanis Morissette comes to mind.

Should I Buy Diesel, Gas, Hybrid or Electric? (Part 2 of 2)

August 9th, 2016

Part 1 of this series focused on diesel and gas options. Part 2 explores the pros and cons of hybrid and electric vehicle types.

If you’re interested in hybrid and/or electric car options, you’re probably a go-getter who finds excitement in all things futuristic, new, advanced and efficient. Can’t say we blame you! Most of the headline-grabbing advances in auto tech seem to be happening outside the realm of conventional gas and diesel. So, what can we really expect to see in the future?

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Tip of the Hat to Hydrogen (Who’s always been “Number 1”)
You got us: it’s neither hybrid nor electric, and the technology might not be mass-produced for some years to come, but hydrogen cars are simply too cool to ignore, so we’re shedding a little light on the situation.

While hydrogen-fueled cars are slowly entering the picture, with about 3,000 of Toyota’s Mirais scheduled to be released by the end of 2017, we suspect it’s going to be a while before manufacturers refine the technology, convince the public of its safety, build fueling stations, train professionals on servicing new parts and make the vehicles cost-effective for a majority of consumers. The technology lives but it’s limited. Hundai’s Tuscon is a new hydrogen-cell car that, like the Mirai, is only available in select parts of California. All this being said, things have come a long way since the turn of the millennium. The prospect of hydrogen, hybrid and electric cars makes this an exciting time to geek out over car tech.

Hybrid Pros and ConsHydrogen
The Toyota Prius may be the poster child for hybrid efficiency, but luxury, utility and SUV options are becoming as much a part of the hybrid mainstay. The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is back after a year-long break, during which Honda shuffled manufacturing facilities. The new model looks to compete directly with the Toyota Camry Hybrid and is a great example of the trend we’re seeing in newer hybrids. The interior is sportier than the comparable Camry hybrid and costs $3,000 and some change more, but it has better fuel economy (Accord, 48 mpg / Camry, 40 mpg). Despite these differences, the most significant factor here is the overall change in direction we’re seeing from hybrid producers. Consumers want more than just bread-and-butter gas efficiency. They want style and the feel that they’re driving a real car, not a modified go-cart with a backseat bench. The best indicator of this change is the fact that more luxury hybrid vehicles are hitting the market each year.

The bottom line on hybrids is that you’re going to spend a little more to save on mileage over the life of your car. Like we said in Part 1 about diesels, if you don’t actually keep your car long enough to see the mileage rewards, what’s the point? If you want better mileage but price is the sticking point, you can always buy a hybrid used, save a few thousand and still get great mpg.

Hybrids are also smaller and less powerful than their gas counterparts. If 4-cylinder engines just aren’t your thing, there are a few hybrid trucks out there (the Chevy Silverado 1500 Hybrid comes to mind), and an upcoming Ford F-150 scheduled for 2020 that looks interesting, but other than that, you’re not touting much power and speed when you go hybrid. But you already knew that, right?

Final thought here: we talk to a lot of car guys and gals in our line of work, and not many of them get very excited about wrenching on hybrids The tech is beyond a lot of DIY-folk who grew up rebuilding old Fords and Chevys; some just prefer the simplicity of working with purely mechanical parts. Nothing wrong with that.

Hybrid Verdict
As you might expect, we think hybrids are awesome and keep getting better. They retain their value pretty well, and the higher upfront cost compared to conventional gas is well worth the long-term savings. Just don’t expect a nice return on investment if you’re going to swap cars every couple of  years for the newer, prettier model. Hybrid drivers, especially those who find the premium 40+ mpg range, make significantly fewer trips to the gas pump but may have increased repair costs. Unless you somehow rack up crazy repair bills, this sort of financial give-and-take should still work in your favor if you decide to go hybrid.

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Tesla Model S charging at home

Electric Pros and Cons
Let’s first briefly (and non-politically) cover the controversial price of “going green.” It’s appropriate to put quotes around the “green” label, as carbon emissions come in many forms, including the way your grid produces electricity. In fact, the Devonshire Research Group, an investment firm that attempts to put “true value” on tech companies, believes Tesla has an overvalued stock and an image whose eco-friendliness is over-hyped. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that it takes energy to produce our electricity, which sometimes means carbon emissions (especially if your electricity is produced from coal), and we know that auto manufacturing is likely never going to be 100% green. When all is said and done, the gas we burn in conventional engines is still leaving a larger eco footprint than electric vehicles. If being eco-friendly is important to you, an electric car is definitely a step in the right direction. (And run your dishwasher at night, take shorter showers, don’t let the water run when you brush… you know the drill.)

But let’s look into that other price: the one you know is waiting for you on every sticker on every car in every dealership in America; the one your frugal father used to have vivid nightmares about; the one that made you stop car shopping altogether. Yeah, that one.  There’s a wide price range in the electric field (no pun intended), but you’re looking at spending at least $25,000 – $30,000 for a new electric car. That link should give you a sense of what hybrid and electric cars cost.

Price aside, one of the biggest drawbacks of electric vehicles is the limited driving range they offer. The upcoming Tesla 3 is getting a lot of hype for it’s 200+ mile range, whereas many other cars, like the Chevy Spark, are getting about half that distance per charge. If you have a garage that you can plug into every night and don’t travel much beyond the daily commute, you’re probably fine!  Apartment renters might be out of luck, unless you see yourself waiting at a charging station every other day. (Pro tip: don’t do that to yourself.)

We would be remiss in writing this article if we didn’t point out the obvious: you’re going to save a lot of money with an electric car. The IRS offers tax breaks for many electric cars (including some hybrids, as well), which can save you up to $7,500. Additionally, charging an electric car costs a fraction of what you pay at the pump. It’s hard to pin down what you’ll pay because the price of electricity is always in a state of flux, and different states have different rates, etc. etc. One government estimate says you’ll pay $25 – $107 per 1,000 miles (Hawaii being on that high end). Those are hefty savings compared to gas. How electric vehicles are serviced is another question, however. The repairs are more expensive, as they are with hybrids. How you drive and how often you wind up in the shop should be taken into consideration, as well.

Electric Verdbaby-with-a-laptopict
Buying a car is kind of like deciding when to have a baby, isn’t it? You’ve got to plan out every need and obstacle you may face along the way, brace yourself for short-term down payments and expenses, and have a reserve for incidents that might occur down the road. And like a baby, now may not be the right time. This is especially true when it comes to electric vehicles. You need a house with a garage to get your charging done, so forget about electric if you can’t house and charge the thing properly. Extended road trips might not be feasible unless you plan accordingly and find charge stations along the way, but this is likely to become less difficult with time. And last but not least, electric cars tend to have a higher sticker price than comparable gas models.

For now, weigh your options and conduct thorough research. With the exception of our little nod to hydrogen tech, the all-electric car is the most significant, and potentially difficult, purchasing leap to make. If it’s worth it to you and not a deep hassle to make the switch, we wouldn’t be shocked if you wind up loving your new electric car. Pun intended.

Should I Buy Diesel, Gas, Hybrid or Electric? (Part 1 of 2)

July 22nd, 2016
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More free, public electric charge stations are popping up… but is an electric car the best vehicle for your needs?

Part 1: Keeping With Tradition
By all accounts, we live in the age of choice. Thanks to an extremely competitive new and used car sales market, there are more car options than ever before: diesel, gas, hybrid and electric options are sold in every price range, and there are pros and cons to every type. Electric car manufacturers like Tesla draw their public appeal from being a sport/luxury vehicle that offers elite style with a smaller eco footprint than a Toyota Prius, but the upfront cost is beyond most buyers. On the other end of the spectrum, tried-and-true gas staples like Toyota’s Corolla and Camry lines offer users product familiarity, gas economy and renowned durability, but they’re not necessarily making waves in terms of what lies ahead in the “the future.” Of course, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Subaru and many other companies are manufacturing hybrids to keep up with the demand for more eco-friendly solutions. If getting the best fuel economy for your money is a top priority, we can help you sort through and evaluate your choices. So let’s look at the pros and cons of buying diesel, gas, hybrid and electric vehicles.

Part 1 of this series will focus on diesel and gas options, the more “traditional” engine types. Part 2 will explore the pros and cons of hybrid and electric vehicle types.

diesel meter

Diesel pros and cons
The term “deferred gratification” applies well to diesel engines and represents an important life lesson when it comes to saving money. Deferred gratification is the idea that you get more from an investment if you wait months or even years after investing to see the benefits. Retirement policies are the best example: it takes decades to turn tens of thousands of invested dollars into hundreds of thousands, and it happens slowly over the course of a lifetime. Smart investors know that while it feels like you’re losing money in the present, the earnings down the road are well worth the wait. Consider that the average diesel engine lasts over twice as long as a conventional gas engine, but the diesel sticker price runs about $1,000 to $3,000 more. Diesel engines get more our of each gallon, which easily translates into more savings and fewer trips to the pump; however, the immediate cost at the pump is higher for each fill-up. This turns some people away from diesel.

In the short term, a diesel car is going to cost a little more. The savings don’t come in the form of big “blowout-this-weekend-only-everything-must-go-buy-now-or-miss-it” sales, the likes of which car dealerships, malls and businesses across America try to lure you into with the illusion of saving your wallet from the evil “other guy.” Diesel engines, like any investment, will earn you savings over time. If you don’t plan on running keeping a diesel car for at least seven years and 200,000 miles (or more), you might not benefit enough to make it worth the cost.

Diesel Verdict
Diesels are an excellent solution for car buyers who are looking to stick with their vehicle for the long-term. And unlike electric charging stations, diesel pumps are found at virtually every conventional gas station. If you’re more into leasing or purchasing new/used vehicles every five years, you’ll enjoy better mpg (than most conventional gas engines), but it’s a little harder to say if you’ll make up for the higher upfront cost to get the long-term cost benefits.

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The gas-run 2016 Ford Fiesta gets 31/43 mpg

Conventional gas pros and cons
There’s more room for debate here than in any other category. We can say right now that if you’re into most sports, luxury, race and muscle cars, and certainly if you’re into classic cars, then conventional gas engines are probably your go-to option. Being the most common car type, service shops are most equipped to service engine parts (along with diesel), so parts/labor costs are often lower. Likewise, the expert DIY’er will benefit from paying less for parts.

Gas engines offer such a range in mpg that it’s safe to say the biggest factor in determining the life of your gas engine is you. Do you want a big truck? Then you’re not going to get top mileage. Do you want a turbocharged V8? (And we ain’t talking vegetable juice.) No argument here, but you’re not going that route for the mpg. If muscle isn’t a concern, a lower-cost gas-run vehicle can save you on the sticker price and get you at or around 40 mpg. It’s harder to say if the quality of the vehicle and durability of its parts are up to snuff, but much of that will be determined by how you drive and maintain your vehicle. All this being said, conventional gas engines have improved significantly in the past few years, and virtually every major car company is offering new-and-improved models that feature better gas mileage than past models.

Gas Verdict
It just depends what you’re looking for. If you want to get the most mileage per gallon, as well as a lower sticker price, a gas engine may be for you. That being said, when it comes to mileage, the best gas engine will always fall short of the best hybrid engine. As the technology stands today and at least into the near future, gas vehicles are cheaper hybrids and electrics (comparing vehicles in a similar class). The cost savings over time are hard to quantify down to a science, so keep the gas option on the table if you’re looking to save money and get good mileage.

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Gas fuel sticker example. Gas engine mpg varies greatly.

Ranger Products Releases RP-50FC 25-Ton Capacity Oil Filter Crusher

July 18th, 2016

Santa Paula, California – July 2016 –
crusher renderRanger Products is debuting a new oil filter crusher that flattens used oil filters with over 50,000 lbs. of crushing force, reducing them to 20% of their original size. The Ranger RP-50FC transforms used oil filters, normally regulated by the EPA, into general refuse by squeezing out 95% of residual oil and transforming the used filter into a compact puck that can then be disposed of as normal waste or recycled for profit. By removing virtually all of the residual oil, operators are able to eliminate EPA mandates and separately recycle both the used oil and crushed oil filters. With recycled waste oil realizing prices as high as a dollar per gallon and recycled scrap metal prices on the rise, the Ranger RP-50FC oil filter crusher earns business owners a return on investment over time.

The Ranger RP-50FC comes with many built-in features to ensure convenient use and safe operation of the oil filter crusher. Simple operator controls are ergonomically placed to minimize operator reach and movement during faced-paced, high-repetition work. A fully automatic cycle feature allows operators to load filters, push a button and walk away. Also included is a remote electric foot switch that allows convenient, hands-free operation of all basic controls. A built-in automatic safety door with a reinforced transparent viewing window stops everything if and when the door opens. Equipped with a rugged stand, the RP-50FC accommodates collection drums ranging from 5 to 55 gallons. Powered by a 2 HP, 208 – 240V, 50 / 60 Hz, 20A single-phase, electric/hydraulic pump.

About BendPak‐Ranger: BendPak / Ranger manufactures car lifts, parking lifts, pipe benders, and air compressors. Their Ranger Products brand includes tire changers, wheel balancers, wheel aligners, brake lathes, and a wide variety of garage equipment. BendPak and Ranger related marks are registered trademarks of BendPak Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. For more information contact BendPak Inc. at 1-800-253-2363 or visit www.bendpak.com. General press inquiries: info@bendpak.com.

The 5 Best Cars to take on a Road Trip this Summer

July 15th, 2016

We’re coming to that point in summer when most of us have either made the big getaway-vacation plan or otherwise come to fear that it may be too late. Not so! The great North American landscape is full of potential for thrill-seekers, weekend warriors and of course, the most rugged outdoorsy type. The car you drive is just as important as the company you keep when it comes to the summer road trip. If you don’t already have a solid travel vehicle, you can always try your local car rental. They probably have just what you need. Below are five of our favorite road-trip-worthy vehicles for an old-fashioned American vacation, whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or an opportunity to make the world laugh, we have you covered. Note: we’ve made the exutive decision to remove the year from the make and model in many cases (no discriminating against old jalopies here).

Best in Comfort: Honda Odyssey
Some of you are going to have to choke this one down, we get it. But if you have kids, a dog(s) or just a ton of gear to stow, the Odyssey is a pretty sweet option. The infamous 15-cup holder extravaganza comes standard. Road trippers will enjoy the Touring Elite package that gets you so much by way of road trip glory: the 16.2″ screen that can play two videos at once (how far we’ll go to keep children quiet); fuel efficiency to get excited about; low insurance costs; built-in navigation system. Six-speed automatic transmission. The Odyssey is always on the forefront of family-friendly design. And even if you’re packing a smaller crew, your road trip couldn’t be any more comfortable.

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2016 Honda Odyssey interior

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2016 Corvette Stingray

Best in Style: Corvette Stingray 
Okay, so we were originally going with a Bentley here but felt the title of this article would have to change to “The 5 Cars You Need to Take on a Road Trip… That Cost as much as a House.” Let’s face it, the Corvette Stingray design is one of the most, if not the most, recognizable American production lines ever assembled. The new redesign looks sweet (but the classic pre-1982 models are just as sweet), and with a 6.2-liter small block V8 engine and 455 horsepower, the starting price of 55K is… well, it’s a Corvette! So while you’re at it, be sure to get the Bose surround-sound audio package and your cross-country road trip for two will be the sexiest thing on the highway for hundreds of miles around. If you have an older model, be sure to get a good tune-up before you embark, but with a Corvette you’re bound to have an adventure you and your significant other will remember for the rest of your lives. Thanks, Chevy.

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The Amphicar: the only time you see a picture like this and it’s NOT a family emergency. Wave hello!

Best in Hilarity: Amphicar Model 770
Are you travelling a relatively short distance on a well-paved road? Can you get there safely? Can you get there in less than a couple hours? Can you find a lake or river where there aren’t really waves… or a tide… or an undertow? If you answered yes to any of the above, consider the Amphicar one of the most strangely exciting vehicles to vacation in. Roam the urban terrain and err… not-so-high seas… in a car! Come on, that’s a pretty hilarious road trip adventure. Imagine the look on people’s faces when you drive straight off the boat ramp into the water. The Amphicar didn’t last in production very long (because it didn’t work very well), but a small community of dedicated followers hold the faith that this little rough gem of the 1960s deserves its dues. So why not have a hilarious road trip and always recall “that time we went sailing in an Amphicar.”

Best in Speed: 2016 Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4
Sorry, had to wipe a little drool off the keyboard. Or a lot. Speaking of cars that cost as much as a house, this speedster is road-trip-ridiculous in every way. Ready for it? 5.2 L V10 engagine, 602 HP, 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, top speed of over 202 MPH and still somehow 21 MPG on the highway. Taller individuals will probably struggle with the smaller cabin size, and don’t really think about packing heavy. In fact, if you’re in for a solo trip or ride next to a non-fussy individual who’s just happy to be there, you can travel distance in relative comfort (with frequent stops, no doubt). Any way you cut it, this car sings. Just check it out:

Best Overall: Mazda Miata Mx-5
Surprised? Let’s take everything into account that matters in a car or a road trip, even factors that weren’t explicitly mentioned in our above categories: affordability, style, comfort, fuel efficiency, fun… the MX-5 is a fun, accessible road trip vehicle to the average driver. Its base model costs about 24K new and gets 36 MPG highway, which is pretty darn impressive for a non-hybrid convertible. Obviously not a “family car,” the MX-5 seats two and has enough trunk space for light packers. Sporty, elegant and fun, it’s a great car for those who don’t want to spend twice its asking price on a new Corvette. Car and Driver even ranks the MX-5 among the 10 best cars of 2016. There isn’t much not to love here, unless you were just born a hater.

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2016 Mazda Miata, your crowned victor of the road trip

Despite Fatal Auto Pilot Crash, Tesla Primed for Market Dominance

July 12th, 2016
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Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla

Santa Paula, CA—July 2016—There are two major indicators that Tesla’s Model 3 is turning over the world of auto repair and professional service. First and foremost, as of July 12, 2016, the Tesla 3 model, which is expected to cost consumers $35,000, already has 325,000 pre-orders/deposits. For context, the Toyota Camry sold just over 250,000 units in 2015. Meanwhile, the Chevy Silverado sold 330,000 units that year. The only higher-selling vehicles were the Ford F-series, which includes multiple models. So if you’re in the business of auto repair, the future is fast falling upon you.

The second indicator that Tesla isn’t going anywhere is that their chief executive, Elon Musk, is assuring the public that despite the fatal crash that killed a Tesla test driver who was utilizing his vehicle’s autopilot system, the company has no plans to abandon the autopilot. In other words, don’t expect to see any production delays or product recalls. Body shops can expect to see hundreds of thousands (and eventually millions) of Tesla models on the road, which means the market will soon be saturated with new repairs for new technologies.

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Special riveters are required by Tesla (actual model required may be different)

To even become a Tesla-approved body shop, the Tesla certification requires “three five-day courses at $1,500 each and a [special] riveter.” Further complicating the process, reports of somewhat minor body damage costing consumers tens of thousands of dollars for repairs indicate that now is a good time to get on the Tesla repair know-how bandwagon. Why? The economics of it are simple: the more Tesla vehicles get put on the market, the less the brand will be considered a “specialty” or luxury name and the cheaper these repairs will become. Cheaper, but no less technologically advanced. This puts professional shops in a prime position to benefit from these upcoming market changes, if they are prepared.

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$30,000 worth of damage on a Tesla S (parts and labor)

Body shop owner Larry Peotter is aware of the inherent costs in servicing new vehicle fleets, having just spent $300,000 on Audi service upgrades, but he knows the importance of being available to as wide of a customer base as possible. Mr. Peotter claims that he is already seeing a return on his investment. He says, “You’re giving yourself a new source of work, and you’re becoming an expert to a customer base that is going to really want that.”

As the Tesla brand grows, as suggested by 325,000 (and growing) Model 3 back-orders, the auto service market is probably going to be a step behind, which means your shop can get certified early (yes, you’ll have to eat the upfront certification costs in the short run) and be the most experienced body shop in the neighborhood when it comes to servicing the vehicles of tomorrow. This isn’t meant to be a Tesla plug, but clearly the company has caught the public attention for the time being. We’ll continue to follow this story, as well as other technological innovations in the automotive world.

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Larry Peotter, body shop owner

BendPak Unveils Elite Series of Multi-Stage Air Compressors

July 1st, 2016

V-Max Elite Air Compressor

Santa Paula, California – July 2016 – BendPak recently introduced a new family of two-stage air compressors to increase their presence in the commercial and industrial markets. Their latest V-Max Elite Air Compressor Series models are equipped with 7.5 or 10 horsepower energy-efficient motors paired with huge 4-cylinder 100% cast iron pumps resting on 80-gallon or 120-gallon welded steel tanks. V-Max Elite models are perfectly matched for busy shops and businesses that demand round-the-clock air supply, less energy consumption and low service and maintenance requirements. A slightly smaller model, the TS-5 Elite Air Compressor, is equipped with a 5 horsepower energy-efficient motor paired with a twin cylinder cast iron pump.

“Our new Elite Series models raise the ante in our industry and completely change the game,” said Jeff Kritzer, Senior Vice President of Marketing for BendPak. “We’ve had a presence in the air compressor business for over a decade, but nothing in our past lineup ever compared to these new models. It puts BendPak on a whole new level.”

All Elite series pumps feature balanced pistons, industrial-grade connecting rods, easy-access disc valves, forged iron crankshafts, tapered roller main bearings and dual-belt drive systems. Low-RPM operation delivers air in almost total silence and forced-air after-coolers chill the air for reduced heat and condensation.

About BendPak‐Ranger: BendPak / Ranger manufactures car lifts, parking lifts, pipe benders and air compressors. Their Ranger Products brand includes tire changers, wheel balancers, wheel aligners, brake lathes, and a wide variety of garage equipment. BendPak and Ranger related marks are registered trademarks of BendPak Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. For more information contact BendPak Inc. at 1-800-253-2363 or visit www.bendpak.com. General press inquiries: info@bendpak.com.

V-Max Elite Air Compressor Motor
TS-5-Elite-Air-Compressor-Motor

8 Car Shows to get Excited About this Summer and Fall (2016)

June 27th, 2016

It’s hard to believe that six months ago we were still ringing in the New Year. Early winter showcased, as usual, the two largest and most public car shows in the world: Detroit’s North American International Auto Show and the Chicago Auto Show. Cars and car tech are getting faster, sleeker, safer and debatably more gorgeous every year.

In case you missed the Midwest’s winter tale of two car shows, or you just love to get out and explore the world while you talk shop, we’ve compiled a guide to eight more car shows happening through December 2016, six of which are completely open to the public. Only the Las Vegas SEMA Show and Indianapolis Performance Racing Industry show are held specifically for aftermarket trade specialists, so if your business qualifies, both shows offer excellent opportunities to network around the auto business.

Gatebil—Norway, July 7th – July 10thrudskogen-gatebil-quickjack
If you live in Europe or feel like rounding out your post-Fourth of July celebrations with a little international visit to our friends up in Northern Europe, Gatebil is perhaps the liveliest event on this roster. By day you will enjoy races, booth exhibitions, aftermarket / auto-related innovations and more. After sundown, Gatebil sort of turns into the world’s sexiest auto event. Enjoy concerts, dancing and all the fanfare of an intoxicated party atmosphere.

Kids under 12 are free to attend, so you can believe that this is as much a family racing and auto event by day as it is a youthful celebration of… well, partying… by night. If this event sounds like your scene, Gatebil also features a community of campers who stay at one of five sanctioned campsites or a number of local hotel options. There are enough lots and spaces such that you don’t have to engage, hear, or mix in with the party-goers, even if you camp out, so the choice is yours to make whatever you want out of this trip.

Lemans Classic—France, July 8th – July 10thlemans-classic-quickjack
The Lemans Classic take “classic” very seriously: races and exhibitions feature classic racing cars that are brought back into the fold for three days of fast-paced competition. Only vehicles that raced before 1979 are allowed to participate; cars are divided into six racing categories, and drivers must be FIA-licensed professional racers. It’s fun, competitive action, the likes of which is not seen anywhere else in the world. If you’re a race fan and want the sights and experience of a early/mid-20th century event, the Lemans Classic is exactly what you need. There will be plenty of booths and exhibitions to enjoy between races, so you’re sure to get your fill during your visit.

And since it’s France, where fashion and dress is emphasized a bit more than back here in the states, there is a dress code. They call appropriate attire for this event “smart casual.” For men, this means slacks and shirts with a collar.

Hot August Nights—Reno, NV, August 2nd – August 7th hot-august-nights-quickjack-car-lift
Hot August Nights is a little like Gatebil in the sense that it combines a day of auto exhibitions with nightly entertainment and live concerts. This is much more family-oriented in the entertainment department; classic rock acts like the surviving members of the Monkees, America, a Beatles tribute band and many more headline the experience. The heart and soul of this show is the drag racing, which draws thousands spectators and features some ridiculously fast racers speeding down blocked-off neighborhood roads. If you love fast cars, professional street racing, aftermarket exhibitions and live music, Hot August Nights is the perfect summer family getaway or professional networking opportunity.

Corvettes at Carlisle Show—Carlisle, PA, August 25th – August 28thcarlisle-corvette-show-quickjack
Corvette lovers need no introduction to this event. This coveted annual show is the largest Corvette-centric show in the world. Special guests include Richard Petty, “Daisy Duke” Catherine Bach, “Cletus Hoggs” Rick Hurst and Rachel Debarros of All Girls Garage. This show is more about showcasing awesome cars than it is racing, but automotive booths will be featured alongside thousands upon thousands of Corvettes, representing virtually every model and production year. If you can make it to the East Coast this summer, there’s no other Corvette program quite like this one.

Automechanika—Frankfurt, Germany, Sept 13th – 17th quickjack-at-automechanika
This event is the delight of auto enthusiasts worldwide. Unlike SEMA Show and PRI, which also showcase the latest in auto tech and innovation, this event is open to the public. It’s a great opportunity to see new technology, service upgrades and internal driving systems that could soon be implemented in vehicles worldwide. If you run a service shop or conduct home repairs, it’s a chance to see what the future will bring before everyone else. Those of us who make a living in the auto industry should look at this as a priceless opportunity to explore new auto technology. And if you’re an amateur enthusiast or home garage hobbyist, you have a full week (five days) to indulge is all the new car tech and gadgetry you can handle.

KOAA Show—Seoul, Korea, October 19th – 21stKOAA-show-quickjack
As the first Korean car show, KOAA is looking to make a major splash in the industry. With exhibitions featuring every aspect of automotive construction, from new parts/materials to innovative telematics/infotainment, this car show promises to offer a cutting-edge look into the future of auto production and aftermarket innovation. Their exhibition list looks like a complete rundown of every single auto component. We expect companies to unveil sophisticated technologies in unlikely places: carpets/mats, screws, tiny motor parts, etc. So far, it seems like Korea is going to be a new player in the car show realm. If you want to be a part of history, the new KOAA is sure to offer a unique experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

SEMA Show—Las Vegas, Nov 1st – Nov 4th (Closed to Public)SEMA-quickjack-car-jack
The SEMA Show is the world’s auto convention of largest industry insiders. Only qualified business professionals who can verify their work/business status are granted entry. When it comes to car tech knowledge sharing and networking, SEMA is the ultimate means to getting ultimate exposure. Attendees aren’t here to party or lounge around with the family—the thousands of serious, like-minded car enthusiasts found at SEMA are here to keep up with the times, improve their businesses and stay hands-on in an active and exciting community of professional gearheads. Booths will be offering products, discounts and services in just about every capacity imaginable. Be prepared to see the auto aftermarket industry in a whole new light and close out 2016 with clear insight into the future.

Performance Racing Industry—Indianapolis, IN, Dec 8th – Dec 10th (Closed to Public)pri-quickjack
With several thousand booths’ worth of auto tech, racing equipment and friendly business insiders to occupy your time, the PRI is an exclusive opportunity held only for those credentialed in racing and aftermarket retail/manufacturing. Like SEMA, PRI is all about the new, but with more focus on the racing end of the industry. Three days is hardly enough to see everything, but you’ll know exactly what’s out there to keep your car and driver safer, faster and more competitive in 2017 and beyond. You’ll see live pit crew demonstrations, tour the inner workings of exciting automotive repair technology and crack beers with just about everyone you meet. PRI is a lively atmosphere filled with thousands of dedicated automotive race professionals. If it ain’t racing, you won’t find it at PRI.

How to Keep your Car and Loved Ones Safe this Summer

June 23rd, 2016

Summer is officially here in America, and looking at one national weather report for summer 2016, it’s likely to get very hot. Average temperatures vary depending on where you live, but the overall message is that North America is going to experience above-average temperatures across the board. This is especially true in the East, and the heat in Southern California is made worse by the ongoing drought. The only places that look to experience normal temperatures are Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, which benefit from warm ocean tides and exceptional cloud cover to retain moisture and block heat.

Increased heat, unfortunately, almost always means the same sad stories, year after year. Children, pets and your vehicle are at risk in the elements, which ultimately puts you at risk, as well. (Ever had your air conditioning go out in the middle of the desert?) Most of the time, these calamities are avoidable. Take a look at the things you can do to have a happier, safer and more productive summer.

Pets, Kids and Cars: “I’m just going in for a minute”
Sometimes we mean to just leave our car for a minute or two, but there’s a line at the check-out. You see someone you know. Time passes. We all know better than to leave pets or kids in the car for extended periods of time, but sometimes those little life errands get in the way, and yes, it saves us considerable time to just leave dogs and kids in the car. But consider this: in just 20 minutes, internal car temperature can rise 30°F and continues to increase internally for about an hour. That means after an hour on a REALLY hot 95°F day, the temperature inside your vehicle can reach an incredible 140°F. These are deadly conditions. If your child needs to be with you when you do your errands, bring him or her inside the store with you. Here’s a rule you can use, and don’t make exceptions: if you’re leaving your car for longer than it takes you to withdraw money from an ATM, leave your pet at home.

Estimated Vehicle Interior Air Temperature v. Elapsed Time
Elapsed time Outside Air Temperature (F)
70 75 80 85 90 95
0 minutes 70 75 80 85 90 95
10 minutes 89 94 99 104 109 114
20 minutes 99 104 109 114 119 124
30 minutes 104 109 114 119 124 129
40 minutes 108 113 118 123 128 133
50 minutes 111 116 121 126 131 136
60 minutes 113 118 123 128 133 138
> 1 hour 115 120 125 130 135 140

Courtesy Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University

Radiator
Radiators have an awful tendency to overheat in the summer, which means cars are breaking down and people are left stranded in physically (and emotionally) uncomfortable situations. Your radiator should be flushed regularly (every two years or so) and filled with coolant according to your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.

OverheatedCar

You can also check your temperature gauge when you’re on the road. If it “goes into the red,” turn off your A/C and blast your heat as high as you can. This sounds miserable, but it can prevent engine death and buy you enough time to get to a professional shop. Until you make it to a professional, roll your windows down and keep calm. There’s nothing more dangerous than a driver who’s losing control of his or her emotions on the road.

Hoses
Speaking of coolant, the hoses through which your coolant flows need to be checked for cracks and leaks. Soft/spongy hoses are a sign of damage, and these hoses should be replaced as soon as possible before they fail.FH04APR_FASFIX_02

Oil
Oil is a lubricant for your vehicle and cools down moving parts that have a tendency to get hot. When it gets hot this summer, make sure your oil is fresh and filled to the right levels. Get your oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles if you want to keep your car running well, especially in heat.

Battery
Batteries and severe weather, both hot and cold, do not mix. Every three years, it’s wise to examine your battery see if it’s up to snuff. If you see signs of corrosion, take care of the situation quickly.

Battery corrosion

Battery corrosion

Air Conditioning
Air conditioning systems, especially in older vehicles whose systems aren’t as sharp as they once were, are prone to failure when subject to high temperatures. Air filters need to be periodically replaced and refrigerant needs to be maintained. Hint: if you’re taking a country-country trip this summer, don’t be caught trying to make it through Death Valley—or some other hot location—or anywhere, really—with an old car, unless you make sure its A/C system is fully functional. In fact, if you’re going on a big trip, a tune-up is always a smart idea.

Sweet air conditioning modification

Flippin’ sweet A/C mod

Tires
Your tire tread is literally what connects you to the road, so it’s crucial that your tires are inflated and the tread isn’t worn down. In hot conditions, low-pressure tires may briefly experience a pressure increase, which can disguise the real problem. Check your tire pressure monthly, as blowouts are dangerous and all-too-common during the summer months.

Wiper Blades
Your wiper blades can corrode in the heat, which makes them less effective when it rains. Replace them if they need to be replaced—a lot of people skimp on this one.

Signs you need new wiper blades

Signs you need new wiper blades

Safety Kit  
Last of all, keep a safety kit in your vehicle at all times. Consider keeping a supply of water, dry food, jumper cables, a spare tire, car jack/stand, flashlight/extra batteries, first-aid kit, etc. You never know when you might need any of the above items. Whatever your plans, please be smart this summer when you’re on the road. Be safe out there and have some fun.

Safety kit example

Safety kit example

How Can I Stay Competitive in the Auto Repair Market?

June 16th, 2016
1951-gm-lesabre

Back to the future: the groundbreaking 1951 GM Le Sabre

In the United States, there are currently 1.1 vehicles registered for every one person in the country (16-years-old and over). Simple math says there are more cars than people in America, and this is good news for the auto industry. Vehicles will always need to be serviced, and it’s nearly impossible to outsource this industry overseas. For both car enthusiasts and shop owners—and just about everyone who drives or will drive a car—the auto landscape is quickly changing in profound ways. The changes will affect everything about the owner/car relationship, and if auto-related businesses and DIY’ers (BendPak falls into this category) don’t stay on top of the market, their ability to service vehicles on both the professional and DIY levels will be reduced or fundamentally restricted.

The concept boils down to one idea: auto mechanics need to educate themselves in a much more “techy” manner than in the past, if they want to be able to service newer, more digitally-controlled vehicle processes. Plus, Mechanic under car consulting futuristic interfacethe auto repair industry, like it or not, is shrinking. Let’s look at some industry-busting stats. Millions of technicians are retiring now or in the near future, and there are not millions of young techs to replace them. At the same time, cars are lasting longer than ever before; the so-called “sweet spot” for aftermarket repairs today (6 – 11 years old) will only increase by the year 2020. In the next five years, the market will see 76 million vehicles at least 16 years old. This means that cars fitted with today’s technology are here to stay, which in turn means technicians need to be prepared to handle these advanced vehicles if they want to stay relevant against a shrinking and increasingly competitive base. Given that only 25% of car owners get their repairs done at dealerships, there’s no reason to believe Mr. and Mrs. Smith from the neighborhood won’t be stopping by your shop… if you’re certified to work on their vehicle. Also consider that while a little over half of the car market is projected to remain domestic, shops that service less-common sports cars, such as Ferraris and Jaguars, are going to stand out in the sea of professional shops that aren’t equipped for these jobs.

The best news for anyone who works on vehicles today is that many of the traditional methods of auto repair will always be in fashion. We’ll always need to get under our cars with lifts or jacks, and the sort of equipment that BendPak deals in (tire changers, air compressors, etc.) will always have a place in the auto field. Still, time only moves forward: technology improves and global safety standards become stricter, which means we have to constantly adapt our product lines to keep up with the times. If we didn’t, we’d be out of business by now or losing to our competitors. (Fortunately, this hasn’t been the case!)

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

Perhaps the biggest market change today is the switch to digital processes. This is more than an engine diagnostic on a laptop or tablet, although these devices remain incredibly useful. At this point in time, your ability to stay certified in new repair methods and car technologies is essential, and the one thing we know about technology is that it’s only going to get crazier, more impressive and more difficult to learn if we don’t keep up. Updated shop equipment needs to be purchased regularly, so unfortunately for customers and shops alike, expensive technology, training and equipment upgrades mean service costs aren’t likely to decrease any time soon. The few out there in the DIY sector who are able to keep up, however, are likely to flourish (the mythical half mechanic / half tech-pro).

DIY’ers out there might already be familiar with the Raspberry Pi, a nifty little computer chip that costs around $40.00 and allows technologically inclined users to program and track diagnostic information, repairs, software upgrades, etc. It’s a massive money-saver for the DIY crowd. On the other side of the fence, professional shops can program this sort of device to do almost any auto-related task. Remaining tech-savvy will help assure customers that they will always get the best from your friendly, motivated shop.

Wireless connectivity is another game-changing feature that’s fast becoming more and more a part of the auto repair world. Car manufacturers are already able to send downloadable upgrades, which potentially reduces body shop involvement in the upkeep of complex vehicle functions. This translates into lost revenue for auto shops. On the other hand, all technology, especially wireless technology, has the potential to break or malfunction, and anything on the web is vulnerable to hacking. Service shops certified to handle a multitude of wirelessly controlled devices will have a leg up on dealerships and other competing shops, but it will take an ongoing dedication to hiring and training auto mechanics on 21st-century services and technologies.

2013 Tesla Model S Dashboard Display

2013 Tesla Model S Dashboard Display

To this end, shop trainers need to bolster their response to increases in vehicle telematics, which refers to “the branch of information technology that deals with the long-distance transmission of computerized information.” We’re close to the day when auto shops across the country will be able to wirelessly deliver engine diagnostic data to customers before their cars even make it into the shop. This signifies a very real shift in the services you need to offer if you plan to stay ahead. Can you envision how powerful of a tool remote diagnosis could be? The marketing potential alone is worth the cost of getting your auto repair business prepared. Not to mention, you’re creating huge savings for customers and inspiring their trust, which means repeat business, which means referrals, etc. And that’s just one example of the changes to come!

By the way, digital content and marketing efforts are increasingly crucial to generating income. Ever notice how the company with the larger online footprint beats out the competition 100% of the time? Your competitors are collecting data on virtually every single move your collective customer base makes: web search results, price ranges, likes on Facebook, and so much more. Are you using the Internet to its full potential to attract customers and cut excess spending?

At BendPak, we try to stay ahead of our competition by offering customers as much access to our services as possible, including responsive toll-free customer service lines, Internet orders, multiple email contacts, etc. We also know we can always do better, so we’re constantly improving our products, website and means of connecting with our distributors. Even little details, ones that show our customers we keep up with the times, go a long way.

Are your mechanics ready for the new era of auto repair?

Are your mechanics ready for the new era of auto repair?

So here’s the bottom line: BendPak / Ranger products are always going to service your needs in the best way possible, but once we lift that 7,000-lb. Ford™ F-250 in the air, it’s up to you to have the right tools to deal with the new aluminum panels, advanced telematic displays, digital system checks, etc. Whether you work in a shop or from your own home garage, put in the work to stay ahead of the times and be happier (and richer) in the long run.

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