Archives : 2016 : JuneJune 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 10th
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 10th
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 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 28th
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
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 – 21st
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)
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)
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.
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)|
|> 1 hour||115||120||125||130||135||140|
Courtesy Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, the 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 car lifts, 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!)
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.
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.
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.