AMRA/MAP Winter Meeting Recap

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The Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association (AMRA) is a not-for-profit trade association. AMRA formally organized in September 1994 to represent the interests, common policies and purposes of companies engaged in providing automotive maintenance and repair services, their suppliers and related companies in the automotive industry when dealing with consumers. Since then, AMRA has worked to provide consumer communication programs like the Motorist Assurance Program (MAP). AMRA also provides brochures for consumer education, providing information on a variety of consumer-requested topics dealing with their automotive maintenance and repair service experiences.

This January, AMRA hosted its annual winter meeting to discuss topics concerning the automotive aftermarket. We’ve broken down some of the hottest topics that were discussed. Here is a brief overview of the highlights:

New and Emerging Technologies

· Volvo is using both supercharger and turbocharger technology on the same engine. Volvo is also using electrically-driven air compressors to boost diesel engine performance.

· GM is using cylinder deactivation technology more than any other manufacturer. Active Fuel Management (AFM) always deactivates the same cylinders and can lead to wear, deposits, performance and diagnostic issues.

· GM and Ford are using AFM on small displacement boosted engines. The benefit of using AFM is new six-cylinder engines can be run as efficiently as three-cylinder engines. New software is under development to deactivate cylinders in random order.

Lights, Camera, Action

· High definition, 80-degree to 180-degree video display has some electric vehicles sporting up to 20 cameras for various functions.

· Mercedes is using night-vision infrared camera technology.

· New headlight control technology will keep vehicle high beams on and will either dim when necessary or will angle headlights up/down to keep from blinding other drivers.

More Computer-Driven Technology

· New Audi vehicles include a removable, Android-based display tablet.

· Smartphone-activated vehicle control systems will continue to become interfaces for vehicles.

· GM’s teen driver technology monitors numerous facets of vehicle use and allows parents to send alerts to teen drivers in real-time.

Maintenance is Driven by the Dashboard’s Driver Information Center

Chris Schmidt of CPS Services gave a presentation on how many drivers now rely on the indicators from their cars to schedule maintenance rather than following a traditional maintenance service schedule.

Unfortunately, most customers are unaware of legitimate maintenance recommendations, and they rely on service shops for valid information. The data showed 6 percent of motorists believe their vehicle is operating under severe conditions, when actually 62 percent of vehicles fall under severe operating conditions. One interesting point Schmidt made in regard to the quick oil change industry was, the term “oil change” is being replaced by the term “maintenance service.” Schmidt believes this is happening to capture other maintenance items due for service.

Air Conditioning Service

· Environmental friendly R1234yf is the new standard.

· Make sure your shop and your employees are updated. The new refrigerant will require adjustments for technicians.

• The AC refrigerant change has been mandated in European Union and United States to lower global greenhouse gas emissions.

· The old R134a has been banned from new vehicle production starting in 2020; however, R134a will still be available for servicing existing R134a vehicles.

· Retrofitting R1234yf to R134a is not permissible.

· Shops already servicing fleet vehicles, offering collision repairs and working with R1234yf systems should have their A/C techs recertified.

· A new refrigerant identifier is required before installing and before servicing the vehicle. The recycle/recharge process will take more time to complete, so be ready to adjust labor rates.

Why all these advancements in technology for our vehicles? You can thank the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) Standards of the mid-1970s for a lot of them. CAFE standards are the motivator for vehicle manufactures to produce a vehicle that is less energy dependent and safer for a growing driving population.

The Spring AMRA/MAP meeting will be held in Chicago, Illinois, May 24-26, 2016. For more information, visit: www.amra.org

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