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Preparing for old man winter

No matter where you live, there are steps you can take to help your customers prepare for the change of seasons.
Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:00
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A quick couple of notes on cooling system service for you. First, water makes up half of the mixture so be sure to use water that meets specifications for both the flushing procedure and for the refill. There are test strips you can buy to check your shop’s water supply and you should do it periodically to make sure it’s OK. But the water in your shop is drinking water and is not suitable for use when mixing up the refill. Why? It is oxygenated to make it taste better, and that same oxygen can lead to wear and tear in the system. For your 50/50 mix, use distilled water or buy coolant that is pre-mixed from the factory.

Even when it’s cold out, the air conditioning system has a job to do. Check the operation of both the A/C and heating systems to make sure your customer is ready for the winter ahead.

Two, coolant color is not indicative of the type of coolant in the system. Follow the OEM recommendations when selecting a replacement product. Three, coolant service intervals can be as high as 10 years or 150,000 miles for some makes, but that’s in a perfect world. Even extended life coolant can be worn out prematurely if the wrong water is used, air is prevalent in the system, leaks have been left alone and by a dozen other ways.

Of course, check over all the underhood fluids as well as the condition of the belts and hoses while you’re under there. Watch our coolant service webinar (on YouTube or in the AutoPro Workshop) to learn more about testing and identifying the causes of premature coolant failure.

Snow tires will be the norm in many parts of the country, and many drivers have a set mounted and stored to make the swap a simple one. Or is it? Changing tires on late model cars can impact the operation of a variety of safety systems, antilock brakes (ABS), traction control (TCS) and electronic stability control (ESC) for example. It also can impact the operation of the transmission with many models requiring you to tell the control module in charge what changes you made.

It can get hard to see in a snowstorm or heavy downpour, and clouded headlight lenses don’t help. This service is easy to perform and of real value to your customer.

And there’s the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to consider. Will you take the sensors out of the summer wheels and install them into the winter ones? Or will you install one of the aftermarket clone-able sensors in the winter wheels? Clone-able? Yes, these are sensors that can mimic the originals (either through direct programming or preprogrammed), allowing you to install them in a set of winter wheels and then simply installing them on the car. The TPMS control module thinks it sees the same sensors as it saw in the summer wheels, so no relearn is necessary.

Be sure you review the OEM service information regarding all of these possibilities before agreeing to a simple swap for your customer. Make sure you have the tools, service information and parts you’ll need to do this “simple” job properly. You can find all the resources you need, including several instructional videos, on our web site. And don’t forget to change out that stale air for fresh air before installing the winter tires. After all, they’ve been sitting in the corner of his garage all summer long.

OK, you do know I was kidding about that last part, right?

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