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Lubrication News September-December 2005

Reprinted from The Direct Line & The Action News

September-December 2005

Past issues of Auto Technology & Lubrication News


Performance & MPG News
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December 15, 2005
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Heavy-Duty Truck Sales Expected to Remain Strong

According to Rainer Schmueckle, president of the Freightliner Group, sales of heavy-duty trucks are expected to continue rising through 2006. New EPA emission standards take effect in January 2007, requiring manufacturers to incorporate more complex and expensive diesel engine technology. The more expensive trucks will prompt many buyers to buy new trucks before the standard takes effect, but Schmueckle doesn't believe sales will suffer in 2007. "The industry doesn't have the capacity to handle a big pre-buy," he says. This means not everyone will be able to buy new trucks in 2006, and orders will cross over into 2007. While 2007 trucks will be more expensive, their increased fuel efficiency is expected to offset much of the increased operating expense.

Lubricant Sales Up in 2004

According to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association's recently released 2004 Report on U.S. Lubricating Oil and Wax Sales, U.S. lubricant industry sales volume rose 1.8 percent in 2004. Sales of industrial lubricants rose 3.9 percent over 2003, while grease sales increased 3.6 percent and automotive oil sales increased 1.2 percent. The report also indicates multi-grade crankcase oils make up 40.9 percent of the overall market, while monogrades comprise 2.6 percent. Automotive transmission and hydraulic fluids make up 12.1 percent of the market, while aircraft oils, two-stroke oils and automotive gear oils account for 2.4 percent.

Determine the Cause of Piston Failure

Piston failure can usually be attributed to its operating environment.

Engine failure may arise for a number of reasons. Finding the reason for the problem is essential in order to prevent future breakdowns. According to Bill Mirth, North American heavy-duty sales manager with the FP Diesel brand of Federal-Mogul Corp., if a piston is found to be at fault, it is critical to find out what caused the piston to fail.

In order to prevent heat build-up that can lead to piston damage, it is important the correct level of lubrication reaches the piston at the skirt and piston pin.

"It's important to understand that very few pistons actually fail," says Mirth. "In truth, they are damaged by a faulty operating environment. These conditions commonly include lack of lubrication, abnormal combustion, the presence of debris within the engine, clearance issues that lead to physical contact between the piston and another part and operational issues such as over-reving (sic) or overloading the engine or improper shutdown."

The life of a piston is directly related to its environment. "As a result, virtually all situations resulting in damage to a piston can be traced to an issue unrelated to the construction and quality of the piston itself," says Mirth. "In other words, the worst thing a technician can do is simply assume the piston was at fault and ignore the actual cause of the damage. In that case, he's just throwing parts at the problem, which invariably leads to additional issues."

Jay Wagner, heavy-duty brand manager with Clevite Engine Parts, cites fueling problems as another cause of piston failure. "If the engine injection system is delivering the wrong amount of fuel, at the wrong time or for the wrong duration and with a poor spray pattern, this can result in excessive heat, erosion or a washing of the cylinder walls with fuel," explains Wagner.

In order to prevent heat build-up that can lead to piston damage, it is important the correct level of lubrication reaches the piston at the skirt and piston pin. Wagner advises technicians to examine piston oilers. "Many of these are very delicate in relationship to other parts of the engine and are bumped easily, resulting in either a broken of improperly directed oiler," he says.

Contamination wreaks havoc on pistons, too. Water contamination causes erosion and fuel and lubricant dilution. "Contamination can be water, fuel, particulates from the air intake or foreign objects," says Wagner. "Particulates can wear the ring lands, resulting in increased oil consumption. Foreign matter can be anything including nuts, bolts, valve train or turbocharger parts, and much of the time foreign matter in the combustion chamber is the result of another component failing."

Scuffing and scoring are the results of contaminants entering the air intake or lubrication system, eventually leading to piston seizure. If a technician suspects an abnormal level of scuffing is taking place, he should begin inspecting the following: engine coolant temperature; engine oil temperature, level and grade; oil pump; cylinder liner surface finish; piston ring pack design; cylinder pressures and temperatures; piston and ring clearance in the cylinder; incorrect combustion; injector overspray and fuel sulfur content. According to Wagner, a malfunctioning cooling system can sometimes be blamed for a piston failure as well.

It is helpful to know the conditions under which the affected vehicle has been operated. 'It's important to know the specific conditions under which the parts were damaged," says Mirth. "The technician can ask his customer some questions that will help in the overall process of diagnosing the failure and then repairing it."

"The driver has to be aware of changes in the operation of the engine," says Wagner. "This can include fluctuations in oil pressure, higher than normal operating temperatures, unusual noises and any change in fuel and oil consumption. After speaking with his customer about the problems the vehicle was experiencing, the technician then needs to ensure that proper repair procedures are addressed."

Pistons should be inspected for cracks in the bowl due to heat stress, cracks on the surface area of the wrist pin bore and wear in the piston ring grooves.

"A detonation-related issue will be fairly obvious because of the damage to the head of the piston," says Mirth. "For example, the results of lubricant starvation will be evident on the walls of the cylinder or liner as well as on the piston skirt.

"A shattered piston crown may be an indication of a clearance issue, meaning the piston may have made contact with a valve. A fracture around the piston pin bore might indicate that the pin was installed improperly, which then caused it to seize."

Piston failure usually leaves a vehicle unable to be driven. If the failure is caught and addressed early, repair can often be limited to simply replacing the piston and sleeve. However, catching the problem early is difficult.

"There always is a great deal of debris deposited in the engine so a complete flushing is required in any case," says Wagner. "There are many things on an engine that can operate marginally, but pistons are not one of them. From the time the driver or technician realizes there is a problem until the vehicle no longer can be driven can be measured in seconds."

According to Mirth, repeated engine failure can often be attributed to improper installation of parts or use of the wrong replacement parts. If visual differences can be seen between the old part and the new part, the supplier should be consulted to be sure it's correct.

The installation requirements in the engine manufacturer's service manual should be followed closely to ensure maximum component performance and durability.

AMSOIL synthetic motor oils provide superior wear protection for pistons and other wear-sensitive engine components, keeping engines running at top performance for extended drain intervals.

December 01, 2005
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GM and Extended Oil Drains

According to General Motors, the typical motor oil drain interval is 8,500 miles in GM vehicles equipped with Oil Life Systems, while the average drain interval is 5,000 miles in competing vehicles. In addition, the company foresees drain intervals topping 30,000 miles with minor engine modifications and appropriate motor oil quality and 40,000 miles with major engine modifications. "But we still need to strive for the best fuel economy, no compromise on engine durability, and no negative impact on emissions systems," says James A Spearot, director of GM's Chemical & Environmental Sciences Laboratory in Warren, Mich. AMSOIL synthetic motor oils offer superior protection for extended drain intervals of up to 35,000 miles without the need for engine modifications.
Read the Lubes n Greases Article "GM: 30,000-mile Drain Intervals Are Achievable"

Diesel Oil Analysis Tip

According to Mark Barnes of Noria Corporation, the best way to obtain an oil sample from a diesel engine is through a sampling valve on the main pressure feed. These valves are pre-installed on many newer engines. "If you cannot install a sample valve, drain sampling is not recommended," says Barnes. "Instead, use a vacuum sampling gun and nylon tube, and insert through the dipstick. To ensure you don't sample sludge from the bottom of the crankcase, we also recommend using the dipstick to measure the tube length - typically cutting the tube 10 inches longer than the dipstick and inserting 1/2 inch shorter than the dipstick length will give a correct measure. We also suggest cutting the tube end at an angle again to avoid bottom sampling."

Combating Cold Temperatures

AMSOIL synthetic diesel oils and fuel additives offer superior cold weather performance.

Many diesel vehicle owners swear by their quality. They're economical, fuel efficient and reliable. However, when the mercury in the thermometer drops, they can often be difficult to start.

If the engine cranks too slowly to create enough heat to start, the problem can usually be attributed to either thick engine oil, a low battery or a weak starter.

Diesel engines are not equipped with ignition systems or spark plugs. Instead, they rely on the heat generated through compression to ignite the fuel and air mixture in the cylinder. The engine must crank to light the fuel, and when temperatures really turn cold, the engine must turn over quite quickly to start. If the engine cranks too slowly to create enough heat to start, the problem can usually be attributed to either thick engine oil, a low battery or a weak starter.

If the engine isn't turning over quickly enough, the oil, battery and starter should be examined. "But if the engine is cranking normally but still won't fire, the problem is more than likely with the fuel - or with either the fuel or the glow plugs if they are used," says Al Krenz, director of service with Robert Bosch Corporation.

Diesel fuel is notorious for thickening in cold temperatures. When temperatures dip to between 10 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, wax forms in conventional summer grade No. 2 diesel fuel. It may also form in the water/fuel separator, blocking fuel flow. The use of a fuel heater or the correct grade of winter fuel usually prevents this problem.

"Water in the fuel tank, commonly caused by condensation in cold winter temperatures, can be sucked into the fuel line and freeze in system, totally shutting off the flow of fuel," says Krenz. "Algae and microbes can also contaminate diesel fuel, forming slime and gumming up the fuel lines, although this can happen regardless of temperature. But whether it's wax, frozen condensate or slime shutting off the flow of fuel, if the engine is getting no fuel it obviously will not start."

"In most light- to medium-duty diesels, a glow plug - in pretty much the same place a spark plug is located in a gasoline engine - helps get the diesel's fire lit - and may be the only way to get things going. Each glow plug is basically a high-resistance heating coil that looks somewhat like a spark plug. It glows hot as the engine begins to crank, and helps to initiate combustion in the cylinders as compression begins to build up. Designed to handle high current loads (up to 300 amps) to heat up quickly, most glow plugs reach temperatures of 850 to more than 1500 degrees."

Glow plugs continue to operate for 20 seconds to a minute after the engine starts to ensure it continues running until reaching its normal operating temperature. Following this brief period, it is important the plug shuts off. If the relay on a glow plug malfunctions and keeps current flowing, the plug will burn up and drain the battery. Newer engines use a thermo time switch or the engine control module to de-energize the relay.

A voltmeter can be used to check for specified voltage at the plug when the key is turned on. If there is no voltage indication, the control module connections, ground and harness should be checked and the plug's resistance or electrical continuity measured. The glow plug is bad and should be replaced if excessive resistance or no continuity is indicated.

"You want to avoid burning out glow plugs, and if you sense one or more are burned out, get them out of there and replace them quickly," says Krenz. "Some glow plugs, if left in an engine and still receiving amperage, will swell up and be almost impossible to remove without removing the cylinder head."

When an engine won't start due to slow cranking on a cold winter day, a jump start from an auxiliary power source or another vehicle may do the trick. If not, the oil may be too thick or the starter may be to blame.

Lighter viscosity and synthetic diesel oils perform better in cold winter temperatures by allowing proper cranking speeds, but if the problem isn't with the oil and jump starting the engine doesn't help, the starter should be replaced. A block heater is also beneficial in extremely cold climates.

"Faced with approaching cold weather, make sure the engine will fire by checking all the glow plugs and replacing any that are defective," says Krenz. "Also ensure that the vehicle's battery is at full charge, correct winter weight oil is installed, winter grade diesel fuel is in the fuel tank and there is no water in the fuel to freeze. If the vehicle is equipped with older glow plugs, you might want to install new plugs that are designed to heat up quickly."

AMSOIL synthetic diesel oils have significantly lower pour points than conventional diesel oils, easing cold weather starting and providing vital start-up lubrication to prevent engine wear.

AMSOIL Diesel Fuel Additive Concentrate effectively lowers diesel fuel gel point by 20 to 35 degrees F in heavy duty diesel engines, while Diesel Fuel Modifier improves cold fuel flow and cold weather starting in cars and light duty trucks.

Most Fuel Efficient Trucks, SUVs and Vans

According to Business Fleet, the following are the most fuel efficient 2006 trucks, SUVs and vans:

  MPG
Make/Model
Most Efficient Minivan
City Hwy
Honda Odyssey 2WD
6 cyl, 3.5L, Automatic(5), VCM, Regular
20 28
Most Efficient Passenger Vans    
Chevrolet G1500/2500 Chevy Express 2WD
6 cyl, 3.5L, Automatic(4), Regular
15 19
GMC G1500/2500 Savana 2WD
6 cyl, 4.3L, Automatic(4), Regular
15 19
Most Efficient Cargo Vans    
Chevrolet G1500/2500 Chevy Van 2WD
6 cyl, 4.3L, Automatic(4), Regular
15 20
Chevrolet G1500/2500 Chevy Van 2WD
8 cyl, 5.3L, Automatic(4), Regular
15 20
GMC G1500/2500 Savana 2WD
6 cyl, 4.3L, Automatic(4), Regular
15 20
GMC G1500/2500 Savana 2WD
8 cyl, 5.3L, Automatic(4), Regular
15 20
  MPG
Make/Model
Most Efficient Pickup Trucks
City Hwy
Ford Ranger Pickup 2WD
4 cyl, 2.3L, Manual(5) Regular
24 29
Mazda B2300 2WD
4 cyl,2.3L, Automatic(5), Regular
24 29
Ford Ranger Pickup 2WD
4 cyl, 2.3L, Automatic(5), Regular
21 26
Mazda B2300 2WD
4 cyl, 2.7L, Automatic(4), Regular
21 26
Toyota Tacoma 2WD
4 cyl, 2.7L, Automatic(4), Regular
21 26
Most Efficient Sport Utility Vehicles    
Ford Escape Hybrid FWD
4 cyl, 2.3L, Automatic(variable), Regular
36 31
Ford Escape FWD
4 cyl, 2.3L, Manual(5), Regular
24 29
Mazda Tribute 2WD
4 cyl, 2.3L, Manual(5), Regular
24 29
November 15, 2005
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Future Looks Bright for Hybrids

Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., predicts hybrid vehicles will make up one-quarter of Toyota's U.S. sales by the end of the decade. In addition to its current line of hybrid models, 10 additional models will be introduced between now and the end of the decade. Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe has set a global sales goal of one million hybrid vehicles a year by early next decade. "At our current rate of sales, that's about 600,000 hybrids in the U.S.," says Press. "To achieve that goal, we will have to look at offering hybrid power systems in virtually all of our vehicles, including trucks," Toyota is currently studying development of hybrid powertrains for pickup trucks. Press believes hybrids could account for between 10 and 15 percent of industry-wide vehicle sales by the end of the decade, while indicating future hybrid owners may have the ability to choose whether they want improved mileage or performance by pushing a button on the instrument panel.

OHV Use Up

According to a recent U.S. Forest Service report, off-highway vehicle (OHV) use has grown significantly in recent years, increasing from 36 million riders in 1999-2000 to 51 million in 2003-2004. In addition, 23.8 percent of Americans age 16 and older participated in OHV recreation at least once in 2004. With the U.S. Forest Service planning to manage OHV use on its land, SEMA is recommending the department recognize uninventoried "rider created" trails that were created during "open" management of the land, noting that they serve a legitimate purpose and do not pose a threat to the environment.

State of the Oil Change Business

Survey indicates more customers are purchasing synthetic motor oil, with AMSOIL listed among the top brands.
Higher priced premium oil changes have become common at both LT30 and MT30 companies, with 95 percent of ST30 stores and 100 percent of MT30 stores offering synthetic motor oil.

National Oil & Lube News performs its Fast Lube Operators Survey each year to determine the state of the oil change industry. In order to provide a good indication on the states of both independent fast lubes and large franchises, survey results are divided into two separate categories, one for companies operating less than 30 stores (LT30) and one for companies operating more than 30 stores (MT30).

While 2005 survey results indicate declining car counts, ticket totals have been increasing. The survey reports an average of 35.7 cars a day at LT30 stores, a decrease of four percent from 2004. However, the average ticket total was $42.59, an increase of six percent over 2004. The same situation is evident in MT30 stores, with the average car count at 37.0 cars and average ticket total at $54.24. In 1995, when the average car count was 47.9 cars a day at LT30 stores, the average ticket total was $31.96. Although fewer cars are being serviced than 10 years ago, oil change centers are making nearly the same level of profit through higher average ticket totals.

Although time guarantees have become less common through the years, they seem to be making a dramatic comeback. While only five percent of lube operators offered a time guarantee in 2003, this year's survey indicates 19 percent of LT30 operators and 21 percent of MT30 operators offer a time guarantee.

Percentage of Operators Offering the Following Services
Service LT30 MT30
Additive Sales 85% 90%
Air Filter Replacement 99% 100%
Chemical Engine Flush 76% 60%
Diff. Fluid Replacement 95% 100%
Fuel Filter Replacement 77% 90%
Mechanical ATF exchange 89% 90%
Mechanical Coolant Flush 86% 90%
Boat Oil Changes 6% 10%
Motorcycle Oil Changes 10% 30%
RV Oil Changes 71% 70%
Comm. Vehicle Oil Changes 19% 20%
OIl Monitoring Device Reset 95% 80%
Synthetic Trans. Fluid 51% 60%
Trans. Filter Replacement 61% 40%
Wiper Replacement 99% 100%

In the competitive world of fast lubes, operators are hesitant to raise prices. In fact, in the time period between 1993 and 1999, the price for a standard oil change increased by only $1.04. However, as crude oil prices have continually increased over the last year, operators are being forced to raise prices. The 2005 survey indicates LT 30 operators are charging an average of $28.16 for a standard oil change, an increase of almost $4 from 1999 and nearly three percent over last year. At MT30 companies, the average price has increased from $29.44 in 2004 to $30.17 in 2005. Fifty-two percent of LT30 operators and 94 percent of MT30 operators report raising their prices during the last year.

Higher priced premium oil changes have become common at both LT30 and MT30 companies, with 95 percent of ST30 stores and 100 percent of MT30 stores offering synthetic motor oil and 88 percent of LT30 stores and 100 percent of MT30 stores offering a specialty or high mileage motor oil.

Despite the highly competitive oil change market, both LT 30 and MT30 operators have high customer retention rates, with LT30 operators reporting repeat business from 73 percent of their customers and MT30 operators reporting repeat business from 68 percent of their customers. In addition, female customers are outnumbering male customers at both LT30 (51% female) and MT30 (52% female) oil change businesses.

Oil change intervals have remained fairly consistent through the years. More than four out of five LT30 operators and 90 percent of MT30 operators recommend 3000 mile drain intervals to their customers.

Many fast lubes offer additional routine services for their customers. Air filter and windshield wiper replacement are the most popular services, offered by 99 percent of LT30 operators and 100 percent of MT 30 operators. Differential fluid replacement is offered by 95 percent of LT30 operators and 100 percent of MT30 operators. Differential fluid replacement is offered by 95 percent of LT30 operators and 100 percent of MT30 operators, mechanical ATF exchanges are offered by 89 percent of LT30 operators and 90 percent of MT30 operators and mechanical coolant flushes are offered by 86 percent of LT30 operators and 90 percent of MT30 operators.

On average, lube shops spend four percent of their annual gross sales on advertising and promotions, with 51 percent of LT30 operators sending oil change reminder cards to previous customers. Seventy-six percent of these reminder cards offer a discounted oil change, with 33 percent of customers cashing them in. Sixteen percent of LT30 customers and 19 percent of MT30 customers use a coupon of some kind when purchasing an oil change.

Top Selling Synthetic Motor Oils in LT30 Fast Lubes
Mobil 1 58%
Valvoline 11%
Castrol 9%
Pennzoil 9%
Quaker State 4%
AMSOIL 3%
Havoline 3%
Others 3%

In each of the past five surveys, LT30 operators have reported that 81 percent of customers purchase the "house" motor oil brand. LT30 stores also indicate that 43 percent of their customers are committed to a specific motor oil brand, while only 13 percent of MT30 customers are committed to a specific brand.

Because used motor oil can be re-fined or used in asphalt, industrial furnaces and boilers, it has a market value. Eighty-seven percent of LT30 operators and 96 percent of MT30 operators report receiving compensation for their used motor oil.

Synthetic lubricants have increased in popularity. In recent years, LT30 operators reported that seven percent of customers regularly purchased synthetic motor oil. The 2005 survey indicated that nine percent of LT30 customers regularly purchase synthetic motor oil. AMSOIL was tied for sixth on the list of top-selling synthetic motor oils in the quick lubes that were surveyed.

AMSOIL XL Oil Change Program

The AMSOIL XL Oil Change Program presents shop owners with an excellent way to increase profits, while providing customers superior protection and performance for extended drain intervals.

The G-250Q Fast Attack Pack provides everything Dealers need to register oil change centers as AMSOIL accounts.

Manufacturers Experiment with Diesel Hybrid Vehicles

High fuel prices have generated increased interest in both hybrid gasoline-electric and diesel vehicles, both of which offer improved fuel economy. Diesel hybrid technology has already been incorporated in large vehicles that haul heavy loads, and vehicle manufacturers are currently exploring the possibility of producing diesel hybrid passenger vehicles.

DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen have also introduced hybrid diesel vehicles to the market.

The electric motor of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter diesel hybrid vehicle obtains its energy from a nickel/metal hydride battery. It is used at low speeds, while the internal combustion engine is used at higher speeds. DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen have also introduced hybrid diesel vehicles to the market. In fact, VW introduced the technology in Europe back in 1991. DaimlerChrysler recently sold many of its hybrid diesel Dodge Ram pickups as fleet vehicles.

According to Jim Weidenbach of DaimlerChrysler, manufacturers will experiment more and more with combining various technologies, rather than only offering full gasoline, diesel and hybrid electric vehicles.

"In this world of low-priced cars, a hybrid diesel combines two expensive technologies," says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. Although he believes it can be done, "it all boils down to economics."

November 01, 2005
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CAFE Standards to Change

A Bush administration proposal is expected to change the way Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) numbers are calculated. Currently, automakers can offset the low fuel economy averages of their larger trucks by offering more fuel efficient four-cylinder pickup trucks and minivans that exceed CAFE standards. The new standard will introduce six separate standards for trucks based on their size. According to transportation secretary Norman Y. Mineta, the new standard is "expected to save 10 billion gallons of gasoline in the years to come." The target minimum consumption standard is set for 20.7 mpg for 2008 and 21.9 mpg for 2011. Most current model full size SUVs and pickups receive well under 20 mpg in the city and just under 20 mpg on the highway.

SAE Adjusts Horsepower Testing

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has adjusted the manner in which horsepower is rated in new vehicles, ensuring more accurate ratings by eliminating some of the test flaws, such as allowing the test to be run with minimal oil in the crankcase. The new rules have seen some vehicles models gain horsepower, while others have lost horses. The Cadillac XLR-v, for example, gained an additional 29 horsepower, climbing from 440-horsepower to 469, while the Corvette Z06 climbed from 500-horsepower to 505. The Acura MDX fell from 265-horsepower to 253, while the 3.0 liter V-6 Camry fell from 225-horsepower to 190. The new SAE system also reports horsepower figures more precisely, not allowing figures to be rounded to the nearest five or 10.

Diesel Passenger Vehicles Gain Popularity

With gas prices remaining high, new diesel technology is gaining a foothold in the U.S. market.

With gasoline prices remaining high well into the autumn season, gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles have garnered a lot of attention. However, diesel passenger vehicles have quietly made their presence known as well. According to some automotive experts, new diesel vehicles have already surpassed gasoline vehicles in the areas of performance and technology. New diesel technology offers increased power and torque, lower emissions and improved fuel efficiency, three factors that are catching the attention of American consumers.

New diesel technology offers increased power and torque, lower emissions and improved fuel efficiency, three factors that are catching the attention of American consumers.

"When you boil it all down, it's the coming together of the electronics, fuel system and turbocharging," says Jim Weidenback, manager of small diesel applications at DaimlerChrysler. "The revolution that has taken place allowed the industry to have a much higher output per volume and at the same time meet emissions standards."

Diesel-fueled vehicles have been popular in Europe for years. In fact, according to Bosch, diesel vehicles currently account for almost half the vehicles on the road in Europe. Australia, Belgium and France report diesel market share as high as 70 percent. Lexus recently introduced its first diesel vehicle in Europe, the 2006 IS compact sport sedan, and it expects sales to increase three to four times by 2010.

"Hopefully this trend will cross over to the U.S. as well, where the diesel's fuel economy along with lots of torque, horsepower and driveability would appeal to the American motorist who travels long distances," says Al Krenz, director of aftermarket service, Automotive and Diesel Products, for Robert Bosch Corp.

While the U.S. diesel market has always been defined by full-size and heavy-duty pickups, automakers are anticipating a big breakthrough in the light-duty market, with DaimlerChrysler and Mercedes-Benz recently introducing their Jeep Liberty CRD and E 320 EDI models. Volkswagen currently offers U.S. customers diesel versions of its Golf, New Beetle, Jetta, Jetta Wagon and Passat models, and more manufacturers are expected to join the market as well.

R.L. Polk & Co. reports that diesel passenger vehicle registrations have jumped almost 56 percent since 2000. In the medium-duty truck market, almost 60 percent of consumers chose the diesel option over gasoline. The 2003 J.D. Powers & Associates Clean Diesel Market Assessment Study reveals 27 percent of consumers would choose a clean diesel vehicle over a traditional gasoline or hybrid electric vehicle for their next vehicle purchase. When asked their choice if fuel prices tapped $2.50 a gallon, 56 percent chose a clean diesel vehicle.

"We are kind of the oddball in the world," says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "Most other markets push diesel engines whereas we are predominately gasoline." However, the growth in other countries has contributed to the increased interest in the U.S., he claims.

While diesel vehicles made up only 4.5 percent of car and light truck sales in North America in 2002, J.D. Powers & Associates predicts they will account for as much as 16 percent by 2015.

AMSOIL Synthetic Diesel Oils offer unsurpassed protection and performance in both light-duty and heavy-duty diesel engines, effectively keeping friction and wear to a minimum while maximizing fuel efficiency.

Reduce Fuel System Deposits

Since 1995, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required all gasoline sold in the United States to be formulated with deposit-control additives. However, about half of all gasoline on the market is formulated with minimum levels of low quality additives. Known as lowest additive concentration (LAC) gasoline, it just barely meets EPA regulations and often contributes to excessive deposits. Today's high gasoline prices cause many motorists to shop for the best price, but the lowest priced gasoline is often LAC gasoline.

GM, Honda, Toyota and BMW developed voluntary gasoline deposit control standards in 2004. Top Tier detergent gasoline is a new class of gasoline that meets these standards by providing enhanced levels of detergency. According to GM, "Top Tier detergent gasoline will help keep engines cleaner than gasoline containing the 'lowest additive concentration' set by the EPA. Clean engines help provide optimal fuel economy and performance and reduced emissions. Also, use of top Tier detergent gasoline will help reduce deposit-related concerns."

AMSOIL Performance Improver Gasoline Additive (PI) is designed to clean and maintain a vehicle's entire fuel intake system. It dissolves and removes fuel system deposits and other contaminants, restoring the original operating efficiencies of fuel injectors, intake valves, carburetors and other components, while also preventing moisture accumulation and reducing friction and wear in the combustion chamber.

October 15, 2005
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Premature Bearing Spalling

According to Machinery Failure Analysis and Troubleshooting, the calculated life expectancy of a bearing assumes proper lubrication is in place at all times, the bearing is mounted without damage, dimensions of parts related to the bearing are correct and the bearing has no defects. Spalling often occurs at the normal end of the bearing's useful life, but can also be triggered prematurely die to one of more of the following factors/

1) Defective bearing seats on shafts and in housings
2) Misalignment
3) Faulty mounting practice
4) Incorrect shaft and housing fit
5) Inadequate lubrication
6) Ineffective sealing
7) Vibration while the bearing is not rotating
8) Passage of electric current through the bearing.

GM Transmission Leak

Certain 2004 and earlier model year General Motors cars and trucks equipped with the 4T65-E automatic transmission may weep transmission fluid from the area of the rear servo cover. According to GM, leakage is most noticeable in colder temperatures (20°F and lower) and is most likely caused by shrinkage of the rear servo cover seal. New covers made with an improved, more elastic seal material are available from GM. Before installation, the areas around and below the cover should be inspected and cleared of dust, dirt and road debris. Once clean, the cover should be tapped in, the retaining ring installed and the transmission filled with the proper level of automatic transmission fluid.

Improve Diesel Engine Performance

AMSOIL Cetane Boost and Diesel Fuel Additive Concentrate combat common fuel-related problems

The quality of diesel fuel plays a key role in the performance, fuel economy and life of a diesel engine, but how can motorists ensure they fill their vehicles with only clean, high quality fuel? In the end, they simply cannot, and that underscores the importance of using high quality diesel fuel additives.

Low cetane numbers are very common with today's fuel, causing problems as poor fuel efficiency, misfiring, rough running, hard starting and excessive smoke, noise and emissions.

Cetane number is directly related to the diesel fuel's ability to self-ignite. It is defined by the time interval between when the injector first delivers fuel into the cylinder and when it begins burning. The higher the fuel's cetane number, the more readily it ignites. If cetane number is too high or too low, it leads to incomplete combustion and deposit buildup.

While it's rare to find diesel fuel with a cetane number that is too high, low cetane numbers are very common with today's fuel, causing problems as poor fuel efficiency, misfiring, rough running, hard starting and excessive smoke, noise and emissions. The problems are often compounded in cold temperatures.

Although a vehicle's recommended fuel cetane number is published in the owner's manual, cetane numbers are rarely posted at filling stations. Outside of having the diesel fuel tested, all a motorist can do is run the fuel and continue using it as long as the engine runs well. A high quality cetane-boosting additive increases cetane number, delivering not only noticeable and dramatic performance improvements, but helping the engine remain clean.

Cold temperatures cause a variety of problems with diesel engines, including crystallization and gelling of diesel fuel that can clog fuel filters and cause engine stalling. While some motorists combat this condition by switching to kerosene or a blend of kerosene and No. 2 diesel fuel in cold weather, fuel engineers advise against this practice because it hinders performance, fuel economy and fuel lubricity and increases deposit formation and wear of fuel system parts.

A high quality antigelling additive is the best choice to combat fuel gelling. Additives formulated with lubricity improvers offer the additional benefits of wear control and extended fuel system life.

Water-contaminated diesel fuel has the potential to shut down a diesel engine and destroy the fuel system. Most diesel engines have water separators, which may be built into the fuel filter. The separator should be inspected regularly and drained as needed. Diesel fuel additives also aid in dispersing moisture and fighting corrosion.

When water contamination reaches the point where a separate layer of water develops in the bottom of the fuel tank, bacterial and fungal growth can occur, turning the fuel a darker color and restricting fuel filters and injectors. Often, cleaning the water separator, replacing the fuel filter and treating the system with high quality diesel fuel additives will return the vehicle to top efficiency.

AMSOIL Diesel Fuel Additive Concentrate provides outstanding all-season performance in heavy-duty diesel engines. It effectively lowers diesel fuel gel point by 20 to 35 degrees F, while improving fuel efficiency and lubricity, extending engine life and reducing deposits, black smoke, emissions and injector wear.

AMSOIL Cetane Boost Diesel Fuel Additive raises diesel fuel cetane between three and seven numbers, improving combustion efficiency and power in diesel engines. Cetane Boost also improves low temperature starting, fuel ignition quality and reliability.

Similarities and Differences Between DIY and DIFM Customers

An Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) study published earlier this year examined the practices and attitudes of both do-it-yourself (DIY) and do-it-for-me (DIFM) customers. A customer falls into the DIY category if he or she performs any service or maintenance at all on his or her vehicle, whether it be a transmission flush or topping off the windshield washer fluid. A customer falls into the DIFM category only if he or she performs no service or maintenance at all on his or her vehicle. Of the people surveyed, 22 percent fell into the DIFM category.

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of respondents had a professional perform a service on their vehicles over the past year. An oil change was the most common (72%), followed by tire replacement or rotation (64%), air filter replacement (43%) and adding windshield wiper fluid (24%).

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of respondents performed a service on their vehicles over the past year. Adding windshield wiper fluid was the most common (66%), followed by wiper replacement (44%), adding antifreeze (35%) and air filter replacement (29%).

DIY and DIFM customers tend to patronize different types of shops. The survey showed 55 percent of DIFM customers have visited a dealership for maintenance or repairs on their vehicles over the past year, compared to only 32 percent of DIY customers. On the other hand, 27 percent of DIY customers have patronized a general repair shop over the past year, compared to only 23 percent of DIFM customers.

Both DIY and DIFM customers choose their particular repair shops for similar reasons. Quality of service ranked as the number one reason to choose a shop, while cost ranked a distant seventh.

Women account for 43 percent of the DIY category and 61 percent of the DIFM category, while people over 55 years of age account for 38 percent of the DIY category and 56 percent of the DIFM category.

Strong Automotive Market

According to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association 2005-2006 Aftermarket Factbook and 2005 Automotive Aftermarket Status Report, the populations of both drivers and vehicles are continually increasing, vehicles are lasting longer, motorists are driving more and the aftermarket is thriving.

The population of licensed drivers in the United States continues to grow, currently totaling nearly 200 million. The number of licensed vehicles is even higher. In fact, there are 1.14 registered light vehicles for each licensed driver in the country.

Vehicles are lasting longer than ever before. Vehicle scrappage rates fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2004, bringing the average age of cars and light trucks on the road to 9.8 and 9.4 years respectively. In addition, the expected average useful life of passenger vehicles is at an all-time high of just over 15 years old.

The average annual miles driven by Americans are at an all-time high. Even with high gasoline prices, the past Fourth of July holiday weekend was the most heavily traveled in the nation's history

Total aftermarket sales jumped 4.4 percent in 2004, with sales expected to continually increase in each of the next six years.

October 01, 2005
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Medium-Duty Trucks Enjoy Strong Sales

According to Steven Latin-Kasper, market data and research director for the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), medium-duty trucks should continue to see strong sales through 2005 and into 2006. According to NTEA and U.S. Department of Commerce data, the total value of transportation and truck equipment shipped by U.S. manufacturers was $98.66 billion in 2004, and increase of 16 percent over 2003. Truck and truck chassis sales represent the largest portion of the figure ($65 billion), an increase of 13 percent over 2003.

Heat Exchanger Tip

Many reducers in industrial settings require use of heat exchangers. However, along with their benefits comes the possibility of a damaging water leak. According to Hack Hensley, predictive maintenance, Mitsubishi Polyester Film, the necessity of a heat exchanger can be determined by taking notice of the reducer temperature when the heat exchanger is valved off. "If the reducer temperature is below the oil's highest temperature runability, it may be a good idea to valve off the water to deter a possible water leak," says Hensley. "If the reducer can't operate without the heat exchanger, the oil analysis should be performed more frequently. It is important to frequently perform oil analysis on water-cooled equipment because a leak in the cooling system can be catastrophic to the equipment."

Racers Prefer Synthetic Motor Oils

Racers at all levels have recognized the benefits of using synthetic lubricants in their race vehicles.

According to Performance Racing Industry, synthetic motor oils have become quite popular in the world of racing. Despite costing more than conventional oils, racers of all levels have embraced synthetics for their ability to improve performance and extend equipment life.

Despite costing more than conventional oils, racers of all levels have embraced synthetics for their ability to improve performance and extend equipment life.

"Obviously, if you reduce friction in the engine, you get more horsepower to the drivetrain, which is what every racer is looking for," says Terry Thompson of Performance Products in Oakland, Calif. "What you'd have to spend on modifications to get five or 10 more horsepower out of a racing engine, versus just changing oils, makes this a much less expensive option. Basically, it's cheap horsepower. Virtually every serious racer is going to the synthetics. There is just no comparison."

Carrying synthetic motor oils presents businesses with two clear benefits: higher profit margins and satisfied customers. "By suggesting these products, they do both parties a service," says Michael Wachholz of Prospeed Motorsport in Scottsdale, Ariz. "The dealer makes more money, and by putting a better product in the vehicle, the customer ends up being a happier camper."

As the significant benefits offered by synthetic oils have become clear to racers, cost has become less of a factor. Once they get into the synthetics, they just expect that they're going to pay more and there's not that wincing when you tell them the cost," says Bill Love of OG Racing in Sterling, Va.

Hard data, testimonials and a knowledgeable sales staff are all important tools in selling synthetic racing oils. Product data bulletins and fliers provide important information that can aid in a sale. "We like to have a lot of printed information available to go along with the product, so the customer can pick that up, read about the product and see what it really does," says Chris Paulsen of C&R Racing in Indianapolis, Ind. "We're very driven on good data to back up what the product is supposed to do."

If business owners and salespeople use the product they're trying to sell, it can be a significant advantage when speaking with a potential customer. "We can tell them, 'Look, this is a product that we use all the time' and that 'we feel very strongly about,'" says Love. "That's what they want to hear, not, 'They say good things about it,' or 'I've heard good things about it.' It's, 'We use it. We like it. We respect it.'"

Because they've already witnessed the benefits of running a synthetic oil in their racing vehicles, racing customers are likely to be also interested in synthetic lubricants for their personal vehicles, tow vehicles, recreational vehicles, etc.

"Synthetics have become very much accepted today, and once a person gets switched over, they start to see the benefits and then they want to try it for their transmission, rearend, etc.," explains Butch Stevens of BSR Products in Concord, N.C.

"In the store, I have information available so people can read up on the products." says Stevens. "We have a little mockup display out front with a little bit of everything, along with literature for the different types of oils. And I have the product available at the track - that's where our claim to fame comes in."

AMSOIL Series 2000 Synthetic 20W-50 Racing Oil is the number one choice for racers of all types of vehicles. Its special synthetic base stock blend and advanced additive package provide over twice the wear protection of other motor oils, and it effectively reduces friction to help vehicles accelerate faster, attain top speeds and use fuel more efficiently.

New Diesel Fuel Lowers Emissions and Costs

According to ChevronTexaco Inc., a new refining method known as gas-to-liquid (GTL) effectively converts natural gas into a sulfur-free diesel fuel. The fuel has the potential to significantly reduce particulate emissions, surpass 2006 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and lower diesel fuel costs. EPA regulations require that 80 percent of all diesel fuel sold for highway use have no more than 15 ppm of sulfur by June 2006.

"We think we will have something that is essentially sulfur-free," says Mark Nelson, president of ChevronTexaco's global lubricants business. "If there is enough of it, and I think there will be, it will be a big change for the positive."

GTL converts natural gas to liquid base that can be refined at a significantly lower expense than crude oil. "The good news is production [levels] could be large enough that you could have a full range of offerings if the costs to market are as low as the early indications," says Nelson.

GTL diesel engine testing is underway, with fleet tests expected to follow by the end of the year. ChevronTexaco estimates commercial quantities of GTL fuel could be available by 2009 to 2012. To meet 2006 EPA regulations, it will produce ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) with around 5 to 7 ppm of sulfur by mid-2006.

Prevent Turbocharger Contamination

According to Caterpillar, following the proper service and maintenance procedures can eliminate turbocharger failures due to contamination. When replacing a turbocharger, the following steps reduce the possibility of turbocharger contamination.

1) Eliminate contamination during repair work
Protect oil lines from contamination by covering open ends upon removal of the turbocharger from the engine.

Flush the oil lines with a clean solvent before assembling to the new unit. Solvent filtered to ISO 16/13 is recommended. When performing the repair work, prevent grit from sanding or grinding from entering open cavities in the engine.

2) Eliminate contamination that bypasses the oil filter
Inspect and clean the oil filter bypass valve to ensure proper operation. If abnormal wear is visible, replace the valve. Check the disassembly and assembly manual for location and removal instructions.

3) Reduce contamination from poor maintenance
Ensure scheduled maintenance is current. When a turbocharger is replaced, Caterpillar recommends replacing the oil filter, at a minimum. If the maintenance schedule is unknown, Caterpillar recommends changing the oil. Dirty motor oil of oil that is beyond its service life can contaminate the turbocharger by carrying debris, possibly causing a chemical reaction. Oil analysis is recommended to track the oil's condition.

Replace failed turbochargers with the recommended new turbocharger or a remanufactured turbocharger.

September 15, 2005
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Long Commutes

According to the American Community Survey (ACS) released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans average over 100 hours a year commuting to work, exceeding the two weeks of vacation the average employee takes each year. The daily commute for the average American worker was 24.3 minutes in 2003. The 10 cities with the highest average commuting times are New York (38.3 minutes), Chicago (33.2 minutes), Newark (31.5 minutes), Riverside (31.2 minutes), Philadelphia (29.4 minutes), Los Angeles (29.0 minutes), Miami (29.0 minutes), Baltimore (29.0 minutes), San Francisco (28.5 minutes) and Washington D.C. (28.4 minutes). States with the lowest average commuting times are South Dakota (15.2 minutes), North Dakota (15.4 minutes), Nebraska (16.5 minutes) and Montana (16.9 minutes).

AAA Supports Updated Fuel Efficiency Tests

The American Automobile Association (AAA) plans to use real-world fuel efficiency tests to prove the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is overestimating the miles-per-gallon (MPG) rates posted on dozens of new vehicles. AAA endorses the "Fuel Efficiency Truth-in-Advertising Act of 2005," requiring the EPA to update its fuel efficiency tests, which fail to account for air conditioning, traffic congestion and the fact that many trips are too short to fully warm the engine. After performing its own fuel efficiency testing on hundreds of new vehicles, including tests with stop-and-go driving, steep grades and vehicles full of groceries, AAA discovered dozens of models with overestimated mileage, sometimes as much as 10 MPG.

Preventive Maintenance Presents Opportunities for Repair Shops

Vehicles have generally increased in quality through the years, causing warranty work to decline and preventive maintenance to become a top source of income for repair shops. Opportunities for preventive maintenance are plentiful, becoming important as both a profit building and customer retention tool.

According to Dave McKallagat, advertising/marketing manager for BG Products Inc., between $60 and $70 billion in revenue is lost per year due to unperformed light repair and preventive maintenance, and the reasons are both lack of consumer awareness and failure to offer additional services.

According to Dave McKallagat, advertising/marketing manager for BG Products Inc., between $60 and $70 billion in revenue is lost per year due to unperformed light repair and preventive maintenance, and the reasons are both lack of consumer awareness and failure to offer additional services. Audits of repair orders indicate an abundance of one-item repairs, suggesting that other necessary maintenance is being ignored.

Engine oil, transmission and differential lubes, coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid top the list of potential fluid maintenance opportunities, while fuel and air conditioning systems often require maintenance work as well.

It must be clear to all repair shop personnel what services are recommended at what intervals. Integrating a professional, well-thought-out customer menu into the selling process can help increase business, acting as a focal point for the customer and the service personnel, while also demonstrating the shop's understanding of the customer's vehicle needs. It is a good idea to provide space on the menu for a stamp each time a service is performed.

Because lack of training or poor training can lead to irreversible customer alienation, proper ongoing training and accountability is important. Proper selling skills can also dramatically increase a shop's profitability.

Repetitive maintenance reminders are key to a quality preventive maintenance program. Evaluate current direct mail programs, use of reminder stickers, appointment setting systems and reminder call procedures to ensure they are being carried out as they should be.

A lot of potential revenue is being left on the table simply because customers are not being advised of the availability of extra services. Creating and implementing a well-thought-out plan can add significant profit to a shop's bottom line.

The AMSOIL XL Oil Change Program presents shop owners with another excellent way to increase profits, while providing customers superior protection and performance for extended drain intervals. Busy shops that are currently working at capacity can potentially service twice as many customers since they only need to see them half as often to make the same or greater profit.

AMSOIL XL Synthetic Motor Oils are specially formulated to deliver 7500 miles or six months between oil changes, and may be used longer where stated by the vehicle manufacturer or indicated by oil monitoring systems.

September 01, 2005
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Ford Oil Leak

According to Ford, some of its 1999-2002 vehicles with V8 engines may leak or weep oil from the right rear or left front of the engine. Affected vehicles include 1998-99 Navigators; 1999-2001 Econolines, Expeditions, F-150s & F-Series Super Dutys; 2000-01 Excursions and 1999-2002 Crown Vics, Grand Marquis, Mustangs & Town Cars. Add a trace dye to the crankcase and use an ultraviolet or blue light inspection lamp to find the leakage point. It will most likely be found emanating from one of both cylinder head gaskets. Ford attributes the leak to either metal chips between the head gasket and block, chip debris between the cylinder head and gasket or damage to the head that occurred during manufacturing. The affected cylinder head should be removed and closely examined. If chips are visible, but the head isn't damaged, they should be blown away with compressed air, the head and block cleaned and the head gasket replaced with a revised service designed. If the cylinder head is damaged, it must be replaced.

Drum Storage Tip

According to Lubrication Fundamentals, when lubricant drums must be stored outside, it is best to place them under a shelter, leanto or waterproof tarpaulin to protect them from rain or snow. According to the book, "Drums should be laid on their sides with the bungs approximately horizontal. In this position, the bungs are below the level of the contents so that breathing of water or moisture is greatly reduced, and water cannot collect inside the chime. For maximum protection, the drums should be stood on end with the bung ends down on a well-drained surface."

Fuel Management is Top Fleet Concern

Truck fleets are searching for ways to lessen the impact of rapidly escalating fuel expenses.

According to First Fleet Corp. survey of private fleet managers, fuel management is the top issue facing the nation's trucking fleets. In attempts to help manage escalating fuel expenses, 48 percent of survey respondents indicated they use on-site fueling stations, while 36 percent provide their drivers with credit or debit cards to be used at stations where they have negotiated rates with oil companies. The remaining 16 percent pay for fuel with a regular credit card or cash.

"The hottest topic in the trucking industry is finding solutions to reduce fuel consumption and ways to lessen the impact of soaring prices on fleet profit margins," says John Flynn, First Fleet Corp. president and CEO.

"The hottest topic in the trucking industry is finding solutions to reduce fuel consumption and ways to lessen the impact of soaring prices on fleet profit margins," says John Flynn, First Fleet Corp. president and CEO. "In the ongoing cost control war, private truck fleets are constantly looking for ways to rein in operating expenses. Based on extensive research, First Fleet is advising customers to review operating methods to lower current fuel consumption and adjust specs on their new truck orders to counteract the impact new engine emissions standards will have on their fleet operating costs."

According to XATA Corp., a provider of onboard fuel management technology, considering the following factors can help improve fuel economy:

Idling: Five minutes of engine warm-up is adequate and cool-down can occur when the vehicle is pulled in for parking.

Speed: Reducing speed to a reasonable level and eliminating unnecessary stops improves fuel economy. Every mph increase over 55 mpg reduces fuel economy by 0.1 mile/gallon.

Shifting/Accelerating: Shortshifting at 1,100 to 1,200 rpms in all the low-range gears minimizes fuel consumption while still moving the vehicle. The step to high range requires more revs and consumes more fuel.

Trip Management: Find the most economical and efficient routes that still enable drivers to meet delivery deadlines. Pre-planning trips can eliminate out-of-route miles, unnecessary stops, excessive fuel use and lost time.

Tools: Onboard fuel management technology measures such factors as idling, speed and driver habits, helping drivers monitor and take steps to improve fuel economy performance.

According to the First Fleet survey, another major concern for fleet managers is maintaining vehicles at optimum operating conditions. The survey indicates 34 percent have on-site maintenance facilities, 23 percent outsource maintenance and repair services and 43 percent use a combination of on-site maintenance and outside facilities.

Thirty-three percent of respondents indicated trouble recruiting and retaining qualified service technicians. "Our biggest issue is downtime," says Associated Materials fleet executive Mike Hatfield. "It's almost impossible to get same-day service on the road. There are 24/7 shops that close at midnight. Why? Lack of techs."

A question regarding the reliability of new trucks purchased over the past two years produced mixed results, with 38 percent believing newer trucks are more reliable than older trucks, 38 percent indicating newer and older trucks are equally reliable and 15 percent saying older trucks are more reliable than newer ones.

AMSOIL synthetic motor oils are ideal for fleet owners looking to reduce fuel expenses, improve equipment performance and reliability and reduce downtime. Independent tests show the use of synthetic lubricants can increase fuel efficiency by two to five percent, while many AMSOIL customers report even larger gains. The extended drain intervals offered by AMSOIL synthetic motor oils keep trucks on the road longer between oil changes, reducing downtime and maximizing productivity.

Similarities and Differences Between DIY and DIFM Customers

An Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) study published earlier this year examined the practices and attitudes of both do-it-yourself (DIY) and do-it-for-me (DIFM) customers. A customer falls into the DIY category if he or she performs any service or maintenance at all on his or her vehicle, whether it be a transmission flush or topping off the windshield washer fluid. A customer falls into the DIFM category only if he or she performs no service or maintenance at all on his or her vehicle. Of the people surveyed, 22 percent fell into the DIFM category.

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of respondents had a professional perform a service on their vehicles over the past year. An oil change was the most common (72%), followed by tire replacement or rotation (64%), air filter replacement (43%) and adding windshield wiper fluid (24%).

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of respondents performed a service on their vehicles over the past year. Adding windshield wiper fluid was the most common (66%), followed by wiper replacement (44%), adding antifreeze (35%) and air filter replacement (29%).

DIY and DIFM customers tend to patronize different types of shops. The survey showed 55 percent of DIFM customers have visited a dealership for maintenance or repairs on their vehicles over the past year, compared to only 32 percent of DIY customers. On the other hand, 27 percent of DIY customers have patronized a general repair shop over the past year, compared to only 23 percent of DIFM customers.

Both DIY and DIFM customers choose their particular repair shops for similar reasons. Quality of service ranked as the number one reason to choose a shop, while cost ranked a distant seventh.

Women account for 43 percent of the DIY category and 61 percent of the DIFM category, while people over 55 years of age account for 38 percent of the DIY category and 56 percent of the DIFM category.

Strong Automotive Market

According to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association 2005-2006 Aftermarket Factbook and 2005 Automotive Aftermarket Status Report, the populations of both drivers and vehicles are continually increasing, vehicles are lasting longer, motorists are driving more and the aftermarket is thriving.

The population of licensed drivers in the United States continues to grow, currently totaling nearly 200 million. The number of licensed vehicles is even higher. In fact, there are 1.14 registered light vehicles for each licensed driver in the country.

Vehicles are lasting longer than ever before. Vehicle scrappage rates fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2004, bringing the average age of cars and light trucks on the road to 9.8 and 9.4 years respectively. In addition, the expected average useful life of passenger vehicles is at an all-time high of just over 15 years old.

The average annual miles driven by Americans are at an all-time high. Even with high gasoline prices, the past Fourth of July holiday weekend was the most heavily traveled in the nation's history

Total aftermarket sales jumped 4.4 percent in 2004, with sales expected to continually increase in each of the next six years.

Lubricant Handling Guidelines for Employers

According to Lubrication for Industry by Kenneth E. Bannister, the following guidelines should be followed when handling and disposing of lubricants:

1) Wear goggles and viton/butyl rubber gloves whenever pouring or handling lubricants.

2) use a respirator if pouring or handling lubricants in a confined or poorly ventilated space for prolonged periods of time.

3) Store used lubricants in proper containers and avoid mixing them with volatile or hazardous liquids.Such mixing will increase disposal expenses.

4) Locate a reputable, licensed carrier to dispose of used lubricants.

5) Post MSDS sheets regarding any special lubricant handling instructions.

6) Wash hands before handling food.

7) Create a spill action plan.

8) Never use a dispensing pump for different products unless it is thoroughly cleaned and purged between uses.

9) Never pour used lubricants directly into the sewer or ground.

10) Never siphon lubricants by mouth.

Vehicle Customer Satisfaction Survey

Asking vehi9cle owners to rate how their personal vehicles compare to their ideal vehicles, the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) recently released by the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business indicates that about half the vehicle brands showed improvement, one-quarter stayed the same and one-quarter saw their scores decline over previous years. While the average score was 80, Toyota led the pack with a satisfaction score of 87.

Brand ACSI Score
Toyota 87
Honda 86
BMW 86
Cadillac 86
Buick 84
Hyundai 84
Lincoln/Mercury 83
Saturn 81
GM-GMC 81
Volvo 81
Mercedes-Benz 80
Chrysler 80
Pontiac 80
Mazda 80
Nissan 78
Volkswagen 78
Jeep 78
Chevrolet 78
Dodge 78
Ford 75