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Unconventional Ways to Improve Fuel Economy (Part 5)

Automotive Comments Off on Unconventional Ways to Improve Fuel Economy (Part 5)

As fuel prices remain at all time highs at $3.81/gallon or $1.27/liter in Canada, the push from manufacturers to provide the most fuel efficient vehicles without compromising North American vehicle standards is on. The standard of vehicles we have grown accustomed to include SUV's and high horsepower engines while the rest of the world has adopted smaller and more fuel efficient models.

2013 Ford Fusion

There are many different ways to improve fuel economy but one of these methods is one that can be applied to any vehicle - stop/start technology. In essence, the vehicle turns its self off when idling and re-starts when ready to move. By simply turning an idling engine off fuel efficiency can improve by 5-10%. Think about the time spent waiting for a green light. During this wait, the engine would shut its self off and when the brake pedal or clutch is released the engine restarts with the driver almost unable to detect the transition. This system has been commonly used in Europe since 2007 and is slowly making its way into more and more models in North America including the 2013 Ford Fusion and Escape hybrids.

Ford's recent media release discusses the cost of the feature and its benefits on the Fusion. The great thing about this type of system, is it can be easily duplicated by the fuel conscious consumer by simply turning the engine off at idle. Doing this on a non stop/start designed vehicle does come at a compromise of certain mechanical aspects of the car.

The starter, designed to start the engine, may require servicing sooner rather than later due to the number of increased starts. As well, the battery may require servicing due to the load placed on it when in accessory mode when the engine is switched off. These should not be barriers but rather cautions to one who wants to attempt this practice. A great way to implement this type of fuel saving is to turn the engine off when idling in a parking spot. Most vehicles tend to use more gas idling for 10 seconds than they would have if the engine was stopped and re-started in the same period of time!

In colder climates, the tendency to idle engines to defrost windows and warm the cabin is a practice that manufacturer's do not recommend. Modern engines do not need to be "warmed" up idling, rather they can reach operating temperature quicker when driven at a constant speed. So driving the vehicle on a cold day after starting will help to deforest windows quicker!

Although this type of fuel efficiency is not necessarily re-inventing the wheel it does help every driver participate in fuel savings by simply turning an idling engine off.

Article first published as Stop/Start Tech: Ford's Unconventional Way to Improve Fuel Economy on Technorati.

2013 Toyota Corolla “MAINT REQD” Reset & Service Specifications

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2013 Toyota Corolla

For the 2013 Toyota Corolla, after performing an oil change the MAINT REQD light can be reset by doing the following:

1) Press the "ENGINE START STOP" switch once (do not start engine) or turn ignition key to run (one position before starting engine).
2) Ensure Trip Metre A reading is shown. Turn the ignition off.
3) While pressing the Trip Meter reset button, press the "ENGINE START STOP" switch once (do not start engine) or turn ignition to run (one position before starting engine).
4) Continue to press and hold the button until the trip meter displays "000000".
5) Turn the ignition off and then start the engine to verify the indicator has been reset.

This vehicle recommends the following fluids:
1) Engine Oil - 0W20 (with filter the 1.8L engine takes 3.8L of oil and the 2.4L engine takes 4.2L of oil)
2) Manual Transmission - “TOYOTA Genuine Manual Transmission Gear Oil LV” or other gear oil that meets API GL-4 and SAE 75W specifications
3) Automatic Transmission -Toyota Genuine ATF WS
4) Brake/Clutch Fluid - Dot 3
5) Coolant - Toyota Super Long Life

This vehicle is also equipped with a serviceable cabin filter (Purolator part #C25851). With this information, you should be well on your way to servicing the 2013 Toyota Corolla.



App for Fast Lube Customers

Mondays Industry Innovations/Trends 2 Comments »

Just a few days ago, I discussed QR codes and utilizing smartphone technology to engage customers.  Interestingly enough I came across a product from Auto Data, a fast lube/ car wash POS software provider, called the eSticker.  What makes this software unique is it allows your customers to scan a QR code that directs them to an app specific to your location(s).   On the back end, the app can be tailored to provide customers with store specific promos and even has the ability to map where your locations are.

The key reason your customer will want this app is it also has a built in reminder and service history.  Meaning, they can be electronically reminded of their next service and can see their prior service history.  I am looking forward to seeing how this type of app does in fast lubes and how it evolves.


One Size Fits All Solution

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On September 10, 2012 GoDaddy, one of the world's largest web hosting companies experienced a technical glitch - websites they hosted could not be accessed including OilReset.com.   Although a nuisance, the outage was solved a few hours later and chalked up to a glitch and in turn a learning experience of how to ensure it never happens again.  Satisfied that my site was up and running again it was business as usual.

On the morning of September 15 I received an email from GoDaddy apologizing for the service disruption and offering me a free service to compensate for my lost productivity - great right?  As a customer, this felt like the right thing to do but hang on a moment.  The compensation was generically worded so it not only could be sent to me but to all customers, on top of this, it gave me a whole list of products I have never used that I could be compensated for.

I wasn't looking for compensation from GoDaddy and I was not very impressed with their generic compensation strategy.  The lesson here for your business is very simple - not all customers are the same.  I understand GoDaddy must have millions of customers but each of us is unique and has our own needs.  In this situation, maybe a more crafted email message should have been sent to customers based on what subscription they had or better yet - just an apology would have sufficed for me.  I realize this strategy may not have worked for all customers; hence the need for a more tailored approach to each customer.

Smartphones & Fast Lubes

Friday Gadgets 1 Comment »

"Scanning a QR Code"

The launch of the iPhone 5 has me wondering what impact these devices have on the fast lube industry.  It's clear that smart phones and the internet are ubiquitous and part of our daily routine but how have lubes embraced the technology?  On a smaller scale, innovative shops have incorporated w-fi into their waiting areas and may even have digital price boards.  Beyond this, I have not seen technology as being part of the customer experience.

I am beginning to see QR codes (quick response) being a constant in print but also seeing tech savvy retailers embrace the technology to give smartphone users a little more for using the technology.  In the background, the Retailer is able to collect further data on each customer and potentially tailor campaigns specifically to them.  In the fast lube world, this could be as simple as a free air freshener for each customer who scans the QR code when in your shop.

As technology advances, I strongly believe that shops need to embrace and interact with the technology to not only build their business but to provide customers what they expect - a place for them to use the their gadget.

2013 Buick Verano “Change Engine Oil Soon” Reset & Fluids

How To Fridays 4 Comments »

DIC Menu is accessed via the left turn signal

After performing the oil change the “Change Engine Oil Soon” index can be reset by locating the Driver Information Centre (DIC) on the turn signal lever (refer to photo).  Here you will find a scrolling thumbwheel and a SET/CLR button.  Once located you can do the following to reset the light:

1) Turn the ignition to run (one position before starting the engine).

2)   Press the DIC MENU button on the turn signal lever to enter the Vehicle Information Menu.   Use the thumbwheel to scroll through the menu items until you reach REMAINING OIL LIFE.

3)   Press the SET/CLR button to reset the oil life to 100%.

4)   Turn the ignition off and start the engine to verify the reset is complete.   If the “Change Engine Oil Soon” message is still on; repeat steps 1-3.

Buick recommends the following fluids to be used:

1. Engine Oil – Dexos

2. Engine Coolant – DEX-COOL

3. Brake Fluid – DOT 3 Hydraulic Brake Fluid

4. Automatic Transmission – DEXRON VI Automatic Transmission Fluid

Diagnostic Trouble Codes Easy Lookup

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This is a app introduced by Mac Tools to help organize over 5000 diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) in one place - your smartphone.  Typically, anyone who is diagnosing a DTC will have access to a definition table but what if you are a customer who was told the code by a servicing shop for a repair.  As a customer you could quickly look up the definition of the code and corroborate the need for the repair.

Although Mac Tools has not reinvented the wheel here they have in fact utilized a technology that makes it easier for someone to access this information.  They have hinted at the possibility of expanding this app to coincide with your smartphone diagnosing the DTC - this would be reinventing the wheel.

Overall, visually simple and easy to use app that may help consumers better understand DTC codes.  Not sure if shops will need this information since the scanner they are using will have this information already.



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