By David Hirschhornt, CRP Automotive
Remember the good ol’ days when your customers came in for regularly scheduled maintenance? Oil change at 3,000 miles, tire rotation at 5,000, tune up at 10,000, and so on. While these helped you keep their vehicles in good shape, a hidden, but truly valuable benefit was the “advanced warning” that you were able to give them for the next necessary service. “Hey Charlie, front pads are at 35%, we’ll put on a new set at the next oil change.”
Over the past 10 years, all of this has become moot because the carmakers have dramatically extended their recommended intervals for various services and components. The 3,000 mile oil change is now a 10,000 mile service item and a timing belt replacement, usually tackled at the 60,000 mile mark, can stretch to more than 100,000 miles.
These new extended intervals have different implications for you and your customers. Vehicle owners love them because it means fewer trips for service and less repair bills. But for you, it creates an added challenge. Now you have to estimate how long a part will last based on your experience and the owner’s driving habits in order to make sure there’s no trouble between this service appointment and the next.
Since many vehicles will only be brought in once every 10-15,000 miles, the luxury of giving the vehicle owner “advance warning” is gone, but the ramifications are not. Instead of coming in with a small tear in a CV boot and needing an easy fix, the customer may now be looking at an axle replacement. At every visit, you will have to check out the wear and tear items on the car for preventive maintenance to keep the customer up and running.
A key area that can benefit from this diligent effort is the drive belt service. When you change a belt, you need to consider the other components in the system, such as the idlers and tensioners. They may be working OK now, but will they make it to the next belt change? If you have to remove an engine mount as part of a timing belt service, replace it with a new one rather than putting back the old one. And when you check out the brakes, ask yourself if they’ll last another year.
Service kits are very popular now and may be the coming trend that addresses some of the issues created by the extended service intervals and that missing “advanced warning.” These kits offer a great benefit because they include those extra replacement parts that the vehicle may need to go the distance and reach the next interval. So when your customer comes in for a 105 K timing belt service, consider a timing belt kit. It will likely have everything you need to get the job done, and more.
And, if you’re working on a used vehicle with no service history, what better assurance is there than to know that you’ve replaced any questionable high wear components that could fail at any time.
At CRP Automotive, we have developed several different versions of our belt kits, each with a key mix of additional components needed to meet a specific level of service. Our aim with these kits is to make sure we supply a high-quality solution for professional technicians who want to provide the highest level of service possible for their customers’ vehicles and keep their customers driving happily for years to come. More information is available at www.crpautomotive.com