Auto Service World
Feature   April 1, 2000   by CARS Magazine

News Briefs (April 01, 2000)

Thanks A Million From Drive CleanIn what has to one of the smoothest roll-outs of an auto emission test and repair initiative in North America, Ontario's Drive Clean program recently achieved one mile...


Thanks A Million From Drive Clean

In what has to one of the smoothest roll-outs of an auto emission test and repair initiative in North America, Ontario’s Drive Clean program recently achieved one milestone and is poised to expand its geographic reach further.

More than a million vehicles have been tested by the first quarter of 2000 in the program, which was launched just over a year ago in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton-Wentworth regions.

Drive Clean is scheduled to expand its test and repair program for light vehicles on Jan. 1, 2001, to 13 other urban centres and commuter zones from Windsor to Peterborough.

At that point, there will be more than 5.2 million passenger vehicles and 200,000 heavy-duty trucks covered by the program.

Drive Clean has reduced smog-causing pollutants from vehicles by almost seven per cent, according to the ministry of environment, identifying the dirtiest vehicles and making sure their emissions problems are fixed.

“That’s a great start on the road towards our ultimate goal of reducing pollutants by up to 22 per cent,” said Tony Clement, the environment minister.

More than 1,000 garages now offer Drive Clean services to the public. Heavy duty vehicle testing is offered at 400 facilities.

The Ministry of the Environment recently mailed information about the Drive Clean program to 4,000 garages in the phase two area, to increase the number of test and repair facilities in preparation for the launch of the expanded program Jan. 1, 2001.

For more information, call 1-888-758-2999, or visit the website at www.driveclean.com.

“Carnavale l’hiver” Draws Auto Sense Shareholders to Quebec

Quebec City’s Carnavale l’hiver (Winter Carnival) set the seasonal theme of the Auto Sense Annual Convention of shareholders and trade show.

Incoming chairman Denis Brub of Access d’Autos Nordiques Inc., presided over the events, which included the annual general meeting where Randy Luu, Magnum Engine Service Ltd., and John Williams, Mikkelsons ACDelco Parts, were elected to the board of directors.

The chairman’s banquet set the stage for the three-day convention and served to recognize the key contributions that outgoing chairman Gardner Dye made during his tenure.

Don Skuce, president of Auto Sense, also took the opportunity to recognize a number of shareholder anniversaries:

5 Years: JDT Auto Supplies and Quality Auto Supplies.

10 Years: Bisson & Sons; Welland Automotive & Industrial Ltd.; Geraco Enterprises Ltd.; and Parts-Mart.

15 Years: CARM Auto AG Parts Inc.; Don’s Auto Parts Ltd.; Norpine Auto Supply; Surrey Automotive & Industrial Supplies Ltd.; and West-Central Auto & Ind. Supplies Ltd.

20 Years: Birch Auto/Farm Supply; Ferris Auto Electric Limited; Hansen Automotive; and McNaughton Automotive Ltd.

25 Years: Berco Automotive Supply Ltd.; Central Auto Supply (Guelph) Ltd.; General Auto Supply (Western) Ltd.; Twin City Auto Parts Inc.; Valley Bearing and Auto Ltd.; and Western Bearing Auto Parts Ltd.

Ford Extends Head Gasket Warranty on 3.8L

Ford Motor Company, which had previously recognized a problem with the head gasket performance on its 3.8L V6, has extended the warranty to seven years or 160,000 km on certain models.

The warranty affects the head gaskets used on the on the 1994 Lincoln Continental, 1994-1995 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, and 1995 Ford Windstar, and is the second time Ford has extended the warranty because of the problem. The original warranty extension, issued in 1998, was for 5 years/96,000 km for the Taurus, Sable and Windstar vehicles, and 6 years/120,000 km on Continental.

The problem stems from design changes to the engine for the 1994 and 1995 model years and is not, in fact, a problem with the gasket. Instead, according to Ford, it results from the different expansion rates of the aluminum and the steel head bolts. Under certain cold-start conditions, the head will actually lift off the block and then slam down repeatedly, until clamp load is restored–presumably when the components warm up. This repeated pounding causes bore grommet (fire ring) cracks. The original gasket, of a graphite design, wasn’t up to the pounding it was being subjected to. The replacement gasket is made of a higher density graphite to support the torque load better and more evenly.

In addition to the gasket revisions, Ford had previously revised its torque procedures for the cylinder heads and offered a new bolt kit.

“What worries me,” says John Hyde, technical analyst for gasket supplier Rol Manufacturing Canada, “is that people aren’t going to find out about the new specs.” Those new procedures substantially increase both the clamp load and the number of steps required to achieve it. The procedure is available from AERA-Engine Rebuilders Association and most gasket suppliers’ technical services departments.

“When Ford issued the original warranty extension, our data indicated that the extension would cover the affected vehicles over the time and mileage where owners were most likely to have a head gasket concern,” said Ann O’Neill, director, vehicle service and programs, Ford Customer Service Division. “But, as these vehicles have aged, we have received new data that indicate that some owners are having failures outside the original warranty extension.”

Owners of these vehicles who experienced head gasket failures during the extended warranty time frame will be eligible for a full refund for past repairs, or for a limited time, may choose a certificate to be used towards the purchase or lease of a new Ford, Mercury or Lincoln.

In addition, it has been reported that customers suffering engine failures as a result of the gasket problem will have their vehicles purchased by Ford if a replacement engine can not be found within five days, and they will also be offered a certificate toward the purchase of a new Ford vehicle.

Raybestos Offering Noise Solution Clinics

Raybestos is offering a series of training clinics for professional installers designed to provide solutions to brake noise.

Brake noise is generally cited as the number-one reason for vehicle comebacks.

In response, the company is offering clinics in French and English that will target installation issues that can cause noise.

The clinics are two to three hours long and can be provided at a facility arranged with the company.

UAP/NAPA Gives Consumer Warranty Option

UAP/NAPA has started providing consumers with the option of a limited warranty or extended protection.

Its Protection Optional Guarantee (POG) allows consumers to accept a 12-month, 20,000 km warranty against defects, or to purchase a certificate giving them extended protection for as long as they own the vehicle.

The program will initially be offered only on brakes, ride control and mufflers, but will be extended to other product lines in the future.

“Freeing the industry and consumer from the burden of the Limited Lifetime Warranty is a positive step,” says Carman Bennett, senior vice-president. “This gives the consumer the choice of the protection best suited to his or her needs.”

In addition, UAP has also introduced the NAPA United friction line to Canada. The line has been available in the U.S. through NAPA stores. Three products will carry the United brand: Ceramix Friction, Application Engineered Friction, and OE Performance Loaded Calipers.

Midtronics Purchases Exide Charger Division

Diagnostic tool maker Midtronics, Inc. has purchased the Charger Division of Exide Corporation for an undisclosed amount.

With the deal, Midtronics adds retail and commercial battery chargers to its line of battery testers, along with its PowerLogic and inCharge brands of professional charger/testers.

Midtronics has acquired all assets of Exide’s Charger Division, including equipment, current inventory, and the North Bay, Ont., manufacturing facility. Midtronics will continue to manufacture chargers in North Bay, supplying customers with Exide and NASCAR branded products.


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