Auto Service World
Feature   April 1, 2002   by Andrew Ross

Car Care Month: Cool Tips for Spring Marketing

Focus on the cooling system, and avoid a lot of hot air.

Surely one of the most annoying things to happen to a motorist is to see steam rising from under the hood.

We’re all familiar with the scenario, but somehow a car’s cooling system never seems to garner the kind of attention that it should. Cooling system failure can ruin an engine, and while the repower option is getting more attention, huge repair bills can cause consumers to opt for new cars instead. With this in mind, perhaps you should consider making the cooling system the focus of car care activities this May.

With apologies to Canadians in regions that were socked in by serious snow and cold this winter, the simple reality is that many Canadians on the road did not experience a winter harsh enough to uncover any weaknesses in a car’s cooling system.

There are really two approaches to delivering a car care message with value. One is to target the consumer directly; another is to get your service provider customers to offer inspection programs and other services for consumers.

The National Automotive Radiator Service Association (NARSA) has a good example of this two-pronged approach. It suggests service providers offer a seven point inspection:

1. A radiator pressure cap test to check for the recommended system pressure level.

2. A thermostat check for proper opening and closing.

3. A pressure test to identify any external leaks to the cooling system parts, including the radiator, water pump, engine coolant passages, radiator and heater hoses, and heater core.

4. An internal leak test to check for combustion gas leakage into the cooling system.

5. A visual inspection of all cooling system components, including belts and hoses.

6. A system power flush and refill with car manufacturer’s recommended concentration of coolant.

7. An engine fan test for proper operation.

On the other side of the coin, NARSA gives the following advice to motorists, in an article by its director of technical services, Dave Gordon:

“Winter driving and even winter ‘sitting’ (when your vehicle sits for a day or more) is extremely taxing on the cooling system. This makes it imperative that your spring cleaning ritual includes a complete check-up of the cooling system.

“Salt, cinders, and debris of all kinds litter the roads during the winter. This debris can collect and clog a radiator or condenser quickly, reducing much needed airflow.”

The article advises using a hose or shop air to check whether the radiator and condenser allows for free flow of air.

Perhaps one point that is not emphasized enough in any materials that I have come across is the temperature check. While even NARSA gives some advice on what to do if your car’s temperature rises in traffic–give it a little gas, turn on the heater–there isn’t much emphasis placed on the notion that if a car is getting hot in traffic, there is something wrong.

Any marketing you or your customers do would be made all the more effective if it takes the approach that car problems don’t fix themselves, and that if your TEMP light comes on, a permanent failure is bound to occur.

Car Care Marketing Resources

Marketing resources are available to help you put together articles and ads during May Car Care Month. The good news is, these are free for the asking, or at least free for the surfing.

The Automotive Industries Association of Canada has a good selection of Car Care Month tips on its website at

Also, the Car Care Council, at, can also provide a good selection of information to choose from.

In addition, you may also be able to get good tips from the manufacturers of such items as belts and hoses, wiper blades, radiators, and other items with a distinctly seasonal bent. (Don’t forget, batteries fail in the summer, too!)

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