Five Big Takeaways from the 2018 SEMA Show

Here is a blog post from our partners- 360 Payments, and the owner Steve’s 5 takeaways from the 2018 SEMA Show.

Last week our team participated in the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Every year over 70,000 automotive aftermarket business professionals gather in Vegas to learn about the latest industry trends, check out new technology, shop for products, and see some truly impressive vehicles on display. We’ve had a booth at the SEMA show for the past few years, and it’s definitely become one of our can’t-miss events. If you weren’t able to make it to Vegas this year, here are the five big takeaways all automotive aftermarket businesses should be aware of, based on one of our favorite seminars by Mark Sengof IHS Markit at AAPEX 2018 (SEMA’s sister show).

1. Don’t Worry About Electric Vehicles – at Least Not Yet

According to Mark and the data analysis team at IHS Markit, despite the growing hype around all-electric vehicles, we’re still many years away from a major shift in the automotive market. The IHS team attributes this slow growth in all-electric vehicles to significant changes in consumer mindset and buying habits that need to take place, changes that won’t happen overnight. Aftermarket companies should focus instead on developing familiarity with hybrids and other all-electric precursors already on the market so that they are ready when the electric shift comes.

2. Don’t Worry About Autonomous Vehicles, Either

The autonomous vehicle market paints a similar picture – despite increased media buzz, the automotive aftermarket is still several decades away from autonomous vehicles making up a significant portion of their customer base. In order for fully autonomous vehicles to go mainstream, the costs and risks associated with the technology have to decrease significantly. However, auto repair shops should focus on developing the skills and technology necessary to competently service these types of vehicles now. Independent repair shops will be fighting an uphill battle to prove to consumers that they are just as skilled as the dealerships when it comes to servicing this next generation of automobile.

3. CUVs and Imports are King

The mix of vehicles on the road today is changing – which in turn is changing the types of vehicles auto repair shops deal with. Crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) are taking the market by storm as sedans lose serious ground to these more versatile alternatives. Imports are also making great strides against domestic makes, and over at least the next seven years most cars sold will be imports. If your technicians are only skilled in servicing domestic makes and models, your shop is going to quickly fall behind

4. New Vehicle Sales are Setting Records but Leveling Off

There’s some great news coming out of the SEMA Show for the automotive aftermarket – American consumers are still setting records year after year for the number of new vehicles purchased. Although the rate of growth is slowing down, more and more vehicles are hitting the road every year. That’s great news for the auto repair industry, especially as those vehicles start to age out of their warranties.

5. America’s Vehicle Population is Aging

In another great bit of news for the automotive aftermarket, Americans are keeping their cars and light trucks on the road longer. Owners of older vehicles will be more likely to seek out independent repair shops as opposed to dealerships, and older vehicles may need more frequent and costly repairs. One word of caution: instead of working on vehicles owned by their second or third owner, you’ll be dealing with vehicles that are on their fourth or fifth. These owners will be less likely to pay big bucks to repair their aging vehicles and may decide to trade up instead.

See You Next Year?

We’re already looking forward to the 2019 SEMA Show! Next year’s event will take place November 5-8 (after Halloween so you’ll have no excuse to miss out), and we will be there. In the meantime, we’re working on fulfilling our goal of becoming the leading credit card processor for the automotive industry. If you want to learn more about what that means, give us a call at 408-295-8360 or drop us a line on our website. We’d love to show your shop how we do things around here.


Pre-Trip Vehicle Check Minimizes Thanksgiving Travel Stress

High traffic volumes and unpredictable weather make Thanksgiving a stressful time to travel. According to the AAA, the number of Thanksgiving travelers will top 54 million, the highest travel volume in over a dozen years. While you can’t control the traffic or the weather, you can make sure that your vehicle is prepared for the trip, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

To minimize stress and avoid holiday road trip mishaps, the Car Care Council recommends checking the following items as part of a thorough pre-trip vehicle check.

  • Check the brake system and make sure the battery connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
  • Check filters and fluids, including engine oil, power steering, and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Make sure heaters, defrosters, and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
  • Check the hoses and belts that can become loose, cracked, brittle, frayed or show signs of excessive wear.
  • Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads.
  • Check that the gas cap is not loose, damaged or missing to prevent gas from spilling or evaporating.
  • Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.
  • Check out the Car Care Council website and order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide for the glove box at This 80-page booklet is available in both English and Spanish.

“If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before heading out for the holidays in order to improve engine performance and increase fuel economy,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “These simple steps will help keep you on the road and get you safely to your destination.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at





Here is a blog post from Meineke, it may be a good post to share with your customers-

Has this ever happened to you? You jump into the driver’s seat of your car, in a rush to get your kids to school and yourself to work. You turn the key and get ready to zoom away—but as you turn your ignition, nothing happens. A few clicks or stray sputters of your engine, maybe. But other than that? Nothing.

You probably know good and well what’s happened here. It’s a dead battery, and for some drivers, it means an automatic call to your roadside assistance company.

But actually, if you have the right equipment and a little bit of knowledge, you can fix this problem all by yourself—jumping your engine and getting back on the road in no time flat

Car Battery Dead?

It has probably happened to you before.You go to turn your ignition, and nothing happens. Maybe you hear a few clicks. Another dead car battery? You need to fix this and get your vehicle back on the road – fast. If you are prepared, you already have a good set of jumper cables in your car. Now all you need to do is to learn how to jump start a car battery.

Choosing the Right Jumper Cables

You don’t need many tools to jump a car battery. First, you must find a functioning car to use for the jump-start. Make sure that both car owners are comfortable opening the hood and identifying the battery and battery terminals. Jumper cables are the most popular tool used to jump start cars because they are inexpensive and easy to store. Jumper cables usually come in a variety of lengths, ranging from 10-20 feet. Some people think longer cables are better so that you do not have to move a car with a dead battery. But, while longer cables provide convenience, they may lose power as the longer the cable, the farther the energy has to travel. The gauge of the cable denotes the strength of the cables. The lower the gauge, the thicker the cables and the stronger they are. Gauge six is a standard size for jumper cables.

Safety First

You should consider all safety risks before performing any basic maintenance or repair on your car. First, make sure that small children are in a safe area away from the engine while you are establishing how to jump a dead car battery. Take a moment to read the manual of your car. Some vehicles require extra steps in order to have a successful jump. If you’re unsure of what to do, contact your local Meineke Car Care Center for advice. Assuming that your car will permit a jump, you should be careful to prevent dangerous electric shocks. When you handle the jumper cables, be aware that their function is to transmit electrical current from one car to another. Once one end of the jumper cables is connected to a car, do not touch the metal clamps to anything but the appropriate target. It’s also recommended that you wear a pair of protective glasses in case sparks go flying into the air.

Step 1: Park the vehicles next to each other.
Step 1
Park the vehicles next to each other.

Step 2: Both vehicles should be off. Set the parking brakes
Step 2
Both vehicles should be off. Set the parking brakes

Step 3: Attach one red clamp to the positive terminal on the dead battery. Step 3
Attach one red clamp to the positive terminal on the dead battery.

Step 4: Attach the other red clamp to the positive terminal on the working battery.
Step 4<
Attach the other red clamp to the positive terminal on the working battery.

Step 5: Attach the partnered black clamp to the negative terminal on the working battery.

Step 5
Attach the partnered black clamp to the negative terminal on the working battery.

Step 6: Attach the partnered black clamp to a clean nut or bolt on the engine block.
Step 6
Attach the partnered black clamp to a clean nut or bolt on the engine block.

Step 7: Start the working vehicle and let it run for a few seconds.
Step 7
Start the working vehicle and let it run for a few seconds.

Step 8: Start the dead vehicle. It should turn on.
Step 8
Start the dead vehicle. It should turn on.

Step 9: If it doesn’t turn on, try revving the engine of the working vehicle.
Step 9
If it doesn’t turn on, try revving the engine of the working vehicle.

Step 10: Disconnect the black jumper cables first, then disconnect the red ones.
Step 10
Disconnect the black jumper cables first, then disconnect the red ones.

Step 11: Take a short drive to help recharge the battery.
Step 11
Take a short drive to help recharge the battery.<

Let’s say for a moment that you successfully get your car battery jumped, and are able to make it to your destination. But then, the next time you try to start your engine, you experience the same problems—clicks, sputters, all the telltale sign of a dead battery.

If your battery “dies” twice in a row like that, it simply means that it didn’t successfully hold its charge the first time. There are several potential causes to consider.

The Causes of a Failed Charge

Some of the most common reasons why a battery won’t hold its charge include:

– You’ve left your lights on—or some other accessory that draws battery power—even when the car hasn’t been running.
– Even while you were driving the car, the battery wasn’t recharging. This is a mechanical problem, and something you’ll want to discuss with the service pros at Meineke.
– You simply didn’t drive the car around for very long once you jumped it; remember, you’ll want to keep the engine running for at least a few minutes to ensure it builds a decent charge. Spending about 20 minutes driving around town is ideal.
– There is some sort of a parasitic electrical drain on the battery—more likely than not caused by a bad alternator.
– The battery is simply very old, and no longer capable of holding a charge for very long. If this is the case, you’ll need to replace it. That’s something we can do for you at Meineke.

These are not the only potential causes of your battery woes, but they represent the most likely scenarios.

Diagnosing the Problem

To determine which of these scenarios you’re dealing with, here are a few troubleshooting tips.

1. First, simply turn on your headlights. If they come on with their normal brightness, your problem is probably a bad starter or poor wiring—not the battery itself. If the lights do not come on at all, or if they’re dimmer than normal, then the problem is more likely with the battery.
2. Next, test the voltage of your battery. To do this, get a voltmeter and connect the red lead to the positive terminal and the black lead to the negative terminal. Hopefully, you’ll get a reading of over 12.6 volts, showing a fully charged battery—but if not, there’s definitely an issue with the battery being poorly charged.
3. From there, consider the condition of the battery itself. Does it look obviously corroded or worn out? Is it more than four years old? If so, then the simplest solution may be to have the battery replaced.
4. Finally, consider whether the problem is your alternator. If you detect cracking or fraying in the alternator cables, that’s an obvious sign that something’s off. And if you jump start the car only for the battery to quickly lose its charge and the engine to stall, that’s suggestive of an alternator issue.

These are some effective ways to figure out why your battery won’t hold a charge—but what if it won’t jumpstart at all? If you followed our step-by-step guide and your engine still won’t turn, there could be a number of potential reasons.

If your efforts to jumpstart the battery don’t go anywhere, it’s likely for one of these reasons:

1. First, it may be that the terminals on your car battery need a deep cleaning. We’ll offer some tips for this in just a moment!
2. Your battery may simply be very old, and beyond the point at which it can be repaired—in which case, of course, it will need to be replaced.
3. Finally, note that there could be another mechanical problem somewhere in the vehicle, such as blown fuses or a bad alternator. A Meineke service technician can help diagnose and fix any of these problems.

4. How to Clean a Car Battery

How to clean a car battery

If you have an old battery or a mechanical failing, that’s probably going to require intervention from an automotive specialist. But if the problem is simply that the terminals on your battery need to be cleaned, that’s something you can do yourself.

Here’s what you need to do to make sure your battery terminals are spotless:

1. First and foremost, turn off your engine. While cleaning the terminals is a fairly straightforward DIY project, there is still a slight risk of injury. You can avert this risk simply by making sure you have the engine turned off while you work.

2. Next, loosen the nut holding your negative cable in place; you’ll likely need a wrench for this. Detach the cable from the post. Then, follow the same steps with the positive cable.

3. Take just a moment to visually inspect your car battery. Specifically look for any fissures or cracks. If you see any, that means there’s a problem with your car battery that you probably won’t be able to fix on your own; more likely than not, you’re looking at the need for a battery replacement.

4. You’ll also want to look at the cables and clamps themselves. Again, what you’re looking for is very obvious evidence of wear and tear. If your cables or clamps have big rips or tears, you’ll probably need to have them replaced. These things really can’t be mended.

5. Assuming you don’t see any of these obvious signs of wear and tear, you’ll want to mix your cleaning solution—one tablespoon of baking soda into one cup of water. Mix ‘em up thoroughly, then dip an old toothbrush into the mixture.

6. Use the toothbrush to scrub away any signs of corrosion you see on your battery terminals. Don’t be afraid to really scour thoroughly to get things squeaky clean. You may have to soak your toothbrush in the baking soda mixture a couple of times as you keep scrubbing away.

7. When you finish, use a spray bottle with cool water to rinse off any residue. It is imperative to make sure all baking soda and corrosion is washed away. Then, use an old rag or towel to pat the battery and clamps completely dry.

8. Use a little bit of petroleum jelly to lubricate the terminals.

9. Reattach the cables to their correct terminals.

That’s the basic guide to cleaning your battery terminals—but here’s an alternate approach: If you’re on the go and don’t have access to the above supplies, see if you can find a Coca-Cola or a Pepsi somewhere, and pour it over the terminals. Let it sit for two or three minutes, then rinse your battery clean with cool water. Note: You’ll want to follow the same basic safety steps we outlined above, including turning off your engine and detaching the cables.

How to Prevent Your Battery from Dying

Of course, it’s optimal to keep your battery from dying at all. This isn’t always possible—eventually, every battery dies out—but there are some things you can do to prolong your battery life for as long as possible.

  1. For starters, make sure you make regular battery tests part of your routine maintenance. When you take your vehicle to Meineke for an oil change and tire rotation, also ask them to check the battery life, and to let you know when it’s time to think about a replacement.
  2. Protect your battery from extreme weather. Garage it during the winter or summer, whenever possible—and if it’s not possible, consider an insulated blanker to keep your battery safe.
  3. If you’re going out of town and won’t be driving the car for a few weeks, see if a friend can come rev it up and take it around the block once or twice, ensuring that the battery stays charged.
  4. Of course, you also want to double and triple check to be sure you aren’t leaving lights or appliances on when the vehicle isn’t running—these are major drains on the battery life.

Battery life is something you can extend through regular, preventative maintenance. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment for a battery test, we invite you to reach out to your nearest Meineke service location today. Ask us how we can help you keep your vehicle battery in good working order!