PORT CLINTON, Ohio-The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association's ``National Maintenance Practices Study,'' an annual report on consumers' vehicle maintenance habits will, for the first time, include data from National Car Care Month check lanes. While vehicles are being inspected, owners will be asked to complete questionnaires on where they purchase their service and/or parts, how much they spend on maintenance, and other pertinent information.
The check lanes, conducted during October, which is National Car Care Month, as well as the MEMA study will provide ``valuable'' information for the automotive aftermarket industry, according to Donna Wagner, National Car Care Month executive director.
Various prizes will be offered to both volunteer organizations who conduct Car Care Month events, and motorists who participate.
Monro Muffler plans 30-store expansion
ROCHESTER, N.Y.-According to a Wall Street Journal report, Monro Muffler Brake Inc. plans to open 30 stores in the fiscal year ending March 31, 1995.
The Rochester-based company already opened 10 of the new stores by the first quarter ended June 30, the newspaper said. In fiscal 1994, the company opened 20 stores, bringing to 213 the number of undercar repair outlets it operates in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachussetts, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.
Last year Monro President and CEO Jack M. Gallagher said the company could grow at twice its current pace if it could find enough qualified mechanics.
Tire dealers handle 7% of A/C repairs
DETROIT-While auto repair shops perform 28.2 percent of the repairs to consumers' vehicle cooling systems, tire dealers pull in far less business, said a recent survey of 5,000 households.
Tire dealerships handle 7.0 percent of the service, compared with 26.6 percent for new-car dealers, and22.3 percent for service stations.
The survey's results were shared at a recent meeting of the Automotive Cooling Systems Institute by researcher David Reiss of MRTReiss Associates in Seaford, N.Y. The institute, which is affiliated with the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, was a sponsor.
The survey involved 9,002 vehicles and measured service performed in the past year. In general, it found that do-it-yourself owners did a preponderance of the easy jobs associated with cooling systems, such as replacing coolant, thermostats and hose clamps.
But the survey also showed that do-it-yourselfers are not seriously involved in cooling system repairs before the vehicle is five years old.
Fewer than 10 percent of the cars in the study sample that had cooling-system repairs were less than five years old.
The study showed professionals received 91.7 percent of the business repairing air conditioning.
Car engine designed to change won size
OAK RIDGE, Tenn.-A car engine that can change size depending upon acceleration requirements has been designed by an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researcher.
The engine, designed at the federal Department of Energy facility, would cost less than conventional engines and offers the possibility of 80 to 90 miles per gallon for a lifetime mileage of at least 500,000 miles.
Carsten M. Haaland of the Engineering Physics and Mathematics Division invented the engine that can shrink combustion volume down to 0.06 liters, much smaller than that found in existing commercial vehicles.
Engine volume can expand to allow a vehicle to accelerate to 60 mph in seven seconds.
Martin Marietta Energy Systems Inc., which manages ORNL, has applied for a patent for the magnetohydrodynamic liquid metal, or LM, engine. Magnetohydrodynamics is the science of magnetic fields combined with motion of liquids that conduct electricity, such as mercury or liquid sodium.
``The LM engine can adjust its output to suit different driving requirements, which assures superb vehicle performance and maximum fuel efficiency at any speed,'' Mr. Haaland said.
``Since there are fewer moving parts in the engine, and since an auto powered by it won't need a clutch or transmission, the initial vehicle costs should be lower and the frequency of repairs should be greatly reduced.''
Several years of development will be required before commercial vehicles with the engine will be available.
Synthetic refrigerant lubricant introduced
HOUSTON-Texaco Lubricants Co. North America debuted on Aug. 1 a new synthetic refrigeration lubricant line for use with non-ozone-depleting refrigerants.
The new products, to be marketed under the ``Capella HFC'' brand name in the U.S., will utilize advanced technology developed by Lubrizol Corp.
Texaco said that for automobile use, ``Capella HFC Auto'' is fully compatible with new hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, as well as with conventional CFC, mineral oil and alkylbenzene lubricants.
Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants are being phased out due to their adverse effects on the Earth's ozone layer. They are being replaced by HFC refrigerants which, Texaco said, need new lubricants to effectively lubricate both new and retrofitted systems.
NHTSA spurs record number of recalls
WASHINGTON-An analysis of motor vehicle safety recalls in 1993 shows that safety investigations conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration led to the recall of more than 9 million vehicles, the largest such total in the agency's history.
According to NHTSA, of the 10.9 million vehicles recalled last year, 85 percent-9.34 million vehicles-were under investi-gation by the agency when the manufacturer decided to conduct a recall. Another 1.6 million were recalled without NHTSA involvement, after manufacturers identified safety problems.
The agency cited the increased number of consumer calls to NHTSA's toll-free Auto Safety Hotline to report safety problems as one reason for the rise in recalls. That often resulted from nationwide publicity generated after NHTSA began a defect investigation. Also, several individual recall campaigns involved more than 800,000 vehicles, the agency added.
Owners of American cars pretty satisfied
DETROIT-Owners of American vehicles were almost as satisfied with their cars after five years of ownership as were import buyers, according to a recent study.
The Vehicle Dependability Study by J.D. Power and Associates, a marketing information firm based in Agoura Hills, Calif., found that owners of 1989 model American cars had just 5 percent more problems with their cars than owners of Japanese cars.
The survey questioned a random sampling of 22,000 car owners representing 31 nameplates and 151 models last year.
``The gap is closing,'' said Bill Wallis, a J.D. Power researcher.
Although Japanese cars still held an edge in quality over American models, the study showed that problems in Japanese cars were climbing at a faster rate than U.S. cars.
A separate J.D. Power study of 35,000 owners-conducted 90 days after the cars were bought-showed that owners of 1989 U.S. models had found 34 percent more problems than did owners of Asian cars.