From brake flush to coolant, and transmission to power steering fluid exchange systems, every shop owner is looking for something specific. While some are looking to enhance the quality of their full-service exchanges, others need something to boost their times. No matter what kind of shop you're catering to, there's something for everyone that is sure to offer an impressive return on their investment.
The moment a mobile dealer wraps his head around the many types fluid exchange equipment available, he becomes an invaluable tool for the shop owners and technicians along his route.
In hot pursuit of maintenance dollars
A major point of interest for shop owners is how to keep their full-service dollars flowing.
"Shops are fighting for that maintenance dollar, and trying not to let it go back to the dealership if it can be avoided," said Jim O'Hara, director of marketing at Clore Automotive.
"Of course, they want more of their customers' wallets, and preventative maintenance is a great way to get it," said O'Hara.
Now, more than ever, automotive repair businesses large and small are interested in machines that will allow them to add a repeatable, high-quality service.
"The biggest things people ask about are reliability, who else has the unit and some type of history in regards to its performance in the field," said Frank Casale, director of sales and marketing at Flo Dynamics. "Price is always an issue, and then of course how it performs, and how easy it is to operate."
Fortunately, many fluid exchange machines are push-button operated, with audible alerts when the service is complete.
"Easy operation functions and equipment that offers several different service options in one machine" are the biggest trends in the industry, according to Amanda Summers, RTI's marketing manager, communications and research.
The main exchange
So what kinds of equipment are shops buying? Coolant, and transmission and brake fluid exchangers are three of the most common services taking place in bays.
When it comes to transmission fluid exchanges, "our most popular machine has the ability to exchange fluid through the dipstick tube or inline connection," said Casale.
"The biggest thing there is speed and ease of use.
"We have [these machines] in dealerships, we have them in full-service and we have them in quick lubes."
Transmission fluid exchangers with dipstick mode run about $4,000 and perform multiple services.
For coolant exchangers, O'Hara advised that some machines do true flushing and not simply vacuum extraction, like multi-tube machines do. The purpose of this is to offer a complete flush with a much higher percentage of fluid exchanged.
"This approach is the right way to do the job and increase the use of long life coolants in the marketplace," said O'Hara. He also claims this approach is consistent with cooling system service on today's vehicles and the frequent need to use chemical cleaners to bring the system back to proper operation.
"Chemical cleaners are best used in conjunction with a true flushing service to ensure the cleaner is completely removed from the vehicle system," said O'Hara.
Coolant machines that offer in-shop recycling are also in the works, along with a machine that's a straight drain flush-and-fill.
These flushing machines, according to O'Hara, are the most popular item requested by mechanics and run about $2,000.
Don't stop at brakes
Brake fluid sales in the industry are slow, but improving. It's law in many European countries to exchange brake
fluid annually, and this same practice is catching on in
"Brake fluid itself draws moisture to it, and once it is saturated with moisture, it becomes inefficient," said Bill Blumenstine, automotive division national sales manager at Ritchie Engineering. "So [when you] change the fluid on the regular intervals, brake performance improves.
"A soft pedal means you have air and/or moisture in the line. By doing a proper flush or exchange, those two things are eliminated."