The March issue marks the 85th anniversary of Brake & Front End and is the 1,020th consecutive issue of this magazine that has hit shops without missing a single issue. It also marks my 16th year working on the magazine.
When I started in 2000, aging Kelsey Hays rear-wheel anti-lock (RWAL) systems on “bread-and-butter” pickups were a big problem to service and bleed. GM was having a big issue with lateral runout from over-torqued lugnuts on some sedans. Also, the Firestone tire recall was about to make headlines, and tire pressure monitoring systems were only on exotic cars like the Corvette.
Looking at the bound volumes from the past, I realized that change is always happening and there is no way to avoid it. There are always technicians who fight it, while others see it as an opportunity.
In the early 1970s, disc brakes were a big problem for some shops. Brake & Front End ran endless articles on lathes, hardware and tips for solving noise problems. By 1977, the focus turned to front-wheel-drive vehicles and how to replace or rebuild CV joints.
In the late 1990s, the use of stainless steel for stock exhaust systems eliminated the need for replacement when the system rotted out. Smart shops saw the writing on the wall and realized the money was in catalytic converters, oxygen sensors and diagnostic labor.
Today, shops have a new set of pressing problems. Systems like pre-braking, TPMS and reflashing are starting to roll into the bays, but some technicians will thrive servicing these systems.
What Keeps Me Up At Night
In the past, I have made lofty predictions that never hit close to reality. Five years ago, I even predicted the death of Twitter and Facebook due to people not wanting to put their lives online. I was really wrong about that.
So, this time around, I would like to just share what keeps me up at night.
State vehicle inspections are becoming a recurring topic among legislatures and shops as vehicle age increases and customer intelligence level decreases. More and more states are looking at inspection programs as not only a way to raise revenue, but as a way to get unsafe vehicles off the roads. But, we have to act now so programs are effective and profitable for shops.
Advanced safety systems like pre-braking systems and lane departure warning systems are coming standard on more mainstream vehicles. These systems are very information- and tool-intensive to repair. I would hate to see a future where older vehicles with these systems are disabled with the warning light aglow because shops can’t diagnosis the problem or find parts.
Certification and licensing discussions have started wars online among technicians and shop owners. All sides make valid points. Many are starting to realize without any formal certification or licensing, our industry could be decimated if a company like Uber or Amazon sets their sights on automotive repair shops.
I would like to say thank you for reading this magazine. Whether this is your first issue or your 1020th issue, thank you for making it possible. We could not have done it without you.