2019 AARO Symposium: Looking to the Future

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On January 19, the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) hosted its highly anticipated 2019 Symposium.

It was standing room only in the Argus Room at the Holiday Inn Oakville Centre, as members of the automotive aftermarket from across the province of Ontario and beyond packed in to hear valuable information about the future of automotive service repair.

Craig Van Batenburg, of Automotive Career Development Center (ACDC) in Worcester, Mass., gave a fascinating presentation on servicing electric vehicles and hybrids. Van Batenburg covered a range of topics from safety requirements from working on high voltage systems to specific features and design parameters of battery electric vehicles, extended range electric cars and hybrids, including the Chevy Volt, Honday Civic Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan LEAF and Toyota Prius.

Specific procedures

Batenburg, recognized as a foremost authority on servicing hybrids and electric vehicles, also talked about specific service procedures including simple ones such as cleaning the throttle plate on a Prius to eliminate a no start condition and that when you disconnect the battery on a Honda equipped with Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), the transmission has to re-learn, otherwise the wet clutch will burn up.

Batenburg also talked about dealing with customers who drive hybrids and EVs and making sure they are aware of their vehicles’ maintenance schedules. “Don’t deal with breakdown customers,” he said and “make sure your clients pay what they should for repairs.”

Industry consultant and technical trainer Yves Racette, took the stage next, focusing on two specific vehicles—the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the all-electric Tesla Model 3.

Racette discussed in detail the design parameters and functions of each vehicle, including analysis on the powertrain, battery and cooling systems.

Group discussion

A panel discussion followed, comprised of leading authorities on electric and hybrid vehicles including shop owner Eric Mileham, instructor Al Playter, Yves Racette and Craig Van Batenburg.

The panel fielded a range of questions from an engaged audience which included updates on scan tools and functionality, replacing battery systems and that effectively fixing battery electrics, plug-in and hybrid vehicles requires a different mindset, one that requires complete commitment. “If you’re only going to do half the servicing on these vehicles, you might as well change careers,” said Mileham.

Donny Seyfer, Executive Officer for the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), provided an update on the organization including Service Information Requests and the Vehicle Security Professional registry—designed to ensure technicians get the information they need when fixing specific vehicles, including specific security related data.

Right to Repair 2020

Seyfer was joined by AARO board member John Cochrane of Cochrane Automotive and Mark Lemay of Auto Aide Technical Services, who provided an update on the AARO task force that is working with NASTF. The objective of this task force is to ensure Canadian aftermarket technicians are able to access the information they need without running into obstacles and having to send the vehicle to the OEM dealer as is often been the case in the past.

AARO will attend NASTF’s General Meeting in Charlotte this year and is encouraging every shop, technician, distributor, banner and parts supplier in the province to get behind the Right to Repair 2020 initiative to ensure the aftermarket continues to have a bright future in this country.

Following the conclusion of the morning seminars, the afternoon featured a trade show with vendors from all corners of the aftermarket presenting products and services—everything from parts distributors to technical training and scan tools.

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