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A View From The Pumps October

OCTOBER

October 2020, a month and a year to remember always. The first Monday in October opens the Supreme Court’s year. This year October finds this nation and the world nearing the end of a Pandemic or is it just a stop gap before the second wave. We also find ourselves as a nation one Supreme Justice short due to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It is one month before what is probably going to be the most contested and controversial presidential election in the history of the United States. Red want the seat filled blue wants to wait.

October 2020, the month that the Car Care Council of America deems “Car Care Month”. It is the month that separates summer from winter. The time to winterize your car, getting the snow tires out or if you live in the frozen Tundra getting the chains out of storage. Replacing your wiper blades changing the grades of oil

that you use, making sure that your coolant is stout enough to withstand the frigid conditions that are about to occur. Getting that annual wax job to protect your cars finish from sleet and salt. Okay, we live in Florida but we didn’t always, some memories are okay to remember.

October 2020, the month that the Great Pumpkin arrives in Punta Gorda Florida. He or she sits proudly on the corner of Olympia and Rte. 41 North. Beckoning and challenging passersby to guess its weight. The prize? How about two round trip tickets to Key West on the Key West Express. Why does this happen? Because its fun, because we typically are roasted all summer, or besieged by thunderstorms and flooding and then clearly watching out for the dreaded rogue Hurricane, always named but never predictable in its course or ferocity. By the time October comes we the residents of Charlotte County need and deserve this break. Lower your mask and smile and dream about whisking away on a huge Catamaran towards the isle of laughing, carousing, drinking in excess and maybe flashing some innocent bystanders. Key West.

October 2020, riddle me this, what do Sir Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Hans Christian Anderson, Susan Boyle, Lewis Carroll, Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, James Joyce, and Michelangelo all have in common?

Why is the owner of an automotive facility writing about a month of the year?

Because all these famous people and many more have all been either diagnosed or believed to be on the Autism Spectrum. Because of Hollywood, mention Autism and “Rainman” pops to mind. Dustin Hoffman’s brilliant portrayal of a high functioning Autistic man captured the hearts of America, as did Ben Affleck’s rendition of not so innocent man in the movie The Accountant. But autistic they were. Now think of Mark, Marcus, Flynn and Lincoln. Real names and real people. Some were non functioning and then broke through and live real lives, working with in the system, some that are still not openly communicative, yet know how to get there messages out. Maybe its not them that can’t communicate but us that can’t understand.

Every October for the last 14 years Gregg’s Automotive has had a “Putting the brakes on Autism” campaign. Thanks to our partners in the industry most notably NAPA we have been able to sponsor a Free Brakes Program. That means that if you come to Gregg’s and need brakes one set of NAPA premium brakes will be donated to you the consumer. All other parts or services related to that work are at our competitive and fair rates. That is a $79.00 to over a $100.00 savings to you. At the end of the month we tally up all the brake work that we performed and then write a check to Harbour Heights Charities for 10% of that number. I have written that check for as much as $1500.00 but my goal is to reach the $2000.00 mark.

Why? Because I can and because I choose too, but mostly because I have been touched by the Flynns, Marcus’, Lincolns and Marks.

This is your chance to make it all possible for all human beings with this syndrome to flourish. We will never know where that next genius will be or when they will choose to show themselves.

God Bless America and all of her children.

A View From The Pumps

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS

GREGG MARRAPODI

BRAKING BY WIRE; THE NEXT GENERATION

Welcome to the 21st century where everything is becoming dependent on volts and amps. Today’s vehicles have gone from cable driven throttles to electric steering and now to electronic braking.

Electronic braking is not new, as a matter of fact it was available in the 2001 SL500 Mercedes. Here was the manufacturer said about their new system. “The company that invented ABS brakes, traction control and electronic stability has launched the worlds first production vehicle equipped with electronic brakes.” This system was touted as being faster, more sure footed, reliable and safer during emergency stops.

The brake pedal on the SL500 worked with a computer that told four fast acting valves exactly how hard the brake pedal was being depressed and how to slow down each wheel.

The “back up” hydraulic master cylinder would only come into use if there is a serious problem or electrical failure. With split second accuracy the system can change braking pressures for each wheel and change according to road conditions, both mechanical and environmental. That means stopping on uneven surfaces or a wet road.

Sounds good on paper but was a little premature twenty years ago. The result was that in 2004 680,000 SL and E models that were built in October 2001 were recalled. It didn’t really have the effect on the American market since only 140,000 cars with that system were imported to the states. The recall was announced as a voluntary recall by the manufacturer and not mandated by the NHSTA. That is known as keeping bad press out of the headlines.

All in all the concept was not bad and in the last 20 years electronic braking has been slowly and quietly becoming a very big part of automotive technology.

ABS braking was the really first marriage of hydraulics and electrons. When you put yourself into a skidding situation, it is electronics that pulsate the hydraulic

pressures to keep from a wheel locking up. And while the braking part is 100% hydraulic, it is the electronics that “dither” the hydraulic pressure specific to each wheel independently of each other faster than our minds can react or feet respond. Pair that with a program that can employ a brake, rather than release it to prevent uncontrolled acceleration issues on uneven or wet roads. Welcome traction control. When designed and built together as a combined strategy they make for a more safe and controlled operation of acceleration and braking.

Integrate this system with the new radar systems and “intelligent cruise control and collision avoidance” became vogue. Intelligent cruise control slows your vehicle down if you are encroaching up on a vehicle ahead of you without disabling the cruise control. Collision avoidance, stops you dead in your tracks if a collision appears imminent. But in all actuality your car is braking with or without your knowledge or input.

Beware of autonomy, it is sneaking up on us.

As for us in the trenches, it is continued training learning the in and outs of electric calipers, the expense of new

tools to control these same calipers that threaten to chop off fingers if said vehicle decides to exercise the caliper when your hands are in it. The cost of parts will skyrocket when all of these electronics are used.

Lastly watch for the little “P” button somewhere on the dash or console for that is the electronic hand brake that will keep you where you are when it fails.

As per usual my normal signatures are even more important.

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LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL ALWAYS COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS

Be smart and be safe!

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS -WELCOME TO THE RAINY SEASON

In beautiful South West Florida, the span of time from June 1st to November 30th is known for two very distinct and different seasons. The first being Hurricane season which I’m sure that everyone is tired of hearing about and secondly is the “Rainy Season.”

The rainy season basically is three to four months of sweltering temperatures with humidity levels of 100 or so percent. Almost every day the sky’s will open, and the rain will come sometimes on and off for an entire day and sometimes for minutes to hours of “Frog Drowning Torrential Rains,” so heavy that you can sometimes not even see the front of your car, much less the car in front of you. However, if you’re reading this in the weekly paper you already know all of this, if you’re reading on line, take notes.

The first of the most important parts of your car when it’s raining like this both contain rubber. Small rubber first, your wiper blades. You should think of your wiper

blades like dental visits, once every six months. During the dry season, the winter months, your wiper blades are parked on the windshield just baking onto the glass. With temperatures in the eighties and nineties everyday these rubber inserts are practically melting onto the glass. And the few times that they are actually used they are dry and ragged from being dragged over a hot windshield that is loaded with bugs and or sand. By the time summer has come they are not worth the packaging that they came in. My advice is to change the blades on the winter solstice and again on the summer solstice, that June 21st and December 21st in case you didn’t remember. Also, and most important is when shopping for these blades you will come across multiple price levels, from $4.99 a pair to $30.00 each. Once again, I heed you to purchase that the most expensive of these blades but not too far the ladder. You’ll notice that the better the blade the more silicone is built into the wiping portion. You’ll also notice that the blades are flexible and contoured so that they will conform to the shape of the windshield giving you a streak less area of vision. One last note by installing a glass conditioner or wax such as Rain X or Propel the rain will sheet better making the blades able to glide over the windshield.

The largest part of the vehicle that is made of rubber is of course the tires. The tires are a wonderful invention of its own. We use them as insulators from Mother Earth the biggest ground of all. We expect them to give us a smooth rolling area and to grip the road for traction but to be able to slide slightly when in sand or debris yet to hold the road while driving at break neck speeds in puddles of water. The design of the tread is unique onto itself so that while driving through water it can remove the water away from the tire contact yet allow the tire to grip the pavement to give the vehicle stability and sure footedness so that the vehicle never leaves the surface of the road. That my friends is called hydroplaning, one of the most unfriendly and scariest part of driving, because you no longer have control of anything. The vehicle is actually being carried on a sheet of water unable to correct itself. For you sailors out there, this is akin to being in a sail boat in high winds across the beam and trying to point into the wind without a keel. Scary isn’t it?

So the most important facts about tire condition, there must be at least 3/32’s of tread. If you don’t have a depth gauge use a dime and make sure that Roosevelts head is partially covered, the more the better. Make

sure that your tires are inflated to the proper specifications, there should be a sticker on the driver’s door jamb to tell you what that number is. If you must guess anywhere between 32 and 35 psi is a good number. And most important is to make sure that the best tires are in the rear, because if the rear lifts up just a little it WILL hydroplane, and you will be doing loops down the interstate.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please do not hesitate to contact us at Gregg’s Automotive at 236 Tamiami Tr. Punta Gorda, 33950 or call us at 941-575-8868.

Remember this; it is always cheaper to maintain a vehicle than to repair it, ad it is always cheaper to repair a vehicle than to replace it.

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August 2020 Newsletter

August is here, COVID numbers are all over the place and cabin fever is at an all-time high. We are in the middle of Hurricane Season and how will we “social distance” in a shelter? Who is wearing a mask, should we be forced to or not? Which Civil War leader or signer of the Declaration Of Independence should we write out of our history? Is calling a professional football team another name going to erase the 86 prior years of entertainment? WAKE UP, PEOPLE. We are the greatest nation in the world, others spend thousands of dollars to sneak into this country, and no one is forced to be here unless they are guests of the state or federal prisons. In 1963 a mad Russian pounded the podium with his shoe and proclaimed that he would bury us. It looks like he might have been right. This is the United States of America’s and it’s time that WE stand together and bring back our industries and the intellectual performance that has been slowly stolen from us and then sold back to us. Stand up with me and be an American first, not a Republican or a Democrat. Be smart, be safe, use common sense and we will survive 

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July 2020 Newsletter

It’s July, we are still being socially distant, but things are slowly opening up. July is the month that we celebrate America, yet there will be few barbecues and no fireworks this year. Social unrest is hovering over our heads and people are up in arms. History is being sequestered and obliterated. This is not the America we knew. History happened and cannot be changed. It should be taught so that the next generations can learn about it. Destroying a country’s history only invites it to be repeated. Look at the most heinous dictators of the world, Hitler, Mao, and Stalin, the first things that they did was destroy the books and teach only what they wanted taught.

America may not be the best country in the world, God knows we have made some serious mistakes, but there is no better country in the world in which to live. So God Bless you my fellow Americans, and may God Bless this country.

Happy Birthday America on the 4th of July.

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June 2020 Newsletter

June is coming, hopefully the Covid 19 pandemic will be behind us. But we must stay vigilant, getting sloppy now can bring a resurgence that we as people or business cannot survive. Most importantly now instead of looking back at what has happened and can’t be changed we must focus on the future. June marks the beginning of Hurricane Season and in my estimation it is going to be active. The weather all over the country has been out of the norm for the last few months. We know that everyone has enough toilet paper and hand sanitizer to last until 2025 but realistically when was the last time you checked or even started your generator? With the travel restrictions that have been placed on America if you normally evacuate during a Hurricane threat where will you go this year? Many residents will be forced to sit it out and if they are not mentally and physically prepared now this could become life threatening. Shelters and social distancing cannot be used in the same sentence, that is a sorry fact of life. Think ahead and plan for the future, make sure that you have somewhere to go and the ability to get there. If you have any real concerns do not be afraid to contact us and we will give you the best advice that we can. God bless!

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REPAIROPHOBIA: FEAR OF AUTO REPAIRS

Let me ask this question, why is it that most people are more afraid of bringing in their vehicle for repairs than going or the dentist, or worse going to a lawyer?  Where has, this fear come from and why is it so rampant?  Has every person that has ever brought a vehicle in for service been ripped off or overcharged?  Let’s go one better, has everyone who has ever had an air conditioning tech at their home, always been told that their system is antiquated and needs to be replaced?

The reason my friends is the media.  In their search for big headlines and front page scandals they send out sting teams to shops with rigged cars and ask for instant diagnosis.  Many times, they won’t leave that vehicle for any length of time and if an unsuspecting tech or business owner make the mistake of making a blanket statement or misdiagnosing said vehicle he is automatically labeled as a thief.  Growing up in this business through many generations I learned the fears.  In the late fifties and early sixties, we wore tiny blades on our rings in in our pockets so that we could cut the belts of vehicles as we checked their oil at the pumps.  Now I’m showing my age, when was the last time anyone checked your oil while you were getting fuel?  For that matter when was the last time anyone pumped your fuel for you?  Then there was the empty oil can scare, we had empty oil cans placed in the oil rack so when we checked your oil we could sell you an empty can and pocket all that big money.

Why is it that the public is always being warned about unnecessary repairs or services by people that have absolutely no idea what services are needed to maintain an efficient running vehicle?  The technology changes and shifts that have come to this industry is the last ten years has been crazy.  Trying to keep up with these changes is even crazier.  Have you asked your doctor how many continuing education classes they have gone to in the last year?  I know how many my doctor has gone to.  Ask me how many hours a year I go to update classes and pay for my employees to attend and I’ll tell you over a hundred.  Usually closer to two hundred.  When was the last time you sat, and read that novel in your glove compartment, called your owner’s manual?   There is a wealth of information in it.  I know because I read them all the time, because there is no way in hell that I can remember every nuance and information for every vehicle that we see.

Owning a vehicle has become almost a job and no longer a privilege, they have become increasingly more expensive and the average ownership has become close to 12 years.  

This was unheard of a decade ago.  Have the quality and efficiency improved?  Of course, therefore periodic maintenance and services are even more important.

The truth of the matter is that 66% of consumers that either own or lease a vehicle THINK that they have been ripped off by a repair facility.

38% of consumers feel that they cannot trust their mechanics.

These are crazy numbers, but they all boil down to a single word. “TRUST”.  If you can’t trust the person or the shop that is working on your vehicle, then you need to find someone that you can trust. 41% of consumers polled said that they would rather do their taxes than get their car fixed, and 72% said that the high cost of repairs makes them anxious.

Repairs WILL always cost more than maintenance!  Repairs that are put off for any reason will ALWAYS cost more when they are finally addressed.

Social media has darkened this along with many other industries.  Buying parts from “stores” without any brick and mortar can always undersell conventional stores that actually stock and have trained personal to explain how parts need to be installed.  You Tube videos show condensed versions of repairs and time lapse photography is a wonderful thing.  Remember this; 50% of the information found on the internet is either bad or wrong, there is a wonderful amount of really good information on the internet, but look at it with a jaundiced eye as it could cost you a lot more that you might think if you choose the wrong information.

Ask your repair facilities if they have the latest tools to help diagnose today’s vehicles, shops are very proud to show off all the latest tools they have and to tell you just how much they cost.

Look up the word “phobia” on Google.  You’ll find 11 pages of them, lets remove one!

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