Should I stay or should I go?

By Andy Fiffick, MACS Chairman and CEO and President Rad Air Complete Car Care

I know the value of a dollar – I couldn’t be in business otherwise – but a recent experience about both the dollar and escalating costs was eye opening. Now that I’m a grandparent, I’m in the market for a larger SUV, something for family trips, so I contacted a friend who operates a huge, used-car business in the area and to be on the lookout for me.

He got back to me with a quote on a 2016 low-mileage, “previously enjoyed” piece of American iron that he thought might fill the bill. “For you, the price is $72 large.” Ouch! Perhaps to soften the blow, he noted that the vehicle, when new, ran to six figures. I had no clue over-sized luxury SUV costs could run so high. Since I was not in the market beforehand, it caught me off guard.

As costs continue to climb, it puts pressure on all of us to run hard enough to at least keep up. That’s true for me and all of my team members who strive to keep the business on a paying basis.

But those price pressures, coupled with the national shortage of good, experienced automotive service technicians, can set the stage for employee poaching by competitors and bidding wars for talent. I understand that my team members have to look out for themselves and do the best they can to support their families, but when the issue comes up, I counsel my staff to base their decision to stay or go on many other factors in addition to the siren call of a couple more dollars an hour.

We pay a very competitive salary, and we foster an atmosphere that promotes cooperation in our service bays. The result, we believe, is client satisfaction and the building of trust that keeps people coming back. The last thing we want to promote in our shop is a dog-eat-dog competition to slap on parts, churn out repairs and beat the clock. The latter approach seems to me a sure-fire way to promote internal discord, burn people out and alienate the client base.


We also believe that our work environment promotes learning and the seasoning of our people to become better service professionals, enhancing their value and ultimately their ability to earn. You can’t do that in an environment of churn and burn.


An article I read in Forbes listed some of the other factors that contribute to a worker’s decision to stay or go. The article conceded that salary was top of the list for most employees, but other factors cited were good health insurance, work-life balance, opportunities for advancement and professional development, and a sense of purpose.


So yes, of course, the Benjamin is important to all of us, but it is only part of the total value proposition.


See you in Orlando.

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A season for thanks, giving and helping others

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria, along with the devastating fires in northern California, have severely impacted the lives of citizens living in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, California and Puerto Rico. The events are reported to be responsible for many lives lost, hundreds of thousands of residents displaced from their homes and billions of dollars of property damage. Add to that the months and even years of lost productivity for folks from all walks of life who were profoundly affected.

In a true display of what our nation is about, Americans (including many MACS members) have worked selflessly and tirelessly to help one another.

One such effort is that of Agnes Perez of Puerto Rico, a MACS member and director, who has established a GoFundMe site to assist automotive repair shops on that island to recover. We encourage you to visit the site.

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MACS reminds the aftermarket to be aware of changes to Section 609 requirements in 2018

Technicians who service mobile A/C systems and distributors who sell refrigerant need to be aware of new regulations effective on January 1, 2018 concerning the requirement of technicians to be Section 609 certified.


  • The final rule published November 2016 extends Section 608 requirements to HFCs. Starting Jan. 1, 2018,sale of most refrigerants of two pounds or larger will be restricted to 608 and 609- certified technicians; distributors must keep refrigerant sales records and verify purchasers are (or employ) 608 or 609-certified technicians.
  • Small cans (2 pounds or less) of non-exempt refrigerants may continue to be manufactured or imported and sold after Jan. 1, 2018, if equipped with self-sealing valves.
  • To learn more about Section 609 certification visit the MACS website

at To view the new regulations on the U.S. EPA website,


There is no mandatory re-certification, Section 609 certification once obtained is good for life. Technicians who have lost their MACS or IMACA certification may replace their credentials for $10. by calling the MACS office at 215-631-7020 x 0 or following the directions listed on the Section 609 page of the MACS website at


“The MACS staff has been busy answering questions for technicians and distributors who are confused or have been given wrong information about the new requirements. MACS wants everyone to understand that if you are Section 609 certified your credentials are good for life. If you have lost your credentials and are MACS or IMACA certified, MACS can issue a reprint of credentials for a $10 processing fee,” explained Elvis L. Hoffpauir, MACS president and chief operating officer.


Technicians who are not certified can become certified by visiting the MACS website at The newest Section 609 certification program which debuted in 2015 includes training on handling R-1234yf. Section 609 certification can be obtained through a written or online test for $20. Group classes can also be arranged by contacting our training department at 215-631-7020 x 304 or email


Since 1981, the Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide has been the advocate for service and repair owners, distributors, manufacturers and educators making their living in the total vehicle climate and thermal management industry.

MACS Worldwide empowers members to grow their businesses and delivers tangible member benefits through industry advocacy with government regulators and by providing accurate, unbiased training information, training products, training curriculum and money-saving affinity member services. MACS has assisted more than 1-million technicians to comply with the 1990 Clean Air Act requirements for certification in refrigerant recovery and recycling to protect the environment.


To learn more about MACS Worldwide visit our website at The MACS 2018 Training Event and Trade Show, A/Ccess will take place February 14-17 at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando, FL. A current calendar of all regional training can be found on the training page of MACS website.


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Flooded vehicle dangers-Nov/Dec ACTION magazine

Far more important than the automotive service world, floods related to Hurricane Harvey,  Irma, Jose and Maria have been responsible for taking dozens of lives and destroying the homes of thousands of citizens living in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico. The storms are reported to be responsible for many lives lost, tens of thousands of residents displaced from their homes and billions of dollars of property damage. Add to that the months and even years of lost productivity for folks from all walks of life who were profoundly affected by these storms that dumped over trillions of gallons of rain. In a true display of what our nation is about, Americans (including many MACS members) have worked selflessly and tirelessly to help one another. From the federal, state and local first responders and governmental officials to countless volunteers from around the nation, everyone has pitched in to help their neighbors. Residents of every race, ethnicity, religion, economic status and lifestyle have put the ‘Golden Rule’ into action, loving their neighbors. On the business side of the rebuilding effort, those in the building trades are stepping up to the likelihood of a restful vacation being out of the question for a long time as rescue efforts wind down and the restoration of homes, businesses and infrastructure hammered by the storms start to wind up. It goes without saying that the entire team at MACS relays our deepest sympathies for the families who have lost loved ones and send our thoughts and prayers to all who have been affected by this season’s storms.

The 2017 hurricane season has resulted in an estimated 1 million vehicles involved in floods from Hurricane Harvey in August and from Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria in September. Most of these vehicles will end up in auto recycling yards. History has shown us, however, that many will be rolling into MACS member shops! Read the rest of this article online.

Download the Nov/Dec 2017 Issue of MACS ACTION magazine.



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MACS Worldwide members can train their employees with MACS help

For many years the Society has published a monthly technical newsletter called the MSR (MACS Service Reports). If you’re a MACS member, then you’re probably familiar with receiving the MSR in your mailbox each month or online in your email. It contains the most up-to-date technical information pertaining to mobile air conditioning, engine cooling and vehicle electronics & programming.

But what you might not know is that each month we also publish a quiz that’s available with each issue. The quiz corresponds to the previous month, so if you’re reading the September 2017 MSR, the attached quiz goes with the August edition. The quiz is a great way to test your knowledge on the topics contained within that issue, and it’s a great tool that you can use in your classroom or shop.

Automotive instructors will enjoy using the MSR in their A/C classes to test their students’ knowledge. For example, you can assign the MSR as a reading assignment for your class, and use the corresponding quiz in class the next day.

Shop owners and managers can also use the MSR, not only to test their technicians’ knowledge about general air conditioning topics, but also to help them stay up to date with the industry, while also learning about the latest mobile A/C tools and techniques.

If you’re a current Member of MACS, you can find the online MSR archive at in the Members’ Only Section.

Not a MACS member yet? Join MACS Now

You’ll need your username and password to log onto the website. Call MACS at (215) 631-7020 x 304 for more information.

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Join us at AC/cess 2018

If you need more reasons to escape from winter’s grasp and head for sunny Florida next February, I’ve got a bunch for you. MACS Worldwide will return to the Caribe Royale in Orlando Feb. 14 through 17, 2018. The event’s theme is ACcess and that’s what the programming is all about: giving you access to the information, training, tools and equipment you will need to make next year the best you’ve ever had in the business.

Click here for the full program of ACcess 2018

More than 20 technical trainers, specialists and other mobile air conditioning experts are available to you during the MACS Training Event and Trade Show. The program schedule, designed to maximize value for participants, affords the opportunity to select eight training options for a total of 12 hours of focused classroom instruction.

Two unique program tracks are offered. One features training for the automotive / light truck arena. A second track caters to those operations dealing with service of HD truck / off-highway vehicles. Since you can’t be in two places at once, but may have interests in both areas, it makes sense to bring a second (and maybe a third) team member along.

Beyond the classroom experience, additional learning options abound. A general session on Friday morning adds another two hours to your experience, as presenters focus on this industry’s opportunities and challenges, both current and in the years ahead. A keynote luncheon provides both food and thought, and a second lunch with focused roundtable discussions brings experts together with you and your industry peers for an exchange of ideas in a less formal setting.

In your everyday world, most suppliers are represented by voices on the phone, faxes or emails. At the MACS trade show, you have direct, face-to-face contact with the leading manufacturers and suppliers of parts, tools and equipment used in your shop. Suddenly that voice on the phone or other electronic communications has a face and personality, offering a new and better dimension to your interactions. You can also use this time to discover the newest and the best products and services to enhance your operations back home.

Last but not least, you know what they say about all work and no play, and the MACS event promises time for some social interaction and fun. It has been my experience that informal discussions and the connections made during the “down time” of these events often provide unexpected epiphanies and sometimes lead to lifelong friendships.

I hope to see you in February! For more information Visit the MACS website at

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Engine cooling fans-enough time?

By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

The hottest days of summer are the most taxing on an engine cooling system. Drivers run their air conditioners to stay cool, which makes the system work even harder, particularly when driving in humid or mountainous regions, or in city traffic. That’s why it’s not surprising to many technicians during this time of year when electric cooling fans continue to run, even after the ignition has been turned off.


If the computer detects high enough engine coolant temperatures, it may decide to run the fans for an extended period of time to help cool things down. Some algorithms will even cycle cooling fans on and off several minutes after the vehicle has been powered down. These are usually indicated by an underhood label, which states something like: “Fans may continue to run after engine has been turned off.” Or, “Caution: Electric fans may turn on or off at any time.”

Some customers don’t know this can be a normal part of the vehicle’s operating strategy, prompting questions that may lead to service visits to make sure everything’s working as intended.

These misunderstandings may also prompt unnecessary component replacement which was recently  the topic of Volkswagen Technical Bulletin # 2022549 entitled: “Electric Coolant Fans Continue to Run after Ignition is Switched OFF.” Evidently VW has found that too often technicians are replacing electric cooling fans because they won’t turn off after what is considered to be enough time. It’s how long that time period lasts that seems to be the main concern. While some may think that the fan should turn off after only a few minutes, VW considers 15 minutes of extended cooling fan operation to be normal on certain gasoline-powered engines, and up to 16 minutes on diesels.


It makes sense that this could become a problem, considering that the level of detailed operating strategy is often not included in most service information systems. This leaves technicians at a disadvantage when diagnosing such operational issues when the system appears to be acting normally from one point of view, but not from another. Technicians know, for example, that many engine cooling fans continue to run when temperatures are high, but experience indicates they generally only remain active for a few minutes, maybe up to 5 at the most.  Thus, when a manufacturer includes operating strategies similar to this into a vehicle’s programming, and the information is not made available at the service and repair level, unnecessary replacements such are often made.


To avoid this practice, technicians should begin by documenting the amount of time fans remain active after the ignition is turned off. After doing so, verify if the fans are turning off before the 15 or 16 minute time interval. If they do, it is considered normal operation, which should be explained to the customer. If they continue to run beyond the time limit, however, VW recommends using its GFF (guided fault finding) method for troubleshooting the system.

Do you like the information you’ve read here? There ‘s so much more to discover if you become a member of the Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide. Visit our webiste at


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After January 1, 2018, Section 609 certification is required to purchase refrigerant

Please be aware after January 1, 2018 a Section 609 certification card will be required to purchase R-12, R-134a, or R-1234yf cylinders of 2 pounds or more.

Distributors will be required to keep records of certified technicians purchasing refrigerant.

Click here to read the regulations on the EPA website.

Click here to learn about and obtain Section 609 certification from MACS Worldwide. Cost $20.

Click here to learn how to replace missing or lost Section 609 MACS or IMACA credentials. There is a  $10 replacement fee.

If you are already Section 609 certified your credentials are good for life.There is no mandatory re-certification required by EPA, however the Section 609 training program was updated as of 1/1/2015 and includes information on the new refrigerant R-1234yf. If you’d personally like to expand your knowledge visit our website and download the study guide.

Click here to learn about EPA Fines for not being Section 609 certified see CAA fines. Maximum daily fine $44,539.

For more information call the MACS office at
215-631-7020 x 0 email us at

Visit the full MACS website at

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Can you afford the fines for not complying with Section 609 certification?

The MACS office has received some questions recently on fines for violation of Section 608 and 609 noncompliance. Here are some answers:

EPA assesses penalties for violations on a case-by-case basis, based on many factors outlined in EPA’s penalty calculation policy. The most recent Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule was published on July 1, 2016 (81 FR 43091). See For violations that occurred after November 2, 2015 and for which the penalty was assessed after August 1, 2016, the Clean Air Act maximum statutory daily penalty is $44,539.

The max total for cases settled administratively is $356,312.

Section 609 compliance tests cost $20 on the MACS website -just sayin’!

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Blower motors are essential to proper HVAC performance

The blower motor can make or break HVAC performance. Solid blower motor troubleshooting, along with an attention to detail, will help ensure that your customer’s HVAC system performs properly, the way the carmaker originally intended. When diagnosing HVAC issues, keep these tips in mind for successful blower motor repairs and satisfied customers:

Check out motor operation.

The lack of airflow may be an obvious clue to blower motor problems, but there are several other symptoms that can signal an issue. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Noisy motor – squealing or grinding
  • Motor vibration
  • Excessive heat on motor case
  • Intermittent operation
  • Burning odor from the motor

Get all the specs before ordering.
Once you diagnose the need for a new blower motor, make sure you get all the application information before you order the motor. Being prepared with the application information is the best way to ensure that you’ll get the right part, the first time. Aside from the basic year/make/model information, you’ll need to note if the vehicle has A/C, because the part may be different on vehicles without it. For the dual systems found on many SUVs and minivans, you need to specify front or rear application. In many cases, the mountings and electrical connections are different. Also, check for any pertinent manufacturer notes in the parts listing.

Look for additional problem areas.
Occasionally, it takes more than a new motor to restore “original” performance. But, a quick check of other HVAC system components can eliminate potential problems and increase your service opportunities. You should conduct a thorough inspection of the following components:

  • Blower wheel – look for cracks or damaged fins.
  • Thermostatic dashboard control unit – check operation.
  • Fusible links – inspect condition.
  • Heater core, heater hoses and clamps – check for leaks and loosening.
  • Air recirculation ducts and doors – inspect the seals.
  • Heater box – check for debris blocking ducts.
  • Flexible corrugated ductwork – look for cracks or dry rot.
  • Cabin fresh air filter (late models) – replace as needed.

Tech Tip courtesy of VDO Product Managers. For additional product information, please visit:, contact: or call 800-564-5066.

Posted in Automotive training, Electrical/Electronic, MACS Member, Mobile Air Conditioning, Refrigerants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments