Made in America?

By Keith Leonard, Esquire

The United States and Mexico reached a trade agreement in August of this year. This deal has been publicized as a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the trade agreement that took effect on January 1, 1994 among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Under NAFTA, by 2008, tariffs were eliminated progressively, and all duties and quantitative restrictions, with the exception for certain agricultural products traded with Canada, were also eliminated. In mid-September, Mexico indicated it is inclined to go ahead with such a bilateral trade pact even if no agreement can be reached with Canada.

In May 2017, the United States Trade Representative informed Congress that the President intended to negotiate with Canada and Mexico with respect to (the) NAFTA. Though, as of the writing of this column, no significant new trade deal has been reached with Canada, nor is there a new trade deal with Mexico. Bear in mind that the largest importer of motor vehicles into the United States is Canada, and the fastest growing major importer of motor vehicles in 2017 was Mexico. Also keep in mind that, as of the first quarter of this year, foreign motor vehicle manufacturers were projected to have made more cars and trucks in the United States than General Motors, Ford and all other U.S. companies. Foreign manufacturers of motor vehicles currently have some twenty-one assembly plants in Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Texas.

The foregoing elimination of tariffs under NAFTA was only for products that met specific requirements to qualify as being made in North America. Under current NAFTA rules, in order to qualify for duty-free treatment, 62.5 percent of the content of a vehicle has to be from the NAFTA countries. According to the information released by the United States Trade Representative in its fact sheet about the deal with Mexico, that percentage is being raised to seventy-five percent. Thus, it will be more difficult for an automobile to qualify for a zero tariff if not made in North America.

The trade deal further provides that some 40-45 percent of an automobile’s content has to be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour, in order to ensure American producers of automobiles and their workers are better able to compete on an even playing field; labor costs cannot be so substantially dissimilar as to draw manufacturing out of the United States. The United States and Mexico have also agreed to stronger rules of origin than those under both NAFTA 1.0 and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including regulations for cars, automobile parts, and other industrial products. The NAFTA Rules of Origin are used to determine whether goods originate in one of the three NAFTA territories (United States, Canada, or Mexico). Goods qualify as originating in those territories if the goods are “wholly obtained or produced entirely in the territory of one or more of the parties.” Thus, goods cannot qualify simply by passing through Canada, Mexico, or the United States or by undergoing only minor operations in one of those NAFTA territories.

Similarly, reports suggest there is a provision that would allow the United States to charge tariffs above the normal 2.5 percent tariff rate (which applies to countries that do not have a trade agreement with the United States) for any new auto factories built in Mexico. In an interview in mid-September, Mexico’s finance minister indicated that Mexico has insulated its auto industry against any such U.S. tariff increase by signing a side agreement that “locked in” the current low 2.5 per cent tariff rate.


American-made vehicles are also largely insulated from tariffs, but what qualifies a vehicle as American made? Under the American-made index created by, assembly in the United States is a critical component of eligibility to be an American-made vehicle. The five major factors used to determine the economic impact of a given model are assembly location, domestic-parts content as determined by the American Automobile Labeling Act, engine sourcing, transmission sourcing and factory jobs provided by each automaker’s American plants. Another index compiled by American University’s School of Business uses the following seven criteria — profit margin, labor, research and development, inventory, engine, transmission, and body, chassis, and electrical components. So, is your decision to buy a certain vehicle affected by its economic impact on America and its workers, or some other factor(s)?

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Technician training yields competitive edge

Marriott Ananheim_LAXAH

“Current technologies for thermal management systems are changing and becoming ever more complex,” explained Peter Bradley in his presentation at MACS 2018 Training Event and Trade Show titled, Future Trends in Thermal Management Systems. Bradley, head of technical service for Behr Hella, then added, “With manufacturers implementing different proprietary systems to achieve the same result, service professionals will have to deal with increasing complexity that will vary from automaker to automaker.
“On the one hand, traditional components are being modified to add complexity that allows them to do something different,” continued Bradley. “On the other, entirely new components we haven’t seen before are being developed and integrated into mobile A/C systems to add increased functionality. Repair shops need to evaluate how they will adapt to these changes, and look to getting the right training and equipment to properly diagnose and service the inbound technologies,” Bradley stressed.
The speaker’s message: “Diagnostics, service and repair will get ever more complex. If you want the competitive edge in your market, the onus is on you to begin preparing now to stay ahead of the technology curve.”
To help give technicians a competitive edge, the 2019 MACS Training Event and Trade Show scheduled for Anaheim, CA, Feb. 21 – 23, is offering 25 industry experts and a total of 35 hours of high-level training for the automotive thermal management system professional. Following are details of the training that will be available.

Thursday, Feb. 21
Passenger car / light truck
Stop/Start Technologies – Engine Shutdown and its Impact on the Climate Control System
Peter Orlando • Carquest Technical Institute
A vehicle slows to a stop and the engine shuts down. The interior warms immediately and the consumer is complaining about this behavior. Is this normal, or is there something truly wrong with the vehicle? Did you know that A/C climate control is one of the main inputs for vehicles equipped with Stop/Start technology? Slight adjustments to climate control settings can impact the Stop/Start frequency and passenger cabin comfort. Having a thorough understanding of how the climate control system effects the operation of the Stop/Start system is essential to profitable service and repairs.

Service Tips and Pattern Failures
Peter McArdle • Four Seasons
Here are just some of the insider insights we will cover in this class on service tips and pattern failures: Importance of condenser airflow in A/C diagnostics • Thermal expansion valve testing • Neat tips for frustration-free dye and electronic small leak detection • The compressor is new, the system is charged and the clutch is engaged, yet high and low side pressures are almost the same. How can this be? • Understanding compressor slugging and how to avoid it • Avoid a comeback: perform an oil audit and understand why the system really failed • Dual evaporator system quick tips • Is the condenser restricted – how can you tell?

Posted in Automotive, Automotive Aftermarket, Automotive training, MACS Member, MACS Training Event, Mobile Air Conditioning, Training | Leave a comment

Meet Jeff Schultz of Schrader Pacific

By Marion J Posen, MACS VP member relations and marketing

Everyone knows the Schrader valve; it’s been around since 1893, and has been used in A/C systems since we haven’t had to open the car windows to stay cool. But few people are aware of the technology and manufacturing complexity used to make these simple little valves. Meet MACS member, Jeff Schultz, the product engineer for Schrader A/C valves. Jeff is the senior product engineer at Schrader in Altavista, Virginia. Jeff, who has been at Schrader for 28-years, helped develop the family of Schrader A/C valves. Jeff is responsible for a variety of engineering improvements in the function and durability of these valves and enhancing their quality.
Jeff explains, “Schrader is, as of September 2018, a part of Pacific Industries. Schrader has been the largest producer of A/C charge and service valves in North America. Pacific Industries has a similar market share of A/C valves in Asia. The combined Schrader Pacific is now the dominant global producer of A/C valves, and so will bring a new level of technological development and technical support to the industry.”
The Schrader U.S. lineup of A/C valves is the broadest in the industry. Schrader produces every style of A/C valve used in the world. Each valve design is engineered, and is produced, for a specific application. These valves, almost 150 million of them a year, will continue to be made right here in the USA, in central Virginia. The production system is highly automated, and includes multiple automated quality checks, including a leak test of every valve to assure that all Schrader valves meet the most stringent original equipment (OE) quality standards.

Jeff Schultz gives MACS Steve Schaeber a tour of Schrader’s plant.

Recently, Jeff gave a plant tour to MACS manager of service training, Steve Schaeber. Steve witnessed the processes used to make the various cores. Jeff showed Steve how the valve components are machined, in specialized, high speed, precision machining centers, some producing as many as 22 million pieces per year. Following thorough washing and nickel plating on some parts in the Schrader plating facility, the components are brought to the valve assembly area. During the assembly operation, which produces two valve cores a second, each valve is subjected to multiple quality checks for dimensions and assembly integrity. Every valve is leak tested ensuring when the (end user) technician pulls a valve out of the box he can be confident it will not need to be replaced again. Schrader produces these A/C valves for the OE vehicle market, but all valves including those for the aftermarket, are made to the same exacting standards.
Jeff started his employment at Schrader in 1991. Jeff had assignments in manufacturing, engineering and quality, as well as product engineering. Jeff helped implement new valve designs supporting the transition from R-12 to R-134a. In addition to his responsibilities at Schrader, Jeff has been active with the SAE Committees responsible for drafting the Standards for A/C systems, helping to assure the valves function effectively in the system. Now, with the transition to R-1234yf, and development of possible R-152a and R-744 systems, A/C valves continue evolving to meet new system needs. Jeff splits his time between the production floor, the test lab and customer meetings. It’s not unusual to find Jeff collaborating with the vehicle engineering team, or the line suppliers, or at one of the vehicle assembly plants assisting with vehicle charging or other build concerns. The current transition to R-1234yf has brought a number of new requirements: higher operating temperatures, new refrigerant oils, and increased system integrity. While the changes to the valves aren’t obvious, there have been a number of new improvements implemented and countless laboratory hours spent in testing to assure that Schrader valves will meet every challenge.
MACS’ importance gains increasingly as A/C systems continue to become more complex, and more differentiated among different refrigerants. As a member of MACS for over 25 years, Schrader has recognized the critical role MACS plays in bringing essential product and system information to the aftermarket service industry. Schrader recognizes that MACS is our best means of talking to the people who use our valves, and know the service issues. We learn from MACS service technicians, and, in turn, we try to provide educational materials through MACS to help educate the industry about the valves.
If you are coming to MACS 2019 Training Event and Trade Show, February 21-23, 2019 at the Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, California, be sure to visit Jeff and his team in the Schrader booth.

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2018 MACS Service Information Survey

The Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) was organized to serve the mobile air conditioning industry. MACS’ charter and mission are communication and education. To achieve these goals, the Society has developed training programs and coordinated information between the air conditioning system manufacturers, governmental bodies and the service sector.

In an effort to better understand the current servicing profiles which are being encountered in the field, we are requesting the support of service facilities by responding to a survey which is now active at this link
. Each shop can help by contributing information about their own service experience, thereby providing that overview of general service operations on the two refrigerants.


There are several million R-1234yf mobile A/C systems on the road. However, R-1234yf systems may be requiring minimal servicing and may well still be serviced primarily by the OEM dealerships. To provide a better understanding of the impact of the two major refrigerants being encountered in the service industry, some survey questions are separated for each refrigerant to determine if there are any different servicing trends.


We understand that this survey is asking for a lot of information.  As this industry is experiencing major changes, information collected through this survey may well help shop owners understand where the future of this industry is moving and help inform their decisions regarding future business activities.

Every survey participant will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Visa gift card.


Please watch for this survey being distributed by email on Wednesday, October 3 and respond.

Should you not receive an email survey and wish to participate, request a survey email at


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

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By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

I think I stumbled upon one of the best days to travel by air: Labor Day. Short lines at security, and on the plane I even had the row to myself! In all the years I’ve been flying out of PHL, I’ve never done so on this most revered of American holidays. But this time I gladly made an exception, as I was asked to teach a two-day Mobile A/C “boot camp” of classes for the US Air Force. It was at Hurlburt Field, a rather large base located just off the Gulf Coast in the Florida panhandle, about an hour east of Pensacola.

IMG_20180905_175807624 Hurlburt Field

Specifically, I taught our Mobile A/C Best Practices and Section 609 Certification classes for the men and women of the 823d RED HORSE Squadron, or Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers. This squadron is one of only four active-duty units of its kind in the Air Force. Highly mobile and self-sufficient, their special skills are honed through construction projects for the Air Force, Department of Defense and civilian community.


The group I worked with are those who service and maintain the heavy equipment on base. Machines such as Volvo and CAT excavators, Bobcat T250s, cranes, dump trucks, and even Polaris Rangers, Elgin sweepers and Ford F-250s (painted that deep Air Force royal blue). There were seven gigantic drive-thru bays in the shop where we worked, one of which had a 100,000 lb. parallelogram 8-leg drive-on lift recessed into the floor. Now that’s a heavy lifter!

You may also know that September is hurricane season, and on the day I arrived a tropical storm had just crossed southern Florida which was expected to develop into a hurricane.

In fact, about half way through our first day of classes, base Commanders decided to shut down certain operations (including ours) to enable those who live off base to return to their homes and communities in preparation for Tropical Storm Gordon (some of the storm’s highest winds and heaviest rainfall passed right over Fort Walton Beach and Hurlburt Field). Their strategy allows a safer commute for their Airmen, many of whom also assist with local search and rescue operations.

When classes ended I spent some time touring around the Hurlburt Memorial Air Park on base. I’m a history buff, so for me it’s neat to see first hand the planes and helicopters used to defend our country. An A-26 and B-25 from WWII, and an AC-119, HH-3E and T-28 from Vietnam were among those on the field.

But probably the most striking to me was seeing some of the aircraft used in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. It’s strange to think that those battles, which seem to be recent, have taken place so long ago that their aircraft have already been retired in favor of newer, more technologically advanced equipment (the MH-53 Pave Low, retired 2008 and AC-130, retired 2014).

Oh, and about that storm? It never did develop into a hurricane, but we did get lots of rain and wind. But it’s what the storm left behind at the beach and in the sky as it passed that left me in awe. Streaks of clouds, a rumbling surf, and a beautiful pallet of colors that were simply amazing!

Note: Learn more about MACS Worldwide, the Mobile Air Conditioning Society, by visiting our website at for more information. 

Want to learn more about the aircraft at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park? Here’s a link to the official Air Park Guide:

In it, you can also read about First Lieutenant Donald Wilson Hurlburt, after whom the base is named, on page 25, or at this Wikipedia link:

Here’s a link to the main Hurlburt Field website:

Updated: November 14, 2018

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Escalating trade war

By Keith Leonard, Esquire

The current administration has already imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, sparking retaliatory tariffs imposed by multiple countries against goods imported from the United States. The tariffs imposed by the United States were couched as being done in the interest of protecting national security. The administration has now threatened to impose tariffs on automobiles from countries within the European Union (EU). While cars from Mexico and Canada would be particularly hard hit by any such tariffs imposed on cars imported from those countries, the next two countries that exported the largest amount (in terms of US dollars) of passenger cars and light vehicles to the United States in 2017 were Japan and Germany.

National security has again been at the forefront of the rationale for the imposition of tariffs on cars from the EU, with President Trump asserting that the EU was “as bad” as China when it comes to the way European countries trade with the United States. A Section 232 investigation is done under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to determine the effect of imports on the country’s national security. The expressed rationale supporting national security concerns is to see whether imports are eroding American industry to the point where they threaten the country’s “internal economy,” including the development of “cutting-edge technologies” and the preservation of a skilled workforce. That statutory authority was the basis for a public hearing before the Commerce Department on July 19, 2018, to assist the Department in determining whether imports of automobiles, including cars, SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts threaten to impair national security and if so, to then recommend remedies.
The early effects of the escalating trade war are already being seen. Some businesses, including equipment maker Caterpillar, have been able to pass along the increased costs of production to its customers due to strong product demand. However, other American companies, such as Tyson Foods, have announced a decrease in its profit forecasts due to lower meat prices arising from retaliatory duties on exports of United States beef and pork products.

The tariffs being threatened against cars from the EU have brought the automotive industry even farther into the fray. In May of this year, the American Automotive Policy Council issued a statement in which it urged the President to reconsider the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. That statement read in part: “The imposition of tariffs on our trading partners in the EU, Canada and Mexico will undermine the global competitiveness of the US auto industry and invites retaliation from our trading partners.”

To put things in perspective, passenger vehicle imports are America’s leading import and the largest category of motor vehicle parts (primarily the chassis of vehicles) is the sixth largest import sector. At the same time, passenger vehicle exports are the nation’s third-leading export and parts rank number four. The European Commission has said it will impose levies on nearly $300 billion of U.S. exports to the EU if the Trump Administration proceeds with imposing 20% tariffs on automotive industry imports on national security grounds. In such an event, about $350 billion in trade will be subjected to such tariffs (not taking into account the earlier tariffs on steel and aluminum). Moreover, 2018 is projected to be the first year that foreign manufacturers make more vehicles in the United States than domestic manufacturers.

In a mid-July article in the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that “Auto makers, parts suppliers and dealers are joining forces to push back against the Trump administration’s proposal to apply tariffs of up to 25% on vehicles and components imported into the U.S., contending the administration’s trade policy will backfire and lead to higher prices and lost jobs.” Earlier in July, General Motors similarly warned against such tariffs on EU cars, saying it would raise the prices of its vehicles by thousands of dollars, undermine its competitiveness and lead to job losses in the United States.

Automakers have warned that the tariffs on car imports would raise prices of imported vehicles by up to $6,000 per car and also lift prices of locally made cars. Consider that EU-owned car companies have plants in South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, all of which are strongly Republican states. Thus, the tariffs’ issue has political implications beyond any espoused trade protectionism.

Remember that laws are constantly changing and are often not uniform throughout the United States. Do not place unqualified reliance on the information in this article. Always contact legal counsel for detailed advice.
If you have a particular issue, law or problem you would like to see addressed in a future column, please contact me at

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There’s no place like AGCO!

By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

Although the underlying principles behind what makes mobile A/C work are the same regardless of whether you’re working on a pickup truck, a tractor or the family van, there are differences that make working on agricultural equipment unique and, therefore, special training is required.

That’s exactly what attendees got at the 2018 MACS / AGCO HD and off-road equipment best practices clinic, held on Friday, April 6, 2018 at AGCO’s technical training facility in Hesston, Kansas (Figure 1). Twenty-four technicians attended the class taught by Sherwood Wheeler, AGCO’s supervisor of dealer technical support. Sherwood has been a MACS member for 11 years and is a regular presenter at the annual MACS Training Event in the heavy duty / off-road sessions.

CLICK HERE to read more…

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Do you know your HVAC components?


The first part of any good under-hood inspection should include a label check. The labels below provide us with refrigerant charge specifications to correlate to the OE specifications found in service information. Notice the specifications for the R-1234yf charge capacity on the label match the service information specification. If this vehicle was sent from a collision shop, and we needed to perform an A/C service, but the specifications label was missing due to the accident, we’d have to look it up anyway. The fact that we have two areas to search for the specifications is to our advantage. If they didn’t match we would have some “Soul” searching to do (TSB’s, Preliminary Inspection Bulletins, etc.). Remember this is a later model car with a brand new refrigerant in it from the factory. As we’ve seen in the past, the factory adjusts charge amounts if there are In-service performance complaints.

Read the whole story

Download the September October 2018 Issue


Posted in #1234yf, ACtion Magazine, Automotive Aftermarket, Mobile Air Conditioning, Training | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shop Down Below

By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

Back in July I attended IMPACon18, the annual conference of the International Motor Press Association, of which I’m a member. This year it was hosted by Volvo at their newest dealership, Volvo Cars of Manhattan. Located in NYC’s dynamic Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, and not too far from Midtown (think Broadway, Times Square and the Theatre District), their showroom and offices take up only part of the first floor of an enormous 71 story skyscraper.

Volvo Cars of Manhattan is located on the ground floor of sky, a 71-story high rise luxury apartment building in NYC.

Not only is there an entire car dealer inside this building (including parts and service), there’s also an art gallery, an athletic club, offices, restaurants, and even a sky deck with two swimming pools! Residents of the 1,175 luxury apartments enjoy on-site valet parking, complementary daily breakfast, a full-service spa and of course, a 24-hour doorman. But only those living in the 83 penthouses on the top five floors get access to a luxury, chauffeured Volvo XC90 house-car service, including massage seats and beverage options with Orrefors Swedish crystal champagne flutes. Not bad for $5,500 a month!

See the production of the Orrefors Crystal Eye for Volvo Cars

But let’s get back to the dealership. Sure, most of us are working in aftermarket shops, but many of us have also spent our time working for one of the big dealers, too. But I think not many have worked in a shop quite like this one.

When I asked to see the service department, I was guided to an elevator to go down two floors to the sub-basement level. There, I met the manager and writer, who showed me around their enormous shop.

The shop takes up the entire basement, accessed from a double wide automatic door along West 43rd Street. It contains 300,000 square feet of floor space, 21 bays, plus the parts department, a few delivery prep and detailing bays, and even new car storage is down there too. We must have seen forty new cars with their plastics still on!

Along the ramp on the way down to service, there’s an inspection station similar to the kind used in New Jersey when they used to do safety inspections there. It looks similar to a dyno, but this one tests for steering, brakes and suspension issues, one axle at a time. The idea is that the customer or technician can drive the vehicle in, stop for inspection, and get a quick idea of service work that might be needed.

Volvo of Manhattan Service Dept

Looking out from the basement, towards the 43rd St entrance of Volvo of Manhattan’s Service Department. On left about half way up, the inspection station is mounted to the ramp.

Of course, I had to see what they do for air conditioning service too, and was not surprised to find they had no R-1234yf machines just yet. Also, no one I asked had any information about upcoming system changes. No big surprise there either, since the last few surveys I conducted shows Volvo hasn’t yet switched here in the US, although I suspect there may be one for 2019.

Seeing an underground service department was cool, and I’m sure the guys down there love the cool shop temperatures during summertime. But for me, I still like being able to look outside, even if just for a moment. And while it may be tough at times to work in a smaller shop, imagine driving around concrete pillars in a basement with lots of blind corners. For me, I’ll stay upstairs!

Are you involved with mobile A/C service? Are you a member of MACS? If not, you should be! Check out our website MACS Worldwide to learn more about how MACS membership can benefit you and your shop.

Please post your questions and comments below, and thanks for stopping by! You can also send an email to and let us know your thoughts. Thanks!

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Time counts!

By Angie Kilbourne

Despite the awesome features available on social media, it can be a time sink — whether as part of a business’ marketing program or as a consumer. And even if you are doing it right, social media marketing can consume a lot of time. So what can a business do to speed up the process and become more time-efficient? After all, you have other important things to do, right?

Cap It!
“Nobody has time to engage on all of the networks they should or would like to be on,” explains Julie Graff, brand engagement strategist for Pole Position Marketing. The only real reason to be on a social network is because your audience is there, and you believe you can engage with them there, adds Graff. But, it is important to decide in advance how much time you or your staff is going to allocate to social media.
First, determine where your current and target customers are: Is it Facebook? Is it Instagram? Just as you want to know the best daytime phone number and messaging service to reach them, ask which social media platforms they use frequently. This will help whittle down the number of social media platforms, and keep you and your staff focused on where your customers are engaged. (CLICK HERE FOR MORE)

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