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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Installation and modification of A/C systems for US and imported vehicles

By Ward Atkinson

Members have requested information regarding requirements that apply to vehicles produced by OEM vehicle manufacturers, commercial upfitters and independent A/C repair or service facilities that install or modify mobile A/C systems.
All A/C refrigerants listed as acceptable, including R-134a and R-1234yf, are subject to use conditions requiring labeling and the use of unique fittings. EPA is requiring the same use conditions for R-1234yf in newly manufactured medium duty passenger vehicles, HD pickup trucks and complete HD vans as it mandates in newly manufactured cars and light duty trucks.

A/C systems designed to use R-1234yf must meet the requirements of SAE J639, Safety Standards for Motor Vehicle Refrigerant Vapor Compression Systems. This document sets safety standards that include unique fittings; a warning label indicating the refrigerant’s identity and notification that it is a mildly flammable refrigerant (class A2L); and requirements for engineering design strategies that include a high-pressure compressor cutoff switch and location of pressure relief devices.

Designing the refrigerant circuit and connections to avoid refrigerant seeping into the passenger cabin ensures it is unlikely to enter the passenger cabin if there is a leak. Keeping refrigerant out of the passenger cabin minimizes the possibility there would be sufficient levels of refrigerant to reach flammable concentrations or hydrogen fluoride (HF) would be formed and transported where passengers might be exposed.

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Leaks under vacuum

By Steve Schaeber

A s OEMs continue improving their systems, technicians are seeing leaks more often attributed to the valve core located down inside the service port fitting, either on the high or low side of the system. Most of these leaks are discovered while the system is charged and under pressure, but that’s not the only time they can be found.
We recently worked on an F-650 bucket ……



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Tariffs a threat to auto repair industry

July 6, 2018 (Lansdale, PA) Today, 25 percent tariffs went into effect on a list of Chinese goods, and many MACS members have voiced concerns about the impact the tariffs will have on all sectors of our industry.

In the May issue of MACS ACtion™, Keith Leonard, MACS’ general counsel warned that tariffs were “a two-edged sword.”

On July 2, the Auto Care Association issued a press release detailing what it called the “unintended consequences that may ensue by imposing tariffs on imported autos and auto parts.” In its release the Auto Care Association cited an economic study by John Dunham and Associates, “which found that a 25 percent tariff on imported auto parts could cause a reduction of 17,800 jobs in the auto parts manufacturing sector, resulting in $1.4 billion in lost wages. The study further predicts that 6,800 jobs would be lost by vehicle repair shops and an additional 85,200 jobs in the auto care wholesale and retail segment due to lower demand. These are mostly small family-owned businesses that would suffer severe economic harm should a 25 percent tariff be levied on autos and auto parts.”

The complete Auto Care Association press release:

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 1.2-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 2019 Training Event and Trade Show, A/Ccess will take place February 21-23 at the Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, CA. A current calendar of all regional training can be found on the training page of MACS website at

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Spin-On Coolant Filters

By Chris Tyson, MACS Heavy Duty Contributor

While rarely seen in automotive and light truck systems, engine coolant filters (sometimes called water filters) can be found on many over-the-road, heavy duty truck and off-road engine cooling system applications. While most automotive engines average 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year, it’s common for some of these large trucks to reach 100,000 miles or more in the same time period. Combine such mileage with their much larger system capacities (some hold 15 gallons or more compared with around two for small cars), and it’s evident how important it can be to save maintenance time and money by filtering engine coolant on these large systems, rather than replacing it more frequently.

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The new world of HD and off-road equipment cooling

By Jerry Lemon, Lemco Mobile AC Consulting

Welcome to the new world of HD and off-road air conditioning. There was a time, not that long ago, when the HVAC system in a piece of heavy equipment, or an over-the-road (OTR) truck, was as simple as it could be made to be. Compressor, condenser, expansion valve, evaporator, and a drier or accumulator (sometimes both, really). Controls were equally simple – blower switch with a clutch post (that was the one labelled C), thermostat (with a probe into the coil – or in some cases, wrapped around the suction tube at the outlet of the evaporator), pressure switch (or switches – low, high and fan override, at most), and the compressor field coil. The simplest ones were connected in series with the single wire clutch grounding through the body of the compressor to complete the circuit. Others, such as Caterpillar, used a two-wire clutch and ground through the pressure switch and thermostat to complete the circuit. Regardless of the system in the not too distant past, they were simple enough to be drawn out on a single sheet of paper – both the mechanical and electrical sides. We used to laugh at the automotive service people with their vacuum controls, body control modules, multiple computer systems and everything else involved with A/C service.
Well, it has now come full circle to envelop all of us in the Off-Road and HD OTR air conditioning service industry. We are witness to fully blown, module controlled, HVAC with automatic climate control on demand (ATC – Automatic Temperature Control) built into the equipment at a factory level. The only difference is that now the automotive service guys are laughing at us. Why? Because they have the right to service the vehicles – which means that the manufacturers are required to make the diagnostics available for use. The HD OTR trucks and the Off-Road equipment manufacturers are not required to provide us with the necessary tools, and purchasing a suite of diagnostics that will enable us do these jobs run into the thousands of dollars, plus annual license fees. If we… to read more….CLICK HERE

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Are you ready for A/C season?

This is the MACS blog site if you are looking for the MACS main website click here.

Repair shops – one question: Are you prepared for A/C season 2018? Circle the right answer: YES – NO

What do you mean you don’t have a pen? How can we perform diagnostics without a pen? Remember the pen is an instrument of the plan! Ok, here we go.

However, before you  begin, I have a few more questions. Have your pen now?

  • Have we performed our annual A/C machine health check on our existing R/R/R machines?
  • Have we checked our scales, replaced the filters and replaced the compressor oil?
  • Have we calibrated our units?
  • If you purchased a first time Recovery/Recycle/Recharge machine have you checked all your fittings, filters, and tank for leaks? If you did purchase a new piece of A/C gear, did you send in the EPA certification documentation? See this link
  • Have we checked and/or updated our Section 609 technician certifications?
  • Now the really hard one, have you updated your current scan tools?
  • I can go on, but you catch my draft (no, it’s not a typo, I meant draft not drift.
    Read the rest of this article now.

Download the entire issue of MACS ACTION magazine.


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It’s not your Daddy’s Section 609 certification anymore

By Steve Schaeber, MACS Manager of Service Training

If you were Section 609 certified before 2015 and you’re scrambling to find your card to buy refrigerant this Spring that’s fine, but after you calm down and get a shiny new copy of your old 609 card, think about this…the first R-1234yf cars are coming out of warranty and may find their way into your service shop.
R-1234yf and the motor vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) systems using it are different from CFC-12 and HFC-134a systems. Vehicles using this refrigerant require different service procedures and shop equipment. A technician will need the skills to recognize the differences between refrigerants and how to service or repair each system properly and safely.
This chemical is NOT a “drop-in” refrigerant or one that should be used in other systems. Systems designed for R-1234yf should only be charged with that refrigerant. Systems designed for other refrigerants should only use those correct products.
Are you R-1234yf service ready? Do you have the proper equipment and do you know the proper service procedures?
MACS has been explaining the differences between working on R-134a cars and R-1234yf cars for the last five years and we find as we answer calls and hold training clinics that there are still people who refer to themselves as service professionals who have not received any training on R-1234yf mobile A/C systems.

The current MACS Section 609 program contains comprehensive training information on R-1234yf systems including best service practices and SAE J-standards, as well as specific safety procedures to protect you, your shop and your customer’s car. This MACS technician training program conforms to and complies with the SAE International Standard J2845 “HFO-1234yf Technician Training for Service and Containment of Refrigerants Used in Mobile A/C Systems.”
Information is provided on tanks, labels and fittings identifying R-1234yf, finding leaks, using recovery, recycling and recharging equipment, servicing procedures and what you need to know about U.S. EPA SNAP rules. What’s a SNAP rule? SNAP is an acronym for Significant New Alternatives Policy Program and discusses acceptable refrigerants for use in mobile A/C systems. Check out
While it is true that you don’t have to take the Section 609 test again to fulfill current Section 609 requirements, if you are going to work on R-1234yf mobile A/C systems you owe it to yourself and your customers to have the best and most current information and training to make smart and efficient repairs.

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Look at this beauty!

Longtime MACS member Gus Swensen serviced this 1957 Bentley yesterday, he got their A/C back in shape at Cool Car Auto Air of Columbus, GA.

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