Home New Products 2020 SEMA360 and AAPEX Virtual Experience

2020 SEMA360 and AAPEX Virtual Experience

by Moses Ludel

2020 SEMA360 Event and the AAPEX Virtual Experience Go Virtual!

For 2020 the beat continued as the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) took their annual events online. “SEMA360” emphasized new products and equipment in the automotive specialty market. “AAPEX Virtual Experience” focused on the automotive service industry and latest technology.

SEMA showcased the newest performance products, vehicle upgrades and popular accessories within the $46-billion automotive specialty aftermarket. The Auto Care Association and Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) hosted the AAPEX Virtual Experience on behalf of a $1.2-trillion dollar global automotive service network. Sharing new products, trade insights and technology developments, these automotive trade shows attract shop owners, industry professionals, product and equipment retailers and the media.

For all of our new product picks and online show details, watch the 17-minute HD video!

This year’s shows delivered. SEMA’s custom car and truck builders, shop owners, vehicle manufacturers and 650 aftermarket vendors participated. Qualified online attendees learned about new products, product developments and industry trending.

A 49-inch monitor replaced a pair of hiking shoes for a week of online interactive meetings, webinar training sessions, chat rooms, Zoom video conferencing and equipment demonstrations. Fresh home brewed coffee kept the momentum up, and our Australian Shepherd, Rusty, enjoyed his home routine, a five-mile jog alongside the all-terrain bicycle each day. Las Vegas is his favorite road trip, and we’ll be back there next year.

AAPEX launched the long anticipated Joe’s Garage, a new venture that takes technicians and shop owners into a facsimile shop to explore the latest service equipment, service procedures and professional standards. This included a dozen training sessions that covered leading edge powertrain diagnostics and troubleshooting. Interviews were top notch, including a discussion with Hunter Engineering’s Global Senior Vice President John Zentz. These sessions provided insight on trends, new equipment and leading edge technologies within the growing automotive service industry.

The AAPEX troubleshooting and diagnostics training podcasts were presented by top professionals in the automotive service field. Poring over the New Products Showcases at both events, our interest areas were new service tools, diagnostic equipment and products that meet the needs 4×4 shops and owners. For SEMA360, we scheduled one-on-one “board meetings” and chats with manufacturers and vendors.

The new Circuit Board Medics Ram 6.7L Turbocharger Actuator addresses a growing issue with 2007-2018 Ram Cummins engines. These engines are susceptible to both actuator and turbocharger troubles. Circuit Board Medics brought this cure to the 2020 SEMA360 event as a New Product Showcase entry. We discussed the issue with John Grove from Circuit Board Medics. This shop addresses the trouble mechanically and electronically. (Actuator pricing starts at $369.99 with your exchange unit at the Circuit Board Medics website. Actuator with Pure Power Turbocharger ranges from $2099.99-$2799.99.)

The SEMA360 meeting format was useful and without interruptions. When researching solutions to Ram and Cummins troubles, we arranged a one-on-one meeting with John Grove from the Support Team at Circuit Board Medics. John shared details on the Holset Turbo Actuators for Ram Cummins engines. For installers without a scan tool, the proprietary calibration device for these actuators is available as a short term rental ($50). Here is our exchange:

Moses:  “Hi, John…I’ve gone through the SEMA360 ‘New Products Showcase’ and am drawn to your new turbocharger/accumulator for the Ram Cummins 6.7L engines. I write a column for Turbo Diesel Register and would like details on these products. Can you clarify whether this is an accumulator plus the turbocharger? Thanks!”

John Grove:  “Moses, thank you for your interest in our products…At Circuit Board Medics, we rebuild electronic modules for cars and trucks including instrument clusters, engine computers, TIPMs and more. Two of our newest products are the Holset Turbo Actuators for Ram Trucks with Cummins 6.7L engines. There are two different actuators: the HE351VE for the 2007 through 2012 trucks and the HE300VG for the 2013 through 2018 trucks. We rebuild these units both mechanically and electronically with upgraded components…Additionally, we have a proprietary calibrator developed in house that allows customers to calibrate the actuator without an expensive scan tool. The calibrator connects directly to the actuator (not the OBD port), so it never requires any changes or resetting on custom tunes. Through Circuit Board Medics, we offer these products directly to mechanics or end-users…We also have an option to distribute these products to retailers through a sister company, Synapse Auto. Our actuators can be sold by themselves or paired with turbos to be sold as a package. We offer a line of Pure Power turbos that can be matched with the appropriate actuator for either truck.”

BD Diesel specializes in Dodge Ram transmission survival. At SEMA360, BD showcased the Build-It 68RFE Trans Kit Stage 4 Master Kit for 2007.5-2018 units. The kit targets weaknesses in the 68RFE. Based on BD’s rebuilding experience, the kit is for professional or skilled transmission rebuilders and aims at maximum stamina from these units. (Priced at $1,229.95 on the BD Diesel website.)

We are drawn to heavy duty automatic transmission rebuild kits. BD Diesel’s customer base includes Ram Cummins pull trucks and heavy duty towing. The part number 1062025 68RFE master kit includes a bonded gasket valve body separator plate that increases line pressure while stopping internal cross leaks. A heavy duty accumulator plate prevents valve body leaks while the Pressure Control module delivers up to 250 PSI clutch apply pressure at full throttle. Once rebuilt with this kit, the 68RFE transmission will adjust hydraulic apply pressures based on turbo boost and engine load.

The lengthy list of heavy duty hard parts in the Build-It Kit includes heavy duty QT100 pressure plates for increased clutch counts and a reduction in deflection or distortion within the clutch drum. An upgraded one way clutch sprag, 17% stamina increase for the overdrive clutches, a 20% increase in underdrive clutches plus stronger frictions and steel plates each contribute to a better overall rebuild. An improved billet overdrive and reverse selector plate plus stiffer billet reaction plates focus on the weak areas in the 68RFE. This is the diesel power, tow worthy solution for skilled rebuilders and owners who want safeguards and a trouble-free, superior 68RFE transmission.

Canadian Load Divider Dollies, Inc. has developed this unique Weight Distribution Trailer. The WDT909 trailer has a registered GVW of 1999 pounds or 909 kg. This allows a maximum increase in carrying capacity of 1500 pounds or 682 kg. The 499 pound (net weight) trailer automatically adjusts the vehicle’s frame to relieve load on the springs, prevent overloading the frame, decrease the weight per axle and eliminate the need for air bags or constantly adjusting headlights. Designed for ½-ton to 1-ton pickups and flatbeds, this follow steer trailer will automatically self-adjust for an even load over the truck’s axles. (Pre-orders only as of press time; visit the Canadian Load Divider Dollies website for pricing details.)

This CLDD Weight Distribution Trailer would be valuable for a heavy slide-in camper or long gooseneck trailer used intermittently. The trailer is short enough to track inside the swing of a long gooseneck. This dolly reduces stress to the truck’s springs and suspension somewhat like towing a trailer with a torsion bar load distribution hitch. (Adjusted properly, a receiver load distribution hitch can spread the trailer and tongue load over the tow vehicle’s axles and the trailer axles.) Here is how the weight distribution trailer works within its 1500 pound maximum load capacity:

  • Once connected and activated to your pickup, the weight distribution trailer automatically distributes the weight to each axle within the truck’s maximum GAWR (gross per-axle weight rating).
  • As you add or remove cargo, you simply turn the ECM memory off with the supplied remote, remove or add your cargo, and the trailer will adjust the weight to all axles proportionally. Once it has adjusted the weights, you simply press the remote to activate the ECM memory. The system will maintain those axle weight inputs.
  • Even as you travel over elevation changes, such as a driveway, the system automatically maintains those axle weight settings. With properly proportioned axle weights, the system increases stability, improves braking efficiency and enhances ride performance.
  • The Weight Distribution Trailer is brake test certified to stop well under federal (presumably North American) requirements with the additional 1500 pounds added to the tow vehicle.

New shop tools are always popular at SEMA and AAPEX events. At SEMA360, a meeting and interview with the KNIPEX® staff qualified why wire strippers are not all the same. These strippers are exceptional, the choice of trade professionals. Featuring German craftsmanship, the parabolic KNIPEX® PreciStrip16 stripper produces a desirable insulation strip without taking strands of wire with it! At 0.08mm to 16mm range, the strippers are optimal for our automotive work where wasting wire is not an option. A replaceable blade cartridge makes this a lifetime tool for professional work. ($190.49 at Amazon.)

Cooling, heating and air conditioning can improve any work environment. The new Big Ass Sidekick Fan seen at SEMA360 moves shop air to eliminate hot and cold areas year round. The Big Ass Sidekick fan will cool a shop several degrees. For even more cooling, the Cold Front Evaporative Coolers feature adjustable volume, air flow and vanes to distribute cool air throughout the shop. The Cold Front 300 series will cool a shop or studio to 1200 square feet. The maximum drop of 33 degrees F would be possible in our dry climate, optimal for our needs. Cold Front Coolers are available in a variety of sizes. ($1300 for the 300 Series Cold Front Evaporative Cooler.)

This is the new Hunter Engineering look for high end wheel alignment equipment. Customer and vehicle information, service procedures and alignment data can now be stored in the cloud. Hunter offers shops a repair order tracking system that focuses on profits and lost time data. Real time, daily and month-to-month reports help improve shop productivity.

Partnering with Bosch, Hunter Engineering can now feed scan tool readings and repair labor timeframes into reports available to shop owners. For shops that subscribe to the Hunter cloud services, repair order work steps can be monitored and recorded. Hunter’s latest fully automatic Revolution Tire Changer can monitor and time each tire mounting procedure. The system will photograph the wheel rim’s condition before and after tire work, storing photos for reference.

Hunter Engineering’s relationship with Bosch integrates the Bosch DAS3000 scanners, ADAS alignment equipment and calibration equipment with cloud-based services. Hunter has a staff of professional technicians who field calls from subscriber shops in need of advice or assistance. The goal is to speed up work flow in service bays while improving customer satisfaction. Hunter Engineering can now fully equip a shop with state-of-the-art equipment for ADAS vehicles. Expect new Jeep® and light truck ADAS features to increase in the coming model years. This is exceptional albeit expensive technology.

The advancements in internet communication and cloud data storage have taken the automotive service industry to new levels. Consumers expect the conveniences and safety virtues of ADAS. However, someone needs to pay for all this equipment and technology. Expect that additional cost to reflect in maintenance and repair services ranging from automatic tire mounting and ADAS wheel alignment to collision repairs that require the complete re-calibration of a vehicle’s ADAS system.

Technology can produce advanced equipment like Hunter Engineering’s fully automatic Revolution Tire Changer, now capable of dismounting and mounting tires in less than 2.5 minutes apiece—without a hand touching the process. ADAS technology ranges from front and rear safety cameras to emergency braking, parking assist, lane drift correction and auto-steering functions.

Correct alignment of all four wheels on vehicles with ADAS sensors is critical. For collision body shops and high-end automotive dealerships addressing ADAS, substantial labor and insurance rate increases will occur during the coming years as shops keep pace with ADAS service procedures and equipment requirements.


As technology and cloud services advance, Hunter Engineering and Bosch have partnered to provide shops with leading edge diagnostic and service equipment. Bosch partnering enables shops to access OEM assets like FCA’s Secure Gateway. Distance scan tools and even one-on-one cloud technical advisors are now available for shops that demand this level of support and can afford it. ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) have increased the need for more sophisticated scan tools, wheel alignment racks and service equipment.

Next year’s SEMA and AAPEX Shows are already on our calendar. Rusty will get his road trip to Las Vegas. While he makes new friends at the RV park, our days will be filled with booth visits, miles of walking and insightful meetings with vendors, business associates and colleagues.

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