When Mike's Carwash first opened in 1948, it was one of only 18 carwash businesses in the United States. Today, the family-owned establishment keeps the 65-year-old tradition of gussying up automobiles alive at 42 locations throughout the Midwest. At each location, accommodating staffers stand by to assist customers during the cleaning process. Decked out in cartoon neckties, the cheerful team ushers cars into computer-controlled washers that eschew traditional gear-operated brushes and baseball bats in favor of controlled sprays and soft cloths. After the mixture of eight signature soaps de-grimes surfaces, 200-miles-per-hour gusts of hot air dry vehicles instantly. Mike's also offers specialty coats to give car exteriors and tires additional shine.
Thorntons independently distributes gas while keeping clean convenience stores filled with snacks to help drivers stay awake, nourished, or quenched. Power depleted, flex-fuel-friendly cars, trucks, vans, or tail-finned Zeppelins with E-85 Flex Fuel, a renewable fuel source that minimizes earth-detrimental emissions.
The highly trained technicians at Jiffy Lube tend to about 24 million customers each year with services such as the Jiffy Lube Signature Service Oil Change, which helps promote the longevity of each vehicle. Staffers acknowledge that oil plays a crucial role in maximizing the lifespan of each car: it cools the motor and helps prevent moving parts from deteriorating. More than 20,000 technicians who have completed an extensive training program certified by the National Institute Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) service vehicles at Jiffy Lube.
In addition to performing oil changes, technicians perform preventative services such as air-filtration and electrical system maintenance, among others. Jiffy Lube's quality pledge includes a commitment to transparency, which stipulates that they will inform car owners of any necessary services, complete a service only after it has been approved, and refuse to replace windshields with saran wrap.
When it was founded in 1959, Ziebart’s business model hinged on a single service: its innovative rust-prevention procedure. However, the chain has diversified its auto treatments throughout the last five decades. Though the team of certified technicians continues to safeguard vehicles against corrosion, they also protect paint jobs with Z-Shield and Diamond Gloss coatings and render interior fabrics stain-resistant with their house Ultra Fabric Protector formula. They clean and disinfect ride interiors, and hand-wash and machine polish exteriors to a sparkling shine. Beyond up-keeping vehicles, they stock an arsenal of car electronics that run the gamut from remote car starters to in-dash navigation systems, which can help drivers find their way back home without relying on a trail of breadcrumbs.
Whiteland Raceway Park has acquainted patrons with the thrill of the race for more than half a century via its slate of go-kart rentals and classes. A fleet of Birel N 35-X rental karts with Honda 9HP OHV engines zips around two tracks whose layouts shift weekly to keep young riders on their toes and rental vehicles from getting bored and partying in the motor-oil storage vault. Sponsored by the Tony Stewart Junior Racing League, the park's instructional program gears classes toward students from age 5 to adult. Meanwhile, speedsters at least 16 years of age can captain rental karts for invigorating rides that last 6-7 minutes apiece.
In 1973, after returning from Vietnam, Joe Tilford started work at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. In 1980, he made the jump to entrepreneurship and opened his own shop. In 2013, he'll unveil his seventh location—an achievement far surpassing his early dreams. "I always thought it would be one or two, maybe," he says. His recipe for success includes trained and ASE-certified technicians, diagnostic equipment, and serving as an authorized dealer for brands such as AC Delco. Today, his team replaces parts, changes oil, and checks engines while its clients take advantage of perks such as shuttle service and a 24-hour key drop.