How do you like to receive your information about the automotive aftermarket? It’s a question that comes up constantly when Undercar Digest team members visit with members of the aftermarket, whether they be presidents and CEOs, parts distributors, shop operators or technicians.
Throughout its more than 40-year history, it’s always been Undercar Digest’s philosophy to provide our readers with the technical, management and news information they request and to deliver it to them in a method they prefer. To steal the slogan from Burger King, we want you, our readers, to “Have it your way.”
“We truly value subscribers who want to read the printed version of Undercar Digest, which continues to be the preferred choice among the vast majority of our readers” said Michelle Dickemann, president of MD Publications, Inc., the parent company of Undercar Digest. “But we realize that more and more readers seek alternative methods to obtain the information they need. We were one of the early aftermarket publications to offer the complete magazine on our website years ago and have continued to make electronic enhancements, with some major upgrades earlier this year.”
Editor Jim Wilder, who has been a part of MD Publications team for more than 30 years, noted that readers wanted more access, especially when it came to technical-reference materials in a digital format, as well as top-notch business management info.
Digital Update
“In January, Undercar Digest introduced Digital Update,” he said. “Readers are emailed with a link to it each month and are provided with technical and management information not found in the monthly printed edition. Undercar technical information is provided by our Technical Editor Ron Henningsen as well as many of the top trainers throughout North America that include Doug Hardy and Mark Willis of Specialty Products.
“Ron and the other trainers and technicians who write for these publications are known for staying up to date with the leading technology that technicians will, or are about to see at the shop level,” Wilder said. “Our writers don’t rest on their laurels. Ron, for example, works closely with members of the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and Central Missouri State University technology instructors.
Solid Tech
“It’s solid tech, just like it is in the printed magazine, solving problems that technicians face on a daily basis,” Wilder said. “That’s why the articles are so popular among the technicians. A veteran automotive trainer remarked to me once that Undercar Digest is read by the techs who diagnose the problem, order the part and get the vehicle back on the road. He’s the one who throws the box away at the end of the repair. The technician depends on Undercar Digest to get the information he needs. He’s also the best friend the advertisers have because he’s telling his boss he knows the ‘fix’ and he knows what brand parts aren’t on his ‘comeback’ list.
That tech includes Ron’s Photo Tech columns, Muffler & Pipe Advice by veteran Mufflerman Ed Hanson, along with a long list of contributing writers who live and breathe automotive diagnostics and repairs,” Wilder said.
Down to business
Business management articles that provide information to make shops more efficient and profitable are written by automotive veteran Bob Depontes, the owner of Automotive Management Excellence, and Bob Cooper of Elite Worldwide. Their businesses specialize in helping shops reach their true potential. The columnists complement the professional business advice of Thomas Langer, who writes Management Matters for Undercar Digest’s printed version. Tom has a strong background in automotive marketing and he’s no stranger to the automotive bay. He cut his teeth working in the service department of his father’s Pontiac dealership early in his career, and handled marketing research for a major OE and aftermarket parts manufacturer before opening his own research company. He was also very active in automotive associations including the
Automotive Market Research Council.
“We’re also adding articles of special interest to Digital Update that will affect the automotive industry in the very near future. For example, a series of articles on the complexities of the autonomous automobile reaching our North American highways is examined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. This feature provides detailed information not discussed in consumer news or ‘hyped-up’ by those involved in the developing these vehicles.”
Digital Update also includes E-Products, valuable product information provided by automotive suppliers who show their support of the industry by advertising in the magazine.
To request Digital Update, Undercar Digest readers should simply email, include your contact information, including your email address. A link to the electronic magazine will be emailed to you each month.
Undercar Digest
“As an added value, Undercar Digest contract advertisers can sponsor Digital Update at very competitive rates,” said Joe Keck, Undercar Digest account executive. “Digital Update readers play a lot of attention to the advertisers who support the publication, just as the readers of the printed version do. Undercar Digest and its related publications are read by owners and managers who make buying decisions. “In fact, nearly 88% of those surveyed in our Annual Shop Survey say articles and/or advertisements in Undercar Digest help them select or buy new equipment
or products. Other interesting stats: 71% of our subscribers hold the position of owner, president, CEO or partner, nearly 20% are managers.
“What’s great is the pass-along readership that we attribute to the great tech and business information included in each issue,” Wilder said. “Our annual shop survey indicates that the magazine has more than 88,000 readers each month. That relates to the professional managers who assign technicians to read Undercar Digest and Digital Update to glean that important technical information.”
Shop features & more
Wilder noted that very few automotive trade magazines offer detailed shop features such as those offered in Undercar Digest.
“I started at MD in 1981 as editor of Undercar Digest’s predecessor Muffler Digest, and then left for nearly five years, working in public relations for a major automotive parts manufacturer,” Wilder said. “On my return, I promised that the magazine would feature regular shop features. The reason was simple. As part of my career I was constantly visiting shops; on each visit, I would almost always find something unique about a shop that could be beneficial to other shop owners. It still holds true today and we’ve kept that tradition going for more than 27 years.”
Our supporters
Because Undercar Digest is offered free of charge to qualified our readers, the magazine could not survive without the support of our many advertisers. “That’s why we provide cover features about those supporting companies,” Dickemann said. “It’s a way of providing our readers with an opportunity to see the names, challenges and research and engineering that goes behind the products and services that are offered by these companies.
For more than 27 years, technicians heavily involved in advanced brake and alignment service have subscribed to Brake Tech/Talk and Alignment Tech/Talk eight-page monthly newsletters.
Brake Tech/Talk is written by Paul Zangari, a Society of Automotive Engineer’s affiliate member, veteran technician and automotive writer. You may recognize his name because he’s also the author of Zangari’s Auto Trivia, which appears each month in Undercar Digest.
Alignment Tech/Talk is authored by Bob Leone, an ASE Master, automotive educator and former shop owner. He was also a NAPA Technician of the Year early in his career as a shop owner.
In the early years of the Tech/Talks, subscribers kept their copies in binders and were provided with a subject-search index each year to use as a reference to find information of past issues stored in the binders. Today, those who subscribe to both technical newsletters can are now Tech/Talk Premium Pass Members and can use an advanced search function for technical topics covered in issues of Brake Tech/Talk and Alignment Tech/Talk back to the year 2006. Equally, they have access to technical information to every technical article published in Undercar Digest back to 2006, according to MD Publications IT Manager Dudley Brown.
“We also revamped our website,, several months ago,” Brown said. “Undercar Digest Editor Jim Wilder and Undercar Digest Associate Editor Ed Peaco provide daily news updates to the website. In addition, the magazine’s cover feature, technical articles by Ron Henningsen, and management articles by Thomas Langer are available with the click of the button. Magazine subscribers also have access to the complete past six issues of Undercar Digest, as well as the Digital Update issues.”
To do so, visit and click on “Subscribers” the menu bar and then click on “Qualified Subscribers Pass.”
Facebook & Twitter
“More and more readers also are ‘friending’ Undercar Digest’s Facebook accounting and following us on Twitter,” Dickemann said. “Jim adds news stories of interest to Facebook each day, as well as some humorous pieces that industry members enjoy. Administrative Assistant Chevon Hutchins does the same with Twitter. More complete details from many of these news stories can be found at”
Our pledge
“Undercar Digest’s long history can be attributed to our team being a strong member of an industry that continues to undergo change at a rapid rate,” Dickemann said. “We consider members of the automotive aftermarket to be our colleagues in the challenges that the industry faces and we pledge to continue our active role with our friends who continue to make a great industry even greater.”
Undercar Digest
PO Box 2210
Springfield, MO 65801-2210
Fax: 417-866-3790