Cool idea

Published:  10 May, 2021

In 1989, The Montreal Protocol was agreed in order to phase out the use of ozone depleting substances (ODS). This covered CFCs including refrigerant gases such as R12, which was extensively used in car A/C systems and is now banned. HFC R134a became the substitute.
In 2007, the Kyoto Protocol created the F-Gas Regulations; the objective being to further prevent and reduce the emissions of fluorinated gases due to their global warming potential (GWP). Although R134a is not an ODS, it does have a high GWP of 1430, meaning it is 1430 times worse than CO2 for global warming for the same mass. At this time, all new vehicles in the EU were banned from using refrigerant gases with a GWP over 150. The most common gas now used in new cars is HFO R1234yf – with a GWP of 4. R134a can still be used with older cars that originally used R134a.
The phase-out of certain F-gases, including R134a, and the phase in of more environmentally friendly refrigerants, such as R1234yf, has led to supply chain issues. The reduction of availability of R134a supply and the immediate need for R1234yf, has made both of these gases expensive. This has led to a large global problem of counterfeit gases claiming to be R134a or R1234yf. These counterfeit gases can be flammable and toxic, causing potential danger to personnel and equipment.
Status Scientific Control is a UK company with over three decades of experience in manufacturing and supplying safety-critical gas detection equipment for hazardous and safe area applications, Status Scientific is now bringing this expertise to the automotive industry. The Mentor Automotive Refrigerant Identifier products are indispensable tools for the automotive AC system servicing and maintenance industry.

Features include:

Third Time Lucky

DPF Doctor, Chay Blyth shares his experiences with a car he was presented with after two previous fixes elsewhere had failed
Published:  04 May, 2021

Today’s vehicle case study is a 2011 Vauxhall Insignia which came to us because of a loss of power. It had been looked at twice by another garage to no avail. As with every diagnostic job, we started by questioning the customer so we can gain as much background information as possible. After this initial phone call, I was confident of the type of fault being presented. This was confirmed at the subsequent diagnostic assessment. On running the global fault scan, we found multiple faults relating to the turbo system with ‘underboost’ and ‘overboost’ codes alongside DPF soot accumulation codes logged in the memory of the ECU.    
We followed our industry-leading DPF assessment, learned through the DPF Doctor Network practical training programme. Firstly, using smoke testing we found the split intercooler hose (see Fig.1) which coincided with our P0299 turbo underboost code. However, the assessment does not finish when we find a fault. We see it through to the end. Further testing revealed that the vacuum control solenoid was not controlling the vacuum to move the turbo actuator which then mates up with the turbo overboost code stored. Using the serial data, we could see there was also EGR and air flow issues caused by running the engine with a boost leak.
Excessive soot and black smoke from the engine had choked the intake system and EGR valve. To tackle this mass of build-up soot and carbon we used the JLM Intake Extreme Cleaning Toolkit to break down the carbon. We removed the intake pipe and could see the thick ‘black death’ in the intake manifold (see Fig.2). As the chemical worked its way through, we could see on the serial data that air flow and DPF pressures were coming down. An endoscope was sent down the intake where we could see first-hand how well the intake clean had worked. We were impressed! This removed the turbo lag and flat spot at lower RPM.  

We went on to rectify the remaining faults. We added a bottle of JLM Extreme Clean to a full tank of fuel and took the car on the road to monitor some more live data and watch the Extreme Clean work its magic on the DPF system during regeneration. By the end of the road test the DPF pressures were down to single figures which is just what we would expect from a three-stage clean. To finish the job, we added a bottle of JLM Engine Oil Flush to the engine and carried out an oil and filter change to ensure any chemical from the intake clean was not in the engine’s vital organs (See Fig.3).
Our customer was absolutely delighted given he was expecting the worst after the previous garage had tried twice to fix. We use the Engine Oil Flush and an Emissions treatment on every vehicle we service. Customers always comment on the increased MPG and how clean the oil is after the flush has been used.
We have used JLM Lubricants’ products since we opened our garage doors in July 2020. I am pleased to report that we have never been let down by the quality and with the support received from Kalimex, UK distributors of JLM, Darren Darling, Founder of the DPF Doctor Network, or even JLM Managing Director Gilbert Groot. The support in our network is absolutely second to none.

JLM products used
Diesel Intake Extreme Cleaning Toolkit J02280 and J02285: This is a highly effective yet simple way to clean the entire combustion and exhaust system on a neglected diesel engine. With this low-cost kit you can quickly restore performance and reduce emissions. Developed in collaboration with diesel professionals including Darren Darling, the system delivers a controlled dose of powerful clean and flush fluids that gently decontaminate the air intake, combustion chamber, valves, injectors, and variable turbo vanes of a dirty diesel engine. No removal required. It is much more powerful than an additive added to the fuel tank or an aerosol air intake spray. Used with the two dedicated and chemically advanced cleaning fluids, each one addressing different contaminations to restore the original air flow to the engine.
Extreme Clean J02360: A very strong all-in-one blend of high-end chemicals to detox the entire fuel system including turbo, EGR and DPF.
Engine Oil Flush J04835: This gets the most out of new oil by cleaning out more dirt and contamination when changing the old oil and when used regularly, will not allow the build-up of dirt to develop again. It reduces fuel consumption and improves engine performance.
Emission Reduction Treatment J02370: A shot of this additive in the fuel tank will reduce the emissions and help to prevent a MOT emission fail or resolve a post-MOT emission fail. It also helps keep the exhaust and CAT clean.
For more information visit and

Setting the bar high

Part Three
Published:  22 April, 2021

Before I begin part three I have somewhat of an important admission, right up to the closing paragraph of this instalment; I still don’t know the actual cause of the incorrect fuel pressure during warm up.
I hope that part two showed a methodical approach to data acquisition to determine how the fault occurred and a clear path towards further evaluation. I also need you to accept that a great deal more testing behind the scenes had been carried out, but for the flow and purity of the topic I have cherry-picked the more interesting elements within the logic timeline. In other words, I have not cheated you with the facts, as presented to me.
So, what do we know? GDI fuel pressure is reducing in a predictable, non-random manner under PCM control. We have not yet discussed Lambda feedback. We did monitor this much earlier in our evaluation, but I decided to introduce it within the topic, in a way that is logical, allowing me to explain fully, and in detail, the diagnostic process with component functionality.

It is not possible to accurately diagnose any fault without fully understanding how the system responds to data input. With any fuelling fault evaluation, you must observe request and corrected data in order to understand if the PCM is responding in closed loop or attempting to correct a fault condition. Our PCM is in closed loop but appears to be causing not correcting the fault.
Most sensors in Europe tend to be 5-wire Bosch, the remainder fall into the 4-wire DENSO type. The 5-wire ID is as follows: Grey, NBV; White, pulsed heater ground; Yellow, reference low 2.2v; Black ref high, 2.8v; Red signal milli/amp, voltage.
The early Bosch variant carries a zero current on the signal wire there will also be a voltage transition between 2.2v and 2.8v, if AFR = Lambda 1. An excessive oxygen condition will cause current to go high of zero and oxygen deficiency would cause current to go low of zero (+/- 5ma). Voltage response on red is similar, lean above 2.8v, rich below 2.2v. The two reference voltages, black/yellow do not change.
I am mindful to avoid the rich/lean description as it can lead to incorrect diagnosis especially without noting fuel trim characteristics, air leaks and dribbly injectors for example, as our problem vehicle clearly demonstrates.

Now look in your pocket. I previously mentioned the GDI system storing pressure, unlike common rail diesel. If you rev the engine hard and cut the ignition at peak RPM, you should reach approximately 180 bars. Cycle the ignition back on and observe for any pressure decay. Pressure will hold semi-indefinitely over time.
The later Bosch broadband sensor as fitted to our 1.8 engine is somewhat different in circuit response. Both high and low reference voltages are a little higher, the red signal wire does respond to current in a similar way, however both reference voltages do change in the opposite direction. Sorry if this is confusing, I did warn you.
We need to confirm what the Lambda current is doing on the Audi A3 at the instant of the fuelling anomaly, i.e., when the fuel pressure drops, and more to the point what the PCM is doing about it.
To be sure of our findings, we obtained an identical engine management system fitted to a SEAT LEON FR. Please refer to Fig.1, our first Pico image, which shows current dropping below zero red trace, with both reference voltages rising symmetrically in response to low exhaust oxygen content {rich} From left to right, red trace, initial current at zero, open throttle, load enrichment, overrun fuel off, high exhaust oxygen, repeat test. All normal responses.
Now, please refer to Part two Fig.2 in the March issue, which is conveniently also Fig.2 here. This shows serial data during warm up, taken at a similar time as in the previous data from the faulty Audi A3.
It is obvious the fuel pressure taken from the FR is dramatically higher than the AUDI A3, so what would cause the PCM to adopt a lower GDI pressure? Answer that in the privacy of your own mind. This is the moment that defines the essence of a diagnostic technician. Assess data, do not guess, measurements are essential, prediction is the mother of all mistakes.

Back to the PICO scope, take a close look at the Lambda current at the point the fuel pressure is reduced (please refer to Fig.3). Red trace, lambda current, cursor set at zero = Lambda 1. Blue trace, rail pressure, cursor set at 45bar, which is too low? Green/ black = reference voltages, normal response to current change.  Bank 1 sensor 1, red trace, suddenly outputs a negative current which theoretically represents a rich condition. The PCM obliges by reducing fuel pressure still further from 45bar to 38bar. This is the essence of the problem. The pressure was already too low. Looks like a faulty sensor. However, replacing the sensor had no effect on the fault condition.
So, we went back to look at fuel trim characteristics, when 38 bar pressure was set, the pcm adopted between -25-32% trim.  With a reduction of mean injector quantity from 2.5m/s at 19mg/s to 1.6m/s at 12mg/s. remember the mean fuelling value is taken from two injection events per cycle.
At this point, and based on the absence of any obvious sensor deviation or cross-reference variation, I suggested that cloning the PCM from the LEON FR would confirm or exclude any internal PCM error. My thoughts here were based on the PCM adopting a rich fuelling correction without any input request from a sensor, Lambda error accepted. Diagnostics can be defined by a series of negative results leading to the eventual successful conclusion. So long as it has discipline and a logical process, coding the donor PCM from the LEON FR did not solve the problem. That was a big positive for me. We now know for certain that the error is within the engine fuelling system or an obscure sensor input deviation.

Endgame or Infinity War?
Endgame, we hoped, arrived at ADS Preston, with David G, and me. Earlier interruptions did not help continuity of thought! Today David G and I were given uninterrupted time and access. I suggested we limited the scope observation to lambda current observation only, as this was the critical instant of the fault occurrence. Concentrating on focused blocks of serial data using VCDS.
Fuel trim correction was selected with all the following group data:

Thermostat solutions from Dayco

Published:  19 April, 2021

Few influences on the engine are quite as critical, and have so many repercussions throughout the overall system, as its operating temperature. Maintaining the correct temperature in the various parts of the engine not only optimises fuel efficiency and minimises emissions, but also ensures the oil is at its most effective in lubricating and protecting the internal components, for example.

Setting the bar high

Part two
Published:  15 April, 2021

Where were we? I’m wondering that myself, so I will begin with a recap of part one, along with an honest critique of what has gone up to this point. So far, the following parts have been replaced; Four spark plugs, four ignition coils, high pressure fuel pump, and #1 high-pressure injector.
The phrases ‘dirty washing’ and ‘public’ come to mind. Despite what I always tell you, these parts were replaced as a result of a reaction to the symptoms and not as a result of thorough data analysis.
We understand, with confidence, that the fault is due to a lean fuelling condition, but we do not understand the cause. I do, however, have a high degree of confidence it is not a hydraulic-mechanical injector fault, following the ASNU bench test.
David G and I took a step back to review our approach and plan a way forward. Using VCDS, we elected to monitor critical events from crank start through to hot idle. Referring to Fig.1, please note there were no initial issues during at first, then quite suddenly after 30-50 seconds, you will see what happened, coinciding with the onset of combustion error. High pressure is a touch low though.
Moving onto Fig.2, please note the drop in high fuel pressure. At this point it is sitting at 45bar. This is not correct, so why do request and actual match?  Has the PCM in error calculated this as the correct value? Or is it an incorrect load value from a sensor, wiring or environment? Maybe it is a PCM internal fault? Experience generally convinces me it is not the PCM however.

Let’s discuss the evidence, while also keeping an eye on the camshaft timing which I alluded to in part one last month.
From cold, the exhaust camshaft increases its lift by approx. 0.6mm and adopts an advance angle of 35°. The inlet remains at zero and does not have any lift function. As a point of interest, you should hear a distinct click from the cam housing when full exhaust lift ends together with a sudden reduction in open angle. Consult data frames to see what I mean. This occurs normally after approximately two minutes.  Please also note the change in exhaust cam timing to 2.8° actual 4.0° specified. The inlet now adopts an angle of 15° actual and specified.
Moving onto Fig.3, the data displayed shows values from the engine mid-way through the warm-up cycle. The engine is still fuelling from the high-pressure system. The high pressure has now deteriorated to a mere 35bar, and 50% of the nominal expected value. The lean combustion problem is now extreme with misfire count increasing dramatically.
We now reach Fig.4. Finally, after approximately 10 minutes, the PCM reverts to port injection. This can vary dependant on environmental temperatures and engine speed and is accompanied by a more prominent click from the exposed port injectors. The engine now recovers its combustion composure, with the useful visual evidence, high pressure increases to 90bar. The reason for this is to prepare the high-pressure system in readiness for any instant high load demand. Keep this information in your pocket until later.

With all this information available, what is my assessment? It is a fact that the only route for fuel to enter the engine combustion chamber is via the lateral feed injectors. The only explanation for incorrect fuelling quantity is a control deviation due to a circuit fault, physical hydraulic-mechanical injector fault, or a PCM calculation error.
Having previously expressed confidence in the hydraulic-mechanical injector function focus transfers towards the PCM fuelling feed back system, the Lambda sensors should theoretically provide all the critical answers we need.
Just to fill in a few gaps before you all go dashing to the internet blog sites, we did conduct exactly accurate injector current profile analysis. The ultimate PCM injector control is fuel pulse time and current path. Using Pico scope and a Hall Effect current clamp, we monitored the injector function together with high rail pressure. We noted no discernible change in injector control when witnessing a rail pressure drop.
Please refer to Fig.5 for this. Blue/black trace represents the injector current path across two injector circuits, with both homogenous and stratified events visible. Green trace represents the PWM control for the high-pressure actuator. We continued monitoring current and rail pressure until the moment port injection took over. Looking to Fig.6, blue/ black trace in this instance represents the current path to the direct injectors, while the red trace shows the seamless transition to the port injectors.

Coming up
Keeping up so far? Well, it’s not over yet.  Part three will discuss the response of Bank1 Sensor1 function and response. This will be conducted through direct current measurement, with Pico and serial data via VCDS, paying particular attention to fuelling correction.
Now things are going to get very interesting. What you are expecting is not going to happen. Exciting isn’t it? Good enough for a direct-to-Netflix action movie, or even a mini-series? See you next month.

A/C season: Trust Nissens

Published:  07 April, 2021

The complete Nissens A/C programme includes compressors, condensers, interior blowers, evaporators, receiver-driers, fans and most recently, thermal expansion valves (TXV) and is in constant growth with more than 200 new to range additions introduced each year. The compressor range consists of almost 600 part numbers, supplemented by close to 1,200 condensers, which cater for 79% and 94% of the European car parc respectively. Another notable distinction is that in excess of 200 components in the range fit the most popular hybrid and electric vehicle applications.

Thermostat problems and solutions – Ford Transit

Published:  25 March, 2021

Dayco offers some answers around the thorny issue of thermostat problems aboard the trusty Ford Transit 

Nissens expands A/C with TVX

Thermal expansion valves have been added to the Nissens A/C range
Published:  22 March, 2021

Nissens Automotive has expanded its AC parts offering with the introduction of a thermal expansion valve (TXV) range.
The new TXV range has been available to UK parts distributors since November 2020, and will be available to AC installers from February. Jonas Evald Kristensen, Product Manager, Climate Comfort System, at Nissens commented on the move: “Our development approach behind the expansion valves launch was, among others, determined by two important measures. Both are for the clear benefit of the aftermarket at all levels. First, by the aim of offering the widest range of different components in the system, hence making it possible for distributors to benefit from an extensive replacement parts programme, available from one supplier. In addition, by maximising the vehicle parc coverage of the assorted offering, we help our customers to enhance their competitiveness, so they can provide an even more suitable and comprehensive solution to fulfil the needs of the market.
“The second measure was aimed at installers, to ensure they undertake the correct A/C service. The proper fitting procedure of other costly system components, such as the A/C compressor, can now more easily be followed, as the valve replacement is one of the key steps in the process. Additionally, Nissens’ TXV is a First-Fit product and is equipped with all the necessary installation parts, so the technician does not have to spend extra time to find the O-rings or mounting bolts needed for the replacement.”

Smart choice

We hear from ECOBAT on why the company offers the smart choice for professionals in the automotive aftermarket
Published:  19 March, 2021

In 2016, three battery businesses within the ECOBAT group were brought together as ECOBAT Battery Technologies (ECOBAT), to serve the entire European aftermarket. As an established business with a rich heritage and superb reputation that has been trading in the UK for close to 70 years – initially as Manchester Batteries and then Manbat – ECOBAT’s ethos is to supply its customers with the high quality batteries they require, when they need them, as well as provide a level of customer service that is only possible with the experience that comes with a longstanding, knowledgeable sales team, with core battery expertise, willing to go the extra mile.
ECOBAT’s dedicated support for its customers also filters down to the workshop, where, as automotive battery technology evolves, it wants technicians to be fully aware of both the type of batteries and the associated systems that are present in the modern vehicle.
Despite the huge growth in sales of pure and hybrid electric vehicles seen recently, the fact remains that the vast majority of the vehicle parc still relies on a lead-acid battery. However, within this number, it is those vehicles equipped with micro-hybrid or Stop/Start technology that represent the fastest growing segment, and these are designed to use either an absorbed glass mat (AGM) or enhanced flooded battery (EFB). So, for the typical workshop, it is these batteries and the technology associated with them, that is now the most relevant.
To allow them to understand these developments and grasp the opportunity this evolution provides, ECOBAT has introduced two initiatives that have changed the landscape at installer level, which is where the repercussions of the technology have the greatest impact, because of the interaction they have with the consumer.
Due to the fact that battery replacement in a Stop/Start-equipped vehicle follows a different process to that of a traditional system, the first step was to provide technicians with all the necessary tools to enable them to accurately check the condition of the battery and replace them correctly. This was accomplished with the introduction of ECOBAT ONE BOX, a four-in-one kit containing a battery analyser to accurately assess the condition of the existing battery, a Smart charger and OBD lead to support the vehicle’s ECU/data storage during the replacement process and a battery validation tool to ensure the new AGM/EFB battery is correctly assimilated into the vehicle’s battery management system (BMS).
The second was an online training and assessment module to instruct them to use the tools within the ONE BOX package to their full effect and allow them to replace Stop/Start batteries with complete confidence. In addition, having certified technicians of this calibre on the premises also elevates the status of the workshop in the eyes of the motorist, with the knock-on benefits that naturally brings.
These significant steps would obviously come to nothing without access to the high quality  batteries that are needed to successfully complete Stop/Start replacement. However, this isn’t an issue for ECOBAT, as it is able to back up its support offering with the brands – Exide, VARTA, Lucas and Numax – that provide workshops with a range of solutions that can cater for every conceivable application, and allows them to service and repair their customers’ vehicles to original equipment standards, with the reliability and peace of mind that assures. For further details,visit:

Add more value to vehicle servicing

Kalimex says the pandemic has highlighted the need for technicians to provide and promote high quality additives to customers in between vehicle servicing
Published:  06 March, 2021

This article is the result of one of our trade customers, my local garage, asking for tips on how to promote some of the JLM Lubricants’ products we supply to them. Many of the products are for trade use only. For example, the DPF Cleaning Toolkit which will clean a fully blocked DPF without having to remove it. However, other JLM products are designed to prevent problems from recurring and are simple to apply. This makes them ideal for a customer to use in between having their car serviced.

Setting the bar high

Frank’s recent struggles with an Audi S3 is a tale for the ages, and it nearly took him as long to get a grip on the problem
Published:  02 March, 2021

I have always attempted to present topics that vary in subject and technical challenge. This month’s subject delivers on all counts. A unique problem which challenges over vehicle knowledge, process and patience. In fact, it was so complex, this month’s topic almost ran in real time with publication.   
A story from my many years of cycling in Europe will, I hope, illustrate my involvement with this diagnosis process. Several years ago, cycling from Paris to Pisa we had to divert from Grenoble to Marseille by train due to the Alps closed by heavy snow. Why should I have been caught out in this way? Well, it was May! Our onward journey took us to Ventimiglia. On this journey we watched in amusement as some people kept boarding and leaving the train playing cat and mouse with the ticket collectors. This very accurately describes my involvement in the diagnostic process with an AUDI S3, it also reminds me of an old expression; ‘Two many cooks in the kitchen’. It also reminded me of an old army adage; ‘Never share command!’

The vehicle presented many potential causes for what initially seemed a straightforward problem. It was booked in for a catalyst efficiency error, where a failed and partially restricted catalyst was discovered. This model variant utilises the brilliant EN888 engine which produces around 300BHP out of the box. This is a power plant I know very well due to my previous research and authoring in past technical topics. It is also fitted in my SEAT Cupra. Like the song says, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and I was the go-to tough guy. Where’s Billy Ocean when you need him?
Having removed the catalyst substrate, temporarily, It was noted that an intermittent misfire count was present on #1 cylinder. At this point I’m going to sound like a parrot; Misfire can and should be described more accurately as a combustion anomaly, the cause of which can be one of three possibilities; Fuelling, ignition, or mechanical malfunction. Somewhere in the mix of the repair process, responsibilities were split between three techs. This is something I do not agree with, but accept it can occur due to staff holidays which I think was the case here. Attention was first paid to the ignition, new spark plugs, and coils were exchanged. Result, no change. The intermittent combustion continued both on and off-load with a prevalence for #1 cylinder.

I was not involved with the diagnostic process at this point, but a decision was taken to remove both sets of injectors for ASNU test bench assessment. I did witness the results found by Peter B, which convinced me the fault lay elsewhere. The intake swirl flaps were cleaned and tested for smooth movement transition. David M decided to replace #1 high pressure injector which also muddied the waters. With the fault still present and apparently getting worse, the vehicle would start promptly then descend into a severe combustion malfunction this lasted for several minutes, then apparently smoothing out. However, under dynamic road test a combustion count was predominant on #1 cylinder but did display similar events on multiple cylinders. A serial data logs clearly identified a cylinder misfire count synchronised with a drop in high fuel pressure. Nominal fuel pressure during warm up is around 60 bar, this was reduced to around 35 bar with the immediate effect of increasing the misfire count. So, the problem was fuel supply related. David M took the decision to replace the high-pressure pump, believing the fault was a high-pressure pump problem. This did not have any effect whatsoever.

At this point I was asked to review the diagnostic process and provide advice, this is where I recalled jumping on and off the train with no fare in my pocket. My reputation was very much pinned on my passion for the application of oscilloscope evaluation, and still is. However, serial data is essential for capturing information. It is quick and provides the actual sensor values at the PCM and any correction values. I was updated as to the previous tests carried out to the priming system by David G and the issues with high-pressure control during cold start and warm up strategies.  Low pressure was confirmed normal at 4.5 bar with no cavitation. At this point, I need to explain how the EN888 engine utilises the dual injection system. From cold and during the warm-up phase, it employs only the high-pressure injectors at approximately 60 bar pressure, with three injection events during crank start. This is reduced to two injection events per cycle until the low-pressure manifold injectors take over. More about camshaft timing later – it’s going to get quite complicated.
Once started it continues with high pressure injectors for the entire warm-up period with two injection events in what “I” call homogenous and stratified delivery. Let me explain. Two thirds of the fuel required is on the intake cycle, homogenous mixture, with the final event on compression stroke, stratified delivery. It then switches over to manifold injection at low-pressure, approximately 5 bar for the entire low to mid-range load strategies. The high-pressure system is only used for high load and engine RPM strategies. The reason for this is quite revealing! Direct injection strategies can produce higher particulates and NOx emission levels than diesel during lean fuelling and high load strategies. Now, I’ve been a bit in the back-seat so far, what will all the sheer number of cooks in the car, looking to find the kitchen. Part two is where I take a more direct involvement in assessing the previous tests using the Pico scope and cross-referencing serial values and pcm correction. I promise some remarkably interesting results. Join us next issue for the continuation. In the meantime consider how you think the PCM should respond to sensor input, fuel trim, injector period and high rail pressure.


Surely a thermostat is a thermostat?

Published:  24 February, 2021

Dayco is urging garages to make sure they look to use the highest possible quality thermostats when replacement is required.

Hazy shade of winter

Winter checks will be more important than ever as we head towards the end of the year. Find how to help your customers while generating new opportunities
Published:  03 February, 2020

Many cars will be entering the Winter having been simultaneously neglected and under-driven since March, which isn’t a good combination. Now is the time to offer winter checks for your customers to see if anything is amiss.  

On the battery front, VARTA recommends garages check all car batteries before the cold weather sets in as part of their ongoing Back To Better campaign. “2020 has no doubt affected vehicle usage,” said VARTA Technical Sales Manager Andy Cook. “Many cars will not have been doing their regular journeys. Where more than one car is owned, that second or third car may not be getting used at all.
Andy continued: “Many drivers think that cold weather does damage to the battery, but it is actually heat that dramatically shortens the life-span of a battery, so by the time winter comes, older batteries are close to their limit. This coupled with many cars being parked up and not having the alternator re-charge the battery will result in higher than usual battery failures.

Andy added: “While the battery test is not part of an MOT, VARTA are recommending as part of their ongoing Back To Better campaign, garages offer a pre-Winter battery test-check to all vehicle owners whilst the vehicle is in the workshop.”
He concluded: “By offering a battery check to all customers, and replacing or giving advice on those batteries close to failure, workshops will have provided peace of mind and a reliable service to their customer base.”

Rotating electrics
Looking at the rotating electrics side, HELLA’s Senior Head of Marketing and Communications Helen Goldingay said that these parts need to be in good working order too, as they help the battery: “The starter motor is put under enormous strain, particularly when the engine is first started and in sub-zero conditions. It is, therefore, important to ensure it is correctly positioned and securely mounted in its housing. The terminal connections also need to be securely fastened and show no signs of wear or heat damage.”

She added: “The alternator is vital to ensure the battery remains well charged and able to provide the power for the engine’s electrical system. To make sure it is functioning efficiently, check it is firmly secured and that the auxiliary belt that drives it is in good condition and at the correct tension.”

Then there’s wipers. According to TRICO, garages should definitely include a free wiper blade check as part of their winter checks offering. TRICO’s Senior Marketing Manager Sam Robinson said: “During the long, bright Summer, UV rays from the sun could have damaged the rubber of the blade, so these will need checking to ensure they’re in optimum condition.

“To assist, TRICO has compiled a checklist that they can use to assess the blade’s condition and identify if it needs replacing.”
Clean screen: Clean the windscreen using warm water or specialist glass cleaning fluid, paying attention to the areas at the top and bottom of the wipe area. Also check the glass for cracks or chips.

Safe and secure fitment: Check the blade is securely fixed to the arm. The blade should rotate freely, but there should be no wobbling or movement perpendicular to the arm.

Blade edge check: Gently clean the rubber blade edge with a damp cloth or sponge. Check for imperfections in the rubber or splits, particularly at either end. Ensure that the rubber element returns to a central position and is not flipped over and set in one direction. If the blade fails any of these checks, it should be replaced.

Wipe check: Spray the glass, operate the wipers and check that there are no missed areas, water smears or multiple streaks that impair vision. Blades that leave streaks or smears should be replaced immediately.

Sam added: “As blades are not only affected by rain and snow, but also the UV rays from the sun, TRICO recommends that wiper blades are replaced every twelve months to ensure maximum effectiveness and visibility.”

Moving onto brakes, Scott Irwin, Head of Technical Training at Textar, said: “A vehicle’s braking system can be put under heavy strain over the winter period, with ice, snow and sleet often covering the roads. While grit can help grip, the salt can have an adverse effect on the brakes, slowly corroding them over time. Nonetheless, grit will work more efficiently should the tyre’s tread level be at an optimum level.

“However, one of the most important checks a motorist can get done over the winter is to have the brake fluid checked in their vehicle. As the fluid is hygroscopic, it absorbs moisture during its life in the car through the cap, hoses and joints that it passes. In colder months brake fluid will absorb more moisture. If the fluid is in a deteriorated state, it can cause further damage to the vehicle, such as damaging the hoses.

“The recommended dry boiling point for Dot 4 LV fluid and DOT 5.1 is 260ºC , whereas the wet boiling point for DOT 4 LV is 160ºC  and DOT 5.1 is 180ºC, and this can be reduced by 30% as a result of just 5% of water contamination.”

Scott continued: “While regular servicing will check the boiling point of the brake fluid, vehicle manufacturers recommend the brake fluid be changed a maximum of every two years if not advised to before. Changing brake fluid when recommended prevents brake failure and maintains the boiling point at a safe level.”

He added: “Educating customers on the importance of checking and changing brake fluid is not only safety critical for drivers, but it also provides an opportunity for garages to upsell and create an additional revenue stream.”

Once you gave performed a Winter check, you need to present the results. According to Gordon Grant, Global Sales Director at CitNOW, personalised video can help, while also give the opportunity for maintenance upselling.

“As we approach Winter, it’s vital for motorists to start thinking about vehicle health checks and general maintenance, especially if their car has been sat stationary on a driveway for long periods during lockdown.

“It’s easy to incorporate video into workshop and maintenance processes, with personalised and insightful videos created by technicians proving to be an effective method for upselling extra work, gaining quicker approval on additional recommended maintenance and delivering trusted advice to customers.”

“Firstly, the use of video can be crucial for giving customers the confidence to come back. Secondly, video is now perhaps the most important tool for managing vehicle health checks (VHCs) and presenting issues to customers. Often, this leads to increased approval rates for new amber work, or picking up pre-existing amber work that has perhaps been overlooked during the pandemic.”
Gordon added: “CitNOW is not only helping workshops book more work as a result of successful VHC videos, but is also helping to encourage customers back to the workshop and feel confident in completing work with our trusted partners.”

Looking back but motoring ahead

Mike from Kalimex, the distributors of JLM Lubricants’ products cast his eyes forward into 2021
Published:  19 January, 2021

Just 12 months ago, the future of the UK aftermarket appeared to be in good shape with the emphasis on moving motorists to newer, greener vehicles. Then along came COVID-19 and everything changed. Although government objectives remain the same, the average motorist now finds themselves looking at a significantly altered work-life balance with new priorities and new challenges.   
Sure, many would like to get their hands on the latest eco-vehicle but now most are struggling to keep their existing vehicle running and in good order. Budgets are tight. Undoubtedly this will have a big impact on the shape of the aftermarket in 2021.
Car sales statistics since lockdown began are already showing a sharp move from new car sales towards used car sales and an ever-ageing car parc; especially in those areas suffering the greatest economic impact. Motorists will naturally avoid spending money where possible and this has inevitably led to routine servicing being put off. The net result of this? Higher costs when their vehicle breaks down due to poor maintenance. It’s crucial therefore that the aftermarket emphasises the importance of preventative maintenance to motorists plus swift reaction to any dashboard faults.

As a result, savvy motorists will save money in the longer term but vehicle manufacturers will not be letting up on marketing their shiny new models. This means the independent aftermarket, from parts manufacturers, to motor factors and workshops, need to up their game when it comes to promoting the benefits of good quality maintenance for used and ageing cars.
The motorist is aware they should be greener in all aspects of life and a well-maintained vehicle ticks the green box. A good service will immediately improve emissions. Introducing a preventative regime with additives will help the motorist maintain lower emissions and it reduces the risk of major mechanical failures such as damaged exhaust filters, blocked injectors, and fouled turbos.

Drilling down to the specifics, what should the aftermarket focus on in 2021?
Diesel Particulate Filters: Ongoing lockdowns have meant that vehicle use has changed, with normality but a pipe dream. Journeys will be shorter and more frequent leading to increasing DPF problems because the filter is unable to regenerate.  Ignore it and the motorist will end up with unwelcome high bills or worse still, an unusable vehicle. The aftermarket must promote prevention which is easily accomplished with a quality DPF additive regime.  For a few pounds every month the motorist will avoid unnecessary bills of hundreds, potentially thousands of pounds. JLM Lubricants, for example, provide superb quality DPF products including a professional cleaning toolkit – the dirtiest of DPFs can be cleaned by a mechanic in situ.  Between services, a high-quality additive will keep the DPF in good shape.
Catalytic Converters: A CAT will often become blocked because of a poorly maintained engine. Keeping the engine clean helps keep the CAT clean, prolonging its life and avoiding unnecessary replacement costs for the motorist.
Turbos: A dirty turbo will strangle an otherwise good engine. Untreated it will lead to poor fuel consumption and increased emissions. On its own this means higher running costs for the motorist, but nothing compared to replacing a turbo.  A professional quality additive will clean the turbo and importantly help prevent further contamination.  

This approach to prevention and cure with additives should not be viewed as doing mechanics out of business, because in most cases it’s the mechanics using the additives as part of their service and servicing regime.  Keeping a vehicle on the road by avoiding preventable DPF, CAT or Turbo issues means that the vehicle is still rolling, rather than being mothballed or scrapped. This means that suspension, brakes, and routine serving still need seeing to. The aftermarket must show it can help the motorist save money and keep their car on the road for longer. It’s likely to be three years or more before we return to anything like pre-Coronavirus normality.
The move to greener motoring should not be put on hold because of the impact of COVID-19 but it will have a different look to what the government initially envisaged.  With the support of the independent aftermarket, motorists can reduce their impact on the environment and save money.  They can keep themselves on the road whether they use their car for work, the school run or for that much-needed staycation.  The government should embrace this approach and incorporate it into their green agenda. They too must accept there is an even tougher road ahead between today’s hard-pressed lockdown motorist and their vision of all electric motoring.
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Logic, process and intuitive thinking

Frank highlights the importance of a logical approach when dealing with a diagnostic conundrum
Published:  13 January, 2021

Every so often a challenge comes along that demands, knowledge, skill, and a high degree of logic for the approach. But first, a little reflection over the last few months, and a trend I have noticed, namely that I do not quite understand why we are undertaking such major repairs on relatively recent vehicles.
What could be causing this? One possible reason could be a combination of complacency, lack of affordable maintenance funds on the part of the owner, or a substandard maintenance history. At ADS we have probably replaced six or more power plants with costs reaching very high thousands.
Are they owners purchasing vehicles they cannot afford to maintain properly, thereby leading to catastrophic mechanical failures? Or are these unlucky drivers simply not receiving the right kind of professional advice from the independent sector? If the latter is true, then we all need to take on the responsibility before we are branded bandits and opportunists cashing in on vulnerable owners. I’m not suggesting that a garage should become a charitable institution, but surely there is a profitable middle ground?

Distinct priorities
Back to the point at hand. This month’s problem could have developed into a major diagnostic failure had it not been for ADS’ Dave Gore, our diagnostic lead technician, a.k.a Diagnostic David. I would also like to thank James Dillon for th week’s boot camp training. Peter, our workshop technician, returned enthused and confident in his new skills.
The vehicle under consideration is a VW Golf 2.0 diesel EDC 17 common-rail with SCR after-treatment, which includes dual EGR.
I am going to begin with an overview of the potential complexity and problematic SCR additive system. Manufacturers are wrestling with a greasy pig in their attempts to clean up diesel combustion. I accept there has been big improvement, but it falls well short of the ideal and has without doubt introduced more problems than improvements.
The dual EGR system has two distinct priorities from cold. The hot exhaust gas is diverted by the high pressure EGR valve directly into the inlet manifold. The purpose is to rapidly heat the catalyst and DPF.
The low pressure EGR acts in a traditional manner with its priority to reduce combustion temperatures therefore reducing NOx. So far two valves, and the third valve is an exhaust brake. This throttle is fitted after the DPF/catalyst in the exhaust downstream, and is partially closed to raise the exhaust gas pressure during SCR additive treatment causing the gases to make a second pass through a water cooled egr cooler and DPF/CAT. This ensures the urea is fully saturated within the substrate reducing NOx.
The intake module, as it called with VAG vehicles, also has a water-cooled intake air cooler.

Discreet and regular
Our Golf was subject to a discreet and regular loss of coolant. No external leaks were detectable, except what appeared to be a leaking pressure cap. The car had no obvious issues, was smooth running with exhaust emissions that appeared normal.
Rather than just dive in and confirm the problem, I think it’s much more important to explain the tool options and diagnostic process. I have often used this phrase on my training courses many times; “The process is more important than the repair.” In other words, knowing how is a greater priority.
Water loss possibilities? External leaks or internal leaks? Given the current SCR additive system, engine layout, and lack of accessibility the process and tools will determine success or failure.

Cylinder assessment
Given that the pressure cap was showing deposits on the header tank spill, although not consistently, suspicion lay with compression entering the coolant jacket. Applying the chemical combustion leak detector on the expansion tank showed no evidence of combustion gases within the coolant.
So, a new cap was fitted with no effect. The next option was to conduct a live in-cylinder compression test. The problem with diesel vehicles is the omission of pumping losses (the resistance to engine Volumetric efficiency), so it is imperative to introduce an intake restriction this allows for a drop of in cylinder pressure during the intake stroke.
Most of you by now will accept my assertion that vacuum does not exist where as a pressure differential is much more accurate for in cylinder assessment. By restricting the intake, a greater pressure differential is present during the pistons descent, therefore confirming good sealing properties of valves, piston rings and hopefully cylinder head gasket.

Driving conditions
With faults still not found thus far, David’s next move, was in my opinion, a textbook in logic process and intuitive thinking.
The clue lay in the fact that coolant loss only seems to happen during driving conditions.
David attached the Pico WPS to both the charge pressure circuit and coolant jacket. When driving the vehicle on load, both pressure sensors indicated an increase in pressure during turbo assistance. In simple terms, the rise in pressure was symmetrical.
Convinced the head gasket was not at fault, David assessed the problem to be the inlet cooler.

Removing the cooler and conducting a pressure test confirmed an internal leak. So, in conclusion based not on opinion but actual test data evidence, David assessed the problem as a positive pressure differential during turbo boost, which was pressurising the coolant jacket, and pushing coolant out of the filler cap.
This is the reason why I always discuss pressure differential rather than suction, compression, or vacuum. Why? Pressure differential produces flow, from high to low.

In conclusion, avoiding the catastrophic error of a wrongly diagnosed cylinder head gasket, a new intake cooler
was fitted.

Remanufacturing with BORG Automotive

According to BORG Automotive, remanufactured parts offer quality equal to that of OE
Published:  05 January, 2021

When it comes to replacing car parts, many people consider two options: OE parts or the traditional aftermarket component. But there is a third option: Remanufacturing.

For more than 45 years, BORG Automotive has delivered remanufactured automotive parts for the European aftermarket. Today, the organisation remanufactures starters, alternators, brake calipers, AC compressors and EGR valves at its Polish production sites, and steering products – which include racks, pumps and electric columns – in the UK. In addition, the company has recently acquired the Spanish turbocharger company, TMI, which has added a ninth product group to the portfolio.

To remanufacture automotive parts, used products, namely cores, should be retrieved. BORG Automotive sells their remanufactured units with a deposit, which is returned to the customers if they send BORG the unit they are replacing.

The core BORG is getting in exchange for a remanufactured unit is sent to their core warehouse in Poland the largest core warehouse in Europe with more than one million units – ready for remanufacturing.

As a remanufacturer, BORG Automotive controls the entire remanufacturing process from parts and production to sales and service. This total control of every process gives BORG Automotive an advantage when it comes to quality control and testing. All units are individually tested according to BORG’s remanufacturing and factory standards and the production has been certified according to ISO standards 9001:2015 and 14001:2015.  

The remanufacturing process is carefully executed, and thus needs special attention throughout the entire process. This is due to the advanced and challenging remanufacturing process, which each product demands.

The remanufacturing process takes place in BORG’s own production sites in Poland and the UK and consists of six steps:

Now is the time

With many motorists closely monitoring their spending, now may be the moment for remanufactured components to shine
Published:  07 December, 2020

COVID-19 has caused a whole slew of scenarios that no one saw coming a year ago. One that was pretty apparent early on in the pandemic though was that many people would be looking to make savings where possible, and the independent garage sector tends to do well when the cost of going to the dealer becomes unsustainable.
    Once you have the customers, you need to continue to help them. Just because your labour rates are lower, in some instances the sheer cost of replacing parts will make repairs very expensive. In these instances, remanufactured components may be the answer.

Echoing the previous article in this issue, we start with steering. “Quality is the key word when it comes to steering systems,” said Edin Elezovic, Product Manager for Steering at BORG Automotive, “as the latter ensures that the driver is in control of the vehicle. Customer-perceived quality is exactly what BORG Automotive, the owner of brands such as Elstock, DRI and Re-EX, invests substantial effort, time and resources in achieving. The goal is ultimate quality at least on a par with OE parts. Nothing less.”
    Edin continued: “The process of remanufacturing is based on expertise in remanufacturing which stems from many decades in the market. It uses innovative engineering methods devised by the company itself to allow for the most effective process and quality assurance. All the components the organisation remanufactures pass through the same process. They are dismantled, cleaned, inspected and sorted, reconditioned or replaced and reassembled. Finally, each unit is individually tested and subject to a rigorous inspection before being painted and packed to meet customer expectations and requirements.”
    Among the different product groups at BORG Automotive, the steering products - racks, pumps and electric columns - are all remanufactured at BORG’s plant in UK, where the steering know-how and expertise is located.
    Edin observed: “Regardless of the vehicle segment, BORG remanufactures to the highest standards so the customers can install the products with peace of mind. Only OE cores are remanufactured and all critical components are fully replaced to ensure the highest quality. During the quality check, all cores and parts are visually examined and the tie rods are subject to strict OE standard internal compliance. After dismantling, the parts will undergo the multistage washing process to ensure the cleanliness of all internal and external parts. After assembly, the units are subject to our electronic end-of-line testing using real-world simulation to ensure their functional performance is at OE level.
    “BORG Automotive’s steering products have experienced an incredibly high growth rate. Such progression is driven by racks, specifically the hydraulic power family, the volume of which has quintupled in the last five years thanks to BORG Automotive’s structured approach of process development and continuous focus on improving quality, which has now achieved its highest point historically.“
    He continued: “We have achieved a level of quality that our customers are very much satisfied with. For instance, we can see that the number of claims we receive is almost four times less compared with two years ago. This level of quality is necessary to satisfy our OEM customers."

To sustain growth in the long term by confronting the transitions taking place in mechatronics, BORG Automotive’s engineers in UK have focused on implementing processes and testing procedure that enable the remanufacturing of the latest generation of electric power steering racks, even those requiring fault-tolerant and time-deterministic protocols such as FlexRay.
“We believe that electronic steering racks will be the most common type of steering rack in the future,” said Edin “and we actually expect that more than half of the European car parc will be fitted with ESRs in the course of the next 10-15 years. We have therefore made massive investments in our ongoing work with mechatronics, which means that we are prepared with new technologies to expand our product portfolio.”
BORG Automotive is continuously developing its remanufacturing processes and is adding many new products to the existing ranges. It is investing a great deal in exploring new car models in the market and is researching how to remanufacture these parts, which is the key to sustained market coverage. As an example of this, BORG recently released racks for the latest BMW and Ford applications.
“In our newly built mechatronics facility, we created an ESD protected area (EPA). This gives us the opportunity to effectively control and avoid issues caused by electrostatic discharge (ESD), as this can have a damaging effect on components and products containing electronic circuitry. For the new facility we have developed our own electronic testing equipment in order to ensure high-quality products.”  
Edin went onto say: “We have expanded our mechatronics team as we are fully aware of the future of mechatronics within the field of steering racks. We have an in-house facility built for this purpose with an ESD-protected production area.”
He added: “Thanks to all this, steering products from BORG Automotive offer quality on a par with OE parts. But it is not just the quality that is extremely important to BORG Automotive; it also wishes to provide the best possible customer experience when it comes to remanufactured automotive parts, which is why the company continues to strive to offer a plug-and-play solution so that the mechanic enjoys an uncomplicated installation experience.”

Remanufactured component providers are adding more product all the time, across the car. With this in mind, Ivor Searle recently added manual transmissions for the Ford Fiesta, Focus and C-Max to its all-makes range of gearboxes for cars and LCVs.  The newly-added applications include units for 1.0 litre petrol EcoBoost derivitives of the Fiesta and Focus, as well as 1.6 litre diesel DuraTorq powered versions of the Focus and
Commenting on the company’s reman programme, David Eszenyi, Commercial Director at Ivor Searle said: “Ivor Searle‘s remanufactured gearbox programme covers around 90% of the UK’s vehicle parc and cost up to 40% less than OE.  For peace of mind, all Ivor Searle gearboxes are covered by a 12-month unlimited mileage parts and labour warranty.”
David concluded: ”In addition, Ivor Searle holds comprehensive stocks to ensure first class customer service and minimum vehicle downtime and provides free next day UK mainland delivery for stock items ordered before 3.30pm.”

Grab onto the future

Engines are changing, so the clutch and transmission system is being adapted too
Published:  03 December, 2020

Power transmission drive systems have changed over recent years. Dayco’s National Sales Manager, Steve Carolan observed: “The internal combustion engine almost always relies on a mechanically driven primary
drive system.
“Until relatively recently, these would have been either via a chain running inside the engine or a belt mounted externally. However, in 2007, Dayco designed and developed an alternative solution that combined the benefits of both a ‘wet’ chain and ‘dry’ belt, to produce the world’s first belt-in-oil (BIO) drive system.”

Steve continued: “BIO technology has brought in a true revolution in synchronous transmission systems because developing a solution that enables a drive belt to work inside the confines of the engine has meant that the best of belt and chain technologies have been brought together.
“As a result, the previous advantages associated with a chain driven system over an external belt system in terms of the size of the engine, have been mitigated and the more evident advantages of a belt transmission have been maintained. These benefits translate into the ability to reduce the weight of the transmission system and therefore reduce its inertia, which combined with the lower friction properties of a flexible belt, delivers the twin environmental benefits of lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions.
“BIO belts are also typically not as wide as dry belts because the need to dissipate the heat that naturally builds up as a result of friction between the belt and the pulleys/tensioners, is counteracted by the fact that the oil both reduces the level of friction between these components and cools the belt. Dayco BIO applications also benefit from the company’s unique use of PTFE on the teeth of its HT belts, which further reduces friction and means that they have a greater load capacity and provide a longer service life.
“However, perhaps the most significant contribution to these savings is the fact that, unlike a chain, a timing belt, whether located on the wet or dry side of the engine, cannot stretch, which prevents the engine from undergoing phase variations due to elongation and therefore actively helps to avoid increased pollution caused by incorrect valve timing.”

Carmakers are being strongly encouraged through worldwide legislation to reduce exhaust emissions and increase fuel efficiency. “Looking at their mainstream power plants,” said Steve, “Ford for example, has made the decision to deploy a range of high performance, small capacity petrol and diesel engines to address the emission/consumption challenge.
“Ford’s EcoBoost family of turbocharged, direct injection petrol engines are designed to deliver levels of power and torque normally associated with larger capacity engines, while at the same time achieving 20% better fuel efficiency and 15% lower emissions. Integral to the EcoBoost design is the revolutionary BIO timing drive system developed by Dayco.”
Steve added: “These original equipment developments are naturally reflected in Dayco’s aftermarket programme, which allows factors to supply independent workshops with these solutions to enable them to offer their customers a like-for-like replacement that provides them with an alternative to the franchised dealer.”

As they change, clutch systems have a growing reputation for being complicated. “Some workshops avoid clutch work,” observed Schaeffler Marketing Communications Manager Jeff Earl, “preferring instead to send it to a ‘specialist’; however, by following a few simple precautions, every workshop can avoid turning work down and start turning a profit.
“Supplying car parts is becoming increasingly difficult, especially genuine parts from OE suppliers. Finding additional basic vehicle details – preferably directly from the car – will help the motor factor supply the correct part first time. Schaeffler’s REPXPERT online workshop portal is a perfect place to start.
“Technicians can also access REPXPERT direct from their mobile device, with extra functionality such as a barcode scanner that will take you straight to all of the technical documents for the parts you have ordered.”

“There is not a great deal of specialised equipment required, but a few essentials will make the job easier; a two-post ramp and a working transmission jack – or two if working on larger vehicles preferably with a tilting head for a trouble-free refit.
“A universal alignment tool will also make gearbox installation easier and prevent damage to the new clutch. While it is essential to use a special tool to fit self-adjusting clutches, Schaeffler’s SAC tool has added value, as it can be used during any clutch installation to help ensure correct fitment, whilst also including special alignment tools to suit all the latest BMW applications.
“A DMF can be checked for wear prior to removal by using a LuK DMF tool in conjunction with the DMF CheckPoint function in the REPXPERT app. If the DMF does need replacing, then the app also informs the technician if new bolts are required and what torque values to use.”

The right parts
“Once the parts have arrived and the gearbox has been removed,” continued Jeff, “it’s always worth conducting some basic comparisons.
“Sliding the drive plate back and forth to distribute a small amount of grease is a good check that the splines are correct – not forgetting to wipe off any excess grease afterwards.
“On many LuK clutches ‘Getriebe Seite’ may be seen, which is German for ‘Gearbox Side’, while ‘Schwungrad’ is translated to ‘Flywheel’.
If something different is identified – or no direction is given – technicians should carefully check the installation instructions, to avoid problems caused by fitting the drive plate incorrectly.
“It is always worth checking the reluctor/sensor ring on the back of a DMF. Even if it’s from a different manufacturer it should still have the same number of teeth and they should be undamaged. OE suppliers, such as Schaeffler, will replace transit damaged goods – if it has been spotted before fitment.
“A modern plastic CSC can obviously look different, especially if the original was metal, but it should have the same number of fixings and the pipe position should be similar. It may sound simple, but technicians should always read the instruction sheet inside the CSC box. It may contain critical information, such as how to find and discard a redundant pipe seal on Vauxhall applications, and some Ford instructions explain that the O-ring should be replaced by sealant.
“Worn or seized cross shaft bushes need to be rectified; bent or damaged forks need to be replaced; technicians need to always replace the ball pivot on BMW applications and check the others; repair leaking gearbox seals and, finally, reset or replace all self-adjusting cables.”

Finishing touches
Jeff concluded: “Technicians should never grease plastic release bearings. On most pull-type clutches, technicians should fit the release bearing to the gearbox, and locate it to the clutch cover after fitting the gearbox. They need to be extremely careful when inserting the gearbox; swinging up and down on the back of a gearbox, to fit it to a poorly aligned clutch, will most probably cause damage and judder.”

Straight and narrow

Here, we look into the latest on steering and suspension systems and how you need to be dealing with them
Published:  30 November, 2020

The steering system has undergone a radical transformation, but tech advancements represent plenty of opportunity for those who are willing to embrace the change.
“For many drivers,” said Julian Goulding, UK Marketing Manager, Delphi Technologies, “the steering of a car starts and stops with the wheel in front of them, but what they don’t know is that while the basics of the steering system remain the same, it’s come on leaps and bounds in recent years.”

He continued: “Representative of how steering technology has evolved with new components, new materials and new service procedures is the steering angle sensor. While the steering angle sensor was introduced in the early 90s, only recently has it become necessary to reset them after performing a wheel alignment or replacing a component that can alter athe toe and thrust angle.
“Critically, the procedure to do this differs significantly between manufacturers; some vehicles can self-calibrate by having the wheel turned from lock to lock and then centred and cycling the key, some need a quick test drive and others a diagnostic routine. The result is that either way, steering angle reset should now be part of a standard wheel alignment.”

What has this meant for garages who are tasked with ensuring that the steering systems of their customers’ cars are always on the straight and narrow?
According to Julian, steering advancements have meant that the aftermarket has had to evolve its servicing offering to fall in line, but the changes can certainly be for the better in terms of increasing revenue streams: “The modern-day steering system is a complex affair, but there’s no need for independents to miss out on the work that’s involved in maintaining it. In fact, they really should embrace any new servicing techniques if they are not to limit their customer base and lose potentially lucrative work to franchised outlets.
“To make it easier for independents, Delphi Technologies transfers its OE learnings to our aftermarket offering, ensuring that garages have quality steering components and, importantly, the technical support to efficiently and competently complete repairs.”

Julian went onto say: “Currently, Delphi Technologies’ ever-growing range of steering components comprises over 6,000 part numbers and provides coverage of well over 90% of the UK vehicle parc. Reassuringly, these come with a comprehensive three-year, 36,000-mile warranty and all accessories that are required to undertake a hassle-free replacement.
“It’s the same for our suspension components. Both our steering and suspension offerings provide garages with a quality one-stop solution which allows them to keep abreast of automotive technological advancements, yet still safeguard their established levels of service without the worry of taking a chance on unproven or substandard parts.
“Such a benefit is particularly welcome as we edge into winter. We always see a spike in demand for the likes of steering and suspension parts as these exposed components can all suffer corrosion from extreme weather and salt, while potholes can easily damage a spring or lower suspension parts. Add in normal wear and tear, plus the increased chance of collision damage through icy or slippery driving conditions, and it’s no surprise that demand for these repairs can noticeably rise in the colder months.”
He concluded: “There’s definite potential for workshops to grow business as a result of winter’s impact on a car’s steering and suspension and, importantly, claw back lost revenue from earlier in the year when MOTs were suspended, but they must have access to quality products and even adapt how they inspect a vehicle to take account of the change in season.”

Tie rod end assemblies
Let’s get into some specifics. The steering system plays a key role in vehicles, transforming the circular motion of the steering wheel into a linear motion, which is carried out by the steering gear. “Tie rod assemblies with ball joints are necessary to ensure the driver can steer the vehicle in the right direction,” said Thomas Schwarz, Product Manager at MEYLE. “Because tie rod end assemblies are susceptible to heavy weights and the strain of poor road conditions, MEYLE added 70 new tie rod ends to its range in 2020 including 54 in technically refined MEYLE-HD quality.”
Thomas continued: “The ball pin diameter of the optimised MEYLE-HD ball stud is much larger than that of OE parts. This increases its service life, as the forces applied to the ball are distributed over a larger surface, thus reducing the surface pressure on the plastic socket of the ball joint. This also minimises wear on the ball stud and significantly increases the service life of the MEYLE-HD tie rod end assemblies.
“All MEYLE-HD tie rod end assemblies also feature high-performance grease in the joints, further reducing the wear on these sensitive parts. With this expansion, MEYLE offers more than 700 tie rod ends solutions for a variety of vehicles, including more than 200 in improved MEYLE-HD quality.
“The new MEYLE HD tie rod ends will be joined by new products in the steering and suspension range at the end of the year, with nearly 100 new axial rod solutions in the pipeline, of which more than half are MEYLE-HD axial rods.”

High demand
Thomas added: “Due to the high dynamic loads and forces of driving, tie rod ends assemblies need to be replaced eventually to maintain driving safety. In a video tutorial on the YouTube channel MEYLE-TV, the Hamburg manufacturer demonstrates clean and safe tie rod end installation using a VW T4 as an example.”
Steering and suspension parts also look like they are going to be moving fast for the foreseeable future, partly as a result of COVID-19 and the lockdown.
“With the six-month MOT exemption now over,” said First Line’s Global Marketing Director, Jon Roughley, “workshops need to prepare themselves for the high demand that is there now and will continue into the first quarter of 2021.
“For factors, now is the time to check that their stock levels are ready and they are prepared to cope with this increased demand, particularly for the parts that are regular MOT failures, such as steering and suspension components.
“For technicians, First Line’s full range consists of premium quality products that are relied upon for an efficient and accurate fit. Plus, with all ball joints, link bars and suspension arms, where applicable, being supplied with the necessary fitting components as standard, technicians can also be sure of a hassle-free efficient installation.
“Now, with more and more people back on the road and the MOT extension period over, workshops and factors are working even harder to keep up with demand.”

Natural step
Providers continue to offer new products for steering and suspension systems, including Dayco, which recently introduced a new line of wheel bearing kits.
“The introduction of wheel bearing kits marks a significant, but natural step for Dayco, to add safety related products alongside its established drive systems expertise,” explained Dayco’s National Sales Manager,
Steve Carolan.
“The Dayco range encompasses Generation 1, 2 and 3 technology as well as bearings integrated into the brake disc, reflecting the complexion of the current European vehicle parc and thereby providing workshops with the replacement products they need day-to-day.
“Another strength is Dayco’s longstanding commitment to not only provide technicians with the very best replacement components in terms of their quality, but also to assist them when it comes to their installation. This practice continues with its wheel bearing kits, which, as well as coming complete with all the necessary ancillary items, such as nuts, bolts, pins or circlips, also include fitting instructions and technical tips that can be viewed via a QR Code on the product packaging, to ensure they are installed correctly and in the most efficient manner.”
Steve added: “Naturally, the full range of products are hosted on the Dayco Webcat. This provides users with multiple search routes from make and model or OE/Dayco part numbers, to linked components on related searches.”

Meanwhile, Schaeffler has introduced a steering and suspension range under its FAG brand.
Schaeffler UK’s Managing Director, Nigel Morgan said: “The FAG chassis component range has been developed from the ground up to benefit from the company’s intelligent repair solution ethos. Ball pins are nitride-treated to maximise longevity, while all exterior surfaces have market leading zinc flake coating technology to resist corrosion. They are further protected by clear thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) boots with a micro-sealing lip design that adapts perfectly to the ball contour.
He continued: “As well as being unique to the UK market, they are also highly resistant to liquids and mechanical loading, while the transparent material allows the mechanic to see the quality and quantity of the grease inside.”
Nigel added: “Everything we do is geared towards helping professionals carry out the best possible repairs using the highest quality components. The addition of the FAG steering and suspension range is therefore a significant development, allowing us to provide workshops with a viable alternative from a trusted supplier, along with the market leading workshop support that we offer with every Schaeffler product.”

Wheel alignment: Daytrip to Camber

Camber is an issue when you are dealing with wheel alignment says Gareth. Does anyone deliberately make their tyres wear faster? You may be surprised
Published:  26 November, 2020

My last article, which appeared all the way back in the May issue believe it or not (did something happen between then and now? Oh yes…), was a little lesson on wheel alignment. I also covered the issue of minutes and degrees too. This article is about camber angles and setting up wheel alignment.
The same applies to camber (minutes and degrees) as it did with toe, it’s just a different angle. Now stand up, like you did back in May when I first mentioned toe in and toe out, then asked you to look down at your feet, keep your heels in position, and point your toes inwards so they point towards each other, and then the same with the heels with the toes outwards. This was toe-out, and walking with excessive toe-out, I pointed out, will wear the inner part of your shoes.
    I bet you have been looking back on that fondly. Well, it’s time to do it again. Come on, I’ll do it with you. Feet shoulder width apart, and now, try and make your knees touch, your legs now have negative camber. You can now turn into corners quicker. However, I bet you won’t be able to run very fast in a straight line without falling over.

You will have seen many boy racers with modified cars on the roads that think it’s great to run massive amounts of negative camber, that’s all well and good if they own a racing car and take it on a race track, but on our public roads and with our speed limits, what’s the point? There’s nothing to gain. Your tyres will wear at an alarming rate on the inside edge, and cost you more money, but it looks cool right? So, that’s ok. I’m sorry, did that sound sarcastic?
Now, if you were to stand with your feet in the same position as before, but now move your knees outwards, it’s difficult I know, your legs will be enduring positive camber. This is more stable than your negative legs were, but you wouldn’t want to turn into corners too fast with these legs. No, you would almost certainly fall over and probably break your leg and  I would have a lawsuit on my hands. You won’t see many sports cars at all with a positive camber setup, it just wouldn’t work.
That’s why we leave it to the engineers who design the cars to then give us, the technicians the correct wheel alignment settings. just make sure that the alignment is set within the manufacturer’s spec, that way you can’t go wrong.

If the car is fitted with a form of ADAS, that’s when things get a little tricky. The company I work for don’t actually make adjustments on vehicles equipped with any form of ADAS, a VERY wise decision I think. Also, any garage that does make adjustments are playing with the driver’s (and the driver’s family’s) lives. It’s all well and good taking £50-£60 from the customer for the alignment, but without correct kit to calibrate the camera and radar afterwards you’re playing very dangerous games.
A car equipped with ADAS is easily identifiable really. The radar box can’t be missed in a front bumper, unless you’re one of those annoying manufacturers who hide it behind the badge. Some cars have a blind spot detection system built into the wing mirrors, identifiable by the letters BLIS/BSW/BSM. The easiest to spot without a doubt is the forward-facing camera at the top of the windscreen close to the rear-view mirror. This is funnel shaped if you understand what I mean. I don’t think ADAS calibration equipment can be that far from being installed in the majority of workshops up and down the country. As soon as the equipment gets to an affordable price, garages will be snapping it up and capitalising on the chance to rake in the money.
I know it’s not all about the money, but at the end of the day that’s why we all go to work, and we as the techs are the ones keeping the money rolling in, but just make sure the money is earned honestly and faithfully. I’d hate to read one day about a car having an accident due to a garage mindlessly taking the customer’s money. If you aren’t sure if a car is equipped with ADAS when carrying out a wheel alignment check, all you need to do is ask a workmate to take a look. Better safe than sorry.


Fig 2

A buffet of errors

We hope you brought your appetite with you this month, as Frank has laid on a veritable feast of technical issues for you to chew through
Published:  06 November, 2020

I have always focused on topics that have developed through our workshop, the main reason for this is authenticity and integrity. However, it is not always possible to be fortunate enough to have topics with enough content for publication. So, this month we are going to have a banquet of multiple stories of interest where you can spin the table and pick your favourites.

First topic
An Audi S3 came in for a MIL light and poor running complaints. Initial serial interrogation concluded camshaft correlation errors. This has significant concerns with this 888 power plant, as it has variable inlet and exhaust control as well as exhaust valve lift. This is a very powerful and usually competent engine, but unfortunately the vehicle was purchased recently with a known poor service history. This is an absolute no-no with today’s technology. Having conducted a basic health assessment, and noting actual and specified camshaft position errors, it was decided to replace the oil and filter. I must add here that it ran much worse afterwards.

Historical experience has shown problems with chain jumping and oil filter cartridge collapse. This engine employs a variable displacement oil pump providing 1.8 bar at low speed and 3.8 at higher load. It is also PCM-mapped. I am not a fan of such a low oil pressure especially on crank start. My Seat Cupra has on several occasions displayed slight chain tension noise on start up. Bear in mind I replace the oil every 3,000 miles, and it has only done 18,000 miles.

Additional thoughts should be given to Stop/Start; All engines will suffer gravitational oil drainage when stopped. We are now increasing this multiple times. Not a good idea really. We have also seen oil filters collapse shedding filtration media particles into the oil galleries.

The timing cover was removed, visual evidence shows surface bearing damage to both the cams and alloy cover. This evidence confirms both a boundary layer lubrication failure and metallic swarf erosion. In my opinion this is sufficient evidence to reject the entire engine, subject to a total strip-down. Please refer to; Fig.1, cam sprocket and chain; Fig.2 cover housing; Fig.3 Parts assembly.
The vehicle is still enjoying an elevated position awaiting my report for the insurance company, which requested to know what caused the problem.

I have penned many reports and have prevailed in all my expert witness cases, and smell another one here, or it could be the beef noodles and bean sprouts?

Second topic
Next, we have an AUDI A6 2.7 CRD presented to us as a trade-in into a Vauxhall dealership. The problem is that it is cranking with intermittent no-start. Initial checks were carried out showing a DTC, ground short to power on the in-tank fuel pump relay. I am often amused with this description, as if it  was taken literally there would be smoke and probably fire as the loom fuses together rather quickly.

Please refer to Fig.4 relay location r/h. Time to call Diagnostic David. Why the definition? Well, we have three Davids at ADS. Diagnostic David bridged the relay 30-87 terminals in order to run the pump and the vehicle started every time. He then conducted wiring integrity tests between the PCM and pump relay focusing on terminals 86-85. No problems here, power was present from supply right back to the ground control circuit at the PCM. The obvious conclusion an internal PCM ground switch error? This is where you MUST take a pause? Why? Because you have discovered the symptoms NOT the cause. David then exposed the edge connector between the loom and PCM. Please refer to Fig.5; Oil on PCM socket. David elected to expose the board in the PCM and visually check for component damage. Visual evidence shows blister damage to a controller chip suggesting excessive load.

Having discovered oil on the edge connector we now need to prove the cause. So, we are looking for capillary invasion through the loom from a component with access to oil. The usual and obvious components oil switches showed no oil invasion on the sockets.
In fact, the search proved difficult due to limited access. However, David eventually discovered the path of capillary invasion back to #5-injector socket. This engine variant uses piezo injectors, and to my knowledge I have never heard of or experienced this type of problem. The electrical connector is external from any lubricant, so the problem must be internal from within the portion that is exposed to lubricant.

Even more non-intrusive diagnostic techniques!

Frank Massey continues his look at the benefits of non-intrusive diagnostic techniques. Cue the Audi RS3
Published:  21 October, 2020

Last month, I was debating the opportunities with non-intrusive diagnostic techniques, and more to the point the reliability of results. I think it is important to accept, as with all skill-based process,  the accuracy and results depends very much on experience. A second opportunity presented itself for this topic in the form of an Audi RS3 with a very sick engine.

I’m going to make my thoughts truly clear at this point; I see no point in applying a potentially complex series of tests where simplicity prevails. The Audi RS3 is a prime example of this, with a totally dead cylinder. We must however understand all techniques where cost, accessibility and risk factors demand an evidence-based decision.

With that cleared up let us review and discuss the series of tests carried out. The owner was somewhat vague as to the history of the problem. He explained the problem had been present for some time and hoped he could drive through it. As this topic will later confirm he has driven right into it.

Mechanical resistance
Due to the severity of the misfire, a decision to conduct a relative compression test was sufficient to confirm a serious internal engine defect. David and I were curious to challenge other options to determine the full extent of failure without component removal.
Attaching a current clamp around the ground lead, we were able to compare the mechanical resistance to battery current consumption, this can also be performed with voltage drop or both. The logic here is that all cylinders should balance. This test will not confirm valve timing errors or low compression across all cylinders! However, if you apply the x3.5 rule to the amp/hr battery rating, you should be able to predict the correct work rate and rotation speed, assuming of course you have confirmed correct battery application and health status.

We have no current consumption from cylinder 1 possibilities, problems with valve operation or piston to bore seal. The next test was to attach the first look sensor to the dip stick tube (see Fig.1), with the obvious aim of predicting potential cost and action plan.
So, it about as bad as it gets, the drop in current draw is synchronous with a rise in crankcase pressure rise. Oh dear. Annette did a cost exercise with a new engine replacement and turbo, inclusive of labour with no change from £40,000.

Ultimate techniques
For the purpose of comparing in cylinder compression using WPS and first look in the exhaust we now move on to the ultimate engine internal analysis techniques. My interest here was to compare actual in-cylinder events and exhaust exit pressures in real time to ascertain any delay and if cylinder overlay could be used to confirm which cylinder event was responsible for the result.

I will re-state my opinion here, having spent the first 20 years of my career as a professional engine builder I do not care which cylinder is faulty or what the internal fault is! Why? If I’m going to rebuild the engine, then it’s all coming apart for examination. Professional pride and reputation is priceless, so unfortunately nobody wants to pay for it!

Having fallen of my soap box, I do accept as diagnostic technicians we must provide the customer with a factual and accurate estimate with the quickest low-cost process. apart from the fact I find in cylinder and vibration analysis fascinating.

Important variables
Before discussing the complexity of Fig.2, there are some important variables that affect results, remembering that we are dealing with pressure differential or absolute values otherwise none of this will make sense.

Assuming a good in-cylinder seal, the slower the piston speed, the greater the pressure differential. For example, cranking compression is approximately three times greater than when running at idle. This is because of pumping losses with a closed throttle, the descending piston creates an expanding volume that has more time to draw in a fresh air charge, therefore higher compression.
A weak cylinder will accelerate up the bore quicker due to a drop in resistance, lower compression, and accelerate down the bore as the pumping losses are reduced, lower drag.

The first look sensor in the exhaust will record an increase in pressure drop with a weak cylinder due to the lower initial compression followed by the expansion in volume and corresponding increase in pressure differential when the exhaust valve opens. This causes the classic intake pulse at the tail pipe.

With the scope, green channel, and overlay triggered from cylinder 1 PCM ignition pulse, you can clearly see an extremely poor compression, erratic pressure rises and poor tower symmetry. The exhaust cycle is erratic with poor definition when the inlet valve opens. The expansion and intake voids are poor, also confirming a faulty
cylinder seal.

The first look image, red channel, shows multiple increase in exhaust pressure voids which I find unhelpful.  It does not in my opinion add any useful diagnostic value. I’m happy to accept any alternative opinion.


Fault codes: Cracking the nut

A recent job undertaken by Neil backs up the importance of knowing what a fault code means, and what that information can tell you
Published:  19 October, 2020

A fault code can tell you a lot, if you understand what it is telling you. Then again, it can also leave you questioning what it means and what is causing it to be set if you don’t know why it has logged in the first place.    
A recent job I had backs up the importance of knowing what the information is telling you.

Turbo boost pressure
The vehicle was a 2008 Vauxhall Antara 2.0 Diesel, which belonged to my neighbour Gordon. One evening, having a chat over the fence, he said he had been having running issues. After his local garage plugged into it, they changed some parts based on fault codes they found, but it was no better. The vehicle logged turbo boost pressure fault codes under load, and had slowly got worse and worse to the point it was now as flat as a pancake and had no power at all. I offered to bring some tools home and plug it in and have a quick look one night, and then offer some advice on where to go next as a favour. After all,  on several occasions he had helped me out with one thing or another.
Plugging in my Snap-On Zeus, the one  that was part of my prize when I  won Top Technician 2019, I was presented with the a number of fault codes (see Fig.1). Upon asking some questions, he told me that the vehicle repeatedly logged faults for turbo boost pressure, so the boost pressure sensor (MAP) had been replaced but the vehicle still had the same symptoms. The EGR valve vacuum control solenoid had also been replaced as it had fallen apart, and on removal the old one had signs it had been broken and repaired.
Reviewing the situation, we have six faults stored on initial inspection. What I like to do here is split the faults into groups of what could be related to the customer’s complaint and what can be left for now and diagnosed/repaired further down the line.

Grouping faults     
My groups, based on my findings, were that the P0101, P0045, P0069 and P0299 faults were directly related to the lack of power complaint. I also surmised that the fuel level fault and glow plug fault were secondary faults which required attention after the initial four faults had been rectified. After a quick visual inspection under the bonnet, this vehicle was equipped with a DPF so the glow plug fault would require attention sooner rather than later. I decided to leave the fuel fault, as in my experience this wouldn’t cause the customer complaint. However, like everything, there will be cases with certain manufacturers where a similar fault code could cause a running fault. This means it’s always a good idea not to ignore every fault code stored.
With the faults, I wanted to focus so now I broke them down one by one by what they meant and what could cause them to set. This was done with a mix of technical information and my own personal knowledge. My list was as follows;
P0101 – Intake air system leak detected: This fault is logged in relation to the mass air flow sensor and it is because the engine control unit detects that the measured MAF is not within range of the calculated model in the software that is derived from the boost pressure sensor, which remember is new. For this fault I would compare live data from the MAF and MAP to see if either were incorrect.
P0045 – Boost pressure valve low voltage: This fault is logged either by a short to ground in the circuit or an internal fault in the control valve itself. As I wasn’t familiar with the engine, I had a visual inspection to see whether the turbo actuator was electric or was controlled by vacuum, on this engine the control actuator was an electric unit so the fault could indicate an issue with the unit itself internally. I decided again for this fault to use live data as a starting point to see if any data was available for the control unit.
P0069 – Barometric pressure not plausible with boost pressure: This fault is logged when the ECU compares values from both sensors for plausibility and if either are out of spec the code will set. Once again live data to view both sensors reading was to be my first check to see if some direction could be gained.
P0299 – Boost pressure low pressure: This fault is exactly as it states, the ECU isn’t seeing the correct pressure from the MAP sensor it should be. Using multiple inputs from other sensors the ECU knows how much pressure the turbocharger should be creating via the electric actuator and as it is not seeing what it should be the code is set. This code could be caused by the turbocharger itself being faulty, the electric actuator not working correctly or the MAP sensor not reporting the correct pressure back to the ECU. Again, live data would be my first port of call as I could look at possible causes of all four faults codes and there may be a common link causing all four.

Live data
With my list done and my plan ready to execute, I then went into live data to see what the ECU was seeing and gain information to plan my next step. I set up a custom list view and brought up my sensors in question. All MAF, MAP, BARO and Turbo actuator command data PIDs were displayed and reviewed to see if anything stood out. As in my previous articles, knowing what the numbers displayed mean is crucial as if you don’t know, how can you make an accurate diagnosis? So, to keep it very simple for the sake of the length of this article, for MAF I want to see 0 air flow ignition on, engine off which I will refer to as KOEO (key on, engine off) steady flow at idle and increasing flow in relation to engine speed and load. I won’t list numbers as every scan tool lists different air flow measurements but common ones you will see are grams per second (g/s) and kilogram per hour (kg/h).
For BARO I want to see a steady 1 bar under all conditions, KOEO, engine running etc. The main reasons this sensor is fitted is so that the ECU knows the current atmospheric pressure for correct air/fuel mixture for emissions and for plausibility to make sure other sensors are operating correctly. As in the UK we live at near enough to 1 bar atmospheric pressure this sensor should be as close as possible.
For MAP I want to see 1 bar KOEO (plausibility check), then a pressure rise along with engine speed and load. Again, this is where the ECU compares BARO and MAP to each other. If one isn’t correct, it will know and log the P0069 code. This is required as if one drifted out of calibration and read differently but still operated within tolerance, the ECU would determine it to be ok which could cause running issues but no faults to be stored.
For turbo actuator command, I want to see some form of change in command to the turbo again under engine speed and load to make sure something is happening as if there is no movement the turbo will not create any boost pressure.
Observing data, I found the MAF to be reading what I expected under all conditions, and the BARO was correct. However, the turbo actuator control was a fixed value, which is clearly wrong. Was this a turbo issue or something else? The final piece of the puzzle was the MAP reading and KOEO. I had 0 pressure, and knowing we should see 1 bar, I have direction on where to go. Increasing engine speed and load, the pressure did rise slightly but we clearly have an issue. Remember, there is also no turbo control but we have to consider that if the ECU cannot see boost pressure, as a failsafe it won’t actuate the turbo in case it over boosts and causes some form of damage. Again, this reinforces the importance of knowing system operation.

MAP sensor test
With all this data gathered, my next step was to test the MAP sensor. This sensor was new, and through questioning Gordon I learned it was a genuine part, so why didn’t it read correctly? Testing power supply and ground to the sensor, both were ok so onto testing the signal wire. The signal voltage in live data was available and was compared to actual data gently back probing the wire, after checking both they matched exactly. Using my sensor simulator, I applied a varying voltage down the signal wire which matched in live data, so what next? We have a genuine new sensor, good wiring and correct ECU operation it seems? At this point with limited tooling and having had a quick look, bearing in mind it has taken me longer to write the article thus far than actually carry out my testing, I asked permission to arrange to take the vehicle to the workshop to carry out further testing.
With permission from Gordon, a few days later I nursed the poorly vehicle up to the workshop to continue fault finding his vehicle. Out of curiosity I had asked if the old MAP sensor had been kept, which it had, so I brought it with me to test to see if anything could be found. On measuring the new sensor, the signal voltage KOEO was 1.07 volts. As a quick check, I plugged in the old sensor and it read 1.64v so 0.5 volts difference. Bear in mind, for this sensor, this will make a massive difference in pressure conversion by the ECU. Checking live data, I now had my 1 bar pressure I was looking for so the new sensor appeared to be faulty as the voltage for static engine off pressure was too low and the ECU was looking for 1.6v. Starting the engine, the boost pressure barely rose, so I had fixed one fault but we still had another issue and more than likely the initial complaint. Noting faults and clearing them only left p0045 boost pressure valve low voltage. Remember from before when I had no change in position from the control actuator? Well, now I had change, but it was very slight and far less than I expected to see.

Turbo and actuator movement
So where to next? I decided to visually inspect the turbo and its actuator movement with someone increasing engine speed to see what happened. Upon inspection, I found the actuator arm was remaining still but showing signs the actuator was attempting to move, but wasn’t able to. I then decided to check movement of the linkage arm that the actuator moves. On some turbo assemblies, this can be done fully assembled or activated via a scan tool special function, but on this unit the motor was locked and attempting activation didn’t work, possibly due to there being a stored fault code.
This meant the linkage had to be removed from the actuator, Upon removal, the linkage arm and pivot were tight and it took considerable force to move through its full travel so we had found the cause of the fault. The low voltage fault was being logged as the position of the arm wasn’t where the ECU was commanding it to be, and as it stayed where it was (low) a corresponding fault code was set.
After cleaning and lubricating the arm and pivot I managed to get everything free and greased up to prevent a reoccurrence. Once reassembled, I then checked MAP pressure in live data now seen a nice increase in pressure in line with engine speed and could now hear an audible whistle from the turbo indicating it was creating pressure. A long road test monitoring data confirmed correct operation and the vehicle was returned to its owner.

This article highlights the importance of understanding what a fault code is telling you, and also why it pays to spend time learning to understand to make an accurate diagnosis. Like everyone, I don’t know the meaning of all fault codes and this is where technical data comes in and plays an important part in diagnosing faults. As for the faulty new map sensor? Well, after some digging it was actually the wrong sensor supplied, even though it fit and plugged in. It was actually for the 2.2 engine which uses a different intake/turbo layout.

Power of the software update

2017’s Top Technician winner Karl Weaver is back with a piece looking at the importance of staying on top of updates
Published:  06 October, 2020

As I write this (in April), we had just began our fourth week of lockdown and I am doing just two mornings per week to deal emergency jobs for key workers. Very strange times indeed! However this has given me the opportunity to write up a few more interesting jobs that I’ve done over the past few months. This particular one got me thinking about a few different things and maybe considering tweaking my diagnostic process slightly.
The owner of a garage that we do a bit of diagnostic work for contacted me to ask if I could take a look at a 2015 Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi that was causing him grief. The complaint was that shortly after start-up and moving off, the vehicle would drop into limp-home mode with multiple warning lights on the cluster.
As always, I asked some questions to gather as much background information as possible, and so the story began. The vehicle came into their workshop with the above symptoms. The fault codes stored pointed towards a turbo wastegate fault. You’re probably mostly thinking the same as I was at this point; sticking wastegate, wastegate control solenoid malfunctioning, vacuum fault, can’t be that complicated surely?
We discussed all the tests that were carried out and what parts had been replaced. This included a new genuine solenoid valve, an actuator repair kit followed by a reconditioned turbocharger. With the fault still present the turbo supplier then recommended a trip to the nearest franchised dealer for testing and a turbo position sensor relearn. After spending some time on the vehicle, the dealership’s diagnosis was the turbocharger and recommended a genuine replacement unit. Reluctantly the garage fitted a genuine unit but guess what? I don’t need to answer that!

The vehicle arrived and I started my plan for diagnosing this fault. I was in challenge mode now and was not prepared to be beaten. I knew my plan had to be thorough so I took some time to confirm the fault and do some research. As tempting as it is, just to clear the fault codes and carry out a fresh test – this isn’t always a good move, particularly when the fault is intermittent and may take some time to replicate. In this instance however, there was little to lose by doing this as apparently the fault was very consistent.
I took a read of the fault codes which were as follows:

Hydrogen – the next revolution?

Automotive engineer and all-round technical seer Andrew Marsh checks the Periodic Table to see if hydrogen might be the next great leap forward in vehicle technology
Published:  01 October, 2020

For as long as I can remember, the questions arising from presentations to our sector usually involve at least one about hydrogen. This can be seen as an abundant, readily available resource and a solution to long-term electric power generation akin to nuclear fusion, in that in both cases the by-product is harmless.    
Pure hydrogen is an important component of many industrial chemical processes, so generation of more hydrogen to feed transportation will add pressure to existing industrial capacity. Hydrogen exists either in association with itself (H3 – which is unstable) or with other atoms (for example water, H2O – which is stable). It also exists inside many, many organic compounds, but effectively is not available in nature as a pure gas.  
Pure hydrogen can be manufactured from coal, oxidation of methane or steam reforming of methane. Methane is a principle component of natural gas, so there is a plentiful supply of raw material. Most of the pure hydrogen available for use today is made by one of these industrial processes, which all require energy to effectively extract the hydrogen and then more energy to compress it to the point the gas liquifies.
Hydrogen can also be extracted by passing electricity through water, and there have been many aftermarket kits that do exactly this to generate a form of hydrogen peroxide which is then ducted into an internal combustion engine intake system to offset the hydrocarbon fuel burn rate. However, if we need to generate pure hydrogen on a scale to develop transport, this process needs to be upscaled.
The conclusion: Pure hydrogen prefers to be attached to other atoms to achieve stability, and if we need to extract it requires is an energy investment. Further, the most common source of pure hydrogen is from natural gas, where the by-products are carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Hardly right-on.  

The application
Let’s skip eco-obstacles. What can we do with it?
There are essentially two routes to use hydrogen. Some manufacturers openly experimented with hydrogen as a fuel for internal combustion engines.
Mazda built several Wankel engines fuelled by hydrogen. In theory, apart from trace hydrocarbon pollution due to lubricants, the tail pipe emissions would be zero in terms of traditionally measured pollutants. The reason for Mazda doing this? The Wankel engine has two major drawbacks – sealing, and a long, thin combustion volume with a vast surface area to volume ratio. Yes, the Wankel engine is ‘emission disabled’.
Meanwhile, BMW built a few factory-owned 7 Series E65 based long wheel base limousines, complete with CFRP body structure inserts around the rear sill/subframe/C pillar area. The V12 engine was fed with hydrogen stored in a large tank located in the boot above the rear subframe (hence the CFRP structural magic parts) and had a small fuel tank located under one rear passenger seat. The vehicle was bristling with contradictions – a huge engine which could run further on the tiny petrol tank that it could from the huge insulated hydrogen fuel tank, which was designed to keep the liquified fuel at -273°C for as long as possible. Oh, and it needed a system to ensure the liquid hydrogen became gas as it entered the pointlessly vast engine.
These experiments confirmed what was already known before any of these prototype vehicles were built. Hydrogen does not have the energy density of petrol or diesel, and there are significant issues in storage of the fuel either at under pressure at normal temperature (i.e. serious pressure vessels) or super cooled at ambient (i.e. seriously bulky insulation).
The second route? Drum roll…the hydrogen fuel cell. This is a form of battery. It has taken many years to develop, and the once sky-high cost of the main component – the ‘stack’ – is gracefully gliding downwards. Essentially pure hydrogen atoms are introduced to oxygen atoms, where a membrane allows the atoms to join and the electricity generated in the process is extracted. This is electric power generation from pure hydrogen and air, using the oxygen in the air. Hydrogen has a greater affinity to oxygen than oxygen has for hydrogen, so only one component needs to be made unstable to create the vital atomic level re-assembly.
Do we need pure hydrogen to do this? Well Chrysler many years ago developed a fuel cell stack that would run on petrol or diesel, but of course the tail pipe emissions, while dramatically reduced, were higher than if we put pure hydrogen into the system. In addition, early membrane technology was highly intolerant of impurities, but much important work has taken place to make the fuel cell stack tougher.

Other considerations
Let’s not forget, if we consider hydrogen fuel cell stack electric power generation to be the future of transport, and bypass the significant issues in creating additional production capacity for pure hydrogen let alone the increase on electricity demand or environmental impact, there is a further important factor to consider. Fuel cell stacks like to generate power under steady state conditions. They do not like Vmax/ standing starts/traffic light GPs.
So, we have electricity generated at a steady rate, but we have demands which are variable and include dumping harvested energy back into the system (regenerative braking). Yes. There’s the clue. In a pure electric system, we have to add a pure electric vehicle in its entirety (low voltage system, high voltage system, power controller, DC-AC converters, on-board recharging, electric traction motor and the energy storage system).
That means we have two powertrains. An on-board electricity generator powered by hydrogen, and a pure electric powertrain. Oh, and while fuel cell stack prices have fallen below €10,000, that’s still way, way more than either plugging a vehicle into a larger, more efficient power generation system (and yes, that’s a story for another time) and even more than an internal combustion engine used as an emergency power generator.
Then there’s business interests. Manufacturers of bottled gas are naturally very supportive of the hydrogen power movement, as are many oil companies. True, initially only Total supported this, but most companies now recognise in the new lobbyist infested world of eco-warriors, selling hydrocarbon fuels needs some ‘eco’ messaging.
The upshot is oil companies (considering profits) and especially government (considering the ludicrous 80%+ tax revenue per litre) do not want to switch off the oil-based economy just yet, and as usual for the public sector, there is no strategy nor plan for any potential transition should the prevailing economic objections to hydrogen (or any other great idea) change. That immediately gets in the way of ‘what comes first’: Fuel supply system or vehicles which can use the ‘new fuel’. The prototype of this situation is rolling out now – electric vehicles have relatively poor access to public charging points, and recharging them in an urban environment can be hazardous for residents. In the UK there are handful of hydrogen refuelling stations, and for the most part the main source of the energy is from bottled gas. Not quite seamless.
While the refuelling station lines and nozzles for hydrogen are bulkier, heavier and bigger than the equivalent petrol, diesel or natural gas LPG systems, there have been zero accidents due to hydrogen leaks during refuelling. Yes, there are tiny numbers of vehicles and some users – such as those operating buses or trucks – could be considered to be even more considerate than the general public could be. There is another major benefit – recharging the energy source takes as long as we are used to, a matter of minutes rather than hours, being kind to the battery, or 30 minutes plus, if we want to sustain long-term damage to the battery.

The future
Is the future hydrogen? Nope. Not for personal transportation, and COVID-19 has just buried the plans for some manufacturers to introduce hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles.
And yet, there is one need right now. Semi-trailers which are refrigerated are a cornerstone of food transportation as well as medication, and have the ability to be run from the tractor unit, from the national grid or a small, badly made diesel engine. For anyone who can remember being at a Channel Port or EuroStar waiting to board, the sound of these little diesel engines is very clear. It is not always possible to hook up a refrigerated trailer to a fixed electricity source, so a quiet system is required – the fuel cell! This is already underway.
There’s more though. In the unsolved hard-wired world of pure electric vehicles, the process of energy transfer is firmly in the 1800s. If we casually assume this problem will be solved at the same pace as the energy density improvement of batteries, and we venture away from the leafy suburbs of North London, much drama awaits. Further, if one lives ‘in the provinces’ running a pure electric vehicle is not straightforward due to availability of energy top-up points. Enter the hydrogen fuel cell. Suddenly apart from cost of the base electric vehicle, the cost of the additional fuel cell stack system, the energy/environmental impact of making the pure gas… we have a solution.
Rather than drinking the pure water that comes out of the tail pipe, perhaps we really should just drink the finest socialist Champagne. Still, who knows what the future holds?

Desk diagnostics

Sometimes, says Neil, the best place to start your work is online, in the various VM information portals
Published:  16 September, 2020

By Neil Currie

Non-intrusive diagnostic techniques

Frank Massey examines various ways for you to get the answers you are looking for when working on a vehicle
Published:  04 September, 2020

The last two topics in recent issues focused on combustion issues and the various tools, service and repair process available to us. Two reasons have directed me to develop this debate further, firstly an email from my much-respected friend Phil Ellison at ASNU, and a VW Golf edition 30 presented to our workshop with poor running at low and transient throttle position. I was also involved in a conversation with friends in Perth, Australia over valve timing issues.

I’m going to respond to Phil’s interesting input first and clarify something especially important to all diagnostic techs. All decisions we make must be evidence based and not opinion. This is an extremely broad statement, but simplifies the fact that if you do not have access to the required tools, software, or process skillsets your decisions will be opinion-based!

I can relate this to my time building military aircraft, where nothing ever happens as a result of opinion. You could quite literally switch off and simply follow the build schedule and submit your work to inspection. You were not paid to have an opinion. This is why I left!

I may have previously left an impression that it was not necessary to fully evaluate injectors in a test bench, if this was so, then I apologise as my thoughts are the exact opposite. My intention was to ensure that you fully explored all causes of incomplete combustion while the engine is running, as most engine work now carries a high labour content! Do not, however make the mistake of letting cost dictate your process. Phil did pick up on the common issues of injector removal damage where specialist tools are required. The use of fuel additives, which can be a common cause of internal injector damage especially to plastic filter baskets, where any debris is then deposited in the basket effecting fuel flow. Direct injection technology now demands the absolute best fuel quality, often reinforced by manufacturers placing fuelling advice inside the filler flap.

Phil also picked up on a common issue I did omit; Stop/Start. Hot engines with an increase in stop events, with fuel trapped in the injector often causes lacquering of the pintle. Heat in the combustion chamber dries any combustion residue and oil on the injector tip. I’m coming to the inlet valves very shortly…

Fuel trim or correction does not fix problems, it can exacerbate them, imbalance in injector delivery or as Phil pointed out deterioration of the spray pattern will cause bore wash, premature lubrication failure, and an increase in crankcase emissions, larger fuel droplets do not combust fully.

Interestingly, he pointed out that new injectors are produced with a +/- 5% tolerance.

Potentially misleading evidence
The Golf appeared in our workshop just a few days after I had finished my topic.  I was not involved in most of the diagnostic process or repair but was in discussion over potentially misleading evidence.

The vehicle had covered 106,000 miles, and was suffering from poor idle and incomplete combustion, with a mil light indication.

Step 1/ serial interrogation
0568/P0238 boost sensor, signal high, frequency 1
0768/p0300 random/ multiple cyl misfire, frequency2, counter re-set 255
0772/p0304 cyl #4 misfire intermittent frequency2 counter re-set 255

The next step taken was a cranking current differential test, showing no apparent mechanical imbalance? Back to this later.
Coil and plug failure is a common problem and is an obvious job for the Pico scope, no problems with burn times or primary current saturation here.

David Gore, our diagnostic tech, opted for the first look sensor in the exhaust next. I’m not sure if he opted for WPS in cylinder or not. This would have been my preferred choice, but as the saying goes too many chefs…
If you refer to Fig.1, The image is triggered from ignition, sequentially 1342 from left to right. I’m going to let you debate this image, as I intend to cover this in detail next month. I bow to Brendon Stickler’s wisdom on exhaust pressure evaluation. My debate is focused on the properties of pneumatic pulse delay from the cylinder head to tail pipe. I have since proven this and will discuss this in the October issue.

The next and obvious decision was to remove the manifold and check the intake tract and valves for carbon.
So, as you can see in Fig.2, there is excessive intake valve carbon. This is due to several factors, the most common of which is no self-cleaning from the fresh fuel air intake cycle. Other factors include, lengthy oil service intervals, not replacing oil separation filters, poor fuel quality, driving environment, poor or incomplete combustion cycles, incorrect atomisation and air swirl during the intake and combustion preparation cycles. Remember, direct injection can separate the fuelling into several events on both the intake and compression strokes.

Back to a comment I left open earlier, I hope you are still interested? The value of compression is determined by the mechanical engine efficiency and volumetric efficiency, Pumping losses! So why didn’t a problem show up during the cranking balance check? As this test is based on compressional resistance. Accepting that when the engine was at idle it ran badly and would eventually disengage the injector cycle in cly #4? the answer is rotation speed increase reduces the available time to draw in fresh air. If you compare nominal compression values say 10-12bar against the value at idle they will only be around 3.5 bar!

The detrimental effects of intake fouling only tends to occur at closed and partially open throttle, where the pumping losses are the greatest. The dtc relating to boost pressure sensor value high, can be caused by ignition misfire or unstable intake pulses.
Finally, the injectors were subject to the Spanish Inquisition in the ASNU bench. The results (see Fig.3) confirm substantial fuelling imbalance causally relating to my previous comments.

My grateful thanks to Phil, David (and myself), for the technical input in this topic. I’m off to the workshop to check the delay characteristics with WPS in cylinder and FIRST LOOK sensor in the exhaust.

PART TWO: Combustion past, present and future

Part two
Published:  27 August, 2020

Frank continues his look at combustion complications and throws the net wider to include the impact of peripheral systems 

Just break the cycle

No, he’s not had one-too-many run-ins with new-to-the-road cyclists – John Batten is starting a new series on how process can really help you
Published:  20 August, 2020

Do you ever get that feeling? You know the one. You turn the key in the ignition, the car cranks, cranks some more, and then some more. You’re willing it to start, but all you're met with is an ever-decreasing RPM as the battery dies along with your hopes for what was going to be a pleasant day.    

Groundhog Day
The sense of doom can often be exacerbated by the fact that a bunch of new bits have been bolted on and the car has been with you all week. I think we have all been there at some point. My key message here though is that it need not feel like this, there is a way to avoid Groundhog Day.
My formative years in this trade were spent working in the family business and it’s the banter between my younger self and my father that reminds me of the path away from Groundhog Day. It went a little like this: “You’ve got a lot to learn son, this game is all about experience” was a familiar message. My dad was right, I did indeed have a lot to learn and you really can’t beat experience. But regardless of how true the message, the regularity at which it and the humorous variants we’re delivered began to grate a little. I needed a witty retort, and then I found one: “You don’t have 30 years of experience dad. You have one year of experience that you’ve repeated 30 times.”
It cut like a knife and although it wasn’t true about him, I can’t help but feel that it’s just so easy to get stuck in a rut and not look for alternative ways to expand our knowledge and make diagnosis just that little bit more enjoyable.
Is that a glimmer of hope I see? Of course it is and all it takes is your will to change and break the cycle. How can the feeling of doom be reduced? Quite simply by improving your process, using the right information and carrying out more tests than are needed on your path to diagnostic stardom.
And the good news is that this is the first article in a series of technical hints, tips and tricks all designed to help you break the cycle. So where shall we start.
I’d normally kick off by looking at your diagnostic process. That being said I’ve covered it in detail previously so I’ll skip it for this article and jump straight into something technical. But just before I do here’s something to remember.
It’s very easy to become consumed by shiny diagnostics. I love cool diag as much as the next geek, but I’ve noticed Pareto’s Law (the 80/20 rule) at work all too often to be tricked into going down that road. Which is why this series will focus on the 20% of the diag that fixes 80% of your problems. let’s get started.
There are many routes you could go down and for this vehicle we’ll assume you’ve no fault codes, your serial data looks good and cranking speed for this petrol car at 250 rpm is on the money. Ultimately you don’t have a lot to go on, so what next?
At this point it’s all about finding diagnostic direction as quickly as possible, you need to find a clue, something that’s out of kilter. And that starts with a 3-step routine that should be second nature for non-start diagnosis and all being well will give you direction.
The question is, do you have a mechanical issue, a fueling problem or an ignition fault?
There’s only one way to tell and that’s to start testing. We could discuss the order we attack this in at length but I’ll normally start with mechanical, then ignition and lastly, fueling. My reasoning being that fueling issues can take a few minutes longer than the other two to test. If I find an issue on my first two tests then I have the initial direction I’m looking for and I’ve shaved a few minutes as well. What fundamental tests should you carry out as part of your non-start routine? That’s straightforward, just grab your scope.
My favourite test at this point is a relative compression test. It’s quick to complete and reveals so much information in such a short amount of time. To set the test up, simply attach your high current clamp around your battery negative cable/s, select a suitable current and timescale, crank the vehicle and you’re off to the races.
Fig.1 shows a good example. Point A being the current to commence rotation and the peak on the subsequent humps is the amount of current to drive a cylinder through its compression stroke. You’ll no doubt have concluded that if you have a single low peak then compression is low on a cylinder. Should your scope support the function, it may be possible to display this test as a bar chart. It can be easier to identify an issue here rather than analysing the current waveform itself.
There’s one key point to remember though. This is a relative test and it may be possible to have more than one cylinder that’s defective and pass the test. I’ll cover this in an article of its own in this series though.
If the relative test shows an issue then you’ll need to carry out a physical compression test for conformation, followed by a cylinder leakage test to discover why. Haven’t found an issue? Then it’s on to your ignition system next.

Ignition Testing
The name of the game is a quick test rather than in depth analysis at this point. The question being: Do you have enough energy to produce a spark for good ignition?
In Fig.2 You’ll see a secondary ignition waveform. Looking at the firing KV at Point B, for sufficient energy to initiate a spark, comparing this on all cylinders and looking for anomalies is a great place to start. Should I have one that’s too low or non-existent, then I’ll be checking powers, grounds, and primary switching at the coil, before considering the possibility of a defective coil. All good? If that’s a resounding yes then let’s take a look at fueling.
‘Those in the know measure flow’ are wise words, and I’ve used flow testing to find many fueling faults. In this instance though, we’re looking for a test that gets us in the ballpark to assess if fuel is being injected. You have a few options. You could:
Opt for a visual inspection of the plugs. Are they wet?
Use a gas analyser pre/post cat.

Do you have HC?
Scope injectors and fuel rail pressure – Does the rail pressure drop while injectors actuated?
No HC, dry plugs, lack of injector actuation and questionable fuel pressure, all give you diagnostic direction and highlight additional testing is required on your fuel sub system.

Found your way?
All being well, your diagnosis now has direction and a path to more specific faults in a given sub-system. Assuming reasonable accessibility and a little practice you’ll often be able to complete those tests in around 30 minutes(ish), which will leave you with at least another 30 minutes to further explore any issues before presenting your findings to your workshop manager.
One thing’s for sure; Having a structured approach to your fault finding, looking for diagnostic direction, with a few familiar tests up your sleeve will reduce your diagnostic time and increase your confidence exponentially. Want to know more? If so then take a look at next issue's article where I’ll be taking a look at some actual non-start issues with detailed test results.

If you’d like to learn how to improve your diagnosis skills then call John on 01604 328500. Auto iQ have a complete technician development programme designed to help your technicians be the best they can be. To join AutoiQ’s online forum go to:

Combustion past, present and future

Part one
Published:  14 August, 2020

Combustion problems have been with us since the dawn of the internal combustion engine, and they continue to occur as technology changes

Fig. 2

CAN I FIX IT? Yes, I can!

Neil shows how the proper use of process can help with fixing a kind of fault not regularly seen
Published:  05 August, 2020

By Neil Currie

The shoe’s on the other foot

With wheel alignment, garages are the cobbler to the motorist says Gareth. Don’t knock it – How would you do in the workshop with worn out boots?
Published:  20 July, 2020

After my recent articles on tyres and TPMS systems, this month’s topic is wheel alignment, and the massive impact excessive toe-in or toe-out could have come MOT time.
A lot of us can spot alignment issues a mile off. I would worry if after 17 years in the trade, that a technician such as myself couldn’t tell the difference between a tyre that had been toeing-in and a tyre that had been toeing-out most of its life. If you look at a front tyre on a car and only the outer edge is bald (and the tyre has plenty of pressure in) then you walk around to the other side and discover the same issue with that tyre, it would be plain enough to see that the wheel geometry isn’t correct.

A car with tyres like this and wheel alignment so far out must handle like it has a mind of its own - like Herbie the Beetle. However, people get used to a car in this state and will compensate to a surprising extent. When we take the car for a test drive, we may come back to the customer and say things like; “there maybe an issue with the tracking” or “the car is pulling rather a lot to one side.”
The customer then looks at us in amazement as if we are saying things just get their hard-earned money from them. We then offer a FREE wheel alignment check, and show them the virtual view on the screen. By Jove, the customer can then see with their own eyes exactly why their tyres have worn the way they have.
I first mentioned toe in and toe out. This is the way the wheels ‘point’ in relation to the forward motion of the car. Look down at your feet. Now keep your heels in position, and point your toes inwards so they point towards each other. If you try walking like this you will wear off the outside of your shoes first.
Do the same again with your heels, but point your toes outwards. This is toe-out and walking with excessive toe-out will wear the inner part of your nice new shoes and that’s the last thing you want. I’m sure you’d like it if your shoes wear evenly.  The majority of track cars/race cars will be running with toe-out and negative camber. This will be topic of conversation next time as wheel geometry is a large subject.

Minutes and degrees
I also mentioned minutes and degrees earlier too. A while ago I tried explaining this to another tech and he struggled to grasp the concept of the theory behind alignment/ geometry, but he knew how to set the wheel alignment up on 99% of cars.
Getting your head around the actual maths is a different story. Think of it as a clock; there are 60 seconds in one minute; there are 60 minutes in one degree; and there are 360 degrees in a full turn. Our alignment set-up only works in minutes and degrees as it is really sensitive so no need for seconds-it would be worthless. The wind could blow and move the car slightly and that’s enough to make you panic and pick up your spanners again.
Once the alignment is set-up correctly and you’re happy with the end result, your customer will in turn be very happy. Remember, in the end they are the ones paying our wages, not just your boss. It does help if you have a happy boss too of course.


Frank Oz: Part two

Frank Massey concludes his look back at his recent working trip to Australia
Published:  15 July, 2020

I find it difficult to comprehend the events of the last month since returning from Australia. The temptation to write exclusively about Covid-19 and the effects on our industry was hard to resist. I have therefor directed my focus on positive issues, and continue to tell you what I learned during my trip.

The stopover in Hobart, Tasmania was brief. Before docking in Melbourne, I was able to climb Mount Wellington, which is over 1,000 metres tall. The temperature was near zero and visibility the length of your arm. It reminded me of Snowdon summit. The Captain then announced that the remaining cruise, scheduled to conclude in Singapore would be suspended and would prematurely end at Perth due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Majestic Princess is the sister ship to the one in lockdown at Yokahama, Japan. The third cruise liner was later in quarantined in San Francisco bay.

Two internal flights took me to Dubbo for the next to-day training session, the Australian Aftermarket Service Dealer Network (AASDN) group once again providing delegates from north-east Australia. I have the greatest respect for this network. Its membership includes the very best independent technicians all working together in a mutually respectful environment, something we in the UK need to reflect upon. They travel thousands of miles to attend training seminars, sharing an inter-group communication network to be proud of.

Genuine passion
Remarkably, they do not have access to manufacturer tools and repair data, and are currently fighting the federal government for the Right to Repair Bill. Does any of this sound familiar? Therefore, as it stands collaboration with dealerships for programming and component replacement is absolutely essential.

During my week-long stay, I had the opportunity to spend a day training a young technician at Pat Crowley Automotive. It is refreshing to meet young apprentices with a genuine passion for their career development. The final week of my tour bounced me back all the way to Perth.

I was introduced to entirely new AASDN group members as well as Capricorn. You may recall my comments regarding membership group benefits. Capricorn is the company based in Perth that provides the corporate veneer to group membership; everything from operation financing, legal services, health and welfare and managerial software. They also provide parts finance factoring, as opposed to parts supply. The individual members order parts from a variety of suppliers then settle a single invoice from Capricorn at the month end.

Their services also extend to unique access to corporate insurance, banking, legal services including, employment contract, leasing agreements and property law.

So, what have I gained from my second visit down under? Number one has to be a renewed friendship, one I value very much, an insight into how individual small businesses can co-exist in harmony within a competitive environment, and one which lacks a great deal of what we take for granted in the UK.

Despite having no emissions regulations whatsoever, the workshops I visited have an advanced understanding not only into the operational functions of Euro 5 and Euro 6 but in my opinion, a more advanced approach to service and repair options. Yes, I do mean that. There is no requirement for any vehicle to be subject to an emissions test.  Amazing isn’t it?

Despite this, and the fact that there are almost no Euro 6 vehicles in Australia, the diesel emission course was one of the most popular. Companies like Rincap Automotive not only import specialist ultrasonic baths from Spain but also high-quality OE DPFs from Wales. Not New South Wales, but the one separated by Offa’s Dyke.

Cat and Pipes provide OE replacement DPFs across the globe. Rincap owner Bryce also has fully grasped the initiative of recovering DPFs and EGR coolers in factory-controlled conditions. (See Fig.1 and Fig.2). That statement is intended to focus on current popular on car treatments in the UK which simply contribute pollution into the atmosphere or drainage systems .

Dig down
In Sydney, where land is more expensive than a divorce settlement, they build up or dig down, creating multi-storey workshops. To give an example, the main Audi dealership in Sydney is housed in a high street multi-storey complex.

So, this brings me to a confidence I have been carrying for some time, the Pico 4425A! This is a development from the current range of scopes but now including active probe inputs (See Fig.3 and Fig.4)

What are the advantages? Simply connect the input device to a channel and it will auto recognise it and select the appropriate scaling. You can conduct a circuit load test with the appropriate resistive lead supplied. The new version offers much better sensitivity at both higher and lower frequency ranges. The probes contain a small active amplifier close to the probe tip, thereby reducing the capacitance of the probe, often less than 2pf. This offers a much higher bandwidth.

We will be introducing a scope update training programme as soon as 4425A and Pico 7 become fully available. Please note the non-standard cases that can be provided for WH kits supplied by ADS.

My personal very best wishes, and best wishes from all at ADS. Keep well and look forward to the UK recovery with confidence.


Fig 2.

Danger: High Voltage!

This month John continues to explore high voltage components, their operation and some diagnostic options
Published:  25 June, 2020

If you're a ‘go get ‘em’ garage owner, then you’ll have been keeping a close on the new technology hitting our roads. You would have been forecasting what this means for your business, and starting to build a strategy comprising the changes you’ll need to make in the coming months to ensure your team are prepared and your income guaranteed.
While the number of EVs on our roads is increasing the market has been missing that special something. Well, perhaps not any more. This month, the long anticipated EV Mini has been released. It’s got that certain je ne sais quoi you’d expect from a Mini, and the starting price of £24,400 has ensured buoyant sales. The interesting thing being that this is just the first of A LOT of popular EVs that are being released this year and there’s no doubt that this will raise the awareness of your non EV customers and move the market closer to a tipping point. You just need to make like a boy scout.

Be prepared
Depending on your time in the industry, you’ll no doubt have experienced such technological revelations as the death of points and the introduction of transistorised ignition, computers to control fueling and catalysts to save the planet, not to mention more sensors and actuators than you could shake a stick at, and fault codes to tell us what to change (NOT).
We’ve taken injectors out of the inlet manifold and shoved them directly in the cylinder (GDi,) and then created cars that have both manifold injection and direct injection combined. We’ve downsized engines, added a myriad multi turbo options, and more emission saving devices than you’d have ever imagined conceivable! It’s almost enough to make your head spin! There is good news though.
Every time a new technological change emerges it gives you the opportunity to move with the times and get ahead of your competition. Today, you’ve got that opportunity in spades. It’s just a case of dipping your toe into the world of EV, becoming familiar with the technology and embracing the opportunities.

Same tech different model
As always, a little research often relieves any technical anxiety that may exist around new systems and EVs are no different. You’ll find the same type of components on a Toyota Prius as you will a BMW i3. They all have high voltage; batteries, relays, inverters, DC-DC converters and motors. It’s not quite you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all, but when you compare one manufacturer with the next it’s plain to see the commonality between the operational characteristics of the systems and components, which is comforting for those delving into this technology.

Back to diagnostics
We took a quick look at HV batteries last month and I figured it’d be a good idea to take a look at how the high voltage made its way from the battery to the Power Electronics unit (inverter and DC-DC converter). Enter the high voltage relay pack.
High voltage relays exist to separate the HV battery from the rest of the HV components. They’ll be open circuit with the ignition key removed, and closed with the vehicle's ready light illuminated.
Fig.1 shows an example of a high voltage relay pack, Fig. 2 a wiring diagram and Fig. 3 the relay control circuits and high voltage current when scoped.
While the relays are spec’d for high voltage and high current they have three independent 12v control circuits. The eagle eyed among you will also have noticed that while we have two HV cables (one +, and one -) that there are three relays utilised within the system. Let’s take a look why.

Three into two goes
If you look carefully at Fig.3,  you’ll see that while we have three relays, relays one and two are connected in parallel. Look closer still and you’ll also find a resistor ( r ) in the current path on relay two. So why three relays? It’s all about control.
Take a look at the scope and you’ll see that relay three is engaged followed by relay two. Relay two having a resistor in series with it, ensures that current flow to the power electronics is reduced. Why? Good question.
Were this not the case then it would be possible for a very high current to flow as the contacts closed, and the possibility of an arc forming between the contacts. This is obviously undesirable and could lead to a reduced service life for the relays.
Relay three is closed followed by relay two, current between the HV battery and power electronics raises to just over 10 amps initially, and reduces as the voltage at the power electronics becomes closer to that of the battery. As the PD between the battery and the power electronics is the same-ish. Relay one can be closed without arcing. Relay two is no longer required and can be disengaged. Hey presto your Ready light will now be burning brightly and the vehicle ready to drive.
Just in case some of you are asking “Why does the relay control circuit voltage rise from 12v to 14v at point A?”  Well, as the ready light is on the DC - DC converter has come online to charge the 12v battery and power the consumers on the vehicle. It’s all very cool and I’d go into more detail but we’re out of time for this month, so you’ll have to keep your eyes on our future articles for that one.

Where next?
Once you dip your toe in the water you’ll see that the fundamentals of EV technology are straightforward, and where appropriate training, tooling and information are employed can be painlessly integrated into your workshop.
You’ll benefit from an increased confidence throughout your team, and additional revenue from work previously sent elsewhere. What’s not to like about that? Not much!
Need some help with your EV training and qualifications? As always I’m here to answer your questions. If you’d like to find out how Auto iQ can help your garage with our training and consultation programs then feel free to call on 01604 328 500.

Frank Oz: Part one

The ‘Massey down under’ adventures continue in 2020, as Frank gets to grip with all the technical challenges Australia can throw at him
Published:  11 June, 2020

If my topics are measured by the readers on variety and technical content, then this month’s offering should not disappoint. As I am writing, I am gazing out from my hotel lobby in central Sydney, yes, the one with the bridge and opera house. This is my second annual tour delivering a series of technical diagnostic subjects to the members of the Australian Aftermarket Service Dealer Network (AASDN). The ASSDN was formed by former members of the Bosch Australian Aftermarket Dealer Network (BASDN), which had dissolved.

ASSDN Membership provides a range of benefits including training, preferential insurance rates, as well as group buying incentives with monthly settlement. This tour, taking place over 32 days started with my arrival in Sydney via Etihad from Manchester. My first adventure consisted of three days VIP entry at the Bathurst 12-hour world series.  Bentley came first with McLaren second. The Germans came in later.

I was then in the hands of my friends at Queanbean Diesel Services. Ros and Derek became friends last year as one of my training venues. Not ignoring the fact that the city was surrounded by wildfires, I enjoyed two days with some hands-on workshop time.

Workshop tasks
Task 1: 4 cyl diesel, no combustion no4, presented with, an exchange engine, and new injectors fitted. A quick current ramp check on all the injector circuits confirmed no current on no4 cyl. Continuity from PCM to injector good, no path to ground, and no short across both circuits. Looks like PCM, but there is no time to consolidate the results.

Task 2: VW Passat 2.0 edc17; Lots of money spent elsewhere, flat performance until 2,000 RPMs then off like a wombat going for lunch. A short test drive with VCDs confirmed that request and actual turbo boost are out of sync. No obvious boost leaks, vane actuator motion looks ok. Diaphragm good. Recommended detachment of actuator rod in order to check free movement of the vane control ring. Suspect turbo a problem. This has just been confirmed.

Task 3: Common rail diesel commercial vehicle, intermittent no start. Test conducted at the rail pressure sensor. It showed no voltage increase when cranking, suggested check priming system, however the hand lift pump did suggest fuel was present. Advised check Drv actuation value for 18%-25%, then look for internal leaks and possible debris contamination in rail.  This was also confirmed a week later, the vehicle had previously been cleared of debris in the tank, further debris was present in the Drv. Now running ok with new actuator. I very much suspect it’s not all been irradiated.

That was a good warm up for my trip back to Sydney and the first event at BWA. Bob Whyms is Mr Porsche in Australia. He comes from my generation, Bosch D Jetronic, KE, K, and all that early fab stuff. He has a superbly equipped shop, full of all sorts; Dyno services, machine shop, Carbon Zapp, diesel and gasoline test bench facilities and much more. The event hosted over 30 of Australia’s leading diagnostic techs and shop owners. Subjects included ignition systems, as well as commonrail diesel and direct gasoline injection. The guys really responded to the Euro 6 emission presentation, and were fascinated by test opportunities using NVH and WPS, especially when demonstrating combustion imbalance using NVH. Torrential rain over four days complimented the event as it did last year. I am now officially ‘The Rainmaker’, move over Matt Damon!

Two final days in Sydney were spent with Mike and Bryce, two shop owners with incredibly different approaches I also had the great pleasure of a private luxury cruise around Sydney harbour, beer and canapés courtesy of Mike, owner of a local garage called 313 Automotive. His business sports a fantastic split-level immaculate workshop. There are cars and lifts at ground level with full engineering services below ground. I didn’t think I would ever meet anyone with my level of passion for a clean shop. I was delighted to be proved wrong!

The second visit, at Rincap Automotive, was of very special interest to me as my opinions on DPF service and recovery have become focused around the need for a precise factory-controlled process. Bryce and his namesake father Frank have been DPF recovery pioneers in Australia with the application of ultrasonic recovery for blocked DPF, charge coolers, and intake systems.
They have just moved into a magnificent new-build shop with the upper floor dedicated to various state of the art ultrasonic processes, with a fully equipped training room providing techs with the systems and skills training essential for durable DPF recovery.
With a two-day free period, I just couldn’t miss a walkabout in Sydney. I also needed a few bits and bobs for the next training venue. We were struggling to connect Sydney with Melbourne, so it was agreed that, although not ideal, we would hold the next AASDN event on a cruise liner four days outbound for Melbourne via Hobart Tasmania. I have struggled over a few venues in my career, so the first-class dining room was something different. I didn’t make a meal of the presentation with subjects from NVH to WPS, Euro 6 proving more than a mouthful.  


Life after lockdown

Published:  05 June, 2020

While the lockdown is the reality for now, once restrictions ease, it will be time for mechanics and motorists to accelerate say Kalimex

Tread a mile in your shoes?

In an appropriate conclusion considering the number of wheels on most cars, Gareth Banks brings his four-part look at tyres to a close with their relation to the MOT
Published:  02 June, 2020

We have arrived at the fourth final part on the subject of tyres. This month, the focus is on the MOT, regarding tyres and tread depths. I’m hoping the manual hasn’t changed by the time this is published, (the MOT manual is, after all, changing all the time). As I write  this, it states that the legal limit for a passenger car with no more than eight seats excluding the drivers seat used on or after 3 January 1933 is 1.6mm around the whole circumference of the tyre across the central three-quarters of the tread area.
Therefore, if a car was to come to me for a MOT with one or more of its tyres measuring 1.6mm, I would be forced to pass the car with just advisories on the tyres in question. This is a shame as you wouldn’t want to send a car out of your depot with a tyre on the legal limit and 100% worn, would you? The owner could quite easily travel 100 miles or so in the next few hours and their tyres may very well be then deemed illegal If stopped by the police.
“But officer! My car passed its MOT earlier today" may well be their perfidious reply. I suppose all that matters is how the car was presented at the time of test. From a tester’s point of view though, you cannot try and pre-empt what may or may not happen after the test. The car maybe stored in a garage for months at a time for all we know. It may only do 200 miles a year. Regardless of what we think may happen, by following the guidelines and rules set out in the manual you can’t go wrong. As long as the customer in question is made fully aware of the situation and you’ve made the best judgement call you can, then you have done your part and can you sleep at night.

Here are some measurements to get your head around regarding tread wear: 8mm-0% worn; 7mm-16% worn; 6mm-31% worn; 5mm-47% worn; 4mm-63% worn; 3mm- 78% worn; 2mm-94% worn. Obviously 1.6mm would be 100% worn. However, as I mentioned, it still passes an MOT as an advisory. A tyre on 2mm also passes but certainly with advisory notice. Me, I give an advisory notice for a 3mm tyre. To me when something is 78% worn, it’s almost had it. If you were to wear a pair of shoes that were 78% worn, I would think that somewhere along the line someone may advise you to replace them too, as they’d look pretty shabby.
The garage I work in receives tyre bookings all the time from cars that have been for an MOT elsewhere, a lot of the time, at a main dealer. For some reason they have advised tyres on 4-5mm tread readings. I’m not sure why, as a 4mm tyre still has some life left in it, and a 5mm tyre certainly shouldn’t be classed as worn. Maybe the testers are overzealous. They should take their tread depth gauge and make sure its calibrated. There was me thinking I was being cautious advising on 3mm! I like to think I’m firm but fair when it comes to testing. I’d like to think others are too. Lastly, don’t forget, the next time you’re out walking in bad conditions and keep falling over, check the tread depth on your shoes, it maybe time to replace them.


Feeling the pressure

TPMS is commonplace now, and Gareth Banks is reminding you that there are consequences come MOT time if it’s faulty
Published:  18 May, 2020

Issues with tyre pressure monitoring systems will become much more prominent and regular in the majority of workshops all over the UK. Since 2014, every car sold new in the European Union was required has to have a form of TPMS. There is no way of escaping it. As a technician you can try and hide from it if you like, but it will find you and it will make your brain engage when that little warning light ‘pings' on the dashboard.  
The thing that a lot of techs don't know is that the first form of TPMS was first put into practice in the late 1980s, so it is not as if it’s a new idea. Back then, it was mainly for high-end luxury cars. Now a very high percentage of low-priced to mid-range priced vehicles are fitted with a TPMS system. You can even buy a retro-fit system and put it onto your motorcycle if you wanted to!

There are two different types of monitoring systems. The first is a direct system in which the sensors are held within the wheels. These send a radio signal to the car and this is converted into a real-time display on the dashboard for the driver to keep a close eye on all of the pressures individually. The second is the indirect system. This one cannot show you a real-time value as there aren’t any TPMS sensors to send a radio signal back to the car. Instead this works via the cars wheel speed sensors/ABS sensors, to put it simply- it counts the  rotations of each wheel and recognizes a fault if one wheel turns quicker than the other three. Clever or what? Well, not really, if all four tyres lose pressure.

Prod and cons
When it comes to TPMS pros and cons, my personal thoughts are that these systems, particularly the direct system will make for safer roads and therefore save lives. Not only that, the fact is that it is going to save your tyres, and by keeping the optimum pressure in them,  saving your tyres will save you money, and if you save your money you will then be able to afford to buy new sensors if (when) they break... and they do break, whether it’s the core (due to bad practice when fitting tyres and not replacing something as simple as the core and the valve cap) ,a leak from the base of the stem or simply the battery going flat inside a sensor... (majority not interchangeable).
The simple fact is they do go wrong sometimes. Besides the main disadvantage of the indirect system that I mentioned earlier, if they do go wrong and it is obvious that the TPMS system isn’t working correctly, come MOT time the car will get a major fail. However, if the car is registered before January 2012, this doesn’t matter, which probably wasn’t the best decision ever made. I think any car equipped with a TPMS system from the factory should have it working. Simple as that, but that’s just my opinion.

If one or more pressures are low and the tyres look ‘obviously Under Inflated’ then that induces a pass with a minor defect. The facts is that thousands of accidents and hundreds of deaths occur every year due to under inflated tyres resulting in tread separation and ultimately failure of the tyre.
In short, tell your customers if they want better fuel efficiency, better handling and optimum braking, they might want to check their pressures, even when the MOT is not looming.


Start me up: VARTA talk batteries

Published:  15 May, 2020

VARTA provides advice to workshops for the business re-start, and how batteries are a good starting point

Diesel diagnostics for the workshop

Frank examines how following tried and tested diagnostic procedures in a consistent way will enable you to successfully find diesel faults
Published:  11 May, 2020

I’m mindful of several recent diagnostic topics that focused on cutting edge opportunities such as noise and vibration analysis. It also reminded me of the most important aspects of fault finding; to focus on the symptoms, ask relevant questions and conduct a methodical approach based on systems knowledge, accurate data and a proven process.

All of this really boils down to training, experience, and confidence. There are no short cuts, cheap fixes or internet gurus. There are however basic steps that are easily introduced into your workshop procedures.

This brings me to the topic in hand. Can we conduct relativity simple tests on common rail diesel systems? Not only can we, but we must! Remember, the foundation rule of fault finding is a simple methodical approach. Don’t expect a magical fix-all in less than 1,000 words. However, I can provide a pathway that will illustrate the area of responsibility and potential investment in time and money.

Vital information
The first vital step is to listen and ask questions. Owners often have vital information. Remember this is not a recipe for short cuts or silver bullets for your machine gun. Your approach will always depend on the extent of problems. Will it run? are there any mechanical noises? Is there a loss of power? if so when? Is the fault intermittent and how did it start? There is an endless list of questions that will help establish a hidden history.

I often find that a physical examination or health check helps understand the way the vehicle has been driven and serviced. This will often expose basic problems especially with charge pressure circuits.

Try to explore all non-intrusive tests first. They may not be entirely logical in order of priority, but do provide results in the minimum time period. With experience, you will hone these steps into a razor-sharp intuitive process.

Serial investigation
Serial investigation is without doubt the correct first step. Do not jump to premature conclusions as serial data often shows symptoms, not cause. For example, a faulty air mass meter will cause EGR calculation error values, incorrect load and boost calculation. This is a common problem with many causes.

The volumetric efficiency relies on the intake system, swirl flap control, turbo spooling, and a free-flowing exhaust system. Please note that I keep my thoughts non-specific yet focused on all possible causes. This is a very important reaction in any diagnostic process.  

Assuming a non-run condition, excluding any serial clues as often there are none, I would always check for the correct rail pressure. This can be done with a DMM. Expect around 1-1.5v with a quick rise time of 0.5-1sec. If it is slow to rise or low, check the priming system including the filter. This should be done with a gauge. Remember pressure, flow and pump current. This will depend on system type so check the schematics carefully. Most systems now prime at 5-6bar.

Isolate components
A slow rise time may be due to an internal leak or worn components within the high-pressure system. This includes the HP pump, rail limit valves, and injectors, as well as volume and pressure regulation devices. Always isolate various components and conduct a blind or proof test before suspecting the pump. They rarely fail, unless run dry or have contaminated fuel.
The PCM requires camshaft position data to sync the injectors and crank position once running. If recent belt replacement or engine repairs have been carried out, add this to your list. To check the injector sync against cam and crank position is a bit technical. To perform you will require a scope and current clamp.

Quite often the serial data identifies the incorrect timing sensor for position error. This is due to the PCM looking at the camshaft first. Slow rotation speed may be due to a faulty or incorrect battery, so check charge and health status with a suitable conductance tester. Yuasa have a fantastic free online training academy.

Next check relative compression. This is a simple cylinder balance check but when compared with current and rotation calculation will accurately predict correct compression.

A blocked exhaust or failed open EGR will prevent the correct combustion properties. Exhaust back pressure can easily be proven from the map and DPF pressure sensors. Plotting them with a scope will quickly identify intake or exhaust restrictions. The maximum DPF sensor value cranking or at idle should be 0.5-1.25 volts, 100mbar-1.5psi.

Injector type, solenoid or piezo faults will normally be identified within serial data. A single faulty injector circuit will normally shut down all fuel delivery. It is also worth noting that if a minimum rail pressure is not reached, the injectors will not be activated.
So back to priming. Leaks, faulty rail sensors will all contribute to a non-start.

If you are looking for more information, visit for courses and dates, and Autoinform events.


The Parts Alliance encourages battery testing during lockdown and beyond

Published:  07 May, 2020

The Parts Alliance is encouraging garages to proactively offer a battery testing service to their customers and have produced a range of marketing materials to help.

Top of the tests: JLM GDI Injector Cleaner

Published:  06 May, 2020

JLM Lubricants has developed a GDI Injector Cleaner that’s been tested by Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire

Snap-on launches Intelligent Diagnostics tool matcher

Published:  05 May, 2020

Snap-on has added a tool matcher feature on its website. Technicians just have to complete a short survey about the jobs they perform every day and the features that they use or believe would come in handy.

Give batteries TLC says ECOBAT

Published:  01 May, 2020

With vehicles subjected to prolonged periods of inactivity, the message from ECOBAT during the lockdown, is to indulge in a bit of charge mania.
Laura Jones, Marketing Manager for ECOBAT Battery Technologies (ECOBAT), observed:  “The unusual conditions in which the country currently finds itself are not just a challenge to individuals, but also to the vehicles that, under normal circumstances, motorists would be using daily.
“Perversely, because they incorporate systems and components, such as air conditioning/climate control for example, that can be negatively affected if the vehicle isn’t driven regularly, being left undriven is a far bigger problem for cars than if they are being used constantly.
“At the top of the list though, is the battery, which left completely untouched, will naturally discharge and eventually have insufficient power reserves to start the engine. The problems do not end here however, as the battery is responsible for maintaining a host of electrical components and systems, so being unable to start the engine is just one of the potential issues of an unused vehicle.
So what’s the best approach? “An intelligent or smart charger, such as one from the Numax ‘connect + forget’ range,” explained Laura.
“Despite being thought of as a relatively simple product, there is a lot more to a battery than many people appreciate, not least its voltage and what defines ‘flat’. It might well surprise many that registering less than 12.35-volts means it is seriously discharged and should be charged immediately.
“These facts don’t just have implications for motorists however, they also need to be taken onboard by the trade, because as well as the opportunity for factors, retailers and even workshops to provide motorists with useful battery care advice, they can also offer the Numax ‘connect + forget’ chargers drivers need to maintain the health of their car battery during any period of inactivity.
“The charger does this by automatically checking the battery’s state of charge and adjusting its charging pattern accordingly, so that once it is charged, it will monitor its condition and if necessary, exercise the battery and regulate the power input, to maintain the ongoing performance of the battery.
“However, those supplying batteries also have a responsibility for their existing stock because although the batteries ECOBAT delivers to its customers will be sufficiently charged, if they are left on the shelves or on the shop floor for a prolonged period due to the current reduced demand, for example, they could drop below the 12.35-volt level and will therefore be unfit to be supplied to workshop or retail customers without being appropriately charged.
“Moreover, a battery discharged in this way will not be accepted as a warranty claim as there is no underlying fault with its quality or manufacture, rather the problem is with its upkeep, which is the responsibility of the outlet supplying it to the end user, whether professional installer or the general public.
“Therefore, in order to correctly charge a discharged battery, or to manage a battery that is connected continuously, to ensure it remains in its optimum condition, a Numax ‘connect + forget’ charger is also a great option for those in the trade, as it allows them to supply customers with confidence, which is particularly important in these current challenging times.”

Not quite a revolution yet. But…

This month John takes a look at why you can’t ignore EVs and where to start with diagnosis
Published:  28 April, 2020

Picture this… It’s 2011, and I’m a much younger (and slimmer) version of myself. I’m delivering a training event in Chester so that the eager and excited delegates can learn about hybrid electric vehicles, pass their IMI HV qualifications and put their new-found skills into practice.
We were doing the usual rounds of quick introductions enquiring as to why each delegate had attended, and their desired outcomes from the training sessions. Many of the delegates, being technicians, had been sent by the business owner to ensure their team were safe when working around this technology, but one garage owner was there with a sole purpose. He wanted to get the jump on his competition and own the market for HV servicing and repairs in his area.
As you can imagine there were more than a few raised eyebrows in the room, mostly due to the fact that in 2011 only Toyota and Honda were producing these vehicles in any number, and the overall car parc was low. Nonetheless, one delegate had a vision. Everyone else thought we had some way to travel, and do you know what? As much as I loved the technology I could see their point of view. But, if the same statement were to be made today. Well, what do you think

So... are we there yet?!
Quite simply…Yes, and we’ve been there for some time. There’s a significant increase in awareness among the population, electric vehicle sales have seen a sharp increase, and this is only due to gain momentum with so many new vehicles this year being released by major manufacturers. Add to this the reduction of BIK tax to 0% and the positive effect this will have on electric company car sales means it doesn’t take a genius to work out that you’ll be seeing more of these in your workshops.
“I know it’s coming but…” Is not an uncommon retort to my enthusiastic musings on all things HV. I get it, but consider this. I’ve seen enough new technology introduced to our industry over the last thirty years to know the garages that grasp the nettle, understand the new elements of diagnosis and repair, and market their new-found skills, often have a healthy income stream for around a decade prior to their competition catching up. The BIG question is... Will you be going for first-to market-advantage, or playing catch up?
The good news is that while the technology may be a little different, the same rules of engagement apply. If you’ve been using our 15-step diagnostic process, and have proficient electrical knowledge then you’ll be well set to do battle with EVs and come out the other side triumphant. It is with this in mind that I thought you might like to take a look at some fundamental technology and HV diagnosis over my next couple of articles.

Let's get started – High voltage batteries
We’ll be taking a look at a Prius. The source of power is a NiMH battery that resides beneath the luggage compartment in the boot of the vehicle. The battery consists of 28 7.2 volt packs, each comprising 6 1.2v cells. The 28 packs are connected in series to give a total of 201.6v for the entire battery (fig.1).
The battery is air cooled by a multi-speed pulse width modulated fan drawing air from the cabin across the battery. The batteries temperature is subject to monitoring by three temperature sensors set equidistant (ish) across the batteries length. All pretty straightforward stuff, but do they go wrong? Well, from time to time – yes.

Where does diagnosis start
Like I said, “usual rules apply” and diagnosis starts with fault codes. A common battery code is P0A80-123. It is often accompanied by the HV fault light and the internal combustion engine running more than normal. As always, with fault codes in hand it’s off to take a look at serial data. Techstream – Toyota’s Tool – is readily available and not expensive, although you’ll also find many aftermarket tools offer the data required. But without knowing what good looks like, how can you tell what’s hot and what’s not?

Desk Diagnostics
At this juncture you grab a cuppa and hit the internet. Toyota’s online technical information is a breeze to use, and there’s really no excuse not to at only €3 an hour. A quick search for the fault code and you’ll be knee deep in information and know where to start with serial diagnosis.
Fig. 2 displays the serial data for the complete battery pack from our Prius. The eagle eyed among you will have spotted that while the battery is comprised of 28 7.2v packs. The battery management ECU is inspecting these in pairs hence the voltages around 16.X volts. So, is this one good or bad?
We’ve got some unfortunate news sir.

Toyota states that no more than 300mv difference is allowed between blocks (two packs) and as you can clearly see, the data shows an issue on block seven. But what could be causing this? Ultimately this could be down to a defective battery pack/s, alternatively it could be corroded BUS connections, as it’s not uncommon to see the BUS contacts a little green around the gills as shown in fig.3 adding an unwanted resistance between modules.

And the fault is…
In this instance, the fault is defective cells. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to provide long warranties on their HV batteries. I’ve seen them as long as 15 years. In this instance though the battery is outside of the eight-year Toyota warranty with a new complete exchange pack available at around £1,000 + VAT from Toyota.

Until next time
There you go. A quick look at HV battery diagnosis. In our next instalment we’ll take guide you through some common HV components, their operation and key points for diagnosis. Just one thing to remember: While you’re no doubt eager to jump right in and get up to your elbows in HV diagnosis it’s worth remembering that these vehicles do offer up additional risks. They will kill you if you get it wrong, and work should only be attempted with the correct training and qualifications in place.
Need some help with your EV training and qualifications? As always, I’m here to answer your questions. If you’d like to find out how Auto iQ can help your garage with our training and consultation programs then feel free to call on 01604 328 500.

Mercedes-Benz: Code conundrum

A Mercedes-Benz with suspected DPF problems – Another patient for the DPF Doctor
Published:  15 April, 2020

This low mileage (38,000 miles) Mercedes A200CDI was presented to us recently with suspected DPF problems. The car had been well maintained with a full service history but was lacking in power. We were asked to assess the vehicle. So, what was going on?
We started with a global scan of the car to see what fault codes were present. This would give us some direction. As always it is important we do not simply read a fault code and rely on the diagnostic tool to do the job. We were presented with three fault codes: P0299- Boost pressure of turbocharger is too low; P2263 – The boost pressure deviates from specified value; P2002 – DPF efficiency below threshold.

We now had a clear direction. The next step was to carry out some tests to determine what was causing the problem. In so many cases we see parts that are changed on the basis of fault codes. What this means is that a new turbo or DPF is fitted when in reality they are not the solution. The problem remains, at great cost to the customer.
With any low boost condition fault, we always start with a smoke test to rule out any leaks. Tests on this vehicle showed we did have a boost leak. We then looked at the DPF pressure so see if it was too high or too low. This gave us some direction. On live serial data the DPF pressure was reading zero so we could be dealing with a dead sensor or a wiring issue, or perhaps neither. We then moved on to measuring the actual DPF pressure and testing the plausibility of the pressure sensor. This was where, pardon the pun, we were really motoring. The backpressure from pre-DPF was measured at 68mb at idle. Was this the cause of the low boost problem? Was the DPF actually blocked? So why did the pressure read 0 on live data? Was the sensor dead?
We continued with our assessment to determine the answers to these questions. We then tested the backpressure post DPF. This also measured 68mb at idle so our pressure was actually coming from downstream of the DPF and not the DPF itself. This also explained why we had 0mb on live data as the DPF pressure sensor is a differential pressure sensor, not a back pressure sensor. The difference in pressure pre and post DPF was actually 0.
This model of vehicle uses an exhaust flap at the rear of the exhaust to divert exhaust gases via the low pressure EGR valve so this was the next place for us to take a look. Sure enough, the exhaust flap was seized in a closed position causing an exhaust restriction that in turn caused a low boost condition. The flap/motor was replaced and we now had a differential pressure reading of 4mb at idle with boost pressure now meeting the desired levels. No unnecessary parts were fitted. Job done!

VW Van vibes

A VW T5 van with some vibration issues was taken on a long trip to get it back to Lancashire so Frank could take a look at it. Was it worthwhile? What do you think?
Published:  06 April, 2020

While preparing this month’s topic, it occurred to me that a short explanation of the process behind the scenes would be helpful. All the topics I have presented here over the years have been prepared from real issues we have been presented with in our workshop. This guarantees authenticity and technical credibility.  

The topic for this month is focused on a VW T5 van suffering severe vibration. I will begin by explaining that no repair authority was given at the conclusion of the diagnosis. The decision was based on a value versus repair cost and not through any disagreement. All cost was paid without objection.
The owner is a customer known to us. He often uses the vehicle for long journeys over extended distances between Lancashire and Cornwall. It was while down in Cornwall that the problem of vibration that brought the vehicle back to us began. The vibration was present with the engine running. In addition, it displayed a change in tone and reduction of intensity when full steering lock was applied.

While in Cornwall, we understand that a new alternator and power steering pump was fitted with no effect or reduction of vibration. Following this work taking place, with no change to the problem being seen, the decision was made to drive the vehicle to his regular trusted repairers. I.e, us!  This was brave to say the least, and potentially teeth-rattling for the duration of the drive back up to Preston.
In an odd sort of way, the diagnostic process had already begun as the van did in fact reach us, and did not display any additional problems. Power delivery was reported as normal, suggesting that the primary rotation engine components were working normally. Our initial checks were visual with a full serial evaluation showing no reported errors. The problem appears to be mechanical in nature with no collateral influence.

Before discussing the laws of physics when applied to a motor vehicle, why don’t we explain exactly what vibration is, and how it can escalate end cost if not accurately diagnosed.

Vibration is mass energy from a source, taken through the transfer path to a respondent. Not only is this wasted energy that could be converted into traction, it will also lead to premature component failure if left to continue.
Vibration is experienced in three ways; feel, sound and sight. How we experience it depends on the amplitude and frequency. High mass energy occurs at lower frequencies and is more likely felt and heard. Low mass energy occurs at higher frequency ranges often felt and seen.

Traditionally vibration has been diagnosed based on opinion rather than evidence. So, what’s the problem? Finish reading this article then you will understand the problem and risks. Vibration can also be affected by the transfer path and respondent. For example, a high mass vibration may be amplified by a light body panel or vehicle trim.

To succeed with NVH you must first forget you are working on a specific system and focus on frequency and amplitude. The motor vehicle is a series of mechanical systems in permanent conflict, a little like a modern marriage!

There are multiple components with mass differential (weight), vector conflict (direction), frequency (speed), and amplitude (volume). The Pico NVH kit uses a three-dimensional accelerometer and microphone, or multiples of each. They convert mass into a pictorial graph, bar chart or three-dimensional topography.

The primary requirements are engine speed via the serial port or optical input, transmission ratio data, and tyre size. With this information, the software will distinguish the area of responsibility along with any collateral transfer path and respondent frequencies. Further discovery is possible by entering individual component rotation ratio, for example power steering pump.

Physics lecture over. On to the T5. We did not need to enter tyre size as the vibration was present simply with the engine running. Crankshaft data came via a Mongoose serial interface with the accelerometer mounted directly on the engine.
Referring to fig.1, the left scaling is mass in milli gravity, the base scaling is frequency response.

E1 represents the crankshaft, E2 represents combustion mass. The cursors represent the number and ratio of events corresponding to E1.You can easily see that the vibration in the centre of the graph has no relationship with the crankshaft frequency or combustion events. That the frequency is higher (lighter mass) than E1/E2. Now we need to evaluate the engine mechanical ancillaries. These are driven by a complex gear train at the rear of the engine.

Looking at fig.2, note that the tension sprocket housing a counter rotation spring arrangement. Now for the maths based on the gear train ratios; The alternator ratio 2.62:1, power steering/air conditioning 1.59:1.

Now examine fig.3 to see the revised image. E1 frequency 13hz x 2.62= 34 hz, so vibration is caused by the alternator mechanical drive system. There is a drive shaft and cush drive coupling which transfers drive to the alternator. The secondary event at 66.6hz is a respondent event, probably body vibration.

Now for the knockout punch! The tension gear sprocket is not available separately; in fact, you must buy the complete short engine. I seem to recall David saying it is £5,500, notwithstanding the labour cost to build and fit into the chassis. Hence uneconomic repair diagnosed without any intrusion whatsoever. Diagnostic time 0.5 hours plus the ubiquitous coffee break.
Convinced? Join our NVH training programme. Or pay me and I will come and listen to your noises.

No codes, no clues?

Forever the codebreaker, 2019 Top Technician winner Neil Currie shows what to do when there are no codes at all
Published:  17 March, 2020

Have you ever had a car in with a running fault or an issue, and you plugged the diagnostic tool into the OBD socket then read for trouble codes, only to be met with the message ‘no faults stored’?

For many reasons, this confuses technicians and stops them being able to progress with the job. They have no clues or starting point to work from. However, many other tests can be done to find the root cause of the issue. I have worked with many a technician who has been lost after finding a ‘no fault found’ message. I recently had a job where I was able to demonstrate to my colleague how knowing some numbers and how systems work and interlink can help identify what is wrong.

The vehicle in question was a 2012 Land Rover Discovery 4. As we specialise in LR we have built up a good reputation in the area for being able to fix them, having also invested in dealer tooling and information. The customer’s first contact with us was via telephone and he explained he had parked the vehicle up outside his house and then having come to it the next day it would not start. The engine would turn over but it would not fire into life. He informed us his local garage had come out for a look and had been unsuccessful in finding the cause and recommended getting the vehicle recovered to us. He asked our call-out charge and asked for us to come and take a look before he organised recovery. This is not my favourite type of job as with limited tooling there is only so much you can do but we agreed to go and take and look and see what we could find.

No fault codes stored
Along with my colleague Jamie we went to the customer’s house that afternoon, taking a scan tool and the tool kit in our work van. Once we arrived we spoke to the customer to gather some information about the problem. He told us no recent work had been carried out on the vehicle and the other garage had done some basic tests on the battery and fuel system where it sat but could not find an issue. I sat in the vehicle and cranked the vehicle to verify the complaint, doing this also allowed a few checks to be done by listening to the sound of the engine cranking. A trained ear can pick up a compression issue, whether it is spinning fast enough or anything mechanical which doesn’t sound correct.

 On this vehicle though all sounded ok. I then let Jamie do some checks to see what he could find. As a younger technician he mainly does MOT and general service work, so it was a good opportunity to possible teach him something along the way without the distraction of a busy workshop. After some basic checks he decided to plug in the scan took and see if any fault codes were stored. Upon carrying out a fault code report he was met with the message ‘no fault codes stored’. I then asked him what his thoughts were and where we go next. His reply was “I don’t know?” I am sure this has happened to some of you reading this article, we have all been there.

Live data
I explained to him that live data was a key element here and we should use it to our advantage. We need to look for data relevant to the complaint to rule out what it can’t be, and knowing what the numbers mean will do this quickly. Unfortunately, this takes years of looking at good data, taking notes and memorising it. Luckily for him, I was able to assist. My first checks were to be engine RPM, fuel pressure, immobiliser status, cam/crank synchronisation and a plausibility check of all temperature and pressure sensors to make sure they were in spec. Working through them all with ignition on, then cranking everything looked good so the engine should start but why wouldn’t it? This is where it pays to step back for a moment and evaluate what you know already and what you should do next.

Smoke/air pressure
An engine in its simplest form is an air pump. We know it needs compression, fuel and air to run. With what seemed to be good compression, and from what I had heard, also good data from the scan tool, with limited resources, I decided the next test would be to see if any smoke was being emitted from the tail pipes. This would show if there was any sign of fuel delivery to the engine. With good RPM and fuel pressure, if the ECU is happy, it should be firing the injectors. There was no smoke, however when I felt the tail pipes there was no air pressure whatsoever from either tail pipe. Was this a clue to where the issue may lie?

My first thought was we have a restriction and the engine cannot breathe, so we are missing the air section of the triangle for the engine to run. I then had a good visual inspection of the engine. Knowing the design well, I decided to open the inlet up to atmosphere by removing the map sensor to see if there was any change. If there was a blockage, this test would prove it and allow the engine to run. In this vehicle, the engine is a V6, so it uses a conventional V configuration. To allow air to flow into both intakes of each bank there is what Land Rover call an intake throttle manifold which also houses the MAP sensor, the EGR inlet pipework and a throttle butterfly flap with a rubber hose to direct air from the intercooler into the manifold (fig1). Removing the MAP sensor would allow air to be released if there was an issue from either EGR valve or upstream from the intake i.e. throttle butterfly, failed turbo just to name a few. On removing the sensor and cranking the engine it now fired into life and idled fairly well, this confirmed we had a blockage somewhere manifold side starving the engine of air.

Throttle butterfly flap
Checking the clock, we still had some time left allotted for the call out. I decided as it was easy to remove the intake hose to the intake throttle manifold just to see as a quick test if the issue was before or after. Upon removing the pipework and refitting the map, the engine no would not start, again proving the issue was on the engine side of the pipework. Removing the air intake plenum to the throttle manifold then revealed the issue. The throttle butterfly flap used to strangle the engine of air on shutdown had jammed shut and never reopened as the housing was heavily covered in carbon. This butterfly, when working correctly, should spring back open ready for the next engine start. Questioning the customer and his driving style revealed he mostly done slow speed and town driving and used supermarket fuel, all of which were a contributing factor to the issue as the valve sits closely to the flow of EGR gas from both valves. Forcing the valve open and refitting the components allowed the vehicle to be driven back to the workshop for a repair to be carried out.

Upon the removal of the entire assembly (fig2), it was found the unit would be better to be replaced as cleaning would not remove all of the carbon deposits and could cause the issue to re-occur. The EGR pipework was also removed and cleaned as a preventive measure along with an oil and filter change and the vehicle was returned to the customer.

Further learning
Why were there no fault codes stored you ask? Well on this engine the position off the butterfly flap is monitored and it should have stored a stuck closed fault but this may not be part of the software’s strategy so I am unable to answer why. However, this article shows that if you have an issue and no faults are stored, there are tests you can do to find the issue. So next time you have a scan tool connected, grab for example 10 good live data PIDs and store them then learn them off by heart. Once you have mastered that section move onto some more and soon you will build up a good mental library of what good data should be, which helps massively to fix cars!

Tyres – Part three: Keeping a low profile

Gareth is back with his ongoing look at the challenges and opportunities represented by tyres. This month; tread
Published:  12 March, 2020

By Gareth Banks

Mastertech accreditation – Essential for your garage

Being or having a Master Technician in your garage will change your business forever
Published:  24 February, 2020

Running a garage can be difficult. There you go I said it. ‘Difficult’. No spin; no, let’s put some fluff around it and call it a ‘challenge’. It can sometimes be a down right pain in the backside.
Like you, I’ve experienced these problems firsthand, and also have the fortunate position of discussing these issues every week with those on our garage development programs. Initially a garage owner may feel like the problems they face are isolated to their business, but I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that there is a great deal of commonality - many garages are faced with exactly the same issues.
So you get it. It’s difficult. But is there a solution? Of course there is.

Life just is
No, I’m not sitting here cross-legged practicing my Mantra, but I like that theory and it has often helped me to make sound decisions when running a garage. But what does it really mean?
For me it’s about constantly reminding myself that I’m not in control of what happens around me (i.e. what employees and customers do), all I can control is how I react. Let’s take a look at how this works in practice.
Imagine you’re a workshop manager. A technician, approaches you with a forlorn look on his face and the head of a bolt in his hand. “It just snapped” he proclaims, or “I’ve fitted that ECU and it still won’t start”, or “I’ve test driven that car for 50 miles and I still can’t make the fault happen.” Sound familiar?
It’s not just related to technical issues either. I’ll often hear a garage owner say, “I’ve lost a customer, but I’m not competing on price”. And indeed, why should you! BUT!…It’s certainly an issue that’ll need to be addressed.
As you know these daily occurrences are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems a garage has to deal with, and often seen as ‘bad’ by a garage owner. Remember however, that there is no good or bad, it’s just how it is. It’s how it is for many garages, the key is accepting this and then taking action. After all, there may be much you can’t control, but you are in complete control of the action you take.

It’s not about being good at Plan A
OK, that’s not quite right. I love a great Plan A, but I’ve gotten used to quickly implementing Plan B or C when required. In fact, being great at B and C is often the difference between stress and success. But what does all this have to do with Mastertech accreditation?
Quite simply, many of the problems a garage experiences can be largely rectified by planning to develop a technician (or technicians) to Mastertech level. Not convinced? Let’s take a look at how it’ll help.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the IMI Master Technician Accreditation was just about technical capability. It’s not. It’s about ensuring a technician is well rounded, has a wide vision of the business, and can display both technical and non-technical skills to assist with the smooth operation of your garage. Let’s take a look at the different tasks required to pass the Master Technician assessment.
Instructional support: A lot of headaches can be avoided in your garage if your technicians can teach others in the workshop as well as front of house team members. It’s this ‘on the job’ training that makes such a difference to the business in the medium and long term.
This module ensures that a technician has sufficient technical knowledge to explain fundamental vehicle systems, component operation and test procedures, then impart that knowledge as required throughout the business.
Customer liaison: Not all front of house team members has the technical ability to tease the right information out of a client, or help a client to understand why a particular technical procedure is necessary. It’s these skills in your garage that often shortens time to diagnose or placates a grumpy customer.
The module is designed to ensure that the technician has great communication skills, can assess the customers needs and deliver the information in a way the customer understands, making them feel valued no matter how challenging the client!
Technical assessment:  It wouldn’t be Mastertech without the three technical tasks. It goes without saying that your garage will benefit where your technicians use a logical process; the right tools; relevant information to carry out the right tests when required; as well as know what the answer should be prior to the testing.
This module ensures a technician can display these skills, while completing the tasks in a timely manner, across different vehicle systems and subsequently document their findings. Knowledge is then confirmed in an online test prior to concluding the day.
All in all, it’s a great experience for a technician to have their skills recognised and be added to the IMI professional register, but equally as great for the garage owner to have this necessary skill set under their roof. There are also some benefits that may not be immediately apparent.

Upon closer inspection...
While there are a number of obvious benefits such as reducing misdiagnosis; vehicle comebacks; reducing workshop stress; support for workshop and front of house team and increasing efficiency, there are others that might not be so obvious.
How about staff retention? We all know how challenging, not to mention time consuming and expensive it can be to find great team members for your garage, but once you’ve found them what steps can you take to ensure they stay?
Well, from the right technicians’ point of view being allowed to take part in a training program that helps them to develop and become a Mastertech will ensure they feel invested in and therefore easier to retain. Not only that but the whole team will appreciate the reduction in stress as they now have support in the workshop, as well as with those awkward technical points at reception. It really is one of those rare situations where everyone wins. And then there’s the marketing opportunities.
Do you recall the earlier problem? The “I’ve lost a customer, but I’m not competing on price”. Having a Mastertech (or a whole bunch of them) in your garage can help here too. It’s often challenging for a garage owner to separate their business from others like it, but having a Mastetech on your team can often fix that.
If you search the IMI Professional Register for a Master Technician in your town then you’ll usually find that the register displays a number of franchised dealers and only one or two (if any at all) independent Master Technicians. This is an outstanding opportunity when communicated correctly for you to separate your garage from those in your locale, and one that the ‘right customer’ will value over your cut price competition. Now that really is a BIG win for your garage.

Decisions decisions
Ultimately, developing a Master Technician in your business is an investment, and like all good investments pays dividends for many years to come. The interesting part with this investment though is that the cost is roughly the same as visiting your local coffee shop daily. What would you rather have, a Mocha Chocha Bokka Latte or a Master Tech? The choice is yours.
As always, I’m here to answer your questions. If you’d like to find out how Auto iQ can help your team to become a Master Technicians at our IMI Approved Centre, then feel free to call on 01604 328 500.


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