Nissens Pressure and temperature sensors

Published:  28 March, 2023

With decades of aftermarket expertise, Nissens Automotive (Nissens) has developed a comprehensive thermal management range that consists of engine cooling products, alongside its highly regarded air conditioning (AC) programme, all of which are manufactured to Nissens Genuine Quality standards, to provide independent workshops with premium grade replacement parts, which operate to the same performance levels as the original, giving them an aftermarket solution they can depend on.

Shining a light on the root cause failure

A headlight fault on a VW Golf shows that getting to the actual problem can be made more difficult if you do not follow the right process
Published:  23 March, 2023

I was recently asked by a trade customer of mine if we could “simply” program a new headlight module for a VW Golf MK7. They had replaced a control unit due to the dipped beam headlamp not operating. They advised me that after the unit was installed the light started working. with the other lights all operating correctly. However, there was a bulb warning in the dash display Please refer to Fig. 1.
At this point the request would seem normal and a straightforward job so we continued with the task in hand. Correctly programming new headlamp control modules on VAG vehicles will require the dealer tool for this manufacturer, known as ODIS (Offboard Diagnostic Information System). I connected this tool to the vehicle and carried out a full system scan. This is a common practice when attempting to program any control modules as programming errors can occur after the process is done and having a report before and after the programming is very beneficial. It can also aid in any warranty claims.  As you can see the only fault codes being set are “Headlamps No Basic Setting” and another fault code relating to “Right Headlamp Power Output Stage.” Please refer to Fig. 2. These codes were both permanent and would not clear. I expected to see the basic settings code, as the control module had not yet been programmed. However, the other code seemed odd to me initially.

Why programming is rarely straightforward
I pressed on and attempted to carry out the basic settings of the right-hand headlamp dipped beam control module, which our customer had replaced, but I kept receiving a communication error, as seen in Fig. 3. This seemed very odd as there were no communication fault codes present and all the front lights were operational.

After a few failed attempts I believed there could possibly be another issue with this headlamp which was not analysed initially by the original garage. Using the dealer tool, I accessed the information section and reviewed the wiring diagram for the headlight.
As you can see from Fig.4, there is a main voltage supply, ground, and CAN communication wiring to the headlight. A quick check of each revealed what one should expect when operating properly. Using an oscilloscope, I then checked the CAN bus wiring at this headlight.

To my surprise the CAN bus data signal was corrupted. This seemed very odd. Although the headlight was operational and no-fault codes were present at all regarding CAN communication, it was clear that there was an obvious issue with the data network. There could not have been any communication taking place between the control units on this network. These include the headlight regulation control module and the right/left headlight control modules. After disconnecting each control module in turn, I found the CAN Bus signal had recovered only when disconnecting the right-hand headlamp assembly.

The oversight
It was now obvious that there was more than meets the eye with this job. After contacting the customer and advising them of my findings they agreed for us to carry out further diagnostic work and identify the cause of the shorted CAN bus signal. The CAN bus wiring connects directly into the headlamp, from the connecter, and then into a control unit. According to the diagram, the connector is part of the headlamp assembly. I removed the right-hand headlamp assembly and located the control module which the CAN bus wiring goes to. I removed the headlight control unit from the bottom of the headlight assembly and found water intrusion present, causing the CAN bus signal to be shorted. See Fig.7. Unfortunately for the customer, this vehicle required a new headlight assembly and control module.
A replacement headlight control module and headlamp assembly were both installed. The basic settings function was run once again, using the dealer equipment. This time the function was successful. The headlights needed to be put into a setting position and then physically adjusted on a beam setter before confirming the adjustments were complete. The module then saved this adjustment as its basic setting. What initially seemed a straightforward job turned into a bit of a nightmare due to incomplete diagnosis. Many aftermarket garages will often not allow the diagnosis to take place elsewhere. I carry out a lot of programming for various independent garages across the South West and find this can be a regular occurrence. Correct reporting is essential. Before-and-after reports are a necessity and will often protect you against any shortfalls in the initial diagnosis. These reports include full system scans before and after the programming has taken place, and any other reports generated by the diagnostic tool in use for both failures and successes.

Air conditioning system support and advice from Nissens Automotive

Published:  22 March, 2023

The service and repair of air conditioning (AC) and climate control systems can sometimes be a challenge, which is why specialist aftermarket supplier Nissens is committed to not only supply the premium quality parts technicians need to fit, but the technical advice they need to fit them right, first time.

Fig 1

A month in the life of a vehicle technician

Frank begins a new series with a look at battery issues seen on a Ford Focus
Published:  14 March, 2023

Part One

A tale of the UK market

Andrew provocatively considers whether current car market trends will continue, and what the other options might be
Published:  02 March, 2023

part two

All change for the market?

It’s all change as support for EVs increases, and vehicles that have existed for decades look to take their last ride into the sunset
Published:  28 February, 2023

While more companies look to support the growing EV segment, and users look to formalise the etiquette around charging, VMs are making hard decisions about their offering, with beloved long-lived vehicles set for the chop.
Funeral party for Ford Fiesta?
The Ford Fiesta, the biggest selling car in the UK between 2009 and 2020 and a common sight in garages for decades, could soon be discontinued as its manufacturer continues its move towards EVs.
The Sun first reported that Ford is looking to scrap the Fiesta, which has been in production since 1976, as it has no plans for an all-electric version to allow the model to travel past the 2030 ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles. Ford already has a number of electric vehicles on sale in the UK, including the Puma EV and Mustang mach-e, among others.
The decision will be keenly felt, as AA Cars CEO James Fairclough observed: “News that production will end for the enduringly-popular Ford Fiesta is a watershed moment in car manufacturing. The Fiesta has been one of the UK’s favourite vehicles since its introduction, and has consistently been among the most popular and searched-for cars on the AA Cars site. The transition to electric vehicles, and changing consumer preferences, means that manufacturers are making tough decisions about the cars they produce. Many British drivers, however, will be disappointed to hear that Ford is calling time on this iconic model.”
James added: “Thankfully for Fiesta devotees, the car will have a strong presence on the second-hand market for many years to come. And when the very last Fiestas roll off the production line they are likely to be much sought-after.”

Murder, she wrote? Driver Charge Rage on the rise
Amid all the discussion over the need for EV infrastructure, do we also need to consider establishing what the etiquette should be at chargepoints? According to, a code of conduct is needed to prevent arguments from breaking out between EV drivers.  bickering at charging points.
The company has cited the experience of new EV driver Jessica Fletcher, who used Facebook to express her unhappiness over a recent experience at a charging point in a supermarket car park: “I’ve had the car a week, never had to queue for a charger but tonight I think, if the shouting bloke is to be believed, I inadvertently jumped the queue. There seems to be so many unwritten rules and so much anger toward those who get it wrong.
“I pulled in the car park and saw a bloke in a little smart car waiting for the chargers. I thought I’d done the right thing by parking up in a bay out of the way so when the smart car had a space I moved into his space.
“Only then I ended up with some bloke in a huge Audi jumping out of his car jabbing his finger and shouting at me that I’d jumped the queue - he’d been waiting and I’d just pulled up. I soon realised that there was no point in trying to explain that I’d been parked in a bay and just begged him to leave me alone. Is this what it’s like? Did my first charge lull me into a false sense of friendliness because the guys using the chargers were lovely. How do you know what order to wait in? Or is it best not to bother waiting and not seek out supermarkets, gyms or restaurants with charging? I’m wishing I’d stuck with petrol right now if I’m honest.”
Tim Alcock from commented: “Sadly the story Jessica shared on Facebook is just one of dozens of similar incidents our customers have shared with us. We’ve even heard of drivers coming to blows over whose turn it is to plug their car in. These problems are likely to get worse in the short term as the number of EVs on our roads continues to rise and the number of charging points continues to lag behind.
“We need better infrastructure to keep up with demand but we also need a clear code of conduct around the use of public charging points and what is and isn’t acceptable. Clearly it is never acceptable to become aggressive and intimidating and what happened to Jessica sounds very frightening.”
Tim added: “Until the number of charging points significantly increases and a code of conduct is adopted and integrated into the Highway Code, we fear incidents of Charge Rage will only increase.”

London ULEZ expansion to boost EV take-up?
Electric vehicles may be set to get a boost in the capital from late summer 2023, as they become among the small group of vehicles not required to pay £12.50 a day to travel within London’s soon-to-be-expanding Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). It is now confirmed that London’s ULEZ will expand to cover all London from 29 August 2023, and motorists will be required to pay the charge to drive inside the boundary, unless their vehicle is exempt.
Apart from battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, (PHEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) these are set to include Euro 4-compliant petrol cars, generally produced after January 2006, as well as Euro 6 diesels from after September 2015.
Commenting on the move, Andy Marchant, Traffic Expert at TomTom, said: “The London Mayor’s plans for keeping London at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution is a sure step towards his ambition for the UK’s capital to be a net zero-carbon city by 2030. The wider adoption of EVs is central to reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation industry, yet it is still a decision tinged with anxiety – most often linked to a lack of charging infrastructure.”
More infrastructure is key though he believes: “If London is truly to become an EV hub, it needs to think about how to build an on-street charging network that really matches the capital's urban layout. As fewer people have access to a driveway or garage than in smaller cities, an infrastructure of on-street charging capabilities is needed to meet the needs of a rapidly growing EV fleet.”
In terms of the impact on Londoners, according to NFDA Chief Executive Sue Robinson, while air quality will improve, there will be a price to pay: “Whilst NFDA understands the importance of tackling air pollution in the capital and to combat climate issues, we still believe that this ULEZ expansion proposal is flawed. This £12.50 daily charge will hit businesses, key workers and less affluent families the hardest and the additional cost to some of London’s poorest communities will push some families over the brink and force a reduction in their access to private mobility.”
She added: “This move is during one of Britain’s worst cost of living crises, rising inflation and steep energy prices. We do not believe that this has been fully considered by Transport for London and looks more and more to be a money-generating scheme for TfL.”

EV brochure launched by Arnold Clark Autoparts
Arnold Clark Autoparts has launched a new EV  Consumables brochure, that covers a wide range of products, categories and brands. Items included range from EV safety equipment, clothing and signage, to testing tools and accessories.
Craig McCracken, Group Factor Manager at Arnold Clark Autoparts, observed: “As we see sales of electric cars increase exponentially year on year, there is more demand for EV maintenance products. Whilst these are readily available from vehicle manufacturers, we’re one of the only aftermarket suppliers currently offering such a broad range of EV essentials.”
Hard copies of the Arnold Clark Autoparts EV Consumables brochure is available on request from Autoparts branches. The brochure is also available online:

New year, same vehicle faults

Frank is embarking on new projects, but finding that vehicle faults are not getting any better
Published:  21 February, 2023

I should begin by explaining what I am doing with my time currently, I need to go back to the beast of the past;  COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, I was traveling through Australia delivering various training programmes to some incredible independent vehicle repairers.
Then Coronavirus came, and I barely escaped the total lockdown there, which lasted beyond two years, by a handful of days. I will not make that mistake again. This left me without any training events for over two years. Many of the leading trainers took to delivering online training programmes with remarkable success, however this was not my style, as I prefer being face-to-face with hands-on delivery

Mentor and advise
Three years on, in defacto semi-retirement and enjoying less technical challenges, David asked me to mentor and advise at Eldon Street Garage, the third garage acquisition in the ADS Group.
I should begin by explaining the profile of the business and how it differs from ADS. This is  a local business founded around 1980 with a loyal and regular clientele. The vehicle parc reflects what I call utility owners, relying on vehicular transport with may I say limited value. That said they are prepared to invest, when and where necessary, in maintenance and repairs. Recent media reports identified that many PCP owners are struggling to meet payments, therefore repairs and maintenance are taking a back seat. Older vehicles are currently enjoying a premium value.
The business provides a wide range of services; MOTs servicing, repairs, tyres, and limited diagnostics. The service bay has four ramps, four techs, with a separate tyre and MOT workshop. They are well equipped for general service and repairs, with diagnostics relying on Topdon, Snap-on, serial tools and me. Their work ethic is exceptional, and they provide excellent quality of workmanship, with evolving organisational discipline. So, I began my duties very much at the coalface, reviewing the tool inventory, and general workshop efficiency. Like many similar garages, they had been acquiring tools over 40 years, so my first task was filling the scrap bin until I was faced with a veritable mountain. I must say that 40 years of grime did not part company with its environment easily; Endeavour always prevails especially when the brush is in my hand.

Updated technical work ethic
My next task involved advising, training, and developing an updated technical work ethic. The average vehicle age is between 8-15 years. My first shock was experiencing the appalling state of previous repairs. I had assumed that the dark ages of vehicle repair had passed us by with the advent of technology. Sadly, this is not so; It has just found new depths of incompetence to dive.
I would like to take this opportunity in debating recent events in the workshop which I believe are related to an article in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 10 December. The focus was the demise of diesel vehicle sales and their potential value in the current climate.
Reflecting on the fuel price differential around £1.60 petrol, £1.84 diesel together with media disapproval internal combustion engine vehicles, sales have fallen by 17.6% in the last 12-month period. Coupled with my earlier comments on PCP ownership problems, manufacturers and dealerships are I believe conducting covert policies forcing premature vehicle scrappage. Let me explain my thoughts and reasons. Example one; Vauxhall Antara CDTI 2012, requiring both lower turbo intercooler hoses, cost from the dealerships £524.00. Please refer to Fig. 1. Example two; Vauxhall Corsa diesel 2013 with a badly blocked DPF. My initial intention was to provide a new genuine DPF, cost via the dealership circa £3,000! This is not a miss-print, this was the actual quote given. Please refer to Fig.2. This was a simple close-coupled DPF. My assumption, like many other recent price hikes, leads me to suspect a determined intent to force older vehicle owners to scrap in favour of new replacements. Please contact Aftermarket with your experiences and raise debate on this vital issue for the aftermarket.

Recent repairs
To continue I would like to share some of my recent repairs which involved a Volkswagen Golf mk5 fuse box. Please refer to Fig.3. The owner of this vehicle was experiencing fuse overload when using the hvac blower motor. Some bright spark determined the solution was a bigger rated fuse. The additional current won the battle with the fuse panel insert as the image shows. My task was to integrate the front panel fuse holder with the wiring matrix whilst in situ. Not an easy task. Please refer to Fig.4.
Another memorable vehicle presented to us following previous repairs from the dark side of the universe was a Land Rover Freelander. Several previous repairs included a new handbrake cable. Note that it has been run from the lever then left tie-wrapped to the original without connection with the brake calliper.The same vehicle had an ABS MIL lamp error suggesting a wheel sensor fault, observing the wiring showed the appalling state of previous repair attempts.
Finally, the same vehicle had repairs to the hydraulic brake hoses, apart from questionable routing length note the steel bracket without the correct support restraints. These experiences remind me that we still have a long way to go if we are to gain professional recognition as an industry. I place the blame and responsibility firmly on all the various industry organisations in their failure to implement mandatory professional qualifications and standards. I have worked within this industry for 55 years and think the time for excuses has long passed.

Nissens – helping independents experience the difference in climate system support

Published:  20 February, 2023

Technicians are at the frontline when it comes to air conditioning (AC) and climate control systems and as service and repair of these areas is far from simple and requires specialist knowledge, they need to have the right partner when it comes to the premium quality parts they need, as well as the technical advice to allow them to tackle the work with confidence and do the job right, first time. With decades of thermal management expertise, and as a dedicated aftermarket focused business, Nissens Automotive (Nissens) is therefore their perfect partner for the 2023 climate comfort season and beyond.

Rising business energy costs: Running to stand still?

Martin looks at how you can afford to run your business with rising energy costs
Published:  14 February, 2023

The rise in energy prices is an issue that is not just affecting homeowners it is also causing problems for garage businesses, including bodyshops. It is leading to owners having to think if they can afford to run the business due to the increasing cost of gas and electricity eating into the already tight margins the business runs on. However, it is not all doom and gloom. There are many ways businesses can deal with rising energy costs alongside some new trends designed to respond to this issue.

Tools are the life blood of a garage or bodyshop and a fair few of the tools used on jobs are powered by rechargeable batteries, which need to be charged regularly. With the charging, the cost of electricity during the day is significantly more expensive, so businesses should look to charge them overnight, which comes under off peak times, when the energy price is cheaper. However, businesses should be reminded to only charge tools at night as long as they do not pose a fire risk.

Do not waste electricity. Most of the wastage comes from items not being switched off, so it is important to remind technicians on the workshop floor that when they are not in use they should be turned off. This is especially important to remember when closing in the evening.

Heaters used on the workshop floor to keep staff warm are comfort items to have but they are expensive to run. In addition, they do not work well when processes like welding require heavy ventilation. This means that the heat produced from them will be sucked out of the workshop before it has had a chance to warm anyone up.
Ramps such as a three-phase electric ramp are expensive pieces of kit and are a key cog in the workshop. These ramps use quite a bit of energy however, reducing their energy consumption is pretty simple. It is achieved by ensuring the ramp is correctly maintained and is regularly oiled and serviced. In addition, technicians on the workshop floor should ensure the right ramp is being used for the car that is being serviced.

Price increases?
To combat the rise in prices we are seeing businesses, no matter their size, increasing the prices of jobs that require a lot of energy such as re-spraying and heating ovens to ensure the job is not loss-making. The price increases that are being seen now are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and it is something that the customer will have to be made aware of.

Going green?
Another avenue businesses are going down to cut costs is the use of green parts. Green parts are made up of undamaged and reusable parts from end-of-life and written-off vehicles, which does bring costs down. But they can cause issues once installed. This is highlighted by the fact that the part might have an electric module in it that is programmed for a specific vehicle or chassis. This means that if it is installed on a new vehicle, there is the possibility it may stop the vehicle from starting and it can also be difficult to code, which adds time to the overall job.

A tale of the UK market

No one quite knows how the UK vehicle parc will look by 2030, so in this first of three articles, we consider a market much as it existed up to 2019
Published:  10 February, 2023

Part one

VW Polo front track control arm replacement

Following our visit to Oldfields Garage Services with the REPXPERT team as seen in the November issue, here is the full fitting on the VW Polo
Published:  03 February, 2023

In this Schaeffler steering and suspension installation, REPXPERT Mike Tomkins replaces the front track control arm on the 2013 1.2-litre Volkswagen Polo Mk. V, using the FAG Complete TCA Repair Kit.
Mike said: “The FAG steering and suspension range provides independent workshops looking for quality parts with the ideal solution, as the unique technical features, along with the premium fit and finish, ensure a best-in-class repair. Designed for all key applications in the UK car parc, the range follows Schaeffler’s philosophy of providing installers with a complete repair solution, which means that every box includes all the required ancillary components – nuts, bolts, washers and clips etc. – so technicians can complete a safe and professional repair from the contents of just one box, with no hunting round or waiting for missing parts to arrive.
“The replacement of track control arms (TCA), which are also known as bottom arms or lower wishbones, is becoming an increasingly common repair, as the rubber bushes wear or can become soft. Also, ball joints are now commonly riveted in place, so replacing the track control arm assembly can be a more economical repair.
“The scheduled workshop time to replace a TCA on a Mk.V Polo from 2009 onwards is 0.9 hours, plus a wheel alignment check, so can be a profitable job for the independent workshop.”
Recommended workshop equipment:

Is it there or not?

How long does it truly take to find an intermittent fault, and how do you manage to isolate it?
Published:  26 January, 2023

Intermittent faults are always the most difficult to find. Therefore, when I was tasked with attempting to diagnose and rectify an intermittent cutting-out fault I knew it would not be straightforward.
The customer had heard of me via my social media page and local garages who use me for their diagnostic work. The customer complained that the vehicle, a Renault Traffic 2.0L TDI, would stall on its own, intermittently. The vehicle would then start up again as soon as the ignition switch had been cycled. This fault could occur within the hour or take five hours before it would surface again. The customer advised there was no rhythm or rhyme to the fault, and it could occur at any time. Knowing this would be a very time-consuming fault I advised the customer I would need the vehicle for a week to ensure experiencing the fault and carrying out testing thoroughly. The customer was more than happy to oblige, as long as I fixed the fault, so no-pressure then…

Initial approach
I started by carrying out a full system scan of all the vehicle’s computers. I found in the engine control module a fault code for ‘Computer internal electronic fault.’ Please refer to Fig.1. This was a good starting point as this fault code is very specific and often is caused by an internal control module error, wiring fault to the computer or a component directly related to the computer. However, at the cost of a new engine computer (over £1,200) I needed to pinpoint the fault and not rely solely on the fault code provided. I cleared all the fault codes present in the engine ECU and ran the vehicle in the workshop until it cut out. Once the vehicle cut out, I re-read all the fault codes and the only code which returned was the internal electronic fault as described earlier.
I noticed that when the vehicle had stalled, communication was still present and live data parameters were still being displayed by the scan tool. This indicated the engine computer is alive and operating. This was a good indicator that the engine computer is receiving the voltage and ground supply. Without it, communication would not be possible. I needed to confirm this for certain as I cannot diagnose a fault solely on suspicion.
To access the engine ECU on this vehicle I needed to remove the bumper, headlight, and security cage around the engine ECU. Before I attempted to remove all those components, as this was very time-consuming, I wanted to use an oscilloscope to check the fuses that feed the engine ECU at the time of the stall. These fuses are on the output stage of the engine control relay, therefore if it was the relay that was failing, for whatever reason,  I would see the drop-out on the oscilloscope. As you can see from Fig.2, the supplied voltage and ground were constant and did not drop-out. This indicated that the engine control relay was latched and doing its job properly when the fault was present. I now had no choice but to access the engine computer to carry out further testing.
By removing the bumper, headlight, and security cage I was able to access the engine computer and its respective wiring harness. Concerned still of a voltage or ground supply issue, I connected the oscilloscope to the engine computer supplies and verified, during the stall, that these were present. Next, I wanted to verify the main inputs and outputs of the computer that could contribute to a stalling condition. I connected to the camshaft and crankshaft position sensor wiring, directly at the engine computer. I also connected to the injector wire using an amp clamp to determine if injector operation remained constant during the stall event. If not, I could then determine if injector pulse ceased due to a loss of a cam or crank sensor signal.
As you can see from Fig.3, the cam and crank sensor signals remained and the injector control was the first to be lost, thus resulting in a stall of the engine. The engine computer was no longer providing injector control to keep the engine running. Since proper cam position signal remained during the stall it was unlikely to be a 5v reference fault, as the 5v reference is used to power the camshaft sensor. At this point, from the evidence I had retrieved coupled with the fault code I initially found, I was highly suspicious of an internal engine computer fault.

There are no problems, only solutions
Due to the current issues surrounding the supply of electronic parts in the UK I was not able to obtain an engine control module directly from the dealership. I had only one option which was to locate a used control unit and carry out cloning of the original control module.

This process requires removal of the engine computer from the vehicle and connecting a programmer directly to the ECU. Please refer to Fig.4. You are then required to read the flash and the EEPROM internal to the computer and transfer that data from the suspect's faulty original ECU into the donor ECU. Please refer to Fig.5 and Fig.6.
By going through this process, you are effectively making an exact copy of the original ECU, allowing all the immobiliser and coding data to be transferred so you can simply connect the ECU back to the vehicle without any further programming being required. This will only rectify a hardware-related fault. If there was a software-related issue, then you will effectively copy the fault onto the donor unit. I was confident this was a hardware-related issue rather than a software-related problem. Once I had cloned the ECU, I left the engine idling to attempt to re-create the original complaint. I can confirm the donor ECU I cloned had fixed this intermittent fault as the stalling no longer occurred.
With intermittent faults, the best way to tackle them is to gather as much data as you possibly can, performing as little work as possible. This will then stop the hours and hours of stripping parts off needlessly to carry out inspections that are not required. A solid foundational knowledge of how systems operate on today's complex vehicles also provides a strong advantage. Logic can then be used to narrow down the possibilities that could cause the fault as we have done in this diagnosis and repair.

Rocker on Tommy?

Frank tiptoes through Audi variable valve lift, focusing on operation and points towards diagnosis and how to make repairs
Published:  24 January, 2023

Vehicle diagnosis is not dissimilar to navigating a minefield; Tread carefully. How’s that for an opening line? Not exactly an encouraging start I know, but bear with me. Within this topic I am going to explain Audi variable valve lift operation, design, servicing, and diagnosis. In order to underscore the risks – I did just say it’s a minefield – I have an actual fault from our workshop.  
Principles of operation are remarkably similar across all engine groups. They are some differences though, operating on either inlet, exhaust notwithstanding, or cylinder select variants. The camshaft responsible for shift and lift control has a spline. On this is a sleeve containing the lobes for operating two valves independently, which slide laterally. Two helical grooves provide for the actuator’s engagement and disengagement. The lateral movement of approximately 7mm is locked by a spring-loaded ident ball, like that controlling gearbox selection rods. Please refer to Fig.1, which shows a variable lift control sleeve.
Different engine types vary in the approach, but this should broadly explain how the system works. Inlet valve operation is asymmetrical, i.e., each pair of valves operating from a common sleeve share different lift and closure profiles, but they open together. The closure event is offset however. This improves cylinder charge and creates a tumbling motion with the fresh air intake. Intake swirl flaps are no longer required complimented by Audi TFSI piston crown profile.
Due to physical limitations, the valve rocker arms on the variable lift camshaft are required to be narrower than their fixed-opening counterparts. This has been complemented by larger roller bearings. The lift control actuator is not a simple solenoid, controlled by the engine PCM. A permanent power supply is switched to ground via PCM command. This is achieved by a saturated control pulse, identical to early generation 15ohm injectors. The actuator pin is extended by a 3amp current flow with 100 G acceleration, requiring a permanent magnet and percussion damper to prevent the pin bouncing out of the helical groove. The back EMF pulse is used by the PCM to confirm actuation.
The actuation pin return is provided by the helix ramp, which also generates a small voltage spike which the pcm uses to confirm end of lift operation. If high lift operation fails, the PCM will limit the RPM to 4,000, with all cylinders in low lift with reduced power output. If high lift return to low lift fails, the PCM will hold all cylinders in high lift with full power and RPM, however idle will be less smooth.
I mentioned alternative variants; Take as an example the 2-litre 888 engine. Here, the exhaust valves share lift modification and cylinder select variants, whereby the PCM selects a zero-lift lobe preventing cylinder charge. This provides a pneumatic damping for the reduction in cylinder operation.

The vehicle in our workshop, an Audi SQ5, was presented with a complaint of intermittent rough running. I deliberately avoided the phrase misfire as incomplete combustion may be caused by ignition, fuelling or mechanical faults. Tiptoeing through the minefield, David Gore our diagnostic tech at ADS initially appeared to rule out all three possibilities. Please refer to Fig.2, which shows the minefield…sorry…engine in question.
Via a scan using his Pico scope no ignition anomalies were found. This included monitoring spark line profile and primary current ramping profile. Fuelling errors were carefully ruled out with observation of fuel trim and oxygen sensor data. Broad band sensors are highly effective at responding to excess oxygen content in the exhaust stream. While fuel trim may mask subtle fuelling errors, the rear catalyst zirconia sensor will always display an incorrect voltage. Nominal voltage from a stable load condition should be 0.7volts. The fuel injectors had not been removed at this point due to the balance of fault probability against cost. Do not let this consideration deviate your need to conduct further potentially costly testing though. David also conducted cranking current analysis, confirming uniform current draw on compression across all cylinders.
This is a simple, accurate, means of comparing the physical load expressed in amps in overcoming the work done during the compression stroke. Initial results normally conducted over 10-15 seconds showed no deviations across all cylinders. In a throwback to the old engine tuner days, cranking tests were extended to 30 seconds at which point he discovered a single cylinder discrepancy with current draw. This must be a mechanical consideration only. I was not excluding an injector fuel delivery problem at this time, which could cause bore wash, affecting compression. Please refer to Fig.3, a Pico image showing compression loss.
Synchronizing the event with number 1 ignition coil 5-volt PCM control signal, he quickly established the faulty cylinder. Upon dismantling the engine top end, a faulty rocker bearing was discovered, the effect of which allowed the rocker to hold the valve slightly open. Please refer to Fig.4, which shows a faulty rocker.

Further investigation via ETCAS confirmed a modified version of  the rocker was available. The vehicle is currently awaiting the necessary modified parts. This brings me back to my earlier comment about servicing requirements. As specialists in Audi and VAG in general, we see extensive premature engine mechanical failures. In my assessment, this is due to long-life servicing strategies, often recommended by dealerships or adopted by owners as a cost-saving measure, with extended intervals between services. This is generally a bad idea.

We have several clients operating similar engine variants with trouble-free mileage approaching the 200,000 mark. This we believe is due entirely to oil replacement intervals not exceeding 10,000 miles or 12 months.

Calibrations: All about live data

Getting an ADAS job right will largely depend on if the technician is looking at the information coming out of the car
Published:  20 January, 2023

Live data ensures calibrations are done correctly, but what we are seeing is a growth in the collection of the data from vehicles, whether they are single or multi-site operations. The data is accessed via the SRS module and once it has been harvested it becomes an asset to the business. The reason it is an asset is simple. It is because the data helps the business reduce key-to-key times for calibrations, while also enabling them to identify systems that need calibrating after a collision.

An example of this is when a technician uses the live data from a vehicle on the workshop floor to see the forces put on the car pre-and-post-collision. Once this data is reviewed, it enables the technician to understand where the forces have gone through the car easily. The next stage of the process is for the technician to check and carry out specific calibrations such as the radar at the front of the vehicle alongside any calibrations that are required at the rear to complete the job.

Live data also provides the technician with a safety blanket to ensure that the areas of the vehicle that have been worked on are checked and calibrated correctly before the vehicle goes back on the road.

So, live data helps on the workshop floor, but there are also other potential uses for it by insurers, who would use the data differently from the way the technicians on the workshop floor use it. Insurers would want to read and review the live data straight away from the vehicle that had a collision. Once this has been done and based on what they have seen, they could potentially write off the vehicle there and then rather than having a vehicle assessment done. This would be a cost-saving measure for them as they would not have to pay out for any work done.

We know live data is here to stay because ADAS systems are becoming common place on the newer models of car that are coming off the production line. This means that it is important that the people reading and reviewing the live data have the necessary knowledge and training to understand what they are looking at and the ways the data can help them complete jobs more efficiently and benefit their business.

Son of a Shogun

A misfiring Mitsubishi Shogun provided Ryan with his latest challenge
Published:  17 January, 2023

 By Ryan Colley, Elite Automotive Diagnostics

A day on the farm

Kevin’s latest challenge came in the form of a Peugeot 308 that was suffering as a result of having been used in some surprisingly agricultural conditions
Published:  11 January, 2023

By Kevin Toms

Left carrying the CAN

Process and discipline were the watchwords when Frank recently took on a Volkswagen Touran V6 with a CAN error
Published:  20 December, 2022

This month’s topic has been one of the most rewarding for quite some time, not just on a technical level, but also due to the process and discipline that underlined a smooth progression to a successful ending. It all came about quite by chance, during a random visit to the ADS workshop. Dave Gore, our diagnostic tech called me over to discuss an unusual and thus-far difficult diagnostic challenge.
The vehicle in question was a VW Touran V6 3 LTR 2015 model, engine code CVWA. The first unusual aspect of the vehicle was the fitment of a SCR additive system, which theoretically did not enter service until 2016. How very odd.
The owner, who we believe was not the original owner, found us online and had the vehicle transported from way down south. The problem first appeared when the vehicle had failed to start while in a car park without any previous issues or warnings that a fault existed. The vehicle would crank and run briefly and it had been to at least two other garages for repair without success or significant progress. Several trim panels had been removed from the dash as well as rear quarter panels. Prior to my involvement, David had conducted some preliminary tests to determine the nature and scale of the problem. This is how I understood the situation; CAN communication errors in the gateway module, most if not all with a common thread, no communication with engine PCM. Comms with transmission and gateway both reported no engine PCM comms. Please refer to Fig.1, which shows gateway errors. Due to a total inability to communicate with the engine PCM, a decision was taken to replace and code a S/H engine PCM, with no change in fault conditions. This was premature in my opinion but that is where we were at this point. David also discovered a vehicle tracker, which he removed.

Before I begin with the technical aspects of the journey, it is particularly important for you to understand some fundamental aspects to successful diagnostics. Many of you who have attended my training programmes over the last 30 years or so will remember my absolute belief in having a dedicated diagnostic area, and the need to always follow a methodical progressive, disciplined process. This includes uninterrupted time on task. Let me reinforce this point. Even with limited experience or confidence in your diagnostic abilities, your success rate will increase dramatically if you adopt this method. Testament to this was the fact that David had been granted limited time and physical space in the workshop due to dead cars and multiple tasks.

Joint involvement
Our joint involvement began with VCDS re-checking the CAN network communication, especially our inability to communicate with engine PCM. However, David had discovered quite by accident that unplugging the engine PCM with ignition on, then reconnecting it actually re-established communication with engine PCM. Checking through various sensor data, all seemed normal. So, the diagnostic line was okay. Cranking the vehicle then caused a total loss of comms. Our thoughts directed us to check the CAN physical layer between engine, transmission, gateway, and SCR module at the rear. Both CAN high and CAN low was normal. I should point out that cranking was disabled if trouble codes were not cleared from engine PCM. This was only made possible by disconnecting the PCM with the ignition left on, then re-connecting.
Please refer to Fig,2, which shows a Pico screen snapshot of the CAN gateway and PCM. This suggested that no physical wiring network errors were responsible for the issue. I took the opportunity to revisit my initial thoughts; Car cranks, and then starts briefly? Does this seem like it is being immobilised? An owner concerned enough to fit a tracker would probably fit further protection. I call it human behavioural profile assessment. My crystal ball needed a software update.
Despite an extensive search David could not find additional wiring or evidence of previous device fitment. Was it time to call in some second and third opinions? I then had a conversation with Steve Smith at Pico. He suggested repeating our CAN scope tests, but this time setting up a trigger on starter current inrush to confirm if RF from cranking was corrupting CAN comms.

Local problem
So, channel A/B CAN high, CAN low channel C crank angle sensor, channel D starter current. Setting a high sample rate of 10 ms/s, with a short time-base to avail the best true sampling rate, a 40% pre trigger, with single shot capture. With approximately a 100-amp threshold, we could now examine the CAN pre-post cranking, and guess what? No RF induction, perfectly clean CAN. Please refer to Fig.3, which shows a Pico scope CAN capture pre-post crank. There was only one test option left now. If the problem was not within the physical CAN network it must be due to error messaging, corrupt telegrams or packet data.

So, we selected the CAN decode option, channel A and repeated our previous tests. We immediately noticed lots of error frames with no ACK/CRC present with the error frames. We also noted most error frames disappeared when the engine PCM was removed from the network. We did not have a global network problem, just a local one between the gateway and engine PCM.
Please refer to Fig.4, which shows Pico CAN decode pre-post cranking. So, we have a local network corruption. I left David without a specific fault cause, repeating my thoughts about a device between the gateway and engine. About an hour later, David rang me to say he found an immobiliser in the headlining which when removed restored all comms and normal crank start. These devices were obviously unknown to the owner.
Diagnostics are not dissimilar to problems faced by a veterinary surgeon. You can look, you can test, but you cannot speak with the patient. It takes seven years to train a vet, two years longer than a GP, but it takes us a lifetime.

Counting the cost?

Remote diagnostic capabilities are essential, but don’t always come at a cheap cost
Published:  15 December, 2022

Cars and vans that come off the production line in 2022 are jam packed with technology that is used for entertainment and safety. In the world of collision repair, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are mission-critical technology that must be minded closely.
This technology has been designed to protect the driver and passengers as well as other road users. However, if the vehicle is involved in a collision, whether that be a minor ding or something bigger, these systems need to be recalibrated.

The recalibration of these systems has created a gap in the market that businesses are looking to fill. As we know though, to do the job there is a price that must be paid, and it comes in two distinct forms. The first is that of a one-off investment in the necessary tools, services and training for staff, which can be recouped over time. Recouping the initial financial outlay will come from each job, but what businesses must remember is that if the price being charged is too high, there is the possibility that customers might look somewhere else for the service.

The second is if the business does not have these tools on site, the vehicle will either need to be booked into a dealership to be recalibrated or employ a third party to do the work. This will lead to an increase in key-to-key times by an average of three days, as the business cannot guarantee the work will be done there and then, plus any additional costs will have to be passed onto the customer.

The current economic climate, however, is leading many businesses to look at alternatives, and one of them is a pay-as-you-calibrate model, which Repairify launched at the end of 2021. This option has been developed to enable bodyshops to have access to digital ADAS equipment with no upfront cost. This, in turn, reduces the financial burden and allows repairers to pay as they use the equipment based on the number of calibrations they perform in a specific time period.

An example of the benefits businesses can reap are highlighted by Pete Sadler, Commercial Director of North East Accident Repair who told us: “Our business has gone from doing one or two calibrations a month to three or four a week, so it was clear we needed to invest in a solution that best suited our needs and requirements. The benefits of the pay-as-you-calibrate initiative are that it enables us to equip the group with the very latest digital technology without the need for a large capital investment upfront, which is crucial in the current environment we all find ourselves in. It has also meant we have increased our revenue, reduced our key-to-key times, and provided customers with the peace of mind to know that our technicians are doing the calibrations correctly.”

We know that the need for calibration services is here to stay, and this will lead to businesses needing to invest in the requisite tools and services to do the job. These costs can place an undue burden on a business, but we want to be in a position where we can provide a solution that allows all businesses to be able to offer cost-effective remote diagnostic services to their customers

Li-Ion batteries: Size does not matter

Andrew considers what to do when the unthinkable happens to an EV in the workshop
Published:  05 December, 2022

By Andrew Marsh

High-voltage, electrical compressors

Published:  30 November, 2022

Building in a fault

A recent job involving a Chrysler 300C gave Kevin the opportunity to discuss replacement parts that cause more problems than they solve
Published:  29 November, 2022

The subject this month is something I am sure we have all come across; Parts that cause more problems than they solve. The vehicle in question was a 2006 Chrysler 300C with EDC 16CP31.
This car drove in to us under its own steam with a constellation of lights shining in the dash, including the battery warning light. As usual, we started with a global scan of the vehicle while on battery support. Upon completion we found several low-voltage fault codes, but the one I was most interested in was U1132 Lost Communication with Generator – Active.
Armed with this information I formulated a test plan:
1) Test the vehicle battery
2) Check voltage at the battery to see if it was charging at all with the engine running; The answer was yes, and we could use an amp clamp as well but I saw no need
3) Find a wiring diagram for the system so we know what should be where and connected to what, I.E Comms line
4) Find the alternator on the vehicle physically to do testing
5) Do volt drop testing on ground and B+ side as we need both of these for the alternator and comms to work correctly
6) Connect the scope so we can see what is happening on the LIN bus control wire
7) Make a decision on the fault according to outcomes.

Upon testing the vehicle battery, the result was; ‘good - needs charging’. This was only to be expected, so a substitute battery was put in and the original put on charge. It is always best to start with a known good and we already had a copy of the DTCs that were present. With the multi meter installed across the battery and 12.6v shown, the car was started up and the lights turned on to load the system. The voltage was going down even when picking the revs up. This proved why the battery light was on in the dash and why we had the alternator LIN bus malfunction DTC.
Next, I found the alternator, which was on the driver's side under the engine. To get at it, I had to go through the suspension and subframe. As I had the scope at the ready, I first checked between battery ground and the alternator casing. This showed less than 100mV, so good. The next check was between battery positive and the B+ terminal at the rear of the alternator. Again, the same result here, less than a 100mV. This was good, both passed. For the next test, I connected the scope using a back probe in to the Lin bus connector. I found a good signal, 12 volts to about 0.5 of a volt, so it passed that test. Please refer to Fig.1.

Wiring and response integrity
At this point we knew the LIN bus signal came from the engine control unit ECU, so we didn’t need to test there as the signal was good. It was looking like the alternator is was fault, but how do we prove it, as well as the ECU-to-connector integrity? What I did at this point was to ground the signal down, pulling it to ground and reread the DTC. As expected, we now had two DTCs for the LIN bus, two malfunctions, but two different DTC codes. This proved wiring and response integrity of the circuit, so I deduced that a new alternator was required.
What arrived was an aftermarket example, due to availability problems with the OEM part. With the new one fitted by my colleague, which is not the easiest to do, the shout came out “Kev it’s still the same - not working!”
As always, you get that sinking feeling and question yourself. What did I miss? Back to the job then. Rescanning the original DTC returned ‘U1132 lost communication with Generator –Active’.  
Believing it was the alternator at fault, I ran through the tests again just in case I had missed something, but the results were conclusive; Definitely the new alternator at fault. So, another one was ordered, this time from a different manufacturer. The part duly arrived, only this time I wanted to try before we fitted it to the vehicle. With the second new one in front of me, I extended the LIN bus communication line to it outside the vehicle. I thought, I know, I will put the jump box on to the alternator to give it live and ground, this should allow it to talk. By now, some of you will be ahead of me doing the test this way. Without the B+ and the vehicle ground connected to the alternator, how can the circuit be complete for feedback logic to work? When the CTC was checked to see if it cleared, it did not.

Steady charging voltage
We extended the B+ wire and a ground connection along with the LIN bus wire to the second new alternator on the tool box. The DTC was checked again and erased and did not return. Next, I cycled the ignition a couple of times to make sure it didn’t return and rechecked; No DTC returned for loss of comms with the alternator. With this product seeming to be okay, it was installed and tested. Charging was occurring and control of the alternator was taking place. With the scope recoupled to the Lin bus signal and the headlamps turned on and off we could plainly see the LIN  bus control signal altering on the scope screen. We could also see the charging voltage staying steady, at around 14.2 volts, thereby proving the repair.  Please refer to Fig.2
With this saved to the scope for future reference we could now hand the vehicle back to the customer with confidence in our repair. A full post repair global scan was also taken once we finished the job. This allowed us to be aware of DTCs in other system which bear no relationship to the repair we carried out. This enabled us to advise the customer of up-and-coming likely future repairs, should they wish to do anything about them.  

Building the better garage

In the second part of his look at how to put together your diagnostic service offering, Frank looks at how you should always work to a plan
Published:  14 November, 2022

The most important first step begins with vehicle and owner triage. Listen carefully, ask searching and relevant questions regarding the complaint, do not accept anything until you have confirmed the condition, and never accept previous work or opinion as correct. The customer must accept this cost or walk away. The triage may include, visual inspection, road test, or a preliminary global vehicle scan, i.e., all systems. None of this is free. It is part of a progressive methodical process. Agree a separate contract for this allowing either party to walk away.
One especially crucial point to understand before you begin any repair or diagnostic investigation, you must fully understand how the system functions and the specific responsibility of each component in that system, how it operates and how to test it.
Check DTCs that are relevant to the symptoms, not forgetting pending and confirmed errors in EOBD. Also check for incomplete default flags. These cannot be cleared unless all flag parameters have been satisfied during drive cycles.
Next, you need to cross-reference specified, actual, and corrected data. A fault code will not register unless the component parameters have been exceeded, in some cases for a considerable time, so fast intermittent drive concerns may not be registered in the fault memory. Previous experience over the past 50 years has convinced me of the value in using gauges when confirming, fluid, pressure, and flow.
For example, when testing fuel pump performance, flow is just as important as pressure. Also check the pump current. It is linear with pressure, therefore faults may be predicted by checking current across the relay or fuse without accessing the pump or supply hoses.

Intermittent variable vane turbo faults are easily monitored with a gauge. We could not source suitable gauges, so I designed our own. In fact, many of our tools have been modified to suit challenging tests.
Data log selected serial data so that focused analysis can be carried out. The selected items will depend on the nature of the fault under investigation. This can then be downloaded into graphing software like datazap.  If you are interested refer to my VW Amarok SCR repair article from the June issue.
There may be a technical bulletin or software update dealing with the complaint so access to the manufacturers repair information system is mandatory.

Component testing
It is at this point where component testing may commence, like each stage of an investigation there are rules that govern and guide your response. Before the output of a sensor is suspected, you must check the ground reference and power supply at the sensor. Output deviation can be caused by wiring errors, sensor error, or a genuine environment value error. It may be necessary to cross-reference the value by alternative means, where possible.
For example, with a cold vehicle, all temperature sensors will have a similar value, as will pressure sensors on a static engine. Exhaust gas temperature sensors will reduce by approximately 50°C as they pass further down the exhaust stream.
Sensors fall into set groups; Position, range or movement, temperature, pressure, angle etc.
They also fall into three output categories; Linear/analogue, digital, and sent. Because of the complexity in vehicle systems control, it is inevitable that an oscilloscope needs to be used to confirm correct functionality.
An oscilloscope, like all tools, fall into one of three groups; The good, the bad and the ugly. They demand two special skill sets; Set up and image interpretation. They provide a unique insight to mechanical and electronic functionality.
This brings me to current and ongoing problems: Accessibility, and the cost risk ratio in the diagnostic process. Many of the tools that can be used with a scope find their roots in other hi-tech industries.
Cylinder pressure analysis, WPS, is the best example. The use of an absolute pressure sensor directly in the cylinder reports real time pressure differential above and below atmosphere. With minimal component removal and the engine running, the precise valve open/close position can be established.
The catch here is fully understanding the image as correct. It may require confirmation from a good known vehicle. The other problem is variable valve lift and timing control. This will affect pressure readings and must be confirmed via serial data evaluation.

Vehicles manufactured today are a complex mixture of mechanical systems, all of which share one unique property; Mass, acceleration, and frequency. The latest technique in systems diagnosis is NVH, or vibration analysis. With the aid of a three-dimensional accelerometer and analytical software, each individual component can be identified by its frequency signature. Everything from a cylinder misfire to a defective bearing can be isolated.
Some of our more individual specialist tools include an injector test bench. This helps identify combustion imbalance from our vibration analysis. With the onset of direct drive turbo actuator control, we invested in an actuator drive simulator. Driving the wastegate through precise angles whilst monitoring the current draw confirms correct movement, range, and mechanical resistance.
It is occurred to me writing this two-part piece that several subjects identified would make good subjects for future articles, so watch this space.  It has also reminded me of the remarkable skills that automotive technicians need to repair and service vehicles. Have pride in your achievements and don’t work cheap!

Broadening support on Electric Vehicles

asTech is looking to provide support on EV repairs, as Martyn explains
Published:  10 November, 2022

As the number of electric vehicles continues to rise in UK, the opportunity for bodyshops that specifically cater for EVs is also increasing.  Enfield-based EV Bodyshops is run by Adam Thurman and his team, launched in June 2021 to take advantage of this growing income stream. At the end of last year, EV Bodyshops gained Nissan GB approval, officially becoming the first ‘electric only’ repairer for the vehicle manufacturer.

On the workshop floor, one of the most common jobs the technicians are performing is high-voltage shutdowns and reinstating the high-voltage system once it is safe to do so. This means employing the right product for the job at hand is critical. We sat down with Adam to discuss how he went about choosing the right technology for his business.

“Prior to opening, we knew in-house high voltage repairs would be on our menu of services, so with my background as a main dealer and working with OEM equipment, I knew exactly what I wanted out of the products we purchased.

“Like any good business we did our own research. However, we were also introduced to asTech’s products and remote services by our distribution supplier. This led to a meeting with the asTech team where I explained what we required and the types of vehicles we were working on. On receipt of their answers, they made me feel comfortable that the asTech solution was perfect for us.

“We use asTech products for all our repairs, which includes pre- and post-repair scans. These enable our technicians to understand any historic errors with the vehicle and help clear any issues or errors caused through an accident or the repair process.

“Our team has benefited from the fact that they have access to IMI trained technicians that are using the latest software, and this allows us to see all the faults that other software is unable to deliver. An example of this is on a couple of occasions the software has highlighted faults that we couldn’t see, which meant we dealt with them and stopped the vehicle being brought back in. This, in turn, ensures customers receive the highest levels of service and a right first-time fix, which is what we aim to offer our customers every time.

“Overall, the knowledge, expertise and technology we have access to through asTech has provided us with the confidence needed to repair the types of vehicles that come through the workshop door each day. In addition, I also believe what we have access to will be an asset to the business because as EV vehicle technology evolves, so will the software we use.”

Premium quality turbos from Nissens Automotive

Published:  10 November, 2022

Nissens Automotive (Nissens) first introduced turbos into its aftermarket programme in 2018, as part of a dedicated plan to expand the Nissens Engine Efficiency & Emissions range, to offer the independent sector a premium replacement proposition that reflects the high Genuine Nissens Quality standards of its existing product groups, particularly concerning thermal management, where it has an excellent reputation, not only for the quality of its parts, but also the technical support it provides.

Overvoltage adversity

Kevin was not shocked when a Transit came in with some interesting electrical issues, so he got to work
Published:  31 October, 2022

Recently we had a 2009 Ford Transit Connect 1.8 TD come through the doors with 140,000 miles on the clock. The customer explained that if he drove the vehicle above 2,500RPM, the dash display all fell to zero and the engine would cut out. Then, within a second, it all came back online and would drive again, until the next time he hit 2,500RPM. The van already had a new alternator fitted in an attempt to resolve the issue, but this had been unsuccessful.
Armed with that information, a test plan was drawn up as follows:
1. Road test and verification of the fault
2. Global scan
3. Result-driven approach
4. Look up fault code
5. Gain access to relevant information, know faults and fixes, wiring diagram.
6. Equipment required; multi meter, scope etc. What type of testing voltage and continuity using a scope to monitor signals while system is operational.
7.  Study results from testing and plan a fix
8.  Apply the repair and retest
9.  Prove repair successful including road test
10. Write up job card and return keys and job card to the office.

Step 1: Road test. This lets us experience and validate the customer’s concern. I didn't need to go far as a quick acceleration up the hill had it doing its thing. The dash suddenly all fell to zero and the engine cut out. Then, just as quickly the dash came back to life the engine picked up and away the van went, until the next acceleration. Upon returning to the garage, a test plan was put together.

Step 2: Attach the scanner and do a global scan. This is always my preferred method, as the way systems interact means the same fault code can appear in many other systems. If we only concentrate on a single control unit, such as the ECU or dash, without considering the vehicle as a whole, we can miss vital pieces of evidence that could identify the reason for the failure. While the scanner was running through the systems check, I opened the bonnet and carried out a visual inspection. There was nothing obvious to report there, so I just verified that the new alternator was installed as described. How many of you are saying dash fault right now?  We have all seen them. Next, I checked the scanner fault report, which was where I found the golden nugget; Overvoltage.

Step 3: Results-driven approach. Having read the scan report, I highlighted the recurring fault code with the same description in each ECU it appeared. In fact, overvoltage was present in several ECUs. This gave us a place to start testing. See Fig.1.

Fault-finding mission
With this information in hand, my multi meter was attached to the battery and 15.34 was the reading on the screen. In order to catch exactly what was going on, a scope was used. When the vehicle revved up, the following trace was captured. It spiked over 18 volts. Please refer to Fig.2.
It is a well-documented fact that these alternators suffer with harness faults. With this in mind, the harness was visually inspected from underneath. It all looked good up to the plug by the battery box. These are smart charge, utilising four connections. The large one goes to battery positive, then the three in the plug are as follows: One is used for battery voltage sensing, the next sends the ECU command signal to the alternator charge level request, and the last one transmits the acknowledgement signal from the alternator back to the ECU.
The command and the acknowledgement signals are square wave PWM so I prefer to test with a scope for more accuracy due to a multi meter just averaging the signal. With the scope back-probed in to all three of the black plug wires, I could see the command and acknowledgement signals, but no battery sensor voltage was present. The next step for testing was to check the fuse, which was intact and ok.

This corrosion
I then removed the air filter housing to gain access from the top. This would allow me to test at the plug between the harness to the alternator and the vehicle harness. Next, the fourth channel of the scope was back-probed into the top part of the plug on the battery voltage sensing wire. No voltage was found here either, so a wiggle test of the harness was employed which caused the scope trace to jump up to battery voltage. At this point I pulled on the red battery sensing wire just above the plug and the insulation parted. Here we found what we were looking for; Corrosion, the green crusties of death for wiring. Please refer to Fig.3.
The other wires were pulled to see if their fate was the same, but the scope trace stayed steady for the command and acknowledgement, so they were fine; No attention necessary.
Then, a repair was made by stripping the terminal out of the plug and replacing it with a new terminal with 15cm of new wire attached, of the correct gauge and colour. The harness was then opened up and the green wire disease was cut out. A new wire was soldered to the clean old one in the loom, then covered over with heat shrink tubing re-tape. The loom was then put back up, we joined the connector back together and we re-tested.

Nissens automotive heater and cabin blowers

Published:  27 October, 2022

Although often overlooked when servicing or repairing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, heaters and cabin blowers serve a crucial role, particularly for the comfort of the occupants. So, particularly before the winter season, it is advisable to include these two components during an annual check and, if either need replacement, use only premium quality aftermarket products.

Rocketing fuel prices reinforce role of technician

The precipitous increase in the price of fuel during 2022 has made customers realise how technicians can help them
Published:  24 October, 2022

With global fuel prices rising at an alarming rate and with no imminent signs of any significant reduction, vehicle maintenance is now vital. If motorists are aiming for maximum miles from their tank, they can’t afford to overlook vehicle servicing, maintenance, and repairs. No more ignoring the early warning signs or delaying a service. It all points to the importance of the independent technician as the trusted go-to professional.
“Driving fuel efficiently is a subject of significant interest,” said Mike Schlup, MD of Kalimex, the UK distributors of the JLM Lubricants’ range of products. “However, if a tank of fuel is to last longer then vehicle maintenance is more important than simply swapping poor driving habits for good ones. The professional independent technician holds the keys when it comes to attaining optimum vehicle health, because a healthy vehicle burns less fuel. This means choosing high quality additives from the JLM range when they reduce or remove the need for a replacement part and when they enhance the overall service offering.
“JLM is globally renowned for collaborating with top-flight technicians so that new products are road-tested and evaluated in real workshops before they are launched. Darren Darling, founder of the world acclaimed, independent DPF Doctor Network is a JLM brand ambassador, but Darren was putting JLM products through their paces and recommending JLM products long before he accepted this role. So JLM’s focus is very much on developing additives and lubricants that have been evaluated by world-leading technicians on the most challenging vehicles. If motorists want to run their car fuel efficiently and keep repair and service bills down, they must trust their technician to use premium quality additives whenever possible. Take the JLM GDI Cleaner for example. It cleans the tip of the injector of direct fuel injected engines, with more efficient fuel injection and less fuel consumption as a result. With gasoline direct injection, the injectors get dirty and cook on a regular basis over a period of time. This product is used on many vehicles including ones technicians class as hopeless cases. Used every 20,000 km it will keep the injectors clean and will play a crucial part in improved fuel economy.”

Mike continued: “Another JLM product, Petrol Extreme Clean will improve fuel economy. It’s the solution to late model cars and engines with severe build-up blocking problems in various parts of the fuel system. These contaminations are tough and hard to dissolve with regular fuel additives. This product is suitable for all petrol engines including direct injection with or without a turbo or catalytic converter. The special detergent in the JLM formulation cleans the fuel system including injectors, inlet and outlet valves, spark plugs and combustion chamber. The net effects are lower deposits of combustion residues in the cylinder and cleaner exhaust gases; The octane number boosted by 2-4 points plus an increase in engine power with better fuel economy. All this from a product that is added to the fuel tank before refueling.
“For diesel vehicles, JLM have the diesel equivalent, aptly named Diesel Extreme Clean. This cleans the entire fuel system with lower emissions and fuel consumption as a result. It is also powerful enough to clear soot accumulation from the DPF, EGR and turbo vanes. Another product from the JLM stable, the Diesel Injector Cleaner makes light work of the tough job of cleaning the injectors, again saving fuel and restoring engine power.”

Often when a car is being serviced, the oil is changed. This opens up an opportunity, as Mike observed: “When a technician adds the JLM Engine Oil Flush Pro to the old oil before adding the new, then even old and very dirty engines are cleaned with a corresponding improvement in engine performance and a reduction in fuel consumption.
“Motorists cannott fight the price at the pumps. So, they must trust their technician to keep their vehicle in tip top condition because they also have access to best of breed maintenance and prevention products that will keep workshop bills down. By choosing JLM products, a technician can also increase their revenues with rinse and repeat sales at service, maintenance, and repair. Technicians are also telling us that motorists are now really looking for products they can use between workshop visits to keep their vehicle in good health. They are buying these products from their local garage because of the relationship they have. It takes the guesswork out of standing in front of a shelf of ‘me too’ products and walking away with something that is not up to the task. This of course builds even more sales in the workshop and a healthy additional income.

Mike concluded: “It is no coincidence that to date, this year has been our best ever for JLM products and our biggest customers are technicians buying JLM from their local motor factor stockist. Technicians can choose JLM products with confidence because they have heard great things about the brand; They have read about the products in good quality trade publications such as Aftermarket and if they are not presently using JLM products they are open to a conversation and they invariably know a technician who’s a raving fan. Their next step is putting some of JLM’s hero products through their paces. We welcome those conversations.”
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Building the better garage

In the first instalment of a two-part series, Frank considers how a garage can offer a successful diagnostic service to its customers
Published:  13 October, 2022

Part One

“Ideal opportunity” – Schaeffler’s Alistair Mason on S&S OE parts

Published:  04 October, 2022

Reflecting on the best parts for use on a vehicle’s steering and suspension system, Schaeffler’s Technical Manager Alistair Mason observed: “The first question that technicians working on a vehicle’s steering & suspension components should ask, is whether the replacement parts they’re going to fit are of original equipment quality. Let’s be frank, these are safety critical components and if something fails the consequences can be horrendous. So, why compromise and just fit the cheapest in order to price match another garage, when it could be someone’s wife or child that’s put at such an unnecessary risk?

What’s in a name?

By Andrew Marsh, Engineering Director, Auto Industry Consulting Ltd
Published:  29 September, 2022

Andrew looks back to the dawn of motoring to see how the sports car came to be defined

Nissens Automotive Heater and Cabin Blowers

Published:  26 September, 2022

Nissens Automotive is an established aftermarket replacement parts supplier with decades of thermal management experience, across both the vehicle’s engine cooling (E/C) and air conditioning (A/C) systems. Its comprehensive product range, all of which is manufactured to Genuine Nissens Quality standards, to provide independent workshops with premium grade replacement parts, which operate to the same performance levels as the original, gives them a premium quality aftermarket solution they can depend on.

Genuine alternative

Published:  23 September, 2022

Schaeffler Territory Manager Mike Hansford has been reflecting on what makes for the best option in steering and suspension. He observed: “The FAG steering and suspension range provides independent workshops looking for premium quality parts with the ideal solution, as the unique features, plus the fit and finish, ensure a best-in-class repair,”

Fig 2

Hide and seek

There are those who, instead of identifying and rectifying faults on cars, would rather change the vehicle’s capacity to detect such faults
Published:  22 September, 2022

By Ryan Colley, Elite Automotive Diagnostics

Fig 1

Strange brew

Neil gives his brain some exercise thanks to a most perplexing Mercedes-Benz problem
Published:  20 September, 2022

By Neil Currie

Adding fuel to the fire

The increased ethanol content of petrol in the UK is causing all sorts of issues, and Frank says you need to start paying attention in this area
Published:  12 September, 2022

COVID-19 and the last two years may have reset how we, dare I say, plan, for the future. If the pandemic wasn’t enough, the events of the last four months have only reaffirmed the need to think further ahead than we have been used to doing. The war in Ukraine has affected parts supply as well as fuel stocks and delivery.
I have chosen to revisit bioethanol fuel and its effect on vehicle design and servicing. I’m not a farming expert but I do know that Ukraine is a supplier of raw ingredients, such as wheat, maze, and sugar cane. The UK has quite recently introduced E10 at our pumps. Fortunately, E5 is still available, reserved for our high-energy fuels. I’m glad about this on a personal level, because that is all I ever use.
I do not buy into some of the statements regarding the introduction of bioethanol fuels as they have their roots with political initiatives, reducing C02 levels, reducing farming subsidies and overproduction waste, and replacing fossil fuel production.
The process of creating bioethanol fuel by alcoholic fermentation is above my pay grade, but I wonder what the hidden pollution cost of farming, transportation and actual production is?
I suggest you look at biomass fuels for electricity production, which is one of the most dishonest clean energy claims. I am often found cycling through north Lincolnshire, where I am well-placed to watch the endless trains on their way to Drax power station. Biomass is wood or trees, a great deal comes from North America. It’s worth a thought while driving EVs!
Ethanol is an organic hydrocarbon which like petroleum consists of carbon molecules. The ethanol chain is comprised of two carbon molecules, each supporting three hydrogen atoms and a hydroxyl group; Oxygen with one hydrogen atom. Bioethanol can be identified as ethanol produced from biomass (a renewable carbon source),  or waste material, vegetables, timber (trees) straw, or plant-based material. My last statement is the biggest objection to claims of what makes a renewable energy source. Biomass fuel is combusted much faster than its source can be renewed. In short, trees do not grow quickly.
In Europe under DIN EN 228, 5% ethanol is allowed in petroleum fuels without additional labelling on the pump, whereas 10% and above must be identified. Percentages up to 85% are possible but only with highly modified vehicles.
Ethanol has a fixed boiling point of 78°C. This has a direct effect on the combustion process, especially from cold. Therefore, fuel delivery quantity and ignition adjustment are paramount to successful drivability. First generation biofuels compose of oil or sugar-based plants into diesel fuel by pressing and esterification. Sugar-based plants are converted into ethanol by a fermentation process.
Second generation biofuels are produced from a variety of energy sources including, organic waste, straw, wood, agricultural waste, old timber, low grade forest, including land set aside for future growth, and fast-growing plant material.
Low grade forest growth is normally 15-20 years. Renewable carbon source? Here come the politics. Plants convert atmospheric CO2 into biomass, this renewable energy source can then be subtracted from vehicle emissions. It even has a political expression, carbon credits, or carbon offset. It is accepted that bioethanol fuels have less calorific value than petroleum, however the increase in combustion cylinder pressures make up any differences in power output.

Autarkic cold starting, or poor start combustion has now been overcome without the need for preheaters, by re-introducing a cold start manifold injector n17, alloy manifolds and retardation of the ignition profile. Additional cylinder bore treatments will help counteract bore wash during adverse low temperature conditions. There is however a much-modified servicing requirement due to oil pollution increase. Oil replacement occurs every 15,000 kilometres or 9,000 mils or 12 months. Ethanol fuel is highly corrosive with respect to copper, aluminium, and rubber, therefor it is not advisable to operate vehicle’s non-bioethanol compliant.
Bioethanol fuels have a similar effect on valve seats as unleaded fuels did on their introduction several years ago. Further attention by Audi in addressing the combustion pressure increases focused on the design and strengthening of the con rods, big end bearings with an additional aluminium layer, and piston crown design.
The vehicle electronic control system must have a fuel quality sensor g446. This is fitted in the primary fuel supply line. This is necessary for correct adjustment to varying ethanol percentage. Its function is a capacitive change due to the two-bioethanol content. The sensor outputs a frequency between 55hz equalling 0% bio and 150hz equalling 100% bio.

To improve cold start, Audi took full advantage of their multi-injection control system, with one injection event on the intake stroke. This period corrects for the additional cold start fuel requirement, with two injection events occurring on the compression event, with the timing shifted closer to the ignition point. This is augmented by a fuel pressure of 150bar. A conventional gasoline vehicle would have between 65 and 90bar.
There has been some speculation over adverse injector performance with bioethanol fuels. We at ADS have experienced what I would describe as an unusually high number of injector-related problems in recent months. With fuel delivery pressures of 350 bar and above, Care should be taken before attributing symptoms and cause. However, I do understand from a great friend and industry expert, that Bosch are experiencing filter baskets dissolving and or restricting fuel flow through the injector resulting in engine failure. Porsche is another manufacturer experiencing premature engine failures, although I have no evidence that there is any connection between these causes.
Other more obvious considerations with injectors focus on the obvious fact that the pintles are mounted directly into the combustion area. Therefore they subject to combustion related deposits. Also, pintles may open out, but not in.
Do not pre-judge my comments in this topic as negative to recent developments. I have been an automotive engineer for over 50 years. As such, I take a wider, fact-diven view of the rapid changes I have witnessed, including the comments at the beginning of this subject.

As a footnote, BMW and KIA have given directives to their dealership network to recommend named-brand gasoline only, without ethanol content.

Mind the skills gap

In his latest article, Martin considers the importance of training to keep one-step ahead of technology
Published:  05 September, 2022

By Martin Pinnell-Brown, Director, Repairify Innovations

Alternators and starters in hybrid vehicles

AS-PL unleashes some of its technical knowledge, looking at starters and alternators for hybrids
Published:  29 August, 2022

Cars with hybrid drives were introduced at the beginning of the 21st century. These were experimental units, but nevertheless were able to prove that the automotive industry could expect a huge technological leap in the future.

Currently, the portfolio of hybrid vehicles is extensive and includes various engine variants. Whether a particular engine is equipped with an alternator and starter and their particular role is also a diverse matter. When it comes to hybrid engines, can we still talk about these elements as we knew them from previous generations of engines?

The automotive industry is developing very rapidly, both from the perspective of passenger car users, as well as those driving utility vehicles. Mechanics need to expand their knowledge, and garages need to invest in equipment to be able to provide service for the ever-increasing number of cars with hybrid and electric drives.

Hybrid vehicles come in a multitude of versions and models, from less advanced examples, up to more technically complex iterations, where the user decides which engine to choose: electric or internal combustion. The function of the alternator and starter in such engines is also not immune to change.

Micro, mild and full hybrids: Several types of hybrid vehicles can be distinguished based on how advanced they are:

Micro hybrid: The electric engine functions as a starter and/or alternator, it does not drive the car directly.

Mild hybrid: The electric engine supports the internal combustion engine, e.g., when accelerating.

Full hybrid: The electric engine supports the combustion engine but can also propel the car independently.

Series, parallel and mixed hybrids: The following hybrids are distinguished based on the manner of connection between the internal combustion and electric engine.

Series: The internal combustion engine does not provide much power and its only role is to support the generator (an alternator combined with a starter).

Parallel: The electric engine supports the internal combustion one. The internal combustion engine is mechanically connected with the wheels. The system may be equipped with one or two clutches and split axles.

Mixed: These are a combination of the approaches already discussed.

Integrated starter-alternators
Hybrid vehicles are equipped with integrated starter-alternator (ISA) systems. Their functions include, but are not limited to, energy recovery during braking (regenerative braking), Stop/Start system, or supporting the main engine when starting, increasing power, or accelerating. This system also allows for powering other devices, such as electric power steering and air conditioning. The newest i-StARS integrated alternator-starters are digitally controlled via communication protocols, such as LIN or BSS.

Hybrid drive applications are an example of how far we have gone and how little is needed to completely replace the internal combustion engine with electric drive systems. Increasing power capacity (cells) or charging speed will certainly be important in this respect. An infrastructure network full of easily accessible electricity sources is also vital.  It may be assumed that the way integrated alternator-starter systems are applied will change or that they will be replaced with a more modern system, completely abandoning the drives we know today.

Thin end of the wedge

This month, Andrew examines the travails experienced by Aston Martin with the roll-out of its V8 Lagonda
Published:  24 August, 2022

By Andrew Marsh, Engineering Director, Auto Industry Consulting Ltd

Thin end of the wedge

This month, Andrew examines the travails experienced by Aston Martin with the roll-out of its V8 Lagonda
Published:  17 August, 2022

 By Andrew Marsh, Engineering Director, Auto Industry Consulting Ltd

Ride the common rail

In this issue, Damien has rolled up his sleeves to deal with a problematic common rail diesel injection engine
Published:  10 August, 2022

 By Damien Coleman, Product Manager/ EBI Specialist at Snap-on

Software manipulation and how to catch it!

A Mercedes-Benz that Ryan recently encountered provided him with an opportunity to muse on software manipulation
Published:  05 August, 2022

 By Ryan Colley, Elite Automotive Diagnostics

Tales of the unexpected

Grange looks at what the future might hold for self-driving vehicles on British roads
Published:  02 August, 2022

By 2030, the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles will be banned, and car dealerships will only have electric models on display, which will include autonomous options. It is fair to say that drivers are looking at this exciting prospect with anticipation.
As the hype for the future of mobility rises, we are left with one, intriguing question – what types of self-driving cars can we expect to see on our roads? Here, we take a look at what may happen in the space of five years, and how far technology will take us.

Policy and legislation
The UK is working hard to be on track for the introduction of future vehicles. Through the implementation of policies and legislation, our country is paving the way towards allowing the safe access of AVs on British streets.
According to KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index 2020, with an index ranking score of 21.36, Britain sits in ninth position when it comes to readiness for self-driving cars. With a strong focus on safety, cybersecurity, technology, and public transport, the UK is actively preparing for innovation in mobility.
As for the reviewing and introduction of pertinent legislation, Britain ranks second on the Policy and legislation pillar. More specifically, in July 2018, the UK accepted the so-called Automated and Electric Vehicles Act, which strives to update insurance rules to cover autonomous vehicles.
In this respect, Roads Minister Jesse Norman said that the act “will ensure that the UK’s infrastructure and insurance system is ready for the biggest transport revolution in a century.”
A second consultation was published in 2019, addressing AV regulation for public services, including driverless taxis and minibuses. Recently, the UK government has also released a third consultation, which serves as an extension to define self-driving, guarantee security, and specify the difference between a fleet operation and a user-in-charge.
Britain’s progress in terms of making adaptations for autonomous cars is increasingly evident. Indeed, if granted a GB type approval, all vehicles that are equipped with Automated Lane-Keeping System (ALKS) technology will be classified as AVs. This suggests that autonomous cars may be able to hit our roads in the very near future, but on one condition – they cannot exceed a speed of 37mph.

How independent will self-driving vehicles be?
The term ‘autonomous vehicle’ implies that the car will happily do its thing without the intervention of a human. AVs are divided into different categories and, of course, self-driving vehicles are part of this classification. However, they only include its most advanced stage – Level 5.

What about the other four levels? What type of AVs do they feature? Let’s take a look.

No driving automation (Level 0)
Level 0 stands for a basic, manual vehicle. In these types of cars, humans take care of all driving operations, including operating the gear stick.

Driver assistance (Level 1)
Level 1 cars are fitted with adaptive cruise control, making them an upgraded version of entirely manual vehicles. This feature allows the car to regulate speed and perform lane centring on its own.

Partial driving automation (Level 2)
Currently, most vehicles on our roads are Level 2 autonomy. From accelerating and braking functions to automatic steering, these cars feature a range of handy features.

Conditional driving automation (Level 3)
In large, these cars are self-driving, but only in specific conditions. In fact, drivers are always required to be alert and to take control of the vehicle if needed. Cars that are equipped with ALKS will be classified as Level 3 vehicles, which are the AVs that the British government plans to introduce on our roads first.  

High driving automation (Level 4)
If you just want to sit back and relax, a Level 4 car is the perfect fit. These AVs do not expect humans to take control at any point. In the event of an unexpected incident on the road, the vehicle is designed to simply pull over and stop safely. This said, these cars are not built to work in all conditions, which may therefore be limiting for some drivers. There is no denying that Level 4 AVs are a huge leap in innovative mobility, but sadly our road networks – for the time being – are too complicated to accommodate them. Hence, some believe that we will never see these cars populate our streets.

Full driving automation (Level 5)
Slightly more advanced than their Level 4 counterparts, Level 5 AVs are expected to operate uniquely on their own with no human input whatsoever. There is reason to think that these may be the future of our taxis and buses.
Past predictions estimated that by 2021, there would be queues of autonomous cars waiting at the red traffic light, ready to drive off on their own as soon as they flashed green. It is fair to say that expectation was perhaps a bit too hopeful. As things stand, artificial intelligence is not advanced enough to reach that stage yet. Even Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, had to go back on his words. He had previously tweeted that by 2020 there would be “over a million cars with full self-driving, software, everything.”
At the moment, we can only wait and hope to see if Level 3 vehicles make an appearance on our roads.
We may still have to be patient for self-driving vehicles to accessorise British streets, but trials are happening on a regular basis – and progress is being made. For instance, Google’s self-driving car project Waymo has been working hard on the development of the Jaguar I-Pace, the sister of the magnificent Jaguar E-Pace. It is a fully electric Level 3 AV with an in-built InControl, which includes great driving assistance features. These are many and varied, such as emergency braking, cruise control, lane keep assist, speed limiter, adaptive speed limiter, and traffic sign recognition.
What’s more, in Ireland, Jaguar Land Rover is setting up a ‘smart city hub’ where self-driving car technology – and the Jaguar I-Pace, specifically – can safely be put to the test. The 7.5-mile road system will give developers the opportunity to test the vehicle’s sensors and gather data from a variety of driving scenarios.
Our recent technological advancements bode well for the future of mobility. It may still be too soon to witness autonomous vehicles on our streets, but ongoing trials are ensuring that – when the time comes – AVs will be able to travel securely and sustainably. Ultimately, there is a lot to look forward to.

Let’s Amarok!

Additive delivery to diesel engines can be a headache, and Frank found himself dealing with just such an issue recently
Published:  25 July, 2022

This month’s topic looks at a VW Amarok 3.0, engine code DDXC, with SCR additive emission control.

It is the additive system we will focus on, no surprises there. Presented to our workshop with the coil lamp illuminated, displaying no loss of performance or fuel economy. The owner is a neighbour of my son David who conducted all the following diagnosis and collation of test data. The owner purchased a £20.00 eBay special code reader extracting the simple message “NOx sensor.” It is my intention to focus on the diagnostic process as well as the repair decisions are undertaken.
Most mistakes are often made before any work begins. So, the initial triage is vital in understanding the customer’s requirements, as well as your actions, therefore cost.

With that in mind out comes the ODIS diagnostic platform, vital in this evaluation, as will become apparent later. Please refer to the serial fault data as seen in Fig.1 and Fig.2. The important point to make here is the additional volume of data and specific component identification, this helps to correctly locate the item on the vehicle. There will be an additional advantage in driving the vehicle, observing specific data for the NOx additive system, I.E pre-repair data. This can later be compared with post-repair data. I will cover this later when we consider pre/post-Datazap images. As technicians, we must be conversant with the systems we intend to interrogate. This should include a system functional overview and component location, including manufacturer’s TSBs.

The test drive confirmed post-catalyst NOx levels higher than pre-NOx catalyst levels. It also confirmed an over-aggressive NOx additive injector function. Other critical observations related to exhaust gas temperatures, and catalyst efficiency. Low exhaust gas temperatures on load may suggest EGR faults. Do not reinvent the wheel; If there is a known fix identified by the VMs then include it in your repair. So, David conducted a TSB campaign search.
The search initially did not show any known campaigns for the fault code P103300 (237) G295 NOx sensor.  However, it did list a very interesting known issue with NOx sensor calibration?
Please refer to Fig.3, an image from ELSA. As this was unknown to David, he carefully read the process and required tools. ELSA identified an issue with NOx control module, and incorrect calibration. This requires the VAS 601 011 flash box. Whilst waiting for the shiny new toy to arrive at £400.00 the next often overlooked action is testing the urea additive quality and injector delivery rate.
There are only two tools required for urea quality, a refractometer, and your nose. If it smells like a urinal it’s knackered. It should be odourless. The ammonia must be 32.5%, as an exercise check your deliveries and all brands for compliance. You will be shocked at the results. We find the VM brands most reliable.

In the next test, ODIS is mandatory. It involves selecting the exact vehicle I.D, attaching a measuring beaker, removing the additive injector, then conducting a timed discharge test. There will be a very specific value, which must correct.
Please refer to Fig.4, which shows the VAS 601 011 tester. Using this calibration tool is very simple. Like most dealer tools, it doesn’t require any technical ability to use and is void of any data when in use. The NOx sensor lead is removed from the vehicle loom and connected to the flash box. Push the button and await the green tick to appear. During a discussion at Autoinform Dublin, it was suggested the tool does not evaluate or test the sensor, merely updates the control module firmware.
This sounds suspiciously like it was not done at the factory or the goalposts have been moved to avoid the MIL light errors. With all the above tests correctly, passed David was then able to re-check the vehicle additive system.
With performance not affected, David was keen to establish if the urea consumption was excessive. This was confirmed as one tank urea per two of fuel. We know the injector is delivering the correct volume, so there must be another reason.
Returning to the efficiency data, and injector delivery ratio he noted the following. Please refer to Fig,5 and Fig.6, which show SCR CAT efficiency. The NOx catalyst efficiency was well down at .354/.495 when 1.000 is correct, so the focus shifted to the catalyst efficiency. The vehicle has only done around 54,000 miles so we were not expecting a problem. Removing the exhaust system from the front and rear allowed inspection with our ender scope.

So here is the rub; Look at the pre-repair and post-repair Datazap images as seen in Fig.7and Fig.8

Green is good

In the first in a new series of articles, Martin Brown from Repairify Innovations looks at the rise and rise of parts recycling
Published:  22 July, 2022

 By Martin Pinnell-Brown, Director, Repairify Innovations

Ghost in the shell

This month, Andrew considers how Rolls-Royce has changed over the last two decades
Published:  14 July, 2022

 By Andrew Marsh, Engineering Director, Auto Industry Consulting Ltd

Powertrain Vehicle Networking

A Renault Megane that was experiencing issues has given Ryan the chance to discuss vehicle networking
Published:  11 July, 2022

At times, we encounter troubling vehicles from other workshops because other techs have failed to draw a correct diagnosis. Failures found in a controller area network (CAN) can be as simple as an open wire or as complicated as a noisy network resulting from outside interference. Regardless, a thorough understanding is required to ensure an accurate and swift diagnosis.
The vehicle in question was a Renault Megane 2, with a 1.5DCI engine. It had quite a few local garages puzzled, keeping this vehicle off the road for over six months. Knowing how these systems operate along with the use of an oscilloscope is crucial for analysing any networking fault, including this one.
The CAN bus network is made up of various control modules, also known as nodes,  all connected via two wires which send data packets to each other. They communicate via a binary signal (signal in either a recessive or dominant state) and transmit data at an average rate of 500Kbps (which is the equivalent to 0.5Mbps). Often, the voltages of the binary signal range from the following:
CAN-HI= 2.5v – 3.5v
CAN-LOW=2.5v – 1.5v

Anything ‘CAN’ be fixed, if it’s understood
The customer complained that the vehicle would not crank when the push-to-start button was pressed. However, the ignition would come on. They also noted that the cooling fan would operate with the ignition ‘on’. They mentioned multiple scan tools had been used. However, communication with the engine computer could not be established.
I started by confirming the fault and noted that the engine management light (MIL) did not illuminate on the dash display, with the ignition ‘on’. With no-start complaints, paying attention to the MIL status during ignition ‘on’ is a great first observation, as this will often tell us whether the engine computer is online or not. I carried out a full system scan to find no fault codes present in the vehicle, but did note the engine control module was not detected on the scan. This indicated a communication problem for the engine control module. If this is not communicating with the rest of the vehicle, it will not start as the immobilizer data will not be shared between modules.
Knowing how vehicle networking operates, as described earlier, is critical and can speed up your diagnostic process. For example, I now know I cannot communicate with the engine computer via CAN, but older engine computers often have a single serial data line known as K-line, which connects directly from the data link connector (DLC) to the engine ECU.  Therefore, my next diagnostic step was to see if I could communicate via the K-line to the ECM. If so, this would confirm that the engine ECU is receiving the powers and grounds it needs to communicate.
This can be done with most scan tools by simply carrying out an emissions on-board diagnostic (EOBD) scan. The result of this was established communication. It is now likely a CAN bus-related issue for the ECM. See Fig.1.

Following the stepping-stones
Knowing I likely have a CAN Bus fault for the ECM, the next job was to access the engine computer and verify the wiring integrity. It is crucial that powers and grounds are verified, along with CAN communication line integrity, before ever condemning a control unit. Powers and grounds were verified as ‘good’. Although this was already assumed, because communication was established with the ECM via K-line, it had to be confirmed.
Next, I had to check the CAN bus directly at the engine computer. This check can only be performed accurately with an oscilloscope to truly verify its integrity. I found, with the ignition ‘on’, and the engine computer connected, the CAN high and low signals were shorted to ground, thus confirming our suspicions of a CAN Bus problem. See Fig.2
You must carry out this test with the engine ECU connected as well as disconnected. In case the ECM is internally faulted and is the root cause of the CAN bus short. If the signal, with the ECM disconnected, returns to the expected waveform, then it is likely the issue is related to the ECM, or its internal circuitry. As you can see, referring to Fig.3, with the engine ECU disconnected, the CAN high signal has returned correctly. However, there still exists an obvious issue with the CAN low signal. When checking these signals with an oscilloscope you are looking for uniformity and a mirror image of them, as you will see.

The proof is in the pudding
I have now proven that the CAN low signal leading to the ECM is at fault. Looking at the wiring diagram in Fig.1, you will find that the engine ECU’s CAN data lines go directly to the UPC module (under bonnet fuse box). Therefore, my next diagnostic test is to check for the availability of the CAN signal at the UPC. A signal verified at this location will indicate a wiring fault between the UPC and engine ECU.
As you can see from the scope capture in Fig.4, there are proper CAN high and low signals, exhibiting each data packet as mirror images of each other, at the UPC module. This then confirms a wiring fault between the UPC and ECM, on the CAN low data line.
Using a jumper wire to connect the CAN low signal, from the UPC module, to the ECM, there is now a proper CAN low signal being measured at the ECM, as seen in Fig.5. This allows me to reconnect the ECU and start the vehicle, confirming that there is indeed a wiring issue between the UPC and ECM. Only then do I move on to the repair stage of this job.

The final countdown
The final step of the repair was to locate the damaged wiring between the UPC and the ECM. By removing the airbox, battery and battery tray I gained better access to the wiring harness. A closer inspection of the harness revealed where it was damaged. Please refer to Fig.6. The wiring is clearly damaged, and it is the green wire that carries the CAN bus low signal, from the UPC to the ECM. After repairing this damaged wire, communication to the ECM was re-established, allowing for the vehicle to start and run.
In-depth knowledge of vehicle networking is strongly advised when dealing with these systems. As can be seen from our diagnosis path, it will streamline your diagnosis and make tackling these difficult jobs a lot easier. You will likely find it a struggle to diagnose these faults without an oscilloscope allowing you to really see what's going on. Therefore, I highly recommend using an oscilloscope when diagnosing network faults.

Into the chaos

In a special double-length article, Andrew posits that internal combustion engine mayhem lies ahead
Published:  30 June, 2022

Last year, I asked a professor who had previously worked with the World Economic Forum if the movement towards battery electric vehicles (BEVs), the intentional abandonment of the internal combustion engine, might lead to critical skills shortages. Could this lead to gradual problems supporting the parts supply for the majority of land-based transportation which uses internal combustion engines?

Given this professor championed the historic car restoration business, he should have understood the question. He did not.
The USA, Canada, Europe (including the UK, Norway and more), Japan and select other countries have moved policy so fast that emission regulations intended for reduction of tailpipe emissions are now overtaken by the desire to concentrate fuel pollution in electricity generation only, which means exclusively BEV power. This takes no account that the rest of the plant has no choice but to continue to use hydrocarbon-fuelled internal combustion engines because electricity power generation cannot keep up with either industrial or domestic demand. It also takes no account of the fact that many of the countries posturing to do this have also neglected their electric power generation systems.

Investors, buoyed by the promise of making a killing in a new forced market have ridden the narrative that BEV is the only show in town, and everything else is worthless legacy. For this reason, we have start-ups such as Rivian appearing to be worth more than the entire Volkswagen Group, having assembled less than 100 vehicles, and been less than clear if any have been sold for cash. Let that sink in; Less than 100 vehicles, compared to 9.2 million new Volkswagen Group vehicles sold in 2020, and this was under the worst trading conditions for decades, down from 11 million in 2019.

Rivian is part of a gaggle of disruptors, which is Silicon Valley Bank-speak for share price inflation opportunity. Quite simply, ‘the narrative’, investor-speak for the tale of the day, is ensuring established business in almost every sector is penalised with little or no cash, unless they join in with the same story. The executives in the boardroom, looking over their shoulders and needing large bonuses, are happy more often than not to do ‘what is necessary’.

There are two compound effects. Firstly, manufacture of key components for internal combustion engines long ago resided with suppliers to vehicle manufacturers, and along with that came expertise. Making sure a valve spring, for example, would work for 200,000 plus miles is something that would have taken a very long time to develop. In the age of the legacy narrative, this has limited shareholder value.

Secondly, investments to develop new vehicles through to new components requires investment. If the return on investment is less than 20% per year, then the cost of accessing those loans increases, thereby further reducing opportunity for the vehicle manufacturer as well as their suppliers.

Lift and shift
The solution is to move manufacturing along with engineering from established centres of excellence into countries still undergoing immense economic growth. Frequently there is a vast pool of highly qualified talent available at far lower pay rates than in ‘established’ markets, except the academic ability needs extensive guidance. So, key staff who are effectively not part of the future in North America, Europe or some parts of the Far East are sent off. The hand-over of expertise lasts as long as those individuals are present, and then decay sets in if this process is not supported when they leave. There are clear examples of the automotive sector operating in countries where running a manufacturing plant is possible, but understanding what happens in the whole process from creation to mass production is weak. BMW Group understood from the outset what strengths each new manufacturing region had, and their weaknesses too. Investments were made cautiously, so that the satellite plant skill could be developed properly. In contrast Volkswagen Group partnered with a domestic company, sold the tooling and tried to build a vehicle which had a good reputation in Europe. Lack of control over the quality of locally sourced parts mean the vehicles broke, and sometimes even before the end of the assembly line. Volkswagen Group soon understood what BMW Group already knew, altered their processes and enjoyed success.

The engine
Tellingly, the bit most satellite production gets to do last is the engine and transmission manufacture. Firstly, a container can take many vehicles worth of powertrains, and they represent one of the most valuable assemblies out of the whole vehicle. Secondly, not only is considerable expertise required, frequently suppliers who may not be present in the country need to set up operations.
Then there is the specialist knowledge that is not fully documented because it is ‘known’. Remarkably in an age where so much engineering, tool making and production layout can be achieved with off-the-peg programmes, most technology development requires the application of pre-existing knowledge to drive the whole process forward.

Here’s the danger
The automotive sector has understood the internal combustion development, which runs up to five years ahead of new legislation, especially for tail pipe emissions, has been stopped. This is because the direction of travel from Europe and North America means companies are forced to go green to survive, and off-load internal combustion engines to places that still want them. Those places include China and India, for example.

If the manufacturing is simply shipped out to partners with little or no support, the products may well look fine but may not work. Rather than an orderly ramp-down in Europe, North America and selected Far East markets, the result will be incomplete BEV roll out due to costs, lack of power generation and difficulties around the power distribution network
Effectively this incentivizes those unable to buy a BEV to hang on to their ‘legacy’ vehicle.

Taking this one step further, who is going to support this fleet of circa 33 million vehicles in the UK alone, if there is not a robust supply of quality parts?

Accelerating into the unknown
The message is clear. Established component and assembly suppliers in Europe have stopped internal combustion engine development right across Europe, trying to make this intermediate strategy of ‘lift and shift’ cover the inevitable shortfall. Where there is no support, component quality will nosedive. Currently we know which suppliers made parts for vehicle manufacturers, which ones may not have supplied those parts for a given vehicle but have a great depth of expertise, which ones bought parts to reverse engineer them, and those who frankly produced nicely packaged scrap. That’s about to get a whole lot more exciting.
Everyone, from vehicle manufacturers to suppliers of suppliers, is trying to do a great job. However, the risk is that much knowledge has already and will continue to be lost as the age of the internal combustion engine is politically engineered, followed by destruction of much good manufacturing capability before the great future hope of transport can really deliver, at the right price for the public.
Capitalism has not delivered this half-baked cake; Mainstream politics and earnest lobbyists have.     Meanwhile the last man standing with the expertise to save the day is the automotive aftermarket. How on earth could this sector ever be seen as boring?

Attack of the clones

A troublesome BMW 1 Series that received some attention from Ryan recently showed how cloning is the future
Published:  22 June, 2022

I hope you have been enjoying these recent articles. I would like to discuss something a little different with this issue’s case study, which will go into detail about computer cloning and in-depth electronics.
Developing a diagnostics game plan
I would like to present to you a troublesome vehicle we had in our workshop recently that required us to go above and beyond to repair. The vehicle in question was a 2007 BMW 1 Series with a 2.0 Petrol gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine. The vehicle was brought into us after having recently having the coils packs, spark plugs and injectors replaced to try and rectify the issue with this vehicle. However, the fault remained. The customer advised us the vehicle would run very rough from start-up and would eventually cut out.
We started the vehicle, and as the customer had warned, it was running very rough. It was obvious to us it was misfiring on multiple cylinders.
A full system scan of the vehicle revealed fault codes relating to injector control circuit for cylinders 1 and 4 or an internal fault to the digital motor electronics (DME) a.k.a the engine computer. This computer oversees turning the injectors on to inject the correct amount of fuel into the engine in order for it to run efficiently. I could clearly tell we had a multiple cylinder misfire therefore it was obvious the next step would be to check these circuits. Please refer to Fig.1.  
Time to Measure
The next step was to check if we had any injector driver activity at the injectors themselves. Therefore, I connected an oscilloscope to injectors 2 and 3, first to attain a known good waveform, before continuing onto the circuits the DME was reporting as being faulty. After checking the fuel injector signal, I found we had good control on cylinders 2 and 3 as we would expect. Therefore, now I needed to confirm we had the same signals on injectors 1 and 4. Once connected to fuel injectors 1 and 4, I found no injector driver signals being present. This can be caused by the injectors themselves, faulty wiring or a faulty engine computer injector driver. This meant I now needed to confirm the injectors themselves were not shorted before moving onto check the wiring integrity. Please refer to Fig.2 and Fig.3
I checked the resistance value of the Piezo stack. The value I would expect to see would be between 180-195k ohms. This is an indicator of a good Piezo stack, meaning electronically this injector is not shorted. As you can see from the image, we have 193k ohms, which is within the range I would expect to see on a Piezo injector. I confirmed all four injectors were the same resistance value indicating the injectors was not the issue next, I took the same measurement as above directly at the ECM. However, I still did not have any injector driver control. It was now obvious the engine computer was at fault.

How do we solve a hardware supply issue?
After contacting our local dealer to order a replacement engine computer at a cost of £1,200+VAT, I was informed they currently had none in stock and did not have an estimated time of arrival on any new ones due to a chip shortage. This then only gave us one other option which was to clone the engine computer data into another engine computer from a donor vehicle. This process is called cloning.
The process is done using a specialist programmer, which will read the microprocessor and EEPROM internal to the engine computer to retrieve all the data required to transfer into the donor unit. This is done by directly connecting to the engine computer and manually powering the unit up on the bench. The data retrieved contains immobiliser information as well as the engine computer’s software and programming data effectively producing an identical match to what was previously installed on the vehicle. With this information we can make clones of the original which can then be installed back onto the vehicle.
As you can see from the images, the cloning process was successful and the programmer had successfully written the data into the donor engine computer. All that was left was to install this ECU back into the vehicle and I can confirm this was a fix. The benefit of this process as opposed to attempting to program a used engine computer via a scan tool is that all the immobiliser data, software and programming counters were all automatically transferred, meaning this is now a plug-and-play unit.

Programmers are the future
When parts are no longer available to us as garage owners, we need to think of effective methods of repair which will not only correct the issue with the vehicle but will also result in a long-lasting repair. The work carried out here is a promising solution for us as vehicle repairers and I believe will become a lot more common as technology progresses and control modules either become too expensive for an economical repair or are no longer available.

Past, present and cars of the future

Our Editor looks back and forwards with his old colleague, Neil Kennett, who is joining the mag’s roster of regular contributors
Published:  14 June, 2022

Neil, we worked literally alongside each other in the RMI press office for years. What do you remember most about those days?
Oh, where to start?  We used to joke that nobody ever leaves the motor industry, and here we both are 20 years and several kids later. I joined in early 2003. You were already the Press Officer and I was Website Editor. I also worked on Forecourt magazine and the fuel protests were huge news at the time. The poor petrol retailers took loads of stick, quite unfairly because they earnt very little from fuel sales. Imagine the outrage if the protestors had known what a gallon would cost today. There were a lot of strong opinions about Block Exemption, authorised repairer status and emissions too, so in some ways we’ve made incredible progress, and in other ways it’s the same old industry tensions.

Then one day you left to go freelance…
Yes, sorry about that. I completed my NCTJ journalism course by passing the 80-words-per-minute shorthand exam, admittedly at the second time of asking, and launched Featurebank in 2007, offering journalism and PR services. From the start the trade titles were brilliant. I got writing gigs with Aftermarket, among others, and ticked a few items off the bucket list – writing race reports for Autosport, interviewing legends like Sir Stirling Moss and covering a consumer court victory for Auto Express.
The PR side picked up nicely too. The Mail on Sunday naming MyCarCheck its “No.1 cash-saving app” was an important early win, and I worked for Euro Car Parts for years, back when Sukhpal was in charge. I wrote all sorts for them – internal and external comms, ad copy –press releases about landmark moments like becoming part of LKQ and buying up all those Unipart sites. Those were big deals which made international headlines. I’d admired ECP since a press tour of the old Wembley site – they had teams of people with headsets on selling like something out of Wall Street.
I hadn’t seen that in the aftermarket before – it was next level.”

Speaking of the silver screen, at some point you got into TV
The Dispatches? Superb experience. It was called Secrets Of Your Car Insurance, but really it was about the bodyshop industry. The heavy lifting was done by another old RMI contact, Andrew Moody, a panel beater who became a solicitor and barrister specialising in automotive law – quite a unique skillset. In 2012, he sent me a hefty bundle of paperwork outlining how some approved repairer networks were operating to the detriment of both bodyshops and consumers. I suggested it was either a book no-one would read or a TV programme, so we took it Channel 4.
It made waves and we ended up at the House of Commons with Andrew presenting to an All-Party Parliamentary Group. We stood up for what was right even though it involved taking on some seriously powerful organisations. I’m still very proud of that. To make you feel old, I’ve recently started doing PR for Andrew’s son, John. He’s 21, a qualified pilot and he’s built this fantastic In-House HR system, an online human resources solution developed specifically with repairers in mind.

We can’t go any further without getting into driverless cars. I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned it already.
What can I say? I’m obsessed. I was writing more and more about ADAS and in 2018 I wrote a cover story for the IMI, ‘Autonomous now: the shift to self-driving’, which was a gamechanger for me. The response was overwhelming and it convinced me to launch to raise the standard of debate. So much of the coverage is misguided, overly simplistic or plain wrong, with driverless cars frequently presented as the harbingers of a Terminator-style apocalypse. I set out to promote informed voices of reason and now I’ve written over two hundred thousand words about it.
It’s a shame, given everything Tesla’s done for electric cars, that so many hyperbolic headlines are caused by its confusingly-named Full Self-Driving (FSD) package. It simply isn’t self-driving as the rest of the industry understands it. Conflating assisted and automated is dangerous, because it risks drivers misunderstanding what their cars are capable of. Things are coming to a head in America with a group called The Dawn Project taking out a full-page advert in The New York Times with the tagline “Don’t be a Tesla crash test dummy.” They’re offering $10,000 to “the first person who can name another commercial product from a Fortune 500 company that has a critical malfunction every eight minutes.” Ouch!
Honestly, I find Tesla’s approach so frustrating. It’s not only ill-advised, it’s counterproductive, because news of so-called driverless car crashes dents consumer confidence. Why gild the lily? True self-driving has seismic potential and it’s coming soon. If adopted sensibly it will dramatically improve safety and combine with zero emissions, mobility-as-a-service and active travel to completely transform road transport.
Notice the “if” there. None of these outcomes are guaranteed and now is a crucial time in terms of public perception. These are safety-critical issues and utmost clarity is vital. For the near future at least, the best advice is that drivers need to be alert at all times. To promote that message, I’ve just signed a new media partnership deal with Reuters for their flagship Auto Tech 2022 event. I get to interview Sammy Omari, vice president of autonomy at Motional, and Xinzhou Wu, head of Xpeng Motors’ Autonomous Driving Centre.
Now you’ve got me started! I’d like to emphasise that I still love cars and driving. However, I firmly believe that self-driving will be utterly transformative. It’s a fascinating area with unique selling points, increasingly distinct from traditional automotive, and it forces us to face some uncomfortable truths: that 95% of the time most cars are just taking up space and depreciating; and that well over a million road deaths occur worldwide every year. Connected and autonomous vehicles will need maintaining and repairing, of course, so the aftermarket absolutely needs to be part of this conversation.

Which brings us nicely to your new Aftermarket of the Future column
Indeed! From next month I’ll be bringing you all the self-driving news with implications for the aftermarket. This is such a fast-moving sector. Over the last few weeks alone we’ve had: the announcement of a major driverless trial in Milton Keynes, which on closer inspection turns out to be not quite as described; An opinion poll of 1,000 UK adults by BSI finding that 70% see benefits in connected and automated vehicles, but 59% would feel more confident with an onboard safety operator; Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, reiterating that he wants the UK to be a world leader in driverless; Lastly, Mercedes becoming the first automotive company in the world to meet the demanding UN-R157 standard for a Level 3 system.
We’ll look at the latest cutting-edge tech, some frightening proposed changes to the Highway Code and much more.

Alex Wells: “That’s great Neil. We are sure our readers will be fascinated. See Aftermarket of the Future in our next issue and for any queries please email”

The safe operation of vehicle lifts: Part three

In the third and final part of this series the GEA looks at the process of maintaining and ensuring you meet your legal requirements
Published:  08 June, 2022

Here is a question we hear quite often: “I now have my new lift installed so I can start using it immediately, correct?” Actually, no. As a business you need to ensure you meet a number of conditions before handing it over to the mechanic to start using it for servicing vehicles.
The first thing you will need to do is have the lift inspected. This means a thorough examination by a ‘competent person’. This is a legal status, not just somebody who looks at the lift and says it looks okay to use.
This requirement comes under the Health & Safety Lifting Operation and Lifting Equipment Regulation (LOLER). The person who conducts the thorough examination must be independent of the installation process, so do not expect the installation engineer to complete this certification. You should check before buying your vehicle lift if the company supplying/installing your lift will be offering this service inclusive or if it is an optional extra. Otherwise, you will have to engage an independent inspector. Many business insurance policies for garages and workshops will include the thorough examination of lifting equipment by default. Again, check with your insurance provider before engaging an independent inspection.
Note: A thorough examination is not a one-time process. It needs to be conducted every six months to continue meeting LOLER requirements. This should not be confused with the maintenance of the lift that needs to be done/scheduled to meet the H&S Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment Regulation (PUWER). We suggest you think of it like the cars you work on for your customers. Service work is oil/filters/ adjustments etc, while a thorough examination is like an MOT. It is an inspection/certification that proves the lift is safe to continue being used.

Risk assessment
The next step before using the lift is to complete your risk assessment for the operation of the lift. This may sound basic, but you should fully review the operation of the lift and note any potential hazards that could occur. This includes any controls/steps required to ensure the safe operation of the lift from the person operating to anybody else in the vicinity. The next step is to ensure you formally go over the operation of the vehicle lift with all users of the lift. This includes reviewing the risk assessment specifically covering what to do in case of an emergency/problem with the lift. Finally record everything, names date time etc and keep it in a safe place.
Going back to the maintenance for a moment, PUWER sets a legal requirement of the equipment owner to have in place a formal maintenance schedule for workplace equipment. We strongly recommend you contract a GEA member company to conduct your lift maintenance at regular intervals on your behalf to ensure your meeting your H&S requirements.
Note: the vehicle lift operator manual may offer specific regular preventive inspections on a Daily/weekly/ monthly basis, always check the manual/supplier’s guideline for this information to keep your lift safe and in top condition.
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