blueprint for technical success

Want to increase your first-time fix rate and reduce your diagnostic stress? John says you just need to follow his Five Step Blueprint
Published:  22 July, 2019

Have you ever wondered why it is that some technicians have an aptitude for complex diagnosis? You know the type of tech I mean. They take the seemingly unfixable, dive headlong into diagnostic battle and emerge triumphant time and time again.
    
Not only that, but they’ll often do so in a time that makes other techs look on in awe! What’s their secret? And more importantly, can you emulate their success? Well, I’ve got some great news for you. You can, and knowing what to do is easy.  All that’s required is that you look to the past. History is a great teacher.
    
I turned 50 this year, and one of the few benefits of increasing age is the ability to spot patterns, and patterns of actions that when followed culminate in your success. Patterns for success surround us, but sometimes you can be a little too caught up in the urgency of the now to spot them.
    
I’ll show you the patterns great technicians use to triumph in the world of technical diagnosis, and how you can do the same. It’ll be your blueprint for success.
    
You’ll like the blueprint. You’ll appreciate its simplicity, recognise the logic, and in all probability nod along as you read, agreeing with the steps that need to be followed.
    
Here’s the deal though: You’ll need to implement it. Knowing the blueprint is easy, but knowing what to do doesn’t get the job done. It’s all in the implementation, and that starts with you taking small steps to achieve positive changes each day. Don’t forget one of my favourite sayings: “Progress NOT perfection.”
    
I’m as much a fan of the latest technical gadget as the next man. I also love “cool” test techniques, but I’ve noticed that myopic focus on these can often be to the detriment of the long-term technical success of a technician. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t explore “shiny” elements in our craft, but you’ll find huge benefits in building a solid foundation that can be executed on every diagnosis. What do you need to “do well” then? Just these five steps.

Step one – Systemise to win
There’s always a right and not so right way to attack any given fault. One fundamental element is to have a defined system that all technicians use.  Without a rigorous system to follow, your diagnosis could be doomed before you start. Here’s an outline of our diagnostic system that just works;

1 – Thorough questioning of customer, establish change point
2 – Confirm and experience fault with customer
3 – Visual inspection for obvious issues
4 – Retreive fault codes, and gather data on what’s required to raise them
5 – Inspect serial data. Note what looks wrong
6 – Research technical bulletins and any technical information required for accurate testing.
7 – Document what’s wrong and possible causes
8 – Form plan and prioritise relevant tests
9 – Carry out tests and draw conclusions
10 – Bypass test to prove the conclusion where applicable
11 – Repair as required.
12 – Carry out postfix operations i.e. component coding.
13 – Carry out tests to confirm repair

Use our process and you’ll definitely be putting your best foot forward.

Step two – Sound electrical knowledge
Now you know what a great process looks like the next part of your blueprint is your understanding of automotive electrics. How quickly you can decide what to test, what tool to use, and what the answer should be is an essential skill that pays huge dividends once learnt. Key elements include:

1 – Becoming comfortable with relationship between volts, amps and ohms
2 – Using voltage drop to accurately find circuit faults
3 – Series and parallel circuit diagnosis
4 – Interpretation and use of wiring diagrams
5 – Fundamental mechantronics test knowledge

Armed with these, you’ll be able to find wiring faults, diagnose sensor and actuator circuits as well as build entry-level bypass tests to confirm your theories. These are skills you’ll use on the majority of diagnostic repairs. Learn these and you’ll reap the rewards for your entire career.

Step three – Oscilloscopes; One tool to rule them all
A little dramatic I know, but understanding how to use an oscilloscope competently is a game changer. It will bring to life all that has been learned in Step two (auto electrics), and when used skilfully will display this in a way that can confirm or deny faults in vehicle circuits, sensors and actuators.
    
As an example, take just one quick connection (less than a minute on most petrol cars) to the switched side of a manifold injector and you’ll know;

1 – That power supply to the injector is not open circuit
2 – The ECU has control of the injector and is commanding fuel delivery
3 – Time taken for fuel delivery to commence (injector opening)
4 – Integrity of injector ground circuit
5 – Time takes for fuel delivery to cease (injector closing)

Add some additional test points for injector power supply, current and rail pressure (another couple of minutes) and you’ll confirm the integrity of the positive supply to the injector, the injector winding, and a great test for a quick look to ensure the injector is delivering fuel once open. Like I said - It really is one tool to rule them all!

Step four - Generic systems knowledge
With steps one through three in place you’ll now have the foundation knowledge to explore vehicle systems. This can be a little intimidating as there are so many systems and so much to see, which is why we advise attacking this in bite-size chunks. Your goal here is to become familiar with generic items that broadly apply to a wide cross-section of vehicles. While there’s no substitute for formal training, taking a few minutes on a regular basis to self teach is invaluable. Here’s some things for you to try:

1 – Pick one system to start with. E.g. petrol engine management
2 – Select a book or watch a video for some foundation learning
3 – Focus on one part of a system. E.g. Loads sensors
4 – Inspect serial data for MAF and MAP sensors across various load and speed ranges
5 – Scope MAF and MAP sensors across load and speed ranges
6 – Record your results and repeat on different vehicles on the same components
7 – Repeat points one through six on different components

Do this on a range of vehicles and systems and you’ll become incredibly familiar with what good looks like, as well as raising many questions that we’ll answer when you attend our training.

Step five – Manufacturer information and tooling
There’s one final piece to this part of the puzzle and that’s using the using the best information and serial tools.
    
While I understand that generic information and tooling has its place, I also have too many real-world examples where my blood pressure would have been dramatically raised were it not for O.E. information and diagnostic tooling. My advice here is straightforward;

1 – Select one manufacturer initially
2 – Become intimately familiar with their information system
3 – Learn to use their wiring diagrams
4 – Explore their technical service bulletins
5 – Use their repair procedures
6 – Substitute a generic serial tool for the O.E. tool for a month
7 – Explore all the serial tool has to offer

We’ve been training technicians like you to use this equipment for many years. It’s had too much of an impact for those that have grasped the nettle for you not to give it a go.
    
You now know what it takes to begin the road to technical success. All you need to do is start. Taking regular steps, and before you know it you’ll have not only reduced your stress but your time to a first time fix as well.



Diesel from a different direction

Frank Massey looks at diesel servicing from another angle...
Published:  08 July, 2019

I want to discuss diesel servicing from a totally different direction, compared with the usual angle. Let’s also start from a different angle, compared with the usual view. Consider this; Servicing is a failure prevention strategy.  Conducted in accordance with the operating environment there should theoretically be no failures. Please note my careful choice of words, operating environment. Manufacturers always have and are still marketing their vehicles with inappropriate servicing regimes.

The political focus is one based on a relatively short warranty period and tailored to business or lease company requirements. In my opinion, service intervals should reflect the operating environment rather than fixed values such as time or distance.
The very activities established as suitable by the VMs fall woefully short of actual requirements. Vehicle owners are, I believe, misled by a whole group of agencies with regards to vehicle ownership and responsibilities.

I also think the possibility of cradle-to-grave ownership is closer than we like to acknowledge. You rent or lease a vehicle over a two-to-three year period with all maintenance inclusive. At the end of the rental period the vehicle is exchanged with a consecutive end to end contract. No responsibilities for repair or servicing.

With this in mind, how should we approach diesel servicing given the problems with premature component failure and excessive emission issues?

Detailed knowledge
Let’s assume we have a new customer. Our first responsibility is to understand how they operate the vehicle and their aspirations and value of operating and investing in what is the Holy Grail, i.e. reliability.

Detailed knowledge of driving style, traffic environment, driving distance, fuel quality, should have a direct influence on how servicing should be applied. This would be a unique profile for this customer.


The secret behind Top Technician: Process

John Batten lifts the lid to show you the secrets behind Top Technician, and the route to a first time fix in 20 minutes
Published:  27 June, 2019

I guess it’s just human nature to want to take a peek behind the door that says ‘Private, Members Only’. What could be so special, and what are we missing out on? It’s with that in mind that I’m writing this article. In the next four minutes I’ll reveal what goes on behind the scenes in the Top Technician technical tests, and what it takes to diagnose a vehicle in 20 minutes. You’re going to love it!

I first became involved with Top Technician as a judge in 2008, I was hooked from the start as it epitomised everything I loved about the industry. Watching dedicated technicians work progressively through each technical test was a thing of beauty. Not knowing who would win, as so few points separate most entrants, would keep me on a knife edge throughout the day.

Here’s the deal though; While this is a competition, the skills used to win are exactly the same skills that need to be displayed in your workshop every day. These skills ensure your diagnosis happens in a timely manner, and you can bill all of your diagnostic time. Not only that; Anyone considering taking a Diagnostic Technician or Master Technician assessment needs to display the same skillset. There’s a blueprint for diagnostic success, and if your follow it then you’ll progress in leaps and bounds.

What’s in a technical task?
There are a few core skills that a technician should possess, so each technical task is designed so that a competitor can display the following:


Mot-ivating basic checks

Hannah Gordon believes many motorists are increasingly alienated from their own cars, and that this is putting them at risk
Published:  25 June, 2019

The one thing you can guarantee in life is that you will have to wait nervously for your car to go through its MOT, unless you are lucky enough to get a new car every three years.
    
I am not a qualified MOT tester but I know what I am looking for on a check-over.  After I have checked my car over with a fine-tooth comb, there is always that nail-biting wait to see if it has passed.
    
The Driving and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) recently released figures that went through the main causes of cars failing their MOTs. In 2017 alone, 7.3 million cars failed their MOT. Going through the top 10 there certainly aren’t major faults with the cars. What is there looks more like the result of poor maintenance by the owner.
    
From the top 10 reasons to refuse a MOT certificate, four were to do with bulbs or headlight aim, two were to do with defective wipers and there was also a common reason of no washer fluid present and insufficient tyre tread depth. The only reasons in the top 10 that customers wouldn’t really be able to identify would be poor brake performance and a broken coil spring.

Simple maintenance
As much as I don’t want to do myself out of a job, it’s shocking how many people don’t do simple maintenance checks on their cars. Blown bulbs are a big one. When I tell a customer that their bulb is gone they often had no idea, even if it was a dipped beam headlight bulb. With modern cars there is now often a message that pops up to alert the driver to a blown bulb, which should help people realise.
    
With modern car technology progressing at rampant speed I think people are unsure as to whether they can lift the bonnet up, unsure as to where the washer fluid goes or how they change a bulb with all that plastic covering the engine bay. Maybe as a nation we have got lazy with simple and basic checks of our vehicles. Instead we are relying on a yearly test to check that the car we are transporting family and friends in is going to remain road legal in that time. This is a dangerous approach.

Reminder
It is obviously great to tie in a service and MOT together and does make sense as the owner    normally only has to be without the car for a day. I aim to keep both six months apart. I inform customers when the MOT is due with a gentle reminder then get a service booked in six months down the line to make sure that the car is still roadworthy and free from trouble.
    
It is so important a yearly schedule is kept to MOT cars. On the other hand, in May 2018 the government brought in the rule that cars over 40 years old don’t require an MOT. The less I say about that the better…



Attitudes to training: Autoinform-ed

Frank Massey looks at attitudes to training as seen in different countries
Published:  20 June, 2019

I have had a few weeks to reflect on an incredible Autoinform Live technical weekend in Cork Ireland. This took place at the premises of J&S Automotive on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 April. My first thoughts, thanks, and appreciation must go to our hosts, the guest presenters, delegates, and contributing organisations which made this event possible.
Specifically focusing on our hosts, J&S Automotive were so accommodating, words alone would not do their contribution justice. To dismantle their warehouse, provide catering and the most impressive quality support and welcome was really going above and beyond.

Sharing knowledge
Following the two days, I have become reflective about the way technicians approach training worldwide. I have been involved in the motor I industry for well over 50 years, with around 35 years providing training. I have and still travel the globe meeting and sharing knowledge. Please note the sharing expression, as I feel privileged to have met so many dedicated technicians from a variety of backgrounds. I have witnessed over the years great change in attitude and commitment from independent technicians and garage owners.

I also have noted a big discrepancy in commitment from some UK I dependants which contrast with overseas counterparts.
There is I believe a complacency in attitude to the future challenges. One recent illustration comes to mind. While in Australia last October, an individual from Perth heard on the kangaroo vine that a series of seminars was taking place in Sydney. So he could attend, he closed his business on Wednesday night with 24 hours notice, booked a eight hour flight and joined the event for the Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, a little near home, I have had cancellations from delegates unwilling to travel 10-15 miles due to unforeseen last-minute changes. I hope they are reading this!

Threats and challenges
So where does this leave our industry and what are the immediate threats and challenges? In my view, these can be summed up as ignorance, arrogance, complacency, and the biggest of all; technical and political evolution.

I don’t share the euphoria of hybrid, battery, or autonomous vehicles, however I do accept the impact these will have in the short-lived near-future. In my opinion two evolutionary changes will have a long lasting influence. These are hydrogen cell technology, and cradle-to-grave vehicle utilisation. Why own a vehicle when for a relatively small affordable rental you could use and return the vehicle in exchange for a new model after two years. No depreciation, no maintenance, no trade in. As for the other aforementioned technologies, less wear, less maintenance, less reliance on the independent garage sector.

Back to boots on the ground: The technical evolution has quite literally been breath-taking. This has in the short term presented incredible opportunities for aggressive technical minded business owners and technicians. With opportunity comes challenge, investment and training. Complex vehicle systems require a comprehensive sound knowledge and infrastructure to provide a competitive service against the dealership network. Many garages out there are currently servicing and repairing systems without adequate knowledge or technical hardware to comply with original build spec requirements. Please do not take that comment as a cheap swipe without redress but a genuine helpful comment in realisation by how much this industry has changed. In comparison with other less technical trades, controlled by rigorous legislation we have been left to our own devices so far.

Confident system diagnosis
I was among the presenters at Autoinform Live. Obviously what I have just gone through is a very broad analysis, so for my segment I concentrated on more specific area. With this in mind, my presentation at the event focused on using available technology to combat the ever increasing difficulties in confident systems diagnosis. In particular, I focused on engine efficiency, pumping losses, and very accurate assent of valve piston relationship using a pressure transducer while the engine is running. I then expanded on cylinder balance using g vibration analysis.

Succeeding
If you are running a business, you will doubtlessly be interested in getting into the next era, but this may require some adaptation on your part. You also need to put yourself in the correct area. Like the dinosaurs before us, there is an extinction zone out there and the asteroid will hit our I industry sooner than you might like or think. If you are in the 10 mile radius training mindset then you really do need to lift you focus on the horizon or possibly to those businesses you resent or admire who are succeeding in your area. If you are one of those success stories then you already know me and are attending Autoinform events or something similar.


MOT tester Annual Training & Annual Assessment: The next 12 months

Ian Gillgrass examines what you can expect to be facing over the next 12 months when it comes to MOT Annual Training and Annual Assessment
Published:  11 June, 2019

In my last editorial in the March issue of Aftermarket, I discussed that the time was running out for MOT testers to complete their Annual Training and Annual Assessment. This needed to be completed by the deadline of 31 March this year (2019).
    
The deadline has now passed and hopefully all MOT testers completed the training and Annual Assessment on time and are now ready for some down time to digest the topics that the DVSA have advised for the next 12 months.
    
Many MOT testers left last year’s Annual Training and Annual Assessment until the last few weeks of March, or even the last few hours before the deadline. Those who didn’t complete will need to contact the DVSA, complete the Annual Assessment and also facing the DVSA Vehicle Inspector ‘observation test’ all of which could take considerable time away from MOT testing with the result being a reduced income.
    
If it is necessary to request a demonstration MOT test,  call the DVSA on 0300 123 9000.

Requirements
This year (1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020), why not complete the Annual Training and Assessment early, even though you might have just completed the previous year’s requirement. It could all been done by Christmas – yes will we be fast approaching that time of year soon – reducing the stress of the ordeal.
    
An MOT tester is required to complete a minimum of 16 hours training in a five year period. Each year an MOT tester must complete at least three hours of training associated with the DVSA prescribed syllabus as indicated below.
    
The DVSA MOT tester Annual Training can be delivered in various forms. These include, but are not limited to, in-house, book form, electronic (e-learning) or face-to-face. There are a number of training providers in the industry that provide such services. MOT tester Annual Training must be recorded as follows:


Engine management: Past and future

Dealing with engine management systems has come a long way since the 1970s. Frank looks at where things were and where they are going
Published:  06 June, 2019

I have long accepted that nothing stands still for long in this industry. Just when you think you have a grasp of the subject something is sure to upset it. Nothing illustrates this more than powertrain diagnostics. Initially this was called fuel injection, and later became engine management. Now I’m afraid it’s even more complex.
I find myself fortunate to have been there at the beginning; Bosch l Jetronic, a 25 pin ECU with if I recall correctly, only 13 pins occupied. No serial diagnostics, no specific tools. So why was I fortunate? Consider my reflection on diagnostics back in the late 1970s and see if they are still applicable today.

Firstly, you had to understand what the system had to achieve, what components it had at its disposal, what role they played and how they interacted within that system.

The next challenge was measurement values; what to expect under a variety of conditions, and what equipment was required to access this information. This all seems so straightforward now, but in those days it was a little like Columbus sailing across the ocean. He knew it was wet, he needed a boat, he knew which way west was, despite this being blasphemy in the eyes of the Pope, and so set off without a clue as to what was out there.

Hardly a logical diagnostic process, however I was writing the rule book and did understand the meaning of the words test don’t guess. So, what’s changed that undermines these basic principles?

Acessibility
With even the most basic of vehicles now relying on a level of technology that makes accessibility almost impossible, OE manufacturers totally forbid any intrusion within the wiring loom and I am sure this explains the why design and manufacture precludes access as a high priority. However, we are brave, and have the Starship Enterprise at our disposal for our journey of discovery.
The problem is one of integration. Systems don’t function in isolation any more, and Columbus now has to map the Americas and Australia at the same time. In order to conduct an accurate assessment of a function it must be in its natural environment and be observed when functioning normally.

Complexity
This is not restricted to a physical state. It also includes software, algorithms, and predictive response, correction or adaptive action. Systems now change their mode of operation based on environmental influences, affected by a very wide range of changing influences. Cylinder select or dynamic stability comes to mind. The driver selects an option from a long list of choices, engine, transmission, and chassis. I used to say that for a function to occur it must have a command followed by response. In today’s world,  the command may be a software decision followed by a constantly changing response, stratified and homogenous fuelling, infinitely changing camshaft timing and variable valve lift to name a few.

Test options
Manufacturers are driven by non-intrusive process dictated by guided diagnostics. Pre-determined test plans more often or not end with a pass or fail result, foregoing any data reveal.  Is this due to a control of process and cost, or a mistrust in their techs? Actual evaluation of circuits, voltage, current or complex profile is getting ever more difficult. Attachment of gauges in order to measure pressure and flow is often restricted by sealed transit hoses or internal ducting within castings. Serial data has become so much, more powerful and trustworthy, however it does not and will not replace the functions available from an oscilloscope. Specialist mechanical tools and assembly techniques prohibit casual examination, due to cost or the ever more common single fitment parts.

Data extraction
This may lie in a multitude of directions; Physical extraction, camshaft timing, fuel quantity per stroke via the serial port or fuel pressure rise time via the scope. We are forced to monitor not just a physical value, but not how the PCM is adjusting or adapting a value. How do we know the parameters of operation when VMs are removing more and more data in favour of the pass-fail flags from a software automated test profile?

SENT
Rieve gauche, no not a walk along the Left Bank, but a completely new protocol for data and diagnostic transmission. SENT has been developed specifically for automotive applications, rather than being a black-market hooky copy from other engineering developments. SENT stands for single edge nibble transmission, and is a uni-directional out-only data line to the PCM. SENT is essentially a serial interface, used predominantly with throttle position, air mass and temperatures. The basic unit of time is the tick, with a minimum data unit nibble. 0Data transmission speeds over fast or slow channels, where bitrate can also vary: 1xtick= 3us. In essence it is very similar to a single channel can transmission, where the function includes synchronisation, calibration, CRC and checksum.
How am I to challenge the authenticity of data? For example, sensor error may come from power or ground discrepancies, range error, environment influences, calibration error or simply a genuine condition fault. Its design is of course intended to provide an autonomous diagnostic platform via the serial port, excluding any assessment by the techs.

Full circle
What does this mean for the industry? I suspect it will go full circle back to the 1970s, when part swapping was the norm for Christopher Columbus frauds.


posturing and electricity

What can the Geneva Motor Show teach us about the technological automotive direction, and how this may affect the aftermarket?
Published:  30 May, 2019

The automotive aftermarket can always use a boost, and there is nothing quite like a motor show to get anyone – everyone – to talk about our industry.
    
Yes, there’s a world of difference between repairing vehicles and the spangly glitz of the super-rich posing beside the very latest in super-expensive automotive ‘art’. Yet, for every single billionaire there are quite literally tens of thousands of vehicle users.
    
We have a new automotive industry-specific word – electrification. Not the type of thing that is used to power trains but rather the addition of a tail pipe emission free’ energy source to compliment or even replace the internal combustion engine. The context? The Geneva Motor Show. Indeed, at almost every motor show if one did not have electricity/global warming/ecology associated with each new vehicle reveal, it simply wasn’t news. To see the ‘on the spot’ news coverage from the show could have left us thinking that anything with a piston engine of any sort is utterly irrelevant. However that is not the case.

Zero emission
‘Zero emissions’ has a very specific meaning when it is measuring what comes out of an exhaust pipe. If there is no exhaust pipe, or all it does is eject water, the vehicle is officially described as ‘zero emission’. Forget the fact that energy storage system raw materials are mined all over the world, processed all over the world, built into energy storage packs, fitted to vehicles which are  exported all over the world. Forget the energy used to make a single kWh. Even ‘free’ energy sources need machines to exploit it, which of course require energy to produce.     
    
The automotive sector all over the world is under attack, and is vulnerable: It is a statement of fact, not a complaint. Some – not all – vehicle manufacturers have abused emission testing, to the point the general public don’t quite know who can be trusted. Governments all over the world see a significant opportunity to not merely fend off lobbyist pressure but actively court it, in the name of ‘saving the planet’.  Empty gestures and half formed policies abound.
    
Rightly or wrongly, the automotive sector is in quite a fix. OEMs in Europe face from this year paying €95 for each gramme of CO2 for each car built over a fleet average limit (95 grammes of CO2 per km). This is not a one-off, but part of an international rolling vehicle emission reduction policy. More emission cuts will come, and well before 2030.
    
As Governments complete this social engineering, new forms of user taxation will take place in the none too distant future to recover revenue lost from reduced direct sales of fossil fuels (petrol, diesel, LPG or LNG).

Who wasn’t there?
Just in case anyone missed it, even without Brexit the global economy is on the downward slope into recession. The automotive sales slump in China has triggered cutbacks in number of vehicle manufacturers, ranging from ‘let’s keep the lights on for now’ (Ford) through to ‘let’s take action to downsize in an orderly fashion’ (almost everyone else).
    
In the case of Europe, conforming to the new WLPT emission test combined with the utterly chaotic roll-out of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) has caused vehicle supply issues and unwelcome additional costs due to the convulsion caused by
re-homologating existing vehicles to the new test methods. As a result some manufacturers chose to spend limited promotion budgets in more effective ways. This meant paying for expensive stand space at a motor show was not a priority. As a result, JLR, Ford, Volvo and Hyundai were not present.
    
So, our online friends pushed out countless stories about ‘electric’ and ‘lack of support’. In the moment. So, what really went on?

Most significant
Why is Volkswagen’s MQB Evo platform delayed? To make way for its MEB platform, as the Group spends its way out of trouble. However, this is where it gets interesting. MEB is engineered as an ‘electrified’ platform, ranging from pure EV through to hybrid drive and PHEV. The MQB Evo platform has a raft of hybrid drive technology ranging from 48V ‘mild’ to more potent hybrid powertrains. However, after the scandal of emission test rigging, along with a steady stream of further negative revelations, the upshot is ‘electricity’ has to eclipse all chat of fossil fuel burning powertrains, if only for PR.
    
The Volkswagen brand had the ID.buggy concept, a pretty pointless homage to Beetle- based dune buggies, on view alongside previously shown I.D concepts. Politely, the I.D series lack definition which is surprising given they have been rolled out for quite a few years, leaving rather too much to the imagination. The same could be said of the Skoda Vizion iV concept, another MEB platform car.
    
The star was the Seat el-Born, which had real cut lines, real doors, real trim. It mattered little that the model on display was as much a ‘model’ as the Volkswagen and Skoda versions, because this was real. Seat is used as the lead division for each of the smaller volume platforms, and
el-Born latterly made history as the birth of a volume EV from VWG. A shot in the dark? Time will tell and the odds are stacked against success, but as a premieres go there are few as significant. The fuss? From MEB, MQB Evo to MLB Evo right across VWG, hybrid drive is going to appear like a rash by 2021 – and it’s already underway.
    
Geneva is a showcase for smaller companies, many of which take expensive cars, add expensive procedures with the result looking like an aftermarket catalogue on drugs. Carbon fibre? Why yes, we’ll add that to a two tonne SUV and pretend it does anything but look pointlessly terrible. Yes, there’s still big money with no sense of taste.
    
Rolls-Royce effectively had an exquisite line-up on the opposite side of the hall to parent BMW. They offer LEDs which can be implanted to the headliner to give a starry night from the comfort of the car interior. But what’s this? The BMW 8 series, a glorious car exactly and precisely produced at the absolutely wrong time, is available with headliner LEDs configured to the favourite constellation of the purchaser. BMW really should take care not to dilute its premier brand, nor boost sales to match Bentley with a probably ruinous effect on residuals. Luxury is not all about shifting metal.
    
Meanwhile Aurus had the ‘large’ car on display as used by President Vladimir Putin (5.7 tonnes with armour) along with the ‘small’ car (2.7 tonnes without armour). So far, this project has cost more than £80 million, with a limited production of the ‘large’ car at 10 units and the ‘small’ car to be made in a limited series of around 500 units. In other words, handmade, almost every aspect uniquely engineered. An interesting discussion quickly demonstrated that Aurus have better connection to super luxury than some very old brands.
    
This year we had not one but two land mark events. Peugeot revealed the new 208, which will underpin many more PSA vehicles including the next generation Vauxhall Corsa. This has a 50 kWh pure EV powertrain as well as internal combustion engine powertrains – PSA already meet the new fleet average CO2 target, to the point they can sell carbon credits to those manufacturers who can’t meet the target. What will be the highest volume selling powertrain – EV or internal combustion engine?
    
The answer was to be found at Renault with the unveiling of Clio V, powered by petrol, diesel and a mild hybrid drive options. The pure EV role was filled by the Zoe. The immediate death of the petrol and diesel internal combustion engine has been somewhat exaggerated.
    
Amid some fanfare, the EU have managed to get another trade deal in place, with Japan. This means Japan-based vehicle manufacturers no longer have to pay steep tariffs to get non-EU built vehicles inside Europe. The deal has an impact on the UK, which has the biggest concentration of Japan-headquartered vehicle manufacturing plants, but Brexit had almost no effect on the decisions. All of the UK based car plants need stable tax regimes and clear incentives to ensure continued investment, and the EU-Japan trade deal has made those pre-requisites irrelevant. The Honda Urban EV prototype was apparently near production quality, in the sense it was not at all. Another plastic model which did little to define the concept first seen more than two years ago.

Geneva finds its feet
In 2018 the show reached a low point, the prelude to termination, In 2019 it arose gloriously as a design-led event, where the Swiss fascination for automobiles mixed perfectly with staging the best design show anywhere in the world. Shifting metal in bulk is no longer its primary task. Oh, and yes, the internal combustion engine will continue to exist, and will continue to get cleaner. That, ladies and gentlemen, means adaption – and success – for the aftermarket instead of oblivion.  



Xenon HIDs: Three is the magic number

New research is suggesting that xenon HID headlamps should be replaced if they are over three years old
Published:  20 May, 2019

Everything has a point at which it needs replacing, and new research from Ring Automotive says  xenon HIDs should be replaced every three years.

Garage businesses will be able to help improve safety for their customers and increase revenue by advising drivers to go for replacement according to Ring Automotive, who are behind the findings.
Ring’s research  indicates  that while xenon HID headlamps may still illuminate and appear white, after three years the light output will have dropped significantly – potentially below legal limits. In tests done in its  beam laboratories, Ring found that the overall lumens light output from four-year-old HID bulbs had dropped by around 17.5% compared to equivalent new xenon HID bulbs – taking them below the legal limits for light output for HID bulbs as set out in ECE Reg 99. The lux output at the brightest point of the beam had dropped by around 59.5% when comparing the old bulb with the equivalent new xenon HID.

Lumens are used to measure the overall output of a bulb, and this measurement takes into account all the light emitted across the entire beam. Lux is used to measure the light output at the brightest point – or hotspot – of the bulb. This is the point at which the light is focused to give optimum visibility when driving.

Opportunity
Carl Harrison, Xenon HID Product Manager at Ring commented: “When a customer is in for a MOT and service, it’s the ideal opportunity to discuss xenon HID bulbs and replacement. We’ve tested the light output of new versus four-year-old bulbs, and can see a significant drop in light output, and based on this and other tests, we are advising technicians to recommend replacing xenon HID bulbs every three years.”

Apart from the safety angle, there is chance to make some money too says Carl: “It’s a value-added service that provides an opportunity for garages, who can offer bulb replacement, and improves driving conditions for their customers. The driver may not have noticed the reduction in visibility as the change will have been gradual, meaning that advice from professionals is even more necessary to ensure optimal driving conditions.”

Around 10% of the UK car parc has xenon HID bulbs fitted, and these vehicles offer a profitable prospect for independent garages: “These bulbs need to be installed by trained technician, and must always be replaced in pairs,“ says Carl, “as if they are not, the colour output of the bulbs will be mismatched. With a higher cost per bulb and more time-consuming fit, there is a clear opportunity for garages to profit, while still offering better value and service than main dealers.
 
“There’s a perception that xenon HIDs must be fitted by a main dealer. This is not the case, and we want to ensure that independent garages don’t miss out on fitting xenon HIDs. There’s even an opportunity to upsell to brighter and whiter options. These upgrade bulbs put more light on the road than standard HIDs, or produce a whiter light for an even more high spec look and a match to LED daytime running lamps. As these bulbs will last for three years, this extra investment can be worthwhile for drivers that want the best in their vehicle.”

Ring offers a range of xenon HID bulbs, including popular references D3 and D4, plus the newer D5 reference, as well as brighter and whiter upgrade options. For more details about xenon HIDs, plus fitting advice, visit www.ringautomotive.com/webapps/refit-hids/


To Scope or Not to Scope? That is the question

John Batten takes a look at whether an oscilloscope is a necessity for efficient diagnosis or just a nice to have
Published:  13 May, 2019

If you’ve read my technical articles previously then you’ll know that the endgame for our technical training is straightforward. Quite simply our goal is to develop technicians so that they use a repeatable process, carry out root-cause analysis, diagnose the vehicle first time in a timely manner, and ensure that it does not return for the same fault.
    
Tick the box on those five points more often than not and you’ll have a happy technician, a happy boss, and a satisfied customer. For this to be a regular occurrence though the right elements need to be in place.

Essential components?
So what’s required? Obviously a skilled technician, and the right information are essential ingredients, but what about tooling? Can you get by with a scan tool, multimeter, and a copy of Autodata (other technical references are available)? Or is an oscilloscope an essential tool? In this article we’ll take a look how to diagnose a misfire, and whether a scope plays a pivotal part or not.

Line up your ducks
The offending vehicle in this instance is a 4 cylinder 1.8 petrol Vauxhall Insignia, although this procedure could apply to any similar petrol vehicle. To say it’s sick would be an understatement. It’s only running on three cylinders, and quite honestly sounds a little sorry for itself. A couple of questions spring immediately to mind. Which cylinder is it? And what’s the overarching cause? Normally a problem like this will be attributed to a mechanical issue, fuelling issue, or ignition related fault. Our purpose at the outset is to quickly identify which of those areas deserves our attention, and to do that we need to carry out some initial high-level tests.
    
Before we get into what’s causing the problem I like to identify which cylinder is causing the issue. Once I’ve identified that I’ll then drill down to find out why.
    
You’ve quite a few options on how to achieve this, although my favourite wherever possible is to carry out a cylinder balance test. This is done using a serial tool to deactivate an injector whilst idling and monitor the RPM drop. If there’s no change in rpm for a given cylinder then you’ve found your culprit. On this vehicle, it was identified that cylinder 4 was having little input, and that’s where our focus should be.
    
Now we know the offending cylinder you’ve three areas to test. On a personal level, I’ll choose a quick mechanical integrity test but the question is: “What’s the quickest way to achieve this? Understanding what cranking speed sounds like on a good car is a benefit, and I’ll normally use a scope to support this with a relative compression test. Using a current clamp (figure 1) to identify a poorly sealing cylinder is a quick test that can give immediate diagnostic direction, but in this case we can see that current draw is equal across all cylinders, and as cranking sounded normal I decided that my time would be better spent looking elsewhere.

Next steps
With a quick mechanical integrity check undertaken my gaze turned to ignition. Ignition related misfires are commonplace and there are a number of ways to complete this part of the diagnosis. I could dive in with a scope although I’ll normally look at spark performance with a gap check first, and drill down a little deeper with an oscilloscope if it fails that test.
    
Figure 2 shows the tool typically used for such a test. The secondary ignition output from all coils was good and equal across all cylinders. If this had not been the case then a scope would have been used to identify why, but in this instance a quick output test showed that all was well and the scope would not be required.
    
With our previous tests all but eliminating ignition and mechanical faults, it was time to take a look at fuelling faults. The problem on this particular vehicle meant that the cause would be isolated to one cylinder, this made the probability that it’d be a fuel supply issue to the rail less likely. With this in mind it makes sense to use a scope and carry out comparative checks on individual cylinders looking for anomalies that could be caused by a fuelling fault. Access to primary and secondary ignition was less than ideal due to the coil pack configuration so the ignition profile could not be used for fuelling evaluation.
    
Injector supply, ECU control and circuit current were inspected across all cylinders and while there were small differences nothing was conclusive, until we took a look at rail pressure using the Pico WPS500x pressure transducer. Using this it was plain to see that upon injector number 4 being commanded to open and deliver fuel that there was little drop in rail pressure compared to the other cylinders. This definitely warranted further inspection so the injectors were removed and  a flow test was completed in our test bench. Number 4 injector was found to be delivering significantly less fuel than expected. Bingo, we’d found our misfire.

To scope or not to scope?
Effective and efficient diagnosis is all about using the right tool, for the right test, at the correct point in your diagnostic routine, and as this vehicle has shown the oscilloscope plays a critical part in serving up the answers that whilst possible via other methods are often more time consuming to obtain.
    
If an oscilloscope isn’t playing a major part in your day to day diagnosis then there’s no time like the present to blow the dust from it and start seeing the benefits that this amazing tool will bring to your workshop.



Steering you right?

Frank Massey continues his look at the thorny issue of autonomous control, focusing on steering and stability correction leading to autonomy
Published:  09 May, 2019

Picking up from my topic and opinions on autonomous vehicle control last month I think it reasonable to explore the very technology our safety is to be placed.

When considering the most challenging aspect of autonomous vehicle control, we must look to steering and stability correction. My references are limited to the Volkswagen Group, however most manufacturers now share similar drivetrain and chassis technology.

Steering assist
These systems have evolved over many years in what I term modular development. Steering assist is such a system. Steering assist is directly proportional to driver input force, the steering torque sensor g269 detects rotation, the steering angle sensor g85 provides angle and rotation acceleration.

Responding to this data the control module j500 calculates the required assistance from the power steering assist motor v187. When parking, a low or zero vehicle speed combined with a rapid steering input provides maximum assistance. During driving additional data relating to environmental conditions, urban or motorway, modifies the appropriate assistance.
One of the first problems to overcome was return to neutral or zero steering angle. This is activated with a reduction in force on the torsion bar, whereby the rate of return is also a function of environmental influences. The dual steering angle sensor is comprised of a LED and photo electric diode.

The steering torque sensor operates on the magnetic resistance principle. Failure results in a gradual reduction in assistance. The asynchronous brushless motor provides up to 4nm of assistance. Once again emphasis should be directed to programming and adaptive correction via e serial platform.

Stability & proximity
When introducing vehicle stability dynamics, even more data is required: An accelerometer as well as yaw and  pitch sensors will complement existing input requirements. Enhanced and shared functionality with ABS enables the braking system to support vehicle control through corners by applying a control force through the rear brakes.

We now need to consider the vehicle proximity control system; the system employs an ultrasonic sensor to monitor and determine the environment. However, this interim system has several critical shortcomings, especially due to its narrow detection field and inaccurate position calculation regarding other vehicles and obstacles. The next modular enhancement introduces side or blind spot monitoring or side assist. This system also has limitations with range and vector limitations. Although operating on a high speed can network, it operates on a master slave principle, for example; slave units only transmit data and diagnostics on demand from the master module.

It is of note that the vehicle now relies on no less than 13 control modules, with predictive position algorithms. Later evolution will include optical, video, ultrasound, infrared and laser. Optical lane assist which is mounted on the windscreen requires considerable coding and calibration, notwithstanding windshield replacement, so much for off-site repairers.

Calibration & correction
Calibration requires determination of the camera orientation, the exact installed location, the height at which the camera is installed and three orientation measurements. This is an electronic function as no mechanical adjustment is provided. Therefore any change in tyre, wheel diameter or suspension repair or modification will invalidate this system accuracy, including fault memory errors.

We now move into the era of de-coupling direct driver steering input. This system allows computer correction of steering angle. For example, with a loss of driver control, ESP can introduce a counter steer input to regain control. This system is intended to maintain the maximum static traction between the road surface and tyre. Should this be insufficient to maintain a safe curve radius, the ABS can be employed to help recover the vehicle attitude.

The system can carry out actual steering angle correction while the driver maintains a different steering wheel input, such as on snow, ice, or on flooded road surface conditions. In order to facilitate this function, a mechanical flexi-coupling is mounted in the upper steering column. The outer has 100 teeth, with the inner posessing 102. They can rotate together as one with direct driver input command or can rotate at a different angle disengaging driver direct input control.

In effect this system still complies with statutory requirements as having still a de-facto fail-safe mechanical connection between driver and steering mechanism. Therefore is still level 0 status, in terms of autonomy.

At this point we are a million miles from even level 2 or 3 autonomous control. Level 3 allows for the driver to release physical contact with vehicle controls yet remain available and alert in case of system failure. Please make your own mind up. However, I’m not for turning!




ADAS is the word

Think you can ignore advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)? Think again. It’s already in your workshop
Published:  29 April, 2019

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have gone from a nice-to-have to a legal requirement in a relatively short space of time.

It is a huge market and it is growing, so more and more cars coming through the door have these systems. This means that if garages don’t have the knowledge, training and equipment required to calibrate ADAS systems correctly, they could be ruling themselves out of business entirely.

The future, today
ADAS is the word, and it is the future, today. Robin Huish, Managing Director of Hickleys agrees: “ADAS was an increasing topic of conversation throughout 2018, continues to be in 2019 and this sure to continue  in the coming years. The level of ADAS systems being installed on new cars is increasing rapidly but that doesn’t mean this is something you can consider for the future; ADAS systems fitted to vehicles regularly coming into the independent garage need repair and calibration now.
“If you want to offer a complete service to your customers you need to consider equipping your workshops and assembling the knowledge to deal with ADAS as soon as possible. One thing is for sure these systems are not going to go away and the demand for service and calibration will rapidly increase.”

Camera and Radar
Robin breaks down the opportunity: “ADAS systems are developed to improve safety and lead to better driving. Safety features are designed to avoid collisions and accidents by offering technologies that alert the driver to potential problems, or to avoid collisions by implementing safeguards and in some cases taking over control of the vehicle.
“Broadly the market splits into two sectors, Camera and Radar. The equipment required to work with both systems varies. Camera was first to impact the independent market in a big way, with a front-facing camera fitted to a windscreen. When a windscreen is replaced the camera requires recalibration. Most windscreen replacement companies now are able to carry out this task with carefully chosen diagnostic scan tools and calibration hardware. This has now become a major part of their income stream. Recently the ability to offer mobile calibration equipment has again increased the opportunity for mobile diagnostic specialists to carry out these tasks. Of course, windscreen replacement is just one market sector that needs ADAS equipment. Crash repairers, diagnostic specialists, independent garages, fast fits and fleet workshops will all face the need to repair front and rear camera systems.

“Radar is the fastest expanding area, firstly using front and rear detection but now covering the whole surrounding area of the car including blind spots, pedestrian detection, traffic signal information and emergency braking. The equipment required for radar calibration is similar to camera, again using carefully selected diagnostic scan tools and various radar attachments and accessories. This can be an expansion of the camera equipment using the same basic equipment and stand. Again for the mobile specialist, the equipment is easily transported.”

Forward-thinking
How does a garage incorporate ADAS into their business? “ADAS calibrations are usually around £150 to £250,” says Robin, “and diagnostic repairs where an ADAS system has failed adds many hundreds of pounds of revenue to a forward-thinking garage.”
What about kit? “There is a range of equipment available from diagnostic suppliers such as Bosch, Texa and Hickleys’ exclusive brand RCCT. With prices from only £4,995 joining the ADAS boom is surprisingly easy with repayments from as little as £27 per week.”

Robin says think before you leap though: “One word of warning is to carefully select your equipment and speak to a specialist that doesn’t represent just one brand. Get an
on-site demonstration and review the options considering all aspects of the market, consider carefully your chosen diagnostic tool as well. ADAS information varies dramatically from tool to tool and some manufacturers are locking down their software so it can only be used with their hardware. This is fine if they cover everything but what happens if they fall behind, do you buy it all again from another supplier?”

Choice
As with many areas, independents need to be strong and fight their corner: “Despite recent comments – generally from the those affiliated to the vehicle manufacturers or bodies closely associated – discouraging independents from recalibrating ADAS systems,” says Neil Hilton, Head of Business Development for Hella Gutmann Solutions (HGS), “the fact remains that vehicles fitted with the technology are entering workshops daily. As a result, the sector needs to make a choice and either embrace it or ignore the opportunities it provides.”

Legislation has its part to play: “Since 2016, to qualify for a 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating, the VMs have to fit their vehicles with, as a minimum requirement, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning. These are both complex systems that, following any intervention that affects their set-up, require specialist recalibration equipment to reset the cameras or radars on which the vehicle relies for its ADAS operation.”
Neil continues: “This naturally includes accident damage and windscreen replacement, but it also encompasses general service and repair work, such as adjustment to the vehicle’s tracking or wheel alignment, as well as coil spring or steering component replacement. In short, anything that affects the vehicle’s geometry, because it is through this datum that ADAS functions are calibrated and then operate.”

Commenting on the HGS offering, Neil says: “Clearly, VMs and their associates, do not want the independent sector to have any interaction with these systems, so unless independents are simply willing to cede the business back to the dealer, there has to be an aftermarket solution, which is what HGS has been championing for more than five years. HGS is the market leader for ADAS technology in the aftermarket and offers a comprehensive multi-brand solution, covering more than 92% of the UK’s ADAS equipped car parc. The company has become renowned for its knowledge and expertise on this complicated subject, with multiple high profile businesses, including Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre and Autoglass in the UK and Europe, CESVI in France and AIG Insurance Group, using the Hella Gutmann Solutions CSC (Camera and Sensor Calibration) tool to establish the standards the sector should be meeting in regards to ADAS recalibration. Therefore, providing an independent goes through the correct procedure in terms of setting-up the equipment that comes with the CSC tool – an operation that once learned takes only 20 minutes or so – it can undertake ADAS recalibration with complete confidence and to the same standard as the dealer.”
    
Another issue for VMs  is the quality of the parts used in any pre-recalibration repair as they  prefer the use of their genuine parts programmes, installed by an affiliated dealer.
“From an aftermarket perspective however,” Neil concludes, “provided the independent uses replacement components of comparable quality to the OE part, which are installed following the correct procedure, the repair will conform with Block Exemption regulations and the recalibration will be valid, so allowing the independent to compete with the dealer in an open and fair market.”



Get to the essentials

Aftermarket sat in on Marketing Essentials, one of the courses run by The Garage Inspector, Andy Savva, to see what attendees are learning
Published:  23 April, 2019

Marketing can be hard to grasp, even for the most experienced business operator. This made it an ideal topic for Andy Savva to cover as part of his 2019 training course schedule. Andy's one-day Marketing Essentials course provides an overview of what marketing actually is, looks at key approaches and how to apply them to a garage business.
    
Aftermarket sat in on a sold-out session held in Crawley in February. In front of a packed room, filled with garages owners and staff, Andy dispelled some myths and misconceptions surrounding the discipline: "Marketing is one of the most misunderstood functions found in business. Whatever the reasons for any negative image that marketing may have, it is essential to realise that marketing is vital to ensure the survival and growth of any business. Marketing cannot be ignored and needs to be a part of the culture of any successful organisation.
    
"Marketing affects everyone. We are all consumers. Most businesses depend on marketing to provide an understanding of the marketplace, to ensure their products and services satisfy the needs of customers, and that they are competing effectively."
    
Despite running great businesses, Andy has found that garage owners often struggle when it comes to marketing: "Understanding customers and anticipating their requirements is a core theme of effective marketing, yet this is somewhat difficult for garages to fully get to grips with. So too is understanding general market trends and developments that may affect both customers views and the activities of businesses in the aftermarket repair sector. You must also be aware that a business does not have the marketplace to itself. There are always direct competitors, new entrants and indirect challengers.”
    
Andy added: "Marketing should concern everybody in a business as it sets the context in which sales can take place. Whatever your role, you play a part in setting that context."

Interaction
As Andy got into the meat of the marketing matter, he led the delegates through what marketing is, and how they need to approach it and enact effective marketing within their businesses. Even the most experienced business owners and managers can get a little confused when asked to distinguish between marketing, advertising and sales. After asking attendees to pick where they would plant the marketing flag, with a few near misses along the way, Andy went through the specifics:
    
"Marketing is a systematic approach aimed at bringing buyers and sellers together for the benefit of both. Many people confuse selling and advertising with marketing but they are not the same. Marketing is about promoting goods and services that both satisfy customers and also bring profits to the business.
     
"Selling is the interaction that takes place on a personal level with potential customers. Marketing on the other hand is aimed at generating those potential customers in the first place. Many people confuse selling and advertising with marketing but they are not the same. Advertising is part of the marketing function, but never the other way around."
    
For marketing to succeed, there needs to  be a goal and a way of achieving it, which Andy went on to cover: "Any marketing campaign needs to have a clear focus and this is why it is so important to make the right choices. Will the business compete across the entire market, or only certain parts? It is also a good idea to ensure all employees know the strategies being adopted, so that everyone works together to achieve the same goals." Andy then asked a question of the group: "Do you know what your garage business is trying to achieve and how it is trying to achieve it? In most cases the answer is no."
    
The goal influences the method, and vice versa. From this point, Andy covered the classic four Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion – and went from there to the more recent extended marketing mix, incorporating people, process and physical evidence. Beyond this he laid out transactional marketing, which is sales-focused, and relationship marketing, which takes a much broader view including customer service, and quality presentation and results.
    
Next he took on the thorny issue of branding as part of the marketing strategy, and why a strong brand is so important for recognition, financial value, motivation and loyalty. All of that was just the pre-lunch session. After lunch, Andy went into even greater detail on areas such as the marketing triangle, SMART objectives and SWOT analysis. It's heady stuff, but Andy made it approachable and applicable to the sector.

Inspirational
Those in attendance found a lot to take away from the day. Dani Comber from Thrussington Garage in East Goscote, near Leicester said: "I find Andy really inspirational. I think he's brilliant. He can come and work at our garage." Commenting on what she was learning about marketing from the day, Dani said it showed the gap between what they were doing at present, and what they should be doing: "I find it demotivating and motivating at the same time. You want to do everything, you've got the intention to do it, but you've not done it. On the other hand you are motivated because you see what you can do."
    
Elisa Bramall from Scantec Automotive from Hailsham, East Sussex said: "I have attended several training courses with Andy. I only have good things to say about him of course. His passion being the main thing, and that he says it how it is. No beating around the bush. A lot of his values we stand by as well, i.e use of OE parts, tools and genuine equipment. When you attend his training courses, it aligns with what we want to achieve. With all of his experience, if you think you know it all you certainly don't."
    
Tina Drayson, Operations Manager at CCM Garage, based in West Sussex and Surrey said: "I have done Andy's financial course before. It is phenomenal. I have learned so much from it. It has certainly changed the way we are doing our business. I am hoping that today with the marketing essentials will give us even more direction going forward."
    
Terry Roberts, owner at  Witham Motor Company in Witham, Essex said: "I have just become a RAC approved garage in the last few weeks, so I am looking at changing my brand. I am really enjoying it. I am learning a lot and have picked up a lot of things."
    
Commenting on what he was getting from the course, Billy from  Beacon Hill Garage in Hindhead, Surrey said: "It just hammers home that if your standards slip, and your marketing as well, and you take your eye off the ball, things will go wrong. I will be going back to give a few people a kick up the backside to bring standards back up. "
    
Brothers Mahesh Vekaria and Pravin Patel own a garage each in Harrow. Mahesh, owner of Cardoc said: "What have I learned from Andy today so far? It has refocused and re-energised my enthusiasm for marketing. We do a fair bit of marketing, but coming today, you see a different angle to it."
    
Pravin, proprietor at Harrow Service Centre, observed: "Today has been interesting. I have learned a lot. In a sense we already do a bit of marketing, but to understand what it really does mean and the ways we are doing it – is it right or wrong? – is really useful. It is something to implement when we go back to work."
    
In that the pair are brothers and are based just half a mile apart, Aftermarket was curious as to who would get back and implement new marketing initiatives first. "I would say that I would," said Mahesh. Pravin agreed: "Yes  he would, definitely, having said that, he looks after my marketing for my garage as well. So he has double the work really."

Information
Edward Cockhill of Uckfield Motor Services in Uckfield East Sussex observed: "It is quite an eye-opener. I saw marketing as just advertising, whereas it is really the whole perception of my company. There is a lot of cogs that are going to be turning when I get home. "
    
Peter Bedford of GT One Ltd in Chertsey, Surrey said: "We are an independent Porsche specialist. Our business is in need of a bit of a review in its marketing ideas, and we are looking to freshen it up. I have come along to see another angle of it. Some things I think I know and we have applied. Some I know and we have not applied, so you need a kick up the backside. Some things are brand new. On the whole it is brilliant."
    
Cieran Larkin from Larkin Automotive in Dublin commented: "It is good to get marketing training from a professional who has been in the garage business as opposed to someone who is dealing with generic marketing. Andy's experience is brilliant in that way."
    
Nick Robinson from Marchwoods in Folkestone had been to Andy's courses previously and was back for more: "I came to Andy's events last year for garage financial understanding and customer excellence. They were real eye-openers so I have come back for another one. I was badgering him earlier to see what is coming up next. I will be at that one as well!"
    
Meanwhile, for Edward from Swanley Garage in Swanley, it was his first time: "This is the first one I have been to. It is really good. It is about getting all the information and having the guts to go out and do it. We are all guilty of not doing marketing properly, it is about taking that jump to rebrand yourself or say right we are not doing that any more, or we are not doing cut price work, or we are not going to let the customers bargain with us any more, and seeing where it takes you."


Would you like to diagnose more vehicles first time?

John Batten explores the one area of diagnosis that could stop misdiagnosis forever
Published:  03 April, 2019

As we reach March, 2019 is well and truly underway. In fact by the time you read this one third of the year will have whizzed by never to be seen again. Now, I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions (they’re so last year), but I am the type of chap that likes constant progress when it comes to developing a technician’s career.
    
There’s so much to be said for small steps taken everyday that on first look appear don’t appear to make a difference, but when gazed back upon over a 12 month period have a staggering affect on your capability to diagnose a vehicle first time, in a timely manner.

Pitter-patter of tiny feet
Small steps are all well and good but where do you start? After all, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you’d like to start your journey to diagnostic success off on the right foot. In this instance I’d start with the end in mind and reverse engineer the outcome you desire. It’s a logical process that works, and can be replicated time and time again in your diagnostic routine.
    
Your ‘end in mind’ in this instance is a vehicle where the fault no longer exists, that won’t appear back across the threshold of your workshop anytime soon. But how do you guarantee that?

One test to rule them all
I love nothing more than when the delegates working through our training programs have a technical epiphany. This happens at many points on their path of learning, but none more than with bypass testing.
    
Bypass testing is step nine in Johnny’s diagnostic circle of love (our 15 step routine), and often the key element in the first time fix. The good news for you is that it doesn’t require mythical creatures to forge their magical powers into an object that only one technician can possess. It’s something that every tech can learn, and become a diagnostic wizard.

What is bypass testing?
Quite simply it’s fixing the vehicle before you fix the vehicle. Let me explain.
    
Wouldn’t it be great if you suspected that a Mass Air Flow sensor was at fault and you could prove that you were right before you fitted a new part, or spoke to the owner of the vehicle. If you could do that then the positive effect it would have on you and the business you work for would blow you away.
    
Picture this: Your customer has reported that the vehicle is low on power. You’ve diligently questioned them, experienced the problem with them on a road test, and the bought the vehicle into the workshop.
    
You’ve pulled codes and found none present, followed by taking a look through serial data to hunt for diagnostic clues. It doesn’t take you long to identify that the MAF sensor frequency looks a little low at 1.5 Khz and your fuel trim data is incorrect and making a positive corrections. You’ve seen a bunch of these before and know that 1.85 Khz is a suitable value for this vehicle.
    
You’re keen to prove that the serial data is leading you in the right direction so confirm the sensor output with your oscilloscope. The oscilloscope frequency mirrors that of the serial tool and your starting to get that warm fuzzy feeling that an you’re onto something.

Steady the buffs
You’ve been close to success before though, only to be thwarted in the final moments so you’re keen not to be caught out twice. You know that documenting the reasons that the MAF output could be incorrect is the way to go, and duly make a list of tests required to confirm your theories.


MOT tester Annual Training & Annual Assessment: Time is running out

Ian Gillgrass turns his attention to the MOT Annual Training requirements, as the clock ticks down to the deadline at the end of March
Published:  19 March, 2019

Well it’s that time of year again when the MOT tester must complete their Annual Training and Annual Assessment and the time is running out quickly. The cut off for this year is 31 March; As in the end of the month. Any MOT testers not completing the Annual Training and Annual Assessment will be automatically suspended from carrying out vehicle MOT tests.
    
Once suspended, becoming re-approved will mean that the MOT tester will have to carry out a demonstration MOT test observed by a DVSA representative as well as completing the previous year’s Annual Training and Annual Assessment anyway. Not to mention the loss of garage revenue that may accompany the loss of an MOT tester.
    
The DVSA have highlighted that the following require a demonstration test:


Classic move

Hannah changes gear this month, and looks at the technical challenges represented by classic cars
Published:  22 March, 2019

All my recent writing has involved modern cars and techniques, but this month I have decided to write about my main passion of classic cars. The classic car market is huge and people are now seeing a lot of classic cars as an investment.
    
Recently I set about scouring eBay and Gumtree for a restoration project or ‘barn find’ as people like to classify anything that has stood unused for a length of time. The reason for the project is that it is my Dad’s 70th birthday was just before Christmas and what better present than a dusty and rusty old MGB GT? The British classic is top of my shopping list. Dad used to have a white MGB GT and I have always wanted an affordable classic so I have come to the conclusion that the MGB fits the bill perfectly.

Bargin
Luckily I have found the perfect car. A lot of money can be lost due to poor bodywork issues. Welding is definitely not my forte, but luckily this particular MGB is solid underneath. That said, the interior needs a good clean and some repair and the engine requires a good service and tune up. The previous owner hadn’t used the car for over seven years but the little 1.8 litre engine ignited just fine. Admittedly it was running slightly lumpily, but it was drivable and solid for well under £1,000. In my eyes it was an absolute bargain.
    
As I write this I haven’t yet unveiled the car to Dad but I have ordered the parts catalogues with a view to what this ‘blank canvas’ can become. I am keen on a Sebring kit and Minilites. While getting a complete respray, the exterior paint is as dull as a wet February day. However, I keep having to remember that it is a present and not my car. I will certainly push what I think is best for the car.

Connection
Over the years I have restored and re-commissioned plenty of vehicles. It is something I thoroughly enjoy doing and means you can really implement simple engineering techniques such as turning the mixture screw on a carburettor. I always feel that when a classic car comes in for work that the owner has a closer connection with this vehicle rather than their everyday one. I enjoy communicating with the owner in how they would like to restore the car, cars such as the iconic British Mini and MGB can be customised without losing their vintage style. Parts are so plentiful for most classics that there isn’t that time delay when restoring.

Escapism
The MGB GT I have purchased comes with a thorough and plentiful file full of receipts mounting up to tens of thousands of pounds, and this certainly is not uncommon. Classic cars are a great chance for escapism in this modern world where an OBD port is the most commonly used part of the car. Instead I get to  enjoy being able to tune an engine with just a flat head screwdriver.




No self control?

There are pluses and minuses to the increasing application of driver assistance systems that seem to be pointing us towards full automation
Published:  14 March, 2019

Having witnessed the growth of passive driver assist systems and the intent to move towards fully autonomous vehicle control, my topic this month is to raise both thought and debate towards the implications. My first intention is to separate assistance from autonomy.

I fully support assistance as it provides a safer environment for the driver to concentrate on vehicle control. Many of these systems have been available for a very long time, including possibly the very first, power steering and power windows.

ABS to power steering
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are, I think, an excellent example where drivers may be misled as to the safety improvements. However, the laws of physics still apply, and the co-efficient of friction and kinetic energy will always dictate the retardation distance and vector. Obvious enhancements to ABS work as a fully integrated system, including dynamic chassis stability.
Early variants simply monitored the wheel speed sensor frequency, reducing the engine throttle angle to reduce torque through the driving wheels when a significant differential existed. Recent additions now include variable geometry anti-roll bar and adjustable rate shock absorber damping with self- levelling.

Evolving in parallel with these systems, and this is where there is an arguable transition from passive to active or automatous control, is the steering system. The introduction of power steering does have great advantages in reducing driver fatigue and improving mechanical response to steering wheel input. The next evolution was variable rate steering assist, whereby the assistance is proportional to steering angle and road speed. with the evolution of brushless motors and highly accurate position sensor technology, steering systems now offer corrective suggestion to the driver via a subtle torsion bar within the upper steering column. Should the driver resist this small force the system will disengage leaving the driver fully in control.
I am choosing to ignore for the moment fully autonomous steering control as it embodies a whole array of additional control input requirements.  This allows me to focus on some of the more peripheral driver support systems which I do fully endorse. Matrix vehicle lighting control is possibly one of the best safety improvements. This enables full beam lighting always, yet avoiding oncoming vehicle light stray. Smart cruise control is also especially useful on motorways in uniform traffic conditions.

Compliance
The next group of driver assist starts to cross the boundaries of assistance, this is due to the introduction of long- range transmitters and receptors, lane divergence, and vehicle proximity awareness. This technology does of course lend itself to other previously mentioned systems.  

There should be a very sobering pause at this point.  To maintain system integrity and accuracy from the above systems a little thought should be given to the almost non- existent function called calibration.it is critical. If you fully consider the implications of everyday servicing and repairs that affect these systems, compliance is the responsibility of the repairer. This means you.
This is the point where I cannot avoid the transition towards full driverless autonomous control. Due to several critical considerations, technical compliance, political compliance, legal compliance, and public acceptance, it is to be rolled out in five steps over several years. Ford recently suggested it could be implemented by 2021, with level zero full human control, to level five where the human has no input responsibility.

What of the globe’s biggest commerce giant’s? Intel has just purchased an Israeli autonomy tech company for $15 billion. Google has spent a modest $30m, and Facebook is in it too. All hellbent on convincing us of the benefits in total vehicle automation. Given their past and current dishonesty, self-interest, and responsibility avoidance you can bet it all going to be a financial beartrap.
 However, my personal feelings are more complex. Humans has evolved over many thousands of years by overcoming and controlling a multitude of challenges. It has enabled our brain and cognitive functions to develop to incredible levels. Imagine then, being trapped in an autonomous container with absolutely no functional requirement. What will you do by way of brain stimulation or choices. I accept traffic jams are worst than toothache, but driving is a socially shared experience. Think of the simple activities that release endorphins, such as cycling and walking. Why? because of the brain stimulation and cognitive responses, a form of achievement.

If you must have total autonomy for your travel requirements, then public transport is available now. My acid test for the techno maniacs out there is, given that the technology is currently available and has been proven over several years, would you choose to fly in an aircraft with no pilot? Remember that even in autopilot there are teams of humans constantly monitoring the flight path and technical systems.

Credibility
I’m not ignorant of the accident statistics that give credibility to automation, if that was the true motivation, then smoking and alcohol would be banned tomorrow as they kill and maim an awful lot more.

It has been suggested that our home environment would be improved as our car could drop us off and then park its self in a less congested place, so if you live in central London your car could end up in a South Downs village. On a more sinister note, if an autonomous vehicle faced with an inevitable collision from a oncoming car, would it mount the pavement and choose the mother with a pram as the better survivable outcome for its occupants?

The very best qualities of life always come back to interaction, be it with other people, pets or machines, what next? When do machines decide we are the redundant component? Disagree, or debate, but don’t accuse me of not embracing technology, I have spent my life trying to master it.






And the worst MOT tester in the UK is… YOU

Barry shows how the DVSA can see which testers present the most risk to the MOT scheme
Published:  30 March, 2019

To save money and raise efficiency, the DVSA has turned to automation. They no longer need an army of Vehicle Examiners wandering from MOT bay to MOT bay. Instead they are collecting data all the time.
    
Let’s say I am the boss and my business is low on revenue. I beat up the manager and he in turn influences the tester to fail everything coming through the door. The customer is now stuck with no MOT and I have some simple high yield repairs.
    
Here’s where it gets interesting. The DVSA computer is monitoring individual tester behaviour and looking at averages. The pattern is really easy for a computer at the DVSA to see because it’s just not possible that lots of cars fail on the same items every day.  The DVSA’s fix is to target garages where data shows they are hunting for work and send in a VE to crosscheck. He needs only to wait nearby until our tester issues his favourite fails and then arrive to retest the car.
    
We all, as testers, now have access to our TQI. Lots of testers that I speak to have the sentiment that this data is all rubbish but, here is the rub. The DVSA have a team of very capable data processors looking at this data and writing algorithms that alert them to trends that need investigation.

Take my example of one of my longest-serving testers and allow the DVSA computer to tell me every car that he has tested in the last two weeks of November for the last seven years and add in that we only want to know about cars tested after 4:30pm. We find only one car; a Y reg (2001) BMW 320i convertible, always tested after 5pm with a longest test time of thirty-two minutes and shortest of twenty-seven. Guess what, it’s my guy’s brother-in-law’s car!
    
For me the horror is that the car has never failed an MOT. It’s also never been in the workshop for any repairs. It looks absolutely dogged out and is on around 180,000 miles. Worst still my guy has never once even advised anything on this car. The VE would assume  Barry’s guy is prepared to let things slide at the end of the day, so maybe he plans to visit me after 5pm on a Thursday.

Conflicting vehicle locations
This is a fun story from a close and trusted friend. My guy is at a DVSA IVA check and overhears a conversation by a couple of Vehicle Examiners. It goes like this; VE no.1 is suspicious of an MOT bay offering fraudulent MOT tests. He parks down the road from an MOT bay in Kent and checks which vehicle is logged on and being tested. He takes the registration number of the vehicle in question and calls the DVLA, identifies himself and asks if the vehicle has been seen on the DVLA camera system anywhere in the last half hour. The car was last seen on the M25 twelve minutes ago near Watford in Hertfordshire over 70 miles away.
  
So, our VE is in Kent and the car is in Hertfordshire. If this works today in a manual sense how long will it be before computers can do this to every single test? Talk about an easy way to stop fraudulent MOTs, just using computers that the government already own.




T.Q.I. or T.Q. WHY?

Barry explores some of the guidance from the new MOT Directive and focuses on the responsibility to manage your TQI
Published:  25 February, 2019

Here is an extract from the sixth edition of the Testing Guide:

 “E3 Ongoing Requirements: Testers should access their Test Quality Information (TQI) Reports via the MOT Testing Service (MTS), to compare their personal performance with the national averages. This is relevant to the tester as it is an ongoing requirement of authorisation.”
    
Let’s explore what the DVSA want to achieve. The DVSA need to be accountable to Government for ensuring the MOT Scheme is well run and managed. They themselves cannot be in all places at all times, so by running a TQI comparison they are able to gain a structured insight on the performance of each and every MOT tester. They can then compare each individual MOT tester’s results against the national average and can use this system to identify any anomalies.  In essence, the DVSA need this information to prove they are managing the scheme and to identify where any weaknesses might be found.

Insider information
How can the DVSA use the information? As MOT testing stations we previously had this data available via an earlier version of the VTS software along with a scoring system. Now just because we don’t see the scoring system please do not think for one moment that the DVSA cannot see your scores.
    
When a DVSA Vehicle Examiner (VE) is sat down the road from your garage, he is able to look at the TQI of each tester and arrive at your reception area armed with what could be termed ‘insider information’, although the information that the DVSA can see is the same information you can access via your TQI.
    
Worse still if your TQI percentages are consistently too far from the national  average, a computer at the DVSA could alert your local DVSA office and create the need for a Vehicle Examiner to visit your garage unannounced.

Review and manage  
The DVSA have given us all the ability to be armed against any weaknesses in our TQI and via the new directive are actually forcing us to review and manage our own TQI. Let’s not forget the DVSA need to have a well-run scheme, so by forcing us to review and manage the TQI they are keeping themselves in good shape too.
    
How often should you check your TQI? Let’s make this simple you should check it every month. What should you do with your TQI? Each tester (not your employer or AE) should check their own TQI each month. Once you have your TQI report, you should check your own averages against the national averages. If all of your TQI is close to the national average then you have very little to be concerned about, and the DVSA will also have no concerns here.
    
Importantly, in order to remain compliant you should have a record of checking your TQI and be able to produce that record to the DVSA on demand. If you have checked, all is good, and you have documented this check, then well done.
    
What if your TQI is bad? Two things can happen here:

1. You are a BAD tester and you probably get found out, or...
2. You are a GOOD tester with bad TQI who needs to put things right.

The DVSA want us all to work to a quality management scheme (QMS). The DVSA want to see that we all manage our VTS correctly. They expect us to do this by continually checking and measuring ourselves against a set of standards. Now the DVSA are not silly and they know that there will be shortcomings and things that go wrong. In fact, they expect just that, and even encourage it. What the DVSA want is for all of our checking to be recorded, then they want us to find things that are wrong and record them. More importantly they want us to put those things right and record when they have been corrected.
    
Returning to our bad TQI, it is safe to say that the DVSA will want to know that we have identified the issue and recorded that problem, then we need to supply a solution and document that solutions outcome.
    
Finding a valid reason for your TQI differences is often down to unique circumstances, some real-world examples that come to mind are:


T.Q.I. or T.Q. WHY?

Barry explores some of the guidance from the new MOT Directive and focuses on the responsibility to manage your TQI
Published:  07 February, 2019

Here is an extract from the sixth edition of the Testing Guide:
“E3 Ongoing Requirements: Testers should access their Test Quality Information (TQI) Reports via the MOT Testing Service (MTS), to compare their personal performance with the national averages. This is relevant to the tester as it is an ongoing requirement of authorisation.”
    
Let’s explore what the DVSA want to achieve. The DVSA need to be accountable to Government for ensuring the MOT Scheme is well run and managed. They themselves cannot be in all places at all times, so by running a TQI comparison they are able to gain a structured insight on the performance of each and every MOT tester. They can then compare each individual MOT tester’s results against the national average and can use this system to identify any anomalies.  In essence, the DVSA need this information to prove they are managing the scheme and to identify where any weaknesses might be found.

Insider information
How can the DVSA use the information? As MOT testing stations we previously had this data available via an earlier version of the VTS software along with a scoring system. Now just because we don’t see the scoring system please do not think for one moment that the DVSA cannot see your scores.
    
When a DVSA Vehicle Examiner (VE) is sat down the road from your garage, he is able to look at the TQI of each tester and arrive at your reception area armed with what could be termed ‘insider information’, although the information that the DVSA can see is the same information you can access via your TQI.
    
Worse still if your TQI percentages are consistently too far from the national  average, a computer at the DVSA could alert your local DVSA office and create the need for a Vehicle Examiner to visit your garage unannounced.

Review and manage  
The DVSA have given us all the ability to be armed against any weaknesses in our TQI and via the new directive are actually forcing us to review and manage our own TQI. Let’s not forget the DVSA need to have a well-run scheme, so by forcing us to review and manage the TQI they are keeping themselves in good shape too.
    How often should you check your TQI? Let’s make this simple you should check it every month. What should you do with your TQI? Each tester (not your employer or AE) should check their own TQI each month. Once you have your TQI report, you should check your own averages against the national averages. If all of your TQI is close to the national average then you have very little to be concerned about, and the DVSA will also have no concerns here.
    Importantly, in order to remain compliant you should have a record of checking your TQI and be able to produce that record to the DVSA on demand. If you have checked, all is good, and you have documented this check, then well done.
    What if your TQI is bad? Two things can happen here:
1. You are a BAD tester and you probably get found out, or...

2. You are a GOOD tester with bad TQI who needs to put things right.

The DVSA want us all to work to a quality management scheme (QMS). The DVSA want to see that we all manage our VTS correctly. They expect us to do this by continually checking and measuring ourselves against a set of standards. Now the DVSA are not silly and they know that there will be shortcomings and things that go wrong. In fact, they expect just that, and even encourage it. What the DVSA want is for all of our checking to be recorded, then they want us to find things that are wrong and record them. More importantly they want us to put those things right and record when they have been corrected.
    
Returning to our bad TQI, it is safe to say that the DVSA will want to know that we have identified the issue and recorded that problem, then we need to supply a solution and document that solutions outcome.
    
Finding a valid reason for your TQI differences is often down to unique circumstances, some real-world examples that come to mind are:


Walkabout: The Australian adventure

Frank Massey reflects on what he learned during an extended tour of the Australian automotive aftermarket late last year
Published:  30 January, 2019

Having just spent three weeks touring New South Wales, while delivering two training events, firstly in Sydney then Canberra I thought it would be interesting to compare how our two different, but also similar markets operate.

The visit began several months ago with an invitation from a good friend Bob Whyms, Australia’s prominent Porsche specialist in Sydney. The offer comes as part of a training group called Australian Aftermarket Service Dealer Network (AASDN). This is a group of totally independent service and repair independents across the whole of Australia.

 It was formed from disillusioned members from the Bosch Aftermarket Service Dealership Network, or BASDN. Around 70% agreed to form AASDN with the view of promoting mutual support and training across the whole of the continent. Members pay a subscription to a fund that provides venues and trainers across the continent. My understanding is they number about four per season.

Mutual respect
It is important to understand the incredible geographical constraints yet obvious bond they share for their independence and mutual respect. If I may reflect on our very own Autoinform event in Harrogate in November, where I am sure all attendees would recognise the same sentiments from the AASDN group.

I was also privileged to visit several businesses in both Sydney and en-route to Canberra. The BWA Porsche specialist host and first training venue, based in the western suburbs, provides genuine expertise in depth from Bob and now also his son Craig. This ranges from servicing to performance upgrades.

BWA provide a parts service across Australia importing directly from Germany. They also provide a comprehensive machine shop service, which supports their engine remanufacture and performance business. Bob and I had fun reflecting on Bosch D Jetronic and other early evolutions of fuel injection, grumpy old men and all that!

I was then treated to a visit to a highly respected Mercedes tuning expert close to the airport. Then finally, a very talented young technician specialising in DPF cleaning. The focus on training included ignition diagnostic technique, common rail and direct gasoline injection.

It was both a pleasure and privilege to share the enthusiasm from the entire audience, their knowledge and interaction was mutually appreciated.

In a far too brief visit to Dubbo, my good friend Paul gave me an insight into the more remote reaches of the trade. I was equally impressed with the dedication and superb workshop facilities. I also experienced several near-misses from kangaroos!

Special mention
I should give special mention to  my incredible visit to the Bathurst 1000 race. It is an institution among fans and an incredible two-mile hill town circuit, constructed from urban roads. AASDN host a VIP lounge for their members.  Imagine that at Silverstone! It only takes commitment and support with a little cash.

One week down, heavy rain and in the good company of Alan, a diesel shop owner, we travelled down the coast, whale watching in Huskisson Bay. Then onto Canberra, via AASDN committee member Alan. Despite having just lost his home and all his possessions from a bush fire, Alan remarkably still provided accommodation in his temporary rental home.
Our hosts in Canberra, Derek and Ros, operate a large high-end diesel specialist shop. The second training event was a mirror image of Sydney, supported by a second incredible array of AASDN members. Incredible not just for their knowledge and confidence but their interaction over the three days.

The evenings from both events was spent socialising in steak houses chatting over mutual challenges. From my experience the vehicle market share was quite diverse, lots of Asian cars, and a remarkable number of VWs. It was a surprise to learn that that both Ford and Holden have ceased production in Australia due to a lack of competitive pricing. I was told of a delegate who attended the Canberra event who heard of my visit two days before the Friday start, purchased a flight, closed his workshop and travelled from Perth to attend. It is a 3,000km journey. To put that into some local UK context, I once had a conversation with a parts distributor in Kent several years ago, when a training event had to be relocated from Canterbury college to Ashford, 17.5 miles away. He cancelled the whole event without asking the delegates. The reason? He said, “they won’t travel that far.”
I see little differences between our two cultures. I find the same dedication and passion. Sadly for the UK, they seem to have more of it.





Is the knowledge gap closing?

Can the aftermarket keep up with the pace of technology, as it speeds up ever faster, with more systems to deal with?
Published:  23 January, 2019


Would you like to know a secret?

John Batten explores what's required to create great technicians, and how to do this in your business
Published:  18 January, 2019

The focus of my article this month is how to swing the scales in your favour for 2019, turn good into great, great into brilliant, or brilliant into OMG technically this year we’ve nailed it!
    
Read on and I’ll share our secrets of the garages we work with, and how they reduce their diagnostic time whilst increasing their first-time fix.
    
Have you ever thought: “Is there a recipe for technical success?” Equally, have you also asked yourself, “Why is it that some garages can fix vehicles others can’t?”
    
These questions are worth pondering. In fact, they’re questions that if you’re serious about your first-time fix rate (in a timely manner) are worth getting to the bottom of. I’ve discovered the answers, and the great news is, that almost anyone with the will to achieve this, can. How come I’m so confident? Well, I’ve been guiding technicians through the maze that is career development for longer than I care to remember, and enjoyed watching hundreds of them achieve success.

Are you successful?
what makes a great technician and what is success? While I could produce an endless list of the specific attributes and skills that a super tech would possess that might be considered a prerequisite for success,
I think the answer is more straightforward and can be summarised in three points regardless of their technical level.


Classic move

Hannah changes gear this month, and looks at the technical challenges represented by classic cars
Published:  10 January, 2019

All my recent writing has involved modern cars and techniques, but this month I have decided to write about my main passion of classic cars. The classic car market is huge and people are now seeing a lot of classic cars as an investment.

All my recent writing has involved modern cars and techniques, but this month I have decided to write about my main passion of classic cars. The classic car market is huge and people are now seeing a lot of classic cars as an investment.

Recently I set about scouring eBay and Gumtree for a restoration project or ‘barn find’ as people like to classify anything that has stood unused for a length of time. The reason for the project is that it is my Dad’s 70th birthday was just before Christmas and what better present than a dusty and rusty old MGB GT? The British classic is top of my shopping list. Dad used to have a white MGB GT and I have always wanted an affordable classic so I have come to the conclusion that the MGB fits the bill perfectly.

Luckily I have found the perfect car. A lot of money can be lost due to poor bodywork issues. Welding is definitely not my forte, but luckily this particular MGB is solid underneath. That said, the interior needs a good clean and some repair and the engine requires a good service and tune up. The previous owner hadn’t used the car for over seven years but the little 1.8 litre engine ignited just fine. Admittedly it was running slightly lumpily, but it was drivable and solid for well under £1,000. In my eyes it was an absolute bargain.

As I write this I haven’t yet unveiled the car to Dad but I have ordered the parts catalogues with a view to what this ‘blank canvas’ can become. I am keen on a Sebring kit and Minilites. While getting a complete respray, the exterior paint is as dull as a wet February day. However, I keep having to remember that it is a present and not my car. I will certainly push what I think is best for the car.

Connection
Over the years I have restored and re-commissioned plenty of vehicles.  It is something I thoroughly enjoy doing and means you can really implement simple engineering techniques such as turning the mixture screw on a carburettor. I always feel that when a classic car comes in for work that the owner has a closer connection with this vehicle rather than their everyday one. I enjoy communicating with the owner in how they would like to restore the car, cars such as the iconic British Mini and MGB can be customised without losing their vintage style. Parts are so plentiful for most classics that there isn’t that time delay when restoring.
    
The MGB GT I have purchased comes with a thorough and plentiful file full of receipts mounting up to tens of thousands of pounds, and this certainly is not uncommon. Classic cars are a great chance for escapism in this modern world where an OBD port is the most commonly used part of the car. Instead I get to  enjoy being able to tune an engine with just a flat head screwdriver.






Good vibrations

Frank explains the science behind the way-out sounds made by today’s cars that can be the cause of much head-scratching in the workshop
Published:  31 December, 2018

In a previous topic I expanded on the availability of focused test tools for independents. It’s not often that we see a technical breakthrough which has real application potential, but there was a breakthrough recently when Pico introduced a new NVH kit. It has come just in time, as noise, vibration and harshness is a challenge that’s not getting any easier, so what is it?

You must first start by accepting that the motor vehicle is a series of mechanical systems in permanent conflict. There are components travelling in different directions, subject to acceleration, deceleration, changing direction, and of considerable mass differential.

What I have just described there is the internal combustion engine. adding chassis and body systems to the mix. I think you will agree the problem we have is in identifying noise and vibration.

 The difference between noise and vibration is based on frequency and amplitude. Noise is a single event with a diminishing synodal pattern. It looks like a trumpet. Vibration however has a repetitive frequency and amplitude. Both of which will change with speed and a whole host of influences, resonance, beating, and mass differential are just some.  

So why has it become more difficult for us techs to bend our ear and diagnose an issue with confidence? The answer is due to the technical innovations of today’s vehicles. These include the dual mass flywheel, active engine mounts, cylinder cancellation, Audi anc system, infinite computer control of chassis dynamics, and the most obvious of all-  lack of accessibility.

Let’s begin with the basics. As we have seen, Vibration is classified by frequency and amplitude. A large mass will by nature have a lower frequency and a greater mass, while  a small mass will present the exact opposite. Two or more mass that converge with the same frequency combine their mass value increasing the amplitude. This is called resonance. Mass that have a similar but close frequency differential, within say 10hz, cause beating; “wo, wo, wo, wo.” An example of this would be a worn wheel bearing.
Vibration has three elements: Cause, transfer path, and respondent. In almost all cases we experience the respondent. Let’s think about the vibrating ash tray, wedged with paper to stop the noise! Vibration also falls into three other simple categories, vibration we feel, vibration we see, and vibration we hear. We humans can only hear noise between 25hz/22,000hz.

The next consideration is how many events per rotation frequency is experienced these are called, first, second, third, orders etc.
Now let’s do some simple maths. It’s getting interesting now isn’t it? We must convert everything into frequency, the unit is hertz, or cycles per second. For simplicity, a four-cylinder engine revolving at 3000rpm, in top gear 1:1, differential ratio 4:1.
3000/60=50hz divided by final drive ratio 4:1=12.5hz.

Therefore crankshaft vibration will be @50hz and tyres, rim, brake disc, and drive shafts will be at 12.5hz. So, you will now appreciate is a simple matter of separating the various operating frequencies.

Well not quite, but by now I’m hoping you view vibration in a more clinical way and not just based on experience or opinion. Vibration can have different direction or vectors, something tyre fitters more often or not get wrong.

Bring on the technology. The kit which can have an infinite flexibility of accessory options, uses a three-dimensional accelerometer, for vector differential, measuring mass, and a microphone recording sound, together with 1+3 channel interfaces, and bnc connection leads. The engine speed data is collected via the serial port with a drew tech mongoose serial interface. This can also be achieved optically if preferred. The accelerometer has a magnetic base and is directional sensitive, fore/aft, vertical, and lateral. Its initial position should be on the driver’s seat frame. After all that’s where the complaints start! The microphone could be positioned close to a known noise source or in the cabin.

Navigating through the software wizard is straightforward, you will need to select number of cylinders and configuration, in line, opposed, v config, and direction of mounting. You will then need to establish the various gear and final drive ratios, with tyre size data.

The software will then gather data over an infinite timeframe and scaling which is of course adjustable. The most challenging aspect in my opinion is control of the style of driving technique, speed, gearing, direction, braking and the influence of the road surface. The vehicle may have selectable drivetrain and suspension options, which will affect the potential effects of noise and vibration.

Did you remember not to omit the obvious or obscure effects? Has the vehicle been modified in any way whatsoever? Wheel size, spring rates, power output, etc, etc. Record your driving technique and environmental influences into the microphone. After all it is recording sound, all sound!

There are several options in the display menu, from bar chart, frequency, and 3D. you will quickly establish exactly which one of three vehicle systems the problem originates based on visual evidence. Engine, transmission or tyres.
You can then reposition the sensors to further locate the position of the source. Vibration will increase in amplitude, as will noise the closer you are to the source. This is due to the reduction in the length of the transfer path, and any devices that may absorb it.  
I can confidently monitor discrete combustion anomalies based on the transfer of mass energy from the pistons to crankshaft orders, simplifying connectivity issues with coil on plug multi-cylinder engines. I could show you images from a test I conducted recently, but a simple static image does not fully demonstrate the effects of vibration.




High voltage – Big opportunity: Part 1

Ian Gillgrass begins a new series that will try to take some of the fear out of working on EVs, and instead highlight the advantages for garages
Published:  24 December, 2018

Electric vehicle technology means both opportunity for garages and technicians but also necessitates investment, especially in technicians and equipment as businesses have a ‘duty of care’ to look after the technician while servicing and repairing electric vehicles.
    
Who here is old enough to remember when the supposedly deadly airbag was introduced on mainstream production vehicles during the 1990s? Nearly everyone around during this era was nervous of the technology and the highly dangerous components, such as the airbag deployment device, that were encountered by technicians. Today airbag technology is encountered by the workshop technician on a daily basis, and every modern vehicle has some form of supplementary restraint system (SRS) fitted to the vehicle. The dangers first feared by the technician are now treated as part of the daily routine. It will probably be a similar scenario as more and more high voltage electric vehicles are seen both on the road and in vehicle workshops for service and repair around the UK.
    
Treat the vehicle technology with care, educate the technician, gain confidence with the technology and the fear typically reduces. Most vehicles (hybrid and pure electric) fitted with this high voltage technology are inherently safe, reliable and safe to work on providing a few rules are adhered to such as ‘don’t stick metal objects in places where high voltage exists.’
    
Many of the vehicle manufacturers will highlight the potential dangers by placing various warning signs on the hazardous components that have a risk of electrocution, corrosive, fire and magnetism.

Training
Many of the training providers around the UK are now providing training courses on the technology, most will provide an industry recognised qualification or certification by a recognised awarding organisation such ABC Awards, City & Guilds or The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has developed guidelines for the recovery, repair, and maintenance of these vehicles both for independent workshops and franchised dealership networks which is available to view at http://www.hse.gov.uk/mvr/topics/electric-hybrid.htm
    
The HSE website can also provide some useful information that can supplement the information provided on specific High Voltage Vehicle training/qualification courses. The workshop should have the applicable policies in place and ensure that the necessary risk assessment procedures are in place to prevent injuries and fatalities. They should also inform the applicable insurance organisation(s) that they are working on these types of vehicles.
    
It should be noted as with all the present vehicle technology that the vehicle’s control unit will closely monitor the high voltage system and in nearly all cases of a fault being detected, the vehicle system will store an applicable diagnostic trouble code (DTC) and default to a safe running mode or even shut the high voltage system down, disabling the vehicle. The control unit will also illuminate a malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) to indicate the fault to the driver of the vehicle.

Correct
It is therefore imperative that the vehicle workshop has the correct test equipment to be able to access the vehicle systems necessary to retrieve the information to correctly repair the vehicle. Only with dedicated equipment will a workshop be able to facilitate the diagnosis and repair of the vehicle. This also includes the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and necessary dedicated hand tools such as a multimeter, insulation tester, insulated tools and the necessary workshop equipment to both repair the vehicle and warn individuals of the potential risk to the exposure of electrocution through high voltage vehicles (i.e. insulated safety equipment, signs and barriers).
    
Hybrid vehicles have been fitted with high voltage batteries since the late 1990s such as the Honda Insight/Accord or the Toyota Prius (now in its fourth generation). The high voltage technology has been seen for many years, its only over the last few years that we have seen that technology being used more widely on vehicles that our customers drive on a daily basis.

Safety steps
To enable a technician to disable the high voltage system to be able to work near/on the high voltage components they should always follow the vehicle manufacturers repair instructions however this can also be seen as ‘seven steps’ to disable the vehicle’s high voltage system. Step 1 to Step 3 are indicated in this article with the remainder in the next article.

Step 1. Ensure others are aware of the potential high voltage/risk: The technician should ensure that others in their workplace are aware of the potential dangers of a vehicle with high voltage in the workshop. The technician has a duty of care to highlight the potential risks and hazards. The technician should perform this task by highlighting to others of the potential danger, indicating that the vehicles’ high voltage system is either ‘active’ or disabled. This can be achieved by applying warning signs on the vehicle along with their name and contact details such as a mobile phone number. The technician should walk around the vehicle to check to ensure there is no obvious damage, liquids or other risks that could harm others. The technician should at the same time begin/follow a risk assessment identifies the potential hazards (HSE indicate that a business that employs five staff and above needs this to be documented). The technician should place additional signs and barriers to enable the vehicle is cordoned off and ensure that others are protected as far as possible from the risk.

Step 2. Switch off the ignition switch/remove the key from the vehicle (3-5 metres away): Hybrid vehicles typically use a vehicle security system that no longer requires the vehicles key (or key fob) to be inserted into a lock assembly to switch the ‘ignition on’ or make the vehicle ready to drive. Many vehicles now have keyless technology so as long as the key is in the vicinity of the vehicle the vehicle ‘could’ become alive. A simple solution is to remove the key (or key fob) at least three metres from the vehicle so that the vehicle does not recognise the key and there is no fear on the vehicle energy unit (engine or high voltage battery system) becoming live. As an example it has been seen that a technician drains the engine oil on a vehicle during a service and the engine starts, the consequences of such an action can be enormous. This scenario could also occur if the vehicle is fitted with a Stop/Start system that is active.

Step 3. Disconnect the low voltage battery:  Vehicles, at present, will still have a low voltage (12 volt) ancillary battery to operate conventional systems such as driver and passenger control systems i.e. instruments, comfort and audio. The low voltage system will also typically control and monitor the high voltage system. Therefore, if the low voltage battery were to become discharged then the vehicle will display the signs of a flat battery and the technician will have to connect their ‘battery booster’ to the low voltage battery in order to wake up the high voltage system.
    
On NO account should the technician access the high voltage battery to connect any booster/charging equipment. The low voltage battery is typically re-charged with a component called the DC to DC converter. This is normally located near to the invertor/electric motor. Note that a battery (low or high voltage) can only store direct current (DC) and to propel the vehicle requires this DC to be inverted into AC to turn the electric motor through a component referred to as the ‘inverter.’ Late vehicles could be seen as no longer fitted with a low voltage battery, vehicle manufacturers are looking to increase the driving range of the vehicle through weight reduction. A low voltage battery typically weighs around 12Kg. The lithium battery will provide both the low
voltage and the high voltage energy required to energise the vehicle.
    Voltages present in hybrid and electric are significantly higher (up to 650 Volts-DC)) than those used in other vehicles (12/24 Volts DC) we commonly see on the road network. In dry conditions, accidental contact with parts that are live at voltages above 50 Volts DC can be fatal. If wet conditions are encountered, then this voltage can become significantly reduced. These vehicles remain inherently safe but as vehicle workshops can be high risk the workshop should always have a trained/qualified first aid person on site. High voltage will also apply to the various equipment that has been used for many years in this environment.
    
The high voltage output is controlled by the low voltage system with the use of ‘contactors’ or large relays. These relays can be seen as large mechanical switches and due to the large currents, that pass through the contacts can be prone to faults such as welding closed. The vehicle low voltage system will typically check the function of these relays during the start-up procedure and if a fault is detected the system will normally produce a DTC applicable to the fault.

Further information
Further information on high voltage vehicle components and their operation will be contained in the next of the articles in this series, along with the next steps in the disconnection process. The reading of these articles will increase a technician’s knowledge of high voltage and the various vehicle systems, but a technician should always ensure that they have the ability to work on these vehicle types competently prior to work commencing.


The changing face of the Aftermarket

A visit to Automechanika Frankfurt provided Neil Pattemore with a perfect physical manifestation of how the sector is changing
Published:  17 December, 2018

Arguably the world’s largest and most successful aftermarket show was recently held in Frankfurt – Automechanika.
    
If you didn’t go, you missed something very impressive, but there will be various reports about what was there and details of specific exhibitors and their latest product or service in this most noble magazine.
    
However, although I spent most of a week at this exhibition, what intrigued me was not just the enormous variety of exhibitors, with their corresponding products, services and new ideas, but the wider question of why it is so successful and why so many visitors – over 130,000 this year - attend this bi-annual show out of their busy schedules. Most importantly, well over two thirds of these are senior business managers or business owners with 96% stating that they were “very satisfied’”with their visit to the show. Doesn’t this start to tell you something very important?
    
It starts to show why exhibitions are so important, especially at this moment in the history of the aftermarket, and why it is increasingly important to attend this type of show. Let me explain.

Evolution
For over a century the aftermarket has continuously evolved and primarily provides consumers with competitive choices about the diagnosis, service and maintenance of the vehicles – generating healthy competition and impressive innovation along the way. If evidence was ever needed as to how important this is, then Automechanika shows this in abundance. Whole halls (several on three levels) exhibit specific sectors of the aftermarket and the Automechanika organisers help the visitor by keeping all similar products or services in a dedicated area or hall. Believe me, this really helps when planning what you want to see and how to find it, but equally reflects the needs of the visitors who plan their visits almost like a military operation. However, there were some important differences with this year’s show as there was an interesting dichotomy. For the first time, there was a significant retrospective view with older (classic) vehicles in a dedicated hall and at other stands around the show. This was to illustrate that growing skills gap in what is a lucrative and resurgent market, but was also clearly based on the B2B opportunities that servicing and maintaining these cars can create.
    
From the opposite perspective, there was much evidence of new technologies and the rapid revolution that is taking place towards the garage of the future. Perhaps these two elements summarise nicely the question of why so many senior people go to this show – it enables them to understand the threats and opportunities in relation to their businesses and equally, flowing from this, where and when investment in their businesses should take place. This leads into how their businesses can remain competitive, which can be a combination of exploiting new digital technologies to create higher workshop efficiencies, implementing improved tools and equipment or understanding how improved work methods using internet and cloud based solutions can reduce the costs.

Competition
On the other side of the equation is the wider competition issue of how to remain in the position to offer competitive choices to the consumer, as the ability to remain competitive could be under severe threat from changes to the vehicle design, access conditions and new competitors entering the market.
    
Automechanika represents the epitome of the aftermarket’s success, but is viewed by the vehicle manufacturers as a rich opportunity to encroach into the aftermarket sector and ‘take back’ what they consider should be rightfully theirs.
    
As I have written about before, this is part of the connected car and allows the vehicle manufacturer to control all remote access to the vehicle. You may consider that this is not your problem, as you repair vehicles when they come into your workshop, but what is happening now is that the start of this repair process starts with vehicle manufacturers’ applications embedded in the vehicle, monitoring what faults or service requirements are needed and then proposing via the in-vehicle display a location and price where the service or repair can be conducted – the driver just clicks  the icon and ‘voila’, the appointment is made at the nearest main dealer. You can’t compete if you can’t make a competitive offer as you don’t know what is needed and cannot contact the driver at the time the vehicle manufacturers are making their proposal.

Access
So, the aftermarket is evolving, but in a way that may not be obvious until it is too late. Independent service providers can manage their businesses to remain competitive with each other, but there is a distortion with which they cannot compete and with a competitor who wants to control the whole aftermarket value chain and its corresponding profit margins. Without being able to communicate with the vehicle, access its data and use the in-vehicle interface to communicate with the driver, all independent service providers (workshops, parts suppliers, data publishers – i.e. the complete aftermarket value chain) will be unable to offer competing offers, as they will not be able to pre-diagnose the vehicle and identify the parts or technical information required before the vehicle comes into the workshop.
    
This remote access can reduce workshop costs by 50% and the corresponding competitiveness of any service you may wish to provide.
    
This is not a ‘let market forces rule’ scenario, but is a real threat to the ability of the whole aftermarket to continue to offer consumers competitive choices and is an excellent example of the ‘primary market’ being able to dominate the ‘secondary market’ – a similar situation to the famous Microsoft Explorer case, where once you had made your choice of a PC, the only choice for an internet search engine was from Microsoft. To address the problem of monopolistic control in the aftermarket, we need the same support from the legislator as they enacted with Microsoft – ensure that there is the ability to implement a competitive choice and let the consumer choose.
    
Only if legislation supports this basic principle of undistorted competition, will the Aftermarket be able to continue to do what it does best – make innovative, competitive and appealing offers to vehicle owners as well as putting on a great show – in every sense of the word.
xenconsultancy.com


How’s the health of your business?

Is your business idling, accelerating or stuck on the hard shoulder?
Published:  10 December, 2018

In my line of work I meet a lot of great garage owners. Dedicated men and women,  all committed to repairing their clients’ vehicles to a high standard. They’re intelligent, hard working and persistent people many of which have been in business a good few years.
    
With all of this in their favour you would imagine that they would be spending their free time pondering the length of their next yacht, or whether they should winter in the Alps or Rockies? Unfortunately this is often not the case, and it’s not uncommon to be asked “How can I increase the financial success of my business?”
    
We all know that an unfeasibly large income doesn’t buy you happiness, far from it. But I do know this. A healthy business is a profitable business, and a profitable business not only buys you less stress, it buys you choices and options on how you spend your days.  Would you like more options? If so read on.
    
Back to that question. “How can my business be more financially successful?”
    
‘More’ is a dangerous word and it’s often not attained. A better question would be “What is the maximum revenue, profit and personal income that my business can generate in its current form?”
    
It is something that a lot of business owners haven’t contemplated. But you really should. Only when you know this, can you decide if your current business is performing at it’s best, and is the vehicle to get you to where you need be financially.
    
The good news is you don’t need to be an accountant to calculate your maximum net labour revenue. Just using the available hours to sell your labour rate and the number of technicians your employ will get you a long way in the right direction. Take an average hourly rate of £55. It could probably be higher but we’ll come to that in due course. This will yield a maximum net income of £422,000 a year from labour sales with four technicians. If your garage is reaching that level of income (£105,000 per tech) at that labour rate, then you should give yourself a rather large pat on the back. Nice one! Not reaching that? That’s incredibly common. In fact if your garage has a net labour revenue of around 54% of your maximum, then you’ll not be alone as that’s the average for a business when we start to work with them on our business development programme.
    
Why so low? Why are business owners leaving £50,000 per technician on the table? There are a plethora of reasons but I find the most common answer is one of focus. They’re just focusing on the wrong things.
    
It’s natural. In fact it’s perfectly understandable why a garage owner focuses on the technical aspect of their business. You know that if you don’t fix the cars in a timely manner to a high standard that your income will suffer and your customers won’t return. So of course you’re interested in technical tools and the latest workshop wizardry that’ll enable you to complete a job that you couldn’t without it, or the same job in less time. But let’s be honest (we’re friends after all) is this laser-like focus healthy? Are you too focused on the next tool, the next gadget, the next BIG THING to the cost of your business? All too often I find that a garage owner is and it’s costing you.

If you’re not measuring it…
All that is required is a change of focus. The success of your business is in the data, and if you would like to claw back that £50k per technician (or at least a large chunk of it) then learning how to measure the right data and use it to your advantage is essential. After all: If you’re not measuring it, you can’t improve it.
 
So, you want to increase your income and profit, what should you be measuring? Here are a couple of metrics to get you started.


EU Emissions tighten on UK market

Europe-wide rules on emissions will continue to have an impact on exhaust systems and garages need to stay on top of the situation
Published:  04 December, 2018

With or without Brexit, EU regulations surrounding emissions are playing an important part in pushing aftermarket requirements for
the correct emissions parts being fitted.
    
Mark Blinston, Commercial Director at BM Catalysts commented: “Emissions are a hot topic for discussion at the moment for many media outlets and manufacturers. All efforts are geared towards reducing emissions, as well as preventing the sale and fitting of catalytic converters and DPFs to vehicles that haven’t been approved to meet the relevant Euro Levels.
    
“Vehicles and replacement emission control devices must meet specific standards for exhaust emissions before they can be offered for sale in the European Union. Vehicle emissions are one of a series of performance standards that must be met to achieve Whole Vehicle Type Approval in accordance with EC Directives. In order to achieve type approval on the emissions levels for replacement emission control devices, such as catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters (DPFs), performance and noise levels must be within calculated limits as prescribed by legislation. Replacement catalytic converters and DPFs cannot be approved to a lower Euro level than that of the original vehicle. If the vehicle is Euro 5 then the replacement must be approved to Euro 5 levels. Testing and approving this part to Euro 4 would mean that it cannot be proven to meet emission standards and therefore cannot legally be fitted to any Euro 5 vehicle.”  
    
Mark continued: “Helping to identify the correct products for stockists and garage professionals, the MAM software solution program is set to revolutionise the aftermarket. Used by the majority of distributors, the supply chain software is due to receive a V9 update, which will map the Euro level that a supplier’s part is approved for sale on against a vehicle registration number. Once the change is in place, we’ll start to see the correct catalytic converters and DPFs available matched against the correct vehicles for the first time. Additionally, the Department for Transport (DfT) is also helping to clarify the rules for the UK market, with recent guidelines reiterating the strict requirements for selling catalytic converters and DPFs to the UK market.”
    
But while the correct cataloguing of aftermarket parts is complex and challenging, perhaps the biggest shake up to the emissions market is the recent MOT changes. Mark continued: “The result of an EU directive, new regulations were introduced to the MOT test in May 2018, placing further emphasis on diesel emissions. The regulations require checks to the exhaust for visible smoke production and tampering or removal of the DPF. Any visible sign of alteration to the DPF or smoke of any colour will result in a fail for the vehicle. Prior to these tighter regulations, experts warned that the true figure of vehicles driving without DPFs were in the thousands, leaving many car owners at risk of hefty fines and penalty points.
    
“BM Catalysts acknowledges the need for up to date information on EU levels. As a leading manufacturer in Europe, we recognise we are a big part in meeting these standards, producing superior aftermarket products with the least harm to the environment. Additionally, we have recently produced free educational material on DPFs and the MOT changes to help our customers make informed motoring decisions.”
    
Mark added: “BM Catalysts produce catalytic converters and DPFs to high standards, yet to create a lasting change to the market, it is important that all hands along the supply chain, even the consumer, does their part to make sure they’re complying to regulations. If one link is in this chain proves weak, we all fail.”




Top Technician flashback: Issues of rotation

We take a look back at a 2016 technical issue investigated by 2015’s Top Technician winner Andy Gravel
Published:  19 November, 2018

I received a phone call from another garage: “We were wondering if you would be interested in looking at an ABS fault for us?”
    
The car in question was a 2011 Honda CR-V, which had been taken as a trade in at a local garage. The fault only occurred after around 50-70 miles of driving, at which point the dash lights up with various warning lights. The vehicle had been prepped and sold to its new owner, who was unaware a fault was present.
    
After only a few days the fault reoccurred and the vehicle returned to the garage. They had scan-checked the vehicle and the fault code ‘14-1- Left Front Wheel Speed Sensor Failure’ was retrieved. On their visual inspection, it was obvious a new ABS sensor had already been fitted to the N/S/F and clearly not fixed the fault. Was this the reason the vehicle had been traded in? They fitted another ABS sensor to the N/S/F and an extended road test was carried out. The fault reoccurred. This is when I received the phone call. The garage now suspected it was a control unit fault. My first job was to carry out a visual inspection for anything that was obviously wrong and had possibly been over looked: correct tyre sizes, tyre pressures, tyre tread and excessive wheel bearing play. All appeared ok. The ABS sensors fitted to this vehicle are termed 'Active' meaning they have integrated electronic and are supplied with a voltage from the ABS control unit to operate. The pulse wheel is integrated into the wheel bearing, which on this vehicle makes it not possible to carry out a visual inspection without stripping the hub.

Endurance testing
With the vehicle scan-checked, all codes recorded and cleared, it was time for the road test. Viewing the live data from all the sensors, they were showing the correct wheel speed readings with no error visible on the N/S/F. The road test was always going to be a long one. Fortunately at around 30 miles, the dash lit up with the ABS light and lights for other associated systems; the fault had occurred. On returning to the workshop, the vehicle was re-scanned, fault code 14-4 ­– Left Front Wheel Speed Sensor Failure was again present. Again using the live data the sensor was still showing the wheel speed the same as the other three, so whatever was causing the fault was either occurring intermittently or there was not enough detail in the scan tool live data graph display to see the fault. It was time to test the wiring and the sensor output signal for any clues.
    
Using the oscilloscope, the voltage supply and the ground wire were tested and were good at the time of test. I connected the test lead to the power supply wire and using the AC voltage set to 1v revealed the sensors square wave signal. Then, rotating the wheel by hand and comparing the sensors output to one of the other ABS Sensors, again all appeared to be ok. A closer look at the signal was required, zooming in on the signal capture to reveal more detail; It became easier to see something was not quite right with the signal generated by the sensor when the wheel was rotated. With the voltage of the signal remaining constant, a good earth wire and the wheel rotated at a constant speed the signal width became smaller, effectively reporting a faster speed at that instant, not consistent with the actual rotational speed of the wheel. It was difficult to see the error, zooming out of the capture to show more time across the screen it could be seen that this appeared in the signal at regular intervals, although not visible all the time because it was such a slight difference. Using the cursors to measure between the irregular output and counting the oscillations, it was clear that it occurred at exactly the same interval every time. It had to be a physical fault on the pulse wheel.
    
This meant a new wheel bearing was required. The vehicle was returned to the garage as they wanted to complete the repair. A new wheel bearing was fitted and extended road testing confirmed the vehicle was now fixed.





Ethanol: flexible friend or biohazard?

Increasing the ethanol content in fuels is one way to reduce carbon emissions but there are a number of technical challenges to consider
Published:  16 November, 2018

I am starting to get the impression that governments and vehicle manufacturers are beginning to panic. Let’s begin by accepting that personal transportation vehicles will not be powered by hydrocarbon fuels for much longer. This statement includes hybrid and battery powered vehicles for the same reason. We are being subject to a whole raft of short term impractical solutions, the latest of which and the subject of this topic is bio-ethanol fuels.

The reason I express this opinion is the true impact on emissions, from production, refinement, and transportation are not included in statistics on their environmental effect. Bio-mass fuel for electricity generation is a perfect example of this. The EU has decreed that emission monitoring of stack emissions need not be published, also excluded are the felling, drying, production and transportation influences.

Political initiative
I will begin with the political initiative, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, reduction in fossil fuel dependency, alternative fiscal revenue for the farming community, and a reduction in EU farming subsidies. Try not to laugh it’s all true. As third world nations starve, we grow fuel!

Ethanol is a hydrocarbon c2h5oh. Octane 104. The fuel is produced from a fermentation process from fast growing energy crops, sugar cane, wheat, maize, and sometimes bio-degradable waste animal feed and timber. The claim is that due to the renewable factor it has an advantage over fossil fuel. Vehicles can operate with up to 85% bio-content, with no operational disadvantages with high CO2 reduction. I can confirm from my European motorcycle tour this year, that e10 bio-ethanol fuel is widely available.

Considerations
Just before you dash out to join the Green Party, there are some technical considerations the government seems to have overlooked. Bio-ethanol fuel is corrosive, copper, aluminium, plastics and rubber list among its appetite. Just before I forget, there is a critical lubrication service update; this is due to an increase in fuel oil contamination.

I think you’re starting to get the picture, now let’s focus on its combustion problems. It has a unique evaporation envelope around 78ºC. It also requires a significant increase in fuel quantity on cold start, often requiring a pre-heater system, and a much-modified ignition profile. However, on the positive side once efficient combustion is achieved the knock resistance affords a more aggressive ignition angle and increased cylinder pressures.

I am going to focus on Audi who have offered a flexi fuel A4 since 2009! It could operate up e85 with no modification. To my knowledge there are no or very few bi-ethanol vehicles in the UK. You may have noticed warning stickers in the fuel filler cap on most vehicles, expressing non- bio compatibility.

So, back to my point: Why is the uk government considering a pilot trial for e10? Currently all gasoline sold in the uk can have e5 content without any notification at the pumps.

Requirements
Moving on to the technical requirements, the Audi flexi-fuel engine is based on the 2.0 tfsi, with Bosch med 17.1 control. Sequential mapped ignition, with knock control, digital hot film air mass measurement. Fuelling is homogenous direct injection, with port injection on cold start. Intake cam adjustment with avs on the exhaust cam.

Due to low vaporisation when cold, ‘autarkic cold start’ ,the air fuel mixture cannot form the required composition for ignition. Significant modification to con rods and bearings are required to withstand higher cylinder pressure. Modifications to the variable load in- tank pump components and wiring prevent corrosion damage. An additional digital fuel quality sensor is fitted to the
low-pressure fuel line, this enables critical adjustment to thermodynamic fuel properties and ignition maps.
 
Bosch injection control strategy includes injection on intake and compression, with multiple strike on compression when cold, with additional injection pressure of 150 bar. A new aluminium manifold with a port injector is fitted to avoid pre-heaters on cold start.
The point I am trying to make here is not based on a simple pessimistic naivety, but a serious concern that not enough focus is being applied to a long-term strategic solution. Two key prerequisites will have to be recognised, the first is a reconstruction of social order around a coherent public transport system, and the second a recognition that private vehicle transport is a privilege and not an automatic right.



acceleratedin eden

Eden Tyres and Servicing saw a positive impact on growth after joining Castrol Service Network
Published:  12 November, 2018

Eden Tyres & Servicing is an independent family business. Having opened its first branch in Derby in 1981, Eden Tyres now operates 15 branches across the Midlands.   
    
As one of the first independent workshops to sign up to Castrol Service, all Eden Tyres sites are now part of the network of independent garages in the UK. Here, we look at how the business has benefitted from the technical and business support offered through The Race Group as a member of the Castrol Service Network.

Introducing Castrol Service
Developed by Castrol Oil, Castrol Service aims to create a nationwide network for the UK’s best independent garages. To be eligible to join the scheme, prospective garages must meet set criteria to ensure consistent standards across all centres. There is no associated cost for being part of the network but there is a requirement for the garage to commit to using Castrol Lubricants for 95% of its service work.
    
Once garages have been accepted into the network they benefit from significant investment from Castrol and The Race Group. There are three levels of co-branding available – basic, bespoke and complete dual branding – to help the garage build its reputation for offering a high-quality, professional service and help them stand out from the competition.

Commitment to quality
Jim Nicholls, Retail Operations Manager of Eden Tyres & Servicing explained: “In such a competitive market, and with so much new technology and changes within the automotive industry itself, you really need to be on top of your game in terms of technical knowledge and service. Having built up a reputation across the Midlands for embracing innovation and the latest automotive technology, it’s important to us that we maintain those high standards. We’ve been a customer of The Race Group for many years and when they told us about the Castrol Service network we knew it would be a winner for us.

“Our association with the Castrol name allows us to naturally attract customers that understand and appreciate the importance of using high quality products. Having the Castrol signage within our workshops really helps when we’re opening new sites in areas where we might not have much brand recognition ourselves.”

As a Castrol Service site, the team of technicians across all Eden Tyres & Servicing sites are able to take advantage of an extensive online training service. Access to this resource allows them to understand the ins and outs of all the products that they are being offered, their benefits and how to deal with potential objections from customers opting for more premium products.

Trusted
With Castrol branded signage, POS displays and workshop clothing staff uniforms, Castrol Service sites are able to capitalise on Castrol’s strong brand awareness amongst consumers to build a trusting relationship with their customers. According to Castrol Service, the endorsement of such a well-known brand means member garages can more effectively communicate the benefits of choosing them to look after their customers’ vehicles.

The Castrol Service Plus network in the UK is driven by The Race Group, a strategic lubricants partner for Castrol. To find out more about The Race Group, part of Certas Energy, visit www.theracegroup.co.uk





Annual Exams are COMPULSORY… SO IS ANNUAL TRAINING

Barry takes a close look at Annual Training and what the DVSA will be expecting to see as we move forward
Published:  05 November, 2018

As we all get used to the new annual exam and training process the DVSA will need to crank up their focus on our training.  The DVSA can easily enforce the annual exam, as we have seen in the 2017 – 18 year. The requirement to enter your results in order to continue testing is a pretty easy way to keep us all focused.


In the heat of the fault

Hannah Gordon changes hats this month, and tells us how she solved an interesting fault
Published:  02 November, 2018

At the workshop we cover all kinds of vehicles, old, new, big and small but with all these vehicles we need up to date diagnostic equipment to be able locate faults within the electrical system.
    
In the workshop this summer was a 2009 Volkswagen Golf that had an intermittent issue which meant the car would go into limp mode, the cruise control was disabled and the climate control wouldn’t work. Understandably in the weather we were having the lack of air conditioning was a major concern to the customer. No one wants to be without air conditioning in 30Cº.
    
I plugged in the trusty diagnostics reader and came up with four faults. These included turbo boost sensor, manifold pressure, throttle pedal position sensor and ‘fuel system
too rich’.
    
In my experience cars can throw up all kinds of trouble codes even when there is no issue with that part. I wouldn’t say some manufacturers are more troublesome than others but if a light does appear on the dash it’s best to get it checked out as soon as possible.

Issues
I cleared the fault codes and told the customer to see how it drove and if the issues resolved themselves. The customer had the car for just an hour before they called and said that the problem had reoccurred, as much as this is a pain for the customer I always clear the faults and see if it happens again rather than changing unnecessary sensors. I got the Golf back into the workshop and once again plugged the computer in, which brought up one code. This was the throttle position sensor. A quick call to VW and a discussion with their parts people showed that this particular issue can lead to the cruise and climate control not working.
    
Next day delivery on the part means the car came back in the following day. One bolt, two plastic clips and an electrical connection later and the pedal was off. Gone are the days of the throttle cable. The throttle response is now done by a sensor on the pedal which works out how far the pedal is being pushed and tells the engine how to respond. It is clever stuff,  when it works.
    
A pedal replacement on the Golf only takes five minutes and another clear of the fault code before taking the car for a road test. On the test drive cruise and climate control were checked as well as making sure no dash lights had appeared.
    
Modern mechanics have become very computerised. Dash lights appear whether it is indicating an issue with the airbag systems, ABS or engine and diagnostic computers are so important to narrow down what the issue could be. I dislike the reliance that some workshops put on just trusting what appears on the screen of the diagnostics. It is still imperative that mechanics test sensors and look into live data to make sure that unnecessary components are not replaced and the costs put onto the customer, who will have to pay.



Ignition primary good earth path

Let’s get it started...

Frank Massey looks at how to get to grips with ignition combustion diagnostics which is an increasingly complex subject
Published:  22 October, 2018

Let me begin with the simplest of all overviews: There are four possible causes of combustion failure or malfunction; and please note my refusal to use the word misfire. The word is meaningless without a definitive confirmed diagnosis. The four possible causes are:


Site Audit snippets: Miscellaneous Equipment

Barry from MOT Juice helps to prepare for the inevitable DVSA site visit
Published:  08 October, 2018

Every MOT bay is required to retain and maintain a bunch of mandatory miscellaneous equipment. First let’s get the words from The MOT Testing Guide 6th Edition:

5.6 Miscellaneous equipment


Hybrid tech in motor sport

Peter Coombes looks at what can be learned about EV/hybrid tech from its use in motorsport
Published:  01 October, 2018

If you have even a passing interest in motorsport, you are probably aware of, and have an opinion regarding the use of hybrid technology in Formula 1 racing. Back in 2009, the use of electric motors was allowed, which enabled the additional electric power to supplement the power produced by the conventional engine.
    
In effect, a Formula 1 car could operate in much the same way as most mass produced hybrid vehicles because electric motor could also function as a generator to charge batteries. During power-off driving (braking and deceleration) the kinetic energy of the moving car and rotating engine drove the generator, which charged the batteries; but the energy transferred from the moving car to drive the generator also helped to slow the vehicle. The stored or recovered electrical energy could then be fed from the battery back to the motor when additional power was required. This system was known as a ‘Kinetic Energy Recovery System’ or KERS; and for the purists who like the sound of a hard working petrol engine, this KERS hybrid technology was OK because the 2.4 litre V8 engine still did most of the work and sounded great.
    
After a bit of a bumpy ride, for 2014 the hybrid F1 hybrid regulations evolved into a more complex set of rules that specified more complex technologies. The energy recovery systems were allowed to deliver a maximum of 12KW (160hp) of power in addition to the power delivered by a 1.6 litre V6 turbo-charged engine; but for 2014 onwards, there were two types of energy recovery systems that had to be used. Both types of energy recovery systems still use a ‘Motor/Generator Unit,’ which unsurprisingly is known as an MGU; but one system is then known as MGU-K (Motor/Generator Unit Kinetic), and the second system is known as MGU-H (Motor/Generator Unit Heat).

MGU-K
The MGU-K system is much the same as the original KERS system used from 2009. The Motor/Generator Unit is usually connected by gears to the engine crankshaft, therefore when the unit functions as a motor and draws electrical energy form the battery, the motor feeds mechanical energy back to the crankshaft to provide additional power and torque (such as for acceleration). During power-off driving, the engine is still connected to the driving wheels; therefore the Kinetic energy of the moving car again rotates the engine and the electric motor, which now functions as a generator to re-charge the battery.
    
The illustration (Fig 1) shows a basic layout for the MGU-K kinetic energy recovery system, but note that for convenience, the motor generator is shown connected directly to the front of the crankshaft but it can be located on one side of the engine beneath the exhaust manifold. The illustration also shows a battery management/electric power controller that regulates the power delivery of the motor and controls the re-charging process when the motor functions as a generator.
    
A lithium-Ion battery pack is usually used to store the electrical energy, although super-capacitors have apparently been experimented with that can accept a re-charge and then discharge electrical energy more quickly than a battery.
However, with the second energy recovery system, the Motor/Generator is driven by the rotation of the engine’s turbocharger , which is driven by the flow of hot exhaust gas (which contains Heat Energy). Therefore the two systems are referred to as MGU-K (for kinetic) and MGU-H (for heat).

MGU-H
The second energy recovery system (MGU-H) also makes use of a Motor/Generator Unit; but instead of being connected to the engine crankshaft, this unit is connected to the engine turbocharger (Fig. 2). As with road vehicle turbocharging, hot exhaust gas from the internal combustion engine drives a turbine that is connected to a compressor that then draws in air and forces it into the engine intake under pressure. But because the engine only produces high volumes of hot exhaust when the engine is under load and the throttle is open sufficiently to allow a higher mass of air to enter the engine, the turbocharger is only effective under higher load driving conditions.
    
With the F1 engines, the turbocharger (which can rotate at speeds in the region of 100,000 RPM or more) is then also connected to the MGU-H Motor/Generator Unit, so as well as forcing air into the engine, the turbocharger also drives the MGU-H and generates additional electrical energy to charge the battery.
    
The clever bit however is the use of the MGU-H to then drive the turbocharger. When the throttle of a turbocharged engine is initially opened to obtain more power (especially after decelerating when the engine might be at low RPM), the turbocharger speed will have reduced to low or almost zero RPM. It therefore takes a brief period for the turbo charger to spin up, but this is then also dependent on the engine responding to the open throttle and then creating higher volumes of exhaust gas to drive the turbocharger. Therefore there is a time lag between opening the throttle and when the turbocharger can actually increase the airflow into the engine to produce increased power and torque; and this inevitably has an effect on how quickly the vehicle accelerates. Because the MGU-H motor/generator is also connected to the turbocharger assembly, it can actually spin-up the turbocharger immediately when additional power is required (which will be before the exhaust gas is able to drive the turbocharger). In effect, the turbocharger also becomes an electrically driven supercharger.

Controlling electrical power and electrical generation
The operation of MGU-H Motor/Generator Unit is again controlled by the battery management/electric power controller, which therefore controls when the MGU-H functions as a turbocharger drive motor and when it functions as a generator. The control unit therefore has a complex task of regulating both the MGU-K and MGU-H motor/generator units so that the additional power provided by the electric motors is within the specified limits imposed by the regulations, and that the additional power is only available for the specified periods during a lap of the circuit.
    
The electronic control system then has one other important control function, which relates to braking. During deceleration and braking, when the MGU-K system is recovering kinetic energy from the moving car to drive the generator, it creates a significant braking effect on the rear wheels. If the driver is also applying the normal brakes at the same time, there will a combined braking force from the brakes and from the MGU-K. Any increase or decrease in the braking force provided by the MGU-K could then alter the total amount of braking force applied to the rear wheels, which could either lead to brake lock up or to a lack of rear braking. The electronic control system for the MGU-K must therefore communicate and influence operation of the braking system, to ensure that the driver remains in overall control of the braking forces.
    
Although the use of hybrid technology in F1 does accelerate the technology learning curve (pardon the pun), one big disadvantage is that use of the turbocharger muffles the exhaust noise, which does tend to upset the purist petrolheads.
   


Non-intrusive testing

Want to get stuck into a diagnostic investigation without sticking anything in? Karl Weaver shows you how...
Published:  21 September, 2018

As technicians we’re all expected to be able to diagnose a fault within a sensible timescale, for a reasonable price, then guarantee the fix. With correct training, information and tools this is possible. However, we are often faced with multiple faults where cause and effect may not always be straightforward. We can be in a situation where we need to rectify faults before we can move on to the next. Also, if the repair cost could outweigh the vehicle’s value or customer budget then great care must be taken explaining the situation, agreeing a starting fee and preparing and executing a successful diagnostic plan.

Recently we were presented with a BMW X3 for poor performance and a suspected DPF fault. After interrogating the customer we gathered all necessary information. Initial diagnosis confirmed multiple fault codes and a blocked DPF. Determining what caused the DPF to block is vital for the correct diagnosis and preventing reoccurrence. We created a test plan to test each fault and separated them into faults that affect the performance, faults that can cause the DPF to block or prevent regeneration and ones that don’t. In order to fully test the vehicle we would need to clean the DPF first as the exhaust back pressure was so high, the vehicle was barely drivable. As a member of the DPF Doctor network we have a very successful method of cleaning the soot from the DPF without the need for removal and access to many manufacturer-specific tips with DPF faults. The information and knowledge within the DPF Doctor network has proved to be invaluable and has given us an outstanding success rate. With our test plan ready we were able to calculate a sensible labour figure to conduct the tests required. The customer authorised the labour and the DPF clean.

Several faults were straightforward. A multimeter gave us conclusive results and made it easy to quote for replacement parts and labour time to fit them. The main fault causing poor performance required a little more thought to keep diagnosis time to a minimum. A low boost pressure fault code doesn’t tell us why the pressure is low. Driving the vehicle whilst monitoring the boost pressure showed the fault was intermittent, so an external boost leak was unlikely. A smoke test was also carried out which revealed no leaks. In this instance, the EGR valve could be a likely culprit. This engine uses a vacuum controlled EGR valve with a position sensor built into the diaphragm. As tempting as it was to unbolt it and take a look, this would all take more time then factor in the risk of rusted bolts etc. With a position sensor one would think if the valve was to stick then a fault code would be set. We had to plan a simple, conclusive, yet non-intrusive way of testing the EGR system quickly.

The conventional vacuum controlled EGR system consists of the EGR valve which includes the diaphragm with a 5 Volt position sensor and the vacuum control solenoid valve which uses vacuum from the brake servo vacuum pump and is controlled by the ECU on a duty cycle. The position sensor will typically show 0.5 to 1.2 Volts when fully closed and 3.9 to 4.5 Volts when fully open. One side of the solenoid valve has a 12 Volt (battery Voltage) supply and the ECU switches the ground path on and off at varying duties to vary the vacuum amount thus varying the EGR valve position. The ECU looks at the position of the valve and adjusts the duty to achieve the position desired similar to how an ECU uses the oxygen sensor to adjust the air/fuel ratio. With the following tests we were able to check every component in the system.

Test one
We connected the Mityvac directly to the EGR valve and the oscilloscope connected between the signal wire and battery ground. As we had already smoke tested the entire inlet system we connected the smoke machine directly to the inlet manifold in place of the intercooler hose. With the smoke machine running and the ignition on (engine off) we used the Mityvac to fully the valve to check it had no vacuum leaks (split diaphragm), then we opened and closed the valve slowly and then quickly. This confirmed the following:


Inject some knowledge

Frank Massey examines the changing role of fuel injectors, and the problems you can come up against when dealing with these components
Published:  17 September, 2018

At the heart of fuel delivery is the injector. If there is a single focus point that has helped reduce emissions and boost performance it’s the injector. Despite this, we don’t pay it enough attention, and I include myself in this critique. Let me qualify this by asking a rhetorical question; How many of you have injector bench test capability?

I do, but freely admit to not giving it a more prominent position in fault diagnosis. I am going to expand later just how intrusive testing should be conducted. To begin, a short trip down memory lane won’t do any harm in understanding basic problems.
    
Injector problems started in earnest when lead was removed from gasoline. The Nissan 1.8 turbo and Austin Montego 2.0efi were two of the most problematic examples. Both used 15ohm single event saturated triggering with approximately 1-amp peak current. This was back in the days when we were not measuring current nor did we have an injector bench.
All the diagnostic evidence came from the 4-gas analyser. CO and O2 should balance at approximately  0.5%, as this will achieve a near perfect lambda 1 ratio, 50-100, CO2 at its highest at around 17-18%.
    
A lot has happened since then. The key to ideal fuelling is in reducing the lag or dead time in injector response to PCM control. As engine power increased and turbos became almost mandatory, more fuel was required. To achieve these aims, opening times were increased to a point where they were in danger of colliding at high engine RPM. We are still talking port injection here, fuel pressures crept up to four-bar and high flow injectors started to be introduced.

Current ramping also changed to peak and hold with peak values of around 4-amps. For the time being things stabilised, with little or no obvious common injector problems. The next challenge manufacturers faced was to reduce the internal mass of the injector components. In plain English they got smaller, lighter, less robust, and with lead free legislation less reliable. Remember Fiat iaw injectors?

Precise control
As EU emission rules became more stringent, the need for even more precise control was inevitable, and along came direct high-pressure injection. Lets explore the variables of fuel transportation, variable delivery pressure 50-200bar, multiple injector strikes and adjustable delivery timing. Peak current now reached 10-amps and pwm switching became commonplace.
We now have gasoline injection that more  closely resembles diesel injection protocols. They also bring similar problems. Fuel is no longer delivered through the inlet port, leading to a build up of carbon behind the valves. This effect, the critical swirl in the cylinder, is essential for complete combustion. Filtration and fuel quality are now major considerations for reliability.

Hostile environments and anomolies
Injectors are now mounted in a more hostile environment, more pressure, more heat, more tip carbon. So, the need for testing and cleaning has come full circle from the lead-free era. A major problem here is the stress caused to the injector body by techs not using the correct removal tool.

Remember the comments on lighter internal mass; This means than bending stresses during removal leads to intermittent combustion anomalies. I do love that word, it more accurately describes incomplete combustion, often without any credible serial fault data.

New fault phenomena
Now let’s notch it up a bit and introduce some new fault phenomena. The internals are so light they can suffer mechanical failure, and the closure spring can break. The internal filter basket has been moved to a more central position, resulting in inaccessibility for replacement.


It CAN be done!

Barnaby Donohew has to stick to his guns to track down the ‘simplest’ of faults
Published:  10 September, 2018

We all remember certain jobs which test our nerve but ultimately serve to strengthen our capabilities. Proper learning experiences so to speak. Unsurprisingly, these memorable jobs tend to occur when tackling novel technologies or environments which, by their nature, can be unsettling.
    
Some time ago a customer arrived with a MINI having persistent warning lights, instrumentation faults and bearing a new instrument cluster and engine control unit. Mindful that the expensive repair history must have included some seriously ‘in-depth’ diagnosis, I decided to get involved and see what I could do to fix the issues.

Ruling out
A system scan reported various powertrain CAN faults in the engine, ABS and instrument cluster control units, indicating a system-wide communication issue but with no systematic patterns to help isolate the fault. The MINI had a separate diagnostic bus, which thankfully permitted scan tool communication in the presence of a CAN fault. However, CAN access was not available on the diagnostic connector to aid recording of the signals. Instead, an oscilloscope was connected to the engine control unit (Figure 1) to reveal that the wires were unlikely to have shorted together, to Earth, nor to +5V, as the signals from the engine control unit were almost ideal. The fault was more likely due to circuit integrity. After powering down the CAN this was confirmed, as a 120 Ohm resistance was measured between the high and low lines (around 60 Ohms was expected).
    
Subsequently, the customer was called with an update and to authorise further expenditure. The next stage involved pulling the car apart to fully check the wiring and control modules. Plainly, it was unwelcome news.

Added pressures
When conscious that the meter is running, doubt can creep in and you find yourself asking if a wiring fault is too simple, alongside other related questions. This was not a good time for misinformation. The resources available (course notes and workshop information) identified the MINI’s engine control and ABS units as each having a 120 Ohm terminating resistor between the CAN pins. Subsequent measurements determined a resistance of 120 Ohms on the engine control unit but many kilohms on the ABS control unit. Was it faulty? Nerves started to fray. Following a thought process akin to James Dillon's mantra "what would you test next if the part you had just fitted did not cure the fault," basic procedures were recalled.
    
Firstly, on this MINI the terminating resistors actually were in the engine and instrument control modules (all were fine). Next, a series of continuity tests isolated an open circuit on the CAN-H line between the ABS and engine control units. It was located in a well-protected and tiny portion of wire, equidistant between the terminating connectors. Figure 2 shows the damage.
    
The process demonstrated to me how, during stressful situations, it is worth trying to adhere to basic procedures as faults are often straightforward. As it turns out, this would have been good advice for the recent Top Technician practical tasks, which proved a very similar experience – I wish I had listened! For anyone thinking of entering, I highly recommend it.


Cut to the chase

Damien Coleman from Snap-on discusses how preparation can lead to easier diagnostics
Published:  28 August, 2018

Many modern systems, such as common rail diesel injection, can appear to be so complex that they seem to operate by magic. Over time, such systems are only going to become more and more complex, so understanding them means you can gain a head start on their repair.
    
You can be presented with a seemingly endless amount of data relating to fuel pressure feedback, fuel pressure control, cam/crank synchronisation, measured mass airflow, injector flow correction feedback, and many other areas.
    
However, if you prepare yourself with a fundamental understanding of the system and all data available pertaining to the fault, a systematic approach to the fault-finding procedure can be carried out.  
Data overload

Figure 1 shows  the live data returned from a common rail diesel injection vehicle with an EDC16 engine management system.
    
There is an enormous amount of data available from these data parameters, which can allow you to ascertain the nature of the fault. The actual operation of the fuel system can be compared to the desired system operation and using the data, a decision can be made on the condition of the system and where a fault (if any) may be.
    
An oscilloscope is another important tool when investigating a fault with such a complex system. Figure 2 shows an oscilloscope waveform from an Audi with the 2.0L common rail engine. The yellow trace is the fuel rail pressure sensor voltage (feedback) and the green trace is the current flow through the inlet metering valve (command). The waveform was captured during a wide open throttle (WOT) condition.
    
This image alone tells us that the fuel inlet metering valve is a normally open valve. The engine control module (ECM) decreases the duty cycle when the required fuel pressure is increased. This allows less current to flow through the solenoid and the valve is allowed to open, which increases the fuel pressure measured at the fuel rail.

Full analysis
When the fuel pressure demand decreases, the duty cycle control from the ECM increases. This allows more current to flow through the solenoid which results in a reduction of the fuel pressure. Duty cycle is often referred to as pulse width modulation (PWM) control.

The duty cycle control on the ground side of the fuel inlet metering valve can be analysed using an oscilloscope, as seen in Figure 3. The waveform below displays the fuel rail pressure feedback voltage (yellow trace) and the fuel inlet metering valve duty cycle control from the ECM (green trace).
    
The oscilloscope is connected to the control wire for the fuel inlet metering valve. The technician must be mindful that this is the ground control circuit. System voltage on this wire indicates open circuit voltage. The diagram in Figure 4 shows the best method of connecting this set-up.
    
By careful analysis using serial (scan-tool) and parallel (oscilloscope) diagnostics you will now be in a position to identify the area of concern accurately and in a timely manner. Knowledge, together with the right equipment and experience therefore benefits technicians by leading to a reduced diagnostic time and an easier fault finding method, rendering these complex systems much less so.


Issues of rotation

Andy Gravel takes on a tricky wheel-speed sensor issue
Published:  16 August, 2018

I received a phone call from another garage: 'We've seen you in the Top Technician magazine and are wondering if you would be interested in looking at an ABS fault for us?' The call went along the usual lines, can the symptoms be recreated? What is the repair history? The vehicle was booked in for me to take a look.

The car in question was a 2011 Honda
CR-V, which had been taken as a trade in at a local garage, the fault only occurred after around 50-70 miles of driving, at which point the dash lights up with various warning lights. The vehicle had been prepped and sold to its new owner unaware a fault was present.

Fault-finding
After only a few days the fault occurred and the vehicle returned to the garage. They had scan checked the vehicle and the fault code ‘14-1- Left Front Wheel Speed Sensor Failure’ was retrieved. On their visual inspection, it was obvious a new ABS sensor had already been fitted to the N/S/F and clearly not fixed the fault. Was this the reason the vehicle had been traded in? They fitted another ABS sensor to the N/S/F and an extended road test was carried out. The fault reoccurred. This is when I received the phone call; the garage was now suspecting a control unit fault.
    
My first job was to carry out a visual inspection for anything that was obviously wrong and had possibly been over looked: correct tyre sizes, tyre pressures, tyre tread and excessive wheel bearing play. All appeared ok. The ABS sensors fitted to this vehicle are termed 'Active' meaning they have integrated electronic and are supplied with a voltage from the ABS control unit to operate. The pulse wheel is integrated into the wheel bearing, which on this vehicle makes it not possible to carry out a visual inspection without stripping the hub.

Endurance testing
With the vehicle scan checked, all codes recorded and cleared, it was time for the road test. Viewing the live data from all the sensors, they were showing the correct wheel speed readings with no error visible on the N/S/F. The road test was always going to be a long one, fortunately at around 30 miles, the dash lit up with the ABS light and lights for other associated systems; the fault had occurred. On returning to the workshop, the vehicle was rescanned, fault code '14-4 - Left Front Wheel Speed Sensor Failure’ was again present. Again using the live data the sensor was still showing the wheel speed the same as the other three, so whatever was causing the fault was either occurring intermittently or there was not enough detail in the scan tool live data graph display to see the fault. It was time to test the wiring and the sensor output signal for any clues.
    
Using the oscilloscope, the voltage supply and the ground wire were tested and were good at the time of test. I connected the test lead to the power supply wire and using the AC voltage set to 1V revealed the sensors square wave signal. Then rotating the wheel by hand and comparing the sensors output to one of the other ABS Sensors, again all appeared to be fine. A closer look at the signal was required, zooming in on the signal capture to reveal more detail; it became easier to see something was not quite right with the signal generated by the sensor when the wheel was rotated. With the voltage of the signal remaining constant, a good earth wire and the wheel rotated at a constant speed the signal width became smaller, effectively reporting a faster speed at that instant, not consistent with the actual rotational speed of the wheel. It was difficult to see the error, zooming out of the capture to show more time across the screen it could be seen that this appeared in the signal at regular intervals, although not visible all the time because it was such a slight difference. Using the cursors to measure between the irregular output and counting the oscillations, it was clear that it occurred at exactly the same interval every time. It had to be a physical fault on the pulse wheel.
    
This meant a new wheel bearing was required. The vehicle was returned to the garage as they wanted to complete the repair, a new wheel bearing was fitted and extended road testing confirmed the vehicle was now fixed.


Under no pressure

Top Technician 2015 winner Andy Gravel finds a DPF regeneration to be more than it seems
Published:  06 August, 2018

Once the news started to spread about my Top Technician win, the phone started to ring with more interesting and challenging jobs, usually ones that have been doing the rounds between other garages without success.
  
 A phone call came from a local parts supplier, a visiting rep was having issues with a DPF. They believed it needed a simple regeneration to get it back on the road and asked if I would be able to do the job. After checking the Blue Print G-Scan, the function for a forced regeneration was available, I believed I would be able to carry it out and booked the job in.

Basic beginnings
After traveling from two hours away, the vehicle arrived. The customer was questioned, ‘Why do you require a DPF regen?’ Being a parts rep within the motor trade, her garage visits were frequent; various attempts had been made to resolve the issue. With conflicting advice being given and quotes between £600 - £1200 to fix the vehicle, the customer was obviously confused and unsure about what to do.
    
The engine management light was on, so the obvious place to start was a scan check for fault codes. The vehicle showed P2002: Particulate Trap Below Threshold.
    
Viewing the live data for the DPF pressure sensor, key on engine off, displayed a 0kpa pressure reading, a good start for a sensor plausibility check. With the engine running and RPM increased, the sensor reported a suspiciously low-pressure reading, not one I would associate with a saturated DPF. I decided to use the Pico Scope to look at the DPF pressure sensor voltage in real time. After confirming the power and ground circuits to be ok at the three wire pressure sensor, the signal wire was checked. Again key on engine off, 750mv was displayed, a sensor plausibility check and again this was good. Starting the vehicle and increasing the revs revealed exactly the opposite to what I had expected, a negative voltage reading. The voltage should increase as the exhaust pressure increases.

What’s wrong?
One area I wanted to check was that the pipes were not connected the wrong way around. I decided to use the Mity Vac to apply pressure to the sensor pipe connected in front of the filter. This showed a positive rise in voltage, further proving good sensor functionality and confirming the pipes to be correctly connected. Connecting the Mity Vac to the pipe after the filter and applying pressure, simulated the negative voltage which was seen when the vehicle RPM was increased, simulating the fault. The sensor pipe in front of the filter must be blocked.
    
I located the steel pipe that is fitted in the exhaust in front of the filter to reveal soot marks, it had been leaking exhaust gasses. On a closer look it was unscrewed from the exhaust while still located in the hole due to the pipe bracket allowing the slight leak of exhaust gasses. Once the pipe was removed it was clear to see the soot had built up and blocked the small hole in the end of the pipe. I unblocked the pipe, checked to make sure the mounting hole on the exhaust was clear and refitted it.
    
Using the Pico Scope again on the signal wire, it now showed a positive rise in voltage when the RPM was increased. The live data now showed a small pressure increase, the filter was not blocked. With all fault codes cleared, an extended road test was carried out, the pressure reading stayed low throughout and no fault codes reoccurred confirming the fix, the vehicle did not require DPF regeneration.

With no parts required to fix the vehicle the repair cost was far lower than the customer expected due to the previous attempts. The vehicle was returned to the customer who was surprised by the
outcome of the repair and relieved by the associated costs.



TT Archives:  Top Technician issue nine 2016 | www.toptechnician.co.uk


Highs and Lows

Karl shares his insights on the conundrum of EGR. A riddle, wrapped inside an enigma, recirculating exhaust gas through the system
Published:  30 July, 2018

When faced with diagnosing a fault, in order for us to be able to test the system it is crucial we understand the system’s layout, components and function. We recently faced a fault in a system we had little experience on, so it was an ideal opportunity for a bit of studying.

Technical information is readily available from many sources, be it manufacturer or generic information, and does not take too long to find. While Google isn’t really a substitute for diagnostics, in situations like this it can be very useful for generic information. The fault on this vehicle turned out to be something so trivial I won’t bore you with it. What I would like to share is the valuable information I picked up along the way.

Main purpose
Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) is nothing new, it’s been used on petrol and diesel engines for many years and while layout and control has varied in design the principle has remained the same. It is important to understand that manufacturers use different methods and configureuration, and for this article I’ve studied several and have tried to demonstrate a generic system.

The main purpose of EGR is to reduce the level of harmful Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) gases emitted from the vehicle’s exhaust. NOx is present in exhaust emissions due to high combustion temperatures and pressures. Under light load/cruising conditions the EGR system directs a proportion of the exhaust gas back into the engine’s air intake. This reduces the oxygen levels which in turn reduces combustion temperature resulting in a lower NOx emission. When power is required from the engine the EGR system closes to insure a more efficient combustion (see figure 1).

EGR on/off
This is the conventional system in its closed (off) position.  During operation exhaust gases are taken from the exhaust manifold (pre-turbo), passed through a cooler (10) up to the EGR Valve (6). The cooler is a heat exchanger that not only uses the engine coolant to cool the gases to increase the mass but utilises the heat to warm up the coolant faster which helps the interior heater warm-up faster. The EGR Valve (6) can be either electrical of vacuum operated. The  powertrain control module (PCM) commands the EGR valve to open by a specified amount dependent on engine conditions (see figure 2).

Some EGR valves have a position sensor that provides feedback to the PCM to ensure the correct position has been achieved. In a system where the EGR valve is not equipped with a position sensor, the PCM monitors the Mass Airflow signal in order to regulate EGR flow. This is achievable due to the fact that as the EGR valve is commanded open and gases start to flow, the air flowing in to the Mass Airflow Sensor will decrease. The calculation is made using tables of data (mapping) within the PCM’s software. Understanding this is crucial when diagnosing running faults as a fault in the Mass Airflow can easily affect the EGR system and vice versa.

Understanding and diagnosing airflow and EGR faults I find can be easier if you look at it pressure differential. If air is flowing through a tube with a restriction in it, the air pressure after the restriction will always be lower than the pressure before the restriction. The difference in pressure will vary depending on the mass or pressure of the air and the size of the restriction.

Air intake/throttle flap
The air intake/throttle flap (see figure 3) generally defaults to the fully open position while the EGR valve defaults to the closed position. The purpose of the flap is to reduce the pressure on the engine side. As the intake flap starts to restrict the airflow, the pressure decreases to a pressure lower than that of the EGR pressure and the EGR gases start to flow into the engine’s air intake. If the exhaust gas pressure was slightly lower than the air pressure entering the engine then the gases would flow in the wrong direction.
    When in good working order this system serves its purpose. However, due to the fact that there is particulate matter in the exhaust gases, the system and components will slowly become blocked, causing reduced flow and valves starting to jam or not seal correctly. The air intake system often contains oil residue from the engines breathing system and slight oil loss from the turbo itself. When this oil is mixed with the particulates in the EGR gases it makes a very sticky gunk that starts to block the inlet manifold and intake ports.

When the engine is under load and turbo boost pressure is required, the EGR valve needs to close and seal. If an EGR valve isn’t sealing correctly when closed then boost pressure will be lost into the exhaust system. The lower boost pressure and reduced oxygen level affects the combustion which in turn causes more particulate matter which only adds to the issue. If the EGR valve is stuck wide open then in most cases the engine will barely run.

High pressure system    
Euro 6 was introduced in September 2014 which demanded much tighter emissions than previous which required an advance in emission control technology. While the precise control of the fuel side of the engine management system has gained precision with higher fuel pressure and multiple injections within the cycle, the air intake, exhaust and emission control systems have too. Most manufactures use a high and a low pressure EGR system.  Prior to this most EGR systems were relatively simple and fell under the ‘High Pressure EGR’ title (see figure 4 and figure 5).

The high pressure system is similar in layout to previous systems but serves a slightly different purpose. The system is only used during the warm-up phase of the engine from cold start. There is a pre-turbo passage from the manifold directly to the high pressure EGR valve (6). As the system is only used in the warm-up phase there is no need for a cooler. In this particular system there is a distribution channel that directs the gases equally into each inlet port. The purpose of this system is to raise the intake air temperature in order to improve combustion and reduce the warm-up time for the catalytic convertor/NOx storage catalyst (7) allowing them to function sooner. Once at operating temperature the system is pretty much redundant.

Low pressure system
The low pressure system (is active under most engine operating conditions and its purpose replaces that of the older systems- to reduce NOx gases (see figure 6). A proportion of the exhaust gas is collected after the Diesel Particulate Filter (8) and passes through a Wire Mesh Filter (9), through the EGR Cooler (10), up to the Low Pressure EGR Valve (11). The EGR valve then controls the flow through a channel up to the intake side of the turbocharger. The wire mesh filter ensures there is no particulate matter entering the system and also in the event of the particulate filter substrate breaking up, it also protects the rest of the system including the turbocharger, air intake and engine internals from damage. The cooler reduces the gas temperature which in turn increases the mass allowing a higher volume of exhaust gas to be recirculated. Due to the exhaust pressure after the particulate filter being quite low and also the air intake pressure before the turbo charger also being low there is and Exhaust Flap (12) fitted. By closing this slightly the exhaust pressure increases which causes the gases to flow back towards the turbocharger.

Key benefits
These systems usually have between three and four  exhaust gas temperature sensors each placed at key points of the exhaust system and two pressure differential sensors. The first is measuring pressure before and after the particulate filter (to calculate soot loading) and second between the DPF outlet and the point after the EGR valve, before the turbo. Coupling these six signals with the Mass Airflow sensor, the positions of both EGR valves and the intake flap, the turbo variable-vane position and the intake pressure (MAP), using the mapping within the PCM’s software means it can also make all calculations necessary. This provides an extremely high intake pressure and exhaust after treatment control.

The key benefits of this system are that the exhaust gases are free of any particulate matter which keeps the entire system much cleaner and therefore reliable. The gases are also cooler meaning a greater mass can be used in a more effective way. Finally the gases re-enter the system before the turbocharger, allowing for the increase in boost pressures at lower engine load and RPM.

Does this make diagnosis harder than before? Not if you take the time to study the purpose of each component and how it works. I’ll openly admit it wasn’t that long ago that I would have taken one look at this system and sent it on its way! Nobody likes being beaten by a job but neither should we have to waste too many hours trying to guess what’s wrong with it, worse still start throwing parts at it. It took me half an hour to locate this info, an hour studying it and a further hour planning what tests I was going to conduct and what results I was expecting to see. What was wrong with it in the end? A faulty sensor confirmed with no more than a voltmeter! After replacing the sensor I wanted to confirm the repair and monitor the function of the components using serial data. Something I highly recommend doing is picking five lines of serial data on every car you work on that requires an extended road test and monitoring them to see how they behave and what effect driving style (engine load) has on them. I guarantee after 10 cars you’ll know what to expect and be far more confident in diagnosing related faults. It works for me!


Quality street

Ian Gillgrass looks at how the recent MOT changes mean a Quality Management System is essential
Published:  25 July, 2018

The MOT has gone through change over the past few years. There have been changes in the way the MOT tester and the MOT Centre Manager become eligible to operate a Vehicle Testing Station (VTS) through the qualifications that are available through various national and local training organisations,  through to the MOT tester having to manage their own Annual Training and the Annual Assessment.

In combination with the revised MOT Inspection Manual (aligning to the European Directive) being implemented during May 2018, some confusion may exist in this ever changing sector.

The VTS has several people roles that exist, one major role; the Authorised Examiner (AE) or Authorised Examiner Designated Manager (AEDM) being the person having the ultimate responsibility within the business.

A new VTS and those  changing their approved status will need an AE/AEDM to hold the Level 3 Award in MOT Test Centre Management prior to the VTS becoming approved by DVSA. Most training providers will deliver the MOT Centre Manager qualification. Part of the qualification is that the person understands how to operate a Quality Management System (QMS) for the purposes of the VTS. This has been identified as an area that most people struggle with within the qualification.

To implement an effective QMS program, the business must initially internally agree the standards that they set. The results are then collected and reported into the QMS. Any problem should have a corrective action. This should be written with an indication the people responsible to carry out the action along with a completion date. If the same problem repeats, then a plan should be developed to improve the situation, and put into action.

The following highlights a few areas that where the QMS needs to focus.

Training
The AE should ensure all staff (employees and contractors) fully understand their responsibilities. This enables them to carry out their job accurately and remain compliant with the necessary requirements.

The MOT tester should ensure that they meet the requirements of the MOT tester Annual Training and Annual Assessment. This year the annual training includes updating their knowledge of the MOT Inspection Manual which was introduced in May 2018. Most MOT testers will be familiar with the revisions and updates to the MOT Inspection Manual, either through specific training prior to the changes or reviewing the Inspection Manual during its implementation stages.

The AE should also ensure that the MOT testers that carry out tests at the VTS, are compliant with the requirements. Failure to do so will result in the MOT tester unable to test vehicles. It should be noted that some MOT testers that have not met the requirements have taken many weeks to become reinstated as an MOT tester as a result of non compliance which could reduce business income.

At present there is no requirement for the MOT Centre Manager to comply with the updating of their MOT knowledge but this could change in the near future.

Procedures
The AE should ensure that everyone involved in the MOT testing process within their business has access to key information, especially focusing on MOT test logs and MOT Test Quality Information (TQI).

TQI can be accessed by both the AE and also the MOT tester, reviewing the MOT test data applicable to their role. The data can indicate both strengths and weaknesses with the MOT testers and the VTS, it is therefore important that this data is regularly reviewed to identify any anomalies within the data and implement an ‘action plan’ to correct any deficiencies, therefore both the MOT tester and the AE have a responsibility in this area.

MOT TQI was highlighted as a requirement for the MOT tester annual training/annual assessment. It is therefore suggested that the MOT Centre Manager also updates their knowledge on Test Quality Information (TQI) and also MOT test logs.

The AE should ensure that the relevant people know procedures for the reporting of equipment defects/problems, the equipment maintenance and any equipment calibration requirements within the specified dates as indicated by the MOT Testing Guide. The AE must ensure that any appropriate records (calibration certificates) are kept and the records are held securely.
The AE should always ensure that the equipment is maintained and calibrated correctly, if a problem is detected (yes things do go wrong) preferable before a breakdown occurs then a clear process should be identified and the rectification of the equipment recorded.

Assurance
The MOT tests which are carried out at the VTS must always have the correct result, the security of data, information and passwords are maintained which will lead to the reduction in risk of MOT fraudulent activity. The protection of data used in the MOT process needs to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was also introduced in May 2018 replacing the Data Protect Action (DPA) that previously covered the data. The AE has a duty to ensure this has been complied with.
The process should also include a Quality Control process of the MOT tester to ensure that they produce satisfactory results, and to identify any future weaknesses in their MOT test procedures.

The MOT Testing Guide (updated earlier this year) indicates that a QC check needs to be performed on an MOT tester every two months. Best practice would indicate that the QC process is completed on each MOT tester more frequently such as every month. The QC check should be recorded and kept in-line with the requirements. The QC report should indicate the strengths and weaknesses of each individual (not just indicating the MOT tester is OK) with an ‘action plan’ (further training etc) on how to reduce the weaknesses. The next month Quality Control report should then indicate how the MOT tester has performed against the ‘action plan’. This could help to reduce the VTS risk score, improving MOT tester performance but also increase business performance.
Performing and recording quality control checks within an MOT business can be time consuming and often gets forgotten. The person carrying out the MOT QC must be carried out by an approved DVSA MOT tester. The QC can be achieved within the MOT testing team providing more than one MOT tester is engaged (one MOT Tester is nominated as the QC) or alternatively a service that an outside agency could provide. A Vehicle Testing Station with only one MOT tester could have a reciprocal arrangement with a nearby similar business by carrying out the QC check on each other.

Improvement
An effective QMS used within the VTS should identify any weaknesses that could put the station at risk. Once a weakness has been identified the business should develop an action plan to improve within the area of weakness. This will typically lead to an improvement.

All these points will help to achieve a low VTS risk score. The MOT centre manager should read and understand the various documents provided free by the DVSA on how to carry out a VTS risk assessment and to hopefully reduce the VTS risk score.
The AE can find out more on the qualification by contacting a recognised training provider delivering the MOT Centre Manager Qualification, this will help them better understand the requirements of a Vehicle Testing Station and the various MOT Testing documents and standards associated with MOT testing. Many of these requirements have been revised over the last few years, and it is a requirement for the AE to constantly update their knowledge to remain current. Remember the MOT Testing Guide was revised in early 2018 and many AEs do not have knowledge of the new requirements.


888... Lucky for some

Keeping a cool head, Frank Massey looks at how advances in some high performance engines will affect the how technicians approach the cooling system
Published:  17 July, 2018

With this month’s focus in Aftermarket on cooling, I thought a look at how technology has affected one of the oldest systems of the internal combustion engine. For illustration, I have chosen the Volkswagen Auto Group’s en888 engine, built in Mexico, Hungary and China hence the 888 insignia; It is their lucky number.

Its one of Audi’s high-performance variants. Its fitted in my Seat Cupra 2ltr, producing 400bhp with stock mechanicals. So, what are the benefits of advanced cooling systems? Heat derived from combustion, transferred by conduction and convection into cooling and the environment is in effect wasted energy. Controlling and where necessary containing it improves efficiency, not forgetting reductions in emission pollution.

Efforts
They have made stringent efforts in the mechanical design of the 888 to achieve savings in efficiency. Reducing engine weight, minimising internal friction, increasing power and torque, current with fuel economy initiatives.

The cylinder block wall is reduced from 3.5mm to 3.00mm. Internal friction is reduced with smaller main bearing journals, revised timing chain design, incorporating a dual pressure lubricating system. The balance shaft has roller bearings, piston cooling jets further improve thermal stability. The jets have PCM mapped control, while extra oil cooling is provided adjacent the filter housing, close to the activation solenoid and twin oil pressure sensors.

The engine can theoretically reach Lambda 1 from cold within 20-30 seconds.

Further technical innovations include reduced oil level, reduced tension force in the auxiliary chain mechanism, down shifting achieved with variable valve lift and twin scroll direct mount turbo design.

Advances
You will now appreciate that it is no longer possible to separate mechanical design, power delivery, emissions, and all-round efficiency, treating cooling as an afterthought.

Take the cylinder block design, which possibly has the biggest advances reserved within the cylinder head and coolant control module (water pump). The exhaust manifold is housed completely within the cylinder head casting. This ensures very effective conductance of heat. The emphasis is now on increase, maintain, reduce, thanks to an advanced dual valve PCM controlled coolant control module. The module is mounted at the rear of the engine block, belt-driven with a cooling fan to keep the belt cool.
By manipulating the two rotary valves, flow and temperature can be effectively controlled within very carefully controlled limits. The rotary valves are manipulated by a PWM 1000hz motor with SENT position feedback (single edge nibble transmission), a method used by the latest air mass meters.

Heat transfer into and from the turbo is much more efficient due partly to the direct mount and integrated cooling galleries surrounding the exhaust tracts.

The piston to wall clearance has been increased, with a special coating on the piston thrust side complimenting a direct gudgeon pin to rod contact, the DLC coating removes the need for a bearing bush.

The cylinder head porting incorporates ignition sequence separation, thus ensuring preceding exhaust pulses do not impede the energy from the current. This in combination with advanced turbine design further improves torque range and downshifting. Cooling control priority is applied to the occupants, then the transmission, further reducing frictional losses.

Complexity
Although not directly related to the cooling system, a dual injection system is fitted with its main function being emission reduction. Cold start is provided with three direct injection events, followed by port injection warm up. These systems do not run in tandem. Two thirds of the load range is controlled by port injection, with full load above 4,000 rpm delivered by induction stroke direct fuel delivery.

From a practical point of view, previous low-tech tasks like replacing coolant components and bleeding now requires electronic support through the serial interface. Using the correct antifreeze is now essential if premature corrosion is to be avoided. As a warning, capillary coolant invasion within wiring looms is well known in some French and GM vehicles, as some of you will be aware.
It is also worth mentioning that Volkswagen has modified the software controlling cooling in some of their diesel vehicles as part of the emission recall programme.

Predictably due to their complexity, I can foresee cooling systems being neglected during routine servicing , so expect to see faults as these systems age in the pre-owned market.



Well it was like that last year mate! And you passed it then…

Barry Babister from MOT Juice throws some light on warning lights
Published:  28 June, 2018

How many warning lights does it take to create an MOT fail? Put simply, just one - but how many choices do we have?  
    
Looking through the revised testing manual it’s hard pick out these faults amongst so many changes. Let’s see if we can summarise them for you as a refresher on what fails, some new and some old. Below is a list of
major failures:


Part Seven: Electric and hybrid vehicles

In part seven of his ongoing look into EVs and hybrids, Peter Coombes of Tech-Club considers the power electronics system
Published:  22 June, 2018

Over the past few months, we have looked at battery and electric motor technologies of electric and hybrid vehicles,
as well as looking at the advantages and disadvantages of batter power compared to fossil fuel power.  
    
Irrespective of whether a vehicle is powered solely by batteries and an electric motor or whether the vehicle is a hybrid that has the addition of a petrol engine for propulsion and
re-charging the batteries, the vehicle will require a sophisticated electronic system to manage and modify the electrical energy. In effect, the vehicles have an electrical management system that is often referred to as the ‘power electronics’.

Controlling electric motor speed and power
The obvious task of the power electronics system is to control the speed and power of the electric motor so that the vehicle can be driven at the required speed and achieve the required acceleration. As mentioned in a previous article, with Alternating Current (AC) motors the motor speed is regulated by altering the frequency of the 3-phases of alternating current. For light load cruise driving, the current flow provided by the battery pack to the electric motor might only be in the region of a 70 or 80 amps or less, but when the vehicle is being driven under high load conditions, the current requirement will be much higher. Therefore the power electronics can allow higher current flows to be delivered to the electric motor, with some reports quoting as high as 1,800 amps for brief periods on some Tesla vehicles during hard acceleration. However, the power electronics system will monitor currents and temperatures of the electronics, the batteries and the electric motor to ensure that overheating and damage do not occur. As an additional function, the power electronics systems will also control the cooling system (often a liquid cooling system) for the electronics, the batteries and the motor to help maintain acceptable temperatures.
    
Because most modern electric motors fitted to electric and hybrid vehicles are alternating current motors, the power electronics system must convert the direct current supplied by the battery into alternating current. The power electronics system therefore contains a DC to AC inverter.

Battery charging from a home charger or remote charging point
For pure electric vehicles the batteries are re-charged from home based chargers or remote charging points (and this is also true for many later generations of hybrid vehicles). The battery charging must be carefully controlled to prevent overheating and damage, therefore the power electronics system contains a charging control system to regulate the charging rate (voltage and current). Most charging devices provide alternating current, therefore an AC to DC converter forms part of the power electronics system to enable the batteries to receive direct current.
    
Note that for rapid charging (especially with lithium based batteries), the power electronics system can regulate the charging rate so that the batteries re-charge up to about 80% capacity relatively quickly (perhaps within 20 to 30 minutes with fast chargers), but to prevent overheating and damage, the charging rate is then significantly reduced for the remaining 20%
of charge.

Battery charging from an engine driven generator
Most mass produced hybrid vehicles use an internal combustion engine that can propel the vehicle, but the engine also drives a generator that can re-charge the main high voltage batteries. While the engine is running, the power electronics system again controls the charging rate; and again, the output from the generator passes through the AC to DC converter. Note that the power electronics system will be linked to or integrated with the engine management system, which will allow the power electronics to cause the engine to start and generate electricity if the batteries are low on stored electrical energy.
    
Because the electric motors fitted to electric and hybrid vehicles can usually function also as generators, when the vehicle is decelerating or braking (or coasting), the electric motor can therefore be used to help re-charge the batteries. The electrical output from the motor/generator will vary with speed; therefore the power electronics system must control the charging rate to the batteries. As with home/remote charging and charging with an engine driven generator, because the motor/generator produces an AC current, the generator output must pass through the AC to DC converter.

12-Volt battery charging
A 12-Volt electrical system is still used for electric vehicles, but because there is no engine driven alternator, the 12-volt battery is charged using power from the high voltage system. The power electronics system contains a DC to DC converter that converts the high voltage of the main battery pack down to the required voltage for the 12-volt battery. The charging rate for the 12-volt battery is also controlled by the power electronics system.

Additional functions of the power electronics system
As mentioned previously, modern electric vehicles (and hybrid vehicles) will be fitted with cooling systems to maintain the temperatures of the batteries, the electronics and the electric motor. Pure electric vehicles are more likely to be fitted with liquid cooling systems due to the higher currents required for the electric motor that is the only source of propulsion, whereas with hybrid vehicles that also use an internal combustion engine to propel the vehicle generally have less powerful electric motors and therefore often make use of air cooling. However, whichever system is used for cooling, the cooling system can be controlled by the power electronics system to regulate the amount of cooling being applied; note that with liquid cooling systems, the control can also apply to the electric cooling pumps that force the coolant to flow around the cooling system.
    
Another cooling or heating related function of the power electronics system is to ensure that the battery temperature is at the optimum temperature for charging (and for discharging when the battery is providing electrical power). Batteries charge much more efficiently and faster if they are at the optimum temperature of typically between 10 and 30ºC (or slightly higher for some lithium batteries); but the charging rate should be lowered for lower temperatures; and for many consumer type lithium based batteries, charging is not possible below 0ºC.
    
Because vehicles are equipped with a cooling/heating systems (for driver/passenger comfort as well as for controlling vehicle system temperatures), the power electronics system can switch on an electrical heater (that would form part of the cooling/heating system) when the batteries are being charged. Therefore, if the vehicle is being charged from a domestic based charger or remote charging station and the ambient temperature is low or below freezing, the battery cooling/heating system can raise the battery temperature to ensure charging take place at the fastest possible rate.



Tools to survive and thrive

John Batten takes a look at the art of diagnosis and the one tool to rule them all
Published:  11 June, 2018

My life as a business owner, trainer and technician is an interesting one. I was recently spending some time with a client after a course just shooting the breeze. You know the kind of thing, a cuppa, a cake and an hour just putting the world
to rights.
    
Part way through our conversation Matt proclaimed that I must be “living the dream!” This made me stop and think (something I’ve been told not to do by my wife) about how I am indeed very fortunate to have a career doing something I truly love.

Wading through treacle
Spending my days with like-minded business owners and technicians, helping them drive their careers and businesses forward. What’s not to like about that? Not much, but has my work life always been like skipping through meadow on a sunny day?
    
Quite frankly… No! Don’t get me wrong –  I’m a glass half full sort of chap and regardless of the task ahead I’ll give it my best and persevere until success emerges. However, on many occasions in my diagnostic career it was just like wading through treacle, and therein lies my point. To get to a place where you’re ‘living the dream’ you need wellies! Show me a successful technician and I’ll show you someone who’s great at wading. They’ve just waded long enough to build a versatile skill set along
the way.

The recipe for success
As with most things in life there are essential ingredients. With the right ingredients you’ll successfully avoid the diagnostic treacle swamp and swap this for a faster and more enjoyable repair experience.
    
“What’s this recipe?” I hear you cry. It has six elements that when bought together produce truly remarkable results. They are;


Expert training, Italian style

Frank Massey is overseas again, but while he is there, he takes a look at ways to predict common rail pressure faults
Published:  06 June, 2018

I have just returned from Modena, delivering a two-day advanced technical training seminar to 21 of Italy’s top independent technicians. I was travelling from across Italy and beyond, attending PCB Automotive’s international training programme, focusing on gasoline direct injection and common rail diesel.  

The essence of the training was the advanced application of Pico oscilloscope to diagnose and gain predictive evidence for a repair solution. The technicians were particularly interested in the techniques of high pressure pump testing pioneered by ADS several years ago.

Attending the event were diesel and gasoline specialist and Italy’s most respected Bosch trainer. No pressure then! The session began with an explanation of the importance of scope performance when gathering data at high resolution requirements. Acquisition, storage, display, test lead bandwidth and advanced triggering with math channel analysis.

As expected Bosch had a different political agender towards our pump proof testing. It was however received with enthusiasm and great interest once its accuracy and simplicity was experienced.

The session on ignition evaluation was of great interest especially when focusing on primary current ramping and slew rate. Further discussion on burn time and slope completed the morning session.

The four-course lunch was a typical treat of local Italian hospitality and cuisine. The afternoon session included the evaluation of load request with air mass and Lambda response. By comparing response and rise time evaluation it is possible to predict and confirm complex fuel delivery and combustion anomalies.

A full eight-hour day concluded with hybrid cart racing north of Bologna, followed by the inevitable pizza and Mr Moretti’s finest.

Data and interest
Day two and common rail diesel with a similar agenda,   with a strong focus on Math analysis of pressure and volume control against fuel delivery pressure. We have accumulated a vast database of rail pressure profiles, rise and decay times across all diesel manufacturers. This was of great interest to a Bosch pump and injector repair specialist. Approving nods and smiles throughout supported our confidence in this form of diagnostic analysis.

There was great interest in the examination and influence of rail pressure and air mass response time.  Converting digital air mass into a current profile enabled delegates to understand the speed and simplicity with which a technician can determine the source of an error, either hydraulic or sensor input.
The day concluded with certificates and a photo session. Teachers usually get apples from students so imagine my joy with a bottle of wine and finest olive oil.

With a 6.30am flight in the morning and 50 kilometres back to Bologna, it was a very nice gesture from Luca my host to take me for a special evening meal at a villa outside Modena.

I found it intriguing to be asked by several of the delegates, with my international training experience, where the best technicians are to be found. I responded including them with the very best, not just because of their technical fluency, but especially their mutual respect and co-operation with each other, sadly lacking with some in the UK.

Using Math
To conclude let’s look at an example of using Math to predict hydro mechanical function against rail pressure.
The system example; Bosch cp1h, volume control single point, solenoid injectors. Sample taken from stable idle, part load snap open throttle, return to idle.

Channel a blue;
Rail pressure profile idle, snap open, rtn to idle.

Channel b red;  
Volume control valve ground duty control

Channel c green;  
Volume control valve, current vis rail pressure

Channel d black;  
Air mass meter profile vis rail pressure

Math Channel purple;  
Math duty volume control

The focus of this analysis was to establish the rail pressure hydraulic response time against air mass load signal, expressing the primary control device, volume, as current and math duty conversion.

To understand the values in this test enables an unequalled understanding of the systems capability in delivering fuel vis time.
The next challenge is to sync a second 4 channel scope monitoring compression using WPS, with the 4-stroke cycle overlay, noting the secondary pressure increase when fuel is injected. Then we really are ahead of the curve.





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