Innovations and awards: Brake pads from Bosch

Published:  01 December, 2023

Bosch inventions from servo brakes to the copper-free brake pad

Green-eyed monster opportunity? Supetracker machine boosts outoor/mobile alignment

Published:  28 November, 2023

Supertracker says its decision to update its STR1 laser aligner with green lasers will make undertaking wheel alignment in a range of situations, including outside, a much more practical possibility.

The rise of Chinese EVs

Martin looks at the opportunities and challenges represented by the increasing presence of Chinese EVs on UK roads
Published:  22 November, 2023

Electric vehicles have become a common sight on roads worldwide, with leading car manufacturers such as Porsche, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota, and Ford launching their own models.
However, many consumers may not be aware that the European electric market is now being targeted by several Chinese manufacturers, which is creating new sales opportunities for those who have already perfected their EVs in China. According to Fitch Solutions, China is currently the largest EV market in the world, accounting for 60% of global sales in 2022. Moreover, Chinese manufacturers' share of Europe's battery-electric market is expected to increase from about 5% in 2023 to 15% in 2025.
There are multiple factors contributing to the rise of Chinese electric vehicles. First and foremost, electric vehicle manufacturers in China tend to produce all the components of their vehicles in-house, except for the glass and tyres, which are outsourced to third-party providers. BYD is a perfect example of this approach. By producing everything in-house, manufacturers can ensure that production is faster, as they do not have to rely on complex supply chains that have the potential to be disrupted, as seen during the Covid pandemic.
Secondly, competition in the Chinese market is significant. The Chinese market is highly competitive and has been driven by government subsidies, which are set to end in 2023. This has resulted in a surge in demand for vehicles that are of high quality and affordable for the end customer. As a result, many Chinese manufacturers are now expanding their focus to new markets, such as Europe. This overseas expansion has given them the opportunity to identify a gap in the market for a vehicle that offers great quality at a price point that can challenge traditional manufacturers.
It's important to note that Chinese companies like SAIC are acquiring established manufacturers such as MG. This allows them to introduce their electric vehicles into the European market under a more recognisable brand. It's safe to say that if you were given a choice between purchasing an EV under the SAIC Motor or MG brand, you would most likely choose the latter.
It's great to see that vehicle styling, both inside and out, is improving. Initially, electric vehicles didn't look very attractive, but now manufacturers are putting more effort into designing cars that look good while doing their job. BYD's Seal is a great example of this, with its sleek design and aesthetically pleasing features such as back diffusers that make the car more aerodynamic, ultimately improving its range.
Chinese EVs are slowly gaining popularity in Europe. However, brand loyalty of European consumers may be difficult to break.

The shape of things to come

Niterra UK is here to look at future developments heading your way, and what they will mean when they hit the workshop
Published:  02 November, 2023

Engine and exhaust management can be a formidable task, including working through multiple symptomatic issues to finally reveal the heart of the fault. This can include sensor diagnosis and fitment as part of a high-quality repair. Such a small thing as sensors can make a huge difference to the dark art of emissions management.
The increasing desire for emissions compliance for more than just an annual roadworthiness test is pulling focus on the workshop’s emission management know-how. For instance, it matters when it comes to selling the vehicle, and quite rightly vehicle owners will feel very strongly about looking after one of the bigger investment pieces in their life. It is also a viable eco-friendly strategy to keep existing vehicles on the road for longer and maintaining them to optimum emissions standards.
It’s reassuring for garage customers to have their technicians well informed about exhaust management, as often the workshop needs to enter into a teammate type working relationship with the vehicle owner, including agreeing investigation time and even exploring DPF-saving strategies together. Technician confidence about where to start and why paves the way to a smooth customer service experience.
The serious business of tackling exhaust management is the shape of things to come for the NTK portfolio. A new group of exhaust pressure sensors will be rounding out NTK’s engine management offering, including exhaust pressure sensors (EPS), differential pressure sensors (DPS) and high-pressure sensors (HPS). The new exhaust sensors make the perfect accompaniment to the existing exhaust offering making the NTK portfolio a go-to solution for technician confidence in the parts selected.
So why does starting small matter? Firstly, it could prevent jumping to worst case, and expensive-case, scenarios which can be quite a pain point for the vehicle owner and hard for them to understand the technical rationale behind the work. Starting with sensors can empower much needed accurate diagnostics, as well as optimum on-board management for the driver. A high performing sensor like those in the NTK range can also help prevent additional damage to related components like turbos and filters through fast and reliable measurement. Finally, sometimes it can be the required repair itself, cutting through the uncertainty from a mix of fault symptoms.
Becca Knight, Marketing Manager for Niterra UK commented: “Exhaust management is no longer the reserve of a specialist garage- all workshops need to be prepared to tackle emissions as part of their core service offering. The sensors currently in our portfolio, and the new range coming by the end of 2023, furnishes workshops with market-leading precision and performance so they can offer the best repairs for their customers.”
Also available from Niterra UK is the online Training Academy, helping technicians upskill and up-confidence in exhaust and engine sensors, standard servicing, hybrid technology, and so much more at Starting small with the skills and the knowledge is one of the best ways to tackle emissions-readiness head on and to show your customer’s that they and their vehicle are in safe hands.
For more information about Niterra UK and its products and services, visit:   

Getting to green

How can lubricants help accelerate sustainability for aftermarket operators?
Published:  26 October, 2023

With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars on track to be phased out by 2030 as part of the UKs 2050 carbon neutrality strategy, every stage of the automotive market supply chain is at a pivotal juncture of strategic and operational transformation.
As of May 2023, SMMT figures showed that 17% of new car registrations were electric vehicles with the UK's roads currently having approximately 1.25 million electric and plug-in hybrid cars. While it sounds significant, this figure is equivalent to only the total number of Ford Focuses on our roads.
Herein lies a key tension within the automotive sustainability agenda. As alternative-fuelled vehicles are steadily adopted, the automotive industry also needs to ensure the existing legacy vehicle fleet is operating in the most economical and eco-effective manner possible. With the average age of UK vehicles estimated to be close to nine years, the next decade represents a critical window for responsible decision making and informed product choices to achieve this.
Both the goods and services on offer and the operational and logistical systems of the aftermarket industry are well positioned to amplify rather than undermine the carbon reduction efforts taking place at the top of the funnel while supporting the sustainability of the existing fleet.

The importance of high-quality lubricants
Using high-quality oils can enhance engine performance, including reducing emissions, and extending the lifespan of the vehicle. Well-maintained vehicles that use high quality, effective lubricants can increase their fuel efficiency by approximately 4%.
Furthermore, extending a car's lifespan can generate an environmental impact comparable to, if not greater than, the effect achieved by transitioning to a new vehicle with a more fuel-efficient engine.
Making informed decisions about the oil used in vehicles can significantly improve their overall carbon impact.
Firstly, the first-fill oil - utilised for the initial filling of a car's engine before it leaves the factory - can significantly impact the overall longevity and long-term efficiency of the vehicle. Rightly, manufacturers seek a high-quality first-fill oil to provide their vehicles with the best possible start which can reduce technical issues like plug fouling, damage to diesel injection systems due to a lack of lubricity, and oxidisation. Secondly, cars require an exceptional lubricant for optimal fuel efficiency on an ongoing basis. While driving, the moving components within an engine are exposed to unavoidable wear and tear. A superior lubricant plays a crucial role in reducing friction, cooling the moving parts, and maintaining engine cleanliness. A high quality lubricant that can enhance engine cleanliness while also providing anti-wear protection is a key factor in extending the lifespan of an engine.
Not all engine lubricants are created equal and when looking to extend the performance and lifespan of an engine, it is recommended to continue using the same lubricant as was applied in the first-fill throughout the maintenance process to ensure a consistency of quality and efficacy. In 2008 alone, nearly 3 million PSA vehicles were equipped with Quartz Ineo First 0W-30 as their first-fill oil and it continues to be a popular maintenance choice for optimum engine protection.
TotalEnergies has since developed a new first fill product for vehicles which require the latest new generation engine oils and which further reduces emissions. Quartz Ineo First 0W-20, designated by the ACEA as a Fuel Economy lubricant, demonstrated a remarkable 3.3% reduction in fuel consumption. Created using TotalEnergies' proprietary eco-sciences technology, it protects against wear and ageing while delivering optimal performance and is now adopted as a first fill and recommended after sales oil by Stellantis.

Optimising every point on the downstream automotive journey
While extending the lifespan of vehicles themselves represents one of the most significant levers in redressing the automotive sector’s carbon footprint, there remain sustainable opportunities across every stage of the automotive journey that have the potential to accelerate the industry’s green transformation.
Alongside environmental pressures, the push for sustainability is being driven by a combination of top-down and bottom-up pressures framed by regulatory, consumer and commercial pressures.
Garage technicians, for example, are facing the need to stock a larger number of lubricant references in their workshops to meet evolving consumer demand and regulatory compliance, including environmental standards. Whilst accommodating a wider range to cater to evolving eco requirements, it brings challenges to legacy businesses in terms of available space, logistics, and waste management.
Customer demands are also evolving, with a growing awareness of the environmental impact of driving and the lubricants used affecting consumer decision making. However, a truly sustainable product is more than just the technical characteristics of specific lubricants. The entire supply chain, including packaging, waste, and recyclability, must be examined holistically to assess and mitigate the carbon footprint.

Sustainable solutions
Each step in the journey, from ordering a product to the disposal of waste oil, offers an opportunity to contribute to reducing emissions. When it comes to making more sustainable choices regarding what products to stock, there are a host of new developments on offer to aftermarket operators framed by the waste hierarchy of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. This includes everything from the recyclability and circulatory of the packaging, to the volume of product that can be delivered and stored to reduce transportation-related emissions, to ensuring product design reduces to as close to zero as possible the risk of spillage and waste.
TotalEnergies, for instance, has recently introduced its QuartzBox, an eco-efficient packaging solution designed to meet the requirements of garage technicians and the motor industry.
Housed in a 100% recycled cardboard box, the packaging design reduces the use of plastics by 86% compared to equivalent volume rigid containers. The design also enables efficient stacking of six boxes per shelf when full and folding flat when empty, optimizing space utilization. This reduces the mileage associated with the product as the design allows for 20% more volume to be packed per pallet, leading to fewer deliveries and reduced road traffic.
In addition to packaging considerations, addressing the carbon footprint of lubricant production, distribution, storage, and disposal is essential in achieving incremental environmental improvements in the automotive industry. Tailored waste oil collection services can make a significant impact by collecting waste products and recycling them into new, high-performance lubricants, thus enhancing the circularity of operations.
In the ongoing mission to combat climate change, distributors and motor factors have a crucial role to fulfil in enabling the transition towards a more sustainable motor industry. The worldwide focus on reducing carbon footprints necessitates that the automotive industry becomes adept at facilitating and embracing change, all while ensuring the smooth functioning of transportation systems that are vital for people and the economy.

Fortunately, solutions exist. With a collective readiness to tackle the challenges ahead, the automotive sector can contribute significantly to its achieving sustainability goals and creating a greener future.


A month in the life of a vehicle technician

Part seven
Published:  24 October, 2023

Frank gets tangled up in a Skoda Fabia wiring conundrum, and he finds that when one door closes, a window opens…

Bosch - Service and repair tips: Brake discs

Published:  24 October, 2023

As a strong partner with extensive expertise in brakes, we offer your workshop everything you need for the efficient maintenance and repair of brake systems: first-class products, reliable service offerings and efficient diagnostic technology.

A trick of the tail-gate?

Martin considers the potential impact of anti-tailgating legislation if it were enacted fully across the UK
Published:  12 October, 2023

On 6 July 2022, a new ruling meant that all new cars in Europe and Northern Ireland were required by law to have anti-tailgating technology fitted as standard. Even though it has been a year since this came into force, there has been nothing from the UK government to replicate this legislation, even though research carried out shows that it could prevent 12,300 casualties and 110 deaths on UK roads.
Although the government has still not decided if the issue will be mandatory, we know that manufacturers have and will continue to add these systems to new vehicle models sold in the UK because according to Thatcham Research, “automatic braking would also be required in the UK for car manufacturers to secure top safety ratings under the Europe wide assessment, Euro NCAP, to which the UK is signed up”. In addition, adding this system as standard ensures the carmakers are not seen as unsafe in the eyes of the industry as well as the end consumer.
Anti-tailgating technology is an asset to drivers because it uses systems already on the vehicle (RADAR and cameras) to detect hazards on the road. Once a hazard is detected, the car's systems spring into action by slowing or stopping the vehicle if the driver does not respond to the alarm that highlights the car is too close to the vehicle in front.
This, in turn, would theoretically reduce the risk of tailgating, which is a careless driving offence and, if caught, you could face a £100 fine and three penalty points, because the driver would be advised well in advance that the car is heading towards tailgating the vehicle in front. This would then force the driver either to reduce speed manually to increase the gap or if not, the car would do it automatically.
For repairers, the addition of these systems as standard will open new sales avenues for their shops. This means it is more important than ever that they have the necessary products and skills to complete right-first-time calibrations. Repairify has a range of systems, services and training options to help meet this need.
Anti-tailgating technology is here to stay but the UK government must ensure it is put into law because it is the biggest step forward in safety technology since the introduction of seatbelts. In addition, the technology will be an asset to drivers, but they will still need to be aware of their surroundings when out driving and not just rely on the technology.

A month in the life of a vehicle technician

Part six
Published:  05 October, 2023

Frank gets wet and wild this month as he examines BIO belts through the medium of a malfunctioning Ford Focus

Bosch Brakes: Your ultimate safety companion – Here's why

Published:  03 October, 2023

Safety is in our DNA

Can you feel the tension?

Schaeffler’s REPXPERTs are highlighting to garages to the importance of best practice around timing systems, so customers don’t end up coming unstuck
Published:  28 September, 2023

Schaeffler’s REPXPERT team has spent the last few months making sure technicians keep the front-end auxiliary drive (FEAD) system at the forefront of their minds.
We spoke to Schaeffler REPXPERT Alistair Mason, who explained why taking the time to assess this critical system is so important: “If the FEAD system or belt should fail, that’s bad in itself, but it could potentially cause a lot more damage. The risk is that if the belt gets behind the pulley it can actually get drawn into the timing belt system. If that then affects or derails the timing belt, then it can cause catastrophic engine damage.
“A lot of vehicle manufacturers are now putting a service schedule on the auxiliary drive belt on the front of the engine, either for time or mileage, whichever comes first. The trouble is that every manufacturer is different.
“A timing belt replacement is quite a common job. In many cases, part of that procedure is that you have to remove the auxiliary drive belt. What we always advise is that you replace both belts at the same time. You've got to take it off, it's part of the job, and you have to put it back on, again because it's part of the job. So why not put a fresh one on? There's no real additional labour involved.”

Preventative maintenance
Through the INA brand, the entire FEAD kit is available, as Alistair noted: “We supply not only just the belt, but we supply the whole system including all ancillaries.”
Changing demands and cross-system dependence on increasingly strained areas means that this has become the lynchpin of a whole host of related functions, all of which means that the car’s owner really doesn’t want a major failure here. Alistair went on to provide some context: “Look at the complexity of the system now; In the old days, when you have predominantly what they called a fan belt, you only had to worry about an alternator and maybe a water pump. Then they added more components to the system, so they would put another longer belt on, then they might decide to add a power steering pump. It's driving a lot more now, so there's a lot more wear on the belt than there used to be because everything is working that bit harder.”

Regular basis
With the REPXPERTs in garages every day providing advice on best practice as well as much-needed training, we wondered where the issue was being felt: “It's a problem that we see on a regular basis through our warranty department as well, which is probably where we're seeing it most. We also get a lot of calls about it.
“What can happen is that something else on the system could have a fault, whether it be a tensioner or a pulley or an idler. Maybe it is derailing the belt a little or it's not got the right tension. Perhaps it's not taking the pulses out of that belt, which will then cause other components to fail, which, of course, will then keep getting sent back under warranty, which, actually, you've still not diagnosed.”
So where is it then? “The most common root cause of problem on the FEAD system is on the alternator, which has what we call an overrunning alternator pulley (OAP). “When an engine is running, the crankshaft pulses as it goes around, and those pulses are transmitted through the back of the engine. In the transmission, we can absorb those pulses with a dual mass flywheel, to which the clutch is bolted. On the front end we have a similar system. What happens then is that the belt drives the alternator, which is going about four times the speed of the engine. As the engine is on a firing pulse the belt gets faster, so the alternator gets a little bit faster and then it comes round onto compression, so the engine slows down a little.
 “You effectively now have a solid pulley, but if those pulses are not being absorbed, the belt starts to thin, and then the tensioner tries to hold the tension on the belt and wears out. The car then goes into a garage, where it is found that the tensioner is broken. So the mechanic puts a new tensioner on and the car goes out and it's okay for a couple of weeks, but then it snaps again.”
On the solution that Schaeffler offers, Alistair observed: “This is why we recommend a complete set rather than single components. The alternator has become a starter generator. Not only is it being driven, but it's now actually a driver as well. When you want to start the car, we can actually start it on the alternator. Then we start going down the road, it will turn into a generator. Then you might floor the car, so you want e-boost, and now it drives the engine again.
“As a result, we've now got a stronger belt on there, with a slack span on the belt. The tight span is where it's all being driven. The slack span is where your tensioner goes in to hold the tension. We have to have a tensioner that can accommodate that, so we basically have a little dual mass flywheel, which is a common repair on the three-cylinder BMW/Mini engine. The best practice to protect your customer is to replace the belt. While that belt is being replaced, check all the other tensioners, pulleys, and idlers on the system just to make sure there's no wear. If there is, they're easily replaced. It’s a cost saving in the long run to the customer because you're already working in that area.”
Alistair added: “By not replacing it, you're not looking after your customer, doing them a favour. Not spending £20 on replacing the belt could turn into a £2,000 repair bill.”

When a garage has a car in for a FEAD system replacement, you need the right parts. Explaining why they should opt for INA’s offering, INA Product Specialist Brad Adams said: “Other than via the main dealer, only by opting for an INA FEAD KIT are you getting a complete and genuine OE quality kit. That's obviously essential because the mechanic wants to fit the same as what he’s removed from the vehicle.”
With everything increasingly interconnected, a problem with one part of the system can have a major effect on another, as Brad explained: “With the timing belt system, it's one of the riskiest jobs on the vehicle. If you have a failure on the FEAD, that in turn can knock off the timing belt and cause catastrophic damage to the engine. This means it really is essential to use genuine original equipment quality parts.”
One of the long-term messages from Schaeffler, apart from making sure to follow best practice procedures, is to always use genuine quality replacements. Explaining this long-standing ethos, Brad said: “Vehicle manufacturers spend between two and ten years on research and development, from the conception of designing an engine to when the vehicle actually rolls off the production line. Schaeffler is working with them from day one to provide the parts and systems they need for original installation, and these same parts are then sold to the aftermarket in our INA boxes – everything comes off the same production line.”
Coming back to the FEAD system specifically, as Alistair explained, the changing make-up of vehicles has added to the extra stresses: “Moving from a 12-volt system to a 48-volt hybrid system can create up to 200% more load on the belt, so you can see why VMs are adding service intervals for the system. 48-volt hybrids often have a starter generator. A lot of vehicles will be gathering charge under braking, and that charge will be stored in the batteries. When the engine needs extra power, the starter generator will kick in. The crankshaft that's turning the front-end auxiliary drive will be going in a clockwise direction, with the right-hand side of the belt being pulled by the crankshaft. We call that the ‘tight’ span. At the same time, the left-hand side of the belt is effectively being pushed by the crankshaft. We call this the ‘slack’ span, which is where the tensioner is located. When the starter generator kicks in to deliver that power, it actually swaps the sides of the tight span and the slack span because that begins to drive the belt.”
Brad added: “We also have newer FEAD technology products available, such as the Omega Tensioner, so-named as it is the shape of the Greek letter, which is able to actively ‘roll’ across the belt, adding tension to whichever side of the belt it is needed.”
For more information, visit:

TATA to open UK Gigafactory

Will a £4 billion investment in the UK to build a Gigafactory help further push forward the move to EVs?
Published:  12 September, 2023

Tata Group is to open its first Gigafactory outside India, it was announced in July, creating 4,000 jobs in the process. The site will provide  nearly half of the EV battery production needed in the UK by 2030.
A JLR site in Bridgewater, Somerset has been earmarked as the likely location of the new facility. Via a £4 billion investment, the new Gigafactory will supply JLR’s future battery electric models including the Range Rover, Defender and Discovery, as well as Jaguar models, with the potential to also supply other carmakers. Production is set to start in 2026.

Sustainable future
Mr N Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons, said: “The Tata Group is deeply committed to a sustainable future across our business. I am delighted to announce the Tata Group will be setting up one of Europe’s largest battery cell manufacturing facilities in the UK. Our multi-billion-pound investment will bring state-of-the-art technology to the country, helping to power the automotive sector’s transition to electric mobility, anchored by our own business, JLR. With this strategic investment, the Tata Group further strengthens its commitment to the UK, alongside our many companies operating here across technology, consumer, hospitality, steel, chemicals, and automotive. I also want to thank His Majesty’s Government, which has worked so closely with us to enable this investment.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Tata Group’s multi-billion-pound investment in a new battery factory in the UK is testament to the strength of our car manufacturing industry and its skilled workers. With the global transition to zero emission vehicles well underway, this will help grow our economy by driving forward our lead in battery technology whilst creating as many as 4,000 jobs, and thousands more in the supply chain.”

Critical moment
SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes observed: “This is a shot in the arm for the UK automotive industry, our economy and British manufacturing jobs, demonstrating the country is open for business and electric vehicle production. It comes at a critical moment, with the global industry transitioning at pace to electrification, producing batteries in the UK is essential if we are to anchor wider vehicle production here for the long term. We must now build on this announcement by promoting the UK’s strengths overseas, ensuring we stay competitive amid fierce global pressures and do more to scale up our EV supply chain.”
Ben Nelmes, Chief Executive of independent transport research organisation New AutoMotive observed: "This is a welcome vote of confidence in the UK's plans to transition to electric vehicles. Ambitious climate policies such as ministers' plans for a zero-emission vehicle mandate should make the UK a more inviting investment opportunity and help to further reduce the cost of electric cars and vans for motorists and businesses. The government should build on this success and bring forward a strategy for battery manufacturing so that Britain can benefit from new green technologies."
Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) CEO Ian Constance said: “The UK offers an extremely competitive landscape for investment in the full research, development, and manufacturing ecosystem for electric vehicle technologies and this has been recognised by Tata. Their commitment to this Gigafactory development has already had a transformative impact in awakening the battery supply chain sector to opportunities in the UK. Our insight, based on our unique relationships with vehicle manufacturers, shows that by 2030 the UK will need over 89GWh per annum of batteries for cars and light commercials alone and represents over 11% of the total demand across Europe. 
“We have a vibrant and diverse industry, and Tata’s significant investment through JLR in R&D and manufacturing will help establish competitive supply chains and satisfy this burgeoning demand – and in doing so will create thousands of highly-skilled, green jobs.  
Today marks a significant milestone for the UK, as the batteries produced by Tata will not only work towards fulfilling the UK demand for electric vehicle production but will also boost businesses involved in the UK EV supply chain, meaning the impacts will be far reaching.   
“This announcement is a major step in putting the UK at the forefront of the global energy transition, unlocking huge private sector investment that will develop the technology and skills required for Britain to play its part in the next industrial revolution. It demonstrates the UK’s competitive position for high technology manufacturing and chemicals processing industries and given the energy-intensity of these new industries, recent Policy support and the rapid decarbonisation of our power generation places the UK in a very competitive position.”    

He added: This not only shortens supply chains but also allows for sustainable battery production. This is a truly historic day and a pivotal moment as we move towards a zero-carbon future.”  

Economic pressures
While the investment in manufacturing is more than welcome as far as IMI CEO Steve Nash is concerned, the news highlights the need for accelerated training further down the chain: “There is no question that this is great news for the UK economy, with the prospect of thousands of jobs. For the UK to become a centre of excellence in the electric battery field is crucial for future decarbonisation ambitions.
“Such a sign of intent from the UK government to support the Tata decision is encouraging for the whole automotive sector. What we now need is for that intent to filter down to the aftermarket too.”
According to IMI data, the EV skills gap continues to blight the sector,  with a potential 16,000 shortfall of qualified technicians by 2032. Over 14,800 dedicated technicians undertook the training and qualifications required to obtain IMI TechSafe professional recognition in 2022, boosting the total number of qualified technicians able to safely work on electric vehicles in the UK to 39,000. The IMI’s latest analysis predicts that by 2030, 107,000 IMI TechSafe qualified technicians will be needed to work with electric vehicles, increasing to 139,000 by 2032.
Steve added: “Economic pressures are putting a squeeze on training budgets for new EV technicians and for those who are already IMI TechSafe qualified who will need CPD to keep up with technological advancements.”
He concluded: “Coupled with the high employment churn, this is putting more pressure on the sector.  If the government does not step up soon with training support, EV trained technicians will not be available. We sincerely hope that the commitment shown in supporting the Tata decision is matched by a commitment to aftermarket training. Otherwise the government risks scoring an embarrassing own-goal on its decarbonisation target.”

IN THE AIR: Radar love

With hands-free driving edging onto UK roads, Martin explains why the capabilities of a car’s RADAR are now so important
Published:  06 September, 2023

RADAR is an asset to drivers as it can quickly make measurements of relative speed while providing a range, so it knows how fast an object (car, van, human dog, etc) is moving towards or away from the vehicle. In comparison, cameras and LiDAR need to take multiple images over some time to estimate the speed of an object, which is less efficient.
Because RADAR is capable of several functions that help keep drivers as well as other road users and pedestrians safe, it is more important than ever that technicians have the knowledge and skills to understand these systems and complete right-first-time calibrations.

Accident prevention
The first facet relates to accident prevention. With RADAR being able to perform calculations quickly, it means the other systems it works with can be brought into play sooner, such as the brakes being applied when RADAR detects the car is approaching another vehicle ahead or getting the car to accelerate when traffic allows. This is highlighted by Ford’s BlueCruise system, which is available in the Mustang Mach-E electric, that brings ‘hands-free’ driving to UK roads for the first time and uses the same technology as ‘normal’ driver assistance systems that use RADAR. However, what you do have to remember with BlueCruise is that the addition of a driver monitoring system ensures the driver is aware of what is going on at all times.

The second and probably most important aspect of RADAR, which drivers tend not think about, is how it helps with safety. This is highlighted in two distinct ways; The first is the cross-traffic alert RADAR, which is on the front of the vehicle. This helps drivers when pulling out at a junction because it can spot motorbikes, pedal bikes, or other vehicles that the driver might not see when pulling out, so it will either warn the driver or put the vehicle’s brakes on. Alongside this, there is RADAR at the rear of the vehicle, which helps when reversing out of blind driveways or into a parking spaces because if it detects something it will stop the vehicle.
Another benefit of RADAR is that it is not affected by natural issues that might afflict a vehicle’s camera. An example of this is a camera that is covered in tree sap after the car was parked under a tree for a few days. The camera is affected by the sap, but the RADAR is not, and this can lead to the car not travelling in a straight line. This results in the ADAS system being overridden by the driver to prevent issues caused by the camera. So, should technicians advise drivers that this can happen, so they are aware of what to look out for if it happens to them?

Finally, because RADAR is important to the ADAS systems within the vehicle, it must be calibrated correctly. We are now seeing a move away from a static calibration that uses a jig for calibrations to dynamic calibrations that take place out on the road. This move will make the calibration quicker and, in turn, will reduce the key-to-key times as well as the monetary cost of the job.
There’s no doubt RADAR is an important feature of cars because it does its job very well. Given its importance, bodyshops and repair centres can play a role in educating drivers about what it does, and the technicians must have the necessary skills to calibrate it correctly as a key part of ADAS systems throughout the vehicle.    

A month in the life of a vehicle technician

Garages cannot always be strong in every aspect, and Frank’s recent diagnostic and engineering challenges highlighted this
Published:  10 August, 2023

In this month’s article, I have chosen a very diverse collection of challenges presented to me, with a mixture of diagnostic problems and mechanical engineering issues. I am going to focus on the engineering issues later as I think they expose typical shortcomings seen in many garages, specifically with experience and engineering assets.  
My first story should shame us all with regards to garage ethics. I was asked to check an engine MIL light on a hybrid Honda. The extracted code suggested a bank 1 sensor 2 heater circuit error. I opted to raise the vehicle and examine and remove the offending sensor. Once raised it was clear the catalyst had been replaced with a straight length of pipe, removing the post cat sensor and tucking the open socket into a chassis lightning hole. Please refer to Fig.1.
When checking the vehicle records, I noted the catalyst had been removed and discarded with the sensor during a previous MOT test. As hybrid vehicles do not require an emissions test, a MOT pass certificate was able to be issued. I am not clear what implications the MIL lamp status would present during the test. The notes also indicated the customer could not afford the cost of a replacement catalyst.  Here is my take on this; We are not here to offer a financial lifeboat to vehicle owners. We are here to offer a professional, durable, and efficient repair service, at a cost. We should however also offer accurate technical advice as to cost value ratio.

Avenue of rectification
BMWs - I love them! Well, not really. A 320d that came into us failed its MOT for a nearside brake light failure. Initial examination exposed water ingress in the light cluster socket. Please refer to Fig.2. A replacement housing and socket with new pins duly arrived and was fitted. All lights except the brake light worked. Serial interrogation showed the maximum number of ignition cycles, which is 50 in case you were wondering, had been exceeded. Therefore, the voltage supply to the stop lamp is permanently interrupted. Please refer to Fig.3, showing BMW serial data.
Initial research suggested a new footwell module was required. However, further research uncovered that it was possible to access the lines of code and reset the ignition cycle count registry. This demonstration was not using an OEM service tool. As I was on holiday I am not sure what further steps were taken to explore this avenue of rectification. I do know we did replace the module and perform a repair. There are so many fuse and relay panels on BMWs, so why not have one for lights? Answer me that, Munich.

Simple things
Next, a Land Rover Discovery - I love these as well! This one came as a non-run vehicle. “Why?” I hear you say. Well, apparently, a low SCR additive warning had surpassed the final warning status. Serial data appeared to indicate the additive tank was overfilled. The filler is under the bonnet, with the tank located at the nearside rear, adjacent to the wheel arch. Once the hard-shell cover is removed, a drain gland allows easy draining. Not so fast, three simple things to do. First, smell it; It should be odourless, with a SG of 32.5%. Next, check the quantity. Finally discard it and refill with new urea. As I recall, the capacity is 14.5 litres. Using our serial tool reset, all the adaptive values enabled the engine to run. However, several adaptive values could not be accessed due to the following DTCs:

More haste, less speed?

Martin considers the impact of legislation introduced last year that mandated intelligent speed assist (ISA) technologies on all new models
Published:  07 August, 2023

To enhance the safety of UK roads and decrease road fatalities by 80%, significant changes are being made to road legislation. Since 6 July 2022, all newly launched car models in the UK must be equipped with intelligent speed assist (ISA) technologies.
However, this rule does not apply to existing models still being produced. The objective of this legislation is to reduce dangerous and unlawful speeding and enhance safety on the roads. After approximately one year since the implementation of this law, we will analyse its consequences and significance.
The new generation of vehicles has driving aids that fall into three categories: An automated beep or visual notification, a nudge on the pedals, steering wheel, or seat, or a reduction in engine power. These are meant to alert drivers when they are driving above the speed limit and promote a decrease in speed. Car manufacturers need to prepare for the mandatory implementation of these speed limiters on 7 July 2024, by understanding how they work and their consequences.

These devices aim to encourage drivers to comply with the law instead of shocking or disturbing them. Using sensors, the technology can detect instances of a vehicle exceeding the speed limit and then initiate a three-step process to address the situation:

Alternator failure: Bring the noise

The experts at AS-PL consider the electrical and mechanical causes of excessive alternator noise
Published:  01 August, 2023

The alternator is an alternating current generator and is used to exchange mechanical energy into an alternating current. The alternator recharges the battery and is the source of electricity in motor vehicles. Today’s alternators are controlled by digital signals. This is why the most modern equipment is required for their quality control.
We can distinguish several electrical and mechanical failures where one sign is, among others, excessive noise.

Electrical causes can include short-circuiting of the stator winding coil, as well as diode bridge damage, i.e. the short-circuiting of diode/diodes. In this case, it will be necessary to remove and inspect the alternator and change any damaged parts.
Mechanical causes can include a damaged drive wheel. In this case, it is necessary to change the drive wheel and belt. Another potential cause here is a damaged bearing, which could include a rotor bearing/both alternator housing, front and rear. After diagnosing the damage, it will be necessary to change the full set of bearings. If the cause is a bent rotor axle or other damage, this can necessitate rotor replacement. Alternator removal is required in order to assess damage or change damaged parts.
It is always recommended for a specialist with professional tools to carry out any work. Let’s listen to what our car says to us. If we stay vigilant, we can detect problems at an early stage and avoid any excessive costs.
More information about alternators can be found via:

Automotive switches

A number of innovations and trends driving change in the world of switches
Published:  27 July, 2023

 By Sharmistha Bose, Specialist Content Writer, Allied Market Research

Alternator failure: Bring the noise

The experts at AS-PL consider the electrical and mechanical causes of excessive alternator noise
Published:  20 July, 2023

The alternator is an alternating current generator and is used to exchange mechanical energy into an alternating current. The alternator recharges the battery and is the source of electricity in motor vehicles. Today’s alternators are controlled by digital signals. This is why the most modern equipment is required for their quality control.
We can distinguish several electrical and mechanical failures where one sign is, among others, excessive noise.

Electrical causes can include short-circuiting of the stator winding coil, as well as diode bridge damage, i.e. the short-circuiting of diode/diodes. In this case, it will be necessary to remove and inspect the alternator and change any damaged parts.
Mechanical causes can include a damaged drive wheel. In this case, it is necessary to change the drive wheel and belt. Another potential cause here is a damaged bearing, which could include a rotor bearing/both alternator housing, front and rear. After diagnosing the damage, it will be necessary to change the full set of bearings. If the cause is a bent rotor axle or other damage, this can necessitate rotor replacement. Alternator removal is required in order to assess damage or change damaged parts.
It is always recommended for a specialist with professional tools to carry out any work. Let’s listen to what our car says to us. If we stay vigilant, we can detect problems at an early stage and avoid any excessive costs.
More information about alternators can be found via:

It’s Evoque-ative

A Range Rover Evoque with a wide array of fault codes pertaining to the AdBlue system was the cause of much recent head-scratching for Ryan
Published:  13 July, 2023

I was recently tasked with looking at a vehicle which had the dreaded 500-miles-or-less-until-the-vehicle-cannot-be-started warning on the dash display. We have all been there before with this sort of issue. This is a typical warning you will see on vehicles fitted with an AdBlue emission system if there is a fault present. The vehicle in question was a Range Rover Evoque 2016 2.0TDI.
The customer who brought the vehicle to me was a trade customer. They advised that the vehicle originally came into them for repair for an engine warning light which intermittently illuminated. The fault code was for Nitrogen Oxide (NOX) sensor 2 no signal. I started by carrying out a full system scan of the vehicle as I would routinely do. The result was multiple fault codes stored in the engine management system control module relating to the AdBlue system. Due to having so many codes stored, I checked all the relevant freeze frame data for each code and then erased them. Following this, I attempted to carry out a road test, but a fault code returned almost immediately for no communication present with NOX Sensor B.

Signal and communication
Armed with this information, I thought it would be a fairly straightforward diagnosis. However, I was wrong. It never goes the way you would like it to, especially at the end of the day. I put the vehicle on the ramp and obtained a wiring diagram to check the wiring directly at the NOX sensor. Upon first inspection, it was clear the sensor had already been replaced. I contacted the customer, and they confirmed the sensor was indeed both new and genuine from the manufacturer. I then checked the wiring to the sensor. These types of sensors are fairly straightforward to check because they have only four wires which have signals on. These are power, ground and CAN bus communication. I firstly checked the power and ground and confirmed these matched the genuine wiring schematic. Please refer to Fig.1. Next, I then connected an oscilloscope to the circuit to monitor the CAN bus signal. I found the CAN bus was shorted to each other and what would appear to be 12v. Please refer to Fig.2. The simplest next test was to unplug the sensor and to monitor the CAN bus signal. I found with the sensor unplugged the short was no longer present and the CAN bus signal returned, which would mean that the sensor was faulty wouldn’t it? Please refer to Fig.3.
Slightly concerned I was missing something as the sensor had already been replaced, I decided to contact Neil Currie. As well as being the winner of Top Technician 2019, he is a contributor to this very magazine and a Land Rover/Range Rover guru to boot. He advised me that if the sensor has been replaced and it is a genuine sensor provided by Range Rover, then the pin configuration has been changed and you are required to move the pins around in the connecting plug in order for the new sensor to operate. This has been done due to a change in manufacturer used by Range Rover to produce this style sensor because of a lack of available original manufacturer NOX sensors. The details can be found here from a bulletin released by JLR.

Full system scan
After de-pinning the connector and swapping around pin 2 (CAN) and pin 4 (Ground), I rechecked the CAN bus signal and found the signal is now correct and is no longer shorted. Please refer to Fig.4. After carrying out a full system scan, clearing and resetting the AdBlue counter, I now found that the warning for 500-miles-remaining had, vanished and there were no fault codes returning. This vehicle was now fixed.
I thought this was a very interesting case study as both the aftermarket and genuine diagrams both show the original wiring of the NOX sensor and there is no reference to a modification, unless you are aware of this issue or have access to Range Rover’s technical service bulletins this would certainly take you up the diagnostic garden path. Luckily for me, networking with the finest technicians in the country is a great way to stay up to date with these types of modifications.

A month in the life of a vehicle technician

Part four
Published:  19 June, 2023

Frank’s Eldon Street Garage adventures continue with a host of unlikely vehicle faults being sent to test his knowledge and abilities

OE tools – An EV necessity

Does the electrification of vehicles mean OE tools are becoming more necessary?
Published:  19 June, 2023

OE tools are needed for EVs. As of April 2023, there were over 760,000 fully electric cars on the UK’s roads. When an EV needs to visit a bodyshop following collision damage, it is required that the work is carried out at  a workshop that is EV-ready to ensure it is repaired safely and to the highest possible standards.
Becoming EV ready requires ongoing investment by the business in refresher courses to ensure their technicians, whether apprentices or experienced operators, have the necessary skills and knowledge to work on the vehicles. However, there is something even more important than the training that is required and that is the tools that perform the work.
Tools are the lifeblood of any good workshop, but they are especially important when working on EVs, which have to be serviced differently from their petrol and diesel counterparts. EVs must be shut down before they can be worked on, which is where OE tools are critical. The proper and correct processes to shutdown EVs are very well documented on OE tools whereas they are not recorded for aftermarket tools. In addition to this, it is important that technicians regularly undergo training to ensure they are up to date with the latest tools and updates.     
asTech tools have been designed to support repairers by managing the hardware and access to the OE tools they are using to work on EVs. This means that customers have peace of mind in knowing they have a remote solution that allows them to work safely on EVs and can easily diagnose, program, and calibrate the vehicle.

Nissens Automotive: How to properly install the AC compressor

Published:  09 June, 2023

Have you encountered a newly installed AC compressor's failure or the AC system does not work after the compressor's replacement?Make sure that you know how to perform a right first-time compressor installation with Nissens.

Travelling without moving?

A Merc tested Neil to the max recently and at times just did not make sense but perseverance and a solid test plan got him the fix in the end
Published:  05 June, 2023

A 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA220 AMG 2.1 diesel was booked in recently, with the customer complaining about a lack of power. There was also a fairly lengthy story about recent work done to the car.     
The vehicle had been booked into another garage locally for the same complaint. This somehow led to the DPF internals being removed and the software modified to delete the DPF system from the vehicle. This was done without the customer being told, and they had not authorised the work. When the vehicle was handed back it was no better, and the customer returned to the garage. It was at this point they learned about what had been done and quite rightly they were not impressed. The car was then taken to another garage which installed a functioning second-hand DPF, corrected the software back to standard and also corrected a few other issues including a seized exhaust flap. However, the car still exhibited a lack of power and clearly didn’t have the AMG get-up-and-go it left the factory with. It was at this point the vehicle was brought to me.

Initial inspection
As can be seen in Fig.1, upon initial inspection we had two fault codes. The first was for the boost pressure deviating from the specified value. According to the sub code of 71, this indicated the actuator was blocked. At this point I wasn’t sure if the turbo had an electronic actuator or used a vacuum/pressure waste gate but this code clearly could cause the issues as explained by the customer. The second fault code indicated a learning value for the injector on cylinder 2 to be at its lower limit. This could also cause a lack of power complaint or limp home to be activated. This meant I had some good diagnostic direction to create a test plan and start doing some checks to locate the problem.  
I then drove the vehicle with live data displayed to look at boost data and injector data while also confirming the customer’s complaint at the same time. The vehicle was indeed low on power and felt flat, not what you would expect from a 2.1 litre turbo-charged engine. However, injector information looked okay and the boost levels reached where I expected them to. This included the turbo actuator position changing in relation to engine RPM and demand. The only points to note were that there was only actual boost in data and I could not see what the control unit was looking to see. It also felt too slow for the build in boost to happen and not as instant as it is usually with a modern diesel engine.

Turbo waste gate
Returning to the workshop, I decided to look into how the turbo waste gate was controlled to make sure it was functioning correctly. On this engine the actuator is electrically controlled by the engine control unit, also incorporating a position sensor for feedback to the ECU. The scan tool listed an actuator test moving the actuator arm from 5 and 90% travel. So, I decided my plan would be to test the actuator for correct operation and make sure the turbo control arm moved by the waste gate was free and had full travel. If this is stiff or seized then the actuator will struggle to move it. If all was ok, I would then verify the plausibility of the pressure sensors and also check the injector correction factors to see if an issue could be seen with the injector on cylinder 2, compared to the other three which didn’t log any faults.
Carrying out the actuator test, the arm moved freely both from 5 to 90% travel. However, there was not much of a difference in terms of travel between the two positions. With experience, I felt this wasn’t correct as most I had seen before travelled further. However, not having a lot of product knowledge with Mercedes, I took it to be ok but decided to keep it in the back of my mind, just in case everything else tested good and I still could not find the fault.
Removing the arm onto the actuator from the turbo vanes itself and moving it by hand showed it to be nice and free, so all seemed fine on the turbo side of things. Why then was it so slow to build boost on the road? Checking the plausibility of the pressure and temperature sensors showed all was well. However, checking injector data showed cylinder 2 to be way off compared to the other three. This indicated a fuel delivery issue or mechanical issue, and the control unit was attempting to alter the fuelling on that cylinder to smoothen out the running of the engine and balance it against the other cylinders. This was why I didn’t notice a running issue when driving the vehicle, as the management system was compensating for it constantly.

Smooth running correction
For smooth running correction, the engine control unit measures the speed of the crankshaft by the crankshaft position sensor on each firing stroke and in relation to each other. To prove whether it was an injector or mechanical fault, I then carried out a relative compression test with an oscilloscope. If there was a lack of compression on cylinder 2 this would be detected by the crankshaft sensor. This would then induce the control unit to inject more or less fuel on multiple injectors, depending on the engine arrangement and firing configuration in an attempt to make the crankshaft speed change to match the other cylinders. This is because one cylinder has a knock-on effect on the next cylinder in the firing order. However, all was well so the fault must lay in the injectors. I expected this to be a nozzle or delivery problem especially given the fact the engine had done 150,000 miles and looked to still be on the original injectors.
At this point, I decided to clear the faults and road test the vehicle again. I still had time left for the initial assessment, so I wanted to see if I could find what happened when the fault code logged for the actuator before being stuck on the ramp. All tested ok and freeze frame data revealed no clues either. Before I contacted the customer, I wanted to try and have a prognosis for both faults the car was logging or a path I wanted to take if more time needed to be authorised.
Driving the car again, the same symptoms were present, but this time the boost value was far lower than I expected. However, no faults returned when checking afterwards, which was very surprising as I drove it low on boost for several miles and no under-boost faults were stored. With my initial assessment time nearly up, I decided to recommend the injector on cylinder 2 was replaced and the engine control unit software was checked and updated. I suspected some fault codes had been deleted from the vehicle by manipulation of the software. Also, if this had been done there was a possibility that the turbo boost control software had been altered and was also incorrect, and was causing the symptoms being experienced. Speaking to the customer, they were happy to arrange getting the vehicle to a garage with the Mercedes Benz factory scan tool first to flash the software, then afterwards to replace the injector. The vehicle was then taken away and the customer would report back if the software corrected the boost problems.

Re-flashed, re-scanned and re-checked
A few days later the customer phoned to say the software had been re-flashed. Unfortunately, upon leaving the garage and driving home, the engine management light illuminated and the vehicle still had the same lack of power. So, it was brought back for me to take another look with more diagnostic time authorised. On arrival and following re-scanning for fault codes, we now had a P0299 under-boost fault stored alongside the same fault as before for the injector on cylinder 2. Please refer to Fig.2. However, the actuator blocked fault had not returned. This told me that the software had indeed been altered but with the car still under-boosting, the vehicle still had an issue that I needed to find. I could now proceed knowing the software was standard, and remove that from the list of possible causes.
Re-checking everything, the only fault I could find was the amount of travel the turbo actuator made, from 5% to 90%.  I actuated it with a scan tool, but I could not prove whether it was correct or not. Luckily, speaking to a good friend about the problem, they said they had a Mercedes in with the same engine for service. My friend was able to film a good test of the actuator and send me the video to compare. It was at this point I knew this was my problem as the video showed the actuator not only moving further but also much faster. Testing the wiring to the actuator proved it to be good, and checking fitting instructions showed no adaption resets. Checking on multiple scan tools showed no resets, so I was happy to call out the actuator as being faulty. The customer was contacted with prices and was happy to proceed with a new actuator and injector.    
Once both components were replaced, I carried out the same test with the scan tool forcing the actuator from 5% to 90%, but to my horror the travel was identical. At this point, I was a little lost as I felt I had covered all bases but was no further forward with fixing the fault. It felt like the unit needed to be learned by the control unit. However, using Autologic, which is Mercedes-based, it did not list a re-set, and double-checking fitting instructions showed no mention of re-setting anything. Afterwards though, I decided to try some aftermarket scan tools for an option and the first two showed nothing. Plugging in Autel and going deep into the menus showed a boost pressure positioner teach in process. Before running the procedure, I decided to plug back in the old turbo actuator, as I am not one to fit parts which are not needed, and if the old unit could be relearned, the new part would not be required. Sadly, the procedure kept failing, so I plugged the new unit in and re-tried and the procedure completed successfully. Attempting the same actuation test as before now showed the actuator arm to match the known good video in terms of speed and travel.

Adjustment range
The old unit for some reason had gone faulty, but had defaulted to a state of not being adapted to the control unit and randomly logged a stuck closed fault. Even though, for the most part it didn’t operate, it worked enough to allow the turbo to create boost, albeit slower than normal.
As can be seen in Fig.3, the procedure on Autel lists that when successful, the adjustment range should change within 150ms however when not taught, it would be one second which matched my fault. I just wish I had found this option earlier but was happy to have finally found and rectified the issue. As you can see in Fig.4 and Fig.5, the difference in arm travel is visibly noticeable. Confident the fault was fixed, I then road-tested the car again and the vehicle now drove like a different car, with strong acceleration and boost more like what you would expect from an AMG Mercedes. Upon returning to the workshop and checking for fault codes, I now had no fault codes stored so was happy the vehicle was finally repaired. The customer reported after a few days the car was like a new Mercedes as it drove so well. Once again, like my other articles, this job shows the importance of a solid test plan and system knowledge to find the cause of seemingly insurmountable problems.

A month in the life of a vehicle technician

Failure is always predictable according to Frank, so you need to learn to expect the unexpected
Published:  30 May, 2023

The last topic concluded with a promise to share my experiences working within a workshop lacking in essential infrastructure. I hope by explaining my failings and limited success, it helps identify the importance of correct process, correct tools and comprehensive systems information. If you forgo one or more of these three critical elements, failure is predictable even before you begin a repair task.
The most basic and simple error; Failing to assess the battery rating and cell condition. Note I didn’t focus simply on voltage. The first example was a Ford Focus 1.6 ecoboost, suffering windscreen wiper failure. The car was driven to us, and the customer explained the battery had gone flat and been charged.

Conductance test
I began with a conductance test with my personal Midtronics MDX 600. Voltage was 12.47, rated 540 amps, however it only returned 346 amps. Please refer to Fig.1. I ordered a replacement and decided to continue testing the screen wiper problem. The vehicle started and drove into the workshop, so I began checking voltage and ground at the twin wiper motors. There was no change of state, however the voltage was below 9 volts after only a very short time. So, I fitted a temporary good battery and continued with my tests, only to find the wipers working normally.
The explanation is straightforward; CAN and lower priority networks often hibernate with system voltage drop. So, my knowledge, process and tools won the day here. The next problem, another Ford Focus, had much more challenging issues. Initially it drove to us with starting problems, then failed to start.

Global vehicle check
I began with a global vehicle check using the garage TOPDON serial tool. It had reasonable systems access and displayed steering column communication loss with the body control module; B1026:87-2F. It showed two keys stored, and the immobiliser was registered in the PCM. We had limited wiring access via E3 tech data, but crucially no test plan data. We were dead in the water now, relying on the common-sense method. We decided to ramp the vehicle and examine wiring and PCM, located we thought under the front wheel arch.
The PCM housing was damaged, probably from a light frontal impact, and had allowed water ingress. The next series of events taken over several weeks is a textbook example of how to fail in a repair and diagnostic process. My only satisfaction was that the decisions were not of my making.
The cost of a  new PCM with programming and coding exceeded £1,500. The owner could not afford the repair, so a second-hand PCM was suggested. Mistake number one; Cost must never influence correct process.
A unit was sourced by the owner in Poland. Mistake number two: Never allow customer interference in the repair or part procurement process. The owner was instructed to send the original PCM to Poland so programming and coding could be transferred across. Mistake number three: Never use or trust third party contractors unless personally known to you. Although this is technically possible, and we at ADS have done this many times, you have now lost control of the repair. This mistake is fatal and has no comeback.
The PCM was fitted to the vehicle and guess what? No change in the symptoms. I was then re-tasked to check the fault from the sketchy wiring schematics. I had no enthusiasm left at this point, so let’s score it as mistake number four; You need to have a positive mental attitude. My evening’s Vodka consumption didn’t help. Having exhausted all limited direction of diagnostic enquiries, it was time to put the train back on the tracks.
Please refer to Fig.2.
I consulted a local friend and expert, Paul Emmett from Reedley Service Centre. This was correct decision number one. He owns the Ford IDS platform, with which one can programme and code the PCM. Following this process, the keys operated the central locking, and the instrument cluster became active. Despite this apparent progress, there was still no cranking. As part of the coding process though, a global scan was conducted, resulting in a curious and previously unknown error. It turned out that both rear wheel speed sensors were defective. Paul suggested replacing them before continuing; Correct decision number two. The sensors were replaced, and the vehicle started normally with all stored codes cleared. I place this explanation in the same column as my previous observations. In short, wheel speed sensor errors are broadcast on high speed CAN, therefore the error frames must have corrupted the network, thus preventing crank start.
The failure to understand this I put down to incomplete serial data from TOPDON.
I am sure I don’t need to recap events, and I am not going to expose the decision makers, but as the technician in question I should have refused to continue. This was mistake number five. I don’t know what the owner was charged for the repair, but I hope it was more than the original estimate.

Let’s end on a little restored personal pride; A Ford Transit Connect with a faulty power steering assist system was presented, with a blown 60amp control fuse for good measure. Challenge number one; Ford would only supply a complete vehicle wiring harness for £600 despite the auxiliary fuse panel being easily replaceable. Please refer to Fig.3. I decided to replace the fixed fuse assembly with the correctly rated value and conduct current flow analysis by logging serial data and directly using my personal fluke clamp. Current peaked at 65amp for a few milliseconds. Average current flow was 35amps. Please refer to Fig.4.
I was made aware of known issues with steering rack faults, and I am waiting to see if the fault reoccurs, which will mean  a new rack assembly is required. This customer has no issues with cost.
I have archived many examples of good and challenging decisions facing technicians with limited access to essential assets. More next issue.

Supply chain issues: Creativity is the answer

There is a real need to think outside the box to ensure supply chain issues do not affect key-to-key times on the workshop floor
Published:  22 May, 2023

 By Martin Pinnell-Brown, Director, Repairify Innovations

Dance the night away

Are politically motivated policies leading to the destruction of the European motor industry? And what does the Ford Maverick have to do with it?
Published:  18 May, 2023

The automotive aftermarket does rely to a significant extent on the manufacturing capability in the region. Even if many products are made outside the EU and UK, the aftermarket parts supply generally flows in a better way, especially if the required parts are used in a vehicle built in the region, or were fitted to previous models also built in the region. It is the bench mark.
For importers without this benefit, it is the standard by which they are judged. If the manufacturing ceases in the region (UK and EU27), parts supply will be more difficult and the pressure to deliver/cost control will be undermined.

Europe, excess capacity and rising costs
How is it being undermined though, and by whom?  Not that I want to point fingers, but let’s start with former Prime Minister Theresa May who enshrined in law ‘Net Zero by 2050’ with no cost/benefit analysis or plan. Then there is the EU Commission, the political elite whose decisions ran our legal system. So much for politics – what has this got to do with vehicles?

Well, we find ourselves sharing with the EU27:
•    Vehicle Whole Type Approval, which the UK so far is not leaving. This allows vehicle manufacturers and importers to minimise costs by standardising performance criteria, setting aside that UK and Eire drive on ‘the other’ side of the road.
•    The aim to eliminate all internal combustion powered new cars and commercial vehicles from 2035 regardless of MHEV, HEV or PHEV assistance. The UK seek to eliminate pure internal combustion powertrain new vehicle from 2030 onwards in addition.
    As soon as all routes to keep internal combustion production alive in the EU27 and the UK became blocked, component manufacturers either moved their operations out of the region or simply closed factories. This has been underway since 2019. The component supplier activity has expanded in electric powertrain technologies, but there is a net loss of employment. The inevitable next stage has arrived, and Europe is going to have mass closures of automotive plants. Let’s look at one vehicle manufacturer who is convulsing in much the same way as the rest.

Ford – A long history in Europe
Ford first started European manufacturing in what is now Eire, before migrating to the UK and Germany. The plant at Dagenham opened in 1919, and the Cologne plant opened in 1931, which historically – much like GM’s Russelsheim plant – was one of the most expensive to operate but also had the best quality. By the early 1990s Ford were forced to boost the plant capacity with its cheapest vehicle line, Fiesta, because Scorpio in spite of many facelifts had finally died. Quite simply fashion had moved on and the type of large cars built across Europe by non-premium brands were no longer viable. Why do this? Ford Werke was faced with paying a huge amount of cash to lay off the Cologne plant workers, or get them to build vehicles. The Fiesta was in demand, extra capacity was needed, and the maths kind-of worked. However, as with much of Germany, labour rates were high and did not fall. The writing was on the wall.

Ford steps out in 2023
In a familiar pattern for Ford, it made a barrage of announcements. First up, the planned in-depth marriage with Volkswagen Group would be instead a fling, with just two products to appear on the MEB platform. Next up, having announced years ago the that Mondeo would cease and not be replaced, came this:
•    Fiesta: Stopped in June 2023, no replacement
•    Focus: Stopped in 2025, no replacement, Saarloius plant to be closed
•    S-Max and Galaxy: Stopped in April 2023, no replacements
•    Transit Courier:  (a van version of the now ceased B-Max) – No replacement, and the Romania plant sold to Ford partner Otosan to build yet more Transits

The main product development centre for Fiesta and Focus is Merkenich, next door to the Cologne plant. This will lose 1,700 product engineering jobs and 600 admin jobs. Meanwhile the UK engineering centre at Dunton will lose 1,000 product engineering jobs and 300 admin roles. A further 200 product engineering and admin jobs will be lost across the Ford of Europe operation beyond Germany and the UK. A total of 3,800 job losses, which will impact the associated supplier business too.  This is a massive error.
The Saarlouis plant, which has 15 bidders including BYD, may yet lose all 4,600 jobs. Anyone working at the Cologne plant not on the BEV programme which uses the Volkswagen Group MEB electric powertrain, will also lose their jobs. More cuts will follow.

Struggling with overhead, costs and a new vision
Amid this chaos, the view from Dearborn is clear; Ford of Europe will disappear and they plan to import/ build more ‘upscale’ vehicles. Ford NAO think they can come to Europe with the Bronco, and clean up. After all, they did used to own Land Rover so think they know many things. Possibly they do, but not about this market. The word used by Dearborn is ‘Americanise’. Hell-yeah. Ford, the Captain Sensible of the Big Three U.S automakers, is now also taking the pills that led to GM leaving the European market.
Concentrating on BEVs is politically expedient, but unless costs fall significantly sales will remain stubbornly small. Sure, the tax penalties for making vehicles with any sort of internal combustion engine hurts, but the profitability per unit is way, way ahead of BEVs which are mainly break-even. Then we come to vehicles engineered primarily for the North American market, which have always had a small but dedicated following in Europe: Again, just how is this supposed to go from niche to volume sales with zero support?
Finally, the fashion bit. Ford in Europe were for many decades very, very good at reading trends, but annoyingly had limited success except in the UK. For some decades they have been fumbling about, producing great vehicles in a sea of outstanding vehicles. The idea they want to go ‘SUV only’ is very, very late - Nissan did that more than 10 years ago. Where will Ford be as the fashion swings around to lower riding vehicles? Yessiree, nowhere.
Ford North America builds a smaller pick up called Maverick which had huge market take-up, based on Escape and which also lends its platform to the Bronco Sport, which is nothing like a full USA scale Bronco. In effect Bronco Sport is related to Bronco in the same way Land Rover Discovery Sport owes nothing to Discovery No5. Maverick may not ‘be dancing with ladies that sway’, but it is dancing out of the USA showrooms. Is Ford promoting this here? Hell, no.
The 2022 results were sobering. Reasonable turn over, a US$ 2 billion loss and ‘disappointment’. The above plans will add to the one-off costs for 2023, and if any of the plan does not work, including a return to F1 by 2026, Ford will effectively vacate the European market. Ford is not alone. The EU Commission and European Parliament have only just realized what they have done, when it is already too late. Of course, there is no admission of fault, nor change in policy.


Genuine Nissens Quality products: focus on the condenser

Published:  17 May, 2023

The condenser is one of the most critical parts of the air conditioning (AC) system, ensuring the correct parameters of the refrigerant and helping to keep the AC system working properly.
How to avoid common problems

Why is air conditioning system servicing so challenging?

Published:  12 May, 2023

Despite the fact that air conditioning (AC) and climate control systems have been a standard feature on the typical car for a number of years, why does AC service still present such a challenge to mainstream workshops?

Demystifying misfires

Offering three misfire problems for the price of one, Neil shows how experience and good process will help you get the correct diagnosis
Published:  03 May, 2023

Is it just me who thinks that when most mechanics are presented with a misfire on a petrol engine, they go straight for the ignition system as it’s the ‘most common’ system to cause the problem?     
Then, depending on the arrangement, they usually replace the ignition coils, spark plugs and either strike it lucky and get a fix or are still met with a misfire fault. Only then do they start doing some digging. I recently had to deal with three different vehicles, all petrol, and all with misfires. I want to show that there is more to it than just spark plugs, coils and ignition leads.

Running issues
My place of work includes car sales. With stock running low, my boss decided to buy some more cars. This included three vehicles that were described as having “warning lamps illuminated and running issues.” Being a blind sale online you have to take a risk as you cannot view before you buy. You then have to hope the damage is not catastrophic or that it has not been around the houses with no joy and sent to auction to become someone else’s problem. The vehicles purchased with running faults were a Citroen DS3, Dacia Duster and a Nissan Qashqai, all of which had petrol engines.
After a week or two, the vehicles arrived and I set to work on diagnosing each of them. I chose the Citroen first which had the 1.6 EP6C engine fitted, simply because it was the first off the lorry. The car started and ran but had a misfire accompanied by warning lights and messages for a fault. Scanning the car for faults showed a cylinder 4 misfire code. This code doesn’t tell you why it is misfiring, only which cylinder is misfiring. We now a had direction in which to head.
For a petrol engine, the key elements required for correct running are the fuel system, ignition system and mechanical integrity, i.e. good compression. This also must all be happening at the correct time. If we have a misfire one or more of these must be off.
A good habit I have gotten into over the years with misfires is to check the mechanical condition of the engine first in order to ensure it can create compression. If all is ok, only then do I move onto the ignition/fuel side of things.
To do this I first prevented the engine from starting, which can be done in several different ways, and cranked the engine, listening for any irregularities as it was turning over. A trained ear can pick up an issue before any tools need to be used. In this instance, all sounded well but to confirm this I carried out a relative compression test using an oscilloscope. While this can’t physically measure the compression, it can compare each cylinder to the others which confirms if they are even or relative to each other. This is done by placing a current clamp around a battery cable and measuring the current draw from the starter motor in amps. In this way we can visually see the work done by the starter to crank the engine over.
A key thing to remember though is that the scope trace may look good and have even peaks throughout, but if all cylinders are low on compression the waveform will also look good. As I said, we are testing them relative to each other. A good thing to do while carrying out this test is to check the amperage at the top of the peaks and compare it to the battery AH (amp hour). A rough guide is to expect three times the AH of the battery. So, if we have a 60AH battery I would want to see a peak of around 180 amps drawn by the starter upon cranking. This way I know the compression of the engine is in the right ball park. As shown in Fig.1, I have put a thin black line across the top of the peaks where you would measure with the scope software and arrows pointing to two individual compression events to show what a good trace looks like. So, for a 4-cylinder you would count four and for a 6-cylinder, six peaks etc. You can then add in a reference point to work out which cylinder is 1 or 4 or whatever one has an issue. I will explain more about this later in the article, so read on.

Stress test
Back to the Citroen; After confirming mechanical integrity in the form of compression, I then decided to make sure we had a good functioning ignition system. As we had a fault code for cylinder 4, I decided to test that first by carrying out a stress test of the ignition coil. Upon pulling the coil from the engine I noticed it was soaked in engine oil and the rubber coating of the coil had been softened by the oil and was damaged and badly mis-shaped. The coils on this vehicle have three wires, which include a power supply, a ground and a control/trigger/turn-on signal. This vehicle uses four individual pencil coils. Upon testing the coil, it was noted there was no spark whatsoever so it appeared to be faulty. To be certain the wiring side was ok, I removed cylinder 3’s ignition coil and plugged it into the connector of cylinder 4. Having four separate coils allows me to swap their positions to prove system integrity quickly.  Attempting a coil test again on cylinder 4 showed no spark and swapping the coil back to cylinder 3 and repeating the test showed the coil to fire. This meant we had proven the fault was somewhere in the supply, ground or control of the coil. Using the oscilloscope, I proceeded to test the power, ground and turn-on signal. The power and ground were good; However the turn-on signal was missing. Next, I tested the wire from the connector on cylinder 4 coil back to the engine control unit. This proved the wire to be good so the fault had to lay within the engine control unit. The evidence would suggest that the coil was damaged due to the oil leak. The damage to the rubber insulation had allowed the high voltage intended for the spark plug to be instead sent to the control unit causing internal damage. A replacement control unit was sourced, cloned and fitted along with new spark plugs, a new ignition coil and gasket for the cam cover. The vehicle then started and ran without fault.

Logging a fault
Next was the Dacia Duster which also had a 1.6 petrol engine and was logging a fault for misfires on cylinder 3. Again, it didn’t tell us why, only which cylinder. This is commonly done by the crankshaft position sensor measuring the variations in the speed of the crankshaft. Following the same process as before, I checked compression first which was good followed by ignition which also was good. However, upon testing the fuel side of things I found injector 3 was not working correctly. It still didn’t look correct when looking at its waveform using an oscilloscope. Carrying out some more checks, I found its internal resistance to be wrong compared to the 16 ohms of the other three. As with the coils on the Citroen, when you have multiple components which are the same you can use them for a known good and then use that data to test your component in question. On this injector, the resistance was close to 0 ohms, indicating it was shorted internally. A new injector was fitted, the system retested and we now had a fully functioning engine.

Cause for concern
Finally, the Nissan Qashqai was looked at which had a 1.2 GDI petrol engine. Unlike the other two vehicles, this uses direct injection. This presents a further cause for concern as these engines are becoming more and more common for misfires caused by excessive carbon build-up in the inlet ports and on the back of the inlet valves. This is due to the fuel now being injected directly into the cylinder. Previously on manifold injection the fuel would clean the valves on its way into the cylinder. The carbon build-up restricts the path for air to enter the cylinder and this is very important for GDI with its multiple different running modes. However, I will leave the subject of GDI at that as it could make its own article.
This vehicle also had a cylinder 3 misfire fault code stored. Upon carrying out my misfire process,  the engine could be heard to have an inconsistent cranking speed, indicating a problem.
Carrying out a relative compression test showed we did indeed have a problem and no compression was present on a cylinder. To verify it was actually cylinder 3 I connected a second channel on the scope to the ignition coil trigger for cylinder 1. Checking technical data showed the firing order to be 1-3-4-2 so if the missing peak was the next after the firing line for cylinder 1 it would indeed pin down cylinder 3 as the cause of the misfire. As can be seen in Fig.2, the green line indicated when cylinder 1 coil fires and the next peak of compression is missing so it was indeed cylinder 3. The next question was why was there no compression on that cylinder? At this point we had two choices; We either stripped the engine down until we identified the cause or we use a pressure pulse sensor so that we could measure pressure pulses in the inlet, exhaust and crankcase to find where the cylinder pressure was escaping to. This would be much like a cylinder leak-down test only we can do it cranking the engine and without having to set the valves at specific positions and introduce compressed air to find where it is leaking. So, it is much faster. In fact, if we had multiple pulse sensors we could evaluate the entire engine in one cranking capture with an oscilloscope, but I am not so fortunate.

I went for the latter and connected my one and only pulse sensor to a third channel and one by one captured an inlet, exhaust and crank case pressure waveform against relative compression and the coil trigger for cylinder 1. Then using a cylinder over-lay chart, I could see what each valve should be doing at what time and compare it to my waveforms to find where the problem was. Now to be brutally honest this takes a lot of time and practice to master, and I still find myself needing some assistance. So, after reaching out to a few fellow techs for their opinion we concluded that there was an exhaust valve issue on cylinder 3. Again, this subject could fill its own article so I won’t get into the nitty gritty of how and why but we had an answer where the compression was going.
Yes, a cylinder leak-down test would have shown this, but not all running issues are obvious and some require the engine to turn to reveal themselves which a leak-down test will just not show. Now this job so far was still in-house, but if it was a retail job I could tell the customer exactly what the problem was without removing much more than an engine cover or dipstick/pipe to put my pulse sensor in to measure if required. This would allow them to decide if they wanted to continue with the repair or for them to take the vehicle away. This would not be so easy if the cylinder head was removed from the engine.
The cylinder head was then removed and one of the exhaust valves was found to be incomplete. Please refer to Fig.3. This backed up the diagnosis made before the engine was even dismantled, proving how accurate and powerful this form of testing can be. All three cars in fact prove how complex the causes of a misfire can be, and how fitting a new coil or spark plugs/leads would not have fixed any of the vehicles in this article. If you carry out logical testing and gather data which drives your next move,  you will always find the cause of the fault.

Nissens air conditioning condensers

Published:  28 April, 2023

A month in the life of a vehicle technician

Part two
Published:  25 April, 2023

Frank’s latest series continues, with even greater emphasis this month on battery testing

Improving the user experience with remote diagnostics

Remote diagnostics are great, but as with any new product, it is important to consider how it functions in the real world
Published:  20 April, 2023

Remote diagnostics allow a trained technician to find issues within a vehicle remotely and then implement the correct calibration to ensure the vehicle can safely go back on the road as quickly as possible.
Having access to remote diagnostics allows businesses to open a whole new menu of services, while also enabling repairers to bring the calibration services in house, which offers two distinct benefits. The first is that the business can keep the revenue in house. The second is that it means the business does not need to employ a third party to do the work or send the vehicle to a dealership, which leads to a reduction in key-to-key times.
Businesses must invest in training because it ensures that technicians and apprentices have a good understanding of the tools and the necessary skills and knowledge to do the job. With training, it is important to not just offer a one-size-fits-all offering. This is because each business will have their own unique requirements, which is why Repairify offers vehicle-specific training to ensure the calibrations align with the manufacturer approvals the bodyshop may have. In addition, the training will help upskill the workforce to bridge the skills gap within the industry that shows no sign of closing anytime soon.
With regards to training, it is not just important for end users, it is important for the product providers as well. This is because as new models come onto the market and diagnostic processes continually evolve, it is more important than ever to be aware of any changes. To keep abreast of this, Repairify’s experienced technicians are constantly researching and communicating internally and with outside sources to ensure they have the most up-to-date database, knowledge of vehicles and ADAS systems on the market. This ensures the training is as current and high-quality as can be provided.  
Another way to improve the user experience is through implementing and constantly updating the features within remote diagnostics. This includes improving the responsiveness of the live chat function. Doing this will ensure the user is talking to a human rather than a chatbot that sees them click or type in questions to get the answers they need. In addition, having a system that offers a multilingual service means that the product can be used across multiple continents and countries.
Remote diagnostics are here to stay but it is important that the product both on-site and behind-the-scenes continues to evolve to help the user be as productive as possible when using the product.

A tale of the UK market

Part three
Published:  18 April, 2023

Andrew rounds up his look at the shape of the UK car market by considering the potential opportunities for the aftermarket 

The importance of being up-to-date

One of the industry experts at TechMan explains why it is so importantto keep up to date with skills
Published:  07 April, 2023

There’s no denying that the future of the automotive aftermarket is changing. As the government’s net zero target draws closer, cleaner road transport will mean replacing around 32 million internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles on UK roads with low-carbon alternatives. Of these replacements, many will be hybrid or EV.    
This means technicians will need to be well-versed in new technologies – and this need is happening at pace. The good news is that training is more easily and readily available to aftermarket professionals, through organisations such as the IMI to ensure we futureproof the industry.

Good business sense
As margins for modern garages and workshops are tight, having staff off-site training is a day lost in the workshop. But, with the regular technological advancements, it is becoming more and more important for technicians to ensure they are staying up-to-date with the latest training. It makes good business sense for garages and workshops to invest time and money in training and education to replenish the talent pool and build up its staff for the future of mobility for achieving quality and effectiveness in the workshop.
A recent report by the Social Market Foundation found there is currently a surplus of well-trained technicians to service and repair EVs for existing and near-future demand. While this is a welcome finding for existing and prospective EV drivers of today, this progress should not be taken for granted. Particularly as the same report explains how by 2030 the industry is set to face a shortfall of 25,100 EV-trained TechSafe technicians, which raises concerns for the safety and mobility of the UK and achieving net zero targets.
This points to just how important it is to ensure technicians are always keeping up to date with training in the latest technologies. It’s not just the electric vehicle revolution that has forced the need to upskill technicians; Training has always been key. An untrained technician can be detrimental to a garage as they may not understand how to diagnose or repair jobs. This could lead to unhappy customers, loss of business – or even injuries to employees by carrying out work the wrong way.
On the flip side, by having well-trained staff on the latest technology can help increase the reputation of the garage, lead to more bookings and even unlock new business opportunities. Whether that’s a specialist garage in EVs, fleets or future mobility such as hydrogen fuel or self-driving cars!
Arguably, on-the-job training is key, and nothing can replace practical experience, but having background knowledge learnt in a classroom can be beneficial in helping technicians understand not just how to repair a problem but understand why it happened. This means there is less chance of motorists coming back to the garage with repeat problems on their vehicle – enhancing the customer experience and garage reputation.

Challenges and demands
As garages become busier, good communication with customers is more important than ever. Particularly when it comes to effectively communicating complex repair jobs, in a timely and efficient manner. Good communication means happy customers and repeat business, so ensuring staff are trained on effective communication is key, as well as using tools such as garage management systems to keep in touch with customers when their vehicle is in for repairs.
By keeping up with the latest training and upskilling, technicians will always be trained to complete work to industry standards, contributing to the overall success of the garage. As the automotive aftermarket is evolving rapidly, introducing new technologies, standards and systems, new challenges and demands are placed on workshops and garages. So, it’s essential for businesses to gain, train and retain talent in the industry, constantly, to remain competitive.

Secure gateways: You shall not pass?

Vehicle anufacturers are making secure gateways harder to access, as Martin explains
Published:  04 April, 2023

The inclusion of secure gateways placed in cars to prevent the untrained or DIY technician from performing vehicle diagnostics, causing them to potentially be unsafe and fail their MOT, means, theoretically, only trained technicians with the proper tools can carry out the work.
These systems prevent aftermarket tools having access to simple diagnostic repairs that up until now, were able to be completed. As data becomes more commoditised, it allows dealers to maintain control over what information can be accessed from that software and how it is used. On top of this, there is now more demand for the use of secure gateways to protect against people interfering with the software, and manufacturers are also making secure gateways harder to access.  As a result, dealers are becoming more reluctant to release the software that can make the relevant diagnostics available. Thus, limiting the work that repairers can undertake, hampering their ability to diagnose and repair these vehicles, leading to them being off road for longer, and it restricts workshops revenue streams, driving even more work to the main dealers.
However, there is an effective solution for repairers.  The relevance and availability of asTech diagnostic tools from Repairify has never been more important. They provide garages and bodyshops, with access to every OEM manufacturer diagnostic tool, alongside a fully trained OEM technician, to assist remotely without having to buy the tools themselves. Even for a true and thorough pre-scan, the range of asTech products has demonstrated their importance in identifying faults that cannot be picked up by aftermarket tools with no access to these modules, protecting repairers’ businesses.

Nissens Pressure and temperature sensors

Published:  28 March, 2023

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

Shining a light on the root cause failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air conditioning system support and advice from Nissens Automotive

Published:  22 March, 2023

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

Fig 1

A month in the life of a vehicle technician

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

Part One

A tale of the UK market

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

part two

All change for the market?

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

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

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

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

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

New year, same vehicle faults

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

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

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

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

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

Nissens – helping independents experience the difference in climate system support

Published:  20 February, 2023

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

Rising business energy costs: Running to stand still?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A tale of the UK market

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

Part one

VW Polo front track control arm replacement

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

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

Is it there or not?

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

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

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

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

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

Rocker on Tommy?

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

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

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

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

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

Calibrations: All about live data

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

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

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

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

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

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

Son of a Shogun

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

 By Ryan Colley, Elite Automotive Diagnostics


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