Frank Oz: Part one

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Life after lockdown

Published:  05 June, 2020

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

Tread a mile in your shoes?

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

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

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


Feeling the pressure

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

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

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

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

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


Start me up: VARTA talk batteries

Published:  15 May, 2020

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

Diesel diagnostics for the workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Parts Alliance encourages battery testing during lockdown and beyond

Published:  07 May, 2020

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

Top of the tests: JLM GDI Injector Cleaner

Published:  06 May, 2020

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

Snap-on launches Intelligent Diagnostics tool matcher

Published:  05 May, 2020

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

Give batteries TLC says ECOBAT

Published:  01 May, 2020

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

Not quite a revolution yet. But…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mercedes-Benz: Code conundrum

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

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

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

VW Van vibes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No codes, no clues?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyres – Part three: Keeping a low profile

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

By Gareth Banks

Mastertech accreditation – Essential for your garage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig. 1

VW Golf R mystery: part TWO

The Golf R from the previous issue has returned, bringing with it a reason for Frank to discuss diagnosing and solving NVH issues
Published:  12 February, 2020

With the challenges of current vehicle engine technology, lack of access, and potential cost over value, the need for an accurate and reassuring diagnosis is vital. The technician should not allow cost or client pressure to influence the diagnosis or repair process. The ownership of the vehicle, fault, condition and repair cost is entirely the owner’s responsibility. Prior to any work, it essential that a legally enforceable agreed contract be in place.

This introduction may seem a little heavy, however it’s very likely that without a contract you may accumulate large labour cost in stripping engines to establish internal faults, then are refused agreement to complete repairs.

The answer, as is often the case, is new test techniques, training and continuing investment in technology. I recommend two options. First, a quality endoscope. Second, the Pico NVH kit.

Endoscope quality is governed by the number of optical fibres, a bright light at the boom tip the ability to articulate the mirror in multiple directions.

NVH monitoring
The next option and the focus of my topic is noise and vibration monitoring. So, let’s begin with the basics. Noise measured in decibels can be detected by changes in air pressure by three tiny bones in our ear, hammer, anvil, and stirrup. The frequency range is limited to around 20-22khz.

Vibration is the transmission of mass energy, measured with the unit gravity. It can be detected by sight, touch, or sound. There are three essential elements to vibration; 1) the source 2) the transfer path 3) the respondent.

A simple example may help; A tyre has an out of balance mass. The source, the energy, is transmitted through the road spring, shock absorber and the vehicle body. The transfer path, the dash panel, is vibrating, making it the respondent.

It is quite common to focus on the respondent instead of fixing the cause. You will have all seen mysterious weights attached to drive shafts and gear boxes. This simply transfers the frequency to a less intrusive value.

The motor vehicle is a series of mechanical systems in constant conflict. If we can identify the various frequencies across the entire operating range, we can identify the actual causes and predict potential critical failure non intrusively. Put simply we can see through metal, perhaps I should say the scope can.

Now for some simple rules. A heavy mass will always have a lower frequency than a light mass. For example, road wheel vibration, and exhaust resonance. The amplitude of vibration is affected by the transfer path, for example a light body panel, and engine block.
The distance from the source will affect frequency. Damping systems will reduce or arrest and cancel mass vibration, for example road wheel balance, dual mass flywheels, sound deadening body panels.

The next task is to separate the major vehicle components, engine rotation frequency, transmission frequency, and road wheel frequency. To achieve this, we enter specific vehicle data into the set-up wizard. Engine frequency is collected via a serial link. rotation speed divided by 60 = frequency in hz.

We can separate any frequency between 20-22khz and with a little maths relate the vibration to ancillaries, bearings, or normal generic background vibration signatures. For example, my Seat Cupra has adjustable suspension damping which totally transforms the ambient driver experience.

Environmental influences
This brings me to the next important consideration; environmental influences, the road surface, and driving style. To detect mass vibration, one or more three-dimensional accelerometers are attached to the vehicle, the location and attitude is crucial. A microphone may be added for ambient sound analysis, from this data the software will provide a choice of display options.

Now let’s look at that highly modified VW Golf R track car. The car is well known by us as we prepared and maintain it for a very proactive track day enthusiast. You know it too, as it was the subject of my article in the November issue of Aftermarket.

Producing well over 500bhp, the car boasts fully adjustable race suspension, a roll cage and Kevlar seats with trim removed. The Golf developed a severe vibration following a recent track event. The engine idles normally with no obvious problems, no noises and good oil pressure. Depressing the clutch and selecting gears has no effect.

Let’s review the images:

Hazy shade of winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No code; No problem?

Recurring DPF problems but no fault code? Sounds like a job for Darren, that’s for sure
Published:  30 January, 2020

By Darren Darling

The challenge: A 2009 VW Golf 2.0 TDI with recurring DPF problems and no fault codes stored.

This low mileage Golf was presented to us after an unsuccessful trip to the main dealer where the customer was told there was nothing wrong with the car. The customer’s complaint was that the DPF warning light would illuminate every 100 miles; MPG was poor and the car was smoking excessively during regeneration (white smoke). As always, we carried out a thorough assessment of the vehicle to find out why the car was having these issues.
I suspected that the lack of any fault codes was the reason the owner was told that the car was fault-free but clearly we had an issue as the car should not be in regeneration so frequently. We quickly determined this was not caused by a blocked DPF as the DPF was very clean and there were no mechanical issues with the car.

Extended road test
Our next step was to carry out an extended road test while recording live serial data. If the customer had predicted correctly then we would see the DPF symbol illuminate in the next 20 miles or so. Sure enough, the light came on during the road test and the vehicle initiated DPF regeneration. This now gave us an opportunity to monitor the car during regeneration to see what was going on. We noticed that our temperatures during regeneration were too low and that the car did indeed smoke very badly.
Because of the low temperature, the duration of the regeneration was also excessive, taking over 40 minutes to complete. This is not uncommon and we have seen this caused by a software issue on many occasions. We then consulted our database and could see this exact problem with the software version so our next step was to carry out a software update and repeat the extended road test.
The car was noticeably smoother and quieter following the update but it did not initiate regeneration. Although a good sign, we had not seen any evidence yet that it had improved. So, we headed back to the workshop to carry out a forced regeneration so that we could monitor temperature, smoke and regen duration.
We were now happy with the temperatures; the excessive smoke had gone and the regen duration was back to normal. We were confident that the software update had fixed the car.
This job highlights the need for the independent workshop to invest in the correct tooling to carry out software updates because they are becoming more common. No unnecessary DPF cleaning was required to sort this DPF problem out and no parts were fitted to the car.
Another job done and another happy customer.

Your pass to diagnostic success

Published:  22 January, 2020

Would you like to get rid of that sinking feeling? The one where you fit a part and the problem still exists? If so then just keep reading

Tyres – Part two

Gareth is back with his ongoing look at the challenges and opportunities represented by tyres. This month; tread
Published:  13 January, 2020

Did you manage to fit that Hayabusa motorbike engine in your smart car then? What speed did you manage to get to on your nan’s private airfield? If you haven’t got a clue what I’m dribbling on about then you obviously didn’t get your last copy of Aftermarket. Darn shame as you missed a corker.
Last time, I touched on tyres, tyre sizes, load index and speed ratings. In this issue I thought it would be only right to include tread patterns and correct fitment of said tyres. After reading this you should be able to make an educated guess about what tyre is best suited to you or indeed what is necessary for your customer’s needs and what tyres are needed in certain situations and – no, I don’t just mean if it snows then go and buy a set of winter tyres. However, I will keep it plain and simple with a hint of humour, just like myself.

There are four main tread patterns that I’d like to explain to you. The first is the symmetrical kind. These have no sidewall markings regarding fitment and this, as you may have guessed is the same pattern all over, nothing fancy here! This one is a plain and simple get you to work and back type of tyre. It will hold the road, just as you’d expect, it will dissipate water as expected too, an all-rounder for the better months shall we say. These can be fitted on the wheel anyway you please. The second is an asymmetric pattern. Half the tread blocks for road holding and the rest are for getting rid of all that unwanted water, so this is a remarkable tread pattern engineered for the wet weather but still has very good grip for those hot summers driving through the twisties. The sidewall markings on these tyres are ‘inner’ and ‘outer' or ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. They are designed to be fitted only one way.
The third in the list is a rotational tyre. This is clearly visible by the sidewall markings that have an arrow stating a certain way the tyre must be fitted. Please be careful and remember it is a MOT failure if a tyre Is not fitted in accordance with the sidewall instructions. This type of tyre will also have a tread pattern that looks almost like a continuous arrow pointing in one direction. This tyre is exceptionally good at dissipating water, as you drive through the wet roads water is drained away from the centre of the tread and ejected outwards to prevent aquaplaning.

“But what about the fourth one?“ I hear you cry. Well, this one is a winter tread pattern, recognisable by the unique three peaks’ symbol. These tyres will more than likely always be rotational with sidewall markings displayed with an arrow. They are characterised by the little wiggly lines in the tread. The real name for these is sipes, and these are designed in such a way that they increase the tyres surface area on the road and this in turn creates more traction.
Winter tyres are engineered with more natural rubber within their compound. They actually stay more supple for longer in lower temperatures. This helps with traction in ice or snowy conditions. However, a winter tyre will only outperform a summer tyre in temperatures of 7°C or lower. Now, there are no laws in our country to say we need to fit winter tyres in the colder months, yet. That said, I can see it on the cards in the future to prevent more accidents. Also, a few customers have seemed to feel a little uneasy when it comes to their insurance and winter tyres. If you’re unsure, just check with your insurance company, you will find that more and more insurance companies find them to be a valuable asset to your car in the colder months and will probably welcome such a safety conscious driver into their realm.


Par for the course: VW Golf R mystery, part one

A lack of power on hard-driven but well-cared for track day Golf R causes some head-scratching for Frank. Can he get to the bottom of it?
Published:  07 January, 2020

It’s not often you get two bites of the same cherry, but in my case, it happened just one week apart. The story begins many months ago with one of our regular customers. The customer in question is a real enthusiast and a keen track day driver. His car of choice is a Volkswagen Golf R.

Having modified the car over several months, we now have a 500 BHP-plus Golf. It has KW variant 3 suspension with Eibach roll bars, a floating brake disc upgrade, and lightened shell, roll cage etc. It also employs a MBQ electronics platform. I could continue but I think you get the idea.  

It’s fully fettled, but even with the best kit and care, you are bound to have something go wrong eventually. Can you guess what happened? That’s right, a problem occurred!

Lack of power delivery
During a track session the car suffered a lack of power delivery, with no abnormal symptoms, misfire, oil consumption noise or vibration.

The Initial investigation began with a serial scan with no DTS present. It is at this point a diagnostic strategy should be put in place. The phrase ‘first look’ involves the principle of gathering as much information without intrusion as possible.
Where to start and which option to take depends very much on the symptoms. In my case the initial tests were conducted in my absence.

A full load data log indicated a specified and request turbo boost pressure of 2.8 bar absolute, with an actual value of 2.3 bar indicated. These values will no doubt illustrate the level of modifications to the power train. The car still delivered a powerful drive experience although the actual power experienced was less than expected.

Well-established test process
This is a common problem and with a well-established test process. The charge pressure circuit was pressure tested without any external leaks. Because the en888 engine does not employ an EGR valve, we did not believe that the cause could be the result of internal leaks. Our first idea actually pointed towards the hybrid turbo, which we initially suspected as the prime cause of the ailment.
I was asked to call into the workshop to review the results so far. I suggested a NVH in cylinder profile be conducted. This engine employs variable camshaft timing on both cams with lift extension on the exhaust cam. With this in mind, I was especially interested to examine the valve piston relationship and the valve pocket profiles.

The results immediately confirmed significant errors to the intake and exhaust valve pockets with excessive exhaust pressure. This engine variant should have little or no pressure above 1 atmosphere, or 1,000mb. during the exhaust stroke, my test results confirmed over 1,700mb absolute. Valve pockets represent the pressure differential across the four-stroke cycle and accurately represent the mechanical efficiency of the Otto Cycle. This is often referred to as pumping losses. So, we have a restriction in the exhaust stream, turbo, catalyst or exhaust system? Removing the flange pre-catalyst enabled examination of the turbo hot side and catalyst intake.

Reduction of boost pressure
The catalyst substrate was detached and turned through 90 degrees. In this way, we discovered the symptoms. A restricted exhaust was reducing both air intake volume, therefore load calculation, and turbine volume. The result was a reduction of boost pressure.
Next, we needed to discover the cause. Excessive heat and expansion, followed by the catalyst detachment. This was interesting, not least because a recent upgrade to the fuel priming system resulted in the fitting of an upgrade in tank pump. The result of which only became known after a track session where a drop-in top-end power resulted in a DTC rail pressure negative deviation.

The pump module, a specific upgrade from a respected independent VAG tuning specialist, had been supplied with the incorrect o ring. This resulted in a slight drop in both flow and pressure together with cavitation causing a lean mixture ratio at extreme load.
So now we have the complete trio, fault, symptoms, and cause.

Happily ever after?
That is not the end of the story however, as this particular VW Golf R returned just a week later. The good news was the owner’s report of exceptional performance. However, the bad news was that with the returned power came horrific vibration.
That’s a story for another day though.

Tyres The overlooked diamonds

Tyres are often an overlooked resource. It helps to start with the basics, and work your way up
Published:  23 December, 2019

Tyres; the little black miracles that keep us and our precious cargo glued to the road. There is an awful lot to write about within the subject of tyres: sidewall markings, pressures, TPMS, tread patterns, puncture repairs, the rules on mismatched tyres on a four-wheel drive vehicle.
This is why my article on tyres will be split into two parts. However, something told me that for this issue we should go back to basics and by back to basics I don’t mean as basic as the minimum tread depth for a car tyre. 75-year-old Ethel who doesn’t drive now can tell you that. No, I mean the bits you think you know and the bits you need to know as a technician, as a MOT tester or as a centre manager selling your “diamonds” as I’ve heard them referred to in the past.
A jeweller knows all about the product he/she works with and sells. They know that the most precious and expensive diamonds on their shelf were probably mined in India, Brazil or South Africa and made from pure carbon. If it’s a synthetic diamond, it was probably made in a factory in Birmingham. In that respect would it hurt to learn a little more on the subject of tyres.
Let’s begin with the three sets of numbers on the sidewalls of your tyres. The first three-digit number is the width of the tyre in millimetres, the second two-digit number is the height of the sidewall and this is expressed as a percentage of the width of the tyre. Next, we have the size of the wheel that the tyre in question should be fitted to. Then we have the load index of a tyre, this will be located after the rim size, this is the maximum weight that the tyre can carry and this is expressed in kilograms. For example, if the load index number is 84, it means the tyre in question can carry a maximum load of 500kg, whereas a load index of 108 could carry a metric ton all by itself. There are obviously many more load numbers to comprehend, these were a few examples.
Beside the load there will be a speed rating, now. I have no idea why most little cars have a ‘T' rated tyre fitted to them (safe up-to 118mph) or even a ‘H' rated tyre (tested up-to 130mph) fitted to them but it seems the norm. However, considering that a lot of these cars cannot even get to 100mph it seems like a waste, especially when it is illegal to drive your car over 70mph on our roads, even in other countries where the majority of tyres are made, most speed limits don’t exceed 80mph.
There are exceptions to this of course. Maybe one of those nutters who puts a motorcycle engine in a Smart car and make it go 160mph for example. That’s all well and good, but you’ll never find a tyre for a Smart car that will handle that kind of speed, plus if you like driving at more than 160mph then you have no regard for rules anyway. Please do not put your ‘T’ rated tyres on your homemade Smart-bus and take it to the Isle of Man or indeed your gran's private airfield for a play. If you do please send me the video though. I do love things like that, but I also like safety too.

Process, process and more process

2019 Top Technician champion Neil Currie has joined Aftermarket’s roster of technical contributors. In his first piece, he puts the emphasis firmly on process...
Published:  17 December, 2019

People ask me what made the difference this year when I went from being a Top Technician finalist to a Top Technician winner, and my answer is my process. I have worked hard since last year’s final, refining my process, and learning from my mistakes and it thankfully paid off this year. This article highlights the importance of a great process not only in Top Technician, but also in everyday working life, and how a fault, which at first may seem overwhelming, can be simplified and confidently fixed.

The week after winning Top Technician, a 2016 Ford Ranger was booked in for me to have a look at from another garage. The garage’s complaint was that multiple warning lights were present on the dashboard along with multiple warning messages, the power steering was heavy and the indicators and windscreen washers didn’t work from their respective stalks.

As with every job, the first step of my process is to interview the customer and gather as much information as possible. When I questioned the garage owner, he said they had just completed fitting a galvanised chassis. He explained that the vehicle had been fully stripped and rebuilt in the process, and since the rebuild, warning lights, messages and other complaints were now present. The next step was to confirm the fault. Upon starting the vehicle to bring it into my bay, the complaint was verified. The engine management, traction control, anti-lock brake and airbag warning lights were illuminated along with multiple different messages, one of which was a steering assist malfunction warning (see fig. 1).

Complete picture
I then carried out a global scan of the vehicle to get a complete picture of what faults were present and also to see what modules were or were not talking to the scan tool (see fig. 2).

Straight away we could see that multiple modules could not communicate with the power steering control module (PSCM) and restraints control module (RCM). It was also noted that there was a communication issue between the body control module (BCM) and the steering column control module (SCCM).

 As the instrument panel cluster (IPC) communicated and reported stored fault codes, I knew it was more than likely a historic fault code which wasn’t related to the issues present. Attempting to communicate directly to the PSCM, SCCM and RCM with the scan tool all returned a ‘no communication’ message, so we knew we were dealing with hard faults that were currently present. Following my process, I decided the next step was to do some research on this particular vehicle using Ford ETIS which is Fords online information portal. This allows me to access wiring diagrams, connector locations and anything and everything related to the vehicle in question. As many a clever man has said, “if you don’t know how it works how can you fix it?”

 Thinking of possible causes, I decided to study the wiring for the PSCM and RCM, how the indicators and windscreen washers work and a network topology to allow me to see how all the modules communicate to each other and the diagnostic scan tool.
 It was found that the steering column module controlled the indicators and washers and sent the message to the BCM to activate them. As the SCCM wasn’t communicating it now made perfect sense why those functions were not operating. Next, I found that all three modules worked on the high speed can data bus and all were powered by fuses. All the related information and diagrams were printed out and taken to the vehicle so that a test plan could be drawn up and executed.

Plans within plans
Before writing up my plan, I made a visual inspection of wiring under the bonnet and underneath the vehicle. Having had a major overhaul, something as simple as there being a connector left unplugged could cause some of if not all the faults present with this vehicle. Everything looked ok, so I laid out my wiring diagrams and proceeded to write a plan. My plan was to test the fuse for each of the modules to see if it gave me direction, then if all was ok I would look at the communication wiring and how the modules at fault linked into each other and the rest of the vehicle.

All three fuses tested fine so it was onto seeing if there was a common link. Looking through the topology, I found a page which had the PSCM and RCM joined by two connectors. This is where technical information is a must, as dealing with a fault like this it can be very easy to dive in full speed. I don’t want to go straight to a module, for example the RCM, and remove half the interior of the vehicle to find all is ok there and have to spend time reassembling everything! I speak from experience here, and I am sure some of you reading can relate to this.

Diagnostic direction
ETIS showed one connector inside the nearside front wheel arch and the other in the location of the bulkhead of the vehicle. This meant I could test the network without removing anything, saving time and gaining diagnostic direction. I inspected visually to see which of the two connectors was the easiest to access and it was the connector in the nearside wheel arch. Visually the connector looked correct and looked to be correctly latched.  However, I decided to double check and upon squeezing the two sides together and audible click was heard meaning the connector was open (see fig. 3).

 I then decided to scan the vehicle again to see if this had made any change and every module now communicated and it was also noted the dashboard warning lights had disappeared. I cleared all the faults codes in the vehicle. None returned, and the dashboard now had no messages or warning lights illuminated. The final checks proved the steering assistance now worked correctly and the indicators and washers operated completing the fix.

In the end then a fairly simple fix once it was established how the system worked and where everything was located but without the correct information and a well polished process this job could have taken a very different, and perhaps longer, turn.

What the Doctor recommends

Darren lifts the lid on some of his favourite JLM products and how he uses them in his own workshop and on test vehicles in the newly formed JLM Academy
Published:  10 December, 2019

By Darren Darling

The JLM Diesel Intake Extreme Clean Toolkit Pro is always to hand in my workshop. The first vehicle we tested it on at the pre-launch stage was a Seat Leon with severely sticking turbo vanes that were causing instant limp mode due to turbo over boost.
The owner had tried a leading brand of turbo cleaner via the intake but the problem was still there. After data logging we could see there was a major issue. Two hours later and using the Diesel Intake Extreme Clean Toolkit Pro there was no limp mode and normal boost logs. We also tested four vehicles with sticky turbo vanes that were data logged before and after the treatment. On three of them the boost levels came back into spec and out of limp mode.
The other vehicle required a new turbo as it was past the point of no return. Sticking turbo vanes are a common problem on modern vehicles due to a build-up of carbon. Since then we have saved dozens of cars from the scrapyard including a taxi that had failed the new smoke test with the same results despite being fully serviced with a new DPF filter. After treating it with the kit it passed the retest.
With regards to DPFs, the most common misconception is that a DPF showing as faulty is faulty when more often than not it isn’t. It doesn’t require a clean or worst still a replacement which can cost a lot of money. For example, I was asked to clean the DPF on a Ford Transit and replace a faulty temperature sensor. Upon inspection the DPF was clean and the faulty sensor was actually a broken wire so no parts were needed. It can be tempting to blame the DPF when in fact it is a symptom of another problem.
We use the full range of JLM DPF products and one in particular; the Professional Cleaning Toolkit is a real hero product. You can clean a DPF in two hours without removing it. A mechanic who has been turning DPF business away or outsourcing it can keep the DPF business in house thanks to this world class kit.
Many of the DPF doctors in our network choose JLM’s DPF cleaning products because they are effective and because the low temperatures during cleaning make them much safer than cleaning at high temperatures.
The JLM Diesel Extreme Clean is a product that’s used daily in our workshop and we’re seeing the same great results with the petrol product, JLM Petrol Extreme Clean. It’s the answer to late model cars and engines with severe build up and blocking problems in different parts of the fuel system. These contaminants are tough and not easily dissolved with regular fuel additives. The JLM blend comprises multiple super power additives packaged into a highly concentrated 500ml shot for one tank treatment.
Delivering fantastic customer service is an obsession of mine. This means there’s no wriggle room when it comes to the products I use in my workshop. I can only use world class products that have been designed, developed and manufactured for the professional motor mechanic; products that work on the most challenging vehicles – vehicles that have often been misdiagnosed elsewhere so it entails starting from scratch. With JLM Lubricants I have a powerful ally.

Bob’s your uncle – unfortunately

Process is key to performing a successful service. To do it right, don’t do it like Bob does
Published:  19 November, 2019

By Gareth Banks CAE AMIMI

I like to think I have some good experience under my belt in various aspects of the industry, from working as an apprentice in 2002 in a little backstreet garage to working in a bodyshop to being a breakdown mechanic to where I am now.
I have probably learned more in my last three or four years than at any point in my career, especially when I get to work with (i.e. pester) Martyn, our mobile master technician. One of the things I’ve learned from Martyn is the importance of doing things correctly and also the importance of servicing correctly. I’ve found to be a good mechanic you almost certainly need to be a perfectionist, or at least vaguely resemble one. This doesn’t mean working superficially for hours on one small job though, checking the tightness of one nut constantly. No, it simply means doing things the right way, putting a smear of grease on a fuel filter seal. It means not just replacing a clutch when there is also a DMF hiding in there too.
I still service cars even though my main job title is MOT Tester. I did like my previous job as service technician, but that being said it is one if the dirtiest jobs in a garage. You can be as careful as can be, yet still go home stinking of Shell’s finest.
Anyway, coming back to the point – servicing. We are back with our friends at Bob’s Autos to look at the importance of servicing and the implications of not doing a job right.

One lady owner
One day at that garage, in a place you’ve never heard of, a car comes in for a full service. There is also a warning lamp on the dash. The customer (a lovely old lady) explains that it’s only been 3,000 miles since last service. Before he starts, Fred – Bob’s main man, plugs his scanner into the car in the hope that the car will magically tell him what’s wrong. Sure enough a p0522 fault code is present; ‘low oil pressure’. Both Fred and Bob are scratching their heads.
“Delete the fault code and carry on with the service” says Bob.  Reluctantly, Fred continues after hearing his boss’ forceful advice. With the lights check complete, a battery check, coolant check and his brake fluid check done, he raises the car up, drops the engine oil and moves to the oil filter itself (paper element type). The cap is a little tight coming off (one of those you think may have broken when it cracks loose), half the filter comes out, with the other half still stuck at the bottom of the housing, all sodden and saturated, broken into pieces in its own dirty oil.  With a few swear words uttered under his breath Fred turns to his boss and simply says “well this hasn’t been changed in a month of Sundays has it?”
But like the customer said when she brought the car in, it was only done a few thousand miles ago, supposedly. Fred doesn’t actually remember the car. He was away with the family when it was done. This only leaves one man – the culprit. Bob knows he didn’t replace one of the most vital parts during the service, but he won’t ever say anything. He knows he caused all this trouble, starving that poor little engine of its oil. You wouldn’t starve a human of water would you? Well, Bob might, if the water cost a few quid.
It’s a real shame that people like Bob exist. I’ve seen many cars in my 17 years of working in this industry come to me with similar issues, and you can just tell that some talentless, cheap cretin like Bob had their hands on the car you’re working on. All we can do is rectify their cock-ups and hope that the customer has more trust and faith in you than the last place they went, thus keeping your client base up, keeping people talking about how much they trust you as people. As a garage, do not be a Bob. Bob sucks!

Don’t follow the fault code – follow the smoke signals

Repairing a DPF successfully means you need to follow the clues all the way to the source of the problem
Published:  14 November, 2019

When this 2010 Vauxhall Insignia arrived at our workshop recently, we were asked the common question: “How much to clean my DPF?” As always, we informed the customer the first thing we needed to do was to undertake an assessment, so we could determine why the car was having DPF problems and what was required to fix it. This assessment is much more than a fault code read, often perceived as a ‘diagnostic check’ and this highlights the difference. The fault codes present on the car were ‘P2453 DPF Pressure Sensor A Circuit Range Performance’ and ‘P2458 Mass Air Flow Sensor Performance’.
Opening the bonnet, we were not surprised to see a new MAF sensor and a new DPF pressure sensor. This is frustrating as the owner has paid for these unnecessary parts to be fitted on the basis that ‘the computer said they were faulty’.
Looking at the DPF pressure sensor fault first, the ECU was reporting a circuit range fault. This may look like a faulty sensor but is in fact caused by excessive DPF pressure. The pressure is measured by the sensor. The signal is sent back to the ECU as a voltage so the excess pressure causes an excess voltage signal and in turn the ECU reports what it can see. The DPF back pressure was in excess of 150MB at idle indicating we must clean the DPF after addressing the cause of the problem.
Moving on to the MAF performance fault. Again, the ECU only reports what it sees as incorrect; in this case incorrect air flow. This is obvious when analysing live serial data so our next step was testing the intake system for leaks to confirm our suspicions. As you can see there was a significant leak from an intercooler pipe. We found a cause for both issues. The split pipe would have initially caused the MAF fault but in turn would lead to the DPF pressure sensor fault due to the excessive soot being produced with the major boost leak.
After consulting the customer, we repaired the car, replacing the intercooler pipe. Root cause now taken care of we had the easy part – cleaning the DPF. Our weapon of choice for DPF cleaning is always the JLM Lubricants’ Clean & Flush. With the step one chemical we left it to soak for a few minutes. After running the engine for a few minutes, we flushed the DPF out with the step two JLM DPF flush.

After the clean we had a healthy 6MB of back pressure in the DPF and the pressure sensor fault was cleared. An extended road test confirmed the fix.

Do you profit from Diagnostics?

It’s a straightforward question and this month John Batten takes a look at how to turn a “No” into a “Yes”
Published:  08 November, 2019

Let’s face it, it’s a problem. It’s a problem that has existed for too many years. In fact, the solution to this day eludes so many intelligent garage owners. It’s the perennial problem. What is this enigma? What’s one of the most common questions I hear on our front-of-house training courses? Quite simply the question I’ve been hearing for decades is this: “How do we charge for diagnostics?”
To add insult to injury the cause of this problem is another question. It’s a question your front of house team will hear every single day from your prospective clients. It goes a little like this: “How much does it cost to…” turn a MIL light out, diagnose my DPF fault, solve a lack of power, diagnose a non-start, etc. It’s endless, the question keeps on coming and you definitely need to answer it. Why is answering this so important to your business? Let’s take a look.
While we’re talking about questions I’ve got one for you. Do you charge for all of your diagnostic time? If not, How much income do you lose to time not charged? If the answer immediately sprang to your lips then well done for having a monitoring system in place. If not then you might be surprised by the size of the problem.
I’ll err on the side of caution with my estimate but, if you have a workshop with four technicians and two of them lost half an hour a day to non-charged ‘diagnosis time’ (assuming your labour rate was £65 per hour) then that would be costing you £14,950 a year.
As a side note, it blows my mind to think how much revenue has been lost to this problem over the years across our industry.
Now, I’m sure if we’re honest with each other and we documented all the ways that this time disappears from your bottom line then you’d agree the problem is probably larger.
The BIG question is would you like to fix it? Of course you would, and here’s how.
Before we get to the answer let’s consider what our endgame is. From my point of view it’s simply this; The solution needs to be fair. Fair to the garage owner, fair to the customer and fair to the technician. What does ‘fair’ look like? I’d consider fair to be:

Battery banter

Despite their universal use across most vehicles, many techs still don’t really understand batteries, but they are a missed opportunity
Published:  04 November, 2019

The vehicle battery has for many years ceased to simply be a chemical storage device. Instead, it has turned into a critical integrated component within the electronics network. It is also increasingly responsible for the total electromotive force in electric vehicles. I will comment on this development later. Despite this, it remains little understood or respected by many techs. I will begin with some interesting technical facts, provided by Yuasa, our battery partners here in the UK.

Many independent battery manufacturers limit the critical internal components to reduce cost, as well as to maximise profit and range application. Typical configurations include smaller cell capacity and increasing the electrolyte strength to artificially meet CCA ratings.
Reducing lead content reduces reliability, specification, and lifecycle. The electrolyte has a direct effect on performance and lifespan. Increasing electrolyte strength to artificially meet capacity specifications will increase internal corrosion.

The end of life is directly affected by the number of start cycles over time, this is the defining feature of 2/3/4/5-year battery construction. The battery begins its decline immediately following manufacture. The initial formatting drives impurities off the plates, as a result the peak CCA performance should be achieved. The peak performance period (lifespan) depends on its warranty specification. The final phase is a rapid decline in output and eventual failure. The correct action is to replace the battery before the final decay period, it often appears to perform normally during this period.

Hands up, who checks batteries at the point of delivery? If they are below 12.4v send them back. Six cells at 2.12v produce a voltage differential of 12.72 fully charged. At 0°C a battery has 66% available capacity. Excessive heat can also have a negative effect on battery performance and accelerate failure and end of life due to plate corrosion, an increased in self discharge, and increased electrolyte loading. A 10°C rise in temperature will increase the self-discharge rate from 0.1v to 0.2v per month.10°C equals a 60-month battery life. 25°C equals a 36-month battery life.

Plate sulphation is normal during battery discharge. When both plates are coated with lead sulphate, or when the plate voltage falls below 12.4v, prompt recharge will displace the lead sulphate. The battery will normally recover and perform normally. However, if allowed to stand it will crystalize and harden.

The death zone of a battery rendering it unrecoverable is SG at 1.04, cell voltage at 1.9v, total battery voltage at 11.3v.
Recovery is marginal from a SG at 1.02, and a battery voltage at 12.3v. Acid stratification accelerates failure and can occur due to cold weather and short drive cycles. The separation of acid has the effect of increasing the open circuit voltage while reducing the CCA performance. Superficial testing may show a healthy fully charged battery.

Conventional flooded batteries should be maintained within 5% of its fully charged state if premature cell failure is to be avoided. Meanwhile, AGM batteries can operate normally with a 50% cycle rate.

24v systems and vehicles using two batteries require that both the CCA and OCV be in balance. This is also a critical factor with electric vehicles using lithium batteries, as cell differential will lead to differential cell charge and overheating.  
Stop/Start vehicles will be fitted with either an enhanced flooded (EFB) or absorbent glass matt (AGM) batteries. Key differences with EFB & AGM are:

I can’t get no (automotive) Satisfaction

Recognising your weaknesses is as important as knowing your strengths when running a garage
Published:  21 October, 2019

The vehicle repair world can be hugely satisfying one day and an absolute pain in the backside the next. The challenges we now face as techs are getting harder and more detailed thanks to the electronic minefield of modern cars.
There have been a few instances in the workshop where we have had to admit to the customer that we just aren’t sure yet what is wrong with their car. It is mostly met with understanding as we explain the complexities, but on the odd occasion it can cause the customer to become annoyed.
Last week we had a BMW 1 Series come in. The customer had been elsewhere to get the fault codes read as the car kept going into limp mode. It had shown a fault linked to the crankshaft sensor. They requested that we changed the sensor and check the wiring.
The crankshaft sensor is under all the air intake manifold and isn’t the easiest of jobs. Wiring was all deemed to be ok and a new crankshaft sensor fitted. The car drove great, then a week later same problem reoccurred.
So, it came back, again, and the car was hooked up to a diagnostic computer and faults relating to a pressure sensor and the catalytic convertor came up. As we deal with a lot of older and classic cars we aren’t trained in electronic fault diagnosis. It is not only frustrating for us to not be able to help the customer but also for the customer who keeps having to bring the car to a garage and not be able to get the fault rectified.
That is the way car repair is now heading. It is a lot more computer-based with a lot less instinct and hands-on work. Hours can be lost testing all the wiring and sensors on a car. It is hard sometimes to justify a bill when you have been unable to locate the problem. As car problem fixers, mechanics pride themselves on being able to hand a vehicle that came in broken and goes away running perfectly. That is why we do this job - to become heroes in the eyes of the customers. The BMW owner is now fed up with the car. It has been to different garages and specialists who have been unable to completely fix the problem and they have fallen out of love with the car.
In my experience if an issue isn’t easy to fix we have to be completely honest with the customer, I often explain that we don’t have the up-to-date software that would give us the definitive answer. We then recommend a reputable specialist that would be better suited. As a business owner I am here to fix cars but I am not about to pretend we are something we are not. I know how capable the staff are and what our limitations are. Yes, it is frustrating turning work away but it is also important to be completely upfront with the customer.

Insulate to accumulate

EVs and hybrids are a growing segment, and garages that get in now will see the investment pay off. You’re in for a shock if you’re not prepared...
Published:  09 October, 2019

There are already over 620,000 battery electric, plug-in hybrid or conventional hybrid vehicles on UK roads. This will only rise, with manufacturers set to dramatically increase production of these vehicles over the coming decade.
Therefore, it’s surprising many garages still don’t have the skills or tools to safely service them. However, Adam White, Director of Workshop Solutions at Euro Car Parts, says there is plenty of help available that can enable technicians and workshop managers can catch up: “Volvo Cars has just signed a multi-billion-dollar battery deal through to 2025, signalling a strong commitment to electric and hybrid vehicle production. In fact, its battery order is so large, it’s more or less equivalent to the entire global production in 2018. This means by 2025 half of Volvo’s global sales, some 500,000 vehicles, will be fully electric. At the start of this year, Ford announced a $15 billion investment and 40 electrified vehicle models by 2022. BMW Group plans to offer 12 full-electric models by 2025. The list goes on and the point is clear, vehicle manufacturers are investing heavily in hybrid and battery electric vehicle technology and it is time to follow suit.”
Adam continues: “The biggest threat to the independent aftermarket is also its greatest opportunity. The greatest risk during this period of transition is that independent workshops slip behind, and customers have no option but to service their vehicles at main dealers. While we see some switched-on garages and younger technicians getting involved with hybrid and EV training, we have a significant amount of data showing a serious industry-wide deficiency in hybrid and EV knowledge and skills.
“Many garages do not see the required investment in training or equipment as worthwhile, believing there to be very few of these vehicles on the road. White suggests the numbers tell a different story. Industry predictions suggest a short-sighted approach to the hybrid and EV market may be damaging to workshops in the long term.”
While optimistic about the aftermarket’s ability to adapt, Adam cautions workshops to approach the opportunity with the right frame of mind and an awareness of the dangers involved with high-voltage systems: “While the risks of working with hybrid and EV vehicles can be safely mitigated, much like conventional vehicles, safety training is critical. For those wishing to test the waters, technicians can be taught how to make the vehicle safe, without the more intensive training on servicing the actual high voltage system. This means if a workshop has one or two technicians who can isolate the vehicle, the rest of the team can safely work on other systems like steering and suspension or air conditioning.
“Many workshops are turning away hybrid vehicles, even when the problem is unrelated to the high-voltage system. While this approach may be sustainable now, we’re at the turning point. Even if workshops aren’t willing to completely commit, having a few staff qualified to make the vehicle safe opens other servicing opportunities. Those who start working on hybrid and electric vehicles now will be ahead of the curve, gaining customers, experience and a reputation for the work. It could be a make or break difference in the coming decade.”

Commenting on training available, Adam says: “Auto Education Academy, Euro Car Parts’ dedicated training platform, offers several appropriate courses, including GED 13 – an IMI Level 2 Award in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Operation and Maintenance. The course teaches technicians how to maintain and repair hybrid vehicles but not the hybrid or electric powertrain itself. Technicians learn about the dangers of high-voltage systems and the differences between HEV, PHEV, EREV and EV. It also covers the various approaches used by manufactures to power down the high-voltage system and the safety equipment required.
“For those looking to repair and replace hybrid vehicle parts, a more detailed and comprehensive course is required. GED 14 is an IMI Level 3 Award in Hybrid Vehicle System Repair and Replacement, giving technicians the skills and knowledge to effectively service and repair EV and hybrid systems. This course lays the foundation for further advanced training. Both courses can be booked through Auto Education Academy.
“It’s free to join, and repairers can login to their own skills portal to view the content of more than 75 different courses. Users can also assess their strengths and identify weaknesses in nine key areas; petrol engines, diesel engines, engine management and emissions, vehicle electronics, air-conditioning, brakes, powertrain, tyres, steering and suspension, as well as hybrid and electrical cars. Results are automatically added to an interactive skills diagram; which technicians can compare with the national average to gauge where they stand.
“Users can see for themselves the serious hybrid and EV knowledge deficiency that exists within the UK. Anyone can go online and complete the skills overview; it’s a great way to understand your personal strengths and weaknesses. It can be a useful tool for managers looking to assess the core competencies of their staff or potential new hires. The data we have suggests knowledge about hybrid and electric vehicles lags far behind other core areas, a growing concern we hope to change.”
Accessible online or over the phone, it provides fast responses to troubleshooting, repair, diagnostics and technical information queries on any vehicle, from any manufacturer.
Workshop Solutions offers four safety equipment packages for workshops working with electrified vehicles. Workshop Pack, Vehicle Safety Pack, Personnel Safety Pack, Safety Tools Pack. There is also a Hybrid Master Safety Pack (£1,099), which includes all four of the above.
“I can understand the trepidation and hesitation we are seeing across the aftermarket,” concludes Adam. “Repairers are focused on looking after their current clients and building a business around what they know. However, things are changing, and we have a widening gap between vehicle technology and skills within the aftermarket. We need to address this shortfall and capitalise on the opportunity hybrid and electric vehicles present to the independent aftermarket.”
The growth in electric and hybrid vehicles is having an impact on many systems that mechanics are, or at least think they are, familiar with. As the segment grows, techs may find they need to re-learn even more than ever before.
Dr Liz Dixon, Global Technology Director of the Shrieve Group, a supplier of synthetic speciality refrigeration lubricants, comments: “Polyalkylene glycols (PAGs) are the lubricant of choice for hybrid and electric vehicle air con. The hybrid/electric vehicle market is growing rapidly and driving up use of electric air-conditioning compressors, and environmental legislation is leading equipment manufacturers to use more environmentally friendly refrigerants.”
European directive 2006/40/EC fully came into effect in 2017. It stipulates that air conditioning systems in motor vehicles type-approved after 1 January 2011 may not be filled with fluorinated greenhouse gases with a global warming potential (GWP) higher than 150. Compliance with this directive led to the development and adoption of R1234yf, which has a GWP of 1.0. In addition to this, R1234yf has a low ozone depletion potential (ODP). Developed to be a drop-in replacement for R134a refrigerants, R1234yf is now the industry standard for new vehicles and r134a is being phased out.”
It’s not all good news though. “Unfortunately,” says Dr Dixon, “the R1234yf chemical structure that ensures a low GWP can also cause issues with refrigerant stability. To counter this, the right lubricant is vital for long-term operation. So, how do you select this lubricant? Fundamentally it boils down to chemistry.
“R1234yf’s molecular structure causes a high level of chemical reactivity. The lubricant must have the correct stability properties to counteract the refrigerant’s inherent reactivity, in addition to appropriate miscibility properties with this new refrigerant type. In this regard, PAG lubricants have the most preferential properties. Electrical systems require further considerations of the lubricant’s conductive tendencies:

“The reason many PAG-based solutions have exhibited such electrical properties is because of how they are formulated and processed. If these PAGs are processed under more stringent conditions to achieve higher levels of purity, you get less contaminants, and a resultant lubricant that is perfectly safe for use in hybrid and electric compressor systems.”

Two in one
On the engine side, for the increasing number of hybrid vehicles, LIQUI MOLY has produced a new additive. David Kaiser, who heads the R&D department at LIQUI MOLY comments: “Strictly speaking, the Hybrid Additive is itself a hybrid, because it combines two properties. It stabilizes the fuel quality and it cleans the injection system. In hybrid vehicles, the electric motor is the main drive. Meanwhile, the combustion motor works only as an assistant. This engine is mostly only used for short periods. This results in two problems.
"First, the fuel remains in the tank for longer and ages more, compared to vehicles powered exclusively by a diesel or petrol engine. The second problem is deposits in the injection tract because of the irregular short-term use. The Hybrid Additive keeps the petrol quality stable, protects against deposits in the injection system and removes existing deposits. It therefore solves both problems. The LIQUI MOLY Hybrid Additive is only for hybrid vehicles with a petrol engine.”

INTERMITTEN fault diagnosis: in 5 steps

Intermittent faults are the bane of our lives. Use these five steps to dramatically improve your chances of a first-time fix
Published:  25 September, 2019

Picture this: You’ve a mildly grumpy client stood at your front desk. We’ll call him Mr Brown.  He has been a happy customer for many years, you’ve serviced his vehicles regularly and all has been good in the world.
Unfortunately, today is Mr Brown’s third visit to your counter for the same problem. He’s understandably becoming irritated by the fact that your technicians aren’t able to identify the reason behind the intermittent loss of power with his VW Golf, and he’s starting to doubt the competency of your business.
It’s a common problem, so your garage should have a robust solution. If not, then you could lose Mr Brown's custom. See this happen too often and it will put a major dent in your bottom line. Nobody wants that.
Is there a solution to the intermittent fault dilemma?  In many instances yes. You just need to apply the right routine. With the right routine, tools and information you’ll dramatically increase your chances of finding the fault in the first go. Apart from keeping Mr Brown happy, your techs will enjoy the buzz of early diagnostic success. The big question is what needs to change in your garage to improve your chances of nailing these elusive faults? A look at Mr Brown’s vehicle will show a pattern that you can use in your garage.
Mr Brown’s Golf has been experiencing a sudden loss of power. It makes him pull over to the kerb. Stopping and starting can make the problem disappear and not occur again the same day.
The vehicle has been scanned and road-tested on both visits. A fault code relating to rail pressure deviation has been recovered in both instances, but no fault was found on the multiple road tests completed. What can you do to get to the root cause of this problematic situation? Just use this routine:

1: Thorough grilling at front desk
We find the following statement usually has a client bending over backwards to help: “Sir – It would be great to speak, if you have a few minutes, so that I can find out some specific details of the fault on your vehicle. We often find that a few minutes of your time now will often help us find the issue and could save you money on the cost of your diagnostic evaluation.”
All you have to do now is ask the right questions to ascertain a point at which something changes on the vehicle and the details around that, as well as some specifics as to when the fault occurs.
In this instance further questioning revealed that the problem normally occurs around a mile or so from Mr Brown’s home, after he’s started his journey in the morning and occasionally on his way home.
Armed with this information, you give Mr Brown a courtesy vehicle so that you can carry out the tests the next day.

2: Where did I put that silver bullet?
We’re already one step closer compared with previous visits, and have a constantly recurring fault code for high-pressure control deviation. Initially, it’s worth making this the focus of our diagnosis. For starters you could take a look in ELSA (where the VAG group keep their silver bullets) for any known issues in their service bulletin archives.

You find one relating to a known mechanical fault for the high-pressure pump wear resulting in constantly low pressure, but nothing for an intermittent fault such as yours. To be on the safe side you inspect the known issues and find the connection between the camshaft and the high-pressure pump to be in good order.

3: Desk diagnostics -Where the magic happens
It’s in stage 3 where the magic begins. You need to make an exhaustive list of the reasons that could raise this fault code:
A Restricted supply to in-tank pump
B Faulty in-tank pump
C Power/ground supply fault to pump
D Faulty low-pressure fuel pump control module
E Restriction between the low-pressure and high-pressure pump
F Faulty high-pressure pump
G Faulty high-pressure control valve
H Power/ground supply fault to high-pressure control valve
I Faulty high-pressure sensor
J Faulty wiring to the high-pressure sensor
K Faulty injector/s
L ECU power or grounds
M ECU software
N ECU hardware

One fault with 14 possible causes? There’s only one thing for it:

4: Testing, testing, testing - It’s all about priorities
There’s a straightforward reason why this vehicle hasn’t been diagnosed on the earlier visits. Quite simply, the right tests have not been completed at the right time. That’s all about to change.
You need to decide how best to test the possibilities. This is how I would prioritise:

A Fit fuel flow tester in low-pressure supply
B Scope CH1 WPS 500x pressure transducer pre-fuel filter
D Scope CH2 WPS 500x pressure transducer post-fuel filter
C Scope CH3 in tank pump 20Khz PWM positive supply from low pressure pump control module
D Scope CH4 ground in tank pump ground
E Scope CH5 in tank pump current
F Scope CH6 high-pressure rail sensor signal
G Scope CH7 high-pressure control valve +
H Scope CH8 high-pressure control valve –

The objective is to carry out as many tests as possible in unison. I’ll also be able to road test the vehicle and stand a VERY good chance of diagnosing this problem the first time the fault rears its head.

5: Diagnostic sniper
Diagnosis is all about ruling out what’s good. Do that methodically and the problem will reveal itself like an enormous arrow descending from the sky: “THE FAULT IS HERE.” This is exactly what will happen when you road test this Golf.
You’ve set up your tests and set off on your test drive, complete with assistant. You’ve been driving for around 10 minutes and just as Mr Brown predicted the vehicle loses power and you’re forced to pull over. This is great news. Let’s take a look at the clues:

Euro 6 SCR

Frank looks at some of the challenges faced when dealing with the latest diesel engines
Published:  18 September, 2019

With a focus on technical challenges and potential cost with diagnostic equipment and servicing, I think we should explore the technology that drives the need for specialist tools in both service and repair. I’m going to look at Euro 6 generation 2 diesel emission systems.

I’m convinced that the more technology manufacturers throw at improving diesel combustion, the more problems they introduce. As usual, my knowledge is based on Volkswagen-Audi Group design. Engine design innovation is now closely following that of gasoline direct injection, alike to that of the EN888.

MDB concept
The VAG MDB concept engine design is a world based modular system. This allows for a more flexible production with regional variation based on local emission standards. The three basic modules are the intake systems, a central engine core based on the EN288, and the exhaust or emission module.

The EN288 engine has 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder options with EU4/EU5/EU6 compliance. It is a cast iron block, alloy with the 3-cylinder variant, with and without balance shafts, crossflow alloy cylinder head with variable valve timing. A fully mapped and integrated coolant pump ensures maximum thermal efficiency.

It important to understand that there are significant differences between the 2.0/1.6/1.4 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder design concepts, so various comments across the range of options will not reflect every variant.

The 4-cylinder head has an offset valve layout. This introduces turbulence within the combustion chamber. The 3-cylinder valve layout is a conventional layout with swirl flaps in the intake module. Intake valve variation allows for a delay of intake valve closure (IVC) with a reduction of cylinder pressure during compression, reducing temperature and NOx. The control variator utilises oil pressure, with a backup accumulator to adjust IVO/IVC.

Emission control module
The emission control module is without doubt the most radical evolution. High pressure EGR is introduced via a valve directly from the exhaust manifold to the inlet, with the single aim of heating the 3way Euro 5 catalyst, or 4way Euro 6 catalyst when the engine is cold (see fig 1.)
Low pressure exhaust gas passes via the EGR cooler, catalyst and particulate filter into the exhaust system. During NOx reduction strategies, exhaust gas is re-circulated aided by the EGR control valve and exhaust venturi or brake as it is referred to. This device partially closes the downstream exhaust circuit increasing upstream exhaust gas pressure by 30-40mb. This helps self-cleaning of the cooler and allows for AdBlue to be injected post cat pre DPF. Mixing is aided by the turbo. This also provides for the wideband NOx sensor to monitor NOx content before it enters the catalyst and particulate filter.

The exhaust brake also increases the upstream exhaust gas volume through the cooler, aiding self-cleaning. In addition, the emission control module has the task of reducing ammonia NH3.

Fuel delivery pressures have increased to 2000bar with delivery phases from 3/5/6 events depending on the operating profile. Additional combustion monitoring is achieved via a pressure sensor built in a heater plug. The sensor data helps the PCM calculate fuel quantity, timing and EGR values.

There is also a feature I have supported for some time, relating to how the DPF is subject to regeneration or replacement based on saturation levels.

Catalytic reduction
4-way catalytic reduction, co, hc, NOx, nh3. is based on principles of absorption followed by reduction (see fig 2). This is assisted with noble metals; platinum, palladium, and rhodium. An additional ingredient, namely barium, is used to assist in NOx reduction. Barium also helps absorb sulphur requiring periodic de-sulphation. The PCM performs this process every 600mls by ensuring exhaust gas temperature around 600-650°C. This should take 15-20 minutes.

The location of the cat and SCR has required copper zeolite to assist with higher operating temperatures. The additive injector is water-cooled to help protest both the nozzle and electrical circuit. The exact control of injector timing and additive quantity is a precise value based on the specific vehicle ID. To test the 5bar delivery pressure and two-way control valve in the additive tank module requires OEM software. Additive delivered into a calibration flask must meet exacting min-max values.

We have also conducted tests on the variation in quality of adblue. I recommend either a SG test or refractometer ensuring 32.5% ratio of active agent and de-ionised water. We have seen large variations in agent quality. It should have little or no odour. Please note; a strong smell of ammonia should not be present.

I’m not insensitive to the improvements that diesel vehicles have attained. It’s just that they don’t perform as intended under actual road conditions. We find SCR additive consumption is often excessive requiring premature refill. Additive injector crystallisation and EGR cooler blockages are commonplace as well.

Be careful when interpreting DTCs suggesting a blocked DPF. It can often be the cooler that is blocked,  restricting gas flow and affecting the algorithms for AMM, gas temperature, and DPF pressure. This will of course directly affect regeneration strategies.
Returning to my initial opening thoughts, is it clear that the fiscal life of a vehicle, especially diesels, could be ended by the cost of a single repair. The future will I believe move very quickly within certain demographics to PCPs and rental rather than ownership. This is just what the manufacturers want.

This means that in a shrinking market is even more vital to understand and invest in the latest evolutions.

Q5 and a pain in the ‘A’

Hannah is reminded why she prefers older vehicles, when one of today’s interconnected automotive wonders rolls into her workshop
Published:  05 September, 2019

I am a bit of an ‘old-skool’ mechanic, I enjoy working on vehicles that are mechanical and do not depend on computer wizardry to move. I regularly work on 1960s Porsches in all their air-cooled simplicity.
Just last week though, a friend asked if I could service their 2017 Audi Q5. We arranged a date and off I went to pick this car up. This is a hugely impressive vehicle with every piece of technology you could ever want. Confidently, I got it up on the lift and started checking it; brakes, suspension, exhaust. I also let the oil out. Everything was going accordingly to plan at this point.
I always make sure that when a car is still within its manufacturer warranty that I use genuine parts and oils, for me it protects the customer on any issues.
For a car that was only two years old everything was as it should be. Unfortunately, this is when the headache started. I screwed in the new sump plug and lowered the car ready to put the oil in, but wait, no dipstick! Manufacturers now don’t include a dipstick. Is it weight-saving gone mad or a great idea from someone who doesn’t work on cars? Following this unhappy discovery, I researched and found out the quantity it should have, put that in and then checked the on-board computer. What a palaver.
Next came the replacement fuel filter. The price of the thing was enough to put me off but I found the location, now at this point I had spoken to a friend who is more in tune with modern cars and stated that to replace the fuel filter you the needed to plug it in to a computer and prime it! The fuel filter replacement was then put on hold for another day when I could have the car back.
Next on my list was to reset the service light, this too needed specialist diagnostic equipment for Audi vehicles. It wasn’t going well, I could sense it was going to be one of those days.
Defeated by the technology of today, I decided to contact the owner and get the car back until I could call in a favour from a friend who had spent tens of thousands on diagnostic equipment.
The icing on the cake to my disastrous and unproductive day was the service record. I normally relish the challenge of getting my service stamp within the lines and making sure that it is readable. It is a skill that takes much practice to master. Imagine my horror while sifting through the car’s endless manuals only to discover that there is no service book. It turns out that it’s all online now. I’m not sure I’m ready to put my service stamp into retirement just yet.
Alas, the Audi will be returning to the workshop in the next couple of days. Sadly, I won’t need any tools to finish its service – just a computer.

Keep cool as air con heats up

Published:  13 August, 2019

As we move towards through summer, motorists are dropping the dial across the spectrum on their climate control systems.
According to Adam White, Workshop Solutions Director at Euro Car Parts, repairers can make the most of the opportunity if they are properly equipped: “The key to profitability is offering the right services and performing them efficiently, in terms of both time and cost. By those measures, air conditioning is one of the most profitable service areas a workshop can be involved in – given the right expertise and equipment. Unfortunately, air con work is sometimes overlooked by garages who fail to see the potential profits it could bring to their business. With summer here, there are lucrative opportunities for those who are prepared.
“Air con is a key growth area for UK garages. A lot of customers that visit a workshop have some form of issue with their air con system and the average job takes just five minutes. It’s easy to see why air conditioning remains one of the most profitable services that workshops can offer. If you want to make the most of the summer rush, now is the perfect time of year to invest in quality equipment.”
As many workshops will know, automotive air conditioning systems use one of two specific gas types; either R134A or 1234YF. Adam observed: “Perhaps the most important decision for a workshop is whether to use a dual gas or double single gas setup. This will likely be dictated by the size of the business or the amount of air con servicing undertaken. The primary advantage of a dual gas machine is that you only require one unit to cater for both R134A and 1234YF, meaning less occupied space and reduce costs. The alternative is two separate machines, one for each gas. Having two machines is more expensive but it allows you to service two vehicles at once and offers greater opportunity for revenue-generation.
“Workshops should ideally have the capability to cover both 1234yf and R134a systems. We aim to support the independent aftermarket in any way we can. Our latest Workshop Solutions brochure outlines the profitability of air con servicing and is well worth a read. New machines only require a hands-on time of around five minutes, with the total air-con service time taking between 45 minutes to an hour. This effectively gives you an additional pair of hands in the workshop – an hour of labour that can be used and charged elsewhere.”
Adam continued: “Autoclimate’s products cover most of the UK market and it offers a support service that can fix 72% of the issues workshops encounter over the phone, minimising downtime. For the remaining problems, the company has 18 dedicated air con repair specialists committed to performing on-site repairs within three working days. For peace-of-mind, all its air con machines are eligible for a five-year warranty package with included annual servicing.”
Adam concluded: “Whether you are considering investing in your workshop’s first air con machine or a seasoned veteran looking to upgrade, make sure that you evaluate the market to find one that best suits your requirements. The Workshop Solutions brochure is a great source of information and advice on how to maximise workshop profitability. The latest issue provides interesting insights into air-conditioning, including comparisons of popular models and useful finance examples.”

Hybrid theory

Aftermarket has invited reader and technician Gareth Banks to share his thoughts with us on the importance of training with regards to hybrids
Published:  29 July, 2019

A chance to share your opinions, they said. Write an article if you feel so strongly about it, they said. Why did I choose one of the biggest titles in the automotive industry to write it for? Aim high, they said. How do I get myself into these situations? By taking the bait, they said.
Writing is not my main occupation. I’m a tech like you. So, if you're reading this at work, in the time it took me to write that first paragraph, you have probably already carried out a full four-wheel alignment, or completed a MOT, or maybe got your hands on one of those hybrids, wearing your class 0 -1000v insulated gloves of course. Now I have your attention, you may have worked out that this article will be about hybrids. More to the point, whether or not technicians in workshops up and down the country are properly clued up on hybrids, or not as the case may be.
The IMI are currently pursuing their idea for it to become mandatory to hold a hybrid qualification in order to service and repair hybrid vehicles. I believe this is the best way forward, not just because I already have my qualification, but simply because I believe it can save your life or a colleague’s life. At the very least, start by doing some sort of hybrid awareness course, especially if it's offered to you on a plate by your company.
I would love one day to regularly have five or six EVs in our car park, with maybe a charging port out there too. In the meantime, I'll just have to make do with the one or two a week that roll ever so quietly into the workshop.

Theoretical scenario
I would like to run just a theoretical scenario by you... One day, in a small town that you won’t have heard of, a hybrid arrives at Bob’s Motors. The eponymous Bob eagerly awaits the arrival of his potential new customer, as does Fred, who is Bob’s chief mechanic, albeit more reluctantly. As Mr Smith walks into the reception, Fred's teabreak is mysteriously over and he slopes off. If there is any chance of being asked a technical question about a hybrid, Fred always hides. Bob however can’t believe his luck. He's heard in the pub you can charge whatever you want for working on these vehicles! Mr Smith wants a service on his car, and Bob prices the smart-dressed-man at £399, a random figure he plucked from nowhere. Mr Smith is over the moon as he was quoted a few more quid from his main dealer. The following day Fred walks into work. His first job is to service that stunning battery-powered machine that came in for a price on a service the previous day. With a big lump in his throat he cautiously takes the key from Bob, and then simply hands them back, exclaiming "I don’t know what I’m doing with this Bob, I've heard the can kill you if you don’t know what you’re doing."
Bob’s reply: "You'll be ok, just don’t touch the thick bright orange cables.” Ok, I’ll stop this little story here as I couldn’t think of an ending that wasn't too graphic.

After speaking to a few good lads in the industry, what I find is that many are still scared at the thought of working on them. Fair enough if you haven’t had any relevant training on the subject, you may be worried. However, if make the effort to learn about hybrid and electric vehicles you will prosper. After all they are the future, whether we like it or not. But what do I know? I just work with cars.

blueprint for technical success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diesel from a different direction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The secret behind Top Technician: Process

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

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

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

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

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

Mot-ivating basic checks

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

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

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

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

Attitudes to training: Autoinform-ed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Engine management: Past and future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

posturing and electricity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xenon HIDs: Three is the magic number

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Scope or Not to Scope? That is the question

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steering you right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADAS is the word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to the essentials

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

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

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

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

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

Would you like to diagnose more vehicles first time?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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