Archive | August, 2014



Peugeot-207-2Carrying on the Inside Line series, we move on from the third generation Mercedes C-Class and turn our focus towards a French supermini, the Peugeot 207. The 207 comes from a rich vein of supermini Pugs over the years which is now represented by the 208.

The 207’s blood line began with the chic and very popular 205, which was built in various guises including the famed 1.6- and 1.9-litre GTis. This was followed by the equally popular 206 model range, which also gained fame through its hot hatch version and creative television adverts.

The 207 replaced the tired 206 in 2006 and went on to be replaced by the 208 in 2011.

The Peugeot 207, which we are examining in this issue, was launched with a range of powerplants in various guises, which included 1.0-, 1.2-, 1.4- or 1.6-litre petrol engines and 1.4- and 1.6-litre diesel options. The 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines were developed with BMW and also found their ways into the second generation BMW Mini. This variety of engines has provided some additional challenges.

Next month we’ll be looking at the BMW 5 Series, so wherever you work in the aftermarket if you have insight to share, we would be delighted to hear from you. To get your advice included contact

Click below to see technical contributions on the Peugeot 207 from:

Autoelectro – looks at rotating electric issues with the Pug

Cambiare and VOSA – cover a variety of issues that are common on the 207

Comma – discusses the foibles of fluids and the importance of oil

Corteco – explains how to tackle TVDs

Dayco – looks challenges with replacing the belt on a Peugeot 207

First Line – focuses on the turbo hoses and clutches on the 207

Gates – on why Synchronous Belt Systems shouldn’t be taken lightly

Lucas Oils – busts a common myth faced on the Pug 207

Meyle – common issues on the Peugeot 207 solved

Remy – talks about the 207’s steering system

RMI – gives us the lowdown on common problems faced on the Pug

TecRMI – gives us an insight into a some of the technical problems on the Peugeot 207

ZF – talks about the orientation needed on Sachs clutch plates

Posted in CAT Features, Garage News, NewsComments (0)

Compulsory TPMS legislation to provide a boost for garages

Compulsory TPMS legislation to provide a boost for garages

271011schradWith tyre pressure monitoring systems being fitted as standard on all new vehicles from November is likely to spark an uplift in repairs, says Autodata.

The repair data company issues this warning to workshops as the EU legislation around TPMS is likely to provide more work opportunities but also brings its own challenges.

Rod Williams, Chief Executive at Autodata, explains that garages need to be aware more work of this kind will be coming their way in the future and that it should not be regarded as a simple or cheap job to do.

“Automotive legislation is a constantly changing beast and can sometimes have a positive impact on the bottom line of a workshop,” he adds. “The systems aren’t bullet-proof and the number of cars on the road that feature TPMS is growing rapidly; forward-thinking workshops and business owners will maximise the opportunity this presents by arming themselves with the best technical data to ensure that no time is wasted in maintaining or repairing these systems.”

Autodata estimates that a replacement TPMS will cost in the region of £50 and £150, and that although the sensor has been designed to last for years, it can be prone to premature failure.

Wear and tear plays a part, but damage or corrosion to the sleeve, valve cap, valve core or rubber grommet, can all be the cause for the TPMS failing.

Posted in Garage News, NewsComments (1)

How to profit from keeping customers’ cars cool

A4_Portrait_5mm_HUB-Compressor_RGB2013New technology, new refrigerants and a whole new convention dedicated to the sector: Mike Owen talks air conditioning and how you can work it.

Well, here we are again, past the middle of another year, but perhaps a little lateral thinking could bring some new opportunities for part two of 2014.

The Automechanika show looms large on the horizon, September in Frankfurt is where the European Automotive Industry gather to look at the new vehicles, and for us in the aftermarket, the challenges that we will face in time to come. Of course the temptation is to look, often in vain, for the ‘golden opportunity’ that will fill the workshop with work and the till with money. Yet there is one opportunity that already exists and is growing in importance with new technology. It has its own European convention (September 21 and 22) also in Frankfurt following on from Automechanika, and goes almost exclusively unnoticed other than by those who specialise in it. And even then it draws a world-wide audience of hundreds.

Air conditioning and the European Automotive Air-conditioning Convention (EAAC) is overlooked by the many and is the staff of life to the specialists. Refrigeration is still a fringe activity for the majority of garages who in general fit into the ‘gas-and-go’ denomination rather than the specialist, yet this subject and its potential is immense.

Time to grasp the nettle

As the prevalence of automotive air conditioning grows, so do the returns on investment for those who choose to grasp the opportunity. As we move towards electric traction, regardless of how the power is generated, transferring it into storage in some form of battery system causes heat – and lots of it. Providing cooling for this function, thereby extending battery life – and we’ve all heard about the costs of those batteries – becomes as important as the comfort of the passengers.

Consider, then, the effect of stop-start technology and how the compressor can be kept operating during the ‘engine-off’ periods and you will quickly appreciate that the compressor will be, like the rest of the car, electric driven so that the battery cooling can be maintained during charge periods, such as when the car is connected to a local lamppost. It is commonly known that these electric compressors, to be efficient, will be 48V and there is a move toward the entire vehicle electrics becoming higher voltage to accommodate for this.

Did you know that?

You will have read through the auspices of this journal the ongoing spat between Mercedes-Benz and the European Union vis-à-vis the new gas R-1234yf and the fear of its combustibility – more likely to be a cost-based argument when the exalted cost of this new gas is considered. The German car manufacturers are known to be working on a high-pressure CO2 system – and that brings us to the subject of investment. Why? Because with the run-out of R-134a, the introduction of R-1234yf and the blitzkrieg from Germany of CO2 that is three types of gas and three types of machine to work on those systems – but beware, there is a fourth gas, R-744 (and system) appearing on the horizon and then possibly R-445a shortly afterwards.

“I didn’t know about that,” you say. Join the club, neither do the majority of our industry, but that is where the future is taking us. As the market and the proliferation of systems grow so does the need for expertise to work on them; it is down to each business, or its owner, to be looking at how to reach out for these opportunities, to weigh up the pros and cons and consider the business case for those to bring into the garage and offer to your customers.

Invest, but don’t buy

DO NOT buy the equipment for these new systems outright. I have covered before the need to lease equipment in order to create return on investment and not to destabilise the funding of your business. If you want to join this sector of the aftermarket and grow with it, you must appreciate that utilisation of the equipment and training will be spasmodic to start – all the more reason to be deferring the payment on the investment.

Just as there is an opportunity for selling your service there is an equal opportunity with parts – just like all other parts you need to be aware of OE parts through secondary routes to market, and tell apart those what are good and those that you fend off with a barge-pole; this experience can be gained with untold pain or by mixing in a community that know the answers – just as you do at the minute with your other competitive parts. Immersing yourself in this subject brings real knowledge and huge business potential.

But all of the information within this article was gleaned from my attendance at the last EAAC in 2012 – that’s right, its old news in the specialist circles. Perhaps if you want to add something new to your business, a new service to offer your customers rather than directing them back towards the franchised dealers it may be time to look deeper into opportunities that already exist, so stay after Automechanika or make a special visit to the EAAC, you may be surprised at what you discover. I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, NewsComments (1)

You shouldn’t be scared of the big wolf at the door

David v GoliathJohn Genge offers advice on what to do to avoid panic and pessimism when one of the ‘big box’ factors opens on your patch.

A big factor chain is opening a new branch on my doorstep and I’m really worried about the impact it will have on my business. What can I do to fend off the competition?

Any new competitor is a problem but, every problem is an opportunity and the thing that you must not do is panic nor be pessimistic. Reactive emotions will not help at all. The response needs to be balanced, considered and objective. The first step is to do your homework.
First, look at their website and then phone up and order a part. Next, visit one of their other branches and see how well they do. Analyse their ‘market statement’ – it will be on the website somewhere, what are their claims and what is their message? Look too at their product range and their pricing. Just because they are big, it doesn’t mean that they will out muscle you on every line. In short, undertake a SWOT analysis on them. You will begin to see what their motives might be, where their vulnerable areas are, what they might seek to exploit in your area.

SWOT yourself

Then take a look at your own business. Do the SWOT on yourselves and see how the two compare. Do you have strengths where they are weak, and vice versa, are there opportunities for you that they will fail to exploit? Be very critical and analytical, identify every aspect good or bad. This is the key to your building a business model that will compete and win.
Your business model must be based on your strengths. Every business can exist in a variety of business climates but to take it as its most simple you can lead the market or follow it. Those that follow are in what is called “perfect competition” and this means that the products that you and your competitors sell are regarded as much the same so the sale is on price with little loyalty from your customers. Think how often you buy this way, it has become so much more common since the emergence of internet buying.
The opposite to this is a monopolistic situation where no one else sells what you have and in theory at least, you can dictate your own terms. But most situations are between the two as every business tries to develop unique selling points, customer loyalty and reasons to buy from them in order to move away from “perfect competition”. So what are yours and how strong are they? This will dictate to what extent you can sell on reasons other than price. Building value in your service is subjective and depends on what customers perceive as valuable so ask them. Your SWOT may have identified where you think you are strong and weak but your customers might think differently.


Build relationships. Again think like a customer. Think of when you buy things is it always on price? Often yes but not always. What makes you forgo the last penny or two of discount? It is normally on quality, availability, reliability, expertise, loyalty, back up, returns facility, hassle and convenience. To move away from “perfect competition” you need therefore concentrate on those things. Of course you have to be competitive but look for ways to tie your customers in. Try to be a one-stop shop for them by sourcing and selling things that they need which the big factor is not interested in stocking. Even if you make no money on these lines, customers are coming to you for an order which gives you the chance to quote for other lines.
Rather than just discount, use loyalty bonuses, rebates and other rewards to tie customers in. Use your size to give added flexibility and a more personal service. Be prepared to go out of your way to satisfy a customer’s need even if it means dropping a part off on your way home or at lunchtime. Get to know your customers personally, what their hobbies are, what sports they watch etc. Be interested in them as people and not just as a sale. As your relationship with them develops they will often tell you where you need to be and give you the opportunity that wouldn’t be there to an impersonal supplier.
Obvious stuff? Of course. There is an old adage, people buy from people. Make sure your business has good people to buy from.
One last thing: Your staff might get the jitters, one or two might think about applying to the new factor for a job. Confidence and relationship building is equally important with your staff, so involve them in your SWOT, your plans and your strategies. Work together and use your team’s camaraderie to your advantage.

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, NewsComments (0)

CAT Garage Lives: MOT-A-CAR

MOT-A-CAR_Outside-1Graham Gent explains why developing a plan of action for your business is the key to survival.

Ensuring your business is a success and makes enough money to keep you and your staff going seems like a relatively straightforward concept, but in many ways it isn’t, as behind the scenes a lot of intricacies shape the overall outcome of how a business will fare.

Graham Gent, Owner of MOT-A-CAR, knows all about that, which is why he takes great pride and care in developing his business and marketing plans to guarantee his business continues to be profitable and adaptable.

He says: “If you have a business plan and do all your costings from the beginning, then you can work out your hourly rate from your fixed costs. If it is all done properly, you should be able to open the door to at least a half decent garage with a reasonable hourly rate and do a decent job at a reasonable price.

“My business is not based on price, and it will never will be. I have this conversation several times a day with different people who see our hourly rate and say ‘I don’t get paid £52 an hour’, which I reply with ‘I don’t get paid £52 an hour either’. They don’t understand, they just assume and that is just a customer’s point of view. But if you do your business plan properly, you can budget for new equipment and training.”

Graham-GentGent has developed the plan with the future in mind as the plan is to expand the business to become a saleable asset and a brand of its own. He adds that it is very easy for owners to see a garage as a lifestyle business, but having a progressive set of objectives can help avoid falling into the trap of not being able to sell the business on.

“If you don’t have marketing plans or business plans, you will just carry on plodding through the day,” Gent explains. “And then you won’t ever budget for more equipment, more staff, moving premises or anything.”

Gent’s meticulous nature is key for the success MOT-A-CAR has seen and will see in the future, and the desire to constantly re-invest in training, apprentices and ensuring his equipment is updated on a yearly basis underlines his commitment to ensuring the garage keeps up with ever-changing practices and technology.

One of the current projects is to set up a training programme with Bosch or Delphi, which he accepts will also mean buying their garage equipment.

“We want to implement a Delphi or Bosch training programme, for the lads in the workshop so they can work through the various modules and know they are getting something out of it as well.

“All of your staff needs to be able to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and that is why you need to train them. If they struggle with certain items, then we send them on the relevant course. That is why we want this training programme in place, so we can pick our lads out and say you are good at that, let’s get you on that course.”

Another area the garage focuses heavily on is its customer service, which has been acknowledged through several business awards. Gent sees a good customer experience as integral part of inspiring future business no matter what his hourly rate is, as the majority of his customer base look at the standard of work and the service they receive.

“If you are not willing to put a dedicated receptionist in and have dedicated staff, then you are not going to survive,” he adds. “You need staff who will happily go on a training course, learn about the technology and make you more money by doing the job correctly first time. You also need staff that can deal with customer complaints.

“You need to deal with customers on an individual basis all the time. If it wasn’t for customers, you wouldn’t have a business, and you would be out of a job, and you need staff who understand that and know customer’s needs and know what they’re doing and then it will all come together.”

MOT-A-CAR, underpinned with a solid business plan and good customer service, is currently the biggest independent in Sittingbourne, and this has led to a number of fleet contracts being won including for Kent Ambulance Service and Fire Brigade, Swale Borough Council, Anglian Windows and Fed-Ex.

Posted in Garage News, News, Out and About with CATComments (0)

Groupauto offers UCCC garages a silver lining

Groupauto offers UCCC garages a silver lining

uccc_header_logoBuying group Groupauto is looking to provide garages linked with the Unipart Car Care Centre network a lifeline.

It aims to give those independent garages, which have been left in the dark after the recent demise of Unipart Automotive, another option and encouraging them to secure their future by becoming either a part of the Autocare or Approved Garages network.

Groupauto believes that UCCC members will find the most benefit from joining its Autocare scheme, through providing them with support through practical and day-to-day means. Maria McCullough, Autocare’s Network Manager, explains more:

“Autocare members benefit from association with a major multinational brand through the group’s corporate signage, colour scheme and logo, while keeping hold of their own business identity and the freedom to make the decisions that best suit their individual needs.

“In essence, we are here to provide a framework with a multitude of opportunities such as technical training, back-office system support, marketing services, business insurance, business advice and networking opportunities, which allows them to run a successful independent garage that can compete in the market.

“A point of particular interest to UCCC garages is that the MAM AWOI system we use throughout AutoCare is exactly the same platform as the Unipart Kiss system, so transition would be seamless.”

The other option is the Approved Garages, which follows the same Autocare scheme, but it requires garages in the network to provide high standards of work at a fair price.

Network Manager Phil Seymour added: “The network is delivering impressive results for both motorists, who currently rate the garages in the network with a 99 percent satisfaction rating and the garages themselves who have received 17,000 website generated leads and benefited from more than £2.5million worth of new business.”

Posted in Garage News, NewsComments (1)

Countdown to IAAF conference and dinner begins

Countdown to IAAF conference and dinner begins

IAAF-Conference--Awards-Dinner1This year will see a number of firsts at the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation’s annual conference and dinner.

For the first time the event will not be held at the Hilton Metropole, but the ICC in Birmingham, which was chosen due its travel versatility and array of accommodation options.

It will also be the first time new Chief Executive Wendy Williamson will be at the helm, after taking over from Brian Spratt earlier this year.

The IAAF’s conference and dinner will be held on December 4 with the conference consisting of keynotes and debates on topics and issues affecting the aftermarket, while the evening soiree will be adorned by recognising those shining lights in the aftermarket, followed by much revered silent auction.

Williamson added: “We’ve listened to members feedback and the new IAAF Annual Awards and Dinner will offer guests a truly memorable experience. The ICC welcomes over 300,000 delegates each year and the purpose-built venue in the heart of the UK’s vibrant second city of Birmingham will take the IAAF event to a completely new level.”

To book your place at the conference and the dinner, call the IAAF on 0121 748 4600.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (0)



Parts distributor Euro Car Parts (ECP) has acquired 27 former Unipart Automotive branches.

Following negotiations with Unipart’s administrators, Mark Orton, Will Wright and Jonny Marston from KPMG, Euro Car Parts has been able to secure the future of sites across England, Scotland and Wales, taking the ECP network to 194 branches.

Martin Gray, CEO of ECP, commented: “We are delighted to have acquired these 27 branches and may yet acquire more. Over the last few days we have been working hard to identify which locations fit into our growth strategy. We are optimistic that many ex-Unipart employees from these locations will now join Euro Car Parts. We look forward to helping them to continue their aftermarket careers and bring an end to the uncertainty and stress these past weeks have brought them and their families.

“In addition to the site acquisitions, we are also thrilled to announce that last week alone we made offers to over 100 ex-Unipart employees. During the next 12-18 months we will create 1,500 new positions, so I meant it when I said last week that we would go the extra mile to assist them. This proves we are serious about attracting, developing and growing the very best talent within our sector” he concluded.

The 27 locations are as follows:  Acton, Avonmouth, Ayr, Bangor, Bath, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Dundee, Dunfirmline, Elgin, Enfield, Folkestone, Grantham, Guildford, Keighley, Kendal, Llandudno, Loughborough, Newark, Norwich, Perth, Sittingbourne, Sunderland, Swansea, Wigan, Worthing and Wrexham.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

NTN-SNR to grow globally after unveiling new distribution centre

NTN-SNR to grow globally after unveiling new distribution centre

NTN-SNR_Cran-GevrierA new logistics centre has been unveiled by NTN-SNR as the bearing manufacturer looks to expand its operations worldwide.

The new facility providing 12,000m2 of dedicated storage space for automotive aftermarket parts and operations will be joined to another warehouse to double the space available.

This decision will benefit NTN’s strategy to grow its business worldwide from its new European distribution centre at Cran-Gevrier, near Annecy in France. The plan is for the facility to serve a wide area including, the Middle East, South America and Russia.

The €10 million investment has provided NTN-SNR with the chance to support, store, package up orders and ship from one complex, and optimise the flow of its 7000 products to achieve its 40 tonnes of parts a day target.

The new logistics centre in Annecy also incorporates a number of environmentally friendly designs including, receiving ISO14001 certification, water treatment facility and a guaranteed temperature inside the unit to between 12oC to 14oC through reinforced insulation.

Eric Malavasi, Director of Automotive Aftermarket and Logistics at NTN-SNR, said: “We have worked on developing this area of business both in Western Europe, which is our main market, and for export, which now represents a significant share of our sales. The continuation of this development over the coming years will require a change in logistics methods.”

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, NewsComments (0)

Automechanika Frankfurt’s green directory announced

Automechanika Frankfurt’s green directory announced

56545_AUM_Plakat_A1_DGB-ohne-QRTwenty-five companies exhibiting at Automechanika Frankfurt have been listed in the Green Directory, out of 44 applicants.

The announcement also saw Robert Bosch GmbH win special recognition for scoring the highest score in the competition, for its system of remanufacturing electronic automotive components.

The panel said that Bosch’s submission is an economically attractive proposition and is a good model to adopt with the current throw-away mentality.

It added: “Remanufacturing electronic components requires in-depth knowledge of the system architecture and complex test algorithms. The technology is applicable to both cars and trucks and is a model for other product groups where a throw- away mentality still exists today.”

Dr Gerhard Angerer of Fraunhofer Institute of Systems and Innovation Research, said: “Repairing, reconditioning and reselling defective electronic components is a future-oriented technology that is growing in importance. Robert Bosch GmbH has made supplying exchange electronic automotive components an economically attractive proposition, which represents a breakthrough in the practice of throwing away defective electronic products and means valuable raw materials are kept in the economic cycle.”

The competition aims to find products and services that are innovative but also sustainable, saw 44 applicants apply to feature in the listings, with 17 coming from Germany and 27 from the rest of Europe.

Each proposition is then analysed and points given for the materials used, energy efficiency and emission output, with the highest scores being included in the directory, which will be available to download at the end of August.

Out of the eight categories represented at the show in Frankfurt, no entries were submitted for tuning, IT and management and repair and diagnostics.

Green list directory:

Parts and components

Industrie Saleri Italo S.p.A – modular pump
Carwood Motor Units Limited – remanufactured common rail diesel fuel pump
Borg Automotive Ltd. – remanufacturing process
Delphi Diesel Systems Ltd. – aluminium cable systems
Federal-Mogul Global Aftermarket EMEA – Ferodo eco-friction
FTE automotive GmbH – remanufactured brake callipers
Cromax – Ultra Performance Energy Clear
Arnott Europe – remanufactured pneumatic spring
Haugg Kühlerfabrik GmbH – cooler grill for batteries and power electronics

Electronics and systems

Robert Bosch GmbH – 1:1 electronics remanufacturing
Valeo – Hybrid4All
Knorr-Bremse GmbH – remanufacturing of pneumatic brake-systems components
Valeo – electric supercharger
Big Time Auto Parts – transparent, flexible LED brake, indicators and reversing lights
Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. – Q90 LED work light


Pannex AG – environmentally friendly tyre sealing agent
Lucidity Enterprise Co., Ltd. – lucidity 22807 9-diode LED work lamp
IPV Inheidener Produktions- und Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH – 12 volt automobile cool box with adjustable current consumption

Repair / Maintenance

MPS Micropaint Deutschland GmbH – Nitroheat
Henkel AG & Co. – Teroson EP 5010TR
Festool Group GmbH & Co. KG – stationary dust extractor system
Festool Group GmbH & Co. KG – eccentric sander
Ionitec International AG Ionitec – paint drying robot

Service Station & Car Wash

GPS Service GmbH & Co. KG – hydraulic plant operated with ‘aqua blue’

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

  • FRANCHISING: The perils of buying into an unproven chain
  • EAT MY (BRAKE) DUST: Should we take brake pad emissions more seriously?
  • PRODUCTIVITY PUZZLE: Is the aftermarket as productive as it should be? .

more info

    • Should hand car washes face further regulation?

      View Results

      Loading ... Loading ...
    • Popular
    • Latest
    • Comments
    • Tags
    • Subscribe