Archive | April, 2015

Inside Line: Schaeffler

LuK says it pays to ask about vehicle history when a high performance car comes in for a clutch replacement as it could have been highly tuned, had the EMS re-mapped or even had modifications made to the engine. In some of these cases a modified specialist clutch will be required. If a standard type clutch is fitted you may well find yourself dealing with clutch slip! Remember, many OE suppliers only sell clutches suitable for standard ‘factory’ spec vehicles.

Another tip is to also check the flywheel for signs of heat stress and cracking due to excessive heat build up, replacing if necessary.

Posted in UncategorisedComments (1)

Inside Line: Corteco

Nissan Skyline (R33) 2.5i 24V – Engine code RB25DE

As engine overhaul procedures become necessary, it’s worth remembering that Corteco supplies Camshaft Seals (Corteco 19026764B Nissan 13042-16V00) and Valve Stem Seals (Corteco 19020004 – Nissan 13058-13151) for the Nissan Skyline. Both seals form a vital part of the repair process.

Many installers still see such seals as ‘dealer only parts’, which explains why in certain areas, motor factors remain unaware of the demand for them. Corteco advises motor factors to take note that as the aftermarket distribution arm of OE manufacturer Freudenberg, Corteco is able to offer a complete range of gaskets, gasket sets and oil seals in original quality for engine overhauls, providing the best solution for today’s aftermarket applications.

Posted in UncategorisedComments (0)

Inside Line: Forté

To help maintain the cleanliness of the Nissan Skyline R32, 33 & 34 models, it is recommend to clean the oil and fuel system at regular service intervals using Forté’s Clean & Protect, carrying out a 45 minute Advanced Formula Motor Flush, adding Oil System Protector to the new oil and adding either Forté Advanced Formula Gas Treatment or Forté Advanced Formula Diesel Treatment into the fuel tank.

Common problems with a noisy differential can be treated at every oil change with Forté’s Diff and Gear Treatment to reduce noise.

Posted in UncategorisedComments (0)

Inside Line: RMI

1998-2002 R34: Continual failure of ignition coils after only 1500-2000 miles, no fault codes recorded, poor/bad earth to engine ECU.

Posted in UncategorisedComments (0)

Inside Line: Comma

A few notes about the Nissan Skyline (R32/33/34)

Engine Oil

For this particular series of cars, Nissan lists several specifications of engine oil which should be covered by either Comma Xtech 5W30 or Comma Eurolite 10W40. Always use Comma’s application guide to make sure you get the right product for the vehicle you are servicing.

With the service intervals varying from R32 through to the R34 (in some cases this is just 5000km or 6 months) and the potential for fast road as well as track use, oil top up between services can be critical. Supplying the customer with a top up pack and reminding them that they should be checking the engine oil regularly (see handbook for guidance) might also be prudent here particularly if you have noticed that the oil needed topping up when it was brought in. A quick check before you change might be a good way of reinforcing the importance of top up to the customer.

Brake Fluid

Nissan use one or two specifications for brake fluid for these series of Skyline and again you can rely on Comma’s online application guide to identify which product is suitable for the vehicle you are servicing.

Most people don’t think of brake fluid as a service item however, as with many manufacturers, Nissan specify a change interval of 24 months for these series of Skylines. Brake fluid degrades over time by absorbing water from the atmosphere, which lowers its boiling point. Boiling point is a critical factor in brake fluid performance because of the amount of heat generated during braking. If the boiling point of the fluid is too low then continuous or hard braking may cause the brake fluid to vapourise which in turn can result in a loss of hydraulic pressure within the system The message here is that brake fluid is a safety critical item so check and change when specified – don’t assume that it will just be OK.

Power Steering Fluid

Nissan use one or two specifications for power steering fluid for the Skyline and again you can rely on Comma’s online application guide to identify which product is suitable for the vehicle you are servicing.


Nissan use one or two specifications for coolant for the Skyline covered by Xstream G30 and again you can rely on Comma’s online application guide to identify the correct product for the vehicle you are servicing.


For these series of Skyline, Nissan use a range of transmissions that includes manual and automatic as well as two and four wheel drive, which results in various specifications for the gearbox, differentials and transfer box. As well as the different fluid requirements, change intervals and capacities will vary depending on the type of transmission so we would advise you to consult the handbook to ensure that you get the right product for the vehicle you are servicing.

Posted in UncategorisedComments (0)

Inside Line: Skyline Owners Club

Read the generous contribution from the Skyline Owners Club, where there are plenty more tips, tricks, hints and solutions for these three generations of the Nissan.


The Oxygen Sensor (also known as Lambda Sensor) is located in the exhaust manifold and measures the amount of unburned oxygen in your engine’s exhaust. Based on the amount of oxygen, it sends a signal to your engine computer which then adjusts the air/fuel mixture for optimum engine performance and emission control.

Failure Symptoms:

Excessive fuel consumption, a faulty oxygen sensor can waste 30% of your fuel
Driveability problems, such as engine surging or hesitation
High hydrocarbon emissions, failing an emissions inspection
The engine warning light may be on or service flag displayed
The ECU/computer stores a mixture-related fault code
When the oxygen sensor has stopped functioning completely, the catalytic converter may overheat and fail


Test and/or replace every 30,000 miles.
Perform periodic emission checks.
Watch for service light.
Vehicle manufacturers recommend periodic inspection and replacement of oxygen sensor.

Sensor Testing

The Lambda Sensor is at the heart of emission control continually monitoring the exhaust gas. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced by the engine. If the mixture supplied is too rich then CO will be high and visa versa. Having plenty of fuel (Rich) the engine will try to burn as much as possible, using up all available Oxygen, conversely if there is not sufficient fuel to maintain a correct burn then the excess Oxygen will pass into the exhaust system.

Rich mixture = High CO = Low Oxygen
Weak mixture = Low CO = High Oxygen

The Zirconia lambda sensor, by using precious metals, can determine the Oxygen difference between atmosphere and the exhaust gasses. The greater this difference, the higher the voltage it will produce, up to app 1volt. Lambda sensors will not operate until around 300 deg. They are heated by the exhaust and often have their own heater element. Single and twin wire lambda sensors have no heater element and are usually situated near or in the manifold, three and four wire sensors have an built in heater to aid rapid warm-up and may be placed further downstream.

From the table it can be seen that the voltage produced changes significantly within the window lambda 0.97 – 1.03. The ECU monitors this voltage and can correct the mixture strength (by changing the injector open time) to try to maintain perfect combustion.

The sensor can be tested for output by connecting to it a digital voltmeter, set to a 2v scale. Connect the +ve test lead to the sensor signal wire and the -ve test lead to earth/battery -ve. The voltage produced should swing from app 0.2v to 0.8v and back around once per second. If the voltage is stuck high then the engine is probably running rich for some other reason. If stuck low then usually either a faulty Lambda Sensor, air leak or an engine running very weak for some reason.

The newer type of lambda sensor (titania) work on a different principle, changing a supplied voltage as against creating one, but they still measures the Oxygen differences. These later types are generally more accurate and responsive.

Road testing:

Never road test a vehicle with stereo on. You need to be listening to the car. Similarly don’t let the seller talk all the way through your test drive.

Listen out for whistling noises whilst accelerating as this can indicate turbo problems or air leaks.

Listen out for detonation (or pinking) under load. Detonation can be indicative of poor ignition setting, low quality fuel, excessive boost pressure or a badly maintained engine.

Watch out for hesitations or misfires. Often these don’t reveal themselves until around 5k rpm so accelerate through from 3k rpm in third or fourth gear to see if the car experiences any violent hesitation, misfiring or holding back at this range.
Check for blue smoke under hard acceleration and during deceleration. Can be sign of engine wear or turbo problems.

Make sure that the operation of clutch, gearbox and brakes is smooth. Ensure that the gearbox is not whining and that there are no crunching synchros on gear changes (it is normal for the box to be stiff when cold).

Check that vehicle is showing a nice healthy oil pressure rising under load.
Drive vehicle long enough that any temp issues are revealed.

At normal engine temp leave the car idling and check for:
Blue smoke = can indicate a variety of turbo or breathing related problems.
Black smoke = can indicate fuelling issues.
White smoke = possible engine damage, head gasket or cylinder head problems.

Brakes, steering, wheels and suspension:

Check for any vibration through steering when driving and that the car doesn’t pull to one side under breaking.
Do a visual check on discs for scoring and check the thickness of brake pads. If these are going to need replacing imminently then try to get the seller to do so or some money knocked off.
Check dampers for any obvious leaks. Also look out for grease leaking from ball-joints. Suspect knocking when driven may be result of dry joints.
Most RWD GTS models are equipped with HICAS rear wheel steering. You probably wont notice the assistance of this system but it tends to be pretty reliable. Simply check that the HICAS light on dash does not remain on when driving.
Similarly most are equipped with Limited-Slip Diff. You should not be able to hear any strange or whining noises from the diff. Like the HICAS this system tends to be pretty problem free.
Check tyres for wear on the inside edge and make sure front + rears haven’t been swapped.

Changing Fuel injectors

De-pressurise the fuel system by removing the fuel pump fuse while the engine is running.
Take off the J pipe, then remove the throttle cable and body, it’s held on with 2 nuts and 2 bolts with 2 water pipes on the bottom of it.
Remove the fuel lines from the fpr and the end of the rail (two lines are next to each other and have hard lines bolted to the plenum).
Unclip all 6 wiring plugs.
Undo all 5 bolts holding down the rail and very gently lift it from the head.

While doing that be VERY careful not to lose the spacer washers that sit between the rail and the head!

You can then carefully manoeuvre the rail out towards the radiator.

To remove the injectors, unscrew the two bolts holding the cap on.
Then you need to carefully pry the injector out of the rail. This can take some brute force and when one pops out be ready for any excess fuel to come running out of the rail.
Repeat for all 6 injectors.
Apply lube to the seals on the new injectors and carefully push them into the rail.
They should all push in and sit flush, make sure they do before re-fitting the caps or you may break the caps.

Refitting rail is reversal of removal, but you may want to put a small bit of grease on the rail spacers to keep them in place on the head while you refit everything.

Radiator removal

1. Remove the expansion hose and remove radiator cap.

2. Undo the temperature sensor wiring at plug on the side of radiator, then loosen the hose clamps on the top and bottom radiator hoses.

3. Bucket under the bottom hose and remove it from the radiator. Move bucket over and remove the top hose.

4. Remove the 2 screws that hold the fan shroud to the radiator and remove it from it’s retaining clips at the base of radiator.

5. Undo the 2 nuts that hold the top radiator support brackets and remove them.

5. Push the fan shroud back towards the engine as far as you can and remove radiator by gently lifting upwards.

6. When refitting the radiator ensure the 2 rubber mounts are in place on the bottom of radiator and refit is reverse of removal.

If you’re fitting a thicker radiator you may have to “modify” the fan shroud to get it back on, or you can do what I did and just leave it off. Take you’re time with refilling the radiator too, heaters on full and maximum heat with the engine running at fast idle (around 2k rpm) with bleed screw (bolted on the front of the inlet manifold) open till all the air/bubbles are out.

Change settings on the ECU, refit the pump fuse and prime the injectors a couple of times by turning the key to position 2 for 5 seconds, then off, then position 2 for 5 sec. Then check all the rail and hoses for leaks. Start the car and check again for leaks.

Misfire and wet sparkers

Last week I charged the battery and then started the car. Ticked over in the drive for maybe an hour perfectly. I did a few revs on the throttle then shut it down ready for the MOT in the morning.

Next morning I started it up and misfiring, unburnt fuel smoke coming out of the back. Took the plugs out wet – cleaned them and put them back in. Still misfiring.

Went out and bought NGK grade 7s and put them in. Still the same issue – misfires and wet plugs.

I unplugged the fuel pump fuse and started the car and ran absolutely perfect no smoke either, no misfires even when slightly revved until it ran out of fuel.

Put the fuse back in – misfires and unburnt fuel smoke.
It was due to a stuffed Fuel Pump Regulator. It’s not restricting the fuel flow so you have way too much being injected, but with the pump “off” the rail isn’t pressurised so closer to the right amount of fuel is being injected.

Posted in UncategorisedComments (0)


Return soon to see what the most common warranty returns on clutches are.

Posted in UncategorisedComments (0)



Nissan-Skyline-R34-300pxJapanese performance star the Nissan Skyline R32/R33/R34 is thrust into the limelight this month.

The Nissan, which originally found its way onto these shores as a grey import and is considered one of Japan’s supercar royalty alongside the Toyota Supra, the Honda NS-X and the Nissan Fairlady Z (aka 300ZX).

The Skyline family began in 1957 as the Nissan Prince Skyline and a luxury sedan, with the first GT-R making its appearance in 1969. The sixth generation of Skyline brought about the R naming convention Nissan-Skyline-R33-300pxwith the R30 in 1981. The Skyline is still being made today, but under the Nissan’s premium Infiniti brand as the Q50 and Q60, while the Nissan GT-R has taken on the Skyline’s performance car mantle.

In this issue we are focussing on the R32, R33 and R34 with vehicles spanning from 1989 through to 2002.

Next month we’ll be looking at the air-cooled camper van the Volkswagen T2, 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

Nissan-Skyline-R32-300pxClick below to see technical contributions on the Nissan Skyline from:

Comma – discusses the importance of servicing the fluids and lubricants on the Nissan Skyline

Corteco – why changing the seals on an overhauled Skyline engine is important

Forté – on keeping the Nissan’s engine running at full performance

RMI – explains a common fault with the R34 Nissan Skyline

Schaeffler – explores why using a standard clutch on a modified Skyline won’t work

Skyline Owners Club – gives an insight into common faults and practises when working on these Nissans

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

CAT Garage Lives: Autofarm

CAT Garage Lives: Autofarm

Autofarm_Amersham-history-3Mention a 1973 Porsche 2.7-litre Carrera RS or Autofarm and most people will associate either with Josh Sadler, a man who built his reputation based on his encyclopaedic knowledge of Porsches and 911s.

The link is so strong that new Directors Mike Wastie and Steve Wood who have succeeded Sadler are now facing the difficult task of maintaining the history and ethos which appeals to its customer base, while implementing changes to the business to keep it modern and relevant.

How the whole Autofarm story began is equally intriguing as the astounding depth of knowledge that Sadler himself gained of these quintessentially German cars came about more by chance than by design. It began back in 1971 when he and fellow Glacier Bearings colleague Steve Carr decided to go it alone and make a living for themselves. Finding themselves in a scrapyard focusing on insurance write-offs the pair set out looking for a vehicle they could repair and sell on for a profit, as Sadler goes on to explain.

“We knew nothing about the motor trade or how it worked, business-wise we were horrendously ignorant and distinctly green. We noticed a 1968 911 L come in with front end damage, and Steve said how about we jointly buy it, but we had already bought a damaged Lotus Elan and a glass fibre Reliant Scimitar.

Autofarm_Forecourt-Bicester-2“We bought the 911, but I was uncertain about it, as I had only worked on British cars and ‘this was foreign’,” he chuckles. “And I wouldn’t have anything to do with anything foreign. But the quality of engineering was just in a different bracket. It was a detail engineered car, properly built.”
But a problem ultimately facing Sadler and Carr at the time was getting a replacement wing for this three-year-old 911. The issue arose because Porsche changed the design of the wing in 1969, which made finding a replacement wing for cars built before then incredibly difficult.

This meant going to Duisburg in Germany to find a replacement wing for the 911 L, where a chance meeting with a Porsche dealership owner’s son, who incidentally wanted to try out his English, pointed them in the direction of a firm called Terbernum Autoteile, which proved to be an eye opening experience.

“The son said ‘what you want to do is go down the road and see this outfit called Terbernum, because he has got some second hand bits’. Second hand bits for Porsches, there is no such thing surely?” said Sadler. “So we took his advice and the business really started when we walked in, as it had sorted racks of second-hand parts for Porsches.

“We sorted out the bits we needed to repair the L, and we came back and thought we could go in a van and buy loads of stuff and sell it on Exchange and Mart. And really that is where the business started; we finished up by buying a Transit van and making our own glass fibre panels, and selling a lot of wheels. We kind of grew up alongside the 1973 Carrera RS cars, and that was purely down to good luck more than business judgment.”

Autofarm_Restoration-workshop-2That was the start of Autofarm, and between 1973 and 1987, the business had a tour through Buckinghamshire, starting off in the leafy climbs of Ivor before finding itself making full use of an abandoned garage opposite Amersham Underground station.

In that time the business grew and grew, with Sadler and his partner Carr acquiring a RS prototype shell and 2.8-litre engine deemed surplus to requirements by Porsche, and it was during this period that Sadler describes as ‘our heyday’ as business boomed. Towards the end of the 1980s, Autofarm was diversified into a number of departments including a main workshop, project builds and metal workshop.

Sadler employed an ex-Mulliner panel beater to work in the metal workshop, but had problems keeping him busy, as paint and restoration work took far longer than the metal work. This period also saw the firm create a number of aftermarket and performance product lines with the main turnover generated from exhaust systems and glass fibre panels.

In 1986, the firm found new large premises in Tring and Sadler incorporated a new Suzuki and Saab franchised dealership on the 1.4-acre site. Although he believed this move would signal a new exciting era, unfortunately the timing could not have been worse, as he explained:
“The market started inflating in 1988 and wildly in 1989 and people were scrabbling for the 1989 5-speed 3.3-litre turbos and big premiums were being paid, but when the market collapsed in 1990, there was some serious pain around.

“When the recession came it caught us on the hop, and the operation was unsustainable, so I had no choice but to pull the plug. I took all the second hand stock and set-up in the sheds at home. A couple of the others joined me, and we operated out of sheds at home for a few of years.”
This marked the beginning of Autofarm 1973 Ltd, and in 1993, Sadler received a tip off about a farm in Bicester, where some renovated barns were awaiting some new tenants, and this has been the home of Autofarm ever since.

He added: “It is a brilliant site, but also slightly difficult, with us fitting into buildings rather than premises that are built to do the job, but we grew to 18 of us, then I had to cut back through the recession. You can’t stand still you have got to keep pushing forward and going for it.”

Planning for the future?

Autofarm_Workshop-2An issue that faces every business at some point is what does the future hold, and what succession plan is there for the business and its products or services to continue when the current owner decides to call it a day.

This is something that dawned upon Sadler, however earlier this year, he made his decision public that Autofarm will be taken over and its future secured by current employees Mike Wastie and Steve Wood.

He adds that since moving to Bicester in 1993 succession planning has always been at the top of his agenda, and after two years of behind-the-scenes work, with Wastie and Wood, the reigns have been officially handed over, although Sadler still remains an active part of the business through its car sales programme.

“It was a deal that fitted, and it made a lot of sense to hand it on to them,” said Sadler. “I tried to sell the business, but any money I made I went racing with, so the only investment around here was the reputation. For someone coming inside from the cold it is a little difficult to think that they can significantly benefit from the name.

“Life is about people at the end of the day, it is not about cars, and finding the right people is important, and Steve and Mikey work together really well as a partnership. Steve joined us a couple of years ago and is well able to run a business from the business end, and Mikey is well able to run the business from the engineering side, and he has always been on the classic side, so he knows that side of things.”

Steve Wood, Director at Autofarm, said that it had always been Sadler’s intention to pass the business on to Wastie, but Wastie had wanted somebody ‘to share the ride with’, adding:
“My wife said to me a few months ago, ‘everything you have done through your career has built to this point, this is it now you have all this experience to draw on lots of things’. And it is such a good, interesting business, has a lot of colour to it and hence that is why we are both here now.”
Wood’s remit is to try and drive more servicing, maintenance and repair work for the modern vehicles, to supplement the project car work that Autofarm has and broaden its appeal to the Porsche universe.

Meanwhile Wastie, who heads up the Projects department, said that his love for the business, the vehicles and more importantly the loving restorations are what have kept him at Autofarm from his days as an apprentice to now running the business, but it was a dream that he once had thought was out of reach.


L-R Josh Sadler, Steve Wood and Mike Wastie

“I could see what was going to happen and I thought someone is going to have to come in and take over the business,” he said. “I didn’t actually think for a moment it might actually be me. Over the last five years I have progressively been getting more and more involved with the management side, and then it dawned on me one day that I am already doing half of it.

“The most important thing was we didn’t want out with the old and in with the new. You speak to anybody, Autofarm is Josh Sadler, and if you say Josh Sadler, oh that is Autofarm. That is the brand, and what we now have got to do is try and remove Josh from the forefront of it, and he was around when the 70s cars were brand new, so we now have got to draw on his experience and knowledge. We want to continue what he started and keep the ethos behind it the same, and that is going to be really tough.”

The projects side of the business is large for Autofarm as it is where classic 911s come to either be restored to being factory fresh or alternatively turned into a dream machine.

“I love coming to work, I love what I do,” adds Wastie. “The fact that everyday and every project we do is different, your mind has got to be active all the time. Although a restoration is a restoration, everyone is different, you could have two cars brought off the line at the same time and 30 years on they could be in different conditions and how you approach them is different.

“I fell in love with the car the moment I got here, and started working on some of the cars – the noises, the smells in the car, and it spiraled out of control from there. Building the car is fun but getting to the end and the customer saying it has exceeded what they actually wanted before driving the car, for me, that is brilliant and that makes you feel you have done the job right.”

Autofarm has been around for over 40 years now, and although the business suffered in the early 90s, it has come back once again, and is basking in the booming classic car market, while the new partnership of Wastie and Wood has all but ensured that Sadler’s legacy may continue for many more years to come.

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

Banbury and Bicester College to inspire next gen at roadshow

Banbury and Bicester College to inspire next gen at roadshow

69572-BloodhoundSSC-front_dynamic-largeBanbury and Bicester College and the Bloodhound project are aiming to inspire the next generation of engineers.

The week long roadshow, between 20 and 25 April, at the college’s Bicester campus will give budding engineers the opportunity to take part in various science and engineering tasks, as the Bloodhound project hopes to drive interest in engineering ahead of its land speed record attempt in South Africa this autumn.

The college hopes to inspire school leavers to explore an education in engineering with them at their specialist motorsport engineering centre, with the college offering students courses for post-16s and foundation degrees in partnership with Oxford Brookes University.

For more details about the roadshow visit

Posted in Garage News, 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