Archive | January, 2016

CAT’S INSIDE LINE: ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER SPIRIT (1980-1999)

Come back soon to find out the common issues and problems with these Rolls-Royces are, and there are a few!

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DfT rule on ‘flawed processes’ at Klarius Products Ltd

Klarius Products Ltd

The Department for Transport has ruled on its investigation into allegations of malpractice by exhaust
and catalyst manufacturer Klarius Products Ltd.

The main allegation made against the company was that replacement catalytic converters were being placed on the market that didn’t meet type approval standards as they bore invalid approval numbers taken from old stock.

WRONG NUMBER

VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) carried out the investigation on behalf of DfT. It found that 5127 products were produced bearing the wrong approval numbers. Of these 87 percent were recalled, while most of the rest had already been fitted to cars.

The body found the issues at the company to stem from ‘flawed processes’ that allowed these ‘serious mistakes’ in not controlling parts and approval number inventory adequately. This was made worse by a ‘lack of understanding of Type Approval’ at Klarius.

DRY WRANGLE

However, a fairly dry wrangle over EC numbers has turned into a wider debate for the aftermarket with industry figures voicing their views.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive, said: “Following a near 12 month investigation, we are disappointed to see that Klarius have been found to be using grossly inadequate processes. The investigation has identified some very serious mistakes by Klarius and breach of regulations, both of which damage the reputation and integrity of the independent aftermarket.”

A spokesman for DfT also voiced concern that the “replacement catalyst approval process is not providing the level of confidence in product performance that it should”.

For its part, Klarius admitted to the error when it was revealed in December 2014. It said that it had been working with the VCA and back in Feburary it attributed the long legs that the story seemed to have on a ‘UK competitor who is continuing to run around trying to reignite bad news.’

“We would urge others to join us in taking a sensible view on the matter and continue to take positive action to improve the reputation of the automotive aftermarket, rather than conspiring to denigrate it” Paul Hannah, Business Development Director, Klarius noted at the time.

The perceived ‘denegration’ might stem from a joint statement issued by competitors BM Cats, TP Cats, Euroflow and EEC. The statement warned that anyone who knowingly supplied or fitted a non-approved device ‘could be subject to a fine of up to £5000 per part and should seek legal advice before doing so’.

With the matter now resolved and the VCA happy with practices put in place, let’s hope the aftermarket can put this ugly row behind it.

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CATCH UP AT THE NEW BEN CARE HOME

Nigel Williams updates us on this fabulous charity:

BEN Care Home

If you ask anyone in the aftermarket if they have heard of BEN, the chances are that they will have done – and in all probability have donated to the organisation at some stage or other.

However, if you ask the same person to describe what the charity does, the chances are you will get a minute errs before a description of an ancient care home in the countryside somewhere. This will mostly be pieced from dim recollections of very old magazine articles and sepia-tinged adverts from days past.

We were curious to find out if these images were still relevant, so we paid a visit to Sunningdale, the site of the rambling Edwardian house you might have seen in some of those old pictures. The first shock is that that the building is no longer there. Indeed, on our visit a bulldozer raked through the foundations of where the house until recently stood. Next to it a complex of new buildings have taken its place. From the outside, the new buildings couldn’t be more different as they are a functional mixture of brick, steel and glass.

In fact, this gleaming new care home is one of four operated by BEN. It isn’t the only thing the organisation does either, as new man at the charity Nigel Williams is quick to point out. “We are not just a nice little charity that the industry gives a pat on the head and says ‘thanks very much’ he says. “We want to be the main channel of support in the industry – and we want to be an integral part of the industry.”

Support

BEN care homeCare homes and day centres are only part of the support that Williams talks about. Indeed, the organisation runs a helpline (referred to by Williams as a ‘lifeline’) that currently offers help and advice to free to callers. Topics typically revolve around the four ‘pillars’ of BEN’s advice, namely support for mental, physical, financial and social fitness.

Williams has bullish plans for expanding the number of people that will benefit from the service. We’ll return to this subject in a later issue as for now, we’ve got a care home to look around.

Modern

We are far more used to looking at workshop ramps or accessory shop gondolas than walk-in wetrooms or elevating beds. However, it is clear that the facility is the most modern of its type and different sections have been constructed around the varying needs of groups of residents. For example, a block (known as a ‘house’) designed for people with dementia features pictograms on doors as well as the word.

Colours and furniture have been picked according to the client’s groups needs and perhaps most pleasingly each unit has access to an outside courtyard space with greenery and benches. Each area has walls and doors designed so that the residents can safely enjoy their areas without fear of getting lost or encountering any significant trip hazards. There’s also a ‘high street’ area with a bar, bistro and hairdressing salon as well as a hydrotherapy pool. This area, Williams tells us is popular when relatives visit because it is similar to a day out without actually having gone very far.

There are also a number of activities for the residents to enjoy such as baking, arts and crafts and gardening.

This facility wasn’t built just from donations at black tie events. Part of the planning consent allowed for the construction of several dozen retirement flats, which given the location near Ascot raised a considerable amount of money for the construction of the entire complex.

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PORSCHE BOXSTER (1996-2012) GETS THE ONCE OVER

Porsche BoxsterThe Porsche Boxster is the latest car to get the once over on our ramp.

Originally launched in 1996 the 986 was styled on the 550 Spyder, before in 2005, the model was replaced by the 987 in 2005 and was in production until 2012. The second generation Boxster took the roadster concept and improved it both cosmetically and mechanically. It eventually became the basis on which the much-coveted Cayman was then spawned.

The Boxster was fitted with water-cooled engines – codenamed M96. This rear-wheel drive car was fitted with a range of engines throughout the 986’s and 987’s 16-year lifespan, with Porsche producing 2.5-, 2.7-, 2.9-, 3.2- and 3.4-litre petrol engines, with varying power outputs.

These Boxsters were fitted with a five- or six-speed manual or a PDK automatic and a complex folding roof, which will provide some extra challenges.

Reluctant Airbag

Forum 986forum.com says that the early Boxsters were known for their seatbelt buckles not being grounded properly and causing the airbag warning light to activate. Most have been replaced, but the problem is said to be a reoccuring one.

Smoking Boxer

iwantaporsche.net says that it is natural for the Boxster to produce a puff of smoke on start up, if the car has been sitting around for a few days or more. This is due to oil accumulating on the piston rings due to the construction of the boxer engine. As a result it advises technicians to tell customers to keep an eye on their oil level between services.

Flooding The Hood

Autofarm says that electric roofs on the Boxster are complex and very expensive to repair. So it advises to clear drain holes regularly, otherwise the excess water will run down the rear bulkhead and flood the electrics. This can cause minor operating niggles with the roof, windows and the central locking or cause more permanent damage to the ECUs which are located under the driver’s seat.

Rotating Rules

Rotating electrics remanufacturer Autoelectro advises technicians to be wary when replacing these parts on the Boxster. It explains that the 1999-2004 986 version uses a variation of starter motors for its manual and automatic, and 2.5-, 2.7- and 3.2-litre Boxsters. Although the units look similar the differences lie with the power output, with the manual starter motors rated at 1.1kW, while the automatics use 1.7kW or 1.8kW units.

While it adds that Boxsters made in 2006 came with two alternator variants. One operates on a warning light system, while the other was ECU-controlled. In both instances fitting the wrong type of rotating electric will cause the new unit to prematurely fail.

Watertight Block

Independent Porsche specialist Autofarm says that the early versions of the 2.5-litre Boxster suffered from a porous block. It adds that many have been rectified under warranty, but there may still be some out there.

Slipping Sleeves

986forum.com says that Boxsters built between mid-98 through to early-99 suffered slipped sleeves in the engine causing total failure. Again most vehicles built between these date ranges would of had their engine replaced under warranty, but there may be some still out there.

Bearing Blowout

Autofarm says that the a more serious problem that affects the water-cooled M96 engine found in the first generation Boxster is with its intermediate shaft bearing prematurely failing. It adds that there are no tell-tale signs of failure, but you may spot traces of oil in the bellhousing or metal flakes in the oil filter.

Forum 986forum.com says that this problem is indiscrimanate, with some engines over 100,000 miles still working with its original bearing. It adds that there may be a grinding noise prior to failure of the bearing, but in some cases it can happen unexpectedly.

Autofarm warns that failure of the bearing can be catastrophic, leaving many a Boxster facing the breaker’s yard. However, if the failure happens at low speed, then the valves are likely to be bent, leaving the Boxster’s engine repairable.

Depressing Breakage

986forums.com adds that the Boxster is also prone to a D-shape piece fracturing off when the sleeve slips in the cylinder. This damage is thought to be caused by not allowing the Porsche to warm up thoroughly before moving off.

Breaking The Seal

986forums.com mentions that the Boxster is susceptible to rear main seal failure, through the means of dripping oil. The problem is said to originate from the poorly designed seals on the crankshaft and supporting structure. The issue is said to affect manual Boxsters more than its automatic variants.

Mounting Problems

The rubber in the engine mounts on the Porsche Boxster are known to deterioate says 986forums.com The symptoms include hearing a clunk when changing gear or struggling to move the lever.

Worn Down By Suspense

The RMI says that the Porsche Boxster suffers from a couple of common suspension problems, such as worn suspension bushes, which can lead to excessive wear of the Porsche’s tyres. While it adds that the front suspension springs are known to break after being put on wheel free lift.

A Tear In My Porsche’s Boots

Both Porsche forums 986forum.com and iwantaporsche.net say that the CV boots on the Boxster are known to breakdown and fail on the six-speed versions. The boots are well known to rip frequently allowing dirt and water to penetrate the bearings, and causing it to prematurely fail. It advises to check the CV boots regularly on these Boxsters, although five-speed manuals and automatics don’t seem to be affected quite as much.

Battery Lockup

Forum 986forum.com says that the Boxster’s battery is locked in the trunk at the front, and warns that access can be tricky if the battery is flat. There is often not enough voltage to power the motor that releases the catch to get access to the battery. There are ways to jump the battery and releasing the boot mechanically.

Fuel System Japeries

The 3.2 litre engine in the Porsche Boxster 987S can suffer from catalytic converter problems, signified by a fault code being stored for catalyst efficiency below threshold say Forté. The firm produces a range of additives than can help clear the problems.

Serviced The Fluids?

Comma says that most 986 and 987 Boxsters will use 5W40 engine oil to lubricate its range of powerplants. It adds that with the Porsche’s service interval every 18,500 miles, it is advisable to mention to motorists to regularly check their vehicle’s oil to protect sensitive components and a good opportunity to sell top-up packs as well.

Next month we’ll be looking at the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, 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 daniel.moore@haymarket.com

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The 16-pin port & the puppet masters

New tech means that VMs will pull the strings, so how can the aftermarket break free? Neil Pattemore

Neil Battemore Business Analyst at XEN Consultancy and FIGEFA representative

Neil Battemore
Business Analyst at XEN Consultancy and FIGEFA representative

One of the burdens of managing your own business is that it is difficult to find the time to investigate what is ‘coming over the hill’ to assess what may impact your future business. Equally, if the business is doing well today, why should that not continue into tomorrow and beyond?

We are entering into a period of change that is more threatening than the aftermarket has seen for many years, if not ever. These changes are driven primarily by the increasing technology of the vehicles, which have yet to be seen by most independent garages and indeed, have yet to be recognised and addressed by the European legislators.

So what are these changes to the vehicle and what is driving them? In reality it is a mixture of things, which taken independently are issues, but together create real challenges in order that the vehicle can be kept on the road safely and still comply with type approval requirements.

This can include the increasing requirement to re-code or re-flash parts and components when conducting repairs, which is achieved by using a connection to the vehicle manufacturer’s website and ‘pass through’ programming. In itself, not a big issue, but in connecting to the vehicle manufacturer’s website, one of your main competitors is now able to monitor what you are doing to one of ‘their’ vehicles and can use this data to support their main dealers to market competitive service and repair offers to your local customer base.

Wheeled PC

However, the key issues revolve around the changes to the in-vehicle architecture that are turning the vehicle into not just a ‘PC on wheels’, but now more of a ‘server on wheels’ due to the increased IT functions and external communication via telematics.

This creates not only a much more IT based architecture, but allows much higher levels of access security, especially when there is remote wireless connection to the vehicle.

To address these security challenges, some vehicle manufacturers have already isolated the in-vehicle buses from any external communication via firewalls and security gateways. This not only impacts the telematics communication, but is already restricting the standardised 16 pin connector to emissions related data only.

Even if you can connect through the 16 pin connector, there is no direct connection to the vehicles ECUs, but data is controlled via the gateway. This may lead to each diagnostic tool having to be verified and registered with the vehicle manufacturer and to be authorised via the vehicle’s telematics system with the vehicle manufacturer’s server to authorise the vehicle to ‘open’ the communication. This then becomes a chargeable ‘service’ from the vehicle manufacturer, as well as being another method of monitoring and controlling the business of independent workshops.

Smoke without fire

You would be forgiven for thinking that current European legislation protects your right to access data via the 16 pin connector, but this is not the case. Legally, it needs to support emissions data only. The vehicle manufacturers is legally obliged to provide access to repair and maintenance information via their website, but this may also now include the in-vehicle data accessed via the vehicle’s telematics system.

Using the vehicle manufacturer’s website will restrict what data is accessible, as well as being another chargeable ‘service’ controlled under a B2B contract, but will also allow the monitoring and control of the independent workshops business models.

Naturally, aftermarket sector associations are fighting hard against these developments, but from the legislator’s position the legal basis of the legislation needs to change to reflect the anti-competitive issues and this legislation tends to be reactive, rather than pro-active. Equally, at the same time, the vehicle manufacturers are claiming that only they can be trusted to securely handle communication to and from ‘their’ vehicles.

If this were to become the case, then the VMs would be in direct and complete control of the diagnostic, repair and maintenance process, imposing their own diagnostic and service methods. Independent operators would become puppets of the VMs and the whole aftermarket chain (data publishers, spare parts distributors, test equipment manufacturers etc.) would struggle to survive. Independent workshops would have increased costs, would be forced to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s processes and would be competing much more directly with the main dealers.

So how can you fight this? Quite simply, as individual businesses, it would be very difficult to influence this problem, but united we stand and I strongly suggest that you consider joining one of the aftermarket trade associations who are focused on supporting their European colleagues in Brussels to work with the legislators to maintain independent access to the vehicle and its data, both via the 16 pin connector and in the longer term, via telematics.

For certain, this is a ‘game changing’ threat to the aftermarket and we haven’t even got to the subject of autonomous vehicles yet…

Find information about Neil’s consultancy business at xenconsultancy.com

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