Tag Archive | "Automotive"

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SMART FOR TWO 1998-2014


Way back in the 1990s, watch manufacturer Swatch had an idea that the manufacturing principle that it used to produce watches could be applied to cars. To cut a long and tortuous development story short, a deal was signed with Daimler Chrysler (as the company was then) and an all-new factory was built in Hambach which became known as ‘Smartville’.

Cars went on sale from 1998 with RHD versions (and official UK imports) from 2000. Having been through three generations, the two-seater model (originally known as City Coupé, latterly as For Two) it is the first two iterations that this guide is concerned with and most of this information can also be applied to the sort-live Smart Roadster. The three-cylinder petrol engine fitted to the vast majority of these vehicles received various upgrades throughout the production cycle, notably a start/stop system from 2008. There’s also a Mitsubishi- powered diesel fitted in some later cars as well as an all electric version, though these are rare.

The elephant in the room with petrol versions of these cars is the engine. Very early cars have a 599cc, three- cylinder twinspark unit, while later ones have 698cc and 999cc respectively. Loosely speaking, the the older the engine is, the fewer miles it will cover until a rebuild becomes necessary. According to specialist workshop Fudge Smart, the problem is with the oil control rings. These become ‘gunged up’ and prevent the oil being scraped back down to the sump. Instead it remains in the top end, causing the valves to burn out.

These engines are comparatively cheap to rebuild, but taking in a vehicle that needs such work is likely to knock out any profit that could have been made. Oil smoke and a misfire due to a lack of compression are the most common symptoms.

Not every misfire is a doomed engine. If you are lucky, it might just be the coil pack or the HT lead insulators – both are common faults on the ForTwo.

As with any forced induction engine, oil starvation can wreck the turbocharger. Luckily, this range seems to have pretty durable turbos as we haven’t heard many reports of them needing replacement.

Tridion cell makes vehicle safer than many believe

Tridion cell makes vehicle safer than many believe

Another common, and thankfully less serious, Fortwo engine part that puts the dash light on is the oil pressure switch. While a failing switch might be the cause of an oil leak, an intermittent illumination of the warning light may be the result of the pressure sensing part of the switch weakening. Technicians should also note that these engines are known to burn oil and therefore the oil level should be checked at the correct temperature and on level ground before diagnosis begins. (While the switch monitors oil pressure, very low oil level and air being drawn into the oil pump, has been known to cause the warning light to come on). An oil pressure check using an external, calibrated, oil pressure gauge should be used to also confirm the correct oil pressure before replacing the switch.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with the lights although unless you have pipe cleaner arms the headlamp bulbs are a swine to change.

If the car won’t start and the indicators flash nine times when the key fob button is pressed, then the key needs to be recoded.

Roadsters have a specific issue where the wipers are impossible to switch off. This requires a new motor, but at least you won’t get any parking tickets.

Tridion cell makes vehicle safer than many believe

Tridion cell makes vehicle safer than many believe

Must and damp in the interior will probably be due to leaking quarter or rear windows as these. Evilution.co.uk suggest that this is due to the original sealant giving up. Simply re-sealing the windows should keep the inside dry.

TecRMI point out that on early versions of the car, a faulty brake light switch can cause problems when selecting reverse while later versions brake light switch, clutch and software issues can cause difficulty in selecting reverse (N flashing on display).

Lambda sensors are a popular Cambiare part for these cars, often being replaced to get a car through the emissions section of an MOT test. Technicians should bear in mind that a spilt crankcase breather pipe can allow unmetered air into the engine and cause emissions related problems (causing lambda sensor and/or air flow meter fault codes). A blocked breather can increase crankcase pressure leading to increased oil consumption and again emission related issues. The breathers should be checked before replacing a lambda sensor unnecessarily.

The SAM unit, according to 4smart.co.uk, can be a costly repair if it fails; with the main cause of failure being water ingress although this usually only affects roadsters. As with many parts of the Smart, the SAM is an unconventional design, as it is both a fuse box and an ECU in one combined unit. While it is possible to obtain a brand new unit from the dealer it is very expensive, so most in the trade will send them to a specialist for a rebuild. Note that you’ll need to send the main ECU along with it.

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If you are not clear about what you will pay, or what you want to be paid, here is a risk of wasting everybody’s time, writes Pri Chauhan

Pri Chauhan is a Director at PG Automotive Aftermarket Recruitment

Pri Chauhan is a Director at PG Automotive Aftermarket Recruitment

In the automotive aftermarket, the majority of declined job offers are a result of something salary-related.

Of course, there can be other factors that force a candidate to decline an offer; job title, location, benefits package or so much more. In the automotive industry in particular, the choice of company car is so emotive that I have witnessed candidates turn down great jobs on the basis of the brand of car, which isn’t very sensible. The way that some people react, you might think that only four German brands are able to build a car!

However, it has been my experience that salary is the number one reason. As salary plays such a major role in a successful hire, it is important that both the candidate and employer are on the same page about it. If there is a significant gap between the two sides, chances are the offer process will be bumpier than the ride on the run-flat tyres on your shiny new German marque.


Unfortunately, most conversations surrounding salary are viewed as difficult and therefore uncomfortable. As a society we have established that talking about salary feels as taboo as openly discussing politics or religion. As a recruiter, it is important to separate what it’s like to have a discussion at the dinner table with a friend versus gathering information that leads to a successful appointment. The sooner you take away the stigma that goes with ‘what do you make?’, the sooner you will be able to have an effective conversation and understand where everyone stands on the matter.


Salary information is so crucial to a successful hire; the conversation needs to be had sooner rather than later. A candidate does not want to go through several rounds of interviews taking multiple days off of work and spending hours preparing for tough questions, only to find out the business cannot afford to hire them.

Likewise, recruiters don’t want to spend time prepping and facilitating candidates to interview only to find out the person they are representing has outlandish, unobtainable expectations. The same can be said for hiring managers; no party wants their time wasted for no reason.



For recruiters, it is important to be on top of this, the whole way through the process. Keeping all this in mind, I like to have the salary conversation with my candidates immediately. That means on the first call. I always ensure the candidate that I am NOT trying to lock them down on a salary amount, rather that I would like to know what it would take for them to accept a new role.

It’s important the candidate knows that having this conversation is actually in their very best interests. I always do my best to relay this to the individual. Also, remind them that private health care, holiday allowance and other package factors will impact this number too, so it’s not the be-all and end-all right then and there.


I like to prompt the subject by asking: “in order for me to get you the best offer, what would you be looking for in total first year earnings?” It allows the candidate to realise that I am going to work for them to get the best offer I can.

There is no point encouraging a candidate through the interview process that is too much of a reach for them, or not going to fulfill their monetary goals. If their expectations are unrealistic, it’s better to confront the situation head on at the start. Likewise, if our client can’t pay them what they want and deserve, we like them to be upfront about it. Asking them what an unbelievable, excellent, good, okay, unsatisfactory and outright terrible offer would be is also a good way to understand their priorities, appreciate how important salary is to them and recognise how much selling you’ll have to do come offer stage, depending on the amount.


As soon as you realise that you are asking this information for the benefit of the candidate, salary talks no longer becomes an awkward or difficult conversation. It is important to gather all of the information that will impact the acceptance of an offer ahead of time so there are no surprises throughout the process.

Enough can go wrong in the recruiting process, so the more you can limit issues, the easier it will be to hire successfully!

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THE FORD MUSTANG (2005-2014) S197

Ford MustangThere was a fashion for retro-styled cars at the turn of the century. For example, you’ll remember cars such as the Mini, Rover 75, Jaguar S-Type and the PT Cruiser. Perhaps the coolest looking of the lot was the 2005 model year Mustang. It was the much-needed replacement for the SN95, which was itself a re-skin of the third generation built on the ‘Fox’ platform that spanned back to 1978.

Apart from the styling, buyers loved the traditional front-engine rear-drive layout, although reviewers noted that the live axle coupled with thin interior plastics made the car feel unrefined and tiring to drive. The normally aspirated V6 or V8 engine line up felt pretty old fashioned by modern standards too.

The car wasn’t officially sold in the UK, so the majority on the roads have been imported used from the USA and other countries. Ford never made a RHD S197, although there are a few out there that have been converted, notably for the Australian market.

Strangely, it seems that the spark plugs fitted at the factory on early cars were prone to breaking on removal. The plugs in question are Motorcraft PZT 2FE featuring an unusual two- piece design. Website aa1car. com explains that the crimped lower electrode shell that becomes coated with carbon, causing it to stick in the cylinder head. Rust and corrosion on the lower plug shell can also cause it to stick. When you attempt to unscrew the plug, the lower shell can twist off and get stuck in the head. If you are going to be looking after a number of these vehicles it might be worthwhile investing in a small tool that has been developed to extract it. Snap-On produce one in the US, if you ask your local rep, they should be able to order it for you. Once you’ve got the Motorcraft plugs out, don’t refit like-for-like. Use one piece items (NGK, Denso, Bosch and Champion all produce good quality plugs that won’t break).

If you have a customer who brings you a newly- acquired V6 and complains that it is sluggish, then he is probably right, but that’s how these cars are designed. In standard form the 4.0 V6 (which is not dissimilar to the Cologne unit you might remember in the Capri) is not as sprightly as the on-paper figures suggest. Unlike earlier versions of this engine, the 4.0 is of SOHC design with a jackshaft in place of a camshaft to drive a timing chain to each cylinder head. 2011-on V6 models used the far more modern Duratec V6 engine. It is more likely that cars you encounter have a version of the venerable Ford V8. These mills are tough and straightforward to service (other than the aforementioned issue with two-piece spark plugs). However, access is a little tight.


FM part missing on stereo

FM part missing on stereo

Unusually for an American car, the sporty Mustang is often specified with five on the floor.

The gearbox is not a problem in itself, but many used examples feel loose and notchy. This is easily sorted as it is usually down to worn bushes, bent linkage etc. However, the problem is symptomatic of an example that has been thrashed: bear this in mind if you are preparing it for resale.

Cart springs and a live axle were old hat when the marquee was first introduced in 1964, so it is perhaps not surprising that 40 years later Ford scored a fair amount of flak from the motoring press for continuing to use them instead of indepen


Lights need to be modified

Lights need to be modified

As with all imported LHD cars, the lights need to be converted before the car can be registered in the UK. As with most cars imported from outside of the EU, the vehicle will have needed to go through an SVA test before it can be registered. There’s a number of specialists that can help with this, but as it is always a DIY job, the results can be patchy.

Like most American cars, the S197 benefitted from various year-on- year changes, and as you might expect from Ford, the options list was as long as your arm.

Suffice it to say that 2005-2008 cars had fairly rattly interiors, where later models enjoyed a notable improvement in fit and finish. Standard stereo systems were pretty good, though most customers ticked the option of a ‘shaker’ sound system. If your customer’s goal is just to listen to the Archers, they might be disappointed as US radios only tune on ‘odd’ FM frequencies (94.3, 94.5, 94.7 etc). There’s also no RDS/TP or TA etc. As the dash supports a standard double DIN, your customer might prefer to update the head unit to a modern touchscreen model.

US-market cars are designed to be serviced every few months and don’t demand the high- performance oils that we are used to writing about. That said, the V6 and V8 in the 2005 cars are designed for a thin 5w-20 oil which can be hard to come by in the UK. Several of the Mustang owner’s forums show that many owners use a cheaper and more commonly available 5w-30.

Diode pack failure in the alternator is relatively common, and as it is not an off-the-shelf part you would be best advised to have the customer’s existing unit rebuilt. Fortunately there are a number of specialists such as Autoelectro that will be prepared to undertake this
for you.

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JAGUAR XF (2007-2015)


Launched in 2007, the Jaguar XF was a replacement for the elderly S-type. While the
styling divided critics no-one could accuse JLR of producing another retro pastiche vehicle – indeed the car was all about modernism.

In 2008 JLR was bought out by Indian conglomerate Tata Steel Industries. a move which many commentators were sceptical about at the time, but now agree it was one of the best things to have ever happened to the company in terms of design and build quality. The result of this is that the 2007-2015 XF is a popular car in the trade, with values remaining steady after the initial drop-off.

TPMS sensors are prone to corroding and producing the MOT-failing problem of putting the light on. A lot of these cars were ordered with the 20” wheel and low-profile tyre package. These look cool, but do little to improve the ride and the rims often come into the trade with damage that goes beyond just scuffs. It’s a powerful car, so you might expect it to run brake pads relatively quickly, although there are reports that it uses rear pads faster than you might imagine.

On XJR and XFRS models there is a possibility that the rear toe linkage could have separated from the subframe if the vehicle has been particularly harshly driven. Other than this, all the usual suspension checks apply.

All diesels that don’t go on regular runs can suffer from blocked DPFs, though a search of forums including Pistonheads suggests that this range suffers more than most. A few people have reported cracked DPFs – presumably as a result of forced regeneration.

Diesel is most common power unit on UK cars

Diesel is most common power unit on UK cars

The 2.7 diesel is the only engine in the range to use a cam belt – and JLR recommends replacing it at an optimistic 112,000 miles or 10 years. As always, these numbers should be treated as an absolute maximum. The diesel engine was popular through the XFs run as it was reasonably economical compared with the petrol versions and sat in a low tax group (a situation that is likely to change in the coming years). Cambiare say that technicians investigating a hesitation, or stalling as the engine returns to idle, should bear in mind that the engine oil temperature sensor on these cars relays data to the engine ECU. This is used to determine the viscosity of the engine oil and control the operation of the variable valve solenoid. A failing temperature sensor could cause the valve timing adjustment to be set incorrectly, effecting running. A fault code of P0197 may be recovered.

Owners have reported problems with both Camshaft sensors on some of the petrol engines. Cambiare explains that it would be unusual for two sensors to fail at the same time, so the cause of the problem is likely to be the shared earth via the ECU. Technicians should check continuity of the wire, often Green/Black in colour, before replacing the sensors unnecessarily. Fault codes P1174, P1175 and or P1176 may be present. Fault codes P1106 and P1107 may direct a technician towards replacing the MAP sensor. However, these codes can also refer to the charging reference from the alternator being out of range and require the battery status monitoring software resetting.

Cambiare mentions that brake lights may sometimes fail to illuminate when the brake pedal is depressed after a battery replacement. Technicians should be aware that suspected brake light switch failure could also be linked to the battery power management system not being re-programmed when the battery was replaced. It advises that this should be investigated before a new brake light switch is fitted.

Relatively common faults identified by TecRMI, (the technical service and repair arm of the TecAlliance Group) include the engine dying and a short circuit with a subsequent fire risk. The first cause, which generally affects vehicles manufactured between November 2012 and May 2013 is due to the fuel pump stopping and therefore cutting the supply of fuel and is the result of a problem with the cable harness, which will need to be replaced. The second, which generally affects vehicles manufactured between September 2012 and March 2013, is also wiring related and is caused by the wiring harness being damaged through chafing against adjacent components and requires the installation of protective covers.

Leather is the only seat covering offered, which is tough for anyone who is repulsed by the idea of sitting on animal hide. This is unusual for Jaguar, as its models have usually been offered with an option of cloth. Generally the interior is good and hardwearing, although the touchscreen infotainment system feels a little dated now and the modules are expensive to replace when they go wrong. Depending on spec, you may find that vehicles come with heated or cooled seats and some models are specified with a Bowers and Wilkins or Meridian sounds system. Note that these vehicles use the fibre-optic MOST network. Don’t try to splice extra equipment into the loom – it won’t work and the car may refuse to start. Some owners report problems with touchscreens freezing – which is perhaps to be expected. However, some other electrical niggles such as ‘boot open’ light remaining on, could take ages to diagnose and fix – or they will result in an unhappy customer returning the car. The clock apparently runs a little slow and loses a minute every couple of months – though there’s not much you can do about this!

Cluster fault prompted recall

Cluster fault prompted recall

The XF has had more than its fair share of recalls. DVSA first recalled this car in 2008 for rear seatbelt problems. Since then it has had recalls for instrument cluster warning speaker faults, various recalls relating to fuel starvation and fuel leaks as well as power steering failures. These steering failures are down to pin holes appearing from corroded pipes with the resultant loss of hydraulic fluid. DVSA notes that this fluid leaking poses a fire risk. A further recall was announced to sort an engine-cut out issue relating to the charge air cooler hoses and resonator on some models built between July 2012 and September 2013. There was a production issue, which means they can leak leading to a risk of stalling. Most recently, in June 2016 the factory issues a further recall over an engine cut-out issue relating to sudden in-tank fuel pump failure.

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Renault_Laguna II (2001-2008)

Occasionally a vehicle model will turn out to be the gift that keeps on giving for the aftermarket. In last months magazine we mentioned the number of K-series head gasket sets that were sold when Rover 200s ruled the roads, but we could also have talked about R53 Mini PAS pumps, Vectra alternators or many other part numbers that for a time dominated the replacement market.

One car that was known as being problematic when it came out of warranty is the second-generation Renault Laguna. A few years ago it was famous for numerous small but significant electrical gremlins that would lead to odd instrument readings or limpy running, many of which were eventually traced to a poor design of sensor plug. As these cars range between eight and sixteen years old you might think that survivors would be few and far between, but in fact TecAlliance data suggests that more than 60,000 are still on UK roads. Families continue to hold this range in high regard thanks to the NCAP five-star rating and comfortable ride.

Rear axle bushes are prone to premature wear and require replacement in all instances. Wear is often identified by knocking from the rear suspension whilst driving over uneven surfaces or through cornering. The Renault Laguna II axle bushes are handed items and Motaquip recommend that they should always be replaced as a pair.

The Renault Laguna II can experience what might appear to be a failing crankshaft sensor but is actually poor or corroded terminals in the sensor plug. Elta Automotive explains that there are two versions, a black and a blue version. The original black version was prone to coming loose causing the usual symptoms of crankshaft sensor failure including difficulty starting, stalling, misfires and acceleration issues. The modified blue version was introduced to address these issues. Cambiare offers a kit to overcome this problem; this includes a new crankshaft sensor and multi-plug, since replacing just the sensor will not guarantee to fix the problem.

Cambiare also mentions that a fall of power below 2000rpm and failure of the temperature gauge to register variations correctly, possibly accompanied by fault code P0115- could be the result of a broken wire close to the temperature sensor rather than a failed part and advises technicians to bear this in mind as part of their diagnostic routine. Reader Steve Stokes says that rear electric handbrake wires chafing in the wheel arch often cause problems as do the fan switch and motor.

Laguna 1.9DCi engines can experience oil leaks from the oil pressure switch. Cambiare recommends technicians to check the oil pressure with an external gauge before replacing a leaking switch as it has been known that a sticking oil pressure relief valve can result in the generation of a higher than specified oil pressure. This increases the risk of leaks via the pressure switch and/or the turbo seals, leading to premature turbo failure.

When checking the non-illumination or permanent illumination of the brake lights, the problem could be the result of the brake light switch detaching from its mounting bracket. The switch is located under the dashboard on the passenger side and could simply be dislodged by a passenger stretching out and pressing on the carpet under the glovebox. The engine speed can vary for a variety of reasons, but one of the first places to check must be the accelerator pedal sensor.

The credit cards style chip ‘key’ for this range caused problems almost as soon as the model was launched. Notably, there is no way to get into the vehicle if the battery goes flat – and that the key can lose its code if left flat for too long. Hopefully your customer will have the spare key, which can be used to restart the car and will recode the main key.

Many aspects on the front suspension are known for failing prematurely, including the front coil springs says QH The Laguna II has relatively long springs so it is important to use quality replacements. The suspension arm bushes are also known for wearing rapidly. This wear can cause the control arm to be misaligned and affect camber.

There’s nothing particularly weird about the auxiliary and drive belts, according to Dayco and INA, though both companies point out that the idler and tensioner should be changed at the same time and the crankshaft pulley should be checked for operation. However, the specified replacement intervals on these vehicles is not a guideline – they will break if left on the vehicle for too long. Corteco say vehicles are likely to require a Torsional Vibration Damper (TVD) upgrade in the near future as these components are near the end of their operational life.

On Petrol 1.6 petrol models the alternator pulley rubber damper insert can fail due to tensioning issues, resulting in a noisy unit, and on Diesel 1.9DCi models fluid ingress can cause failure of the alternator according to Autoelectro.

The RMI-F say that all variants can have the ABS light on, but mysteriously have no fault codes stored. This is traced to water damage to the ABS module, which is situated behind the front bumper on the left hand side. The Federation also points out that models with the DCi engine can suffer intermittent loss of all instruments. This is usually traced to a poor earth connection bottom of the A-pillar from the instrument unit. The 2000-on Laguna was one of the first vehicles to have a TPMS system as standard, but the technology behind it is best regarded as ‘experimental’ – they rarely work.

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Recall for Zafira B models

Recall for Zafira B models

Vauxhall has announced a recall for Zafira B cars after an electrical problem caused some of the vehicles to burst into flames. This follows on from the VM’s voluntary check earlier in the year, for which it blamed the problems on ‘improper repairs’.

The latest call back has caused more confusion for who’s to blame for starting the fires with the VM’s previous claims highlighting third parties had carried out improper repairs to the vehicle’s blower motor resistor.

According to the VM, the recall will focus on “improving the robustness of the system” instead of replacing the resistor and its fuse, which the firm started doing last year. The recall will also involve replacing the current ‘soldered fuse resistor with a wax fuse resistor to reduce the opportunity for manipulation’ according to a statement.

When the recalls are complete, all vehicles will have a new wax fuse resistor, a new blower motor and a new moulding at the base of the windscreen to address water ingress.”

Stuart James, Director of the Independent Garage Association, responded to the allegations: “I have not seen any evidence that indicates that it’s a third party repairer fixing the faults. They’ve made an allegation but no evidence has been produced at this stage”.

Although the aftermarket has come under fire from the previous allegations, James is confident that this shouldn’t affect independent garages going forward: “Whilst the media have picked up on repairs being carried out by the aftermarket, I don’t think most consumers will take much notice. It’s just one party blaming another and I think consumers are smarter than that”.

Comments on social media seem to back this theory up. One poster on the Mail Online website said: “My local ‘stealership’ hardly has the motivation to do what’s on the service schedule let alone go off on a tangent and play around with the electrics. Vauxhall, your excuse is rubbish! I think the words you’re struggling to find are ‘poor design on our part.’

Vauxhall advises all drivers who haven’t had work completed from the first recall to take their cars to their nearest dealership for servicing.

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Scrappage SchemePolicy Exchange, a non-government organisation, has suggested that a new scrappage scheme be introduced for almost all diesel cars.

The think-tank suggests that such a scheme would be the fairest way to get motorists to give up derv-fulled vehicles.

“If we are to clean up air pollution, then Government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift to alternatives. This needs to be done in a way that does not unduly penalise existing diesel drivers, who bought their vehicle in good faith, and gives motorists sufficient time to respond” said Richard Howard, Head of Environment and Energy at Policy Exchange.

This report follows a suggestion by the Commons Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that some major cities could introduce extra ‘congestion charge’-style levy’s on anyone entering proscribed zones. The areas mentioned by the committee are Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.

The outpourings of an NGO or that of a select committee rarely make it into the popular press, but The Sun has picked up on the document and has launched a reader petition to campaign for a scrappage scheme to ‘compensate drivers seduced into buying diesel cars – and now face fines over their killer fumes’.

The Policy Exchange proposals also include a higher rate of purchase tax on diesel vehicles – and parliament select committees often debate its ideas that in turn can eventually be passed into legislation.

So far the aftermarket’s response to the suggestion has been relatively muted. However Quentin Wilson, speaking on behalf of the Fair Fuel UK pressure group said: “While we definitely need to improve air quality in our cities we worry if local authorities are given powers to create congestion charge zones they’ll approach the process with the same leaden-handed zeal they’ve applied to parking. The last thing we want is to diminish the public’s enthusiasm for cleaner air. Taking old, worn and badly maintained diesel vehicles off our roads should be an urgent priority and we at FairFuelUK will support a fully thought out, workable and cost effective scrappage scheme.”

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Ford Escort RWDLaunched for the 1968 model year, the Escort replaced the Anglia in Europe – and was an instant hit with the buying public. The model never dropped from the top 10 registrations list here in the UK for its entire production run. Built in Halewood as well as in Genk (although Continental production was shifted to Saarlouis shortly after.) Over two million Mk1s were produced and the MkII also sold extremely well, despite tough FWD competition such as the Fiat 128 and VW Golf. The relatively austere spec of the basic models coupled with the potential for easy DIY modification lead to the ‘tuning boom’ that saw accessory shops stacked with products for all driving styles and budgets.

The vast majority of surviving cars are either the sporting derivations (which were all produced in tiny numbers compared with the main run) or have been modified – so make sure you know what you are looking at.


The first Escort built at Halewood doesn’t have much in common with the last, built in the same plant at the turn of the century. However, one fault common on all models of Escort is the rear lights, which are prone to water ingress and earthing problems.
On Mk1s, the Sporting Escort Owners Club advises that you clean all of the connections and check that the earth strap (on the underside of the lamp) is firmly secured. The club notes that big gains can be made by simply cleaning up or replacing the reflector on Mk1s, or using foil tape on MkIIs (as these cars have a plastic reflector as standard).


There are two types of rear bearings on this model, First Line advises. One fitted to the Cologne/Köln axle, the other fitted to the Banjo axle and the easiest way to differentiate which is which is via the differential. If it is built into the rear axle, it’s the Cologne/Köln, but if they can be separated, it’s the Banjo.


All cars from the 1970s rust and the Escort was no exception. The problem if you are asked to inspect a car today is not so much what parts are obviously rusty – it is more a matter of detecting what rust has been hidden or plated. Cover sills used to be a common bodge, as did bunging the wheel arches full of filler. Strut tops are often plated as this was a common rust spot. We could point out every last spot where these cars can rust – but in short they can rust everywhere and it is east to cover up. Fortunately, there are a lot of new pattern panels on the market. Euro Car Parts for example launched a wide range of body panels a couple of years ago. the steering rack. Top strut mounting and bearings can fail regularly causing the steering to become tight, which can cause poor handling, as well as intermittent squeaking noises. First Line recommended that when replacing the shock absorbers or coil springs that the top mounts are replaced at the same time.


A sad fact today is that thieves are targeting popular classics from the 1970s. You’ll read elsewhere in this issue about a gang that have been caught, but not before they cut up at least 30 classic Minis. If you are doing an inspection, known history is absolutely everything, but this can have come from another car taken off the road long ago of course. VIN plates are often replaced during restoration. If this looks like it is the case, then ask to see the old one. On a slightly less serious note, owners, enthusiasts and ‘horse traders’ have rebuilt bread-and-butter versions of these cars to resemble RS, Mexico and AVO ‘works’ versions of these cars and the real identity of the vehicle might have got mixed up over time. There are books dedicated on how to tell a real works shell and there is a large price difference between the real thing and a recreation – so check carefully.


Pushrod Kent engines were fitted to the majority of RWD Escorts built, but most of those that survive today have a version of the Pinto BDA engine, or possibly have a Cosworth YB unit shoehorned in. Pushrod engines of course do not have an overhead cam or a belt to drive it, but all the others do and require the belt to be changed every five years, even if the car has covered comparatively little mileage. Gates points out that if an engine upgrade has taken place, the standard OE belt may not be suitable. The firm is able to supply upgraded reinforced belts for Cosworth BDA & YB. Importantly, the company recommends a drive system overhaul – replacement of tensioners, idlers and water pump (where fitted) is always part of the belt. If you have an original RS2000 that is suffering from rough, lumpy idle and poor starting it could be the clearance on the exhaust valves say TecRMI.


Interestingly, Continental versions of the Mk1 had dual circuit brakes, while the UK had to make do with single circuit. All years with drum brakes pulling to one side under heavy braking are likely to have the wrong wheel cylinder fitted to one side, van and saloon wheel cylinder inner bores are different sizes according to TecRMI.


Changing early cars from dynamo to alternator used to be something auto electricians would be asked to do every week. These days, a car that is so original as to still have a dynamo will probably be kept that way, but for the record, RWD Escorts with alternators were fitted either with Bosch, ACR-series Lucas or Femsa units, but it isn’t uncommon to find unrestored cars.


Front springs on the Escort are thick, heavy and rarely break. That said, many of these cars were inexpertly lowered by means of cutting the bottom loop off the spring. Such a bodge should be remedied on sight – proper springs and lowering solutions are available from firms including KYB and Bilstein. Suspension arms are a common failure with their bushes prone to splitting, so First Line continues to offer the lower suspension arms, as well as the suspension arm replacement bush kit. The firm also offers outer tie rod ends, as these too can also fail due to the rubber boot perishing over time, which causes contamination and leads to premature wear.


Dashboards were often cut about to accommodate extra switches or stereo gear – but note that an unmolested dash does increase value. RS version had a charcoal headlining where other models have a cream one. Almost everything can be re-trimmed or repaired at a price, but not everything is available new.

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Confusion has taken hold in the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) sector as products containing R134a refrigerant are being sold by accessory shops and over the internet, without the need for the buyer to be certified.

R134a is a highly polluting gas and so it’s sale has been restricted in the UK to professionals that hold a competency qualification known as F-Gas. Part of the training includes the knowledge that it is a criminal offence to top-up a system that is known to be leaking.

However, a number of top-up aerosol products aimed at DIY and very small workshops remain on the market. All of these contain R134a and are sold under various names including AC Pro Cold, EZ Chill and Auto Freeze. Retailers do not need to take any details of the person who it buying it, or the vehicle they are working on, although in each case a £10 refundable deposit is taken for the container.

Despite this appearing to be a violation of the December 2014 F-Gas Record Keeping and Qualification law, documents seen by CAT suggest that Defra and the Environment Agency are well aware of the situation. In the document, a government spokesman states: “When the Regulation was first published, the Environment Agency (England) and Defra followed the advice of the European Commission that suppliers of gas for servicing MAC were required to obtain evidence of certification when selling gas. As the only qualification within the MAC sector related to recovery, this is what was requested by suppliers”.

The suggestion that F-Gas regulations only apply to recovery has provoked fury from professionals who have spent considerable time and money on compliance. Jim McClean, MD of CompressorTech said: “This makes a complete mockery, of the EU December 2014, F-gas ruling for selling mobile air conditioning gas such as R134a”.

“Once every workshop in the UK hears about this exception ruling, they will simply use it when requested to provide F-gas qualification criteria to every motor factor in the UK selling R134a refrigerant.”

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Andy Savva It is sometimes difficult to perceive your business the way your customer does, but doing this is vital to making a good first impression

Andy Savva

If you want to run a garage or accessory shop that is perceived as the best in the area then you need to look at the business in a way you have never thought about it before; through the customer’s eyes.

I encourage you to temporarily remove yourself as the owner in order to view your business from an alternative perspective. This is the approach I took with Brunswick Garage; I placed myself in my customer’s shoes. Take a walk from outside your premises, look at your sign: Is the brand image clear, vivid and distinct? Walk through your reception: Is it welcoming, bright and tidy? Do you offer your customer a comfortable seating area with refreshments, a TV, or something to read? Are the toilets clean? It is vital to ask yourself these questions in order to view your business from a different light. This sounds like really basic stuff –and it is– but all too often I’ve seen businesses where the owners are both literally and figuratively on the inside looking out and don’t perceive their businesses the way that customers will.

It is also important to take your new customer perspective further into the workshop. Is it dull, dirty and messy? Are the technicians’ toolboxes organised? Viewing the workshop from your new standpoint may surprise you.

Would you be happy or embarrassed to invite a customer into the workshop to show them their vehicle? An ordered appearance of the workshop is just as imperative as an inviting reception area. Remember that the first impression will be the one that sticks – and it will be reached almost immediately.

On this subject, one of the fundamentals in any business and specifically in the service industry is how you greet your customers and the impression you leave them with. Many in the garage industry seem to overlook the importance of making a good first impression; a disastrous mistake in my opinion. You might still get the work now they are here – but you’ll want them to come back and to tell their friends about this great garage or spares shop they’ve found.

FeedbackWe’ve all heard the old saying ‘dress to impress’ but it does hold truth. Although today’s business environment is much more casual than it was even 10 years ago, it is still important to dress the part. At Brunswick we supported all of staff with company uniform. The last thing you want is to give off a negative impression before you even open your mouth. If you look sloppy, people will assume that you and your business are sloppy as well.

Start by using insight. Mystery shop your own staff and consider any annoyances you encounter. When out of sight, write them all down so you can relay these to your staff later. Also use your own experiences with other businesses: good or bad.

Now you have the insight to train your team members to make a positive impression from the beginning of a call. The greeting and the speed that the phone is picked up can alter a customer’s experience. In many cases, if the phone rings more than three or four times, it is too long. Frustration starts to set in for the customer. On the other hand, employers who answer the phone almost instantly may startle the caller. Try to find a middle ground such as picking up after the first ring, but before the third.

Consider the greeting, many people find a greeting such as ‘ABC Garage’ abrupt and annoying. A simple improvement could be to alter the greeting to the time of day whilst introducing yourself and the business, for example: “Good morning , ABC Garage, this is Andy, how may I help you?” Don’t feel you are going outside your remit by encouraging your staff to speak clearly – again it sounds obvious, but I’m sure you can think of a good number of technicians who really don’t. If you are unsure of what the other person is trying to communicate, as often is the case in the automotive environment, remember most customers are not as tech savvy as us. Be patient and attentive. Feel free to ask open questions: how, what, when, why, where?

Finally, do not interrupt when someone else is speaking. Interrupting someone in mid- sentence is extremely rude and will be counter-productive for your business. Remember your manners!

You can find out about Andy’s consultancy services by contacting: savvaautomotive.com

A good suggestion when meeting customers is to make an effort to literally be on their level. If they prefer to stand and talk to you, you stand. If they prefer to sit, you sit. Our preference at Brunswick Garage was to use desks rather than counters, the latter are seen as barriers between you and the customer.

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