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DIAGNOSING AND FIXING FAULTS FIRST TIME AROUND

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DIAGNOSING AND FIXING FAULTS FIRST TIME AROUND


Dinos Christoforou takes us around his family-run garage business, ‘Spiros Motors’ in North West London.

Ex-F1 technician, Spiros Christoforou, opened his garage business in North West London 35 years ago, and has enjoyed steady growth ever since. “We have got contracts with HR Owen Sports Car, which means we get a lot of prestige sports cars coming through from the dealership” said Spiros’s son Dinos – who is also a master technician at the firm. “This includes Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati. We have our own USP of fast cars that we service on a regular basis”.

While some garages have been known to still use older diagnostics, coupled with the newer technologies coming into the market, technicians should be regularly updating their skills both in terms of equipment and training, according to Dinos. “It’s hard to stay up-to-date in this industry because everything is changing” he said. “If you don’t keep up then you will start falling behind and I think many garages find it difficult because they’re always trying to cut down their prices”, adding that his staff are fully up-to-speed with tooling, training and the technical know-how to repair these models correctly.

WORKSHOP LAYOUT
This was evident from the workshop layout, which has a new automatic tester lane (ATL) installed for MOT on the right hand side with five dedicated service ramps lined up on the left. The site also contains an engine room as well as a dedicated car park space outback, which Dinos notes, is the only independent to possess one in the Park Royal area. With a handful of garage networks operating in close proximity and JT Car Repairs next door, we were curious to find out if this has impacted business. Dinos said. “There are around eight to 10 local garages in this area but we’re all in different leagues with one another so there is no cross over or competition between us”.

DIAGNOSTICS
Being a diagnostic specialist for most car models, means the team is well equipped for whatever enters the ramp. For troubleshooting and detecting fault codes, Spiros technicians will use Launch UK diagnostics and for more complex issues, the Autologic or Bosch KTS tool is the preferred unit of choice. Being a Bosch Car Service member also has its perks, according to Dinos, which is noticeable in the foyer area where many Bosch training qualifications are framed and hanging on the walls. “The Bosch training is world class”, he said, “They provide us with training from diagnostics up to service and master level technician”, adding that himself and his uncle are the two qualified master technicians on site.

Workshop contains five service ramps

SERVICES
To say the garage only conducts MOT and general repairs would be an understatement as there are many other services within its remit including air conditioning, bodyshop repair and fitting AlloyGators, which we were lucky enough to see Dinos fit to a BMW Z3 fresh off the track. Explaining his reasons for offering this service, he said. “It started with my mother who had a Porsche Carrera. She kept hitting the kerb and had to change her tyres nearly every two to three months as a result. They should normally last up to 12,000 miles on that vehicle.” He adds. “We told her to get rid of the car because it’s costing thousands on tyres a year, but someone from the racing community suggested AlloyGators and we have been impressed with them ever since”.

However, after fitting AlloyGators for nearly 10 years now, the master technician has found a number of fitment errors among some tyre fitting centres. He elaborates. “I have found people have failure of alloys because they have gone to a tyre fitment centre, where they have pumped up the tyre, handed back the keys but haven’t gone back around them for the final fitment”. Dinos makes sure that every AlloyGator fitted has ‘sunk in’ properly by applying pressure with a rubber mallet around the wheel, once they’ve been trimmed and fitted accordingly.

Although there’s been discussions between Spiros and his son about opening a second garage, they have decided to put it on the back-burner for now due to the growing demand of vehicles entering its current site as Dinos points out. “The way our business operates, it’s very hard to open a second garage because me and my father are hands on. Every job that goes through the garage, goes through us so we will carry out the quality controls and road test the vehicles when jobs have been completed”. He concluded. “It’s difficult to expand for these reasons however, we want to continue providing that high level of service and be there for our customers”.

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AUTOMECHANIKA IN REVIEW

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AUTOMECHANIKA IN REVIEW


For us at the magazine, it is funny to think that 2017 was only the second time Automechanika has taken place at the NEC, such is the amount that we have written and speculated about it. Nonetheless, this is only the second time the show has happened here, and it seems much of the aftermarket holds an opinion about it.

For me, the proceedings started the day before the event as SMMT had invited a handful of journalists to dinner at a nearby country pile to talk about the show, the aftermarket and the motor industry in general. One interesting stat that Chief Exec Mike Hawes raised was that the British public now spend more online on car accessories than they do on cosmetics. I haven’t been able to verify this yet, and I suspect it includes replacement tyres and servicing booked online, but even so it goes to show that the new generation of motorists are less willing to do things the old way. A point to ponder perhaps.

After the show was opened, complete with ribbon cutting and the traditional comedy big scissors (I wonder where they come from?) the show got underway and we grab show organiser Simon Albert for a few words. As the show had only just opened, he didn’t have much to tell us that we didn’t already know, such as the longer opening hours, increase in aisle space etc. However, he did confirm his hit list of companies that he’d like to see attending in the future and, of most significance to us, confirmed that the show would return next year.

On the Valeo stand

This surprised me a little, as I’d assumed that the show would become biennial in the years that the Frankfurt show was not held. However, I was keen to get going as my appointment book was full and I was running late before I had even started.

The first visit took me across Hall 19 and into Hall 20 where I could have a quick look at some of the stands as I scurried past. Liqui Moly and Auto Repar had particularly amazing looking stands. Schaeffler had used a space right next to the main entrance to build a gleaming white stage where cutaway versions of various products had been mounted on plinths for the reps to demonstrate. Valeo meanwhile, had approached the concept of having a stand in a different way, as it had simply brought a huge truck and trailer kitted out with demonstration models of various things into the hall.

MEANDERING
I won’t trouble you with the details of every meeting I had or what everyone said, except that on the first day a number of stands reported that footfall seemed a little low, which could be down to appalling weather that day as well as a crash blocking one of the motorways near the NEC that may have put some off attending. I should add that if the attendance was low on the first day, I didn’t notice it. From my point of view, Hall 19, where I spent the bulk of the time, seemed annoyingly busy with meandering people with a tendency to stop in front of me filling the aisles.

It was pleasing to see that many exhibitors had brought in things other than their products to keep people amused. Sales-i brought an Out Run arcade machine for example (a game that I spent too much time on in my youth). Denso brought a VR racing car simulator, which I quite fancied trying out, but decided not to as the racing driver Rebecca Jackson was looking on, and I had no wish to humiliate myself. Other stands brought various cars and bikes from series that they sponsor as well as the usual show novelties.

Holding an event after the show is always a risk, because while there will be a ready supply of people in the industry who are in the same place, there is no telling that they will be in the mood to go somewhere else after spending a day at the show. Even if they do, there is every chance that someone else has invited them first. With this in mind, I was curious to see how many people went to an event held by Motaquip at Warwick Castle on the first night. The answer as it turned out was a lot of people as the event was full. It was one of the more fun events that we’ve been to, with two apparently empty suits of armour jumping off the wall and alarming diners by staging a battle between the tables.

STAGES
Back at the show the following day I would have liked to have had more time to attend some of the industry and technical seminars that were taking place on a number of stages across the halls. Big names from the world of diagnostics including Frank Massey and James Dillon had been brought in as a lure to get technicians to the show (which by all accounts worked) while the heads of the garage associations talked about the various threats and opportunities du jour in the aftermarket. I did manage to get over to hear the winner of the Garage of the Year announced, which turned out to be Motorserv UK, which readers who have been paying close attention might recall we visited this time last year.

One notable absence from the show was TMD Friction (who are on record saying that they have ‘no plans’ to exhibit). However, the company did rent a plaza suite just outside of the main halls to hold a Pagid Live event in association with Euro Car Parts where a number of garage owners and technicians (the majority of whom had been brought down for the event) who, after a day at the show spend a couple of hours enjoying presentations on the benefits of the Pagid Expert programme and on ECPs garage scheme (see Hot Story).

If your reason for visiting the show was to find new products, you wouldn’t have been disappointed. Delphi brought a new bit of diagnostic kit for high- pressure injectors, European Exhaust and Catalyst introduced a 6-in-1 fuel system cleaner at the show and in a similar vein, Forté launched a 4-in-1 cleaning machine. Essentra Components launched something called a ‘High Tech Fluid Absorption Plug’ and I’m sure there were many other things never before seen at the event.

Throughout the show, I spent most of my time in the three aftermarket halls, but on the final day I had a meeting with Stericycle (a company that manages recalls for the VMs) and so I spent a while exploring the area dedicated to the automotive supply chain. It was markedly quieter than the aftermarket halls, although it should be noted that while the supply chain market as a whole is huge and worth big money, the number of buyers within it is relatively small, and stands dealing with VM services were of little interest to technicians, so it might be unfair to judge its success on the amount of feet in the room alone.

‘Billy’ character on Bosch stand

However, the highlight of the show for me came late in the afternoon on the final day when Helen Watkins from Bosch, who was manning the Extra stand, was accosted by a strange small man who kept offering her some of his special ‘home made’ sweets, much to the amusement of onlookers – apparently he’d been coming on the stand and doing this at various points throughout the show. However, just when Helen couldn’t stand the embarrassment anymore, the fellow took off what turned out to be a wig and false teeth to reveal himself as a well known customer of the firm. Apparently, his alter-ego ‘Billy No-Mates’ is a character that he regularly performs for some of his unsuspecting suppliers, and it was much to the amusement of the crowd that had built up.

It was almost time for us to leave in order to high-tail it back to London while there was still time to vote (remember that?) One point that is inescapable is the topic of the show frequency. As a conservative guess, I reckon I spoke to 40 company bosses during the show and the overwhelming majority said that they thought the show should run once every two years, preferably during the non- Frankfurt years in order to keep costs reasonable and keep the momentum of the show. From the point of view of the whole CAT team, we could have happily stayed there for a month if we could – there were so many people to see. However, I’m always curious to know the experience of our readers. Did you go? Were you exhibiting? What were the highlights, and what would you have liked to have seen? Give me a shout at greg.whitaker@haymarket.com.

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BOSCH ROTATING DIVISION SOLD TO CHINESE BUYERS

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BOSCH ROTATING DIVISION SOLD TO CHINESE BUYERS


Bosch’s starter motor and alternators division has been acquired by China-based supplier Zhengzhou Coal Mining Machinery Group Co., Ltd. (ZMJ) for an undisclosed sum.

ZMJ and its business partner China Renaissance Capital Investment (CRCI) signed the agreement yesterday, which will see the purchasers take control of Bosch’s division comprising 7,000 associates, 16 locations across 14 countries.

Speaking of the acquisition, Chengyao Jiao, CEO of ZMJ, said: “We are very pleased that we can now add to and successfully further extend our business with these new associates, their expertise, and the excellent products of the Starter Motors and Generators division.

“In the future, we want the Starter Motors and Generators division to play a central role in our company. Above all, we look forward to working with the existing management team to build up a business in the rapidly growing emerging markets. In addition, we want to further strengthen our position in the markets in which [the Bosch Starters and Generators division] is already a leader.”

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FUELLING SYSTEMS: WHAT’S REALLY THE PROBLEM?


In many cases, the injector and pump are not the cause but the victim of the piece.

The fuel system market is growing, with a recent report citing continued growth globally to 2022. Europe is the second largest market for fuel injectors, partially due to improving economic conditions and tougher emission standards, which is expected to grow the market further.

These emissions standards are at the forefront of manufacturers minds and therefore the onus is on their suppliers to develop products that keep vehicles running efficiently. This has put pressure on the fuel system, which is constantly developing to keep up with the demands of the modern world, and forcing the aftermarket to keep up with innovation, causing problems when it comes to identifying faulty units.

FINE TOLERANCES
Petrol and diesel injectors are intricate parts, with holes around 50 microns wide. To put this into perspective, the human hair is around 100 microns wide, which really highlights the tolerances they’re put under. Any form of dirt or grime pulled through the system from the tank or lines could cause issues. As fuel has to be injected at high pressure, a reduction of 8-10% efficiency could cause a misfire due to a leaner fuel mixture.

Yet a number of fuel system parts can be replaced when they are not the main cause of any issues. The injector is the point that can be observed when a problem is being diagnosed, meaning if there is a report of low fuel pressure, some garages can believe the injector is the issue, leading to a replacement that is not necessary, especially if the original issue remains.

Julian Goulding, UK Marketing Manager at Delphi explains: “The problem causing a loss of pressure could be further down the chain. For example, the pump may have an issue, may not be generating enough pressure, or in terms of diesel, it could be contamination in the rail. It is important that garages therefore carry out a full diagnostic of the system before replacing the injector, then that will resolve the problem. Where the problem becomes visible, may not be the root cause.

“Our distributors see a lot of parts that are returned due to the fact that they have failed early, and this is down to the fact that the original issue has not been rectified, damaging new parts much quicker. It may be a simple flush of the system that is required, but with a set of injectors costing £800 to £1,000 it can be costly to a garage if the part is misfitted or not required.

Garages must also play their part in ensuring injectors and pumps are not damaged or contaminated during fitting,” Goulding continues. “The areas where such components are stored and worked on need to be clean, torque settings must be adhered to and care must be taken, after all, especially in the case of diesel, the fuel system is a high-pressure system.”

Injector testing kit in action

Karl Horton, Warranty and Technical Manager at Carwood, believes there are other reasons as to why a number of units returned are not faulty:

“From injectors being returned to us, we have a three percent return rate on our remanufactured products,” he comments. “Of this, around 1.2% is accepted as we recycle a lot of products in our remanufacturing facility. The remainder is returned either due to contamination or incorrect fitting, or there is no fault found with the unit. What customers do with the products can depend on the level of training on the fitment of these items. We find that some garages are fitting injectors and pumps as a process of elimination, and we return these once we have tested them to see if they are working or not.

“One thing we have also found is that customers are not programming injectors properly. Automatically they then think that the problem is with the product rather than what they are doing. If you look back at vehicles from the 1980s compared with modern ones then there are big changes. A lot of injectors and pumps today are programmed and there are technicians that don’t carry these procedures out, expecting them to work rom the off. In many examples, that isn’t the case.”

UNDER PRESSURE
What then, could be the cause of fuel system issues? “The pump itself is a durable part within the fuel system and under good conditions ‘should’ last for the lifetime of the vehicle,” explains Chris Newey, Product Manager at Cambiare. “However, the fuel pump isn’t the only part of the fuel system that can experience problems which could result in a lack of fuel being delivered to the engine. Typical causes for low fuel pressure include a dirty fuel filter in which the fuel is being obstructed from flowing at the required pressure,incorrect tank venting in which the quantity of air coming into the fuel tank is insufficient to allow fuel to be withdrawn by the pump or restricted fuel lines in which the diameter of the fuel lines is insufficient to support the f low of fuel.”

“Damage during fitment is not an uncommon situation for fuel pumps and injectors. The most common issue we experience with ‘damage during fitment’ is broken fuel pipe connectors on the latest electric pumps. Whilst care should be taken when connecting and securing the pipes to ensure a tight seal, fitters should not over-tighten them as it can cause damage.

Bosch diesel injector

“Removal of old injectors can also be problematic. Over time, the O-Rings can harden and the cylinder head can corrode seizing the injector in place. Once removed, it important to ensure the fuel rail is free from any residual material to ensure the correct fitment of the new injectors and the new seals provided with the new injectors should always be used.”

HIGH LEVEL OF DETAIL
Ian Proctor, Diesel Product Manager at Bosch, adds: “We estimate that around 300,000 Bosch injectors are replaced in the UK every year and it is a part that is made up of very intricate pieces. Most injectors tend to see a lifespan of eight years, however the tolerances they are subjected to are great. Any contamination in the system can mean particles being pushed through the small injector holes which can cause wear, this can add to early failure of a component and is included in that high number of yearly injector replacements.

“When you take an injector apart, there are pieces inside that can easily become lost. For example, a garage may remove the injector and start to take it apart to clean it, before realising that the number of components within is greater than they realised. Without taking care, they may have already lost one of the tiny bearings that lie within, which will mean the entire unit will need to be replaced, or sent to a repair centre where an expert can examine it, at cost.”

DIRTY FUELLING
Which procedures should garages be undertaking to make sure of a correct diagnosis? Chris Newey of Cambiare adds: “Check the electrical circuits to ensure connections are in place, undamaged and in particular, free from rust.

“Fuel injected engines are extremely sensitive to the pressure of the fuel. Technicians should check fuel pressure using a pressure gauge to identify if the pressure is not running too high or too low. If the pressure is too high for the vehicle and the pressure regulator is faulty, the fuel consumption will increase causing a rough idle and surging. If the pressure is running too low for the vehicle, it can cause lean misfire, hesitation, rough idle and misfire when accelerating.”

A common theme is that of contamination in the system, which throws garages off the scent when diagnosing fuelling problems. Cleaners can therefore play their part in repair, sometimes before the idea of replacing the injector or pump should come into question.

Carl Ebanks, Brand Manager at Redex, comments: “Not so much contamination but dirt deposits from the fuel builds up on the fuel injectors, which alters the spray pattern and dosage so they become less efficient, making the car overall less efficient. Fuel System cleaners reduce emissions, clean up the dirt deposits in the fuel system, improve engine performance and save fuel. Cleaners stop dirt deposits building up on them, but do not prevent issues in the case of mechanical breakdown.”

As such an expensive and mechanical piece of the vehicle, diagnosing the problem in a fuel system is only part of the job and taking time to explore and rectify potential problems could save much future hassle. Parts are delicate and care is required, while attention is mandatory.

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VW SCANDAL: BOSCH AGREES $327.5m PAYOUT

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VW SCANDAL: BOSCH AGREES $327.5m PAYOUT


bosch_logoOE parts maker Bosch has agreed to compensate U.S VAG Group diesel car owners and used car dealers in the fallout of the emissions scandal. The agreement follows a class action from a number of people affected.

The company has agreed to pay out on 2.0l engines fitted to VW and Audi vehicles and 3.0l engines, which were also fitted in some Porsches. The total of the settlement comes to US $327.5m.

In a statement, the company stresses that it doesn’t acknowledge the facts as alleged by the plaintiffs, nor does it admit liability.

“Upon careful consideration of all relevant aspects, we have in this case decided to enter into a settlement agreement. Bosch is currently undergoing the biggest transformation process in its company history. We wish to devote our attention and our resources to the transition in mobility and in other areas of activity”, said Dr. Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Management Board of Robert Bosch.

The settlement requires approval by a judge in the U.S. Once a hearing has gone ahead, those involved will be informed of their rights and options. It is proposed that the Court considers final approval of the settlement agreement in early May.

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