• Credit Crunch Busters
• 1: Selling tyres and the MOT
• 2: Wheel alignment equipment and the MOT
• Have you thought about headlights?
• Why invest in diagnostics
• MOT emissions testing more accurate with new Bosch BDM 300
Credit Crunch Buster 1: Selling tyres and the MOT
Tyre sales – and fitting – can make a useful contribution to post-MOT failure profits.
Tyre wear is a significant cause of MOT failure – and not surprisingly so as tyres inevitably wear out – in effect it’s a design feature, since hard tyres which don’t wear out so quickly will inevitably have less grip! Also, whilst it is not necessarily so, a defective tyre or tyres could in many cases be the only failure item. Whilst this is mainly caused by excessive wear, that may not the only reason to be found by any means. There could be wall damage, a problem with the valve (possibly an MOT failure), or cuts in the tyre which are so deep and long that an MOT failure will result.
Since the ‘fast-fit’ sector specialise in supplying and fitting tyres, often at keen budget prices, as well as offering MOT Tests, the independent MOT sector can be disadvantaged because if a customer’s car fails the MOT just on tyre wear or damage and that particular garage does not have the stock, equipment and facilities to supply tyres.
The key point is that the customer has to be sent away to have the offending tyre or tyres replaced elsewhere, and if the tyre supplier chosen by the customer also does MOTs, they inevitably ask the customer “why didn’t you come to us for the MOT, we could have fitted your tyres as well…”. Bingo, you’ve lost a customer for next year’s MOT!
A tyre bay
The solution, of course is to install a tyre bay – and that won’t be as expensive, or take up as much space as you might imagine. You will, of course already have a compressor, so all that is now required is a tyre changing machine and a wheel balancer which take up less space than you might imagine.
But what about tyre stock? Here, all you really need are budget tyres in the popular sizes – again this will cost less than you think, especially if you purchase the equipment on a monthly lease or lease-purchase basis. Some training is required, of course, but changing and balancing tyres isn’t rocket science – and can be easily done by skilled motor mechanics or MOT Testers.
Customer service… and profit
Although the key reason for an independent MOT garage to set up a tyre bay is to provide a more comprehensive service to customers, together with its attendant goodwill; there’s profit too. Sure, you won’t be able to compete with specialist tyre suppliers, but when your customer is faced with paying that bit extra to have the tyre replaced there and then to get an MOT pass, that increased cost is well worth the saving they make in time and trouble.
MOT Workshop Magazine
Credit Crunch Buster 2: Wheel alignment equipment and the MOT
Wheel alignment equipment is an essential tool in any motor vehicle repair business. When changing steering joints, adjusting the joints to ensure accurate tracking after the repair has been effected is an essential part of the job.
After new tyre fitting, a careful explanation of how mis-alignment affects tyre wear and fuel economy should convince the customer of the benefits.
However, as anybody in the car repair business knows there are many vehicles out there in daily use where the front wheels are not in correct alignment which inevitably accelerates tyre wear on those front wheels due to ‘feathering’ on one side or the other – costing the motorist money both with regard to early tyre replacement and in increased petrol consumption as wheels which are out of alignment present more rolling resistance demanding that bit extra power from the engine – which over time can make a significant difference to operating costs.
There is also the likelihood of such misalignment effecting both braking and steering – a secondary, but strong safety consideration which could also be pointed out to customers.
Uneven tyre wear
As most MOT Testers know the key clue to misaligned front wheels is when the tyre wear is uneven side to side. This may not, however, result in an MOT failure if the greatest wear has not reduced the remaining tread depth below the 1.6mm minimum requirement. Here then is a potential ‘win-win’ situation for both the business and the MOT customer. The business makes a sale, and the customer saves money in unnecessary tyre replacement.
A selling opportunity
When providing the customer with the pass certificate, it should also be explained that there is an advisory note about the tyres – but that note doesn’t say that correcting the tracking will solve the problem. You know that, but the customer probably doesn’t.
So here is a golden opportunity to not only sell the customer a new tyre on the basis that an unevenly worn tyre is likely to be less safe, but to also explain that if the tracking defect is corrected, then the new tyre will last longer, fuel will be saved, the car will be safer and the customer impressed with the quality of service received.
MOT Workshop Magazine
Have you thought about headlights?
Traditionally, headlights have been an area of low priority for the motoring public – except when they cannot see the road at night or the bulb has failed. As a motorist, how often at night, or during a rain storm in the daylight, have you either been followed by a car with one headlight, mistaken a vehicle coming towards you for a motor bike which has turned out to be a car with only one headlight, or even had the light behind or in front of you reaching for the stars?
The LET PLA 20.
Headlights are a matter of great safety interest and as an industry we should be raising awareness within the consumer arena. So here’s the challenge – why not include headlights as part of your sales package? Make it a popular sales topic. It could be just the item in your sales performance which shows you to be innovative, and help to create a point of difference between you and others in the fast fit or repair business.
After all you offer tyres (all types from standard profile to high performance), wheel alignment, wheel balancing, tyre repairs, brakes, and possibly diagnostics too – but headlights? For many the answer will be ‘no – never thought about it.’
We all need lights at some stage of the day or night. The possibility that we will have them on all day and night when driving, as they do in Sweden, is a distinct possibility in the not too distant future.
The subject should now receive a better degree of respectability since the introduction of the latest technology over the last five years – filament (still available), quartz halogen, gas discharge, xenon have all been here for some time and serve the driving public well. LED’s, whilst not common now, will become more popular. Advances in design mean that LEDs can deliver the flux and luminance required to achieve a legal headlamp beam. LEDs are already approved for use in the USA and are on course to be approved for use in Europe during this year.
It is a matter which interests the European transport authorities and certainly VOSA in the UK. During the last two years the Commercial vehicle operators have had to pay much more attention to the direction and power of the headlights. It has been a rocky ride for many, in terms of understanding where VOSA and the rest of Europe stand, but overall it can now be classed as a success.
A PRS on a commercial vehicle operator’s licence is not good news. It has been a contentious issue throughout Europe and a high failure rate, in fact, just as much as brake testing. Commercial vehicle operators understand now, more than ever, the importance of good headlights and their correct adjustment.
Why does not this apply to cars and light vans? You have to display two lights at the front and rear of a vehicle. Yes, you do qualify if you have two sidelights and one headlight but it does not look as if you are attentive to road safety and considerate to other road users. It is after all a failure at MOT if bulbs do not work and more importantly can be a reason for a vehicle to be checked by police in a routine roadside safety check.
Brightness, direction and of course replacement is of the greatest importance. It does require skill and common sense – the right bulb for the car and fitted the right way up. Water inside the reflector caused through cracked lenses and dirt all contribute to visibility problems.
The case for moving headlight testing up the agenda is clear and help is at hand in the form of the LET PLA 20 – the headlight tester which electronically ensures that the beam is correctly focused on the road ahead. It has a stable and robust stand which ensures that the measurement is correct and by a simple easy to use method of correcting to a green light from an ‘out of tolerance ‘red”, ensures that the work you do is right first time.
The LET PLA 20 – which can also be used manually – is supplied to many of the world’s car manufacturers at manufacturing level and dealer level. The expertise and knowledge is easily seen in the build and use of the PLA20. You do not need good eyes to see if the pattern is right, or if you are adjusting the wrong way. It shows you which way to adjust: left, right, up or down – easy use technology at its best.
Some points to watch for:
Is the area where you are measuring the headlight level?
Is the lens clean?
Is the bulb, the correct bulb for the car?
Is the bulb recommended by the car company?
Is the bulb fitted correctly in the holder?
Is the reflector corroded or damaged?
Do the headlights work correctly?
Do they dip to the left?
Can they be adjusted manually or are they the new style of electrically adjusted headlights?
MOT Testing Headlamps, Headlights Beam Setters, MOT Workshop
More details on the LET PLA 20 and full technical support are available from Beissbarth UK Free phone 0800 1694660, fax 0115 981 8431 or www.beissbarth.co.uk
MOT Workshop Magazine
Why invest in diagnostics?
Electronic diagnostics test equipment is now a core requirement for servicing modern cars. When it comes to developing their capability in diagnostics, independent garages are faced with several options, either specialise in two or three makes; develop an all round capability as a multi-make workshop or specialise in one marque but still work on all cars that come through the door.
The Multi-Diag Mobile Unit.
The Multi-Diag unit from Actia Muller offers an affordable multi-make solution, designed for both the large as well as small independent workshops.
Technicians can undertake a quick and easy vehicle assessment on the forecourt to either check for a potential fault, or as a preventative maintenance measure. Here is an opportunity to secure business by providing customers with printed reports and pre-service estimates.
Multi-Diag comes in two formats. Either as Multi-Diag mobile, which is a self contained unit based on an eight inch touch tablet, PC protective case, external DVD drive, operating software and the multiplexing vehicle communication Interface (VCI). As an alternative, Multi-Diag access supports the installation of the software onto any suitable PC laptop, or mobile device with a USB port available for connection to the VCI.
Further information: www.actiamuller.co.uk
MOT Workshop Magazine
MOT emissions testing more accurate with new Bosch BDM 300
Finding an accurate engine speed measurement in MOT testing has become increasingly challenging, partly due to the complexity of modern engine systems.
With more diesel cars on the road using high-current consuming injectors, along with the increasing use of multiphase alternators and smart charging systems, traditional engine speed measurement through battery sensing is becoming less reliable.
The new Bosch BDM 300 has been designed to make this testing simpler and more accurate – using two types of sensors. This new technology uses mechanical vibration and sound to sense engine speed, providing a significant improvement in accuracy over vibration only sensors.
The BDM 300 is not just for diesel cars – it can be used on petrol, diesel and gas powered engines in all vehicle types, from cars and commercial vehicles to motorbikes. There is also no need to select the number of cylinders and the unit is self calibrating, with automatic function monitoring, all adding to ease of use.
The unit can be connected directly to any Bosch emissions analyser and engine analyser, including the BEA 150, 250, 350, 850, ESA range and FSA 560, 740 range.
Part number: 1687 023 489
Special accessory: 2-stroke/4-stroke selector switch 1687 200 711
For more information on Bosch diagnostic equipment visit: www.boschautoparts.co.uk
MOT Workshop Magazine
Diesel Smoke-Meter deadline fast approaching
After the end of the year all VTSs must use the latest Diesel Smoke-Meters for MOT Testing – and as we understand the situation there’s a possibility that supplies could run short. So, what happens if you have failed to replace your old unit? Well Testing Stations have had many years now to prepare for this (Special Notice 6-7/2003), so in theory VOSA would be well within their rights to set the MOT computer to prevent VTSs without the new smoke-meter from carrying out diesel Tests.
Currently they have declined to comment on this, one way or the other, on whether this is their intention. At the very least they should, in good time before the end-year deadline, provide a definitive list of acceptable smoke-meters so Testing Stations can know whether or not their machines comply.
Remember too, that if you do purchase a compliant machine, to ensure that you put it onto the computer so that VOSA know you have one.
A different issue is the triggering mechanism of some of the later equipment. The problem is due to modern diesel vehicles having such low particulate emissions that the meters need a trigger signal other than measuring smoke density to commence the monitoring process. This is achieved in different ways:
Measuring exhaust temperature
Measuring engine vibrations
On the very latest equipment from an OBD signal.
For the first two trigger mechanisms, sometimes the system fails to start sampling, either because on some vehicles with long exhaust systems which cool the gas, the heat sensing head cannot detect the small temperature change, or with smoother running engines because the vibrator sensor is not sufficiently sensitive. What then?
Well, currently the provisions of Special Notice 2/2003 would apply, which enables a ‘non-sensing’ result to be noted as a pass. But this was only really intended for the period up to the end of this year when the older smoke-meters were still in service. It is uncertain whether or not S/N 2/2003 will remain in force after the end of 2008.
MOT Workshop Magazine
LAUNCH X-431 “covers most models worldwide”
When buying a launch x431 scan tool from any launch agent, Launch X-431 claim you are not just buying a tool, you are buying a complete package. They have their own Technical diagnostics support lines, catering for all diagnostic levels.
Launch X-431 comes comes with all necessary cables and adaptors.
The system can read and clear DTC’s (data trouble codes) on different systems, it reads live data, carries out actuation tests, resets service lights, codes keys, adjusts electronic and air suspension systems. ABS and SRS are also standard features. Codes control units and many, many more operations. This is why they claim the LAUNCH X-431 is now the clear market leader in diagnostics.
LAUNCH X-431 comes complete with all necessary cables and adaptors, online downloads mean the user always has the latest vehicle software available.
Included in the X431 scan tool kit is a license for 3 years of software updates, downloaded from the X431 website www.x431.com. Launch X-431 also give 2 years warranty as standard.
Fact: Did you know?
Launch X-431 claim to be the only LAUNCH company in the world offering more technical support than them.
No charge for technical support. (NO Premium Rate numbers)
The only official diagnostic online forum
The LAUNCH X431 covers more models, manufacturers, and systems than any other diagnostic tool worldwide.
More X431s are sold than all the other diagnostic scanners put together.
More OEM level diagnostics than any other tool in the aftermarket industry.
MOT Testing Launch X-431, MOT Workshop
Further Information Tel: 01709 591834
MOT Workshop Magazine
Majorlift invests £100,000 to improve quality and deliveries
5-Year Warranty continues to apply on Pit-Jacks.
Over the summer holidays Majorlift has installed three machining centres, one Cincinnati and one Colchester and an EMI-MEC Batchmatic in its continuing quest for ever improving quality and delivery times.
Managing Director Bob Sims said “We are delighted with our new machining centres. Inevitably we went through an operating learning curve during the summer, but their improved output and precision is already benefiting our customers with MOT Scissor Beams being quoted for delivery within 5 working days and our Pit Jacks from between 5 and 10 working days. Our market leading 5 year warranty continues to apply.”
MOT Testing Jacking Beams, Majorlift, MOT WorkshopFurther Information:
Bob Sims, Managing Director, or Chris Hodder. Sales Manager,
Majorlift Hydraulic Equipment Limited,
Arnolds Field Estate, Wickwar, Wotton-u-Edge, Glos GL12 8JD • Tel
MOT Workshop Magazine