Garage speaks out following “hard-hitting” Trading Standards sting

Family behind Binley Woods urges independents to check quality control processes after being forced to pay £11,150.

The family behind Binley Woods Service Centre has spoken out to tell “our side of the story” after being fined £1,500, ordered to pay prosecution costs of £9,500 and a £150 victim surcharge following a Trading Standards operation.

Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards carried out an under-cover operation at the Coventry-based independent in 2018 and was found guilty of an offence contrary to regulation 9 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at Coventry Magistrates Court in November of this year.

Full service/ major service discrepancy 

Charnjit Sekhon, manager at Binley Woods, told Garage Wire that the issue was largely down to a discrepancy between a ‘full service’ and ‘major service’.

He said: “Trading Standards booked a vehicle in for a major service over the phone but, for some unknown reason, our receptionist booked the vehicle in for a full service.

“We changed the oil, filter, provided a comprehensive vehicle check and bill £132 for a full service.

“That’s why we didn’t replace the fuel filter and sparks plugs.

“But how could we prove it?

“The court required due diligence proof.

“The only thing that saved us was an advertisement on our website, which showed that we charge £190 for a major service.”

Immediate change

Charnjit first became aware of the undercover operation three days later when he was interviewed by Trading Standards about the recent service and, after seeking advice from the Independent Garage Association (IGA), immediately made changes to the business.

He said: “We’ve changed the telephone system to record incoming and out-going calls, so we have some reference to check any future discrepancies.

“Our workflow process, from initial booking through to when the vehicle leaves the site is now recorded.

“Over the last few months we’ve had a complete new system – it’s the only thing that will save our bacon in the law of court, which asks what processes we have in place to avoid issues.”

“An opportunity to improve”

Speaking to Garage Wire, head of member services at the IGA, Frank Harvey said: “It’s the easiest thing in the world to point fingers but when somebody needs help, that’s when we have to prove our worth.

“It can’t have been a comfortable situation but rather than shy away from it they took it as an opportunity to improve their business which really shows their worth.

“We visited the garage, understood what had gone wrong and helped them to put new processes into place.”

Managing the fallout

Since the case was made public, Charnjit admits that the investigation has impacted business but explained that he’s trying to managing the situation.

He said: “We hold our hands up, mistakes were made but since 2018 we have invested substantial sums in training and quality control processes

“After it came out in the press we had two cancellations.

“Now we’re trying to manage it and calling any other cancellations to explain the situation and what improvements we’ve made.”

“Scapegoats”

Charnjit urges other independent garage owners to “up their game in quality control” and said that “we’re used to Trading Standards making scapegoats out of Halfords and Quick Fit but we never expect anything like this to happen to us”.

He added: “Everything was verbal in our business

“We had nothing in place to record what happened and to demonstrate that the employee was properly trained.

“We were asked what the process was from the initiation of a job to completion.

“Verbally, they weren’t interested, they wanted to see something scripted and we now admit that our quality-control was very lapse.

“We’ve learnt from this sting.”

“Intelligence led enforcement”

Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards declined to answer questions put forward by Garage Wire but did state that it seeks “to protect road users by carrying out intelligence led enforcement operations including car servicing projects, forecourt checks and unroadworthy vehicle test purchases.”

It added: “We direct our limited resources using a range of information, including consumer complaint data.”

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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REPXPERT Academy LIVE: Registrations open for Basingstoke College event

Roadshow continues with second training day to be held on 25 January 2020.

Following a resoundingly successful debut in Lincoln, registration is now open for the second REPXPERT Academy LIVE event at Basingstoke College of Technology – again hosted by Schaeffler and the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

Taking place on Saturday 25th January, visitors will be offered masterclasses by a team of Schaeffler REPXPERTs, who will be focusing on LuK clutch technology, INA timing drives and modern thermal management systems.

There will also be a focus on new and upcoming vehicle technologies, such as hybridisation and electrification.

Business training

REPXPERT brand ambassador, Andy Savva, aka ‘The Garage Inspector’, will also be hosting a class based on his popular business training sessions.

Andy is an award-winning ex-workshop owner, aftermarket commentator and now business advisor, who will demonstrate to workshop owners and staff how they can ‘empower their workshop’.

These four sessions will incorporate practical knowledge, theory and discussion elements – all designed to impart as much knowledge as possible in just 45 minutes.

There will also be plenty to see in the workshop throughout the day, with guest exhibitors, Laser Tools and TechMan, plus, of course, displays from both Schaeffler and the IMI.

Future-proofing workshops

Schaeffler managing director, Nigel Morgan said: “We received some amazing visitor feedback from the Lincoln event, and believe we can deliver an even better visitor experience in Basingstoke.

“We are confident of attracting large numbers of technicians from the region, and as we can only cater for a set amount of people I urge everybody to sign-up quickly to avoid disappointment.

“Lincoln proved that technicians have a hunger to improve and to learn about new technologies or systems that they weren’t previously aware of.

“That’s the beauty of REPXPERT Academy LIVE: we’re offering technicians the opportunity to bolster their knowledge and to also think about investing in more comprehensive training, in order to future-proof their workshop business.”

Schaeffler national accounts manager, Matt Selby said: “The key thing for us is engaging with workshops; with all the different Schaeffler product lines and new technologies to talk about, we believe REPXPERT Academy LIVE is the perfect place to share some of that valuable information.

“We want to welcome workshop staff that are keen to give up their time to gain knowledge and expertise.

“To complement the OE brand of Schaeffler, we want premium facilities to match, so we’re delighted to be hosting our next event at Basingstoke College of Technology, an IMI-approved facility.

“We work very closely with the IMI and have done for a number of years; this is a long-term partnership, and with three REPXPERT events in 2020 and more due in 2021, we’re really excited about the potential of this project.”

Entry to REPXPERT Academy LIVE is free of charge, and every visitor will be offered complimentary breakfast, lunch and refreshments throughout.

Doors will open at 9am, with the event due to finish at 4pm.

To register a place, click here.

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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Autotech Recruit MD reveals how he came to supply temp workshop cover

Skills shortage to remain “for at least another decade” says Gavin White.

Autotech Recruit’s managing director, Gavin White reveals how the firm has diversified its recruitment services, from short-term contracts, medium-to-long-term fixed placements, and permanent recruitment to meet the needs of the automotive industry.

While working as an aftersales manager at Thomson Motor Group, Gavin became aware of a lack of an agency which provided a “a get-out-of-jail technician” to cover staff sickness, holidays and training commitments.

It was a thought that prompted Gavin to borrow £40,000 from his grandmother and his life-long friend Andrew Sly to borrow £25,000 from his father to create what would become Autotech Recruit in 2010.

The agency today employs 30 people at its Milton Keyenes office, has 500 contractors and boasts a turnoever in the region of £10 million.

Supplying temporary technicians

Gavin said: “We started out doing permanent recruitment to get cashflow moving before moving into the temporary contractor element of the business.

“Our first big client was Kwik-Fit.

“Over their 600-garage network, they had a high attrition rate.

“They needed MOT testers and there was an abundance because of the economic climate at the time.

“That really got us going, but it’s really just in the past two to three years that we have really expanded with the manufacturer and large retail groups.

“In the early days, 90 per cent of our work was with the fast-fit chains, but dealerships are now 70-80 per cent of our business.

“A lot of our growth with retailers can be traced to the back end of 2017, when we started talking to Volvo, Renault and Ford about our manufacturer-led programmes.

“What we do is take the technicians that we know and trust and then put them through the manufacturer training courses.

“We issue them with the manufacturer’s uniform and we have a portal that the BMW network, say, can log into, select dates on the calendar and we then send them a temporary technician who is fully trained and qualified.”

Autotech Recruit works with Ford, BMW, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, PSA Group and Renault and has 120 people that have been through the manufacturer programmes.

In 2018, the total number of hours filled by vehicle technicians under the manufacturer-led recruitment programme was 43,917.

Up to the end of May this year, it had already surpassed that, with a further 50,669 hours.

The total number of hours filled by Autotech Recruit contractors in the 12 months between May 2018 and April 2019, was 336,455.

Skills shortage

Gavin said: “What we are seeing is the result of a complete lack of investment in apprenticeships over the past two decades.

“We don’t engage with schools and colleges well enough as an industry and I still don’t think many businesses are working hard enough to attract the next generation of technicians.

“We’re just not very good as an industry at introducing new blood.

“In my opinion, ‘skills shortage’ is a term that we will be with us for at least another decade.”

For further information about Autotech Recruit, click here.

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Yuasa issues cold weather battery warning

“Always check the battery” kit produces quick, accurate results.

Over a half a million batteries are replaced by breakdown recovery services every year and battery related faults are the number one reason for vehicle starting problems and winter callouts, Yuasa reports.

At 0°C, even a healthy battery will lose about 30 per cent of its cold cranking performance.

This does not mean that the Ah has disappeared, merely that its availability has been reduced by cold temperatures.

Furthermore, vehicles have a much-increased electrical demand to start during the cold.

What’s more, it takes greater power for a starter motor to turn a cold engine over and freezing temperatures slow down the chemical process inside a battery, reducing its ability to hold a charge.

“To combat the effects of capacity loss, it is advisable for workshops to always fit a reliable, high quality battery,” explains Ian Newham, training manager for GS Yuasa Battery Sales UK Ltd.

“If the battery has a higher capacity to begin with – before any drop in temperature – it is more likely that the vehicle will start and the battery will last much longer compared to a budget battery.

“For example, the Yuasa YBX5000 range offers 50 per cent more power, over double the number of starts and is typically sold with a longer guarantee than the YBX1000 range.

“AGM and EFB batteries have more power and can withstand a much wider temperature range.”

The older a battery is, the less performance it will have and the weaker it will be, according to Yuasa.

An older battery that seems fine in the warm summer temperatures will often discharge or go flat very quickly, as soon as the weather turns colder.

In most cases, this will then lead to a non-start situation.

Infrequent vehicle use

Yuasa says that battery discharge can also occur if a vehicle is used infrequently or only for short distances.

It advises drivers to take a longer journey at least once a month for the battery to re-charge.

Yuasa recommends independent workshops adopt their ‘always check the battery’ scheme and stresses that this preventative maintenance measure is as important as changing tyres, refilling fluids and testing lights.

The popular scheme encourages garages to significantly improve customer service and drive customer loyalty by testing the battery of every vehicle serviced or repaired.

The idea was born following a major workshop trial which discovered that 11 per cent of all vehicles required a battery replacement and a further 27 per cent needed recharging.

Yuasa’s ‘always check the battery’ kit, which includes a GS Yuasa battery tester, mirror hangers, a guide book and varied POS material, is ideal as part of a standard winter check and produces quick, accurate results for garages.

Find out more about Yuasa’s YBX automotive battery here.

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Polybush reports on successful Classic Motor Show

Enthusiasts flock to find out more about Polyurethane suspension bushes.

Polybush has exhibited at the Classic Motor show for more than ten years has hailed 2019’s event a success.

The firm also supplied bushes for Practical Classic Jaguar e-type which was being restored live on stage during the show.

A Polybush spokesperson said: “As always, it is great to see a few familiar faces, and some new who we were thrilled to welcome to the wonderful world of Polyurethane suspension bushes.

“And to have our existing customers explain to them the benefits from switching from the OE rubber parts is the reason we do what we do.”

For further information about Polybush, click here.

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Replace head bolts every time they’re removed, advises BG Automotive

Many garages are still failing to replace head bolts, risking engine damage and failiure.

Workshops are advised to always replace head bolts after removal, BG Automotive has said.

A BG Automoive spokesperson said: “The majority of head bolts are ‘torque to yield’, which means that during the original tightening process, they are stretched past the elastic phase of the metal into the plastic phase.

“This is where the bolt will offer the best resistance to fatigue in high frequency and high load situations.

“This results in the highest clamping and even sealing to head.

“As a part of this process, the bolts become permanently elongated.

“If they are re-used and tightened to yield again they will become weak and potentially snap
during or after installation.

“They are designed as single use items.”

BG Automotive stock a large range of head bolts for all of their head gaskets to make sure any can be carried out by automotive technicians correctly and confidently, covering over 18,000 different vehicles.

For further information, click here.

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ZF Aftermarket celebrates motorsport connection under its Sachs brand

New brand ambassadors campaign features famous racing drivers.

ZF Aftermarket has teamed up with three global names in racing who will act as Sachs brand ambassadors and feature in its latest fact based multimedia campaign which aims to highlight how its engineering knowledge is directly transferred into its serial production and to celebrate its 80 year connection with motorsport.

Under its Sachs brand, the business has developed a reinforced clutch kit designed for high performance vehicles and those exposed to extreme driving conditions.

“Facts about Sachs prove that our shocks and clutches are particularly powerful and help to make the roads a safer place,” says Ben Smart, director for global marketing at ZF Aftermarket.

“When you compete at the highest level, proven performance under all conditions is essential.

“That’s why we celebrate together with these outstanding drivers our 80-year connection with motorsport.

“As the faces of the Sachs brand, they will be recognizable to motorsport fans around the world,” adds Smart.

Sachs brand ambassador campaign

ZF Aftermarket has teamed up with three global names in motorsport who will act as Sachs brand ambassadors and feature in its latest campaign.

Norwegian champion, Joachim Waagaard was the first Scandinavian drift racer to take part in The Goodwood Festival of Speed; leading endurance driver, Christian Engelhart won the 24 hours at Daytona 2019 and winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2018, Helen Rollason Award, 20 year old Billy ‘Whizz’ Monger is an ex F4 competitor who returned to the track 12 months after losing his legs in a catastrophic accident and now competes in Euroformula.

The Sachs brand has been connected with motorsport since 1937 when the first Mercedes ‘Silver Arrows’ were equipped with Sachs shock absorbers and clutches.

Sachs highlights include winning the 24h Le Mans with Porsche in 1985 and debuting at Formula 1 in 1993 with Mercedes and Sauber.

The story continues right to the present day. ZF’s connection to motorsport extends from technological development to support.

Two ZF Race Engineering vans equipped with workshop areas where shock absorbers can be recalibrated, and clutches examined adjusted and repaired travel the globe during race season.

Providing engineering support at motorsports events in 24 countries on four continents, this extensive service significantly contributes to the many worldwide victories supported by ZF.

Reinforced Sachs clutch kit

The newly developed reinforced Sachs clutch kit brings ZF’s technology into the everyday.

Developed specifically for high performance vehicles and those exposed to extreme driving conditions, it contains a clutch pressure plate, clutch disk and release bearing.

The range initially caters for Subaru diesel vehicles 2008 onwards.

A reinforced diaphragm spring offers longer service life and greater contact pressure significantly increases transmission reliability.

In addition there is reduced friction wear and no loss of comfort as the part exerts the same release force.

“Sachs is the brand of choice for many of the world’s highest performance and motorsport drivers, but as a true leader in the field of advancing mobility, ZF adapts its technologies for use in the everyday parts used by drivers on roads across the world,” says Richard Adgey, head of product management ZF Aftermarket.

For further information about ZF Aftermarket, click here.

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Motorists warned against buying car parts online

Garage and factor owners urged to be even more vigilant in light of a surge in counterfeits.

Vehicle owners are once again being warned about the dangers of buying car parts online in a bid to save money.

Research by Zero Deposit Car Leasing found that headlights were one of the most common parts available on the online marketplace, with over 70,000 units.

Just under 60,000 car tyres were found on eBay alongside 57,000 wing mirrors and 30,000 alloy wheels.

An earlier government report found filters, brake pads, lights, wheel rims and airbags to be among the most-common counterfeited car parts.

Officials say such parts put road users at risk from a catastrophic failure of vital car components which may not adhere to safety standards.

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) and The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) are among the trade bodies that have voiced support to raise awareness about the risks posed by counterfeit car parts.

Neil Bailey, workshop technician at Zero Deposit said: “Buying car parts off eBay has become hugely popular.

“But while it’s great drivers can buy the car parts they need at a cheaper price than going to an independent garage, for instance, they should take the time to do their research to make sure suppliers are reputable and ensure products are of a high quality and not faulty.”

Audi is among the motoring firms which has collaborated with the government to stamp out the rise of counterfeit car parts in vehicles.

An Audi brand protection spokesperson said: “Identifying counterfeits has proven to be a real challenge.

“The sellers’ websites are becoming more and more professional, appearing legitimate to many buyers at first glance.

“But there are some clues that give counterfeiters away and should put buyers on alert, such as a comparatively cheap price or a typo appearing on the spare part or in the description.”

Garage and motor factor businesses are being urged to be even more vigilant in light of a surge in reported cases.

The worldwide counterfeit market is thought to run into billions of pounds with around a £1.7million revenue loss each year.

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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The Parts Alliance open evening attracts over 200 customers despite heavy rain

The Parts Alliance’s new Midpoint Distribution Centre opened its doors for garage customers, attracting a total of 250 attendees including 25 key suppliers.

The open evening, held on Thursday 13 June had originally been intended to take place at GSF Birmingham but was moved to Midpoint to involve eager customers of local branches of CES and Bromsgrove Motor Factors too.

Guests were given tours of the distribution centre and, undeterred by the weather, were treated to a BBQ courtesy of Schaeffler’s LuK brand.

Dean Whitehouse, head of business development at The Parts Alliance, said: “It was an amazing night.

“We were delighted to see so many customers make the effort in spite of the awful rain.

“It’s great to be able to show hundreds of customers the investment we’re making to keep improving service levels and what goes on behind the scenes.”

Branch staff took the opportunity to chat to customers away from the pressures of work as suppliers also reported strong interest in the technology and product developments they were explaining.

Simon Moore, head of marketing at The Parts Alliance, said: “Despite atrocious weather, we had an unbelievable turnout and it really showed the loyalty of our customers to make the effort through the floods.

“It was wonderful to see so many people there and our thanks go to our suppliers and staff for putting together a great open evening.”

To find your nearest branch of The Parts Alliance please visit https://www.thepartsalliance.com/contact/branch-finder/.

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Latest MOT horror pictures serve as reminder to motorists about importance of annual test

MOT test stations across the country are continuing to report dangerous defects and MOT horrors.

The latest selection sent to the DVSA shows shocking bodges, dangerous repairs and defects as a result of overlooked vehicle maintenance.

One tester submitted a picture of a 2005 Toyota Landcruiser that came in for a ‘quick MOT’ before the owner set off on a trip with his caravan in tow.

The chassis mounting point for his nearside rear trailing arm had completely rotted away and the back axle was floating about.

The owner said it felt, “a little odd on acceleration”.

Thankfully, the caravan holiday was cancelled and the Landcruiser was scrapped.

Serious spring damage

Another tester from Keith’s garage in East Sussex sent in a picture of what remained of an Audi rear spring.

This car’s suspension was badly damaged and needed to be fixed before the car was driven again.

Seat belt bodge

Worrying photos showed a seat belt tied together, offering absolutely no restraint for the person on the seat in the event of an accident.

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