Keeping up to date with current news and advice is not always easy for busy technicians, leading Rob Marshall to approach quality suppliers for their latest guidance

Despite the relatively mild winter giving our road surfaces an easier time, demand for suspension parts appears not to have abated.

MOOG (a DRiV brand) reports that anti-roll bar link stabilisers (‘drop links’) have very high replacement rates; out of all suspension parts, they are the ones that are replaced most frequently, during a typical vehicle’s lifetime. Delphi agrees, stating that link stabilisers are the fastest moving category in its suspension portfolio. Interestingly, the company explains that speed humps, which do not cover the entire road width, are a major influencer in link stabiliser wear rates. For instance, should a car traverse a speed hump that covers the full width of the road, the suspension is compressed equally on both sides, causing the anti-roll bar to pivot. Yet, should a single wheel alone negotiate the speed hump, the anti-roll bar becomes twisted. The forces needed to do this are considerable and it is all transmitted through the link stabilisers, which tend to comprise a relatively lightweight rod with a ball joint at either end. Aside from wear, Delphi reports that this situation can even damage the stabilisers. Should your customer live in a built-up area with such speed restrictions, this is a useful tip to impart. You may also wish to research and upsell uprated link stabilisers, in such situations, such as from the MEYLE HD range.

Upgrades can also include features to repair a suspension part, or make installation easier. MEYLE-HD slotted bush kits, for instance, permit technicians to replace the bushes, rather than renewing the complete control arm. Being aware of such parts helps to reduce owner outlays – vital in today’s increasingly cost-conscious times.

Aside from control arms and ball joints, KYB Europe explains that its Excel-G shock absorbers (‘dampers’) are most popular, due to being direct OE replacements for most vehicles. The company highlights that the dampers it produces for the aftermarket are virtually identical to those supplied to the vehicle manufacturers. When we quizzed KYB about these differences, we found them to be very subtle, limited to slightly different valve tuning within the damper, which compensates for the expected wear and tear of surrounding components. Interestingly, warmer climates see higher rates of damper replacements, whereas KYB finds that coil springs are more popular in colder countries, including the UK.

Keep up to date with new aftermarket catalogue additions, especially if your workshop sees newer vehicles. KYB now supplies the complete ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushion’ assembly for the Citroën C5 Aircross – a damper unit that offers high levels of ride comfort, without the complication of the old Hydractive III Oleopneumatics. This means that visits to main dealer counters for this part are unnecessary.

Intriguingly, AIC reveals that stub axles are its most in-demand suspension-related part. The company reveals that they are very susceptible to wear and tear, due to age or improper driving, not helped by the trend of cars becoming heavier.

Tightening Belts
We were keen to see how 2022’s fiscal challenges have filtered to parts suppliers, thus far. Delphi admits that, while there is current pressure on household budgets, from increasing energy costs, shopping bills and fuel prices, high demand remains for its steering and suspension products. The company highlights that both garages and customers realise that these are safety-critical parts and avoid compromising as a result.

MOOG agrees, adding that annual mileage is on the increase and GiPA reckons that they will overtake pre-pandemic levels during 2022, unless fuel prices curtail that prediction. Even so, MOOG reports that workshop visitation frequencies are increasing, as are final invoice values. While DRiV reveals that it is not seeing workshops compromising on quality parts, a greater challenge is posed by motorists choosing to defer preventative maintenance, as they prioritise other rising household costs.

Manufacturers are offering upgraded parts. MOOG’s claims that its Hybrid Core Technology uses alternative materials that increase component lifespan fivefold

While MEYLE acknowledges that value-priced parts have always had a place in the marketplace, it admits the popularity of such components tends to be determined by vehicle age and value. It cites workshops reporting a small increase for lower-cost repairs but the demand is not significant, as yet.

Invariably, belt-tightening can provide opportunities for counterfeiters. The recent DVSA findings with R90 incompliant brake parts and other reports about low-grade fuel-borne Eolys-type catalyst additives entering UK garage parts supply chains are worrying developments. While Delphi sees counterfeit activity on high-value items in its other ranges, such as diagnostics or diesel fuel injection components, its steering and suspension catalogue remains unaffected.

KYB adds that it seeks out counterfeit goods proactively but it warns that it is becoming increasingly easier for fake components to slip through the net. A particular issue is when motorists purchase spare parts on online shopping channels in a bid to save cash. KYB emphasises that not only can such products be of extremely poor quality, but its analysis has also revealed higher failure rates. To be sure, it recommends that you source its products through the authorised dealers, listed on its website.

MOOG, meanwhile, highlights its newly-launched QR code. Once scanned with a smartphone camera, you can be certain that the product is a genuine MOOG part, while also double-checking the part number, specification and applications. In addition, the QR code permits you to access warranty conditions, aftersales support and installation guides.

Price rises?
While many workshops are debating whether they should increase labour rates, or not, components manufacturers are facing the same quandary. Comline’s findings reflect those of many other companies we contacted, by reporting that the situation is a difficult balancing act, because the industry, as a whole, has suffered from price increases, to which it is not immune. For instance, aluminium prices have increased considerably, not helped by Russia being a major metal exporter. Transport costs have also rocketed. While Comline admits to raising prices, it has been absorbing as much of the rising costs as it can.

The importance of prioritising quality over price needs emphasising to the public, as belt-tightening is bound to worsen, as the year progresses

Tackling returns

Warranty claims cause inconvenience for all parties, hence why quality suppliers strive to prevent the situation from arising in the first place. Component failure, especially from companies that supply the VMs and those that work to OE quality standards, is extremely rare, due to the extremely high-quality control measures that are necessary. Many suspension manufacturers, therefore, cite incorrect fitment as a major cause of premature failure. With this in mind, such businesses provide as much help and support to technicians as possible. Yet this is a two-way deal.  Technicians also need to help the supplier and manufacturer to understand more, when a problem occurs.

Comline reveals that its most common reason for warranty rejections is lack of information and the company advises and welcomes gaining and sharing as much information as possible to help the process run smoothly. These include technicians supplying images of the affected component and details that include when the part was fitted and removed, plus information about the circumstances that lead up to the failure. Comline explains that it needs such information not to be difficult but, because speed is of the essence, it needs to act quickly, should a manufacturing defect be responsible. The company adds that such evidence is essential for data gathering, too. If a pattern of failure can be identified, the information can be shared with its contractors.

Many other brands highlight the importance of keeping up to date with current fitting techniques. AIC advises that suspension struts, dampers and control arms that are mounted in rubber bushes must not have the fixings tightened, until the car is back on its wheels. Should they be tightened with the wheels hanging, the bushes will be placed under permanent tension at normal ride height, causing premature failure. Furthermore, using an impact wrench on damper fixings can damage their internals. AIC and KYB concur that holding the piston rod with mole grips damages its polished surface, which will tear the internal rubber seal, causing oil to leak from the shock absorber soon afterwards. AIC and Arnott stress also the importance of not inflating replacement air suspension springs, with the wheels supporting the vehicle’s weight. Not observing tightening torques is also a common issue that can result in excessive noise and reduced operating life of parts, heightening the need for technicians to heed the specifications and ensure that their torque wrenches are calibrated correctly.

Not heeding tightening torques is one of the main fitting errors made by workshops. Pictured is a MOOG ball joint

We have something against rain – All set with the wiping technology from AIC Germany

Anyone travelling by car should always make sure that the windscreen washer system is working. Because nothing is more dangerous than a sudden downpour and non-functioning windscreen wipers. On days like these, one can only wish all car drivers to have received a timely check of the wiper technology from their service workshop.

This applies not only to the windscreen wipers alone, but also to the wiper linkage, wiper motors, wiper bearings, washer water pumps, washer water reservoirs and washer water nozzles. AIC Germany, car spare parts specialist near Hamburg, has recognised the importance of this issue and developed a broad aftermarket solution for workshops. Because, depending on the car model and year of manufacture, such a replacement of the wiper technology can quickly go into the money if the spare part is only available as a complete set and the workshop has to order it as a whole with the engine. Wherever possible, AIC offers the alternative by including the corresponding individual parts in our product range.

In principle, all these spare parts are designed to last the life of the car, so complete failure is very rare. Nevertheless, even they are not protected from corrosion, dirt, weather-related influences or wear. For example, most AIC’s wiper arms are treated with zinc and copper to protect them from weather-related influences and thus ensure their longevity. The wiper motors normally become weaker in their performance, which is why the power is no longer sufficient to properly drive the windscreen wipers. Like any electric motor, they have sliding contacts that wear out over time. It is also advisable to always keep the wiper bearing clean and greased so that the shaft does not get stuck or break.

Everything is interrelated

The wiper linkage is driven by the wiper motor. The wiper bearing, which acts as a connecting piece between the motor and the linkage, transmits the rotary movements of the motor and the wiper linkage in turn transmits the movement to the windscreen wiper arms under a certain contact pressure. The wiper arms then transfer this pressure evenly to the wiper blades to clean the windscreen properly and without streaks. Dirty windscreens in particular are a NO-GO on the roads. A defective component in the windscreen washer system can make it impossible to continue driving within a very short time due to dirty spray water. Often the washer nozzles are clogged or calcified. Under no circumstances should you then handle a needle. To prevent this, it is advisable to use distilled water.

It is worth taking a look at the complete wiper technology. If it is necessary to replace one or more parts of the windscreen wiper system, AIC offers a versatile and wide range of products including washer fluid reservoirs, wiper motors, wiper linkages, washer fluid nozzles, wiper arms and many more. Just take a look at the spare parts catalogue or ask the wholesaler you trust. You will find what you are looking for. And if not, then ask us (

Precise & easy steering does not have to be expensive

Premium hydraulic hoses at AIC Germany

With the invention of power steering, drivers have it much easier these days. The hydraulic pressure in the steering system allows the driver to steer more precisely and easily.

Thanks to the hydraulic and electric assistance, the steering can be moved quite easily. In the past, however, this was only possible with a great deal of effort. This is because the entire control system of a modern passenger car with power steering is structured completely differently than was the case with old models “without” it. Today, even modern driving assistance systems and control units allow for a more precise adjustment of the steering according to the driver’s preferences.

Automotive spare parts specialist and dynamic problem solver AIC Germany from Hamburg, Germany, has taken a closer look at the market for hydraulic hoses in order to be able to offer the aftermarket a wide selection at fair prices and premium quality at the same time.

Wear and tear

Vehicles today are generally much heavier and the tyres wider, which makes it very difficult to swerve quickly and safely in sudden dangerous situations without power assistance. However, the hydraulic lines and hoses in the power steering system are under great stress. The servo oil or hydraulic fluid is pumped into the steering hoses by the servo pump. With the help of the pump, a hydraulic pressure of 60 bar and more is generated and the oil pressure to the steering gear is built up. Because wherever there is high pressure, a defect can quickly occur. In addition, friction and high temperature fluctuations promote wear, especially at the compression points, and lead to leaks and line breaks. The result: oil leaks out and the filling level for the hydraulic fluid becomes lower than normal. If there is a lack of oil, the oil foams up, interruptions in the steering assistance follow and chips are produced. This leads to damage in the entire steering system and is associated with high consequential costs.

If the driver has problems steering and the steering becomes more sluggish, it is already a sign of a defect in the steering system. If this is detected, there is no time to lose, visit a workshop and go troubleshooting. After all, the power steering system is supposed to allow you to swerve quickly in dangerous situations. Moreover, leaking fluid is not only dangerous for other road users, but also for the environment. Escaping oil can get into the soil and harm other organisms.

If a defect is detected, the hydraulic hose should always be replaced by a specialist.
Here, AIC Germany offers the largest range of hydraulic lines in the aftermarket suitable for a wide range of vehicles. Just take a look at the spare parts catalogue or ask your trusted wholesaler. You will definitely find what you are looking for here.