Business Support

Technical expertise coupled with business savvy is a winning combination – here’s some support that can help promote, protect and win new business.

Over 7,500 businesses across the UK have aligned themselves with The Motor Ombudsman – the independent and impartial Ombudsman to the automotive sector, and the largest Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider specific to the motor industry. The Motor Ombudsman reviews around 15,000 cases annually, accepting more than 6,000 cases for assessment by their dispute resolution team.

From less than £19 per month, accreditation to The Motor Ombudsman offers a variety of benefits for independent garages. The first to mention is the exclusive use of the body’s logo, and that of the Approved Code from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI). Graham Clark, Managing Director at Anderson Clark Motor Repairs, an independent garage based in Inverness, that has been adhering to the body’s comprehensive Service and Repair Code for many years, explains on The Motor Ombudsman website that accreditation assists them with their credibility and the customer’s perception of their brand locally.

Garages have a bespoke profile on its online Garage Finder, to help drive additional customer leads and bookings. Here, customers can also leave a first-hand review of their experience.

Accreditation grants access to The Motor Ombudsman’s dispute resolution team, to acquire independent and impartial guidance and information at any stage of a consumer complaint. This is coupled with the ability to signpost customers to the body to help conclude disputes swiftly and fairly if it has not been possible to do this directly in the first instance.

This is echoed by Charlotte Clarke, pictured above, Business Manager at Clarks4Landys, the Land Rover specialist based in Shropshire, who said in her recent “TMO Talks To” interview with The Motor Ombudsman that it was “a no brainer” to become accredited, as it offers peace of mind for them and their customers, that they have access to a free and impartial dispute service resolution in the unlikely event that anything should go wrong with the work and service they have provided.

Members receive regular communications on key motor industry developments as well as invitations to online webinars with expert speakers throughout the year to hear about some of the latest trends. Topics covered have ranged from electric vehicles and MOTs, to consumer vulnerability and the influence of social media.

To help drive custom to its accredited network, the body invests in marketing and PR initiatives throughout the year, including the Garage Star Awards, which will once again be open for customer nominations on 6th September 2022. This is an opportunity for businesses to have their achievements in the spotlight, and to gain public recognition for going above and beyond to assist consumers.

Independent garages can apply for accreditation to The Motor Ombudsman by visiting

Independent Garage Association update: Securing access to data andonline booking system…
The Independent Garage Association offers both technical and business support to its members to assist in the day to day running of a business, delivering technical help, advice on general legal and employment law, guidance on industry standards as well as assistance on marketing and business development.

Head of Member Services, Frank Harvey, told autotechnician of one new business tool in the pipeline; “Trust My Garage, the IGA’s nationally recognised consumer code scheme, will be launching its own online booking and job estimate website later this year. This service will provide consumers with a skim free, reputable alternative to the current plethora of aggregator sites, while bringing more customers than ever to members’ doors at no extra cost.”

The ability to gain access to secure data is also being addressed. IGA Chief Executive Stuart James recently finalised plans in the US with the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) which already has security and key coding information for many vehicle manufacturers, to bring their system to the UK, which will allow verified independent garages access to establish and maintain access to security level vehicle information to certified garages. “Securing access to information for the independent sector has been a very long drawn out challenge, and it is now more important than ever with advances in technology that the independent sector can continue to access this information,”said Stuart. “Consumers must have the freedom to choose where to maintain and repair their vehicles and GarageSafe provides a pioneering solution, taking another step forward in quality and reassurance for consumers who choose a reputable independent garage.”

GarageSafe will be launching in the UK and available to IGA members later this year.

Unlock upsell opportunities through educational tool…
Castrol has launched a YouTube channel to guide motorists on how best to select the right oil for their car or motorcycle and explains the benefits of using premium lubricants. The new YouTube channel can be viewed here:

The videos can be easily uploaded to workshop websites, help to explain the differences between various oil grades, and outline how they have been formulated to protect engines during stop-start traffic, high speeds, and extended mileages between servicing.

The creation of Castrol’s new YouTube channel follows recent publication of a nationwide survey into vehicle maintenance trends. Significantly for vehicle workshops, it found that 32% of car owners preferred a mechanic to check their vehicle’s oil level because they believed they would do a more effective job.

Of those who didn’t typically check the oil level themselves, 49% said they have never checked the oil level of their car’s engine (for their current car or any previous car), while 19% didn’t know how to check the oil level of their current vehicle.

Almost a third (32%) of all respondents said they’ve never topped up the engine oil for their current car or any previous car.

Castrol recommends that oil checks are conducted monthly, but the survey found that 70% of car owners checked their vehicle’s oil level less frequently. 19% said they only check their engine oil if a warning light comes on, and only 27% of all respondents were aware that damage may already be occurring at this point.

Shailendra Gupte, Marketing Director EMEA, said: “Our new YouTube channel has been created to inform UK drivers about the benefits of using premium quality lubricants to protect their vehicle’s engine. This unlocks the opportunity for more workshops to sell premium products to drivers who visit for routine vehicle checks and maintenance, who might otherwise opt for a cheaper alternative.”

“Our new videos can be easily embedded into the servicing page of a dealer or workshop’s website, helping them shape understanding of premium lubricants at the booking stage. These engaging videos also offer easy-to-follow, step-by-step guides on basic vehicle maintenance, which can be recommended by mechanics to maintain vehicle health in between routine MOT and servicing appointments, harnessing trust in the Castrol brand.”

Joining the network

The Castrol Service Network supports independent workshops who are committed to providing professional, quality maintenance and repair, offer great customer service and who want to align themselves with a trusted brand to showcase their professionalism and stand out from the crowd.

Business support for the network includes: a workshop listing on the Castrol website, Castrol Service signage, product stands, online training and technical advice, workshop clothing, Castrol engine warranty for customers and website/social media digital branding. Our Technical Editor Rob Marshall spoke to garages looking to join the network in the May issue, check the magazine archive on if you missed this. He met Roop Mathrau head of independent German car specialist BMWillenhall of Walsall, pictured left, who had been considering the benefits of being a Castrol Service member for several months. ‘Speaking to AT, Mr Mathrau explains that a Castrol partnership has reputational benefits, considering the blender’s OE partnership with both BMW and MINI. He also feels that the association helps to reinforce his dealer-level professionalism. As the impressive premises are not permitted to display BMW trademarks, he views Castrol’s £3,000 investment in signage and dual-branded clothing as the main attraction. Access to Castrol’s technical support is also a notable inducement, even for a marque expert. For instance, as certain older M-series performance BMWs have very targeted oil specifications, and many of BMWillenhall’s customers are discerning enthusiasts, having Castrol’s support helps cut the time required to research the right oil for the correct application.’

Find out more at or call 0800 371 910 (Option 4).

New car technical innovations from Nissan, Volvo, Mazda and BMW


While ePOWER Nissans have been sold in Japan since 2017, the technology has just arrived in the UK, beneath the bonnet of the popular Qashqai SUV. ePOWER comprises electric propulsion only, using a 140kW motor. Yet, this is a hybrid, by virtue that a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine recharges the battery packs. Under full acceleration, or when driven at high speeds, the combustion-derived electrical energy is diverted from the battery pack to the motor directly, via an inverter. As is the convention with high-voltage vehicles, the system also boasts kinetic energy recuperation, under braking and deceleration.

While nothing novel, this engine also varies its compression ratios, between 8:1 and 14:1. The system works not using valve gear adjustments but an actuator changes the pistons’ strokes. While adopted for ePOWER, the variable compression technology was used first by Infiniti, as we highlighted last year ( genesis-new-car-technical-innovations). Unfortunately, Nissan’s luxury brand is neither built, nor available, in the UK any longer.

Nissan reports that, in low-power demand situations, such as cruising with a charged battery pack, high compression mode (combined, presumably, with low turbo boost pressures) is selected for efficiency and low emissions. Low compression situations are needed with high power outputs and Nissan reports that the compression adjustments are seamless. While the fuel consumption and emission figures are not confirmed at the time of writing, preliminary figures for the Qashqai ePOWER indicate 53mpg on the combined cycle and 119g/km.


Critics of Battery Electric Vehicles may be rubbing their hands with glee, as concerns grow about UK public charger access failing to meet projected demand. The same worries blight those of us that do not have access to private driveways and are forced to park curbside. Yet, wireless charging is nothing new. Even certain motorcars have wireless pads installed within their interiors to facilitate mobile ‘phones charging. Therefore, why can this technology not be upscaled for Battery Electric Vehicles?

Volvo thinks that it can, even for high-mileage applications. Currently, the Chinese-owned company is trialling wireless charging technology in its first BEV, the XC40 Recharge. Rather than being used occasionally, the cars will be put to work by Cabonline, the Nordic region’s largest taxi operator. Each vehicle is expected to cover at least a 12-hour shift, covering 60,000 miles per year.

These vehicles are charged wirelessly at a station, based at the company’s HQ in Gothenburg, Sweden. Recharging commences as soon as the vehicle parks over a charging pad, embedded in the ground. A 360-degree ADAS camera system is employed to ensure that the vehicle is parked accurately. The charging station energises the pad and this power is picked up by the car’s receiver unit. Volvo Cars claims that the charging speeds are four times faster than a hard-wired 11kW AC charger, although not quite as fast as a 50kW DC fast charger.

While we admit that these vehicles are not for commercial sale (yet), should the experiment be a success, it might provide a safe answer to urban issues of on-street EV charging.


With motor manufacturers desperate to slash CO2 outputs, many of them are pooling resources. More recently, several Toyota- based models have appeared that lean on the company’s self-charging, high-voltage hybrid prowess. First came Suzuki, with the Across PHEV (based on Toyota’s RAV4) and the Swace Hybrid (a tweaked Corolla estate). Now, the Mazda2 Hybrid enters the ring, looking strangely familiar…

While it looks like a Toyota and is built by Toyota, it is unsurprising that it is nothing more (or less) than an undiluted Yaris. This means that it benefits from Toyota’s fourth- generation hybrid technology, which has much in common with the same systems that are used with the larger petrol engines in the Toyota Corolla/Suzuki Swace and RAV4/Across ranges. Yet, the Mazda2/Yaris employ a 1.5-litre engine triple, which utilises Atkinson cycle variable valve timing (as is Toyota’s way) and a balance shaft to reduce the natural imbalance that afflicts three- cylinder units. Toyota also claims that this engine possesses the world’s fastest combustion speed.

Being a high-voltage Hybrid, the Mazda2/Yaris can be driven in electric-only mode and the engine can both recharge the batteries and drive the wheels. Working together, the electric motor and engine can produce 114bhp, enough to achieve 0-62mph in fewer than 10 seconds and an average of 72mpg.

Confusingly, the ageing conventionally-engined, third-generation Mazda2 (with its different bodyshell) remains on sale. Mazda justifies its decision, because it ensures that: “Our customers will have the widest choice of small cars in UK showrooms.”


While powering a relatively small coupé with a straight-six engine seems hardly revolutionary, we deem it worthy of inclusion, because the latest M240i xDrive is the only car in its class to be thus equipped. One has to hope that, in an era of engine downsizing, this is not the last Bimmer iteration of the straight-six, especially as BMW has canned its V12, Rolls-Royce models excepted.

Even so, the Germans have developed the M240i’s engine to be the most powerful in-line six in the company’s core engine portfolio. The unit was developed using the motor racing prowess of BMW M GmbH and features a closed-deck aluminium crankcase, an alloy cylinder-head, weight-optimised pistons/connecting rods and a forged steel crankshaft. The new 3.0-litre power plant develops 34bhp more than its predecessor, totalling 374bhp. The peak torque of 500Nm is also impressive, especially as it is available not at a set engine speed but between 1,900 and 5,000rpm. This explains how the range-topping M240i xDrive coupé can accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds.

Delphi Technologies new diagnostics

autotechnician spoke to Delphi Technologies about its new diagnostic device that could be a real game-changer for workshops looking to enhance their diagnostic capabilities and ‘take the faff’ out of integrated security gateways.

Delphi Technologies has developed its latest diagnostic tool, the BlueTech VCI, to enable independent workshops to tackle maintenance and repair tasks that would otherwise be passed on to a dealer or diagnostic specialist – featuring integrated DoIP, security gateway, ADAS calibration, and Passthru support. The DS180/480 (without/with a tablet) also provides support with trouble codes with its DTC Assist – guiding technicians though fault-finding procedures thanks to a database of thousands of real-life workshop repairs and displays expected live data values on screen so you know what to test and what results to expect. It gives the probable causes of over 1,700 fault codes across many marques.

The hardware on existing DS tools provides DoIP via an external adaptor, with the DS180 it is integrated, a third CAN channel has been added and this device is remote diagnostic compatible. A flight recorder enables you to perform a one-man road test; by selecting your parameters and hitting ‘Record’ you can review the data when back in the workshop.

One of the biggest USPs of the DS180 is the integrated security gateway access. Since 2018, Fiat began producing vehicles with a new Secure Gateway Module, removing direct scan tool access from the OBD-II connector for any of the networked modules not related to OBD-II emissions, restricting maintenance and repair functions. Upon clearance with the VM, normal duties can resume, such as clearing fault codes and resetting service information, component activation and programming adaptations. Workshops must sign up with each manufacturer and pay each of them, each time access is required. With the BlueTech VCI, Delphi plays the middleman – by purchasing a one, two or three-year license, authorisation is automatic, and you can open up as many gateways as you like within the Delphi subscription. Delphi’s Technical Services Manager, Phil Mitchell, told autotechnician: “It’s going to make life easier on so many levels. Technicians aren’t going to have to claim back any receipt claims (Phil has spoken to many technicians who are using their own money to fund gateway access as it’s too laborious to claim the odd few euros back each time), and you’re not going to end up running down a rabbit hole with a fault code…”

“Here’s the odd thing about fault codes, you plug it in and get a Cam sensor, you click ‘erase,’ and it won’t erase, and you don’t get an error. I said to our engineering team, surely, we can give an error message saying, ‘Software gateway locked vehicle, cannot erase.’ They said, here’s the weird thing, when you go to erase an error, if the car’s got a security gateway you get the same message back from the ECU as if it’s a permanent error. The ECU doesn’t know the difference, so the error message you get back from the diagnostic will just say I can’t clear the code, we can’t display anything as we don’t know if it’s a secure gateway or not. I said that could be a potentially big problem for people who don’t have a DS180 or something with automatic gateway because you get a cam sensor fault, go to clear the code and it won’t, so you think that must be a permanent fault, let’s go work on that problem.”

EU automotive leaders unite to say “No” to ‘No Deal’ Brexit

On the 23rd September, leading organisations representing vehicle and parts manufacturers across the EU joined forces to stress the impact a ‘no deal’ Brexit would have on one of Europe’s most valuable economic assets. 

The automotive industry produces 19.1 million vehicles a year and employs 13.8 million people. European industry chiefs warned that the repercussions of the UK’s departure from the EU without a deal would trigger a seismic shift in trading conditions, with billions of euros of tariffs threatening to impact consumer choice and affordability on both sides of the Channel. The group stressed that the end of barrier-free trade could bring harmful disruption to the industry’s just- in-time operating model, with the cost of just one minute of production stoppage in the UK alone amounting to £50,000. Meanwhile, WTO tariffs on cars and vans could add £5 billion to the collective EU-UK auto trade bill, raising prices for customers if manufacturers cannot absorb the additional cost. 

Bernhard Mattes, VDA President, said, “We regret Brexit. The United Kingdom is a fully integrated player in the value chain of the German Automotive Industry. More than 100 production facilities as well as research and development located in the UK prove our commitment to the UK-market as a number one market in the EU. The EU and UK automotive industry need frictionless trade and would be harmed significantly by additional duties and administrative burden on automotive parts and vehicles. Consequently, the UK and the EU should undertake all necessary steps to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit.” 

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “European Automotive is deeply integrated and the benefits of free and frictionless trade have helped our sector become one of Europe’s most valuable assets, delivering billions to economies and supporting millions of livelihoods across the EU. A ‘no deal’ Brexit would have an immediate and devastating impact on the industry, undermining competitiveness and causing irreversible and severe damage. UK and EU negotiators have a responsibility to work together to agree a deal or risk destroying this vital pillar of our economies.” 


Have you made any preparations for Brexit? Are you concerned about parts supply and potential price rises? Do you think there are more pressing issues facing independent workshops and technicians than Brexit? 

Email with your views. 

Ben urges automotive industry to speak out about health & wellbeing challenges

Ben, an independent charity and dedicated partner to the automotive industry, providing support for life to its people and their family dependents, has launched its latest survey to ask automotive industry people about the biggest health and wellbeing challenges they face.

The feedback from the Industry Survey 2018 will enable Ben to ensure its health and wellbeing services remain relevant to those working in the industry. This in turn will help more people to deal with life’s toughest challenges in the future. The survey results will also help shape the organisation’s future support services. 

Ben is asking both automotive industry employees and employers to take part in its survey about a range of health and wellbeing issues, including mental health. Use the links below to take part in the survey: 

Employers (for CEOs and HR leaders): Click here to take part! 

Employees (anyone who works, or has worked, in the automotive industry): Click here to take part!

Whether a person works on the shop floor or top floor, in a factory, garage, office, showroom or on the road, if they work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, Ben is here for them and values their input. 

By clicking either link, participants agree to take part in a 10 minute survey to tell Ben about the health and wellbeing issues that are most important to them (or their company if they are an employer). The survey is confidential and anonymous so participants don’t need to reveal their name or contact details.


Hickleys Automotive Academy – Training Courses…

The new technologies increasingly used on modern motors require technicians to have a high level of knowledge about the systems in order to put testing procedures in place and be able to diagnose faults accurately and quickly.

Hickleys Automotive Academy are running the following courses:

For more information simply visit the Hickleys Automotive Academy website or call them on 01823 328604.