Brake inspection tips

First Line provides 10 Tech tips to promote best practice brake inspection:

  1. When inspecting brake discs for wear, or damage, look especially for heat cracks. More in-depth tests can follow with a dial indicator gauge.
  2. Witness marks on the disc can indicate issues with the pad. Technicians should use a brake pad thickness gauge to determine wear levels.
  3. An excessively-worn outboard brake pad tends to indicate issues with the guide pins, bushings and even the sliders. If the inner pad exhibits more wear, check for a seized piston, or master cylinder problems.
  4. Anti-noise brake pad components lose their tensile strength over time, causing not just increased noise but also unequal wear and uneven braking. Whenever pads, or shoes, are replaced, also renew ancillary parts. These include springs, clips and shims.
  5. Never use copper-based grease on modern pads. It can cause the pads to stick in the caliper. It can also attack rubber anti-noise coatings on the pad.
  6. Symptoms of worn brake shoes include an inconsistent brake pedal feel, or vibrations under braking. Alternatively, the park brake travel can be excessive.
  7. Brake shoe return springs are not everlasting and they weaken with age. If they do not return the shoes to their original rest positions, they can induce rapid lining wear.
  8. First Line emphasises the importance of keeping brake shoe self-adjusting mechanisms free and lubricated properly.
  9. Brake hoses are made from rubber, giving them a defined lifetime. First Line recommends that they be replaced as car sets every five years.
  10. In First Line’s experience, testers that heat brake fluid to evaluate its water content provide the best balance of performance and economy. Even so, careful handling and regular calibration are required for optimum reliability.

Encourage wiper blade replacement this winter

First Line is urging technicians to promote the importance of checking and potentially replacing wiper blades this winter.

The company says it is best practice to change wipers annually as a matter of course and not leave them to deteriorate to the point where smearing impacts the driver’s visibility. Every Borg & Beck wiper blade is supplied with a complete selection of fitting adaptors to ensure the widest possible vehicle coverage for minimum stock investment. All the blades are manufactured from 100 percent natural rubber with a liquid graphite coating for long-lasting smooth, streak-free and silent operation.

Conventional blades are available in sizes from 11 to 28 inches, while the spoiler blades, which are mainly fitted on the driver’s side and ensure extra contact, are available from 18 to 28 inches. Both feature a high strength zinc galvanised steel frame and stainless-steel backing, which means they are robust, while remaining corrosion free. The Borg & Beck flat blade design features a flatter spoiler to minimise drag and enhance screen-clearing. They are supplied with a multi functioning mounting base and clips for easy fitment and are available from 15 to 30 inches.

Also in range are the 16 to 28 inch hybrid blades, a modern replacement to a conventional blade, featuring an integrated spoiler that runs the whole length of the blade, providing a chatter free, smooth wiping action. A rear blade replacement is also available, sizes range from 8 to 16 inch.

To support garages to encourage drivers to replace their wiper blades, First Line has produced a poster outlining key information on when to replace wiper blades, available on request by filling in the online form

Timing belt kits with water pumps

When replacing a timing belt that drives the water pump, it is common practice to replace the water pump at the same time – First Line supplies a range of Timing Belt Kits containing belts, tensioners, idlers and water pumps, under the company’s First Line and Borg & Beck brands.

The range consists of more than 40 references, covering over 3,000 applications, including many popular manufacturers such as Citroën, Fiat, Ford, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, Seat, Renault, Volvo, Toyota and Vauxhall. In addition to the timing belt, the kits contain all the necessary parts required when changing a synchronous drive system. They are supplied, as standard, with the water pump, pulleys, tensioners and fixing components, where applicable, meaning technicians receive everything they need from one source.

Technical layout drawings aid the identification process, available in its online catalogue, where the full range can be looked up via application or cross reference. The kits are backed by a comprehensive two-year/24,000-mile warranty against manufacturing defects, if replaced in line with the manufacturers schedule.

Top tips for clutch fitment

First Line continues to share technical expertise through workshop posters and has produced one to highlight the importance of best practice clutch installation.

The new poster highlights key parts of the process that if not followed, could lead to an avoidable warranty claim, which if it is due to an installation error or driver abuse, won’t be covered.

When replacing a clutch, it’s important to understand why the old clutch has failed, particularly if it has failed prematurely. Causes of premature failure include poor driving style, towing heavy loads, frequent hill starts or an installation error, that if left unknown, could affect the lifespan of the replacement unit.

One of the key messages shared by all clutch manufacturers is the importance of correct engine to gearbox alignment. Before offering up the gearbox, the Borg & Beck engineers advise technicians to align the input shaft with the hub spline of the clutch disc and not allow the weight of the gearbox to hang off the spline, as this could cause the drive plate to break apart.

Another danger to the clutch systems that the company is urging the aftermarket to consider is over lubrication. Jon Roughley, Global Marketing Director, explains: “Lubrication of the spline shaft should be kept to a fine film, using the sachet supplied with your Borg & Beck Clutch Kit. Alternatively, any high performance, high melting point, non-copper-based grease can be used. Excessive greasing can affect the performance of the new clutch, so always remove the excess.

“If the vehicle has a CSC fitted and it is being replaced, it is also vital that you avoid the temptation to compress the new CSC, as this can cause damage because out of the box the seal is dry. You must ensure that the CSC mounting face is clean and any seals, gaskets or sealant should be used as per the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines.”

If it is identified that the DMF was the cause of failure, then First Line recommends technicians consider a Borg & Beck Single Mass Flywheel (SMF) conversion kit. Borg & Beck SMFs are designed to provide a cost-effective and durable solution for vehicles that have a dual mass flywheel as original equipment. SMFs are ideally suited to higher mileage applications, low speed city driving and the demanding operating environment common place with LCV applications.

To request your free poster, simply visit:

01869 248 484

Rotating electric issues on the Ford Transit

First Line’s comprehensive Borg & Beck rotating electrics programme contains more than 1,100 starter, alternator and alternator free-wheel pulley references. Alongside traditional designs, the range also encompasses the latest technology and includes a growing number of water- cooled and stop-start starter/alternators. 

Its team of engineers have issued advice on common problems occurring with the Ford Transit (2000-06) model, regarding both starters and alternators. 


Problem A: 

Dust and metallic filings from the dual mass flywheel can contaminate the starter drive assembly, which will lead to premature failure. This quickly builds up again if the clutch and DMF are severely worn, so Borg & Beck recommends the replacement of the clutch and flywheel assembly at the same time as the starter. 

A long-term solution is to replace the original clutch/DMF with a single mass flywheel kit – Borg & Beck reference HKF1001. 

Problem B: 

These starters also often suffer from premature failure due to contamination from diesel fuel, which is caused by the continual drip of a fuel leak that gradually seeps into the starter and disintegrates the brushes. 


Problem A: 

These starters can become sluggish or will start to click when there is a high resistance or voltage drop. This is often caused by the main battery cable to the starter being contaminated or worn, the starter cable will then fill with water, which corrodes the aluminium core. 

Problem B: 

These starters can be incorrectly diagnosed as being at fault when the terminals on the starter relay are contaminated or corroded, which causes the relay to stop working and will then stop the starter solenoid from working. 



Corrosion/damaged wiring to the alternators 3-pin plug ‘sense’ connection is a common cause for premature failure on Transit alternators. It is worth noting that the failure of the ignition relay will cause the battery light to stay on after the fitment of the new alternator. 

All Borg & Beck rotating machines come with a comprehensive two- year warranty against manufacturing defects. 

TEL: 01869 248 484

Technicians can claim their FREE 2020 wall planner now

First Line Ltd has launched its 2020 wall planners with First Line, Borg & Beck and CV branding. The wall planners are double sided so workshops can display either First Line or Borg & Beck, depending on which brand they use.

There are also specialist wall planners available for fleet managers, that feature a maintenance chart. Jon Roughley, Global Marketing Director for First Line Ltd, said: “We offer these wall planners every year and they continue to grow in popularity. While they’re simple, they are useful to everyone, especially now we have a maintenance chart for fleet managers. We’re keen for people to begin ordering them and excited to see how popular they are this year!”

To claim a free wall planner, simply send an email with your name, address, which planner you’d like (First Line and Borg & Beck or CV and Maintenance Chart) and the quantity you require to:

Making the informed choice: Filter Quality

As the difference between a decent and sub-standard replaceable filter is not immediately obvious, Rob Marshall enquires with both OE and Non-OE suppliers about how technicians can select quality parts with confidence.

Due to motorcars becoming more complicated, more precise and boasting lengthy service intervals, effective, consistent and long-lasting filtration has become ever-more critical. Low grade products might look as if they will do the job on first glance but, as engine damage especially builds over a period of time, the consequence of using poor quality filtration might not be associated with a sudden and expensive mechanical failure. 

Using low grade filters also presents a warranty risk, when maintaining a vehicle that is still covered by the manufacturer, or supplying main dealer. While you are not duty-bound to buy filters from a franchised parts counter, the customer will have to demonstrate that he/she has used OE quality filters and itemising the brand and part number on the invoice should be part of the customer service remit. 


First Line told AT that the filtration market overall is very sensitive to prices, which are being driven-down continually. As some manufacturers are cutting quality to meet a particular cost base, First Line advises that garages should protect themselves and their customers, by sticking with reputable, established brands that manage and control the specifications of their products carefully, as it does with its Borg and Beck brand of filters. 

Issues can occur at factor level. MAHLE reports that, when garages request that a service kit is delivered, parts can be supplied that originate from several different manufacturers. This should not be a problem, provided that those makes can be trusted, but MAHLE advises that quality brands are specified by garages to their parts suppliers, in order to protect their reputations. 

On modern canister filter designs, only the filter medium is replaced; the anti-drain back and bypass valves are incorporated within the filter module.

UFI Filters Group concurs that, while filters look very similar on the outside, performance levels deviate enormously. Buying and fitting a cheap aftermarket filter might seem to be a good way of cutting costs and, potentially, boosting profits but it can be a false economy for you and/or your customer. UFI says that they can cause damaging particles to remain within the engine, due to either an oil filter failing to separate them from the oil, or that they have entered the engine via the air, or fuel filter. This compromises not only engine performance and reliability but also increases fuel consumption and harmful exhaust emissions. 


Out of all filters discussed, the spin-on oil filter is the most mysterious type, because all of its working parts are enclosed within the metal canister. Apart from the filtration medium itself, a flap valve (although some filters are equipped with two) is fitted that stops the oil from draining from the filter, after the engine is switched-off, to prevent oil starvation on start-up. A calibrated bypass valve also features, to ensure that the oil flow avoids the filter, should it become blocked. 

UFI told AT that, presuming that these required technologies are installed in the first place, it has encountered bypass valves on low quality filters that open at higher (or lower) pressures than specified, increasing the risk of unfiltered oil passing through the engine, thus raising engine wear levels. By comparing budget filter quality against its own standards, MAHLE has discovered poor machining, resulting in sharp metal burrs that could detach from the filter, as well as anti- drain back valves that are either misshapen, and/or made from thin rubber, which reduces their effectiveness, plus a lack of glue that holds the relevant components together. 

The cartridge-type oil filter is far simpler and easier to inspect, because its filtration elements are exposed and the bypass and anti-drain functions are performed by the assembly, into which the filter locates (referred to by UFI, for example, as the filter module). As with spin-on filters, low quality cartridge filters can suffer from manufacturing inadequacies. MAHLE reports of poorly folded filter materials, while UFI highlights that the performance of the filter material (also called ‘media’) may be generic and unmatched to the specific engine application, which can result in either particles entering the lubrication circuit, or the filter clogging prematurely. The company explains that developing the filtration media is a complex science; neither must it degrade on contact with acids, soot and bio-fuels, nor affect oil pressure, while filtering contaminations effectively. Even the cartridge dimensions play an important role in determining optimum filtering efficiency, while minimising the risk of clogging. UFI explains also that modern engine technology has seen a shift from a cellulosic oil filter media and the latest engines, especially turbocharged units, have filters that are specified with glass-fibre, or polymer materials. As with engine oil, therefore, downgrading oil filter specifications is not a wise idea. 


While it is obvious that an air filter affects the air quality that is delivered into the combustion chambers, it is not always appreciated that the filter controls air flow stability, too. Therefore, to ensure optimum performance, while mitigating wear and harmful exhaust emissions, air filter specifications are factored by the carmaker and replacement parts must match them. 

A sign of a good quality air filter is it possessing a pre-filter that removes larger particles, such as road dust. This extra fleece layer can increase filter capacity by up to 40%.

When working with a vehicle manufacturer, when a car model is being developed, MAHLE explains that the location and filter replacement interval defines the most apposite filtration material and the physical dimensions to achieve the required filtration and flow rates. The company also explains that maintaining a constant air pressure is critical, because these values are monitored continually by the engine management system. In addition, MAHLE highlights that specifying the pressure differences between a turbocharger’s intake and exhaust turbines is a precise science and any subsequent modifications (such as installing a poor-grade air filter) that reduces the pressure within the air intake can damage the turbocharger over a period of time. 

Yet, you may encounter performance upgrade air filters that have been fitted to a customer’s vehicle at some point in the past. Obviously, some of these types may not require replacement but might need maintenance, such as cleaning, or oiling, to maintain their filtration properties. AT asked both MAHLE and UFI about these types of filters generally, with no reference to any brand. The advice that we received was that, while such filters could increase airflow, it would be at the expense of filtration effectiveness. Furthermore, airflow meters are calibrated to work with an OE specification filter, so any deviations can, perversely, result in a drop in engine power. The use of ‘more open’ engine air filters and the resultant imbalance that is created can also cause increases in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, while risking an increase in oil contamination rates and accelerated wear levels on internal mechanical parts. This may be why certain makers of ‘racing’ air filters state that the ECU should be ‘calibrated’ after the element is installed. 


Again, fuel filters have changed from the washable gauze-type that was fitted to many carburettor engines (although it is easy to forget that a strainer mesh is still fitted to the in-tank lift pump on many modern cars) to the canister-type, fitted to the underside of the vehicle on many petrol engined cars. Cartridge-type fuel filters (as pictured) are now commonplace, although their initial prevalence on diesel engines was because of the issues associated with the fuel, including water contamination and microbe-related infestation.

As pressures and tolerances have risen on both diesel and petrol fuel injection systems, so too has the sensitivity to fuel contamination. MAHLE reveals that even the smallest particle can cause premature wear and require costly replacement of both the high-pressure pump and injectors. Water in the injection system can cause a loss of performance, injector damage and even component failure. In some applications, water separation is a core function of the diesel filter, as specified by the vehicle manufacturer. UFI highlights its new Gen2Plus filters, which it claims sets new standards in the separation of water residue from the fuel and its ability to filter impurities from the fuel; the first application of which was in the current-production Fiat Tipo. 


While the informed technician knows why it is beneficial to install OE quality filters to protect the engine and its ancillary components, a typical customer may not be as technically- minded, which is why the garage has to make the decision for them. Perhaps, therefore, the only opportunity you have to upsell filtration products to the customer lies when the cabin filter is due for its annual replacement, because it has direct implications for the occupant’s health and comfort, which are easy to explain and understand. 

First Line has produced a poster to inform customers about the importance of changing cabin filters and the potential upgrade options. To request a free poster for your customer waiting areas,

First Line says that educating the end user about the importance of changing a cabin filter annually is a major challenge for the filtration industry. Comline agrees and argues that opportunities are not being grasped by many garages. “The cabin filter is a relatively low-cost item, which offers motor factors and garages fantastic growth opportunities,” advises Nick Weir, Head of Comline’s Business Line Operations, who continues: “The key lies with consistent education and we urge motor factors and garages to join us, as we strive to highlight the benefits of a fully-functioning cabin filter. With NHS figures reporting that a fifth of the population now suffers from hay-fever, there has never been a better time to convey the cabin filter message.” 

Mr Weir also reports that the carbon-activated cabin filter offers an ideal upselling opportunity, because it provides additional protection against ultra-fine gases, such as particulates, benzine and ozone, while absorbing unpleasant odours, which may otherwise enter the cabin. These may be worth emphasising, should you have a customer that drives frequently in urban conditions, for example.  

Many other filter manufacturers offer upgraded cabin filters, too. MAHLE offers its Caremetix range; MANN has its Frecious- Plus and UFI announces that its anti-bacterial ARGENTIUM range will be launched next year. AT will keep you informed of further developments. 


Deciding on which filters to fit to your customers’ cars is a balance between your brand preferences, its range, what your factor supplies and the speed of delivery. From a quality perspective, OE manufacturers that design filtration solutions for car companies and supply their main dealers with replacement parts emphasise their OE quality credentials that are closely monitored and controlled. Such companies also take action against any counterfeiters, although such cases are rare in the UK. 

Do not discount non-OE suppliers, either, provided that they can demonstrate that their filters are of OE quality, at the very least. First Line told us that, prior to cataloguing a new product, it goes through extensive quality control processes and, although First Line admits that it is not a manufacturer, it uses the, “very best manufacturing partners, all of which are subjected to regular quality audits in line with First Line’s ISO:9001:2015 procedures.” 

The company also emphasises Borg and Beck’s 100 years of heritage and states that all of its filters are warranted throughout the relevant vehicle’s service interval. Like First Line, Comline engages some of the largest and most respected production facilities in the world, which comply with latest ISO standards. Aside from monitoring its suppliers directly, it also tests filters in its own laboratory, including performance and ease of fitment assessments. Comline also partners with the International Filter Testing Service (IFTS). 

The company told AT that IFTS membership tends to be the preserve of an OE filter manufacturer; the organisation also conducts impartial tests that underpins Comline’s confidence in its filter range’s quality. To assist technicians further, Comline reports that its entire range is backed by a comprehensive data portfolio, which includes product specification, application data and fitment information, all of which is available via MAM, Autocat and TechAlliance. 







Moving Off

With many issues reportedly being caused by incorrect fitting, Rob Marshall looks at how the workshop can avoid shortening the life of replacement parts and gives an overview of clutch faults and their common causes.

While they admit that manufacturing issues can occur, the warranty departments of quality clutch manufacturers check their returns carefully and damage that has been caused by incorrect fitting tends to be more common than production defects. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect any supplier to cover clutch parts that have been damaged in the workshop. 


Before you place a parts order, discussing the problem with the car owner helps to avoid misdiagnosis. A frank discussion will help assess when the fault(s) occurred, the symptoms and frequency. While being careful not to cause offence, explain that modern cars can mask unsympathetic driving techniques quite effectively and consider offering advice so that the driver can understand that he/she plays a role in determining the life of their vehicle’s clutch. 

When checking the car over, consider if any ancillary components might be at fault, such as visible hydraulic 

system leaks, air in the system, or an incorrectly-adjusted release mechanism. Only after these basic checks have been completed, should you embark on changing the three-piece clutch. 


ZF Service’s Sachs brand reveals that plenty of opportunities arise for the clutch to be damaged, prior to it being taken out of the box. Impact forces can bend the side straps (also called the Tangential Spring) on the cover/pressure plate, for example. Sachs told us that its pressure plates have a slightly concave surface to aid bedding in, so if your checks reveal it not to be flat, this is not a defect. The friction plate can also distort by being dropped. National Auto Parts adds that impact forces can chip away some of the friction lining; this creates a weak point and risks the whole section breaking-up in use. Should your kit include a concentric slave cylinder (CSC), National Auto Parts and First Line’s Borg & Beck advise that you should not be tempted to compress it by hand, because this risks damaging the internal seals, rendering the part useless. 


Sachs advised us predominantly about the following most common installation issues that damage clutch parts and what you can do to avoid them… 

1. Keeping on the straight and narrow 

As the gearbox input shaft is a natural extension of the crankshaft, it must be aligned on the same axis. If it is not, the clutch will be pulled out of line, reducing its lifespan. Consider also that should the weight of the gearbox be supported solely by the input shaft, the clutch friction plate is designed to be sacrificial. Otherwise, ensure that all mating surfaces are clean and that nothing becomes trapped between the bellhousing and crankcase. All locating dowels must be present and in good order, as must all bolts. Should it be present, a damaged pilot bearing, or spigot bush, can promote offset, too. 

2. Keep it lubed 

While friction plate linings are designed to operate best between 90-120 degrees Celsius, driver abuse (or wear/a fault) can result in a damaging 400-600 degrees Celsius being experienced. Therefore, copper and multipurpose greases can bake onto the input shaft, causing judder. Do not presume, however, that the input shaft splines and clutch hub do not require lubrication; they do. Sachs advises that its own grease, which is supplied with its clutch kits (or otherwise, under ref no: 18 4200 080 060), is used, which not only remains stable at high temperatures but also repels lining dust. 

A further problem is applying too much, the excess of which is thrown onto the friction linings, causing slip. Therefore, apply a minute quantity and distribute it, by sliding the clutch plate back and forth several times on the splines, prior to removing the excess grease. 

3. Leaks and their consequences 

Aside from incorrect/excessive input shaft greasing, look for and attend to oil leaks from the input shaft or crankshaft seals that could contaminate the friction lining. While any CSC should be replaced as a matter of course, establish if any brake fluid leaks from the component may be the cause of clutch issues. Clean the bellhousing thoroughly, so that any debris from the previous clutch failure cannot affect the new one. 

4. Distortion – pressure plate 

Sachs reveals that around 40% of its clutches that are returned under warranty with a disengaging complaint, possess distorted pressure plates. It highlights that its XTend self-adjusting clutches seem to be particularly vulnerable to poor fitting techniques, demonstrated by the automatic adjuster on returned clutches being extended fully, which cannot be reset. This demonstrates that they were not installed with the correct tool. Note also that LUK adopts the same technical stance, insisting that its Self-Adjusting Clutches are installed only with an appropriate fitting tool, which applies pressure evenly to the centre of the pressure plate, so that its retaining bolts can be tightened. More information can be found on by searching ‘clutch repair’. Borg & Beck also recommends that these installation tools are used. 

5. Distortion – friction plate 

While you may not have the facilities (or time) to use the pictured method to check if the lateral run out of a new friction plate does not exceed 0.5mm, spinning it on a metal bench and checking that the edges do not rise and fall obviously is a quick and easy test. Distortion, noticed in two positions that are 180 degrees apart, is evidence that the gearbox weight has been suspended unsupported by the input shaft. 


Clutches experience a myriad of faults. Hopefully, you will diagnose ones that are caused by wear and tear and not as a result of incorrect fitting procedures. Sachs, Borg & Beck and National Auto Parts share the most common faults and the most likely causes: 

An overheated clutch friction plate can cause the facings to glaze; this changes their properties and can promote further slippage. The plate can also deform, hindering disengagement and causing drag.

1. Clutch judder/grab 

As highlighted earlier, the irritating lack of a smooth transfer of power can be caused by a deformed pressure plate that might have been dropped prior to installation. Overheated, or oil contaminated friction linings, can also be to blame, as can damage to the splines that prevent the clutch disc from moving along the input shaft smoothly. A pressure plate that has not been centralised, has had its attachment screws tightened in a cross-wise sequence, or damaged during transit (look for deformed straps) can be responsible. Engine mounts that are delaminating, or softened by oil contamination, are also potential causes, as are faulty/worn/seized release mechanisms. 

2. Clutch slip 

Insufficient clamping force can be caused by a three-piece clutch kit having reached the end of its life, exhibiting worn friction material and a self-adjusting pressure plate that has reached its adjustment limit, where applicable. A heavy pedal on non auto-adjusting clutches is a further symptom of a worn-out friction plate. External influences include oil contamination on the friction lining, or burnt linings from aggressive driving techniques. Poor fitment can cause maladjustment (high preload) between the clutch release bearing and the pressure plate. Look also for faults in the release mechanism itself, including a restriction that does not allow the fluid to flow back as the clutch pedal is released. 

Misalignment during fitting can have serious consequences, even if failure does not happen immediately.

3. Clutch drag (not releasing) 

Deformation/excessive lateral runout of the friction disc, lack of, incorrect, or excessive lubrication on the hub/input shaft splines, damaged splines, a fractured clutch plate, bent pressure plate straps and damage to the pressure plate spring tips/fingers that has been caused by the release bearing not operating centrally, are all issues that can be caused by poor fitting techniques and damaged/incorrect parts being used. Driving techniques influence this, too, including overheating the pressure plate by excessive slippage, or a damaged torsional vibration damper (located within the friction plate, if a DMF is not installed) resulting from high loads and low RPMs. Do not forget to check the release mechanisms, too, especially if air has contaminated the system. 

4. Clutch noise 

Some noises might not be the fault of the clutch; the sound might originate from a worn pilot bearing/spigot bush. Some noises that may stem from the three-piece assembly may not be detrimental to its lifespan, or operation, but use your judgement carefully. The slight rattling from the springs on the friction plate’s vibration dampers will be very different to the grinding sounds from a seized release bearing, for example. Be wary if noises result after a clutch change exercise. If any are noticed, double-check that the correct parts were installed and the fitting procedures were followed. 

Pressure plate straps can bend, or deform, should the part be dropped. Inspect them carefully before fitting the clutch to the car.


Whether hydraulics, or a simple cable is employed, Borg & Beck strongly recommends that the clutch release system is one of the most important systems to inspect. Wear, or seizure, can lead to faults that may be blamed incorrectly on parts within the bellhousing, when there could be a simpler and less costly cause. Should the gearbox be out of the car, do not ignore worn ancillary items within the bellhousing, such as a clutch fork and guide tube, more information can be found on www. by searching ‘Clutching at Bits’. With CSC, National Auto Parts advises that they should not be lubricated prior to fitment, because this can damage the seals. You must ensure that the retaining bolts’ torque figures are observed, otherwise the back plate of certain CSCs can separate.  

Additionally, Borg & Beck recommends caution during the bleeding procedure, because failure results from pumping the clutch pedal too rapidly. This must be done slowly and steadily. Should the pedal be pushed too quickly, the CSC does not get time to return to its original position before the next pedal push. A similar issue arises, if using too high a pressure setting on a one-person bleeding tool. 

Never attempt to modify the hydraulic circuit either, such as removing a standard-fit torque limiting valve. Borg & Beck states that doing so can damage the transmission, the drive shafts, or the DMF. Again, when bleeding the system, ensure that it is performed in a slow and steady manner. Similarly, do not remove any anti-vibration units from the hydraulic system, because it prevents pulsations from the engine/transmission from being transferred into the clutch hydraulics. 


The following poor driving habits shorten the life of a typical clutch: 

  1. Driving at high road speeds in a low gear with the clutch depressed: This risks over-speeding the clutch friction disc and bursting the clutch friction linings.
  2. Sudden clutch engagement: This generates high thrust forces that can rupture the pressure plate and the friction plate’s torsional vibration damper and interfacing springs. It can also reduce DMF life, where fitted.
  3. Using the clutch pedal as a footrest: Even small forces on the clutch pedal risk shortening
    the release mechanism’s life and reduce the clutch’s clamping force, promoting slippage and, therefore, lining wear and overheating damage.
  4. Avoiding excessive/prolonged clutch slip:
    To avoid overheating and unnecessary wear, do not move off using either an excessively high gear, or engine speeds. Avoid holding
    the vehicle still on an incline using the clutch, towing heavy trailers, conducting frequent tight manoeuvring, moving off several times in short succession on a steep incline and certain engine tuning modifications.
  5. Change up: Driving at low RPM and full throttle can damage the clutch plate’s torsional vibration damper. Where fitted, it also harms the dual-mass flywheel. 


As cars are evolving, so is clutch design and materials. Sachs revealed there is a clear need for technicians to develop their training and maintain best practices in the workshop. ZF Services, therefore, provides the aftermarket with OEM-level training at its HQ in Crick, Northamptonshire. While the next course is scheduled for 11th September, more information can be found at www. 

National Auto Parts reports that its sales representatives offer customer training during their visits. One-to-one, or group training, can be conducted at its technical department and the company advises to contact one of its sales team on 01773 527210, to arrange an appointment. LuK’s team of technical experts conducts clutch training at technical evenings and trade fairs around the country, on top of more formal training courses at its REPXPERT Academy in Hereford. Installation videos can also be watched via Schaeffler’s REPXPERT portal, as well as its newly-launched app. 


Brake friction servicing remains one of the most popular workshop tasks, but technology has not stood still – Rob Marshall looks at purchasing, fitting and up-selling advice.


Choice is not always the best thing. Aside from practical issues, including reliability of supply from the factor, selecting brake friction components has become almost bewildering, because the market has become saturated. Despite the many options available to garages, Borg & Beck has found that most workshops stick to just one brand. However, it reasons that the typical installer needs to understand the differences between the parts on offer (see our later advice on training) and relate them to the owner/driver, because of the differences in pedal- feel and longevity that may exist between different friction brands that possess different specifications, despite all of them being compliant with mandatory R90 standards. Research is, therefore, key. Delphi agrees and states that it uses over 130 friction ingredients to create 20 friction formulations to tailor braking performance for a particular vehicle application. This compares with some suppliers that, it claims, only offer two friction specifications. MEYLE advises that it can be a positive upsell move to offer customers a choice, instead of restricting them to a single brand, but you will need to be informed enough to advise accordingly. 

Some factors have introduced their own brands, as a means of achieving economies-of-scale and building customer loyalty but, potentially, this courts confusion even further. Euro Car Parts (ECP) told us that it arranged to distribute the Pagid brand exclusively a decade ago, after it was acquired by TMD friction in 2002. Its reasoning was to combine the company’s widespread network and rapid delivery service with Pagid’s OE heritage. The strategy appears to have worked, with ECP reporting that the brand has grown phenomenally, although it is worth adding that the Pagid range extends beyond the friction components alone. 

The final word, however, has to go to Delphi, which advises that, in order to avoid inferior quality products, choose a proven quality brand that has been engineered, manufactured and tested to OE standards. 


Introduced in 1999, the ECE R90 Regulation stipulated that aftermarket brake pads should perform within a 15% tolerance of certain OE test criteria. As of November 2016, the directive was extended to cover brake discs too. ECP highlights that, because braking is a lucrative market, everyone is looking to cash-in and increase revenue, resulting in the ‘OE Quality’ statement being used to indicate that a brand complies with R90 legislation. It warns, “Many customers have started to assume incorrectly that these brands supply components to vehicle manufacturers – that is not the case. A large percentage of the brands within the braking aftermarket do not manufacture components themselves, let alone supply vehicle manufacturers.” 

Supplied to both vehicle manufacturers and the aftermarket, Federal-Mogul states that its Ferodo brand meets OE standards at the very least. It reveals that R90 legislation is a minimum standard for braking parts – for example, certain R90-compliant friction parts tend to have a standard type of noise control, or none at all, whereas Ferodo brake pads are designed with OE specific noise control features, such as chamfers and shims. Federal-Mogul reveals also that R90 conformity tests tend to take several hours, whereas OE testing can take six months and include more comprehensive testing that R90 might not consider, such as wet weather performance, temperature sensitivity, wear levels, fade, thermal conductivity, judder, durability and noise. 

You might think, therefore, that only OE suppliers seek to surpass the basic R90 requirements for both discs and pads but this is not the case. The new generation MEYLE-PD range of brake friction components are also intended to perform at a far higher level than the basic ECE certification. Brake pad manufacturer, Comline, has introduced extra test procedures as well, such as hot sheer testing, wear analysis and noise tests, which it describes as R90-Plus. 

Yet, we are not downplaying the role that R90 has in making it harder for sub-standard braking components to enter the UK car parc. All pads and discs that you fit must be supplied in a sealed box, each of which should bear a unique part number, official approval mark and evidence that permits traceability of the production process, such as a date, batch number, or source code. The box should contain fitting instructions in the correct language and the brake discs should be marked with a minimum thickness specification. 


Buying extra parts, or a complete kit that includes accessories, can reduce labour times. Borg & Beck’s brake shoe kits, for example, are preassembled and it claims that you save up to 45 minutes of labour fitting time, compared to assembling and fitting the separate parts. 

Dependent on the application, however, extra parts may be needed and it can be worth enquiring if they need to be ordered separately. Apec reports that braking hardware’s tensile strength reduced by 30-50% over a two-year period, so replacing shims, for example, is a wise idea, even though the old parts do not appear to have anything wrong with them. Meyle told us that 99% of its brake discs range is supplied with a new locating screw, because they tend to corrode to the hub and are unsuitable for reuse. Its MEYLE- PD brake pads kits include ancillary parts, in cases where the company views their replacement as desirable. While Delphi admits that its brake pads are supplied with calliper bolts, fixing screws and wear indicators, where deemed necessary by OE specifications, it supplies fitting kits separately in order to limit the number of part numbers in its range. Borg & Beck highlights that its brake fitting kits include all of the components necessary to complete the tasks, including clips, springs, pins and bolts. 


While coated brake discs have been available for some time, unpainted brake discs are still widespread for older cars, so enquire with your supplier. While there is nothing wrong with unpainted discs (provided that the protective oil film is removed with brake cleaner prior to fitting), the rusting process looks particularly unattractive, if it can be seen through wide alloy wheel spokes – offering a coated alternative may be a useful up-sell for a cherished vehicle. 

Comline told us that coated discs form most of the company’s range, which are salt-spray tested for up to 240 hours to ensure optimum corrosion resistance. This tough coating is resistant to petrol, oil, brake fluid and most wheel cleaners, as well. Borg & Beck says that its water-based zinc and aluminium flake coating on its BECKTEC Brake Discs not only increases the corrosion protection but also enhances the thermal exchange properties of the disc to optimise braking performance. A technician saves time, because coated discs can be fitted straight out of the box, with no cleaning/degreasing being necessary. 

In light of increasing awareness of particulate pollution, affecting watercourses in particular, brake pad manufacturers have strived to eliminate heavy metals (especially copper) from their friction materials. Delphi and Meyle (the latter referencing its MEYLE-PD ‘next generation’ brake pads) told AT that working on reducing pollution and dust formation, while maintaining brake performance, is one of the many ongoing behind-the-scenes challenges that the brake friction industry faces. 

The increased uptake rate of hybrids and EVs, however, has made drivers more aware of brake noise, because the natural sound of the friction materials working together is not masked by the noise of an internal combustion engine. Meyle reports that previously unnoticed sounds can be perceived as disturbing. Therefore, a complaint of excessive brake noise from an EV driver might be entirely normal but latest developments may provide an up-sell opportunity. Delphi advises that selecting a brand with NVH reducing technologies, such as its own, is increasingly important. As the typical driving style is modified to take full advantage of regenerative braking systems on hybrid cars and EVs, Delphi says that advanced corrosion on the braking system changes the wear properties of pads and discs and the aftermarket needs to be aware of the opportunities that this brings. Federal-Mogul adds that brake pads are more prone to glazing under light usage conditions, as well. 

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is ZF’s TRW brand introducing the Electric Blue brake pads for EVs, as pictured. Designed to reduce braking noise, the pads are claimed to produce 45% fewer particulates than conventional pads. The current range covers 97% of the European EV car parc. 


Noise grievances tend to be the commonest issues that damage customer confidence in garages, motor factors and brake component manufacturers. Unless the issue stems from grinding, caused by serious neglect that must be dealt with immediately, most other noises are more annoying than detrimental. Comline’s Dr Keith Ellis, Director of Braking Product Development revealed that: 

“Squeal is caused by vibrations that result from the interaction between a brake disc, brake calliper and brake pad, which tends to be influenced directly by various internal and external factors, including the temperature of the disc, or pad, the ambient temperature in which they are operating, the speed that the vehicle is travelling at and the pressure being exerted under braking.” 

Installing shims to the brake pad back-plate reduces this vibration and, therefore, controls unwanted brake noise. Comline states that there are multiple different shim derivatives available across the aftermarket, with differing levels of quality and performance, which vary between bonded gasket paper and complex laminations, using layers of different materials. For example, while Borg & Beck’s BECKTEC Brake Pads are not only grooved and chamfered to reduce noise, they also possess double rubber shims for anti-rattle and noise suppression qualities. Comline reports that its multi-layer Rubber-Metal- Rubber (RMR) shim construction is particularly effective at controlling unwanted vibrations, when combined with the pads’ noise-abating friction material and pad design. RMR is a standard feature on all new to range Comline brake pads and available on over 500 of the most popular references. 

Therefore, the brake pad’s shape can influence brake noise, too, and is one reason why directional brake pads are becoming more popular. By varying the angle at which the friction material contacts the disc, both noise and vibration can be reduced. Correct installation is crucial. Directional pads being fitted the wrong way round is one of the most common installation errors that Federal-Mogul/Ferodo encounters, for example. This has prompted the company to upload a fitting video ( to its website. Delphi adds that its directional pads use either a letter, indicating which side of the vehicle the pad should be fitted, or an arrow that indicates the rotational direction of the disc and, therefore, the direction in which the pad should be fitted. Consult the fitting instructions, should you identify the pads as being directional, by the presence of a chamfered friction surface, or a crescent cut out of the shim, where no arrow is provided. Incorrectly- installed pads, or not following the correct lubrication advice in the fitting instructions, can cause excessive noise, as might wear in either the disc, or calliper. An interesting method of curing squeal is provided by BG Products. Its Stop Squeal is applied to the pads’ friction material, which reduces the likelihood of the pad and disc sticking and reduces vibration.
It is claimed that braking performance is unaffected by the application. Judder, felt by a pulsing brake pedal under light braking, as well as vibration being detected and even heard, can result not only from a damaged disc but also by incorrect fitting. Apec highlights that not cleaning the hub sufficiently, and garages not performing a run-out check, are two of the most common fitting errors that it encounters. Fitting good quality parts and providing the customer with point-of-sale advice about driving techniques for bedding-in brakes will also help reduce the chance of a dissatisfied customer returning for warranty work. 

Federal-Mogul warns about misdiagnosing the brake pad as the source, when noise could emanate from many other parts, from the wheel bearing to the ball joint. This is more of an issue on newer vehicles, where increased non-braking components are produced from aluminium, which tends to resonate more than steel. 


Federal Mogul advises that it encounters many garages installing new pads but not replacing worn discs. This tends to result in mushy brake pedal feel, increases the risk of noise and hot spots developing on the pad. Yet, when installing new pads and discs together, avoid mix-and-matching parts, because the friction surfaces are designed to work best together for optimum performance, longevity and anti-noise/vibration characteristics. Delphi Technologies, for example, offers an extended warranty only when its pads and discs are installed together. 


For information on APEC’s IMI approved Light Vehicle Manual & Hydraulic Braking Systems, contact its Techmate Team on 01174 288090. Federal Mogul, meanwhile, offers Garage Gurus, a dedicated resource that provides training and technical support. Its ‘Gurus Online’ provides a 24/7 online training portal that encompasses over 30 courses, all of which are completely free of charge. ‘Gurus On-Call’, sees technical specialists provide fast answers for product and diagnostic questions either via telephone or Skype. You can also check-out over 40 on-line tutorial videos on the Garage Guru’s YouTube channel. 

For 2019, Delphi continues to develop its range for newer models especially, to provide garages with an opportunity to repair newer vehicles sooner. It highlights that new components will be supported by its usual comprehensive training and technical support. Comline has extended its range of coated brake discs to cover the Ford Fiesta (2017-onwards), Jaguar F-Pace, XE and post 2015 XF models, the Honda HR-V (from 2015), the current production Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage. 

Meanwhile, Borg & Beck is emphasising its new point-of-sale materials, pictured. Aside from its ‘Brake Disc Installation Best Practice’ poster for the workshop for easy reference, it has added a rear-view mirror hanger in its brake disc boxes to help educate the driver to observe the critical bedding-in processes, such as avoiding heavy braking during the first 400 miles. It also advises that technicians pass on hints about poor driving practice, such as sitting stationary, often after heavy brake applications, with the footbrake applied firmly, which creates hot spots and increases the risk of judder developing. This can be an issue particularly with both automatic transmission vehicles and those featuring ‘Stop:Start’ technology. 

Spring and summer service checks

When a vehicle enters the workshop for a service, it is important to make sure that all components are functioning properly before heading back out on to the road. Filters are one of the components that must be replaced in line with the manufacturers schedule, as they are vital in maximising the longevity and efficiency of both the vehicle and the comfort of its occupants.

These components have several major elements to ensure that they function correctly and in the case of Oil, Air and Fuel Filters, will preserve the life of the engine, which is why, in keeping with Borg & Beck policy, the entire range is manufactured to its exacting standards and undergoes rigorous product testing to ensure the consistency of performance that is expected with a premium product.

During any service, all four Filters should be considered and replaced if necessary. During the Spring/Summer months, when the pollen count is high, it is particularly important to ensure that the Cabin Filter is functioning properly, especially as it would have already worked hard over the winter. Therefore, the added pressure of filtering out the harmful particles and contaminants could lead to decreased heater/air conditioning performance, unpleasant odours and safety issues, as the windows may not be able to clear properly, especially when raining, affecting the vision of the driver.

A sure sign that the Cabin Filter needs replacing is if the windscreen begins to mist or takes a long time to de-mist. To prevent these potential health and safety issues from occurring, technicians should be recommending Filter replacement and, irrespective of these known problems, Cabin Filters should be automatically replaced every 12 months.

With this in mind, First Line Ltd, under the Borg & Beck brand, has continued to add to its extensive product portfolio and in the last 12 months alone, the company introduced more than 300 new-to-range (NTR) Filter references. Highlights include the Cabin Filter (BFC1252) to fit multiple VAG applications such as the A3, TT, Leon, Octavia, Golf, Passat and many more, the Air Filter (BFA2516) to fit PSA Berlingo, C3, C4, 2008, 208, 308, 3008 and Partner, and the Oil Filter (BFO4245) to fit Vauxhall Astra, Insignia, Meriva, Mokka and Zafira Tourer.

Whilst the car is in the workshop, technicians should take the opportunity to check the condition of the Wiper Blades. The Wiper Blades would have worked hard during the winter months as they were exposed to drastic weather conditions and temperature changes during this time, the rubber blades will inevitably deteriorate, and visibility could be affected and become dangerous. Being able to see clearly in all conditions is crucial, therefore it is strongly recommended that the Wiper Blades are replaced annually. To help technicians relay this important message to their customers, First Line Ltd has designed a fantastic poster to be placed in work shop reception areas. Contact to request yours.

For more information about the premium quality Filters available from the Borg & Beck, please call the sales team on: 01869 248484 or visit: