SUSPENSION: THE LATEST TRENDS

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

Win an F1 Driving Experience

The 2021 British Grand Prix is coming, and in celebration Comline Auto Parts (Comline) will be giving away an exhilarating F1 Driving Experience at the iconic Silverstone circuit – the home of British Motor Racing – in the brand’s latest motorsport themed, social media competition!

If you think you can you handle the speed of a Formula Single Seater and a BMW M2, then you should enter this competition for your chance to win this unforgettable driving experience!

One prize, two exhilarating high-performance cars! Experience the pure thrill of the sleek and stylish BMW M2, donned in striking Silverstone race livery and reaching speeds of up to 175mph.Then, channel your F1 racing idols and get to grips with the single seater’s electrifying handling, responsive manual racing gearbox and feel the power beneath your feet.

HOW TO ENTER

Running exclusively on Comline Facebook page @ComlineAutoParts, from Monday 12th July to Monday 19th July, the competition post will pose a multiple-choice question about a British F1 champion! 

All correct answers will be automatically entered into a random prize draw which will take place at 2pm on Monday 19th July. The lucky winner will be announced immediately thereafter on the Comline Facebook page.

Look out across the brand’s other social channels including InstagramTwitterYouTube and LinkedIn for information on its motorsport sponsorship and for competition coverage throughout the week ahead! 

The full competition terms and conditions can be found on Comline’s website www.comline.uk.com.

Comline’s Red Nose Day Competition

Comline is pleased to announce the launch of a social media campaign that will run from Friday 19th March to Friday 26th March, in aid of Red Nose Day. Participants who correctly identify the part adorned by the iconic red nose will help raise money for Comic Relief and, in so doing, support a raft of brilliant causes in the UK and around the World!

Since its launch in 1988, Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day has become a much-anticipated date in the fundraising and entertainment calendar. The mission to raise money to end child poverty remains more important now than ever, and this year, Comline has created its own fundraising competition that it hopes will play its part. Not only is the brand aiming to build awareness among its 14,000 Facebook followers and a growing audience across social media, but it is also using this platform to directly raise money for Comic Relief.

Running exclusively on the Comline Facebook page, the brand will share an image of one of the popular references from across its parts range and ask participants to simply, ‘Name that Part’. There is a total of seven prizes up for grabs with all correct answers received being entered into a random draw to receive an exclusive Comline Braking T-shirt. Comline has pledged to donate £0.25 for each correct answer received via its Facebook page.

Entries will only be accepted via the Comline Facebook page but the campaign will be promoted heavily across the its other dedicated social pages, including InstagramTwitterYouTube and LinkedIn.

Comline has actively grown its presence across social media in the last 12-18 months with daily updates across its channels mixing industry insights, brand news and promotions with a healthy dose of light-hearted content. Leigh Davies, General Manager Marketing and Communications, comments; “Social media channels, most notably Facebook, are providing Comline with a valuable communication platform and it’s wonderful to see positive engagement from our followers on a daily basis.” Davies also remarked; “There’s little doubt in my mind that our social channels are helping drive the growth of our brand and I’m hoping we can leverage this platform to raise awareness and funds for Comic Relief.”

Comline: Real World Performance

Comline launches social media competition

Comline looks to fill the void left by the postponement of EURO 2020 with a tournament-inspired, automotive-themed competition.

Focusing on automotive, yet harnessing a typical football tournament format, Comline ‘EURO CAR 2020’ will match-up 16 of Europe’s finest automotive creations from the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren, asking the brand’s Facebook and Instagram followers to vote for their winners across the next four weeks. Each participant will also be entered into the hat to win an exclusive track-day experience.

“At a time when all of Europe should be about to embark on a festival of football, but instead remains focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to do something fun and offer a welcome distraction that taps into our audience’s genuine passion for automotive – a passion that we share here at Comline.”

“We fully expect some interesting exchanges and some good-natured (hopefully clean) banter as our petrolhead followers’ get behind their vehicle of choice.”

Every social media user that places a vote during the campaign will automatically be entered into the hat to win an exclusive Car Chase Heroes track-day. With 15 ‘fixture’ posts planned for this campaign a single follower can get a maximum of 15 entries into the prize draw.

Comline ‘EURO CAR 2020’ begins on Friday 12th June with the eventual winner being drawn at random on Monday 13th July. For more information and to get involved, head over to Comline on Facebook www.facebook.com/ComlineAutoParts or Instagram www.instagram.com/comline_auto_parts.

Filtration – Upping the service standard

‘Sex Sells’ may be a common mantra attributed to the advertising industry but it is not always true. While automotive filters are hardly the most glamorous car parts, their importance must not be underestimated; Rob Marshall argues that due consideration to quality should be your buying focus.

Many customers think that all filters are the same. Therefore, it can be difficult to justify to the average non-technical car owner why you are charging them more for a quality part, compared to the typical white-box ‘bargain’ they might have researched themselves on online marketplaces. Filters, like oil, are relative bargains, considering the damage that sub- standard substitutes can wreak. Champion, part of the Federal- Mogul family, reports that many consumers indulge in this false economy, by sacrificing quality for cost, but the use of OE- quality parts gives professionals extra confidence in the quality of their service work.

THE QUALITY CONNECTION

Unlike oil, for example, filters have no universal performance standards. Trusting the brand, your supplier and their partners tends to be all that you can do. HELLA Hengst is one such company that works closely with the car manufacturers and supplies not only to the VM line and OE spares but also the aftermarket. Yet, the company warns about the quality of counterfeit copies that risk courting engine failure. For example, its investigations have uncovered fake oil filters that possess ineffective anti-drain valves, which result in a lack of oil pressure for a prolonged period post engine restart, as well as low quality filter material that provides zero filtration protection. And, even filter media that disintegrates at relatively low oil pressure and temperatures, which causes plastic particles to enter the lubrication circuit, with potentially catastrophic results.

Another OE supplier, Mahle, also warns about dangerous replicas and states that, while low-rent filters appear similar on the outside, the internal differences highlight the quality of the part, especially in respect of the filter media. We shall look at the anti-counterfeiting provisions that such companies employ in a later issue but it is reasonable to state that a typical technician is not an experienced filtration engineer and the quality control aspect of filters falls back on the issue of trust once again.

UFI Filters highlights that, while the quality of the filter is paramount, it is not the only consideration. As increasing part numbers are one of the many challenges faced by both suppliers and distributors, motor factors tend to stock the fastest moving parts, which is understandable, although this can lead to an increased lead time, when a filter for a less common vehicle (or component) is required. To help achieve its plans of capturing a 10% share of the UK filtration aftermarket within just three years, UFI Filters has established a 1,000m2 distribution centre in the West Midlands that holds over 200,000 parts, covering 96% of the UK car parc. The company told AT that this gives motor factors a sector-leading service quality, a next-day delivery service to garages and low minimum order values.

MANUFACTURER WARRANTIES

Through block exemption, provided that certain parameters are met, a service history from an independent garage should not affect a manufacturer’s warranty. Unfortunately, cars that are bought using finance (such as PCP) can have a codicilin the small print, which dictates that only a complete main dealer service history is permitted, meaning that aftermarket maintenance would affect its value adversely. Extended warranties may risk being voided, if any insistence on franchised service history is not adhered to. These demands are not covered by block exemption legislation and you may choose to inform your customer of the fact, before a car is booked-in for servicing.

While it is unreasonable to expect a car manufacturer/importer to repair damage that has been caused by a ‘white box’ filter of dubious origins, it is also unjust for a manufacturer warranty to be rejected, because the owner has trusted an independent repairer to fit parts that match OE quality. Should you suspect that a customer vehicle may be covered under
manufacturer/extended warranty programmes (or has been bought on finance), you may wish to check the terms that tend to be printed in the owner’s manual/service booklet.

Famed for its 7 years-long warranty, we contacted Kia Motors UK for clarification about whether the use of aftermarket filters and independent servicing would void its warranty. We were told that this would not, with the following caveats:

  • The aftermarket garage is VAT registered (we believe this cannot be enforced and could be challenged)
  • The service must be carried-out correctly, as detailed in the owner’s manual (fair enough)
  • The oil type and grade should be detailed on the invoice (not an unreasonable request)
  • Service records must be stamped and dated

 

While another Kia requirement is that any parts used (including filters) must have their part numbers detailed on the invoice and should be either genuine Kia-branded, or of an ‘equivalent quality’. We asked Kia Motors UK to explain how it judged filters to be ‘equivalent quality’ and it told us,  “Generally, we would be happy, if the filter in question were produced by a reputable manufacturer that met the appropriate ISO standards.”  Interestingly, Comline is neither a filter manufacturer, nor an OE supplier, but it argues strongly that its filters meet OE quality standards. Since its catalogue focussed initially on the filtration needs for Japanese and Korean models (including Kia, of course) its portfolio has expanded rapidly to include European models.

Today, its reach covers 95% of the Asian and Euro aftermarket vehicle parc, with millions of filters sold worldwide every year. To justify its confidence in the OE quality of its filters, it partners only with filtration manufacturers that are not only OE suppliers themselves but which are also ISO accredited. Additionally, Comline performs its own regular quality control audits of its suppliers’ manufacturing facilities, as well as engaging the independent International Filter Testing Services to analyse filtration performance routinely. Its tests include a wealth of assessments, ranging from anti-drain valve performance to filter medium vibration fatigue tests.

A spokesman told AT: “We go to great lengths to ensure the quality of every filter in our comprehensive range, by working solely with world-class, ISO compliant manufacturing facilities and employing stringent quality control procedures. Our absolute focus on quality allows technicians to confidently fit and supply Comline filters safe in the knowledge that they will integrate seamlessly with their customer vehicles, deliver consistent, reliable performance and protect their manufacturer warranties.”

However, the duty of care does not rest solely with filter brands and your factor. Technicians bear their own responsibilities, when servicing a car that is covered under its manufacturer warranty. Detail the filters used on the customer invoice, including part numbers, sign the service book and advise the customer to file the paperwork as evidence. As it would be the car manufacturer/importer (or whichever body honours the guarantee) that has to prove that a certain part is inferior, thus providing your customer with as much evidence as you can is an important factor in raising awareness that good quality aftermarket servicing and filtration remains in the customers’ best interests.

 

 

 

 

 

Comline brings filtration to life with brochure that tells a technician everything they need to know

Technicians must have confidence in the products they are fitting and believe they are offering genuine value-for-money, to build customer trust and increase the likelihood of repeat business. Comline is the perfect brand for both the technician and motorist, with a filtration range that delivers reliability and value-for-money to the motorist whilst ensuring peace of mind and profitability for the technician.

The brand’s First for Filters brochure illustrates this in detail, as Comline brings filtration to life and takes the technician on a journey through the filter development process, the technologies that determine filter performance and the testing that underpins Comline filter quality.

The in-depth 40-page brochure also explains how all the various ingredients join together to create its diverse range. With over 1,800 filter references in-range, including air, oil, fuel and cabin/carbon categories, Comline’s brochure describes the countless variables that are carefully considered as part of its development process.

TRUST IN COMLINE

A technician is likely to recognise the yellow and blue livery synonymous with Comline. The independent British brand has been making a significant and positive contribution within the European aftermarket for more than 25 years, and its products are widely trusted here in the UK, across the continent – and beyond.

With its core product categories of filtration, braking and steering & suspension, coupled with growing ranges of clutch kits, hubs & bearings, water pumps and lubricants, Comline is a well- established brand with a fast-paced and comprehensive development programme but whilst confident in its offering, Comline is quick to recognise the sheer array of brands available to technicians across the various product segments, not least in filtration where there is no shortage of choice. This sheer volume of noise in the filter market is a key reason why Comline chose to create its First for Filters brochure.

Comline is a quality choice for the technician, and its filters have played a key role in earning various accolades. Comline is officially one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies, having recently completed an International Track 200 hat-trick following another year of significant and sustained growth. The 2018 International Track 200 listing was the latest in a series of honours for the company which included the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade, the UK’s highest business accolade.

Comline’s growing reputation and credentials as a filter supplier have led to the brand joining the illustrious and exclusive International Filter Testing Services (IFTS), one of the world’s leading filtration testing organisations. Its relationship with IFTS is ensuring that Comline filters are better than ever.

Scan the QR code below or CLICK HERE to view Comline’s First for Filters brochure…

Comline proudly supports Bedfordshire charities by sponsoring Local Heroes award

Comline Auto Parts (Comline) is proud to reveal that it recently sponsored the Charity of the Year award, at the Local Heroes Awards, hosted by the Bedfordshire on Sunday.

The ceremony, held at Bedford Blues Rugby Club, honoured ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary accomplishments within the Bedfordshire community. The winner of the 2017 Bedfordshire Local Heroes Charity of the Year was named as Bedford Foodbank. The organisation, founded in 2011 by Sarah Broughton, provides three days’ worth of emergency food to people and families that need it most and offers exceptional support to individuals in crisis situations.

Editor of the Bedfordshire on Sunday, Sarah Cox, thanked Comline for pledging its overwhelming support: “We were thrilled to celebrate such a successful evening, honouring Bedfordshire’s local heroes with staff from Comline. Without the support of fantastic Bedfordshire businesses, such as Comline, this event could simply not have happened. Comline was also part of the judging panel for the award, and with more than 100 applicants to consider it was an extremely tough task for the judges. Narrowing down the candidates to choose the eventual winner from a group of such amazing charities proved a challenging and unenviable task.

Comline Marketing and Communications Manager, Leigh Davies, said everyone associated with the distributor of European, Japanese and Korean replacement vehicle parts was delighted for Bedford Foodbank, and thrilled that Comline could help honour charities that are making a real difference to those living in Bedfordshire: “We are hugely proud of our status as Bedfordshire’s Large Business of the Year and delighted to have had this opportunity to give something back to our local community through sponsorship of the Local Heroes Awards.

“It’s great to see Bedford Foodbank walk away as winners of our sponsored Charity of the Year award. Its provision of basic, but vital, life essentials has already helped so many individuals and families in Bedfordshire, and the charity richly deserves this recognition.”

Comline awarded for excellence

Comline has joined a select group of UK businesses – receiving the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade, the UK’s highest business accolade.

The company was formally presented the Queen’s Award on Tuesday 26th July by Helen Nellis, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, during a celebration for staff and guests. Managing Director, Divyesh Kamdar, took the opportunity to present a donation to automotive charity BEN for £1,000.

Comline is one of Europe’s fastest-growing automotive companies and this accolade will only enhance its success, making a big impression with its many overseas customers, in particular.

https://www.comline.uk.com/

 

Comline filters

The Comline brand continues its expansion with a further 40 new-to-range filters which now includes over 1,700 part numbers. Remaining true to its ‘all makes’ philosophy, the new batch covers various makes and models, providing coverage for 110 different European, Japanese and Korean applications.

Among the new additions, are air filters for the Fiat 500L (2012>) and Vauxhall Adam (2012>); a fuel filter for the Mercedes-Benz Citan (2012>), Renault Captur (2013>) and Clio (2012>); as well as oil filters for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2007>), E-Class (2009>) and SLK (2011>).

“Our comprehensive range of filters is constantly evolving to meet the demands of an ever-changing marketplace and we can confidently state that every part number delivers excellent performance, reliability, ease of fitment and value for the aftermarket.”
Sales and Marketing Director, Malcolm Rosher

 

Tag: Filters