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.

Advice on common challenges with replacing lower suspension arms 

First Line Ltd has issued best practice advice on the common challenge of replacing the lower suspension arms on the Land Rover Discovery III/IV or Range Rover Sport.

First Line Ltd. recognises, that under normal conditions, suspension arms typically need to be replaced at around 75,000 to 85,000 miles due to the wear of the rubber bushes or other associated components.

As this wear can sometimes affect other components in the steering and suspension system, it is generally advised to replace suspension arms in pairs. However, in the case of the Land Rover Discovery III/IV or Range Rover Sport, the company is advising that problems can occur when removing the rear bush bolts.

Jon Roughley, Global Marketing Director for First Line Ltd, is shedding light on the issue, while offering helpful advice on best practice when replacing the lower suspension arms for these specific vehicles.

Identifying the issue
As the bushes in the arm have a metal sleeve running through them, which the bolt goes through, over time, exposure to the elements can cause rust to form, fusing the parts together and making it near-impossible to loosen or drive out.

If maneuvering the part with penetrating oil does not release it, many technicians are left with no other choice but to cut through the bolts, in order to enable full removal.

Mind the nuts, bolts and washers
Depending on the model, some arm bolts are eccentric, with a matching eccentric washer. These are used to set the camber and castor angles correctly. Thus, before removing the bolts, First Line Ltd. is recommending that the existing bolts and washers are marked to help identify where they are located in the chassis mounting later on.

This will help position the new arm when it is installed, while minimising the amount of steering realignment required at the end of the job.

First Line Ltd. supplies new nuts, bolts and washers with suspension arms labelled with their ‘Includes Fittings’ logo on the packaging, and in many cases, as with the Discovery Arms, the bolts can also be purchased separately.

The company is advising technicians that it is best practice to remove the tie rod ball joint nuts, then the lower arm ball joint nuts followed by the adjacent bush bolts, emphasising that this allows the arm ball joints to be disconnected from their respective hubs, along with the tie rod ball joints.

Once completed, the steering and suspension specialist recommends removing the rear and front bush bolts from their chassis mounting to release the old suspension arm.
To make it easier for the technician, the company advises to re-fit all components, including the new bolts, in reverse order from their removal and abide by the manufacturer’s torque settings, before finally checking the vehicle’s steering geometry and correct alignment where necessary.

The company’s Steering and Suspension programme consists of more than 9,100 references, offering the aftermarket the right parts to get the job done for an extensive variety of vehicle.
For more information about the premium quality products available from First Line Ltd, please call the sales team on: 01869 248484 or visit:

Lockdown and filters

Continuing his investigation into how lockdown affects everyday cars, Rob Marshall looks at why you can advise with confidence that low mileages do not mean filter replacement intervals can be stretched.

While the importance of fitting decent quality filtration is not lost on most technicians, having additional knowledge in your armoury will help you justify, to even the most sceptical drivers, that regular filter changes really are in their best interests.

Air Filter Replacement

Air filters

Quite clearly, air filter life is related closely to engine running time. Atmospheric conditions also make a notable difference; dusty environments, for example, will gobble-up filtration capacity remarkably quickly. Yet, what about inactivity?

MAHLE is one such brand that emphasises the OE quality of its parts, telling AT that its filters continue to operate efficiently should the vehicle be either left in the open, or used infrequently. UFI filtration agrees with Mahle’s additional advice that technicians should heed the manufacturer’s change interval. However, considering the current situation, it is likely that an air filter will need renewing way before the specified distance has been covered and it is worth remembering that some car makers recommend a two years’ replacement interval for low mileage users.

Yet, surely this means that air filter elements are not immune to the effects of time? Interestingly, not all quality manufacturers whom we approached were united fully with their recommendations. Like Mahle, the Bilstein Group told us that a car being laid-up has no effect on air filter life, whereas UFI advises replacing the air filter every 12 months, because the pleated cellulose filter media can absorb moisture over time, which reduces its filtration capacity. To address this, UFI highlights that it has been developing synthetic filter fibres that possess extra hydrophobic properties. First Line commented that, for cars that have not been moved for months, a technician might discover condensation, or even mould in the filter element in rare cases. Yet, First Line also points-out that the air box housing is not airtight and some air will still pass through the filter, even when the engine is not running. Therefore, the filter can still clog, albeit over a far longer period of time, because it is still performing its filtration role.

Valeo and Hella Hengst concur with UFI and First Line; as the pleats are made from cellulose, both air filter performance and physical characteristics are affected by atmospheric humidity levels. Valeo highlights that a quality filter manufacturer will take very high and low ambient temperatures into account during the developmental phases. A quality air filter will also not rot in its housing, because the filter is saturated with either acrylic, or phenolic resins. Hella Hengst explains that this impregnation also ages; technicians can spot this by looking at deformation in the filter as its strength is compromised. The resultant decrease in airflow will cause a host of issues, from excessive emissions and poor fuel consumption to an increase in engine wear.

Oil Filter Cartridge

Oil filters

As discovered in our separate engine lubrication editorial, even OEMs with the longest service internals recommend more frequent oil changes, when the engine spends much of its time operating below its optimum temperature. Interestingly, oil filters tend to be unaffected directly by multiple short trips; the effect of deteriorating oil quality is more relevant to their lifespan. The filter clogging risk rises not only with an increase in oil viscosity, as the lubricant oxidises, but also due to extra contaminations being present. As most engine wear occurs during the cold-start and warm-up phases, the oil filter might be faced with trapping a greater quantity of harmful particles in the event of multiple short runs.

As engine oil takes longer to reach its optimum temperature, compared with coolant, the driver might be unaware that the engine has not warmed fully. The Bilstein Group argues that, because short journeys and cold weather increase the water content within the crankcase, oil that remains relatively cool cannot permit these contaminations to evaporate.

The resultant oil/water emulsification can saturate the filter medium prematurely, highlighting the importance of the oil filter’s bypass valve. Naturally, if activated, lubricant still flows around the engine, albeit unfiltered. While this is undesirable, it is a preferred situation than starving the engine of oil. Furthermore, the issues associated with lockdown-style motoring highlights that decent filter capacity, bypass and anti-drain valves being to the correct specification, high-quality filtration medium and suitable anti-corrosion properties for metal canister designs are reasons why any garage should never fit less than OE quality filters.

Fuel Filter

Oil filters

As discovered in our separate engine lubrication editorial, even OEMs with the longest service internals recommend more frequent oil changes, when the engine spends much of its time operating below its optimum temperature. Interestingly, oil filters tend to be unaffected directly by multiple short trips; the effect of deteriorating oil quality is more relevant to their lifespan. The filter clogging risk rises not only with an increase in oil viscosity, as the lubricant oxidises, but also due to extra contaminations being present. As most engine wear occurs during the cold-start and warm-up phases, the oil filter might be faced with trapping a greater quantity of harmful particles in the event of multiple short runs.

As engine oil takes longer to reach its optimum temperature, compared with coolant, the driver might be unaware that the engine has not warmed fully. The Bilstein Group argues that, because short journeys and cold weather increase the water content within the crankcase, oil that remains relatively cool cannot permit these contaminations to evaporate.

The resultant oil/water emulsification can saturate the filter medium prematurely, highlighting the importance of the oil filter’s bypass valve. Naturally, if activated, lubricant still flows around the engine, albeit unfiltered. While this is undesirable, it is a preferred situation than starving the engine of oil. Furthermore, the issues associated with lockdown-style motoring highlights that decent filter capacity, bypass and anti-drain valves being to the correct specification, high-quality filtration medium and suitable anti-corrosion properties for metal canister designs are reasons why any garage should never fit less than OE quality filters.

Diesel filters

Diesel injection systems tend to be far less tolerant of impurities than those of petrol engines, hence why manufacturers pay more attention to the filtration aspects. Naturally, this demands that technicians do the same. As with petrol, diesel fuel oxidises if left within the tank for relatively long periods of time. Since 2011, pump fuel had to contain up to 7% bioethanol (hence the ‘B7’ label), which deteriorates faster than the alternative that is derived solely from crude oil. The result is greater quantities of gum and organic acids that can afflict the fuel filter. With the ‘eco’ bio-content providing both food and moisture sources, it is unsurprising that microbial growth promotes slime formation that also risks contaminating the fuel filter. Many of these issues tended not to have many consequences in pre-Covid times. Yet, with recent events making it more likely that fuel tanks do not receive a regular turnover of fresh diesel, expect to encounter such issues at service time, which you can help to prevent with more regular filter replacements. Should you notice slime within the filter canister, you may wish to recommend that owner considers a biocide fuel additive, such as that sold by Wynn’s.

Mahle and First Line acknowledge, however, that water contamination has always been an issue for diesel vehicles. This justifies why many fuel systems possess a water trap and a simple valve makes easy work of draining water from the canister. Yet, some of the latest designs are sealed, meaning that further dismantling might be required. A further consideration is that diesel fuel can solidify, should the vehicle be left standing for longer than six months. As neglected filters can block prematurely, due to all, or a combination of these factors, it is a wise idea to quote for a diesel filter change, even if the part was replaced only last year. Furthermore, as modern B7 diesel requires special care in storage, be extra vigilant if your customer tends not to use fuel station forecourts to refuel.

Diesel Filter

Cabin filters

When confronted with the technical facts, your customers might be persuaded that lower mileages do not mean longer filter replacement intervals. Yet, urging them that the cabin filter also requires annual replacement might be harder, because it is seen more of a comfort feature and is less critical than filters that protect the engine and fuel systems. Or is it?

Apart from the health benefits of enhancing air quality within the vehicle as much as possible, a clean cabin filter aids the demisting system’s efficacy. While the car has been standing, especially outside during the autumn and winter months, Valeo adds that the cabin filter can still degrade. Deposits, such as tree sap and leaves can still fall onto the vehicle and block the HVAC system. This can lead to moisture penetrating the cabin filter and spores from the resultant mould is hardly something that should be blown into the passenger compartment during a pandemic.

All of the suppliers that lent their technical advice for this feature recommend annual cabin filter replacements, irrespective of mileage. To help you communicate this message to customers, First Line has produced a dedicated poster, which you can request, by e-mailing with ‘Cabin Filter Poster’ as your subject. Do not forget to include your name and address in the message.

While replacing a cabin filter twice in the same year might be too much for some customers to stomach, it might be
a worthwhile recommendation for drivers that still cover high mileages. Mahle advises that early spring and autumn are optimum replacement seasons, because a new filter is more likely to capture the burgeoning levels of pollen in the spring; subsequent renewal in the autumn ensures that these contaminations are not clogging the filter and restricting airflow into the vehicle, when the driver replies on rapid warming and window defogging to keep safe.

Cabin Filter

First Line provides wheel bearing fitting types

As there are different generations of wheel bearings, it’s important that technicians recognise and understand the distinctions between them. First Line, has therefore provided the following advice on the varying techniques that can be used when fitting them.

Generation 0

Technicians should always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions, especially in relation to torque settings. Overtightening can often lead to excessive pre-load, whereas under tightening can result in excessive endplay, both of which may result in premature failure. First Line also recommends that technicians remove and install the bearings and race using suitable equipment that will provide an evenly distributed force across the whole surface area. Never directly impact the bearing or race as this may lead to irreparable damage.

Generation 1

When press fitting the bearing into the knuckle, ensure that pressure is evenly applied to the outer ring only. When pressing the hub into the inner ring, force must only be applied to the hub and the inner ring.

For applications that have a magnetic encoder built in for the ABS signal, it is vital that the bearing is installed the correct way round. So first, check which side the magnetic encoder is and ensure this side is installed inwards, so that the encoder is closest to the sensor, otherwise it will not function correctly.

Generation 2

As with all installations, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use suitable tools to remove and replace the bearing. In this instance, a puller is required to remove the CV joint, hub and knuckle from the bearing.

Whilst installing a new bearing, it is also best practice to check and replace the CV boot, especially on older vehicles or if they have done more than 60,000 miles as this will prevent dust and debris contaminating the CV joint.

Generation 3

Technicians must not use an impact wrench on any of the fastenings of a Generation 3 bearing, as this can cause damage to the bearing/hub assembly. Always use a torque wrench to apply the correct torque value as specified by the vehicle manufacturer, especially on the axle nut to ensure correct pre-load, otherwise it may result in premature failure.

If the bearing has a connected ABS loom, take note of the routing and ensure that when a new bearing is installed, it is mounted and routed in the same way.

First Line also supplies complete kit solutions which can contain several individual components, such as circlips, nuts, washers, bolts, seals, dust caps etc, all of which enable the technician to complete the repair quickly and efficiently the first time, without the need to purchase additional components.

However, it’s not just about ensuring all the necessary components are included, but also that the product is of a premium quality or comparable to the OE specification. One example in the First Line range is the FKB1109 front wheel bearing kit for multiple Audi applications, including A4, A6 and Q5. This kit has been improved over the OE specification by enhancing the surface hardening on the bearing face, so it has a greater resistance to wear, which improves product longevity.

With more than 1,000 references in its wheel bearing range, and a commitment to keeping the range up to date with not only with new model applications, but also new technologies, technicians can be confident when fitting First Line wheel bearings that they are fitting a hassle free premium quality product.

For more information about the products available from First Line Ltd, please visit:


First Line launches online returns portal

First Line has introduced a new online portal that gives a simpler, more efficient way to process returns and warranties claims.

Customers can access the portal through WebCat and once logged-in, they will see a dashboard where they can submit a warranty claim or monitor the progress of one that is already in process. Once registered for WebCat, users simply need to email with their username and customer account number, requesting access to the Portal and the company will complete the set-up process.

By completing claims online and submitting supporting images, they will be processed more efficiently, cutting out the logistical movement and physical handling of the parts, thereby enabling First Line to assess the cause of the problem online and, if accepted, process credits more quickly. Some parts, where necessary will still be returned to First Line if a more detailed inspection is required. 

Global Marketing Director, Jon Roughley, said: “We’ve been developing this portal for a while to ensure it’s working perfectly and is easy for customers to use, as well as asking them to test the system before we officially launched it. Now it’s live, and particularly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are relying on it even more than we initially expected, but so far we’ve had great feedback about how easy it is to use and efficient it makes the process.

“It’s now important for customers to ensure they are set up and familiar with the new system, to fully benefit from the efficiencies the software provides. This is a positive step forward and reinforces the hassle-free relationship our customers value when buying products from First Line.

Committed to servicing the industry

A message from First Line…

Clarity over the Automotive Industry has now been provided and it is in the public interest to ensure ongoing service, repair, and MOT of emergency and essential service vehicles and the vehicles of key workers continues throughout these unprecedented times.

Transport, which includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass, are all exempt from the directive to close business.

First Line will remain open and operational throughout this pandemic (except for an enforced closure) to provide vital supply chain solutions to our customer base. We will however be following government guidelines by enabling as many staff as possible to work remotely from home, which includes establishing a remote call centre. This will enable us to continue to service our customers in a socially isolated environment.

With this in mind, we encourage our customers who do not already use electronic ordering to adopt this method, this not only reduces the pressures on our customer services help line but increases productivity and ordering accuracy.  We are able to receive electronic orders through our own Webcat which can be found at and TecCom.

Our warehouse continues to operate at optimum performance ensuring our customers receive above 96% order fill and goods continue to be dispatched on a daily basis.

So, first and foremost, our business is open as usual, receiving orders and shipping products to our global customer base. From everyone at First Line Ltd, we wish you and your families well and together let’s keep the network moving.

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

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. 







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:


New braking cables & Land Rover/Range Rover Technical Bulletin

Vehicle manufacturers are using electronic handbrake systems more often but it has been difficult to source replacement brake cables from the independent sector. Sourcing these parts has just become easier as First Line introduces an extensive line of cables.

Traditionally considered a dealer-only part, they are an additional profit opportunity for the independent workshop. The new range includes First Line part number FKB6001 for the Renault Scenic II from 2003-2009, and FKB6003 and FKB6002 for the Vauxhall Astra J VI models.

All references are supplied with a two year/24,000-mile warranty.

Step-by-step guide

In other news, the company has released technical information regarding the handbrake shoes on the Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Discovery, detailing the complete process of inspection, adjustment and bedding-in of the parking handbrake shoes.

Both applications are fitted with Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) modules, which control the handbrake shoe mechanism electronically via an actuator. EPB problems will develop if the handbrake shoes are worn, in need of replacement, corroded, or more importantly, if the adjustment is not checked and set correctly. An incorrect adjustment can cause the small teeth inside the unit to break, or the small adjuster nut to over tighten and become jammed at its maximum travel. If the vehicle is fitted with new rear brake discs or parking brake shoes, it is important that the parking brake shoe adjustment and bedding in procedures are carried out in full.

Failure to do so may result in the premature failure of the EPB module, which is not a handbrake shoe fault. First Line also advises that every two years, or if the vehicle has been driven in muddy conditions for more than 50 miles, a full inspection of parking brake shoes is carried out. If the vehicle is stationary and there is a screeching noise when applying or releasing the EPB – there may be a parking sensor flashing on the dashboard – it’s likely the EPB actuator needs replacing. In this instance, the EPB module has over travelled and become jammed, locking on the brakes and triggering the parking sensor to flash on the dashboard. This can happen when the vehicle is driven with the handbrake applied, causing excessive lining wear, noise and heat build-up, and damaging the rear braking system.

Early stages of this problem can be identified when the vehicle is moving. If there is a screeching or rubbing noise coming from rear brakes and the EPB actuator is working fine, then a full inspection of the parking brake shoes will need to be carried out and corrected as soon as possible. If there is no screeching but there is shoe drag, you should carry out an inspection and evaluate and fix problems caused by any heat damage.

Carrying out an inspection of the parking brake shoes:

1. Raise and support the vehicle.

2. Using a suitable diagnostic tool, drive the parking brake to the mounting position.

3. Take out the 30amp fuse for the EPB from the battery junction box to isolate the EPB electrical circuit.

4. Remove rear wheels, calipers and discs.

5. Check condition of the parking brake shoes, springs and back plate.

6. Look for signs of shoe drag. This may be evident through excessive shoe lining or drum wear. There may also be evidence of heat build-up on the shoes, drums, discs or other internal components.

7. Remove the shoes from the back plate.

8. The shoe linings should be a minimum of 2mm thick. If there is evidence of heat build-up damage to any of the components, replace the shoes.

9. Clean any build-up of dust from drum and shoes. Clean the friction face of the shoe and remove any metal shards from the shoe lining. Make sure the back plates and shoe supports are free of corrosion, as these should be smooth and clean.

10. Lubricate the backing plate shoe support platforms with appropriate brake grease. Care should be taken with the hold down clips during fitting, as they can become over stressed. Always make sure the parking brake shoes are held against the back plate. If in any doubt about the clips then replace with new ones.

11. If there is evidence that handbrake shoe drag has caused excessive heat build-up in the disc, i.e. brake shoe linings separating from the shoes, and if the brake discs are significantly discoloured, the brake discs should also be changed.

12. If there is evidence of heat damage then also check the parking brake cables. Look for heat damage at the cable ends. Check that the cables are correctly attached by releasing the outer cable retaining nuts from the back plates and pulling on the cables. The cables should not detach from the handbrake.

13. Ensure that the E clips are installed to the outer brake cable ends in the correct groove. If the parking brake cables are damaged then they will need to be replaced.

14. Refit the outer cable retaining nuts and torque to 8Nm (6lbft).

15. Re-fit the brake discs and calipers. Refit the 30amp fuse.

16. Carry out the parking brake shoe & lining adjustment procedure in full.

The parking brake shoe & lining adjustment procedure:

1. Raise and support the vehicle.

2. Remove rear wheels.

3. Using a suitable diagnostic tool, drive the parking brake to the mounting position.

4. Line up the access hole with the indicators located on the back plate.

5. Remove the access plug.

6. Locate the parking shoe adjuster.

7. Use a flat blade screwdriver as a lever to displace the parking brake shoes.

8. Note: The movement of the parking brake shoe will be small and may not be felt when levering, but failure to displace them will result in incorrect clearance at the adjustment step.

9. Using the screwdriver, rotate the handbrake shoe adjuster to extend it until the brake disc is locked ‘hand’ tight. Do not apply excessive force to the handbrake shoe adjuster, as this may result in damage to the parking brake system.

10. Using a suitable marker, mark the position of the brake shoe adjuster. Rotate the adjuster back EXACTLY one full revolution (10 clicks) until the mark can be seen again.

11. The wedge adjuster must be correctly seated to make sure the parking brake cable is correctly adjusted.

12. Loosen the wedge adjuster Allen screw half a turn. Tap the brake disc lightly with a soft face mallet around the parking brake shoe location within the brake disc.

13. Tighten the wedge adjuster Allen screw to 6Nm (5lb.ft) Re-fit the access plug.

14. Repeat for the other side.

15. Take the vehicle out of the mounting position using the diagnostic tool or by operating the parking brake two times.

16. Check the operation of the actuator.

Check the Actuator Operation:

1. Ensuring that all diagnostic codes are cleared from the EPB module fault memory, select gear position ‘Neutral’.

2. Select gear range ‘Low’ (There should not be any abnormal screeching coming from the EPB. If there is, then the EBP actuator may be damaged and in need of replacement).

3. Apply and release the EPB switch three times.

4. Recheck for fault codes, there shouldn’t be any!

The parking brake shoe bedding-in procedure:

This procedure needs to be carried out when the EPB, handbrake shoes or the rear discs have been replaced.

1. With the engine running, press the brake pedal fully on and off three times. On the third press, hold the brake pedal down. While the pedal is down, pull the EPB switch upwards four times, then downwards three times, within 10 seconds.

2. The dash display will then show ‘Parking Brake Bedding in Cycle Active’ or something similar. If this does not appear, release the brake pedal and carry out the first point again.

3. Drive at least 19mph up to a maximum of 29mph then apply the EPB switch until the vehicle stops. Then wait 60 seconds or drive one mile to let the brakes cool down, then repeat the process. If the engine stops or is driven at more than 30mph, the bedding in process will be cancelled. This procedure needs to be completed 10 times and after the 10th time, the bedding in mode will switch off automatically.

Call 01869 248484 or visit