Don’t sell yourself short

It is sometimes easy to underestimate your worth – the years of training, hands-on experience and aggravating, but hugely valuable, mistakes that have honed your diagnostic process – that have all boosted your first-time fix rate. Here, we consider a recent study into labour rates, discuss charging assessment fees & communicating your worth to customers…

A recent study carried out by the Independent Garage Association (IGA) indicates that independent garages provide consumers with outstanding value for money, unrivalled by any other sector in the automotive aftermarket. The IGA compared the rates charged by members in 2012 to those charged in 2020 and also analysed the direct labour costs using data from the Office of National Statistics. Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive, said: “The study clearly shows that in many cases, independent garages have been absorbing the rising costs involved with running a garage business, rather than passing those increases on to their customers.

“While this is great news for their customers, it is impacting on garage profit margins year-on-year, which in the long-term is not sustainable. In these difficult times, it is more important than ever for garages to build all ongoing costs into charging structures to future-proof their businesses.”

The UK Independent Garage Labour Rate Study provides its members with a reference tool to establish whether their labour rate is comparable with other garages in their area, plus a labour rate calculator helps members review their costs and work out an approximate breakeven hourly rate.

The Independent Garage Association has created a labour rate calculator to enable its members to work out a break-even charge out rate to cover workshops costs.

Costs including access to technical data and investment in equipment need to be built into charging structures to ensure services are not undervalued.

The study showed that the average labour rate charged by independent garages in the UK in 2020 was £47.47 – with an average of £47.90 in England, £45.52 in Scotland, £40.61 in Wales and £40.55 in Northern Ireland. The highest regional cost was within the M25 area, with an average hourly labour rate of £55.48. Over the last eight years, the cost of labour to the customer has fallen behind inflation, with the national hourly labour rate increasing by only £5.88 over this time. As of 2020, this equates to a deficit of 6.7% below the rate of inflation.

Technician salaries were also shown to be lagging significantly behind other occupations. The average salary in 2012 was £25,408 according to the Office of National Statistics and rose to £28,402 in 2019, an increase of 11.8%. In comparison, the national average salary for a UK worker in any occupation over the same period rose to £36,611, an increase of 38%.

The IGA has created a labour rate calculator to enable its members to work out a break-even charge out rate to cover workshops costs. To enquire about IGA membership, call 0845 305 4230 or email

Should you increase your labour rate?

Some garages will remain adamant that their loyal customer base would just not accept a rise in labour costs – no matter how much they justified the price increase by educating the customer on the background costs involved. There are just too many garages in their area willing to absorb these costs and charge an artificially low rate. Others will be in a situation where they have been able to increase the labour rate in order to stop working all hours for little return and to also deter an unwanted type of customer – those who want to supply their own parts, get everything done on the cheap and generally distrust anything the garage recommends. Filling workshop hours with profitable work on the cars of grateful customers – the holy grail!

After building up a successful dealer-level independent workshop business, Andy Savva, AKA The Garage Inspector, now shares the tools and experience he has built up over many years through his training programmes. He believes a fundamental part of running a workshop is appreciating your value. “The only commodity that a garage sells is labour, we can call it skill, time or knowledge. Most garage owners and managers fail to recognise the value they add to the process in terms of service, skill, competence, quality, reliability and ability to respond to customer wants, needs and expectations. So, what happens is that garage owners set their labour rates because it is the going rate in the given area. The only thing we sell, our only revenue stream, we decide the value of by picking a figure from the sky. Consequently, garage owners who don’t realise or understand the value of the products and services they provide are subsidising the cost of repairs with unrealistic low prices.”

Andy provides training on workshop financials and marketing your expertise, find out more at training and check out Andy’s 30-minute YouTube video on labour rates here:

Charging for diagnostics

One of the biggest challenges workshops now face is getting paid for diagnostic work. Pricing up mechanical repairs is pretty straightforward but how do you estimate the cost of resolving an issue when you have no idea how long it will take you to find the underlying faults and then resolve them?

Barry Lawson of Ewan Lawson Motors (who provides an exclusive DPF case study from page 48) says he was first introduced to the idea of charging an ‘assessment fee’ when he joined the DPF Doctor network. He would charge £90 to assess any DPF issues and soon rolled this out to all diagnostic work. “Once we have a direction and information we need we can go further, if the customer wants us to, or it could turn out to be simple and rectified within this time slot,” says Barry. “I feel it works well for the customer. A lot of the time we hear “If it’s gonna cost loads I’ll just get rid of the car”. This way they can commit to £90 and once we have the report they can decide if they want to go onto repairs. I think most of the time the customer feels unwilling to go forward if it’s not clear what the fault is.”

Diagnostic guru and Technical Topics trainer James Dillon has charged a diagnostic fee for a number of years and says that managing a customer’s expectations is crucial. “The problem with diagnostics is, when a customer comes to your workshop they only want answers to two questions, how long and how much? The rest of it may as well be up to the fairies, as the customer isn’t interested. The problem we have as a technician is, the two answers you cannot give at the start are the ones they want answered, so straight away we have a clash. The second answer depends on the first answer and we don’t know that yet. Maybe a different way of thinking about it is to set some parameters. One technique is to set an informal budget with the customer. We in the workshop do this with a basic charge, to get their car into our workshop. The customer may say that the garage down the road is cheaper but surely they’ve already been there to know that, so presumably that garage couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash


“This agreement gives me enough time to have a proper look at the car. I can establish what’s likely to be wrong. However, there are two further benefits for me. Firstly, it gets rid of all the jokers. The people who don’t want to spend any money or who reckon they can’t leave the car with you for more than two minutes. Secondly, having a price that’s realistic will filter out all of the jobs that you would never want to do. Some of those jobs that come into the workshop, you’d have been better sticking £50 down the toilet and it would have been more fun to do! So actually, the assessment fee sounds expensive but it is a useful filter.”

To find out more about the training and technical support available from James Dillon, visit

It’s all about perception

The ideal scenario is that you are confident enough in your skills and knowledge to either demand the right renumeration for your work as a technician, or charge the customer accordingly, in the case of an owner/technician. No-one can be expected to know everything but as long as your process is methodical, you are referring to accurate technical data and are committed to ongoing training, you will be providing a quality service to your local area and need to ensure you are communicating this expertise to your customers. Shout about it before your competitors do.

“Almost every problem this industry of ours faces – acute shortage of trained qualified technicians, the lack of interest in automotive services as a viable profession as youth chase those white-collar jobs, the technological advances in vehicle design and the absence of succession planning or exit strategies – is the result of an inadequate revenue stream for both the garage owner and his or her employees,” says Andy Savva.

If it’s been a while since you reflected on your labour rates, take some time to consider your costs, your labour rate and the kind of work you want to do more and less of in the future. Andy concludes: “You must adapt to managing the business rather than the business managing you. Having the ability to reflect the health and strength of your business at any given time or a specific period is crucial for your success.”

Technician’s hone their diagnostics skills at Autotechnician’s Big Day Out

The event delivered valuable advice to promote that desirable first-time-fix – here, we deliver a few insights to get your fault-finding juices flowing…

An eclectic crowd of technicians and workshop owners, plus a handful of college lecturers, gathered at ZF’s [pro]Tech technical training centre in October, to gain practical fault- finding advice from Andy Crook of GotBoost, plus James Dillon and David Wagstaff of Technical Topics. Delegates had travelled wide and far – with Hitesh Valambia of Tanzania winning top prize for mileage, for this unique training experience, where the three trainers used live faults and a mobile voting app to guide the crowd through initial diagnosis to fix. 


Andy Crook began with a section on reducing diagnostic time and stressed the importance of primary data capture. He begins each job back in his workshop with a customer survey – detailing the vehicle’s symptoms, timing, background and so on. By adding ‘Is there anything else?’ to this questionnaire increased the success of his first hypothesis dramatically, explaining that customers who are not comfortable due to a lack of technical knowledge can leave importance clues out for fear of appearing silly. Once the interview is done, Andy then forges ahead with sensory checks, a global scan, then a test drive – to try and capture data whilst symptoms, hopefully, occur. Then he stops to have a cuppa or walks away to do another job to let all the primary data sink in slowly. He says the next step is to plan your testing and is best done away from the car, so you are not distracted. 


“In diagnostics, I consider myself a detective, convicting a component in a court of law.” 

The trick, Andy says, is to design a test with known outcomes, then devise another. You then need to devise The Columbo Test – the killer question, which could show a component who was at the scene, but not actually guilty. Then the time comes to go to the vehicle and conduct the tests, collecting as much evidence as you need to convict the killer! The next stage is to evaluate your findings, “I draw my own wiring diagrams and add voltages, what I expect to see, so I know if results are good, bad or indifferent.” If the tests prove your fault hypothesis then save the information as base rate data for future reference. If they don’t, start the process again using your new evidence. 

“If your primary data is weak, your best guess at the fault will be weak too.” 

Andy explains that there will be occasions you are not sure, and you must replace a part but OK this with the customer first. Even if the light comes back on and the customer’s not happy, you have a chance to turn it around and change the process. Those times you are not convinced you found the underlying fault, give the customer a call two weeks after the job to check everything’s OK – customers would rather you put your hands up, you can then justify what actions you have taken so far and take it from there. 


After a tea break, James Dillon took to the workshop floor to carry on the discussion around customer communication in the context of diagnostics. He suggested to delegates that we tend to use language that we’re used to saying to be convenient, but this devalues our worth. Unhelpful things to say to customers when they first call in with a problem include: “Bring it in, we’ll have a quick look,” or, “We’ll get the tool/ computer to do this or that”. The first implies it’s a quick job, so it will be cheap, the second makes Joe Bloggs think the tools are doing the work, not you, and you end up devaluing your own skills and knowledge. It’s also unwise to initially suggest what the problem might be, even if it seems obvious to you, as they will then be stuck on this idea and you will then face a later retort of, “You said it was that!” 

“Us technicians are guilty of thinking we have the biggest mental notepad – write it all down!” 

James stressed that even if you have a Eureka moment, take your time… call the customer back with well informed choices and consider confirming the symptom with the customer by conducting a test drive. A mantra throughout the day was no matter how long it takes you to physically rectify the fault, ensure you are charging properly for your knowledge, evaluation skills and analysis. 

The introductory sessions paved the way for using these techniques on live faults, with David Wagstaff providing advice on scoping, and suggestions of how to communicate effectively with customers and charging for time spent diagnosing. Both workshop owners and technicians, of varying levels of experience  in complex diagnostics, came away with food for thought, to help tweak their current processes and make more effective use of their tools and time. We hope you can join us next year at our subsidised training events. 

Thank you to all our sponsors this year, who have enabled Autotechnician to provide subsidised training and online assessments, and special thanks to ZF for lending us their impressive training workshop in Crick. 




Next year, Autotechnician magazine is planning to hold a two-day event, taking place on a Friday and Saturday. More intensive training will be delivered on the first day and will be followed by an informal dinner & drinks reception, so technicians can swap notes and catch up with the support network.

Saturday’s schedule will be more relaxed and hands-on, with mini-workshops, demonstrations and competitive feature areas.

Content for these sessions will be designed around the needs of delegates, so please register your interest by emailing As ever, tickets will be subsidised by Autotech sponsors, so you can expect high- value training for a very reasonable investment.

The road to driving automation – by James Dillon of Technical Topics

Along with the change in motive power sources, from internal combustion to electric motor, automation of driving will rock the axis of our technical world.

There is much jaw-jaw around ADAS and Autonomous vehicles at the moment, and rightly so, but it may have left you feeling a little jaded, hearing about the latest and greatest tool companies’ ADAS calibration equipment. However, the automation of the act of driving a vehicle is big, it’s here, and it will affect you,  your business and the way you work. 

First off, let’s do a bit of jargon busting. Autonomy means a state of self-governing, therefore an autonomous vehicle has the ability to self-govern; that is, it will have the capability to carry out a range of operations without any direct input from the driver. ADAS, or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, is the banner under which the different elements or sub-systems of the autonomous vehicle are referred to. Common ADAS* (we can’t really say ADAS systems, because the ‘systems’ bit has already been referenced) include: 

Adaptive Cruise Control: Where the host vehicle maintains a commanded speed and, if relevant, a defined distance from the vehicle in front. 

Active Lane Assist: Where the host vehicle will monitor the vehicle’s position in a defined lane and move the steering wheel to maintain that position. 

Adaptive Front Lighting: Where the host vehicle directs the headlight beam in the direction of steerage. 

Autonomous Emergency Braking: Where the host vehicle detects the proximity of surrounding vehicles and automatically applies the brakes to prevent or reduce the effect of a collision. 

Blind Spot Monitoring: Where the host vehicle uses sensors to detect vehicles to its side (blind spot). In conjunction with Steering Assistance Systems, the host vehicle may deliver corrective steering torque to maintain the vehicle’s position to prevent a collision. 

Pedestrian Assist: Where the host vehicle uses sensors to detect pedestrians in the path of the vehicle and automatically brakes to avoid a collision. 

Traffic Sign Recognition: Where the road signs (such as speed limits) are recognised and an appropriate indication or warning is given to the driver. 

*different vehicle manufacturers may use slightly different terminology. We have described the systems in generic terms. 

There are variations in the systems which range from warning the driver if the defined conditions aren’t being met, to active intervention to ensure that the defined conditions are met, and/or collisions are prevented, or their impact is reduced. 

In order to function, these systems make use of several key components and sub-systems; some of these may be new to us, such as Radar and LiDAR, others are adapted mechanical systems with which we will be familiar, such as electronic power steering, and anti-lock braking. Blending these ADAS elements leads us towards autonomous vehicles. 

Levels of autonomy 

There are six defined levels of autonomous vehicles, as set out by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Level 0 – The base level of no automation. Level 1 – Driver Assistance, where the vehicle can assist with tasks such as steering, braking and acceleration. These functions are enabled by the driver and are not automatically applied by the vehicle. Level 2 – Partial Automation. Two or more automated functions work together to relieve the driver of control. Level 3 – Conditional Automation. This is defined as the execution of steering and acceleration/deceleration and the monitoring of the driving environment. Level 4 – High Automation. At this level, the vehicle doesn’t require a driver. The vehicle is capable of all aspects of the control of the vehicle, under certain conditions, and the driver can intervene. Level 5 – Full Automation. This is where the vehicle can perform all aspects of driving under all conditions. 

So how will ADAS affect technicians and independent workshops? Firstly, diagnosing and rectifying system malfunctions. This will bring new components into the technical realm for test and measurement. Diagnosing on- board camera and radar function, for example. Secondly, performing calibration on the systems after other mechanical repairs. If, for instance, the front panel of the vehicle is removed during a timing belt renewal (and the radar mounting is disturbed), the system requires recalibrating. The same is true for any work which affects the steering geometry (track rod ends, ball joints, suspension bush/arm replacement) or the ride height of the vehicle (new shock absorbers, upgrading alloy wheels). The vehicle may have one or both forward and rear facing radars as well as a forward-facing camera. 

There are obvious safety implications of using a vehicle when the base calibration is incorrect. The margins for error are very small. The range of these sensing devices can be up to 300 meters, where a 1 degree sensor alignment error leads to a 5.2 meter focus error (almost the width of three cars) at this distance. This could cause the vehicle to be unable to detect an object until it is much closer, causing a delay in the moment of intervention (Time To Collision), leading to a potential collision. 

Calibration rigs are widely available and are usually accompanied by a suitable scan tool. The scan tool initiates the system’s calibration process and the calibration rig contains the reference targets. Most system calibrations cover both the radar sensor and the camera unit. Validation of the vehicle’s wheel alignment and the mechanical base alignment of the radar(s) and camera sensors is critical prior to any calibration events. Technicians who carry out ADAS calibrations must ensure that the calibration environmental conditions match the vehicle manufacturer’s requirements. They should also be able to demonstrate competence (through an accredited ADAS qualification) and keep appropriate calibration records (evidence of geometry and calibration data). A vehicle with a non or incorrectly calibrated system presents a significant liability for the technician, the repair business, other road users and the driver. 

With the European Union mandating that all vehicles be equipped with autonomous emergency-braking systems, lane keeping, forward-collision warning systems and speed assistance in the next couple of years, the opportunity for workshops is growing rapidly. As always, the key to doing it correctly is learning about it. Technical Topics run accredited ADAS Calibration Training on their Accredited Diagnostic Technician and Master Technician Programmes. See www. for details. 

Big Day Out training is bespoke

Our final Big Day Out training event of 2019 will take place next month at the ZF [pro]Tech training facility in Crick, Northamptonshire, and we’d love to see you there… 

On Saturday 5th October, James Dillon and David Wagstaff of Technical Topics, alongside Andy Crook of GotBoost, will engage, challenge and, almost certainly, entertain technicians and workshop owners from across the UK with their unique form of training. Live faults and scenarios will be presented and the group will analyse live data, working out the best courses of action to get that all-important first-time fix. 


Andy and James are now handing the agenda for the Big Day Out training event over to delegates. 

The trainers will create several mini-workshops and a Q&A session based on feedback from those who have purchased tickets and completed a brief survey. 

Delegates are being asked for examples of diagnostic work they find most challenging, which scan tools they currently use and what vehicles/systems or areas they’d like to see covered. 

Join Autotechnician and the team for some fantastic training, which is heavily subsidised by our Autotech sponsors ACtronics, Delphi Technologies, febi bilstein, Flex Fuel and ZF Aftermarket. 

Join us for our last training event of 2019! 

Our next Big Day Out will take place on Saturday 5th October in Crick, Northamptonshire. Tickets are subsidised by our Autotech 2019 sponsors and are available now for £98+VAT. Email: for details or call 01634 816 165. 

Join us for our Big Day Out in October

James Dillon and David Wagstaff of Technical Topics will join forces with Andy Crook of GotBoost once more for a unique, audience-led diagnostics training event later this year. 

On Saturday 5th October, Autotechnician will take over the ZF [pro]Tech Technical Training facility in Crick and our team of experts will provide delegates with thought-provoking nuggets of information, engage their fault-finding skills and challenge learnt behaviours when it comes to diagnosing underlying problems. Learn the tips and tricks to get to the heart of a problem more quickly and gain confidence in achieving that first-time fix. 

The training will focus around a vehicle that has various live faults and symptoms – the trainers will work with the technicians to choose the best course of action and guide them through best practice techniques. Depending on how the day progresses, and delegates’ collective experience, we expect that around two thirds of the training content will be related to the technical aspects of fault-finding and one third concentrating on the business side, such as customer communication and charging for diagnostics. 

The day will run between 9am and 4.30pm, with breaks for refreshments and lunch. Delegates will vote on courses of action and the trainers will help analyse the results from the chosen tests and provide refreshers on theory where needed.

Previous garage owners and technicians have enjoyed the unique format of this training and come back for more! Weddings, christenings and bar mitzvahs allowing of course. We hope you can join us this autumn for an entertaining and rewarding day.


Our next Big Day Out will take place on Saturday 5th October in Crick, Northamptonshire.

Tickets are subsidised by our Autotech 2019 sponsors and are available now for £98+VAT.

Email: for details or call 01634 816 165. 

The latest vehicle networking technologies

Familiarise yourself with the latest vehicle networking technologies – By James Dillon – Technical Topics.

CAN Bus was, or maybe still is, considered to be king of the vehicle networks. We have CAN Bus enabled scan tools, CAN breakout boxes, and even CAN enabled LED lighting kits. However, there are several ‘new kids’ on the block – we’ll use the term ‘new’ with a large pinch of salt, but undoubtedly, in-vehicle networking has changed and is continuing to do so. Due to the restrictions of bandwidth (capacity for data) and technological requirements, CAN is losing favour as the chosen one and the vehicle manufacturers are ushering in a new era of vehicle networking technology.

As the electronic systems within a car continue to grow in complexity, we’re seeing more sensors, controls and interfaces being utilised. All of these are leading to much higher bandwidth requirements. The different computers and domains within the vehicle increasingly need to communicate with one another in order to share their data. The complexity, cost, and weight of wiring harnesses to support this, has increased such that the wiring harness is now the third costliest and heaviest component in a car. Currently, there are several different proprietary standards for communication, with each sub-system typically using a dedicated wire/cable/network. 

By moving towards a single standard, all the communications from all the different components can coexist on the same network, with a single pair or wires connecting each location in the car from a central hub or network switch. The increase in volume of data, system participants and speed requirements, mean that CAN isn’t technically able to cope with any longer. 

Figure 1: Flexray Topology

Flexray is one of the newer standards used for inter-module communication. We’ll get into the technical nitty gritty a bit later in this article, but the headline is that Flexray runs at 20 times the speed of a typical CAN network. This speed improvement is due to distinct structural differences in the Flexray network layout, as well as enhancements to signalling and software control techniques. The improved signal speed that provides the extra bandwidth is so quick, that many automotive scopes will have a problem measuring it. The bit time in this system is measured in nano-seconds (billionths of a second), compares to CAN’s micro-second bit time (millionths of a second). In practical terms, many automotive oscilloscopes are simply incapable, because of a lack of scoping horsepower, to measure signals at this speed. 

Figure 2 a: CAN & Flexray loom

Unfortunately, this will leave technicians in the dark, being unable to see signal structure, which will delay diagnosis and potentially lead to misdiagnosis in vehicles which utilise the Flexray network infrastructure. In order to provide some clarity, I’ll do my best to answer some of the questions that surround diagnosis of this system.


Just how widespread is the use of Flexray? If we consider the group (known as a consortium) who were involved with developing the Flexray standard, it included Bosch, Phillips, Freescale, NXP Semiconductors, BMW, VW Group, Daimler, General Motors, Ford, Mazda, Fiat, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, PSA, Renault, Volvo. Flexray is currently fitted to a wide range of vehicles, which include BMW (1, 3, 5, 7, X3 and X5 Series), Audi (A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q7 and TT), Mercedes (C, S and E Class), Land Rover (various) and Volvo (various).

Figure 2 b: Flexray at ECU

So how do you tell if the vehicle has Flexray? The issue with identifying Flexray from ‘under the bonnet’ is that the physical layer (for our purposes, the wiring) looks the same as CAN. It is difficult to know without consulting technical manuals or wiring diagram information for the specific vehicle in question. Also, many Flexray equipped vehicles still utilise CAN, Flexray, LIN and MOST networks on many of the sub-systems. For instance, both Audi and BMW have a combination of CAN and Flexray within the powertrain system. Telling them apart without technical information is almost impossible. This means that a vehicle which is suffering from a fault many not display useful or useable test or data values. 

Figure 3 a: Diagnostic CAN Terminals

How can I test Flexray? Can I use the ohmmeter across the data link connector like I do with CAN? In truth, using the ohmmeter across the datalink connector has always been a very slack method of testing CAN. This is due to the implementation of diagnostic interfaces (firewalls or gateways) which separate the actual CAN from a diagnostic version of CAN. In systems which use this technique, the data link connector uses a ‘simulated’ 60 Ohm resistor between the data link connector and the gateway. In this case, the CAN proper (the vehicle side of the diagnostic interface) could be shorted to ground, having no communication, but your test at the data link connector will show a good reading of 60 Ohms. 



Figure 3 b: Diagnostic Socket

It is possible to measure the vehicle with a meter and a scope, but the preferable option for speed and accuracy, is to use a scan tool to perform a global scan of the vehicle. Aftermarket diagnostic tools have been facing a growing challenge of how to communicate with, and interpret codes and data from all of the modules on the entire vehicle network. Poor network coverage means that you may miss (not be able to see) vital diagnostic data. Another area where the aftermarket tool is lagging significantly is its ability to display the current status of the vehicle network in a topology style. The vast majority of dealer tools perform a global scan upon initial communication with the vehicle. This technique ensures that a total vehicle state is used as a basis for subsequent diagnosis. In addition to this, the topological view can provide vital clues to the nature and location of any vehicle network issues. 

Figure 4: Network Topology

Figure 5: Fault cluster analysis

But I don’t have access to dealer tools in my workplace. Am I doomed? If you are limited to using aftermarket scan tools for your diagnosis, you’ll need help in the form of an analytical technique to support your diagnostic data’s critical analysis. Technical Topics have developed a Network Fault Cluster Analysis Technique to help with just that. 

The best advice is for technicians is to build their awareness of the new range of vehicle networking technologies. Attend some training, read some articles and get some hands-on research time with a modern vehicle. Build a baseline of information so that when faced with a problem, you stand a chance of differentiating between the good, the bad and the ugly. Spending some time researching Flexray, Ethernet and DOIP and V2X will pay dividends in the long run. If face-to-face learning is your preferred method, it just so happens that I know a firm which runs a very cool in-vehicle networking training course. 

James is running the following courses at Technical Topics HQ in Bridgwater: 

June 10th to 14th – EV Bootcamp 

June 18th and 19th – EV Level 3 

June 20th and 21st – VW Dealer Tool Training 

June 24th and 25th – Oscilloscope Masterclass 

June 27th and 28th – Peugeot & Citroen Dealer Tool Training 

July 1st & 2nd – IMI Diagnostic Technician Programme 

July 3rd & 4th – IMI Master Technician Programme 

July 8th to 12th – Diagnostic Bootcamp 

July 15th to 19th – EV Bootcamp 

July 22nd & 23rd – BMW Dealer Diagnostic Tool Training 

July 25th and 26th – Volvo Dealer Diagnostic Tool Training 

For detailed course information, please visit: 

Gearing up for EV & Hybrids: Diagnostic Workshop

Technicians, workshop owners and mobile repairers from the Home Counties and further afield* gathered at Chatham Dockyard on Saturday 11th May for an interactive day of training at Autotechnician’s first Big Day Out of 2019.  



*Medals for effort are awarded to Dave Pullan from Harrogate and Harry Wilson in Grimsby. 

James Dillon and David Wagstaff (of Technical Topics) and Andy Crook of GotBoost had created multiple faults on a BMW, all electric, i3 and by using the Kahoot! mobile app, delegates were able to vote on what course of action they believed best, to get to the root of it all. The first ‘customer complaint’ to tackle was the doors not opening/vehicle not responding – confirming a battery fault by use of a jump pack (courtesy of Scantec, cheers guys and gal!) Many faces in the room looked unsure about their decisions to begin with, wary of the unfamiliar EV technology, but James was keen to point out that the diagnostic process remains the same and a non-start due to a dud battery plays out the same, whether its an EV or ICE vehicle.

Discussion soon moved on to whether people knew if they were legally allowed to work on hybrids and EVs without training. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a vote split the room in half. To confirm, you need to prove you are competent at dealing with electric vehicles if things go wrong (you’re a workshop owner and a member of your staff has just been zapped by 650 volts of direct current). Although you are not legally bound to have a formal certificate to work on them, having a training certificate is the easiest way to prove competence. More importantly, it’s the only way to keep yourself, and the team around you, out of harm’s way.

The car had 50 fault codes stored at the outset and the trainers used the BMW dealer tool to formulate a test plan and prioritise DTCs. It turned out there were four things that were not communicating, so they began by investigating what they had in common. Throughout the sessions, James, Andy and David provided guidance on interpreting waveforms, the psychology of fault-finding and how to avoid the pitfalls. James also provided advice on the business of charging for diagnostics and ultimately, your expertise, as the trade moves away from selling mechanical labour. 




“It was an enjoyable day. The time flew past, which is always the sign of a successful event.” 

Steve Rothwell, Technical Editor, Car Mechanics 

“The training was excellent, I gained loads of knowledge and information from all the trainers on the day. A well-presented day out with good organisation and timing from professional people with loads of information and fun in the mix. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and cannot wait for the next one to learn more and enjoy myself.” 

Des Davies, Top Gear Motor Services 

“The schedule for the day was perfect and the price of the ticket was a bargain.” 

Edward Grigg, Swanley Garage 


Our next Big Day Out will take place on Saturday 5th October at a venue in the Midlands. Email for details or call 01634 816 165. 

Workshop Training Hub – 2019

Autotechnician will again present a series of technical presentations within the Workshop Training Hub, sponsored by ACtronics, informing visitors of new opportunities and methods to achieve a first-time fix more quickly, with live demonstrations from the likes of Frank Massey, James Dillon and Andy Crook. Here’s an overview of some of the training presentations you can take in for free at the show…

Register for your FREE ticket here:

Andy Crook

No matter which industry you are in, your business exists to solve problems. The more complex the problem, the more you can charge for your services, but the more difficult it is to recruit and retain staff capable of solving these problems. During his seminar, Autotechnician contributor and Big Day Out presenter Andy Crook of GotBoost will be exploring two options – invest in skills or systems. 




Thijs Jasink

‘Robotics and Remanufacturing’, Thijs Jasink, ACtronics
Where robots meet humans together in synergy to remanufacture vehicle electronics. 






Frank Massey

‘Engine fault diagnosis, evidence- based prediction’, Frank Massey, Autoinform
Covering a range of topics and test opportunities that technicians face with current vehicle drive trains. An obvious challenge is a lack of accessibility, further compounded by the very technology intended to reduce unwanted noise and vibration. Attention will be drawn to a range of issues that threaten critical damage to the engine whilst remaining vague or undetected by the driver. Frank will highlight serial data, oscilloscope test results and physical pressure tests within the engine. 


Mike Sadler

‘Improve Customer Service & Boost Business’, Mike Sadler, DENSO
Effective vehicle inspection not only ensures workshops deliver the best service to their customers; it also maximises their profit potential. Mike Sadler will demonstrate the customer service and business retention benefits of thorough vehicle inspection and with the aid of an innovative tool, proactively detect potential future defects via a module that compares live data with reference data to assess the health of the engine. 



Darren Darling

‘Don’t turn down DPF Business’, Darren Darling, DPF Doctor
Darren will inspire garages to grow and cultivate new income streams by taking on DPF business and keeping it in-house. 





Flemming Nohr

Diesel Particulate Filter maintenance, Flemming Nohr of MT Filters, in association with DPF Recovery
An in-depth discussion on the internal structure of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF), diagnosing issues and cleaning methods. Also, how to check if DPF filters are serviceable, the renovation of defect DPF filters and the benefit of Original versus Aftermarket. 




John Bentley

‘Unlocking Start-Stop battery potential’, by John Bentley & Chris Jones, ECOBAT Battery Technologies Presenting the business opportunities that Start-Stop battery replacement can bring as well as a ‘How to’ training module, demonstrating the basic principles required to effectively deliver this added value service to their customers. 





Richard Doran

Important technical updates on servicing with new A/C refrigerants, with Aaron Macfarlane and Richard Doran of Primalec This workshop focuses on the demands of servicing aircon and climate systems with new refrigerants R1234yf and CO2. Topics include fault diagnosis, getting the charge volumes correct, refrigerant identification, lubricant choice, leak detection and repair. 




Steve Carter

‘EV Facts from the Fiction’, Steve Carter, Train4Auto
How will 2020 emission targets legislation affect combustion vehicles after this date? Is the UK current charging infrastructure up to the task? How far has battery technology advanced and what does the future hold? What servicing will an electric vehicle require and are you and your business ready for this? 





Register for your FREE ticket here:

Test your knowledge and analytical skills!

Online tests at assess diagnostic process

Autotechnician magazine has again teamed up with contributor and Big Day Out trainer Andy Crook to deliver free, online tests for independent workshops & technicians throughout 2019 to assess technical knowledge, process and diagnostic capabilities. The Autotech assessments have been created to help entrants identify any weak areas and address them in a confidential and fun format.

Andy, of GotBoost, has devised Autotech Test #7: LIN Bus. The online assessment consists of 15 questions designed not just to test your knowledge of LIN Bus systems, but your understanding of the information presented and your ability to analyse the data and waveforms provided in order to draw diagnostic conclusions. Andy explains:
“It will also challenge your depth of networking knowledge; including technical vocabulary, system design and operation.
“The scenario is based on a Ford S-MAX charging fault, a job that we have fixed here at GotBoost, so represents the real-world challenges technicians face when dealing with intelligent charging systems.”

What score will you get?
Once registered, users have access to multiple choice tests, covering vehicle systems, theory and diagnostic scenarios. Once completed, score sheets marked with the correct answers are instantly emailed back to the participant, along with supporting learning material.
Register or log in to take the case study at


Autotech 2019 is sponsored by:

Come aboard HMS Autotech

If you’re looking to brush up on your fault-finding skills then grab yourself one of the last few remaining tickets for a truly unique, audience-led training day at Chatham Dockyard on Saturday 11th May.

James Dillon and Andy Crook will take command of No.1 Smithery from 9am till 4.30pm, presenting live faults and working with the audience to rule out hypotheses and determine the underlying issues.

The diagnostic experts will guide delegates through evaluating the data gathered and explain the theories and practices they both use within their workshops to solve complex problems.

Suitable for all those who wish to fine tune their diagnostic skills and fix faults faster! All previous delegates, with varying levels of experience in complex repairs, have come away with new techniques and a more structured mindset to take back into their workplace.

Call us on 01634 816 165 or email to book your place. Many delegates, and the team will be staying onsite the night before at Chatham Dockside. Catch up with colleagues at the stunning venue and make some new contacts at this not-to-be-missed event!

Big Day Out Schedule

Saturday 11th May, No.1 Smithery, Historic Dockyard Chatham, Kent ME4 4UY

08.15     Registration from 8.15am in The Smithery, with tea/coffee & bacon butties!

09.00     Introduction to the day

09.10     Live faults workshop begins

10.45     Refreshments and break

11.05    The fault finding continues…

1.00      Networking lunch – pies & wedges for all!

2.15      Concluding session of diagnostics workshop

4.15      Raffle – chance to win some goodies

4.30      Close


A limited number of places remain – subsidised tickets cost £86.80+VAT and include everything you’ll need on the day – parking, notepads, pens, a bacon butty and a brew when you arrive and hearty refreshments at lunch.  Email to book your place or call 01634 816 165.