Event Review: REPXPERT Academy LIVE

A key to success is putting ego to one side and grasping worthwhile opportunities that top-up your knowledge, regardless of experience. Rob Marshall did just that and valued the experience immensely

Despite the efforts of COVID, it is reassuring that many businesses are keen to re-establish face-to-face events. Unsurprisingly, when Schaeffler announced its first Repxpert Academy Live event of the decade, it created huge interest and resulted in, approximately, 100 technicians giving up one of their Saturdays late last month and flocking to South Wales.

Early starts in an unfamiliar location can be a pain, especially if you are not staying overnight. Being a stone’s throw from the M4 motorway, and offering plenty of free parking and even EV charging points, Bridgend College’s £37m flagship STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Academy was an ideal host. The cost-free IMI approved Repxpert Academy Live started with an excellent breakfast selection at 9.00 am, followed by a brief introduction that split delegates into four groups, which rotated around the quartet of modules.

Timing is everything
Our day started with Tim Adam’s Timing Belt Drive System class. While focussing on best practice, he also updated us on subtle physical updates, including why oval crankshaft sprockets (which are not as crazy as they might appear) are appearing on newer engines. Mr Adams also highlighted the natural tendency to interpret instructions incorrectly and how timing belt tensioning procedures differ subtly between replacement kits from different manufacturers for the same engine. As around 85% of INA’s warranty claims relate to incorrect tightening torques, basic bolt-tightening theory was discussed (amazingly, only 10% of the effort applied to the fixing applies the clamping force), concluding with each delegate being gifted a Schaeffler stud replacement tool for the 1.9 and 2.0-litre Volkswagen Group TDI engines.

Tim Adam’s Timing Belt Drive System class. focussed on best practice, but he also updated us on subtle physical updates, including why oval crankshaft sprockets are appearing on newer engines

Going Electric
While Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket has a vested interest to sell products from its FAG, INA and LuK brands, neither was there a hard sell, nor any hint of slandering competitors’ products. Interestingly, half of the classes were hosted by non-Schaeffler staff. If you have never attended a Hayley Pells session, you are missing out. With her considerable credentials within the aftermarket, she is unafraid of voicing the truth from her perspective, with zero arrogance and a healthy dollop of South Walian frankness and wit.
She presented an amusing but informative overview of EV history and highlighted that their premise is nothing new. She elucidated her workshop experience with EVs and underscored that they are more dependent on maintenance than ICEs, especially regarding suspension alignment and air conditioning requirements. While acknowledging that recommended safety tools and training are important, she revealed that Aviva Autos has not needed to tackle a high-voltage fault, yet, but she is ready. Nonetheless, from her experience of working on EVs, Mrs Pells highlighted the value of being an ‘EV angel’ in the eye of the customer. For instance, as most drivers are obsessed with the indicated range figure, balancing the battery cells gives a noticeable range increase that they will notice quickly, if not immediately. She also warns against garages voiding the manufacturer battery warranty unintentionally, by not providing a high-voltage battery health report with the servicing invoice.

Hayley Pells elucidated her workshop experience with EVs and underscored that they are more dependent on maintenance than ICEs

Thinking differently
While Tim Benson is also a garage owner, he cannot repair motor vehicles. Set in the rural town of Leominster, Herefordshire, Oldfields Garage was started by his parents and his now-retired father was a technician. While Mr Benson admits to not being able to jump in and assist practically in the workshop, maybe this is why he has taken a more holistic view of his business. His resultant decisions have seen the once-struggling business, with a bank balance too close to overdraft for comfort, transform into a profitable, thriving and professional-looking enterprise. During his talk, garage owners were encouraged also to be more circumspect and less obsessed with day-to-day issues, including not losing sight that the very purpose is to generate income.

Selecting and targeting the right customers especially struck a chord. Yet, prioritising consumer types is also important, with Mr Benson highlighting that his recent investment in an impressive customer waiting area gives the immediate impression that the garage is not chasing the lowest price point. Labour rates were also discussed and, while overcharging is clearly undesirable, the importance of not just reviewing hourly rates periodically but also having the confidence to increase them were also underscored.
The topic of his garage preferring to incur higher costs for greater convenience attracted mixed responses. Loan cars, for instance, might be costly but they take pressure off the workshop. Efficient management and information systems are also seen as essential tools not just for efficiency but also to maximise workshop capacity during slower periods, such as post-pandemic MOT Test lull months. Oldfields Garage also found that closing 30 minutes early on a Friday brought relatively inexpensive staff motivational benefits. Yet, while our group concurred that fitting the lowest-priced parts was not a wise move, Oldfield’s philosophy of paying extra to factors that involve it with the least hassle (in terms of availability and delivery especially) attracted debate among several garage owners.

Twin clutch repair solutions introduction
Our training experience ended as it started, with a technical class led by Schaeffler staff. In many ways, Simon Cooper had the hardest task of all, because he had to explain the evolution of twin-clutch automated manual transmissions, the different types (DSG, DCT, et al) and demonstrate a dry clutch change on a Volkswagen Group DSG 7. To do all of this within the allotted 45 minutes, the presentation had to be very fast-paced, although Repxpert is hosting a two days long training session on the topic on the 12/13th of July, at the STEAM Academy, costing £250 per person, in which it can elaborate.
With demand for twin-clutch services increasing by 20% annually and the aftermarket having unimpeded access to quality replacement parts and comprehensive technical advice, there are fewer reasons to turn the work down. Not only is the task profitable but garages can win new business and save customers a considerable sum, because dealership workshops may prefer the replacement gearbox option, rather than a clutch repair.

Reassuringly, Schaeffler has realised that the prices of its prior tool kit recommendations were unrealistic for certain garages and it has established a relationship with Laser Tools, which has engineered alternatives. For the Volkswagen Group DSG application, this association has reduced tooling costs from ~£1,400 to ~£550. Schaeffler has also partnered with ACtronics to offer high-quality remanufactured mechatronic units, which are half the cost of new alternatives.

The event emphasised the importance of advancing your knowledge continually and provided useful tasters of more involved IMI-approved training packages. Everyone, with whom we spoke, found it beneficial, although several technicians were disappointed that younger members of our workforce were not present. One garage owner told AT that many more youthful techs think that formal college education provides all of the training they need. Perhaps this is an area that Schaeffler may wish to tackle, when promoting future Repxpert Academy Live events.


REPXPERT Academy LIVE is back

·   REPXPERT Academy LIVE returns on 21st May

·   Brand new location: The STEAM Academy at Bridgend College

·   Four technical and business seminars

The first REPXPERT Academy Live training day event to take place since 2020 will roll into the STEAM Academy at Bridgend College’s new Pencoed campus on Saturday 21st May, where visitors will be able to learn about the latest technologies, tools, and product installation skills from Schaeffler’s REPXPERT team, in four 45-minute training sessions.

Each session is designed to offer garage owners and professional technicians a taster of the complete one or two-day IMI certified training packages available from Schaeffler directly, or through its distribution partners, packed with valuable tips, tricks, and best practice advice. IMI members can claim CPD points for a full day of training.

Schaeffler will be offering an introduction to LuK Double Clutch Systems, as well as a Timing Belt Workshop from Tim Adams – with the alternative title of ‘How to avoid expensive mistakes!’

Local garage owner, Hayley Pells of Avia Autos, is supporting the event, as well as hosting a training session on ‘Pathway to EV’. Another local garage owner, Tim Benson, will be the second guest presenter, with an all-new workshop business masterclass.

Entry to REPXPERT Academy LIVE is free of charge and includes complimentary breakfast, lunch, and refreshments throughout. Doors open at 9am, with training starting at 10am, and the event will draw to a close at around 4pm.

Register to attend here  

Schaeffler announces major update to REPXPERT workshop portal

With its reputation for putting the needs of aftermarket professionals first, Schaeffler continues to do what it does best, completely redesigning its popular REPXPERT portal to provide an even greater resource to technicians, workshop owners and parts distributors.
“After several minor improvements, we are now taking the opportunity to completely overhaul the REPXPERT online portal and relaunch it with a range of major changes, all of which will bring considerable benefits to its many users in the UK and Ireland,” said Marketing Communications Manager, Jeff Earl.

“The new portal, codenamed REPXPERT 3.0, brings together all the information a mechanic needs to carry out their daily work – comprehensive TecDoc based parts catalogue, repair data, product updates and a wealth of technical insight which, thanks to a further improved user interface and global search, are all quick and easy to access.”

Schaeffler REPXPERT brand ambassador, ‘The Garage Inspector’ Andy Savva, added: “Giving garages the tools they need to work professionally, efficiently and economically has always been Schaeffler’s goal, which they constantly deliver on and in fact, surpass in most of their customers’ expectations. With the new 3.0 version of the online portal taking things to the next level by adding a significant number of added value features across the board, there really is no reason not to sign up for access to one of the best free resources available to the aftermarket.

“Having what you need in one place is great; but being able to personalise your own dashboard so you have even quicker access to the functions you use the most makes it even better. This is one of the new version’s key features, saving time and making problem solving easier.

“Access to the all-important repair data has been improved, as it has now been combined with the online catalogue data, so users can easily find parts and repair info using a common search function. Installation videos, tips and advice, common warranty issues, examples of component damage and likely causes etc. can all be found with this intuitive new system, which should make accurate fault diagnosis and component replacement a simple ‘best practice’ process. This in turn will help garages become more efficient, improving customer service.

“Accurately identifying the correct parts can also be a problem, so the site now includes access to an updated catalogue system to help reduce selection errors. Powered by TecDoc and continuously checked and updated on a daily basis, the catalogue also includes gearbox, HGV and tractor products to cover the entire UK and Irish aftermarket.
“From a garage perspective, loyalty programmes are also an important part of the customer experience, so news that the popular REPXPERT bonus shop is also being revamped will be welcome to the thousands of members that take advantage of the bonus points found in Schaeffler product cartons. As well as making it easier to collect points using the voucher scanner on the REPXPERT app, there will also be loads of new products to choose from, including a brand new eco-clothing range, tools and consumables from Laser, plus some cool new Blaupunkt gadgets for use in your workshop office.
“And the news keeps getting better, as the points value needed to purchase items across the whole shop have been reduced – so it will be easier for members to collect the points they need to buy the products they really want!”
More information about the new improved bonus shop will be announced soon…

Information on Schaeffler products, fitting instructions, labour times and much more can be found on the REPXPERT workshop portal – www.repxpert.co.uk – the REPXPERT app, or by calling the Schaeffler REPXPERT hotline on 0872 737 0037.

Schaeffler’s long-serving MD retires

Nigel Morgan, Managing Director of Schaeffler’s Automotive Aftermarket division in the UK, has decided to step aside after more than 40 years’ service with the company.

Nigel began his aftermarket career as a Sales Manager at Alan A Morgan, his family’s company based in the Midlands, which became the sole importer of LuK clutches back in the Eighties. LuK liked what Alan A Morgan did so much it bought the company, which then went through several stages of evolution from LuK Aftermarket Service to the present day Schaeffler (UK) Ltd.

Nigel has presided over a phenomenal period of prosperity for the company in the UK and successfully introduced the INA and FAG brands to join their LuK ‘big brother’.

In 2013, Nigel decided that more needed to be done to educate the aftermarket about vehicle parts quality, giving installers an informed choice about the differences between OE and non-OE components. Seven years later and the organisation is still going strong, recently adding new members such as Brembo and Motul, and still educating technicians at major events, including its own Autoinform Live training weekends held in partnership with Frank Massey.

Nigel will continue to be involved with OESAA, leading the campaign in a consultancy capacity after he leaves Schaeffler at the end of March, saying: “I firmly believe that technicians can benefit most from using the parts and services offered by genuine OE suppliers, which offer the best quality and technical backup available to the aftermarket.”

Mark Dolloway, who joined Schaeffler from SKF in 2012, will be stepping up to the newly created position of ‘Country Manager UK & Ireland’ and Mark will, in turn, be replaced as Sales Director by Matt Selby, another Schaeffler veteran who originally joined the company back in 2007.

As always, the final word belongs to Nigel: “I have enjoyed over 40 wonderful years with Schaeffler, with any expectations I had at the start of this journey completely and utterly fulfilled beyond my wildest imagination.

“However, all of my achievements are also that of the amazing UK team, many of whom have been alongside me at Schaeffler for a very long time. Their hard work, dedication and passion means that I can leave Schaeffler (UK) knowing that it is in some very capable hands, but this is not a ‘goodbye’, merely an ‘auf wiedersehen’, as there is certainly a lot more for me to do!”


Can you profit from clutch repairs?

Malcolm Short, Schaeffler’s Technical Services Manager, outlines clutch best practice to prevent problems and promote profit.

Some workshops are still avoiding clutch work, preferring instead to send it to a ‘specialist’ that, in reality, has simply learnt the tricks needed to avoid having a car stuck on the ramp overnight when what should have been a five-hour job, goes wrong. By following a few simple precautions, all garages can avoid the pain and problems and potentially start turning a profit from clutch.

Identifying the car

Supplying car parts is becoming increasingly difficult, especially when looking at genuine parts from OE suppliers. With millions of errors on the DVLA system, a vehicle registration look-up may not be as accurate as you would think, so furnishing yourself with some basic vehicle details (preferably directly from the car if you have it) will help the motor factor supply the correct part first time.

Good-to-know problem solving information includes finding the correct VAG engine code; knowing where reverse is located on Vauxhall applications to identify the correct CSC; and knowing if a VW has start/stop is essential in identifying the right DMF.

Follow the (free) fitting instructions!

While you are waiting for the parts and/or the car to arrive, it’s a good time to see if any accurate fitting instructions are available, especially if you are not familiar with the vehicle.

Schaeffler’s REPXPERT workshop portal is a perfect place to start, as clutch fitting instructions are free or charge for members to access, and can be saved, printed and attached to the job card.

Whilst you are looking up the TecRMI vehicle manufacturer instructions using TecDoc in REPXPERT, you will pass the clutch application listings, so take a quick look to see how many components are shown and check if you have ordered all of the parts required.

If your technicians do not have access to an iPhone or Android phone (or mobile device) installed with the free ‘DMF Checkpoint’ app, then you can also find and print the critical tolerance values from REPXPERT, so they can accurately diagnose DMF wear when the gearbox is removed.


There is not a great deal of specialised equipment required, but a few essentials can make the job easier; a two-post ramp and a working transmission jack (or two if you work on some larger vehicles such as the L200), preferably with a tilting head for a trauma free gearbox refit.

A universal alignment tool will also help with smooth gearbox installation and prevent any damage to the new clutch.

Whilst it is essential to use a special tool to fit a self-adjusting clutch, Schaeffler’s LuK SAC tool has added value in that it can be used during any clutch installation to help prevent judder, and it also includes lots of special alignment tools to suit the latest BMW applications.

Dual mass flywheels can be checked for wear prior to gearbox removal by using a LuK DMF tool, in conjunction with the DMF CheckPoint app

Dual mass flywheels can be checked for wear prior to gearbox removal by using a LuK DMF tool in conjunction with the DMF CheckPoint app. If the DMF does need replacing then the app also tells you if new bolts are required and what torque values to use.

Correct parts

When the parts have arrived and you have removed the gearbox, it’s always worth doing some basic comparisons:

Spline count – sliding the drive plate back and forth to distribute a small amount of grease is a good check that the splines are correct (not forgetting to wipe off any excess grease afterwards).

Drive plate orientation – “Getriebe Seite” is German for “Gearbox Side”, “Schwungrad” is “Flywheel”, and if you see something else or even nothing, contact the free REPXPERT technical hotline – the problems caused by fitting a drive plate the wrong way round are easily avoidable!

Dual Mass Flywheels (DMF) – It is always worth checking the reluctor ring on the back of a DMF, even if it’s from a different manufacturer it should still have the same number of teeth and they should be undamaged. OE suppliers such as Schaeffler will replace transit damaged goods as long as it has been spotted before fitment.

Concentric Slave Cylinders (CSC) – A modern plastic CSC can obviously look different, but it should have the same number of fixings and the pipe position should be similar. It may sound simple, but always read the instruction sheet inside a CSC box! It may contain critical information, such as how to find and discard a redundant pipe seal (on Vauxhall applications), and some Ford instructions explain that the O-ring should be replaced by sealant (and not too much!).

Dual mass flywheels can be checked for wear prior to gearbox removal by using a LuK DMF tool, in conjunction with the DMF CheckPoint app

Check the rest – Worn or seized cross shaft bushes need to be rectified; bent or damaged forks need to be replaced; always replace the ball pivot on BMW applications and check the others; repair leaking gearbox seals and, finally, reset or replace all self-adjusting cables.

Final assembly

Never grease plastic release bearings. On most pull type clutches you fit the release bearing to the gearbox and locate it to the clutch cover after fitting the gearbox. Be careful when inserting the gearbox, swinging up and down on the back of a gearbox to fit it to a poorly aligned clutch will probably cause judder and damage.

If in doubt about any repair, call the REPXPERT hotline on 0872 737 0037 for help. A two-minute conversation could save you hours.

LuK’s SAC tool has added value in that it can be used during any clutch installation to help prevent judder

Schaeffler REPXPERT set for first live ‘Tea-Break Training’ sessions

• INA Water Pump module to launch new online training programme
• Advice on new/upcoming technology and best practice
• Each module to last around 20 minutes with three time and date options

Schaeffler’s REPXPERT technical training team has announced a new programme of ‘Tea-Break Training’, designed to appeal to as many people as possible by offering information in bite-size chunks at three different starting times.

“Each module should take around 20 minutes, including time for a quick Q&A,” said Senior REPXPERT and Schaeffler Technical Manager, Alistair Mason. “The idea is that technicians can learn something extremely useful during the time it normally takes to make a brew and take a quick break from the workshop.”

One topic will be presented three times over two days, ensuring that as many people as possible can partake. As each live module will only be available on those two days, Schaeffler is recommending that anybody interested should sign up as soon as possible to guarantee their place. Attendance has been limited to ensure a quality connection and allow time for all attendees to ask questions.

Launching the programme is ‘What’s Hot in Cooling’, which will take place on Tuesday 12th January at 12:30 and on Wednesday 13th January at 12:30 and 18:30. Schaeffler Technical Manager, Alistair Mason, will be offering an insight into water pumps, including material and sealing technology, plus how to diagnose common cooling system problems, installation tips and workshop best practice. This will be the first in a series of three modules on the cooling system, with two more featuring in upcoming Tea-Break Training sessions.

Register for the Tea-Break Training sessions at https://oeparts.typeform.com/to/LWtWkaTq

Information on Schaeffler products and systems, fitting instructions, labour times and much more can be found on the REPXPERT workshop portal at www.repxpert.co.uk or by using the REPXPERT app, which is available free for all iOS and Android devices from the relevant app store.

Schaeffler wins IAAF Outstanding Supplier award for Back-On-Track initiative

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has awarded Schaeffler with its 2020 Outstanding Supplier award for its efforts to stimulate the aftermarket at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During an extraordinary year, the IAAF decided to present the 2020 award to Schaeffler for its Back-On-Track initiative, which included the delivery of 2,000 packs of PPE and POS materials designed to help garage owners make their workshops safe for both staff and customers. Schaeffler also created an e-learning module to help garages become more COVID aware, with hundreds of technicians completing the course and downloading the certificate.

Thanking the IAAF for the award, Nigel said: “I would like to also thank our fantastic warehouse staff, as well as the Schaeffler sales and marketing teams for physically packing all 2,000 boxes, as well as hand delivering many of them to garages all over country”.

“I also have to thank our fellow OESAA members, who made it possible to provide a further 3,000 Back-On-Track supplementary packs to extremely grateful garage owners across the UK and Ireland.”

Schaeffler continues to find innovative ways of engaging with workshops, including announcing a program of online ‘Tea-Break Training’ sessions starting in January 2021, after an overwhelmingly successful trial run in November.


Autotechnician Special: Boosting business post-lockdown

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Autotechnician magazine has created this ten-page supplement to help workshops boost business as lockdown eases.

Clink on the image below to open up the digital feature, to find out how you can get customer vehicles back to full health and get business back on track…

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Schaeffler essentials packs can help garages get ‘back on track’

The latest government advice is that those who are able to work, but not from home, should now return to work and have also said it is their civic duty NOT to use public transport, and cycle, walk or use the car instead. As the average UK commute is almost an hour, lots of people will start to use their cars again.

This means that getting garages back open, and vehicle technicians working again, is crucial to helping the country get back on its feet, as there will be a backlog of MOT, servicing and urgent repairs to catch up on. However, all this work must be done safely and professionally.

To help garages get back on track, and make vehicle owners feel safe when they visit, Schaeffler has created an essentials pack that will help workshops get up and running again: it includes a floor sticker and tape to mark out the reception and workshop area into two metre blocks to help maintain current social distancing rules. There is some personal PPE; a washable mask, hand sanitiser and hi-vis vest, along with some prominent A2 posters and some mirror hanging air fresheners to remind both staff and customers about the guidelines.

The pack and posters are visible tools to make vehicle owners feel safe, the hard work will be in getting them to book their cars in. A key message here is that the 6-month MOT delay does NOT mean that the car is roadworthy. Garage owners and technicians have a duty of care to make sure that all vehicles leaving the workshop are in a legal, safe and roadworthy condition. Drivers could get fined with non-functioning lights and wipers, or if tyres don’t meet legal requirements. If a vehicle isn’t roadworthy, the driver also may find that their insurance is invalid if they have an accident.

Free safety checks

Workshops could promote free visual safety checks with any repair, using every available channel to reach current and potential customers. Emails, text and social media are sure-fire ways to maximise reach while lots of people are still at home. Alternatively, placing an old-fashioned ad in the local paper saying that your workshop is safe and open for work again can only help.

It is also a good time to advertise health-related added value servicing – such as fitting HEPA cabin filters and disinfecting air-conditioning systems. Off the back of the free visual check, garages can also offer ‘enhanced’ safety checks for a small charge – including fluid top-ups, a battery condition check, plus a visual check of all drive belts and the steering & suspension system.

It is vital that all garage staff are invested in following the current guidelines: Minimise contact with customers and suppliers; use new disposable gloves, seat covers and mats for every job; wipe down all contact points as you go; try and keep access to each car to just one technician; turn off all climate control systems; respect high risk customers by setting up a no-contact drop-off and collection system.

All these actions will help customers see the care and attention workshops are taking in providing the best safe and professional service possible.

The Schaeffler REPXPERT team will also be getting back to work in June, distributing the ‘BACK ON TRACK’ workshop essentials and poster packs to selected garages.

REPXPERT members will receive an email with a pack request link, or they can visit the news page at www.repxpert.co.uk and follow the link from there.

Schaeffler postpones REPXPERT Academy LIVE at Blackpool

Schaeffler has postponed the REPXPERT Academy LIVE event planned for June 20th at Blackpool & The Fylde College.

“The current restrictions on social distancing and mass gatherings mean that we have had to put all REPXPERT Academy LIVE events on hold for now, so we are looking at other ways to help garages get ‘back on track’” explained Schaeffler Training Manager, Alistair Mason.

“This includes the creation of a brand new online training platform, plus the distribution of Schaeffler ‘back on track’ support packs to help workshops show they are well prepared and ready to deal with the backlog of MOT testing and urgent vehicle repairs that have built up over the last few weeks.”

The Schaeffler ‘Back on Track’ support pack will contain essential health and safety items such as social distancing tape and floor sticker, mask, gloves, hand sanitiser and hi-vis vest etc., all designed to help technicians maintain the 2m social distancing guidelines in the workshop and reception.

Schaeffler (UK) Managing Director, Nigel Morgan, is behind the plan; “We are really keen to continue engaging with professional technicians at this time as, despite the negative impact the restrictions are having on all businesses, we know that they will be looking for ways to stay ahead of the game for when things start to get back to normal.

“Schaeffler remains open and able to deliver parts, and we want to help garages to also get ‘back on track’, working safely to provide essential repairs and maintenance for key worker vehicles.”