Moving Off

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

1. Keeping on the straight and narrow 

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

2. Keep it lubed 

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

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

3. Leaks and their consequences 

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

4. Distortion – pressure plate 

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

5. Distortion – friction plate 

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


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

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

1. Clutch judder/grab 

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

2. Clutch slip 

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

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

3. Clutch drag (not releasing) 

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

4. Clutch noise 

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Event: ZF [pro]Tech Plus Member Conference 2019

ZF Aftermarket’s Technical Team gathered at Williams Grand Prix Engineering facility in Oxford last month to update its [pro] Tech plus members on additional benefits to the network and to gain feedback from them, to ensure it is providing the right support for the challenges they experience now and will soon face with emerging technologies. It was also a chance to network with other garages and have some fun, taking in the impressive exhibits and experiencing life as an F1 driver and being part of a pit stop team. 

Technical Sales Manager Matt Shakespeare kicked off proceedings, introducing Training Manager Wayne McCluskey and his team, who look after the members across the UK. “We’ll gain your feedback this morning so we can understand what you want from us. We have some huge changes coming in terms of technology and we need to try and prepare you for it,” explains Wayne. “We need to give you information, access to the data you need… We’ve got some highly qualified engineers in the aftermarket team. Its been necessary for all of us to up-skill over the years. I’ve just finished an engineering degree, so even an old guy like me needs to keep pushing the boundaries and keep pushing forward. We’d like to help you on that journey. The route we have chosen is through [pro]Tech plus to help support you through these changes.” 

Benefits for the network include a dedicated field sales technician with around four site visits each year and access to a Technical Support Engineer if you need practical help within your workshop. Members are provided with training, installation instructions and manuals, plus a technical hotline. Perhaps the cherry on the cake is access to OEM service campaigns, which contains valuable repair information. 


Matt Shakespeare discussed how its training would help independent workshops be fit for the future. As legislation drives down emissions and we head towards a zero-carbon future, hybrid and electric vehicles will play a significant role in this. ZF is already taking workshops on this journey with its High Voltage Expert training and has recently added an ‘Introduction to Electrical Engineering’ two-day course, which takes in all aspects of the basics of electricity. Matt explains how we are moving from passive safety systems to collision avoidance and ADAS, training for this will be available next year. These systems will eventually enable completely autonomous driving. ZF is considered as one of the trailblazers involved in future mobility, so it makes good business sense to partner with them and continue to access the information, parts and knowledge needed to repair vehicles now and into the future. 


• ZF’s German colleague Markus Schmitt, who is responsible for garage concepts, described how a network of transmission specialists have been created in areas in Germany which has proved successful and how they are looking to do this in the UK. 

• Its [pro]Points loyalty scheme is being upgraded. Customers collect labels from product packages and exchange for bonus points, which can then be used for various gifts. ZF is in the process of setting up QR codes on the labels to make the process easier. 

• A ZF 9HP Transmission course (applications include Range Rover Evoque, Honda CR-V, Fiat 500X & Jaguar E-Pace) will be available later this year. 


We meet John O’ Sullivan of Promotive – a large independent BMW & MINI specialist in Newport who is new to the [pro]Tech network but has already sent a couple of technicians to Crick for some training, which he reports is very good. I also speak with David and Karen of G&H & Commercial in Caernarfon who are booking their staff onto ZF’s hybrid and clutch training, and clearly have a passion for their business and keen to stay on top of changing technology – traits that are clearly shared with the rest of the garages in the network. 

Support from ZF as a [pro]Tech plus garage: 

Autotechnician’s Paul Dearing got hands-on during the afternoon session, challenging his dexterity alongside the [pro]Tech plus garage owners during the ‘Williams Experience’. Over to Paul… 

“After the mornings presentations we went off for a brief lunch and caught a glimpse of Claire Williams, deputy team principal of the Williams Formula One racing team, then it was off for a fun-packed afternoon taking part in the F1 Williams Experience. 

“We were split into four teams and had to pick a Team Principal, who better than ZF’s Technical Training Manager Wayne McClusky. We would experience a real race scenario, half the distance of Silverstone. Firstly, we were given a race strategy, then had to answer five questions, the results of which would go toward the final score. We then set off to practice to determine who was best suited to what position within the team – whether it was in the pit stop, driving, changing the tyres… I was the nearside, left wheel on man. What an adrenaline rush when you are being timed, our wheel team managed four seconds, which was pretty good apparently. Then it was off to the reaction pads, which you get in the
gym and arcades. The best of us were hitting about 45 in a 30 second time slot – apparently, a Formula One driver will hit 70 plus, how, I don’t know! 

“Then we headed to the F1 simulators to try our hand at the track…. not easy at all. Once practice was over it was race time, which included three drivers and two pit stops. Race on! Once we had finished, we all gathered for the results. It was a close call but well done to Team 2 for being top on the podium. 

“What a great afternoon, amongst good company. Well done ZF and the Williams team.” 

Join us for our Big Day Out!

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 20.39.24DIAGNOSTIC MASTERCLASS

The first of our Big Days Out in 2018 will take place at Reading College from 9.00am until 4.30pm on Saturday 30th June. Ticket numbers are limited, order your ticket now by calling 01634 816 165, alternatively, email

We are very pleased to have James Dillon and Andy Crook – two of the most knowledgeable and entertaining trainers around – delivering training sessions at the first Big Day Out of 2018. James of Technical Topics is rather pleased too and looks forward to helping independent technicians finely tune their approach to diagnostics. James has this to say:

“The landscape of vehicle diagnostics is ever-changing. As vehicle technology continues to advance, support and information from the vehicle manufacturers is critical. OEM diagnostic tools, factory manuals and service data and security system logins make life easier, but we must remember to retain the ability to critically evaluate everything and not to become a diagnostic automaton.”

James will cover the current landscape and how best to set your workshop up with tools, equipment, support and processes to prosper from diagnostic work. He will also review the near-future and discuss factors that will affect both technicians and garage owners in the short term. This dynamic and thought-provoking session will offer practical help and advice to assist you in forming a future- suited operational plan for your own specific situation.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 20.39.51THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DIAGNOSTICS

For this year’s Big Day Out in June, Andy Crook of GotBoost will be expanding his research into the psychology of diagnostics and looking to explain why it is difficult to get it right every time. Andy will use real-world case studies to illustrate the pitfalls and how we are preconditioned to fall into the mind’s traps unless we condition ourselves not too.

As always, he will try and entertain as well as inform, so be prepared for a fast-moving, self-critical look at the ever-changing world of automotive diagnostic testing! Our trainers and sponsors will be on-hand throughout the day to answer any questions delegates have.


The event will be held at Reading College, Kings Road, Reading RG1 4HJ from 9.00am until 4.30pm on Saturday 30th June. Reserve your ticket by calling 01634 816 165 or emailing

TICKETS ARE NOW AVAILABLE, priced £69.50. Big Day Out is part of Autotech online training. Head to and take the quiz. It is free of charge and you will receive your scores with supporting training material immediately.

[column size=”1/3″]ACtronics[/column]
[column size=”1/3″]DAYCO_Logo New TagLine_CMYK copia[/column]
[column size=”1/3″]Pro Tech



Should Automatic Transmission oil be changed?

Whether or not to change the oil in the latest automatic transmissions is an ongoing cause of confusion among vehicle owners and independent workshops alike, says Wayne McCluskey, Technical Training Manager at ZF Services. Particularly when described as ‘filled for life’, the transmission and oil are often presumed to perform reliably without intervention. However, improved understanding of the oil’s functions is leading a number of car manufacturers to rethink this position and recommend automatic transmission oil servicing at regular intervals to benefit performance and longevity. Although the details here refer to ZF transmissions, the advice can be viewed as best practice guidelines for any car equipped with an automatic gearbox.

The reliability of a modern automatic transmission depends on original equipment oils and filters to protect the complex internals.

While ZF’s newer transmissions are simpler in design, in terms of number of component parts, technological improvements demand that the oil itself is recognised as a highly engineered, multifunctional component. Aside from lubricating,

it acts as a coolant, enables hydraulic operation of transmission brakes and clutch packs, and transfers power to the remainder of the drivetrain via the torque converter. Overlapping application of clutch packs instead of freewheels, and controlled slip of the torque converter lock-up clutch, raise operating efficiency and deliver smoother gear changes, but also place greater stresses on the oil.


Under normal operating conditions, automatic transmission oil suffers some degradation with use and age. Friction materials and load bearing surfaces wear and the oil endures repeated temperature cycling, potentially leading to judder, abnormal noise and deterioration in gear change quality. ZF recommends carrying out transmission oil and filter changes after 50,000 to 75,000 miles. Increasingly critical demands on the oil mean that only a single product is developed, tested and approved for each new range of ZF transmissions. The result is a range of ZF-branded ‘Lifeguard’ part-synthetic oils to suit its five, six and eight-speed automatic transmissions. These oils are also packaged and marketed under alternative references by vehicle manufacturers using the transmission. Reference list TE-ML 11, available at, is regularly updated – any oil not on the list has not been tested and approved by ZF.

ZF oil change kits are available for all ZF 5, 6 and 8-speed automatic transmissions.


The quality of the automatic transmission oil filter is equally important. Inadequate filtration or poor sealing can leave particulate contaminants circulating, which accelerate wear and increase the risk of seizure for parts operating within close tolerances, such as the pistons in the mechatronic unit. Conversely, over-filtration can lead to vital additives being excluded from circulating with the oil, and blockage of the filter.


For simplicity, all the parts required to carry out an oil change for any ZF five, six or eight-speed car automatic transmission are now available from ZF Services UK in an oil change kit. Oils, filters, sump pans and other spares can also be purchased individually.

Step by Step: Electric Park Brake release

First to market with its TRW branded Electric Park Brake (EPB) system in 2001 – which pioneered with Lancia, Audi and VW – the ZF business has now produced in excess of sixty million EPB motor-on-caliper units.

This article looks at what to do in the event of the brake failing to release, demonstrated in this video.

The cause for this defect is an interrupted power supply to the electric motors (actuators) which then can no longer release the brake. The exact fault can only be identified by experienced professional mechanics using the appropriate diagnostic tools.

Emergency Release

To get the vehicle to the garage, however, it may be necessary to open the brake with the emergency release. Some vehicle manufacturers offer integrated systems for this. The exact handling is described in the operating instructions for the vehicle. For vehicles where this is not the case, this piece describes a general option for emergency release.

One important note: Do not attempt to release the brake by connecting an external power source. This can destroy the actuator due to different electric controls for the system variants!
To release the brake, you should therefore proceed as follows:


  1. Remove the connector
    Disengage the connector with a suitable tool and pull the connector from the actuator.

Note: Some EPB systems use actuators with an integrated cable. In this case, the plug connection must be disconnected on the cable harness of the vehicle. This is generally located in the corresponding wheel housing!




Gehaeuse mit Motor
2. Remove the fixing screws of the actuator
Release and remove both fixing screws of the actuator and any cable holders.





TRW EPB3. Remove the actuator
The actuator can now be pulled from the housing in the direction of the arrow.





TRW EPB4. Open the brake
Use a suitable tool to turn the spindle in the direction of the arrow (clockwise) until the brake is free.






TRW EPB5. Mount the actuator
Insert the actuator, ensuring correct seating of the sealing ring.
Note: The motor may have to be rotated slightly during installation so actuator and spindle engage.
Insert the fixing screws
Attention: Ensure to insert and tighten the screws by a few turns by hand. If the thread is damaged, the complete brake caliper has to be replaced!

Tighten the screws with the torque specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Install the connector.

A library of technical tips, ‘How To’ guides, videos and fitting instructions can be found at TRW’s Tech Corner. To register, simply go to: