British Touring Car Championship returns this weekend

Delayed by four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship makes a welcome return this weekend.

The first race of the series takes place on Sunday 2nd August at Donington Park in Leicestershire, with qualifying on the Saturday. In a condensed schedule, drivers will race again just one week later at Brands Hatch in Kent.

The revamped nine race championship will see further back-to-back meetings in August and October, with the series concluding on 15th November, a full month later than normal. Once again motorsport fans will be able to follow all the action for free through ITV4’s live coverage.

Amongst those looking forward to getting back behind the wheel is three-time BTCC Champion Matt Neal, who enjoys a close relationship with The Parts Alliance through his sponsorship with Delphi Technologies.

“There is a real buzz around the new season and full credit must go to all involved in the way that the BTCC has led from the front in promoting a safe and ultra-positive return to action. Now I can’t wait to get racing again!” said Neal, on the Kwik Fir British Touring Car Championship website.

This unique championship will bring many new challenges for the teams, including a busier than normal schedule, with races taking place in much colder conditions than usual.

“It is going to be pretty frenetic this season with a number of back-to-back weekends, so the guys have been working really hard on spares packages and fully liveried panels as we’ll have limited time to make those changes. But I have to praise BTCC organiser TOCA in managing to pull together a near-full calendar of racing. Mind you it will be a bit chilly come the final rounds in November!” commented Neal, on the BTCC website.

Neal enters an unprecedented 30th BTCC season in 2020, having contested over 600 BTCC races since joining the series in the early 1990’s. Once again he’ll be aiming for success with the Halfords Yuasa Racing team.

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COVID-19 guidance for Automotive aftermarket updated to include face covering rule

New requirement for customers to wear face coverings in “retail settings”

COVID-19 guidance for the automotive aftermarket sector has been updated to include advice on new face covering rules which now apply in England.

The second edition document states that customers must wear a face cover “when in a shop, branch, store or similar environment” but employees are not required to wear a one.

Those who fail to comply with the new rules could face a fine of up to £100, reduced to £50 if the fine is paid within 14 days.

In both Wales and Northern Ireland, face coverings are strongly advised but not mandatory in a retail environment.

The guidance has been produced by the Garage Equipment Association (GEA), Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It covers every aspect of an aftermarket business including workshops, from clear communications with customers and colleagues to social distancing, sanitisation and hygiene, and collection/delivery of vehicles from vulnerable owners.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently warned that it is “putting employers on the spot” and checking that they are complying with COVID-19 health and safety law.

HSE has published a generic COVID-19 risk assessment for businesses to meet COVID-19 requirements.

View the document in its entirety by clicking here.

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Essential advice for rubber-to-metal part removal and installation

Check rubber-to-metal parts regularly and replace in pairs, ZF Aftermarket advises

Independent garages are being urged to check rubber-to-metal components when inspecting vehicle suspension components.

The advice, issued by ZF Aftermarket, states that any defective steering or suspension part can put the safety of passengers and other road users at risk.

A ZF Aftermarket spokesperson said: “In addition to the main suspension gear components, small elements such as rubber-to-metal parts should also be checked and replaced regularly.

“Within the chassis system rubber-to-metal parts (RTM) absorb unwanted vibrations and noise.

“They act as the elastic connection between the individual chassis components.

“Additionally, these parts have an influence on noise generation and transmission, steering behavior and driving stability.”

The specific dimensioning and shaping of the RTM has an influence on the chassis tuning: it improves steering behaviour and driving stability supported by suspension strut support bearings, subframe bearings, control arm bearings, stabiliser bar bearings or axle beam bearings.

Depending on the make and model up to twelve different RTM can be installed within the chassis system.

Hydraulically damped bearings

Other crucial parts – in addition to conventional rubber bearings – are hydraulically damped bearings namely axle housing, axle beam and control arm bearings.

The spokesperson added: “Due to the damping properties of the fluid in addition to the rubber core, the so-called hydromounts achieve optimum vibration reduction in higher frequency ranges.

“Although RTM are not amongst the classic wear parts, their complex tasks mean that they are subject to high dynamic loads and harmful environmental influences such as heat or road salt.”

If a defect is detected ZF Aftermarket says affected parts should be replaced immediately – ideally in pairs for maximum safety.

Installation and removal of rubber-to-metal parts

Prior to dismounting, it is essential technicians pay attention to the position of the bearing in order to identify any installation-relevant positions.

ZF Aftermarket generally recommends marking the installation position in advance.

In some cases, positioning marks on the parts themselves and/or at the mounting position allow a precise fitting of the new bearing.

Oil as an assembly aid should not be used for RTM, as it corrodes the rubber and thus damages it.

A soap solution is a more suitable option in this case.

The fixing bolts of handlebar and strut support bearings should only be tightened to the required torque when the vehicle is back in its original position.

This avoids distortion within the bearing, which leads to premature wear of the new parts.

Check rubber bellows and steering boots

Mechanics are also advised to check whether the rubber bellows on the landing gear joints are worn, damaged or leaking.

The spokesperson said: “If dirt particles have entered the joint, they could completely dissolve the inner plastic ball shell and damage the ball and the joint housing.

“This means that the joint clearance no longer meets the requirements.

“This is also the case if pitting corrosion become visible at the spring clamping rings of the rubber bellows.”

The track rod requires special attention, according to AF Aftermarket which states that in addition to the rubber bellows, the steering boot should be checked for damage.

It recommends press-out tools for dismantling the joints.

In order to guarantee customers increased driving comfort, workshops should consider using spare parts in original equipment quality.

This ensures the optimal interaction of the various components.

Under the Lemförder brand, ZF Aftermarket offers a comprehensive range of steering and chassis components in OE quality, characterized by a long service life and maximum driving comfort.

For further information about ZF Aftermarket, click here.

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Traffic levels nearing pre-pandemic levels, new figures show

Number of vehicles on British roads reached 98 per cent of pre-COVID levels on Sunday

Road traffic is quickly approaching pre-pandemic levels with new data showing that vehicle numbers reached 88 per cent of pre-COVID levels on Monday.

The amount of vehicles on Britain’s roads is up four percentage points week-on-week, according to Department for Transport (DfT) data.

The figures were even higher over the weekend, at 94 per cent on Saturday and 98 per cent on Sunday.

A breakdown of the data shows that on Monday the number of cars on the road was 85 per cent of what it was before the coronavirus outbreak, with vans and lorries at 97 per cent and 99 per cent respectively.

Latest confirmed data for trains show demand on July 13 was only 22 per cent of what it was pre-lockdown.

On Monday, bus use outside London was at 33 per cent.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “The national figures suggest that we are fast heading for pre-lockdown traffic levels in the round, but not necessarily at the same times of day.

“With many office staff still working from home, schools only re-opening to a limited extent and delivery vans stopping us driving to the high street, we’ve escaped the full misery of the morning rush hour.”

Mr Gooding predicted that many people embarking on staycations and long-distance trips to visit friends and family could decided “the best option for travel is the car”.

Meanwhile, the DVSA has forecast MOT testing to overtake pre-exemption demand in August.

Predicted figures show the volume of tests will continue rising before reaching a peak around October/November when the volume of tests is expected to be around 200 per cent above normal levels.

The data suggests testing won’t return to normal levels until around February 2021 before a significant drop in demand come March, marking one year since the six-month MOT exemption was announced.

Independent garage owners are being encouraged to ensure they are prepared for a dramatic increase in testing demand.

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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REPXPERT workshop portal is by experts, for experts says Schaeffler

Here’s why you need to take advantage of the free REPXPERT portal

Schaeffler’s REPXPERT is an online technical platform dedicated to professional vehicle technicians, and is home to Schaeffler product and system information, technical bulletins, training videos and installation guides.

Everything is completely free for members, including access to the TecDoc catalogue and TecRMI technical library.

Members can also redeem the bonus points found inside every Schaeffler product boxfor an even more diverse range of content, such as P-codes, service schedules, diagnostics, steering geometries and torque values for non Schaeffler-related systems.

Points can also be spent in the bonus shop, which has a range of workshop tools, clothing and accessories.

Members also receive regular e-newsletters (sign-up required), updating them on the latest news from the original equipment manufacturer and supplier – whether that be focused on the LuK, INA, FAG brands or REPXPERT itself.

It is an invaluable platform for professional technicians that want to stay ahead of the game, learning about new and future technologies, and protecting their long-term future as an independent workshop.

It also continues to evolve, and members can now access many popular features, as well as some new ones, from their mobile devices using the REPXPERT app.

Users can search for vehicles by application or by registration number, or for specific parts by OE, competitor and Schaeffler references.

You can even scan the barcode on any Schaeffler carton to see all of the application, product and service information available for the parts inside.

The popular DMF CheckPoint app, a must-have for anybody regularly replacing modern clutch systems, has also been fully integrated into the app, along with contact details and background information about Schaeffler the company.

As well as five-star reviews, technicians are providing helpful and constructive feedback, so Schaeffler can respond to demands and fine-tune the app to suit their requirements.

Avia Sports Cars’ Hayley Pells explained how she and her colleagues have profited from downloading the app to their respective devices.

She said: “Using the REPXPERT app has been a huge benefit to Avia. Enabling our technicians to access technical information from their own device has reduced the need for sharing a PC in the workshop, where it is simply is not feasible to have a station for each technician.

“The benefit of the barcode scanning aspect of the app ensures that the correct information is always displayed, no more selecting sub models.”

The REPXPERT app has already been downloaded more than 2,000 times and is available, free-of-charge, from the relevant iOS and Android app stores.

Giveaway

Schaeffler is offering new and existing app users the exclusive opportunity to win a Ring RBS50 borescope inspection video camera.

It connects directly to a laptop, which also powers the device, to show images or camera footage.

The RBS50 is waterproof and features two LED lights to illuminate the area around the probe.

Inside the app there is a code to win this great prize, so all you have to do is e-mail that code to info@repxpert.co.uk.

All senders of the correct code will be put into a prize draw and the successful winner will be contacted by the Schaeffler team.

The code will be live until the 3rd July 2020.

For further information about REPXPERT, click here.

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Mitsubishi to leave European market

New-generation models won’t be available in UK signalling a gradual withdrawal

Mitsubishi is to “freeze” new model launches in Europe indefinitely, it has this week been confirmed.

The revelation comes as part of a wide-reaching overhaul of its global operations to cut costs.

The Japanese manufacturer plans to reduce its fixed costs by 20 per cent over the next two years, and will shift to a business structure centered on the Asian region and “improve operating profit by downsizing low-profit businesses”.

The firm will focus its resources on South-East Asia, where it currently has a 6.4 per cent market share, compared to 1.0 per cetn in Europe.

A planned “freezing of the introduction of new products in Europe” means upcoming models including the next generation L200 pick up, Outlander SUV and Mirage supermini are unlikely to be sold in the UK.

A UK spokesman was unable to say how long it would last, but said the situation is “evolving and changing rapidly”.

Speaking to Autocar, a Mitsubishi UK spokesman suggested the brand will gradually withdraw from the market but said it would still be “selling cars for the foreseeable future”.

Takao Kato, representative executive officer and chief executive officer of MMC, said: “We will shift our strategy from all-round expansion to selection and concentration.

“First of all, we will complete our structural reforms and further strengthen our competitive areas—ultimately to build a corporate structure that can surely generate profits during this mid-term period.”

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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Yuasa gears up for BTCC return

Two Halfords Yuasa Racing cars to take to the track in anger as 2020 season finally gets underway

Yuasa is revving up for the much-anticipated return of the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park next weekend (1 – 2 August).

When the lights go out on Sunday 2 August, it will be 282 days since the BTCC grid raced at the season finale at Brands Hatch last October. The 2020 championship was due to kick off on 29 March, but due to the global situation there was no other option than to put the season on hold.

Although delayed, the 2020 season marks the ten-year anniversary for Yuasa in the prestigious BTCC and with Team Dynamics, having first become sponsors in 2010.

The battery brand, manufactured by GS Yuasa, unveiled the Honda Civic Type R FK8 back in March, alongside the championship winning Civic FN2 from 2011, a nod to their successes over the last ten years.

Despite not competing in any race events so far, the new FK8 challenger has completed successful test days in preparation for the delayed season opener.

Both cars feature a fresh new livery featuring Yuasa’s distinctive branding alongside matte elements for the first time.

To commemorate the battery manufacturer’s decennary, a special ten-year anniversary logo is also featured on the car’s side.

The Civic’s will be piloted by three-time champion Matt Neal and Dan Cammish.

2020 also marks Matt’s record-breaking 30th year in the championship.

In that time, he has secured 63 race wins and 3 drivers’ championships.

The Droitwich-based team hope to build on the Honda Civic FK8’s successes over the last two seasons.

The Team Dynamics-run Halfords Yuasa Racing team scored podiums at 18 races in 2019, securing the team’s championship, but narrowly missed out on becoming drivers’ champions at an action-packed season finale at Brands Hatch.

James Hylton, managing director at GS Yuasa Battery Sales UK Ltd said: “We’re proud to continue our partnership with Halfords Yuasa Racing, especially as we celebrate ten years in the championship and look forward to our 11th season.

“Yuasa’s performance on track over the last ten years have strongly reflected our core values of quality, reliability and performance.

“Both Matt and Dan have provided some incredible results and we’re very much looking forward to watching them finally go racing at Donington Park.”

Matt Neal, Halfords Yuasa Racing Driver said: “Not only have Yuasa been our longest serving sponsorship partner, but they have truly embraced the meaning of the partnership from our humble beginnings together back in 2010.

“I cannot thank them enough for the help and support they have given the team and I over the years, through the good times and the bad, they have stood by our side.

“I am very proud to be associated with the Yuasa brand and the great team of people that are behind it and its products.”

This season is still planning on going ahead as a 30-round championship, starting at Donington Park next weekend and ending at Brands Hatch on 14 – 15 November.

For further information about Yuasa, click here.

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Bus driver ignores ‘stay alert’ public health message and gets stuck under bridge

Driver left badly shaken after getting six-month-old £350K double decker stuck

A new bus donning the words ‘stay alert’ has been badly damaged after getting stuck under a railway bridge in Somerset.

The electronic signage on the front of the bus was displaying one of First West of England’s public health messages about the coronavirus pandemic and at the moment the bus became wedged in the arch of the bridge, the message on the front read ‘Stay Alert’.

The incident happened on the evening of Tuesday 21 July while the driver was heading back to the bus depot.

For more than an hour, police had to close the main road between Backwell and Nailsea, while the bus was recovered.

Network Rail assessed the structure of the bridge, and soon permitted trains to continue travelling over the bridge.

The driver was understood to have been uninjured, but badly shaken by the experience.

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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Face Covering Deadline Reminder

The government has recently announced that people in England must wear a face covering in retail settings and public transport from this Friday 24th July.

Those that don’t comply risk a fine of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days). The requirement has been introduced following scientific evidence that face coverings may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets.

In light of the new legislation The Parts Alliance has added a ‘Face Covering’ poster to its range of Covid-19 support material for garages. The poster can be downloaded for free from the Support Zone section of the distributors website.

In addition reusable Face Masks can now be purchased from Parts Alliance branches. Hand and surface sanitisers containing over 70% alcohol content, the level recommended by the World Health Organisation to eliminate Covid-19, are also available. The hand sanitiser is supplied in a variety of sizes, whilst the surface sanitiser is ideal for multiple surface types such as computers, payment terminals and counters.

You can download the poster here, or find the latest material in the Support Zone area of the website.

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Tyres over ten years old to be banned on heavy vehicles

Move makes it illegal to fit tyres over ten years old to front wheels of lorries, buses and coaches but it remains legal for cars

Tyres aged ten years and older will be banned from lorries, buses and coaches on roads in England, Scotland and Wales in a boost to road safety, Roads Minister Baroness Vere this week announced.

The move will make it illegal to fit tyres aged ten years or older to the front wheels of lorries, buses and coaches, and all wheels of minibuses.

The ban follows an extensive investigation, including research commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT), which indicates ageing tyres suffer corrosion which could cause them to fail.

The secondary legislation will be laid in the autumn and will also apply to re-treaded tyres – with the date of re-treading to be marked – making the age of the tyre clearly visible.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “In the same way that you wouldn’t drive a car with faulty brakes, ensuring your tyres are fit for purpose is crucial in making every journey safer.

“Taking this step will give drivers across the country confidence their lorries, buses and coaches are truly fit for use – a safety boost for road users everywhere.

“This change is in no small way the result of years of campaigning, particularly from Frances Molloy, to whom I thank and pay tribute.”

Frances Molloy’s son Michael died in a coach crash in 2012 when the vehicle had a 19-year-old tyre fitted to the front axle.

Since the accident, Mrs Molloy has campaigned to see the law changed.

The government will also be asking DVSA to continue checking tyre age as part of their routine roadside enforcement activities and adding an additional assessment to the MOT.

Industry officials have welcomed the news and hope further announcements will follow to address the safety issues associated with part-worn tyres.

While the DfT report “was not designed to explore issues related to the use and sale of part-worn or second hand tyres”, it does acknowledge that “there is a strong cross-industry consensus in support of an improved market organisation for second-hand tyres that should be regulated as for new or re-treaded tyres.”

Stuart Jackson, chair of road safety charity, TyreSafe, said: “The government’s willingness to address that concern has to be welcomed as it can only reduce the risks of a tyre-related incident if those tyres are also correctly inflated, have at least the minimum legal tread depth and are otherwise in a roadworthy condition.

“The acknowledgement of the wide-spread safety concern over the safety of part worns being sold to the public is also very welcome.”

However, questions will now be raised about why the ban fails to include passenger vehicles.

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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