Category Archives: Winter Service

The Three B’s of Winter Service

During a winter service, it is imperative to check and, if necessary, replace, the three ‘B’s of winter service: batteries, bulbs, and blades. Life is made much easier for garages when they are able to source these products from the same company, which is where HELLA comes in.


“As lights are such safety critical components, it is best practice to replace left and right side bulbs at the same time, as both have a similar life span.”

As the clocks go back, headlights are switched on earlier in the morning and kept on for longer in the evening, which is why it is common that bulbs fail and need replacing more often in winter. HELLA is an OE manufacturer of lights, so whether it’s a headlight, sidelight or taillight that needs replacing, the company claims to provide a high quality and durable solution, catering for virtually all of the vehicle parc. As lights are such safety critical components, it is best practice to replace left and right side bulbs at the same time, as both have a similar life span.


Drivers frequently put wiper blades to the test under difficult conditions. These consumables must withstand temperatures of -30 to 70 ̊, as well as the changeable winter weather conditions such as snow, sleet and rain. It is easy to see when wiper blades need to be changed: if the visibility is even slightly impaired, it is important to change them. HELLA understands just how crucial it is for high quality wipers to be fitted onto a vehicle, which is why the manufacturer’s range covers a large portion of the passenger car parc. All HELLA wiper blades are said to be long-lasting and durable, featuring a graphite-coated edge, which ensures the blades glide smoothly and quietly across the windscreen for a perfect view.


Underperforming batteries remain the root cause of the majority of winter breakdowns, with one in four vehicles at risk of battery failure, while battery performance is reduced by 35% if temperatures hit freezing. HELLA has recently updated and expanded its battery range to provide the most appropriate solution to the varied needs of drivers. The company says it has focused on high quality and choice, offering four ranges within the battery portfolio – Classic, Premium, Supreme and AGM – all of which cater for a variety of needs, vehicles and applications.


Overcoming three tricky winter faults

Make: VW
Model: T5, Transporter
Model year: 2003 onwards
Those affected: All models with rear double-wing doors
Issue: Malfunction of rear window wipers

With some of the above-mentioned vehicles, a fault in one of the rear window wiper motors can lead to various malfunctions of the system. These affect the functioning of both the rear window wipers and also the front windscreen wipers.

In some cases, the rear window wipers work non-stop and/or they do not react to the various settings on the steering column switch. Fault codes are not necessarily stored in the control unit.

Defects in the rear window wiper motor can be caused by water entering via the wiper shaft. Severe oxidation or dampness in the interior can lead to “electromigration” or to a permanent positive connection. In such a case the wiper motors at the rear (as the culprits causing the problem) can first of all be disconnected so that (until the motors are replaced) at least the front windscreen wipers can function properly. In this situation, the rear window wiper motor(s) had to be replaced. The experts at HELLA resolve three tricky issues that garages may encounter this winter.

Make: Honda
Model: CR-V
Model years: 07.11.2001-17.09.2004
Engine: 2.0i (K20A4)
Issue: Failure of dipped headlightSide

The dipped headlight can fail on this vehicle with the cause often attributed to a defect in the connection between the light switch and the cable plug.

Friction can wear the coating on the contacts between the light switch and the cable plug which can result in increased resistance. In extreme cases, the high temperatures can melt the connection with the plug and the dipped headlight can fail.

The VM has acknowledged the problem and the 16-pole plug on the combi-light switch is now being checked in the garage and replaced where necessary.

Make: Mazda
Model: RX-8
Those affected: All models from 10/2008 onwards
Issue: Coolant level warning light illuminated

If the coolant level warning light comes on in the abovementioned vehicles although the coolant level is correct, a possible cause of the trouble is a faulty coolant level sensor.

In such cases, the coolant level sensor, the lead and the plug are to be checked for any form of damage and also for continuity of electrical current. If the sensor is welded to the expansion tank, then this tank has to be completely renewed.

The manufacturer now offers a modified coolant expansion tank for this purpose, under part number N3H1-15-350L.

Visit Hella’s knowledge portal for garages by logging on to


Shocks and springs – key winter checks

As a critical item on the MOT tester’s checklist, KYB recommends that every vehicle that comes into the workshop during (and after) the winter months is checked for broken coil springs as a matter of course.

The majority of drivers will not even realise when they have a broken spring on their vehicle.

Rapid corrosion

During harsh weather conditions, any road spring can ultimately break. Grit thrown up from the road hits the coil springs and can damage the surface coating. This means that the metal becomes exposed and it therefore rapidly corrodes, especially when there is salt on the roads. In addition to this, debris which collects on the spring pan acts as a grinding paste between the spring and spring seat.

Even though a coil spring may appear to be in perfect condition when viewed in-situ with the shock absorber, the coil which is in contact with the shock absorber itself may have suffered from extensive corrosion, making it liable to breakage at any time.

The ongoing trend to reduce the shape and size of coil springs versus the continuing increase in vehicle weight is also a contributing factor to the increase in coil spring breakages. Drivers demand more optional extras, such as air conditioning and sound systems – but this additional weight puts more strain on the spring. High strength steels have been introduced, which are capable of working at higher stress levels, however even with a good surface coating on the spring, the harsh conditions on the roads in the winter mean that they are still susceptible at this time of year.

What if the spring needs replacing?

If the inspection of the coil spring highlights a breakage, resulting in a replacement being required, why not take the opportunity to check the shock absorber, suspension mounting kit and protection kit at the same time?

Shock absorber and coil spring manufacturers always talk about the importance of fitting shocks and springs in pairs – the reason for this being that shock absorbers wear gradually over time. If one is identified as leaking and worn, it’s most likely that the other one is too, as there is no significant difference between the wear rates on each side. However, if oil isn’t pouring out, the second one is not recommended for replacement. If a shock is worn, it is no longer keeping the tyre in contact with the road – which is dangerous. It also leaves the car imbalanced.

Coil springs should be replaced at the same time as this in order to maintain an even ride height on the vehicle. They also return the vehicle to the correct ride height, as they can become coil-bound over time – this is essentially losing their ‘bounce back-ability’.

The most effective way for the vehicle owner to understand this issue when it comes to their vehicle service is to explain to them the importance of fitting a pair. To help back this up, manufacturers all have a range of point of sale material – such as posters and leaflets – that garages can use in their MOT viewing area or reception.

Winter coolant servicing – profit opportunities and tips

Contemporary coolants have become every bit as ‘vehicle specific’ as engine oil. There are now three very distinct technologies used as ‘original fill’ by vehicle manufacturers. These coolants all perform the same essential functions – i.e. prevent freezing and overheating, while simultaneously protecting engine and cooling system components against corrosion and erosion. But their chemical additive formulations  – also called ‘packages’ – are entirely different, one from another, and can’t be mixed or substituted.

It means that for technicians to protect warranties, vehicles presented for servicing must be re-filled or topped up with the exact type of OE coolant that went in on-line. And that makes winter servicing with manufacturer-approved coolants a significant profit opportunity; an opportunity that switched-on independent workshops should be quick to grasp.

The most recent research conducted for Comma’s Professional Partner Programme revealed that franchised dealers typically charge £120 – and more – for a coolant drain and refill. Yet with the latest coolant re-filling equipment, the job can be done professionally, using the correct, manufacturer-approved coolants, in under half an hour at a charge-out rate around half that figure. In fact, three vehicles an hour could easily be serviced, making this a viable ‘while you wait’ proposition with high returns. The equipment is readily available, easy to use, requires no special training, and eliminates the need for thermo recycling – i.e. running the engine hot and cold to bleed off air.

Coolant technologies – What’s the difference?

For the European passenger car and LCV market, the three types of coolant specified by vehicle manufacturers are:

1) Silicate based technology.

2) OAT (Organic Acid Technology) based technology.

3) The most recently developed technology, based on a combination of both Silicate and OAT, and known as Si-OAT.

Silicate products have a 2/3 year service life before replacement; OAT and Si-OAT products have a longer, 5 year service life.

BASF Glysantin® coolants are the original equipment (OE) fill to most European VMs. These are designated either G48® (Silicate) G30® (OAT) and G40® (Si-OAT). The last of these – G40® – was specially developed in collaboration with VAG Group, and is  manufacturer-approved for all VAG (Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen) models from 2005 onwards, plus selected Mercedes Benz and Porsche models..

Finding the right coolant

Comma’s coolant application data covers the entire UK vehicle park, dating back over 30 years (visit the VRN look-up at with every one of the 7,000+ recommended applications being covered by a 100% guarantee of compatibility and quality.

Technicians’ tips

For best coolant practise, follow these guidelines……and don’t forget to inform your customer about what you have done, and why.

  • When the additive package is ‘spent’, replace all coolant to restore full protection.
  • Check the vehicle handbook and always fill with the correct, manufacturer-approved or OE compliant coolant.
  • Never mix coolant types – it cancels out their individual protective properties and could actually lead to mechanical damage.
  • Use only de-ionised/distilled water – never tap water – to dilute concentrated coolants.
  • Flush old or dirty systems with cleaner before re-filling.
  • Visually check the entire coolant system for leaks after re-filling.

Brush up your engine coolant knowledge by visiting the Comma online training academy at