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Is your workshop spring ready?

In the lead up to spring, Solera Autodata is predicting that there could be a perfect storm of factors that, if they align, could see a potential influx of vehicles into workshops.

The spring months of 2021 have, more than any other, the potential to be a key time for workshops, with a number of factors pulling in the same direction to create a busy time of year for mechanics, Autodata says.

EU and EFTA data shows that new registrations have generally been at their highest across March, April and May in the last five years, meaning annual servicing, vehicle worthiness tests and check-ups will likely fall on the anniversary of the original vehicle purchase.

This data reinforces Autodata’s Most Serviced Vehicle report, which shows that March was the most popular month for vehicle servicing and repairs in 2018 and 2019 as mechanics call upon the specs and instructions they need to test and fix a vehicle to get it back on the road.

This year also brings in the unique aspect of Covid-19 as likely to influence bookings. The pandemic forced several governments, including Ireland, to allow motorists to delay legally required vehicle checks, such as the NCT, past their original due date. These delayed tests and services are now likely to start to feed into workshops over the next few months.

With workers remaining wary of using public transport, there is currently a greater temptation to drive to work. But for many homeworkers, having their vehicles parked up and little used for long periods, especially over the winter months, problems are highly likely, requiring the attention of and a thorough safety review by the workshop.

Home deliveries grew significantly as a result of the pandemic. Autodata saw a 19 per cent rise in requests for LCV service data between Q1 and Q3 2020 as online delivery services expanded, all of which will now be reaching their anniversary and require workshop attention.

So, to help prepare, Solera Autodata has listed the key operations its data claims workshops could come up against if all things align for a busy spring period.

Air conditioning
Cars parked for long periods of time attract moisture which can corrode air conditioning valves. Rubber seals are also likely to degrade over time without regular use. Autodata’s air conditioning module contains system information, layout and wiring diagrams to help technicians with service and repair.

Battery
Under normal conditions cars should be run at least once a week in order to prevent battery degradation. Cold weather can further worsen battery performance and off-the-shelf jump starters can harm long-term battery life. Consider offering your customer an early battery replacement, especially if the vehicle has been unused over winter. Autodata’s battery module includes information on battery disconnection and reconnection – increasingly important with more connected vehicles.

Windscreen wipers
In addition to tears created by use during winter months on frozen glass, windscreen wipers will crack and degrade under cold conditions. Windscreen wiper blades should be replaced at least once a year or when the blades are no longer making contact with the surface of the windscreen.

Wheels & tyres
With many consumer tyre inflation pumps powered off the car’s 12V supply, vehicle owners working from home are likely to neglect tyre pressure for fear of draining the battery, potentially leading to increased wear on the tyre and even damage to the internal structure. It may also trip tyre pressure monitoring systems which may require diagnostic tools to reset.

While local authorities have in some cases been using lockdown as an opportunity to repair roads, winter potholes can also damage tyres and wheel suspensions can become misaligned. Check that your customers’ tyres are safe and ensure that their geometry is correct.

Autodata’s dedicated Wheel Alignment module includes a comprehensive guide on subjects such as camber angle, ride height, tyres, and adjustment procedures, while the Tyres and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System modules show correct pressures for each wheel size and special procedures around resetting TPMS systems.

Suspension
Potholes are caused by the expansion of water that freezes in cracks in the road. Vehicles driving over the cracks deepens them and may cause damage to tyres, alloys, springs, suspension components and move wheel alignments, making these must-check areas when vehicles come into workshops for spring servicing.

Vehicles which have seen limited use over lockdown may also see suspension failures due to cracks and corrosion – Green Flag reports this is especially dangerous in areas near salt water which can severely weak a spring if cracks should form in the plastic coating.