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Getting it right!

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Partinform aims to ensure that learners in the motor industry are well versed regarding the use and correct fitment of good quality replacement parts. Reuben van Niekerk reports

Partinform is an association of local companies that represent major quality brands in the Southern African automotive component aftermarket.

Following a flood of sub-standard car parts into the local market in the mid-1990s, the association recognised a need to promote the use of high- quality replacement components. Now, Partinform’s primary objective is to address the replacement parts industry’s requirements for skills development and training at retail and workshop level.

Over the last three years, Partinform members have participated in an educational initiative whereby they provide training to students who are studying towards automotive trade qualifications.

Training takes place at Tshwane South College in Pretoria and at the Anglo American Engineering Skills Training Centre in Johannesburg. All Partinform members support the initiative by providing instruction regarding particular products within their relevant areas of expertise.

Specialised, in-depth lectures and demonstrations mean that students learn about aspects of automotive repair – as well as the benefits of using quality replacement parts – to which they would not usually be exposed during their studies.

Courses are held three times a year at each of the facilities. The Anglo American Engineering Skills Training Centre caters for seven different trades and produces between 70 and 90 qualified artisans a year.

Recently, I visited the Diesel Mechanic and Engineering Skills department – headed up by Dana van Vuuren, who has been trade testing since 1989 – which focuses on diesel powered vehicles and earthmoving equipment.

 

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On the day of my visit Willem Doman, area manager for Schaeffler South Africa – a member of Partinform – was addressing students on the intricacies of clutch replacement. Schaefler manufactures LUK clutch kits and, on a global level, is a supplier of clutch kits to 80% of the world’s vehicle manufacturers.

The company boasts a top quality reputation – not one of the millions of clutch kits it supplies annually to the industry has failed due to a manufacturing defect.

Interestingly, a LUK clutch kit that you would buy from a spare parts outlet would meet exactly the same quality standards as the item that was fitted to your car when it was new – the company does not manufacture different ranges for OEM or aftermarket supply.

On the back of that statement, Doman based his presentation around the question: “Why do clutches fitted by the aftermarket fail more regularly than the clutch that was originally fitted to your car?”

He enlightened students as to common complaints regarding replacement clutches, including hard pedal action, an inability to select gears, clutch slipping, and clutch shudder.

According to Doman, when gears can’t be selected components such as the master cylinder, slave cylinder, pivot points, flywheel and input shaft could be the culprits.

A slipping clutch could be caused by factors such as the flywheel not being skimmed or being skimmed to the wrong profile as well as grease on the drive plate.

Clutch shudder is often caused by grease on the drive plate facings, an incorrectly skimmed flywheel or a distorted pressure plate, the latter caused by incorrect fitment or over-tightening of the bolts that hold it in place.

Doman’s conclusion was that replacing only the clutch represented half the job. “The primary reason for premature failures is that no consideration is given to other components when the vehicle has covered extended mileage”

“In order for the replacement clutch kit to last as long as the unit that was fitted in the factory when the car was manufactured, the entire clutch system needs to be checked and, if necessary, components refreshed. If this is done correctly one should get very similar mileage out of a replacement clutch kit as was obtained with the original clutch.”

Students I spoke to found the training useful in that it helped to equip them with information vital to solving the real-world problems which with they would soon have to deal. It also allowed them to learn from mistakes others had made.

Each training event is concluded with an interactive pop quiz and all students receive a certificate of attendance that they can add to their CV.

Partinform and its members plan to continue the training programme into 2017, with plans to expand the initiative.

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