With a warm start to 2014 and last year’s record summer temperatures still in our minds, air conditioning units in the UK are seeing a massive rise in sales. With almost 90% of new vehicles on the UK roads having air conditioning systems, what was once an optionslist luxury has now become a commonplace convenience. With the UK market for air conditioning repairs estimated at being worth in excess of £102m per annum and demand for air conditioning parts increasing at more than 5% each year, air conditioning service and repair is a growing market with valuable opportunities.
BEHR HELLA SERVICE
The complete range of air conditioning parts and oils from Behr Hella Service is available through FPS. The joint venture between global OE giant HELLA and air conditioning specialist Behr features the largest range of OE parts for European vehicles currently available and has exclusive distribution of both Visteon and AKG parts. More than 2,000 individual part numbers are within the range which covers more than 62,000 vehicle applications. Key items include compressors, condensers and filter-driers for a wide range of Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, as well as many Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Ford and Jaguar/Land Rover models too.
By ensuring that garages are aware that key Behr Hella Service parts are available with same-day delivery, motor factors can be more agile and maintain smaller stock profiles, without the risk of losing sales based on availability.
A 2012 study by Warranty Direct expressed a concern that more than 230,000 motorists experience an air conditioning system failure each year, with an average repair bill of £426. The failures are across the market, from Porsche, to Seat and Volvo. The significant amount of air con’ related warranty claims reveals just how valuable the service and repair business is for these parts. Steve Hudson, Senior Product Manager for HELLA, explains how the spring and summer season brings guaranteed revenue opportunities.
“Whatever the weather, each spring the industry sees an increase in A/C repairs from systems that have developed issues, or even seized completely, during the winter. With many motorists trying to avoid using their air conditioning unless absolutely necessary (in an attempt to conserve fuel), they are often unwittingly increasing the risk of costly A/C repairs, as A/C faults can often go undetected for some time.” Not only that but lack of use and moisture build up can also cause problems. It is essential that garages urge customers to offer A/C health checks, so that drivers may avoid bigger problems further down the line.
A/C CHECKS TO STIMULATE SALES
A/C systems are becoming more and more complex. There are 8 main components to every system but each part will differ depending on makes and models.
- Filter/ Receiver-drier
- Expansion valve
- Condenser fan
- Interior blower
- Vehicle hoses
Reasons for failure can be numerous but motor factors can advise garages on these basic checks to offer customers a boost in their A/C business.
- The A/C system should be checked every year, or every 10,000 miles and serviced every two years. The compressor, evaporator and expansion valve in particular, should be inspected regularly.
- Within a year up to 10% of the refrigerant will escape and failure to monitor the refrigerant level can lead to significant damage being caused to the
- A service includes removal of the refrigerant, checking the system for leaks and refilling it with the quantity of refrigerant prescribed by the vehicle
- The filter-drier (which removes humidity and dirt particles from the system) and the interior filter (which is instrumental in filtering dust, dirt and pollen) also need to be regularly changed (every two years) as these two components have only a limited absorption capacity.
- Seals or hoses can also show signs of wear and thus allow refrigerant to leak out, which impairs the cooling performance of the air conditioning system.
With 18.5 million vehicles featuring air conditioning, it is important that all these parts are working correctly. When choosing parts, the quality of the replacement component is critical. Fitting a cheap replacement part can be a real false-economy, often involving more man-hours for the garage, and leaving many motor factors dealing with a high number of returns. In contrast, as the leading European OE supplier of air conditioning and engine cooling parts, the Behr Hella Service range comprises predominantly of OE product, giving peace of mind for both garages and factors.
Product quality is paramount to HELLA, whose products undergo rigorous testing to meet OE standards.
Industry specialist Gary Soames, from Auto Air Conditioning Ltd, in Woking, Surrey, stresses why quality is important. “Cheaper parts are not cost-effective in the long term as they are more likely to fail. It’s a problem for the industry as poor quality products are flooding the market to service the explosion in the air conditioning and thermal management sector, but they are to be avoided. Choose quality every time.”