FPS’s focus on unique and niche parts was first introduced, presenting the dedicated effort of identifying products not typically associated with FPS, with the objective of making parts, perhaps considered dealer-only, available to the aftermarket and ultimately opening up new opportunities for motor factors.
The three areas that the initiative has been designed to develop are Emerging Technology, Application Gaps and Niche Products and almost twelve months on, there have been numerous introductions.
This makes reference not only to both new product groups and technological developments within existing products, but also to areas that may have been supplied on vehicles for some time, but have yet to be made widely available to the aftermarket.
FTE Clutch Hydraulics
An example of an existing product group having to develop on clutch hydraulics; increasingly the trend is the use of sensors incorporated into the Concentric Slave Cylinder, Master Cylinder and the traditional Slave Cylinder to facilitate stop-start technology, where the sensor detects the hydraulic pressure from the pushing of the clutch pedal to restart the engine. FTE has been a pivotal innovator of this technology, in partnership with the vehicle manufacturers.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Sensors
Whilst the sensors have been fitted to cars for a number of years, replacement units required programming to the vehicle and the application-specific diagnostic equipment meant the product remained dealer-led. With pre-programmed units now available and MOT legislation changing, TPMS will be a growth area over the coming years.
Not only component based, emerging technology can also relate to products whose usage is becoming more prevalent. Forward-facing cameras, available from Yada, provide peace of mind for users, can be used as evidence and can protect a driver from many of the issues faced on the roads today, including conflicting reports of actual events where there may not have been any witnesses.
As explained in the original article, even the most committed supplier will have gaps in their range, and there are examples of parts introduced this year that have been added alongside well known brands and have proven extremely successful.
Heater Resistors are available via Valeo and Hella, yet neither could cover certain Vauxhall applications – both part numbers 13200646 and 13248240 have been introduced to cover these known failing applications.
Fuel Pumps are also an established product group for FPS, yet a highly sought-after OE fuel pump (part number 0986444522) for the Ford Transit Mk 6 2.0/2.4 (2000-06) was a gap in the range. Now available from FPS, the pump has been known to fail at varying intervals and is generally associated with the load/driving style it has been subjected to.
A Vauxhall Wiper Motor (part number 23000826) has also proven to be a worthwhile addition to the established range –whereas on the European models, the motor is protected from the elements by the wipers, the motor is exposed on the vehicle on the right hand drive model where the wipers have been switched, which leads to high failure rates.
The niche project platform is designed to identify slower moving products or parts that only fail on certain applications and therefore do not warrant a full programme; to bring them to the forefront, presenting the fact that they are available to the aftermarket. Some of these products have been showcased in our monthly newsletter, Newsdesk in the ‘I Didn’t Know You Did That’ section and some further examples are:
A Gearshift Control Cable for a 2001-on Vauxhall Vivaro (part number 93198347) typically fails with excess urban use, where gear changes are far more frequent.
Transmission Filters are designed to keep transmission fluid clean. Every transmission system will eventually accumulate debris from normal wear and tear. Common faults include pollution of the filter by material wear and dirt passing through the filter, resulting in clogging of the control unit which can lead to gear failure. It is vital that the transmission fluid is kept clean so that the valve body and other vital components do not become clogged making them inoperable. By regularly replacing the transmission filter, the transmission life span will be extended.
Clutch Release Forks are an integral part of the vehicle’s clutch mechanism and operates the release bearing via a cable or rod and linkage. The fork itself can be responsible for difficulty in selecting gears, as not only does it suffer wear and tear, it can also become bent not allowing the full actuation of the clutch release bearing, therefore not fully disengaging drive.
Two Air Spring Boots (part numbers 80001151 and 8000152), covering Mercedes Vito and Viano are now in range and assist in preventing chassis components and adjacent parts from damage, thereby reducing the need for expensive repairs to shock absorbers and the entire suspension system.
Sliding Door Roller Guides can fail with excess use, and the plastic roller within the unit is particularly susceptible to failure – a short range of Fiat, Mercedes and VAG replacement units are now available to serve these problematic applications.
Glow Plug Control Units (GCUs) for Astra, Zafira and Corsa are the timing controls for glow plugs. They activate the plugs via an electrical current, heating the cylinders to the right temperature for the diesel fuel to ignite.
Pedal Rubbers are fitted on millions of vehicles but some are known to repeatedly fail, such as the Vauxhall Corsa – the rubber wears thin, then splits and drops off, leaving just the bare metal pedal which can be extremely slippery.
A range of Hub Nuts from Shaftec has been introduced to complement the CV Joint and Driveshaft programmes and should ideally be replaced with a new unit whenever they are removed, when either servicing or replacing a CVJ or Driveshaft.
Gear Change Rods and Gear Lever Bush kits are available in both plastic and metal, depending on the OE specification. Over time, the bushed ends or knuckle joints wear. This is particularly evident on French-manufactured vehicles, where the system contains more parts, which increases the possibility of failure. Symptoms can include a difficulty in selecting gears when the gear lever becomes floppy or loose.
The Emerging Technology, Application Gaps and Niche Products groups are constantly evolving and the next twelve months will see further additions to the FPS portfolio – before potentially losing a sale or going to the dealer, factors are encouraged to enquire with FPS to see if it is already available to the aftermarket.