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Improve your driving experience with our ECU tuning service

by Nilesh Pancholi
ECU tuning service

In this increasingly digital age the computer chip is king. For those of you who’ve read our previous posts on the various functions of the ECU, you’ll know the important role it plays in the operation of the modern motor vehicle. From controlling ABS, to turbo boosters and central locking, the ECU is the heart of your vehicle. Interestingly, this can also be tuned or reprogrammed to improve various functions of the vehicle and its performance.

Here we take a look at some of the main improvements that ECU tuning can make to your vehicle.

Improved fuel efficiency

Because the ECU chip is situated in the injection system and controls the levels of fuel and air that mix, it can easily be reprogrammed to change this ratio, thus changing the performance of the car. One benefit of this can be improved fuel efficiency.

If the power and torque increases associated with re-tuning are in place, then this can lead to a change in driving style: for example, spending less time in lower gears and needing to accelerate for less time. With more power, the temptation is for drivers to drive the car for fun, not economy, so those gains can easily be lost!

Speed and performance

The main benefit comes in the form of increased power. When the default software on the ECU is changed, the fuel mapping can be changed to increase speed boost. When the factory turbo is increased – i.e. the amount of air in the cylinder is increased – more fuel can be added and burned, resulting in more power.

At Autotronics, all our ECU tuning solutions strictly complies with the factory safety margins specified by the manufacturers, so you can be certain that our remapping won’t affect the rest of components of your car: cylinders, brakes, suspension system, etc.

Money saving

Ultimately, remapping the engine of your car can save you money. After the initial cost of the procedure, the increased fuel efficiency and changes to the way you drive should result in a lower fuel bill. This is especially important if we take into account the current fuel prices, whether your car uses petrol or diesel.

At Autotronics, we can offer you customised ECU tuning alternatives to achieve any of the above improvements, or a combination of them. So, don’t hesitate to contact our experts to discuss about your specific needs; they will surely give you the best technical advise and professional guidance.

Hella turbo actuators: loss of pressure, limp mode and other issues

by Nilesh Pancholi
Hella turbo actuator problems

We've all felt the frustration of a turbo that doesn't pack a punch any more. Whether it's a loss of acceleration, those concerning engine sounds that indicate that the pressure could actually be building up to dangerous levels, or the possible electronic faults associated with turbos. Here we take a look at Hella turbo actuators and how to understand issues that you might be experiencing.

What is a turbo actuator?

The turbo actuator (which is also known as a wastegate actuator) is a pressure relief valve that regulates the power output of the turbo on your car, channelling away excess exhaust gases so they cannot affect the turbine wheel. This in turn regulates the turbine's speed, and prevents it from over-spinning, which also controls the speed of the compressor. All of this acts as protection to the turbocharger, stopping it from getting damaged by wear and tear by limiting the pressure of the turbo to a harmless level.

A wastegate actuator is actually quite simple: it is made up of a spring and a diaphragm. The spring holds it shut and when the pressure reaches a certain predetermined level, it opens, letting the gas evacuate, thus reducing the pressure build up. In modern vehicles, inevitably, this process involves more electronics and works in conjunction with the ECU, creating what is effectively an electric actuator – a Hella turbo actuator being an example.

Problems and solutions

So, what are the symptoms of problems with your actuator and what can you do to resolve them? Eventually, excess pressure and heat will begin to weaken the spring of your actuator and affect its performance. This often results in the wastegate opening early, therefore limiting the pressure output and effectiveness of the turbo; this will bring the car into limp mode.

The diaphragm is also prone to failure. This means that the valve won't open properly, leading to the pressure rising excessively, which can cause serious, long term damage to the car engine.

These issues aren't something which can't be easily remedied without technical knowledge. The first solution in both cases is to have your actuator checked immediately. An alternative to this is to consider fitting a bleed valve, which introduces a precise air escape into the wastegate pressure line, forcing the turbo to create a stronger boost to activate the actuator. But even with a bleed valve you will still need to know that the actuator is functioning properly, and in the case of Hella turbo actuators this will involve a series of checks to ensure electronic components are functioning properly with the car's ECU.

That's where Autotronics can help you. We are specialists in checking and repairing electronic car parts. Our guaranteed repair services are always more affordable solutions, compared to exorbitant replacement costs from main dealership. So, if you think you're having problems with your turbo actuator, then get in touch today.

Wabco, Knorr Bremse, Haldex… we have valves for all commercial vehicles

by Nilesh Pancholi
Truck on the road

If you drive a truck for a living, you'll be familiar with air valves in your commercial vehicle. They are responsible for controlling the heavy duty braking and suspension systems needed for larger vehicles. Here we explore their role in the smooth operation of your vehicle, the common faults that you may experience, and how to diagnose them.

What is an air valve?

An air valve is the component within your air suspension that allows the height of the air 'springs' to change, allowing your commercial vehicle's suspension to adequately support the weight of variable loads. The valve is typically attached to the frame of the vehicle and connects to the suspension with a signal link. When the suspension changes in height, the valve responds by adding or removing air to maintain even suspension.

Within the braking system the valves have a similar role. Air brakes are permanently applied, and the application of a gradual release system allows the brakes to lessen in relation to the acceleration of the vehicle. The valves regulate this process, and maintenance valves ensure that the air can be drained when the vehicle isn't in use.

How do I know if my air valves are faulty?

Common faults may highlight a problem with air valves. If your steering veers in one direction, this could indicate a problem with the consistency of the air regulation which affects the suspension. Another issue could be that continuous movement of the suspension can change the position of the control arms that keep the wheels in position. The only way to determine the root of the problem is to have the vehicle checked or serviced by a professional.

Air brakes can be affected by similar issues. Any compressed air system can commonly be subject to leaks or kinks in pipework which can affect the smooth application of the brakes. If drivers are experiencing jerky brake release, or over-sensitivity (often the cause of jack-knifing incidents on the road), then it could be a problem with the valves within the system. Again, commercial vehicles should be checked by a competent person to establish the faults before any driving is done given the risk from heavy loads on busy motorways.

If the fault is diagnosed as being related to the valves within the compressed air systems on your vehicle then get in touch with Autotronics. We can diagnose and repair faults and we can supply Wabco, Knorr Bremse and Haldex valves for commercial vehicles.
Autotronics is rated 5 stars on Trusted Shops, so you can be confident you can buy with peace of mind. And using our services will always work out cheaper than a dealership. So, if your braking or suspension valves aren't performing as they should, get in touch and let us do the rest.

Immobilisers: if your car is not starting, you need to read this

by Nilesh Pancholi
Most common immobiliser faults

It's one of the wonders of modern car ownership. You can close your car miraculously from a distance, with a nonchalant click of a button. Even when you forget to do this and leave your car open, it will still probably be safe due to the keys needing to be within a certain distance of the vehicle (if you have a fancy car) or, otherwise, thanks to the good old-fashioned immobiliser.

For anyone who isn't au fait with the technology, the immobiliser works together with the car's Engine Control Unit (ECU) to check a unique code in the ignition with a code imprinted on the key. Without this electronic key system interlocking, the car will not be authorised to start.

But with technology this advanced, there will of course be drawbacks. Especially at this time of year, there will be dozens of drivers hearing that familiar turning over of the engine while they sit in the cold hoping for it to catch. All is not lost! Here we've explored common immobiliser faults, and what you can do about them.

Damaged wiring can be a problem in an older car. Wiring can become corroded over time. The immobiliser usually has two relays: one is for the fuel pump and one is for the starter motor. The starter relay is the more likely to fail. To test this, try to check if the fuel pump is priming.

The next job will always be to check warning lights, but other signs may be subtler. If the engine is dead and won't even turn over, or turning over but not starting, then it's time to do some further diagnosis. If the lights are on but the engine is not turning over, then you can already rule out a flat battery.

Other simple tests can include testing the keys with another key for that model (a ‘swap test') or replacing the batteries in the key fob to ensure that this isn't causing the problem. It could even be a battery issue, in which case testing another battery could be worth a try, to narrow down the cause of the issue.

If, after checking all the above, you still have a problem with your immobiliser, don't hesitate to give us a call or contact us via email or chat. At Autotronics we can offer great savings – of up to 80% – compared to main dealerships, depending on the service required. Our turnaround times are usually 1 to 4 days, from receiving the item to sending it back to you, and we offer international coverage.

My mileage isn't reading: A common fault in some instrument clusters and how to solve it

by Nilesh Pancholi
Faulty odometer repair

Depending on the age of your vehicle, you may have a manual odometer – that thing measuring your mileage – which usually has white numbers on a black background slowly ticking around. If your car is new, you may have a digital odometer. The truth is, both are prone to faults when it comes to recording your mileage. Here are some of the most common, and the likely causes and solutions.

Manual odometer

The odometer works by a series of gears which drive the turning display. These have a tendency to break, which can cause the odometer to stop spinning. Happily, there is a solution to this. If your odometer and your speedometer have both stopped working, this is likely to be related to your speed sensor, which is placed near your car's transmission. To replace either the gears in the odometer, or the speed sensor, is likely to involve digging around behind the panels and a certain degree of specialist knowledge, so the best solution is for you to send the instrument cluster to Autotronics for repair.

Digital odometer

If you're in the digital realm, then the fault is usually only skin deep. Although the display on the instrument cluster may not be reading properly, the actual mileage information is still available on the chip in the body control module. In short, the mileage information isn't lost.

As for the cluster reading, this can be seen almost like a monitor on a computer showing you the information. Just like a monitor, sometimes this can be as simple as a loose connection, or (in the case of a car) it can be caused by blown fuses or lowering of the display dimming. If these are both OK, and if you have any knowledge of electronics, it can be worth checking the connections yourself underneath the cluster panel. Like any electronics it can also be worth carrying out a 'swap test': a test with another panel that you know to be working to see if it connects properly and reads on the display. If all the connectors and fuses are OK, then it might be a good idea to send the dashboard to Autotronics, so that we can check all the internal electronic components and fix whatever issue there might be.

Lastly, if you're unsure if the fault could be in the panel or in the computer itself, or if you don't have the technical knowledge to test the units, the best approach is always to ask the experts. At Autotronics we carry out expert bench testing on a range of auto electronic equipment, including instrument clusters, with express shipping back giving turnaround times of between 2 and 4 working days. It's always better value to have electronic components repaired with us, than to pay for costly dealership repairs, so let us sort out those digital niggles today, and get your car running smoothly again!

ABS pumps: How they work and what to do if they become faulty

by Nilesh Pancholi
Bosch 8 ABS Pump Repair

We've all been there: you're driving along, and as you brake, you feel the brake pedal pulsing rapidly under your foot. This isn't your imagination, this is your ABS pump and valve system engaging to stop the wheels from locking, preventing your car from skidding.

What is ABS?

As car enthusiasts among you will know, ABS controls the effect of the braking system on the wheel to regulate the braking pressure. The fact is that a wheel can decelerate from 60mph to zero in close to a second, whereas stopping a car that weighs up to a tonne is not so quick. While the wheels are stopped quickly, the momentum of the car continues to pull the locked wheels along, resulting in a moving car with locked wheels, which can lead to loss of control of the vehicle.

Within this system there is a series of valves on the brake lines that are intended to take some of the pressure from the brakes. Essentially the valves, together with a speed sensor, understand when the car decreases in speed too rapidly, and regulate the pressure on the brake - reducing pressure when it risks the wheel locking - and pumping pressure back in when it can take more. This allows a smooth controlled deceleration. The pump that allows the pressure back to the wheel is unfortunately one part of the system that is vulnerable, and prone to faults.

So how do you know if your ABS pump is faulty?

There are some tell-tale signs to a faulty ABS system. Some are obvious: your indicator light may be on and you may feel a loss of control as the wheels begin to lock when braking. Other signs are subtler: you may notice a slackness in your brake pedal, or that it takes increasing amounts of effort to achieve the same braking as usual.

The next step is to run diagnostics and then find a repair centre. Due to the intricate electronics involves in the ABS system, this is not something that can be done as a DIY job. Autotronics are specialists in electronic repairs with over 20 years of experience and we're set up for exactly this kind of job. We specialise in the repair of vehicle electronics for domestic and commercial customers and we have most ABS pump repairs listed on our website.

All you need to do is select the model and follow the instructions. We offer repairs of many different types of electronic components including remote key fobs, immobiliser units, airbag modules, ECUs and much more.

Usually, repairing parts works out cheaper than replacing them, and in the case of an ABS pump it's as simple as sending it in and letting our engineering team do the rest. We offer peace of mind guarantees, and our turnaround times are as quick as 1-4 days, so make sure you don't risk skidding in the icy weather this winter with faulty ABS!

Merry Christmas from Autotronics team

by Nilesh Pancholi
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2018

Christmas time. What a beautiful time of the year! As every 12 months, we gather around the same table, sharing memories and enjoying the company of our loved ones. Remembering the ones that, sadly, are not with us anymore and cheerfully marvelling at the smaller ones faces.

The tree, the reindeers, the gifts, the banquets, the smell of roast chestnuts… of all this is part of the festive season. But nothing is more important than people, our people: relatives, friends, neighbours and work colleagues we share life with every day of the year.

From all the Autotronics team we would like to wish you and your loved ones a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. We hope 2018 brings lots of love, peace and prosperity.

Free collection of your item/s for repair

by Nilesh Pancholi
DHL Free Collection Service

We are glad to announce that we now are offering a free collection service for your items, whenever you need to send them to us for repair.

In partnership with DHL courier company, we can offer this convenient service by which DHL will pick the parcel up from your garage or shop and deliver it to our premises via tracked express service.

So, if you are in the trade, that's another reason to trust our guaranteed repairs. You will only need to print the shipping labels we will send to your email address, attach them to your parcel… and off you go, leave the rest to ourselves. We will repair your item/s and will send them back to you via DHL, free of charge for orders over £80.

This offer is open to all our trade customers based in the United Kingdom, for every repair category except remote key repairs and airbag module resetting services.

For more information, and to arrange the collection of your parcel, don’t hesitate to contact us. You also can give us a call at 0116 276 7054.

Broken or lost Yamaha key? No worries

by Nilesh Pancholi
Yamaha key cutting and decoding service

Summertime is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your Yamaha motorbike. Dressing up your bike suit, feeling the speed, sensing the acceleration… all these feelings are fantastic. Unfortunately, this time of the year is also the one when more motorbike keys are broken, lost or not recognised by our customers’ motorcycles.

Here at Autotronics we are experts in producing new Yamaha keys, so that our customers can get back on the road as soon as possible. We only need the motorbike’s immobiliser unit, which usually is located in the dashboard, and the barrel; our engineers decode the information from the immobiliser box and the new blade from the barrel, providing a brand new key. We can produce multiple keys, if necessary.

If you are interested in buying our exclusive Yamaha key cutting and decoding service, click here:

In some other cases, the key is not recognised by the motorcycle or suddenly stops working. If so, we can check the key data on the immo and fix the issue.

We work with all the motorbike manufacturers: Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, BMW, Gilera, Triumph… so, if your key is broken, lost or rejected, don’t worry, we are here to help.

The most extensive range on Honda instrument cluster repairs

by Nilesh Pancholi
Honda Cluster Repair

With our latest additions to our website, we can proudly say now that Autotronics has the most comprehensive and extensive range of instrument cluster repairs for Honda car manufacturer.

So, if you or any of your acquaintances owns a Civic, a Jazz, an Accord, a CRV or any other of the Japanese manufacturer’s models and its instrument cluster is faulty, you can be sure that at Autotronics you will receive the most experienced technical advise.

Some of the most common issues we have seen on these dashboards are: dead temperature or speed gauges, scrambled displays, flickering lights, faded LCDs… even complete failure. Thankfully, our skilled engineers have the knowledge and expertise required to repair these and many other faults.

To buy our exclusive Honda cluster repair service, just select your model and year on our website and proceed with the checkout process. We will usually have your cluster fixed in 2 to 3 working days and will, of course, offer you a warranty with the repair.

Check our unbeatable prices now.


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