REPXPERT, Alistair Mason, speaks to AutoTrade.ie about the quality of LuK clutches and why trusting the same components that were originally fitted by the vehicle manufacturer can save time and money for workshops:
“Original equipment manufacturers design, engineer and produce clutches to the strictest material and quality standards available – which is demanded by the VMs that place their trust in the likes of Schaeffler.
“Price is and always will be a factor – we can’t escape that; however, quality, availability and value-added services also play a crucial part when it comes to technicians selecting the components they choose to fit. In addition, from my experience, a good technician wants to complete the job first time, every time, to ensure their reputation remains intact amongst their customers.
“A workshop can make good money by offering the best quality components available, as well as service, to guarantee customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Schaeffler offers a ‘complete repair solution’
“Schaeffler’s LuK brand is the market leader in the UK and one of just a handful of manufacturers producing genuine OE clutches. Every single component conforms to OE specifications and quality standards.
“We believe technicians should make an informed choice as to whether they fit a genuine OE standard of clutch from an OE supplier, or one from an unapproved source that may not include all of the components required. The latter may not deliver the same drivability, reliability and durability expected by a vehicle owner and the supplier may also not have the support systems needed in place if anything goes wrong.
“Our objective is to deliver a ‘complete repair solution’, with everything needed to carry out a professional repair in just one box, all to 100 per cent OE specifications. From a LuK perspective, that means technicians receive a complete clutch kit, including every ancillary component, free technical information, available through the REPXPERT service portal (www.repxpert.co.uk), direct one-on-one telephone support, live and online training opportunities – some of which are IMI-certified – plus a range of special tools to ensure each installation is carried out correctly.”
‘But aren’t all clutches the same?’
“Inferior clutches can affect performance and reliability due to compromises made in both material and manufacturing standards. Below are examples of some of the problems that can occur:
- Clutch lining compounds can vary in quality, affecting the life of the clutch, clutch friction and clutch lining strength at high RPM.
- The cushion springs in-between the two friction surfaces should be manufactured to exact specifications and tolerances for each unique vehicle application. The generic cushion springs used in some sub-standard clutches can affect clutch operation and refinement.
- In a damped clutch plate, the springs in the centre hub are perfectly tuned for each application, effectively absorbing torsional vibration emanating from the crankshaft. They are designed to protect other components from damage caused by this vibration, giving the vehicle a more refined drive, all of which can be compromised if lesser springs are used.
- The splines in the centre of the clutch plate need to be made from a precise grade of steel. Too hard, it may wear the gearbox input shaft splines; too soft, the splines may fail.
- The design of the clutch pressure plate is matched to the vehicle, with the strength of the diaphragm spring accurately calculated to deliver consistent clamp load and pedal weight/feel.
The strength of the materials used needs to be exact, as any distortion will affect clutch operation.
The design process for a LuK clutch can take Schaeffler engineers up to four years to refine before approval is granted by the VM and mass production can begin.
“Clutches from non-OE clutch producers are primarily designed to replicate the original units; however, without access to the precise material specifications and engineering tolerances demanded and expected by the VM – how can they be expected to achieve exactly the same performance, reliability and durability characteristics of the originally fitted parts?”
The dangers of not fitting the right part
“Schaeffler believes a workshop should carry out a professional repair, using trusted quality parts; otherwise, they might have to deal with consequences that could not only prove costly to fix, but also harm their reputation.
“If a problem arises after replacing the clutch, in my experience the workshop will remove the gearbox to further-investigate the problem. Schaeffler’s REPXPERT hotline is the perfect platform for technicians to raise their queries and have them resolved by Schaeffler’s highly-trained REPXPERTs, rather than fitting more non-faulty components that will just add cost for the workshop and further inconvenience for the vehicle owner.
“Schaeffler operates on a zero-defect policy, a standard requirement of our VM customers; in fact, we recently received an ‘eight years of zero defects’ award from Nissan, in recognition of the fact that during one eight-year period, not one quality issue was raised against any of the many thousands of components delivered to the factory for original fitment.
“These parts are exactly the same ones supplied to the aftermarket, with a lifetime warranty against material and manufacturing defects, and, in fact, actual occurrences of material and manufacturing defects are infinitely miniscule.”