Back in March, the Original Equipment Suppliers Aftermarket Association (OESAA) welcomed air conditioning (AC) specialist Waeco to the organisation. Its territory sales manager for workshop equipment, Andrew Bastable, has called the group’s determination to prioritise education in the automotive aftermarket “refreshing”. Waeco’s desire to align itself with the membership, so workshops can be prepared for a mixture of internal combustion engines (ICEs) and electric vehicles (EVs) coming through their doors, is evident.
Waeco boasts more than four decades of AC engineering and manufacturing prowess, delivering systems and consumables suitable for passenger, truck, bus, agricultural and construction vehicle markets. Bastable said Waeco’s expertise is “invaluable” to vehicle manufacturers (VMs) and sprinkling that know-how into the aftermarket is equally crucial. Utilising OESAA, therefore, suits Waeco, as it can collaborate with other members to create powerful and informative content that will support professionals, particularly as EVs trickle through to the aftermarket.
Bastable commented: “There are some fantastic brands within the organisation, and putting Waeco alongside the likes of Schaeffler, Brembo and Denso is a proud moment. “There’s a huge opportunity in the AC market, with monumental changes happening in the sector, so having the backing of OESAA to help push these messages through the supply chain will help build confidence.”
Changes on the horizon
Bastable believes AC systems have, traditionally, been billed as an “easy fix”, but that is all set to change; the days of simply using PAG 46 or universal compressor oil, then recharging the refrigerant during a service, are numbered. He argued: “Focusing on EVs or hybrids, it’s vital that moisture is removed from the AC system. That is why the correct, specific compressor oil must always be used when replacing old oil from the vehicle whilst servicing the AC system. Always bearing in mind that the correct refrigerant and vacuum is carried out on the system as per any AC service.
“However, the most commonly seen AC service format from technicians is to unscrew a bottle of compressor oil, pour it into a plastic bottle on their AC service unit, then allowing that moisture to go back through the system. Because the oil has been exposed to moisture through the atmosphere, thus, undoing all their hard work, technicians need to understand the consequences of this format with future vehicles, along with the right specification of oil!”
The moisture issue got Waeco thinking; it now provides a patented Profi Oil canister, and these have laminated bags inside them – Bastable expanded: “There is no way of allowing any exposure of moisture into the system. These canisters click onto the machines. We produce them in 150ml and 500ml bottles for manufacturers. “We’re able to reuse that oil too; previously, once the oil seal was open, air and moisture would mix in with the oil and would likely be redundant in less than three days. Oil used after that has the potential to cause severe damage to the vehicle and also the AC service unit – we’ve seen a huge increase relating to electric compressor failures.”
Working with factors and technicians to offer solutions
Determined to share these nuggets with both distributors and workshops alike, it’s reassuring for Waeco that aftermarket personnel want this type of information – and another reason for joining OESAA, as it has the power to reach large audiences with its plethora of members.
Bastable said: “I believe that it’s going to become increasingly difficult to obtain AC items in the future years to come, especially within the EV AC sector due to demand from servicing and fitting errors; however, on the other hand, this will present a fantastic opportunity for those garages carrying out the AC repairs and services correctly. “Motor factors will also have the opportunity to educate and expand on the potential that lies ahead for the present and future garages to come within AC and thermal management systems.
“There’s a selection of AC compressor oils that are pushing through into the marketplace. Manufacturers are bringing out their own, individual compressor oils, such as SPA2 (VAG) and ND-11 (Tesla) – are motor factors picking the correct oil for the customer?
“We want to educate at both motor factor and workshop level, and I believe there’s an incredible need for that knowledge to be shared. We’re already working with Denso, a fellow OESAA member, and Hayley Pells, a member of the OESAA garage forum, to educate the marketplace, raising the awareness of using the correct oils, the importance of flushing a vehicle and using the correct parts.”
Still focused on ICEs
All of Waeco’s AC machines come with the ability to add on a flush kit to the bottle, so they are able to jump between EV and ICE powertrains. It completes an internal three-flush cycle and removes any potential dangers of cross contamination.
Bastable added: “That flexibility allows technicians to look at vehicles that are 10-years-old and cars that will be filtering through into the aftermarket over the next few years. We also sell hybrid flush kits. “It’s crucial that workshops are prepared for now and the future. Working with OESAA will help Waeco convey the aforementioned messages. From revenue opportunities to upskilling staff, AC has a buoyant future.”