Is there still a need to carry out a winter health check, or winter service, on your car? Enhancements over recent years in engine components, lubricants and coolants have meant that your vehicle’s engine can operate efficiently at a much wider temperature range. In fact, low viscosity synthetic oils reduce engine wear, increases fuel economy and can increase the life of your engine, whatever the weather. That, coupled with developments in coolant, which can last up to 10 years, the argument for winter checks can sound quite weak.
However, as statistics show, there are still more breakdowns in winter than in any other season, and we strongly believe there is a need to carry-out a few simple winter checks, for your safety and peace of mind. If you take good care of your car, and have a regular yearly service, all should be fine, but it’s good practice to check the parts of your car that are particularly at risk from winter conditions.
At Okee we offer a free Winter Vehicle Heath Check which includes battery life, tyre health, fluid level checks, wipers, coolant strength, and brake effectiveness, among other things.
This health check should form part of your yearly vehicle maintenance plan, and we encourage everyone to have an annual vehicle service, an air conditioning regas and preferably a 4-wheel alignment (particularly if you notice uneven tyre wear) to keep your car in tip-top condition.
Your annual vehicle service will include detailed checks of your; lights and electrical systems, engine, brakes, steering, suspension and more. A vital element of the service is replacing the pollen filter (sometimes called ‘cabin filter’) at least every 24 months. When the pollen filter becomes full of dust, pollen and other foreign particles, the fresh air output into the car is heavily reduced and condensation will take longer to clear. Clearly an issue in winter (when you’re late for work!).
Also, an annual air conditioning re-gas is a really good idea, as your air conditioning system will leak up to 10% of its gas each year. Efficient AC is not only important in summer (to keep you cool), but also in winter, as it’s an effective method for demisting windows.
So, we would encourage everyone to have a winter vehicle health check. It’s undoubtedly not a waste of time, and as it’s a free service at Okee, money well spent! We understand how difficult it is to remember all the things you need to do to ensure your car is in the best condition, and we always try to make the process as simple to understand as possible. We work with our Clients to create a bespoke yearly service plan for their vehicle, based on what’s best for them. To find out more about our services, please give us a call on 01823 617790 or email email@example.com.
Also, for Winter Driving Tips go to the ROSPA website for some really useful resources and advice. Safe motoring everyone!
Recently, a Volkswagen Touran 1.4TSI came to us with the engine malfunction indicator light on. We were told it is a notoriously troublesome engine, and “don’t touch with a barge pole”. But undeterred, and with our Volkswagen premium grade diagnostics, we were ready for the challenge and well placed to investigate such a fault.
This particular fault related to the variable valve timing solenoid being out of range and camshaft/crankshaft correlation, which is a good indication that the valve timing had become out of sync. We could (and many garages do) just rely on those fault codes and go ahead, all guns blazing, and start ripping the car apart, but we never like to rely solely on a diagnostic report. We believe it’s best practice to confirm the fault before informing the customer or pricing up the job.
Technicians who replace parts purely on what the diagnostic machine tells them are playing a risky and potentially costly game (a cost usually passed on to the customer). Diagnostic fault codes are quite often symptoms of a fault not the cause. The engine’s on board computer can only tell you what it is detecting, it can’t always determine between a faulty component or a wiring fault, for example.
To confirm our diagnostic suspicions, we needed to check the valve timing was indeed correct. A quick performance check of the sensors proved they were doing their job correctly, but did reveal that the crankshaft and the camshaft were not sufficiently aligned. So, electrically everything was working correctly, therefore it must be a mechanical fault. Proving the sensors are working but the position of the cam/crankshaft was out, is proof enough that the timing needed to be corrected.
It is at this point we are 100% sure of what the fault is and can accurately price the repair and inform our Client. We never do any work without our Client giving us the green light, and go to great lengths to ensure the Client is fully aware of; what the problem is, what we are going to do to fix it, and crucially how much it is going to cost.
Once we had the all clear it was time to set about the repair. The first job was to remove the offside front wheel, plastic inner arch lining, engine sump, auxiliary belt, water pump and suspend the engine to remove an engine mounting. Once these things had been done we could then remove the timing chain cover to reveal the faulty timing chain assembly. Visually it looked like everything was ok but after trying to lock the engine in its service position it became clear what had happened. After getting cylinder 1 piston at top dead centre (TDC) a locking plate should be able to be inserted into the back of the camshafts, however the inlet camshaft was nowhere near where it should be. After replacing the pulleys, guides, chain tensioner and the chain itself, we could correctly time/lock the engine in position and tighten everything up. As a safety precaution, we manually turned the engine over a couple of times and re-checked the locking position ensuring everything was synced correctly, and thankfully it was.
All that was left to do was bolt the car back together, refill with new Shell lubricants and start the engine. Starting the engine for the first time is always a nervous moment but this time the engine fired into life instantly and the malfunction light was no longer illuminated on the dashboard. Before the car was handed back to the customer it under went several road tests and diagnostic scans to ensure everything was ok. We even gave the car a thorough wash. Another good day’s work! Find out more about us at www.okeedrive.co.uk
Editorial from Mark Lawson, Operations Director at Okee Ltd
A common MOT failure is excessively worn tyres and it is amazing how many tyres we see that have worn unevenly, and prematurely. It is rarely a fault with the tyre and is usually a suspension issue.
One of the most common suspension issues we see in the workshop is ‘bush wear’. In fact, bush wear is a common MOT failure and you may have already experienced this problem in the past.
Suspension bushes are rubber mountings that link your vehicle’s suspension arm to the chassis. The rubbery material is vital for absorbing movement and vibration when travelling on the road. If all suspension components had rigid metallic links and hinges, the ride would be harsh, noisy and very uncomfortable, so these rubber bushes are vital for a smooth and enjoyable driving experience.
And, because it’s your vehicle’s suspension that holds the wheels in place, worn or soft bushes can have a detrimental effect on wheel alignment and ultimately lead to premature tyre wear.
As cars have advanced over the years, wheel alignment has become crucial for the safety of road users. Modern vehicles, with traction control and ABS, must perform to strict guidelines and tolerances to ensure road users’ safety. If the vehicle does not drive or brake correctly the ABS/TCS may not be able to prevent an accident.
So, if you notice; uneven tyre wear; or your steering wheel is not pointing straight when driving straight; or the car pulls to the left or right while driving or braking; or you hear a knocking coming from your suspension, you should take it to your garage for a suspension check and wheel alignment, as soon as possible.
If there is one job not to avoid doing it’s the replacement of your timing belt!
Most engines have a toothed rubber belt, known as the timing belt or cam belt, that links the camshaft and the crankshaft together. As the engine spins these components are timed precisely to ensure internal pistons and valves do not collide. The correct position of the crankshaft and camshaft is vitally important, and even a slight mis-alignment can cause poor running or even engine damage.
Timing belts are in fact a service item and should be replaced as per the manufacturer’s specification. If this is not done at the correct time the belts can fail, resulting in major engine damage and in some cases can mean the engine will need replacing. Unfortunately, there is no warning prior to the belt failing, they just snap or shred their teeth as they reach the end of their life - one minute your vehicle will be driving normally, the next suffering with major engine failure. But do not fear, every vehicle manufacturer provides service schedules outlining when the timing belt needs to be replaced. If you are unsure, and don’t know how to find out, we can help you.
At Okee, when we replace the timing belt, we also replace the pulley or tensioner and in most cases the water pump, as these can fail just as easily as the belt itself. For example, if a bearing in a pulley starts to wear it can cause the belt to fail, so it makes sense to replace all these parts at the same time.
Replacing a timing belt can be straightforward or complex, depending on the vehicle manufacturer and model. Pricing is based on, where the belt is situated, whether the engine needs to be locked in position, which parts are replaced, and the quality of those parts. Our advise is always the same, don’t be tempted with cheap timing belt replacements, as the price may not include quality OE (original equipment – approved by the manufacturer) parts, or the important additional parts mentioned above. At Okee we only use OE timing belts kits that come with an extensive warranty.
Some engines don’t use rubber belts but use a maintenance free metal chain, which is lubricated by the engine oil. These chains are not a service item and should last the life of the car, providing the engine oil is changed regularly and the correct quality engine oils are used.
If you suspect that your timing belts needs changing, or you would like some advice, please give us a call on 01823 617790 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
As a member of the Independent Garage Association (IGA), we have the benefit of an independent dispute resolution provider - the National Conciliation Service (NCS). This provides reassurance to our customers that, in the unlikely event of an unresolved dispute, there is an independent organisation to help resolve the situation without the need to take the matter to court.
The IGA now offers the Trust My Garage £1,000 Guarantee. This means, if the NCS upholds a customer complaint following arbitration, the IGA will guarantee the payment of any financial award (up to £1,000) if we are unable to make the payment.
The IGA, as a long established trade body, supports its garage members in providing the very best customer service and we are very pleased to be a part of this network.
We were pleased to be chosen to perform the first service on this lovely Fiat 500, and had great fun working on it – although replacing the pollen filter was a bit of a mission and required Mark to contortion himself under the clutch pedal to get the new one in. We honestly didn’t think he was coming out!
With less than 900 miles on the clock this beautiful, coral Fiat 500 was nearly as clean as when it left the Fiat showroom. However, the yearly service was due, so we completed a manufacturer specific service, following Fiat’s service schedules, and using Original Equipment approved by Fiat.
EU Block Exemption laws give car owners the freedom to use alternative independent garages for servicing, without affecting the vehicle’s warranty. The chosen garage must follow the manufacturer’s service schedule and use approved OE parts.
At Okee, when servicing any vehicle, we always use Original Equipment filters which have been approved by the manufacturer, and quality Shell lubricants to ensure the long life of the engine. We also use an oil and petrol/diesel flush treatment, for a deeper clean of the vehicle’s oil and fuel systems.
Mark said this was the cleanest service he has done since we opened the doors in July 2016, and was pleased he didn’t have to put his overalls on! And to top it all off, one of our lovely clients brought in some delicious homemade cupcakes in aid of Comic Relief. All in all, we’ve had worse days at work! To find out more about our Okee Service Standards go to our website.
Remapping – For Petrol heads and Boy Racers?
The large majority of people have no idea what remapping is. And those that do tend to associate it with petrolheads and boy racers, eager for an adrenalin-fuelled drive. But there are more benefits with remapping your car than just increasing the thrill factor.
Firstly, what is remapping, you might ask. Every modern car has something called an ECU (Electronic Control Unit) which controls how your car behaves – It’s the brain if you like. Car manufacturers program and restrict the ECU at the factory with standard parameters. These parameters can be altered for many reasons; to accommodate for different grades of fuel sold in different countries, to allow for varying climates, to allow for regional emissions standards, and to compensate for different air conditions like pollution or even altitude. Manufacturers consider all these impacts when programming the ECU, but they are unable to program each individual vehicle to optimum performance across the world – there are simply too many variables to consider.
Remapping is, changing and improving how your ECU (or brain) directs your engine to behave. We consider many factors that impact your car and reprogram the ECU so that your car preforms at its optimum level for the environment.
It may sound too good to be true but we can normally improve power, acceleration, torque (pulling power) and in most cases MPG. So not only will you increase the thrill factor (if that’s what you seek), but you can pull bigger horse trailers, and a tank of fuel will last longer. The greatest gains are on turbo diesel engines but most vehicles can benefit from this service to some degree and we can advise whether there are enough benefits to make the service a worthwhile investment. We recently remapped a VW Transporter who called us to say, as well as improved performance, he now gets an additional 60 miles from a tank of fuel, which was great result.
So, is remapping just for Petrolheads? No, it certainly isn’t! If you want to improve acceleration, or you want improved performance when pulling a trailer, or you want to save some money at the fuel pump, it is certainly worth considering a remap on your car. Contact us today if you’d like to find out what improvements could be made on your vehicle. We can give a clear indication on the likely improvements and we offer a 30 day money back guarantee, if you’re not fully satisfied.
See our Remapping web page to find out what gains you can expect with your vehicle.
December has been an unusually busy month for us and Okee and we are really pleased to have expanded our workshop team. Jason Dennett is our newest recruit and brings with him 29 years of experience in vehicle electronics and diagnostics. You can find out more about Jason and the rest of the Okee staff on our Team page. We are really pleased to have Jason on board and look forward to working with him as we build our customer-focused garage in 2017.
Okee is pleased to be acredited by The Motor Ombudsman, the automotive dispute resolution body as part of our commitement to customer peace of mind and service excellence. Fully-impartial, it is the first ombudsman to be focused solely on the automotive sector, and self-regulates the UK’s motor industry through its comprehensive Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Codes of Practice.
Over 7,500 businesses, are accredited to one or more of the Codes covering new cars, sales, vehicle warranties, and servicing and repair. These drive even higher standards of work and service, and give consumers added protection, peace of mind and trust during the vehicle purchase and ownership experience. For more information visit The Motor Ombusdman website
Ben Grave, Mark Lawson