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
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.
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
Lots of people have asked us why we decided to start Okee, and more to the point, what does Okee mean. Well, as its an easier question to answer, I will clear up the last question first... Why Okee?
To be honest it doesn't really mean anything (although we hope it will become synonymous with superior automotive services, trust and driving peace of mind, in the future). When we were brainstorming the company name, we decided early on that we didn't want it to sound like a typical garage. We wanted our garage to stand out from the crowd and the name had to too.
Mark also has a passion for electric and eco cars so we thought... 'why not something ECO'. Then we flipped it around... OCE. The C became a K. And lastly we added an E, simply to try and get a decent website domain name. And that's 'Why OKEE' (NOTE: we are not just specialist in eco/electric cars, and can look after any vehicle).
It's safe to say the name has divided opinion (but then, what great name doesn't?!?). Some love it, some hate it, but one thing I can guarantee... You've said it (or heard it) this week... Okey Dokey! And your're probably saying it right now!
But more importantly... why did we even want to start our own garage.
For me, I hated taking my car to the garage. Any garage! Even the majority of main dealerships fail to give a warm, heartfelt welcome. And small independent garages often feel awkward and threatening if you're not in 'the trade'. I only ever liked taking my car to my nephew, Mark, because I knew I could trust him. But even then, I never knew where to park, I hated sitting in a drab and dirty reception and I couldn't wait to be back on the road again.
For Mark, the ability to offer the customer a higher level of service was his main objective. He was keen to invest in the most up-to-date diagnostic equipment to enable Okee to offer a dealership grade diagnostic services. This means, rather than send our customers to the main dealer when complicated problems arise, we can diagnose and repair here. So the dream was to offer the highest level of service and expertise, in the most friendly and welcoming environment.
So we discussed creating something completely different. Could we create a garage that was actually a positive experience for those that historically hate it? Could we have a nice, relaxing reception with a coffee shop style waiting area, with plenty of parking and a genuinely warm and friendly welcome? We also wanted advice and billing to be really clear, so our clients could have complete trust in our service to them. We saw an opportunity for an independent garage with a superior customer experience, and that's what we hope we have achieved.
So that was the birth of Okee. We are so proud of what we have created. I (Ben) have always said 'if we can create an environment that my wife and child are happy to be in, we've got it right. And thankfully they love it! There is still a long way to go. We've only been open for 5 months in Wellington but word is getting around and our customer list is growing daily. And we've been pleased to receive such a warm welcome and some lovely reviews on Facebook. A huge thank you to everyone who has support us.
Tyre manufacturers are continually investing in R&D and product development and the motor trade has seen impressive advances over time. Certainly, in recent years, the improvements made to winter tyres is of particular notice. Although we haven’t seen large quantities of snow in Somerset for some time, many of us have horror stories of cars losing control in such conditions. Obviously, our tyres’ ability to grip the road is dramatically reduced on snow and fitting winter tyres can provide improved levels of friction. This is great, I hear you say, but it rarely snows in southern Britain so what’s the point in fitting winter tyres just in case of a sudden down pour of snow? Well, there may be more point than you think...
Extensive braking tests have shown that winter tyres provide far higher levels of grip in wet conditions, on ice and in temperatures below 7 degrees centigrade. Winter tyres are made of a different compound rubber than summer tyres and this compound stays softer at lower temperatures. In temperatures below 7 degrees the rubber in a summer tyre can start to harden, reducing the tyres ability to grip the road.
It may not surprise you to know that in the UK the average temperature between October and March is below 7 degrees and usually very wet indeed, which is precisely the conditions winter tyres have been designed to cope with. Our recommendation to our clients (providing you have room in the garage) is to fit a set of winter tyres for use through October to March, and store them away in the garage for the rest of the year. It will keep you and your family safer on the winter roads. For more information on tyres or for orders/fitting, please give us a call. 01823 617790 or email email@example.com
We recently had this Honda S2000 through our doors for four new tyres and a 4-wheel alignment. It was a lovely specimen and the owner's pride and joy. Our client required tyres which had been specifically designed for the S2000, which we were able to source for him. In addition, we completed a 4-wheel alignment to ensure an optimum driving experience and to ensure the tyres last as long as possible. A digital 4-wheel alignment is always a good investment to ensure that all four of your tyres are pointing in the right direction and to maintain long tyre life.
Most drivers have heard of an MOT and Service, but many people think they are one and the same, or are not too sure what the difference is between the two. There is also confusion over whether MOTs and servicing are compulsory and how frequently they should be completed. We hope this blog post clears a few things up for you.
MOT tests are very much a ‘here and now’ type test. During this compulsory safety annual check the vehicle must meet a bare minimum standard set by a governing body (DVSA – Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency). The actual standards are relatively low, as long as your car meets the bare minimum at the time of the test, it is a pass. However, this check is not to be confused with a service. During a Mot we are not allowed to physically remove any components from your vehicle. So, for example, if there is a corroded brake pipe hidden under a heat shield, it is a pass. Or if the brake pads are excessively worn but cannot be seen due to the wheel trim, it is a pass. MOT tests are a brilliant way of ensuring cars meet a minimum safety requirement, however further checks are essential to ensure the health of your vehicle.
Unlike a MOT, an annual Okee service is a much more in-depth vehicle check. We are not looking for minimum standards but looking for any issues that are present, or that will likely crop up within the next 12 months, or before the next annual service. We carry out all the checks done on a MOT but with a lot more on top. Everything receives a close inspection during a service regardless of whether the component is hidden or obscured. This means that parts and components are removed to enable us to really see what is going on with your vehicle.
One major difference between MOTs and servicing is the ability to make adjustments and improvements to the vehicle during servicing. Something we are not allowed to do during MOTs. With a service we always replace the vehicle’s filters (air, fuel, pollen, oil) with quality OE parts and replace the oil with quality grade Shell lubricants, which have the right additives for your vehicle. In addition, the service is not limited to safety related components so we always check every function of your vehicle, for example; air conditioning, heating and ventilation, electric windows, central locking etc.
In summary MOT tests are a compulsory annual check that consist of relatively low standards set by the DVSA and as long as your vehicle meets the bare minimum at the time of test, it is a pass.
A service is not compulsory but vital to ensure the health of your vehicle. These checks ensure your vehicle is safe, and will remain safe, for the next 12 months or until the next service date. And, if you keep your vehicle serviced regularly there will be no nasty surprises come MOT day.
Ben Grave, Mark Lawson