This Volkswagen Jetta came into us with its engine management light, DPF light and glow plug light illuminated. It had very little power and needed some attention.
Firstly we carried out a diagnostic code read to see what fault codes were causing the light to be on, several codes relating the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) being blocked or soot content to high and one relating to boost pressure lower than expected.
Next we tried to clear the codes and restart the car to find out which codes stayed live, in this case all the codes stayed.
We tried to carry out a Diesel Particulate Filter Regeneration which with this particular car has to be done whilst driving.
You have to drive the car in 4th or 5th gear at approximately 2000 rpm until the DPF light goes out, this can take up to 40 minutes depending on how blocked the DPF is.
The regeneration did not work, so back to the workshop for some more tests.
We tested the differential pressure before and after the DPF, this is done using a pressure gauge which is connected on to the pressure sensor pipes, if the pressure is to high the DPF wont allow you to carry out a regeneration and the DPF will need to be cleaned out using chemicals either on or off the car.
The DPF soot content on this Jetta was very high so we decided to remove the DPF and have it chemically cleaned.
Whilst the DPF was off we decided to check in to why we were getting a code for low boost pressure, we checked the turbo actuator pipes for leaks which all seemed ok then we checked to see if the actuator was working using a vacuum tester, the actuator wouldn’t hold vacuum.
We removed the turbo actuator and tested it against a new one (see the video below)
Once the DPF had been cleaned out and we had replaced the faulty turbo actuator it was time to retest the the car.
We cleared the codes and took it for a road test, all the warning light extinguished and we had full power, brilliant.
After speaking to the customer we realised that the car had lost power several months ago and he didn’t have it looked at until now due to the fact of not just one warning light being on but three on the dash.
The car wouldn’t carry out a driven regeneration of the DPF (which they do regularly under normal circumstances) due to the faulty turbo actuator which then caused the DPF soot content to increase until it was full causing all the warning lights to come on.
The Moral of this story is ‘Warning lights are important‘ if you have a warning light come on on your car get it checked out before it causes any more damage.
There are a number of car checks you can perform both around the car and under the bonnet to help keep it in good running order and prevent a breakdown.
Getting your hands dirty under the bonnet might sound like something you should leave to the professionals, but there’s no reason why you can’t maintain some things yourself.
Spending five minutes carrying out these simple checks every few weeks – and certainly before a long journey or an MOT – can save you a lot of time and money in the long run, not to mention help keep you safe on the roads.
To keep things simple, here are 12 simple car checks you can carry out today to keep your car safely on the road and on the right side of the law. We also have a quick video from RAC patrol Matt Woodbridge demonstrating four simple under-the-bonnet checks:
When it comes to preventing a breakdown, remember the acronym FORCES, which stands for Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electrics, Screen wash.
Check you have plenty of fuel in your tank for your journey. It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised just how many people run out of fuel, particularly in harsh winter weather.
Check your oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car’s dipstick and top up if necessary.
If you don’t know which type of oil you need to use, refer to your owner’s handbook or speak to your local dealer.
When it comes to rubber, check both your tyres and wiper blades on a regular basis.
Check your tyres for general wear and tear, splits or bulges, and crucially tread depths (remember to check the inner tread too). Minimum tread level is 1.6mm, although in winter it’s advisable to have 3mm of tyre tread to help with traction and grip.
Also ensure you’ve got the correct pressure in your tyres, checking your owner’s handbook if you don’t know the correct inflation.
Examine your wiper blades and make sure they clear your screen effectively as these won’t last forever and need replacing from time to time due to splits and cracks.
In winter, you can prevent your wiper blades freezing to the windscreen by placing a thin sheet of plastic or cloth, between the wiper blades and the windscreen. Or you can try using de-icer or warm water to free them up before starting your engine.
Check your car’s coolant level. The last thing you need is a frozen engine or for your car to overheat.
Although it’s a sealed system and shouldn’t need to be topped up, you should always double check, especially before a long journey.
Check your coolant levels when the engine is cold and look in your handbook for the location of the filler cap and for the correct coolant and mix to use should you need to top it up.
There are plenty of electrics in your car – from headlights and fog lights to your battery – and they all need to be checked regularly to keep you safe.
Walk around the car and make sure your lights are all working, even the number plate lights, as you can be fined for having a registration that can’t be seen.
You should also check your battery, making sure the terminals are clean and tight (cleaning off any corrosion with hot water and applying petroleum jelly) and that the engine starts correctly.
If your engine struggles to start when you turn the key, get the battery checked out at a garage. If your battery is over four years old it may be getting to the end of its life and could let you down.
When you’re having your battery tested, ask them to check the starting & charging system and whether anything is draining your battery – this will give a better picture of your car’s overall electrical health.
If you are having your battery test ask them to check the charging system and the drain on your battery – this will give a better picture of your car’s overall electrical health.
6. Screen wash
Check your screen wash level in the tank under the bonnet (check your manual for its location), topping up if necessary with a quality screen wash additive or pre-mix, which you can pick up in most petrol stations.
Screen wash is important all year round. In winter snow and grit cause dirty windscreens, while in summer bugs and pollen can easily smear your view – so never put off checking your levels
Make sure you’re prepared for a breakdown and are kept safe at the roadside.
Aside from the vital FORCES checks and if you feel confident enough it’s also worth carrying out a few additional car maintenance checks on other parts of your vehicle to extend its life and avoid a breakdown.
7. Engine air filter
A faulty or clogged-up air filter could reduce your fuel efficiency and lead to reduced engine power, which is why mechanics recommend getting it replaced every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.
If you think your filter needs checking or replacing, simply locate the filter (usually in a black box under the bonnet) and remove it, making note of how it fits before you insert the replacement and fasten the box back shut.
Check your vehicle handbook for instructions.
8. Spark plug (petrol engines only)
More of a replacement than a check, but spark plugs are integral to the running of your engine – one or more faulty plugs will cause an engine misfire so it’s worth knowing how to replace them.
Generally, spark plugs need replacing every 30,000 miles or so and you’ll need the right tools if you want to replace them yourself. Also check your handbook or consult a dealer to check that a DIY replacement is possible.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of properly-functioning brakes, so keeping them maintained is essential.
Start off by checking the brake fluid level and if low, top it up – check your vehicle handbook for the correct fluid specification Be careful as brake fluid is corrosive, and if you feel unsure then get a professional to take a look at it.
Brake fluid should be changed at certain mileage intervals – again, check your handbook for service details.
10. Air conditioning
Whether it’s 35 degrees outside or barely breaking freezing, it’s essential your aircon unit is fully functioning. However, apart from visual checks of the pipework, there is not a lot for you to check yourself.
Air conditioning system servicing should be carried out by a competent person with the correct equipment. A typical complaint is when the air conditioning does not feel cool enough on hot summer days, this may indicate that the system requires re-gassing – specialist equipment is required and so should be entrusted to an authorised service centre.
No-one wants their car to be known as a “skip-on-wheels”, so keep things clean with a regular interior clean, clearing out your footwells, wiping down your dashboard and keeping only the essentials in your boot.
It’s not just about being a neat freak, a clean interior also keeps you safe on the roads – you don’t want any discarded bottles dangerously rolling underneath your pedals.
Keep the outside of your car clean with a regular wash. If you’re doing it by hand, focus on the headlights, brake lights and number plates as these help you see and be seen on the roads.
Keep all windows clean and clear at all times. As well as being unsafe, an unclean windscreen that limits your view of the road could see you fined for driving a car in a “dangerous condition.”
Should I take my car to a garage?
If you carry out these simple car checks, your car should stay on the road without seeing a mechanic for longer, but if a more serious problem arises you should always seek professional help.
Suspension bushes on all cars go through tremendous stress on a daily basis, some manufactures have got the design right and the bushes can last the life of the car whilst other manufactures just didn’t quite get there!
One of the problems with BMW’s in general is the front suspension bushes. Most of the BMW range suffer with the front suspension arm bushes either failing or being so worn that it causes the car to wander on the road whilst driving and can feel unstable when braking.
Replacing the bushes with either after market bushes or genuine bushes does sort out the problem, but with the condition of the UK roads and the fact that most BMW’s come with low profile run flat tyres the new bushes can be worn out within a couple of years.
The solution on this BMW Z4 was to fit some Power Flex nylon bushes, these bushes are mainly used in Motorsport but can be fitted to road cars.
Watch this video to see just how much movement was in the old worn bushes compared to the new Power Flex nylon bushes.
On the Z4 replacing just the lower suspension arm rear bushes was enough to transform the steering from a loose discouraging feel to a nice tight direct feel that a sports car should have.
For more information on whether Power Flex bushes would suit your car or just for more information give us a call on 01332 205070
A 2014 Citroen Berlingo came in to us with an ABS fault to be looked at.
First thing to do was carry out a diagnostic code read to see why the ABS light was on, the particular code for this Citroen Berlingo van related to an open circuit on the rear left wheel speed sensor.
We checked the actual wheel speed sensor for a fault but it checked out ok, next job was to check the wiring from the sensor back to the ABS pump.
Most of the wiring for the rear ABS sensors is hard to access as it runs inside the van. once we had determined that there was in fact a break in the wiring from the left rear sensor and the ABS pump (by checking continuity of the wires) it was time to start stripping the interior and physically check the wiring for a break.
After removing the passenger seats and lifting the carpets to access the wiring we noticed part of the raised carpet flooring had been trapping the ABS wiring loom between a raiser and the body and over time had rubbed through the wiring and caused it to short out against the body.
We repaired the wiring and and rechecked for continuity through the loom which we now had. Time to clear the stored fault codes and check for a wheel speed signal using the live data on our diagnostic scanner, perfect, the signal was good and the same as the rear right wheel, time to rebuild and road test.
We had this little Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 booked in with us for a ‘really bad engine noise’.
Once the car was in the workshop it became apparent very quickly what the noise was, the Timing Chain was rattling so bad we were surprised it hadn’t jumped a tooth and caused engine damage!
When we were stripping the engine down to put the Timing Tools in place we could see just how badly stretched the chain had become, the crank locking pin went straight in but both cam shafts were out by quite a lot.
There are several variants of the Vauxhall timing chain engines most of which requiring different timing tools which we have, 1.0 – A10XEP, 1.0 – A10XER, 1.2 – A12XER, 1.2 – A12XEL, 1.4 – A14XEL, 1.4 – A14XER, 1.4 – A14NET to name just a few.
After removing the timing chain cover we could start to see what had caused the problem, the oil was very black and there was a lot of burnt carbon oil inside all the covers.
All engines require regular servicing to keep them in tip top condition but especially modern engines that run a timing chains rather than a timing belt, we are seeing more and more engines requiring timing chain kits prematurely due to a lack of servicing, poor quality oil or the wrong spec oil.
Once we had replaced the timing chain kit and re-aligned all timing marks it was time to clean all off the engine casings and refit, replace the oil and filter and refill the coolant.
When we removed the oil filter this gave us another indication of what had caused the problem, the middle of the oil filter had been sucked in, caused by the paper element of the filter being completely full of oil carbon and struggling to allow fresh oil through it, which in turn starves crucial parts of the engine of oil (timing chain) allowing them to wear, over heat and stretch.
On this particular car we advised the customer that over the next 20,000 miles they should have several oil and filter changes to help remove carbon deposits that we couldn’t see or get to whilst doing the job and this will help increase the life of their engine.
We recently came across a problem in the Garage which we have not come across before, which was the ‘Low Oil Pressure’ warning light coming on after replacing the Oil and Filter on a 2019 Ford Ranger 3.2.
After searching on a couple of the Motor Trade platforms we use it seemed that we were not the first to come across this problem, but we spoke to our local Ford Dealer and they said they knew nothing about it.
There was apparently a technical bulletin which had gone out to dealers saying that if the oil and filter change was not completed within fifteen minutes this problem would occur due to the oil pump draining and not being able to re-bleed itself.
Personally we believe this is a poor design, when we drain the old oil from your car we want to remove as much of the old oil as possible (obviously some oil will stay in certain places of the engine) allowing the new oil not to be diluted with it.
In this particular case the only way we could bleed the oil pump was to flood it, we added five litres more oil than specified to bring the level inside the sump up to the bottom of the oil pump meaning it didn’t have to pull the oil up but just push it.
Once we had got the oil pressure up we drained off the extra five litres of oil, road tested the car and then re-checked the level.
A Vauxhall Mokka came into the garage today with its engine management light on in need of some diagnostic work to find out the reason why.
After speaking to the customer we soon found out that we were not the first Garage to look at the Mokka.
It had gone into another garage who had replaced the ignition coil pack due to diagnostic trouble codes relating to cylinder miss fires, the coil pack cured the problem and the customer left happy.
After a couple of days the engine management light came on again so back to the Garage she went.
This time the diagnostic codes related to Oxygen sensor (lambda) faults? But rather than checking live data on the scan tool or checking the sensors with an oscilloscope they proceeded to change the sensors and clearing the fault codes to turn off the engine management light.
After another couple of days the light came on again but rather than take the car back to the same garage the customer looked on Google and found us, gave us a call and got herself booked in.
Once the car was in our workshop we plugged in our Diagnostic scanner and carried out a full code scan of the vehicle, all modules were clear of codes except for the Engine Control Module (ECM) which had codes relating to ‘Oxygen sensor faults’.
We then carried out some live data testing on the Oxygen sensors to see what was happening, straight away we could see a problem, both Oxygen sensors were reading the same, this is not good!
The basics of Oxygen sensors are that they read the gases which are being produced by the engine before and after the Catalytic Converter, and if the Catalytic Converter is working correctly the first sensor should be switching and the second sensor should be pretty static (on idle), if this is happening then the gases coming out of the Cat are cleaner than the gases going in to the Cat meaning lower carbon emissions.
Once we had checked the Oxygen sensors were working properly (not giving false readings) we needed to check the Cat’s internals to see why it wasn’t working.
With the Cat removed it was obvious why we were getting the same readings on our live data, the honey comb centre of the Catalytic Converter which catches and burns off the carbon from the engine had broken up and was allowing the gasses to pass by.
A new Cat was fitted and we ran another scan, this time no codes returned and the Oxygen sensors were working as they should.
The customer now has a car which is working as it should, more economical and with a lower carbon output.
The government has confirmed that it will reintroduce mandatory MOT testing from 1st August 2020 in line with gradually easing lockdown restrictions and rising traffic levels.
Drivers had been given a six month extension of their vehicles MOT certificate to discourage non-essential travel and free up garages for repair work to essential workers’ vehicles. The scheme was set to run until March 2021 but will now end in a month’s time.
The extension still applies to all MOT certificates due to expire before 1st August, but from that date onwards, drivers must have their car’s roadworthiness tested within a year of their last test. Irrespective of whether the extension applies, penalties still apply to vehicles found to be in an unsafe condition.
Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that the UK’s service sector has ramped up as restrictions on travel have eased, with more than 90% of UK garages now operating and testing capacity now at 70% of normal levels.
Baroness Vere, roads minister, said: “As people return to our roads, it is vital that motorists are able to keep their vehicles safe. That’s why as restrictions are eased, from 1st August 2020 MOT testing will again become mandatory.
“Garages across the country are open and I urge drivers who are due for their MOT to book a test as soon they can.”
Any vulnerable or self-isolation drivers are advised to contact their local garage, as many are offering vehicle collection and drop-off services to aid social distancing.
The majority of UK garages are still conducting MOT tests, and drivers are able to have their car tested voluntarily. Any MOT certificate issued after the original date of expiry will only be valid until that date the following year.
Stuart James, chief executive of the Independent Garages Association (IGA) – which has campaigned for the government to lift the extension – welcomed the announcement but expressed concern about the safety of many cars on UK roads. “This is a welcome retraction of a policy doubtless designed to provide relief to motorists”, he said. “However, this additional month will allow at least 1 million unroadworthy cars to remain on the road for an additional six months, as well as the 1.6 million dangerous vehicles that have already had their MOT extended.
“With road traffic increasing, people being encouraged to use their cars rather than public transport, and further lockdown measures easing on 4 July, we believe this additional month will leave a number of motorists with an accumulation of faults and repair costs when they are least able to afford them. Even though this scheme has only been in place for four months, it has detrimented the roadworthiness of many cars, taken away the bread and butter of the independent garage sector and left a great number of consumers confused.”
Audi’s little S1 Quattro rocket ship has had a few problems when it comes to its cooling system, this water pump – thermostat housing has had seven re-designs since its original design due to failing water pumps and leaking joints.
To replace the water pump – thermostat housing on the Audi S1 Quattro is a fairly big job, we have to:
Drain the cooling system
Disconnect fuel lines and cooling hoses
Remove inlet manifold stabiliser bars
Remove the complete inlet manifold
Unbolt water pump drive cover
Remove the water pump and housing
Clean all surface faces and hose joints
Rebuild using genuine parts and all new seals
Refill with anti freeze and bleed cooling system
Road test and re-check
The water pump is driven off a small drive belt running from an internal engine shaft and should be replaced along with the water pump – thermostat housing.
Once all the work was carried out and all final tests done the car was handed back to a very happy customer.