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.
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.
This little Citroen DS3 came into us to have a look at due to the engine cooling fan running at full speed.
Firstly we carried out a Diagnostic Code Read on the vehicle, this didn’t help as it had no codes for anything let alone for the cooling fan fault!
Secondly through our Diagnostic Scanner we can operate certain modules on the engine to help us fault find, one of the modules is the high and low speed cooling fans.
When we operated the cooling fans only the high speed fan would work, this gave us a place to start, we removed the cooling fan control module to find that the resistor for the low speed fan had burnt out and required replacing.
When we rang the dealer they had six on the shelf! Always a good sign as common problem parts are always well stocked at dealerships.
Once we had replaced the cooling fan control module (resistor) we carried out another module test using our Diagnostic Scanner and it worked perfectly on low speed and high speed.
After a quick road test to make sure the fans worked with the air conditioning and when the DS3 was up to temperature it was time to hand it back to a very happy customer.
This was our first week back to work after having to close the business and furlough all the staff on the 31st March due to the Corona Virus and what a crazy week it has been.
In the middle of May I made the decision to re-open the garage on the 1st June and put this information on our website and social media platforms.
My initial plan was to only bring out a couple of members of the team from furlough until we had enough work to get everyone back at full pace.
The general response from our customers was amazing, we managed to fully book the first week of June within a couple of days by just using social media and e-mail, at this point I decided we would need the whole team back at work to cope with this work load so we started back on the 1st at 100%.
This was slightly worrying as in the back of my mind I thought we may just be busy for one week and then it would go quiet again and I would have to start furloughing staff again which I really didn’t want to do, how wrong was I.
Monday 1st June was our first day back and by the end of the day we had almost fully booked the following week! Once our customers had realised we were back they were booking in thick and fast, a few customers had been to other garages whilst we had been closed due to necessary repairs or break downs but then rebooked with us and wanted the work checking as they trusted our opinion implicitly.
I hope all businesses manage to return in the same way we have and start to get back to some kind of normality and hopefully get the economy rolling so we can start enjoying life again once this is all over
I would like to say a massive thank you to all of our customers new and old for sticking with us through these very hard and testing times, without whom this Covid19 pandemic may of finished Aarons Autos.
Covid19 aka the Corona Virus has affected businesses worldwide from small self employed cleaners to large multi million pound corporate companies, but how has it affected you so far?
Well here at Aarons Autos it has affected us massively!
When the lock down was announced at the beginning of March we made the decision to stay open, firstly to offer our services to key workers to help them stay on the road and do their jobs and secondly to try and help Aarons Autos ride out the possible rough times ahead.
We managed to do this quite successfully till around the 25th March but once the government announced the MOT extension scheme we lost between 30-40 booking over night! Causing us to question whether it was feasible to stay open.
In the last week of March it became apparent that it would not be feasible to stay open as we struggled to make the business pay, understandably customers were very hesitant to leave their homes to come to the garage if they didn’t have to.
The decision was made that I would keep the garage open on my own to offer our services to those important key workers and Furlough the rest of our team, but unfortunately after only doing three jobs in the first week of April this too was an unsustainable choice and I decided to Furlough myself too.
This was weird! Aarons Autos was established in 2004 and had never closed its doors for more than a week since then, so to close them now not knowing when or even if they would open again was a very strange and slightly disturbing feeling.
Once off work my concerns seemed to grow as I had nothing to do! Being furloughed as a Director of a Limited company is not easy, I was not allowed to do any work which could be seen to be promoting my business, I could only carry out basic Directors roles for example paying wages and paying VAT, this felt strange.
I applied for the Government grant offered to help small businesses cover their running costs whilst they were closed which I was accepted for and received promptly into my business bank account, this gave me a glimmer of hope as it would allow me to keep the garage closed for up to two months before it would start affecting me personally.
Sat at home for two months.
Once I felt the business was as safe, as it could be, we start a life unlike anything we have ever known. I have always worked, yes I have had holidays but nothing like this, Lock Down – you can’t go out, you can’t see your family, you can’t see your friends, you have to queue two metres apart to get essential food – this was strange.
Have I had the virus?
In early February I was very ill, I had a fever, a cough, struggled to breath and food had no taste. When I went to the Doctors they told me I had a mild case of Pneumonia, they gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way. Once I had finished my course of antibiotics I felt no better, in fact I felt worse! I couldn’t sleep, every time I moved I would cough until I felt sick.
I spoke to the Doctors again and they told me it could take six to eight weeks for this to clear if it was Pneumonia, so i waited and it did, after seven weeks all I had left was a slight cough.
My question is, was this the Corona Virus? At no point was I told too quarantine or get a test done? If I had those symptoms now what would happen?
Anyway back to how the Conona Virus has affected my business. After two months of painting, gardening and sun bathing (my favourite bit) it was time to plan when to re-open Aarons Autos, even though some garages re-opened mid way through May I decided to hold till the 1st June. I didn’t want to re-open, have a busy week and then it goes quiet, and then have to contemplate furloughing my team again.
After deciding when to re-open we shared it on our website and our social media platforms and the response was quite overwhelming, our customers started to rebook work instantly allowing us start filling our diary and plan our return.
We have taken all the necessary safety precautions including installing a perspex barrier between customers and staff, supplying hand sanitizer and latex gloves and will be operating a 2 metre distancing rule where possible.
I know not everyone has had an easy ride, this virus has taken loved ones from us and affected us mentally and financially but we have to look forward, look to the future control what you can control and we should all get through this, this next year is uncertain but I plan to get through it and I hope you do to.
We hope everyone is taking care and doing their best in this strange and worrying time. Trying to fight this Corona Virus is a bigger job than most of us initially thought but we do seem to be getting there and some of those business’s that were affected by Covid19 are starting to re-open.
Aarons Autos will be re-opening its doors as of the 1st June 2020 and once again be offering its excellent ‘Services’ to the general public and local business’s.
We are putting several measures in place to keep our customers and staff safe from the Corona Virus;
We are fitting a Perspex screen across the whole office counter which will have a small cut out for customers to pass keys through and for them to make payments (card payments are preferred but we will accept cash)
We will be enforcing a one customer in reception at a time rule and customers will not be able to wait in the reception area whilst large repairs are being carried out.
All customers vehicles will be wiped down with anti bacterial wipes pre and post work being carried out, technicians will wear gloves whenever possible.
We will be supplying small hand sanitiser bottles for customers and technicians to use after any transactions.
We ask that customers will leave out their ‘Locking Wheel Nut Keys‘ and ‘Service Books‘ where required so we do not have to search around the car trying to find them (reducing contact inside the car).
If you have any other worries or queries please don’t hesitate to contact us.
MOT’s have been extended, but we are urging customers to have their MOT’s carried out as soon as they possibly can (or feel safe enough to do so).
There are several reasons we are suggesting getting your MOT done sooner rather than later;
18 months is a long time for your car to go un-checked, if you had not had your car Serviced just before the ‘Lock Down’ and your MOT was due how do you know if your tyres, brakes or suspension are safe!
Garages are going to be inundated with MOT’s that are actually due on the date you want yours doing (12 month MOT’s) so imagine the difficulty for the garage to deal with double the amount of MOT’s, this is why we suggest contacting us early so we can spread out the work load.
Think of your local Garage. If NO MOT’s are carried out in April or May what will happen next year? Garages will have less work in those months and possibly struggle.
If you would like to book in for the first week of June please contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or our Facebook page ‘Aarons Autos Derby Ltd‘ if you would like to contact us after the 1st June just call us as normal between 8.30 – 5.00 and we will be happy to help.