Archive | Case Studies

Why “Cheap Service” Is Just Too Expensive – Volvo Engine

This poor Volvo XC70 presented with an engine oil pressure light on.
One quick look at the engine oil pan provided what we in the business call a “clue”. A huge amount of RTV sealant oozing out of the oil pan to engine block area. The car had recently been at another repair facility…

Once our Senior Service Technician Ryan removed the oil pan, it was quite clear what had happened…and it wasn’t pretty.
1) The previous servicing shop had resealed the engine oil pan with the incorrect sealant.
2) Had used an excessive amount of sealant, to the point where it oozing inside and outside the engine oil pan.
3) Excess sealant had entered the engine oil pickup, and was subsequently sucked into the engine lubrication system, restricting oil flow to critical engine parts.
4) Sealant used appears to be something you’d buy at Home Depot to caulk your windows, not properly repair your Volvo…really, not kidding here.Holy clogs Batman, this is a mess. Also the three O-Ring seals, Volvo uses for the engine oil pickup to oil pump interface, were not replaced, and if you look carefully, you see one is actually folded over.Cost of the seals, perhaps $7, cost of the correct sealant, about $25, cost to replace the engine, close to $6,000.We’re hoping to be able to salvage the engine for the customer, but needless to say, this was a good “teaching moment” on the true cost of a “cheap repair”.Professional automotive service isn’t “cheap”, it’s priceless.

Having someone who cares about your car as much as you do, also priceless.
For fair priced, proper service, with a 2 Year Nationwide Warranty, just call us, we’re here to help (207) 882-9969.

– Bruce and the AMC Team

Tech Tip – Volvo Fuel Filter Changes, Prevent Problems and Save Money

Tech Tip – Volvo Fuel Filter Changes, Prevent Problems

See the photo? That’s a electric fuel pump, you don’t want to have to buy one, read on for a a quick way to save yourself some real money, and headache!

Volvo has a 105K or 120K mile schedule for replacement of the engine fuel filter. Lately we’ve been seeing an increasing number of the electric fuel pumps failing. We feel that this problem is brought about by extended intervals between fuel filter replacement. In the past, fuel filters were often changed at 30k or 60K mile intervals…and we rarely had pump failures. A clogged or dirty filter makes the pump work harder, resulting in premature wear, and soon, failure.

The cost to replace the fuel filter, usually under $100, is dwarfed by the replacement cost of the electric fuel pump, in some cases over $1,300. We strongly advise changing the fuel filter in your 2001-2007 Volvo on a 60K interval.

Part of professional auto service to not just replacing parts, but determining why they failed in the first place. Armed with this knowledge, we can make recommendations to save you both time, and money. That’s the Atlantic Motorcar Center way, preventing problems before they occur, everyday.

Questions, or if we can help you with your auto, just call us at (207) 882-9969, we’re here to help!

– Bruce and the AMC Service Team

BMW X3 Sunroof Replacement

Just another day at the Atlantic Motorcar Center Planet Of Fun.

Being serviced under the delicate ministrations of our Senior Service Technician Shaun.
Lesson here, don’t let your family member push up on the sunshade.
Interior and headliner out of car, 10 hours later, new sunroof installed.

Yes, BMW does build and ship in the wooden “coffin case”.

Problems with your BMW, or your BMW Panoramic Sunroof, we’re the experts, and know these like the back of our hands, and feet, and…
Anyway, you get the message, done right, the first time, warrantied for 2 Years Nationwide, exceptional service for exceptional cars!

Just give us a call, and prepare to be delighted – (207) 882-9969

– Bruce and the AMC Service Team


Car Tip/Life Hack – Dealing With Insurance Companies

Recently we were engaged to work with customer’s insurance company on a problem with his BMW’s glass sunroof. It was, to put it mildly, an interesting experience. Having done this for more than a few years, thought I might pass along some tips in the interest of helping our customers.

1) Get An Independent Estimate, Always –
As far as much possible, have a trusted, independent professional service provider provide an estimate BEFORE the insurance “adjuster” shows up. You don’t need to get the traditional “3 estimates”, just a single, well written estimate, from a professional. Remember, the insurance “adjuster” is really looking out for the insurance company’s interest, not necessarily yours. It takes time and delays your auto repairs, to get the adjuster to come back out and look at additional work needed.

2) The Insurance Adjuster Is Looking Out For the Insurance Company, Not You –
If you remember anything from this list, remember this one – while most adjusters are fair, they are paid to minimize claims, not necessarily look after your best interest. He or she may be friendly, or want to offer you a payment check on the spot, but it is much harder to go back and correct the estimate later, than it is to get it right in the first place. Again, most companies are fair, but like anything else, you do need to stand up, or have an independent shop, stand up for your rights. Ask questions!

3) The Insurance Adjuster Is Not An Expert On Your Car –
Most are well trained, but by simple statistics of the vehicle population on the road, they are largely familiar with domestic cars. Your European or Japanese import might be a different matter. This is where a estimate from a qualified professional independent service facility is to your advantage, and helps speed up the claim process.

Example – We recently had to work with a customer’s insurance company about a glass sunroof issue on his BMW. This was the very complex, two part “Panoramic Sunroof”. The adjuster admitted that he was not familiar with the vehicle, and it took well over a week to finally write and settle the claim. It was only after 3 phone calls to us, and my suggestion that he contact BMW directly to confirm our diagnosis and repair course, that he realized that extent of the repair. If we had not been involved, the customer would have likely ended up with a denied claim, or worse, had a used assembly installed (yes, that was the original offer), and had to deal with the problem again in a short while, after the warranty expired…a 10 hour, $3,000 repair.

4) Estimates Are Not Written In Stone –
It is not uncommon for hidden damage to be found, especially in the event of collision or impact accident damage. Most shops know this as well, and should work with your insurance company to write what is termed a “supplement” for additional repair work. A professional shop will look out for your interests here, and call and work with the insurance company to make sure your car is repaired to “pre-loss condition”, not just the way the insurance provider wants.

5) Warranty, Be Sure Of The Warranty –
Insurance work is funny, oftentimes the insurance company will attempt to have the shop install “used” parts in an effort to save the insurance company money. Problem is that used parts often only have a 30 day warranty, leaving you on the hook, for expensive repairs, from day 31 on.

A quality shop will look out for your best interest, and press the insurance company to cover any repairs for at least 1 full year. Ideally, you want NEW parts installed on the car, rather than used, but your insurance company has to consent. There have been times, when we could not get an insurance company to agree to new parts, we suggested to the customer to pay the difference, just to assure a quality job…the difference is often surprisingly small. At Atlantic Motorcar, we warranty all service for 2 Years, Nationwide, you should expect nothing less.

Summary – This is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you have questions, please call. And remember, we are not knocking insurance companies or adjusters, we just want to show you have the game is played, the rules of the road if you will.

If you have questions relating to the repair of your car, please contact us. Likewise if you have experienced a loss, we’re happy to provide a fair, independent assessment of the damage, and offer a suggested course of repair. We’ll work directly with your insurance company to make the procedure painless, and simple!

At Atlantic Motorcar Center we’re all about relationships, with you, and your car! Let us know how we can help you.
(207) 882-9969
– Bruce and the AMC Service Team

Tech Tip – How’s Your Sunroof? Mini Cooper, BMW and VW

Tech Tip – How’s Your Sunroof?

Important service tip, make sure your sunroof drains are clean and clear. Modern sunroofs are not designed to seal perfectly from water entry, some always gets through, especially in the large glass panoramic designs.

Normally this water entry is not a problem, but when the drain tubes get clogged, all manner of havoc can break loose. These tubes are designed to take the water that makes it around the seal, and drain it down the front “A Pillars”, the metal channels on either side of the front windshield. Once these tubes clog, they often allow water to leak inside the car, making for a wet headliner, carpet, dash, or giving rise to all sorts of electrical gremlins.

We’ve had two of those, over the last week, one a VW and the other a Mini Cooper, where leakage had occurred inside the car, including one diagnosed by another shop as needing the complete sunroof assembly, to the cost of $3,000. Needless to say our simple cleaning service made us new AMC friends and customers.

At Atlantic Motorcar Center, we check these on a regular basis, and clean as needed, usually twice yearly. It’s important, if you are having your vehicle maintained elsewhere, to make sure this simple, but vital service is carried out. An ounce of prevention, worth a pound of cure. By the way, this is not use a Mini Cooper or VW problem, we see the same issue on Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Saab, Lexus, and other brands.

There you go, a simple, time, and money saving tip, from your friends at AMC.

Happy Motoring,
– Bruce and the AMC Service Team


When Mickey Comes To Visit – Mercedes Wiring Damage

From time to time we find Mickey Mouse has taken up residence in one of our customer’s autos, this was a particularly egregious example. This auto presented with a number of warning lights on, after a winter of storage.
Removing some of the interior trim allowed us to the follow the magic trail of bird seed, acorns and other debris. Damage has been done to the CAN BUS network wiring, Yaw sensor and Lateral Acceleration Sensor wiring, and of course the carpeting. It’s repairable, and the car will live again, but quite a project.

Vanna White Visits The Atlantic Motorcar Center – Sort Of…

Vanna White Vists – Here our own Vanna White, also known as Rick Lee, one of our Senior Service Writers, models the new Timing Belt Teaching Tool.

Most newer cars us a rubber timing belt, which requires replacement at regular intervals. Failure of these belts can severely damage the engine, yet, it’s one of the most overlooked service items. Take a look on our “Case Studies” page –

We’re delighted to add this to our “Show and Tell” process of informing our customers about the service needs of their autos…and Rick was happy to get in some “face time” with his spiffy new beard!

– Bruce and the AMC Service Team


AMC Answer Series – Top Ten Things To Do When Looking for a Pre-owned Car

Top Ten Things To Do When Looking for a Pre-owned Car

Buying a used automobile can be a successful and satisfying experience if you are armed with enough knowledge to determine whether the asking price on a particular car is a good deal. You want to avoid getting stuck with someone else’s problems and discover too late that the purchase price is only the “tip of the iceberg”, when you find that your “new” car needs $2000.00 worth of repair and maintenance to make it safe and reliable transportation. The newer generation cars are considerably “higher tech” than the older ones and as such are much less user friendly to the do-it-yourself owner than ever before. As always, it pays to KNOW BEFORE YOU OWE.

1. When you are talking with a seller, ask about the car’s current condition. Specifically, if there is anything that needs repair or is not working properly. Pay particular attention when he or she answers the following question: Have you maintained the car well? If the answer is “Yep, I’ve changed the oil every 3,000 miles” or “It’s been a great car, I haven’t had to spend a dime on this car”, BEWARE! This throws up a red flag. Do not buy this car without having a Specialist carefully inspect it before purchase. Changing the oil regularly does not in itself constitute good maintenance on any car. Ask the seller for maintenance records for the last year. Since people often defer maintenance when they plan to sell a car, a lack of a maintenance records is a red flag.

2. Try to start the engine cold. There should be no sputtering or hesitation. Pay particular attention to knocking or tapping noises coming from within the engine. A light tapping noise from the top of the engine is fairly common on multi-valve engines that have not been started for 2-3 days or more, but this raises a red flag to look closer and determine whether oil changes have been performed on schedule.

3. When raising the hood, look for obvious oil leaks on the engine, particularly fresh oily and greasy deposits on the valve cover around the oil filler cap, multi-valve engines should not leak oil at all and this indicates the flame trap system has not been serviced frequently enough to prevent clogging of the system. This is easily the most commonly overlooked single service item that we see. When a quick oil change facility changes your oil, they don’t know to check the condition of the flame trap and consequently it eventually becomes clogged thereby pressurizing the crankcase and either blowing front and rear seals completely out or wearing them out prematurely. For example, rear seal replacement on an Volvo 850 is expensive, at 13 hours labor this job is in excess of $1000.00.

4. Check for paintwork and previous accident damage. In front, check to see whether paint is chipped off of the bolts and washers attaching the front fenders to the body and hood to the hood hinges. In the rear, open the trunk and look at the rearmost upper corners of the rear quarter panels next to the trunk lid, you should clearly see a half-moon shaped factory seam in this area. Its absence signals the presence of body filler and indicates the car has probably had significant rear body damage.

5. Turn the ignition key on to the second key position and check that all warning lights come on, particularly the check engine, ABS/TRACS and SRS lights. These should go out after starting the engine. If they do not or you see a flashing arrow in the instrument cluster or flashing lights on the transmission mode switch, BEWARE, any of these are potentially expensive fixes. Have these checked out by a Specialist who has the Factory Diagnostic Tool to read the associated fault codes.

6. Check all functions of the power seats. Any malfunction can be fixed, sometimes as simply as resetting the seat computer with the Diagnostic Tool.

7. Drive the car. It should accelerate and stop smoothly. The presence of a pulsation felt in the steering wheel or through the seat while braking indicates brake rotor warpage. Take a look at the tires, if they are a inexpensive brand which you do not recognize, changes are the other maintenance was skimped on as well.

8. While driving with the A/C on, monitor airflow from the center vents while accelerating. If the airflow stops and then reappears when you take your foot off the accelerator this indicates a failure of one or more vacuum damper motors of the A/C system in the dash.
9. Does the transmission shift smoothly from a stop on up to freeway speeds? Any malfunction is potentially expensive.

10. Once the car has passed all of these inspections, schedule a time to have a detailed pre-buy inspection performed by a Specialist. Have the Specialist run a CarFax to check vehicle history, mileage and accident status. All cars need at least some repair and it is not unusual to see a $500.00 list on a well-maintained car. You want to avoid the car with a $2,500.00 list as this indicates a history of neglect and a poor life expectancy for the car.

There you have it, 10 steps to help you select a good used car. I personally go through all of these steps and more when evaluating a potential purchase for our inventory and it will help you weed out the good from the bad and the “don’t waste your time” cars you are likely to run into.

AMC Answer Series – New Car Scheduled Maintenance – Yes We Can!


The following was written to answer common questions asked regarding new cars under warranty. These are general questions and answers, we will be glad to answer specific questions on request.

1. Am I required to return my car to an authorized dealer for normal service work?
No – you may have normal maintenance service performed at Atlantic Motorcar.

2. Am I required to have the recommended maintenance work performed?
Yes – A condition of your warranty is maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Failure to perform recommended maintenance operations might possibly jeopardize a warranty adjustment or repair by the manufacturer.

3. I have heard my warranty will be voided if anyone other than an authorized new car dealer services my car, is this true?
No – Atlantic Motorcar is qualified to perform the necessary required maintenance services to maintain your new car warranty.

4. Does Atlantic Motorcar use the recommended parts and lubricants to service my car?
Yes – we use only first quality parts and lubricants that meet manufacturers requirements and specifications.

5. Can Atlantic Motorcar stamp my maintenance book.
Yes, we can. We also retain all service records on computer for immediate access.

6. Can Atlantic Motorcar perform a manufacture’s warranty repair on my car at no charge to me?
Sometimes – If it is a Bosch component or system that has failed in the warranty period we will be able to perform the warranty at no cost to you. If it is a non-Bosch product then we will check and arrange for warranty service with the new car dealer. Speaking of warranties, does the new car dealer offer you a one year unlimited mileage warranty on all service and parts like Atlantic Motorcar?

7. Does Atlantic Motorcar really know my type of car?
Yes – the majority of our service staff are factory trained technicians who once worked at new car dealers. We also have access to an extensive database of service information, safety recalls, updates, etc. that pertain specifically to your car. Unlike the new car dealer were service is often a sideline to selling cars, service is Atlantic Motorcars’ only business. If you want to buy a new car see the dealer, if you want your car repaired correctly, the first time, see
Atlantic Motorcar.

8. What about pricing, are you competitive with new car dealers?
Yes – very much so. At a new car dealer the large and expensive cost of inventorying new cars figures very strongly into service pricing.

9. Do you offer the same range of services a new car dealer can?
Yes – perhaps more. With the possible exception of collision work, Atlantic Motorcar is a full service workshop.

10. Is Atlantic Motorcar convenient to do business with?
Yes – very much so. Atlantic Motorcar is obsessed with customer service satisfaction. We offer loaner cars, after hours pickup and drop-off and friendly personable service.

11. The new car dealer makes me wait a week for an appointment.
Not at Atlantic Motorcar, we pride ourselves on efficient service. You will wait no more than 2-3 days for a service appointment and many services can be performed same day while you wait.

12. I can never understand the bill the dealer gives me, and no one ever takes the time to explain it to me.
Not at Atlantic Motorcar. You will be given a clear computer generated invoice that lists every part and service that was performed on your car. The invoice will be personally explained to you by a knowledgeable and friendly employee who will answer any questions you may have.

AMC Answer Series – Why Did This Happen to My Car?

AMC Answer Series – Why Did This Happen to My Car?

The Question
It happens all too often. At least 2 to 3 times a week, vehicles are towed into Atlantic Motorcar for major repairs. Too frequently we find that these are vehicles that have been poorly maintained. Many times we are asked the same question, “Why did this happen to MY car?”

After examining the vehicle and explaining it was due to lack of maintenance, most people are quite surprised. Often I am told, the vehicle has been serviced somewhere, on a regular basis.

Are You Being Told The Truth?
Even though these folks have paid other service facilities to service the vehicle, many critical systems have been neglected. In our experience, the problem is often the difference in what is considered proper maintenance from one place to another. Vehicle manufacturers, in order to make new vehicles appear more attractive, have eliminated previously scheduled service intervals and greatly extended others. After all, they are in the business of selling NEW vehicles. It’s no secret that proper care is the key to longevity, be it man or machine. We think that you’ll agree that proper, professional care, is always the best value. Insert Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Volvo, VW or Saab here, all cars have service needs, and require regular maintenance for reliable, and cost efficient service.

Other times, its just the servicing facility does not fully inspect, or feel comfortable telling the customer exactly what needs to be serviced on the car. Sometimes certain facilities want to pick the “low hanging fruit”, thus they do the easy, highly profitable jobs, and let the challenging but necessary work slide. The trouble is, this approach costs you, the vehicle owner, both time and money. It may seem like you’re paying for service, when in the end what you are really paying for is “dis-service”.

As imported auto specialists, we know what should be done, based not just on scheduled service but also our own experience. As specialists, we see cars just like yours each day, and know the common problems which occur as a car ages, problems that a general repair shop, who see a car like yours only on occasion, just won’t notice. Most importantly, we know how to properly diagnose and repair the small problems, before they become expensive headaches.

Here’s An Example
A good example is the replacement of brake fluid. Once considered a necessary service every year, many manufacturers have eliminated the service entirely. Sure this may be fine to get the car out of new warranty or during the manufacturer’s “free” maintenance plan. However, if you are someone who plans to keep your car for more than 3 years, chances are you will experience a brake component failure. Replacing this critical fluid costs less than $130 and it protects critical safety components that are costly to replace. We find this fluid should be replaced every 30,000 miles under normal driving and more often in seasonal use vehicles.

Fuel filters are another forgotten item. Usually less than $60 to replace, they protect fuel injectors and fuel pumps, that can cost well over $1000 to replace. Engine coolant, air filter elements, differential fluid and even spark plugs are all too often overlooked, until it is too late. For example on late model Volvos, a $5.00 flame trap can cause an engine oil leak that can easily cost over $1000.00 to correct.

I’ll Let You In On A Secret
What should it cost to properly service my car? Great question, and one that is key to enjoying a reliable, trouble fee car for many years…or driving a rolling headache. I’ll let you in on a secret learned after working on imported cars for more than 25 years. If you follow this suggestion, you’ll save yourself thousands of dollars of grief, and countless hours of worry.

The secret, is this simple. For most cars, if the car owner sets aside $100 per month, they will have more than enough to cover the yearly operating costs for the car. Not just the scheduled maintenance, but all aspects of service. Yes, there are exceptions, and in some years it will be higher, some years lower, but after 25 years in the business, I’ve found this number is just about right. Another figure I use is 3-5% of the new car cost as a set aside for maintenance. Taking the higher percentage, the average car costing $30,000, the yearly operating expenses would be about $1,200 – $1,500. Add in the improved value trade in value of your car, the confidence and peace of mind that comes from driving a reliable auto, and the real cost of high quality service is priceless!

A Simple Truth
Like the old commercial, “Pay me now, or pay me later,” a lack of maintenance is a very poor gamble. At Atlantic Motorcar we begin with the factory recommended schedule for your vehicle. Each and every item is performed according to the book. From there, Atlantic Motorcar inspects and suggests other items our experience has taught us should be watched.

It is often the little things which mean a lot. Our process of using test strips to check the PH level and specific gravity on engine coolant is far more accurate than replacing coolant based on mileage or time. Brake fluid, all too often overlooked, is another simple service which, when neglected, can create large and expensive problems. By testing and replacing before damage is done, a substantial cost savings, not to mention downtime, may be realized.

A proper automatic transmission service, using a commercial power flush machine, allows Atlantic Motorcar to prevent problems, rather than waiting for a failure. An inspection of the control cables, linkage and seals of the transmission may save a transmission failure.

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. Which is why each and every car that we service gets a free Courtesy Maintenance Inspection during its first visit. Our goal is to let you know about the small problems, before they become big ones.

Right now we have number of customer cars with well over 200,000 miles, and several approaching 300,000! And these cars are not just limping along – most look and drive pretty much the way they came out of the showroom.

Proper maintenance is an investment in the life of your vehicle. Be sure it is properly performed, take it to Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars. (207) 882-9969