Archive | Case Studies

Mercedes CLK and SLK – Power Top Problem and Repair Service

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Mercedes with the Vario Top

History
The classic Mercedes SL chassis (aside from being Bruce’s favorite car ever) also know as the SL300, SL500, SLK, and CLK has to be one of the most amazing cars from a electromechanical technology standpoint. First released in 1989 (129 chassis) and are still in current production. The R129 replaced the R107 SL-Class in 1989 and was in its turn replaced by the R230 in 2003 (US). The R129 was produced as a two-door roadster with an automated (electro-hydraulic) textile tonneau cover. All R129s came standard with an detachable hardtop that could fitted by folding the canvas roof down and manually attaching it. 

Vario 2 Mercedes Cylinder

Vario 2 Mercedes Cylinder

The Problem
The technology which makes these cars cool, is unfortunately the technology which can be their undoing. With some of the earlier cars nearly a quarter century of use, the top hydraulics have become one of the weak points in an otherwise rock solid auto. Still, I can’t imagine that Mercedes ever anticipated that these hydraulic systems would still be functioning some 10-20 years later, and it’s only a testimony to their superb German engineering that most still are.

How Not To Fix
You’ll see a number of “snake oil” repairs out there for this problem, additives to “swell” the seals, “new” seals to try to install in your old cylinders (problem is the rams are also often worn, which new seals do not correct), techniques to try and “tighten down” the cylinder caps, you name it. None are a lasting fix, few even begin to provide any even short term correction, and ALL ultimately cost you much more in the end, when the very expensive pump motor fails, or the hydralic fluid leaks and ruins your car’s interior.

IMG_0150

Service Kit – Vario 2 Hydraulic Cylinders

The Fix
This is the main cause of failure of the soft top of these cars. The hydraulic seals inside the cylinders are made of material that is not very durable and degrade over the years in the mineral fluid independently whether you use the soft top a lot or do not use it at all. The hydraulic seals usually simply disintegrate. No stop leak is able to fix the problem as sometimes sections of the seal crack away creating a very large, and expensive damage to the interior of the car. The only correct and lasting repair is to replace the cylinders, which usually entails all of them so the problem does not repeat.

Atlantic Motorcar has deverloped some very specific procedures and tooling, combined with our expect technicians, to make this very challenging service last another quarter century!

How We Can Help
At Atlantic Motorcar we’ve deverloped some very specific procedures and tooling, combined with our expect technicians, to make this otherwise onerous repair a snap. Well, maybe not a “snap”, hard to call a day + of labor a snap, let’s just say that we make it flow very, very smoothly.

All told, the power hydraulic system on the 170 is compromised of number individual cylinders that do everything from unlatching the top, to moving the convertible top out of the way, and folding securely in the boot. If the soft top of your beloved SLK roadster, or for that matter W129 or 124 Cabriolet, is not working any more or is very slow, chances are that the hydraulic cylinders that operate the top are leaking.

Finally
Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your Mini Cooper, BMW, or other European (and now Japanese) import, please contact us. Our team of Service Specialists are here to help, for even the newest autos! (207) 882-9969.

Knowing, not just “doing”, that’s the Atlantic Motorcar Center way of life.
Thanks!

Warmly,
The Atlantic Motorcar Center Service Team

 

 

BMW Sunroof Repair and Reseal – Wind, Water Leak and Noise

Problem

Correction and repair of water and wind leaks.

Correction and repair of water and wind leaks.

This BMW 5 series presented with a concern of sunroof wind noise, and a possible water leak or entry. A quick inspection of the existing seal showed that it had become compressed, not an unusual occurrence for a tubular rubber product after time, much like an engine’s gaskets can get hardened and leak, so the rubber seal on the sunroof, installed back when the car was first manufactured, needed service.

Correction
The Atlantic Motorcar Center has developed a very through service and replacement process for the BMW models affected with this problem. And it is a matter not so much as of “if”, but rather as “when”. BMW offers a service part, referenced in a Technical Service Bulletin, for correction of this problem. The only problem is your local dealer is unlikely to be aware of it, when we first called to check status of the part, the parts person had no idea of what were referring to. Thankfully our extensive contacts allowed us to source, locate and order the update kits, and we now stock these for most of the models affected with this problem.

Prevent
On these seals, we suggest inspection yearly, and consider replacement at the 5 Year, or 60,000 mile interval. Failure in the form of leakage, usually occurs very soon after the car hits this milage or age mark. There is a better and revised seal available, which we use in our service procedure.

Correction and repair of water and wind leaks.

Correction and repair of water and wind leaks.

When replacing any sunroof system part for a leak or wind noise concern, it is very important to check and clean the sunroof drains at the same time, the BMW drains are often found clogged, or at the very least, partially plugged from dirt, leaves and other debris. As you can see from the photos, it is a bit of a process to access the seal, so be sure to always check and clean the sunroof drains at the same time.

Final
Not a simple repair, yes, but one, if done correctly, will last several years. That’s our goal with BMW, and other autos here, fix it right the first time, and prevent problems from happening in the first place. 30 years of service experience have well taught us that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Be cured, once and for all, and give us a call, we’re happy to answer any service questions you might have on your BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, Volvo or Volkswagen.

Earning your trust, every time you turn the car…that’s what we do…every day…for the last 30 years. Click here see what our happy customers have to say about us and our service at AMC Customer Reviews.

If you have questions, or if we can be of further assistance, just call us at (207) 882-969, we’d love to meet you, and your car!

Warmly,
Bruce and the AMC Service Team

 

2012 BMW N20 Engine – Oil Filter Housing Update Kit

The Problem
2012-bmw-328i-engine-twinpower
2012 BMW with the N20 engine presented with an apparent coolant and oil intermix fault, in other words, the normally green antifreeze was black with oil, and antifreeze had gotten into the engine oil.

Testing confirmed that coolant was being contaminated with engine oil, and the engine oil was noted to have a white foamy mixture on the dipstick and fill cap. Tech diagnosed as a defective engine oil filter housing, the original housing was plastic, BMW has since released an update kit which is constructed of aluminum.

Repair
Tech replaced oil filter housing with update kit, engine oil and filter were drained and replaced until the engine oil was free from contamination. Engine was then test run to verify no internal damage. As the vehicle was new to us, and was towed in, testing of the pre-failure condition was not possible.

With the engine oil clear and clean, the next step was to deal with the contamination in the cooling system. Using several containers of solvent, the cooling system was flushed out until the water ran clear, then drained, refilled and protected with the proper coolant. Finally, an extensive road test and engine run test were carried out, to verify completion of the repair.

In Closing
Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your Mini Cooper, BMW, or other European (and now Japanese) import, please contact us. Our team of Service Specialists are here to help, for even the newest autos! (207) 882-9969.

Knowing, not just “doing”, that’s the Atlantic Motorcar Center way of life.
Thanks!

Warmly,
The Atlantic Motorcar Center Service Team

BMW Water Pump Failure – How, Why, and What To Prevent

What

This BMW 540 has was diagnosed with a defective engine coolant pump. Symptoms were overheating and damaged drive belt system. Disassembly of the front cover and removal of the water pump allowed for inspection of the pump.

How
The mode of failure with this pump appears to be simple age and miles, likely exasperated by a lack of coolant changes. The bearing failed on the pump, allowing the plastic impeller to contact the aluminum housing, you can see the growing on the surface. Finally the plastic impeller itself failed, the vehicle overheated, and came to a stop. As the water pump impeller is made from a plastic material, the plastic becomes brittle with age and extended immersion in the hot engine coolant, sometimes simply cracks apart, even without a bearing failure. The defective pump, and pieces of the failed impeller, are on the left side of the photo, the new pump on the right.

Prevent
On these water pumps, we suggest replacement at the 80,000 mile interval. Failure usually occurs very soon after the car hits this milage mark. There is a better pump available, we use one with a metal, rather than plastic impeller. When replacing any cooling system part for an overheating concern, it is very important to replace the engine thermostat at the same time, the thermostats are almost certainly damaged from the overheating, and it inexpensive insurance to do so. As you can see from the photos, it is a bit of a process to access the pump, so be sure to always replace the drive belt and tensioner at the same time.

Aside from protecting from freezing, antifreeze also contains lubricants for the water pump bearing, as well as corrosion inhibitors, unfortunately both of these fade with time, and must be renewed with a coolant flush. As this car is an aluminum alloy engine, it is always a good policy to flush the cooling system at least every three years, and to use a quality antifreeze with corrosion inhibiters.

Final
Not a simple repair, yes, but one, if done correctly, will last another 100,000 miles. That’s our goal with BMW, and other autos here, fix it right the first time, and prevent problems from happening in the first place. 30 years of service experience have well taught us that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Be cured, once and for all, and give us a call, we’re happy to answer any service questions you might have on your BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, Volvo or Volkswagen.

Earning your trust, every time you turn the car…that’s what we do…every day…for the last 30 years. Click here see what our happy customers have to say about us and our service at AMC Customer Reviews.

If you have questions, or if we can be of further assistance, just call us at (207) 882-969, we’d love to meet you, and your car!

Warmly,
Bruce and the AMC Service Team

 

Mini Cooper Timing Chain Service

– Mini Cooper Timing Chain Service –

New kit installed

New kit installed

Big Nick hard at work doing a timing chain update in a newer Mini Cooper.
Be it a Cooper, Cooper S, or Clubman, we see this nearly weekly on the Mini Coopers in our area. You can read all about Mini timing chains at our Mini Timing Chain 101 page – http://tinyurl.com/Happy-Mini

Fortunately this was caught BEFORE it failed and damaged the engine. When looking at the R56 Mini Coopers (2007 and newer) , we’d always advise checking to see if the timing chain has been updated to the newer kit.

If you have questions, or need Mini service, we’d be delighted to assist you, just call our service team at (207) 882-9969.

Thanks!
– Bruce with the AMC Service Team

BMW Service Engine Clogged Breather System – Oil Consumption Use

BMW Service Valve Cover

BMW Service Valve Cover –
Note sludge or clogging in ventilation port

BMW Service with N52 Engine – This vehicle came from another shop with an uncorrected engine oil leak and high oil use. Consumption was on the order of 1 quart per 100 miles, yes, you read that right.

We started by finding the incorrect engine oil fill cap had been installed by the previous facility, causing an oil leak on the top of the engine, but that was only one problem. The real culprit was a problem with the crankcase ventilation system. Using our special BMW service diagnostic tool, we confirmed a severely clogged engine breather box, on this engine located in the camshaft cover. Not an easy job as this engine has “Valvetronic”, but one that needed to be handled. In the past, we’ve found these breather failures are much more common in colder weather.

On the earlier BMW service, the ventilation or breather system, sometimes called the oil trap, was replaceable. On the later cars it is now part of the camshaft cover, sometimes called the valve cover, and cleaning a clogged breather is next to impossible, replacement usually being the only proper correction.

In the photos below, you’ll note the large camshaft cover assembly that must be replaced for clogging. Such clogging has become an issue with the later breather systems. The build up of this material prevents the crankcase ventilation system from functioning correctly, and will lead to an increase in crankcase pressure, external oil leakage. In severe cases it can build up enough pressure to damage engine seals, including the rear main seal. Any problem with multiple engine oil leaks must first be dealt with by inspecting and servicing the crankcase ventilation system.

If you car has the symptoms noted above, you might want to give us a call, BEFORE the failure occurs. The update cost is minimal compared to the damage which can result. Our goal at Atlantic Motorcar’s BMW service, to provide the lowest possible cost by preventing problems first, rather than just repairing them.

Precautions
Here is how you can take some simple precautionary steps:

  1. If you have no choice but to make short trips, try and take your vehicle on the freeway at least once per week, as this will help burn off condensation.
  2. Avoid excessive idling or allowing the car to warm up.
  3. Keep Your vehicle garaged at night, if possible, when the temps are very low.
  4. Change your engine oil every 5,000-7,000 miles, always using full synthetic.
    We strongly advise not to follow BMW’s 12,000-15,000 mile oil change intervals, we have an expression here, “Oil is cheaper than metal”, keep your engine oil clean, and change on a frequent basis and your BMW will serve you well.

    Feel free to call or stop by find out more on how we can help you get your car back to the condition you both deserve! Earning your trust, every time you turn the car…that’s what we do…every day…for the last 30 years.

    Click here see what our happy customers have to say about us and our service at AMC Customer Reviews.
    If you have questions, or if we can be of further assistance, just call us at (207) 882-969, we’d love to meet you, and your car!

    Warmly,
    Bruce and the AMC Service Team

Mini Cooper – Engine Problem – Carbon Deposits On Intake Valves

Problem occurs with both "S" and non "S" models

Problem occurs with both “S” and non “S” models

Carbon Deposits On Intake Valves
As the largest Mini Cooper service specialists in Maine, at the Atlantic Motorcar Center we’ve noted a significant increase in late model Mini Coopers with cold start or cold running problems, even to the point of stalling, or Check Engine warning lights coming on.

We’ve found that many of these Mini Cooper direct injection engines suffer from an excessive carbon build up on the back of the engine intake valves.  The carbon build up can cause drivability issues such as stumbling, flat spots and lack of power, poor throttle response, or in extreme cases, internal engine damage.  In addition, Mini Cooper engine carbon build-up on the intake valves is commonly associated with an inconsistent idle and in some cases, a direct injection engine will not idle at all when cold.

The Cause
Due to stricter federal emission requirements, most manufacturers have switched to an fully closed emission control system that cycles the crankcase fumes back into the cylinders to be burned off. Also, oil from lubricating the valve guides can drip down the valve stem, and deposit on the back of the intake valves.

Carbon Coated Intake Valve

Carbon Coated Intake Valve

As you can see from the photos below, carbon build-up around intake valves in a Mini Cooper engine is a sticky coating of oil and fuel constituents, we’ve noted that this issue seems to be worse on the 2007 and newer models, but we have seen in as well on the earlier cars. Once formed, these deposits continue to grow, further coating the intake valves and has an extremely negative effect on engine performance.

Great idea for emissions, but certain driving styles lead to a rapid onset of this issue. Vehicles that aren’t driven for extended (20mins or so) periods at full operating temp are more prone to the issue. I.e. cold start and a 15 min drive to work then shut off until leaving work. The more often run and stopped away from full op temp the faster this issue develops. There seems to be no difference in manuals or autos.

The Fix
The Atlantic Motorcar Center has developed a very through cleaning process for Mini Cooper (and other models) with direct injection engines.  Our process safely removes the carbon build up and is significantly quicker and less expensive than removing cylinder heads and subsequently cleaning the valves (a common dealer suggestion).

Our process involves minimally invasive mechanical service work, and some special tools, which allow us to directly access, inspect and learn the intake valves.  The process removes all of the carbon build up and consistently returns good engine performance.  To de-carbon a Mini Cooper engine takes less than a day and the results are excellent – improved cold start operation, immediate throttle response and power return. Best of all, we can carry out this entire process for a fraction of the cost of other alternatives, and you’ll love the results, our 5 Star Service Rating speaks for itself.

How To Prevent Carbon Deposits On Intake Valves
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so here is what you can do to help prevent this from occurring with your beloved Mini, BMW or other vehicle. How fast the intake valves get dirty does not seem to be a function of fuel quality. Rather, it appears to be influenced most by driving habits, and how often the engine oil is changed. Oil vapors and combustion byproducts that are drawn back into the intake manifold through the crankcase ventilation system seem to contribute most to carbon deposits on the intake valves.111

At the Atlantic Motorcar Center, our advice is to change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles if you only do short trip stop-and-go city driving, or change your oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles if you do mostly highway driving. If you want to minimize carbon buildup on the intake valves, don’t push your oil change intervals to 7500 miles or longer unless you are using a high quality full synthetic oil (which usually has less volatility than conventional motor oil).

We also recommend the monthly use of a fuel additive, like Lubromoly, or Chevron Techron, while these cars are direct injection, and as such the fuel does not inject onto the back of the valve, but rather in the cylinder itself, we’ve noted that cars using these products experience considerably less carbon buildup.

Finally
Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your Mini Cooper, BMW, or other European (and now Japanese) import, please contact us. Our team of Service Specialists are here to help, for even the newest autos! (207) 882-9969.

Knowing, not just “doing”, that’s the Atlantic Motorcar Center way of life.
Thanks!

Warmly,
The Atlantic Motorcar Center Service Team

 

Mercedes SL Hydraulic Power Top Repair

The Car
IMG_0151The classic Mercedes 129 chassis (aside from being Bruce’s favorite car ever) also know as the SL300 and SL500, has to be one of the most amazing cars from a electromechanical technology standpoint. First released in 1989 and were in current production through 2002. The R129 replaced the R107 SL-Class in 1989 and was in its turn replaced by the R230 in 2003 (US). The R129 was produced as a two-door roadster with an automated (electro-hydraulic) textile tonneau cover. All R129s came standard with an detachable hardtop that could fitted by folding the canvas roof down and manually attaching it. 

The Problem
The technology which makes these cars cool, is unfortunately the technology which can be their undoing. With some of the earlier cars nearly a quarter century of use, the top hydraulics have become one of the weak points in an otherwise rock solid auto. Still, I can’t imagine that Mercedesever anticipated that these hydraulic systems would still be functioning some 25 years later, and it’s only a testimony to their superb German engineering that most still are.

How We Can Help
At Atlantic Motorcar we’ve deverloped some very specific procedures and tooling, combined with our expect technicians, to make this otherwise onerous repair a snap. Well, maybe not a “snap”, hard to call a day + of labor a snap, let’s just say that we make it flow very, very smoothly.

All told, the power hydraulic system on the 129 is compromised of 12 individual cylinders that do everything from unlatching the top, to moving the convertible top out of the way, and folding securely in the boot. If the soft top of your beloved SL roadster, or for that matter W124 Cabriolet, is not working any more or is very slow, chances are that the hydraulic cylinders that operate the top are leaking.

The Fix
This is the main cause of failure of the soft top of these cars. The hydraulic seals inside the cylinders are made of material that is not very durable and degrade over the years in the mineral fluid independently whether you use the soft top a lot or do not use it at all. The hydraulic seals usually simply disintegrate. No stop leak is able to fix the problem as sometimes sections of the seal crack away creating a very large, and expensive damage to the interior of the car. The only correct and lasting repair is to replace the cylinders, which usually entails all of them so the problem does not repeat.

Atlantic Motorcar has deverloped some very specific procedures and tooling, combined with our expect technicians, to make this very challenging service last another quarter century!

Finally
Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your Mini Cooper, BMW, or other European (and now Japanese) import, please contact us. Our team of Service Specialists are here to help, for even the newest autos! (207) 882-9969.

Knowing, not just “doing”, that’s the Atlantic Motorcar Center way of life.
Thanks!

Warmly,
The Atlantic Motorcar Center Service Team

When Your Turn Signal Indicator Blinks Rapidly, Change Your Bulb

You typically can’t see your turn signal lights when you’re inside your car.
However, most vehicles have a subtle way of letting you know when one of your blinkers burns out: the indicator in your dashboard will blink faster than normal.

The indicator inside your car is designed to operate under a specific electrical resistance. When the bulb burns out, the resistance changes, which causes the turn indicator in your dashboard to blink faster. This is a quick way to know whether your light needs to be changed without getting out of your car.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mercedes ML320 – Transmission Fluid Leaks

These are the types of repairs we don’t like to see, but are happy to undertake to help out a customer.