Archive | Case Studies

Mini Cooper – Intake Valve Carbon Build-up, Direct Injection Problems

As Maine’s Mini Cooper Specialists, at the Atlantic Motorcar Center we see more than a few Mini Coopers with direct injection engines that have carbon build-up on the intake valves. While direct injection engines do offer enhanced fuel performance and cleaner emissions, these engines are more likely to have an issue with carbon build up on the intake valves.

intake_valve_with_carbon_build-up

Here are five Q&A’s related to intake valve carbon build-up.

Question: How do I know if carbon has built up on the intake valves of my car?

Answer:  When this happens, you will begin to experience drivability issues like the car not maintaining smooth engine performance, the engine vibrating and shaking after starting the car, or the car jerking or surging at stops. In essence, the engine just isn’t purring along as it should, and in most cases, the check engine light will be on.

head

Question:  What causes carbon to build-up on the intake valves of Mini Coopers with direct injection engines?

Answer:   We typically see this problem when a car is running at a less than optimal engine oil level.  Some Mini Cooper owners are having their oil serviced every 15,000 miles based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. This is problematic because every 2000 to 3000 miles, the car will consume about a quart of oil. The oil can become thick and dirty and cause the piston rings in the engine to gum up. This results in an increase in fumes from combustion coming into contact with the intake valves, and this causes carbon build-up. Another issue is that with direct injection engines, the gasoline is no longer being sprayed onto the back of the intake valves. The additives in the gasoline (in non-direct injection engines) actually help to keep the valves clean. The result is that we have this combined effect of cars going too long between oil changes, running low on oil, and the intake valves not benefiting from the cleansing effect of gasoline.

Question: How do I prevent this intake valve carbon build up from happening?

Answer:  One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to change your oil more frequently.  Don’t trust the on board computer oil change reminder system. Change the oil and filter every 5000 miles and add Lubromoly Valve Cleaner a protective engine oil additive, at every service. Some people say that using premium gasoline can help with this issue also.  Additionally, your auto service shop can check to ensure that the engine management system is functioning correctly.

Question: What do I do if this happens to my car?

Answer: Well, there are a few ways to correct this problem.

• Cleaning the Engine Piston Rings –  Your service provider may recommend that the the engine piston rings be cleaned. To do this a special additive is added to the oil and the engine is run at 1200 rpm for 10 minutes. Then the engine oil is drained and a new oil filter is installed along with new oil.  If the piston rings are in a very poor shape then the spark plugs have to be removed and a cleaning solution added to each cylinder. This is allowed to soak over night. In very bad cases the engine’s cylinder head has to be removed. The head is then sent to a machine shop for cleaning and repairing of the valve seats.
• Intake Valve Cleaning –  If the carbon build up is very bad then your auto service provider may recommend that the valves be cleaned using a spray method which involves injecting a clearner into the air intake system. In extreme cases the intake manifold is removed and the carbon is blasted off with a special injection system that uses “walnut shells”.
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Question: What’s involved in diagnosing a carbon build up issue like this?

Answer: Here is a list of “diagnostics checks” that your auto service shop may perform.  A few of them check the integrity of the seals, while others check performance.

• Run a scan and evaluate the codes and data stored in the system or computer
• Conduct a vacuum reading test at idle and at 2000 rpm
• Check the engine blow by
• Check the valve timing
• Check compressions
• Perform a cylinder leak test

The important thing to remember is that regular servicing can help to prevent or catch some of these issues earlier, before you end up with a huge repair bill.  Also, if you are having drivability issues, be sure to download our drivability diagnostic questionnaire.

Final
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

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.

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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.

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

Washer Solvent Warning Light Sensors and Rain X Deicer

Low Washer Fluid Warning

Low Washer Fluid Warning

The Problem
Have you experienced a washer low level light that seems to stay on all the time, or worse yet, doesn’t come on at all, even when the fluid is low or empty? This is something we are seeing more and more often, now that the New England snows have finally left us, problems with the fluid level sensors in customer car’s washer solvent bottles. The problem seems to occur across the car lines we service, and doesn’t seem to matter what kind of car, we’ve seen it in Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen.

Most often this is evidenced by the low washer fluid light staying on, even when the bottle is full. You can correct the problem, but only for a short time. Once the sensor is checked and replaced, the warning light goes out, but the problem often  repeats, anywhere from 3 to 6 months later.

Why
One thing we’ve noted on each case is the customer had been using the Rain X Deicer washer solvent, the orange colored fluid sold in most gas stations and convenience stores. Most recently, we had an Audi Q7 in with the repeated problem, and spent some additional time to document the issue. This vehicle has had the level sensor replaced multiple times over the last few years, and once again it needed replacement.

If you look at the photos you’ll notice a pinkish/orange colored waxy deposit inside the bottle, and also on the finger tip of the technician. We also find this on the electrical prongs of the level sensor, or coating the sensor body, effectively insulting the sensor from the fluid in the bottle. This material is, we can only assume given it’s color, some deposit left the Rain X product, perhaps something which is designed to stick to the windshield glass to prevent ice forming.

Solution
The solution, at least in this case, was replacement of the washer bottle, and sensor, and a complete flush of the washer lines, followed by the suggestion that only Audi approved washer fluid, the “blue stuff” be used in the future. We’re not saying Rain X is a bad product, but rather sharing our collective experience as European auto specialists, making certain that your car lasts, and performs as well as it can.

It’s always been our feeling, backed up by over 30 years of experience, that if a part or product is not used by the manufacturer, it’s probably a safe bet not to use, or install it. The folks who designed and built your Audi, BMW, Mini, Lexus, Mercedes, Volvo or other vehicle spend millions of dollars each year in research and development, and if something had a real advantage in fuel saving, increased horsepower, or better handling, it would likely already be installed on the car.

Finally
Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your 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 X3 Engine Oil Pan Leaks – The Tao Of Repair and Satisfaction

The Tao
With Atlantic Motorcar’s BMW service team – The word “Tao” is a Chinese concept signifying ‘way’, ‘path’, ‘route’, or sometimes more loosely, ‘doctrine’ or ‘principle’. We’re happy to share information on BMW service, because we know an informed customer is a happy customer, and freely share with other shops as “a rising tide lifts all boats”.

We  title this such to illustrate a point, yes, this is 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.

What
Aside from the engine oil leak making a mess in your garage or parking space, and possible engine damage from low oil level, that oil has a nasty habit of finding it’s way to your engine’s catalytic convertor. Oil on a very hot item like a convertor at speed, aside from smoking and smelling bad, presents a very real fire hazard, not good. In addition, that oil finds its way into the engine starter, leading to premature and expensive starter failure. So yes, correction ASAP is important, very important.

When
As BMW Specialists in Maine, we see this leakage occur between 80,000 and 120,000 miles, on almost every late model BMW we service. It is not a customer or service caused problem, but rather a design issue, all sealing media have a finite design life, and for the BMW oil pan gasket, this is about it.

The good news is that we’ve developed a service protocol to fix it, the first time, and keep the parts kit on hand to do so. This is not a job for the new BMW tech, or the faint at heart, for it requires removal of front suspension subframe, drive axles, and suspending the engine in the air while the subframe is removed. We’ve developed to tooling to do this in efficient manner, without any stress on your auto, at a steep savings from the BMW new car dealer prices.

How
Some things to consider while the engine is apart, again the goal of our BMW technicians at the Atlantic Motorcar Center is to prevent problems, or catch small problems before they become big ones:

1) The front differential is right there, be sure to reseal it at the same time, and change the fluid as needed.

2) The engine oil level sensor, which has been a problematic item on the cars when the mileage gets up there, is simple to change at this point, with a very low labor cost, cheap insurance to make sure you’re not back in a week or two with a oil warning light.

3) Great time to look at the power steering rack, and pressure hoses for any wear, leakage or damage, never easier to replace then when the steering rack is out.

4) Steering rack coupler, we often find the small universal joints in the steering coupler, which connects your steering wheel shaft to the steering rack, are binding, which, if left uncorrected, leads to tight steering and/or premature steering rack failure. Again, cheap insurance to check or change the coupler at this time.

5) Steering alignment, since the steering gear is out of the car, it is almost mandatory to check, or adjust the vehicle’s front suspension alignment.

Final
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

BMW – Old School – 2002 Model – Carburetor

Old School – Can you guess what this device is?

We did some old school work today on a BMW 2002 carburetor. No, not the 2002 model year, but actual 2002 model, from the 1970s, the decade of bell bottom jeans, disco balls, tie die, and big chrome bumpers. Maybe 8 track tapes too, or was that cassette tapes?

No computers here, nor electronics needed as we cleaned, kitted and serviced. Actually had to break out my old jet cleaning and measuring kit from nearly 20 years ago, never thought it would see the light of day again.

You’ll notice the corrosion inside the float bowl from years of sitting, we were able to clean that out, and give one of our newest, and youngest, team members at look at how it used to be done…old school style.

You know, old technology is really pretty fascinating when you ponder it, everything had to be done with vacuum and the the venturi effect, metering with small brass jets and needle valves.

Old technology, has become new again.

– Bruce  and the BMW Service Team

BMW Engine 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

 

Saab Story – Saab 9-3 – Engine Oil Leak, Just In Time

Leaking Sensor

Leaking Sensor

What Happens
On the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 vehicles, a common item to leak oil is the engine oil pressure sensor. Located behind the engine starter motor, we’ve seen this leak time and time again. Often misdiagnosed as a defective crankcase breather box (which do leak as well), the sensor requires removal of the starter motor to access for service.

Struck Oil?
See the oil in the photos? Aside from the engine oil leak making a mess in your garage or parking space, and possible engine damage from low oil level, that oil has a nasty habit of finding it’s way to your engine’s catalytic convertor. Oil on a very hot item like a convertor at speed, aside from smoking and smelling bad, presents a very real fire hazard, not good. In addition, that oil finds its way into the engine starter, leading to premature and expensive starter failure. So yes, correction ASAP is important, very important.

How We Can Help
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

BMW Engine – When Good Oil Pans, Go Bad – Oil Leaks

Drive Oil Level Data

Drive Oil Level Data

I title this when “Good Oil Pans Go Bad” to illustrate a point, 99% of the time, the engine oil pan does nothing but hold your engine’s oil, but when the gasket between the engine block and pan fails, it’s a bad thing.

What
Aside from the engine oil leak making a mess in your garage or parking space, and possible engine damage from low oil level, that oil has a nasty habit of finding it’s way to your engine’s catalytic convertor. Oil on a very hot item like a convertor at speed, aside from smoking and smelling bad, presents a very real fire hazard, not good. In addition, that oil finds its way into the engine starter, leading to premature and expensive starter failure. So yes, correction ASAP is important, very important.

When
As BMW Specialists in Maine, we see this leakage occur between 80,000 and 120,000 miles, on almost every late model BMW we service. It is not a customer or service caused problem, but rather a design issue, all sealing media have a finite design life, and for the BMW oil pan gasket, this is about it.

The good news is that we’ve developed a service protocol to fix it, the first time, and keep the parts kit on hand to do so. This is not a job for the new BMW tech, or the faint at heart, for it requires removal of front suspension subframe, drive axles, and suspending the engine in the air while the subframe is removed. We’ve developed to tooling to do this in efficient manner, without any stress on your auto, at a steep savings from the BMW new car dealer prices.

How
Some things to consider while the engine is apart, again the goal of our BMW technicians at the Atlantic Motorcar Center is to prevent problems, or catch small problems before they become big ones:

1) The front differential is right there, be sure to reseal it at the same time, and change the fluid as needed.

2) The engine oil level sensor, which has been a problematic item on the cars when the mileage gets up there, is simple to change at this point, with a very low labor cost, cheap insurance to make sure you’re not back in a week or two with a oil warning light.

3) Great time to look at the power steering rack, and pressure hoses for any wear, leakage or damage, never easier to replace then when the steering rack is out.

4) Steering rack coupler, we often find the small universal joints in the steering coupler, which connects your steering wheel shaft to the steering rack, are binding, which, if left uncorrected, leads to tight steering and/or premature steering rack failure. Again, cheap insurance to check or change the coupler at this time.

5) Steering alignment, since the steering gear is out of the car, it is almost mandatory to check, or adjust the vehicle’s front suspension alignment.

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