Archive | Case Studies

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

Headlight Lens Refinishing – We Do That – Save Money And See Better

Tech Tip – Headlight Lens Refinishing
– Save Money And See Better –

Headlight refinishing - Volvo. We can do the same on Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Saab and Lexus.

Headlight refinishing – Volvo. We can do the same on Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Saab and Lexus.

How many of you get in your car that’s a few years older now and find that your headlights are no longer shining like they used to? More and more cars have gone from glass headlight housings to plastic ones for cheaper production costs and weight reduction.

One side affect we see more with lights of this type is heavy pitting and discoloration from the natural elements we face on our daily commutes. In just a few years the once clear surface can become cloudy and opaque, resulting in not only a cosmetic issues, but also a safety one – less light on the road at night.

Before jumping into a repair that may be more costly than necessary, we like to offer our customers a far more cost effective solution to restore both the look and performance of the lights their car once had when it first rolled off the assembly line.

As you can see in this comparison photo on these Volvo XC90 lenses, the damage was actually far worse than the image portrays, but even so they were able to be brought back to a great condition.

By using multiple stages of sanding, wet sanding, and buffing, we’re able to remove the outer layers that may be pitted, contaminated, or discolored from the sun, ultimately restoring your headlights to the original manufacturers specifications, be it an Audi, BMW, Honda, Lexus, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Volvo, or Volkswagen.

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

 

Porsche Cayenne – Leaking Coolant Tubes Damage Starter Motor – Update Kit

Porsche water tube update kit

Porsche water tube update kit

If only we had been the ones servicing this car earlier, might have saved this customer some heartache and expense.

Chasing a mystery coolant leak? If your 2003-2006 Cayenne is losing coolant, odds are you can trace it to the original plastic coolant pipes located beneath the intake manifold. Porsche Cayenne V8 models from 2003-2007 came from the factory with plastic coolant tubes located beneath the intake manifold that are notorious for leaking. The problem is widespread, and we’ll show you the fix. On the earlier Porsche Cayennes, when the coolant tubes on these engine leak, they slowly fill up the engine valley with coolant, and subsequently damaging the starter motor, and potentially the engine flywheel.

You can see from the worn drive teeth from the photos, left without correction, the starter stays engaged, and causes very expensive damage to the engine flywheel. Fortunately, in this case, it appears we caught it before the flywheel sustained damage.

If you have an early Cayenne, and have not yet had the coolant tube update, or if you have had the update, and are adding coolant on a regular basis, suspect leaking coolant tubes, and have your vehicle serviced at the soonest opportunity. The Atlantic Motorcar Center is uniquely trained and qualified to handle this update in Maine, and most services are handled the same day.

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 Service – Taillight Wiring Electrical Problem

BMW E60 (528Xi) – The car presented with an intermittent turn signal and brake light, warnings being received on the dash mounted iDrive system. Examination by our BMW Service techs quickly reveled that the fault was the rear rear circuit board, and wiring harness for the passenger side.

BMW electrical connector, noted melted ground contact pin.

BMW electrical connector, noted melted ground contact pin.

You will note that the ground lead wire and electrical connector have melted into the plastic wiring plug, damaging both the wire, the connector, and the taillight circuit board. BMW has had an issue with this on the E60, and on other BMW models, and has developed an improved wiring harness and circuit board to correct the fault.

In this case the repair consisted of cutting off the damaged connector and plastic plug, and preparing the wires to accept new connectors. These new connectors were then installed into the new plastic plug. The circuitboard for the taillight was replaced with an updated part, and all of the light bulbs changed at the same time.

We know from experience of common faults like this, which also allow us to diagnose them rapidly, and repair them correctly, the first time. Our philosophy when carrying out service on a BMW, or any other make, be it Audi, Mercedes, Saab, Volvo, VW, or Lexus, our technicians always consult numerous information sources to look for what are termed pattern failures, and also manufacturer’s technical service bulletins (TSBs). Our diagnostic suite is fully equipped with the state of the art tooling and computers to service even the newest autos.

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 Radiator – Replacement and Prevention

Why

BMW engine radiator, clogged with debris.

BMW engine radiator, clogged with debris.

BMW E60 Radiator, you’ll note leaking at the cores on the bottom rows. The cause became quickly evident, the back of the radiator was covered with leaves and other debris that had been drawn into the radiator core. Nearly impossible to clean without removal, or extensive disassembly, it can help if you are able to clean out any visible leaves. Also a strong underbody car wash may aid in displacing the debris.

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.

Help
We advise our new customers all the time to make certain that their car ends up with someone who really knows, and cares about it. This is just another example of “knowing” rather than just “woking on” on BMWs, the whole ounce of prevention thing. It’s not the fancy building (think about who pays for that), but the people inside who fix the cars…

So how do you find an ethical shop, judge by the reviews online, by meeting the service team, by asking friends. Then once you have a quality facility, support them, build a relationship with them. You wouldn’t “shop around” every time you need a dentist for dental work, so go to the folks who know and respect you, and your car. If you are out of our service area (we cover Falmouth, Freeport to Camden), call and ask for a referral to one of our service network members. Your car, and your pocketbook will thank you. And so will the AMC Team.

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