Case Studies

A Collection of the Odd, Unusual and Interesting Found While Servicing Our Client Vehicles.

Originally intended as a showcase for customers of our workshop and staff’s abilities, this page has evolved in an interesting and informative teaching tool, and one of the most popular pages on our site!

By nature, these are rather extreme examples of failures, and not what we typically find during service. Our goal at Atlantic Motorcar is to prevent these from happening to you and your car. But rest assured, if we can fix these challenges, regular maintenance is breeze!

We like to call this our “YES WE CAN!” page. You can also view many of these concerns on our Facebook page. Each photo can be enlarged by clicking on it.

BMW Remote Key Batteries – Simple Answers and Replacement Procedures

Case Studies
BMW Rectangle Key

BMW Remote Key Batteries – Simple Answers and Replacement Procedures
BMW currently uses about three different shaped key remotes. The service process for each is different, as we have outlined below.
For ease of identification, we have grouped these into three forms: rectangle, slant, and diamond. You’ll find additional details and procedures below.

Early “Rectangle” Key Remotes
The simple answer to battery replacement is that it depends on whether the key is a “Comfort Access” or a “Standard” key.
Details are below so you can tell the difference between the two.

BMW Comfort Access Key
If the car still starts with the key in your pocket, you have Comfort access.
If this feature is present, you have a replaceable battery.
The back of the key also has a small square removable cover, which may not be readily apparent.
– Serviceable Remote.

BMW Slant Key
BMW Slant Key
BMW Standard Key
The key needs to be in the dash slot to start the car.
The battery recharges from the dash. It works very well for about 10 years, and then it’s time for a new key.
– Unserviceable Remote (unless you have access to a small, fine laser to split the welded plastic seam).

 

BMW “Slant” Key
This key is used in many 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 F-Series Models.
Such as the 3, 5, and 7 series and the X3.
The good news is that these keys do have a replaceable battery.
– Serviceable Remote.

BMW Diamond Key
BMW Diamond Key


BMW “Diamond” Key
The battery in this key is not designed to be replaced.
It is, however, possible to replace the battery in this key by cutting the case and soldering a new battery.
To replace this BMW key battery, you will need a VL2020 battery.
This procedure is not recommended by the manufacturer.
– Unserviceable Remote (unless you have access to a small, fine laser to split the welded plastic seam.)

 


Service Procedures For Each Key Type – Click To Enlarge

Conclusion
Replacing batteries in your BMW remote key is a pretty straightforward procedure, if you follow the details supplied here. If you have question, please stop by, we keep most remote batteries in stock, and are delighted to help you and your BMW.

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This is why each car we service gets a free Courtesy Maintenance Inspection during its first service visit. If additional work, or service is needed, we’ll gladly advise and offer a free estimate!

We aim to let you know about the small problems before they become big. Right now, we have a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding the difference, makes all the difference.

Be sure your car is properly loved.
Our professionals will attend to both your and your car’s needs.

Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

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Range and Land Rover Air Suspension Systems

Case Studies

 Introduction
The Range Rover, also known as Land Rover Range Rover, is a 4×4 motor car produced by the Land Rover Company. This Company is a sub-brand of the Jaguar Land Rover car which was started in 1970 by British Leyland Motors.

This vehicle is in its fifth generation now and there are other models under the name, Range Rover. These models include Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Evoque, and Range Rover Velar. Having changed ownership a few times, the Land Rover Range Rover firm now belongs to the Indian auto manufacturing giant Tata Motors.

Generations
The fifth generation Range Rover was launched on the 26th of October 2021 by the Royal Opera House in London. It was launched by the Motor Company’s Chief Creative Officer and car designer, Gerry McGovern. The vehicle has two PHEVs, three diesel, and two petrol JLR 3.0 L Ingenium I6 engine options. It will be the first from JLR to use an engine developed under the combustion, and electrified powertrain partnership agreed upon between JLR and BMW in 2019, as a 4.4L BMW/JLR V8 engine is also an option. The car was unveiled with a range of mild hybrid diesel and petrol engines, with plug-in hybrids due in early 2022 and an all-electric model in 2024.

The Range Rover, with an air suspension system installed into it, has numerous advantages, features & benefits, and they include an adjustable leveling control, elimination of sagging,  safer carriage of loads, better brake application, improved steering and handling on the road, stabilization of body roll,  excellent ride on the road, reduced wear and tear of tires, and a lower cost of maintenance.

Range Rover Problems
The Range Rover, though a choice and luxury car, has its share of suspension problems. Every owner of this vehicle knows that it commands attention, interest, and a loyal following. If you own a Range Rover that gives you problems and you seek solutions to them, this article is for you.

The most common problem of the Range Rover cars is the air suspension system. The Range Rover suspension system, though designed to give a smooth ride on the road, has a fault: it fails. This failure gives a jarring and uncomfortable ride. At times, the suspension system can completely fail, stranding you in the middle of nowhere, especially when traveling. Other Range Rover suspension faults are:

  • Rover Air Bag

    Airbag Fault
    Airbags are pivotal to the Range Rover suspension system. Over time, they can develop leaks.
    These leaks are caused by the rubber, which is losing its strength due to the car’s age or serviceability.

  • Level Sensor

    Height Problems – Level Sensors
    This is also a problem confronting owners of the Range Rover. The height sensors are designed and installed into the vehicle to measure the vehicle’s distance from the ground. The sensors sit on four corners in proximity to the airbags. The sensors are damaged by the vehicle’s exposure to rough terrains or harsh weather. Loose and damaged sensors can cause a suspension system to sag.

  • Electronic Problems
    These problems stem from your control panels or frayed wires.
    We suggest you consult a professional who can solve this problem.
  • Jacking
    A saggy air suspension system in a Range Rover is difficult to jack. The car becomes lowered.
    It moves at a snail’s pace because there’s nothing to withstand the weight of the car.
  • Air Compressor
    Air compressors fail after many years of use.
    This causes air shortage in and through the system. It will cause an error message to appear.

    Atlantic Motorcar Workshop

Conclusion
Resetting and servicing the Range Rover air suspension is quite easy if all the steps provided are carefully adhered to. Also, there is no air suspension problem without a solution, so ensure to diagnose and get it fixed as soon as possible.

An Ounce Of Prevention
If you’re an Atlantic Motorcar customer, we’re going to be keeping an eye on this for you, and will advise of you of the proper test and repair plans.
If you’re not, make sure it gets done, kind of like that old bromide about voting, “early and often”. 😉

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This 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 a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding the difference, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved, our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.

Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

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BMW Heated Thermostats – The Myth, The Mystery and The Magic

Case Studies

General and BMW Heated Thermostats – Myth, Mystery and Magic
When your BMW’s check engine light illuminates, it’s your car’s way of communicating that something isn’t quite right under the hood. One of the many trouble codes that can leave BMW owners scratching their heads is the coolant system MAP faults.

In this blog post, we’re diving deep into the world of BMW diagnostic trouble code, shedding light on the mysteries surrounding it, and specifically addressing its association with thermostat issues.

As any BMW enthusiast or owner knows, these machines are precision-engineered marvels, but they’re not without their quirks and intricacies. That’s why it’s crucial to decipher these trouble codes quickly and accurately. In the case of MAP fault, the culprit often lies within the thermostat, a seemingly small yet vital component of your BMW’s cooling system.

Throughout this guide, we’ll explore what the MAP fault code signifies, delve into the role of the thermostat in your BMW’s performance, guide you through the diagnostic process, and equip you with the knowledge to troubleshoot and potentially resolve this issue on your own. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY mechanic or simply a BMW owner looking to better understand your vehicle, this post will empower you to tackle MAP fault and ensure your BMW continues to run smoothly.

How Old School Works
Many legacy engine components have been brought under electronic control, primarily to improve performance and reduce emissions.
The humble engine mechanical thermostat is a recent example.

Thermostats have been important in automotive internal combustion engines for almost a century. Thermostats were originally incorporated to speed engine warm-up and reduce piston ring wear. Today, thermostats are important in increasing engine combustion efficiency and reducing emissions. To accomplish that task, thermostat functions are controlled by the engine’s electronic control unit (ECU), ensuring precise regulation of temperature based on the engine’s loads.

The combustion process in a passenger car engine runs optimally at an operating temperature of approximately 230°F. However, the engine temperature was kept below this ideal temperature level in older engines to prevent component damage. Since an engine requires a certain power reserve, especially when operating at full load, conventional thermostats start to open at an engine temperature of approximately 110°F by opening the coolant circuit.

The most basic type of thermostat is a bypass valve thermostat. These have a sensing element containing a wax and aluminum mixture that expands when heated. When the engine is cold, the wax is solid; as it expands, the sensing element slides, opening a valve and allowing coolant to flow to the radiator. A tension spring presses against the sensing element and closes the valve when the operating temperature falls below the opening level of the thermostat. This process may occur multiple times a day, especially in colder climates.

This technology—which still serves reliably to this day—has been in use for decades, but the open temperature setting of the thermostat can be adjusted only slightly by changing the wax compound in the sensing element.

Mapping Optimum Performance
New technologies are pushing engine efficiency and combustion quality ever closer to optimum operating conditions. As we push the engine closer to the desired 230° range to improve both emissions and fuel economy, we need a more advanced thermostat technology.

An electrically assisted (also called map-controlled) thermostat provides broader and faster operation than traditional thermostats, In addition to the mechanical function of the wax sensing element, electrically assisted thermostats incorporate an electric heater within the sensing element. This heater is controlled by the vehicle’s ECU, which receives information on the speed and load conditions of the engine. It uses this information to regulate the temperature of the coolant. A data set, or “map”, is stored within the ECU to govern when and how heat is added to ensure optimum engine performance.

Consequently, the thermostat can influence the temperature considerably more quickly, allowing the engine to operate under various loads and operating conditions within the corresponding optimum range.

This level of temperature regulation yields several benefits:

  • optimum combustion due to increased cylinder wall and component temperatures;
  • reduced fuel consumption due to reduced viscosity of the engine oil and, consequently, reduced friction loss;
  • lower pollution emissions due to improved combustion;
  • improved power output at full load due to reduced coolant temperature;
  • increased comfort due to higher coolant temperatures and, as a result, an improved interior heating performance.

How It Works – All Map Equipped Cars
In standard operation, an electrically assisted thermostat functions in the same manner as a conventional thermostat—only at a higher engine temperature. Coolant flows around the wax of the thermal expansion sensing element. As the temperature rises, the expansion material melts, increasing in size and moving a piston, which in turn increases the flow volume of the coolant. If the temperature drops, a spring pushes the piston back to its starting position, reducing the flow rate of the coolant or closing the coolant circuit altogether.

Under partial load conditions (city driving), the thermostat stabilizes the engine at a higher temperature by staying closed longer to obtain such benefits as good power response, lower emissions, and reduced friction (with a corresponding reduction in fuel consumption).

When under a sudden, heavy load, an additional heat source comes into play with the map-controlled thermostat. Once the conditions of the stored operating map have been fulfilled, a heating element integrated into the expansion material is enabled by the engine management system. This additional heat source allows the wax to expand quicker, opening the thermostat fully regardless of actual coolant temperature, so the coolant flow is increased, immediately allowing the engine to operate within the optimum temperature range without danger of overheating.

Since the electric thermostat is controlled by the engine computer and mapped to driving conditions, when the sudden heavy demand is removed, the current is shut off to the electric heating unit and the thermostat again acts like the traditional wax unit with a fully open temperature of approximately 230°F. These actions can happen many times a day, especially if the vehicle is driven in the mountains where the engine and cooling system would experience heavy demand going up a grade, then may cool as much as 30° to 50°F going down the other side. The beauty of this concept and design is that it operates completely unnoticed by the driver and continues over the life of the thermostat with no required service.

BMW Heated Thermostat

How It Works – In Your BMW
The thermostat in your BMW is a small yet crucial component located within the cooling system. Its primary function is to regulate the engine’s temperature. It achieves this by controlling the flow of coolant through the engine.

Here’s How it Works

  • Temperature Sensing — The thermostat contains a temperature-sensitive element. When you start your BMW, the thermostat remains closed, preventing the flow of coolant to the radiator.
  • Warming Up — As your engine warms up, it reaches the thermostat’s set opening temperature (usually around 195°F or 90°C). At this point, the thermostat begins to open gradually.
  • Optimal Operating Temperature — Once fully open, the thermostat allows coolant to circulate through the radiator, dissipating excess heat and maintaining the engine at its optimal operating temperature.
  • Fuel Efficiency and Performance — Proper temperature control is crucial for fuel efficiency and engine performance. An engine that’s too cold can consume more fuel and produce higher emissions, while one that’s too hot can suffer from reduced efficiency and potential damage.

Impact of a Faulty Thermostat – All Cars
When your BMW’s thermostat malfunctions, it can have several negative consequences:

  • Engine Overheating — A thermostat stuck in the closed position can prevent coolant flow, leading to engine overheating. This not only damages engine components but can also cause severe engine damage if not addressed promptly.
  • Reduced Fuel Efficiency — An engine that’s constantly too cold due to a stuck-open thermostat can consume more fuel than necessary, leading to reduced fuel efficiency and increased emissions.
  • Poor Performance — Temperature control is essential for engine performance. An improperly functioning thermostat can result in sluggish acceleration and reduced power output.
  • Excessive Wear and Tear — Constant temperature fluctuations due to a malfunctioning thermostat can lead to increased wear and tear on engine components, potentially reducing the overall lifespan of your BMW.

In summary, the thermostat might be small, but its role in maintaining your BMW’s performance, fuel efficiency, and longevity is substantial. When this critical component encounters issues, such as those indicated by the fault code, it’s essential to address them promptly to ensure your BMW continues to run smoothly and efficiently.

Service Considerations
As is the case with conventional thermostats, electrically assisted thermostats are not subjected to material wear; they’re maintenance-free and designed to last for the engine’s entire service life. However, external factors such as the use of low-grade coolant and failure to regularly service the coolant can lead to material failure. Other possible causes of failure include previous damage caused by thermal overloading or contamination due to work carried out on the cooling system—for example, when replacing the coolant or water pump, the radiator, the coolant hose, the timing belt, or a V-belt.

Technicians need to remember that the MAP-controlled thermostat is only part of a more complex cooling system consisting of coolant passages in the engine, a coolant mixing chamber around the thermostat, coolant hoses, a radiator, electric fans, and the coolant itself. When replacing faulty parts in the cooling system, thermostats and/or integral thermostatic housings should also always be replaced at the same time, because any loss of functionality or even complete failure can have severe consequences—including engine damage.

An Ounce Of Prevention
If you’re an Atlantic Motorcar customer, we’re going to be keeping an eye on this for you, and will advise of you of the proper test and repair plans.
If you’re not, make sure it gets done, kind of like that old bromide about voting, “early and often”. 😉

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This 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 a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding the difference, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved, our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.

Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

Read More

Mini Cooper – Footwell Control Module (FRM) and Water Leaks – Service Info and Recall

Case Studies

Mini Cooper – Footwell Control Module (FRM) and Water Leaks
“You have water in your car”
– that very phrase should be enough to strike fear into the heart of most car owners, water is not the friend of today’s highly electronic and computerized cars, and few suffer more from it than the beloved Mini Cooper.

If you have wet carpet on the passenger floor, or have a damp mildew smell in your vehicle. Check the passenger floorboard or carpet for water saturation. The carpet pad on the Generation 2 Mini Cooper is almost 2 inches thick. So a lot of water will hide under the carpet before you will notice a problem. We have discovered water migrating into the vehicle, under the carpet, and then flooding various expensive electronic control modules.

These control modules are located under the passenger seat, and driver and passenger side foot well.
Unfortunately, water and electronic components don’t get along. And the water seems to win the battle every time.

Location, Location, Location
The Mini Cooper FRM lives at the bottom of the driver’s side A-pillar behind an interior trim panel. Due to several contributing factors (environmental, certain US States’ wintertime road treatment, vehicle design configuration, and age), over time, the FRM could become susceptible to corrosion from water entry.

There are a number of water leak sources on Mini Coopers, which we mention and discuss in detail below. Suffice it to say that any dampness discovered in the car, on the carpeting, especially on the passenger side front floorboard or carpeting, needs to be investigated and corrected at once.

Signs of Failure
The footwell module failing is a common issue in both BMW and MINI models, its job is to receive signals from sensors across the vehicle, mainly controlling body aspects such as electric windows, air conditioning, heating, lights (interior and exterior) as well as exterior mirrors. FRM failure can be caused by jump starting, incorrect charging, and water infiltration (very common on Minis) damaging the sensitive electrics.

A common sign that there is an issue with the footwell module is that you will notice issues with one of these elements, such as the heater not working, lights not turning off, or not turning on. You may find you have intermittent issues with your windows not opening or closing. You can often find communication problems on the vehicle’s CAN Bus network, especially on the K-Line.

What Happens
For Mini Coopers equipped with a sunroof, after a multi-year period involving large temperature changes, multiple freeze/thaw cycles can cause the vehicle’s sunroof drain hose to become damaged, loosen, and eventually detach from the drain pipe within the A-pillar, which could allow water to enter the vehicle interior.

In certain US states, large amounts of road salt may be utilized during their wintertime road treatment activities. If water were to enter the interior, then in combination with road salt that may be present in the footwell, this could create an electrolyte solution, which causes extensive corrosion on both electrical pin connectors, and the module itself.

Other Mini Cooper Water Leak Sources

  • The passenger side windshield cowl cover seal deteriorated, and not properly sealed to the windshield.
  • Battery cover plastic hatch cover broken or missing.
  • Sunroof drain tubes clogged with debris.
  • Improper windshield installation (not enough adhesive on the glass to seal out water.)

Correction
The usual path of correction consists of diagnosing and correcting the water leakage. The replacement of the FRM, which requires coding and programming of the new unit (the repair is only possible on lightly wet units) and is our first choice for a durable correction, heavily corroded units must always be replaced.

Also, most, if not all of the electrical pin connectors in the wiring harness for the FRM will require replacement, sometimes even the plastic connector housing. Additional work may be needed on the wiring, depending on the level of corrosion present. The cost of this can vary from $1,500 to more than $2,500 depending on the extent of damage found.

Good News
The good news is that your Mini Cooper * may * be covered by a recall on this, which will need to be evaluated professionally to determine coverage. Your Independent Mini Specialist, like Atlantic Motorcar Car, or the new car dealer, will be able to evaluate, diagnose and confirm possible coverage. Note, that not every electrical problem on your Mini Cooper is necessarily related to the FRM issue, it is often something outside the scope of this, so a professional evaluation is necessary. Information on this appears below.

Note that water leakage from windshield replacement, which unfortunately is very common, damaged or missing covers as noted above, will not covered by the water 

Potential Recall
This recall affects 2008-2014 MINI Clubman (Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works). Approximately 21,156 4-door vehicles were manufactured with a Footwell Control Module (FRM) that, due to several contributing factors could, over time, become susceptible to corrosion.

2007-2013 MINI Hardtop 2 Door (Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works) Approximately 76,777 vehicles were manufactured with a Footwell Control Module (FRM) that, due to several contributing factors could, over time, become susceptible to corrosion.

An Ounce Of Prevention
Check, or have checked regularly your vehicle’s cowl, sunroof, and other body drains. This is doubly true if the car lives outdoors, rather than in a garage. You’d be amazed at how quickly the “schmutz” builds up in the drains and lines. Pine needles, leaves, road dirt, pollen, you name it. Cars that live outside should have drains checked, and cleaned as necessary, ideally every quarter. As my mother used to tell me, “An ounce of prevention is worth it pound of cure.”

If you’re an Atlantic Motorcar customer, we’re going to be keeping an eye on this for you (Doesn’t hurt to remind us if you’ve noted any water inside your car, odd, musty smells, etc.). If you’re not, make sure it gets done, kind of like that old bromide about voting, “early and often”. 😉

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This 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 a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding the difference, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved, our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.
Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

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Mercedes – Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running – Causes and Corrections for This Warning Light

Case Studies

stop vehicle leave engine runningWarning Message – Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running
Should your Mercedes Benz display a malfunction warning on the dashboard, saying, “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running,” it’s important you know and understand the cause.

Here are the likely causes and course of correction for each. The most common reason is a weak battery or battery nearing the end of its service life. The right battery for your car will give good service from 3 to 5 years, maybe longer if well cared for. 

What Models and Years?
This error is commonly found in Mercedes Benz vehicles manufactured from 2015 onward. Some of the models that form part of these are C220, C250, C43 AMG, E300, GLC300, and C300. When the warning “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running” appears on the dashboard of a Mercedes Benz vehicle, there is most likely a problem with the car battery or charging system. 

The Why
Should you notice the warning “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running” appearing on the dashboard of your Mercedes Benz vehicle, the onboard computer system has detected that the electrical system voltage has fallen below the safe threshold for vehicle operation. With so many electrical consumers and systems on today’s autos, including many safety systems, the battery and charging system must work much harder than ever before. The message is designed to prevent the driver from ending up with a dead battery or car, requiring roadside service. Sometimes, just a roadside stop and a pause to allow the vehicle battery to recharge is all that is needed. But we always advise getting the battery and charging system tested, especially on any vehicle three years or older.

The Causes and Corrections
1. Leaving Lights on for Too Long
Leaving the car lights on for too long is one of the reasons why the car battery becomes defective. It tends to drain the auxiliary battery.
When the car battery delivers power to the headlights, it can cause energy drainage. You can fix this by jump-starting the battery with a handy portable jump starter. However, if you continue to leave the car lights on for too long, it will most likely shorten your car battery’s lifespan.

2. Excessive Use of Accessories
You might eventually encounter a faulty battery if you permanently attach excessive electronics to your car’s auxiliary outlets. An example is if multiple people are in the car and all of you are charging smartphones simultaneously. While the car radio is also turned on, doing so is not advisable, especially when driving short distances. It will not efficiently charge your smartphones or other electronic devices.

3. Parasitic Drains
The “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running” error can also result from a parasitic drain resulting from different factors. It can be due to glove box lights that do not properly turn off even when the door is closed. The same case can happen regarding your car’s trunk lights, underhood lights, and headlights.

4. Faulty Alternator
Battery failure can also result from a defective alternator, leading to the “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running” error.
The alternator primarily supplies power to the car’s system. It is capable of converting engine power into electrical energy. Such power is responsible for recharging the auxiliary battery. If the alternator is defective, it can drain the battery repeatedly every time the car is started. This will eventually cause battery failure. A defective or corroded alternator diode will erroneously charge the circuit. This happens even if the car’s engine is off. Unfortunately, this occurrence drains the car battery and causes the vehicle not to start.

5. Battery No Longer Holds a Charge
If the “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running” warning pops up on the dashboard of your Mercedes Benz, there’s a likelihood that the problem is literally with the battery. The other parts of your car may all be in good condition. The car battery itself may be the only issue. Check your car’s main battery. Before replacing it with a new one, try to recharge it and see if it will still work. You might still be able to use it for all you know, and there might not be any need to buy a brand-new one.

What to Do If “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running” Appears on the Dashboard
What are you supposed to do if the warning “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running” appears on the dashboard?

Drive Slowly and Carefully as You Pull Over
If you encounter this, drive slowly and carefully as you pull over to the side. Make sure that you are stopping at a safe place. Then, shift to P or shift to Park Mode.
This is why, in some cases, the warning says “Stop Vehicle Shift to P Leave Engine Running” instead of a mere “Stop Vehicle Leave Engine Running.” That way, it will not slip your mind to shift to park mode.

Turn Off All the Lights, AC, Among Others
The next thing to do is turn off all the lights, the air conditioning system, the radio, and all the other things that use the car battery. But do not turn off the car engine.

Let the Car Idle for 20 to 30 Minutes
Let your Mercedes Benz idle for about 20 to 30 minutes. Doing so will allow the car battery to recharge. If you have the chance, you can also eventually drive down the highway, where you can drive the car fast. That way, the car battery will also charge more quickly.

Test and Replace Car Battery
Most batteries on modern cars have a shorter service life due to the demand for all the electronics. 3-5 years is the normal life of most batteries, which is why we check client batteries on every service visit. It is very easy to monitor the trend of the battery starting to fail as the current capacity begins to fall off. If the warning does not disappear, then it means that the battery fails to charge. You might need to replace it with a new one, or other factors might prevent the car battery from charging.

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This is why every car we service gets a free Courtesy Maintenance Inspection during its first visit. We aim to inform you about the problems before they become big. Right now, we have a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved; our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.
Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

Read More

Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar Mercedes, and Mini Cooper – The Particulars On The Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)

Case Studies

The Particulars of the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)
DPF is a device designed to remove diesel particulate matter or soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine.

Why do we need a DPF?
For vehicle manufacturers to meet strict European and US emissions legislation, the DPF reduces exhaust smoke and black soot, significantly reducing emissions and thereby protecting the environment.

How does it work?
DPFs or ‘traps’ do that; they trap or catch particles of soot in the exhaust. As with any filter, they must be emptied to allow them to maintain performance. The process of cleaning the filter is known as ‘regeneration.’

How long does a DPF last?
DPFs are designed to last in excess of 100,000 miles. If the vehicle is operated correctly, the DPF may well exceed this mileage.

Why does the DPF need regeneration/cleaning?
The DPF traps soot particles as they pass through the monolith, and like any filter, this must be regenerated or cleaned to restore it to full operation. Under normal operation, this process is carried out by the car itself (passive regeneration). However, cars used mainly for short journeys do not provide sufficient opportunity to regenerate the DPF – this can result in an engine warning light and/or lack of power.

What happens if my DPF warning light comes on?
The DPF warning light normally comes on when the back pressures in the exhaust exceed a predetermined limit, indicating the exhaust is starting to block up. Once this light has come on, there will be a fault code stored in the engine management, which will prevent ‘passive regeneration’.  At this stage, the vehicle requires a ‘forced regeneration,’ which can only be carried out in the workshop with specialist BMW diagnostic equipment.  A ‘forced regeneration’ uses the diagnostic equipment to initiate the DPF regeneration and subsequently operate the car at load (providing there are no other engine faults).

What if the DPF won’t regenerate?
Failure to have the regeneration completed would result in the filter becoming blocked further. The engine will lose power, and the filter may be beyond repair and require replacement, which can be costly.

How long does the regeneration process take?
The DPF can take approximately an hour and a half to three hours to complete.

How can I prevent the DPF from becoming clogged?
Vehicles fitted with DPFsaudi require frequent highway journeys lasting at least half an hour in a lower gear to increase exhaust temperature.

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This 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 a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved; our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.
Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

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Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Sprinter – Simple Guide to the Diesel Glowplug

Case Studies
Simple Guide to the Diesel Glow Plug

In a diesel engine, a glow plug (also spelled glowplug) is a heating device used to aid the starting of the engine in cold weather. This device is a pencil-shaped piece of metal with an electric heating element at the tip. Operation of the glow plug system is usually indicated by a warning light on the dash, the same light can also be used to indicate failures.

A glow plug system consists of either a single glow plug in the inlet manifold or one glow plug per cylinder. In older systems, the driver is required to manually activate the glowplug system and wait approximately 20 seconds before starting the engine. Newer systems automatically activate the glowplug(s) before the engine is started and have a quicker warm-up time.

However, compression ignition means diesel can be a bit reluctant to start, especially when it’s cold. Hence, the glow plug.
As its name implies, the glow plug is a simple device, and generally quite reliable, that glows at a high temperature when in operation.
Construction is a small cylindrical piece of metal with a heating element at one end. When the ignition of the vehicle is turned on, an electrical current is sent to the glow plug, which then starts to glow hot.


When the fuel is squirted into the cylinder and the fuel/air mixture is compressed the glow plug helps to ignite everything, even when the engine itself is too cold to perform the task on its own. This greatly reduces the time taken to crank a diesel engine into life, thereby placing much less strain on the vehicle’s battery.

Modern glowplugs heat up much more quickly than those in older engines. When the driver turns on the ignition in a modern diesel vehicle, the glowplug symbol (a curly wire) is usually illuminated for just two or three seconds; when it goes out the engine is ready to be started.

However, in older vehicles, glowplugs took much longer to heat up, and there was no indicator on the car’s dashboard to inform the driver that the engine was ready to be cranked into life.

Instead, the driver would have to switch on the ignition and count in their head for as long as 20 seconds before the engine was ready to be started.

Advances in engine technology are not the only reason that glowplugs take less time to warm up; diesel fuel itself is much more advanced than it used to be, and so suffers far less from the problem of ‘waxing’ (basically becoming more solid) at low temperatures.

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This 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 a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding the difference, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved, our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.
Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

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Secondary Air Injection Pumps, Kombi Valves and Check Engine Lights – Audi, BMW, VW, Mercedes and Volvo

Case Studies

What Is Secondary Air Injection System?
Secondary air injection (commonly known as air injection) is a vehicle emissions control strategy, wherein fresh air is injected into the exhaust stream to allow for a fuller secondary combustion of exhaust gases.

The Secondary Air Injection (SAI) system consists of three main parts, a pump, a valve and a solenoid, controlled by the engine computer.

The Secondary Air Injection (SAI) pump that creates positive pressure which is routed to a combination valve, or “Kombi Valve“. The SAI pump design is a vane pump turned by an electric motor. The pump’s air intake is filtered by a rotating screen or the vehicle air filter to exclude dirt particles large enough to damage the system. Air is delivered under light pressure to the injection point. A check valve prevents exhaust forcing its way back through the air injection system, which would damage the pump and other components.

The Kombi valve, as it’s called at times, is a pneumatically actuated shut-off valve that is integrated into the valve housing and allows the Secondary Air Injection (SAI) pump to add air to the exhaust gasses during start up and open loop to help with emission control. The early valves are vacuumed switched, while the later valves are electrically operated.

Finally a switching solenoid that routes engine vacuum when commanded to do so by the engine computer, to open the Kombi valve and allow air to flow into the catalytic convertor.

Operation
When the vehicle is cold, the engine computer commands on the SAI system motor to turn on, and create positive pressure. This pressurized air is then routed to the Kombi valve, directing the air into to the catalytic convertor. The computer also controls the Kombi valve, via engine vacuum and an electronic solenoid, to open and allow the air to flow into the catalytic convertor. This added pressurized air causes the convertor come on line quicker, clean up emissions, and prevent clogging of the expensive catalytic convertor.

The active secondary air system usually consists of an electric pump (see figure), the control relay, a pneumatic control valve, and a combination valve. The system is controlled by the engine control unit. While the system is working, the electric pump is switched on by the engine control unit via the control relay. The pneumatic control valve is actuated at the same time. The valve opens and the vacuum from the intake pipe operates the combination valve.

The vacuum causes the combination valve to open and the additional air conveyed by the pump is pumped into the exhaust pipe behind the exhaust valves. As soon as the lambda control becomes active, the secondary air system is deactivated. The engine control unit deactivates the electric pump and the pneumatic control valve. The combination valve is also closed, preventing hot exhaust emissions from reaching the electric pump and damaging it.

This design has been refined over the years, as emission control strategies grew more sophisticated and effective, the amount of unburned and partially burned fuel in the exhaust stream shrank, and particularly when the catalytic converter was introduced, the function of secondary air injection shifted. Rather than being a primary emission control device, the secondary air injection system was adapted to support the efficient function of the catalytic converter.

The original air injection point became known as the upstream injection point. When the catalytic converter is cold, air injected at the upstream point burns with the deliberately rich exhaust so as to bring the catalyst up to operating temperature quickly. Once the catalyst is warm, air is injected to the downstream location — the catalytic converter itself — to assist with catalysis of unburned hydrocarbons.

Failure Points
Increased emission values during the cold start and warm-up phases can be caused by a lack of post-combustion. The catalytic converter only reaches its operating temperature at a later point. Secondary air systems which are monitored by the engine control unit’s self-diagnosis function, cause the engine indicator lamp to illuminate in the event of fault.

The combination valve, or “Kombi Valve” as it’s called at times, is a pneumatically actuated shut-off valve that is integrated into the valve housing and allows the Secondary Air Injection (SAI) pump to add air to the exhaust gasses during start up and open loop to help with emission control. It serves as a one way check valve to allow the air from the SAI to flow, and prevent exhaust gases from entering and damaging the SAI pump.

A common failure is the Kombi valve, and If you are getting a fault code for secondary air injection system, it could very well be the Kombi valve that’s the problem. When these go bad, it can lead to malfunction in your SAI pump. Because these valves live in the exhaust system, they often can get carboned up over over time and when they do, they allow hot exhaust gases to enter the pump, condense into water, often filling and damaging the electronics on the SAI pump. As such a failed Kombi valve should be replaced right away to prevent damage the expensive SAI pump.

Not An EGR Valve
The Kombi valve is not EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valve, both are one way check valves, but unlike the Kombi valve, the EGR valve recirculates unburnt exhaust fumes back into the combustion chambers (cylinders) to increase the quality of emissions.

An Ounce Of Prevention
If you’re an Atlantic Motorcar client, we’re going to be keeping an eye on this for you.
If you’re not, make sure it gets checked, kind of like that old bromide about voting, “early and often”. 😉

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This 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 a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding the difference, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved, our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.
Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

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Be DEFinite About Your Mercedes, Land Rover, Audi, VW, Porsche and BMW Diesel DEF Fluid

Case Studies

Be DEFinite About Your Mercedes, Land Rover, Audi and BMW Diesel DEF Fluid

DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) – The Other Engine Fluid
Along with oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and fuel, modern diesel engines also need DEF to run properly. All North American Mercedes Sprinters built after 2010 have DEF tanks, same with Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Porsche and VW.

DEF helps with emissions control and the computer in your vehicle will stop you from driving if it detects an empty DEF tank. But don’t panic if the DEF light on your dash comes on. You’ve got plenty of time to fill up.

So, what is DEF, why does your engine need it, and what’s the best way to fill the DEF tank?

What is DEF?
Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is a mixture of urea and water. Basically the same ingredients as urine. But don’t try peeing into the DEF tank to refill it – DEF is a specific proportion (32.5% urea, 67.5% water) and pretty pure. The impurities in your pee would mess up the SCR catalyst. Also, be sure the DEF fluid you select is compatible with your vehicle,

Urea is nasty stuff – it’s corrosive and will eat through copper cables. In the exhaust system, its job is to convert nitrogen oxides (NOx) into water and nitrogen. The DEF is injected into the exhaust pipe just before the selective catalytic converter (SCR system). The exhaust has already been treated several different ways by this point. The DEF breaks down into ammonia in the hot exhaust gasses. The SCR helps this ammonia to react with nitrogen oxides. This reaction produces water vapor and nitrogen – neither of which cause pollution issues.

The DEF Dash Light/Display
How much DEF you use will depend on your driving style, but it’s only a tiny proportion of the amount of diesel you use.
Some 2016+ vehicles have a DEF level indicator in the dash display (if you have the high line display with the steering wheel buttons). Everyone else pretty much as to guess how full their DEF tank is, or just wait for the dash display to light up.

When there’s 1.5 gallons of DEF left, the vehicle will warn you to refill.

DEF dash light
DEF dash light – display will also say “DEF Check”

If you have the high line LCD display, it will tell you to “Check Additive” (not a useful message) or “Check Diesel Exhaust Fluid” on newer vehicles. Ignoring the warning isn’t a good idea. When the DEF level gets to 0.8 gallons, the check engine light will also come on, and the van will tell you that you only have a certain number of starts left. After that, it will go into limp home mode and you won’t be able to drive at speeds above 5 miles per hour.

The sensor in the DEF tank seems to still be an engineering work-in-progress. It’s not uncommon to hear reports that it has failed, even though they’ve filled the tank up, part of this is due to the corrosive nature of the DEF fluid itself. The NOx sensor in the exhaust system also fails occasionally, and that can lead to DEF warnings too. The dash light won’t go out as soon as you add more DEF. It will take a couple of starts for the van’s computer and sensors to update.

What Does “Poor DEF Quality” Mean?
The dreaded warning messages, they always lead to the same thing, lost revenue and unexpected expenditures. So, you are driving, and you receive a message on the dash reading “Poor DEF Quality.” What does this mean? What should you do about it, or not do? By the end of this post, our hope is that you will have a clear understanding as to what this message is suggesting and how you can go about getting yourself back up and cranking out the miles as efficiently as possible  “Poor DEF Quality”…may not always mean your DEF quality is bad.

To start, “Poor DEF Quality” is highly suggestive and worded in a way that can be misleading. I believe the best way to word this message would be “High NOx Emissions Detected” or “Poor SCR Efficiency” (some mfg use this terminology). Either of these would be a more accurate representation of what is wrong and better encompasses its potential causes. In short, this message means that the NOx emissions measured at the outlet NOx sensor are higher than the computer expects for a given situation.

What can cause this message to come up?   The potential causes are a more extensive list than the dashboard message suggests.
While it is common that the root cause is poor DEF quality, it is not a guaranteed cause by any means.

Potential causes beyond bad DEF fluid include: 

• Bad NOx sensors
• Contaminated SCR box
• DEF dosing issues

• Potential EGR issue

Methods of Testing DEF
Technicians can use various methods to test DEF quality, such as a refractometer where you take a sample of the DEF, place it on the sight glass, close the lid, and hold it up to the light. Ideally, you expect to be at a level of 32.5%. Investing in a refractometer can pay great dividends if it can prevent even one roadside breakdown caused by an engine derate.

Another test option is putting test strips in the DEF tank. Test strips are the most cost-effective and easiest test solution for technicians. If the strip stays the same color, DEF is in good shape. However, it is crucial to know exactly when to test the DEF.

When to Test DEF
There are a few indicators that a technician should test DEF quality, including:

  • Fault code(s) indicate poor DEF quality. An engine light will typically appear, and technicians should test DEF and perform a comprehensive diagnosis of the aftertreatment system.
  • A vehicle sat for an extended period of time. If your fleet has a truck experiencing longer downtime, you may want to test DEF before dispatching the vehicle as DEF can reach temps over 160 degrees, shortening the lifespan.
  • DEF has a noticeable odor. Typically, DEF may have a slight ammonia or sulfur smell, but a noticeable, pungent scent could indicate poor quality. When testing, technicians should smell the DEF tank to ensure there isn’t cross-contamination.

Overall, the interval for testing DEF quality will depend on factors such as the vehicle’s usage, operating conditions, and manufacturer recommendations. Technicians shouldn’t wait for other signs that the DEF has gone bad.

Diagnostics At Your Fingertips
Diagnosing through the list can be tough if you have nothing else to work with. But if you have any recent trouble codes, they could give you some direction as to the best place to start your diagnosis.

If this message arrived shortly after a DEF fluid refill, the easiest thing you can do is to test your DEF fluid. Is it good? If it is good, what should you do next?

The next thing to do is a thorough visual inspection. Look over the entire exhaust and DEF systems, including the EGR all the way through to the SCR. Any visible leaks, excessive corrosion, or unusual wear typically suggests a problem area.

If your truck has not received all its factory recommended maintenance, a thorough diesel tune-up would make sense. A new DEF filter, EGR tune-up, and a fresh set of NOx sensors can go a long way. It can eliminate the potential of skewed sensor readings or poor EGR performance, and it can assure you that you’ll have the correct information feeding the computer for future diagnosis if the problem continues.

After a diesel tune-up, a recent code history could help if you had some recent issues, but no items replaced, it may be the root of your headaches. For example, if you had a DEF pump code recently, it might make sense to diagnose the DEF injection system. Beyond that, you will want to start digging into the individual components and testing each one.

While there is no way to eliminate all the potential issues, maintenance does wonder in the prevention of unexpected problems. During the diagnosis process, we use a very sophisticated diagnostic computer be used to put our vehicle into a forced DPF regeneration, which is often a part of diagnosing aftertreatment issues.

An Ounce Of Prevention
If you’re an Atlantic Motorcar client, we’re going to be keeping an eye on this for you.
If you’re not, make sure it gets checked, kind of like that old bromide about voting, “early and often”. 😉

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This 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 a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding the difference, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved, our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.
Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

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Porsche 911 / 996 Coolant / Water Pump Failure and Correction

Case Studies
Atlantic Motorcar Shop – Porsche 996 – Coolant Leak, Water Pump Bearing Failure

No, that’s not a green icicle in the photo; rather, it’s a small stream of coolant coming from this Porsche engine.

Tech Findings

One of our AMC Service team members, Dylan, found and documented this interesting failure yesterday. Although it is on a Porsche, it is pretty instructive to what a water/coolant failure looks like in almost any car.

Signs and Symptoms

Fortunately, the client wisely shut down the car and had it towed in before any engine damage occurred. A rather catastrophic support-bearing failure of the engine coolant pump impeller at 50K miles, occurred without warning.

Failure Mode

If you follow the photo, you can see where the pump pulley has worn through the left side of the pump case, cutting a nice curved slot for about 3 inches. The failed bearing allowed the pump pulley to cock out of alignment, and the drive belt tension pushed it against the aluminum base, cutting a grove right through and creating a substantial coolant leak.

Causes
One always wants to determine the cause of any failure; parts do wear out by nature of mechanical systems, but something that should not fail, or fails catastrophically, deserves a second look with an eye to prevention. On the engine coolant pumps on most engines, the pump impeller shaft is supported by a sealed roller bearing.

This bearing is lubricated for the life of the pump, but over time, the rubber seal that separates the bearing from the engine coolant can start to leak, allowing coolant to seep into the bearing, washing out the lubrication, and causing scoring and corrosion. The bearing eventually fails like this one, and often the bearing failure is the first sign of the pump problem unless coolant comes out of the water pump seal or weep hole.

In this case, there was little that could have been done to prevent the problem, or even diagnose it early, as no external coolant leakage was present. You’ll usually note coolant seepage at fitting, hoses, and pumps, by the build-up of a crusty substance around the source of the leak; this is a solid red flag. But in cases like this, there is little, other than proactively replacement of the pump, that could have been done.

Correction
Being a rear-mounted engine, with the engine radiator conventionally mounted in the front of the car, the 911 series has some very long coolant pipes and hoses; (see the diagram), all of which should be inspected during this service. Also, because of the length of the cooling system pipes and hoses, is very important that a proper and thorough bleeding procedure is done to remove any and all air from the system. Ideally, a vacuum bleeding machine should be used for service and filling of the system.

Correction will be the removal of the failed pump, and cleaning the engine and coolant system passages from any metal filings. Replacement of the coolant pump, replacement of the thermostat (right in the same area), replacement of the drive belt (soaked with coolant), then flush, fill, and bleed the air from the cooling system.

An Ounce Of Prevention
If you’re an Atlantic Motorcar client, we’re going to be keeping an eye on this for you.
If you’re not, make sure it gets checked, kind of like that old bromide about voting, “early and often”. 😉

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. This 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 a 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.
Knowing, not just doing, but actually knowing and understanding the difference, makes all the difference.
Be sure your car is properly loved, our professionals will attend to both you and your car’s needs.
Atlantic Motorcar…Extraordinary Service for Extraordinary Cars, just a phone call away, (207) 882-9969.

Thanks! 

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