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.

AMC Tech Q & A – Oil Change Intervals

Case Studies


Question

A question we sometimes get is – “Curious about oil changes. Synthetic has been around 10,00 to 15,000 miles. Looks like you recommend 5,000?

Answer
To which we are glad to reply, “Great question!
Yes, we recommend a shorter interval for vehicles three years and older (or over 60,000 miles).

We have an expression, “Oil is cheaper than metal,” I’ll explain. We all know that oil is used to lubricate the engine components to minimize wear and tear. It also transfers heat and helps filter out contaminants from engine operation.

Here’s Why
First, let’s address why we change the oil. It’s for two reasons. One is that components in engine oil break down from the heat and mechanical operation of the engine. Second, oil acts as a carrier to remove the waste or byproducts of combustion from the engine itself and trap those in the oil filter. During the process, small particles don’t get filtered out, and oil becomes “dirty”.

We feel the 10,000 to 15,000-mile interval is fine when a car is newer, and the engine has no wear or byproducts of combustion to contaminate the oil. But in our experience, older engines, and engines with higher mileage, contaminate the oil quicker due to internal wear. Pull your oil dipstick a few thousand miles after your oil change, and look at the color of your oil, you might be shocked.

Remember, engine oil’s purpose is not just to lubricate, but also to carry away heat (hence the need for an oil cooler), as well as keep the metal particles from wear, and the byproducts of combustion (which we mentioned earlier) in suspension.

So oil has a pretty hard job to do, which is why we recommend buying the highest quality oil you can, and changing it regularly. So we’ve shortened up the intervals. We know it works as we have vehicles with 200,000 to 400,000 miles on them, original engine and transmission.

Extra Credit Reading
You might be interested in reading this – https://atlanticmotorcar.com/casestudies/oil-is-cheaper-than-metal-why-its-important-to-change-fluids-3/

5,000 miles also works well for the standard tire rotation intervals as well, Michelin, in particular, requires no more than a 6,000 interval between changes.

But we respect our customer’s wishes, and if they want to stay on the longer intervals, we’re happy to do that.

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it.
That is why every car we service gets a free Courtesy Maintenance Inspection during its first visit and every subsequent visit.

And our goal is to let you know about the small problems, before they become big ones.
Right now we have number of customer cars with well over 200,000 miles, and several approaching 300,000!
And these cars are not just limping along – most look and drive pretty much the way they came out of the showroom.

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

Thanks!

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Mini Cooper Mystery – Solved

Case Studies

Mini Cooper “Mystery”
This vehicle was sent to us by another repair shop with the concern that it did not start, or would only start intermittently. The chassis wiring harness had been cut and modified in an attempt to bypass a defective module, and get the car running. When one examines the fuel pump wiring harness, and notes the bare wires, it was indeed fortunate that it never ran. After 8 months sitting at the other shop, it was towed to our workshop.

Mystery?
Mystery? Not really for the Atlantic Motorcar Service Team, we see these cars day in and day out, we specialize in knowing, not just guessing. And when you do the same thing again and again, you become very skilled at it, and know exactly what to look for.

In this case, a defective JBE, or “Junction Box Electronic”. See the photos? That’s the first thing we do, we check, rather than just replacing parts. In fact, the wiring damage on the fuel pump can create some other problems as the electricity looks for a way to complete it’s path, through the pump or ground. Earlier this year we had a vehicle in which the ECM (engine computer) was damaged because of what I suspect to be a ground strap issue.

Correction
I suspect the previous shop had modified the wiring harness in an failed attempt to bypass the JBE. The JBE requires programing with the factory BMW and Mini diagnostic tool, and lacking this, and perhaps in a mistaken attempt to save the customer the repair costs, the cut had been cut and modified. Once we replaced the JBE, the wiring harness was repaired, and then the JBS was coded and programed using the BMW and Mini ISTA computer. Problem solved, the car needed other work, which we completed, and it was back on the road, ready for a long service life…with proper care.

The Difference
Happy customers come back, and they bring their friends, and we make them happy, and they bring more friends.
That’s the formula we’re worked on for the last 33 years. Knowledge, Integrity, Trust, those words are what each and every AMC customer deserves, and that’s what every customer gets.

There are many ethical and knowledge shops out there, judge by the reviews online, by meeting the service team, by asking friends. If you’re outside of our 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.

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 when 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

 

 

 

 

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BMW – Computer Diagnostics and Programing

Case Studies

Get On The Can Bus
I’m old enough to remember the days when cars only had one computer, the engine control unit, aka the “ECU”.
Now a days most cars have not not one, but dozens of computers or modules all talking to each other over what is called a Controller Area Network or “CAN Bus”, somewhat like the “USB” (Universal Serial Bus) of your home computer.
Cool idea as it simplifies running hundreds of individual wires, but it really ups the technology service game.
Here we are programming a replacement part, known as RDC module, that is part of the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) with our BMW diagnostic service computer.

Reference
Wondering what “RDC” means? RDC is a shortening of the German word “Reifendruckkontrolle”, the word “Riefen” meaning “Tire”, “Tyre” for our friends from the UK, the term “Druck” means “Pressure”, and “Kontrolle”, as you might guess is “Control”. Hence “RDC” or “Tire Pressure Control”. I love German, such a logical language!

How Does 3 Years Sound?
Most new modules and parts for BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Mini Cooper and others require coding or programming after replacement, necessitating a trip to the new car dealer, or a visit to a service specialist like ourselves. Not only can we do the diagnostics and service replacement, but we also offer a warranty that is 3 time longer than other’s warranty, 3 years vs 1 year. And we can save you money as well, often considerable money.

Taking Care Of You and Your Car
Longer warranty, save you money, complimentary loaner cars, free treats for your dog, free airplane kits for your children, and complimentary coffee and WiFi for you.
And the latest and greatest diagnostic equipment to help us effectively and efficiently service your car. In color no less. Right here in beautiful Maine.


Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it.
Which is why each and every car that we service gets a free Courtesy Maintenance Inspection during its first visit, and every
subsequent visit.

Our goal is to let you know about the small problems, before they become big ones.
Right now we have number of customer cars with well over 200,000 miles, and several approaching 300,000!
And these cars are not just limping along – most look and drive pretty much the way they came out of the showroom.

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

Thanks!

 

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Audi, BMW and Mini Cooper Carbon Build Up Correction (Decarbonization)

Case Studies

The Problem
BMW
and Mini Cooper (along with other vehicles) with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines are both cars that can experience carbon build up over time causing drivability and performance issues. GDI is a met
hod that automakers have used to inject gasoline at a high pressure directly into an engine’s combustion chamber rather than into the intake tract or cylinder port.  Fuel is better measured than older fuel injection or carbureted systems – making the vehicle more fuel efficient, as well as yielding more power with an engine of identical displacement. The AudiBMW engines and the Mini Cooper N12 and N14 (along with later engines), this means in particular that the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber of each cylinder and not in the intake tract. As a consequence thereof, the fuel injectors are no more placed before the intake valve, but directly in the cylinder itself.


Symptoms

The disadvantage of this is that the regular bathing and therefor cleaning of the intake valves by way of the fuel that they are exposed to does not happen any more. The intake valves are only in contact with air or rather blowby gases from the crankcase breathing circuit, in which substantial quantities of fuel and oil can be found. Over time, these lead to deposits of carbonised fuel and oil in the intake tract as well as on the intake valves themselves; this is also referred to as carbon build up, or carbonizing. This is not immediately bad for the engine, but over time can have a detrimental effect on its efficiency. If the valves are heavily carbonised, they may not close properly anymore, and symptoms such as a bumpy idle, vibrations and diminished throttle response can be observed; it may also contribute to increased oil consumption.

The check engine light may come on and the car can hesitate or stall.  If carbon has built up to a point where the vehicle’s performance has been affected, we have had success with a service called a walnut shell blast or “Decarb”.  Walnut shells are gentle enough to clean and sweep away the carbon without damaging the valves.  Once walnut shell blasting has been done, fuel treatments can be added to routine maintenance services to try and keep carbon build up at bay.

Correction
In theory there exist two methods to clean the intake valves and intake tracts and valves of the engine. A very elaborate and consequently expensive method is to completely take off the cylinder head and to have the valves lie in a very aggressive cleaning solution for at least 48 hours, after which they have to be cleaned manually as well in order to remove any remaining carbonising.

A modified (and much less labour intensive) variant of this method is to do the cleaning by way of a cleaning product without taking off the cylinder head. However, this has the disadvantage that you can typically only clean one intake tract at the same time, as in order to avoid for the cleaning fluid to enter the combustion chamber the valve has to be tightly shut, and usually only one valve of the six that we have is completely shut at the same time. As depending on the amount of carbonising the valve and intake tract have to be left to simmer in the cleaning solution for 24-48 hours, this can take quite a long time during which you can’t drive the car. In addition, as even the most aggressive cleaning solution is usually not sufficient to remove the carbonising completely, you have to do some manual cleaning with a brush as well. Not much fun!

Method – Safe And Reliable 
The method that we professionally utilize here at Atlantic Motorcar (and the one recommended by most car manufacturers) is the cleaning of the intake tract and valve of each cylinder with a blasting tool. This blasting tool is using pressurised air (usually 6-8 bar) to inject fine walnut shell granules into the intake tract. These granules hit the carbonising at high speed and thus remove it entirely, while at the same time this material is soft enough not to damage the metal of the intake tract and the valves. That is also the reason why no other material should be used for this method. The advantages of this method are obvious: On the one hand, a labour extensive removal of the cylinder head is unnecessary, on the other hand the method is very fast (only a few seconds per intake tract are necessary) and effective.

How Long Does This Take
In total the whole procedure including removal of the manifold took about 3 -4 hours, and for most cars, costs between $400 and $600 dollars. We’ve found that this treatment, done correctly, usually needs not be repeated in the future, or at least for 3-5 years.

Will I Really Notice The Difference?
To make it short: Yes! You feel a difference. The throttle response is noticeably much better (without hesitation), and the idle smooths out as it was when the car was new.  The difference in engine power is usually quite noticeable as well, and the end of that pesky Check Engine Light is a blessing. We can recommend this treatment without any reservation for any car with a mileage of more than 50,000 miles; in my opinion this should be a normal, regular maintenance to be done on a GDI car, Be it Audi, BMW, Mercedes, or Mini Cooper.

Final
Not a simple repair, yes, but one, if done correctly, will last another 50,000 to 100,000 miles. That’s our goal, 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


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The Truth About Brake Fluid Changes

Case Studies

The Truth About Brake Fluid Changes
Most people know that routine car care involves checking the brakes. Squeaky brakes get attention, and so does a car that seems to be taking longer to stop than is normally necessary. But brake fluid? Many car owners forget it even exists. Yet proper maintenance of your vehicle includes caring for this essential fluid.

If you have questions about brake fluid, you’re not alone. Customers often wonder whether it’s necessary to change the fluid and if so, how often it needs to be done. Here are some tips and facts to answer your most frequently asked questions.

What Does Brake Fluid Do for a Car?
Brake fluid helps move the parts in your vehicle’s hydraulic (brake) system, which enables your car to stop when you hit the brake pedals. As simple as it sounds, stopping a vehicle is demanding, and brake fluid is a key part of the equation. If the levels of fluid are low, contaminated by moisture, or not flowing properly, your braking power is impeded.

What Happens to Brake Fluid over Time?
Like oil, brake fluid loses its effectiveness over time. The fluid can absorb moisture, which can lead to corrosion in your hydraulics system and other problems that make your brakes less effective, decreasing your ability to stop in critical driving situations. The industry standard is to replace brake fluid every two years, or when doing brake work.

How Do You Check It?
Brake fluid is typically stored in a translucent plastic reservoir, so you can see the fluid level without removing the cap. You don’t want to open the cap unless you’re replacing the fluid, because exposing the reservoir to air can draw moisture into the hydraulics system. This is one reason it’s helpful to have a professional, trained mechanic take care of this for you.

How Often Do You Need to Change It?
The industry standard is to replace brake fluid every two years, or when doing brake work. The deterioration varies by type of car, the driving conditions you typically encounter, and the manufacturer’s recommendations. But a good rule of thumb is to check it during regular oil changes, and expect to change it every two years. Signs that you should get your brake fluid checked immediately include fluid that has a burnt odor, is not clear or transparent, or is at a lower level than it’s supposed to be.

Can You Change the Fluid Yourself, or Should You Have a Technician Do It?
Unlike many simple maintenance tasks that can be do-it-yourself options, brake fluid should only be changed by someone with professional training. There are several reasons why, but it all boils down to brake fluid being more complicated and dangerous to work with than more DIY items such as oil and windshield wiper fluid. There are many types of brake fluids with different ratings and specifications, and they can’t be mixed. It’s important to make sure the fluid is completely drained and then replaced with the proper type for your vehicle. Another challenge is that brake fluid is toxic and combustible. It must be handled and disposed of properly. A well-trained, professional technician will know all the ins and outs of how to handle your brake fluid properly and safely.

Atlantic Motorcar prides itself on offering you the quality service and trusted advice you want most when caring for your car. Our trained Service Advisors are ready to answer any questions you have about brake fluid or any other car-related issues you are concerned about. We’ll walk you through any work your car needs, and we won’t offer you any services that your vehicle doesn’t need, because we believe in putting you, our customer, first and making sure you are ready to hit the road safely for years to come.

Finally
Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Volvo, VW, or 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

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Audi and VW Timing Chain Problems – Good News – We Can Correct For Once And All!

Case Studies

We Can Help!
Atlantic Motorcar has extensive experience with correcting problems on the Audi and VW engines which have experienced timing chain issues.
If you have been given the bad news of a timing chain problem on your Audi or VW, give us a call, and visit us for a Free Second Opinion. We offer 6 Months To Pay and Complimentary Loaner Cars during the service process.  We know that we can save you money, and beat the dealer cost, as we know that you’ll be delighted with our service, and a customer for life!

Issues with timing chains are common on the Audi 3.2 and 3.6 engines, as well as VW, all have had some issues relating to the engine timing chains when they get over 60,000 or so miles. This includes models from 2008-2015.  Our team has well over 100 years total experience on cars just like yours, and we offer a 2 Year Nationwide Warranty on Parts and Labor, double that of the new car dealer!

When the Audi Timing Chain Fails
It’s critical not to ignore Check Engine lights, or timing chain issues. It can cause the intake or exhaust valves to contact the piston while the engine is running.  If this happens you will need the cylinder head to be removed and the valves to be replaced.  At this time you wo

uld also need to verify there was no further damage done to the pistons, cylinder walls or cylinder head.

How do you know if this happened to your vehicle?  If this chain has worn out, or fails you could have any of the following issues.  Engine rattling noise at start up, No start condition (because the timing chain has jumped and you likely have significant engine damaged), as well as fault codes P0016 (Crank/ Cam position sensor correlation) or P0328 (Knock Sensor 1 Circuit High Input).

What vehicles are affected?
Its difficult to be certain but all of our experience has led us to believe that any of the Audi, and VW have issues with the timing chains and tensioners. The Check Engine light should never be ignored, it is a red flag, get the car in and checked. Since we cant be 100% certain we recommend checking to be certain.

How Common is this?
It still remains to be seen how common this is, but here are my thoughts.  This issue it common enough that you absolutely should have your system checked.  Why?  Because not updating your tensioner and continuing to drive is a pretty big gamble, engines are far more costly than a timing chain kit update.

What should I expect to pay?
This is not a simple repair, realistically, it’s over half a day of shop time labor for updating the tensioner.  However, doing this will ensure you get the newest revision in your vehicle, which should prevent future issues.

How We Can Help
At Atlantic Motorcar we’ve developed some very specific procedures and tooling, combined with our expect technicians, to make this otherwise onerous repair a snap. Well, maybe not a “snap”, hard to call a day + of labor a snap, let’s just say that we make it flow very, very smoothly. All told, proper maintenance and repair is far less costly than replacing your vehicle every 3 year or so.

Finally
Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini Cooper 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

 

 

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Volvo XC70 Headlight Electrical Problem – Fix For Once And All

Case Studies

Problem
Vehicle presented with an intermittent headlight, warnings being received on the dash warning light system, and the headlight itself was inoperative when first examined.
Generally speaking, finding the reason for the failure is just as important, if not more so, then repairing the problem itself.
If you simply replace a part, without correcting the root cause, the problem is just going to reappear, often ruining the newly installed part.
At Atlantic Motorcar, we test, not guess, and we have the knowledge, and experience, to make sure it’s done right, the first time, which results in happy customers!

Finding
Examination by our experienced Volvo Service tech quickly reveled that the fault was not just a light bulb, but actually a melted wiring harness inside the headlight capsule.
Installing another light bulb, has been done in the past, was not the answer, the problem would only reoccur in short order, correcting the root issue was,
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 light bulb itself.
Volvo, and others makes have  had an issue with this, too which we attribute to heat build up inside the headlight capsule from the daytime running lights always being on.
Over time the heat from the headlight causes the electrical connector to lose its tension on the contact of the headlight bulb. This poor connection results in high resistance in the connector itself, the now loose contact generates more heat, which further damages the tension of the contact itself. The result is a run away reaction that simply melts down the connector and damages the headlight wiring harness itself.

Correction
There are two ways to correct this, one, the textbook way, and very costly, is replacement of the complete headlight capsule, to the tune of $500- $600.
Over the years we’ve developed a number of common sense repairs, that help ease the maintenance cost for our customers, and this is one of those.
We have a procedure to correct the problem, right on the car, without replacement of the headlight capsule, and best of all, the entire repair costs less than $150!

In this case the repair consisted of cutting off the damaged connector and wiring harness inside the headlight capsule and preparing the wires to accept new connectors.
These new connectors were then installed into the new plastic plug. The connector was replaced with an updated part, and all of the light bulbs changed at the same time.
Dielectric grease was added, to protect the contacts from oxidation, and to prolong the life of the repair.
We warranty these repairs for 2 Years, Nationwide, double the normal 1 Year warranty of most dealer parts.

Knowledge Makes The Difference
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 Volvo, or any other make, be it Audi, BMW, 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.

Welcome Home
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

 

 

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Why Did This Happen to My Car? – Prevention vs. Repair

Case Studies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s An Example
A good example is the replacement of brake fluid. Once considered a necessary service every year, many manufacturers have eliminated the service entirely. Sure this may be fine to get the car out of new warranty or during the manufacturer’s “free” maintenance plan. However, if you are someone who plans to keep your car for more than 3 years, chances are you will experience a brake component failure. Replacing this critical fluid costs less than $160 and it protects critical safety components that are costly to replace. We find this fluid should be replaced every 30,000 miles under normal driving and more often in seasonal use vehicles.

Fuel filters are another forgotten item. Usually less than $100 to replace, they protect fuel injectors and fuel pumps, that can cost well over $1000 to replace. Engine coolant, air filter elements, differential fluid and even spark plugs are all too often overlooked, until it is too late. For example on late model Volvos, a $5.00 flame trap can cause an engine oil leak that can easily cost over $1000.00 to correct.

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

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

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

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

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

Our Goal For You and Your Car
Our goal is to save you money, not spend it. Which is why each and every car that we service gets a free Courtesy Maintenance Inspection during its first visit. Our goal is to let you know about the small problems, before they become big ones. Right now we have number of customer cars with well over 200,000 miles, and several approaching 300,000! And these cars are not just limping along – most look and drive pretty much the way they came out of the showroom.

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

Thanks! 

 

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Unhappy Kitty – Jaguar Check Engine Light On – Bringing Back The Purr!

Case Studies

The Unhappy Kitty – Jaguar Check Engine Light On
This is a great study of dedication, and a solid illustration that logical thinking, some “detective work”,
and understanding of how automotive systems actually work, make all the difference in service outcomes.
In other words, “knowing”, rather than just “parts changing”.

It’s also a cautionary tale that “scanning the computer” and use of fault codes, does not fix cars, it may or may not give an indication of the area in which to investigate, but unless there is true knowledge of how the system operates, it can lead to unnecessary work and parts replacement. Knowing, not just doing, that’s the secret to a skilled technician, and a good outcome.

The Car
Recently we had a very nice Jaguar XK8 with the 4.0 liter V8 engine in for service. Seems it had a Check Engine light that was chronically on, and from looking at the car, it was clear that this had been the case for some time. The fault was for a camshaft timing issue, something that can be very onerous, indicating possible deep engine problems. The camshaft timing on this car, like most modern vehicles, is dynamically controlled by the engine computer, to minimize emissions and to peak performance. In other words, the camshaft timing is advanced or retarted to fine tune engine operations, and make the engine purr. Purring it was not, in fact it was stumbling, running rough, hesitating, and then there was that glowing Check Engine light, telling the world it was one unhappy kitty.

Background
Clearly another shop, likely more than just one, had had a go at it. In an effort to correct the problem, they had run new wires from the engine computer to the oil control solenoid for the camshaft timing, assuming I guess that the wiring harness somehow had a problem (it did not). A case of guessing, rather than actually measuring and testing the wiring. On a hunch I called our local Jaguar dealer to check service records and history, but they told us that they don’t work on any Jaguar or Land Rover more than 10 years old.

The previous shop had replaced oil control solenoid, which was not a bad idea, given that they do commonly do present problems. Unfortunately, this was not the cause either, but likely not a bad idea to rule things out, it’s good to have a baseline to start with. They had also removed the camshaft covers, probably to check the camshaft timing and chain guides, which can be problematic on some cars. These were found to be fine on our inspection. In short, they likely tried everything that they could in an effort to extinguish the light, and then they gave up. And though some meandering, the car found its way to us.

Our Turn
Initially we did our standard process of evaluating and confirming the actual issue. We then checked for Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) from Jaguar and in our technical information database on pattern failures. We did find some TSBs, which suggested changes in oil viscosity, which we carried out, but to no avail. So we started from the beginning, checking engine oil pressure – the camshaft timing is operated by means of an adjustable sprocket moved by engine oil pressure. The engine oil pressure was found it within specifications, both cold and warm. One of the challenges with this problem was that the fault would not reoccur immediately, one could drive the car for some time, before the fault reoccured, which makes diagnostics more challenging.

We did get the fault to repeat, and noted a change in engine performance when this occurred. For baseline, we switched in a known good solenoid valve for testing purposes, and reran the test. After a drive period, the light would come back on, as the fault would reoccur after the car was driven a few times, but only after the engine became warm. Going high tech, we then checked the signal to the solenoid valve from the engine computer, with a digital oscilloscope, just to rule out and engine computer problem. We observed the waveform pattern looked proper, and the computer was clearly trying to dynamically adjust the camshaft timing, but was not reaching the correct point and was still calling for more adjustment. A quick comparison to the other engine bank, confirmed this, nice thing about having a V8 engine, one can compare each half of the engine to the other. Jaguar has limited technical specifications and data on the operation of this system, so having the comparison was invaluable.

The Finding And The Solution
Our tech then made the bold decision to remove the front upper timing cover, and check the camshaft sprocket itself for a defect, thinking perhaps the spiral adjustment system have be sludged up, or clogged, and that’s when we found it. A very small, perhaps 3-5 millimeter piece of the aluminum bracket, used to feed oil to the oil pressure operated camshaft sprocket, was either worn or broken away. This small piece allowed engine oil to bypass the seal, and preventing enough oil pressure from operating the adjustable camshaft sprocket when warm. When the engine was cold, the engine oil pressure was high enough to overcome this internal leak, but once the engine warmed up, and the oil pressure dropped, the camshaft sprocket could no longer adjust, and the fault occurred.

The repair was simple, replacement of the casting (really the housing for the camshaft solenoid), with another part, and replacement of the rubber seal. The engine was reassembled, road tested both cold and hot, then drive overnight, with no check engine light, or registered fault. Boom, problem solved. Happy customer, and happy kitty, runs and purrs like new!

Easy, no, it was not easy. Repairable, yes, with some hard work, thought and skill.
Rewarding, correctly solving the “unsolvable” problem, you bet!
That’s what we do. Day in and day out here at the Atlantic Motorcar Center.

Final
Not a simple repair, yes, but one, if done correctly, will last the life of the car.
That’s our goal, 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 auto, be it an Audi, BMW, Mercedes or an unhappy kitty (Jaguar).

Earning Your Trust, Every Time You Turn The Key…that’s what we do…every day…for the last 33 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

 

 

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Good News – Mercedes SBC – Sensotronic Brake System Warranty – Extended To 25 Years!

Case Studies

Good News
Good news for those who own a 2003 to 2012 Mercedes equipped with the troublesome SBC brake system.

The original 10 year recall warranty extension, has been extended again, this time to an unprecedented 25 years, with unlimited milage! 
If you reference the attached images, you’ll find that Mercedes has done the right thing, and not only extended the warranty, but also agreed to reimburse for previous repairs!

Kudos to the good folks at Mercedes HQ who have taken this course, it’s not only right for the customers, but also right for the company.
Read on for more details.

* Important – We literally receive hundreds of phone calls per year on this issue. Please note that unless you are a service customer of AMC, or live in the state of Maine, or are willing to transport your Mercedes here for service, we can not answer questions about out of state vehicles, and would refer you to the the local Mercedes dealer in your state for assistance. If you are a current customer of AMC, then we will do everything in our power to assist you with your issue, or properly handle any and all service work.

What SBC Is
So what exactly is the SBC Braking system? I’ll briefly try to sum it up in a nutshell. The SBC braking system uses a microcomputer to monitor the car and driver actions. In the event it’s needed, such as emergency braking, the system monitors brake pressure, and applies the appropriate stopping power necessary, even if the driver doesn’t exert enough power. SBC features a host of other features as well, including distributing brake force to different wheels during cornering, to ensure greater stability in the vehicle as well as maximum stopping power; the SBC system even dries the brake discs if a film of water forms on them. In other words, the system sounds like a milestone achievement in braking technology, and it would be, assuming it worked properly. Unfortunately, although the intent was good, the execution was not.

Already Paid
If you’ve already paid to have this work done, or have it done currently with us, we simply suggest that you contact Mercedes with a copy of the service order to the phone number or email on the letter for reimbursement.

Read More
If you want read more on the SBC issue, or any other common issues with vehicles we service, be sure to check the “Mercedes SBC” on our “Case Studies” page – https://atlanticmotorcar.com/casestudies/case-studies

Your Advocate, On Your Side
At AMC, because we are independent and locally owned, we are YOUR advocate, and our team makes a point of checking recalls and service campaigns from the manufacturer on every visit, and keeping our customers up to date.

* Important – We literally receive hundreds of phone calls per year on this issue.
Please note that unless you are a service customer of AMC, we can not answer questions about out of state vehicles, and would refer you to the the local Mercedes dealer in your state for assistance. If you are a current customer of AMC, then we will do everything in our power to assist you with your issue, or properly handle any and all service work.

Questions
If you have any questions, or need a copy of your service history, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. (207) 882-9969.

Thank you,
Bruce and the AMC Team

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