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Q?

Why do I need to have my engine oil changed every 3,000 miles?

A.

A. The additive in the oil starts  to break down as soon as it heats up to high temperatures.  The engine in your vehicle will reach over 200 degrees almost every time you drive it.  History has proven that the 3,000 mile mark is a good interval to have your engine oil replaced.  You never want to just drain your engine oil out and put new oil in without changing the oil filter.  The oil filter will hold about a quart of oil.  If you do not change the oil filter when changing the engine oil in your vehicle you are combining your clean engine oil with deteriorated engine oil and this will lessen the effectiveness of the new engine oil you just put in your vehicle.

Q?

How do I know when my car needs a tune up?

A.

A. You may see your gas mileage decrease.  Your vehicle may start running rough.  If your check engine light comes on that could  also be an indicator that your vehicle needs a tune up.  The owners manual that came with your vehicle may suggest a tune up at a certain mileage.

Q?

What is the primary cause of tire damage?

A.

A. Although there are many things that can cause tire damage, improper inflation is the main problem we see. Always keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle and frequently check the pressure of all tires.

Q?

Q. Will it hurt my engine if I drive my car when the check engine light is on?

A.

A. It is possible but not too likely.  However, you do need to get your vehicle checked out as soon as possible.  You may see a decrease in performance.

Q?

Do I have to get my car serviced by a main dealer?

A.

You are not obliged (since October 2003) to get the car serviced by a franchise dealer during the warranty period. You must though get it serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and criteria using only manufacturer approved parts. The legislation only applies to the part of the warranty offered by the manufacturer, i.e. insurance-backed extended warranties offered by dealers are not covered and may stipulate different conditions.

If you do get the car serviced outside the dealer network you must make sure it’s done to the maker’s recommended schedule and criteria using approved parts. You must also keep records so you can demonstrate to the manufacturer that servicing was undertaken to their requirements.  You should still get warranty work undertaken by the franchised dealer as it is easier for them to deal directly with the manufacturer.

Q?

Who can fix problems with an automatic gearbox?

A.

Automatic gearboxes are complex pieces of equipment and sometimes need very specialised knowledge.

If it’s a problem with the electronics which control the gearbox, it is better to call us directly as we receive regular software updates from the manufacturer. This may cure the problem.

If it’s thought to be a problem with the gearbox itself, then we may recommend one of our garages, which specialised in such repairs.

Q?

Airbag renewal after 10 years. What should I do?

A.

When cars were first fitted with airbags there was a lack of knowledge and confidence about the long term reliability of the systems . Car manufacturers and manufacturers of airbag systems agreed to validate (or test) them for a 10 year life span.

A sodium azide tablet produces the gas which inflates the airbag, and this tablet and the explosive device are sealed. Although some moisture ingress is possible it should not affect performance. There will also be some natural chemical decay, but again this shouldn’t stop the airbag from working.

There was also some concern in the early days that the airbag cover could become brittle through aging and a flying fragment cause eye damage.

Manufacturers increased the validation period to 15 years on later cars without making major changes to design and we are not aware of any airbag failures attributed to ageing.

Q?

How much is reasonable for garage labour?

A.

Vehicles are complex with multiple sensors and electronic control units to keep exhaust emissions to a minimum, improve stability/braking and to operate safety systems.

  • Technicians at franchised garages need to be highly trained and must attend many manufacturers’ training courses. Not only are the courses expensive, but the technicians demand salaries to match their skills.
  • Garage hourly rates vary by location, the nature of the facilities and whether or not they hold a manufacturer franchise.
  • Independent garages are not under the same pressure from vehicle manufacturers to maintain prestigious premises with lots of customer facilities and may be able to charge less than half the labour rate of their franchised counterparts.

Q?

How long should a catalytic converter last?

A.

Catalysts often last 10 years, but actual life depends on mileage and engine tune. 50,000 miles is a more reasonable benchmark, and you can generally expect to replace the catalytic converter once during the life of a vehicle.

If failure occurs early, it’s important to find and fix the cause of the problem before fitting a new CAT otherwise the replacement can be expected to fail prematurely too.

There are three main ways they fail:

  • Melt down – unburned fuel enters the catalyst and ignites on contact. The extreme heat literally melts the ceramic matrix. Poor ignition timing, a faulty oxygen sensor, worn or defective spark plugs, incorrect fuel mixture and other ignition/fuel injection related faults could lead to this failure.
  • Carbon deposits – oil or antifreeze entering the combustion chamber/exhaust system can lead to a build up of carbon on the matrix, which increases back pressure leading to overheating and poor performance.
  • Catalyst fracture – the ceramic matrix is fragile and can break-up as a result of excessive vibration or external impact. As the matrix breaks up back-pressure increases and overheating can result.

Q?

What are the advantages of synthetic oils?

A.

Synthetics and semi-synthetics give improved performance at high temperatures and support extended standard drain intervals. They are the preferred choice for high perfomance cars or for drivers who value long life/durability.

  • Your vehicle handbook will specify the grade/type of oil to be used based on durability/extreme environment testing by the manufacturer.
  • If synthetic oils are recommended then that is what you should use.
  • Mixing mineral and synthetics is not recommended, nor is switching to synthetic oils unless the vehicle handbook specifies that you may do so.

If the manufacturer has confirmed that synthetic oil is suitable for your vehicle and you intend to switch then you must make sure that the engine is drained fully of mineral oil first