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Servicing with an 'Old School' Car Service

I was taught the old school service methods, so that the way we do a service rather than a visual inspection. Our full service we do oil filters, air filters, fuel filters, everything on the engine.

All your levels, even down to door hinges, your fuel cap, anything that moves basically needs greasing, so you know that it gets done.

The wheels come off and we actually dismantle the brakes, clean them and put them back together. The good thing about that is they don’t seize up so they carry on working and working as they should, and you get the maximum life from them. Because we take the wheels off we copper lube the studs and carriers. If you ever have a puncture,you know you will be able to get the wheel nuts off and change the spare quite easily.

Of course a full service takes time, about 3 hours, but we service at a decent rate we are often cheaper than the main dealer.

BMW and the latest Citroens tend to be a lot harder than other manufactures to service, so take a bit longer purely because they hide away a lot of the stuff you need to get at, like air filters, pollen filters etc... Sometimes you have to take most of the bulk head, wipers off just to get to them. It’s just the way they bury the engine into the vehicle for the benefit of weight distribution. But your general car, we can do in 3 hours quite comfortably.

Engines are a lot more complicated now.

We’ve got the latest diagnostic equipment from Snapon Tools. We have a £4,000 diagnostic set up. It’s updated regularly every year and will diagnose nearly every car. There are exceptions particularly, Porsche. who keep their diagnostics secret.

We still do a lot of work on Porsches, for instance We’ve done water pumps on Boxsters, brakes, anything mechanical we can do it. Engine management is a specialised thing, you need the latest diagnostics to work on modern cars, which we have.

Cam Belts and Servicing

If you’ve had a full service then that’s it for the year anyway. Very rarely I’ll get a breakdown on my customer’s cars. It does happen but very rare. The major thing to watch for is making sure you change the cambelt when it is due.

We can always check the history of the cambelt from the servicing book. Once we’ve done it we actually paint the date and mileage of when the cambelt was last changed under the bonnet.

From experience, other garages stamp the book, we stamp the book as well but when it gets sold, I often get car sales ring up and say
“Oh have you got a record of when the cam belt was last changed ?”

I say if we have done a cambelt it is painted under the bonnet so it says when it was changed.

I think our system works really well, as people tend to lose the service books, so you have a record of it on the engine cover.

If the cambelt goes it is very expensive, normally you can bend all the valves damaging the pistons. You can be in for a bill anything from £600 to £700.

Broken valves are expensive and it might ruin the engine completely. When a cam belt breaks, the valves go out of the time with the pistons. When they go out of time, things get damaged and bent that’s why you need to come back and replace it at a certain period.

Although it can be expensive on some cars to change a cambelt. Other cars are an hour and a half it just depends on what car so you can pay anything from £60 plus the fitting, but it does save you money in the long run.

Normally if they’re very hard to do, you’ll find that there would be a 150, 000 miles between changes or 10 years. The easier ones to do are normally every 3 years or 4 years maybe and 60 000 miles. The manufacturers decide if it is going to be a hard belt to change, they normally make them last a lot longer.

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