THE
GERMAN MOTOR COMPANY
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Service and Accident Repair Specialists. MOT Test Centre.
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Car Service and Maintenance

SCHEDULED CAR SERVICING

We carry out scheduled services on all makes of German cars using only manufacturers' parts and recommended lubricants. As the makes and models of these vehicles vary and the various servicing requirements differ generally at different mileages, it is not possible to quote accurate prices without knowing the details of the individual vehicle.

Please telephone us on 0208 871 0922 or complete our Contact Form.

A number of German cars use cam belts rather than timing chains to drive their camshafts and these should be replaced at various intervals (click here for further details). If a cam belt breaks, it usually causes extensive engine damage which can be time consuming and costly to repair. If you are not sure when the last belt change was carried out on your vehicle please ask for advice.

NON-SCHEDULED CAR SERVICING

Although most owners stay with the manufacturers' maintenance programs, depending on the type of use that your car gets, it can be worth thinking about an oil and filter change in-between services. We also carry out pre-holiday checks and we offer a test and report service at reasonable rates before you make that decision to purchase a newer vehicle.

We recommend you have your car checked in readiness for winter. Please see our Money Saving Tips Tab for “DIY” suggestions and details of our winter check up and prices.

If your car is still under warranty we confirm this will be unaffected if you use our services as an independent garage. The Office of Fair Trading directed back in 2004 that servicing ties be removed from all new car warranties. An OFT information sheet is available for perusal in our Reception.

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COLLECTION AND DELIVERY

We will collect and deliver any car that is booked in for a scheduled service from almost anywhere in the London and Surrey postal area's. This service is complimentary and totally free of charge so long as the vehicle is drivable and legal to use on the road. All of our drivers are experienced and fully comprehensively insured to drive any vehicle in our care.

Please contact us for further details.

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DIAGNOSTICS

Most manufacturers from 1996 onwards started to introduce OBD - on-board diagnostics, a computer-based tool built into your vehicle's electrical systems which monitors the performance of some of the engine's major components, including individual emission controls.

The system is designed to provide owners with an early warning of malfunctions by way of a dashboard "Check Engine" light (also known as an Engine Management Light).

Should the Engine Check Light illuminate when the car is being driven, then the system should be checked out as soon as possible. The technician will connect the diagnostic tool to your vehicle's computer (usually through a connector under the dashboard) and download information that can pinpoint the problem.

The technician can then repair the vehicle based on manufacturer recommendations. OBD actually helps technicians do their job more quickly and reliably, helping you avoid unnecessary repairs and trips back to the workshop.

Today's vehicles are highly sophisticated and efficient. OBD helps to ensure these vehicles are running in top shape, but you still need to maintain your vehicle according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule. Keep up with routine maintenance and keep an eye out for your Check Engine light. An early diagnosis can save you time and money as sorting a problem in its early stages can save having to replace expensive components such as burnt-out catalytic converters.

When your car is booked in for a major service our technician will carry out an on-board diagnostic check and we will report any early warnings and provide a copy of the print out. Any problems requiring repair which fall outside of the normal service will be reported to you for authorisation.

If your car has not been serviced for some time we suggest an OBD check is carried out at that time. Please ask our reception staff for further information on this.

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TURBOS

In effect all modern German cars (diesel and petrol) have one or more turbos. Most cars have a single turbo but higher performance/bigger engines often have two.

Turbos are used to increase the performance of an engine. It is a unit with seals (not a sealed unit) located between the exhaust outlet manifold and the fuel inlet manifold. Internally it is a unit in two halves. It comprises two small metal impellers (fan blades in effect) which are fixed to spindles/bearings. Excess pressure in the turbo or a turbo breaking up can lead to the seals blowing and oil leakage.

The fan on the exhaust side takes exhaust gas (under increasing pressure as the car accelerates and emits more gas) across to the other side. The second fan then draws in air which is in effect heated by the pressurised exhaust gas and when mixed with fuel boosts the vehicles power output significantly.

Most turbos cut in at about 2000 rpm and deliver increasing power output. This increase varies with load etc e.g. if the car is being driven uphill with speed being kept constant the turbo may cut in earlier in order to maintain a smooth delivery of power to the gearbox to compensate for the load impact of the gradient. After the turbo cuts in the turbo speed/power output increases as the vehicle accelerates.

Originally with turbos there was a lag between acceleration and the turbo cutting in but for many years this has been avoided by very and increasingly sophisticated engine mechanical and management systems operated by the vehicle software. These in effect connect other components of the car including for example the exhaust gas readings produced by catalytic (petrol) converters and DPF/pyrolytic converters (Diesel Particulate Filter) in the exhaust systems.

The use of turbos has enabled manufacturers to produce diesel engines with near matching performance to petrol engines and maintain or enhance performance whilst reducing noxious emissions.

The fans within the turbo operate at increasingly high speed depending on the how hard the driver pushes the vehicle. Heavy acceleration means the engine revs higher in its lower gears leading to the turbo cutting more frequently and of course hard driving reduces the longevity of the components on the car.

The location of and demands on the unit require that it is cooled and lubricated. This is done by oil circulating from the sump of the engine. Any serious reduction in oil pressure or blockage can damage the turbo bearings leading it seize up for lack of lubrication or be damaged by getting too hot.

There are two types of turbo failure:

Seizure:

If the oil supply is reduced or fails , the turbo will seize almost immediately. The car will still be driveable with a seized turbo with no risk of further damage but performance will be noticeably reduced.

Turbo “blowing”:

Similarly as with any bearing, with wear the alignment of the part it supports can change (in this component being the internal fans) which can make contact with the unit's casing and cause damage. The point is whilst we loosely refer to a turbo “blowing”, this can happen suddenly due to several reasons which have to be checked/eliminated on repair or simply as a result of basic wear and tear. Irrespective of the underlying cause ultimately the impeller blades fracture and there is a risk small metal fragments can be sucked into the engine causing serious damage.

Symptoms of turbo problems:

  • Reduced power – normally the engine management light will illuminate, but not always. Any noticeable loss of performance always needs to be investigated at the earliest opportunity.
  • Smell - The turbo unit operates under pressure due to oil circulating referable to the speed of the engine as well as pressurised hot gas/airflow through it. When the turbo wears or is put under too much pressure seals can leak causing oil to escape internally either into the exhaust system (see below) or externally and then drip on to hot components such as the manifold/exhaust leading to a smell of burning, usually more apparent when the car is stationary.
  • Noise: Any grating noise from the engine area requires immediate investigation. The likelihood of parts of a turbo drawn into the engine represents a very serious risk of major damage. Fortunately this is rare but any car with over 80k miles which has not had regular oil changes is at risk of a turbo wearing out.

The inescapable fact is a turbo eventually wears out and either seizes or breaks up. The life of any turbo is considerably increased by regular oil changes and maintaining a correct oil level in the engine. This is one important reason for checking a vehicle's service history when buying second-hand.

When we fit a new turbo we always change the engine oil and fit a new oil filter – a failure to do so can invalidate the manufacturers' guarantee on the replacement component.

With diesel cars excessive urban driving operates to clog/blocking the DPF/pyrolytic converter. The result is similar to holding a potato over an exhaust pipe on much older cars with the difference that instead of eventually stopping considerable damage may follow.

The build-up of emissions gases in the exhaust system causes back pressure which in turn risks damage to other components, including turbo units (also please read No7 under our “Money Saving Tips” Tab for “Do it Yourself” preventive measures – this one is simple!).

Any unexplained noise from the engine and/or reduction in performance should be immediately investigated in case there is a problem with the turbo.

The best advice is when any engine warning light comes on it should be investigated as a matter of urgency to avoid the risk of long term damage.

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Car Service and Diagnostics
The German Motor Company, 62 - 64 Kimber Road, Wandsworth, London SW18 4PP. Telephone: 0208 871 0922.
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