Posted on December 4th, 2013
The Porsche Boxsters are great cars, but have a higher than average failure rate of the water pump, unfortunately this is very critical part on these engines, and aside from the loss of the alternator drive belt, overheating can rapidly damage the engine.
The pump is driven by the Poly-Ribbed Belt, which also drives the Alternator, the A/C and the Power Steering. In most cases, when the water pump fails, it’s the impeller which breaks due to pump’s bearing which eventually breaks.
When this happens generally the Poly-Ribbed Belt shreds or comes off the pulleys and or the engine looses its coolant. Should this occur, immediately stop the engine and have the vehicle towed. If the engine continues to run with no coolant, it may seize causing irreparable damage. Also, without the belt in place, the battery will be drained quickly, as the alternator won’t recharge.
When servicing the water pump, always replace the coolant thermostat at the same time, chances are its as old as the water pump, and those small impeller parts can end up caught inside.
At the Atlantic Motorcar Center, we use an updated pump on the car, offering you a full 2 Year Nationwide Warranty, twice what Porsche offers. This repair can be done in less than a day, and you are welcome to borrow one of our complimentary loaner cars.
Questions, just call us at (207) 882-9969, we’d be happy to arrange the service, and know that we’ll become your Porsche Service provider of choice.
Posted on October 30th, 2013
How would you like to save, oh, say a $1,000 or so from what the dealer and other shops charge to repair your BMW’s X Drive system?
The BMW X Drive system is technological marvel, but the simple fact is when a problem does occur it takes training and skills to properly service, so most shops throw out your old unit, and replace it with a new one, to the tune of $2,000 -$ 2,900.
The AMC team has devised a excellent system to diagnose and properly repair the BMW X Drive, be it in the sedans, coupes, AAV or SUV. And we warranty all work for 2 years, nationwide! Even better new, most repairs can be done the same day, while you use one of our complimentary loaner cars. Not right next door, take advantage of our Complementary Valet Service, we’ll pickup your car right at your home or office, from Falmouth to Camden.
That’s what we do, repair rather than replace, or if possible, prevent problems from even happening by correct and proper maintenance. That’s our commitment to you, as an AMC customer. Which is why we’ve become Maine’s largest and highest rated independent BMW Service Center…very simply, we care.
Posted on October 29th, 2013
The Measure Of A Workshop – Or How To Find A New Home For Your Car
For sometime now I’ve been involved with other shops, either in a consulting, or in an industry 20 Group. Over the years I’ve developed a set of criteria that I’ve shared with friends and family about how to properly evaluate where to obtain high quality, ethical auto service. These apply if your auto is an Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Saab, Volvo or VW.
Some of these items may seem basic, even commonsense, but all too often folks make the decision of where to take the car under duress, you want to have an ongoing relationship with shop before problems occur, indeed a good shop will save you money by preventing problems whenever possible. After one’s home, the car usually 2nd largest expense most folks face. Determining who and where you bring your car for service can be one of the most important decisions you can make. The level of service can either positively or negatively affect both your pocketbook, and the value of your car.
Hourly Labor Rate – While this generally the first question most people ask, its really not a good way to properly evaluate a shop, but is often used as most folks don’t know what else to ask. Cost is understandably an important factor, but the most expensive and disappointing service you can buy is the wrong or poor service on your car. While a shop with a low labor rate may seem a bargain, it will often be undercapitalized and not able to properly equip its workshop, buy needed diagnostic equipment, or provide training for its staff. Undercapitalized shops are likewise usually not able to hire and retain top talent. Likewise an undercapitalized shop will be much less likely to reach into their own pockets to help with goodwill for its customers. What you want is a “fair” labor rate, one that is reasonable to you, and allows the shop to stay in business.
Overall Facility – When evaluating a service facility be cautious not to repeat the reasons you left the new car dealer. While a clean and modern facility is important, you want to avoid the frills and flourishes that have nothing to do with servicing your auto, and only serve to raise the cost of the repair. Glass palaces with gold plated facets are known in the industry as “Taj Garages”, and you don’t want to be the one paying for the owner’s mortgage and ego. If the facility looks like a new car dealer on the outside, you’re going to find the same cost structure on the inside.
Perception is often reality, look at the facility from the outside; does it look clean and safe? Does it look like the ownership takes pride in the business, if they don’t take care of their own property, do you think they will care for yours? How are you greeted at the service counter? Does the staff seem to welcome you? Look around at the waiting room, most progressive shops will now have WiFi Internet in the waiting area, ideally there may even be a desk and computer for you to work from while your car is being serviced.
Loaner cars, does the facility provide loaner cars or alternative transportation arrangements? Do they offer pickup and delivery valet service, or after hours drop off and pickup of your car? In short, are they thinking about your convenience?
Customer Cars – While you are looking at the outside property, take a look at cars in the prospective shop’s parking lot. Are they the same model as yours? Ideally you want a shop that specializes in your car type, we’ll talk more about that later. Are the cars waiting for service about the same type, Audi, BMW, Volvo, and vintage as yours or older? A parking lot with late model cars generally means that the workshop is keeping current on technology, and is likely properly equipped to service your car. Take a critical look at the condition of the customer cars, this is almost as important as their age. Do the cars look well maintained; or are they damaged, dented, held together with duck tape? If it looks like a car you’d be uncomfortable parking next to, then this may not be the right place for your car. If the cars in the parking lot look attractive, then the shop is doing a good job making their customer’s cars last.
Specialization – Ask if the prospective shop is familiar with your type of car, not just if they have worked on them, but if they specialize in it. Ideally you want a shop that specializes in your car type; they will have the tools, parts and experience to handle your service promptly and efficiently. It works in the medical profession, and it’s doubly true when you are dealing with more than just two models. Remember the phrase – “Jack of all trades, master of none?” – most of today’s cars are far too complicated to be handled professionally by a general repair shop, you don’t want someone learning how to fix your car – on your dime. You’ll find a specialist will save you money, provide a better outcome, for they know what to look for, and have often developed service procedures to quickly handle the common problems.
Workshop Cleanliness – Are you allowed inside the workshop? A professional organization will eagerly offer to give you a tour of the facility; after all they are proud to show off what they have built. Don’t rely on website photos, they may not even be of the facility you were visiting, and it is all too easy to make even the dirtiest look pretty in photos/videos, so ask to walk inside the workshop. Can you walk from one side to the other without getting greasy? Are there used parts piled up, is the floor clean and painted, remember, what’s on the workshop floor will end up on the floor of your car. Over the years I’ve noted that the higher skilled technicians simply won’t work in a dirty environment for any length of time. The cleanliness and order of the workshop is perhaps the best indication you can get as to the service philosophy of the ownership and technicians.
Staff – While you are in the workshop, take a look at the staff, perhaps more intangible, but important nevertheless, look at the folks who will be working on your car. Do they look happy, are they working as a team, do they seem to enjoy where they are and what they do? Do they smile, can you speak with them, and does the service advisor bring you out to the shop and introduce you to the person who will be working on your car? Today’s cars are complicated, the best shops work as teams.
Information Technology – Computers, often-specialized computers, are need to service almost every late model car now. Ask to see diagnostic equipment specific to your car, if you have a BMW, ask to see the BMW computer, a Mercedes, the MB DAS system, a Volvo, the VIDA computer. Such computers and diagnostic tools represent a major expense; properly equipped shops will love to show them off.
Ask about factory service information, does the workshop use online service manuals, the paper service books have been largely obsolete for nearly a decade. Ask about factory service bulletins, does the shop require technicians to check for bulletins, which may apply to your car during service, do they regularly share such bulletins with you. Ideally you should a minimum of one computer per technician in the workshop, this may be a mix of laptops and desk computers.
Training – Ask if the shop has a regular training program, do all the people who might be working on your car go…or just a few? Where do they train – hint local parts vendor training only helps them sell that company’s parts, training should be high level training, often done off site. Ask what is their training budget for each tech – you are entitled to know, these are the people working on your car, and if they are not trained, they are learning at your expense.
Look for certifications for technicians, not all shops display these on the wall, so you may need to ask. You should see a minimum of ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) an independent certification body, but check also for other training certificates, and check that it is current – auto technology changes fast.
Service Philosophy – This is a question for the shop owner, ask him or her about their service philosophy. You want a shop geared toward Maintenance rather than Repair. Odd sounding perhaps, so let’s talk about those two terms, often interchanged and not clearly understood. Maintenance means “maintaining” your car, servicing it before it “breaks down”. All manufacturers, from Audi to Volvo have service schedules. Repair on the other hand is done after a failure has occurred. Maintenance is almost always less expensive than repair, it is far easier and less costly to maintain rather than replace. For example, it is less costly to paint your house every 5 years than replace all the wood every 10 years.
A well-maintained car is safe, reliable and has a much higher resale. An ideal shop will have safety and reliability as their two top values. Ask if they follow the factory maintenance schedule, and then ask them to show you the actual schedule for your car. The factory schedule is the minimum care that a manufacturer has determined a car needs to be safe and reliable, often in harsh climates more frequent, or different services are required.
Customer Care – The best service facilities want to have an ongoing relationship with you and your car. Ask about their after-service follow up – do you receive a call after service, thank you cards for referrals, does it seem like they appreciate you as an individual? Do they provide free service reminders for when you car should be serviced in the future?
Quality control, today’s cars are sometimes a real challenge to service, every shop should have a quality control program, and you the customer should not be the quality control department. Ask about quality checking, how many times is your car checked over before being released from service, which does the quality checks, it should be more than just the technician who serviced your car.
Can you freely speak with owner, is the owner on premieres? Ask about the shop’s relationship with local new car dealers if warranty problem or recall occurs. The best shops will maintain an ongoing relationship with the service department of the new car dealer, assuring you that if a warranty problem does occur, it will be handled promptly. The best shops will arrange and handle the warranty service process for you, working with the dealer to resolve the concern.
Community – The best businesses are generally actively involved in their local community, and not just there for a fast buck. As the staff about their community involvement, or giveback. Are the owners or staff involved with local non-profits, on boards of community organization, etc? While this shouldn’t be not a major focal point, especially for a new business, but it will tell you a bit more about the philosophy of the ownership.
Online Reviews – The internet has empowers the consumer like nothing before, it’s your friend here as well. Look for online reviews written by the shop’s customers, the best are DemandForce and then Google. Read their customer’s words, you can often learn a great deal reading between the lines. No shop is perfect, and mistakes do happen from time to time, what you want to look for is how the workshop worked with the customer to resolve the issue. A string of negative reviews, or worse, few or no reviews, should prompt you to reconsider your choice.
Other – Does the company own its own building, in certain metro areas this may not be feasible, or if the business is young this may not be the case, but it does give you some idea if the business is financially secure.
About Us – At Atlantic Motorcar we are sometimes asked what makes us different, better or a superior choice to your current service facility. Simply stated, because we provide the overall lowest cost in auto service, preventing problems rather than just repairing them. We use better methods to give you the highest quality service. In short, we care about you, and your car. We don’t just say that, we measure it! We consistently rank in the upper 3% of Customer Satisfaction Surveys from Customerlink. We are conveniently located on U.S. Route 1 in Maine’s midcoast, and offer complimentary loaner cars as well as valet pickup and delivery service from Falmouth to Camden.
We have over 25 years of experience servicing Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche, and Volvo. We utilize all of the latest technology and factory computerized diagnostic systems. Our service staff is trained on even the very latest models and systems. As Maine’s Bosch Authorized Service Center (since 1989) we have both the experience and training to repair and service these fine automobiles. Our facility offers comprehensive service for your car, and we are not limited in our capabilities.
Please take a few moments to let us know how we can help you! (207) 882-9969 or on the web at AtlanticMotorcar.com.
Posted on October 25th, 2013
The electrical system in late-model Minis and BMWs is quite sophisticated, in that it tailors charging as closely as possible to both the type and age of the battery. The Engine Management computer also controls the alternator output. When replacing a battery, this computer needs to be informed if you’ve replaced the battery or updated the vehicle from a conventional Lead Acid battery to an Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) type; it charges the AGM differently than a traditional battery.
This process of updating the alternator-control computer is called Battery Registration. Ignoring the registration process after replacing a battery won’t necessarily trigger a Diagnostic Trouble Code or Malfunction Indicator Lamp (‘Check Engine’ or ‘Service Engine Soon’ light). However, be advised that skipping the battery registration process can dramatically shorten the life of a battery in these vehicles and- worse yet- damage components within the entire electrical system.
We have diagnosed some BMWs with failing batteries, some installed less than a year, simply due to failing to have the battery registered! The charging system often shortens the life of an unregistered battery by charging it too aggressively, especially when it is cold, and sometimes damaging other control units. At times, we have replaced an alternator that failed prematurely because battery registration was not performed when the vehicle’s battery was replaced.
Battery Registration informs the vehicle that the battery has been replaced. It completes the following operations:
· Battery capacity is set to 80%
· Current Odometer reading are stored
· Stored battery statistics (current, voltage, battery charge level) are deleted
· Stored temperature statistics are deleted
The following late-model vehicles require battery registration:
· 2002 and newer 7-Series E65/E66 chassis
· 2003 and newer 6-Series E54/E63 chassis
· 2004 and newer 5-Series E60/E61 chassis
· 2006 and newer 3-Series E90/E91/E92/E93 chassis
· 2005 and newer X5 E53 chassis with N62 engine
· 2007 and newer X5 E70 chassis
· 2008 and newer X6 E71 chassis
· 2007 and newer Mini Coopers (R56)
Don’t take the chance, always have a new battery registered after installation at a BMW-qualified shop- it’s not expensive and will ensure a properly operating electrical system. At Atlantic Motorcar, we have the equipment and the training to properly register your vehicle’s battery to factory specs, ensuring that manufacturer warranty requirements have been met.
On a final note, you can expect your original or quality replacement BMW battery to last 4-8 years in a properly operating BMW, and 5-10 years with an AGM battery.
Peace of Mind, that’s what we do.
Atlantic Motorcar Center Service (207) 882-9969
Posted on October 10th, 2013
Tech Tip – Rain Sensing Wipers – Be Careful On Windshield Replacements
Just spent the better part of a day with a BMW having an issue with the automatic rain sensing wipers. Problem, the incorrect windshield glass had been installed by the insurance company.
Should your auto require a windshield replacement, it is very important the correct glass be installed. When in doubt, check with us, or the new car dealer to be sure, here’s why.
How They Work
Many newer vehicles are equipped with rain sensing wipers. The wiper-switch may be left in the automatic position on these models. When rain hits the windshield, the wipers come on automatically. This may seem very high-tech, but the principle is quite simple.
A small electronic module near the top of the windshield is the brain of the rain-sensing system. Multiple light-emitting diodes (LED) transmit infrared beams. The dry surface of the windshield reflects this light. Other chips within the module receive the reflection. The amount of light reflected varies the voltage that flows through this device.
Here’s The Problem
If the incorrect glass is installed, your automatic wipers may not work, or not work correctly. Removing and reinstalling the correct glass is a major and invasive process, something that you want to make certain is done right, the first time.
Should your auto require a windshield replacement, it is very important the correct glass be installed. When in doubt, check with us, or the new car dealer to be sure.
Questions, or if we can be of further assistance, please just call (207) 882-9969.
Tech Tip – Why Does My Lighter/Power Socket Fuse Keep Blowing On My Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini And Volvo
Posted on September 5th, 2013
In the United States cigar lighters started appearing as standard equipment in automobiles in 1925/26. In newer cars, the socket often ships with a plastic dummy plug, without the lighter heating element due to declining popularity of smoking. However, the socket continues to exist to power consumer electronics in cars as the primary purpose.Why The Fuse Blows
Now that you know more than you ever wanted about lighter sockets, let’s talk about the fuse problem. The simple answer is that most power adaptors are designed for US size lighter sockets. The European standard is close, but slightly different, both in diameter, 20.93 mm compared to 21.51mm, and in electrical layout.
While the physical dimensions are different, it is the electrical layout that is really the root of the problem.
Domestic/American Cars – See Photo
The only battery positive contact is at the bottom of the socket well – see photo, that’s why your lighter adaptor has a small spring loaded “button” on the end, to make contact with the positive post in the socket.
European Autos - See Photo
Use a different layout – see photo, they also have the positive contact at the bottom, but in addition they have two small “U shaped arms” which are also positive contacts, that run the side of the lighter socket.
Here’s where the problem happens, if you look at your average power adaptor – see photo, you’ll note two small spring contacts on the side, these are for the negative power connection. Normally this works fine, it holds the adaptor in place, and makes a nice electrical contact. The problem arises when these two spring contacts touch the positive “arms” of the European lighter socket, pop goes the fuse.
Puzzled, the owner replaces the fuse, plugs the adaptor back, in, and all is good in the world until the contacts touch again, which may be days, weeks or months. Hence the mystery why the lighter fuse seems to randomly fail.
A quick tip I suggest is to make a small “index” mark on the opening of the lighter socket with a Sharpie marker, this helps you align the plug, to miss the contacts, when inserting.
Now, you know the rest of the story!
Posted on August 15th, 2013
Running through the BMW Test Plan, we identified the problem, the battery was under water! In fact, the rear of the car was full of water, and clearly had been for some time. Clogged sunroof drains were identified as the culprit, something which should be checked and cleared at least annually, or during the BMW scheduled maintenance services.
The car was just at another service facility, be sure that when your car is serviced, that every step on the Factory Service Schedule is done, even something simple, like cleaning drains, can lead to major complications if neglected. Which is why we’re believers in “preventing” rather than “repairing” problems. That whole “ounce of prevention” thing we talk about so often.
Fortunately we caught the problem before major damage occurred, there are a number of other electronics located in that area, and will have everything back in ship shape condition shortly.
Not quite as bad as the Porsche in the river scene from the 1980s classic, “Risky Business”. Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bodVVtqmbZE
Questions, just call, we’re always here to help! (207) 882-9969.
Posted on August 14th, 2013
With our sales business, and referrals from other shops and dealers, we seem to be doing a fair number of these BMW factory kit installs.
The results are great, we also install the lighting control module and wiring as as well, and we have the BMW computer to reprogram the electronics for the trailer connection lighting.
These hitches are quite versatile, and can be used to tow a boat or trailer, install a bike carrier, or for any number of reasons.
We thought folks might like to see the process of installation.
Posted on June 28th, 2013
Gotta keep cool – BMW A/C blower motor replacement, courtesy of the highly skilled, versatile and always smiling Nick. Looks like a chore, but handled with a aplomb and a smile with the AMC team.
Posted on May 9th, 2013
If you take a close look at the flywheel photos, you’ll note that it it looks blued and heat checked, that’s the result of the clutch slipping, not good. Think of the clutch system to be much like your auto’s brake system, with the clutch disc being similar to the brake pads, and the flywheel like the rotors. Clutches wear out over time and miles, the friction material gets thinner and thinner, until it can no longer properly transfer the power from the engine to the transmission, and it slips.
As the flywheel is much like the brake rotors on your auto, the surface should be clean and somewhat shiny, when the clutch slips, as it does when it is near the end of it’s service life, then excessive heat is generated, and the flywheel can be quickly damaged. Some wear can be machined out, but once the heat checking and blueing has occurred, it’s unfortunately too late.
You’ll note on the clutch friction disc there is very little material left before it hits retaining rivets. Ideally this clutch should have been replaced soon, and likely the flywheel could have been saved. You’ll note additional heat marking and wear on the clutch pressure plate, which is routinely replaced during a clutch service.
Prevention, rather than repair, often saves both time and expense. At Atlantic Motorcar Center we believe in preventive maintenance, correcting small problems before they become bigger ones, that’s the Atlantic Motorcar way.