All of the Mercedes Benz cars since the early days have a brake booster hose that runs from the brake booster to the intake manifold; or if it’s a diesel, to the mechanical vacuum pump. Inside this line there is a check valve made of plastic which is exposed to allot of heat under the hood. Over time it becomes brittle and can break. This is a major safety concern because if the valve breaks the brake pedal will go as hard as a rock and the car will hardly stop. When we are servicing your car we always check these lines and their condition, and recommend replacing it if necessary. The cost of this repair is less than $100.
The purpose of the engine’s cooling system is to remove excess heat from the engine, keep the engine operating at its most efficient temperature and to get the engine up to the correct temperature as soon as possible after starting. Ideally, the cooling system keeps the engine running at its most efficient temperature, no matter what the operating conditions. As fuel is burned in the engine, about one-third of the energy in the fuel is converted into power. Another third goes out the exhaust pipe unused, and the remaining third becomes heat energy. A cooling system of some kind is necessary in any internal combustion engine. If no cooling system were provided, parts would melt from the heat of the burning fuel, and the pistons would expand so much they could not move in the cylinders (they would “seize”). The cooling system of a water-cooled engine consists of: the engine’s water passages, a thermostat, a water pump, a radiator and radiator cap, a cooling fan (electric or belt-driven), hoses, the heater core, and usually an expansion (overflow) tank. Fuel burning engines produce enormous amounts of heat. The cooling system removes about one-third of the heat produced in the combustion chamber. The exhaust system takes away much of the rest, but parts of the engine, such as the cylinder walls, pistons, and cylinder head, absorb large amounts of the heat. If a part of the engine gets too hot, the oil film fails to protect it and this lack of lubrication can ruin the engine. On the other hand, if an engine runs at too cool a temperature, it is inefficient, the oil gets dirty (adding wear and subtracting horsepower), deposits form and fuel mileage is poor– not to mention exhaust emissions! For these reasons, the cooling system is designed to stay out of the action until the engine is warmed up. Liquid cooled engines have passages for the coolant to pass through the cylinder block and head. The coolant must have indirect contact with such engine parts as the combustion chamber, the cylinder walls, and the valve seats and guides in order to do it’s job. The coolant is pushed through the passages in the engine by the water pump and picks up heat on it’s way (it absorbs the heat from the engine parts), it then goes through the radiator, which in turn cools it. After getting “cool” again in the radiator, the coolant comes back through the engine. This process continues as long as the engine is running. The coolant absorbing and removing the engine’s heat and the radiator cooling the coolant. A cooling system pressure tester is used to check the pressure in the cooling system, which allows the Technician to determine if the system has any slow leaks. The leak can then be found and fixed before it causes a major problem. Heater Core-The heater core is a smaller version of the radiator that is designed to keep you warm when it’s cold outside. The heater core is mounted under the dash board. Some of the hot coolant is routed through this little radiator, by more hoses. A small electric fan is also mounted there especially for the purpose of directing the heat inside the car. To turn this fan on, you use a switch called “fan” or “blower,” located on your control panel. The principle is the same as the one used in the radiator for your engine, except that the heat is released inside the car instead of outside. Most engines use the heater core to warm the air coming from the air conditioner if the dash setting is not on “cold”. More efficient designs don’t do this because it makes the engine work harder than it has to. Theses designs cycle the compressor on and off to lessen the cooling output. If your car is running hot, turning the heater on will help to reduce the heat in the engine, until you can get help. Unfortunately, most cars don’t overheat in the winter so it could be a hot ride to the shop!
You are not alone on this one! The car manufacturers are required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard to design brake pads for efficiency. They have no requirements for noise or wear. Many people with this very common problem are told by the dealers that they must just live with it. We, on the other hand, like to consult everyone on his or her squeaky brakes. First, we find out how bad the squeak really is and when it’s occurring. For example, is it occurring only when the brakes are cold, like in the morning? If so, brake a little longer than usual to warm them up. As with racing brake pads, they make noise when they’re cold but when they’re warmed up, they are quite and very efficient. Another factor to consider–were the brakes just changed? If so, the solution is the same…brake a little longer than usual to warm them up. This also removes any brake dust, which is another culprit of squeaky brakes. Other factors like heated/warped rotors will be addressed in the next Newsletter.
Freon R-12, as many of you know, has been discontinued because of its ozone damaging properties. The good news is that the replacement Freon, R134, really works! Contrary to popular belief, it works very well if the job is done right. If you like your car and plan on keeping it, the R134 conversion can save you a lot of money down the road. It gets confusing for a lot of people because of the multitude of different replacement types on the market. However, if you stick to R134 you can’t go wrong. R134 is what the new car manufacturers are using and nothing else.
Some of you have had the inconvenience of having the, “Check Engine” light come on while driving, others have only witnessed this with the key in the “on” position and then go off when the car is running (this is normal). This light isn’t a “service-warning” indicator as a lot of people often think, it is a warning that there is a problem in the engines emission system. It could be a number of different possibilities, depending on the year and model of the car. The only way to know what is causing the fault is to hook up one of our factory testers and retrieve the fault-code information from your engines computer. It isn’t a good idea to drive around with the “Check Engine” light on for too long! The light is there to warn you that serious damage could be done to your Catalytic Converter or related components. We have witnessed people putting tape over the light so it doesn’t “bother” them while driving. It did however bother them when they had to pay several thousands of dollars to repair the damage that had been caused. Some model cars, depending on the year, may have a “Check Engine” only indicator and some may have a “MIL” light-they are essentially the same thing. I often get asked, “How long can I drive with this light on?” My first question would be to ask if the car acts differently at idle or when accelerating. If the answer is “yes” I’d say bring it in right away. If the answer is no then you are probably OK for a short time. If you own a 1995 or later car (OBD 2) and you leave the gas-cap loose this could also cause the “Check Engine” light to come on. So try your gas cap first, especially if you just got gas and the light came on soon after. (To be continued in the next newsletter – OBD Systems and they’re relationship to the “Check Engine” light.)
All summer long your wiper blades have been drying out-leaving you with bad wiper blades when you need them for the first storm of the year. Don’t get caught in a winter rainstorm without wiper blades, it’s very frustrating! Also, if you’re planning on going to the snow or a weekend get-a-way make sure your coolant has been flushed in the last three years in order have maximum protection against, “Engine block freeze up”. Even if you don’t make it to the snow you want to stay on top of this. If it doesn’t get done every three years you could be in for some corrosion in your internal engine block & related components. All Mercedes, BMW, and Porsche use cast iron and aluminum to make up their engine blocks which are vulnerable to corrosion. Before winter gets here try putting on your heater! Make sure that it works before those chilly mornings get here. Sometimes the heater valves get stuck, the ducting falls out of place or the electronics fail. Preventive maintenance is the key. To help you with this, we keep a close track on your last maintenance and when it was done. So if you’re in any doubt as to when these items may have been performed, don’t hesitate to call. We will be happy to look them up for you in your history report and advise you on any needed repairs.
I’m sure you want your vehicle’s brake system to offer smooth, quiet braking capabilities under a wide range of temperature and road conditions; And you don’t want brake-generated noise or dust build up during daily driving. To accommodate this, brake friction materials have evolved significantly over the years. They’ve gone from asbestos to organic to semi-metallic formulations. Each of these materials has proven to have advantages and disadvantages regarding environmental friendliness, wear, noise and stopping capability. Asbestos pads caused health issues and organic compounds can’t always meet a wide range of braking requirements. Unfortunately the steel strands used in semi-metallic pads to provide strength and conduct heat away from rotors also generate noise and are abrasive enough to increase rotor wear. Since they were first used on a few original equipment applications in 1985, friction materials that contain ceramic formulations have become recognized for their desirable blend of traits. These pads use ceramic compounds and copper fibers in place of the semi-metallic pad’s steel fibers. This allows the ceramic pads to handle high brake temperatures with less heat fade, provide faster recovery after the stop, and generate less dust and wear on both the pads and rotors. And from a comfort standpoint, ceramic compounds provide much quieter braking because the ceramic compound helps dampen noise by generating a frequency beyond the human hearing range. Another characteristic that makes ceramic materials attractive is the absence of noticeable dust. All brake pads produce dust as they wear. The ingredients in ceramic compounds produce a light colored dust that is much less noticeable and less likely to stick to the wheels. Consequently, wheels and tires maintain a cleaner appearance longer. Ceramic pads meet or exceed all original equipment standards for durability, stopping distance and noise. According to durability tests, ceramic compounds extend brake life compared to most other semi-metallic and organic materials and outlast other premium pad materials by a significant margin – with no sacrifice in noise control, pad life or braking performance. This is quite an improvement over organic and semi-metallic brake materials that typically sacrifice pad life to reduce noise, or vice versa. Currently, Monaco Motors offers ceramic brake pads at a cost that is very competitive, and in some cases cheaper than the conventional premium pads. If you are tired of the squeaks and dust, ask about availability for your car.
Belts & Chains
Depending upon the model of a car, a belt or chain is the mechanism that turns a car’s camshaft.
These parts are responsible for keeping the pistons from hitting your car’s valves. If a belt or chain isn’t replaced before it wears out or breaks, you could be faced with expensive engine work.
Here’s a brief sampling of car models and their replacement schedule for belt or chain: MODEL BELT OR CHAIN MILES
****************************************************************** BMW Belt 50K
Porsche 944 Belt 30K
Ferrari Belt 30K
Mercedes V8 Chain 125K
Mercedes 380SL Chain (single row) 50K
Mercedes 4&6 cylinder Chain 100K
The age of a belt is critical even if a mileage specification hasn’t been met.
A belt should be replaced within five years. Chain driven camshafts should have
their chain guide rails inspected before these break and fall into the chain and
cause the chain to break. Mileage determines when chains are replaced.
Let’s start by saying 10 to 15K miles on most cars, that is for soft pads that have less chance of squeaking. Hard pads will have less brake dust and be more prone to squeaking than a softer brake pad. Next, we must consider driving conditions. Are you more likely to drive through hilly areas or more commonly, at least in California, in stop-and-go traffic? Many people are surprised to learn that front pads get the most wear and will out- wear rear brake pads two to one.
The balancing act between your tires and alignment Tires are expensive these days, so you want to get the most life you can out of them. El Nino-created potholes exist everywhere these days and just one of them could damage your car’s alignment if hit hard enough!
The best way to tell if your alignment is off is to check your steering wheel while driving on a flat surface. Look down at your steering wheel. If the wheel remains even, you’re fine, but if the steering wheel veers to one side, you can bet the alignment is off.
It’s a lot less expensive to align and balance the tires than to buy new ones. You should correct poor alignment
before the condition worsens. Depending on the extent to which the alignment is off and the duration of the imbalance, you could be faced with very serious tire wear.
It is best to take a periodic look at your tires to check wear and tear. Include checking the insides of your tires too. You have to get down on your hands and knees, which makes this an especially difficult task. This way, however, you can see across the tires.
You’ll be glad to know that whenever you bring your car to Monaco Motors, we make it a point to inspect tires every time a car is put on the hoist. We do this to check wear patterns and for nails or anything else your tires may have picked up. Tire pressure, another important factor, is also checked.
We’ve recently purchased the best alignment equipment money can buy. Manufactured by Hunter, this equipment is rated #1 in alignment. Hunter also maintains the best reputation in the industry in automotive equipment.
Change coolant every two years to prolong the life of the radiator and other cooling system components. Monaco Motors can test your car’s coolant freezing and boiling points to make sure it’s at optimum level.
Flush, don’t drain. This dislodges and removes accumulated debris and old coolant.
Refill with a 50/50 mixture of ethylene glycol antifreeze and clean water. Coolant mixture provides freezing protection down to – 34 degrees F. and boil-over protection to 265 degrees F.
How can you tell when it’s time to change the coolant? The only way to know is the coolant still has adequate corrosion protection is to test it.
The Beach Boys had the right idea! But feeling the vibrations from the steering wheel of your BMW is another matter! Those vibrations you feel from your steering wheel when braking are actually caused by old (not necessarily car’s front suspension broken) bushings on your car’s suspension. BMWs are notorious for this problem. The is very sensitive to rotors becoming warped and bushings getting weakened. Sometimes, both of these problems are the culprits of your steering wheel vibrations.
We consider ourselves experts in this area. But this isn’t an exact science; a technician must verify what’s at the root of the problem first before a diagnosis is concluded.
Where you feel the vibration is a good clue to the location of the problem. If you feel a vibration in the seat, chances are you have a problem in the rear of the car. There are a lot of different types of vibrations. Some can be as simple as tires out of balance.
We had one customer come to us for her first time with a vibration problem. She had taken her car to another shop, which replaced everything on the front suspension and she still had the problem. We investigated the problem and revealed the problem was in the tires! We replaced the tires, which solved everything.
Next to your house, buying a luxury or exotic car can be your second biggest investment. The cost of buying this kind of car can be high, especially when you add in the luxury tax, destination charges and dealer preparation charges, plus sales tax on the retail price you pay. Also, expect to pay higher auto insurance rates, depending on where you live. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, there are some remarkably good values when you consider buying a quality, previously owned, high – end luxury or exotic car. Most people are apprehensive about buying a car a couple of years old or older, but if you do your homework, you can save thousands of dollars on the price of the car, luxury tax, sales tax and auto insurance.
Finding the right previously owned luxury or exotic car takes time and patience.
RULE #1: ALWAYS have the car checked out by a qualified mechanic who specializes in the type of car you are looking to purchase. Choose a mechanic who will look for frame damage and previous body damage, as well as perform a thorough inspection of these key areas:
Lubrication – Fuel – Air Conditioning & Heating – Front Suspension – Brakes – Final Drive – Engine Instruments – Ignition – Lights – Cooling System – Rear Suspension – Drive Line – Steering Diesel (if applicable) – Starting – Differential – Transmission – Electrical – Tires & Wheels Electrical Accessories – Visibility – Exhaust
The ideal buy is from the original owner who has all of the service records to accompany the car. If this is your preliminary observation, then you have made a great head start. At Monaco Motors, we go through all of the cars that we put up for sale. We fix whatever needs fixing, then we sell the cars.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself BEFORE bringing the car to a qualified mechanic for inspection:
Are the door seams evenly spaced? Are the hood and trunk seams even? Do any opening and closing units drag? How are the interior seams? How are the steering wheel stitches (if applicable)? Is the convertible top torn or weathered (if applicable)? Do the paint lines show over spray, indicating previous body work or repainting? Does all the paint match when you look at the car from a distance? Are the bumpers horizontal? Do they have title to the car? Ask if it is clean title, which would mean it is not a salvage title. When you test drive the car, how well does it shift, either manually or automatically? Does the car’s exhaust produce smoke? Have you looked at the car’s service book history? Have you asked for and reviewed the service invoices for work done on the car?
Now that you have done the preliminary work, it’s time to take it to a qualified mechanic who specializes in the type of car you are looking to buy, for a second opinion. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and in this case, could mean the difference in thousands of dollars of future repair bills if you buy unwisely. Let the buyer beware.
Note: Wade Lennan has over 28 years experience, servicing BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari and Rolls Royce, and is the owner of Monaco Motors in Canoga Park, California.
Is it a good Idea to Let your European car sit for an extended time?
It’s not like aging a bottle of wine. We’re talking about a fine European automobile! Perhaps the worse thing you can do for your car, or yourself, for that matter, is to let your car sit.
Let’s look at the car with its rubbers and fluids. The rubber bushings start to deteriorate without any lubrication. Water pump seals are famous for failing when the car sits unused for extended periods. Ferraris are especially susceptible to this problem.
Depending upon how much time has passed, the gas starts going bad and tarnishing the internal components of the injection system. The tires start to form to the floor and cause flat spots, rot and crack.
Let’s not forget about the little creatures that run around on the ground. They jump up into the engine compartment, make a nest and take up residence! These creatures sharpen their teeth on your expensive wiring and chew it up. So, be good to yourself. Don’t let your valuable investment deteriorate. Preserve your car and your pocketbook by driving your car.
However, if you have to store your car, take it out for a lengthy drive at least twice a month. Start up the engine weekly and let the car warm up. This enables the fluids to circulate throughout the car and help keep those pesky little creatures at bay.
Summer is finally upon us and temperatures will be well over 100 degrees. It is important to ask yourself now, is my car cooling properly? Summer car care can be an extensive topic with many related subjects, depending on the design of your car’s cooling system. It is important to find someone who specializes in working on your type of car. More importantly, they must be trustworthy and dependable.
The easiest way for you to determine if your car is cooling properly is to get in the habit of looking at your temperature gauge. This simple act can save you a lot of time, aggravation and money. The best time to start watching your temperature gauge is when the car is cold, first thing in the morning. As you head to your destination and stop at a traffic light or stop sign, take a quick glance at the temperature gauge to see if it is rising close to the red. It is not uncommon for thermostats in some cars to fail overnight and when this happens, the car will overheat almost instantly.
Let’s say you find your temperature gauge is fluctuating. This could be due to a poor connection or faulty ground wire. You can be alerted to this problem ahead of time if you have a cluster of gauges because a bad ground wire will affect these gauges too. Be sure to see your mechanic immediately if you suspect you have a hot running problem.
When your temperature gauge is riding higher than usual, ask your mechanic to check for the following: following: Bad radiator cap , Clogged radiator, Plugged radiator crossover hose, Bad water pump due to rusted out impeller, Bad fan clutch, *Bad thermostat, The high fan speed on the auxiliary fan is inoperable Bad head gasket , Bad temperature gauge or sending unit, Bad air conditioning temperature sending unit for the auxiliary fan. The best defense in fighting the summer car battle is a good offense. Have your car serviced regularly by a qualified mechanic. Make sure they flush out your radiator system and add fresh coolant and water mixture before each summer begins. Ask them to look at the cooling hoses and replace any that look bad. On vehicles that boil over, it is very important that the engine block be tested. Ask your mechanic to conduct a SNIFF test with an infrared scanner across the coolant level in the radiator or expansion tank to sniff out any hydrocarbons present which would indicate a bad head gasket. Then, have them conduct a block test with chemicals to look for any leaks.
Replacing a bad hose or even a radiator is a lot cheaper than replacing a cylinder head or engine block. Remember to ask your mechanic to test your temperature gauge each time you have a major service. A functioning
temperature gauge is your last line of defense between a car that runs cool versus you losing your cool if your
car is stuck on the side of the road on a hot summer day, waiting for a tow truck.
Note: Wade Lennan has over 28 years experience servicing BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari and Rolls Royce, and is the owner of Monaco Motors in Canoga Park, California.
Interest about this topic from a previous article resulted in our converting a lot of cars. End result: the retrofit worked out great for all models. So, why switch? You’ll be helping out the environment plus saving money in the long run. R-12 is $60 per pound vs. $15 for R-134! Imagine if your car develops a leak and you use R-12. That’s money down the drain literally. Plus, harm to the environment is caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) in R-12 which depletes the earth’s ozone layer. R-134 doesn’t contain CFC’s.
Conversion doesn’t alter your car’s power or harm any component. The key is make sure everything is in working order, including the fan clutch, aux fan, radiator and water pump.
(New or Used: That is the question!)
The first question you ask yourself is whether you still like your car or not. Some people love their cars and investing money into the old one is worth it. Perhaps your car has sentimental value or you like the way it handles. If you fall into this category, you want it fixed. No matter what!
This happened to a customer of ours who walked into our shop one day and said, “Wade, I’ve researched it and my Mercedes looks pretty good right now. I still like my car so let’s do whatever it takes to put it in top shape.”
Our customer had figured out that it would cost him $6,000 a year if he bought a new and only $2,000 – $3,000 a year in maintenance for his existing car. So if you’re like this gentleman and love your car, give it to us for a free evaluation. You can then make an informed decision on whether or not to buy new or revamp the old.
Buying a used car or fixing up your current model? Be sure to get a 52 to 200 point inspection to make an informed decision.
Another group of people may feel differently about their mature car. They may be tired of the upkeep and believe that a new car may save money. Rather than running to the nearest car dealer, consider the options. Buying a new car may cost you more in long run. The insurance on a new car is higher and then there are the
monthly payments on top of maintenance costs.
A car is the second largest investment you make and it’s important that you enjoy what you drive. If you don’t like your current car you should buy a new one if it makes you happy.
Buying that new car, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a brand new model. It could be a used car. If fact, a 2-year old model could end up saving you thousands of dollars. So, if you are considering buying a use car, bring it to us. We’ll thoroughly inspect it. We put used cars through a 52 to 200 – point safety check. You’ll then know whether your efforts to save money will pay off for you.
Tires are expensive these days, so you want to get the most life you can out of them. El Nino-created potholes exist everywhere these days and just one of them could damage your car’s alignment if hit hard enough!
The best way to tell if your alignment is off is to check your steering wheel while driving on a flat surface. Look down at your steering wheel. If the wheel remains even, you’re fine, but if the steering wheel veers to one side, you can bet the alignment is off. It’s a lot less expensive to align and balance the tires than to buy new ones. You should correct poor alignment before the condition worsens. Depending on the extent to which the alignment is off and the duration of the imbalance, you could be faced with very serious tire wear.
It is best to take a periodic look at your tires to check wear and tear. Include checking the insides of your tires too. You have to get down on your hands and knees, which makes this an especially difficult task. This way, however, you can see across the tires. You’ll be glad to know that whenever you bring your car to Monaco Motors, we make it a point to inspect tires every time a car is put on the hoist. We do this to check wear patterns and for nails or anything else your tires may have picked up. Tire pressure, another important factor, is also checked.
We’ve recently purchased the best alignment equipment money can buy. Manufactured by Hunter, this equipment is rated #1 in alignment. Hunter also maintains the best reputation in the industry in automotive equipment.