Finally, a simple way to increase performance.

Torque TunerThe Torque Tuner is a new product which significantly increases the performance of your vehicle without any programming or invasive computer alterations. It simply an electronic device which plugs into your vehicle.

How does it work? Torque Tuner

Most modern cars these days have done away with accelerator cables and instead now use a fly-by-wire accelerator setup which is electronically controlled. Put simply, when you’re depressing the accelerator pedal, you’re actually moving an electronic component which sends a signal to the engine computer, which in turn opens the engine throttle.

What the Torque Tuner simply does is change the signal to make the computer think that you are accelerating more than you actually are, and this opens the throttle sooner and quicker. What this does is bring the power or rather, the torque down to where you use it most – when taking off from standstill or driving up steep winding roads or even when towing boats etc.

Since there are no internal computer changes, this device does not actually increase the overall power and torque of your engine; however it does increase low down torque to a much more useable level. The result is quicker, more responsive acceleration.

No Side Effects!

I’ve done a lot of research and investigation into this product because I needed to be sure that it was safe and reliable and wouldn’t affect any part or system on your vehicle and I can confidently say that there are absolutely no side-effects or drivability issues.

Torque Tuner

PRE-PAID & FREE SERVICING: An Investigation into the Benefits and Downsides

There’s been a lot of hype and publicity recently about pre-paid servicing or free servicing which car manufacturers are offering their customers. Well I won’t hide the fact that this is certainly a threat to our business because a large portion of the cars we work on are less than three years old and still under warranty, so it makes sense that pre-paid servicing is well and truly on our radar.

Of course I’m all for people getting a better deal and saving money where they can, but what I want to make sure is that the public are making an educated decision and not falling for any hype or misconceptions, or worse still, paying more than they should.Pre-paid servicing is simply that; service and repairs, paid upfront for the next three to five years or 60,000 kms to 100,000 kms.  My wife and I recently bought a new BMW X3 and I asked the salesman if there was any free servicing in the deal, he indicated that there was that option but I would have had to pay for it, so it wasn’t free at all!  In fact, we paid about $3000 less for the car because we bought it without the free servicing!

These pre-paid service plans are called Service Inclusive packages.  To be eligible the cars need to be less than 12 months old and not had any services yet.  These plans also begin from the date of the first registration.

I suppose the biggest advantage is that the pre-paid service amount could be packaged in the price of the car and included in the lease payments and that sounds pretty good, but then I thought about it for while and came up with the conclusion that if I included the pre-paid service through the purchase of the car, I’m also going to be paying interest on the service component.  One other disadvantage is that you cannot get your money back if you have to sell the car or if it gets written off before the contract expires, however it is transferrable to the new owner, which could make it a good selling point.

I thought the only way I could benefit is if the cost of the pre-paid service amount would be less than if I was to pay for it normally when the service was performed, so I did a ton of research and discovered a lot about this new concept.  I found that if you were to travel an average amount of kilometres per year and continued to take the car back to the dealer for service, you could actually be better off under one of these plans compared to paying the dealer their normal prices, which is a good thing.  The other advantage to pre-paying would be that the prices are locked into today’s prices and shielded from future price rises.

On the other hand, if you were to take your car to an independent service centre like BM Tech, in most cases and depending on which plan you decide on and the amount of kilometres you travel per year, you would still come out spending less than if you purchased a pre-paid service plan from the dealer!Caption2

BM Tech could therefore be a viable, cost saving option – especially since we service all of our cars by the book using original parts, meaning that there wouldn’t be any difference in quality.

There are two levels of Service Inclusive plans: BASIC and PLUS.  The BASIC plan covers all levels of servicing as indicated on the Condition Based Service (CBS) computer, but excludes brakes, clutch and wiper rubbers. This plan includes, scheduled oil services, vehicle checks, brake fluid changes, spark plugs, microfilters as well as air filters.

The PLUS plan includes everything as in the Basic plan but also includes brake pads and discs, and wiper rubbers (wiper rubbers only with an oil change), and would you believe a worn clutch!  Another little quirk which will definitely go against the pre-paid plans is that the PLUS plans seem to be priced on the assumption that the brake discs will always need to be replaced when the pads are due.  This is not always the case.  If you pay for a PLUS plan but it turns out that discs are not required on your car during the plan period, then you will almost certainly end up paying significantly more with the pre-paid plan than if you serviced it with us; it really is a gamble sometimes!

I have tabled three examples, all based on the BMW 325i E92. The first table is for a car travelling low kilometres, the second is based on average kilometres and the third is based on high yearly kilometres.  These tables are there to highlight how much you would save or, I hate to say, lose if you were to take your car to BM Tech for service versus purchasing a pre-paid plan from a dealer.

My calculations are based on our experience of when the services are normally likely to be due.  This is not an exact science because the BMW Condition Based Service (CBS) computer uses sensors to monitor the condition of the worn parts to ascertain the extent to which servicing is necessary.  However, it’s fair to say, based on our experience and assuming you drive your car sensibly, Oil Services on modern cars are usually required at around 30,000 kms, and brakes are normally replaced at around 40,000 – 50,000 kms, so my calculations are based on these assumptions.  Time based services like Vehicle Checks and Brakefluid flushes are performed every 12 and 24 months respectively.

The first example (Table 1) is based on a typical 325i E92 travelling approximately  12,000 kms per year which has a pre-paid plan limited to 60,000 kms. It’s important to note that prices will vary depending on how many kilometres a car travels per year, but 12,000 kms or less is very common for a suburban vehicle.

Table1

It’s important to note that the BM Tech estimated costs also take into account estimated CPI increases each of 2.5% PA, but actual increases could of course be more or less than this.

 I think the next example is likely to be the most common one. Table 2 is based on the same BMW travelling an average of 15,000 kms per year which has a pre-paid plan limited to 100,000 kms. Among the cars we see, 15,000 kms per year seems to be about what most people who live in the suburbs travel these days.

Table2

As you can see in table 2, if this sort of usage matches how you use your car, BM Tech is likely to be a winner.

The following example (table 3) is based on the same car travelling 20,000 kms per year which has a pre-paid plan limited to 100,000 kms.

Table3

This last table highlights the fact that the more kilometres you travel per year, the more likely you are to get value out of a pre-paid plan.

To summarise, I suppose I have to admit that these plans are kind of okay if you intend to travel lots of kilometres, but then again, if you were to travel the average kilometres per year, then BM Tech would be the obvious choice.  If you intend to have your car only serviced at the dealer, a pre-paid plan is worth considering.

What I find very interesting is that the pre-paid plans don’t seem to be too cost effective for cars which travel at or below the normal average kilometres, which makes me think that the manufacturer has carefully designed and calculated the plans to ensure that they are not unduly disadvantaged!

My thoughts, based on my research and calculations, would be to keep your money in the bank, let it earn interest (or pay down some of your mortgage!) and then pay for your service as you go with an independent specialist like us – you’ll more likely be better off, but then again I am biased!

If you would like more information or would like to see my calculations in detail, then please don’t hesitate to come into one of our branches. We would be more than happy to discuss the advantages and pitfalls of pre-paid plans with you.

SPECIAL EDITION: How to Deal With Carbon & Sludge

THE PROBLEM WITH MODERN ENGINES

The modern engine is an amazing technological marvel. Car manufacturers around the world have been designing engines to be environmentally friendly, very economical and incredibly powerful.

The use of high-tech alloys and computer controlled mechanicals has enabled engine designers to build engines which 20 years ago would have been unheard of.

Today’s engines have amazing new components like variable camshaft control and variable valve openings, just to name a few. All these new systems and devices have quadrupled the amount of internally moving parts inside the engine, particularly the cylinder head. Again, compared to twenty years ago, this is mind boggling!

Strict environmental controls and emissions standards, and consumer demands for better fuel economy and performance have also forced designers to develop direct injection systems for both petrol and diesel engines. These new injection systems now inject fuel directly inside the combustion chamber instead of inside the inlet manifold and port. The advancement in technology has enabled this super-efficient design to now become available.

SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Now okay, you may think these new high-tech engines are good, and of course they are, but like many things in life, good things always seem to come with a price, or even unintended consequences.

Please excuse me if I now become a bit more technical but I’ll try and keep it to a minimum.

Sometimes technology generates new problems. Take the inlet manifold, for example. Once, there was a carburettor sitting on top of the engine. Air mixed with fuel was delivered above the throttle, which was awash in petrol, one of the world’s great solvents. So carbon could not build up because of the washing action of the swirling, fuel laden air.

Direct injection doesn’t have the fuel mixed with the air, so the natural cleaning action of the petrol can’t occur anymore. So yet again the introduction of new and better systems has by their very design caused an unintended problem.

As a result, it’s common now to find vehicles with very dirty inlet manifolds and throttle bodies caused by carbon build up, bad enough to cause some components to stick and fail. In extreme cases, the blockages can be so bad that the airflow entering the engine becomes restricted. Such an obstruction can result in poor idle, a stalling condition and a drop in performance and fuel economy. Customers complain of a loss of power or poor fuel economy.

Sludge 1

SERIOUS OIL SLUDGE

Another issue modern engines face is one which can be easily preventable. It’s the fact that many, many engines are creating huge amounts of internal sludge.

Our experience has shown that sludge is most likely caused by excessively long oil change intervals. We’ve seen so many “dealer serviced” engines which have enormous amounts of sludge build up.

The intervals that BMW follows under the maintenance program, as well as the intervals indicated by the vehicle’s on-board oil change reminder system, are in our opinion far too long. Additionally, this is compounded by short drive times, as the condensation and acids in the oil do not get hot enough to burn off. Technically, oil sludge is the breakdown product of over-stressed oil in your engine.

SO WHAT’S CAUSING THE SLUDGE?

Oil that is stressed by contaminants and oxidation, or if it has to work longer that it was really designed to, will break down into a gel that sticks to your engine parts. As the gel or sludge sticks, there is less good oil to circulate and do its protective job.

A sludge contaminated engine is being damaged every minute it’s operating. Sludge can also block up oil galleries and pipes, resulting in loss of oil pressure. This lack of oil pressure and flow can cause catastrophic component failures like worn timing chains and bearing failures. These failures are things we see first-hand on many occasions.

ENGINES BEGIN TO BURN AND USE OIL

Sludge build up, as well as carbon build up can also cause engines to use or rather burn oil, resulting in annoying and costly oil top ups as well as blowing smoke from the exhaust. The combination of carbon build up and sludge around the piston rings creates a situation where the oil control rings can’t scrape the oil off the bores during the piston’s downward stroke. Normally, the oil would flow from the rings and then through the small drain holes behind where the rings sit. If the drain holes are blocked then the oil remains on the surface of the bore and consequently gets burnt during the power stroke in the cylinder.

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?

Now I have good news! As you know, the advent of cutting-edge technology has given rise to the development of amazing new engine designs and injection systems. At the same time, cutting-edge technology has also enabled chemical engineers to design incredible new additives which remove and dissolve carbon deposits and sludge build up.

Now before you start baulking at the word additives, things are different nowadays. Years ago, many shonky companies were exposed for selling additives which did nothing like they claimed. Of course this gave the motor industry a bad name and fortunately, additives became a thing of the past. These days, additives actually work and some are even endorsed by manufacturers to fix minor and in some cases, major issues, especially transmissions which can develop harsh shifting.

Carbon On Valves

ADDITIVES ARE BACK!

The good news is there are now some fantastic products out there to combat excessive carbon and sludge build up. We’ve been using these additives and chemicals for some time now with great success. Many customers have been delighted with the results, especially on the oil burning engines, which the use of additives reduced oil consumption and restored performance.

Below are the types of additives available and their applications:

OIL PRE-FLUSH:
This is added to the engine oil 15 minutes prior to changing the old oil. This removes excessive sludge from piston rings and oil galleries. Reduces oil consumption and restores performance and reliability. Engine smoke is also reduced or eliminated. Costs $33.00

FUEL TREATMENT:
Added to fuel tank. This chemical removes carbon deposits around intake valves and cleans fuel injector nozzles. Ongoing use like every three months is good to maintain a clean system. This additive costs $38.50 per serve.

FUEL TREATMENT INTENSIVE CLEAN:
Commonly called Carbon Clean. There are two versions: one for old engines and one for new engines. A Machine apparatus is required to connect to the fuel system where a chemical is mixed with the petrol or air and then the engine runs on this solution for about one hour. This is similar to the tank additive except that it is extremely powerful. This chemical removes carbon deposits around intake ports and valves. Cleans and unblocks fuel injector nozzles.

This should be performed every 30,000 kms on modern engines and every 40,000 kms on older technology engines. This costs $175 for a Carbon Clean on petrol engines and $275 to $295 on diesel engines.

So there you have it, modern engines are good but they can have their pitfalls. Fortunately we now have exciting and relatively low-cost solutions to keep these amazing, high-tech engines in tip-top running condition.

The New BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe

It’s a fact that BMW have always been real trend setters when it comes to vehicle design and innovation, but there’s one trend which I find quite interesting, and that is calling a four door car a coupe! It began with the X6 Coupe which we all know is a four door, and now it’s the 6 series’ turn to wear the “I’m a sedan but call me a coupe” name. From a marketing point of view, it’s got everyone talking, and I suppose that’s what it’s all about. Even Mercedes have jumped on the band-wagon.

BMW_6_Series_Gran_Coupe_1

Anyway, regardless of the name, it would not deter me from owning one (however I think the price tag would). I think it’s one of the best looking sedans ever made by BMW. We all know the two door versions normally look better than their four door counterparts and this one actually looks like a two door version. It’s obvious why they call it a coupe; it looks so damn good!

I haven’t had the pleasure of driving one yet, but who cares? I mean, how bad can it be? It is from BMW; one of the best car manufacturers in the world. It has to drive brilliantly! Just reading the specifications is enough to start the heart pumping.

There are two versions you can buy here:

The 640i Gran Coupe has a 3.0 litre 6 cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 235 kW of power and accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds. Would you believe the fuel economy is still an incredibly low 7.9 L/100kms. Amazing!

The 650i Gran Coupe has the beautiful 4.4 litre V8 engine. This engine has a whopping 330 kW of power and you’ll reach 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds!

These cars are packed with safety features as well as high efficiency systems to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. One real innovative feature is when the car is braking; the kinetic energy created is converted into electricity. How clever is that? Another is the auto stop-start function, where the engine will switch off once you come to a stop, like a traffic lights. When you take your foot off the brake, the engine will immediately re-start. This feature can definitely save a lot of fuel.

I think the 6 Series Gran Coupe is an incredible car with amazingly good looks but at a price of around $199,000 for the 640i and $256,000 for the 650i, I think it’s a bit overpriced. A similar (good looking) car at around half the price is the new 535i sedan; that’s what I would buy!

Regardless of the price, I’m sure they’ll be selling quite a few of these 6 Series Gran Sedans, oops, I mean Coupes.

Our New BM Tech Business Lounge

For many of you the inconvenience of being without your car is very annoying and at times, quite disruptive to your normal work routine. To make your life a little easier, we have introduced a new Customer Business Lounge for those who would like to carry on their business while we service their BMW or Mini at the Canterbury Branch.

Business Lounge with Grass image C

This lounge is not actually a waiting room; instead it’s been designed to be your second, temporary office, where you will be able to enjoy all the same benefits as you would in your own home or office.

The BM Tech Business Lounge offers, free Wi-Fi, desks, a laser printer and a photocopier/scanner/ fax. You will even have access to a computer if you need one.

The business lounge is available to all our BMW and Mini clients free of charge; however bookings are essential as we can only accommodate a few clients at a time. There are some conditions so please do not hesitate in contacting the Canterbury Branch on 9836-1888 for more information.

Diagnosis, X-Rays and Blood tests!

Why is it okay for doctors and health care professionals to charge for diagnosis like x-rays and blood tests, but it’s not okay for mechanics or technicians to charge for diagnosis?
One of my most fascinating observations over the past 24 years as an owner of an automotive service centre is that many customers don’t want to be charged for diagnosis. For some reason, many customers think that just because a technician hasn’t actually “fixed” the problem, they shouldn’t have to pay for the time it took to find or diagnose the problem!

Almost every day, a car arrives with issues like running rough or stalling. The owners discuss the issue and are happy to leave the car for us to diagnose. We then inspect the car by carrying out a series of checks starting from the simple basics like checking the fuses to full-on checks like checking wiring voltage drops or even frequency patterns on oscilloscopes. It’s not dissimilar to doctors carrying out heart ECG or blood tests; the only difference is that technicians do it on machines, not people.
Just like doctors, technicians are trained in what they do. Servicing and fixing cars like replacing brakes or changing the oil is relatively easy. Once trained in how to do these mechanical type jobs, technicians become very quick at it and charge for the privilege; it’s how we make a living.

Diagnosing problems however, is a whole different kettle of fish. Today’s modern cars demand that technicians invest in equipment unheard of twenty years ago. These fancy new machines must also be accompanied by fancy training.
The cost of a new computer scanner to connect to the new vehicle’s on-board computers cost around $25,000 to $50,000. Plus, the training to use the scanners and to constantly keep up with new vehicle technology generally costs around $5000 per technician. A lot of the training these days is held overseas so there’s also the lost productivity which needs to be factored in.

One big misconception that many customers have about these new computer scanners which technicians use to plug in the vehicle’s computer is that they think that the computers actually find the problem, not the technician. This is far from reality! Sure, the scanner will point the technician in certain direction, but this is where it stops; the rest is up to the technician to test and confirm what the computer has indicated. E.g. A BMW’s ABS warning light is on. The computer scanner tells the technician the ABS wheel sensor is out of specifications. The technician then connects an oscilloscope to check the wave pattern of the sensor, and then they remove the sensor and proceed to test it using a multimeter to check things like resistance. Once it is confirmed that the sensor is faulty, the technician will stop and call the customer with a quotation. This procedure, before anything was fixed, has taken approximately 45 to 60 minutes! This time is then charged for, and then if the customer wants it fixed, the cost to replace it is also (separately) charged for.
The fact is the most expensive part of operating an automotive service centre is the investment in diagnostic machines and diagnostic training, but for the strangest reasons, which I’m still baffled about, is the fact that many customers refuse to understand why we need to charge the time it takes to diagnose a problem.

To be fair, most customers totally understand and are very accepting, but I would say that about 20% don’t, so my question is, why do so many owners challenge the fact that we charge for diagnosis? I would love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks.

The New BMW X3

The new BMW X3 is a far cry from its predecessor.  This new all-wheel-drive model is an outstanding piece of machinery which actually drives and handles like a sports coupe, and looks so much better than the last one!

BMW X3 Bronze
The performance from the new engines is truly breathtaking and to think that they only use around 5 to 7 litres of fuel per 100 kms is amazing.  There are four versions which you can buy:

The xDrive 30d is a 6 cyl. diesel with 190kW which can accelerate to 100km/h in 6.2 sec. That’s quick!

The xDrive 20d is a 4 cyl. diesel with 135kW and the fuel economy is 5.6 litres per 100 kms.

The petrol versions are both 4 cyls. and come in a xDrive 20i and a xDrive 28i. The 28i is a turbocharged version with 180kWs of power and can accelerate to 100 km/h in 6.7 sec.  Not bad for a 4 cyl!

What I really like is the high ground clearance which  enables you  to park anywhere without worrying about damaging the front spoiler.

If you’re looking for a spacious, powerful, economical and safe vehicle you really can’t go past the X3.  It’s that good!

Going Overseas?

Leaning Tower 1In the last two years, we have noticed a growing trend with many of our customers travelling overseas during our winter months. However, a problem can arise with a car’s battery if it is sitting around doing nothing for two or more weeks. Last year, we had many instances with flat batteries after the owners arrived back from holidays.  You can just imagine how annoying and inconvenient this can be!

 

BM Tech offers many solutions to avoid that dreaded no-start situation, including:

  • Free Battery Testing while you wait; using our electronic carbon-pile battery tester.
  • Servicing of your vehicle whilst you are away. This is where we can pick up your car from your home and then deliver it back once the service (and battery test) is complete; and
  • an Airport Valet Service where you can leave your vehicle at BM Tech Essendon for service and then we can drop you off at the airport. Once we’ve finished the service, we then deliver the car to Jetport Airport Parking. On your arrival you will be picked up by the Jetport Courtesy Bus to take you back to your vehicle.

If you would like more specific information, please call our Canterbury Branch on 9836-1888 or Essendon on 9379-8810.

The New BMW 3 Series

The all new BMW 3 Series or F30 as we call it has arrived. There will be three versions available in Australia; the economical and surprisingly powerful diesel engined 320d, the new 328i will have an engine that is actually a four cylinder turbo which will combine the best performance with terrific economy, and then there’s the 335i with the incredible turbocharged six cylinder engine. These cars have been designed with near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution for amazing balance and handling. I think these new F30s are going to sell very well.

P

My pick would have to be the 328i.  The beauty of the engine in this car is that when you’re not using the power, the fuel economy is terrific, but when you want big acceleration, like when overtaking, it’s like a big six cylinder engine. The best of both worlds!  Well done BMW!

 

CANTERBURY WORKSHOP EXPANSION

BM Tech Canterbury has expanded into the workshop next door.

Eight years ago, when we moved to our current location on Canterbury Road, the size of the new workshop was a huge contrast from the old Box Hill site; Canterbury was so big!  However, it’s amazing how quickly we out grew it.  Our customer base is growing rapidly and we are beginning to experience the same issues that were evident in our old workshop.  We desperately needed more room to move and additional areas for work bays.  Fortunately, the property next door became available just in time so we made the decision to expand.

Workshop Front Both Sides

We now have four more working bays and a wonderful new car park at the front which will make drop-offs and pick-ups even easier than before. Our capacity to service and repair cars and provide better, more efficient customer service has improved noticeably.