Additions to this page
- We invest in new diagnostic equipment, software and training every year to keep up with some of the many and complex changes in electronic/control systems on today's cars.
- We now have access to the knowledge and experience of technicians world-wide! This means that many problems can be solved more quickly. Please have a look at the two links - UKAutoTalk and iATN.
- The links "About...." will explain about brakes, timing belts and other items needing attention regularly. This section is provided with the help of UKAutoTalk members as an easy reference for these subjects.
- PLEASE NOTE that what appears on this site are not necessarily the views of UKAutoTalk or its members.
Where is it all going to lead ?
Cars are becoming more complex in design. Engine management systems
can now control fuel consumption, and therefore pollutant emissions, much more precisely
than the earlier types of ignition/fuel systems. Although the electronics is complicated
and can cause problems when things go wrong, these systems seem to be very reliable.
A question we frequently ask is :- How easy will it be to maintain today's cars in
10 years time ?
If complexity of design and premature obsolescence mean that a car
has to be scrapped before its mechanical components and bodywork are anywhere near being
worn-out does this make good environmental sense ? The constant demand for new cars and
the consequent demand for energy and raw materials ( both in vast quantities ) must be far
more environmentally damaging than pollution from the vehicles running on the World's
There is a valid case for running older cars for as long as possible but
they must be properly maintained so that they are safe and pollute as little as possible.
We have worked on many older cars and have the time to spend on them
since our philosophy is one of service rather than "fast-fit". The same principle applies to newer cars, many of which we are equipped to service and repair.
These pages will be updated regularly and some new problems and
solutions will feature here. There is also a wealth of information on the UKAutoTalk web site, part of which is open to everyone, part being reserved for subscribing members.
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Peugeot 106 Diesel
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A friend turned up at the workshop one day with a slight
fuel leak. Closer investigation revealed that the handbrake cable and fuel pipes were
touching and, surprise-surprise, one fuel pipe had been worn-through ! It was a few
minutes' work to replace the worn plastic pipe with a short piece of rubber fuel-hose and
use cable-ties to hold the pipe away from the brake cable.
Check the Peugeot 106 Diesel for this fault at service-time !
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It's the most important part of a car, but how many of us know anything about brakes and how they work? And more importantly, what we can do to make sure they are kept in optimum working order?
Tim Smith, managing director at AP Lockheed, says; "There are a number of things that everyone can do to look after the brakes on their car - it could save your life.
"A few points that everyone should know:
- a brake pad should never be worn down to less than 3mm;
- brake disc thickness should be checked against the recommendation stamped on the rim of the disc;
- brake shoe lining material should be worn evenly all over the shoe table;
- brake drums should be worn to no greater than the maximum diameter cast on the drum;
- brake discs/drums wear out more rapidly now that asbestos is not used in the friction material
"If there is a combination of any of the above, the vehicle's braking performance is under real threat - total brake failure could occur," warns Tim Smith. "Any equipment that has worn further than the recommended levels should be replaced immediately.
"But beware - even new brakes offer their own danger. If any equipment has been replaced, heavy braking should be avoided.
"The braking system is a very complex component of the vehicle and should be looked after. If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, take your car to a garage for a thorough check-up.
"Other braking components that should be inspected regularly are the handbrake cable and brake pipes for corrosion or cracks and brake hosing for bulges. Brake fluid should also be checked regularly. Checks at our Brake Safety Centre found that a staggering 29% of cars tested were found to have brake fluid with a boiling point below the recommended minimum level of around 240°C - creating unnecessary dangers"
BRAKING A WORRYING TREND...
Across the country, accident figures are on the increase, despite the improving technology of today's cars.
While a fundamental safety-critical area on any car is its braking system, a leading brake specialist has uncovered a worrying trend amongst vehicles on the road today that could be playing a significant role in accident figures across the country.
Delphi Lockheed, through its national Brake Safety Centre network, has recently undertaken free safety checks on vehicle's braking systems and their brake fluid boiling points.
29% of cars tested were found to have brake fluid with a boiling point below the recommended minimum. This is due to water mixing with the brake fluid in the normal course of operation and thus reducing the overall boiling point. The worst examples showed boiling points of only 125°C, compared to a safe operating level of around 240°C.
All normal brake fluids absorb moisture during normal operation, although Delphi Lockheed has formulated fluids that have a higher boiling point than standard, thus exceeding European specification.
Tim Smith, managing director at Delphi Lockheed is concerned about the worrying trend:
"Motorists are unaware of the danger of not having their brake fluid regularly checked for water content. The increasing performance of cars has resulted in disc brakes having to do more work and subsequently they heat up quickly. The heat is transferred to the brake fluid, which, if it has a low boiling point will result in the braking system completely failing.
(Article provided by Steve Paterson - UKAutoTalk Member)
Anmat Services and many UKAutoTalk members use a brake fluid tester to determine the state of the brake fluid at service-time - if it fails the test it will be renewed with a high specification fluid. In some braking systems the fluid may deteriorate rapidly and may need to be renewed every year. In some systems it may well last for longer periods, but we will always check because it only takes a few minutes to test.
About Timing Belts
Many petrol and diesel engines have their valve trains and various other parts driven from the crankshaft by a flexible toothed belt . These belts have a limited life and each engine manufacturer specifies a different inspection/renewal interval.
These pictures show what can happen if a timing belt (cam belt) AND its associated rotating parts are not renewed in time!
In this case the owner was faced with the cost of a new engine.
The belt itself is a very durable item but it will wear and fail. If that happens then engine damage can occur because the valves can come into contact with the pistons.
There are a few petrol engine designs called "freewheeling" where this contact is LESS likely to occur but if the belt fails the engine will stop running and leave you stranded (this usually happens at night, in the rain, on a roundabout!)
Rotating parts associated with a belt are the guides, tensioner and water pump - the parts will vary depending on the make of engine.
The cost will vary too but ask your garage to give you prices for the whole job and for renewing only the belt. You can then decide if you want to have everything renewed. You have to ask yourself the question, "Is this my lucky day?"
Pictures from Sean Savage - UKAutoTalk Member
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