CAR SERVICING – TIPS AND FAQS

How much does a car service cost?

Servicing of both petrol and diesel vehicles is one of our core activities at Morrison Diesel in Onehunga. We keep it simple, offering either a basic oil and filter change, or a comprehensive full service. You will find that car workshops around Auckland have many different ways of marketing their car servicing, and it may be hard to compare prices between the different systems. A point to note is that often a start price is given, but there may be additional charges that are unspecified, relating to the type of vehicle/ specific oil requirements/ additional parts, and so on. We believe our prices are competitive – view them here.

Why should you get your vehicle serviced?

Regular servicing ensures that your vehicle is running safely and efficiently. Vitally, a service can help you anticipate problems with your vehicle before they occur, thus preventing expensive and inconvenient breakdowns from happening down the line. Servicing preserves the life of your engine, and your car will have a higher value if you sell it with a documented service history. Also if you have mechanical breakdown insurance you will be required to keep up with the prescribed servicing schedule for your policy to be valid. In the long run, servicing always saves!

Why do I need a service as well as a WOF?

A WOF check simply determines if a vehicle passes a set of basic safety requirements at the time of inspection. A service combines a more extensive inspection of your vehicle with a raft of preventative maintenance measures. The astute motorist keeps up with regular servicing in order to maximise safety and to ensure that their vehicle continues to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

How often should you service your vehicle?

Your vehicle should be serviced at regular intervals- usually every 10,000 km or every 12 months (whichever occurs first) for petrol vehicles, and every 5,000 km or 6 months for diesel vehicles. However, there is significant variation between the recommended service intervals for different makes and models – we advise that you check your manufacturer’s recommendation.

What does servicing include?

Every service will include an oil change and a new oil filter. The mechanic will also work through a comprehensive list of checks around your vehicle, which typically takes several hours. The level and condition of various fluids (e.g. coolant) will be checked and changed/topped up as required, and small items such as bulbs and wiper blades may also need to be changed. The air filter, fuel filter and spark plugs (petrol only) will be inspected and changed if necessary (please note the cost of these parts is additional to the cost of the service, although labour is included).

Larger mechanical components including clutch, brakes, ball joints, CV boots will also be checked, along with the battery and tyres, and the customer will be advised if any of these parts need to be repaired or replaced. The cost of any proposed additional work will be presented to the customer for consideration.

Please also note that some European/newer vehicles require a special type of oil which will increase the cost of the service. We can advise you regarding this at the time of booking in your vehicle.

Why do I need to keep changing the oil in my car?

Oil is essential for the lubrication of metal parts throughout your car engine. You may have enough oil in your vehicle, but if you never change it there will be two negative effects. First, contaminants will accumulate in the oil – while the oil filter will remove these for a time, eventually the filter will clog and the dirty oil will automatically bypass the filter through a relief valve. Dirty oil is thick and abrasive, so it causes components to wear faster, and reduces the efficiency of the engine. Second, additives in the oil like detergents, dispersants, rust-fighters and friction reducers will wear out, so the oil won’t lubricate as well as it should. Over time dirty and degraded oil will cost money through lost efficiency and the premature wear of components, and can ultimately cause engine failure.

Why does is cost more to service a diesel car than a petrol car?

Generally diesel vehicles require more oil (this varies with the size of the engine), and as they are often physically bigger than petrol vehicles it simply takes longer to complete a service on them.

What about changing the cambelt?

In addition to regular servicing, there are other important vehicle maintenance tasks which need to occur at longer intervals. Changing the cambelt is the best known of these. A cambelt (also known as a timing belt) is a mechanical drive belt that synchronizes the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft(s) so that the engine’s valves and pistons move in the correct sequence. The expected lifespan of a timing belt is specific to the vehicle, and can range between 60,000 and 150,000 km. If a cambelt fails it may cause severe damage to the engine, hence it is vital to get it changed at the proper time (check the manufacturer’s recommendation). Often it is also recommended to change the water pump at the same time as changing the cam belt.

A final word: maintaining your car’s cooling system

MTA statistics indicate that some 80% of car breakdowns occur because of failed cooling systems. Do you have to top up your cooling system with water from time to time? This would indicate the presence of a leak. The cooling system runs on coolant which is a mixture of antifreeze and water. The more water you add, the lower the ratio of antifreeze to water in your cooling system becomes. Importantly, antifreeze acts as a rust inhibitor, and as the antifreeze runs out the cooling system will start to corrode. Cooling system issues are much easier and cheaper to deal with in the early stages, providing a classic instance of how timely servicing can ward off expensive problems before they occur.

REPAIRING A LEAKING DIESEL PUMP

A common problem we see at Morrison Diesel is a leaking diesel pump. A customer may have noticed diesel leaking from the engine area. Another symptom that may indicate a diesel pump leak is a vehicle which doesn’t start properly. However in many cases the customer has been unaware of the problem until their vehicle fails a WOF inspection because the diesel pump is leaking.

The function of the diesel pump (also known as a fuel injection pump) is to deliver highly pressurised fuel to the injectors, which in turn inject the fuel into the cylinders. The diesel pump controls the quantity and timing of fuel delivery with absolute precision. Unlike a petrol engine the diesel engine does not use spark plugs to ignite the fuel; instead ignition is brought about in the cylinders by conditions of extremely high pressure and temperature. We could liken the diesel fuel pump to a sturdy heart that continuously pushes fuel through the diesel engine, working with great accuracy and speed in intense conditions.

Over the years the design of diesel pumps has evolved, from inline pumps which have a separate plunger for each cylinder, through rotary (or VE) pumps which use a single rotating plunger to distribute fuel to each cylinder in turn. An alternative design is the unit injection system in which a high pressure pump is incorporated into each injector. Finally, the common rail pump, found in most modern diesel vehicles, delivers highly pressurised fuel to multiple injectors via a single fuel rail.

Whatever the design of the diesel pump, it will have a number of seals (and occasionally gaskets) around it which serve to contain the diesel fuel. Over time these seals can harden and become brittle, and then diesel fuel will start to leak from the pump. Removing the diesel pump from the engine is a time consuming task for a mechanic, and as all of the seals will age at a similar rate we recommend replacing every seal (a full ‘seal kit’) while the pump unit is out of the vehicle.

The task of disassembling a pump, replacing the seals, and then reassembling the pump correctly, is a highly technical procedure that should only be completed by a diesel specialist. At Morrison Diesel you can be confident that the job will be done right. We have extensive experience of fitting new seal kits to diesel pumps and receive work of this kind from around the country and beyond. All work at Morrison Diesel is guaranteed and if you chose to investigate the marketplace you will find that our prices are very competitive. Please contact us for any further advice you may require regarding your diesel fuel pump.

SERVICING DIESEL INJECTORS

Diesel fuel injectors operate at extremely high pressures. This helps to keep them clean, thus diesel injectors do not suffer from clogged nozzles to the same extent as petrol injectors. However over time diesel injectors suffer wear and require servicing. As a rough guide diesel injectors will need to be serviced after 100,000 km, but this can vary widely with the vehicle.

At Morrison Diesel we offer the service of pop testing mechanical diesel injectors. This procedure requires specialist equipment and is used to check: 1. the pressure at which the injector opens, and 2. the spray pattern from the injector. Sometimes we detect an incorrect opening pressure which is typically remedied by replacing a shim or a spring. However it is more common to find a problem with the spray pattern and in this case the best remedy is to replace the injector nozzle, a relatively cheap and effective option.

It should be noted that symptoms often attributed to injector problems (e.g. black smoke, fuel efficiency) can also be indicators of different issues with the vehicle. So in some cases when we test injectors they perform well, and diagnosis of the problem will move on to other areas.

Occasionally we encounter diesel injectors which will benefit from cleaning, but this will bring only limited improvement, and in the majority of cases replacement of the nozzles is a better option.

There is plenty of advice on the internet regarding products and methods which claim to clean dirty diesel injectors. While it may be uncertain whether dirty diesel injectors are really the problem at hand, it is certainly true that in some instances a fuel additive will assist in cleaning a dirty fuel system and bring some improvement in the performance of a diesel vehicle. However, there may be an underlying problem such as a worn injector which will need to be identified and addressed in due course.

After diesel injectors have been serviced it is necessary to re-test them in order to confirm that they are performing to the correct specifications. At Morrison Diesel you can be confident that your diesel injectors will be serviced by an experienced diesel mechanic. We would strongly advise against DIY servicing of your diesel injectors as specialist knowledge and equipment is required to carry this work out safely and correctly. Please call us at Morrison Diesel if you require further advice regarding your diesel injectors.

DIESEL VEHICLE SERVICE

At Morrison Diesel we are specialists in servicing diesel cars, 4x4s, utes and light trucks. To view our vehicle service prices click here.

Our mechanics have extensive experience with diesel vehicles and receive work from customers and other garages around the Auckland region. We invite you to have your diesel vehicle serviced at Morrison Diesel in the expert hands of an experienced diesel mechanic.

Regular servicing of diesel vehicles is particularly important as the contamination of oil happens more quickly than in petrol vehicles. Changing the oil and oil filter at the correct intervals will keep your diesel vehicle running smoothly and efficiently and preserve the life of the engine. A rough guide would be to service your diesel vehicle every 5,000 km, but this varies widely with makes and models so check the manufacturer’s recommendations. The mode of driving will also have an impact – if most of the driving is ‘about town’ then the rate of contamination will be faster. In diesel vehicles it is also highly beneficial to change the fuel and air filters regularly (this is typically needed every second service) to optimise performance. For further information on the benefits of regular servicing click here.

Diesel vehicles are more expensive to service than petrol vehicles for several reasons. First diesel vehicles use more oil, with bigger 6-cylinder vehicles such as the Nissan Patrol and the Toyota Land Cruiser using the most. Second, as diesel vehicles tend to be physically bigger than petrol vehicles it simply takes longer to complete services on them.

Our diesel service prices are graded at three levels: 2-wheels drives (including up to 7 litres of oil and an oil filter), regular 4x4s (including up to 7 litres of oil and an oil filter) and 6-cylinder 4x4s (including up to 10 litres of oil and an oil filter). At Morrison Diesel our objective is to have a transparent pricing structure for servicing which is specific to vehicle types. Elsewhere in the marketplace the customer may find a vehicle service with a low ‘start price’, but in such instances a diesel can be expected to incur additional costs.

Regular servicing of your diesel vehicle will inevitably save money in the long run, through increased efficiency, decreased wear of components, and most importantly, through detecting problems and addressing them before breakdown occurs. Our diesel mechanics are ready to provide you with expert service and advice regarding the maintenance of your diesel vehicle. Please contact us at Morrison Diesel with any further questions you may have regarding diesel vehicle servicing – we look forward to assisting you.

CHOOSING A VEHICLE SERVICE

The current market offers the customer many different vehicle servicing options. The title ‘service’ is variously applied to a wide spectrum of products, spanning everything from a quick oil and filter change to a multi-hour package of logbook checks. Providers typically offer a range of graded service products based on a progression of checklists, with possible further differentiation according to vehicle type. A comparison of the various checklists used by different service providers will of course reveal many common elements, but there is remarkable variation in the quantity and combination of checkpoint items. The observant consumer will note yet more variety in the grade and quantity of engine oil included in the base price of a service – check the small print advising you that there will be additional costs if a larger quantity or higher grade of oil is required. It’s the apples and oranges scenario; as providers describe and package their vehicle services in so many different ways, it is difficult to compare the relative quality and value for money of what’s on offer. To the non-mechanically minded it can be a confusing landscape to navigate as you wonder which items are most important to check and how often.

At Morrison Diesel our vehicle servicing structure is derived from two simple principles: quality and transparency.

With regards quality, we use only superior engine oil and filters in all of our vehicle services. We offer two ‘house oils’, one fully synthetic and one semi-synthetic, both of which are highly regarded, manufacturer-endorsed products. We use the highest quality aftermarket filters, or genuine filters when required for warranty purposes. In contrast to other providers we offer only one comprehensive service option as we are unwilling to compromise on any aspect of safety or vehicle maintenance. Ours is a genuinely comprehensive service, comparable to the more extensive service options listed by some providers. In addition to the standard checks, a significant point of difference is our routine practice of dismantling rear drum brakes, which are checked, cleaned, lubed and adjusted in order to optimise performance and prevent squeaking. As an example of duration, a service on a typical 4×4 vehicle with drum brakes would take in the region of 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Through conscientious servicing we aim to keep your vehicle running safely, reliably and at peak performance. All of our work comes with a year warranty.

With regards transparency, our pricing structure is based on vehicle type/size and the appropriate grade of oil for the vehicle. For example we are up front about the fact that the vast majority of diesel vehicles take a minimum of 6L of engine oil, ranging up to around 10L for small trucks. An important point to convey is that any later model diesel vehicle (around 2006 onwards) will require a fully synthetic, low SAPS oil in order to prevent blockage of the DPF filter. (With older diesels it is our choice to use a semi-synthetic oil which still offers better fuel economy and engine protection than a mineral oil, but at a competitive price.) We factor the quantity/type of oil and filter required for different vehicles into our servicing structure, meaning that there will be no surprise surcharge for extra oil or a more expensive filter. If a warranty or ‘logbook’ service is required this will not incur any additional charge.  In summary, we endeavour to advertise services that are realistically tailored to certain vehicles and therefore reflect what the customer will actually pay.

We service both petrol and diesel vehicles, and can accommodate vehicles up to the size of light trucks. Our sought after diesel expertise positions us strongly to support local businesses with fleet servicing. If you have any questions regarding our vehicle servicing please do get in touch. We would be happy to discuss ways in which we can support you in keeping your particular vehicle or fleet running reliably on the road.

THINKING YOUR CAR'S AC MAY JUST NEED A RE-GAS...?

“How much for a re-gas?” In our vehicle air-conditioning business this is the most common enquiry we receive from our customers. It’s frustrating when you lose the cooling from your air-conditioning, or indeed if the windscreen demister isn’t working in the winter time. But is a re-gas the correct course of action when your car’s air-conditioning has stopped working?

First it’s important to note that there are many different aspects to the workings of an air-conditioning system, and a loss of refrigerant is only one possible reason for a loss of performance. It’s quite possible that the problem may lie elsewhere, so when we appraise a car’s air-conditioning system we will always check the controls and associated electrical components to see if the system is being turned on and off correctly. For certain models of vehicle there are common electrical faults that arise with the air conditioning and CoolCar technicians have the experience to find and diagnose these expediently.

When we do suspect a loss of refrigerant from the system we will recover the remaining refrigerant and weigh it to determine exactly how much has been lost. (While checking the pressures in the AC system with gauges gives an indication of whether refrigerant is in the system, it does not tell you the quantity that is present.) Refrigerant is not used up in air-conditioning systems, rather it is constantly cycled around the system and re-used. Given the terrible global warming properties of refrigerant, air-conditioning systems in cars are fully sealed with the intention that the refrigerant does not escape. While older cars did lose in the region of 10% of their refrigerant every year, improvements in design have now been made and in modern vehicles the rate of loss should be minimal.  So when we encounter a vehicle that has lost its refrigerant this nearly always indicates the presence of an abnormal leak that needs to be found and remedied.

Leaks can occur anywhere in a car’s AC system. There are many possibilities - sometimes it’s just an O ring that needs to be replaced, or there may be a leaking hose or a failed component. There is oil in a car’s air-conditioning as well as refrigerant, and when the refrigerant leaks out the oil does too. Often we are able to find telltale signs of oil staining or dirt stuck to oil where the leak has occurred. However, if there are no visual signs we may need to use trace gas and a sniffer to locate the leak. Another approach is to add an ultra violet dye to the air conditioning system and run it for a period of time to help us find the leak.

“Can’t you just re-gas it for now?” is another question that we are asked. If the air conditioning system is not properly sealed our answer to this is no for a number of important reasons. Naturally if the system is leaking then any new refrigerant that we put into that  system will go the same way as the old - that is, out of the car and into the atmosphere. We hear of far too many instances where a vehicle has been taken somewhere for a re-gas, only for the system to lose its refrigerant again within a very short space of time. In such cases the customer’s money has been wasted, and sadly another full charge of highly global warming refrigerant has been allowed to escape. Yet perhaps an even-worse scenario is when a vehicle has a slow leak and is then repeatedly regassed, perhaps every year or so. The air conditioning system does not cope well with being run low on gas as this causes the compressor (the pump in the system) to get hotter and work harder than is normal. Remember that a leaking system is losing its oil as well as its refrigerant, and the lack of oil will also cause premature wear of the compressor. These conditions will significantly shorten the life of the compressor and sooner or later it will fail, leaving the customer with a much more expensive air conditioning repair to address than fixing the original leak would have been.

It may shock customers to learn that the global warming potential of R134A (the refrigerant in use in the vast majority of vehicles in New Zealand) is some 1300 times higher than carbon dioxide. In light of the harm such refrigerants cause to the environment there is legislation in New Zealand (the Climate Protection Act 2002) prohibiting the re-gassing of leaking air conditioning systems. Unfortunately in spite of these facts there is still widespread malpractice around re-gassing vehicles by those who would ignore the law in the interest of making a quick buck. One good precaution to take when agreeing to any work on your car air-conditioning is to check whether the technician has a current Approved Filler Refrigerant Licence. This is a legal requirement for anyone who works on air conditioning systems and handles refrigerant. Make sure that the company concerned is aware of its obligations and complies with regulations.

At Coolcar Onehunga we have the expertise to help you with any issues you may have with your car air-conditioning or heating. The award-winning Coolcar Group are industry leaders and at any of our centres you can be assured that staff have up-to-date training and that best practice will be followed. Please visit the CoolCar website www.coolcar.co.nz to learn more about our services. If you have a problem with any aspect of your car air-conditioning or heating please do get in touch to arrange an appraisal, we’d love to help you get your air-conditioning up and running properly again.