Money Saving Tips
Where we quote a figure below it is based on the parts cost only (i.e. excluding labour charges for a VW Golf 1.4l petrol). More expensive makes/models will involve higher costs.
In preparation for winter we recommend the following:
Do It Yourself
Regularly check all lights (especially front and rear fog lights) are working properly and kept clean.
Reason: Safety and to avoid being stopped by the police.
Regularly check for tyre wear and your tyre pressures are correct.
Reason: Safety and with worn tyres to avoid penalty points and a fine.
Before turning the ignition to start the car from cold make sure all electrical components are switched off (i.e. lights, rear window demister, heater fan, heated seats audio/navigation system etc.). The best way to do this is to switch off these components before leaving your car standing for any length of time.
Reason: Unless you have replaced the battery within the past two years its efficiency will be deteriorating and observing this simple practice will ensure the battery is not being drained elsewhere when called on to start your car in cold conditions. Battery efficiency reduces incrementally with lower temperatures.
Operate your air conditioning on the max cold setting once a month for 10 minutes (with the engine running).
Reason: With lack of use and cold/damp conditions the compressor may seize through lack of use. Cost of a new compressor c. £600 + risk of further damage.
Use all electric windows and open/close sun roofs regularly to prevent seizure of motors in cold/damp conditions.
Reason: Any motor is liable to seize due to lack of use especially in cold and damp conditions. Cost of a Window motor £300. Sunroof release significantly more expensive.
Remove leaves from the drainage channels at the side and to the rear of the bonnet, boot and bulkheads.
Reason: To avoid the risk of blocking small drainage holes which in turn risk water ingress generally. VW Passats, certain Audi and Porsche sports models are very vulnerable to water ingress.
Reason: Risk of serious damage to electrical components within the engine bay, passenger area and boot. Also risk of damage to the engine on the VW/Audi models concerned. Cost implications – substantial!
Diesel engines require regular use on the open road to avoid increased maintenance charges/ expensive component replacement. 30 to 45 minutes driving at Motorway speed every 500 miles or more frequently will reduce significantly the risk of costly repairs as the heat of emissions will burn off carbon (i.e. soot) deposits .
Reason: regular short journeys driving at low (urban) speed causes the accumulation of carbon in the DPF (diesel particulate filter aka “pyrolytic converter”). This is a very expensive component (£1000+ just for the part) in the exhaust system designed to reduce emissions by “filtering” carbon out of the exhaust gases. The blocking or partial blocking of this filter results/causes numerous performance and repair issues for most diesel cars.
Cars with twin exhaust systems may have two DPFs so the cost implications can be double with further components e.g. turbos, oxygen sensors or pressure sensors at risk of damage.
In addition to No.7 above and for diesel cars only buy a tank or the more expensive diesel fuel every 500 to 1000 miles.
Reason: This fuel is very effective at cleaning fuel injectors and assists removing accumulated soot from the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and the catalyst converter in your car's exhaust system. It will also help reduce the build up of condensation in the fuel tank. To be effective however it is best this fuel is used before a long out of town journey of say 60+ miles at Motorway speed.
"Jump starting" the car:
ALWAYS ensure the car which is being started has the side lights switched on BEFORE connecting the starter cables (jump leads). This is especially important when using pre-charged power packs but applies also when using starter cables (jump leads) from another car.
REASON: the sudden power boost to the electrical circuits can damage important (and expensive) components such as the Engine Management computer, whilst having the lights on operates to draw excessive power to the lighting system and avoids this risk.
Cars which have batteries located in inaccessible positions (normally applicable with higher end cars) have a dedicated starter point to affix the positive power cable. This will be under the bonnet and is normally covered with a red plastic cap (marked with a “ + ”). The neutral (black lead) should then be fixed to any bare metal part in the engine bay area not connected to an electrical component.
When the leads are connected to the battery of both cars it is preferable if the engine of the donor car is running and if this is much smaller engine than on the car to be started then the engine on the donor car should be revved to say 2000rpm whilst the ignition is turned on the receiving car.
As soon as the receiving car starts disconnect the starter leads being careful to ensure the sprung grips on each lead are kept separate to avoid causing an electrical short.
At Precision Auto:
We will carry out a “While U wait” winter preparation check (inclusive of topping up all fluids*).
This check will cover the following items:
oil level and top up as necessary. (Our price for a litre is less than the £ per ltr. price at filling stations and high street motor parts retailers and if we do this work the risks of dirty hands and (more expensively) overfilling are avoided!)
the antifreeze concentration of the cooling system and washer fluid, and top up as necessary. The concentration of antifreeze in the cooling system is very important.
tyre pressures and wear
all external lights
wiper blade wear (including rear wiper where applicable)
brake and power steering fluid level
screen washers working correctly
Price incl. VAT:
(*based on a maximum of 1 litre of oil)
All cars under 2.5 litre - £32
All cars over 2.5 litres - £38
Please note the price of bulb and wiper blade replacement will vary depending on the make and model of car. If the time involved is nominal (which will be the case with most models) the labour cost will be covered by the price quoted above.
Please also note manufacturers recommend different oils for different models. We follow these recommendations. Price per litre varies between £6 for ordinary (i.e. not long life) oil suitable for basic VW Polos to £18 for certain Porsche. Our price for oil is cheaper than charged at a fuel station by reason of bulk buying.
Other safety suggestions:
If you are likely to be using your car in snow conditions we recommend you consider fitting winter tyres. Winter tyres are compulsory after 1 st November in certain parts of Europe e.g. Germany, Austria and are essential for use in the Alps.
The manufacturers recommend particular tyres for “winter” use and these should be distinguished from those sold in the UK which might meet an EU legal requirement but which are significantly less efficient than correct factory recommended winter tyres. We can advise you on the correct tyres for your car which may need to be ordered.
Warning Triangle and yellow reflective safety jackets:
All German cars for the past 10+ years are delivered when new with a warning triangle. Check your car has one. We recommend two triangles to be placed at a suitable distance from the rear and front of the car in the event of a breakdown. Yellow safety jackets are not compulsory in the UK (unlike in Europe) but are an inexpensive and prudent safety item to carry. Ideally you should have a enough to cover the highest number of possible occupants.
A good torch which is fully charged should be kept in your car at all times.
Exposure blankets, warm clothing, hat and gloves and an emergency food supply if you are driving in rural areas or the EU.
Keep your fuel tank as full as possible so you can run the engine/heater intermittently if stranded for any length of time. In that event please note your hazard lights will drain the battery so it would be sensible to run your engine for 15 minutes in every hour and all other electrical components (save for the car heater) are switched off.
BUYING A SECOND HAND CAR
The visual appearance of most German cars up to 10-12 years old is often amazing. However anyone thinking of buying an older car should appreciate the following:
A car, the equivalent of which today is say £60k costing under £10k today will incur high maintenance costs generally but especially so if it is has not been properly maintained. This applies especially with parts and labour time and more so with older cars. Occasionally parts have to be placed on back order from Germany which normally arrive within 10 working days but can take longer.
Potential purchasers should examine the Service Book carefully to ensure the car has been regularly serviced. The reason for this is to ensure the vehicle has had regular oil and filter changes as this is the primary test to ensure the least engine and component wear
Many owners “economise” on ensuring software updates are installed. This may cause problems later because the on board computer on certain makes (BMW and Mini in particular) will block “coding” a new component to a car until all the software updates installed. Buying a used car from a main dealer avoids this risk albeit an assurance should be obtained that all software updates have been carried out.