Archive | September, 2013



Mini-Cooper_300pxCarrying on the Inside Line series, we move on from looking at the BMW 3 Series and turn our attention to another BMW model which is one of the nation’s favourites – the Mini.

The Mini, made a memorable return in 2001 under BMW’s guise, but maintained a great deal of the charm that made the original so popular.

In this issue we are focusing mainly on the second generation Mini that not only saw changes to the outside and the interior but also under the bonnet.

The new range of Minis saw a 1.4L petrol engine join the 1.6L equivalent and a new diesel range to cover the Mini One, Cooper and Cooper S models. The second generation also saw its range expand to include the Clubman and Van, Roadster, Coupé, Countryman and Paceman, to join the established hatch and convertible.

The new engines and models will provide technicians with additional challenges, some of which we have outlined below.

Next month we’ll be looking at the Renault Clio, so if you have expertise, knowledge and insight to share, we would be delighted to hear from you. To get your advice included contact or

Click below to see technical contributions on the BMW Mini from:

Cambiare – highlights the Mini’s weak points

Castrol – recapping why oil plays such an important part in the BMW Mini engine

Comma – discusses servicing and changes of fluids and oil in the Mini

Forté – how to solve troubling turbo issues

Meyle – common suspension and brake faults sorted

Remy – avoid confusion on alternators for the BMW Mini

RMI – outline a variety of Mini issues

Steel Seal – explain the importance of maintaining a clean diesel turbo on the Mini

Suplex – discuss the possible confusion over the right coil springs for the Mini

TecRMI – give us an insight into a number of technical problems with the BMW Mini

ZF Services – explain the importance of changing both shock absorbers on the BMW Mini

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Escribe’s monthly pay plans hope to suit all budgets

Escribe’s monthly pay plans hope to suit all budgets

Thatcham-EscribeThatcham has attempted to ease the cash flow problems of the repair community by announcing it has reviewed its pricing structure for 2014, and are set to offer monthly price plans alongside yearly contracts.

The move will see its Escribe system become more accessible to vehicle repairers than ever before. Not only will the price decrease seeing repairers save up to £900 on the most comprehensive packages, but there is a wide range of custom options available.

The new supersaver packages will allow customers of Escribe to choose various supplementary products and services, including extra Escribe licences, built-in parts pricing modules and three levels of access to Thatcham’s technical helpline. These options form the four packages that will be available on monthly payment schemes.

Lesley Upham, Commercial Director at Thatcham Research said: “As the leading provider of fully researched repair methods, Thatcham are uniquely positioned to provide a wide ranging repair data service, covering the very latest vehicles and technology, direct from the engineering team in our world renowned Repair Technology Centre.

“With the option to pay monthly, Thatcham have once again hit the mark by providing the services UK repairers demand, with prices to suit all pockets.”

New pricing for 2014 is only the tip of the iceberg for subscribers to the fundamental platform for access to model specific repair methods, Thatcham’s Repair Suite, as Escribe is due an upgrade ahead of the New Year. It promises users the smoothest and most comprehensive access to Thatcham repair information ever. The changes include the ability to customise the home screen and further streamline the workflow.

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Bosch-and-TMG-300pxThe Bosch Car Service network and Independent Garage Association’s Trust My Garage (TMG) are celebrating success in the independent aftermarket sector.

Bosch announced its 500-strong network had hit customer satisfaction score of 99.5 percent.

Bosch highlights its involvement with the Office of Fair Trading and now, since it has taken over approval of voluntary codes of conduct such as Bosch’s, the Trading Standards Institute.

It say it was the first to get stage two approval from the OFT in July 2007 and, as a result, is an inaugural member of the TSI era along with the Motor Code for Service and Repair from the SMMT.

Howard Price, Concept Manager at Bosch Car Service, said: “We set up the scheme to give owners real peace of mind when looking for a garage. All the independent garages in the scheme have a vested interest in delivering first-rate customer service, because their livelihoods depend on repeat business. These results show just how effective their hard work has been.”

The ‘TSI-effect’ has also had an impact on the number of garages applying for TMG membership with the IGA, says Director Stuart James.

Applications have increased by 20 percent since TMG applied to become a TSI-backed code, with 1860 on the scheme now compared with 1500 in February/March

IGA Director Stuart James, said: “The IGA is extremely pleased that independent garages have embraced TMG in such a positive way, a scheme put together for independents by independents can only be a good for consumers.

“All of our members have insisted on high standards set by TMG and through becoming a TSI code our members can offer their customers piece of mind when it comes to quality and service they will receive by using a TMG garage.”

“As a clear voice for the independent sector TMG members want us to drive out the cowboys and stand up for all the good independent garages that do a great job for their customers everyday.”

James says he anticipates TMG will gain full approval by the end of the year.

The IGA is also using the Bosch training centre in Uxbridge to offer members a range of courses which it says are tailored to independents.

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Inside Line: ZF Services

ZF Services UK has some useful preventive maintenance advice for ZF automatic transmissions in the BMW 3 Series. The semi-synthetic oils developed for use in ZF 5-, 6- and 8-speed transmissions are maintenance-free under normal operating conditions, described as ‘lifetime fill’ by some vehicle manufacturers. However, some degradation of the oil inevitably occurs with time and mileage, which may result in noise, judder, or deterioration in gear change quality. This can be avoided by carrying out a transmission oil and filter change after 50,000 to 75,000 miles. It is vital to use oil approved by ZF for the particular transmission – visit and refer to document TE-ML 11 for guidance.

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Inside Line: TecRMI

Injection nozzle/injector – Function, Combustion knocking, Loss in power, Engine warning light is on, Starting problems, Ignition misfire

BMW 325i

Reference number(s): 0013800100
Fault symptoms: Engine warning light is on Non-concentric engine running Engine has starting problems on starting. Low engine power
Causes: Injection nozzle/injector defective
Remedy: Replace injection nozzle/injector.

Injection nozzle/injector – Function, Non-concentric engine running

BMW 325i

Reference number(s): 0013050200
Fault symptoms: Non-concentric engine running Injection nozzle/injector defective
Causes: Production defect.
Remedy: Check injection nozzle/injector, replace if necessary.

Fuel pump – Engine dies

BMW 325d

Reference number(s): 0016420100
Fault symptoms: Engine dies.
Causes: Production defect.
Remedy: Check fuel pump Replace the fuel pump.

High-pressure pump – Increased wear

BMW 325i

Reference number(s): 0013830100
Fault symptoms: Increased wear (High-pressure petrol injection pump )
Causes: Production defect.
Remedy: Replace high-pressure pump for fuel injection.

Engine – independent heating

BMW 320i

Reference number(s): 0061100300
Fault symptoms: Engine-independent heating has no function.
Causes: erratic coolant flow
Remedy: Replace fuse box. Replace engine-independent heating. (If required)

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Inside Line: Steel Seal

Ignore symptoms of blown head gaskets at your peril warns Steel Seal

Those who fail to spot blown head gaskets or ignore the symptoms risk damaging their cars and facing huge repair bills, warns quick-fix head gasket repair supplier Steel Seal, part of the Automotive Brands product portfolio.

The company has compiled a list of the most common symptoms of blown head gaskets to help drivers spot the warning signs.

  • Coolant loss or leaking from the water pump
  • Bubbles of air coming up into the radiator
  • Engine overheating
  • Engine running rough
  • Coolant or oil from the head or on the spark plugs
  • White smoke from the exhaust
  • Oil in the water
  • Sludge-like substance in the oil
  • Hoses deteriorating or being forced off
  • Low-compression cylinders

Steel Seal’s Sales Manager Graham Hollis says that car drivers who do nothing about a blown head gasket and carry on driving regardless, risk causing more, serious damage to the vehicle.

“The cost to repair a head gasket can increase significantly dependent on the amount of additional damage caused,” says Hollis. “Very often people carry on running the car till it will not go any more. This usually causes more problems as the vehicle has boiled or ‘cooked’ from excess heat and can cause other faults such as warped heads, cracked blocks and valve damage or even seized pistons, locked due to the amount of water that has got into the combustion chambers. You need to catch your problem early. As soon as you notice any head gasket symptoms appearing stop driving your car and take a different action!”

Steel Seal provides a chance to fix a blown head gasket: the earlier the treatment is performed the higher the chance of success and the treatment being a permanent fix. Steel Seal, which permanently seals, warped heads and cracked engine blocks as well as blown head gaskets, is an easy pour-in solution that can be introduced via the radiator or expansion tank. It will repair a blown head gasket within an hour. As Steel Seal uses a chemical reaction rather than copper filings to repair the blown head gasket there is no chance of anything being left floating in the engine after the treatment has been completed.

Hollis says that if people were made more aware of the early warning signs that the head gasket was starting to fail then it would be possible to prevent any further damage to the head gasket or engine and prevent mounting repair costs.

Repair bills can be hugely expensive, depending on location and type of garage. On average motorists face a repair bill of around £1,500 but some BMW owners have been quoted £4,000 and upwards. Alternatively, a bottle of Steel Seal retails at £39.99 and comes with a rock-solid money-back guarantee.

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Inside Line: RMI

BMW 3 E90 2005 onwards

Blown central locking fuse, seems a small item but a good revenue generator. Modified door locking motors are available, check and replace as required looking for the odd one out that is drawing more current than the rest.

Worn front suspension lower arms that cause excessive noise/rattles.

Premature wear within the steering rack causing rattles to be transmitted up the steering column.

Parking sensor failure, water ingress to the boot area filling the park control module (when fitted in the boot area) with water causing various other electrical issues.

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Inside Line: Remy

Rotating Electrics

Remy warns that during its lifespan this BMW 3-series was equipped with a starter based stop-start system – from model year 2008 onwards. It is essential therefore to know if the vehicle you are working on has a stop-start system fitted in order to select the correct replacement starter motor. Vehicles with stop-start have a different starter motor that is more robust to cope with the increased number of engine starts. This goes for both the diesel and petrol models. Choosing the incorrect starter will result in a non-functioning stop-start system.

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The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is launching what it calls a game changing marketing campaign aimed at the consumer to promote the awareness of the Professional Register.

The marketing plans announced will see it target messages at the public in a bid to overturn the poor perception they often have of the automotive industry.

It will promote the skills and competencies that exist within the industry and showcase individuals and businesses that invest in training.

Steve Nash, IMI Chief Executive Officer, said: “Public perception of our sector is poor, as is consumer confidence. However the IMI’s Professional Register is perfectly placed to address these concerns.

“This campaign will aim to be a game changer in the industry by making drivers aware of the need for competent and suitably skilled people to take care of their motoring needs. Our ultimate aim is to encourage motorists to demand registered professionals when engaging with services in the motor industry.”

The first leg of the IMI’s campaign will be launched in Birmingham, with independent marketing agency RPM running the targeted marketing.

The aim is to place advertising in the consumer press, on radio, at trade shows, and have targeted direct marketing and roadshow campaigns.

The hope is that the IMI can boost public awareness of the Professional Register and the number of members from 40,000 to 100,000 by 2016, which will provide the public a large database of individuals and business who have been recognised for keeping their skills and knowledge up to date, and practice ethical.

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Inside Line: Meyle

Sven Nielsen, Technical Director from MEYLE, says the following difficulties may arise with the BMW 3 Series:

Damaged oil pans


Oil pans fit BMW models with 6 speed automatic transmissions. Supposedly a sealed for life system but the plastic sump can warp causing loss of ATF.  This is indicated by a lumpy gearchange. It must be used with non-conductive ATF to protect the transmission mechatronics.

MEYLE Solution: MEYLE oil pans for BMW ensure increased reliability

Normally, the oil pan is also replaced with every repair or filter replacement. Exchanging the oil pan sometimes helps remedy early-stage shifting problems making it a cost-effective yet short-term alternative to time and cost intensive automatic transmission repair.

Oil pans help dissipate gearbox heat which is why they are subjected to high temperature fluctuations. As they are made from different materials with different thermal expansion properties, oil pans must have an extremely robust design. In addition, the materials used for the plastic pan and rubber pan sealing must ensure superior long-term resistance to the oil in the system, whether new, used or contaminated. The oil pan has two permanent magnets, just like the original. These are intended to bind iron particles, which may rub off and collect in the oil during the vehicle’s life and prevent them from continuing to circulate in the gears. This reduces wear and tear on the parts in the gears.

Worn out control arm bushings


Control arm bushings are exposed to strong forces during acceleration, braking and cornering. Bad roads or weather conditions can also contribute towards them becoming worn and less effective. Steering play may arise and an accurate lateral guidance is no longer possible. Worn control arm bushings will in turn place increased stress on other suspension components and can cause wear throughout the suspension. This may lead to lower levels of safety and costly repairs to the chassis.

MEYLE Solution:

Hydro-filled mounts are the latest trend in OE engineering, they often fail to live up to expectations as they are susceptible to leaking and hence early failure. Therefore, the expert team at MEYLE uses only full-rubber mounts to increase the reliability of MEYLE-HD spare parts. In addition, MEYLE in-house engineers precisely attune the damping performance of MEYLE-mounts to the characteristics of the OE system, thereby ensuring sustained driving comfort. With MEYLE-HD full-rubber mounts MEYLE offer a fail-safe alternative to hydro-filled mounts and a solution that delivers what it promises.

Stabiliser links often worn out


Intense strain and high surface pressure wear and stress on the ball joint (head Ø 16mm). This causes a premature failure of the ball joint and generates noise at the front axle.

MEYLE-HD Solution:

MEYLE in-house engineers increased the diameter of the ball head of the ball joint to 22 mm, in addition to using wear-resistant synthetic ball sockets with high-tech grease. The reduction of the surface pressure ensures a significantly longer lifetime.

Owing to the larger ball head the ball surface on MEYLE-HD stabilizer links has been increased by 50%. This way we have managed to significantly improve the part‘s load carrying capacity along with its service life. The blue clip-on plastic socket adds additional strength to the MEYLE-HD part.

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