In today’s age of modern car technology it is extremely more and more important to become a specialist towards certain brands. More and more frequently vehicles are having issues with new technology from the complex computer and electrical systems to continually evolving mechanical systems. From oil leaks to electrical gremlins it is becoming even more apparent that brand experience and expertise is what it takes to repair or diagnose a vehicle in a timely, efficient, and cost effective manner.
Here at MMW we are able to utilize our extensive experience with European brands to get to the bottom of mysterious leaks and extremely untraceable electrical issues. This type of experience is difficult to replicate and most generic independent repair facilities that are able to work on all makes and models can often times be stumped by issues that are fairly common for a specific make or model of car.
Take for example the BMW E46 3-Series built from 1999-2006. An extremely common issue with them is fuel trim and mixture fault codes. The BMW code readout for these issues is 202 and 203 or 227/228. The OBD2 codes for these issues are P0171 and P0174 or P1083/P1085. Many general technicians will immediately jump to the O2 sensors being at fault for these codes. There are 4 O2 sensors on this vehicle and repairs with labor can run upwards of $1400 dollars to replace all of them. Another commonly misdiagnosed part that is replaced is the Mass Airflow Sensor.
The issue here is the problem is realistically caused by something called vacuum leaks. These are air leaks where air that is not metered by the Mass Airflow Sensor enters the intake tract and is picked up after being burned by the O2 sensors in the exhaust. These faults are remedied commonly for less than $500 by replacing parts like the intake boots, crankcase ventilation valve and hoses, and something as small as the $2 vacuum cap on the backside of the manifold. A simple smoke test will bring to light where the leaks are and the car can be repaired fairly simply.
Here at MMW we like to be as transparent as possible with our experiences and another good example of experience happened here first hand. We had a non-European vehicle in the shop for a steering knocking noise. We rarely take these vehicles in for this reason but sometimes do. One of our technicians spent a considerable amount of diagnostic time attempting to trace down an issue with the steering, investigating the steering rack, tie rods, steering assembly, electrical steering motor, etc. to no avail. After some intensive research on our information subscription service, an occasional issue on this particular car is a small gear inside the steering motor having a stripped tooth. The part is only $50 dollars and takes 2 hours to replace. We billed the customer for this repair and my technician was frustrated with the time he wasted.
This goes to show how important being specialized is in this field. Had we worked on this particular non-European brand often we would have immediately started investigating the steering issue at this part instead of elsewhere. Efficiency was lost because of this lack of brand specialty.