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5 Tips to Help You Pass Your Driver’s Licence Test….and remind those of us that have already passed!

passed drivers test
passed drivers test

If you’re preparing to take your driving test you understand the mixed emotions of absolute anticipation, overwhelming excitement, nervous anxiety and even dread that precedes the actual test!

Here’s some tips to help you prepare for your test…. that also serve as a great reminder for those of us that have had their licence for a while!

  1. passed driver's testPractice, Practice, Practice!  Try to get as much ‘in the car’ practice as possible, it really is the best way to build confidence and understand the road rules you have to study. You’ll also get a better understanding of how other road users act towards a vehicle with an ‘L’ plate on display! And you’ll be much better prepared for the test.
  2. Remember the 9 o’clock / 3 o’clock rule! Keep your hands on the wheel!  Another useful suggestion to help you ace a driving test is to keep both of your paws on the steering wheel. Grab hold of the steering wheel at the 9 o’clock / 3 o’clock positions and keep your hands there. This strategy is safe, effective, and it will help put your instructor at ease.
  3. Watch what’s happening in the distance! In both racing and street driving, it’s important to look far ahead of your own vehicle. Keeping an eye on what’s happening in the distance is critical. The sooner you see something, the faster you can react to it and the safer you and your passengers will be.
  4. Be observant!  With your smartphone tucked away, your hands on the wheel and eyes looking ahead, there’s another thing you should be doing! Look what’s going on all around you and check your mirrors often, scan areas along the roadside for children playing or potential cross traffic that could cause issues. Again, the sooner you spot a potential risk the better it is for everyone.
  5. Adjust to a change in weather – the Sunshine Coast is known for its’ beautiful sunny days but watch out when the rain comes! Oil debris that has been absorbed by the road during hot sunny days will rise and coat the tarmac. Traction, the way the car ‘sticks’ to the road, will decrease so this means slowing down, braking sooner, increasing the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead and negotiating corners with great care.

 

 

Good luck on your test and see you on the road soon!

Heard of the ‘Black Death’ in engines? Rather an ominous topic but one in need of discussion!

sludge
sludge

The Black Death ‘health’ pandemic resulted in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in the years 1346–53! The ‘Black Death’ we are referring to is the name that has been given to the oil sludge epidemic that choked thousands of engines worldwide in the 1980s – well, it’s made a comeback!

Black Death occurs in engines from engine oil gelling or solidifying at temperatures usually lower than 100 degrees Celsius. This causes black ‘sludge’ or gel building up in an internal combustion engine causing problems that, when severe, may require the engine to be replaced.

sludge2

Black sludge build up is usually caused by poorly designed or defective crankcase ventilation systems, low engine operating temperature, faulty injector seals or the presence of water in the engine oil. Lack of maintenance, in particular engine oil changes or using incorrect engine oil in your vehicle can contribute to this issue.

Engine oil is the lifeblood of your car’s engine – select it carefully. There are so many different engine oils on the market today it is difficult to know what to use. We recommend referring to your manufacturers service books, you’ll find the correct oil specifications required for your cars’ engine.

Choosing the correct engine oil will ensure that:

  • The engine parts are protected against wear and corrosion,
  • Impurities are removed from the engine,
  • Friction is reduced in the engine, increasing engine performance and improving fuel efficiency,
  • Compression is boosted in the combustion chambers reducing emissions and increasing engine power; and
  • Heat is absorbed and removed from the engine, preventing hot spots and deformation, warping and failure of moving parts.

We have seen a number of Mercedes Sprinter and Vito vans where injector seals had failed, causing engine oil to ‘spray’ into the head cavity and cause heavy sludge build up. So much so that the sludge has to be ‘chipped’ away in order to access the injectors to rectify the fault. More often than not the injectors are in need of replacement once the sludge has built up to the extent that they are buried in sludge.

We were once presented with a small hatchback car, the client had not serviced the car for 90,000kms! The car had been driven every day and was reported to feel ‘sluggish’. Upon inspection we found the engine heavily ‘sludged’ up and we recommended NOT completing a service as engine damage would occur. As the sludge build up was extreme, completing an engine flush would have cause more problems, especially if pieces of sludge had broken away, lodging in other parts of the engine causing it to fail.

sludge1
Example of sludge build up as a result of failed injector seals.

The client did not proceed with a service however, we were informed later that the car had been left stationary for 3 months, which had allowed gravity to pull the sludge to the bottom of the engine, the sump, blocking the oil pick up valve and starving the engine of engine oil. The result? A failed engine.

Although that is an extreme case, it’s really important to maintain car servicing to avoid engine damage and sludge build up.

Here’s an example of the appearance of ‘black sludge’ on a BMW engine photographed from the oil filler cap.

If you are concerned about your car’s engine, call into SVS Autocare for a no obligation discussion. One of the team would be happy to help.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_sludge

What exactly do Power Steering Pumps do?

The Power steering system in your car (also known as power assisted steering (PAS) or steering assist system) helps you steer without a large amount of effort at the steering wheel. Hydraulic or electric actuators add controlled energy to the steering mechanism, so the driver needs to provide only modest effort regardless of conditions. Power steering helps considerably when a vehicle is stopped or moving slowly. Also, power steering provides some feedback of forces acting on the front wheels to give an ongoing sense of how the wheels are interacting with the road; this is typically called “r?ad feel”.

Representative power steering systems for cars augment steering effort via an actuator, a hydraulic cylinder, which is part of a servo system. These systems have a direct mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the linkage that steers the wheels. This means that power-steering system failure (to augment effort) still permits the vehicle to be steered using manual effort alone.

Other power steering systems (such as those in the largest off-road construction vehicles) have no direct mechanical connection to the steering linkage; they require electrical power. Systems of this kind, with no mechanical connection, are sometimes called “drive by wire” or “steer by wire”, by analogy with aviation’s “fly-by-wire”. In this context, “wire” refers to electrical cables that carry power and data, not thin-wire-rope mechanical control cables.

In other power steering systems, electric motors provide the assistance instead of hydraulic systems. As with hydraulic types, power to the actuator (motor, in this case) is controlled by the rest of the power-steering system.

Some construction vehicles have a two-part frame with a rugged hinge in the middle; this hinge allows the front and rear axles to become non-parallel to steer the vehicle. Opposing hydraulic cylinders move the halves of the frame relative to each other to steer.

Most power steering systems work by using a hydraulic system to multiply force applied to the steering wheel inputs to the vehicle’s steered (usually front) road wheels.[11] The hydraulic pressure typically comes from a gerotor or rotary vane pump driven by the vehicle’s engine. A double-acting hydraulic cylinder applies a force to the steering gear, which in turn steers the roadwheels. The steering wheel operates valves to control flow to the cylinder. The more torque the driver applies to the steering wheel and column, the more fluid the valves allow through to the cylinder, and so the more force is applied to steer the wheels.[12]

One design for measuring the torque applied to the steering wheel has a torque sensor – a torsion bar at the lower end of the steering column. As the steering wheel rotates, so does the steering column, as well as the upper end of the torsion bar. Since the torsion bar is relatively thin and flexible, and the bottom end usually resists being rotated, the bar will twist by an amount proportional to the applied torque. The difference in position between the opposite ends of the torsion bar controls a valve. The valve allows fluid to flow to the cylinder which provides steering assistance; the greater the “twist” of the torsion bar, the greater the force.

Since the hydraulic pumps are positive-displacement type, the flow rate they deliver is directly proportional to the speed of the engine. This means that at high engine speeds the steering would naturally operate faster than at low engine speeds. Because this would be undesirable, a restricting orifice and flow-control valve direct some of the pump’s output back to the hydraulic reservoir at high engine speeds. A pressure relief valve prevents a dangerous build-up of pressure when the hydraulic cylinder’s piston reaches the end of its stroke.

The steering booster is arranged so that should the booster fail, the steering will continue to work (although the wheel will feel heavier). Loss of power steering can significantly affect the handling of a vehicle. Each vehicle owner’s manual gives instructions for inspection of fluid levels and regular maintenance of the power steering system.

The working liquid, also called “hydraulic fluid” or “oil”, is the medium by which pressure is transmitted. Common working liquids are based on mineral oil. Some modern systems also include an electronic control valve to reduce the hydraulic supply pressure as the vehicle’s speed increases; this is variable-assist power steering.

source: wikipedia

SRS Warning Light! What you need to know…it’s a safety issue..

Have you ever had that annoying light illuminated at your instrument cluster and wondered what it meant?

The SRS warning light refers to the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) and is most commonly known as the airbag system light. This is a computer controlled system designed to deploy one or more driver, passenger, and side airbags. The computer also tightens the seat belts to protect the vehicle occupants from physical harm during an impact caused by a collision.

The SRS system is also referred to as a passive restraint system because the vehicle occupants do not need to do anything in order to activate the SRS system when the enabling criteria—speed and deceleration—are met. In contrast, seat belts are an active restraint system. The vehicle occupants must proactively latch each seat belt in order for the seat belt to do its job. Even automatic seat belt systems have a lap belt that must be manually latched.

The Bulb Check: SRS Warning Light

When the vehicle is first started, the SRS light should illuminate for 1 to 5 seconds while the system goes through a self-test sequence. If the light goes out, then the system is ready. If the light stays on, there is a fault somewhere in the SRS system. The system is disabled at this point. In the case of a collision, the airbags will not deploy and the seat belts will not tighten, nor will any additional features activate.

What to Do: SRS Warning Light

If the SRS light stays on after the self-test, then you should take the vehicle to a qualified repair shop to be properly diagnosed and inspected. It is a good idea to check your vehicle’s potential manufacturer recalls because some airbag system repairs may be covered under recalls or extended warranties. Don’t delay—you may not be properly protected in the case of an accident or collision.

It is not commonly knows that the SRS system contains a “black box” very much like a commercial airplane. It not only records the data from an accident such as the speed, “G” forces, how many seat belts were latched etc., but it also how long the SRS system was disabled due to a fault condition. If the insurance company determines that the SRS system was in a fault mode for what they consider to be a long time, they may not be willing to cover any injuries, especially if they determine that a working airbag system would have prevented the injuries.
If the SRS light is blinking or stays on, take it seriously. There is a fault condition and the vehicle’s safety systems are compromised, putting you and your passengers at risk.

Background Information: SRS Warning Light

The SRS computer system continuously evaluates the input data sent to it by motion or “G” sensors, vehicle speed sensors, steering system sensors, vehicle angle sensors, and seat belt sensors. When the enabling criteria have been met—such as a vehicle speed above 25 MPH and a highly abnormal rate of deceleration—the SRS system will choose which, if any, airbags to deploy and which seat belts to pull tight. The purpose of the airbags is to cushion or prevent the vehicle occupants from hitting and slamming their body parts, especially the head, into the steering wheel or dashboard. The seat belts tighten in order to restrict the forward movement of the vehicle occupants.

Newer, more enhanced SRS systems recline the front seat backs, lowering the driver and passenger into a prone position to better absorb the whiplash/recoil phase of a collision and hopefully prevent any neck or spinal injury. Many newer vehicles have side airbags to protect the vehicle occupants from hitting the side pillars, especially with their heads. Some new vehicles also have SRS curtains that come down to protect the occupants from breaking glass from windshields and windows.

Source:  Wikipedia

Are the number of keys on your keychain ruining your ignition?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked! Most people today own multiple sets of keys for their vehicles, properties, storage facilities, bottle openers and even small flashlights etc, and instead of placing them on separate keychains they are often placed in one ‘safe’ spot – the keychain holder. It’s the obvious thing to do if you have a tendency to lose keys, but what you may not know is the damage that is being done to your vehicle’s ignition system. A heavy keychain can place significant pressure on the ignition switch and can cause it to fail, which then will not start the vehicle.

What damage does a heavy keychain cause to a car?

When the weight of the keychain hangs, gravity continues to do its work and pull down. The ignition has to handle the weight when the car is at rest, while making turns, riding over bumps and going uphill. All this extra force continues to wear out tumblers in the ignition. A worn tumbler from the weight eventually will no longer be able to engage and turn the ignition lock. Once these internal parts start experiencing problems starting up the vehicle must be serviced for ignition repairs, meaning spending more money.

If the key starts to stick in the ignition and does not initially start the car until the keys are wiggled, these are signs that the ignition is beginning to wear away. Take a look at the key itself, if the key looks old and worn it is recommended to get a replacement key. The key gets worn from the normal use and the excessive weight dangling from the keychain. If the tumblers in the ignition lock are replaced before it fails it will be an easy fix, before complete failure and leaving the car owner stranded.

How heavy does the weight have to be to damage the car’s ignition?

Most car experts believe that nine keys or less will not cause damage. While some will say that weight ignitions are able to withstand up to three pounds of weight while the car is at rest. There is no definite answer, but if the keys feel heavy while in the ignition remove some items from the keychain.

What should go on a car’s keychain?

If possible, remove all other keys from the car’s ignition key and drive with only one key in the ignition switch. Perhaps consider attaching the extra keys with a removable keychain to easily remove all other items before driving.

In our opinion, a keychain should consist of:
• One or two keys (including the ignition key)
• Car alarm remote

Even if the car has keyless transmitters, the car ignition lock is still prone to suffer from excessive weight.

If it’s too late and the ignition is starting to show signs of wear and tear, SVS Autocare are able to help. They know that most car models require special tools to remove the ignition cylinder and interlock system, so in the event that this happens your car can be rescued. Do not let your car get you stranded in the middle of the night. Call the specialists at SVS Autocare and have them replace your worn car keys. Cut down the weight on your keychain and disconnect all other keys from your ignition key to maintain a long lifespan for your car’s ignition system.

Source: Pro Locksmith, San Diego

Volkswagen Genuine Timing Belts – Staying safely on track

In 2013, Volkswagen (VW) reduced the interval (both kilometres and time) recommended to replace the timing belt on VW vehicles.

On certain engines with overhead camshafts, the timing belt has a limited lifespan.  The timing belt is an essential component of the engine.  It turns the camshaft(s) at exactly ½ the speed of the crankshaft whilst maintaining precise engine alignment and it’s responsible for adjusting the engine’s valve operation.  The timing belt effects the fuel consumption and emissions.

During timing belt replacement, the water pump is also changed therefore the cost of labour involved on replacing these parts are incurred only once.

If you have purchased a VW that does not have a recorded or known history of the timing belt being replaced, we strongly advise that you undertake this important maintenance item.  Failure of the timing belt (if it breaks) can cause catastrophic engine damage and lead to a very costly repair.

The above information is an overview only and intended for awareness purposes. 

Source:  Volkswagen Australia website 

What Client Say

As a former sales rep in the automotive industry, I’ve had the opportunity to visit over a thousand workshops between Brisbane and Bundaberg, including all of the major prestige dealerships. The SVS Autocare workshop is one of the most pristine …

Michael Lane

We have had a cars serviced with SVS Autocare several times and they are amazing!! From the moment you walk through the door, the service is fantastic and they go above and beyond what they have to. All of the …

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I’d like to thank the crew at SVS Autocare for their great service throughout the years. My car broke down last week and from the first second on the phone they were 100% professional and understanding to my needs as …

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A few months ago I had an issue with the timing chain on my Mercedes CLS. This immediately became a MAJOR problem when I received a quote from the local Mercedes dealer for over $19,000!!! As I was familiar with …

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The service provided by SVS Autocare is secondary to none. All their staff are friendly, efficient and knowledgeable. They send regular reminders. They pick up our cars from work and drop them back before the end of the day or …

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