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Top 8 Tips to help Maintain Your Car

Oil SVS Autocare
Oil SVS Autocare

We’re always asked “how can I keep my car running for years?” our response is always…maintenance and making a few simple checks in between services.

How can I get my car up to and over the 200,000 kms mark?

It’s very likely that you know ‘someone’ who has had their car for years, never had any ‘major’ issues with it and thinks that their car is the best thing since sliced bread. That’s great for the person who owns the car, what about the rest of us who only wish we could say that about our cars.

So what’s their secret?

The fact is, some cars are just great, while others are just… not so great! We’ve all heard the joke about a car being ‘built on a Friday afternoon’, and it’s true, there are some cars that we’d have to file under this title, however these are far and few between as build quality of most cars is generally of a very high standard.

The secret is that proper care and maintenance plays a huge role in helping your car continue in good health for many years. It’s that simple.

Our advice to you would be that in order to get your car up to and over the 200,000 kms mark, it basically comes down to proper care and maintenance, not just by regular servicing but also by thorough inspection and use of appropriate fluids, including engine oils and automatic transmission fluids.

Make sure that the correct type of engine oil, automatic transmission fluid, power steering and brake fluid is used – however, the best oil and fluids in the world will do your engine or automatic transmission system no good if you never change it.

Keep to the manufacturers scheduled servicing, change the items recommended by the manufacturer at each service interval and ensure that the Service Technician who ‘looks after your car’ is doing just that, he’s looking after your car! By that we mean, at the time of servicing, inspecting for wear and tear items on your car and noting if any items are showing signs of wear, for example, inspecting the water pump, is it leaking? How is the power steering pump performing? How does the suspension appear? Is the brake fluid in need of replacement? If costly repairs are to be avoided and or budgeted for, wouldn’t it be good to monitor these items and replace them only when needed? This would avoid large service invoices as repairs can be completed on your timescale not because the repair has been identified as in need of urgent requirement.

Here are our Top 8 Tips to help Maintain Your Car

Tip 1: Check and Change Engine Oil

oilThis is the most important part of maintaining your car. Use the correct engine oil as specified in the manufacturer’s handbook for your car and replace the oil filter – this will ensure your engine runs smoothly for many years.

We recommend: Checking your car’s engine oil level at least monthly to ensure the oil level stays within the engine’s specifications. If you are unsure, pop by the workshop, one of our technicians will gladly check the oil level for you in between services at no cost.

Tip 2: Service the Automatic Transmission

autotransIt’s as important to ensure the automatic transmission fluids are replaced in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendations as it is to replace engine oil. Automatic Transmission Fluid does not need to be replaced as quickly as engine oil, however it degrades the same as engine oil and becomes ‘sludgy’, which can cause internal damage.

We recommend: Not delaying the automatic transmission service. Check your service book or call us to confirm when the automatic transmission service for your car is due as it differs from each vehicle.

Tip 3: Check and Complete a Brake Fluid Flush


Brake fluid is a hydroscopic fluid, which means that it absorbs moisture.  The more moisture in the brake fluid the less efficient the braking system will perform.

We recommend: Annual checks of the brake fluid to monitor the moisture level. Particularly for our climate, brake fluid often requires replacement due to the humidity on the Sunshine Coast.

Tip 4: Flush the Coolant System

coolantThe coolant system helps maintain correct engine temperature and protects internal components of the engine, preventing corrosion and deposits from building up. If the coolant level drops it may cause the engine to overheat, which may cause significant engine damage.

We recommend:  Flushing the coolant system as per the service schedule.  We also recommend checking the level of the coolant at the same time as when you check the engine oil.

 Tip 5: Replace Front and Rear Diff Oils

The ‘diff’ (differential) ‘drives’ the wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds. In vehicles without a differential, both driving wheels are forced to rotate at the same speed. It is important to replace the diff oils in accordance with the service schedules to ensure smooth running of the drive train.

We recommend: Replacing the diff oils as per the service schedule.

 Tip 6: Grease Moving Parts

Anything with moving parts needs grease! Including the wheel bearings, u-joints, balls joints, some suspension components and even door mechanisms.

We recommend: Ensure that the ‘moving’ components are greased as part of the annual service.

Tip 7: Protect the interior of Your Car


The harsh sun in our region can cause interior trims to discolour and degrade causing the car to appear older and devalue quicker.

We recommend: If possible park in the shade, use a sun shade and apply a UV protectant to prevent interior trims to dry out.

Tip 8: Protect the Exterior of Your Car

exteriorRegularly clean the exterior of your car and apply a good quality wax at least every six months. Ensure to wash the underside of your car to remove any sand from driving close to or on the beach.

We recommend: If possible wash your car weekly and apply a good quality wax every six months, once before summer and again before winter to help protect the paintwork.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our top tips, please feel free to call us for any further information, or register to attend one of our information events where we demonstrate these tips.

Happy and Safe Motoring from the team at SVS Autocare.

From the Bentley factory in the UK to SVS Autocare on the Sunshine Coast

IMG 3940
IMG 3940

Fortunately for SVS Autocare, we have one of the Bentley Factory Master Technicians in our midst. Nicholas Wilkinson joined SVS Autocare just over a year ago and has fast become a valued member of our ‘family’. Nicholas worked alongside his father and brother at the Bentley factory, Crewe, UK for many years before moving to the Sunshine Coast. He brings with him a great appreciation for the finer things in life, such as quality craftsmanship and expertise.

Bentley Motors was founded by W.O. Bentley. The first car to bear his name pulled out of New Street Mews, London in 1919. From modest beginnings, the company moved from strength to strength – in a relentless pursuit of both luxury and performance.

Were it not for the brand’s five victories at Le Mans in the 1920s, plus a sixth in 2003, this combination could be seen as a contradiction in terms. In which case, it could be said that Bentley continues to create the most acclaimed contradictions on the road today. Almost a century later, W.O.’s vision continues to guide Bentley’s beliefs, actions and ambitions. Located in Crewe, England and owned by Volkswagen AG since 1998, Bentley Motors remains the definitive British luxury car company, crafting the world’s most desirable high performance grand tourers.

Our growing customer base of Bentley owners love nothing more than dropping by for a chat with Nicholas who most recently worked on this car, not only while it was being built in the Crewe workshop in the UK but also for its regular servicing at SVS Autocare on the Sunshine Coast.

Nicholas offers a clear window into the world of the Bentley brand. Pop in for a chat to Nicholas.

IMG_3942.JPG CarImage

Can ‘Aftermarket’ Automotive Workshops ‘talk’ to my car? We can at SVS Autocare…

How do we ‘talk’ to your car? Through your vehicle’s Engine Control Unit or ECU using dealership diagnostic computers.

So what is an ECU?

An ECU controls a series of actuators on an internal combustion engine to ensure optimal engine performance. It does this by reading values from a multitude of sensors within the engine bay, interpreting the data using multi-dimensional performance maps (called lookup tables), and adjusting the engine actuators accordingly. Before ECUs, air-fuel mixture, ignition timing, and idle speed were mechanically set and dynamically controlled by mechanical and pneumatic means.

The ECU also controls the engine performance for the control of air/fuel ratio and controls the ignition timing. It is also responsible for controlling, amongst other things the variable valve timing and the electronic valve control. In a nutshell it is the ‘brain’ of your car, monitoring performance and engine efficiency and setting off engine warning lights if something is faulting within the engine.

Should an internal fault occur in one of the engine systems, fault codes are stored at the ECU, computerised diagnostic computers engage with the ECU to access these fault codes and identify the fault. The faults are identified by the on-board diagnostics (OBD) of your vehicle, which is an automotive term referring to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability.

When a sensor voltage falls out of specifications, the ECU will illuminate a “CHECK ENGINE, SERVICE ENGINE SOON, OR MAINTENANCE REQUIRED” light at the instrument cluster. The ‘warning light’ means the ECU has received a bad reading from at least one sensor.

OBD systems provide an ability to access the status of the various vehicle subsystems. The amount of diagnostic information available via OBD has varied widely since its introduction in the early 1980s versions of on-board vehicle computers. Early versions of OBD would simply illuminate a malfunction indicator light or “idiot light” if a problem was detected but would not provide any information as to the nature of the problem. Modern OBD implementations use a standardised digital communications port to provide real-time data in addition to a standardised series of diagnostic trouble codes, or DTCs, which allow one to rapidly identify and remedy malfunctions within the vehicle.

Did you know that in 1968 it was Volkswagen who introduced the first on-board computer system with scanning capability, in their fuel-injected Type 3 models.

So what happens is the engine warning light illuminates? Can I take it to an ‘Aftermarket’ workshop rather than the dealership?

The answer to that is simple…you can take your car anywhere that has the correct diagnostic computer to engage and talk to your vehicles’ ECU.

The workshop will engage the relevant diagnostic computer to your make of vehicle and complete a scan to read the OBD computer trouble codes. Once the diagnostic computer has completed a diagnostic test, the relevant trouble code number/s are found and the workshop are able to locate the cause of the fault, like “MAP sensor voltage low” and so on. The diagnostic computer can erase the codes from the ECU and a test drive may be completed on your vehicle. Upon return to the workshop, the ECU is rechecked to find out if the codes has cleared or returned. If it has returned, further investigations may be required.

SVS Autocare are the European Vehicle Specialists on the Sunshine Coast and have the latest computerised diagnostic computers for a range of vehicles, including:

  • Porsche
  • Lamborghini
  • Bentley
  • Mercedes – including AMG models
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • VW
  • Skoda
  • Plus generic diagnostic computers for non-European vehicles.


SVS Autocare proudly care for many prestige European vehicles and are able to provide an extremely high level of service as a proud owner would seek.


What is a purge valve and charcoal canister?

A purge valve is the part of the vehicle Evaporative Emission Control (EVAP) system.

The EVAP system prevents fuel vapours in the fuel tank from escaping into the atmosphere. The EVAP system traps fuel vapours from the fuel tank and temporarily stores them in the charcoal canister.

When the engine is running under certain conditions, the fuel vapours are purged from the canister and burned inside the engine.

The purge valve precisely controls the amount of fuel vapour that is purged from the charcoal canister.

In modern cars, the purge valve is an electrically-operated solenoid that is controlled by the engine computer (Engine Control Unit – ECU).

When the engine is off, the purge valve is closed. When the engine is running and fully warmed up, the engine computer gradually opens the purge valve to allow some amount of fuel vapour to be moved from the charcoal canister to be burned in the engine. The purge flow is monitored by a number of sensors. If the purge flow is less or more than is expected under the conditions, the computer illuminates the “Check Engine” light.

Do I have to get my new car serviced from the place I bought it?

Buying a new car is a major decision and purchase. In order to maintain your new car in top condition and ensure it’s longevity, it is important to keep your car in good condition for as long as possible. New cars are covered for some items by the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty, and when you purchase your new car, you will receive a booklet detailing major services required as part of the warranty conditions.

The question is…Are you obliged to return the vehicle to the dealer from which we purchased it for these services?

The answer is NO

Trade Practices Act

Under the Trade Practices Act, a vehicle manufacturer or car dealership cannot insist you have your car serviced by a particular mechanic. You are free to choose where you have your vehicle serviced. Your warranty is not voided by taking your car elsewhere. However, a vehicle manufacturer can refuse a warranty claim if you have not kept up the recommended maintenance (or not kept your receipts or logbook as proof), or where inappropriate work has been carried out, or when a non-genuine replacement parts and or oils have caused damage to the vehicle.

  • SVS Autocare use genuine parts and oils for vehicle’s in new car warranty to ensure that the new car warranty remains intact. Should a warranty claim arise, all records are kept by SVS Autocare and they will happily liaise with the relevant dealership to organise warranty repairs if required.

Dealer servicing

Engines in modern vehicles are computerised and require electronic test equipment specific to that vehicle to find faults and to add software upgrades to overcome known issues. Test equipment is very expensive. SVS Autocare have the latest computerised equipment to complete new car servicing.

If you have a warranty claim, your vehicle must be taken to a dealer for warranty work, however, SVS Autocare can liaise with the dealership and if desired, present your vehicle for required work on your behalf.

Non-dealer servicing

Non-dealers such as SVS Autocare can service your vehicle, but cannot do work that is part of a warranty claim. While it is true that many original parts are more expensive, it is not in your interests to use non-genuine parts if your car in still in warranty as it may void your new car warranty. If your vehicle is still covered by warranty, the failure of a non-genuine part can leave you stuck with the vehicle manufacturer willing to accept responsibility for any resulting damage.

SVS Autocare would be happy to discuss any questions you may have in relation to servicing your new car. It’s an exciting time buying a new car, SVS Autocare aim to make your maintainence needs as enjoyable as possible.

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 Our Clients 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 …

Katrina Scotland

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 …

Alexander Symonds

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 …

Natalee Nancarrow

I can’t speak highly enough of the service and workmanship of all at SVS. My experience began with a friendly, warm reception by the owners wife and staff. After a sympathetic ear, the owner / technician was summoned and came …

Stephen G Rado

Dear Catherine, Martin and the fabulous team at SVS, I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who had a hand in putting my Mitsubishi Pajero back on the road. After the months of drama and …


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 …

Dr Oliver Gunson