We won’t quickly shrug off the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even once it finally gets consigned to history, there’ll still be plenty of us hesitating when someone extends a hand in greeting. And sanitiser won’t be missing from many household cupboards for years to come.

Another effect is the increase in car sales. With social distancing now a constant nag in the back of our minds, it seems many have grown wary of public transport and are instead turning to what some deem the ultimate PPE: your own car.

An increase in car sales means an increase in people looking to get a roadworthy certificate. Basically, a roadworthy certificate is usually required when selling a car, or when re-registering a used vehicle. The point of the certificate is to minimise the number of shabby cars on our roads in the name of safety, and give confidence to buyers. 

You have to be a licensed vehicle tester to provide a roadworthy certificate, which is what we at BM Tech are. Before you book your vehicle in with us, though, there are some changes Vicroads has made to the Roadworthy Certificate process that you should know about.

Changes to the Roadworthy Certificate Process

The changes to the process have mostly been aimed at protecting the person buying the car. In the past, less-than-reputable workshops have provided certificates for cars that weren’t fit for the road. To combat this, the new process involves extensive body structure tests as well as photographs to provide proof and authenticity in the preparation of the report.

Of course, this means the process takes longer and therefore costs more than it used to. Previously, it would take us around two hours to provide a RWC, but with the new regulations the vehicle in question will have to be booked in for the whole day.

It costs more and takes longer, but it’s better for the consumer and ensures that unsafe cars don’t make it to the road.

What do we check for a RWC?

Here are some of the things we look at during roadworthy inspections:

Lights

When we say lights, we mean all lights. Headlights, brake lights, indicators, fog lights, even those little lights that shine on the number plate. We don’t want cracks or cloudy lenses; small details like this can lead to an automatic failure. It may seem harsh, but lights are one of the most important safety features of cars.

Suspension

Suspension matters. It’s basically the system connecting the body of your vehicle to its wheels, so it needs to be in good working order when it comes to a RWC. The main components we inspect are suspension bushes, shock absorbers, springs, ball joints and tie rod ends.

Warning signs that your suspension is in poor shape are:

  • the car pulling to one side
  • feeling all the bumps
  • steering that isn’t as easy as it once was
  • a corner of your car sitting lower than the other
  • excessive nose diving or leaning back when you accelerate and brake

Tyres

We’ll check the rubber isn’t worn, the hubcaps aren’t cracked, the valve caps are still in attendance, and pressure is at the right level. We’ll also check the tread depth, which has to be 1.5mm to pass the inspection. We’ve previously written about the importance of tread depth and how easy it is to check.

Power Steering

The main thing we look for when checking the power steering is the colour of the power steering fluid. We want to see a lovely, clear amber colour, or a pinkish hue. Black fluid is a black mark, and won’t pass the inspection.

Brakes

Bit of a no-brainer. The main components of brakes that we look at are rotors and pads. You can tell that your brakes need a service if, when you press the brake pedal, it pulses under your foot or the steering wheel shakes.

Windscreen

There’s a hard and fast rule when it comes to windscreens, and that’s the tint. Vicroads has set the limit at 35% – any higher and it’s considered too dark and won’t pass due to safety concerns. Chips and cracks will need to be attended to as well. If they’re minor, you can get them repaired for a fraction of the cost of a brand new windshield.

When should I get a roadworthy certificate?

Roadworthy Certificates last 30 days, so make sure you’re ready to sell when you book the car in. Also keep in mind that we’ll need the car for a full day to complete the inspection. It’s wise to get the RWC before you start negotiating with a potential buyer, because if your car (heaven forbid) fails the test, it will drop significantly in value. In a lot of cases, this drop in value exceeds the cost of attending to the minor repairs required to pass the inspection, so it’s almost always worth it to get a roadworthy certificate.

Call the team at BM Tech when you’re ready to put your car through the ringer.

When it comes to life’s expenses, cars usually feature at the pointy end. To buy one involves parting with a hefty chunk of change, and then there’s the cost of maintenance to go with it. A lot of these expenses we can’t do much about – sometimes components simply need replacing – but there is one area where we can mitigate the hip-pocket pain.

In Australia, the average passenger car churns through 1,366 litres of fuel every year. Now, we can’t avoid the bowser entirely, but we can do things to ensure that we fill up less frequently. Increasing your fuel efficiency is a great way to keep on top of your car’s running costs.

Here’s what you can do.

Never skip the warm-up

Before you even take off, there’s something you can do to make your car more fuel efficient. Sit there and do nothing. A properly warmed engine is more efficient than a cold one, so giving it a few minutes to limber up will save you in the long run. But this doesn’t have to be dead time: fire off some last-minute emails, read a book, meditate. Just keep your foot off the gas.

Be the tortoise, not the hare

How you drive has a massive impact on fuel efficiency. Accelerating hard isn’t doing your wallet any favours, and it’s down to high school physics. The faster you take off, the greater the drag your engine has to work against, causing it to suck up more fuel. But it isn’t just about speed.

Braking quickly is also thirsty work. Fighting against the kinetic energy of your car and bringing it to a halt is what brakes are there for, but it pays to make their life easier. You’ll save far more fuel if you start braking much sooner and more gently, rather than racing to within ten metres of the lights and slamming both feet on the brakes.

It’s a tenet of good driving habits: always look ahead and anticipate. Not only does this make you a safer driver, but a richer one too.

Tyre pressure matters

In so many ways. Tyres operating at their recommended pressure are able to do their job better – keeping you stuck to the road. Not only does it make them safer, but optimally inflated tyres are also cheaper to run. Physics again. Under-inflated tyres have a bigger footprint (tyre print?), meaning more rubber is in contact with the road, which leads to greater friction and more power needed to get them rolling.

Check out our blog, ‘5 Reasons Why Correct Tyre Pressure Matters’, to learn more.

Avoid idling

Granted, this isn’t always within your power. We’d suggest avoiding peak hour, but peak hour seems to have extended to the entire week these days (unless your city is in a lockdown; silver linings). When you can, though, try to avoid traffic. An idling car consumes more fuel than you’d think. If you’re going to be stuck on the same patch of bitumen for several minutes, turn the engine off. More fuel for you, and less harmful emissions for the environment.

Less baggage means greater fuel efficiency

In some ways, cars are just like us. Walking to the supermarket is a lot easier than walking back. Carrying bags of groceries requires us to burn more energy and fatigue more quickly. Load a car up and it responds in the same way. It may be able to maintain the same speeds, but not the same fuel efficiency.

Obviously, there will be times when you need to transport heavy items, or perhaps you’re going on a road trip with luggage and camping supplies. If you can’t avoid carrying a lot of stuff, then try to keep as much of it within the cabin as possible. Things like roof racks add drag, which decreases fuel efficiency.

Other tips for fuel efficiency

Always turn left

You read that right. FedEx do it (well, they turn right when they’re in the US). Right turns in Australia mean giving way to both lanes of traffic, which means more idle time. Believe it or not, going a few hundred metres out of the way to keep turning left can actually save fuel when city driving.

Plan your trips

Instead of taking the car out on multiple errands, try to combine them in one trip. Not always possible and requires foresight, which is a rare gift.

AC isn’t always the enemy

The air conditioner cops a lot of heat when it comes to fuel efficiency. Granted, at slower speeds, keeping the windows down and the AC off will save fuel. But travelling at highway speeds with the windows down actually creates a lot of drag and burns through more fuel than if you had the AC on. So, when next you take off on a road trip, don’t feel guilty about keeping the windows up and the AC cranked on those long stretches of bitumen.

BM Tech Will Remain Open For Essential & Critical Repairs and Breakdowns Only

The Victorian Government has made it official that routine car servicing will not be allowed! However, if your car breaks down or develops a safety concern, then these repairs ARE allowed.

ESSENTIAL REPAIRS ONLY

Cars are essential in keeping the public moving and so the government has officially allowed the public to have their cars repaired to keep them safe and reliable.

If your car develops issues like, a red warning light is on, overheating, engine is stalling or the brake light has come on etc., then these CAN be attended to. Even worn tyres and of course tyre punctures are allowed.

NEW & CONVENIENT OPTIONS FOR YOU

If you live within 5 kms of BM Tech then you are still allowed to bring in your car. We can also provide free loan cars.

If you live outside the 5km zone then BM Tech will pick it up and deliver it back to you, at no charge.

BM Tech’s operating hours have reduced slightly from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday for all the branches.

The whole process is now contactless from start to finish & Online Bookings can be made here

Great tip from a loyal customer: Have your Booking Confirmation Text Message handy as proof of your appointment.

LOOKING AFTER YOU & OUR STAFF

We are taking this Covid-19 Virus and the advice from the Government seriously and have introduced ALL necessary measures to reduce the spread of the virus and keep our customers and staff safe.

BM Tech now has an official Covid Safe Plan in operation.

Please refer to our Covid-19 Policy below or my video statement here:

Please stay safe and we look forward to being of service when you need us.

BRAKE SPECIALS EXTENDED DURING STAGE 4

If your car worn or faulty brakes, we are offering 20% OFF Brake parts!

  • 20% OFF ALL BRAKE PARTS or
  • 25% OFF ALL BRAKE PARTS with a Service

Offer Includes ORIGINAL Brake Parts including the Ceramic ATE Brakes.

These prices are valid until Covid-19 restrictions end. Remember to mention the code word, MUNICH!

COVID-19 POLICY

In light of the current situation with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we wanted to take the opportunity to reassure you that BM Tech and Eastern Tyre Centre have the health and safety of our staff, customers and the broader community as our top priority.

In addition to our strict hygiene and cleaning standards, we have increased the frequency of many cleaning procedures with a focus on high-touch surfaces, such as reception areas, customer lounges, desks, door handles, EFTPOS terminals and bathrooms, including the mandatory wearing of face masks.

We have increased the supply of hand sanitiser throughout all our premises. All our staff have been briefed on our plans to maintain the highest levels of cleanliness and safety by following the required social distancing guidelines.

When working on customer vehicles, our service technicians wear protective gloves and apply disinfectant spray on any surfaces they touch. All our service loan cars are cleaned and wiped with disinfectant spray before and after every use.

To help us minimise the spread of this virus, we are asking our customers to practice good general hygiene, adhere to social distancing protocols, limit cash transactions by paying via contactless card or phone payment, and if feeling unwell to reschedule the booking.

We understand that some of our customers may still be concerned with the constantly evolving situation, which is why we are offering a number of no contact options. Please do not hesitate to telephone and discuss with one of our staff.

We will continue to operate with a business-as-usual attitude and work together with you to keep everyone safe and comfortable while visiting our businesses. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we promise to act quickly and communicate any necessary updates through our digital and social media channels.

We all have a role to play in helping our community during this challenging time and thank you for your trust and support.

At long last it looks like the end of the dark, awful COVID-19 tunnel is in sight. Recently, we wrote a blog about maintaining our vehicles while they sit out the lockdown. Now, it’s time to turn our attention to getting our cars ready for more use than they’ve possibly ever seen before.

As we start the slow process of returning to life after lockdown, there are several reasons why our cars will be working harder than ever.

  1. With COVID-19 still at large within the community (no matter how small the risk of infection is), we’re all going to be wary of public transport for some time yet. Those who would normally catch the tram or train to work will be driving their cars and, with the cold weather still upon us, walking to the shops or a friend’s place won’t always be possible.
  2. Many of us have had to tighten our belts as the coronavirus ravaged small and big businesses alike. That car upgrade some of us were planning will have to be put off for another 12 to 18 months, so our current editions will have to work beyond their typical retirement age.
  3. Restrictions will ease, but the overseas holidays won’t be back on the agenda for some time yet. Which means many of us will be embarking on the classic road trip. That’s hundreds, if not thousands, of extra kilometres for our cars that they would otherwise not be undertaking.

BM Tech Specials to keep your car running

Clearly, it’s never been more important to make sure our vehicles are in tip-top condition, especially with spring and summer bearing down. Considering many of us are on struggle street at the moment, we’ve put together some special deals and services for you to take advantage of.

Oil Service and Vehicle Check Special

Book in before end of April and we’ll service your car for just $330, $390 or $499 depending on your model! Use the code word “MUNICH” to redeem.

Find Your Model:

BMW 1 Series, 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, X1, X2, X3, X4 and All Mini Models:

  • 4 Cyl & 6 Cyl Petrol Engines – $330.00
  • 4 Cyl Diesel Engines – $330.00
  • 6 Cyl Diesel Engines – $390.00

BMW 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, 8 Series, X5, X6. Most Audi & VW Models:

  • 4 Cyl Diesel & 6 Cyl Petrol Engines – $330.00
  • 6 Cyl Diesel & V8 Engines – $390.00

BMW M Series and High Performance Models:

  • All engines $499.00

Brake Parts Special

With winter upon us, it’s important to make sure your brakes are in optimum condition. If they need to be replaced, we are offering 20% OFF BRAKE PARTS*, and if you have your brakes replaced during an Oil Service then it’s 25% OFF!* Offers includes ORIGINAL Brake Parts (including the Ceramic ATE Brakes). Use the code word “MUNICH” to redeem. Don’t miss out!

* Excludes M Series & some High Performance models

$100 Instant Cashback on Tyres

Purchase 4 x Continental branded passenger, 4×4 or SUV tyres and receive $100 cash back for tyres 17” and above! Or $50 cashback for 14”-16”. Book now at https://easterntyres.com.au

Need a Tow Bar? We can help!

With road trips destined to be more popular than ever in the near future, we’ve reintroduced the supply and installation of towbars that suit any requirement or budget. Towbar installations are currently booming, so don’t leave this one to the last minute! Call Joe on 98361888 for a quote.

Getting your car spring ready

Driving in a wet Melbourne spring is inherently more dangerous than any other season and, with our cars to get more use than ever, it’s vitally important we have everything in order. Let’s take a look at some of the things that may need attention on your car.

Batteries

Yep, that’s right, your car’s battery is affected by the weather. To understand why, here’s a very brief science lesson: a lead acid battery (like the one in your car) contains lead plates in electrolyte liquid. These plates create an electro-chemical reaction that produces a charge in the battery terminals. If we think back to high school chem, we’ll recall that reactions are slowed by cold temperatures, and for your battery this means a reduced ability to start and run a vehicle, making it seem sluggish.

This is usually a problem for older batteries (anything over three years) and in temperatures around zero and colder. So, if you live in areas prone to frost, or you’re planning a trip to the snow, bring your car in so we can make sure your battery is up to the task.

Tyres

When it comes to your safety, there’s nothing more important than the tyres your driving on, especially in the wet. More rain and cooler temperatures mean slippery conditions. Your tyres are doing more work to maintain traction, and if the tread is worn and unable to disperse enough water, that traction will disappear. Winter/spring roads are far less forgiving than summer ones; a slight correction or braking a fraction late with worn tyres could spell catastrophe.

If you’re unsure or simply want peace of mind, bring your car in and we can perform a quick tread check and make sure your tyres are going to keep you glued to the road.

Wipers

Windscreen wiper maintenance is often not thought about until we’re stuck in a downpour and the wipers don’t work well enough to maintain visibility. The rubber might be worn to the point that it scrapes across the glass (in some instances leaving irreparable scratches), or patches of rubber may have disintegrated to the point that areas of your windscreen are never free of water. This is not just an inconvenience; it’s dangerous.

In winter and spring, with the sun rising later and setting earlier, we spend more time driving in the dark, which means more time driving into blinding headlights of oncoming traffic. When those headlights get refracted through rain on our windscreens, we cannot see a thing in front of us. Windscreen wipers aren’t expensive to fix, and we can do it in a jiffy, so make sure you bring your car in before the next downpour hits.

The lockdown has us all a bit stir-crazy at the moment, so if you’re in need of a silver lining, consider this: NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) pollution, most of which comes from road transport and power plants, is significantly down globally, by as much as 60% in some countries. In China alone, the reduction is equivalent to removing 192,000 cars from the road.

But, while the COVID-19 lockdown may be good for the air, it’s not necessarily a good thing for your car, sitting neglected and forgotten on the street. Cars are a lot like your golf game – irregular use and periods of dormancy can lead to breakdowns in performance. Fortunately, keeping your car in optimum condition isn’t hard; it’s all about preventative medicine. A little bit of work now prevents massive bills down the road.

The tips we have for you today don’t just relate to the average pandemic either, but to any time when your car falls into disuse, such as extended holidays or a sudden and inexplicable passion for public transport.

1. Don’t let that bird poo sit

Bird poo isn’t just unsightly, it’s also very acidic, with a pH range of 3 to 4.5. This is bad for your paint job, and science explains why: pH measures the concentrations of hydrogen and hydroxide. When they’re equal, the solution is neutral. When hydrogen ions out-number hydroxide ions, it’s acidic, like bird poo. Since nature loves things in balance, when the bird poo lands on your car, it interacts with the hydrocarbons present in the paint in an attempt to neutralise itself, which slowly breaks down the clear coat finish. Therefore, as soon as you see bird dropping on your car, CLEAN IT OFF. If you’re going away for a while, give your car a good clean and, ideally, park it undercover. If that isn’t possible, avoid parking it under trees that act as hot spots for avian congregations.

2. Avoid the sun

Sunlight can damage your car in a number of ways. If continually exposed to UV rays, your car’s paint job will fade and lose its colour, particularly the darker shades. The interior of your car is also at risk as the temperature climbs to extreme highs, particularly the dashboard. Over time, it will crack and fade, as will other commonly used materials within the cabin. Leather upholstery, although treated to better withstand UV damage, will eventually succumb and dry out, cracking and losing its polish. If you’re going away for an extended period, or a pandemic has the car sitting idle for a month or two, and undercover parking isn’t an option, try to leave your vehicle where it will at least get some shade in the heat of the afternoon. And get a windshield cover.

3. Take it for a run

Your car’s battery naturally self-discharges over time and, added to this, the electronics continually draw from it even when the engine is off. The battery is actually charged by the alternator, a process which requires the engine to be running. Normally this isn’t a problem as most of us use our cars every do to commute or run errands. In a lockdown, though, weeks can drift by without the engine turning over. It’s good practice, therefore, to take your car out for a spin at least one a week. And that means actually driving it, not letting it sit idling in front of the house. If, however, you’re going away for a couple of months, you may want to consider investing in a battery charger, which is fitted to your vehicle and keeps the battery fully charged for extended periods of time.

4. Check your tyre pressures before hitting the road

Just like the battery naturally discharging, your car’s tyres also lose pressure over time. Tyres that aren’t inflated to the correct pressure can be dangerous to drive on, as we’ve previously written about. There’s probably every chance that, on the other side of the lockdown, your tyres will be a little deflated (a pandemic can have this effect on the best of us). Make a quick trip to your local servo, check the pressure and, if needed, top them up.

You may want to consider inflating the tyres with Nitrogen. The reason is because normal air or rather oxygen molecules are smaller than the nitrogen molecules and so the pressure loss with nitrogen, which has bigger molecules, is much less than normal air. This means that the pressures in the tyres will remain constant over a longer period and so you would not need to top up the pressures as often. The good news is that we at Eastern Tyre Centre have a Nitrogen machine, so call us anytime to arrange to have your tyres filled with Nitrogen.

Staying at home and only using your car for short drives to the shops is not a healthy environment for your car, especially the battery.  We are noticing a sharp increase in battery related issues and I want to let you know that we are here to help by introducing a new FREE service.

So you understand a little about batteries, the biggest drain on a battery is when you start it. As a battery discharges after starting the engine, the alternator will charge it back up again. You would need to have the engine running for approximately 20 minutes for it to recover, after that the alternator will keep it fully charged ready for the next start-up. Non use of the car will also slowly cause the battery to discharge. 

Abnormal Conditions

In a normal world you would start the engine, drive around for a while like go to work, do that errand, or perhaps go for a long drive somewhere. However, during this COVID-19 isolation we are not allowed to drive too much or not at all, and so the battery will discharge but won’t recover or recharge enough.  Then one day the inevitable will happen, the battery becomes flat and the engine will not start!

So What Do You?

This is where you must be careful.  A modern car is like a computer on wheels, and so if you attempt to Jump-Start a flat battery, and you don’t do it correctly, you can seriously damage electrical or computer components. 

Unless you know what you’re doing, using a battery charger or Jump-Starting an engine yourself is fraught with danger.  I have decided to err on the side of caution, so my advice to you is to call BM Tech or your Roadside Assist service like the RACV.

We Will Come To You!

That’s right, during this difficult COVID-19 isolation period, BM Tech will drive out to where you live* FREE OF CHARGE and Jump-Start the car and/or drive it back to our workshop to recharge and inspect the battery.  We have the know-how and special equipment to safely Jump-Start the engine and re-charge it again. I believe having a professional do it is the safest and surest way to get you going again with minimal fuss.

If this happens to you don’t hesitate in calling us anytime:

BM Tech Canterbury on 9836-1888
BM Tech Essendon on 9379-8810

* Some Conditions Apply

It’s one of those advances in technology that affects our everyday life that we hardly ever think about. Before the introduction of ABS (anti-lock braking system), braking wasn’t anywhere near as simple and effective as it is today.

Prior to the ‘70s, if you had to stop suddenly, it wasn’t simply a matter of slamming on the brakes as hard as you could; you had to practice threshold braking, which involved compressing the brake pedal enough to slow you down but not so much that the wheels locked and sent the car into a dangerous, and possibly fatal, skid. Imagine the presence of mind needed.

Or, if you found yourself on icy roads or slippery surfaces, you might have had to employ another lost technique called cadence braking, which involved mimicking modern-day ABS systems by manually pumping the brakes.

Why is skidding so dangerous?

It may seem like a silly question, but it’s worth considering. If your wheels lock, the brakes no longer have any ability to slow you down, and you also have a very limited ability to steer the car; not only can you not slow down effectively, but you can’t avoid what’s in front of you. Therefore, an ABS not only helps you brake and come to a stop a lot quicker, it also allows you to steer and avoid collisions.

How it works

At a basic level, your ABS has the ability to sense individual wheel speed, and therefore determine when a wheel has stopped spinning. When a wheel stops spinning it means the brakes are no longer having any effect.

To combat this, the ABS releases the brake pressure on that wheel and then rapidly reapplies it, over and over again in quick fire succession. If you’ve ever noticed the brake pedal shuddering under your foot when you slam it on hard, don’t be alarmed – this is the ABS functioning as it’s meant to.

To explain how the ABS manages to do this, we have to get a bit technical. Your car is equipped with something called a tone ring which turns in time with the wheels. It has a magnetic speed sensor which allows it to detect wheel speed. The information is passed on to the ABS through an electronic control unit. The ABS can then adjust your wheel speed through a distribution block and pump which controls individual brake calipers.

What can go wrong with an ABS?

It’s rare for an ABS to malfunction on most models. If something does go wrong, however, it will most likely be a sensor contaminated with debris or metal shavings. Also, wiring can become damaged and brake fluid can become contaminated.

Because the ABS is a part of the entire braking system of your car, if something does go wrong with it, it can affect not only the anti-locking ability but the brakes in general.

If you feel your car is taking longer to brake, or you have to compress the pedal further before you notice any effect, call us right away and book your car in for a check. You do not want to be driving around with compromised brakes.

A (Very) Brief History of ABS brakes

Believe it or not, ABS has been around since the early 1900s. World War II aircraft were equipped with an anti-skid braking system, and while some automobiles had a form of ABS as far back as the 1920s, the first production-line vehicle to have one that most resembles the modern-day version was the 1978 Mercedes Benz W116. The 1990s saw ABS become common across all cars. 

Today, it’s mandated that all new cars sold in Australia are fitted with ABS. Indeed, it’s one of those modern advances that a lot of us can’t believe we once did without.

In a country that sprawls for miles upon miles, from desert to rainforest, sunburnt plains to foggy mountain peaks, the road trip has become an adventure classic. We all feel its pull every now and again, but there are several things we need to think about before we burn off into the outback.

It’s important to remind ourselves how much we rely on our cars when travelling long distances on remote, lonely roads. Prior to setting off, it’s wise (and necessary) to make sure our vehicle is in tip-top condition.

Tyres

First things first: learn how to change them. It may surprise you, but many people have never changed a tyre, or at least haven’t changed one on their current vehicle. If that’s you, learn how – Eastern Tyres has a fantastic, step-by-step guide on how to change a tyre – and familiarise yourself with where the components are located. That includes the spare tyre, the jack and the wheel brace. You don’t want to be pulling the car apart looking for them in 40-degree heat or torrential rain.

If some of the components are located in areas that may be difficult to access once the car is packed full, try finding an alternative space for them. Also make sure the spare tyre is in good condition and capable of driving hundreds of kilometres to get you to the nearest garage or mechanic.

Always check your tyres before a big trip. Look for:

  • Tyre tread: worn tyres have greatly reduced grip, and in the wet none at all. Eastern Tyres has a great article on how to check your tyres’ tread.
  • Pressure: Low pressure in the tyres can lead to premature wearing, increased heat generation and unsafe driving. You can find the correct tyre pressures for your car inside the driver’s door. Sometimes the front and rear pressures will be different.
  • Tears or bulges: Tyres cop a hammering. Bulges lead to weakened walls, putting the tyre at risk of rupturing.

Always have your tyres checked by a professional. Even if they look good to the eye, they may still need a rotation or an alignment. Small things may not matter too much on a daily city commute, but defects will be amplified on long, hot days in the outback.

Book in your car

Always have your car looked over by a qualified mechanic before a big road trip, and make sure this happens at least a couple of weeks before departure date. You don’t want to have to push back your road trip because a part hasn’t arrived.

Some of the things we’ll look for:

  • Fluid levels (brakes, windscreen wiper, oil, power steering, transmission and coolant)
  • Brake pads
  • Timing belts
  • Spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Air filters
  • Hoses
  • Light bulbs

Clean Your Car

Not only will the car appreciate it, but it’s always nicer travelling in a vehicle that’s shiny and grime-free. Pay particular attention to the windscreen. Make sure the windscreen wipers are clean and the rubber isn’t worn. If it is, the wipers will begin to scratch the glass.

Make sure you also give the inside of the windscreen a good clean. Use hot water with a little detergent to remove the grease and dirt that builds up. It’s this grime that refracts the lights of oncoming vehicles right across the windscreen and makes travelling at night a nightmare.

Take a Map (a real one)

GPS and satellite navigation have changed how we travel. In a lot of ways, it’s made the journey by car safer and more relaxing. But there’s still something to be said for an old-fashioned printed map.

For one, it gives context. Australia sprawls, and a big fold out map provides a fantastic birds-eye view and helps you connect with the road and where you are. Sounds wishy-washy, but it’s true.

More importantly, though, they don’t fail. Technology is great… when it works. Those satellite navigation systems rely on communication to stay updated and uploaded, and some parts of Australia are too remote for this communication to be enabled. If you haven’t downloaded the electronic map, you could find yourself in trouble.

Familiarise yourself with your route on a fold out map so that if technology fails you, you have an infallible back-up.

Road Trip Essentials

There are several items essential for a safe trip in remote areas. Make a list and check them off as you pack the car.

  • Spare batteries
  • Torch
  • Windscreen shade
  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • Air compressor
  • Container to store extra fuel
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Extra water ++
  • Phone and charger
  • Satellite phone (necessary if you’re going particularly remote; these can be hired)

Book a Service

Feeling the road trip call? Make sure you start the journey on the right foot: with a sound, capable vehicle. Book a service with us now and have peace of mind that your car will go the distance.

When summer hits in Australia, we’re all grateful for a well-functioning car air conditioner!

It’s not only a matter of convenience, but also safety, especially for little ones. So, with summer almost upon us, it’s a good time to make sure your car air conditioner is ready to face the heat.

Keeping your air conditioner maintained during Winter

It’s worth mentioning that we recommend turning on your car air conditioner once a month at least, even in winter. The system is full of seals and hoses that can dry out and crack if used too infrequently. Ten minutes is all it needs.

Testing your air conditioner before the Summer heat kicks in

End of Winter is also a good time to make sure it’s working, in terms of both chilling the cabin adequately and not producing an unpleasant odour.

Does your air conditioner have a bad smell? It could be mouldy.

If you do detect an odious smell, it could mean mould has grown due to moisture that has not been properly evaporated. It’s unpleasant and not particularly good for your health; book in with us and we can rectify it quickly and simply.

Air conditioner not blowing cold air? It might need to be re-gassed

A re-gas of your vehicle’s air conditioner involves introducing fresh refrigerant into the system. First, we evacuate your air conditioner of all moisture and oxygen, and then introduce the new refrigerant, correctly measured, into the system, along with some lubricating oil for all the moving parts.

What do we do in a car air conditioner service?

This involves a thorough inspection of the entire system – hoses, pulleys, belts – and a check of both low and high pressures. We operate the system to make sure buttons, thermostats, blowers and the compressor clutch are all in working order, and the condenser is operating at the correct temperature.

The servicing of a car air conditioner is a specialist area and highly regulated. You should always have your car looked over by a reputable service provider. At BM Tech, we’re fully qualified and licensed by Arctick to work on every aspect of your air conditioning system.

How your car air conditioner works

It’s something we all use at one time or another, but most of us are at a loss to explain how a car air conditioner actually works. Below is a brief explanation.

Compressor

While your AC could theoretically work without one or two of the other parts, it’s toast without the compressor. The compressor is a simple engine-driven pump that compresses the refrigerant gas and pumps it into the system.

Condenser

To get that nice, chilled air you need on those hot summer days, the refrigerant gas needs to change into a liquid, which is the role of the condenser. In most cases, a car’s condenser is located in front of the radiator, where it is cooled by the strong airflow created by a vehicle in motion.

Reservoir

The reservoir receives the now liquified refrigerant and filters any impurities within it. Without the reservoir, debris and moisture will clog the system in no time and lead to blockages and ruptures.

Accumulator (orifice tube)/thermal expansion valve

From the condenser, the refrigerant liquid is transported through to either the accumulator (also known as the orifice tube) or the thermal expansion valve, depending on your vehicle. They vary in their method but perform the same function: they allow small amounts of liquid to enter the evaporator where they are quickly evaporated. This prevents moisture from escaping the evaporator and causing havoc in the system.

Evaporator

The evaporator is basically a box located under the dashboard. Filtered air is forced over the cooled refrigerant contained within it by a blower, and then travels through ducts and vents, into the cabin of your car, keeping you nice and cool while pedestrians melt on the footpath.

What Is It?

It’s called Pre-Paid Service and it’s what BMW and other car manufacturers are now offering their customers when buying new cars. It’s quite common these days when buying a new car that the servicing costs are included in the price of the car.  Well I won’t hide the fact that this is certainly a threat to our business because a large portion of the cars we work on are less than three years old and still under warranty, so it makes sense that Pre-Paid Servicing is bad for our business.

Of course I’m all for people getting a better deal and saving money where they can, but what I want to make sure is that the public are making an informed decision and not falling for any hype or misconceptions, or worse still, paying more than they should. Pre-Paid servicing is simply that; service (and some repairs), paid upfront for the next three to five years. 

Is It Free?

Is anything really free? Not really.  When I bought my BMW X3, I asked the salesman if there was any servicing in the deal, he indicated that there was that option but I would have had to pay for it, so it wasn’t free at all!  In fact, we negotiated and I paid about $1500 less for the car because we bought it without the servicing included!  The worst part was that if I didn’t mention it, he would’ve just sold me the car with the service plan, with total disregard to my personal circumstances (more about that below).

How Do We Get It?

These BMW Pre-Paid service plans are called Service Inclusive packages.  To be eligible the cars need to be brand new or less than 12 months old and not had any services yet.  These plans also begin from the date of the first registration.

Are there Any Advantages or Disadvantages?

I thought the only way I could benefit is if the cost of the Pre-Paid Service plan would be less than if I was to pay for the servicing normally, so I did a ton of research and discovered a lot about this new concept.

I suppose the biggest advantage is that the Pre-Paid Service amount could be packaged in the price of the car and included in the finance payments and that sounds pretty convenient, but then I thought about it and came up with the conclusion that if I included the Pre-Paid Service through the purchase of the car, I’m also going to be paying interest on the service component, which is not good.

A big disadvantage is that you cannot get your money back if you have to sell the car or if it gets written off before the contract expires, however it is transferable to the new owner.

My calculations discovered that if you were to travel an average amount of kilometers per week and wanted to take the car back to the dealer for service, you could actually be better off under one of these plans compared to paying the normal dealer prices, which is a good thing. 

 

“if I didn’t mention it, he would’ve just sold me the car with the service plan, with total disregard to my personal circumstances”

One advantage to pre-paying would be that the prices are locked into today’s prices and shielded from future price rises.

On the other hand, I also discovered that if you were to take your car to an independent service centre like BM Tech, in most cases and depending on which plan you have, and the amount of kilometers you travel per week, you would come out spending less than if you pre-paid for a service plan from the dealer!

BM Tech could therefore be a viable, cost saving option – especially since we service all of our cars by the book and using original parts, meaning that there wouldn’t be any difference in quality.

What Are The Different Plans Available?

There are two levels of Service Inclusive plans: BASIC and PLUS, some cover 60,000 kms and some cover 80,000 kms.  They also come in a choice of 3 or 5 years. Depending on the model, prices start at $1495 and can go up over $4000.

The BASIC Plan covers all levels of servicing as indicated on the Condition Based Service (CBS) computer, but excludes brakes, clutch and wiper rubbers. This plan includes, scheduled Oil Services, Vehicle Checks, Brake Fluid changes, Spark Plugs, Micro-filters as well as Air Filters. It’s also important to note that BMW service intervals are every 25,000 – 30,000 kms, so if you are after an “in-between” oil change, then you would have to pay extra for that!

The PLUS Plan includes everything as in the Basic plan but also includes brake pads and discs, and wiper rubbers (wiper rubbers only with an oil change), and would you believe a worn clutch! 

Another little quirk which will definitely go against the Pre-Paid Plans is that the PLUS plans seem to be priced on the assumption that the brake discs or rotors will always need to be replaced when the pads are due; as many of you already know, this is not always the case!  If you pay for a PLUS plan but it turns out that discs are not required on your car during the plan period, then you will almost certainly end up paying significantly more with the Pre-Paid Plan than if you serviced it with BM Tech; it really is a gamble sometimes!

Driving Different Distances Per Year Makes A Big Difference.

I have created a table based on the new and popular 2018 BMW X3 30i G01.  It shows the different Pre-Paid Service plans and I’ve compared them to two driving distances, 100 kms per week and 380 kms per week to show the differences.  Our (BM Tech) customers, who mainly reside in the Melbourne metropolitan area, usually travel an average of 100 to 150 kms per week. This guide indicates how much you would save or lose if you were to take your car to BM Tech for service compared to purchasing or rather buying a car with a Pre-Paid Service plan from a dealer.

How Do I Know When The Services Are Due?

Assuming you drive your car sensibly, Oil Services on BMWs and Minis are usually required at around 25,000 to 30,000 kms (this is way too long but that’s another story), and brakes are normally replaced at around 40,000 – 50,000 kms, so my calculations are based on these assumptions.  Time based services like Vehicle Checks and Brake Fluid flushes are performed every 12 and 24 months respectively.

My calculations are also based on when the services are normally or likely to be due.  This is not an exact science because the BMW Condition Based Service (CBS) computer uses sensors to monitor the condition of the worn parts to ascertain the extent to which servicing is necessary. 

What About Normal CPI Increases?

It’s important to note that the BM Tech service costs also take into account estimated CPI increases each of 2.5% PA, but actual increases could of course be more or less than this.

The Results Are In.

As you can see, my calculations have indicated that if you drive less than the average kilometers per week, then you would be better off not having a Pre-Paid service plan. Buying the car for a cheaper price by not paying for the Pre-Paid plan, and having BM Tech service it, you would be financially better off over the 3-5 years. If this sort of usage matches how you use your car, BM Tech is likely to be a winner.

However, if you were to drive more than 200 kms per week, then the Pre-Paid service plan would be a good option.  The table highlights the fact that the more kilometers you travel per year, the more likely you are to get value out of a Pre-Paid Plan.

 

“if you were to travel the average or less kilometers per week, then BM Tech would be a good choice”

In Summary.

To summarise, I suppose I have to admit that these plans are kind of okay if you intend to travel lots of kilometers, but then again, if you were to travel less than the average kilometers per week, then BM Tech would be a good choice.  If you intend to only ever have your car serviced at the dealer, a Pre-Paid plan is worth considering.

What I find very interesting is that the Pre-Paid Plans don’t seem to be too cost effective for cars which travel below the normal average kilometers, which makes me think that the manufacturer has carefully designed and calculated the price of the plans to ensure that they are not unduly disadvantaged!

It’s also important to note, that if you were wanting to have that ever important, “In-Between Oil Service” carried out, then you would need to pay for it. This is because these, “out-of-routine” services are not part of the contract plan. My advice would be to seriously consider changing the oil more often regardless if the car has a service plan or not; it’s better for the engine and better for maintaining resale values!

So What’s Best For Me?

My thoughts, based on my research and calculations, would be to keep your money in the bank, let it earn interest (or pay down some of your mortgage) and then pay for your servicing maintenance as-you-go – you’ll more likely be better off financially, but then again I am biased!

 

A few tips when buying a new BMW, Mini or any other brand which offers Pre-Paid Servicing:

  1. Work out how many kilometers you normally drive per year. If you drive less than 200 to 250 kms per week then you have good reasons to negotiate (read on).
  2. Negotiate the best price you can first.
  3. Then, ask the salesperson how much would they would take off the price if you didn’t want the Pre-Paid Service plan. If they tell you that you can only buy the car with the plan, then walk away, because they are probably not being totally honest with you.
  4. When they agree to sell you the car without the service plan, don’t accept anything less than a $1250 discount.
  5. If the salesperson asks why would you ever buy the car without the service costs included, tell them, “why would I pay for something which I won’t use!”

If you would like more information or would like to see my calculations in detail, then please don’t hesitate to come into one of our branches. We would be more than happy to discuss the advantages and pitfalls of Pre-Paid plans with you.