Last week I added a post about a GL350 that was in for a blind spot sensor issue that turned into an engine rebuild due to a considerable lack of maintenance. That lack of maintenance was evident everywhere we looked. Below is the one of the old air filters next to a new one. It looks like more than a few years of dirt and quite an array of insects. We aren't even sure if it still flowed air.
The good news is that after some time in our engine lab the diesel is rebuilt and is back in. For those that will ask the inevitable question - yes the cabin air filter was just as bad.
Don't let simple maintenance items go into your 'blind spot'. We also do Pre Purchase Inspections (PPI) and if you are thinking of buying a luxury car or exotic give us a call and we can do a deep x-ray on it to give you some peace of mind. We've done everything from Mercedes to Ferrari's and Porsche for customers to give them a realistic understanding of what needs addressing, and the overall state of the vehicle they are thinking of purchasing.
Prepping to put the rebuilt engine back into the GL
Renato with 'Big Joe', our gantry engine hoist, in the final stages of putting the motor back in.
Modern engines are built very well, but they all need regular maintenance. One of the engine rebuilds we have on the go is a Mercedes diesel GL350 that was brought in with a complaint of blind spot monitor not working.
Before we looked at the vehicle we could hear it coming. The blind spot monitor was the least of the issues and it was apparent from the noise that the timing chains were stretched and slapping inside the engine. There was also major oil leaks, suspension issues, leaking oil cooler seals and a host of other issues. It was obvious that the Mercedes had not received much, if any, of the maintenance it needed over the years (it was a new customer). The engine was torn down and the analysis was accurate. The main bearings were chewed up, the timing chains were stretched beyond limits - it was time for an engine rebuild. When I asked Renato how a car could get this bad he said it was simple - limited oil changes and lack of any basic maintenance. Although the car had a bit over 200,000 km (it was a 2011) there is no reason why it should not have gone further with a bit more care and attention.
We don't just say that lightly either, we prove it daily. We have a fleet of Mercedes customer courtesy vehicles from a Large S class to C class and they range from 110,000 km's on our C240 to 645,000 km's on our E class. All of them get regular service here and we expect they will continue to last. Its part of our commitment to what we do and the longevity of the cars is a testament to that.
In this post I spent a bit of time with Chino, our detailer, to get a bit about his background and what he has seen over the years. Chino started detailing cars at his own shop in Singapore almost a decade ago. After a chance meeting with a manufacturer he received training and started working with ceramic coatings long before they appeared in Canada. If you have been to our shop and got one of our Mercedes courtesy vehicles you have probably met him as he also keeps our fleet clean and maintained and does the vehicle circle check with each customer that takes advantage of our courtesy car fleet.
Chino is one of those guys that doesn't say a lot, he's quiet and never the type to brag about his accomplishments, but underneath that quiet exterior is a guy that has done a lot across the globe. When it comes to cars he has either seen it or done it.
For that matter when it comes to a lot of things its the same. Once, at lunch, I said I was doing some slow smoked ribs over the weekend. I'm pretty confident in my pit-master skills over the years and launched into the type of hardwood I use, rub, pit temperature etc. I asked Chino if he had ever done anything like that. Without hesitation he said ribs were great but what I really needed to do was a whole pig. He spent the next ten minutes going into detail on how he built a rotisserie for something that large, the type of spices, cooking time, and everything else that went into it. He knew far more about BBQ than I ever will.
In that short time I realized that this is a guy that doesn't say much - but when he does he knows what hes talking about. There is a point to the story - when Chino sets out to learn something he masters it. The same goes into his mastery of detailing cars.
Here is a short Q and A when I sat down with him earlier today:
Q: So what is it about detailing that you like?
Chino: Its something that's in your blood, you either like it or you don't. For me the best part is the final result when you can take a car and bring it up to what it was like when its left the factory...the before and after. (see the picture above)
Q:Whats the most challenging paint color?
Chino: Black, definitely black. It shows off every scratch and imperfection. But its also my favorite color because when it's done right the shine is so deep and clear, its amazing
Q:What do you like about paints on the latest model years of cars?
Chino: The paint is so much better but I think clear coats are getting thinner or manufacturers are using less clear coats. If you are buffing a car and don't know what you are doing its easy to burn through the clear coats
Q: Have you seen that happen?
Chino: Oh yes, many times when someone is doing a DIY polish and cut and have gone through the clear or left swirls on the paint. Its the same for scratch repair, I once saw a DIY repair on a deep scratch where the owner had used touch up paint and then buffed it and it was awful. I have my own secret detailing technique for scratches.
Q: Whats the secret?
Chino (smiling): Every good detailer has his own way. If I told you then it wouldn't be a secret. But I can say that I do like to build up the paint and the clear coat and then make sure the surfaces are flawless and even. When its done right you won't see the scratch.
Q: You said to me earlier that you find detailing the inside of the car is easier, why is that?
Chino: For me, its easier as its a lot of using the extractor and deep cleaning all the carpets after they are removed, although in some cases I take out the seats as well if it needs a really deep cleaning. There have been a few times when its much harder though. I've cleaned everything from years of dirt, to pets getting sick in cars to everything in between. They all come out looking, and smelling, like new.
We get a lot of questions - and when I say a lot, I mean its one of our number one requests on Facebook and Instagram about what happened to Cars and Coffee and when is it coming back?
A Bit of History
Most people point to California as the start of it - the sun, the beaches, lots of cars of all types and an organic meet up of enthusiasts that didn't want all the formality of car shows. Most started as a group of like minded people getting together in a parking lot on a weekend to show off what they owned and chat. Pretty much a couple of people grabbing a coffee and gabbing about cars.
One of the other features was that anybody could go. You didn't have to have a Ferrari F50 or a numbers matching Hemi 'Cuda to go. It avoided all the stuffiness and elitism that came with a high end auction house or car show with all the registration and pedigree display etc. If you were into your hopped up Ford Fiesta or your work in progress muscle car, rat rod or whatever you enjoyed you brought it.
Then something curious happened - the get togethers went from a few cars in a parking lot to much larger events where you could find a slammed Civic next to a Lamborghinis, Porsches, Mazdas etc.
Social Media - why it made events huge, and also led to their demise
One of the reasons why cars and coffee suddenly got big with an eclectic mix of people and cars was simple: Social Media. Suddenly everyone knew when the meets happened. You could see the cars online or take a photo and post them to your own account. The need for 'likes' changed the dynamic of the experience and every cars and coffee meet suffered from its own success. Venues that once had a dozen cars, now were hosting hundreds and large crowds. With that came the need for some 'enthusiasts' to push the envelope further and further, from burnouts to engine redline revs. and the inevitable crashes. Across the States and Canada cars and coffees were either moving venues or shutting down.
Our Own Experience
Ours wasn't that different from any other cars and coffee show, we had great turnouts with the vast majority enjoying it and being respectful. I say the vast majority with the exception of those that did the inevitable burnouts or wanted to show off 0 to 60 times. A quick search of YouTube will show you some of them and we had a lot of complaints. Above all, we also have a responsibility to the community and the attendees. Our shop is in a mixed commercial and residential area and the main road has a fair bit of traffic. Unfortunately the actions of a few caused us to make the decision to cancel it.
We have actually looked at bringing it back - but there are a few challenges.
How do we keep that original concept of cars and coffee without having to have it 'chaperoned'? Pay duty police take away from the spirit of enthusiasts getting together and quite honestly its cost prohibitive. Some have suggested that we charge an entrance fee but once again that changes the dynamic away from the spirit of it. Others have suggested a donation to a charity but that too comes with all of the administration and registration overhead. We already know of the demise of a few others, like 519Drives etc. for similar reasons.
For us, the liability and equally important, the responsibility, we have to the public, the attendees and the residents of the area just don't outweigh the benefits of having it. Additionally we are changing our facilities and adding more driveways, parking and will be having a new tenant on the adjacent property (see our previous posts).
Now you know.
Our obvious passion is cars, everything from a classic design to the sound and even the smell of them. From the way they were built, the engineering that goes into them to the form and function of them. When it all comes together it can evoke a strong response. Its something you either get or you don't.
A few weeks ago I heard the distinctive snarl of a Porsche on the dyno at full power, there isn't a sound anywhere like it. By the time I went back to have a look, Stefan, our, dyno cell guru, was emerging with a grin that couldn't be removed with a sanding disc. He pointed to his arms as he pulled his noise protection off and beamed "That car just gave me goosebumps!" The car itself was in for a sport tune, an addition to its already formidable start.
What we added is more than just a few values copied over from one computer to the next, its a complex balance of engine management, airflow, fuel mixtures, diagnostics, decades of experience and a state of the art dyno cell that has no rival in Canada. Out of respect for the privacy of the owner of the Porsche I won't post the end values here, but if it gives Stefan goosebumps...lets just say the customer was pleased.
That same passion goes into everything we do, from cars to motorcycles, from Alfas to Volkswagen, Bentleys to Mercedes. We know our customers share that passion for cars - thats part of why they come here.
The smile says as much as the the results of the dyno run.
A lot of people ask us via Facebook, our website, Instagram or phone calls about the cars that we work on. We're car people and we love showing off what we do, from the simple oil change to the larger jobs. We're going to start featuring some of the work we do in our regular posts to go a little deeper into what some of our current projects are.
In today's post its a few pics of what a clutch job looks like. On this 911 its dropping the engine and the transaxle to be able to do the replacement. It sounds daunting, but with the right tools and skills its an example of that Spirit of Ingenuity that we talk about. Dropping the engine involves disconnecting everything from axles to coolant lines, turbo charger intakes, under body panels and the rear bumper. After that whole assembly is on the stand and gets split from the transaxle the clutch can be inspected as well as the surfaces of the flywheel. After the clutch work is done its the same process in reverse to get the car back on the road.
You may have noticed all the construction going on. We have been a part of the business community for decades and we want to do everything we can to continue that commitment and be part of the fabric of local development, innovation and business. We have several construction projects on the go currently and the most obvious one is just outside of our door. A high-end/luxury car wash is being built on the adjacent property and that fits in with our theme of the level of work that we do on vehicles. It will have a touch-less automatic wash plus 4 self serve bays. The facility will even have a place dedicated to help keep pets clean with a pet washing area.
We are also working closely with the new tenant to build infrastructure such as access roads and another entrance way as well as updating our parking lot to include accessible parking and easier traffic flow from the street with multiple entrances. With that goes all the incidentals from sanitary lines (just completed), hydro, paving, permits, site drawings and a water feature. The curbs are going in next and we are adding LED streetlights around the building to enhance night time visibility while keeping our environmental footprint lower. The LED technology uses less energy, gives a focused lighting on our property and reduces light cast into the surrounding neighborhood. Our front entrance is also undergoing a new face lift that includes capping on all windows as well as changes to the front entry doors. The construction on the front does make it a bit of a challenge to work around in the short term. We ask that customers park at the sides and give us a call on arrival and we will guide you through checking your car in.
We will update you as we go on how access to our facilities will change in the short and the long term but rest assured we will remain open during all of the improvements.
A second phase, starting later this year is internal. We take equal pride in the interior of our facilities as we do the exterior and we will be putting in a state-of-the-art epoxy floor in all 15,000 square feet of our shop. We believe that the pride we take in our employees and our facilities directly translates into how we take care of you and your vehicles. We want a shop floor that is clean enough to pass the ‘white sock’ test, in other words spotless. That includes where the technicians diagnose and repair your car, where we detail it, where we dyno tune and enhance your vehicle and where we store your cars.
Not only does the investment enhance service, it also puts money directly back into the local economy. We want our commitment to both visible and viable as we all work together to rebuild the economy.
We get a lot of requests about what we work on and what we do. Everything from what its takes to pull an engine out of a Diablo, to horsepower increases on a custom tune, to what are we doing with all the construction on the site.
Look here for constantly updated content with a eye to a much closer look into the details of the day to day operations and some in-depth look into that Spirit of Ingenuity that we put into everything we do.