FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does it make sense to repair my car or just buy a new one?

This is one of the most common questions we get from customers. It is less expensive to maintain almost any car than to replace it with a new one. Whether purchased outright or financed, all new vehicles depreciate most in the first 5 years. So it makes the most sense to keep a new car for as long as you enjoy driving it. German cars are built to last and to be enjoyed. When properly maintained, your German car will continue to perform well after 200,000 miles.

How often should I change my oil?

Although fully synthetic oils are much better and newer engines make less pollution than older ones, it is still wise to service your oil regularly. We suggest every to 5,000 – 7,500 miles. It is proven that regular trips to the mechanic will help to avoid a costly breakdown due to preventative maintenance. It also is known that having regular maintenance records greatly improves the resale value of your vehicle.

Clean Engine

Here is a well maintained engine:


Dirty Engine

Here is an engine that did not get regular oil services:

 

Why do my rotors need to be replaced? 

Rotors are either below minimum or there is a lip on the rotor, which causes excessivenoise or squeaking and will wear down brake pads at a faster pace. Worn brake pads can result in a loud squeaking or grinding noise while driving, especially at low speeds. Replacing your brake pads early may prevent the brake rotors from being worn or damaged beyond repair. The brake rotor is a metal disc that is mounted to the hub of each equipped wheel. When the brakes are applied, the brake pads are forced against the brake rotor. 

Do you accept extended warranty or service contracts?

Yes, we will be glad to perform work covered by your extended service contract or warranty. We will review your coverage; obtain the necessary approvals and process required.

What about the maintenance extension? 

Since the late 90s, BMW has been offering free scheduled maintenance after the purchase of their vehicles. More recently, BMW has been selling an extension to this free indicated service.

Some problems arise with this due to the conflicting interests between BMW Corporate and the Authorized U.S. Dealers. Often the dealer sells the maintenance extension at a price well over the manufacturer’s suggested price. Just like during the initial maintenance period, the manufacturer is trying to minimize its costs and your costs and will only do maintenance that is indicated or scheduled. The dealer, not wanting to miss an opportunity to generate revenue and meet their quotas, will be looking to sell you services or repairs not covered by the extension.

This maintenance extension should not be confused with a warranty; unlike the initial warranty, it simply extends the “free scheduled maintenance” period. It covers only front and rear brake pads, front and rear brake rotors, brake wear sensors, external drive belts, oil service, air filter, micro filter, wiper blade inserts, and brake fluid flush. Depending on the vehicle and program, what will be performed during that period varies, however. In most cases the vehicle will get two oil changes, an inspection service, a brake fluid flush and a brake job. Add this up at the dealer and it sounds like a wash. It does not cover wear items such as bushings, gaskets, seals, motor mounts, window regulators, water pumps, spark plugs, fuel filters, radiators, hoses, and everything else in the car.

An example could go like this: Your 2004 325i indicates it is time for an oil change, so you schedule your appointment expecting to wait for it. You get to the dealer right on time and settle into a chair, and after an hour or so the service advisor tells you about a leaking valve cover gasket and cracked control arm bushings (no, these are not covered!) Sure, he will provide a loaner – if you bought your car from them, otherwise it’s another $50. You pick up your car at least a day later and this takes another half hour or more. Want to see the old parts? Sorry, those have been thrown out already. Want to see your car being worked on? Sorry! It’s been taken in the back where you can’t see it, but hey, you can have all the coffee you want while you wait!

Now let’s look at the same situation at A & R German Motors. You call or schedule an appointment online and come in the same day if needed. You arrive and in 45 minutes your oil service is completed. The leaking valve cover gasket and control arm bushings are noted, an estimate with your vehicles recommendations are prepared. You will have the opportunity to see and discuss the failures noted by the technician working on your vehicle. If convenient, the repairs can be done the same day, and the whole job will cost less than the dealer! Your parts will be available for you to inspect or keep if you wish.

Keep in mind we are purchasing the same parts from the same dealer, and they even make profit on the parts we purchase! Even if you rent a car at Enterprise for $30, you’re still paying less than half if you factor in the cost of the extension. And let’s compare the time factor. At the dealer you would have probably spent 2-3 hours before driving away. At A & R German Motors you would be driving away 45 minutes later with an estimate, or leaving a half an hour later with work in progress on your vehicle (and you in a rental or getting a ride to your home or office). Most likely you’ll picking up your car at 5 pm the same day. Regardless, the time spent will probably be at half as well, if not less.

How long do repairs take?

Most repairs are completed the same day. Sometimes bigger repairs can take longer, but you will be notified in time to make arrangements.

How much does diagnosis cost? Usually Free…

The question is — what kind of a diagnosis do you get for your zero dollars? Let’s take a look at some of the components critical to a successful diagnosis and repair:

The diagnostic process used

The technician’s knowledge

The equipment available

The quality of the repair parts

Most of the time, a “free diagnosis” will include no more than pulling trouble codes. Which means a scanner is connected with your vehicle and self-diagnostic results, known as trouble codes, are retrieved. This only takes a few moments, and we frequently do this for customers with no charge.

However, we never represent pulling codes as a diagnosis! We might check codes for a customer if the check engine light comes on just before they leave for a trip to assuage their fears, or if a customer thinks he may have left the gas gap loose.

A trouble code DOES NOT indicate what is wrong with the car — it’s just one clue to point the technician in the right direction. A trouble code may point to a sensor, but that does not always mean the sensor is bad! In fact, depending on the year, model, and trouble code, there may be very little chance the trouble code is telling the mechanic to change the right part.

If you want all of the information the car has to offer (and you do if you want to accurately diagnose cars quickly), you must buy the OE scanner for that make. OE scanners range in price quite a bit. Some of the scanners we own cost as much as $7000 plus yearly software subscriptions.  Is it worth it? Absolutely! for us, and our customers. Having the right equipment saves a lot of time and increased accuracy which means lower bills and fewer repeat visits.

Might a shop engaging in a dishonest advertising strategy be willing to install an extremely low quality inexpensive part in your car, and bill you as if they installed a quality part?  Yes!

I have seen many examples of this, most often when I am telling a customer a shiny new part on their car is bad. They say, “It can’t be, I just had it replaced!” usually followed with an invoice from another shop with grossly overpriced parts. Sometimes the parts are billed at well over dealer list price, yet the parts installed were the lowest quality aftermarket crap available.

The moral of the story: you get what you pay for.  In order to properly and correctly diagnose the wide array of problems that will cause the check engine icon to illuminate, a technician must use his knowledge and experience of the systems involved, and follow manufacturer recommended diagnostic procedures and industry standard practices. This will take time — sometimes considerable time.

Does A & R German Motors use original parts?

Yes, A & R German Motors does use original factory parts. The only exceptions are when we determine the aftermarket part exceeds original quality or warranty, or when the customer requests the use of aftermarket parts.

What is your warranty?

Repairs performed at any A & R German Motors are warrantied for 12 months/12,000 miles (whichever comes first).

Can my car be ready in one day?

Absolutely! Most repairs are completed the same day. If the repairs to your vehicle are expected to take longer, you will be notified.

Can A & R German Motors perform my CPO repairs?

Unfortunately, only dealerships can perform repairs to Certified Previously Owned warranty (CPO).

Can I bring my own parts?

In order to maintain our warranty, we must provide the associated parts for the repairs. When we provide the parts associated with the repairs or services, we stand behind them with a 12 months/12,000 miles (whichever comes first) Warranty.

What does the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” light mean?

The engines in today’s BMW, Mini and Mercedes Benz vehicles are largely electronically controlled. Sensors and actuators sense the operation of specific components (e.g., the oxygen sensor) and actuate others (e.g., the fuel injectors) to maintain optimal engine control. An on-board computer, known sometimes as a “powertrain control module” or an “engine control unit” controls all of these systems.

With proper software, the on-board computer is capable of monitoring all of the sensors and actuators to determine whether they are working as intended. It can detect a malfunction or deterioration of the various sensors and actuators, usually well before the driver becomes aware of the problem through a loss in vehicle performance or drivability.

The sensors and actuators, along with the diagnostic software in the on-board computer, make up what is called “the OBD system.” When a problem occurs, the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” light illuminates. This is an indicator that is time to bring the vehicle in for a diagnostic. The repairs can be as simple as a loose or defective gas cap or something else. A & R German Motors will perform a thorough diagnosis and then provide a detailed estimate for the repairs, then contact you before any repairs are made.

What is the cost of a “Check Engine” light scan? All of our “Check Engine” light scans are FREE! 

Why are repairs so expensive?

BMW, Mini Cooper and Mercedes Benz parts are much more expensive to purchase, as well as the specially designed tools and equipment needed to replace them. Often, however, the repairs done at A & R German Motors are as much as half of the dealership prices.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages dealership service departments have to offer.      First of all, In order to maintain their franchise licenses, dealerships must pay for training their technicians and providing special tools and equipment. Dealers also have access to proprietary information, usually one (1) years’ worth of information on new vehicles they sell and service. This means that no one else can access this information, which is often necessary for diagnosis and repair. In addition, dealership service departments work mainly on the makes and models that they sell. Since they are very familiar with the particular car line, they can usually pinpoint a problem more quickly and more accurately. (Key word: usually)

Dealership technicians are usually paid according to a method called “flat rate.” When a job is dispatched to a technician, the clock starts. If an operation calls for a time frame of two hours, then the labor will be 2X the shop’s hourly rate. If the technician is proficient at this particular operation and can do it in half the time, the customer still pays for two hours of labor and the tech earns two hours of pay for one hour of work. Conversely, if the tech does the job in more than the allowed time, the customer still pays two hours of labor. This method of payment holds a standard hourly rate for the customer, and yet rewards highly skilled technicians.

A drawback to this method is that technicians may find themselves hurrying to make a quota.   In addition, the technicians may be reluctant to work on vehicles other than the car line they usually service because they are not as familiar with these cars and, consequently, the job will probably take longer. With these considerations, there is the possibility of “cutting corners” to get the work done faster; or lack of expertise if the tech is working on a vehicle that he has little experience with. These potential problems are averted in a reputable service department by a good service manager whose goal is to serve the customer and develop a long term relationship with him/her.

Now, let’s take a look at the independent shop.

Independent repair facilities have always been there to serve the neighborhood. In the past, many dealerships viewed the customer as a potential car sale. The focus was not on customer service. Consequently, the customer was driven (no pun intended) from the dealership to the independent facility, where one could enjoy a cup of coffee along with a sincere conversation about the customer’s family as well as his car (we’ve coined a name for it now … Personal Service!). In addition to a personal relationship, the independent offers versatility of services on diverse makes and models of vehicles. Today, top quality independent repair facilities also offer nationwide warranties through the parts suppliers and the associations they deal with. Comparing them with the dealerships, the “scales are balancing” in this arena! As far as the hourly rate for work, as I mentioned earlier, independents have been able to offer better prices.

What about the cost of repair? Independents charge a “flat rate” for their services. They use the same “book” as the dealerships to determine the time a job should take, and they charge the customer accordingly. The difference is that the technician is usually paid an hourly rate (based on his actual performance) or a salary. There is no incentive to hurry through a job or compete with other techs for the “easier” job. Also, seasoned techs who have worked in independent facilities have a wealth of experience and knowledge from years of working on a variety of vehicles. They are an excellent resource for difficult car repairs.

Is my original warranty affected if I go to an independent shop?

The simple answer is No. You can find many articles about this online. Your vehicles warranty remains intact regardless of who services your car or where, unless it’s proven by the manufacturer the repairs or parts used caused a failure. In some cases we at A & R German Motors have helped customers save money by pointing out potential problems that were still covered under the original warranty.

Do you offer pre-purchase inspections?

We offer a buyer’s inspection on pre-owned BMW, Mini Cooper and Mercedes Benz vehicles for your peace of mind. A thorough check of major systems, body and chassis, suspension, brakes and engine gives you a sense of what expenses may be coming in the near future and how the car was maintained in the past.

 

Should you have any questions, Please feel free to contact us:

(310) 372 – 2522 or email: service@argermanmotors.com

725 5th Street #3, Hermosa Beach, CA. 90254
(easily accessible,  1/2 block West of PCH)
Open: Monday thru Friday  –   7:30 am to 6:00 pm