Saturday, 30 March 2013

What Is A Car Service? And What is Involved?

What is a car service
Car Service Using a Ramp

In the automotive trade there are questions that mechanics and office staff in garages all over the world, are asked time and time again. 

What is a Car Service? Isn't it the same as an MOT Test? How Much does a Car Service cost? Are the main questions I have seen asked.

Well lets get stuck in and answer some of these rightly asked questions. (At the end of the day if your're paying for a service you have the right to know what it is!)

What is a Car Service?

A service is routine maintenance on you car that is required to be carried out at intervals determined by the manufacture. This can be mileage based or time based. It is not required by law, but it is required to be carried out to keep your manufactures warranty valid. It is also law in the UK to maintain your car in a roadworthy condition and correct servicing will help to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy. A car service is carried out to a standard that is laid down by the manufacture. In nearly all circumstances a specific set of checks and part or lubricant replacement are to be carried out at a specific mileage or time. This set of checks can vary wildly between service intervals and different manufactures. Failure to carry out these checks correctly and recording the service in the car's service history can void a car's warranty, de-value a car and leave it in a non roadworthy condition. To conform to most warranty terms and conditions parts used during a service must conform to original fitments specifications. This is not required when out of warranty but is recommended, as it can prevent premature wear and failure of associated parts i.e using a poor quality oil filter could result in premature engine failure.

Where can I get my Car Serviced?

A common misconception in the UK and Europe is that you must get your car serviced at the main dealers to keep the warranty valid! This is untrue! Because of European legislation you are in fact free to have your car serviced anywhere you like. Provided the garage follows the manufactures recommended schedule, uses original equipment parts and lubricants and fills out the service history correctly. This is brilliant for the customer as it allows you to ensure you are getting fair and competitive pricing.

Is a Car Service the same as an MOT Test?

In a word No! I'll explain why. The MOT Test only tests vehicles to the minimum standards laid out in the MOT inspection manual, see this article here MOT Test How To Pass First Time. During the MOT the removal of parts i.e Hub caps, road wheels, access panels and engine covers is strictly forbidden making it nearly impossible to test what is underneath. During the service things like road wheels may be removed to allow full inspection of things like brakes, steering and suspension  Without this removal faults or underlying problems may be missed. The MOT test also does not cover lubricant and filter replacement of refilling of low fluid levels. 

How much does a Car Service cost?

This can vary by massive amounts. But i won't leave it there! I'l give you some advice on getting the best price and being prepared for the bill. OK so you car is due a service what do you do? First thing is first, phone around for a price from various garages. Ask them to provide you with the list of items that will be checked and ask them if this is in-line with the manufactures recommendations. If in doubt first get a price and list of items from the main dealer then compare the list given by other garages to the one obtained by the manufacture. Next ask the garage whether they will be using original equipment parts and lubricants. Another thing to ensure you get the best price is once you have compiled a list of prices ring each garage back and let them know the lowest price and see if they will compete with that price. When presenting your car for service always ask the garage not to carry out any extra work required until you have been notified and agreed the costs. Ask the garage if they have a work authorisation sheet for you to sign and ensure you read it fully. 

I really hope this helps answer the original question of 'What is a Car Service?' Have you any further questions about servicing? Ask us in the comments.

ELM327 Software! You Could Be Wasting Your Time!

OK so you read my review on the ELM327 Obd2 Adaptor here,
ELM327 Adaptor Review. You ordered one and now you need software compatible with a Bluetooth adaptor.

So without messing around, I'll get straight to the point.

I want to start with the obvious first choice of ELM327 software, for me and that is the Torque app. Read my review for Android here Torque Android App Review.

In case you don't have time to read that here are some links.

Torque Website: Torque Homepage
Torque Pro on Google Play: Torque Pro (Recommended)
Torque Lite On Google Play: Torque Lite

OK I want to be entirely honest although the app on Android is brilliant, it can look a bit unprofessional if used on a phone in a paying customer environment. I highly recommend using a Tablet for a more professional look. 

You may be thinking about getting some software for a laptop. 

Well if you own a Ford you are in luck here is some free Ford specific software that can read most modules on nearly all Fords. Here is the link.

FORScan Homepage
FORScan Downloads

Trouble is though I personally haven't found any free generic OBD2 software that supports Bluetooth ELM327 Obd2 Adaptors that either.

  1. Doesn't need cracking (You won't find that here)
  2. Actually provides any features unless you pay

Your only real hope for free software is whatever came with your device. Or using some paid for software and the majority of this really isn't worth paying for, as connectivity can be very hit and miss or it isn't very well supported. 

To be honest the price of most of the software is far more than what you can buy a hand held really good quality OBD Scanner for. See this post here 
OBD Scanner ReviewIf I am wrong let me know in the comments or, if you develop some software and would like us to review it please visit the contact us page!

To sum up unless you're a pirate and don't mind doing someone out of money you're out of luck. Just save the money and buy a decent handheld OBD2 Scanner.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Full MOT Test Checklist

MOT Checklist sign
MOT Test

Those of you who have read my previous MOT Test article on how to pass first time (see MOT Test Pass First Time), may recall I had created a DIY Checklist. 

Well I have now gone one better and took the standard VOSA MOT Test Checklist or the VT29 as it is know to us MOT Testers and edited it into a useful checklist for you to use when preparing your car for MOT Test. You can either download the PDF File here MOT Test Checklist or print this page.

Items to be checked

Seats and seat belts

Warning Lamps

Switches (Lights, Hazards etc)

View to front, wipers, washers

Brake controls and servo

Steering wheel and column





Driver Controls


Number Plates

Lights inc number plate

Indicators and hazards

Headlamps and aim

Wheels and tyres

Shock absorbers



Fuel cap

Doors, bootlid and bonnet

Towbars and electrics

Condition of body

Under Bonnet


Braking system

Exhaust and fuel systems

Steering and power steering



Steering and power steering

Drive shafts


Wheel bearings

Wheels and tyres

Brake components

Exhaust system

Fuel system


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Torque Pro OBD2 Android App Review And Setup!


If you came to this page because of fault/trouble codes you retrieved from a diagnostic tool you may find our iPhone/iPad or Android App useful.

Not only does it give you 'Fault Descriptions' but also gives you 
Possible Causes!! 

Perfect when used in conjunction with Torque Pro!! Check it out on the App Store or Play Store!! 

If you read my previous ELM327 OBD2 Bluetooth Adaptor Review, you'll recall I said I was going to test the device with the Torque OBD2 app for Android. Well here is my review and a brief set up guide to get you started if needed.

This review is for the paid version of the app available here:

Torque For Android

To start with setting up the ELM327 OBD2 adaptor to work with Android is really easy. Just Plug the adaptor into your cars diagnostic socket go to Android Settings - Bluetooth - Scan For Devices - Once OBD2 or ELM327 is found click it - Enter Pass-code 1234 - Let It Pair.

When I first started the app, I was greeted with a really well thought out UI. It is really smooth and fluid, everything is positioned to suit your thumbs natural position on the screen. The following screen shot is from my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.

Torque Android App Homescreen
Torque Home-screen
As you can see Torques UI looks really nice on a Tablet display. 

Lets analyse what we see here. First the top left hand corner you have 4 blue icons. The left one is GPS it will flash until you get GPS lock on. The next icon across is just to show that the app is running I think, although don't quote me on that. The next is an icon to show status of connection to the ELM327 OBD device. Flashing = Not connected and Solid Blue = Connected. The right hand icon is connection to the car's ECU, for this the ignition needs to be on and then same as before. Flashing = Not connected and Solid Blue = Connected.

Then you will notice the Profile is set to Ford Focus. That's because I own one and have set up a profile for this. Although not necessary, you need to set up a profile for Torque to correctly calculate fuel cost, MPG, HP, Fuel remaining and more. 

Before you set up a profile, I recommend setting up which unit measurements you want to use first. To do this press the settings button on the bottom left of the screen - Select Settings - Then Units - Then tick or un-tick the boxes as necessary. Here is how mine are set up:

Torque For Android Units Setup
Torque Unit Set Up

Now you are ready to set up a profile. Go back to the first screen and again press the settings button on the bottom left - Select Vehicle Profile - Create New Profile- Then fill in the boxes with details about your car. Here's mine:

Torque For Android Vehicle Profile
Torque Vehicle Profile

OK that about sums up what you should do to get started with Torque For Android.

Back at the first screen if all 4 icons are blue an have stopped flashing you're ready to begin. 

First thing I did was read the fault codes on my car. It had none as expected so to try the app out I disconnected the MAF sensor, re read the codes and was greeted by 2 new fault codes. 

Torque For Android Fault Codes P0102, P0113
Torque Pro For Android Fault Codes

Yay!! It worked. I decided to plug the MAF sensor back on and clear the fault codes. Which worked a charm as well. At the top right of the screen is the menu button which when pressed gives you some really cool options. Let me show you:

Torque For Android Fault Codes
Torque Pro Fault Codes

My personal favourites are obviously 'Clear faults on ECU' and also the 'Share' option. This allows you to email the faults to anyone you choose including your self. Handy for tracking down returning faults.

Right lets go back to the first screen and this time we go into 'Realtime  Information'. This brings up a set of six gauges, but if if you swipe left, right, up or down, depending on which way your holding the screen it reveals more gauges. These are fully customisable. Anything from style and size, to what data they display can be changed. Press and hold a blank area of screen and you will have the option to 'Add a Display' Here you select the type of gauge you want, then what data you want it to show, then the size. Press and hold a gauge that's already on the screen and it brings up,the customisation menu. 

Here's a shot of my screen:

Torque For Android Gauges
Torque Pro Gauges Set Up

Overall I really have only just scratched the surface of what this wonderful app has to offer. Things like 'Map View' and 'Graphing' I haven't delved to deeply in to yet and will update this review when I do.

To sum up. I give Torque For Android 10 out of 10. Just because it is packed full of functions, is a breeze to set up and has a brilliant UI. I really hope this helps you get set up and on your way with this brilliant Android App.

Again Torque Pro is available here:

Torque For Android

Like this you may find these useful:

Engine Management Light (How Its Really Fixed)

ECU Remapping Vs Chipping

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

ELM327 OBD2 Adaptor Review and Overview (Torque Android Compatible)

ELM327 OBD Adaptor
ELM327 OBD Adaptor

A couple of days ago, after reading reviews and thinking of my own car. I received in the post a Bluetooth ELM327 OBD adaptor. I have to admit I was sceptical, I mean this thing cost under £10. I had set my expectations so low I wasn't even expecting it to work. Boy was I wrong.

You may recall my last article on OBD Scanners here: OBD Scanners
Although I do like the C-Reader the ELM327 is defiantly up there on my list of favourite toys.

I open the packaging and no box or cables. Just the adaptor and a mini CD. 

First things first the build quality is exceptionally good considering I only paid £8.90. Secondly the CD is stacked full of either cracked software with keygen's or free trial software, but hey I didn't buy this for what was on the CD. It would of bothered me if it had no disc. I already had software lined up to put the ELM327 OBD adaptor through its paces.

The software I have used to test the adaptor with are as follows, to read my reviews and experiences just click the link (These will be available as I review them):

  • Torque For Android on Tablet And Smartphone (Review Available)
  • FORScan (Free Ford Specific Software For Windows And ELM327 Adaptors)
  • VauxCheck (Paid For Opel/Vauxhall Specific Software For Windows And ELM327 Adaptors
Before we get to the specifications of the ELM327 OBD2 adaptor, I know there are many sellers or this product. Some of the products do not work or don't support some protocols, so I thought I would share with you the location I brought mine. This seller sell's only in the UK. But i did some research for my US readers and the seller with the best price, best feedback and carrying stock in the USA is also listed below.

So lets just deal with the specs and features of the ELM327 adaptor that I purchased.

Manufacture:    ePathDirect or Vgate Scan

Model:             ELM327 Ver 1.5

Main Chip:        PIC18F2480

Connectivity:    Bluetooth 

Power:            12v only (24v Not supported)
                      Supplied By Vehicle Diagnostic Socket

Connector:       EOBD OBD2 16 Pin

Protocols:        SAE J1850 PWM(41.6Kbaud)
                      SAE J1850 VPW(10.4Kbaud)
                      ISO9141-2(5 baud init,10.4Kbaud)
                      ISO14230-4 KWP(5 baud init,10.4 Kbaud)
                      ISO14230-4 KWP(fast init,10.4 Kbaud)

                      ISO15765-4 CAN(11bit ID,500 Kbaud)
                      ISO15765-4 CAN(29bit ID,500 Kbaud)
                      ISO15765-4 CAN(11bit ID,250 Kbaud)
                      ISO15765-4 CAN(29bit ID,250 Kbaud)
                      A.SAE J1939 CAN(29bit ID,250*Kbaud)
                      B.USER1 CAN(11*bit ID,125*Kbaud)
                      C.USER2 CAN(11*bit ID,50*kbaud) 

Vehicles:         Any EOBD or OBD2 compliant vehicle

Modules:         Engine with OBD software
                     All modules with manufacture specific software e.g
                     Ford FORScan Opel/Vauxhall VauxCheck

Dimesions:      H=2 3/4'' or 69mm W=1 3/4'' or 44mm  T= 1'' or 25mm 

My own personal feelings on this product are. 

Pros: Cheap, Connects Fast, Huge list of compatible vehicles, Plenty of 
         software available for free, great paid software available, Smartphone
         apps available e.g. Torque Pro, 

Cons: Poor packaging (or lack of), Mine came with Cracked software although
         no virus's found.

Have you had any experience with these? Do you know any reputable sellers? 
drop us a comment bellow.