Signs you might be heading for costly brake repairs

It has happened to most of us – the brake light switches on and we see the dollar signs in front of our eyes! Brake repairs can be very expensive, so if your brake light switches on, you always need to have it checked by an experienced mechanic.

If the brakes feel spongy when the light is lit, it’s safer to pull over and have your car towed to your mechanic, otherwise you can probably drive to yourself to your mechanic. If luck is on your side, it’s just a fault sensor switch, but if you are out of luck, it could be the first sign of a big problem. Keeping an eye open for any indications that there might be problems with your brakes is not only good for your safety, but it’s also good for your hip pocket!

So if you want to avoid costly brake repairs on your vehicle, here are three signs that you need to recognise and have checked by your mechanic.

  1. Pulling to one side: If your car tends to pull to one side when you depress the brake pedal, it’s likely that there is a problem with one or other of your front brakes. You might not notice it until you hit the brakes suddenly, but if it does occur, then your vehicle needs to be booked in for brake repairs as quickly as possible.
  2. Noisy brakes: Grinding, squealing or scraping noises when you depress the brakes means that either your brake pads need to be replaced or that they are so worn that they are starting to wear the rotors or discs. At this point, you need to call your mechanic and book in for brake repairs, hoping that it’s just the brake pads and not anything worse.
  3. Spongy brakes: When your brakes feel spongy or you need a lot more pressure to engage your brakes than normal, the hydraulic brake fluid could be leaking. This is a big safety problem, because without the pressurised hydraulic fluid, your brakes won’t work. Don’t waste any time thinking about it, just book your car in with your local mechanic ASAP.

For quality brake repairs by experienced mechanics in Browns Plains, call Steve Sorensen Mechanical on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email.


Does your vehicle need an auto electrical repair?

If you need an auto electrical repair this means that for some reason your vehicle’s wiring is causing a problem. Auto electricians can repair all your vehicle’s electrical faults, as well as install new lights, audio systems and any 4WD extras that need to be hardwired into your vehicle.

During an auto electrical repair your auto electrician will use all their experience to quickly locate and diagnose any electrical faults, repairing them just as quickly. They require a specific set of tools that ensure that they can diagnose the increasing complexity of electrical faults in today’s cars. With the rapid rise in auto technology, auto electricians are a vital participant in keeping your vehicle safely on the road.

You might be surprised to realise that you need an auto electrician to fix your central locking system if it stops working, as well as your car’s alarm system, SRS airbags, and even your car’s fuel pump. Some auto shops offer both mechanical repairs, as well as auto electrical repairs, but many don’t – so it pays to make sure before you make your booking.

At Steve Sorensen Mechanical, we can perform most auto electrical tasks, including the following:

  • Ignition systems
  • Electronic fuel injector systems
  • Air-conditioning
  • Brakes and ABS
  • Gauges, instruments and dashboard problems
  • SRS and airbag systems
  • Electronic fuel pumps, steering and alternators
  • Starter motors and batteries
  • Fuel pumps

If you want radios, lights, rear view cameras or alarms installed or fixed however, it’s best to go to an auto electrician who specialises in these jobs.

It’s always best to check with your auto shop and find out whether they have the experience to deal with your auto electrical repairs or whether you are better going to an auto electrician. In the instances when you have both mechanical and electrical problems, if your mechanic can’t fix your electrical problems, then they usually have someone they can call on quickly to perform the electrical repairs in their shop, so you don’t have to go to two different people.

If you need either mechanical or auto electrical repairs call Steve Sorensen Mechanical on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email today.

What’s the difference between 4WD and AWD?

As an automobile mechanic shop in Browns Plains, we frequently service and repair both 4WD and AWD vehicles, but do you know the difference between these two types of vehicles? Many people think that these terms are interchangeable and simply describe the same type of vehicle, but they would be wrong.

What is a 4WD?

A 4WD (four wheel drive) vehicle is designed for off-road driving, because it can engage all four wheels to provide the extra traction needed to safely navigate difficult terrain. Corrugated dirt roads, gullies, low rivers, sand dunes and beaches can all be overcome with a good 4WD vehicle. Add in tyres designed for rough terrain, a bull-bar, lifters and all the necessary odds and ends so loved by 4WD enthusiasts and you have the makings of an awesome trip out bush.

These vehicles don’t operate in 4WD all the time, you have to select this option, but when you do the power is divided between the front and rear axles. However, this can cause your wheels to spin, so to avoid this problem the power isn’t evenly spread between the inside and outside wheels resulting in a maximum turning ability without spinning your wheels. Why not bring your 4WD into our automobile mechanic shop for its next service or repairs?

What is an AWD?

An AWD (all wheel drive) vehicle has a slip differential that lets it drive all four wheels at the same time with a rotational difference between the front and rear axles. So it’s similar to a 4WD, but it’s engaged all the time and is great for driving in wet slippery conditions where extra traction is necessary. It achieves this additional torque because AWDs are usually computer driven with sensors on each wheel that monitor both traction and speed, identifying which wheel needs more torque.

If you are intending to go off-road then you really need a 4WD, as it’s tougher than an AWD and can handle the rough terrain easily. If you don’t want to go off-road then an AWD will give you maximum traction all the time and since it’s engaged all the time, the AWD is also more fuel efficient than a 4WD.

To book a service or repair job for your 4WD or AWD with an experienced automobile mechanic in Browns Plains, call us on  07 3809 2711 or send us an email today.

Looking for car inspections and roadworthy certificates in Browns Plains?

If you own a car and are moving to Browns Plains (or anywhere in Queensland) from interstate, then your car needs a roadworthy certificate. Even if you have an equivalent certificate issued somewhere else in Australia, it doesn’t matter – you still need to book you car into an auto shop that is an approved inspection station and can issue these certificates.

Steve Sorensen Mechanical is an approved inspection station for roadworthy certificates in Browns Plains, you just need to make a booking with us and leave your car for a few hours. You will also need a roadworthy if you sell your car privately.

What’s involved in roadworthy certificates?

Once you have made a booking and dropped your car off with us at our Browns Plains auto shop, we will issue a roadworthy certificate if it passes the Queensland Government’s minimum safety standards checklist. If your vehicle fails this inspection, we will document the problems that need to be fixed on the form and make these repairs for you (with your permission), then issue the completed certificate to you.

If you prefer to have your vehicle repaired elsewhere, then that’s fine, but you won’t be issued a certificate until the repairs have been fixed. If you are moving from interstate, you must register your vehicle within 14 days in Queensland and to do that – you need a roadworthy certificate issued in Queensland (you can also apply for a partial refund of your inter-state registration). You will also need to take your car registration plates with you to a Transport and Motoring Customer Service Centre, along with your roadworthy certificate when you reregister your car in Queensland.

If you are caught by the police driving an unregistered vehicle, you will be fined. So it’s not something you can ignore (you will also need to get a Queensland driving licence).

At Steve Sorensen Mechanical in Browns Plains, we perform inspections and issue roadworthy certificates for anyone who is in this 14 day window, so just let us know when you make your booking. Call us on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email today.

Vehicle repairs and maintenance: highlighting windscreen wipers

Vehicle repairs and maintenance are essential for the safety of everyone, whether drivers, passengers or pedestrians, but often it’s the little things that are forgotten. Windscreen wipers are one of these small items that can be easily forgotten or ignored until they well past their replacement times.

Keeping your windscreen wipers in top condition ensures that your forward visibility is always maximised, which is essential when it rains. Wipers that have deteriorated and no longer clear the rain from your windscreen can put your safety at risk, so here are our best vehicle repairs and maintenance tips for your wipers.

  1. Keep your wiper blades clean: Over time, a collection of debris and different chemicals can cause the rubber of your wiper blades to deteriorate, resulting in poor performance. Always clean your blades whenever you fill up your car with fuel, using a mix of vinegar and a rubber protectant, which you should keep in your car at all times.
  2. Check placement of the blades: The blades should touch your window screen along their full length so that they clean the largest possible area. Check to make sure that this is happening and if not, you can ask your mechanic to make the right adjustments or do them yourself. It can be tricky, so your mechanic can easily do it as part of your next service.
  3. Check the blades for defects: As the rubber of the blade deteriorates, small pieces can come lose resulting in defects along the blade. So look for cracks or missing rubber on the blades and for corrosion on the wiper arms. Do this every time you fill up with petrol or clean your car and your wiper blades will always perform at their best.
  4. Replace worn wiper blades: As soon as you notice any problems with your wiper blades (usually the first problem is not clearing the rain from your windscreen properly), you must replace the blades. It’s actually a good idea to replace them every six months, then you shouldn’t have any problems. It’s also one of the most inexpensive vehicle repairs and maintenance jobs you can do.

For prompt and affordable vehicle repairs and maintenance, call Steve Sorensen Mechanical on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email today.

From brake and clutch repairs to A/C and turbo issues – what are the most problematic cars?

Brake and clutch repairs can be quite expensive, so wouldn’t it be great if you could predict whether your car may suffer from this type of problem in the future? Well, we might not have a crystal ball, but it’s fair to say that some cars suffer from particular problems more than other cars.

If you are buying a second hand car or your car is about to run out of its warranty, it might be best to have it checked over, particularly if it’s on the list below. So let’s take a look at some of the more common car problems and the cars that tend to have these issues, more than others.

  • Gearbox, brake and clutch repairs: The most common problems are with gearboxes and the Volkswagen Golf and BMW 3 Series tend to come out on top for the most issues with their gearboxes. For brake and clutch repairs on the other hand, the Volkswagen Passat, Land Rover Discovery and BMW 3 Series come out tops for problems with brakes, and the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf for clutch problems. As you can see, the Volkswagen Golf and the BMW 3 Series tick two of these boxes and a few others below as well, so it’s buyer beware!
  • Electrical problems: The second biggest problems are concerned with the electrics of vehicles, an issue that might increase rapidly as cars become more high-tech and reliant on computers. The main culprits for electrical problems are the BMW 3 Series and Audi A3.
  • Turbo issues: If you have a turbocharged car, then this is one of the last problems you want, so you need to be careful with the Ford Focus and BMW 3 Series.
  • Alternator problems: There’s not many car owners who haven’t had to replace an alternator, but owners of the Land Rover Discovery or the Ford Focus might be more familiar with this issue than most.
  • A/C issues: Most of us couldn’t function properly without A/C in our car, but problems with A/C condensers happen more frequently with the Volkswagen Golf and the Audi A4, than most other vehicles.

For all repairs, including brake and clutch repairs, call Steve Sorensen Mechanical on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email.

Are the days of the automobile mechanic done and dusted?

With all the increases in auto technology, you might think that they days of the automobile mechanic will soon be over! Well, maybe in 100 years’ time, vehicles will be self repairing, but for the time being, we still need mechanics to diagnose and repair our vehicles.

It’s not a daft thought however, because if not for the grease on their overalls, often an automobile mechanic could easily be confused with a computer nerd, simply due to all the diagnostics they need to understand. Let’s have a look at some of the ways that technology might make the life of an automobile mechanic easier in the future or alternatively, more complex.

Self-diagnosis: It’s been done with laptops and PCs, where the computer can self-diagnose itself, so why not in cars, van and trucks? If you want to understand more about how this technology could work in the future and how to program computers to self diagnose themselves, check out Raspberry Pi, a tiny programmable computer that sells for around $25 and is designed to help people learn how to program computers.

Aluminium cars: Most vehicles, other than the really luxurious and expensive models, are made from steel, which is strong but very heavy. To make cars just as strong, but lighter on fuel, some manufacturers (Ford in particular) are considering changing to aluminium for their entire range. This means that an automobile mechanic who is experienced fixing steel body cars, will need the tools and the knowledge to fix aluminium cars as well.

Wireless software updates: Sometimes your car’s software is updated during a regular service, but with the increase in technology, there’s the possibility that this can be performed on the fly. These software updates help to increase the car’s performance or correct operating problems and one of Tesla’s new electric cars takes advantage of this new technology. One of the issues with wireless updates, however, is that car owners won’t need to drive to their automobile mechanic as often for updates or performance issues, potentially resulting in lost sales. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that your local mechanic will be out of work any time soon!

For high-tech diagnostics on all vehicle makes and models, call Steve Sorensen Mechanical on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email.

Signs that your vehicle needs brake & clutch repairs

None of us want to be faced with a raft of car problems, particularly when it means that we need brake & clutch repairs. Whilst these are not always very expensive to fix, they can be inconvenient, but the longer they are left, the greater the damage and the more costly the repairs.

So it pays to catch any problems with your brakes or clutch as soon as possible, before the damage increases and ends up costing you far more than you anticipated. Here are a few common indicators that you will need brake & clutch repairs sooner rather than later.

Signs of a bad clutch

Clutch problems can start out simply as poor performance, but can rapidly degenerate into problems getting into gear, vibrations or stiffness when the clutch is depressed, or even grinding sounds when in neutral or when trying to get into gear. If your car starts slowly but the engine seems to be racing, this is called clutch slippage and occurs usually when the disc is worn, but can also be due to a broken motor mount and a number of other issues.

If you have any of these problems, you will need to bring your car in for brake & clutch repairs and we will identify and fix the problem for you.

Signs of worn or damaged brakes

If you brake light switches on, then it’s likely that you need brake & clutch repairs, but you will need to bring it in for us to identify the exact cause of the problem. Some signs that you might also notice is that your car veers to the side or vibrates when you brake, or you might hear a screeching or grinding noise. The most likely problem is going to be your brake pads or your rotors, both of which we can fix at our Browns Plains workshop.     

At Steve Sorensen Mechanical, we can identify and repair brakes, as well as manual and automatic clutches, so if you need brake & clutch repairs, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email.

Brake repairs and DIY checks before selling your car

When you are selling your car, everything needs to be in good working order, so if it needs brake repairs or any other problems fixed, it’s a good idea to sort these out before putting it on the market. To give you peace of mind, you can bring your car into us for a complete check-up before selling it, because we can make any repairs that are needed and issue you with a road safety certificate at the same time.

To save yourself some time and money however, there are a few simple checks that you can do yourself, before bringing your vehicle into our workshop, leaving the more complicated checks to our experienced mechanics on the day.

  • Check lights: Replace the bulbs on any lights that are not working (front and rear, side, brakes and indicators) and if this doesn’t fix the problem, we can trace the fault when you bring it in for brake repairs or for a roadworthy.
  • Check fluids: If you top up the brake, coolant, power steering and windscreen washer fluids then all we need to do is to check for leaks when you bring your vehicle in for its roadworthy.
  • Check tyres: Not many people will want to buy a car that needs new tyres, not unless it’s a bargain! So check the treads and make sure that all the tyres (including the spare) aren’t bulging or damaged and if in doubt, replace them at your first opportunity.
  • Check brakes: Take your car for a drive and pay attention to the brakes. Make sure that the brakes engage promptly and that there are no high pitched noises when you press on the brake pedal. If you think that you need brake repairs, for example new pads or rotors, it’s best to book in as soon as possible because problems with your brakes are a big safety issue. If we pick up these problems up during a roadworthy, they will have to be repaired before we can issue you with the certificate.

If you need brake repairs or roadworthy certificates in Logan, call Steve Sorensen Mechanical on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email.

What’s the biggest cause of brake and clutch repairs?

We all know that rush hour traffic is a serious pain, but did you know that it’s also one of the biggest causes of brake and clutch repairs? The freeways in Brisbane seem to resemble carparks more than freeways in the morning and afternoon peak hours, so at first it seems unlikely that they can lead to an increase in brake repairs.

The problem lies with all the stopping and starting that happens when you are crawling along the freeways. This constant on and off pressure on the brakes, not only leads to greater brake and clutch repairs, but it can also affect the life of your tyres as well. If you regularly commute to work in the busy periods, we recommend that you book a car brake service as soon as possible, just to be on the safe side.

Driving in heavy, slow traffic that is constantly stopping and starting leads to problems with your brake lines, drive shaft and your tyres. Let’s look at each one of these in turn:

  1. Problems with brake lines: The brake lines transfer the brake fluid to the brake pads, keeping them lubricated and operating correctly. That’s why we always check and refill your brake fluid during a car brake service. Constantly stopping and starting all of the time, which happens in peak hour traffic, causes these brake lines to wear away, which if it isn’t caught soon enough, results in leakage of your brake fluid. Your brakes then fail and you have an even bigger problem on your hands!
  2. Problems with drive shaft: Unnecessary or constant braking cause the ball in the socket of the drive shaft to move and if this keeps happening, it can lead to your drive shaft wearing down. The first signs of a problem are vibrations in the car and loud noises, such as scraping, rattling or clunking sounds coming from underneath the car. The drive shaft transfers the torque from the engine to the wheels, so any problems need to be addressed immediately. It’s a good idea to have a car brake service at the same time as an inspection of your drive shaft, particularly if you drive frequently in heavy, slow traffic.
  3. Problems with tyres: Whenever you press the brake pedal, the tyres still roll for a few metres (even if you slam on the brakes the car doesn’t stop on a dime). It’s this movement of the tyres after braking that causes excessive wear of the treads, costing you more money in replacements.

For an inspection of your drive shaft, a car brake service or brake and clutch repairs, call us on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email.

Everything you need to know about brake repairs, auto brake services and manual car brake services

At Steve Sorensen Mechanical, we frequently perform brake repairs, auto brake services and manual car brake services on a wide range of vehicles for our customers. Your brakes are something you need to keep in good working order, because they are your last line of defence against a catastrophic accident.

This means that you need to have your brakes inspected and serviced regularly. However, not many people really understand what we mean when we talk about rotor arms, pads and shoes. So here is a quick rundown on what we inspect during your car brake service, as well as when we perform brake repairs.

What are the brake pads?

Brake pads are found in disc brake systems, which is the most commonly used braking system in modern cars. Your car slows down when the brake pads press against the rotors, resulting in friction that reduces your car’s speed. The problem is that the brake pads wear down over time and eventually there won’t be enough friction to stop your car when you apply your brakes. Worn brake pads can be identified and replaced during your auto brake service or your manual car brake service.

What are the brake shoes?

Brake shoes are found in drum brake systems, often in older cars. They act in the same way as the brake pads, but they can be re-tooled and used again. You can still find replacement brake shoes on the market and they are often much cheaper than brake pads. The reason that brake pads are fitted to new cars, instead of brake shoes, is because the pads stay cooler under extreme use, while the shoes can get quite hot. When customers book in their older cars for brake repairs, they often want us to replace or re-tool their shoes.

What are the rotors?

The rotors (also known as brake discs) are fitted to disc brake systems and match the brake pads. When you apply the brakes, the brake pads press down on the rotors to stop your vehicle. Over time these will also wear down and need to be replaced during your car brake service. There are different types of rotors for different uses, for example if you mostly use your car to commute to work then drilled rotors might be best, while for off-road work or towing a caravan you might need slotted and drilled rotors.

For brake repairs, auto brake services and manual car brake services, call us on 07 3809 2711 or send us an email.

What are the benefits of logbook servicing?

When your new car is still in its warranty period, you need to keep up with its logbook servicing schedule or else you can void your warranty. This is important if something goes wrong with your car and you take it back to the dealer for repairs during the warranty period. They will check your car service log book and if you have missed any services, they might refuse to pay for the repairs.

Luckily, you can take your car to any auto shop for the logbook car services, as long as they are qualified mechanics and adhere to the manufacturer’s specifications. So what are the benefits of taking your car to your local mechanic, rather than to the dealership for your car’s logbook servicing?

More affordable logbook servicing

Without a doubt, anyone who has taken their new car back to the dealer for their logbook car service has found that the costs are astronomical. No-one knows why the costs of a logbook service should be so much higher at a dealership, but its one of those immutable facts of life.

When every dollar counts, its important to have your logbook servicing performed for a reasonable price, which is why your local auto shop makes sense. Their prices will be very competitive, as they need to keep their repeat customers happy, so you will always save money on your logbook car services if you shop locally.

Friendly customer service

Your local auto shop is usually a small operation (often a family run business) where everyone is friendly and takes the time to explain everything to you in words you can understand. Customer service is high on their list of priorities, so they go out of their way to ensure that your experience is positive and that you are happy with your logbook servicing and any subsequent repairs.

As an independent auto shop, the owner usually has many years’ experience servicing and repairing a huge range of vehicles, and their diagnostic skills can be second to none. Often, you find the most experienced mechanics are the ones that set themselves up in business and these are the mechanics you want working on your car.

So why not grab your car service log book and make sure that you haven’t missed any of your scheduled services for your new car? Even better – book into Steve Sorensen Mechanical in Browns Plains and you will be guaranteed a first-class logbook car service.

Local Auto Repair

Steve Sorensen Mechanical has been providing Local Auto Repair to the Browns Plains region for over 20 years, with Steve working as a local mechanic for his entire career.

Through these decades we have grown and seen the local area grow.

We have built some great relationships with local businesses and people, with thousands of customer vehicles on our database for whom we happily carry out Logbook Servicing and Local Auto Repair.

We are proud to be part of this community and be the modern workshop that most choose for Local Auto Repair.

New Generation

Due to our time in the area, we are now lucky enough to see new generations of customers coming through.  It is a pleasure to carry out Logbook Servicing for a customer and then have their grandchildren come in for a Logbook Car Service the same week.

On our end, we also have a new generation of technicians, with Steve’s sons Scott and Brendan having worked in the business for over a decade.  This allows us the unique ability to be able to cater to the specific needs of each generation when carrying out a Logbook Car Service or Local Auto Repair – we are as comfortable repairing a 20-year-old vehicle as we are syncing your Bluetooth to a brand new vehicle.

For any Local Auto Repair or Logbook Servicing, you can contact us by email or phone 3809 2711, and we will be happy to provide an estimate or arrange a booking time.

Browns Plains Car Service

If you are searching for the right place to carry out a Browns Plains Vehicle service, you have come to the right workshop.

At Steve Sorensen Mechanical we strive to provide you an above dealer level of Browns Plains Car Service, at a below dealer level price.

Our most common day to day job carried out on a wide range of makes and models is a Browns Plains Minor Car Service.  See our previous blog articles explaining how several service items on modern vehicles have been designed to last longer, meaning a Major service is scheduled less often than a minor service –

Major Car services – when is it scheduled?


When carrying out a Browns Plains Minor Car Service our qualified technicians inspect the entire vehicle, reporting any future signs of problems to you before they become larger more expensive repairs or cause you to break down.

With every Browns Plains Minor Car Service we do the basic items:

  • Change Engine Oil
  • New Oil Filter
  • Check and top up all fluids
  • Cooling system inspection
  • Inspect belts & hoses
  • Brake inspection & adjustment
  • Inspect lights, wipers & tyre pressures
  • Inspect air, fuel & cabin filters
  • Test battery, starting and charging system
  • Full safety inspection
  • Road test & report

As well as a full Safety Inspection, during your Browns Plains Minor Car Service at our auto service centre, we will inspect and advise you of our recommendations on any items which require periodic maintenance, such as:

  • Air Filter
  • Fuel Filter
  • Pollen Filter
  • Brake Fluid
  • Clutch Fluid
  • Manual Gear Box Oil
  • Automatic Transmission Service
  • Transfer Case Oil
  • Diff Oil
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Coolant
  • Spark Plugs
  • Induction System Clean
  • Wiper Blades
  • Bulbs

By completing a Browns Plains Vehicle service regularly, you are protecting the investment of your vehicle and will have the best chance possible of preventing any future costly repairs.

With our decades of combined knowledge, we know the common problems on various makes and models, meaning each Browns Plains Car Service is tailored to your specific vehicle.

To book a Browns Plains Car Service, you can contact us by email or phone 3809 2711, and we will be happy to run through any queries specific to your vehicle.


Battery registration and programing



Text only version (magazine version above)-

Recently, I had the pleasure of inviting some fellow TAT subscribers into my workshop for a ‘playday’ and the topic of battery registration came up.

For over 15 years now, European marques have strictly instructed the process to be carried out via a suitable scan tool at every battery replacement.  With the procedure becoming common place in even the cheapest of modern econo-boxes, I thought it was high time to get to the bottom of what the process does, and the hotly debated question – is it necessary?


Lead-Acid Battery

Improving on the regular old flooded cell batteries, which required regular water top up, advancements were initially made by replacing the average 6% antimony used to strengthen lead plates, with familiar sounding materials such as calcium or silver.  These were first referred to as “maintenance free” batteries.


With benefits like reduced outgassing, corrosion and self-discharge, these batteries prefer a higher charge rate than traditional, around 14.4 – 14.8V, to reach full capacity.

The Achilles heel of calcium batteries is their intense dislike of deep cycle discharge, more so even than traditional flooded cells.

(Pic 1 – Ford Intelligent Battery Sensor – Mounted on the negative battery terminal, the Ford Intelligent Battery Sensor precisely measures voltage, current and temperature)

Still in the lead acid battery family, a unit enjoying rapid growth due to the harsh environment of ‘Start-Stop’ equipped vehicles is the Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) battery – also referred to as Valve-Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA), or a lead battery with a pressure relief valve.


The earlier flooded type batteries are simply not robust enough for ‘Start-Stop’ and repeated cycling causes a sharp capacity fade after only two years of use.


With AGM technology, the sulfuric acid is absorbed by a very fine fiberglass mat, making the battery spill-proof.  Compared to flooded cell batteries, AGM has very low internal resistance, can charge 5 times faster, is capable to deliver high current on demand and offers a relatively long service life, even when deep cycled.


Unfortunately, AGM batteries are sensitive to overcharging. A burst charge of 14.4V (and higher) is OK; however, the float charge should be reduced to around 13.5V (northern state temperatures may require lower). Regular charging systems for flooded lead-acid often have a fixed float voltage setting of 14.40V; a direct replacement with an AGM unit could overcharge the battery on long drives.

AGM and other ‘sealed’ batteries (such as Gel) do not like heat and should be installed away from the engine compartment. Manufacturers recommend halting charge if the battery core reaches 49°C.  High charge rates and high heat results in outgassing (overpowering the pressure relief valve) which will dry out and kill the battery.


Registration vs Programming

Although battery registration is utilised by many brands now, I will speak mainly of BMW, who have been doing it for well over a decade.  There are generally two service options, Battery Registration and Battery Programming/Coding.

(Pic 2 – G Scan Battery Register – Both factory and many aftermarket scan tools have battery registration capabilities)

Every time a battery is replaced, using a suitable scan tool, the service function ‘Register battery replacement’ should be run. This completes the following operations:

  • Stored battery statistics (battery charge level, current, voltage, temperature) are deleted
  • Battery capacity is set to 80%
  • Current Odometer reading is stored along with readings of previous battery replacements.


This registration function is advised when carrying out a professional battery installation, and certainly many vehicles will not clear cluster warning messages and low voltage/battery fault codes until it has been completed.


BMW Technical Training – “If the battery change is not registered, the power management will not function properly, with the result that Check Control messages may be displayed and functions limited by individual electrical consumers being switched off or having their power consumption reduced.”


I always recommend to carry out, and charge the customer for this process – however, in real world terms, my research suggests there is no evidence behind rumored alternator and electrical damage from not registering batteries.  With the dynamic nature of the ‘smart charging’ systems, when fitting an identical new battery, the system is quite capable of adapting its strategy to the ‘mysterious’ new battery. Any charging adjustments based on age would be in millivolts, effecting long-term battery life negligibly.


Indeed, once a weak battery has been detected, many systems will not retract error messages/not operate some systems until battery registration is completed.


Battery Programming

The second, and I believe most important, aspect of this topic is Battery Programming or Coding.


If a different battery has been fitted, it is imperative that the car knows the specs of this new battery to modify its entire charging algorithm.


An example –

A 2006 BMW 330i E90 model provides the following choices when programming a battery in:

90Ah AGM, 90Ah, 80Ah AGM, 80Ah, 70Ah AGM, 70Ah, 55Ah, 46Ah.


Suppose our high spec model came with, and is programmed for a 90Ah AGM battery, but the customer wants to save money by fitting a 55Ah lead/calcium battery.  Aside from the real capacity issues, we know that the car is going to use an AGM based charging strategy which is terrible for a lead/calcium.  On the flip side, perhaps a customer is doing less driving now and an upgrade to an AGM better suited to the down time is preferable.  The charge strategy needs to know this to avoid overcharging.  Both situations will result in drastically reduced battery life if not programmed in properly.


Where makes like VW call for a specific code to be entered – if your physically correct aftermarket battery does not have a manufacturer recognised code printed on it, your best bet is to match up and enter a code with the same chemistry and specs as the battery you are installing – this is of course not ideal though.


(Pic 3 – Ross Tech Battery Coding – Although physically capable, many Australian sold batteries are not available for selection when coding in a new battery.)

(Pic 4– VW Battery Code – For VW, the 10 digit serial number is often preceded by the battery vendor code VA0, making the 10 digit serial number on this battery 360315F0B7.)


If a battery is staying with the same chemistry, but the Ah rating is changing, although I always recommend to reprogram the correct rating in, physically going up in Ah – ‘capacity’ – should be a non-issue. If the system wants to maintain the battery at about 80% State Of Charge (SOC), and then put energy in, the result will be that when it puts energy in, there is more capacity to put even more in. If a smaller battery was installed, the logic should still cut out based upon SOC, but the conditions may be such that it causes overcharge conditions or puts too much energy in too quick.

Australian Specific

Many Australian batteries will not provide an Ah rating but instead a Reserve Capacity (RC).  Although they are separate measurements, they are very similar in nature and there are many handy formula for calculating the Ah to be coded for your replacement battery.  I find the easiest to be:




Of course having the right tool and battery for the job is always going to be best, but in a pinch (which can often happen in this wide and wonderful country of ours) the main things to remember are –

  • The battery being installed must be the same chemistry that is programmed into the vehicle.
  • Install a battery as close to the programmed Ah rating as possible – physically going up in capacity if forced.



Reference table –

  • CCA (Cold Cranking Amps)

Represents the amperage capacity a fully charged battery can deliver @ -18°C for 30

seconds before the voltage of the battery falls below 7.2 volts.

  • Ah (Ampere hour)

Derived from discharging a fully charged battery at a constant amp draw without the voltage of the battery falling below 10.5 volts.

The constant amp draw is multiplied by the length of the test to come up with the Amp

Hour Rating.

  • RC (Reserve Capacity)

Reserve capacity is expressed in minutes and relates to the amount of time a fully

charged battery can maintain a constant draw of 25 amps @ 27°C before the voltage

falls below 10.5 volts.

  • State of Charge (SOC)

A percentage estimate of how full the battery is.

  • Sulfate

Deposits formed on the plates of the battery as the electrolyte gives up its sulfuric

acid. Excessive deep cycling of a battery can cause a hardening of this deposit and make it impossible to return sulfate to the electrolyte. A sulfated battery is one which has these hardened deposits on the plates and cannot be recharged to full capacity.


Auto Mechanical Services

As one of the longest-running Auto Mechanic Shops in Browns Plains, we offer a wide range of Auto Mechanical Services.

Some of the Auto Mechanic Service we offer includes –

  • Logbook Servicing
  • Maintenance Servicing
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Electronic vehicle diagnostics
  • Brake and clutch repairs
  • Steering and suspension repairs
  • Automatic transmission servicing
  • Timing belt replacement
  • Cooling systems
  • Pre-purchase inspections
  • Safety certificates
  • Batteries

All of these Auto Mechanical Services are carried out to the highest standards, as can be expected when dealing with an Auto Mechanic Shop that has been in the industry for decades.

Being a family business, we take pride in our Auto Mechanic Shop and want you to drive away feeling and knowing that you came to the right place for your Auto Mechanic Service.

Trust our Auto Mechanic Shop to carry out all Auto Mechanic Service needed to keep your car in top condition.


Vehicle repairs, servicing, inspection, and maintenance, we are the one stop shop

We are back for the new year and ready to take care of all your Vehicle Repairs And Servicing needs.

Perhaps you need a Vehicle Inspection to get to the bottom of an odd noise or vehicle behavior you heard on your trip away?

Rest assured that we are equipped to handle all of your required Vehicle Repairs and Maintenance.

With new years being such a busy time of year, it is easy to let Vehicle Repairs and Servicing slip behind, while other tasks take centre stage.  Start the year off right by getting that check engine light diagnosed or that alarming clunk taken care of with a Vehicle Inspection.

Got a financial new years resolution? Keeping up to date with your Vehicle Repairs and Maintenance is the easiest way to avoid expensive repairs later on.  By detecting a small leak from a coolant hose in a Vehicle Inspection, you can have it repaired for minimal cost, rather than having it unexpectedly fail completely, overheating the engine which can cost thousands.

We understand that prevention is better than cure, so with absolutely all Vehicle Repairs And Servicing we carry out a thorough test drive, as we drive hundreds of different cars a week, with our finely tuned senses we may be able to detect and stop a problem in its tracks before it becomes major.

Contact us today and we would be happy to discuss any of your Vehicle Repairs And Servicing, Vehicle Inspection, Vehicle Repairs And Maintenance requirements.

Modern Cooling System Advancements




The engine cooling system
has had its fair share
of nips and tucks over
the last few decades but the
principal behind it is a simple one
and stays the same – keeping
the engine within a certain
temperature range and providing
heating for cabin occupants.
Progress in cooling systems, as with
most vehicle systems these days, is
being pushed by emissions and
efficiency. Several tweaks
to age-old components
have played a part in the
modern vehicle being more
powerful, using less fuel
and having cleaner
emissions than its
We are a long way
from the days of air
cooling and now
seeing computercontrolled
of well-established
cooling components,
including electronically
assisted thermostats,
fans and electric
water pumps to name
a few. With these
components come new
fault codes and new ways to diagnose cooling systems.
Why are there wires going to the thermostat?
Electronically-assisted thermostats have been around for decades
now and their operating principle is still very much the same
as their earlier, mechanical ancestors. The main drawcards of
electrical control over
the thermostat are
increased power and
improved emissions.
In a perfect world the
optimum combustion
process in a passenger
car occurs at about
110°C. With mechanical
thermostats a middle
ground must be struck
and their rated opening
temperature can open
much lower than 110°C
to allow a ‘buffer’ for
high-load situations.
Electronically assisted
thermostats have the
advantage of being able
to offer a much higher
opening temperature. These thermostats can remain closed as
high as 110°C – at this point they will open unassisted as the wax
pellet melts, just the same as a regular thermostat. This creates
the ideal temperature environment for emissions and efficiency.
The computer uses preset maps and watches several parameters
– including engine load, vehicle and engine speed, coolant and
intake air temperature – to operate the heating element and
quickly open the thermostat further.
This offers a rapid increase in cooling and drops the engine below
The lower temperature is ideal for
making power, allowing ignition
timing to be advanced closer to
optimal without increasing knock.
For this reason, the heating element
is most often operated under highload
conditions to increase cooling.
The heating element will also be
operated, even at low load, if the
coolant temperature rises above
113°C to combat overheating.
The graph on this page – a
simulated map that controls the
thermostat heating element – shows
what the computer is thinking (pic 1).
The coolant temperature is lowered
as vehicle load and
speed increases.
Check its pulse!
From belt-driven
fans to low/high
staged relays, we
now commonly see
vehicles with pulsewidth-modulated

cooling fans. Pulse
width modulation ticks
all the efficiency and
NVH (noise, vibrations,
harshness) boxes for
The benefits of precise fan-speed control are obvious but often
the speed range is not infinite. It is quite common to have preset
stages of fan operation, loosely evidenced by only a handful
of speeds being available when bi-directionally controlling fans
through a scan tool. Understand that engineers have worked
long and hard to perfect these speed stages to provide a balance
between effective cooling, energy efficiency and driver comfort.
Under certain conditions
a 64 per cent duty cycle
may be ideal for cooling
but 61 per cent may be
a better option due to
the noise and vibration
of a particular fan
With a 10.61 per
cent duty cycle (blue)
commanded by the
computer, this small
cooling fan draws only
300 milliamps (red)
(pic 2).
For testing purposes,
if no scan tool bidirectional
tests are
available, the old theory of increasing load to get the fans on high
still holds true, so set the a/c to max and turn on as many loads
as possible.
With a rise in commanded duty cycle to 38.55 per cent (blue), fan
current increases to 814 milliamps (red) (pic 3).
Go with the flow
The theory for going electric with water pumps seems logical –
old mechanical-driven pumps, after all, rob precious power and
by Brendan Sorensen
The forecast is
hot for cooling
The Automotive Technician 9
Critical thinkers might
argue that you cannot
create or destroy
energy, so isn’t this
just putting more load
on the belt-driven
alternator to provide
power for an electric
Well, there’s a little
more to it than that.
Mechanical water
pumps are directly
linked to engine speed,
so often pump more
coolant than is needed.
Conversely, sometimes
more coolant flow
would be ideal, such as during engine shut-off after hard driving.
The main benefit of an electric water pump comes from its
variable nature. Pulse width modulation allows the computer to
tailor fit the coolant flow to your engine’s current situation, and as
sparingly as possible. Electrification also provides several side
benefits, such as the reduced complexity of belt/chain designs
and the ability to remotely mount the pump in unused space.
Expect to see more of these modern water pumps because they
are ideal for hybrid and electric vehicles, which don’t have the
luxury of a constantly spinning mechanical engine.
Where to from here?
If you think we’ve made progress in cooling systems, grab an iced
tea because the future is hot.
The latest semi-conductors
used in hybrid and electric
vehicles produce a heat
flux measurement of
400W/cm², comparable to
the surface of the sun!
Huge cooling requirements
will be demanded from
stationary vehicles and
SAE J1772 electric-vehicle
connector standards
allow for up to 240kW of
charging power.
The sensitivity of
electronics creates the
need for very precise
and component-specific
cooling and this is where
glycol-coolant-based cooling systems show their age. Complex
systems with handfuls of small passages become hard to bleed
and regulate. The various metal components that require cooling
create bi-metal corrosion issues.
We are starting to see new solutions. The BMW i3 is an electric
vehicle that uses the existing a/c system to cool the battery pack
through refrigerant tubes mounted in a cooling plate, which acts a
heat sink.
But while the technology is changing the customer complaints will
remain the same. When Mrs Jones complains that her feet are
cold on morning drives, the keen technician will complement their
old-school physical tests and inspection with the interrogation of
data from all modules.
The poorly trained will quote a pair of slippers.

Transmission Service in Browns Plains

At Steve Sorensen Mechanical, our up to date training and direct contact with data and lubricant companies means we are able to complete not only a regular Automatic Transmission Service in Browns Plains, but also the latest automatic gearbox servicing such as Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT).

Further to this, when carrying out a regular automatic Transmission Service in Browns Plains, we use a dedicated automatic transmission fluid transfer machine, ensuring the best quality service is completed.

This works like a blood transfusion for your automatic Transmission Service in Browns Plains. The machine ensures that we replace 100% of the fluid – the most critical part in gearbox longevity – unlike the drain and refill procedure others use, which often only replaces 30-40% of the fluid. Be sure to ask which method is being used by your chosen repairer when pricing your automatic Transmission Service in Browns Plains.

Transmission servicing is the absolute best way to ensure your transmission gives you trouble free motoring for the life of the vehicle.

What makes us better?

We have invested in tooling to make sure we can cater for even the highest levels of Transmission Service in Browns Plains:

  • We have factory level scan tool functions to complete resets and adaptations in your vehicle’s transmission control module (computer)
  • In an effort to keep owners from ‘tinkering’, many transmissions have complex, sometimes secretive, fill and level check procedures, our investment in data ensures only the correct fluids are used and the levels are checked by factory procedures, at the correct oil temperature (extremely important!).

Contact us on 3809 2711 to let us answer any questions you may have about your next Transmission Service in Browns Plains.

Toyota service Browns Plains specialist

The best way to get good at something is repetition – so with decades of experience on Toyota’s we are confident we can prove to you why we are a Toyota service Browns Plains specialist.

Knowing that Toyota is such a common manufacturer on our local roads, we have invested heavily to offer you the very best when it comes to servicing and repairs for your Toyota.  We have built our workshop to be a Toyota service Browns Plains specialist.

How can we guarantee this?

  • Multiple technicians at our workshop have come directly from Toyota dealerships – factory trained to know the ins and outs of your Toyota repairs and service.
  • We have invested in factory Toyota tools, software and scan tools to communicate with the various computerised modules on even the latest Toyota vehicles.
  • Our decades of on-the-job Toyota knowledge ensures that whether it be a diagnosis or repair, we know the tricks and tips to get the job done faster and correctly, meaning less money you spend for a quality job done.

We are extremely experienced with Toyota petrol fuel injection, and Toyota common rail diesel – often carrying out training sessions ourselves for fellow technicians – this is why we are a Toyota service Browns Plains specialist.

So the next time you are deciding where to take your beloved Toyota, whether it is for a Toyota service or Toyota check engine light, make sure you call us on 3809 2711, to talk to a Toyota service Browns Plains specialist.