The Mechanic

When your car is serviced or repaired at our garage in Plymouth, we always explain what work needs to be done. Equally importantly, we explain why.


We also share a few service, repair and motoring tips! All advice is given in good faith but followed at your own risk.

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Pop in and say hello! 

We are a Trading Standards Approved garage!

Trading Standards approved Trading Standards approved

We are very pleased to say that our small independent Plymouth garage has been thoroughly checked and is approved by Trading Standards. We are now registered with them and the Buy With Confidence Scheme.


"In response to concerns about ‘rogue traders’ which are often highlighted in the media, a partnership of Local Authority Trading Standards Services have taken a ground-breaking step by putting together the Buy With Confidence Scheme. The scheme provides consumers with a list of local businesses which have given their commitment to trading fairly. Every business listed has undergone a series of detailed checks before being approved as a member of the scheme."


I am a professional Motor Mechanic, registered with 'The IMI'. As an IMI member, I am commited to maintaining standards, which are monitored, and I follow a 'Code of Conduct'. The Trading Standards registration fits well alongside 'The IMI'; It means my garage has undergone a series of detailed checks and is commited to trading fairly. Some other garage schemes seem to include buying products from the scheme provider! The Trading Standards registration is different:


"In order to become a Buy With Confidence member, a business must first apply or be recommended to join the scheme and must then pass a set of tailored background checks. Membership of the scheme is not given lightly – amongst other checks, each applicant will have their complaints history reviewed and will receive a visit from Trading Standards. Good references are required from (randomly selected) previous customers and applicants must agree to abide by the scheme’s code of conduct, which requires them to follow the letter and spirit of the law. Criminal records basic disclosure may also be required in some circumstances.

Only if all the scheme requirements are met, will a business be granted membership, and their conduct will continue to be monitored thereafter."


When we joined 'Trading Standards' scheme in 2015, we had been trading for 12 years and they had not had a single complaint about us! We were pleased to celebrate our 14th anniversary in 2017 and will continue to trade in this way.

Travelling with a dog to our dog friendly garage!

Dog friendly garage in Plymouth Muddy paws welcome!

We are a dog friendly garage! We have dogs of our own and like to welcome our customers (well behaved) dogs and children.

A visit to a noisy garage can be distressing and dogs don't like to be left in cars while we are working on them. So your dog is welcome to wait with you in our family friendly waiting room. We have dog toys! And we're to provide fresh water for your dog to drink - just ask! 


We're also family friendly!

Our waiting room has chairs, a TV, magazines, toys and books!


If you'd like to go for a walk, we're next door to Saltram House, a National Trust property with woods and river, an adventure playground and cafe with toilets. We can phone you when your vehicle is ready to collect. 


A garage is a working environment. Our waiting room is seperate to the garage workshop, but used at your own risk. Dogs and children must be supervised by a responsible adult at all times. Many other pets welcome by prior arrangement!

dog friendly photo Family & dog friendly garage!

We often travel with our dog. Here are our ideas on how to travel safely with a dog.


Protect your dog from a hot car! The golden rule is to never leave your dog in a car. A car can quickly become as hot as an oven and your dog could die. And how often have you been in a queue of traffic and seen a dog panting in the boot of the car in front of you? Fit specially designed shades to the rear and side windows, to reflect heat while you’re driving. If you have air conditioning in the rear of the car, it can help to keep your dog cool while travelling. And if the weather is cold, ensure your dog will be warm enough and comfortable.


Minimise dog travel sickness: Avoid feeding your dog for two hours before you travel. This can help to avoid dogs becoming car sick.


Keep your dog secure in a car: If your dog travels in the boot, use a dog guard. If it’s on the seat, use a dog harness that clips into a seatbelt holder. These protect your dog being thrown around and injured during heavy braking or an accident. And it protects passengers from being hit by an unrestrained dog.


Dog travel kit: Dogs generally appreciate a blanket or dog bed to lay on. Your dog should wear its collar and identity tag. You can also pack a lead, bowl, water, food, poop bags, wipes, toys and a towel. Don’t forget any medicines your dog needs.


Doggie comfort breaks: Dogs like to stretch their legs, have a drink and take a toilet break. So stop every couple of hours to let your dog relax and refresh, in a safe place.


Lost dog? Nobody wants this to happen! Be careful when opening the car if your dog is not restrained. We once stopped in a layby and one of our dogs leapt out of the boot as we opened it. She ran down the motorway! A huge stroke of luck meant no vehicles were close and we managed to catch her safely. It could have been so much worse.

It’s now compulsory (in the UK) that dogs are microchipped. This registers your dog on a database. The microchip can be scanned at many vets and some animal shelters. Should your dog get lost, it can be reunited with you. It’s also helpful to have a phone number on your dog’s identity tag, so you can be contacted quickly.


If you have a tip on travelling with dogs, let us know and we may include it here.


Contact our family and dog friendly garage to book your service, repair, MOT or underseal.

Winter car checks

Car on recovery vehicle Winter checks for your car or van

If you only check your car or van once a year then now is a good time to check it!

Driving in winter is more challenging than at other times of the year; It’s darker, colder and can be icy, wet and windy.

Carry out some checks to help to keep a car working. Include tyres, lights, antifreeze, brakes, battery, wiperblades and washers.


Have the tyres survived the potholes? Or are they battle scarred with splits and bulges? The tyre tread should be a legal minimum of 1.6mm but more than that is safer. Don't forget the spare tyre! Check the tyre pressures; If you don’t have a tyre pressure gauge, remember to do this the next time you’re buying fuel. Your vehicles handbook will tell you the correct pressure; this is also usually stamped on a plate by the driver’s door.


Check that all the lights are still operating, replacing bulbs where needed. Check the wiper blades and the levels of engine oil, radiator coolant and windscreen wash. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water will protect the radiator and waterways from corrosion (and freezing). Wipe up drips of antifreeze to prevent animals drinking it; It tastes sweet but is poisonous.


We also recommend checking the underside of the vehicle as it takes the worst of the mud and salt soaked road spray. If this is left on the vehicle, it causes rust. Use a hose pipe to wash down the underside, including inside the wheel arches, where mud can gather. If your vehicle is undersealed, check for damage to the sealing compound. If it’s not undersealed, it’s something to consider doing, to help to prevent future rust corrosion.


Book a service or have your vehicle undersealed at our Plymouth garage. 


There’s more advice from ROSPA, the road safety experts, on this link:


Busting Rust!

Image welding in Plymouth Welding in Plymouth

Last week was another busy one at my Plymouth garage.


Along with the usual cars and vans that needed servicing, exhausts, brakes and tyres, I also welded a few vehicles. I weld many different vehicles, but this weeks were all Bongos.


The Mazda Bongo and Ford Freda are no longer manufactured, so the newest models are no longer new! Just like the older VW Campers they corrode as they age. Fortunately, replacement body parts, sills and arches are readily available or can be manufactured.


The Bongos I had in for welding had corroded in the usual places; Sills, wheel arches and subframe. (If you own a Bongo, check these areas for corrosion.)


I always apply waxoyl underseal after welding, to extend the life of the repair. I also underseal complete vehicles, to help to protect them from rust corrosion. I've undersealed cars, vans and Bongos for over 14 years and have seen the difference it makes as a vehicle ages.


Find out more about our welding and undersealing services on these links: 




If you’d like to have your car, van or Bongo welded or undersealed in Plymouth, please get in touch.

Land Rover Discovery air springs

Land Rover suspension can handle off-road driving, but the suspension has to work harder.


On this Discovery, the rear suspension kept dropping when the Land Rover was parked. Which did make it easy for their old dog to jump into the boot... 

The suspension would still rise when the ignition was on. But if it had been left, it would have eventually damaged the compressor. And there would have come a point when the suspension would no longer rise, making it undrivable.


There was a tiny hole in the passenger airbag, which was causing it to leak air and loose the compression.

I dropped the rear suspension and changed the air springs. The drivers side spring was also worn and would not have been a good match for the fully inflated replacement; This would continue to affect the ride and handling. It would also have failed soon, so changing them both at the same time saved on future labour cost.

The ride is now back to normal and handling well. The only downside now, is the dog has to be lifted into the boot again...

Fit to burst! A swollen hose!

Picture of Mazda Bongo hose Swollen hose - Mazda Bongo

A lucky escape for this Mazda Bongo owner! 


The Bongo was booked in for a routine service. During a service, I keep an eye open for any problems, that are not part of the service, but would be foolish to ignore. This coolant hose was clearly swollen. It should have been the size of the grey hose in the photo! It was also rust stained from a slow coolant leak.


If a hose bursts on a Mazda Bongo, it results in a sudden loss of coolant and an almost instant engine overheat. The standard temperature gauge does not rise slowly. It goes from normal to 'engines cooked' quicker than an emergency stop!


Nothing lasts forever, so it makes sense to check the cooling system.

Look for swollen or cracked hoses. There should be some 'give' when a coolant hose is squeezed hard - a hose should not feel solid.

A hose can have a tiny hole that's almost impossible to see. The leaking coolant usually leaves telltale marks; Look for coolant stains or rust stains, which can indicate a leak.

Also check that hose clips are still tight, with no visible loss of coolant.

While you're there, check the metal coolant pipes, as they eventually rust and will leak.

Carry out these checks regularly, as the condition of hoses will change.

And regularly check the coolant level in the header tank, to monitor for coolant loss.

Prevention is better than cure!


If you'd like us to check your Mazda Bongo coolant hoses and pipes, please call, email or text to book an inspection. 

15% of MOT test results are wrong.

MOT test in Plymouth MOT test in Plymouth

AutoExpress research reveals that 1 in 7 MOT test results are wrong.

Researchers obtained figures from DVLA, showing 15% of MOT test results, from a random selection of 1800 cars, were incorrect.

18% of vehicles that passed, should have failed. 11% of those that failed, should have passed.

In almost a third of the vehicles tested, the DVSA vehicle examiner found faults the MOT test centre had missed or ignored.


This is the sort of results that worry some people.

They want a fair MOT test, that doesn’t miss potentially dangerous problems, yet doesn’t fail things that should have passed. They wonder where to take their car or van for an MOT test.


Worry no more! Our customers can leave their car or van with us and we will take it for MOT. As a former MOT tester, we can check vehicles before test, and scrutinise the MOT result.


We do not charge for taking customers vehicles for MOT.

There is a charge for the MOT test.

If MOT repairs are required, we can carry this out and take the vehicle for MOT re-test. A re-test is free if repairs are done withing the required time.

If no repairs are required, it’s a good time to carry out a service, if it hasn’t been done recently, to help to keep your vehicle in good condition.


Read the full article from AutoExpress ON THIS LINK.


Contact us to arrange to take your vehicle for an MOT test in Plymouth. 

Should you do a pre-MOT check?

MOT in Plymouth Contact us to arrange an MOT

A new customer came to us this week because their car had failed its MOT. We were able to fix all the MOT faults. But some of the points it failed on were due to neglect and could have been avoided.


The rear view mirror had fallen off: This is simple to refit using sticky pads or glue available from many motor parts shops. 

A headlight bulb had failed and the lights were not bright enough because they were dirty. A replacement bulb is readily available and headlights should be cleaned. 

The bumper was loose due to a missing bolt. This was simple to replace and the bumper is now secure.

The windscreen wash didn't work - this was because the washer bottle was empty. Windscreen washer fluid is available from many supermarkets or motor factors.


It's worthwhile carrying out simple checks that can help your vehicle to pass the MOT. And if it does still fail the MOT, you know it's for something you couldn't easily prevent yourself.


For more information on simple pre-MOT checks you can do yourself, see this link:


Contact us if you'd like to book a pre-MOT check, or have us take your vehicle for its MOT in Plymouth.

Welding for an MOT failure due to 'excessive corrosion'.


The MOT test includes body structure, condition and security.


At the time of writing, the UK MOT Test Check List says:

"MOT Test of Vehicle Structure, Body condition and security.
Includes body and components such as spoilers, bumpers and mirror housings.
For vehicles with a separate body, the body must not be so insecure or displaced so that it might lead to loss of control of the vehicle when driven, or be a danger to other road users.
There must be no dangerous sharp edges or projections caused by corrosion or damage which is dangerous to other road users including pedestrians.


A vehicle can fail with respect to corrosion for:
Excessive corrosion in a 'prescribed area' — within 30 cms of certain safety related components, e.g. brakes, steering, suspension, seat belt mountings etc.
Excessive corrosion not in a 'prescribed area', but which is likely to adversely affect the vehicle's braking or steering.
Excessive corrosion' can mean a hole or a significantly weakened structure."

Inevitably, steel corrodes and rust bubbles and holes eventually appear.


Corrosion weakens the structure of the vehicle and affects safety; this results in an MOT failure.
If we take your vehicle for MOT and it fails because it needs welding repairs, we can weld it.

The rusted panels are cut away, retaining as much of the original construction as possible.


It's important to weld to solid, clean metal. We use manufacturer’s replacement panels or construct replacement patches. The new panels are tacked into place and then seam welded. Seam sealant and underseal are applied to help to protect the new metal from further corrosion.

Commonly repaired and replaced panels are suspension mountings, outer sills, inner sills, cross members, floor panels, brackets, door steps and seat belts mountings.


We can weld and underseal your car or van in Plymouth.


The photos below show before and after replacing a rusted crossmember on a Mazda Bongo. A crossmember is part of the body structure and is important for the body strength of a Mazda Bongo. A rusted crossmember is a weak part.

A new replacement crossmember was welded into place and undersealed to help to prevent further rust.

We offer a complete undersealing service and can waxoyl underseal your car or van in Plymouth.

Contact us or SEE THIS LINK for more information.

What does a service do for your car or van?

Car and van servicing. Regular car servicing is important.

The obvious answers are that a service is routine maintenance, and helps a car or van to run efficiently. And by spotting potential problems before they become dangerous, it can help with safety.

A service also helps to lower running costs. That's because dirty or blocked filters increase fuel consumption. And fuel isn't cheap!


What's included in a Service?

Service Record Service Record

A Basic Service (6 month or 6,000 mile service) includes an oil and oil filter change, and a variety of basic checks. It helps to maintain your vehicle and prevent faults.

A Full Service (12 months, annual service, 12,000 miles) is a comprehensive service. It includes changing oil, oil filter and air filter. Wear and tear items such as brakes and tyres are checked; faults are recorded. These checks are important for the vehicle's safety. Advice will be given on any faults that are found.

A Major Service (24 months, 2 years or 24,000 mile service) covers all points mentioned above and more areas of essential maintenance. The oil, oil filter, air filter, brake fluid, fuel filter and spark plugs or glow plugs can be changed at this service.


We use quality parts and fluids. We use semi synthetic or fully synthetic oil as needed.

Additional engine, gearbox and radiator or cooling system flushes are available at your request.

Your service history book is stamped.

We supply a service record sheet (see photo above), which shows you exactly what has been done.

Your Service History book is also stamped, giving you a record of your vehicles maintenance, which can add to the vehicles re-sale value.

If you don't have a Service History book, we can supply one at no extra cost.


 All replaced parts are also available for your inspection.


Contact us for more details,  to discuss your requirements or to book a service.


A service helps to keep your car or van running at its best performance and reliability, ready for all weather conditions.

Many of my customers tow caravans...

A lot of my customers (and I) tow a caravan. They often book a service on their tow vehicle, while holidaying here in the South West! 

But at this time of year, many of us start to think about storing the vans for the winter. I get asked for advice on this! 

While I can service a car professionally, I'm no expert on caravans. But I've found some very good, easy to follow advice, on how to prepare a caravan for the winter. Follow this link for details.

And roll on next Spring!


If you're looking for tips on how to look after your car this winter, we've put some on our Motoring Tips page, see this link.

Welding, servicing & repairs in Plymouth!

Countryside image Birds eye view on holiday!

After a week off in the Cotwolds, I was back at work today.

My first job was to replace a front exhaust pipe on a Mazda Bongo.

Back on the bench, I repaired a leaking diesel pump on a Mazda Bongo. Then onto the ramp to replace drop links and rear D bushes on another Mazda Bongo. 

The next job was a 12,000 mile service on a 2l diesel Renault Traffic.

Swiftly followed by welding Mazda Bongo inner sills, outer sills, and the wheel arch closing panels.  


Get in touch if you'd like to book servicing, mechanical repairs or welding at our garage in Plymouth.

Servicing in Plymouth. Welding in Plymouth.

Servicing Bongos in Plymouth. Welding Bongos in Plymouth.

2016 and we hit the ground running!

Plymouth garage photo Our Plymouth garage is off to a flying start!

The first couple of weeks back at work have been pretty busy. Here’s a roundup of just a few of the jobs in the workshop.


First on the ramp was a Land Rover Discovery with an unusual knocking noise, rumble and vibration. There was a problem with the handbrake back plate.  The back plate is not part of general Land Rover servicing. It’s now fixed and rumble free.


Next was a VW Polo with a flat battery and a dash warning light flickering on and off.  The obvious culprit was the alternator. It was tested and had failed. It was replaced and is back on the road.


A few Mazda Bongos and a Ford Freda were booked in for servicing and repairs. One needed a replacement bottom pulley and a new leisure battery; Another a replacement cylinder head and radiator. On a third, I blanked the EGR system with the EGR Blanking Plates that I sell. On another, I replaced the Cold Start valve. Starting from cold has improved and the engine revs are now retained when the air conditioning is used.

Joining the herd of Mazda Bongos, was a Ford Freda needing a new starter motor and an MOT. The Ford Freda has the same running gear as the Mazda Bongo. There are a few differences, including the grille, steering wheel and upholstery. And of course, the badge!


A Mitsubishi Shogun had lost drive, due to loss of gearbox fluid. The leaking gearbox oil cooler pipe and the fluid were renewed and it was road tested it. It’s back on the road. Gearbox fluid level and colour should be checked at regular intervals.  


A Citroen Dispatch needed a Power Steering service and a USB socket.

And coil springs were replaced on a Peugeot 307.


That’s the round up of some of the jobs in the workshop in the first fortnight of 2016.

At our Plymouth garage, we MOT and repair most makes and models of cars and many vans. We also carry out welding and undersealing.

Have a look around the website to see what else we do!You’ll also find fuel saving tips and advice on maintaining your vehicle yourself. 

Environmental charges

The future of Earth is in our hands Recycling waste

Servicing, maintaining and repairing cars and vans creates considerable waste that has to be disposed of; This includes used parts, tyres, metal, oils, lubricants, fluids, plastic and packaging. We had always absorbed the cost of disposing of the waste. Due to recent changes in the rules and the additional costs involved, unfortunately we are no longer able to do this and have to pass the cost on to our customers. A small amount will be added to each bill. It will be identified seperately on the bill. We will keep this charge to the minimum.


Our commercial waste contractor is 'Devon Contract Waste'. We like their 'zero-to-landfill' policy; the waste they collect is sorted, separated and used to create energy. Having raised an environmentally aware family and participated in numerous 'Beach Cleans', we are very much aware of the impact of waste on our environment. Recycling is essential. And it's a good way to dispose of automotive trade waste!

Author Allan Bugg. AIMI. Member of The Institute of the Motor Industry.

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Allans Vehicle Services,

Wixenford Depot, Plymstock, Plymouth, Devon, PL9 8AA.

VAT no: 909 7647 80

Book an appointment

Tel: 01752 403400

Mob: 07471 002034

Text: 07471 002034


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Allans Vehicle Services

Wixenford Depot

Colesdown Hill




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Has your car or van failed the MOT due to corrosion?

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