Bentley Continental GT Research

bentley continental gt

So we’ve established that a Bentley Continental GT is a) very nice and b) almost affordable. Nothing much has been known to go wrong with them on a habitual basis, mechanically at least. The biggest issue for any prospective owner is really whether you can afford to maintain it.

A minor service can set you back around $1200-1500. A major service is around $3000. So these things, for us mortals, must be budgeted for. Any problems with the engine, or associated with it, may need the engine out to work on it, due to the severe lack of room in the engine bay.

The biggest issue for the early cars at least was electrical and particularly sensor related. Sounds trivial right? Well consider this, each tyre has a pressure sensor and each needs replacing every 5 years at around $350-400 a piece, $1400-1600 in total.

Spark plugs need replacing every 4 years, which means the engine needs to come out. This is best done during the major service so again this takes time and will not be cheap.

Many buyers look into extended warranties. If you are buying from a dealer or a specialist, which is probably advisable, look into either a 1, 2 or 3 year warranty. The costs  are high, but could save your bacon should anything truly momentous happen. You are looking at something like $4-5000 for 1 year, $7-8000 for 2 years and over $10,000 for 3 years.

As with the Land Rover Discovery, the Conti GT’s air suspension has been known to play up. It has been suggested to keep the car at its lowest setting when at rest, or parked for a few days. When parked up, play around with the suspension settings to keep moving parts and rubber seals in fine fettle and listen for any obvious leaks.

bentley continental gt

 

The car is a heavy beast  and one forum suggests that all that weight, around 2.5 tonnes, plays havoc with the shock absorbers. Should these go you have to replace a pair, not just one, so this can get exxy, around $8-10,000 for the two.

The Conti doesn’t like to be left alone either, as it simply wears down its battery, so drive it regularly and keep it charged well. A battery tender is probably a wise purchase and will save you enormous angst.

According to HonestJohn website in the UK, Bentley Conti GT’s had the second highest warranty claims amongst European cars. But lets face it, you’ve bought a very expensive car and after 2 years of trouble free motoring you need to replace the tyre pressure sensors. Would you fork out your own cash or use the warranty you’ve paid for? Rich people are rich for a reason, and rightly will use their purchases well. So I don’t read anything sinister into this claim.

Finally, yes this car is expensive to maintain, but bugger me, you are not forking out the original $350k, only a third of that price, and if you did have the choice between this car and a high spec Mercedes, the costs to maintain either are very similar. If the car you are considering has been lovingly looked after, there is a very real prospect that you only have to keep up with the service schedule. Mileage is low, considering, and if there had been issues, more often than not they will have been rectified by now.

 

Typical Costs

Minor Service – c.$1200-1500

Major Service – c.$3000

Front Brake pads – c.$600

Front discs – c.$1400

Don’t take my word for it ….

I have listed a number of forums and reviews below, including one from my favourite magazine, EVO, and CAR magazine’s 4 year long term test:

EVO – http://www.evo.co.uk/buying/buyingguide/288202/bentley_continental_gt_buying_guide_prices_and_specs.html

The Bentley Continental GT combines near-supercar pace with a reputation for reliability

CAR Long Term test – http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Drives/Search-Results/Long-term-tests/Bentley-Continental-GT/

genuine everyday usability, and the ability to turn even the most mundane trip into an event.

Forums:

6Speedonlinehttp://www.6speedonline.com/forums/bentley/298579-continental-gt-reliability.html

I have 41,000 miles on the clock and the only major repair were new control arms as bushes were slightly worn. I needed a wheel alignment so to ensure everything was spot on I had the arms changed though it wasnt a must but hey its a Miss B, cant really save a bit here or there. I did have a lambda sensor and auto door close module replaced but prices were acceptable. You can search my name for the parts I had replaced at main dealers. I will still use the main dealers for oil service as I want to keep the Bentley service history (better for when the time comes to part out) but other work can use other pro shops. I got hit by the dealer once but a smarter shopper now since finding a shop capable of repairs.

Master Class Autohttp://www.masterclassauto.com/post/bentley-continental-common-problems/

With all its beauty, though, there are some common issues to note. The Bentley Continental’s Continuous Dampening Control (CDC) is an adjustable air suspension that helps deliver vehicle stability and agility. But at 5,456 pounds, The Bentley Continental GT’s curb weight can put a lot of pressure on the shocks. Many owners have experienced problems with their air suspension even when their vehicle is still at very low mileage.

The list price PER SHOCK at a local dealership can be as high as $3,200.00 NOT INCLUDING labor costs. Therefore, it is not atypical to see a full air suspension job for a Bentley Continental GT to run as high as $16,000!

*It is important to note: these types of suspension products must be done in pairs (front/rear). So you can’t just replace one!
Maintenance Tips
• When parking your vehicle overnight (especially if for more than a few days) set the adjustable air suspension to the lowest ride setting. This can help alleviate pressure on the air suspension and potentially increase their lifespan.
• Test the adjustable air suspension regularly. Maintaining movement in the suspension ensures flexibility in the rubber materials and help prevent the pneumatic parts, valves and sensors from failing due to lack of use.
• Listen for air leaks coming from the shock area and check for warning lights on the console. Addressing these issues early may help prevent additional damage to surrounding parts in the vehicle.

I am a Bentley Service Advisor. The Bentley Continentals are great cars, but can have expensive repairs if required. I definitely recommend getting a car with a Bentley Extended Service Program. This can help limit out-of-pocket expenses should anything go wrong. Otherwise, I have clients with 60K-90K miles on their GTs/Flying Spurs and they are running fine. Just keep it maintained properly.

I love mine and drive it 2-3 times per week and on all long solo trips. It is fast, classy, luxurious, and dependable. The navigation is not the best, but everything else is first class.

I have had no other issues in the past few years with it and it has only had to be in the shop for regular service.

I had to replace all my tire sensors, but that did not cause any other failures on the car. It only meant I got an annoying message that my tire pressures. No big deal really. I am now over 40k miles after 5 years driving it and drove it just yesterday and it is still an amazing car. Running costs have been lower than with my Ferrari that I drove 1/10 as much

Edmundshttp://www.edmunds.com/bentley/continental-gt/2005/consumer-reviews/2/

 85% satisfaction rating

Bentley Continental GT

bentley conti GT speed

Price when new (2003-2004): $ 353,000 – 400,000

Price now (May 2014): $ 120,000 +

For some unknown reason I have had this faint idea in the back of mind that someday I will be driving around in an all wheel drive Bentley Continental GT. Wishful thinking I hear you say, and I dare say you are right. The thing is I would probably plump for an Aston if I had that amount of dosh, something like $400-500,000 in today’s market, so it has always been a questionable dream for me. Why the Bentley? It ticks all the boxes of course. It’s beautifully made, looks a million dollars, has an extremely powerful engine and is superbly fast. But it’s not an Aston.

Bentley-Continental-GT-steering-wheel

Back in 2003 when it was introduced, it was the first ever Bentley to use mass produced parts. Though much of it was still hand built, the marque’s new owners, VW, forced the brand to use the same platform as its wonderful Phaeton and share its brand spanking new 6 litre twin turbo W12 engine. Because of this, Bentley took more orders for its new car than any other it had ever built and has since gone on to be its biggest seller globally. It is perhaps because of the numbers sold that resale values plummeted and today in the UK you can get hold of a 2004 built model for as little as £25-30,000. Here in Australia, it is not quite as rosy, mainly because the car was sold at astronomically inflated prices in the first place, much like other high end makes and a practice I have whined about on this site before.

However, we weren’t immune from the depreciation issue and so the price you can get a GT for now is almost within our grasp, that is if you are a company director and have a company car budget that would get you a high spec Merc or Bimmer. So, consider this Mr. MD, or CEO, why bother getting a car that everyone is driving around in, when say, for $130-150,000, you can now get a 2004 or 2005 Continental GT with around 40,000 on the clock. Yes it’s second hand, but you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference alongside a new one, and who in their right mind would have spent over a third of a million bucks and not look after it properly? The car is essentially brand new!

2013 bentley conti gt interior
Courtesy of bharathautos.com

 

Aha, I hear you say, think of the costs and how much of a money pit it will be. Utter tosh, I would reply, the car has a reputation for being over-engineered and almost nothing has been known to go wrong with them. I say almost nothing, because there a few little issues, but as you can read under the Research category, these tend to be sensor or electrical issues, and very minor ones at that. There will always be one owner out there who will moan, but look around the forums and you will notice that at least 85% of buyers have been utterly, ecstatically happy with their purchase. Even those who bought second hand.

As with any second hand car, super or not, if it is not maintained regularly then you are asking for trouble. Yes a Bentley will cost more to service than a BMW. Yes a part, however innocuous, will astound you with its price, though not quite as eye watering as a Lamborghini or Ferrari, thanks largely to the mass production, and because of the size of the engine and the lack of space under the bonnet, even a spark plug change can mean that the engine has to come out of its bay. And yes, you will be visiting the gas station more than you’d like.

used-2004-bentley-continental_gt-basetrim-4162-11470398-21-640

The good news however is that there are no belts to worry about with this engine. The lack of kilometres driven even for an 8 year old car mean it is still within warranty, and if it is not, you can purchase an extra 1, 2 or 3 years from Bentley for peace of mind.

So perhaps my whimsical dreams are not so whimsical. Perhaps its because they are so much cheaper than I thought, so much more within reach, that I could actually be driving around in one. Perhaps that is why my brain has singled the Conti GT out. Perhaps someone will offer me the stewardship of a fortune 500 company and a car allowance to boot. Perhaps …

Fast Facts

Engine – 6 litre Twin Turbo W12

Power – 423 kW; 567 bhp

Top Speed  – 317 km/h / 197 mph

0-100 km/h – 4.4 seconds

Fuel Consumption – av. 14 L/100 km (but you’d be driving like your Gran)

Price – 2004 model with 40,000kms – $120,000 +

Research – http://wp.me/p3rCxt-kk

 

By: CONCAVO WHEELS - CC BY 2.0
By: CONCAVO WHEELSCC BY 2.0

 

 

 

 

Alfa Romeo GT Research

Should you buy … an Alfa Romeo GT?

Price when new: from $79,990 
in 2006

Price March 2014: $11,990 – $35,000

I’ve been hesitating before commencing this post. Why I procrastinate is simple. It’s time to consider an Alfa.

Yes I know. I want to walk home, it’s great to look at someone else’s and don’t they tend to rust like there’s no tomorrow? All things that people who don’t own an Alfa tend to say.

Well this was true at one time, but the last 10 years has seen Alfa improve its products and its maintenance issues are no worse than any other sporty car out there. All Alfa’s are now galvanised so rust is not the problem it once was, if it ever was an issue in Australia. Hot climates have tended to affect certain cars more than colder climates however, so particular parts were prone to shredding themselves, like the differential. But more on that later.

No, the real reason that I hesitate to review an Alfa is because I have never driven one. Other than the 25 minutes with Nadim in an earlier post, the closest I have come was as a passenger hurtling down a steep hill in a mate’s Alfa Sud. It took the quickest time to manage the 1 in 4 gradient replete with two almost hairpin bends, and much of the blood to my head. I remember clambering out, brushing red dust from my trousers, amazed we had survived and marvelling at the little Sud’s cornering ability. Its red line hugging 1.2 litre engine, its skinny tyres scrabbling for grip and it’s throaty 4 pot burbling away, you could almost forget that every panel was rust eaten to the core.IMG_4766

So 25 years later is there an Alfa out there that would be worth a second hand punt? Probably a few, but I am focusing on the 156 based GT, a car built between 2004 and 2010, and in 3.2 V6 incantation. It has the grunt, as well as the looks, to match any coupe out there.

Barely 80,000 GT’s were made worldwide, in 1.8 TS, 2.0 JT, 1.9 JTD or 3.2.V6 guise. Given the global majority tend to be the diesel, which never seem to crop up in Australia, the 3.2 V6 has the exclusive tag. It has more power, it has that throaty rasp we have come to expect from Alfa’s V6’s and it only gets better the more you floor it. It is acclaimed as one of the greatest engines ever produced.

The most expensive versions available today are the 2010 Centenary editions (in celebration of Alfa’s centenary that year). Only 100 reached Australia clad in special colours (Rosso Alfa, Atlantic Blue, Black and Ice White) and all came laden with airbags, leather, VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control), ASR (Anti Slip Regulation), EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) and ABS.

Mechanicals

Engine: 3.2 24v V6, six speed manual

Top speed: 243 km/h

0-100: 6.7 seconds

“It’s is all about keeping up with the maintenance, e.g. oil and filter changes, cam belt changes every scheduled service”

IMG_4772

As already mentioned, this is a world class engine that is as happy revving to 7000 rpm as it is tootling around town. But putting such a heavy engine in a small front wheel driver tends to come with a few problems. The most notable is torque steer that only exacerbates the sub standard differential. The diff has been known to fail from as little as 30,000 kms and when it does shards can pierce the gearbox, as well as the bell housing, meaning an expensive rebuild as well as a new, but rubbish diff.

So, if you are considering this car, budget for a Q2 diff upgrade if it has not been done, and negotiate with the owner. Be preventative and it will save you thousands down the track and improve your driving experience drastically. Isn’t this after all the reason you want to buy an Alfa in the first place. Price wise, it’s upwards of $3000 to repair a broken diff, maybe much more if it’s chewed up the gears. The Q2 can be fitted for less than that.

Tony Dron, from the UK’s The Telegraph, wrote  great article explaining more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/carreviews/2744796/What-a-difference-a-diff-makes.html

Belts

Cambelt changes for the V6 were lowered from 72,000 to 60,000 miles or 5 years. However Alfa revised the 2 litre down further to only 32,000 miles/3 years, so my advice is reduce it further for the V6. If you are not sure, either walk away or budget to replace the belt as soon as possible. Change the timing belt at the same time

Water pump:

Worth changing this when you remove the cambelt. The original used a plastic impeller that was well known to crack over time.

One owner suggests to use the water pump from the 3.0 GTV which had a metal impellor and thus lasts longer. According to the forum member there “are no compatibility issues with this. I have found that if you use a pattern pump, some cambelt tensioning tools will not work on them. Its not a major issue and competent mechanic should be able to work around this.”

Ensure oil levels are topped up, as an engine with low oil suggests poor maintenance.

Flat spots or an unwillingness to rev may indicate a faulty air flow meter (MAF)

Brakes:IMG_4756

The 3.2 V6 has the largest stoppers in the range with 330 mm (13.0 in) ventilated discs at front. The GT comes as standard with anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution and hydraulic brake assistance.

Suspension:

Suspension was toughened up for the GT to improve handling but the front wishbone and anti-roll bar suspension bushes can wear. A squeak from behind the dash can alert you to the change. For the rear, check the rear hub bushes and rear radius arms, for if these are faulty it can lead to uneven tyre wear.

Clutch:

It’s hardy but can become heavy with age. If the gear lever does not move easily across the gate you will need a pair of bushes in the pivot point on top of the gear box. Another $200 or so.

Internal:

There has not been too many issues electrically but  check all the warning lights come on and then switch off after approximately 3 seconds. If they don’t, you know what to do.

External:

The tailgate can leak slightly and has a habit of squeaking in its aperture, but regular silicon spray silences that.

Paint fades, especially red into pink.

Rust can still be an issue but at least it won’t be hiding, it will be clear as day say on the roof or around the front screen.

A poor panel fit or variations in paint colour indicate there has been an accident.

The front undertray is prone to grounding as you drive over speed bumps, which is a legacy of the 156 platform.

Conclusion

So is it worth it? After spending less than half an hour in Nadim’s GT, I can say yes, as long as you maintain it fastidiously, it is worth it. The sound, the traction and the power delivery overcomes all and it really is a car you should try before you discount it. Like with many of the cars Rezoom reviews, if you are prepared to budget $2-4000 per year to keep the car in fine fettle, then you may become like the rest of the Alfisti, well and truly hooked.

Forums:

http://www.alfaowner.com/Forum

http://www.ausalfa.com

http://www.alfaworkshop.co.uk  – brilliant resource, even gives ideas, parts and prices

http://www.alfaclubvic.org.au/forum

The Alfa Workshop – http://www.alfaworkshop.co.uk/alfa_gt_guide.shtml

 

Alfa Specialists (Sydney, NSW):

  • Automoda Service Centre, 85 Queens Road, Fivedock NSW 2046

Phone: +61 2 9744 7112

http://automoda.com.au/

  • Max Oddi Automotive Alfa Repairs Pty Ltd

29 Moore St, Leichhardt NSW 2040

Phone: (02) 9552 2054

  • Alfamotive

81 Railway Parade Marrickville

02 9519 8501

http://www.alfamotive.com.au

 Spares:

EB Spares in the UK, who offer excellent, reliable service

http://www.ebspares.co.uk/news77.htm

http://www.ebspares.co.uk/alfa_147/Q2_diff_for_6_speed_manual_cars/

By: Gabriele B. - CC BY 2.0
By: Gabriele B.CC BY 2.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaguar S-Type-R Research / Buyers Guide

2008_11230027

So you’ve taken the plunge and decided to satisfy that Jag itch. You quite like the retro look of the S-Type but you need more oomph, a bit more pizzaz. It’s the Type-R you want but are not sure where to start.

It is almost advisable to find a decent specialist before you even start looking. Not only will they be able to assist you in finding a good one, they will have answers to questions you wouldn’t have even thought of. Dealers the world over have been somewhat vilified for their lack of service, so a good specialist is worth their weight in gold.

Jaguars are not cheap cars to maintain, but that can be mitigated if you are prepared to do some of the less technical service work yourself. You Tube, forums and various published books can help out with advice and ‘how to …’ guides, so this is worth considering.jagsfull_zpsb28a3843

However, if like me, you are afraid of causing more damage by attempting to change a brake pad or replace a bulb, then keeping fluids well topped up on a regular basis and noting the kilometres driven on a set of pads, and changing them before the discs are ruined, will save you thousands.

The earlier models built between 2002 and 2004 suffered the majority of problems. Most were electrical in nature and after a while it became clear that there was some faulty software included in the engine management systems. This often affected the transmission and gearbox and caused much of the lurching issues owners have complained about. If found within warranty, Jaguar did replace the parts and the problems died off.

The newer versions built between 2004 and 2008 had better reliability and owners, in the main, have sung its praises. However, as with any second hand car, you have to assume you are buying someone else’s trouble and when you consider this is a 400bhp, 1800kg sports car, anything that wears out simply due to use will not be cheap. So, if you are a student this is not a car for you.

If you intend to use the car on a daily basis, the biggest ticket items will be the brakes and tyres. The S-Type-R has been fitted with multi-piston Brembo brakes and in 2003 models there were reports that the rears dragged causing premature wear. The steering rack also had a tendency to squeak from this batch and the 02-03 cars in particular suffered from the ZF gearbox lurch. These issues should have been rectified but if there is any question that this may not have been done, then walk away.mGA_05lbQZcuPVSp4cixaHQ

The STR, as they say in America, does have a tendency to chew through tyres, with 18inch wheels shod by 275’s on the rear and 235’s on the front, they will not be cheap, so factor those in every 25-30,000kms.

Less so in later models, but wiring issues from the front loom had been the cause of a number of power issues, but over time all cars should have been modified

The all-new (at the time) ZF 6-speed gearbox was marvellously smooth and speedy, but did have its fair share of gremlins. Other auto-makers such as BMW also reported issues, so this was not a typical Jag problem. Again many cars on the road today will have had the problems ironed out by now, but to keep the box in fine fettle it is advisable to change the oil and its filters every 50-60,000kms. Jaguar dealers will tell you the boxes are sealed for life, but don’t believe them. Your specialist will know better.

Check all hoses in the engine bay and replace when you get it serviced. Blown hoses can be the cause of many problems and knowing how new they are makes you better prepared.

Equally, check the date on the battery (there is one and it’s in the boot) and ensure you replace that well before the end date. STR’s consume a large amount of power so get the best you can afford.

Check all electrics including windows, central locking and alarms as they have been known to have problems. There are some natty little tips on some forums to learn as there are few hidden tricks the car is set up for. There is even a hidden compartment if you pull out one of the cup holders.

Check the seals around the bootlid and make sure nothing is leaking or feels damp. As the battery is situated back there, water can become the bane of your life and ruin your beautiful Cat.

And finally, you are not buying a diesel so don’t expect any more than between 10 and 13 litres/100km in fuel consumption. Of course, the more spirited your driving, the lower that figure will be, and rightly so.

Prices

Redbook (www.redbook.com.au) quotes the following:

Price when new $169,990

  • 2005/6 models with between 80-140,000kms
  • Private Price Guide               $32,600 – $36,800
  • 2008 models with between 60-110,000kms
  • Private Price Guide               $48,600 – $53,800

Suggested Forums

www.jaguarforums.com – The unofficial Jaguar enthusiasts forum

www.thelurch.com – A personal experience of owning a 2003 Jaguar S-Type with a lurching ZF Gearbox

www.jaguar.org.au/ – Jaguar Drivers Club of Australia

JAGUARS-TypeR-3449_5

Long Termer: Land Rover Discover 3 TDV6

land rover discovery 3
By: The Car Spy

It’s been service time for the Disco. Basic oil change and new air filters. Ignoring the binging and warning light for the brake pads is not advised, certainly not for the few weeks I have done. It means that the pads have chewed up the disc rotors and they need replacing. The wife managed to puncture a tyre and so two new ones have been sourced from Tempe Tyres and a new screeching sound has been heard that points to a problem with the electric handbrake. This could mean a very expensive change if the whole system is up the spout. Hopefully, the handbrake just needs realigning and a quick service. Obviously I’d prefer the latter, for a replacement system costs something like $1600. Ouch.

Whilst removing the wheel Graham Cooper Automotive discovered one of the wheel nuts had been so badly damaged that, if it had been missed, the chances are it would have fused to the wheel completely. So a very difficult and stressful job avoided then, because I know that a puncture would have happened one wet and windy night on a busy road. The family would have been subjected to a tirade so incandescent I would have frightened them for months.

The time has come to replace the compressor for the air suspension. After 2 years of incessant binging I think it has finally given up the ghost. Fair enough really, it’s only a small thing intended to raise and lower a 2 tonne vehicle every time the ignition is turned. It has done so heroically for nigh on 8 years and 272,000 km now. The system works exceptionally well, but the amount of bad press Land Rover have had over its suspension system makes me wonder if a more conventional set up would have been more reliable. Then again, I would not be able to raise or lower my vehicle on a whim, and its off road abilities would be curtailed.

The decision was made because for only the second time in the last 2 years the suspension bottomed out leading the car to bunny hop over anything more substantial than a manhole cover. This in itself is not so much a problem at low speeds, bouncy but manageable. But at 30, 40, 50 km/h + it’s nigh on dangerous, certainly when my wife is driving and the kids are in the car.

IMG_0155As before however, you only need to switch off, let the car cool down for a few minutes and then start up again. The system seems to right itself and you can be on your way. However, just the very next day the same problem occurred, so perhaps it’s telling me something. It’s as if the car can sense that my bank balance is marginally more healthy this month and intends to raid it as soon as possible.

On top of all this the immobiliser key has started to play up and a new one has to be sourced from the UK, proof of ownership spied and a fee to calibrate the software to my car. All up it takes 10 business days to arrive. An 8 year battery life seemed reasonable, but at a cost of $500? There’s much to be said for the simple life and I don’t see my insurance premiums improving with all this electronic gadgetry either.

When you look at the outgoings this quarter, the Disco is proving to be a very expensive car to own. I had budgeted between $2-3,000 for maintenance a year, but costs are exceeding that now. However, let’s put it into perspective. The suspension compressor will last another 5-8 years, the key likewise. If I had not ignored the brake pad warning for so long I could have avoided paying for new discs, and tyres are tyres. If the wife is just a little more careful and stops thinking she’s driving at some monster truck rally, we won’t be having many more puncture incidents. Regular servicing at a specialist, like Graeme Cooper, who doesn’t rip the customer off will help too. So with any luck the next couple of years will be a little more reasonable.

The car feels more planted since the new compressor has been installed and it’s a joy to drive without the binging. The new tyres up front have helped too and now it’s a bit of trial not to play with the settings and raise and lower the car much like those low riders in the States. On a recent trip out with my son, one of his mates called out as we drove past, “cool car,” so I am happy with that, for now.

Stay tuned.

By: The Car Spy

 

Costs this Quarter

Servicing – $275

Front discs and pads, air filter and sensor – $613

Remote Key inc. programming – $480

Air Compressor for suspension – $1360

Labour – $262

Tyres x2 – $500

 

Faults to be diagnosed:

Electronic Handbrake (replacement – $1600) or service ($150)