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Old 8th May 2017, 06:50 PM   #1
eobrien
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Default Another great Darren Wood experience

I know there have been many threads praising this garage, indeed the constant stream of praise on this site is the reason I elected to use him despite the fact that I live in Sheffield, but I felt I needed to add mine.

I've had my E46 325Ci for over 5 months now and I've had quite a few niggly problems with it, recently it developed an air leak and a burning oil smell, so I took my poorly E46 325Ci there today and I dealt with Darren himself. He's friendly, accessible, professional and unlike many garages, is not out to try out and make a quick buck. He answered the long list of queries I had with the car and nothing's a bother to him. Fortunately, a lot of the things I was worried about I didn't need to be worried about.

They only do things that are worth doing but will do stuff like preventative maintenance. You can see into the workshop from the reception and I could see that Darren was at the car for quite a while.

He had a thorough look over the car and prepared a list of advisories, there's quite a few so they will send them to me via email with prices included. My biggest worry with the car was the cooling system but actually it is fine. Nonetheless I'm going to get it done for my own peace of mind given that it's nearly 14 years old and has 114k miles on the clock.

I also wondered about getting the VANOS seals done and he took it for a drive and said they're fine, actually after resetting the adaptive map it's performing a lot better and feels rather more like a car with 189 bhp under the bonnet and the throttle response is better as well. Why BMW thought fitting such a thing was a good idea I do not know.

Best of all is the communication, despite the fact that I constantly emailed them beforehand to add things to look at and work through the problems I had, they still did everything I wanted. Darren brought me out to the car while he was working on it to show me the various bits and address the problems I had complained about and I then had another 10-15 minute chat with him when I went to pay and look at things that are worth doing.

The fuel filter had been changed but for a non OEM one. A loose connector was causing me to get a bonnet rocket on the drivers side (for the parking light). The air leak and fault codes for system too lean (the dreaded P0171 and P0174 codes) was down to exhaust gaskets but actually he said it wasn't running lean at all and it only ran lean once or twice which caused the light to come on. The oil leak was the oil filter housing gasket and the rocker cover gasket could do with changing as well.

He changed the brake fluid for me as well.

To top it all off it only cost 126 and he even threw in a clutch delay valve removal for free, and that's made a whole heap of difference to the way it drives, no longer do I feel like a complete idiot pulling away and not knowing when the clutch will engage, the clutch now bites like it does in a normal car, it's a fantastic mod and I'm only sorry I didn't do it sooner.

I was even offered tea and coffee and it was fun to ponder through Straight Six (BMW HQ please take note - less of this three and four cylinder rubbish please).

I really like the fact it is just Darren, Gary and Mike plus Dawsy the receptionist, it is so reassuring going somewhere where you're guaranteed the car will be looked after highly competent and experienced technicians not like going to some other 'specialists' I've used or other garages where it could be some apprentice probably unsupervised.

I'm looking forward to bringing it back there to address the engine and suspension issues I've been having with the car. He actually said there wasn't that much wrong with mine just usual wear and tear on the suspension and an exhaust gasket leak but the niggly little jobs will make a whole heap of difference to the handling and will improve the fuel consumption as well.

If you're prepared to accept the 4 week waiting list, then it's completely worth it! My expectations were sky high based on the reviews I'd read and yet Darren still managed to exceed them. They really are as good as the facebook and google reviews say they are and I'm sorry I didn't bring my car to them from day one.

Last edited by eobrien; 8th May 2017 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 8th May 2017, 07:57 PM   #2
JK530D
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Fair play- good review
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Old 8th May 2017, 10:04 PM   #3
eobrien
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Thanks, good to see I'm not the only Irish person on this forum as well !

Last edited by eobrien; 8th May 2017 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 25th June 2017, 12:52 PM   #4
eobrien
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I've had the car into Darren's twice since I wrote this review and again they exceeded all expectations.

The first time was to do most of the advisories they'd prepared for me. It was certainly a not cheap visit (1700), but it's totally transformed the way the car drives, it's unrecognisable from before and of course it's the peace of mind knowing that they've done everything and done it properly.

I got the exhaust downpipe gaskets, nuts and bolts, oil filter housing gasket, rocker cover gasket, RTABs, camber bolts, front anti roll bar d bushes, offside front anti roll bar drop link, rear lower ball joints (both sides), steering knuckle joints and track rod (both sides), water pump, thermostat, expansion tank and bottle replaced. The RTABs are Powerflexes. I checked about the water pump and they put one with a metal impeller in as well. I also got a four wheel alignment.

They also cleaned the ICV for free and got the usual wash and valet thrown in, the air freshener they use smells lovely as well. They topped up the oil and reattached a loose panel at the front end of the car and didn't charge me for those jobs either.

I dealt with Mike these times. I know others here who've dealt with him have said it before but Mike is really a top man, one of the nicest guys I've ever met and obviously knowledgeable and enthusiastic about BMWs as well. A real class act. I had a great chat with him about doing upgrades to my car. He told me I could come back some time and they'd show me Gary's car as he's got a 325 like I do (and by coincidence, also in Titan Silver) so I could hear what his one sounded like. Gary got the secondary cats removed and some of the baffles taken out of the backbox.

As it happened, I'd forgotten to ask them to check the clutch in the car, so I rang them last Friday week and spoke to Mike, and he said I could drop the car in the following Tuesday which suited me down to the ground as I was over that way to get a ceramic coating applied by Paint Perfect. I also availed of the opportunity to listen to Gary's car, Mike started it up for me, gave it some revs and took it for a short drive just up to the petrol station that you pass on the way into their place so I got a proper chance to hear the engine and had another great chat with him about things to do to my own car. He got a good laugh when I told him that the car was too quiet now that the exhaust gaskets had been changed ! He didn't charge me a penny for that despite the fact I must have gotten a good half an hour of his time, so I was very pleased.

They're the only garage I've ever used that I actually look forward to going to, as I know everything will be done properly and my car will get the five star treatment from them. I also like the fact that they know where to take cars to for other jobs, such as wheel refurbs, bodywork etc. Even if I lived at the other end of the country, I'd still bring my car to them. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Last edited by eobrien; 25th June 2017 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 27th June 2017, 11:56 AM   #5
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Top blokes there.

Did you get the Restor FX treat at paint perfect.

They did alot of the paint on my old car.
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Old 27th June 2017, 09:32 PM   #6
eobrien
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I sure did, not cheap but worth every penny!
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