A1BN Latest News and Developments
New Video from A1BMWSaturday 5th November 2016
We've just had a new short video made to showcase our workshop and services. Please share subscribe and like to us on our new YouTube channel for more videos in the near future!
A1 Performance RemappingSunday 22nd March 2015
We are proud to announce that we have joined up with Viezu Technologies. Viezu produce bespoke remapped tuning files / ECU maps that improve the performance and economy of thousands of vehicles.
Here at A1BN, we are equipped with the most up-to-date ECU remapping equipment and the latest software provided by Viezu. We can tune almost all vehicle types, including those with Diesel engines. Our remapping service is ideal for private vehicles, fleets, taxis, couriers, commercial vehicles and vehicles used for towing. All of our Vizeu remaps carry a seven day money back guarantee, and backed by the Viezu comprehensive insurance which is underwritten by a major insurer. We even offer a guarantee on our remaps for as long as you own your vehicle so you can be sure you're receiving the very best in ECU remapping.
To learn more, please click here to visit our new Remapping website.
Updated Website for 2014!Monday 3rd March 2014
We are in the process of updating our website to accomodate a whole host of new services we are about to offer! Stay tuned... (That's a hint!).
Vehicle Technician/DiagnosisMonday 27th January 2014
A1BN UK Ltd is looking to appoint a full time technician with VW AUDI SKODA diagnostic and repairs experience as part of our growth plans.
If interested in the opportunity, please forward a covering letter and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us directly.
A1BN The Magazine ReviewSaturday 20th October 2012
If you've a hankering for a disc of blue and white Battenberg on your bonnet, a four-figure budget and demand moderate miles, it’s got to be a 1-series hatch or an E90 3-series saloon. The pull of the badge transcends those segments, so buyers considering one will likely contemplate the other. The 3-series is easily the bigger seller, but within these constraints, it’s the 1-series that offers more choice and practicality.
Sub-£10k is the 1-series’ hot spot for those very reasons. “It’s a very fast-moving market – we can’t get our hands on enough 2004-2009 examples in particular,” says Brett Garratt of Stephen James BMW in Blackheath, London. “All specifications sell well, and in this class, options aren’t so important.” Autos are in short supply too, he says, keeping their prices unusually strong for a hatchback.
Available only in five-door (E87), five-seat form until 2007, trim choices were base level, ES, SE, Sport and M Sport. At least ES was required to score alloys as standard, SE for climate control and front fogs, Sport for colour-coded exterior finishes, sports seats and lower, stiffer suspension, and M Sport for rowdier exterior styling. Only SE and M Sport models guaranteed rear parking sensors, central front armrest, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and multi-function steering wheel.
Leaving the cooking 123d and 130i aside for another day, all engines were 1995cc in capacity, apart from early 116is that offered 1596cc (2004-2007) then 1599cc (2007-2009). At launch, power outputs were 114bhp for the 116i, 127bhp for the 118i and 147bhp for the 120i normally aspirated petrol engines, while turbodiesel outputs were 120bhp for the 118d and 160bhp for the 120d. Early 116i and 118i models were available with a five-speed manual ’box, but other manuals and the Steptronic auto offered six speeds.
2007’s facelift brought minor external and internal tweaks, and additional media options, but the main improvements were mechanical. Engine evolutions (including second-generation common rail diesel tech) increased power across the board, while electric power steering, regenerative brakes, stop-start and an on-demand air-con compressor greatly improved economy.
The three-door (E81) used frameless windows to imply added sportiness, and offered the no-cost option of four seats with a central storage bin to reduce rear passenger claustrophobia.
The array of engine variants is bewildering, but choose a manual, and expect the following 0-60mph brackets: 7.3-8.4secs for 120s, 8.4-9.7secs for 118s, and 9.8-10.9secs for 116s. It’s safe to say, too, that diesel choices easily outgun their petrol counterparts for torque, and therefore in-gear pace.
The late-coming, manual-only 116d of 2009 claims official returns of 64mpg and averaged a creditable 47.8mpg in our hands, but the facelifted manual 118d matches it for £30 road tax, claims 62mpg, and gives a chunky 221lb ft of torque, making it the stand-out all-rounder.
Adil Loudiyi of independent specialist A1BN in Stevenage says petrols are the more reliable choice, though. Of the diesels, he reckons the facelifted car’s N47 engine is more problematic than the M47 that came before. Cash-sapping faults are unlikely to arise below 70,000 miles, however. Most early diesels also lacked a DPF (the absence of which is confirmed by a downward-pointing exhaust pipe), which circumvents any filter congestion worries for urban users.
A1BN’s labour rate of £59 is less than half that of nearby franchisee Specialist Cars Luton, even after a discount for cars over three years old. Condition-based service items, flagged up on the dash, are generally around 20 per cent cheaper at A1BN, where a 120d’s oil and filter change costs £143, a new air filter £75, and fresh brake fluid £59.
However, if BMW’s ‘Service Inclusive’ plan has been purchased previously, it is transferable to subsequent owners, and covers routine maintenance up to five years/60,000 miles, adding extras likes pads, discs and wiper blades with the extended ‘Plus’ package.
Engine: Petrol engines generally reliable, though coils may expire, and facelifted models can suffer injector failure. Facelifted diesel’s N47 engine can suffer hard-to-access timing chain failure. Diesel turbos and early swirl flaps also problematic. Flaps can be blanked off; breakage ruins engines.
Transmission: Manual gearboxes are very robust. With economical use, a clutch can last 80,000 miles in petrol models, or 100,000 in diesels. ‘Sealed for life’ auto transmission benefits from 60,000-mile oil change. Earliest 118d rear diff bearings can collapse around 70,000 miles.
Chassis: Hydraulic PAS pump may fail in pre-facelift cars, causing extremely heavy steering. Electronic steering lock can stick on high-milers, but recalibration (£75 at A1BN) will prolong its life. Suspension components are extremely durable – A1BN yet to change any rear bushes.
Brakes: ABS module failure no longer prescribes a new pump – official repair kits are now available from £159 plus fitting, saving over £1000. Front discs should last 45,000 miles under moderate use, and rears 60,000 miles, with pads lasting approximately half as long.
Cabin: All variants and vintages have solid, durable interior finishes: “Much better than a Mini’s,” says Loudiyi. Rainwater allowed onto driver’s-side master window switches tempts failure, which is a £142 fix. Bluetooth hands-free and keyless entry/go systems can play up.
Wheels, Tyres and Bodywork: Bodywork and light clusters are resilient, and alloys aren’t crack-prone. ‘RSC’ on tyres confirms run-flat design, and single star marking signifies BMW’s approval. Run-flats cost from £100. DSC-based pressure monitor can be calibrated to suit conventional tyres, but they’re not significantly cheaper.
Check before you buy...
Noises from the rear of 118ds built up to 2006 usually means rear differential problems. Refurbished parts are best avoided, but new ones are scarce and cost £1434 (fitted) at A1BN.
Hissing and rattling from the engine bay of facelifted diesels could mean the timing chain is soon to expire. Replacement costs around £1700, but avoids ruinous engine rebuild.
In diesels, blue exhaust smoke could mean expensive turbo expiry, or oil separator breather valve failure that costs just £124 to fix. Unchecked, both could ruin the cat in time.
Sluggishness could also point to failed air mass sensor (£355, fitted) in diesels. In petrols, a tired fuel pump could be to blame, most noticeable under load. Petrol injector failure isn’t catastrophic.
Slipping or juddering clutch in diesel models should be changed urgently, before a new dual-mass flywheel is also required, swelling the total bill to just over a grand.
MOT Station at A1BN Now Open!Tuesday 14th August 2012
Our all new, state of the art MOT Station is now open. Call us to book your MOT in Stevenage.
New Email Address!Thursday 14th June 2012
Due to copyright infringments with BMW, we have had to change our email address to: email@example.com - we hope you will all be able to update your contact books.
What are swirl flaps?Thursday 14th June 2012
Swirl flaps are designed to create swirl or tumble of the air to aid better combustion under light load where soot levels tend to be dominant because of the lack of air, they are also there to help with driveability in low load conditions, they are controlled by a vacuum or solenoid actuator and are closed during light-load operations such as when idling at traffic lights, changing gear and deceleration to maximise combustion efficiency, fuel economy and emissions performance. The flaps are fully open during higher load conditions to maximise volumetric efficiency and power output.
The swirl flaps are a poor design, they are prone to failure. When the swirl flap breaks, the debris falls into the engine, either sticking in the valve port and jamming it open, causing the piston to collide with the valve, or falls into the cylinder itself causing the piston and head to become damaged.
What is the solution?
BMW introduced an updated manifold in 2004 to address this problem, the spindle of the valve is thicker and stronger, this design is also prone to failure, another option is to purchase a new manifold and install it, however you will still havethe potential for the same problem to occur.
The easiest and cheapest solution is to use our custom manufactured blanking plates, the blanks will fit in place of the current mechanism, there is no modification required! The plates are manufactured to the highest possible standards from aluminium.
The car will function the same without the flaps, the flaps are there for emissions purposes, however the car will remain within guidelines and you will not notice a performance change!/p>
Company Name ChangeWednesday 13th June 2012
We would like to inform all our customers that our company name is changing from A1 BM specialist to A1 BN specialist due to a trade mark implication. And also as of 25/06/2012 our web site will change to a new domain.
A big thank you to all our customers who have been loyal to us from the beginning!
ECU remapping will not only improve the engines power and torque figures, it will also sharpen the throttle response and widen the power-band. This will make the power delivery a lot more linear... Read more...
We are now able to offer BMW Motorbike diagnostics and repairs covering the Hertforshire and Stevenage area. We use excatly the same professional BMW motorbike diagnostic system equipment as main dealers (BMW AG ISIS) to diagnose faults and run resets/fixes. Read more...