Screen wash bottle blames for engine failures

Posted on February 28th, 2013 by Rob Marshall

washA motor-trade chum specialises in rebuilding engines and plies me with his insight, whenever we meet. We had not seen much of each other so far this year, until a chance catch-up in our local public house prompted us to discuss our nation’s economic depression, as you do. Surprisingly, he revealed that 2012 had been one of his busiest years but, instead of earning a crust repairing older vehicles, which was his bread-and-butter a decade ago, most rebuilding work was for cars that were not old enough for their first MoT tests.

Although he admitted they had become more complicated, especially with the plethora of emission-control equipment, bad build quality was not to blame. In a headline-grabbing vox-pop, he blamed screen wash bottles for the high incidence of engine failure. As he indulged in the Marshall-funded pint of his favourite tipple, he expounded his theory. Modern screen wash bottles can hold over three times more fluid, compared with their forbears of several decades ago, meaning owner/drivers are lifting their bonnets less frequently to check all the other levels.

My own experience with modern engine failures has led me to conclude that manufacturer-recommended oil change intervals, such as those of two or more years, are too ambitious. Yet, as we partook of our second drink, we agreed that cars have not changed that radically and a modern vehicle will consume oil naturally but, because the bonnet is not lifted often enough to top-up the screen wash, many people might be unaware that their oil level has dropped below a safe limit and not all cars are fitted with a low-level warning lamp, or digital read-out. Recent campaigns by Comma Oil back up our theory, which states that almost half of drivers do not check their oil levels regularly.

Once a low oil level has caused engine damage, the manufacturer is absolved from considering any warranty claim, because the damage is caused by neglect. The owner, instead of paying £10.00 for a litre of oil, is left to foot a bill of over fifteen hundred pounds for my friend to rebuild the engine, all of which was adding nicely to his profit margins. After that revelation, I insisted that the next few rounds were on him.