In an industrial park in Milnerton, Cape Town, you will find the workshop of a man who came to South Africa from Bulgaria 15 years ago, and who, from humble beginnings in 2002, has built up a company with a legendary reputation in the field of automotive electronics. “When we hit a problem that has us beat, we send it to Dimitri – he can always sort it out.”
These words I’ve heard from several car workshops. Presently the company does diagnostics and repairs, rebuilds electronic control units and designs and manufactures new – generation testing equipment to stay abreast of the rapid development in vehicle electronics. I recently had an interview with Dimitri during which he had the following advice for car owners wishing to avoid electronic problems:
• Never let anyone clean the engine with a high-pressure water hose. Water is anathema to electronics. When the vehicle goes to a carwash, forbid them, on pain of unspeakable retribution, to go near the engine;
• When the battery on a high end car has to be replaced, get the replacement from the dealer. It may be considerably more expensive than a generic battery of the same nominal capacity, but the chances are good that within months the car will start behaving funny if you fit the generic battery;
• Avoid jump starts like the plague. Rather remove and charge the battery and fit it back on the vehicle; the control units of electric power steering are horribly complicated. Dimitri recently had to purchase very expensive equipment in Italy just to be able to test these units. Before buying a car (especially a used car) with electric power steering, ensure you have done your own research on possible repairs on the electric power steering;
• In automotive electronics, misdiagnosis in troublesome cases is the norm rather than the exception. Always Ensure that your vehicle is taken to a reputable auto-electrical workshop for proper diagnostics; and
• Don’t let anybody tell you an electronic unit can’t be repaired. You must just get it to the right people.
-For all your motoring queries, please contact Gerrit Burger: firstname.lastname@example.org