Keeping your car happy

happy carAnyone who owns a car will know that they are sensitive machines. They need to be looked after in order to keep all of those interconnected parts functioning properly. There are some things you can do to avoid damage to your car.

Watch out for that…. pot hole

If you want to avoid buckled wheels, cracked tyres, or damaged suspension then taking care with bumps and pot holes is essential.

Potholes are a British institution, we all have a good moan about them from time to time.  Going fast over potholes can result in damage to your car. Keep an eye out for potholes and other signs of road damage as it might just save you a tidy sum in car repairs.

Speed bumps are designed to be an obstacle and as such not slowing down for them can cause damage to your suspension, tyres, exhaust and the underneath of your car. Normally keeping to 20mph or slower should reduce the risk of damage to your car.

Another thing to watch out for if you want to save your tyres and steering are Kerbs. Drivers often climb them to get out of the way of emergency vehicles or simply to manoeuvre out of a parking space or road. But, if you misjudge the grip on your tyres, or generate too much over or understeer while driving, you can also end up knocking into the kerb. This can wreck tyres and hub caps as well as your steering column and wheel position.

Kerb your bad driving habits
Many of us feel we are good drivers, but even the best of us can make mistakes. Some bad driving habits can cause damage to your car without you even realising it.

Sudden Braking over a short distance and especially at high speeds can cause your brake discs to become warped from overheating and can wear your brake pads away. While this is often difficult to avoid when driving in a city, it can help to take a less congested route to avoid sudden stops and starts. If you find you have to brake hard a lot, you may be following the car in front too closely.

Riding the clutch or brake is a common gripe with mechanics. The build-up of kinetic energy that happens when you ride the brake can cause the pads and rotor or drum to wear out. This means it’ll take a lot longer for the car to stop when you brake. Riding the clutch can lead to the plates and the pressure pads not engaging properly, so the friction wears away the clutch.

Avoid Overloading

Whether you’ve packed the car for a camping trip, moving house or taking stuff to the tip. Overloading your car with extra weight can damage the clutch, brakes, tyres and suspension. Make sure you check the maximum authorised mass or maximum permitted weight recommended for your car before driving with a heavy load.

Improve care and maintenance
Cars need a little maintenance to keep them road-worthy, so it’s important to give them proper care.

Driving with low fuel is dangerous to your car. When running out of fuel, the car takes it from the bottom of the tank where fuel contaminants often collect. A build-up of these can block your fuel filter. Keeping the fuel tank half-full at all times can stop this from happening.

Ignoring your car fluids or not checking them regularly can lead to them becoming contaminated and ineffective, shortening the life of your car. There are a number of fluids used to keep it running smoothly, such as engine oil, coolant, and brake fluid.

Tyre maintenance is often overlooked but very important as driving with worn, incorrectly inflated, or old tyres have an increased risk of blowing out or, if the road is wet, hydroplaning, which can be a major hazard.

Ignoring the engine light is an invitation for any problem to develop into something more expensive. The engine light is the car’s own way of telling you there’s something wrong, so keep an eye on the dashboard and pay attention to any lights.

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New cars coming in 2019

2019 cars

Volkswagen Golf – On sale Summer

The Volkswagen Golf is one of the best-selling cars in the UK. There are almost 40,000 examples which found homes in the first six months of 2018. It still holds a five-star What Car? rating six years after it was launched.

Don’t expect a revolution when it comes to the looks of this new model. The new Golf will feature sharper creases to bring it into line with the new Polo, but it will still be instantly recognisable. Its front and rear axles are likely to be farther apart to liberate more rear leg room.

We’ve become used to seeing modern cars launched with far fewer interior switches than their predecessors, and this will also be the case with the new Golf. In fact, on high-end versions there will be almost no switches at all, with Volkswagen bosses describing the car’s interior as a “total digital environment”. As such the Golf will be permanently connected to the internet, thanks to an eSIM that will allow it to show advanced 3D sat-nav mapping, always find the strongest radio signal and let its engine coast in the run-up to junctions or when you’re heading downhill.

Fiat 500 – On sale Late 2019

Don’t panic: the new Fiat 500 is almost certain to look much like the current one and offer a range of head-turning colours and interior finishes. Instead, interest in the new model lies in whether Fiat can complement its cutesy design with a much-improved driving experience.

From what we know so far, the most headline-grabbing changes will be the introduction of mild hybrid tech – alongside conventional petrol engines. The mild hybrid will use an electric set-up to boost fuel economy and therefore lower emissions, while the electric 500e will arrive from 2020, with the estate, likely to be called the Giardiniera, to follow.

BMW 1 Series – On sale September

BMW is preparing to up the ante with its next 1 Series.  The biggest change is the switch from rear to front-wheel drive, which is said to make the 1 Series lighter as well as improving space inside for passengers and luggage. Elsewhere inside, the new 1 Series is likely to feature a digital instrument display and the latest version of BMW’s excellent iDrive infotainment system

Vauxhall Corsa – On sale Late 2019

The Vauxhall Corsa is overdue a reinvention, with its currently lagging behind its much younger rivals, such as the Seat Ibiza and Ford Fiesta.

The Mk6 Corsa will sit on the same underpinnings as the decent, if not startling, Citroën C3 and be offered primarily with the 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine we recommend in a variety of Peugeot models in a range of outputs.

Let us know which one you will be after this year.

The ten fastest Nürburgring lap times by production cars

NürburgringPrior to this year, the fastest lap time for the Nürburgring was 6.11.13. Set by Stefan Bellof in a Porsche 956 back in 1983 when the circuit was used for qualifying for the 1000k Sports Car race. This magnificent time was however beaten earlier this year by the 919 Evo completing the circuit in just 5:19.55.

But those times are reserved for special vehicles that most people will never have the joy of driving. So what about production cars? Which ones have faired the best around this legendary circuit? Read More

Hybrid cars exempt from 2040 Petrol & Diesel ban

Hybrid Car EngineIn a move that has frustrated environmental campaigners, the government confirmed that Hybrid petrol and diesel cars will still be available for sale in 2040. This was however welcome news for the car industry.

Last year, ministers pledged to ban the sale of new cars powered with fossil fuels by 2040. However the transport secretary (Chris Grayling) confirmed on Monday ‘hybrid cars powered by both electricity and diesel or petrol – would be exempt’.

As well as the Petrol & Diesel ban the governments road to Zero strategy to reduce car pollution includes a further target. By 2030 their aim is for at least 50% of new cars to be ultra-low emission. If this target is successful it is stated that they expect “all new cars and vans to have significant zero-emission capability” by 2040 and “almost every” car and van to be zero-emission by 2050.

“I want it to be easier for electric vehicle drivers to recharge than for motorists to visit a filling station. I want them to choose electric cars because they are so convenient.”

This statement by Chris Grayling implies that the best method is to influence car buyers. He said that a delayed 400 million electrical charging fund would be put into action this summer. This is aimed to help expand infrastructure throughout the country, with hundreds of thousands more charging points on streets, in new homes and in workplaces.

Grayling also said that as well as reducing pollution, the new strategy set out a clear pathway for Britain to be a world leader in zero-emission transport. This strategy could represent a “huge global opportunity for industry and business” which could be worth £1tn a year by 2030.

Nevertheless, environmental groups have accused the government of weakening its commitments. The environmental group Greenpeace stated that the car industry was “yet again being given a free pass”. The Campaign for Better Transport also stated it was substandard, describing it as “a step backwards, giving concessions to keeping hybrids on the road, which will water down the already inadequate 2040 target”.

Although, Chris Grayling had told the Guardian – “I don’t think it’s watered down at all … We want to get rid of classic petrol and diesel engines. It’s about supporting the industry to deliver it and encouraging changes to consumer behaviour. I expect by 2040 every vehicle to have substantial zero-emission capability and most to be 100% zero-emission.”

Overall the car industry had disputed that these new 2040 targets have been adding worry for consumers. Which has contributed to fears over diesel cars, whose UK sales have slumped in the last 15 months. The chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (Mike Hawes) believed that the strategy acknowledged, “The vital role conventional engines, including diesel, will continue to play in the transition to 2040 and beyond”.

Hawes said that this was greatly received news for the car industry, and that they welcomed the “technology neutral approach”.

“We need realistic ambition levels and measures that support industry’s efforts, allow manufacturers time to invest, innovate and sell competitively, and provide the right incentives and infrastructure to take the consumer with us,”

The news that hybrids will not be banned allows a progression period in the industry. However, the 2030 targets for ultra-low emission vehicles remains a concern.

What are your thoughts? Head over to our Facebook page we’ve put together a poll to see what is powering our customers cars.

How to prepare your car for the summer

Most people understand that preparing your car for the winter months is essential for safety, but do you prepare for summer too? Heat and dust can take a toll on your vehicle and impact its ability to perform. As well as the regular checks, which you should do periodically, there are season specific things that you can you do to ensure your car is ready and prepped for the sunshine.

Check your cooling system

One of the biggest dangers whilst driving in the summer is of course overheating. Ensure that your cooling system is properly topped up with the right mix of coolant and water, and ensure that your vehicle’s water is properly filled. Another element to check is air intakes, be sure to check that they are free from debris and dirt, blockages may contribute to overheating problems.

Change Oil on older cars

If you have a relatively new car then it should be fine to run on the same kind of oil all year round. Older cars however may benefit from an oil change in the summer. Heavier oils will help compensate for internal engine wear and offer better protection for your engine in higher temperatures.

Change Air Filters

Large amounts of pollen can clog up your ventilation systems, as well as upsetting hay fever suffering passengers. Air filters are very easy to replace and you can even purchase washable or reusable filters. Be sure to check the cabin filter too, stopping the internal air from becoming stuffy.

Regularly turn on Air Conditioning

Lack of use can mean that air conditioning does not operate at its maximum output when you need it most. This is why it is important to regularly turn on your AC at all times of year. If you haven’t turned on your air con for a long time then make it today.

Summer Tyres

Summer can be as tough on your tyres as the winter months. Sunlight and heat can work in tandem to break down the rubber. You can choose all season tyres of course but they do tend to be a compromise. The ideal situation is to use wider wheels and summer tyres in the sunshine months and keep your hardwearing winter tyres stored for when they are needed most.

It’s best to be proactive and ensure your car is safe to run to avoid any unwanted breakdowns or damage to parts. When you’re happy with the cars condition why not check out our recent blog showing some of the best UK driving roads and really test out your wheels.

Disclaimer: This blog is for guidance only. If you feel there are any issues with your vehicle in preparation for summer please seek the expert advice of a garage.

The 6 New Motoring laws of 2018

There have probably been many changes to the highway code since you first learnt to drive. Many of them are small changes that won’t affect your every day commute or maintenance of your vehicle. This year however has brought about some significant new motoring laws, which could affect all of us. It is therefore imperative that you are aware of these new rules so you are not surprised when you get to your next MOT or when you drive next to a learner of the motorway.

We have summarised some of the major new motoring laws below:

new mot rules1. New MOT Rules

The MOT could become much harder to pass this year. The current advisories system will be no more, vehicles will now be rated out of three categories Minor, Major and Dangerous faults. Minor faults will work like the previous advisory system and therefore a minor fault will not result in a MOT fail. The new dangerous fault however will mean that a car cannot be driven away from the test centre until it has been fixed.

Other changes to MOT legislation regard testable items, these include:
• A check of diesel filters now forming part of the test, if a DPF has been removed or tampered with it will result in an instant fail.
• High definition headlamp bulbs have been outlawed
• Reversing lights will be tested for the first time
• Your car can also fail if brake fluid is visually deteriorated
• Classic cars over 40 years old will now be exempt from testing

2. Fines for misusing motorways

Highways England are getting tougher on motorists who misuse motorways. Inappropriate use of the hard shoulder is an offence under motorway traffic regulations and now motorists will be punished with a £100 fine and three penalty points on their license. Its also been made easier to catch people in the act as new Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras have been introduced on major motorways. If a driver uses the hard shoulder on a managed motorway when it isn’t open, or drives in a lane with a red ‘X’ above it, the cameras will automatically trigger a penalty.

Learner driver on motorway3. Learner drivers allowed on motorways

From 4th June 2018 Learner drivers will be able to take motorway driving lessons with an approved driving instructor.

Learner drivers will need to be accompanied by an approved driving instructor and be driving a car fitted with dual controls. For many years drivers have had the option to take pass plus tests once they have passed their main driving test but government research found that very few drivers were taking these motorway lessons. Motorway driving will not however form part of your driving test.

It is important to note that the change only applies to learner drivers of cars. Learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed on motorways. For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/learner-drivers-will-be-allowed-on-motorways-from-2018

driving test changes4. Changes to the driving test

Although motorway driving has not made it onto the test criteria there have been some changes to the driving test in 2018.

In addition to the independent driving element of the current test, where the examiner gives no instructions for 10 minutes, the new test will include a section where drivers are expected to follow instructions from a sat nav. This is aimed at proving that they can follow the directions safely.

There have also been changes to the manoeuvres asked of drivers.
Two key manoeuvres have been axed, with drivers now only tested on three – a parallel park on the side of the road, parking in a bay and a pulling up on the right hand side of the road.

Changes have also been made to the ‘show me, tell me’ part of the test. The ‘show me’ questions will be asked during the test. The driver will be asked to demonstrate a function of the car, for example how the windscreen wipers work, or how to demist the windscreen.

Tax on diesel cars5. Tax hike for diesel drivers

Newly registered diesel cars will now be hit with a tax hike of up to £500. These changes will apply to new cars bought after April that do not meet the latest emission standards. For these cars, the Vehicle Exercise Duty will go up one band, adding between £20-£500 to year one rates depending on how dirty the car is.

New car seat rules6. Changes to children’s car seats

Rules around child car seat safety have changed significantly. The biggest change refers to backless booster seat models. New models of backless booster seats will only be suitable for children taller than 125cm or weighing more than 22kg.

You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight. The car seat required is slightly different depending on which way you decide to choose. Children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.

The best way to ensure you meet the guidelines is to check out the government guidelines here. If you use the height based system all children below 15 months old must now travel in a backwards-facing car seat.