Common Noises Your Car Can Make And What They Mean

Common Car Noises

One of the most common questions our expert team of in-house mechanics receives on a regular basis is:

“My car makes a strange noise, what does this mean?”

Here are some pointers as to the different sounds that could be coming from your car, and what they could mean.

Squealing from the engine while driving

High pitched squealing noises usually point to an issue with a belt or pulley, indicating a required replacement or re-adjust.

Hissing from the engine

A signal that the engine could be overheating, which can cause serious trouble further down the line. It also could point to a fluid leak under the bonnet, a leaking turbocharger pipe or a damaged intercooler.

Squealing sound while braking

This is a tell-tale sign of worn brake pads. If the noise becomes the sound of grinding metal, you’re seriously damaging your brakes. Have it checked as soon as you can.

Grinding sound from your gearbox

This noise is indicative of a potential problem with the clutch or transmission.

Rattling sound from the engine

This is a very confusing noise as it could be a number of different problems – including issues with the oil, a faulty clutch fan or a stretched timing chain. Nevertheless, these all require urgent inspection.

Rattling noise from underneath your car

This noise could, amongst others, be a sign of a loose part of your exhaust system.

Clicking while turning

Faulty CV joints are usually the reason for this noise and should be checked by a mechanic right away.

Clicking sound from the engine

Usually, a sign that your engine is running low on oil. If it persists after an oil top-up, have your engine checked thoroughly by a professional.

A loud knocking from the engine

This could be indicative of a lack of lubrication, or something has broken within the engine set-up – or is about to break. Either way, seek the services of a professional mechanic to get the issue seen to.

Humming or growling noise from your tyres

The first thing to do when you hear a noise from your tyres is to check the pressure. If the pressure is correct, have your wheel alignment and balance checked and possibly adjusted.

If any of these noises are coming from your car, the next mechanic is only a click away.
If you are unsure what’s wrong with your car, book a free phone consultation with one of our experienced mechanics in residence.

Book your car repair now

Happy driving!

Damages potholes can do to a car

Damages Potholes can do to a car

Like plants, potholes grow with the rain. During the winter, rainwater puddles on the surface, but gets into the cracks between the tarmac. Underneath the tarmac, it freezes pushing the tarmac out as it expands into ice. This combined with the constant pressure of vehicles driving overtop causes potholes to quickly form.

The most recent RAC pothole index shows that drivers are 1.7 times more likely to break down with pothole-related damage than they were in 2006 when the RAC began tracking.

These holes in the road aren’t just a simple bump, they are a serious issue for car owners. They can grow metres wide, or have drivers swerve to avoid them. Potholes increase the likelihood of a crash, and can cause expensive damage to your vehicle.

You might hit a pothole dead on, or just clip it with the side of a wheel. Two things will typically affect the extent of the damage caused:

  1. The speed at which you hit the pothole
  2. The depth of the pothole

We’ll take a closer look at the damages potholes can do to your car.

Increase tyre wear and tear

Tyres are designed for contact with the road, not to be bounced around or scraped against a hole. This means potholes can cause some serious damage like sidewall bulges, tread separation, or even punctures. Tyres dip into potholes, and under the car’s weight, compresses into shape. The hard tarmac can then cut into the rubber, damaging the wall or snapping structural belts within the tyre. Inflating your tyres to the recommended levels can help resist against pothole damage.

Damages wheels through potholes

Large potholes can cause scratches on your rims or even damage to the wheels. The harsh drop of some deep potholes impacts your wheels in a way they aren’t designed to handle. Cars aren’t regularly ‘dropped’ so have little resistance against wheel damage in these situations. Potholes can chip, crack, or bend a wheel. Chips and cracks are usually difficult to notice, as the tyre may cover up any damage. Bent wheels will not roll smoothly, and can impact on the performance of the tyres too. Significant chips, cracks or bends need to be replaced immediately, as it compromises the safety of the vehicle.

Driving through potholes affects your vehicle’s suspension

The suspension is designed to support the vehicle’s weight, absorb rough road driving, and ensure the tyre stays in contact with the road. A ‘drop’ into a pothole can cause suspension problems such as damaged shock absorbers, and broken ball joints. A damaged shock absorber or broken ball joints will cause a vibrating noise, wandering steering. A qualified mechanic will need to inspect the suspension system before individual parts are completely replaced.

The exhaust system can be damaged by potholes

Exhausts run along the length of the vehicle, and mufflers especially hang quite low. A deep pothole can potentially cause the exhaust system to scrape along the ground. Even some speed bumps can damage the exhaust system. The tarmac can cause scratches, dents, or even rip holes into the exhaust pipes, muffler, or catalytic converter. In extreme cases, you may lose power but over time you will usually experience a fall in fuel mileage as exhaust leaks cause the engine to use more fuel. You will want to check for damage, after particularly harsh scrapes. This may mean you have to get a mechanic round to hoist up the car and have a look underneath the car.

The vehicle body can be dented or scratched

Deep potholes can obviously scratch paint, especially around wheel rims and bumpers. They will also kick up dirt and tarmac, which means more cleaning.

Driving through potholes can cause alignment issues

Alignment issues can be quite noticeable when turning, as your steering wheel is off-center, the car pulls back in one direction, or the handling feels loose. Misalignment also causes tyres to wear down faster since one side is overused.

The final verdict on potholes

Don’t ignore a loud scrape or knock from a pothole! You can even claim back on potholes, and get the hole filled. Come to ClickMechanic to get a full quote and receipt for the job, which you can easily use as evidence for a pothole letter to the council.

Happy Driving

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

The UK’s Top 5 Romantic Road Trips to Drive this Valentine’s Day!

Only a few days to go until Valentine’s Day! And if you’re looking to plan the perfect date, why not really impress this year and take your other half on a romantic road trip? For inspiration, we’ve done the research for you to find the UK’s top 5 romantic routes. Read on and see which you would want to visit for a Valentine’s treat!

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “A scenic road trip is a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day. It’s a chance to explore some amazing new places together from the comfort of your car, which is particularly a bonus given the weather! Just remember to share the choice of music…”

1. The North Coast 500, Scotland

For a truly breath-taking and adventurous drive, Scotland’s North Coast 500 is your ideal choice for this Valentine’s Day. Beginning and ending in the northern city of Inverness, this route skirts around the Scottish coast, covering over 500 miles of unparalleled scenery.

Along the ride, you can visit a number of impressive structures including the famed 1000-year-old ruins of Urquhart Castle on the Loch Ness banks. You can also discover some of the concealed and untouched beaches on the route; be sure to visit Moray Firth, home to around 130 bottlenose dolphins! Finally, it goes without saying that the road will also take you through some stunning views of the highlands, which alone are worth the trip! Be sure to save some time for this journey however, 5-7 days of traveling are recommended to take in all of the sights.

2. The New Forest

Offering both beautiful and relaxed surroundings, driving through the New Forest is a brilliant option for couples who are looking to take it easy and soak up the sun (hopefully!). Being less than one minute’s drive from the M27, it is easily accessible with countless activities and sights available for visitors.

Picturesque villages are scattered throughout the area, not to mention thousands of wild ponies and donkeys also roam-free, so take care on the road! For keen animal lovers, the New Forest Wildlife Park at Ashurst offers the chance to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife. And for those that appreciate cars, The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu features over 250 vehicles and recounts the history of motoring. So there really is something for everyone! If you’re unsure of which route to take, the New Forest Tour offers an open-top safari-style tour of the area and covers three key routes to see all of the best sights.

3. The Dark Hedges, Ballymore, Northern Ireland

Any Game of Thrones fan will recognise this road; it is also known as King’s Road during Season two of the famous fantasy series, where Arya Stark travels north. While it is simply an avenue of beech trees folding into one another, the overall effect creates a true sense of fairy-tale wonder as you pass through it.

This inspiring formation, or the Dark Hedges as it is actually known, was planted two centuries ago to decorate the entrance of Gracehill House, a Georgian mansion. Today, it has become a renowned spot for photographs in Northern Ireland and attracts visitors from far and wide. Sadly, due to recent damage, it can no longer be driven directly down by motorists; however, there is parking nearby at the Hedges Estate Hotel and it is more than worth the walk for this enchanting experience. It is indeed a beautiful road to visit this Valentine’s Day.

4. The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is renowned for its scenic, picture-postcard villages and for the natural beauty of its countryside; just two reasons for being a perfect drive on February 14th!

But if you’re wondering which route to take to get the best views, why not follow the aptly named Romantic road? Cotswolds.info has mapped out its own circular route from Broadway which passes through Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water, taking the driver through a number of impressive sights. You will have the chance to explore the famed beauty of the Cotswold hill villages as well as the quaint river valleys and the charmingly idyllic country pubs. Covering 45 miles in total, it’s also more than suitable for a day trip!

5. The Lake District

As England’s largest National Park, the Lake District is filled with breath-taking scenery and raw, natural beauty. With an incredible mountainous landscape combined with vast lakes and, of course, countless activities available, each valley will not fail to please!

While the sheer size of this National Park means the possible driving routes are essentially endless, if you’re looking for guidance, Lake District Drives lists 15 possible routes to choose from. However, for a truly romantic experience, the Keswick to Borrowdale to Buttermere drive is a great pick. It features some of the most stunning sights of the mountain passes and allows you to stop and explore places such as Lodore Falls waterfall and Honister Slate Mine. The route covers 38 miles in total.

Could Brexit Make Your Car Repair More Expensive?

On 31st January, the UK will leave the European Union and enters the next stage to finalise Brexit. With 11 crucial months of trade talks ahead, we take a look at what Brexit means for UK drivers and the impact on the cost of repairing, maintaining and running a car.

The impact of Brexit on the cost of car repair

UK motorists could see a 10% rise in their annual repair and service bill once the UK leaves the EU single market. The collective car repair bill could rise by more than £2billion due to new tariffs.

This according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), assumes the UK will fall back into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules in a hard Brexit situation. The new research falls in line with many other industries predicting sharp inflation, due to higher import/export costs.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Our car maintenance sector is one of Europe’s most competitive, and motorists enjoy a great choice over where they have their cars serviced. However, if we don’t secure a new trading relationship with the EU that is free of tariffs and customs checks, British consumers could face significant increases to their annual car repair bill due to new tariffs and other trade barriers…If we don’t secure a new trading relationship with the EU that is free of tariffs and customs checks, British consumers could face significant increases to their annual car repair bill due to new tariffs and other trade barriers…The government must now prioritise an interim arrangement that maintains a single market and customs union membership until the right trade deal with the EU is implemented.”

In 2016, the UK automotive aftermarket sector grew by 2.4% in terms of turnover to £21.6 billion, creating an extra 1,400 jobs. The market now employs almost 350,000 people, more than the population of Coventry.

The amount and age of vehicles in the UK will only increase, as cars last longer than before. The UK automotive aftermarket sector is on track to grow to £28 billion, with 400,000 employees by 2022.

The SMMT’s report suggests that WTO tariffs will add between 2.5-4.5% onto car parts, adding an average of £21 to replacement parts. Quotas, subsidies, customs delays, and regulatory barriers could add an extra £49 for all these handling issues.

The UK government has signaled there will be a hard Brexit, with Prime Minister Theresa May suggesting “no deal is better than a bad deal” and “free movement will end in March 2019” which is a tenant to single market access. This presents the picture that the UK could fall back on the WTO rules, outside of the single market.

The SMMT stress the magnitude of the tariff problems with “80% of replacement car parts fitted to British cars are imported, with almost three-quarters of these coming from EU-based suppliers. However, the manufacture of components in the UK is growing, making the risk of tariffs on British products sold in Europe and other key global markets another major concern.”

The report finally suggested that WTO tariffs on parts exported from the UK could cost the industry £3 billion in lost revenue, “with a potential impact on future investment and jobs”.

The impact of Brexit on buying a used car

If as a result of failed negotiations on trade tariffs we will see new car prices going up (up to 10% on WTO terms), it is likely that used car prices will follow suit. The change in prices could mean that more people are putting off buying a new car, hang on to their car for longer or are opting to purchase a used car instead of a new one leading to more demand on the used car market.

The impact of Brexit on insuring a car

A rather overlooked issue, but currently drivers are covered by a ruling by the European Court of Justice which requests insurers to offer equal premiums for male and female drivers. Upon leaving the EU, this directive could be reviewed or abandoned by the UK government, meaning that insurers could charge different costs by gender with premiums for male drivers potentially going up. Another privilege that could be affected is the EU wider coverage for motorists. At the moment, the UK driver’s insurance covers them for driving across the EU. If this directive is abandoned as well, you might have to look into purchasing additional insurance should you plan to go on a road trip across the continent.

The impact of Brexit on running a car

A rather overlooked issue, but currently drivers are covered by a ruling by the European Court of Justice which requests insurers to offer equal premiums for male and female drivers. Upon leaving the EU, this directive could be reviewed or abandoned by the UK government, meaning that insurers could charge different costs by gender with premiums for male drivers potentially going up. Another privilege that could be affected is the EU wider coverage for motorists. At the moment, the UK driver’s insurance covers them for driving across the EU. If this directive is abandoned as well, you might have to look into purchasing additional insurance should you plan to go on a road trip across the continent.

ClickMechanic scores £1m airtime-for-equity deal from UKTV

UKTV Ventures has invested £1 million of airtime into ClickMechanic in exchange for equity in the online marketplace.

Online car repair marketplace ClickMechanic.com has received investment from UKTV using its multi-million pound investment fund, UKTV Ventures. The online start-up has secured £1m worth of commercial airtime across the broadcaster’s network of channels.

UKTV reaches over 33 million viewers every month* and ClickMechanic’s debut TV campaign will run exclusively on UKTV channels Dave, Gold, W, Drama, Alibi, Eden and Yesterday from today, and for several months throughout 2020. Recent research commissioned by Thinkbox and carried out by Data 2 Decisions, the econometric arm of Dentsu Aegis, found that on average, for a brand with less than £50m brand value, a £1m TV campaign can drive overall sales by circa 20%.

Launched in 2012 ClickMechanic is transforming the car repair space with its innovative technology. The product enables customers to get a fixed price industry standard quote in a matter of seconds and book in with a vetted mechanic who comes to the consumer. Going live on TV with its first commercial is a huge milestone and is set to see the company dramatically increase its growth and reach millions of more customers in 2020.

Launched in 2018, the UKTV Ventures fund offers high-growth start-ups an opportunity to advertise on TV for the first time and therefore accelerate their business growth. The fund has already made investments into award-winning preschool learning and entertainment platform Hopster, and pet tech start-up, PitPat.

Sheena Amin, director of UKTV Ventures said: “ClickMechanic is the perfect start-up to benefit from our innovative fund and we’re excited to launch its first ever TV ad. This online marketplace is solving a real customer pain point when it comes to finding and booking a car mechanic and there is a compelling and substantial growth opportunity to go after in taking this market online. With all the engaging motoring programmes that Dave has to offer, we see a strong fit with ClickMechanic’s target customer base and expect to drive considerable growth and new customer acquisition for the business via the impressive power of TV.”

Founded in 2012 by Andrew Jervis and Felix Kenton, ClickMechanic makes car care easy for everyone, everywhere. The online marketplace allows drivers to get quick online quotes and book pre-vetted mechanics. Its real-time, online quoting engine is the first of its kind in Europe and empowers users to get the best deal possible and ensure they pay a fair price.

Andrew Jervis, CEO of ClickMechanic said: “We’re excited for this fantastic opportunity to reach millions of new consumers. To be partnering with and having one of the UK’s biggest multi-channel broadcasters as an investor will enable us to ramp up our growth efforts and bring our service to a mass market. We’ve already had success building a product that customers and mechanics love and we hope they enjoy our new ad too.”

ClickMechanic’s debut ad has been designed and created by Happy Hour. It showcases the convenience of ClickMechanic’s services and how their mobile mechanics can get you back on the road quickly and efficiently.

Nicola Tyler, Managing Partner at Happy Hour said: “As a first-time TV advertiser, we knew the creative for ClickMechanic needed to work hard to educate the audience, whilst balance brand memorability & cut-through with response tactics. With this in mind, our approach was to cement in viewers’ minds both visually and audibly exactly what ClickMechanic provides; so hopefully the next time you need a mechanic your immediate thought will be to simply ‘ClickMechanic’”

Driving Home For Christmas – Tips For A Save And Festive Journey

It is the most wonderful time of the year – but for everyone who is driving home for Christmas first comes the most dreaded time of the year: sharing the road with thousands of other drivers how also want to get home to spend the festive season with loved ones.

The team at the ClickMechanic HQ thought long and hard about ways to make your Christmas journey more pleasant, save and most of all: festive.

Preparing for the drive home

As with all long-distance drives, we recommend checking your car before you set off. The key things to tick off the list are:

  • Engine oil levels incl. top up if needed
  • Tyre pressure
  • Wiper blades
  • Coolant levels
  • Lights

Recommended song to feel festive: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree

While you are stuck in the annual Christmas traffic

We have all been there – sat in a long queue of cars on the motorway on weekends and Bank Holidays, or stuck in slow-moving, rush-hour traffic. To get through it smoothly, here are 4 Do’s and Don’ts for heavy traffic jams:

  • Put your car in neutral: When you are stuck in slow-moving, stop-and-go traffic, it’s tempting to keep the car in gear and the clutch engaged, in case you start moving again. This puts unnecessary strain on your clutch, decreasing its longevity.
  • Switch your engine off: Research shows that even idling for short time burns more fuel and emits more nasty emissions than restarting your car, so switching your engine off in idle traffic would offset this.
  • Drive smoothly in slow-moving traffic: It can be tempting to slam the accelerator down when a gap opens up in traffic. However, if all this means is that you will brake again within a short distance, you will wear out your brakes quicker than if you drive in a slow and steady fashion.
  • Don’t tailgate: As we can all agree, tailgating is one of the worst things you can do whilst driving. Not only will you put yourself and other drivers in a dangerous situation, but your brakes will also wear out faster if you constantly need to hit them hard when traffic slows down.

Recommended song to remind you of the merry season: It’s the most wonderful time of the year

When the road clears after a traffic jam

Finally, you are really driving home for Christmas. The free road ahead brings you closer to your final destination. While it is tempting to put the foot down a bit further to speed up to make up for some time lost, remember to stick to speed limits. Take extra care in wintery and adverse weather conditions which make driving more tricky with slippery road surfaces, rain, and darkening skies.

Recommended song to cheerily celebrate: Candy Cane Lane

When it starts snowing

While snow is rare in the UK and the predictions for a white Christmas are low, there still can be a Christmas wonder. Seeing the first snow is something special and wonderful. On the other side, it makes your journey more challenging. We have written a post about driving on wintery roads so you can get safely to your destination.

The obvious song to mark this moment: Sleigh Ride

When you tuck into your Christmas sandwich

As a prepared driver, you brought a sandwich for the trip. It is recommended to pack snacks and drinks when you embark on a long journey – especially when you can expect it to take longer than usual due to heavy traffic. And as it is Christmas, it should be a festive snack or sandwich.

Recommended song while you are munching through our treat: All I Want For Christmas Is You

When you wish for a new car for Christmas

Spending a long time in your car might make you realise it’s small niggles and aches even more. Even more so, you might come to the conclusion that you will be looking for a new car next year. We have just the right tips on what to look out for when buying a new car.

But in the meantime, listen to this song instead: Santa Baby

When you finally reach your Christmas destination

Give a cheer for you are here. Your mood lightens after a long Christmas journey. Welcome home!

Recommended song to share the joy: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Happy driving home for Christmas and a wonderful festive season!

Book your car repair now

Photo by Jamie Davies on Unsplash

How to get the best car repair experience possible

We recently asked our customers about their experiences with mechanics and garages. A large proportion told us that they find engaging with a mechanic or garage a daunting experience.

Engaging with a mechanic or garage can be scary for a couple of reasons. Old school garages can be intimidating places with all the noise, smells, tools and machinery, especially if you don’t know a great deal about cars. To help cut through all of this, here are our top tips on how to overcome any car care anxieties, create a trusting relationship with a mechanic and get the best car repair experience possible:

Be nice 

It sounds simple but people often forget that mechanics are also human beings and want to deal with nice people. Don’t worry that you do not possess any technical understanding – that is what the mechanics are here for.

Ask questions around the repair and the mechanic’s experience

When you’re handing over your car to a mechanic, you want to know if it is in good hands. The best way to find out is to ask him or her some questions around the problem and way of working. Here is a list of questions we prepared for exactly this case.

Get familiar with your car

This sounds silly but this tactic helps to tackle car repair-related anxieties. You don’t have to become an expert but it helps reading the car owner’s manual, perform regular oil checks or simply have a look under the bonnet. How does the engine look like, where are fluids located? This basic knowledge helps you understand things better when you speak to a mechanic about a repair.

Plan and budget for car maintenance

Costs for car maintenance are a necessary life cost you should budget for like you do with your rent, mortgage or bills. The downside is, if it is not an MOT or service, you can’t plan for a repair so it often comes at the most inconvenient times. A high unplanned expense understandably can add to the daunting feeling which can overcome you when you step into a workshop. If it is possible, set a fixed amount of money aside on a regular basis, dedicated to cover the surprise repair costs.

Happy driving!

Book your car repair here

Photo by Glenn Hansen on Unsplash

The Top 5 Car Repairs to Expect This Christmas and How Likely You Are to Face Them!

Christmas is only a few weeks away and it’s already looking to be a rather wet one! Yet, whilst many dream of a White Christmas filled with snowball fights and picturesque scenery, it is worth remembering that the colder or even freezing temperatures can be a killer for your car. Each winter, countless motorists face a variety of car issues and fear the potential cost to repair. This is why we have analysed our own data to find the most likely repairs which UK motorists will encounter over the winter. Read on to find out how you can prolong the most popular repairs and save money in the long-term.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Many motorists forget to take care of their vehicle at this time of year. Cold conditions can cause an array of expensive problems for your car and, with a little TLC, potential repair bills can be reduced and the repairs themselves may last longer.”

1. Wing Mirror Glass Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 4.3x

Signs you need a wing mirror replacement:

– Glass is broken/scratched
– Casing is broken/scratched

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

On the icy roads, many motorists will struggle to control their vehicle at times and as such, they are far more likely to clip their wing mirrors or even slide into things. In fact, drivers are actually more than 4x as likely to damage their wing mirror glass in the winter compared to the rest of the year, so it’s a very common problem.

The only remedy for this would be to take more care on the road and reduce speed when necessary. Damaged wing mirror glass should be replaced as soon as possible, particularly if it restricts your vision.

2. Battery Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.8x

Signs that a battery replacement is imminent:

– The car’s engine will turn over slowly prior to starting or will not turn over at all
– None of the electrical equipment works
– The battery’s terminals and connectors show signs of erosion
– A pale blue or white powder has appeared on parts of the battery

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

Despite lasting longer in the colder climate, winter’s freezing temperatures actually causes the battery to lose power. The colder environment means the engine will require more power to start up and continue to run. This is why the winter will usually finish off an old (5 years plus) or struggling battery.

You can prolong your battery’s charge by switching off electrical items such as the heater blower, the headlights and the rear screen demisters for a few minutes prior to switching the engine off. Short journeys during winter will also place additional strain on the battery, so bear that in mind when popping down to the shops! If you’re unsure of its current condition, have the battery checked professionally.

3. Coil Spring Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.7x

Signs your car needs a coil spring replacement:

– The car will bounce excessively after driving over a bump
– The car leans to one side or one corner is lower than the others
– You may feel a difference in the car’s handling
– You may hear odd noises, such as a banging or even a ‘twang’ when turning the steering

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

The coil springs act as support for the shock absorbers. They smooth out any bumps or irregularities you encounter on the road’s surface and, as such, they will eventually wear over time. They are also made of ferrous metal, meaning they will suffer from corrosion. Most coil springs are coated in a plastic sleeve, however, this sleeve will suffer from nicks and scratches from road debris, which allows water to seep in and erode the metal.

During winter, the metal becomes brittle and will be more likely to break under shock, such as from speed bumps and potholes. This can lead to expensive damage if a worn spring reaches this stage, so it should be seen to as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms. Regularly washing debris off of the springs with a hose can help to prolong them.

4. Alternator / Alternator Belt Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.6x/1.3x

Signs the alternator belt or alternator needs replacing:

– A battery warning light has appeared on the dashboard
– The dashboard/interior lights are not as bright as usual
– The battery does not charge or has run flat
– A squealing or screeching sound comes from the engine

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

The alternator charges the car’s battery, which in turn powers all electricals. As such, it too takes additional strain in the colder months when more power is needed to run the vehicle. The first and major indication that something is wrong will be the sight of a small red battery sign on your dashboard. This warning light should illuminate when you switch the ignition on and then go out when the engine is running. Should this light become slow to extinguish, that could be a sure sign that the alternator is on its way out.

In essence, there is little that the general car owner can do to prolong the lifespan of an alternator. However, it is important to give it the best chance of working efficiently by avoiding deep water and ensuring that the belt which drives it is in good condition. Should you start to hear a “squeal” on start-up or when driving, the belt may require adjusting or even replacing.

5. Starter Motor Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.3x

Signs the starter motor needs replacing:

– The engine does not start or you have issues making it start
– The starter motor makes more noise than usual when you start the engine
– You can hear a clicking noise when you turn the key

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

As the name suggests, the starter motor starts the car – which is known to be a common issue during the wintertime. This is because, in a colder climate, more energy is needed to turn the starter motor and power the engine, putting additional stress on both it and the battery.

The starter motor will, once again, wear with time, and as it is for all repairs in this list, it should be replaced as and when necessary in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. Like the alternator, there is little you can do to generally prolong the life of a starter motor. However, if your vehicle is reluctant to start, avoid continually trying to run the starter motor without giving it a chance to cool down. For guidance, you should only use the starter motor for 30 seconds and then let it cool for 30 seconds before re-trying it. You should also, once again, avoid deep water, ensure that your undertray is secure and check that your battery is in good condition to give it the best possible power source to use.

If you are unsure whether something is wrong with your car, speak to one of our experienced inhouse mechanics by using our free phone consultation service.

Happy driving!

Book your car repair now

 

The Importance of Locking Wheel Nuts

Locking wheel nuts are an important part of the security of your vehicle. They are obviously there to prevent the theft of your alloy wheels, which are expensive enough in their own right, but also the tyres too, which on larger vehicles and SUV’s can be as much again as the cost of the wheel.

How wheel locking nuts add to the security of your car

The most convincing reason to get extra security for your wheels and alloys is theft prevention. A number of thefts occur simply for the tyres as the market for cheaper “part worn” tyres has increased dramatically due to the consumer demand for bigger cross over vehicles that have bigger wheels and ultimately, more expensive tyres. Therefore it is important that you have a locking or security wheel nut/bolt on your vehicle.

Remember to ask for the locking key

Firstly, it is very important to ensure that the locking wheel nut removal tool is with the car when buying it second hand. You also need to ensure it is supplied on new cars too – ask your salesman where it is and in both cases ensure that it fits ALL the wheel nuts as it should!

Remember to keep the lock removal tool safe (but not too safe)

This sounds obvious, but is often overlooked – know where your locking wheel nut tool is and that it can be accessed easily when required. There is nothing worse than an inconvenient puncture, but that is made even worse if you can’t find the locking wheel nut tool!

It is also a very good idea to make sure it’s easily available to the technicians when taking your car for any repair or service. Not only does its unknown whereabouts hold up the mechanics but also means they have to go searching around your car, from glovebox to boot in order to find it.

What to do when the wheel lock removal tool is lost or worn?

All is not lost! Well, it is, but it isn’t the end of the world! The important thing is to act now and not leave it “until you need it” as that time may be the most inconvenient one.

Some locking wheel nuts can be removed easily using specially made removal tools and most garages and mechanics have them. However, these only work on certain types and if that is the case then there will be considerable work required to get them off. In some cases, there may also be damage caused to the wheel, no matter how careful they are in getting them off.

So, if you have lost your wheel nut tool, you need to get a new one as soon as possible. If the wheel nuts are the standard ones from the manufacturer, the first place to try is a dealership. If that yields no luck, then get in contact with us and we will source a mechanic to get them removed for you and supply a replacement set with a new key.

Wheels, alloys, and tyres are not the only car part thieves have an eagle eye on. If you want to know more about how to prevent theft of car parts, read our article on how to prevent catalytic converter theft.

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Happy driving!

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

Road Safety Advice Every Driver Should Know

Every 20 minutes, someone is seriously injured or killed on British roads. These accidents are all preventable if simple rules of road safety are followed.

Easy to follow road safety tips

Slow down

Speed is a crucial factor when it comes to road safety. The faster you drive, the greater the risk of accidents. Driving within the speed limit and using suitable speed in bad weather conditions is common sense. At speeds exceeding 50mph, a reduction in speed by 1mph can lower the likelihood of crashes by up to 5%. Test your knowledge with the Road Safety Stopping Distance Game

Never drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol

It is widely known that drugs and alcohol impair drivers’ judgment and perception, even small amounts below the legal driving limit can impact your reactions in traffic. Better be safe than sorry and plan ahead to get home safely.

It might take some courage but if you see someone planning on driving after a few drinks, try to persuade them to leave their car until the next day. Don’t get into the car with someone who has been drinking.

And don’t forget those mornings after a night out. Use this handy calculator to see how long you should wait before you get behind the wheel again. As a final thought: if you are taking any medication, even flu medicine can impair your ability to drive.

Stay focused and calm

Make sure you stay sharp and focused when driving. Planning your journeys and anticipate traffic events ahead can really take the stress out of driving. If you are feeling tired after some time behind the wheel, take a break. It is recommended to break up longer journeys after 2 hours for some fresh air and a stretch of your legs.

Avoid driving if you are under stress or feel angry as your mind might not be fully focused on the task at hand – driving safely. In these situations, it is recommended to wait for a while before driving off to allow yourself to calm down and refocus on safely driving your car.

Not only your mind can have an impact on how focused you are. Your eyes are working overtime while driving, so it is vital to have your eyes checked regularly and wear glasses or lenses if you have been prescribed some. This reduces tiredness and ensures your vision is perfectly clear and unobstructed while on the road.

Keep your passengers safe too

If you are regularly traveling with passengers in your car, it is vital to ensure they are as safe as possible – even on short journeys. Insist that everyone traveling in your car is putting the seat belt on before you take off. When you are traveling with children, always ensure they sit in fitting and appropriate child seats and are buckled up correctly.

Make your car safe to travel

There are a few more things drivers can do to contribute to safer journeys and car maintenance is key here. Have your lights and brakes checked regularly, e.g. during your regular car servicing appointment, ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and remove any unnecessary weight you are driving around in your car. We have written a handy post about the 5 car and road safety checks you should perform before a long-distance journey.

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Happy driving and safe travels!