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

What is The Difference Between Winter Tyres And Summer Tyres?

Are Winter Tyres Worth It

Winter tyres can seem like a bit of a mystery. Often it’s unclear what they actually do and if they are any different from summer tyres. Tyres are tyres, right? Truth is that winter tyres are a highly specialised piece of kit. They will help keep your car stable in winter weather. They are, in fact, significantly different than summer tyres.

Summer tyres are fitted as standard to most cars and are the perfect companion to your car for the summer months. And up to a certain point, they work fine in other seasons as well. Their performance, however, rapidly declines as temperatures drop. Summer tyres are made in such a way that they are soft and grip well in normal and warm temperatures. But once temperatures approach 7C and below the summer tyres will start to lose traction with the road surface. Your car will start to feel unstable and it may not be very comfortable to drive. At that point, it is probably worth getting some winter tyres for your car.

Why do winter tyres work better in cold weather?

Winter tyres are made out of a different type of rubber which makes them softer. It ensures they remain supple in cold weather. It helps to make them ‘grippier’ in winter conditions. On top of that, the tyre tread design is deeper and has more sipes (small slits) which help it process water and snow better.

This all contributes to the fact that winter tyres are proven to stop a car better in cold weather than summer tyres. Tyre manufacturer Continental found that winter tyres can help to stop a car traveling at 31mph eight metres before the same car on summer tyres. That might not seem like much, but it can be the difference between crashing into the back of another car or stopping just in time.

Are winter tyres worth it?

Deciding whether winter tyres are worth it is a much-debated topic. Many say it’s a waste of money having them in the UK as it’s never cold enough for them to have any effect. Others find that they are worth it and say that they feel safer driving with winter tyres in winter.

One of the main misconceptions about winter tyres is that they are only useful if it snows. Seeing that there is little snow in the UK it’s easy to dismiss them on that basis. The fact is, though, that they can be useful way before frosty conditions come round. The general rule is that if it’s under 7C degrees, they grip the road better than summer tyres. They will improve handling and braking no matter whether it snows or rains.

Do you need winter tyres?

Winter tyres have clear advantages in some weather conditions. Their design can really help to cope with bad and cold weather. And can help stop your car much sooner if you brake on snow or ice.

That said, it is less clear if you actually need them. Remember, in large parts of the UK it is barely cold enough in winter for winter tyres to have much effect. On top of that snow in most parts of the country is a rare sight. After all, the UK is not quite Austria. It might just be that weather conditions in your area might be so mild that there is not much point getting them.

Consumer advice organisation Which? has suggested that it will depend on where you are whether they would be useful. It would mean that it makes sense to get some if you are in a colder part of the UK. There where bad winter weather conditions are far more likely. If you mostly drive in a city environment where it’s less cold, the tyres may have less use.

When to get winter tyres?

Winter tyres are not compulsory in the winter months in the UK, so it is always a personal choice. Unlike in most other European countries where they are mandatory. If you do decide to have them fitted, then the time most people get them is around October. That way you’re in time for the first bits of cold weather and are all prepared for when it starts freezing.

What to do with your summer tyres?

That leaves you with your summer tyres, though, which have to be stored somewhere. If you have a garage or shed this is no problem. If you haven’t got the space the decision to get some may be a lot more complicated. Many tyre fitters nowadays offer summer tyre storage for a small price.

Top Tips

For any tyre to work well, it needs to be in good condition and inflated to the right level. A winter tyre that is worn and underinflated may work no better in winter than a brand-new summer tyre. On the other hand, a summer tyre that has almost worn beyond the legal limit will be no good even if it is summer. That’s why it’s very important to ensure at any time of the year that the tyre tread depth is well within the legal limit. On top of that, make sure your tyres are inflated to the right level. This will help the tyres perform better, your car will be a safer place to be in and will waste less fuel in the process.

 

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Faulty Brakes Are the Most Common Vehicle Defect in all Road Accidents, but Defective Tyres Takes the Top Spot for Cars

We have analysed the latest figures from the Department for Transport and can reveal that faulty brakes are the number one vehicle defect to contribute to 2016’s road accidents. However, looking just at cars, flawed tyres are in fact the most common defect to cause an incident.

With a total of 446 incidents, faulty tyres are the primary vehicle defect and contributing factor to car accidents in 2016. This is followed by defective brakes with 365 incidents, imperfect steering or suspension with 180 accidents and overloaded vehicles with 54 incidents. Defective lights or indicators (46 accidents) and mirrors (8 incidents) are less common and feature at the bottom of the table.

Looking at all recorded vehicles in road accidents, damaged brakes are more likely to cause an incident. This is because other vehicles such as motorbikes, buses and particularly bicycles, have recorded more issues with brakes than tyres. However, interestingly all vehicles in the UK are much more likely to have an incident involving defective tyres on the motorway, rather than as a result of imperfect brakes (85 incidents versus 17). This is because under inflated tyres will overheat quickly, particularly at high speeds, and can consequently ‘blow out’ and cause an accident. Whereas on A Roads, faulty brakes assume the top spot once again, as drivers brake more regularly.

Focusing on location, the South East has the highest number of accidents caused by vehicle defects, with 297 incidents. In contrast, the North East appears to take better care of their vehicles as only 46 vehicle defect related road accidents are recorded. Looking at our capital, defective brakes (85 incidents) are much more likely to cause an issue than faulty tyres (34 incidents); the constant braking and lower speeds when driving in London perhaps being the greatest influence to this. The only two regions in which defective tyres are significantly more likely to cause an incident than faulty brakes are Scotland and the East Midlands.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Tyres and brakes control the movement of the car and so can easily cause a collision if they’re not in proper working condition. Being the top two occurring vehicle defects in 2016 emphasises that some UK drivers are not servicing their car regularly, or conducting simple checks, such as measuring the air pressure in the tyres. All drivers should follow their manufacturer’s recommended schedule and ensure that any anomalies are assessed by a professional as soon as possible. Doing so severely reduces the likelihood of these defects and keeps both yourself and other drivers safe on the road.”

The Complete Guide To Tyre Pressures

Why should I check my tyre pressure regularly?

Tyre pressure is vital to keeping your car rolling. Deflated tyres don’t grip the road meaning they can handle very badly. This may cause the vehicle to swerve unexpectedly and even cause the tyres to pop. This is incredibly dangerous on a motorway, where the high speeds can leave your car vulnerable to a crash.

Keeping your tyres inflated will also keep your wallet inflated. Deflated tyres require your wheels to revolve more, meaning your engine has to work harder. More fuel gets burnt so your money goes up in smoke.

A deflated tyre will also wear down faster than one at the correct pressure. This means the tyre would need replacing a lot sooner than normal, costing you more money.
Make sure to check the tyre pressure, for safety and for the cost.

Are deflated tyres a safety risk?

Tyres that are underinflated will impact on the performance of your vehicle. They provide less grip on the road, leading to unpredictable movements of the entire vehicle. The tyres are also in danger of popping, as heat builds up. The heat wears down the rubber quickly until the pressure causes the air to push through the rubber and blow out.

Both of these issues make driving with a flat or even a slightly deflated tyre dangerous, especially on high speed motorways. You can find your ideal tyre pressure in your owner’s manual or online.

Are deflated tyres costing me money?

Tyres that are underinflated will have an impact on how much you spend on fuel. The tyres require more energy to move which means the engine works harder and consumes more fuel.

The tyre will also wear down faster, along with many other parts of your engine which are being overworked. Their premature errors usually need repairing, with a tyre blowout needing a wheel replacement. Both of these issues hurt your wallet, and can cost hundreds when air at a fuel station only costs 50p.

What tyre pressure do I need for my car?

As we’ve tried to illustrate, keeping your tyre pressure at the right level is very important to stay safe on the roads. But it can be tricky to figure out what tyre pressure is correct and when. Manufacturers will always state the correct minimum and maximum levels for specific conditions in the service guide for your car. It’s important to periodically check the pressures and make sure they are at the right level.

To find the pressure required for your car, check your handbook. Remember to check your tyre pressures when the tyres are cold, otherwise you will end up with under-inflated tyres. If you’re not sure how to do it, make sure to get help from an expert.

How To Protect Your Car From The Heat

The hot summer heatwave is coming! Will your car stand up to the heat? Some common car problems caused by the sunny weather include overheating engines, dry rot in the tyres, peeling paint and a fading interior. Luckily, these are all preventable with a little car care.

How to stop your engine from overheating

A car engine is powered by a series of controlled explosions. This heat is actually useful for other component such as the catalytic converter but it needs to be regulated to avoid damage. There are many parts for coolant to flow and maintain a stable temperature. A failure in this cooling system will cause your engine to overheat and may lead to plenty of other issues.

WARNING: Make sure your engine is cool before working with it. If driving, pull over and wait for 30 mins for it to cool. As a precaution, always use heat protection when handling the engine to avoid burns to your hands.

1. Check your coolant level. Pop open the bonnet and look at the fluid level in the coolant reservoir. Confirm that it is between the Max and Min levels. If your vehicle doesn’t have a reservoir then you will have to open up the radiator and check the coolant level in there. The fluid should be up to the bottom of the filler neck where the cap goes on.

WARNING: Make sure the engine is cool before opening the radiator. It is a pressurised container that will vent hot steam. This can cause severe burns.

2. Top up your engine coolant. When the coolant is lower than MAX, or isn’t full in the radiator, then you should add some coolant. You should use the same coolant, as other kinds may act differently in the engine and cause blockages. A very temporary solution is to use water until you can get to a nearby garage.

3. Check for leaks. Take a flashlight to the underside of your engine to and inspect the area for damp or dripping. The coolant will usually be green, pink or orange so it should stand out under the light. The leak will usually be found near the radiator, the front area of the engine, and the firewall area. If you do find a leak then get a repair immediately. While you can keep topping the coolant up every few miles, this is a hassle and the leak can cause other problems such as contaminating fuel.

4. Keep an eye on the temperature of your engine. Vehicles will usually have a temperature gauge on the dashboard, it may even have a warning system to alert you. If your coolant temperature is approaching dangerous levels then pull over immediately to avoid any further damage to your vehicle. An overheated engine can be very expensive, especially when there is a less costly alternative.

How to stop your tyres being victims of dry rot

Tires are made of rubber, which makes them durable, able to handle thousands of kilos and resist punctures. They survive for through mud and snow but the heat of the sun can quickly deteriorate any tire. The heat dries out the rubber which causes hairline cracks. It can turn small scratches into gauges down to the metal. Here are some ways to protect your tires:

Park in the shade. When possible you should choose a cool spot behind a wall or under a tree. Preventing direct sunlight to your tyres should keep them a lot cooler than it’s surroundings.

Cover the tyres. If your car is going to be parked for several days or there aren’t any tall trees in the area, then you can use tyre covers. Ones in lighter shades will absorb less heat although good luck keeping the whites white when working with tyres. A complete car cover amy also work here, although it can be infeasible with larger vehicles.

Move your car. Actually using them more will mean they are less likely to crack. This is especially true for vehicles, such as motorhomes, which may be parked for weeks at a time.

Use tyre dressing when detailing. Tyre dressing stops the rubber from drying out and cracking. It also gives them a shinier surface for you to show off. Invest in a good quality brand for this, as some may actually cause more damage.

How to keep your paint healthy in the sun

Car paint bears the brunt of the sun’s rays and gets very hot sitting on metal, enough to fry an egg. The colour can be stripped out by the sun’s light and eventually a coat of paint may crack and peel. This is dangerous for the bonnet lid as it can cause rust to infect your car. Here are a few ways to protect your paint job:

Clean and wax your car. Not only will your car be sparkling, you should also be protected against more of the sun’s heat. During the summer, having a wax every 2 months should keep your car sparkling and protected. Use a high quality wax that also protects against UV damage.

Park in the shade. Again, you want to get out of the sun and the heat. Even if you’re only stopping for a few hours, you’ll be a lot more comfortable when you return and your car will be kept a lot healthier. Even if it’s a longer walk, think of it as a challenge, your own heptathlon of dragging the shopping back to the car.

Cover your car. If you don’t have a garage or can’t use an underground parking facility then you should buy a car cover. A car cover will protect your car from the elements, and particularly the sun. This car cover should last you a long time, and prolong the finish of your car. You should be covering your car anytime that you’re gone for over 2 hours and, while this may be inconvenient, your car will show it’s appreciation.

How to protect your interior surfaces from the sun

Interior surfaces, especially vinyl, leather, and plastic, are vulnerable to heat and direct sunlight. You should be treating these surfaces with protective coats or covering them. The materials degrade in different ways but sunwashed surfaces will affect the resale value of many cars. Here are a few tips to help protect your interiors:

Tinted windows. Window tinting protects you from the sun and UV rays. While in the UK you can only fully tint the rear windows, you can still partially tint your front side windows and windscreens. You can apply your own window tint, or get a professional to do it.

Moisturise your leather. Leather dries out in the sun which can cause a lot of those wrinkles to crack. These cracks will eventually develop into into larger holes so it’s important to have a regular schedule for moisturising your car. Re-applying the conditioner should usually happen every month. That should be around a similar time as a quick car wash, so you can do them at the same time. Make sure to get a good leather conditioner which shows a clear difference to the worn out leather beforehand.

Clean the interior. Your big cleaning day once a month should include an interior clean, as well as the exterior. Some cleaners can be more soap based which will dry out surfaces, so you have to buy one that will both clean and condition your surfaces.

Use sun visors. Sun visors will reflect the sun’s rays and the heat back out. Using a sun visor is best when parking in sunlight. Unfold the sun visor in the car and face the metallic side to the outside. Make sure it reaches all the corners and use your sunshields to pin the sun visor in place. On a sunny day you can bake cookies on the dash, as your car climbs 20℃ above the outside temperature in half an hour.

You should be getting all your scheduled services squared off before the summer, as many issues crop up in the heat. Using these tips, you can make sure your car avoids any sun damage to the interior and exterior. If your car is experiencing problems, then get a diagnostic inspection to find out what’s wrong and fix any minor issues.