Buying a Used Car: The Pre-Purchase Check

Buying A Used Car: The Pre-Purchase Check

After you have decided on which type of used car you want to buy, it’s important to check the car thoroughly. The best practice is to find a couple of cars of the same model for sale and arrange to view all of them. That way you can compare the condition of each of the cars and get a feel on whether they are worth the money. Just remember, it’s bad practice to go for the first car you see, without having seen any other car.

Checking A Used Car Before Buying

Once you have made some appointments to view the cars it’s time to prepare yourself to view the car. Checking a car and identifying any faults can be a bit daunting if you’re not quite sure what you should look out for. There’s a number of areas on the car to pay special attention to:

Checking the exterior of a car

The easiest check to do is to see if the exterior of the car, look out for any scratches or dents. Also, make sure to look out for any slight differences in terms of the paint colour. It may just be that panels have been replaced and resprayed to cover up any accidents. Also, check for any moisture underneath the car, it may just be that oil or coolant is leaking out of the car. Below are 5 recommendations for what to look out for:

  • Scratches and dents
  • Difference in paint colour
  • Scratches and cracks in the windscreen, windows, and mirrors
  • Signs of corrosion, e.g. on wheels
  • Condition of the wheels and tyres

Another good thing to check is if all lights like the headlamp, braking lights, indicators, etc are in working condition.

Checking the interior

Moving on to the car’s interior, you should pay attention to the condition of the seats and panels. While most of it is easily visible, it still makes sense to have a closer look at:

  • Seat upholstery and carpets (lift the carpet too)
  • Controls and instruments
  • Rearview mirror
  • Door locking
  • Interior lights and lights on the dash panel

Checking the engine bay

Once you have checked the interior and exterior it’s worth opening the bonnet to check the engine bay. Check if there are any signs of oil debris in and around the engine, and check for any fluid leaks. Signs of moisture or oil around the engine can mean that the engine is leaking somewhere.
Even if you are not a mechanic, these are things you can check yourself:

  • General condition and cleanliness of the engine bay
  • Signs of corrosion
  • Fluid levels, e.g. oil
  • The general condition of hoses and pipes
  • Signs of fluid leaks

The test drive

One important pre-purchase check to tick off the list as well as to test drive the car. Driving the car can show up many problems that you would simply just not notice when the car is stationary. Rattles and knocking noises can all indicate major problems.

  • Footbrake and handbrake
  • Noise level of the engine while driving as well as during idling
  • Operating the clutch and shifting into gears
  • General steering, the effort you need to put into steering, general handling the car and road stability
  • Engine efficiency, e.g. while accelerating and operation of the accelerator pedal in general

Check our guide on test driving a car for more tips on how to make the most of a test drive.

A Second Opinion

Once you have checked all the cars you selected it’s time to consider which one was the best. Consider the condition of the car and also take into account any differences in terms of recent repairs done, differences in terms of the trim levels and of course the price. On the basis of all those points, select your favourite car and decide if you really want to get it.

At this point, it’s worth checking the chosen car once more to see if there’s anything you failed to notice. Often it’s worth getting a pre-purchase inspection with a professional mechanic at this point. The mechanic would be able to check over the car in more detail and use expertise built up over many years. A mechanic can identify any underlying problems that may not be immediately obvious. That way you can pre-empt any nightmares later on. You wouldn’t want to buy a car that seems great of course but later turns out to have major problems.

Book a pre-purchase check

Mobile Mechanic vs. Garage – which repairs can be done mobile?

The world of car mechanics can often be relatively complex, however from a mechanic’s perspective, there are certain jobs that are simple enough to be done at the roadside or on your drive. Alongside this, there are a number of jobs that are complex enough and would be best suited to a garage. We put together a list of major jobs that can be done mobile, and ones that require a garage facility for an optimal outcome:

Repairs done by mobile mechanics

  1. Brake pads replacement – this job is one of the more simple ones for a mechanic to take on, and involves taking the old brake pads off the caliper and replacing them. In this case, mobile mechanics would jack the vehicle up and, provided the vehicle is on a level surface, would be able to get this job done at your location of choice.
  2. Fuel filter replacement – another easy one that can be done at your home or at your place of work. The fuel lines run on the drivers’ side under the bonnet, and your mechanic will remove the fuel pump relay or fuse, and then crank the vehicle to relieve fuel pressure. The mechanic will then simply remove the fuel filter and change it, close the bonnet, and you are on your way!
  3. Suspension springs (coil springs) – your suspension is vital on your vehicle to be able to manage a huge amount of weight and allow you to smoothly go over bumps. This one that can be done mobile as it simply requires a jack to get the vehicle elevated and the springs removed. Again, a flat, clear surface would be required to give your mechanic enough space to get the job done.
  4. Brake Fluid Change – a simple job for mobile mechanics who, in most cases, have brake flushing facilities available to them to bring to your location. The simplicity of this job is such that this is one you can technically do yourself, but to ensure the best possible outcome, get in touch with a trusted professional.
  5. Alternator belt replacement – the alternator belt drives automotive engine devices such as the alternator and power steering pump. It can be located under the bonnet, meaning this job can be done very easily wherever you need.
  6. Car Servicing – servicing your vehicle is something that should be scheduled once a year, and involves work such as changing the oil and filter, inspecting any other fluid levels and ensuring that other aspects of your vehicle are running smoothly. Again, this is all work that can be done at a location convenient to you.

Repairs that more suited to be done by a garage

  1. Steering geometry check – uneven roads and potholes mean that your steering can often be pushed out of line. Unfortunately, the machinery required to do the geometry check is only present in garages due to the size and complexity of it, so any checks and potential alignments will have to be done at a garage, or at a specialist that provides the service.
  2. Clutch replacement – typically cars with smaller engines can be done mobile, but anything with a 1.7 litre engine or above would be best served in a garage. This is due to the weight of the engine and the fact that having more than one person doing the job would be more ideal.
  3. Timing chain replacement – getting your timing chain replaced is a job that sees the engine come out in order for it to be completed – a process best served in the confines of a garage. This is to ensure that mechanics can do the job in the best possible fashion, and do not put themselves at risk when removing the engine.
  4. Cylinder head gasket replacement – this job is particularly complex, and a failure of this nature is one of the bigger jobs that a mechanic or garage will have to repair. In many cases, many parts of the car’s engine needs to be replaced to complete this job, so this is best served with a professional garage.
  5. Wheel alignment – similar to steering alignment, your wheels can take a beating when exposed to bumps and potholes, and driver safety can be compromised. Wheel alignment services are available nationwide, but as with steering alignment, the equipment required can only be located at a specialist garage.
  6. Transfer box replacement – this is the gear system that divides the power between the front and rear axle of a four-wheel drive system. A job like this would need to be up on a ramp due to the size of these vehicles, and are safer done in a garage.

Mobile mechanics offer a convenient way to get your car fixed while you get on with your day. For a lot of work, you do not necessarily have to arrange an appointment with a garage. However, any repair that requires your car being lifted up on a platform, a garage will always the best place to go to.

You can book both, mobile mechanics and garages on ClickMechanic. And if you are unsure, contact our in-house expert team, who will help to book the right repair for your car.

Book your car repair now

10 questions to ask a mechanic

questions to ask a mechanic

Finding a good mechanic you can trust can sometimes feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. We have compiled a list of questions you should ask mechanics when you need a repair. These questions will help you build a trusting relationship with the person who is fixing your car, so you know that your vehicle is in good hands.

What parts will be used on the car?

The parts used for a repair will have an impact on the final price you pay. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts will be more expensive, while aftermarket parts and refurbished or used parts will be cheaper.

Can I see the replaced parts?

There is a simple reason for this question: seeing the part which has been replaced gives you additional visual confirmation and confidence that the work has been completed. It also helps you understand your car better and, in some cases, how your car is impacted by your driving style.

How long can I drive my vehicle before my issue becomes a real problem?

This question helps you weigh up whether the proposed repair is a high priority problem that needs immediate attention, or whether it can be delayed. It is important to know what the long term impacts are if certain repairs are left unattended. So while a dirty air filter can be put off for a while, worn brake pads most likely cannot. This question is key if you are on a budget and/or if there are multiple issues with your car.

How was the test drive?

If the repair involves a test drive ask about it. Was the clutch working better? How did the steering improve? Did the vibrations disappear? Don’t forget to enquire about the test route: if a concerning noise occurs mainly on cobbled streets, then a test drive on smooth asphalt won’t tell you if the issue has been rectified.

Can you show me the issue on the car?

Let’s be honest: you wouldn’t let a doctor perform surgery on you without seeing an x-ray or MRI first. The same goes for your car! Ask the mechanic to show you the problem on the vehicle itself before repair. A good mechanic will show and explain the problem in detail to you, including what is needed to get it fixed.

How long does the work take, and when will it be completed?

Agreeing on a time frame helps you plan the time you won’t be able to use your car and to arrange alternative transportation if necessary. As for the mechanic, he now knows when you ideally expect to have your car back and will set a deadline to work towards.

What warranty/guarantee comes with the repair?

Before you hand over the keys to your car, it is vital that you know whether parts and services are covered by the warranty and how long the coverage lasts. Understand your rights when things go wrong – although hopefully, they won’t!

How much will a diagnosis cost & how long does it take?

Over the years, cars have turned into rolling computers, which means some issues are not as easily detectable as others and mechanics will need to run diagnostic checks to track down what is wrong with your car. These checks take time and mechanics understandably will want to get paid for that time, i.e. when they try to find the short in multiple pounds of electrical wiring.

Can I get a written quote and a detailed invoice?

Before you engage a mechanic, ask for a detailed quote outlining the parts, labour time and taxes where they apply. That way you can be sure that there are no hidden fees or expensive extras. It can happen that your mechanic’s work will expand beyond what was agreed first – in these cases ask to get a call to discuss before the work can go ahead.

What repairs do I have coming up?

While a mechanic may only be working on a specific repair, they might detect other defects or worn parts that might cause problems in the future. Knowing what to expect will give you guidance as to what potential costs could be coming up, or may raise the question as to whether investing in a new car would be a more savvy option.

Happy driving!

Book your car repair now

Should I Replace the Water Pump At The Same Time As The Timing Belt?

carengine-tappets

Often customers come to us asking whether the water pump really needs to be replaced at the same time as the timing belt (also known as the cambelt). What we say is that if your water pump is driven via the timing belt (cambelt) it must be replaced at the same time, a water pump failure can be as catastrophic as a timing belt failing on these vehicles.

Save on labour cost

The main reason is that on some cars, to get to the water pump, you may have to remove the timing belt first even if it is driven via the auxiliary drive belt. If that is the case, then it is advisable to replace the water pump & auxiliary drive belt at the same time as the timing belt while the mechanic has access to all the parts. Once the timing belt is removed, it is only a matter of loosening a few more bolts and screws to change the water pump as well. That way you will kill two birds with one stone because the majority of the labour needed to replace the water pump will already have been done when replacing the timing belt.

Considering that water pumps generally do not cost a lot, it makes sense to do both at the same time. Not replacing the water pump on these vehicles during a timing belt change means if the pump does go at a later point, you will have to pay for the same labour again. It is likely the water pump will probably have worn after some years of use anyway, and will need replacing sooner than later.

If you don’t replace the water pump…

Not replacing the water pump during a timing belt change means if the pump does go at a later point, you will have to pay for the same labour again. It is likely the water pump will probably have worn after some years of use anyway, and will need replacing sooner than later.

Making sure the water pump is in tip-top condition is key to avoid overheating of the engine, and avoid potentially expensive repairs. Even the slightest leak in or around the water pump can reduce the ability of the engine to keep itself cool.

That’s why we at ClickMechanic do always recommend to get both the timing belt and water pump replaced at the same time. We even have a dedicated job available in our repairs section on the site that will give you a full quote for a timing belt and water pump.

Book your car repair now

How do I know what option to choose?

We have a team of friendly, experienced in-house-mechanics who can assist you with this. Simply fill in the form below & one of the team will get back to you with the facts & recommendations.

Ask our in-house mechanics

The Complete Guide To The Check Engine Light

Car dashboard with warning lights

A check engine light might leave you with a sinking feeling, and a burning hole in your wallet. It could mean there is an expensive problem like a catalytic converter issue, or there might just be a loose part. Regardless of the worry, you should get it looked at. This means any small issues can be taken care of before they cause further damage, or even void your car’s next MOT. Never ignore the check engine light.

The check engine light, also known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp, is a signal from the engine control unit (ECU) which indicates that there is a fault with the engine system. There are a number of issues that can make the check engine light come on. Exhaust emissions issues, battery issues or other engine related issues can all be causes.

If your check engine light does come up it’s worth getting a diagnostic done to pinpoint the exact underlying problem. Diagnostic inspections usually cost around £40 to £60 depending on where you are in the country. Mechanics will have a plug-in diagnostic tool that will display the issue to them. Some rare cars may require a dealer to read off certain fault codes, they will have specialist equipment for those vehicles.

Remember, a “service required’ light is not to be confused with a “check engine” light, however, these are related. A service light means that you need an oil change or other similar maintenance, bear in mind that if the light is ignored it can easily lead to a check engine light, as your engine will grind to a halt without oil.

The check engine light will usually come up in an orange, yellow or amber colour depending on the manufacturer, and a flashing light usually means there is a more serious issue. A flash when starting the car isn’t an issue, it’s just a check by the ECU to make sure the system is working.

Can I just ignore a check engine warning light?

The light comes on, what do you do? A solid light means you should get the car checked soon, while a blinking light needs immediate treatment.

Remember that the check engine light in all cases means that engine performance is being impacted, hurting your fuel consumption and wallet as you pay for more fuel. Get the car checked by a mechanic. You should get a quote for the amount to fix the issue, and the amount of time before it causes further damage. This will let you budget the problem before it spirals into a more expensive problem.

It’s also essential that you pass your MOT and a faulty engine may mean your car is no longer roadworthy. A check engine light can also cause issues when you take your car for an MOT. After all, the check engine light will sometimes mean there is an emissions problem with your car. The emissions are checked during an MOT so if there is an issue your car will fail its MOT. It’s therefore important to get a check of the engine light and get it fixed so that your car can coast through the MOT without any issues.

Remember, you may not feel immediately something is wrong with the car even if the check engine light is on. Newer cars will alter how the engine works so performance is not severely affected, meaning you may not feel a problem for a long time. However, the issues will be hidden in your fuel efficiency and emission levels. Make sure you never ignore the check engine light and get it looked at before it is too late. The problem can easily be found with a diagnostic tool and will save you money in the long run!

Can I diagnose the check engine light myself?

You could buy your own plug-in diagnostic tool which connects to the car’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) port. These cost anywhere from £15-£40 but some older cars may require expensive specialist tools instead. Some diagnostic tools can even switch the light off, which may be tempting to do but keep in mind that it will not actually make the problem go away. Your light will come on again.

A diagnostic tool will show you all the fault codes on your vehicle, but it does not show you exactly which parts need replacing or what repairs are needed. Fault codes will point to a problem area on a car and not an exact repair. Further investigation is needed to pinpoint the actual underlying issue. This may entail replacing parts to eliminate any potential causes. This is best left to a professional mechanic who can use his expertise and experience to make the right judgment as to what is needed.

What can I do about the check engine warning light?

There are several minor issues that you can solve which may get the light to come off.

1. Check dashboard gauges
These could indicate low oil pressure or overheating and can be fixed once you pull over. You can stop on the hard shoulder on a motorway or just a car park.

2. Tighten your fuel cap
A loose fuel cap can mean your fuel is getting contaminated by dirt, bugs, or water while driving. Contaminated fuel means that fuel is left unburnt in the exhausts, which triggers emissions warnings. It may take several journeys to reset, and there may be a separate light altogether in your car.

3. Lower your speed & reduce your load
An illuminated check engine light could mean serious problems with your car’s engine. Try to reduce its workload by reducing the speed you go at and, if making a further journey from your destination, take off anything that weighs it down significantly, like a box of tools or other significant weight.

What Are The Top Causes For A Check Engine Light?

The check engine light could come from a variety of reasons around the engine, fuel and exhaust systems. A diagnostic tool will tell you which system is at fault, and then you can perform tests to find the exact problem. Here are a few common issues that cause a check:

A battery fault can cause a check engine light

Check the condition of the battery with a voltmeter, it should at least meet the minimum cranking amperage, as stated in your owner’s manual. Over time, the battery may drain, or after a night left on. Additionally, check for any corrosion of the various terminals and any damage to the fuse box.

Fan, alternator or serpentine belt faults can cause a check engine light

The belts do a lot of work to keep the car cool, translate electrical energy and are an integral part of the engine. They are subject to wear and tear over time or can be damaged by loose debris. You should check the condition of the belts and make replacements to improve the quality of your engine performance.

An oxygen sensor fault can cause a check engine light

The oxygen sensor monitors the unburnt oxygen from the exhaust. This also monitors how much fuel is burnt which is directly linked to emissions. The sensors are regularly covered in exhaust fumes which can affect the quality of the sensor. A faulty sensor will mean the ECU adjusts to decrease the efficiency of the engine, meaning a higher MPG. It will eventually lead to catalytic converter problems, which can cost over £2000. Oxygen sensors can be easily replaced, with the DTC telling you which one is faulty.

A faulty fuel cap can cause a check engine light

A loose, cracked, or broken fuel cap will cause contaminants to enter the system or fuel vapours to leak out. These will both have a noticeable impact on emissions, which usually triggers the engine light. To fix it, you should get it tightened, or replaced if it is cracked. A fuel cap shouldn’t cost a lot and all you need is a screwdriver to fix. This should also help you MPG.

A faulty catalytic converter can cause a check engine light

The catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system, working to reduce the amount of harmful exhaust gases. It converts potentially lethal carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. A failing catalytic converter will decrease your fuel efficiency and may put the car into limp mode. It usually fails when driving in purely urban environments, with many stop-starts, which deny the catalytic converter from regenerating. You can fix the catalytic converter by taking a half an hour continuous drive on a motorway, which will activate systems that clean soot from the catalytic converter. If the problem persists then you will need a mechanic to do a forced regeneration or get an expensive replacement.

A faulty mass airflow sensor can cause a check engine light

The mass airflow sensor signals the ECU about the amount of air coming through to the engine, so the right amount of fuel can also be used. A faulty mass airflow sensor may have your car stalling and have a noticeable impact on MPG. It can fail because of a faulty air filter, which you should replace once a year in your annual or scheduled service. You can keep driving with a broken mass airflow sensor but you’ll notice the hole in your wallet. It doesn’t cost a lot to replace an air filter, but if the problem persists then you may have to get a mass airflow sensor replaced, which can easily cost over £200.

Faulty spark plugs can cause a check engine light

The spark plugs provide the spark for every little explosion in your engine. Failing plugs can be noticed by a car ‘hiccupping’ when accelerating. They fail roughly every 30,000 miles and get replaced in our major service.

There is obviously a vast array of reasons, which can leave most people nervous to get a check engine light checked out. You should be responsible for your car and the safety of others on the road. Sometimes it isn’t a long procedure but it’s important you understand what exactly is wrong with your car before it gets worse.

Book your car repair now

When Do I Need To Replace My Timing Belt?

How Often Do I Need To Replace My Timing Belt?

Lots of car owners come to us asking when their timing belt needs replacing. Replacement intervals will depend on the make and model of car, with some belts lasting up to 100,000 miles.

The timing belt, often also called cambelt, is one of the most important components of your engine but also one of the most fragile ones and if they snap you could face a major repair bill.

What Timing Belts Do

The timing belt links up the top and bottom parts of the engine. The belt matches the timing of the valves and ignition with the timing of the pistons inside the engine. What it does is keeping everything in check, to ensure your engine runs smoothly.

Incorrect timing of the engine can be due to many things. Often it’s not even the belt itself. It is rather pulleys that are damaged or a timing belt tensioner that has loosened up.

In a worst-case scenario your timing belt may ‘jump’. This means that the belt jumps a tooth on one of the pulleys it runs around. The timing will be off and the components inside the engine will not be in the right position at the right time.

Signs That Your Timing Belt Needs Replacing

Over time the timing belt can and will wear. A squealing noise from the engine or a belt that looks frayed can indicate that your belt has worn too much. Often this is just because of normal wear, other times because of wear to parts like the pulleys or a tensioner, as a faulty pulley or tensioner can rip the timing belt.

What makes things difficult is that it’s not always clear when a replacement is needed. There may be no strange noises or visible signs of wear. If in doubt make sure to get an inspection by a mechanic who can help identify any issues.

If you think that your belt is worn it’s very important to act quickly before it wears so much that it snaps! This may be rare but it can happen if your timing belt is not replaced timely.

On some engines incorrect timing or a snapped timing belt can lead to catastrophic engine damage. In so-called ‘interference engines’ it will mean that the pistons and valves will hit.  This might not seem critical but just remember that the parts will break if they hit at a high speed. If that happens an expensive engine rebuild will most likely be required.

On a ‘non-interference’ engine timing that is off is less of a problem. The internal components of the engine will not come into contact if the timing is not correct. Even if the belt breaks when you’re driving it is unlikely that it will cause any major damage to your engine, it is more likely that the vehicle will not start.

Simply put, there are many reasons your timing belt may need replacing. Keep in mind that many of the reasons why a periodic replacement is needed will only show when it’s too late. With timing belts, it’s therefore all about prevention. That’s why manufacturers recommend to periodically replace the timing belt. That way you can reduce the chance that your belt snaps.

When To Replace The Cambelt On Your Car

There is, unfortunately, no general set time at which point you need to replace your timing belt. The replacement interval will differ across car models, and their engines. Car manufacturers say when timing belts need replacing in the service schedules. Underneath you can find a table listing a number of timing belt replacement intervals on popular cars, as suggested by manufacturers (source). Manufacturers always recommend replacing the belt at a certain mileage or age interval, whichever comes first.

How Often Do I Need To Replace My Timing Belt?

Make Model Engine Year Replacement interval (mileage) Replacement interval (months)
Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 2008 140000 48 months
Audi A4 2.0 TDI 2007 75000 60 months
Vauxhall Astra 1.4 1998-06 40000 48 months
Vauxhall Vectra 2.0 1995-02 40000 48 months
Renault Megane III 1.6 2008 72000 72 months
Nissan Qashqai / Qashqai +2 1.5 dCi 2007 75000 60 months
Ford Mondeo 1.8 1997-00 80000 60 months
Peugeot 307 1.4 HDi 2001-08 144000 120 months
Toyota Avensis 2.0 D-4D 2003-09 60000 120 months
Fiat 500 1.2 2007 72000 48 months

 

Make sure to always check the service schedule for your car model in the service book of your car, as the service interval for your model might be different from the intervals here. If you’re not entirely sure, ask your car’s manufacturer for the correct interval. Service intervals are a firm indicator when you need to replace your timing belt. Remember that timing belts may wear prematurely and may need replacing at an earlier time. If you think this is the case then make sure to ask for help from an expert, as it is not worth taking risks with timing belts.

Book your car repair now

If your car needs a timing belt replacement, then we recommend having the water pump changed as well. Read more in our article about why you should change the water pump and timing belt at the same time.

Comprehensive Guide to Car Servicing

service pit stop

Regular car servicing keeps your vehicle in prime condition, helping protect against wear and tear. Even a basic interim service can keep your car running smoothly and protect it from repairs. Usually, people will also take on more rigorous servicing to replace commonly worn down elements such as the air filters or spark plugs.

Car servicing at a glance

Interim service Full service Major service
Numer of mechanical and structual checks 25 43 44
When should you get it done? 6 months 12 months 1-2 years
Part Replacements Oil filter Oil filter
Air filter
Oil filter
Air filter
Spark plugs
Pollen filter
Fluid Top-ups Engine Oil
Screen wash & Antifreeze
Brake fluid
Power steering fluid
Battery fluid
Engine Oil
Screen wash & Antifreeze
Brake fluid
Power steering fluid
Battery fluid
Transfer box oil
Manual transmission oil
Engine Oil
Screen wash & Antifreeze
Brake fluid
Power steering fluid
Battery fluid
Transfer box oil
Manual transmission oil

 

What is included in an Interim Service?

Interim services are the least comprehensive type of car servicing. Our interim service is designed to be done every six months or 5000 miles, replenishing the vital fluids and making checks to common areas of fault within your vehicle. Below is the full checklist:

  • Pre-Engine Checks
  • Check timing belt replacement interval.
  • Check for damage to bodywork, lamps, trims and oil leaks.
  • Check the operation of interior and exterior lights.
  • Check operation of ABS and airbag warning lights.
  • Check windscreen washers and wipers.
  • Check horn.
  • Under the Bonnet
  • Check cooling system including fan operation.
  • Check and record antifreeze protection.
  • Check and record brake fluid condition.
  • Check power steering operation and fluid condition.
  • Check and top up all under bonnet fluid levels.
  • Vehicle Raised
  • Change oil, filter and fit new sump plug washer.
  • Check fuel lines and brake pipes.
  • Check the condition and security of the exhaust.
  • Check all steering and suspension joints, mountings and gaiters.
  • Carry out tyre report.
  • Check all wheel bearings for excessive ‘play’ and noise.
  • Check CV gaiters and joints for wear or splits.
  • Check operation and condition of disc brakes.
  • Carry out brake report.
  • Vehicle Lowered
  • Torque wheel nuts/studs / Locking wheel nut key location.
  • Final Checks
  • Road test vehicle and report any findings.
  • Re-check engine oil level.
  • Ensure all upholstery, gear lever, steering wheel, etc. are clean.
  • Stamp service book(s).

What is included in a Major Service?

Our major car service is designed to be done once a year or every 10,000 miles, replenishing nearly all fluids within the vehicle and doing a thorough sweep of checks on your vehicle. A major service is the most comprehensive type of car servicing. Below is the full checklist:

  • Pre-Engine Checks
  • Check the timing belt replacement interval.
  • Check for damage to bodywork, lamps, trims and oil leaks.
  • Check the condition and operation of all seat belts.
  • Check the operation of interior and exterior lights.
  • Check operation of ABS and airbag warning lights.
  • Check windscreen washers and wipers.
  • Check air conditioning operation including bad odour.
  • Check horn.
  • Check the operation of suspension dampers.
  • Lubricate all door hinges, locks, and bonnet catches.
  • Check the fuel cap.
  • Under the Bonnet
  • Check cooling system including fan operation.
  • Check and record antifreeze protection.
  • Check and record brake fluid condition.
  • Check power steering operation and fluid condition.
  • Check and top up all under bonnet fluid levels.
  • Check all auxiliary drive belts (not timing belt).
  • Check engine breather system.
  • Check vacuum pipes.
  • Check throttle body.
  • Check battery level and lubricate terminals.
  • Replace spark plugs (petrol only)
  • Replace air filter.
  • Replace pollen filter.
  • Vehicle Raised
  • Change oil, filter and fit new sump plug washer.
  • Check fuel lines and brake pipes.
  • Check the condition and security of the exhaust.
  • Check all steering and suspension joints, mountings and gaiters.
  • Carry out tyre report.
  • Check all wheel bearings for excessive ‘play’ and noise.
  • Check CV gaiters and joints for wear or splits.
  • Check operation and condition of disc brakes.
  • Carry out brake report.
  • Check and top up the axle and transfer box oil levels.
  • Check and top up the gearbox oil level.
  • Check the clutch cable/cylinder.
  • Grease all greasing points.
  • Check rear drum brakes.
  • Vehicle Lowered
  • Torque wheel nuts/studs / Locking wheel nut key location.
  • Final Checks
  • Road test vehicle and report any findings.
  • Re-check engine oil level.
  • Ensure all upholstery, gear lever, steering wheel, etc. are clean.
  • Stamp service book(s).
  • Reset service interval indicator.

What about a Full Service?

The full service is almost a major service however the spark plugs and cabin/pollen filter are only checked and not replaced. These components don’t have to be changed too often. The full service is designed to be done early into your vehicle’s lifecycle in the place of major car servicing.

What is a Service Schedule?

A service schedule is a recommended service plan, with checks and replacements straight from the manufacturers. These will usually last the lifetime of the vehicle up to 150,000 miles and should happen every 5000 miles or 6 months. Following this service guideline will keep your vehicle in top condition and help to advise on any problems that could arise.

Check out this example for a 2007 Ford Focus

If you think you need a car service then get one with ClickMechanic and have your vehicle serviced at home.

How To Use A Clutch To Prolong Clutch Lifespan

Clutch and clutch pedal overview

If your car has a manual gearbox, your car will have a clutch. As you might have experienced in the past, a clutch is particularly susceptible to wear. Especially if it is not used properly. If you remember clutches cost usually cost upward of 200 pounds, excluding labour it’s clear it makes sense to reconsider how one uses the clutch. Therefore let’s have a look at how to use a clutch to prolong its lifespan.

Taking account of the following tips you might be able to improve clutch life. In turn, it could be that you are able to minimise the intervals at which you will need a clutch replacement and possibly saving you many Pounds over the lifetime of the car. Taking care of how you use your clutch on your daily drive will mean that it will stay in the best working order for as long as possible.

When changing gear

One of the key points to minimise wear to the clutch is to remember where the biting point of the clutch is. This is the point where the clutch plates meet; essentially the point when the car starts to move when you slowly get off the clutch pedal after having depressed it. If the clutch has reached its biting point it is thus important you release the clutch pedal as to not inflict unnecessary wear upon it through clutch slippage. Remember, the biting point is different on every car.

When changing gear this would mean that, if you want to change gear, you rapidly depress the clutch, change the gear with your gear stick and slowly release the clutch again. Making sure it does not travel too slowly, causing clutch slippage, or too quickly causing an unsmooth and clumsy gear change. Over time you and through regular driving you will establish an understanding of where the biting point is. Changing gear correctly reduces the amount of time the clutch discs are engaged.

Under braking

To save fuel and extend clutch life it is important you make use of the engine braking when you lift off the accelerator and brake. The generally accepted way to use your clutch under braking is not to use it at all to just before the point that the engine starts to struggle and cut out. The basic rule here then is to depress the clutch if your car’s speed is too low for the gear selected.

That said, under heavy braking one would usually depress the clutch at the same time as the brake. Ensuring, on the one hand, that the engine does not cut out and, on the other, that you retain better control over the car under braking (fewer load shifts to cope with).

When ‘coasting’

Coasting is another way to slow the car down (very slowly). By ‘freewheeling’  the car along the road fuel can be saved. In this case, you would depress the clutch fully, to disconnect the engine from the rest of the drive train. For short periods you could just do this by depressing the clutch pedal, for longer periods it is important to change into neutral and let the car roll that way.

Engine braking

In the same sense, you can use engine braking, to slow the car down. In this case, you would not touch the clutch at all as to retain the connection between the gearbox and the engine. This sort of braking is especially useful when rolling downhill, as using the brakes when rolling down steep inclines continuously is not advisable. The brakes can quickly overheat, leading to brake fade, meaning that when you really need them the brakes will not stop the car adequately or at all. Moreover, braking on slopes wears out the brake pads much quicker. Of course, when you find the engine chokes, depress the clutch and change down a gear.

When driving

During driving school, a useful way to learn how to use the clutch quickly is to “ride” it. This means that your clutch pedal is pressed lightly down permanently to allow a faster gear change. In reality, this is a bad habit you should stop immediately. Keeping your foot pressed on the pedal and therefore the clutch discs engaged at all time puts additional strain and friction on the parts. A better way is to learn to read the road and anticipate behaviour ahead of time. The sooner you can identify a potential dangerous or tricky situation, the sooner you can act accordingly.

When stopping

It is tempting to keep the clutch engaged either fully or at the biting point when you’re stopping at a traffic light or are sat in stationary traffic. This, however, puts more strain on your clutch mechanism and as a result will add to faster wear and tear. The better way is to change gear into neutral, engaging the clutch swiftly rather than keeping under prolonged strain and friction.

Bottom line

In the end, it comes down to engaging and disengaging the clutch only when truly necessary. Moreover,  if you do (dis-)engage the clutch do so carefully. Always try to limit the amount of time you do not fully depress the clutch pedal (as the clutch slips it will chafe against the flywheel, gently wearing it out). When you can, do not touch the clutch at all. It will not only extend the lifespan of your clutch but will also save fuel and brake pads. It requires a little practice, but you’ll be able to reap the rewards fairly soon in hard Pound savings.

Of course, this is just an impression of methods that can be used, it is by no means exhaustive. As with most things in life, experiment and find the right way for you. Different people prefer different methods, therefore always follow the guidance by a manufacturer and driving experts to prolong the lifespan of the clutch and ensure a safe driving experience.

Should you experience problems with your clutch, and if it prevents you from changing gear properly, it might be time to replace it. Clickmechanic is here to help in that case, get a quote from us here.

Photo: Ford (via)

Book a clutch replacement

How Do I Know If A Suspension Bush Is Worn?

How do I know if my suspension bushes need replacing?

Suspension bushes are important parts of the suspension. It’s often hard to find out if you need a suspension bush is worn out to such an extent that it needs urgent replacement. Wear to the bushes usually takes place slowly, often you only find out that you have worn bushes after an MOT test. Deteriorated bushes are in fact one of the most frequent MOT advisories.

Symptoms of worn suspension bushes normally include an uncomfortable ride and unstable feel to the car. Especially when braking, accelerating or going through a corner. It’s important to get an issue like this fixed fast to ensure the safety of your car and your ride.

What Are Suspension Bushes?

A suspension bush is a rubber part that is fitted between most suspension parts. They ensure that there is no metal-to-metal contact between the parts it holds. It, moreover, controls the amount of movement between parts. Suspension bushes, sometimes called wishbone bushes, are small parts that are key to the safety of your car, steering, and handling.

The suspension bushes, therefore, have a very important role to play in making sure that your car drives smoothly. They will help dampen the impact of uneven road surfaces on the suspension. On top of that, they will filter out any vibrations or road noise in the process. The bushes also help keep your car stable when you change direction or accelerate or brake.

Suspension bushes are located anywhere on the suspension where one suspension part joins another part. Parts like a suspension control arm, wishbone or trailing arm all have one or more bushes. A specific type of bush called the ball joint can be found in the steering system.

Why Do I Need To Replace A Worn Suspension Bush?

The suspension bushes can deteriorate over time. They are constantly exposed to the elements as they are fitted underneath the car. As such they have to cope with a variety of things. On the one hand, there are temperature changes and on the other, there are the extreme forces that are put on the bushes. Then there is all the dirt that over time will nestle itself in and around the bushes. In short, it means that over time the bushes can become brittle, or can crack. At which point a suspension bush replacement is needed.

How Do I Know If I Need A Suspension Bush Replacement?

Often an MOT will pick up on decaying or damaged bushes. An advisory will be given if they are on their way out but not quite need replacing. You will normally fail your MOT if deterioration has continued to the point where a bush has split or cracked. Remember, a split or cracked suspension bush can be dangerous as it will make your car unstable. You will then need a replacement to stand any chance of passing your MOT re-test.

An MOT will, of course, give you a clear answer on whether a worn suspension bush needs replacing. But remember, it can’t harm to look out for signs that will tell you whether a change is needed anyway. Remember, a worn bush can make the car unstable or be the cause of an unstable ride, which is not what you want.

Signs that there is wear to the part do not limit itself to a bad ride. A clunking or rattling noise, for example, will tell that there may be something wrong. The symptoms will show up especially when you go through a corner or when you drive over a bad road surface. Another sign that can tell a bush is worn is when there is uneven tyre wear. One tyre, for example, can wear more than the other in a certain area.

Worn suspension bushed can lead to uncomfortable rides, making them bumpier than usual. Other signs that you should have these parts checked are changes to steering the car, less responsive brakes as well as troubles when you are accelerating.

How Do I Replace A Bush?

If you need a suspension bush replacement then there are different options to choose from. Often it’s possible just to replace the worn bush with a new one, but this can be tricky as a heavy press may be needed. Sometimes bushes can simply not be replaced on its own. They may only be available as part of the suspension arm.

If you’re not sure the suspension bushes on your car need replacing make sure to ask your mechanic to check the next time work is done on your car. With ClickMechanic, for example, checking the car suspension is a standard part of each car service.

Book your car repair now

Has My Car’s Handbrake Cable Snapped?

Has My Car's Handbrake Cable Snapped?

A snapped handbrake cable is one of the most common faults on older cars. Unlike most newer cars, which have an electronic parking brake, older cars have a handbrake cable. The handbrake cable runs from the handbrake lever to the back wheels of the car, and are prone to failure.

Traditional handbrake cables are usually made out of metal. Their condition will inevitably deteriorate over time. After all, the cables are fitted underneath the car and are exposed to the outside. That means all kinds of road debris and water is thrown at them. The cables can start to rust after a while, which will weaken them a lot. If the tension put on them gets too much for the cables then the most likely result is that the cables will snap.

How Do I Know If my Handbrake Cable Has Snapped?

Checking whether your handbrake cable is on its way out can be a bit tricky. After all, you can’t actually do a visual check without getting underneath the car. When using the handbrake it may be that your car stays put and everything feels fine. When looking up close, however, it can be that it is dangerously close to snapping.

Checking the condition of the cable is the best way to find out if it is one its way out. This will usually be done as part of a service when you bring in your car to the garage. That said, there are ways to check without a visual check. For example, a good sign that the cable is deteriorating is when you have to pull the handbrake lever up higher than normal to stop the car.

When a handbrake cable does completely snap the consequences can be catastrophic. It will mean that there is nothing to lock the car in its place when stationary. If you live somewhere where’s it’s flat it’s less of a problem, but imagine what would happen if you park on a slope. Your car will most likely just roll off without you!

It’s something you want to avoid of course. Replacing a handbrake cable often doesn’t take much luckily. The cables are often easily accessible from underneath the car. So a quick fix done mobile is often not a problem.

It’s important to get the problem fixed as soon as you notice any issues. Get help from a mechanic if you’re not sure which of the handbrake cables is needed. They will be able to tell you exactly what needs to be done to resolve the problem.

Book your car repair now