Welcome to our Hints & Tips page
The modern motor vehicle is an amazingly complex and technical beast with a bewildering array of features built in.
The aim of this page is to offer some advice to help you understand some of the things that you can do to keep your vehicle in top condition
Modern vehicles now use a wide and confusing range of engine oils, no longer is the trusty 10/40 acceptable to use in all engines and using the wrong oil can have a catastrophic effect!
As your engine wears with use, it may start to use a little bit of oil between services. It is important to keep a regular check on the oil level and top it up where necessary with the correct oil for the vehicle.
Diesel engine oil will always look dirty due to the nature of these engines, it doesn't mean that there is a problem. As long as you have the oil changed at the specified intervals it will continue to give years of service.
A large number of engines have a rubber drive belt to keep the engine running "in time". This means that all the moving parts in the engine stay turning without crashing into each other!
This Timing Belt (or cambelt as it is sometimes known) needs to be changed periodically to avoid it breaking and causing huge internal damage inside the engine, if it breaks, the resulting bill can easily get into the thousands of pounds.
Every manufacturer has a different change interval, we can check the interval for you and advise whether it is due.
It also leaves you stranded on the side of the road as the engine will not run without it!
Your vehicle's cooling system also requires some maintenance to ensure that it keeps working efficiently, most engines use a small amount of water so it is important to keep a regular check on it to avoid it getting low and potentially causing engine damage due to overheating.
To make sure that the coolant doesn't freeze in the cold weather, antifreeze is added to make sure that this doesn't happen. This antifreeze also acts as a corrosion inhibitor, so needs to stay in the system year round.
This antifreeze needs to be changed every 5 years to make sure that it can still do its job. If left, it will lose its efficiency and you could end up with your engine freezing up.
It is also worth noting that if you are regularly topping up with plain water, this will be weakening the antifreeze concentration and its ability to protect the engine.
Tyres are often overlooked in the 'regular checks' list but a few checks could help get the maximum life from your tyres (saving money on early replacement)
If your tyres pressures are too low, the weight of the car squashes the tyre too much, causing it to wear the edges more than the centre and shortening its life. It also means the engine has to work harder to push the tyre along the road, therefore costing you more in fuel!
Correspondingly, if the pressure is too high it will wear the centre of the tyre before the edges. This over-inflation also means that there isn't as much tyre in contact with the road, so vehicle stability may be reduced as a result
All tyres have tread wear indicators built in to allow you to easily assess the remaining life of the tyre. When the tread is worn down level with the wear indicators the tyre is worn out and should be replaced.
Once the tyre reaches this limit of 1.6mm its ability to disperse water on a wet road is severely reduced and your stopping distances will be longer, you run the risk of aquaplaning and possibly skidding.
Illegal tyres also carry a hefty fine if you are stopped by the police and points on your license.
The brake fluid for your vehicle, in theory should never need topping up as it is a sealed system. However the level should be checked periodically in case it has sprung a leak which could result in a loss of brakes if left unchecked.
Many manufacturers use the handbrake light as a warning that your brake fluid is low, so if your handbrake light wont go out, it is worth checking the brake fluid level.
Brake fluid absorbs water over time, resulting in reduced braking effort and a lower boiling point. It is important to get the fluid changed every 2 to 3 years.