The importance of changing you cam belt

As a car owner it is your responsibility to ensure that your car is maintained and road legal. There are many things that can go wrong with a car from time to time and one of the more costly jobs is often involving the cam belt.

A cam belt is the belt that drives the cam which synchronises the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft so that the engine’s valves open and close at the proper times during each cylinder’s intake and exhaust strokes.

Most cars have a rubber belt but some are fitted with a chain belt which means they are much less likely to break. The rubber cam belts will often need replacing at certain intervals and may need tensioning in-between changes. If this is not done you run the risk of the belt snapping or loosening too much and causing internal damage to the engine, which can often be enough damage to make the car a write off and beyond economical repair.

Some cars need the cam belt changing approximately every sixty thousand miles or so where as other may only need it doing every one hundred and twenty thousand.

Always get the cam belt changed as soon as possible on a second hand car unless you can be certain it has been done recently.

The minefield that is car insurance

Car insurance is something that we all need if you are driving a car on the roads or even just having it parked up outside your house. Prices for insurance can vary drastically depending on the car you want to insure, the area you live in, the experience you have and points on your license (just to name a few). It can be an expensive annual or monthly fee for a car or van owner and with many of us relying on our cars to get to and from work, owning a car is a must.

When looking to take out a new car insurance policy, it is recommended that you shop around for the best price as different insurance companies can offer vastly different quotes for the exact same policy.

Once you have found the best quote, be sure to check the small print for other fees you may incur during the policy. The excess is something that can vary quite a bit from policy to policy. Most insurance policies have a compulsory excess and then a voluntary. You may find that by increasing the voluntary excess, the annual price for the insurance drops down. Some insurance companies will charge an admin fee for changes, such as changes of address, vehicle or convictions etc. They will also charge a fee to cancel a policy and this can be anything from £20 upwards of £75.

Getting your vehicle ready for an MOT

It is important to always know the date when your MOT is due. Ideally you want to get your MOT done a bit early as after the date has passed you will no longer be allowed to drive it without a valid MOT. Having the MOT done on the same day it is due is risky if you need the car back soon as it may need work doing to it and then a retest should it fail, which may take longer than a day to complete.
Before taking your car in for an MOT there are a few things you can do yourself to try and make sure it doesn’t fail on anything simple. Checking that your washer level, oil and coolant levels are correct is something you should do often anyway but be sure to check and top up if required prior to your MOT. Check your tyres are in a good condition, have enough tread on them, no damage and are inflated correctly. You should also check your lights are all working as if not this can be a failure for something that is easily rectified.
You may wish to take your car to a garage that does MOT’s only and no repair work as some people feel that they are less likely to try and find things to fail it on as they will not make any money off repair work.

How easy is it to change a light bulb on your vehicle?

If you notice you have a light out on your vehicle you may assume that it is a very simple job to do. Most vehicles have quick release panels that allow you to easily access the back of the light fitting, remove the dud bulb and replace it with a new one, but unfortunately, this is not the case for all makes and models of vehicles.

Some vehicles require you to remove the plastic covering held in place by studs around the wheel arch. This can be quite hard to do and often locating and replacing the bulb is not always straightforward. There are also a few makes and models of cars that require you to complete part of the front bumper to access to the front light assembly. Often vehicles where you are required to do this, are best taken to a garage to complete.

Be sure that you always buy good quality bulbs and double check that they are the right fitment before purchasing. Places such as Halfords sell bulbs for most vehicles and even offer a fitting service for a small fee. Driving around with a headlight or indicator bulb out, for example, is an offence and if you notice that one is not working you need to get it replaced as soon as possible.

 

 

Maximising Fuel Economy

With oil prices on the rise, fuel prices are once again creeping up, putting even more pressure on household budgets. With that said, few drivers really understand how to get the best efficiency out of their vehicles, so here are a few tips to help you – it really could save you money!

First off, check your tyre pressures regularly; both under and over inflated tyres will wear more quickly, which will cost you money, but under-inflated tyres create more friction and thus use more fuel. Ensure your tyres are appropriately inflated for the load.

Consider your load – the heavier your vehicle is, the harder it has to work to move, so the more fuel it uses. Keep the load in your vehicle to a minimum, and don’t drive around with a load of stuff you don’t need in the boot.

Next up is driving style – and this is a biggie. Accelerating hard uses a lot of petrol, and is often totally unnecessary. To drive as efficiently as possible, accelerate gently, using hills to assist where possible, and work up the gears as quickly as you can. Look ahead – you want to try to avoid stopping, so the same applies to braking – gently, and in plenty of time.

Keeping your engine cool

Over the last few weeks the temperature across England has been hotting up. We are beginning to see temperatures in to the high 20’s and whilst this may be nice for those that like to sit out in the sun or sun bathe, it can be a time when you really need to pay extra attention to the car.

Before setting off on a long journey in your car you should always check the coolant. Even if the journey is going to only take you 30 mins, in high heat especially, you may want to make a few extra checks. If the coolant is low, be sure to top it up before you set off. Always check a day or so after topping up the coolant and driving the vehicle that it has not moved much. Coolant should not need topping up that often, but if you have a slow leak you may notice it going down.

Finding out about and rectifying coolant leaks is far better than finding out when it’s too late and your car has over heated. Over heating can be very detrimental to a car’s engine and sometimes can make the vehicle a write off.

If you notice the temperature gauge on you vehicle creeping up and you are in a place where you cannot stop then put your heaters on full heat and full power, this will help to take some of the heat off the engine.

 

 

New car features – useful or just pointless?

So most new car models come with standard features and optional add ons, these come at a price so sometimes it’s worth looking into which ones are worth having and which are, well, pretty much useless!

One example of a pointless feature is the logo projection that some cars come with that shine a light onto the floor from under the wing mirrors with a picture of the cars logo, maybe nice to have if you are driving a Porsche not so much if you are driving a Skoda!

Auto boot open can be a good feature if you have your hands full as you can then easily open the boot by activating a sensor with your foot.

Automatic windscreen wipers seems like a great feature as in theory they auto adjust to the level of rain that you have. However in practise it can actually be just as frustrating as you end up constantly adjusting the settings as it rarely gets the speed of the wipers right.

Automatic dimming rear view mirror can be great if you find that you get dazzled driving at night with the lights of other cars blinding you through your mirror. The feature can also be turned on and off so if you struggle to see through it when auto dim is activated you can switch it off for a bit.

Checking for oil leaks

An Oil leak can be minor or it can be a major issue but it needs to be found and dealt with promptly to avoid further damage to your vehicle. If your vehicle needs to be topped up with fresh oil more than usual or if you notice a pool of oil under where you park the car then the chances are you have an oil leak. Oil can leak from a number of places and it can be hard to find out exactly where it is coming from. The first thing to do is to clean the engine off and try and remove as much of the oil as possible. Once you have done this, top the oil up and start the car, whilst running see if you can see any oil spraying or dripping out from anywhere. Before replacing anything it is essential to find out where the leak is coming from. There is no point forking out hundreds of pounds to replace parts that will not fix the issue.

You will need to take the car to a garage to get the oil leak checked but there are a few things you can try at home if you feel confident enough to do so. Adding a small amount of trace dye to the oil and then using a UV light should allow you to see where the oil is coming out from.

 

Switching your car insurance

If you are buying a new car then you most likely need to switch your insurance over on to it. If you are trading your current car in part exchange or if you are selling it after then you may need to have both cars insured for a period. Most insurance companies will give you 24 hours cover on both to give you plenty of time to collect the new one whilst still being insured on the old one.

When swapping insurance, firstly call your current provider and check what the cost would be to swap. There may be an additional premium to pay and possibly an admin fee too. Once you have a price go online and obtain a quote from a comparison company to see what others may offer you. I often find a price for a few hundred pounds less than your current provider. If you are going to swap insurers check what the cancellation fee is going to be as often this can be in excess of £75 which can make it worth while paying a little extra and staying with your current insurer. Be sure to also check the level of cover you are being offered with the new company is the same as with your current one and that the excess is not a lot more than you would have had to pay.

 

Getting your wheels aligned

Wheels alignment is very important but not everyone knows that or even knows that it is something you can have done. When your car is made in the factory the wheels are set up to be aligned exactly with each other meaning that it steers as it should and does not cause any issues with the tyres. Over time the wheels can be unaligned or if you hit a pot hole or a curb for example you may knock the alignment out. You may notice this by the fact that your car is pulling to the right or left when you drive it or a vibration through the steering wheel.

Most car garages can check and alter the alignment for you for less than £30 but if left out of alignment you may find that you end up having to fork out a lot more. The ill alignment or tracking as it is also known can cause  uneven tyre wear, often on the inside of the tyre meaning that you may not even realise until you take the car to the garage. If this happens the chances are you will also have to fork out for a pair of new tyres. Getting your tracking done once every 12 months or if you have recently had a bump to the wheel can save money in the long run and can avoid unnecessary problems with your tyres.