Listening Carefully for Mechanical Faults

There are so many different mechanical faults that can arise on a particular car and an unusual sound can be the first warning sign.

If you really listen to your car from time to time rather than just cranking up the stereo, then you may be able to identify part of the problem, which makes life a whole lot easier for your chosen mechanic. Wheel bearings can make a grinding sound when they begin to fail, whilst brake pads will also grind or screech when they need replacing.

Power steering will vibrate when turning if there is a lack of fluid, and exhausts can really roar and blow when they’re damaged or split. An unusual sound may well be nothing, but it’s always better to get it checked out early, so make sure you’re listing out for anything peculiar on a regular basis.

The Engine Warning Light

Most car models will have an engine warning light, and it’s one of those lights on the dashboards that people dread. This is because it can mean a number of things. The only way to find out what the issue is, is to take the car to a garage, they will then find out what the malfunction is and fix it.

This is a light that should never be ignored and on some cars it will flash as you accelerate, so in this situation you should avoid driving the car, or drive it very slowly and carefully. This light will not come on unless there is a malfunction with the engine management system and to avoid a costly repair in the future you should always have the car checked out.

The one part you don’t’ want to cause damage to is the very expensive catalytic converter, and a repair in some cases cost more than the vehicle is worth, so make sure you get your vehicle looked at fast when this light comes on.

Bumper Scuffs – No problem

We all make minor mistakes form time to time, but you don’t want to make too many as a driver. Bumper scuffs happen, and it could just be because you’ve not paid enough care and attention when you’re reversing, but they’re easy to get rid of.

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Most body repair shops will be able to fix a bumper cuff in just a few hours, and the next owner of your vehicle will never know you had a little accident. Some scratches and dents can be quite substantial, but most of the time a bit of panel beating, smoothing and spraying is all that’s required.

You can always tell the difference when you opt for professional services rather than a bottle of spray from your local store, and most garages will be able to offer professional colour matching, so the spray used 100% matches the paint that was originally used on your vehicle.

Pressure – Get it right

Choosing the right tyre for your vehicle is obviously important, but no matter how much you’ve spent on it, you have to make sure the pressure is right, if you want it to last. Over time an overinflated tyre or an underinflated tyre can cause problems such as uneven wear and extra fuel consumption.

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You may also find that you’re tyres have gone bald very quickly, but this is not likely to be due to the quality of the product. You’ll struggle to get any money back if the wear on your tyre reflects that the tyres were not at the right pressure.

It’s quite surprising how often people lose points on their licence because they have not maintained the right pressure or have simply not checked their tyres for months-on-end. Make sure you get the pressure right, and keep those tyres at a healthy tyre pressure, you’ll then have tyres that last longer and save you money over time.

Changing your Spark Plugs

It’s said that for optimum performance you should be changing your car’s spark plugs every 30,000 miles. If you’re unsure on what you need to do, but you’re determined to carry out the work yourself, and then follow our simple steps.

First locate the spark plugs. There will be 4-8 wires leading to the engine compartment. Only remove these when the engine is cool, and once removed simply measure the gap of the spark plug, perhaps by using a fine gap checker. You’ll need to chekc your manual to see the size of the gap you require.

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You must then check the existing plugs for any signs of wear, as they may not all need replacing. Then you should clean inside the plug, and the surrounding area, while perhaps cleaning up the tip of the spark plug if there is any wear or rust. Then you should lubricate the plug and reinsert them, tightening them with your ratchet.

Changing your car’s oil

It’s important to change your vehicle’s oil from time to time, and it can ensure your engine is working as well, without any sludge circulating in the engine. First it’s important to warm the oil up and you can do this by starting your car, and running it for ten minutes before switching it off.

Once the oil has loosened up a bit, jack it up and apply the handbrake for extra security. You then need to place a pan or a container underneath the oil drain plug and loosen its bolt with your wrench. It may take around ten minutes for the oil to drain out, and once complete you simply put the oil bolt back on.

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Next you should open up the hood and find the oil filter, then replace it with a new one. Once completed find the oil cap under the bonnet and replace the cap. You can now add your oil to your car, making sure it falls between the min and max marks on the dipstick.

Repairs for those spots of Rust

Many dated vehicles can pick up areas of rust, but you can deal with these easily, and minor rust patches aren’t necessarily very difficult to fix. The first step is to wash the rust spot so that any dirt or grease is removed, you then need to let it dry and mask off the surrounding area.

Now the sanding begins, and you only need a strip of sanding paper to smooth out the area. Obviously this doesn’t completely solve the problem but once the rust is removed, wipe of any excess dirt, looking for any holes or uneven spots. If this is the case and you have wholes that need filling, consider using auto body putty, or visiting your local bodywork expert.

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Once applied and dried again, remove the tape and coat the area with primer. You can then repeat these steps for any other areas of rust.

Tyre legalities…

We decided to make sure you’re all aware of what the law is when it comes to tyres! You really need to ensure that you are aware of the rules that are applicable when a tyre is fitted to a motor vehicle (this includes trailers) it must be “fit for purpose”. So along with your normal vehicle checks, you need to ensure you regularly check your tyres. What to look out for with tyres, they must:

“… be compatible with the types of tyres fitted to the other wheels”

“… not have any lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial failure of the structure.”

“…. not have a cut or tear in excess of 25mm or 10% of the sectional width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, and which is deep enough to reach the ply or cord.”

“… not have any part of the ply or cord exposed”

When it comes to tyres, the law doesn’t just focus on the driver but also the owner of the vehicle. A Police Officer may decide to give you a Fixed Penalty Notice. However, they could report you for prosecution within the courts. At which point, the maximum fine that you could end up paying for is up to £2,500 and three penalty points!

 

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Inspecting your car

It’s a good idea to do constant maintenance on your car. Making sure you rotate your tires and replace them – if necessary, replacing the windshield wipers, air filter and spark plugs are also good ideas to do on a regular basis. Try and inspect and change the belts if necessary, but if you are not comfortable doing this, visit a mechanic. The longer you wait to fix a problem the worse it can get. So make sure you fix the problems as they arise. You will see the price go up and up the worse a problem gets, whether this is because of parts needing to be replaced or because of the man hours. You don’t need to be a mechanic to inspect your car, just make sure you follow these steps (especially before/after long journeys): Check the oil regularly, inspect the tires for wear, test your brakes (especially after going through deep water. Check your lights and other fluid levels and ideally change the oil every 3,000 miles.

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Getting a Good Deal with a Car Servicing Company

A big potential expenditure that any car owner will be aware of is the repair costs for your vehicle. As we depend so much on our vehicles today, it needs to be considered at every stage, from buying, to operating your vehicle.

When buying your car, ensuring that the parts used for the vehicle are readily available, and don’t need to be specially ordered by most car servicing providers.

When operating your car, you need to make sure that you’ve taken every precaution to ensure the maintenance of your vehicle. This means you follow the advice of your mechanic, and that you regularly service the vehicle, thereby reducing the risk of catastrophic failure.

Managing your car service company requirements can be difficult. This is due to the juggling act which needs to occur, between having a high level of trust in their ability, and reducing the costs. Generally it is better to opt for a middling cost deal, so that you have a well balanced plan. Also, checking with other customers of theirs, by looking at reviews and seeking referrals from friends, can help to ensure that you aren’t mislead at any stage.