Maintaining your car

Driver tips for staying safe as snow falls and winter weather worsens

Driver tips

Cold weather isn’t just tough on drivers, it can play havoc with cars too. The heavy hail and snow showers that are hitting parts of the UK in mid-January 2018 are already causing chaos. Green Flag is warning that an astonishing 12 breakdowns every minute will take place this week.

Head of news for Green Flag Simon Henrick said: “After a variable but relatively mild winter period over Christmas, the changing weather conditions may take some drivers by surprise this week.

“By thoroughly checking their cars before leaving home, approaching the roads with caution and keeping plenty of distance between themselves and the vehicle in front, drivers will decrease the risk of encountering a problem while on the roads.” Read on to see how you can stay safe in the snow.

Health and safety

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Expert advice: are faulty glow plugs the reason your car won’t start?

Glow plugs

When is a flat battery not a flat battery? When it’s a problem with glow plugs. OK, that’s a bit simplistic but frequently people breakdown with what they think is a battery problem, only for it to turn out to be the glow plugs that are at fault.

The reason is that diesel engines use these heaters to help them start. In warmer weather they’re not as necessary. However, when the weather gets cold, glow plugs are vital. That’s why in November 2017, the number of call outs Green Flag attended for glow plug problems rose by 112 per cent. Read on to find out what the problem is and how you can diagnose it.

What are glow plugs?

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Choosing a replacement exhaust: what to look for and why to shop around

Choosing a replacement exhaust: what to look for and why it pays to shop around

If your car has ever needed a replacement exhaust you’ll know just how expensive this essential mechanical component can be. As it’s such a pricey part, it pays to know what to look for and it’s important to shop around. That might seem daunting, but the potential price savings alone should convince you research is time well spent.

The exhaust is an essential part of your car. It keeps the engine healthy and ensures the emissions being pumped out do as little harm as possible to the surrounding environment. But over time, the effects of high temperatures, water and grime, the occasional bash from a speed hump and general wear and tear from continuous movement mean it can end up needing replacing.

Here’s the exhaustive low down on repairing or replacing a car’s exhaust.

Signs you need a replacement exhaust

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MOT 2018: what the changes are and what they mean for drivers

MOT changes

Next year the UK government is planning to bring in MOT changes. The tweaks to the annual vehicle roadworthiness test have been designed to make life easier for drivers preserving historically interesting ‘classic’ cars.

But critics say they will increase the number of unsafe cars on the country’s roads. Further changes are afoot too. The Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is currently considering the results of a consultation paper on the age that cars first take their MOT. Read on to find out more about the changes.

What are the changes to the MOT 2018?

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Lost car keys: what to do and who to call

What to do if you have lost your car keys

A car is of no use without its key. It can’t be opened, so it’s going nowhere. And if it was locked and left in gear with the handbrake applied, it’s going to be devilishly difficult to move.

The moment most drivers realise they’ve lost their car keys, is when they need to be somewhere, soon. But first they’ve got the headache of working out how best to remedy the situation. Should they phone a friend who knows their way around a car? Perhaps it’s better to call a garage or should it be a breakdown service provider? And what about a car locksmith? Here are the steps drivers can take when they have lost their car keys.

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Expert advice: Simple car care tips for young drivers leaving home

Car care tips

Going off to college can be a great adventure. Our tips will help ensure your car doesn’t spoil it

I’m sure there are some exceptions to every rule, but I’ve never yet met a student who’s rolling in money. And running a car that keeps on conking out can be like having a hole in your pocket. The key with cars is prevention rather than cure. Keeping on top of regular maintenance will prevent all manner of mechanical mishaps.

But more than that, a regular maintenance routine will actually help save you money. Tyres that are properly inflated don’t wear out as quickly and mean your motor won’t use as much fuel. And having the oil and filters changed when the maker suggests will guarantee your car performs as economically as possible. Read on to see my top car care tips.

Ready…

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Tuned to perfection: how to upgrade an old car stereo to stream music

Tuned to perfection: how to upgrade an old car stereo to stream music

It’s a fact that the average age of a car in the UK is almost eight-years old. Given that millions more motors will be older still, many drivers are singing along to car sound systems that pre-date music streaming using Bluetooth. Plenty more are driving cars from a time when an apple was something you ate.

If that sounds familiar, there is some good news: it’s possible to upgrade an old car’s sound system. This means you’ll be able to play your latest digital music collection, or even use music streaming services, such as Spotify.

A wide range of clever accessories is available, and upgrades start from as little as £10. You might be keeping an old car going to get maximum value for money from it. Or you may own a classic car that’s from a time before iTunes. Whatever’s the case, you can use modern technology to upgrade your car’s sounds. Here’s how to put an end to the days of doing the time warp.

How do you play music from a smartphone with a cassette player?

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Video revolution should help drivers get fairer deal from garages

video

New tech is designed to let mechanics show you what needs fixing without you being there

A virtual revolution is taking place in the UK’s garages with video becoming a workshop must have. Garages film what needs repairing. They can then show this to customers and seek approval before doing the work. The idea is to give car owners more control over repairs and reassure them that they’re not being ripped off. Here’s how it works.

Why video technology is needed

For most drivers, the dodgy reputation garages have is a worry. Recent research by online garage booking service BookMyGarage found that three quarters (74 per cent) of drivers felt hidden costs or paying too much for extra work were the biggest concerns when taking their car to a garage for its regular service. Drivers fear that unscrupulous operators can use superior mechanical knowledge to bamboozle them into repairs that don’t need doing. Continue reading

Polished with pride: the best way to spring clean a car

Polished with pride: the best way to spring clean a car

The birds are singing, the bees and buzzing and the bulbs are flowering: Spring is in the air. And that can only mean one thing; many of Britain’s drivers are looking at their car and hanging their heads in shame, unable to remember the last time they cleaned their motor.

If that sounds familiar, set aside a couple of hours one weekend, roll up your sleeves and treat your car to a thorough spring clean. Pick a sunny day and you might even put some colour in your cheeks.

You don’t have to be a professional car valeter, or detailer, to return a car to the showroom-sparkle finish it once enjoyed. Here are some simple tips to take the strain out of a spring clean.

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Choosing the best hands-free Bluetooth phone or sat nav kit

Choosing the best hands-free Bluetooth phone or sat nav kit

Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel with voice-activated smartphone kits

The law on mobile phone use in cars changed at the beginning of March. The penalty for drivers caught phoning or texting without being hands-free has doubled, to six points with a £200 fine. But there’s no need to be hit with a costly fine and hefty points. There’s plenty of aftermarket equipment that will keep drivers on the right side of the law and safe on the road.

Bluetooth integration for mobile phones first made its way into our cars in 2001. For years, it remained an option that drivers would have to pay for with their new car. These days, it’s widely available as standard.

For anyone driving an older car without Bluetooth, there is a wide range of products to choose from, some offering much more than just wireless connection to a phone.

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