Maintaining your car

How much do you know about modifying cars?

car modifications
Thinking about modifying your car? Want it to look like this? You might think again when you’ve done our quiz (Picture iStock/DavidF)

Car modifications are a thorny subject. The law around cars and what you can and can’t do to them is very strict. To see how much you know modifying cars, take our cunning quiz. And if you do decide to go ahead and fix up your car, remember you must tell your insurer or your cover could be invalidated.

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How to save money buying new tyres for your car

buying new tyres
Even tyres for a small car can prove expensive (Picture iStock/GeorgeRudy)

Buying new tyres is one of the necessary evils of running a car. Not only do tyres inevitably come to the end of their life, they’re also deceptively expensive. Replacing all four tyres on even a modest family saloon can leave you without much change from £500. And the bigger the car, the more you’ll pay. Buy four new tyres for a high-performance motor and it’ll cost the thick end of £2000. But there are ways to save money without scrimping on safety.

Find out about your tyres

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Expert advice: what the ECU does and why it’s so vital for our car

ecu
All this is computer controlled. The ECU is normally positioned at the top and back of the engine bay (Picture iStock/jaym-z)

Modern cars are more like computers on wheels and central to that is the ECU. If the engine is the heart of the car, the Electronic Control Unit or ECU is its brain. Your car may develop a fault that you think is mechanical but actually the real culprit could be the electronics, caused by a malfunctioning ECU or one of its sensors.

The ECU is now such a crucial and integral part of our cars that I think it’s worth understanding exactly what it does.

What’s in a name?

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Clean Air Day 2019: how to reduce your emissions from driving

clean air day 2019

Thursday 20 June was the UK’s Clean Air Day 2019. Organised by charity Global Action Plan, Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign. It’s been conceived to urge people in Britain to think about how they might reduce their emissions and help improve air quality.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road transport accounts for up to 30 per cent of particulate emissions in Europe. Much of that comes from the exhaust pipes of internal combustion engine vehicles. Here we reveal how car drivers can reduce their emissions and make every day a Clean Air Day.

Plan your trip

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Expert advice: how you know if your clutch is about to fail

clutch failure
The clutch looks simple but it’s a fundamental part of a car (Picture iStock/irman)

Clutch failure can leave you well and truly stranded The clutch is one of those parts of the car that many of us take for granted. That third pedal sitting to the left of the accelerator and brake is fundamental to how a manual transmission works.

That’s where a bit of self-diagnosis can pay dividends. If you know your clutch is on its way out, you can book your car into a garage before it leaves you high and dry. And you can shop around to get the best deal possible.

The good news is clutches frequently don’t just fail. There will be some tell-tale symptoms. Here’s what you should look out for.

What’s a slipping clutch?

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Motoring costs quiz: guess the prices of these car-related items

motoring costs

How good are you at knowing the cost of things? Motoring costs are crucial for most of us. And how much we pay to keep our cars on the road is one of the questions drivers will frequently ask. But do you know the prices of things associated with motoring? Our cunning quiz reveals the cost of 10 articles to do with car ownership.

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Expert advice: What to do with a chipped windscreen

chipped windscreen
As soon as cracks like these start spreading you can’t repair them. But that isn’t always the case… (Picture iStock/LivingImages)

You might have noticed many of our roads are in a pretty shocking state. And a degrading road surface doesn’t just mean potholes, it also results in debris on the road surface. These small stones can be thrown up and hit the screen of following vehicles. On a 30mph road, that small stone will probably have an impact speed with the glass at the equivalent of 40-50 mph. It’s hardly surprising then that there’s a decent chance it’ll take a chunk out of whatever it hits.

If debris hits the windscreen and damages it, there are plenty of reasons to get it fixed. After all, if a windscreen is chipped in certain areas it’s an instant MOT failure. Here’s what I think you should do, why, when and how.

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The reasons why you should give your car a wash this spring

Spring car wash

Spring has sprung, the bulbs are coming up and the birds are getting frisky. But chances are, your motor is looking far from perky, wearing the cloak of winter in the mucky form of an all-encompassing film of dirt. With warm weather (hopefully) just around the corner, now’s the time to get out and give your car a good clean. There are plenty of good reasons to. Here we list nine of them.

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Expert advice: try my car cold weather hacks on freezing mornings

cold weather hacks

Follow our tips below and this need not be you (Picture iStock/sonsam)

Standing outside on freezing cold mornings scraping ice off your car has to be down there with visits to the dentist and paying tax. All are necessary for very good reasons but that doesn’t make them enjoyable.

I can’t help you with your teeth or tax, but I can give you some pointers to make it easier to get your car ready for the road in the mornings.

Air-con’s your friend

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