Maintaining your car

Expert advice: how to know if your car is suffering brake trouble

brake trouble
Sudden brake failure is unlikely but faulty brakes still cause crashes (Picture iStock/RapidEye)

Some recent research reveals faulty brakes is the most common vehicle defect to end up causing an accident. The study of official figures by brake maker Pagid showed that dodgy brakes caused 15 deaths in 2018. In the last five years it says 64 deaths have been caused by brake trouble.

We should all check our brakes regularly and if you have any doubts about the system working properly, stop driving and have your car seen to by a professional. Here are some of the main symptoms of faulty brakes, what they mean in real terms, and what you should do about them.

Brake trouble: Soft pedal

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Would you repair your car with second-hand parts? We reveal all

second-hand car parts
Engines can be remanufactured using a mix of existing and new parts (Picture iStock/Vladru)

Would you use recycled or second-hand parts on your car? Online auction platform eBay thinks more of us ought to in order to save the planet. And used parts will be cheaper and save us money too. But what are the risks? We investigate.

What are these second-hand parts?

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Expert advice: how to tell if your steering isn’t working properly

steering
Vibrations through the wheel or heavy steering are just two symptoms of problems (Picture iStock/georgeclerk)

Think about your car’s controls. If the brakes fail you’ve still got the parking brake. But if there’s a fault with the steering that stops you changing direction when you want to, you could be in trouble. That’s why I believe it’s important for drivers to be able to diagnose steering problems.

How do you know if your steering is damaged?

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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 about 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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