Maintaining your car

Expert advice: why cold weather can make your brakes jam on

Brakes

There are certain car faults you associate with cold weather and brake trouble probably isn’t one of them. But in the recent spell of extreme cold weather Green Flag saw a dramatic increase in call outs to do with braking systems.

The number of cars experiencing calliper problems increased by 52 per cent. And drivers having trouble with handbrake cables was up by 77 per cent. Read on to find out how brake faults happen and what you can do to rectify them.

Why do brakes jam on?

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Think like a pilot: drivers urged to carry out ‘pre-flight’ safety checks

 

It’s a funny advert with a serious point. A family boards its flight for a holiday. Over the tannoy the pilot explains he hasn’t bothered making any pre-flight safety checks to the plane. Cue panicked faces and unbuckled seat belts as everyone scrambles to leave.

The ad has been produced for Highways England. The organisation, responsible for the safety and management of the nation’s main roads, is trying to raise awareness among drivers to perform safety checks to their car before every journey.

The logic is sound. Driving is inherently more dangerous than flying. So why would you get into a car without knowing that crucial things like its lights, wipers and tyres are all working or safe?

The harsh reality of ignoring your car

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Quiz: how much do you know about washing and cleaning cars?

Quiz: how much do you know about cleaning cars?

Is your car your pride and joy? Do you spend hours on end pampering its paintwork, polishing panels and giving the glass a glossy finish?

If that sounds like your idea of a day well spent, this quiz is for you. Put your car cleaning knowledge to the test and see if you drive for perfection or still have some way to go to get your motor looking spick and span.

We’ve got expert tips, one or two handy hacks and the odd cheeky trick question to see whether you can be a master car cleaner. Wax on, wax off!

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Money matters: the most expensive (and cheapest) cars to service and repair

Which are the most expensive cars to service and repair?

If there’s one thing other than breaking down that’s guaranteed to set drivers steaming, it’s finding out that their car has a serious problem. After all, serious problems frequently mean big repair bills.

Knowing which cars are expensive to fix can give drivers a head-start. It lets them choose a car that will help them stick to a motoring budget that already has to allow for fuel and insurance.

To help car owners make an informed decision about car costs, we compare both the average and most expensive repair costs revealed by garages and warranty companies.

It pays to avoid cars with shocking repair bills

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Expert advice: why cold weather plays havoc with car suspension springs

Suspension failure

You probably don’t imagine cold weather and car suspension failures go hand in hand, but they do. During December, Green Flag witnessed nearly six times as many call outs for front suspension problems as in November. The number from December 2017 was up by nearly a quarter (24 per cent) compared to the same time the year before.

For our customers, this represents a significant problem. There isn’t just the cost of having expensive suspension parts replaced. It’s the inconvenience of the problem occurring in the first place. That’s because broken suspension isn’t usually a roadside fix: cars must be recovered to garages to be mended. Read on to find out more about this phenomenon.

How do you know if your suspension is broken?

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Diesels less reliable than petrols and pricier to fix, report claims

Diesels less reliable

As if diesel didn’t have enough on its plate, now experts are saying that cars powered by the fuel are less reliable than petrol motors. The majority of complaints around diesel have been down to its environmental credentials. However, a new report shows that diesel cars could be three times more likely to break down than their petrol equivalent and up to 20 per cent more expensive to fix.

How unreliable are diesel cars?

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Modifying cars: what can you and can’t you do?

Modifying cars

Once upon a time this would have been a humble family runabout…

We all like to give things our personal touch and modifying cars is no different. But while it might please you to make parts of your car bigger, brighter, faster and louder, it could land you in hot water.

For a start, the law takes a dim view of cars that aren’t considered roadworthy. And insurers may even refuse to pay out if you modify a car without telling them. Here we look at what you can and can’t do to your car. And whatever you decide, make sure you do it with safety in mind and that you inform your insurer.

In-car entertainment

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Changes to the 2018 MOT: diesel cars face stricter emissions test

Changes to the 2018 MOT: diesel cars face stricter emissions test

Changes to the MOT will come into force this May, making it more difficult for dirty diesel cars to pass air quality tests. A three-tier rating for the severity of faults on all cars will also be introduced.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) claims the revisions to the MOT will make it tougher for anyone trying to cheat emissions tests and help keep vehicles in a dangerous condition off the road.

However, at the same time hundreds of thousands of cars more than 40-years old will no longer be required to take the annual road worthiness inspection. Here’s what motorists need to know about the changes.

Dirty diesels face stricter smoke test

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Expert advice: should I choose synthetic or semi-synthetic oil for my car?

Synthetic oil

Back in the day, oil was oil. It came out of the ground and as long as it was the right viscosity for the engine, we’d trust it to do the job. Now there are effectively three kinds of oil: mineral, synthetic and semi-synthetic. And I’m frequently asked: “Should I use synthetic oil for my car?”

I’ve already spoken about the grade of oil drivers should choose for their cars. But once you’ve decided on that, what are the benefits of synthetic oil?

What is synthetic oil?

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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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