Expert advice: how to know when your brake pads need replacing

Brake pads

Emergency stops can be frightening enough without having dodgy brakes too (Picture iStock/RapidEye)

Braking and brake pads are vitally important when it comes to road safety. We’re frequently so consumed with how fast cars can go or the economy they return that we forget how important stopping is. And anyone who’s had any kind of brake failure will testify to what a terrifying experience it can be.

But some recent research revealed that the confusing way garages measure brake pads isn’t helping. It could mean drivers are leaving it too long to have their pads changed. Or they might even be changing them too soon, without getting the full amount of wear out of them.

How is brake pad wear measured?

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Part-worn tyres: nine in 10 chance of buying a dodgy one

Part-worn tyres

Tyres might be on the scrap heap but they can still be sold legally in the UK (Picture iStock/Birdofprey)

If your car needs new tyres you might be shocked at how much replacement rubber can cost. But while often cheaper than new, buying second-hand tyres can have serious safety implications. New research has found that nine out of 10 retailers selling used or part-worn tyres are trading in illegal rubber.

Charity TyreSafe and Trading Standards have spent the past five years investigating part-worn tyres on sale in the UK. They discovered that just 13 of the 152 dealers they visited were selling roadworthy tyres. TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson said: “As far as we’re aware there is no other retail sector with such an atrocious track record.”

What exactly are part-worn tyres?

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Stop unnecessary work on your car. Find out what jobs really need doing

Unnecessary work

If you’re not sure about repairs, ask the technician to point them out to you. (Picture iStock/Sturti)

Has a garage recently suggested you need new brake fluid, an anti-freeze drain and refill or a fuel and oil flush? If so, how do you know whether it had to be done or was unnecessary work? Research by Green Flag has revealed that UK drivers spend £3.4billion every year on work by garages to their cars that doesn’t need doing. That’s around £90 per car per annum.

The problem stems from drivers not having the knowledge about their cars to question whether work recommended by garages is really required. More than a third of drivers (39 per cent) say they have no idea what’s checked when their car has its annual MOT roadworthiness check. But this is when garages often say jobs need doing.

Read on to discover which 10 jobs Green Flag believes should ring alarm bells if they’re suggested by a garage. And find handy hints on how to check whether the work really should be done.

“Your brake fluid needs changing”

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Your car’s colour might make its value plunge

car's colour

You could well pay for choosing a wacky colour like this (Picture Volkswagen)

Experts say you should think carefully before choosing an outlandish shade for your car’s colour. That’s because your motor’s paintwork has a bigger influence on its value than you might think.

Recently, reality TV star Katie Price put her Barbie pink Range Rover up for sale. However, experts reckon that its colour alone could have knocked as much as £3000 off its estimated £22,900 value. If you’re buying a new or used car, what impact will its colour have on the price you pay and what you sell it for? Read on to find out.

Which car colours lose value?

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Quiz: How well do you know the rules of the road in 2018?

Rules of the road

The Highway Code has been a fixture of motoring life for most of us. But how well do you know the rules of the road? Chances are you’re probably pretty good on experiences that confront us every day. What about those occasional situations though? Things that we perhaps haven’t had to deal with for a few years. Try our brain-stretching quiz. It might even help to make you a safer driver. Continue reading

Expert advice: how to replace a car’s battery

battery

Replacing a battery used to be so simple (Picture iStock/Igor-Kardasov)

We usually think that cold weather takes its toll on car batteries and causes them to fail. But it’s frequently hot weather that does the damage. Heat dries batteries out, causing them to lose their charge more quickly.

Then when temperatures fall, oil thickens up, it takes more current to turn an engine over to start it, the battery struggles to perform as it should and eventually fails.

One thing’s for sure: no one wants to be stranded with a dud battery. Bearing that in mind, it’s a good idea to think about replacing your car’s battery when the weather starts to cool. Here are some tips on doing that.

What kind of battery does your car need?

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Hot weather motoring myths. What you can and can’t do to beat the heat

Hot weather

Legal or not? Find out whether it’s against the law to drive in flip flops (Picture iStock/JordanSimeonov)

Whether it’s hot or cold, extremes in temperature pose problems for drivers. And when the weather’s doing something we’re not used to, we need to know how to react. Here we bust seven popular hot weather motoring myths.

Myth 1: it’s illegal to drive in flip flops

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Know your car jargon, learn to speak mechanic and don’t get ripped off

car jargon

They might both be talking English but does what he’s saying make sense? (Picture: iStock/photo_concepts)

Every industry has its own language; jargon that only the people working in the business understand. The car industry is no different. We’ve all had a mechanic take one look at our car, shake their head, suck air through their teeth and mutter something using words that might as well be in another language.

The result is people don’t trust garages. One study found that nearly half of drivers think technicians hiding behind confusing car jargon have ripped them off. According to property company Pentific, mechanics rank alongside politicians, car sales execs, journalists, estate agents and builders for being untrustworthy. But you need never be baffled again. Here we explain six pieces of commonly-used car jargon.

Big end

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Small parking bays: does your car fit the space?

Parking bays

New cars can often be too big for standard size parking bays (Picture iStock/Chaiyaporn1144)

Anyone who’s ever struggled to park has the perfect excuse: more cars than ever are too big for the average UK parking space. According to a survey by consumer association Which?, more than 100 models of car sold within the last 10 years are bigger than the standard size for parking bays.

The result has led to some drivers being penalised for parking with part of their car outside a bay. And one organisation believes it has led to an increase in parking prangs that is costing the UK’s drivers billions of pounds. Here’s why the size of parking bays is a problem.

How big are standard UK parking bays?

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Drivers at risk from poisonous pollution in cars, expert says

Poisonous pollution

All cars have cabin air filters but new research shows they may not be that effective (Picture iStock/ahirao_photo)

A new study reveals that millions of drivers could be being poisoned by the air in their car. The claims come after researchers from a company specialising in motoring pollution tested 11 popular cars.

We’ve already revealed the bacteria living in car air-con. Now a study has found that some new models do little to protect occupants from dirty air coming in via filters in the ventilation system. Nick Molden, whose company Emissions Analytics was behind the report, said: “Our research suggests many vehicles are a risk to their drivers’ health.”

Which cars did badly?

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