Advice

Quiz: How many of these common car parts can you identify?

Quiz Car parts

Do you know your catalytic converter from air-con compressor and your spark plugs from your shock absorbers? You don’t have to be a mechanic to know the most basic car parts. But if you give a motor more than a cursory glance over, which components can you identify? Take our cunning quiz to find out how much you really know.

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Why more drivers than ever own old cars – and how to maintain one

Why more drivers than ever own an old car - and how to maintain one

How old is your car? If it’s getting on for the best part of 10-years old, don’t feel any shame in not keeping up with the Joneses: the average age of motors on UK roads is rising.

The typical vehicle is now 8.1 years, the oldest since 2000. The figures for all cars and light vans licensed in 2017 suggest that more drivers and businesses are holding on to their vehicle to help make ends meet.

Analysis by The Times shows that over the past two decades, the proportion of the very oldest cars on Britain’s roads – those more than 13-years old – has almost tripled in the last two decades.

So what’s causing more drivers to keep their car for longer?

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Expert advice: check your car’s tool kit

Tool kit

Even a basic tool kit can prevent you being stranded roadside. A working mobile phone is an important part of it (Picture: iStock/South_agency)

This might sound very old school but I think carrying a basic tool kit can be one of the most sensible things a driver does. I’m not suggesting here that you go out and buy a full socket set. And I’m not advocating dismantling a conked out car at the roadside. But a simple tool kit might make the difference between a car being repaired roadside and it being recovered to a garage.

Of course, all cars come with a rudimentary tool kit. But buying and checking a used car can be stressful enough. We often don’t have time to find out what tools it does and doesn’t have. Frequently handy tools get lost during a car’s life time and you only find out they’re not there when you need them. Here’s what I suggest you have in your tool kit.

Jack and wheel brace

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Expert advice: how to drive through thick mud without getting stuck

One of the problems contestants for Mud & Motors are going to have is – as the event’s name suggests ‑ driving through mud. Manoeuvring any vehicle other than a tank over a slippery surface is easier said than done.

As a regional operations manager, I have some experience of driving in mud. And I’ll be working with the contestants on Mud & Motors to help them out. Here are my tips for driving in mud.

Rather than just a field with greasy grass, when I say mud I’m thinking more along the lines of muddy tracks here. It’ll have been driven on before, possibly by heavy vehicles such as tractors. Their weight and the tread of their tyres will have broken down the composition of the soil and turned it into mud. There will be puddles, ruts and thick, gloopy mud. Lots of it. Here’s how you get through it.

Your car driving through mud

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Keep your driving licence at home to avoid identity theft, warns DVLA

Keep your driving licence at home to avoid identity theft, warns DVLA

Where do you keep your driving licence and is it safe? These are questions every driver should be asking after it was revealed that nearly one million licences were lost or stolen last year.

As if the hassle of applying and paying for a replacement licence wasn’t aggravation enough, security experts warn that lost or stolen licences can’t be cancelled. The result is crooks can continue to use another person’s driving licence as identification.

Victims of identify fraud can find that bank accounts have been opened in their name. Hire cars might have been stolen using their credentials. And new-car finance contracts could be applied for using stolen ID. To help drivers safeguard their licence and identity, here is the advice from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

What’s the scale of the problem?

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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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Learner drivers to be allowed on motorways for the first time from June

Learner drivers

The government has confirmed learner drivers will be allowed on motorways from June this year. It’s one of the biggest single changes to the process of learning to drive since the driving test was introduced in 1935.

Overwhelming approval during a government consultation led to the green light. Learners will now be able to drive legally on motorways from June 4, 2018. The Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says this will allow unqualified drivers to get a broader experience of driving before taking their test. They will get practical training on joining, leaving and driving on motorways. They will also be able to practice driving at higher speeds.This will help them to understand how the theory they learn works in reality. Read on to find out more.

Will this apply to all learner drivers?

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Book early! MOT rush with testers busier than ever this month

 

MOT rush

No time off allowed. He’s in for a busy March in 2018

If your car is due its MOT this month you won’t be alone. In fact, it might be an idea to book its test in advance. Record numbers of motors are due to have their annual roadworthiness check this March in an unprecedented MOT rush.

The phenomenon is prompting garage chain Kwik Fit to warn that MOT testers will get very busy over the coming weeks. Kwik Fit’s Roger Griggs said: “March is always a peak month for MOTs, but this year it will be busier than ever as the record-breaking new-car sales of 2015 feed through.” Find out all about the 2018 MOT rush here.

Why is March the month?

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Expert advice: if you must drive in snow here’s the kit you should carry

Snow set

A mobile phone could be a life saver

As the Beast from the East bites and many of us wake up to almost unprecedented winter weather, I thought it a good idea to put together a snow set. And along with the equipment drivers should carry in their cars, I’ve also given some advice if they get stuck.

Of course, the best thing to do is to get the fire on, relax and watch the TV until the thaw sets in. But as appealing as that sounds, it isn’t always an option. If you must drive, here are some tips.

Put your snow set together

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