car maintenance

Most drivers don’t know about 2018 MOT changes, Green Flag finds

MOT changes

The MOT test changes this weekend but you can be forgiven if you didn’t know. New research conducted by Green Flag reveals that six out of 10 drivers (58 per cent) haven’t realised the MOT changes are happening.

More worryingly perhaps, nine out of 10 drivers (89 per cent) are unaware that driving a car with an invalid MOT might result in a £2500 fine. And a quarter (25 per cent) don’t realise that driving a faulty vehicle results in a penalty. Read on to find out more about the changes and how drivers might be able to save themselves money.

What are the MOT changes?

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Expert advice: Finding and fixing a broken fuse in your car

Broken fuse

Being able to fix a broken fuse in a car is one of the handiest pieces of knowledge any car driver can deploy. At some point in your motoring life a fuse in your car will blow. And very often you don’t need to pay an expensive motor mechanic to fix it.

You should be able to tell instantly if you’ve got a blown fuse because a function that you take for granted will stop working. It might be the 12-volt power socket, the windscreen wipers or the indicators. If it is the fuse that’s causing the problem, you may be able to fix it in a couple of minutes with a part that costs pennies rather than paying a mechanic. Here’s how.

Find the fuse box

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Expert advice: what an engine warning light means and what to do

Engine warning light

This March we saw a significant increase in the number of customers ringing us with their engine warning light on. These faults were up by more than a third (39.3 per cent) compared with February.

Warning lights can be worrying and frustrating in equal measure. They’re a worry because they indicate trouble. And when things go wrong with cars, it usually costs money. They’re frustrating because while the lights reveal a fault, they don’t tell you exactly what the problem is. Here’s what you need to know.

What does an engine warning light signify?

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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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How to report an intermittent fault on your car to a garage

Intermittent fault

Sometimes technicians need to go to extreme lengths to find a fault in a car (Picture iStock/Boschettophotopgraphy

The older cars get the more likely they are to develop faults. And the worst of those is the intermittent fault; a noise or problem that’s there one minute, gone the next. The temptation for many of us is simply to tell the mechanic there’s an occasional rattling noise at the front and let them get on with it.

That’s fine but you wouldn’t go to the doctor, say you’ve got a pain in your leg and expect them to instantly diagnose the correct malady. And unlike most doctors, mechanics charge by the hour, so leaving them to find out what’s wrong will cost you.

But even the least mechanical people can make the technician’s life easier. And by doing so, they may even save themselves some money. Here’s how you should go about reporting an intermittent fault with your car to a garage.

Before you contact the garage

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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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Cost of motoring: how much will you spend over a lifetime at the wheel?

Cost of motoring

We all know running a car is an expensive business. But exactly how costly is it? Over an average driver’s lifetime, do you think motoring will cost tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pounds?

Now we’ve got some answers. Two lots of research have come up with figures. While neither agrees with the other, both concur: running a car is more costly than many of us think. According to finance company MyJar, people will start forking out for motoring aged 17 and go on until they’re 80. MoneySuperMarket meanwhile looks at the cost over a car’s lifetime. Read on to find out what they think you’ll spend.

How much is the cost of motoring over a lifetime?

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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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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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