car maintenance

Video revolution should help drivers get fairer deal from garages

video

New tech is designed to let mechanics show you what needs fixing without you being there

A virtual revolution is taking place in the UK’s garages with video becoming a workshop must have. Garages film what needs repairing. They can then show this to customers and seek approval before doing the work. The idea is to give car owners more control over repairs and reassure them that they’re not being ripped off. Here’s how it works.

Why video technology is needed

For most drivers, the dodgy reputation garages have is a worry. Recent research by online garage booking service BookMyGarage found that three quarters (74 per cent) of drivers felt hidden costs or paying too much for extra work were the biggest concerns when taking their car to a garage for its regular service. Drivers fear that unscrupulous operators can use superior mechanical knowledge to bamboozle them into repairs that don’t need doing. Continue reading

Rotating tyres: is it a good idea and how do you go about doing it

Rotating tyres

Rotating tyres can be time consuming and some experts advise against it

Rotating tyres to get the maximum wear from them has been something canny drivers have been doing for years. But there is now some confusion over whether switching your car’s tyres around is the way to go or not.

Look up rotating tyres via the websites of the major tyre makers and they will give you information on how to do it. So will suppliers such as Blackcircles.com. However, Kwik Fit says it does not recommend tyre rotation. Those that do favour switching suggest it should be done every 6000 miles. Direct Line Group’s head of automotive technology, Nick Reid explained: “This is one of those jobs that really is down to personal preference.”

Here we look at why rotating tyres may not be such a good idea, how it can eke more life out of your rubber, which tyres you move where and how you go about it.

Rotating tyres is a bad idea

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Expert advice: How to make your car last forever

Car last forever

If the last owner had looked after it a bit better, this might still be running…

It would be great if we could make a car last forever like Irvin Gordon did. The American driver and Guinness World Records holder, runs a Volvo P1800S coupe that has clocked up more than three million miles and counting over the last 50 years. That might be pushing it a bit for most of us. But there are plenty of things we can do to keep cars healthy for as long as possible.

Whether your car is brand new or more than 10 years old, there are simple steps to keep it running smoothly: from being gentle with an engine as it warms up, to treating it to a regular wash. These are my tricks of the trade when it comes to making a car go the distance.

Make a car last forever: regular maintenance

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Quiz: How well do you know car dashboard warning lights?

Quiz: How well do you know your car's dashboard warning lights?

Take the quiz and see whether you can identify our dozen dashboard warning lights…

We learn how to drive, repeat the mantra ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ and remember what road signs mean. But how many drivers know their car’s dashboard warning lights? 

When Green Flag surveyed more than 2000 drivers, earlier this month, only 27 per cent said they could immediately identify a warning light. Another 35 per cent checked their car’s handbook, and 21 per cent took their car to a garage for help in understanding what the problem was. Some even admitted to phoning a friend, an approach that could easily result in a dodgy diagnosis.

It’s important to heed any warning flagging up by dashboard warning lights. Typically, they give drivers the opportunity to have a mechanical or electrical problem investigated and repaired by a garage, before it becomes serious enough to cause lasting damage to a car.

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Car servicing: save money and get the best service by shopping around

Car servicing: a Which? investigation found drivers can save over £200 in many towns and cities by shopping around 

Most drivers appreciate the need to have their car serviced on a regular basis. They will follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service intervals, or with modern digital systems, keep an eye on a display in the dashboard which counts down the miles or days until a car next needs servicing. But when the time comes to have the job done, how many of us shop around to save money and get the best standard of work?

The answer is probably not many. It’s all too easy to go with convenience, such as a local garage. And with younger cars, drivers are often swayed by sticking with franchised dealers.

However, the hourly labour rates that greatly influence how expensive a car’s servicing bill vary greatly.

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Expert advice: How to change your car’s windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers have come on a bit since these. They’re more efficient now as well as being simple to change

Windscreen wipers are vital because good visibility is one of the most important elements of driving. If you can’t see a hazard, you can’t avoid it. Like tyres, oil and filters, windscreen wipers wear out over time. The good news is it can be fairly straightforward to change them. Your car’s handbook is a useful ally here. But if you struggle, a wiper is far too important to take risks with so ask a friend who knows what they’re doing, or your local garage to help.  Continue reading