car maintenance

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


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 we saw a dramatic increase in call outs to do with braking systems.

The number of our customers 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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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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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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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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Misfuelling: what to do if you accidentally put petrol in a diesel car


Putting the wrong type of fuel into a car is easy to do. Known as misfuelling, it tends to happen when drivers are in a hurry or distracted. You’re not in your usual motor, maybe it’s your partner’s, a colleague’s, or a hire or courtesy vehicle. Your mind might be on other things and out of habit you lift the petrol pump from its holder and start filling your diesel vehicle. Hopefully you’ll realise your mistake before you drive away…

The good new is, it’s virtually impossible to put diesel in a petrol-engined car. The neck of the petrol filler is tighter than a diesel pump nozzle. The bad news is the wide neck of a diesel fuel filler easily takes a petrol pump nozzle. The even worse news is that putting petrol into a diesel does far more harm than the other way around. Read on to find out all about misfuelling and how to prevent it.

Why is misfuelling so harmful?

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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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Choosing a replacement exhaust: what to look for and why to shop around

Choosing a replacement exhaust: what to look for and why it pays to shop around

If your car has ever needed a replacement exhaust you’ll know just how expensive this essential mechanical component can be. As it’s such a pricey part, it pays to know what to look for and it’s important to shop around. That might seem daunting, but the potential price savings alone should convince you research is time well spent.

The exhaust is an essential part of your car. It keeps the engine healthy and ensures the emissions being pumped out do as little harm as possible to the surrounding environment. But over time, the effects of high temperatures, water and grime, the occasional bash from a speed hump and general wear and tear from continuous movement mean it can end up needing replacing.

Here’s the exhaustive low down on repairing or replacing a car’s exhaust.

Signs you need a replacement exhaust

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