car servicing

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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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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New home refuelling company lets you fill your car from the sofa

Home refuelling

Companies that fill you up at home are a frequent sight in the US. Now you can do it in the UK too (Picture Booster)

Drivers of electric cars know all about the convenience of home refuelling. Now, going out of their way to stand on a blustery garage forecourt could become a thing of the past for drivers of diesel cars.

Currently one of the big benefits electric cars have is that drivers with home or workplace charging never need to visit a fuel station. But a new service is promising the same feature for drivers of conventionally fuelled motors. It currently operates in London where its bosses claim it saves drivers 100 hours a month by taking away the need to go to a filling station.

How does home refuelling work?

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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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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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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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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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Green Flag Smart Service: the clever way to keep your car in great shape

Green Flag Smart Service

For many drivers, the cost of keeping their vehicle properly maintained and road legal can be a real worry. And studies show drivers dread taking their car into garages thanks to overuse of technical jargon and the fear of being ripped off.

A lot of drivers find just remembering the MOT is a trial: a quarter (27 per cent) don’t know when their annual test is due, never mind how much possible repairs might cost them. But what if you had a qualified technician on your side? And what if they oversaw any work that needed doing to your car and could get preferential rates as well? Green Flag Smart Service provides exactly that, and it’s available for all Green Flag customers at no extra cost as an added benefit of your breakdown cover.

What is Green Flag Smart Service?

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Quiz: Which of these popular motoring myths is true or false?

motoring myths

There are no end of motoring myths. Most drivers will know at least a handful: sometimes they’re true, but often they’re stories that need to be shown the red light.

From the speed limit on a dual carriageway, to sounding a car’s horn in the small hours of the morning, driving in flip-flops to using an egg to repair an engine’s radiator, they can seem as confusing as the Spaghetti Junction.

To help sort the facts from fiction, we’ve pulled together 10 tricky questions for a motoring myths quiz. Which is driving delusion and which is as factual as the Highway Code?

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