Battery trouble is the number one reason that Green Flag’s technicians are called out to broken down cars. So it’s true to say that the battery is the weakest link in a car. New research by parts company Mopar shows that every year, around a fifth of car batteries in the UK need to be replaced.
The reason people get caught out by battery trouble is that frequently there are few pointers that it’s about to strike. That’s why Green Flag’s new AlertMe technology is such a breakthrough. It can tell drivers when a car battery is on the verge of failing in sufficient time for them to do something about it. If you don’t have AlertMe, here’s why your battery is the power behind your engine.
How the battery starts your engine
Up to the 1960s, pretty much every car had a hole in its front bumper where you could slot in a starting or cranking handle. By putting your back into it and turning this you turned the engine over and hopefully it fired into life. That job is now done by a starter motor which is powered by the car’s battery. Although the starter motor doesn’t operate for long, it can sap a lot of power from the battery. Turning an engine over does require a bit of oomph. Anyone who’s done the job using a cranking handle will know. And the bigger the engine and the colder the weather, which makes the oil thicker – think running in mud!– the more effort that’s required to get an engine going. Once the battery has done that main job, you might forgive it for feeling a little jaded. Continue reading
A mobile phone and reflective jacket could save your life if you break down
Many of us treat our cars like a home away from home. Yet frequently we don’t have even the most basic equipment to cope with the unexpected. So I’ve created my own list of in-car must haves. These are the essentials that I carry in my car and I recommend that you do too. You can buy most of them for less than a fiver. It could end up being the best money you’ve ever spent.
First aid kit
I read somewhere that fewer than one in five of us know even basic first aid. I like to think that I do know the basics and I always carry a first aid kit just in case. For a start, you never know when something as simple as some bite or sting cream will come in handy. Equally, if you’ve got kids, plasters can be needed when you least expect it. And if you have bandages at the scene of an accident and you don’t know what to do with them, someone else might. Continue reading
Breaking down could become a thing of the past with telematics
Technology that only a few years ago would have seemed like a dream is now coming to a car near you. The latest can predict if your car is going to break down. It’s estimated it could save British drivers 38,000 hours waiting for roadside rescue with their conked-out car.
Green Flag Alert Me plugs into the car’s On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port. From there, the matchbox-sized device monitors the car’s battery and electronic brain. This enables it to record changes such as the battery failing to hold its charge before the driver would ordinarily notice them. If it does see changes, Alert Me reports it to Green Flag over the mobile phone network. Green Flag then notifies the driver via a smartphone app or text message. Continue reading
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
Your car needs engine oil. You need to choose the right kind
Cars are now so sophisticated that choosing engine oil has never been so important. Some require different oils to others. Get this wrong over a period of time and you could cause irreparable damage to your motor. On top of that, the engine oil you choose can make a difference to fuel economy and how long your car can go between services without performance deteriorating or vital components getting damaged.
On the upside, advances in engine oil technology mean that modern engines will cover ever greater mileages in their life time. Here’s my guide to choosing engine oil that will achieve that. Continue reading
This might look like a watery write-off but it could be dried out and sold on
Thousands of used car buyers could be at risk of buying a flood-damaged car. The insurance industry is currently dealing with 2800 motor claims resulting from December’s Storm Desmond alone, according to the Association of British Insurers. The Christmas and New Year flooding in the north of England and Scotland is likely to increase that number dramatically.
Green Flag head of rescue and motor claims response, Neil Wilson, believes one in seven cars rescued by the company in flooded parts of the country will be an insurance write-off. That means six out of seven cars from flooded areas – thousands – will be put back on the road. And some will undoubtedly be sold as used cars. Here are some simple checks to ensure you don’t buy a flood-damaged car.
This is what the Christmas break will mean for more than half a million drivers
Driving home for Xmas with the family is waning in popularity. But of the millions of car owners who do make the trip home for Christmas, 510,000 will be delayed on the way by a conked out car. According to Green Flag research, between December 24th and 29th, there will be a breakdown every six seconds.
Throughout December and January, Green Flag warns there will be 900,000 breakdowns. Despite that, only 23 per cent of drivers now carry a tool kit in their car. However, 41 per cent do have a first aid kit; 44 per cent will be carrying water and 74 per cent of British drivers will be armed with their trusty ice scraper.
Hopefully we won’t see too much of this. But it’s good to be prepared…
To coincide with 2015’s Road Safety Week, it seems sensible for us to carry out some simple checks to ensure our cars are up to everything that winter weather can throw at it. Of course, at Green Flag we know from experience that there are some things no driver can predict. But there are plenty that we can. To help less experienced or less confident drivers be prepared for bad winter weather, I’ve compiled these six simple checks that take just couple of minutes to carry out and can minimise the chances of a car breaking down in harsh winter weather.
Check your tyres
Even if this winter is a relatively mild one, as it has been so far, it’s likely to be pretty Continue reading
Even without a ramp at home you can easily carry out DIY MOT checks
Carrying out DIY checks on your car before you take it for its actual MOT inspection is surprisingly easy to do and could save you money. Passing the test is a legal requirement for all cars more than three years old. But for many of us, the MOT is a bit like having the outside of your home painted; we know we need to do it but we don’t look forward to it because it can bring to light remedial work that will hit the wallet hard.
According to the Driver Vehicle Services Agency (DVSA), which oversees the annual MOT test, around 40 per cent of cars fail. Yet many flunk their MOT for reasons that even a novice mechanic could spot. Follow my tips for your own basic DIY MOT test, and you could stop your car failing on the simplest points.
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