Maintaining your car

Expert advice: prepare your car for cold weather this winter

prepare your car for cold weather
Give your battery some TLC before winter sets in and it’ll pay you back in spades (Picture iStock/JoeBelanger)

Summer is well and truly over and it’s sensible to prepare your car for cold weather. If you can, the best way to get your car ready for winter is to take it in for a service. But if your scheduled service isn’t due, here are five very simple tips that should ensure your car won’t let you down when the going gets cold.

Why your battery needs some love

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Expert advice: how to tell if your car has suspension trouble

suspension trouble
Car suspension is complicated and hard-wearing (Picture iStock/kvsan)

The suspension on our cars is a very hard-working piece of kit. And it’s one we take for granted – until we experience suspension trouble. While we’re driving forwards, the suspension is constantly in motion too, coping with undulations in the road surface and other forces on the car.

It’s the suspension that keeps the car’s road wheels in touch with the ground when we go round corners. And it’s the suspension that helps to insulate the driver and passengers from the outside.

Unsurprisingly with something that’s so busy, cars can suffer suspension trouble. And the number of potholes on our roads seem to be making suspension trouble more likely. Read on to discover how to diagnose it.

Signs of suspension damage

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Car washing in hot weather: our dos and don’ts for the best results

car washing in hot weather
Try to wash your car one panel at a time when the weather’s hot (Picture iStock/rclassenlayouts)

Car washing in hot weather, or even on a warm sunny day for that matter, can become a long, drawn out and frustrating process. Even sunshine on a relatively cool day can cause trouble when you want to clean your car.

Cars heat up astonishingly quickly in the sun. According to researchers at Stanford University in the US, on a day when the temperature is just 20 degrees C, a car’s interior will get to 38.9 degrees C within 30 minutes. If the outside temperature is 24 degrees C, it will reach 42.9 degrees C in 30 minutes.

The car’s mainly metal bodywork soaks up heat just as effectively, causing water to evaporate quickly as soon as it’s spread over your motor. The result will leave a dirty tide mark of combined shampoo and dirt. And when you do manage to rinse that off, it’ll dry quickly again, leaving spots on your paintwork from impurities in the water.

How to wash a car on a hot day

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Expert advice: summer car checks for a safe, reliable getaway

summer car checks
Carry out our checks to help ensure a trouble-free trip (Picture iStock/Solovyova)

Now’s the time when most of us are either going away or preparing for our summer break. And it’s when our cars come into their own as a trusty family workhorse. Below are six basic summer car checks you can carry out. They’ll only take a couple of minutes and will ensure your car performs safely and reliably while you’re away.

If you’re worried about anything, don’t hesitate to book your car in for some professional attention. Alternatively, you could take your car for one of Green Flag’s free vehicle health checks. But in the first instance, read on to see the six summer checks I think you should perform.

Pump up your tyres

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Quiz: How should you look after your car?

You should regularly check the oil level in your engine (Picture iStock/Moyo Studio)

One in 10 UK drivers say they never perform any kind of safety check on their vehicle. And 14 million licence holders check their cars once a year or less. Those are the shocking findings following some recent research by Green Flag and road safety charity Brake.

If you want to test your knowledge of car maintenance, why not try our quiz? It’s fun and it’ll help give some tips and pointers for what you should do to keep your car in top shape.

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Expert advice: all about replacing an engine’s timing belt

timing belt
Here’s what your timing belt looks like inside the engine (Picture iStock/Warut1)

The cambelt or timing belt is an integral part of many engines. It also needs replacing on a regular – if thankfully not too frequent – basis. Read on and I’ll explain why the cambelt is so important, how you know if your car has one (not all do) and why replacing them is an absolute must-do.

Why is the timing belt so crucial?

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MOT extension to end over unfit cars? Do your own vehicle health check

mot extension
Many MOT testing stations are open for business (Picture iStock/Marbury)

The UK’s six-month MOT extension might end early because of fears about increasing numbers of unroadworthy cars. Car owners are also being warned that if they don’t keep their motors in a fit state to be driven, their insurance may not cover them.

In the latest report by Green Flag and road safety charity Brake, an alarming number of drivers revealed gaps in their knowledge about vehicle maintenance. Around one in 10 drivers (9 per cent) claim they never carry out any vehicle safety checks.

One in four (27 per cent) said they care for their car just once a year. More worryingly, a fifth of drivers (20 per cent) said they’d knowingly driven an unroadworthy car.

We investigate why the MOT extension might end early and how you can ensure your car is roadworthy.

Who wants the MOT extension abandoned?

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What to do if your keyless entry doesn’t work

Modern cars are often accessed using remote fobs and keyless entry. But what do you do when it doesn’t work?

Thankfully, these vehicles are fitted with a key blade inside the fob, and a lock that’s either visible or hidden behind a cover on the door.

Below, we’ll show you some examples of what to do to gain entry to your car, and how to start it if the key is not detected.

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Expert advice: how to check your car’s fluids

fluids
It might look complicated but checking fluids is a simple task that anyone can do (Picture iStock/Ljubaphoto)

During lockdown, there’s every chance you won’t have been using your car as much as usual. Before driving it again regularly, it’s a good idea to check it and its fluids thoroughly.

All cars rely on fluids to operate properly. And it’s simple to check oil, coolant, brake fluid and screenwash. Follow my tips for doing so below.

When you’re checking a car’s fluids, it’s important that you park on a flat surface or you may think you haven’t got enough when you have, or more worryingly, vice versa.

How to check your oil

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