Maintaining your car

Expert Advice: all about turbo trouble in your car’s engine

turbo trouble
This is what a turbocharger looks like inside an engine (Picture iStock/Kool99)

Ever more cars use turbocharging on their engines. And that makes turbo trouble a problem some drivers might face for the first time. A turbo is a way of getting a smaller, more fuel-efficient engine to match the power of a larger capacity unit.

To work their magic, turbos have to work at high speeds, high temperatures and high pressures so they can be susceptible to failures. But if a turbo packs up, the engine won’t necessarily stop. Here I look at what a turbo is and the kinds of problems your turbo car might experience.

What is a turbo engine?

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Valentine’s Day 2020: great gifts to show your car you care

valentine's day
Do you love your car as much as he does? (Picture iStock/HbrH)

How about giving your loved one something really special this Valentine’s Day? No, we’re not talking about a gift for your partner… We mean a present your trusty (hopefully) companion who’s by your side through thick and thin, come rain or shine.

The best gift you can possibly give a car is to have it serviced. But assuming you’ve already done that and a service isn’t due for a while, we’ve got some more ideas. Read on for six great gifts for your car. In some cases, they’ll pay it back for the sterling work it does on your behalf. Oh and some of them might just come in handy for you too.

New mats

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Expert advice: how to get more trouble-free miles from your motor

trouble-free motoring
We can’t guarantee this won’t happen to you but follow our tips and it’ll be a lot less likely (Picture: iStock/Ljubaphoto)

How many trouble-free miles has your car covered? And perhaps more importantly how many more is it good for? Records by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show there are more high mileage Skoda Octavias in the UK than any other vehicle. That’s currently 1950 UK-registered Octavias with a valid MOT that have done more than quarter of a million miles.

But how do you get that many trouble-free miles out of your car? It certainly doesn’t happen by accident. Here are my tips.

Have your car serviced regularly

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Expert advice: how to know if your car is suffering brake trouble

brake trouble
Sudden brake failure is unlikely but faulty brakes still cause crashes (Picture iStock/RapidEye)

Some recent research reveals faulty brakes is the most common vehicle defect to end up causing an accident. The study of official figures by brake maker Pagid showed that dodgy brakes caused 15 deaths in 2018. In the last five years it says 64 deaths have been caused by brake trouble.

We should all check our brakes regularly and if you have any doubts about the system working properly, stop driving and have your car seen to by a professional. Here are some of the main symptoms of faulty brakes, what they mean in real terms, and what you should do about them.

Brake trouble: Soft pedal

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Would you repair your car with second-hand parts? We reveal all

second-hand car parts
Engines can be remanufactured using a mix of existing and new parts (Picture iStock/Vladru)

Would you use recycled or second-hand parts on your car? Online auction platform eBay thinks more of us ought to in order to save the planet. And used parts will be cheaper and save us money too. But what are the risks? We investigate.

What are these second-hand parts?

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Expert advice: how to tell if your steering isn’t working properly

steering
Vibrations through the wheel or heavy steering are just two symptoms of problems (Picture iStock/georgeclerk)

Think about your car’s controls. If the brakes fail you’ve still got the parking brake. But if there’s a fault with the steering that stops you changing direction when you want to, you could be in trouble. That’s why I believe it’s important for drivers to be able to diagnose steering problems.

How do you know if your steering is damaged?

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How much do you know about modifying cars?

car modifications
Thinking about modifying your car? Want it to look like this? You might think again when you’ve done our quiz (Picture iStock/DavidF)

Car modifications are a thorny subject. The law around cars and what you can and can’t do to them is very strict. To see how much you know about modifying cars, take our cunning quiz. And if you do decide to go ahead and fix up your car, remember you must tell your insurer or your cover could be invalidated.

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How to save money buying new tyres for your car

buying new tyres
Even tyres for a small car can prove expensive (Picture iStock/GeorgeRudy)

Buying new tyres is one of the necessary evils of running a car. Not only do tyres inevitably come to the end of their life, they’re also deceptively expensive. Replacing all four tyres on even a modest family saloon can leave you without much change from £500. And the bigger the car, the more you’ll pay. Buy four new tyres for a high-performance motor and it’ll cost the thick end of £2000. But there are ways to save money without scrimping on safety.

Find out about your tyres

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Expert advice: what the ECU does and why it’s so vital for our car

ecu
All this is computer controlled. The ECU is normally positioned at the top and back of the engine bay (Picture iStock/jaym-z)

Modern cars are more like computers on wheels and central to that is the ECU. If the engine is the heart of the car, the Electronic Control Unit or ECU is its brain. Your car may develop a fault that you think is mechanical but actually the real culprit could be the electronics, caused by a malfunctioning ECU or one of its sensors.

The ECU is now such a crucial and integral part of our cars that I think it’s worth understanding exactly what it does.

What’s in a name?

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